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Living with addiction
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Questioner (Q): What is wrong with taking a stimulant — like nicotine or alcohol?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Nothing. Stimulant is just an expression of what you are, a bored one. Because I am bored, so I require to stimulate myself, so stimulant is not right or wrong, you need to figure out what brings you to the stimulant, your boredom, is that right for you? Now, if you are bored, obviously you will require something to excite you. The stimulant, the object of excitation cannot be held as right or wrong. In fact, it is predetermined that you will be drawn towards centers of excitement if you are bored. Given that you are bored, what else is your destiny? That you will go to places of excitement, entertainment, stimulation. Why judge those places or things? You would rather look at the mind that is drawn towards those things. What is the quality of that mind?

Q: Where does that boredom come from, actually.

AP: Obviously! That’s what we need to inquire into.

Q: And, what is that boredom all about

AP: What is that boredom all about.

Q: At this moment, it can be addiction also. At this moment, you might not be bored, but…

AP: No addiction can work if the one who was addicted does not continue to be his old self. No stimulation can work unless you continue to be the same old bored self. Behind every addiction, there is an addict, right? If the addict has changed, can the addiction remain the same? If the bored one has changed, can the object of stimulation remain the same? You are addicted to narcotics later, you are firstly addicted to lifelessness, to boredom. People miss it when they say that, "We want to have freedom from drugs." We should not have centers that offer freedom from addiction. We should have centers that offer freedom from boredom, from lifelessness. If you can have places that can relieve you from an absence of these, then no relief from any substance, any drugs, any kind of alcohol is needed. And that is why, you see, it is so very difficult to rid a person of his addictions, because he will return to the same old life, and the pattern of life is such that it will again turn him dead and numb. You are alive, you are throbbing, you don’t want to be dead, so you turn to alcohol, because alcohol, for at least a while, makes you feel alive. If you want to rid a person of his addictions, change his life.

Q: How?

AP: How did he come to maintain that life? Is that life natural; is that life, really, coming on its own? Stop doing all that you do to maintain that life, that life will fall away on its own.

"TV bothers me so much!" Stop paying the cable guy. Does TV come to chase you? You do a lot to ensure that the TV keeps going, don’t you?

Q: What if there is no other option?

AP: Because you don’t see any other option. We have been trained to think that the ‘Other’ does not exist. We have been trained to think that that ‘Other Center’ is just fictional, a thing that Spiritual books talk of, it has no reality. We are deeply conditioned to believe that only this is real, that there is no Beyond-ness possible.

If you go and ask people, whom do they trust more? And, if it can be an honest survey, and you ask them, “Whom do you trust more, Google or God?” They will say, “Google”. No, seriously! We have been trained to believe that the Beyond does not exist. A thousand options that Google gives you, they exist, but one God, beyond Google does not exist, because Google will never give you anything on God, it can tell you about God, but Google will not give you God. And, that belief is very firm within us, we all are heretics of the worst kind. We have no faith at all in that ‘Other’.

Q: About this addiction, about the craving, if that craving pulls you. In other words, you said not to fight also, so how to deal with that kind of situation?

AP: Let yourself be drawn towards the craving. The day you go to the craving without any resistance, you will find that the craving has already lost much of its attraction. Craving appears so attractive, partially, because it is banned. Make it mainstream, not much will be left in it. And, what will be left in it, consume it without any compunctions.

Have you ever seen that you are drawn only towards that which is prohibited? Prohibited either by society or by your own morality or by the other? If the other says, “Do not touch me this way”, then there is a special pleasure in touching that way.

Q: Otherwise, we would not even be born. If Adam and Eve had not eaten that fruit, which was banned, we would not be born.

AP: Yes.

Q: Sir, what about other things? Like going to the gym and running?

AP: No, but it cannot become addictive. You see, a point will come when the body will say, “No”. If you listen to the body, and if the body is not saying 'no', why do you want to stop yourself from running? If the body is not saying 'no', why do you want to prevent yourself from exercising? Maybe you exercise for forty minutes, the body is ready to take in two hours, go ahead and give it two hours, what is wrong with it?

Q: It becomes addictive sometimes, like as a runner. I run, what happens is, even if the body is screaming sometimes, you know, after running, you get that high that you want to continue running.

AP: There is nothing wrong at all in getting that kick. The only thing is that your kick should not come only from running. Because, you get a kick only from running, so running becomes especially lucrative. The kick that running gives you is available in so many other small things in life. Keep getting those kicks, and when you are being kicked around at all times, then kicks are no more so lucrative.

But, if there is only one thing in life that gives you that kick, then you are more and more drawn towards it. Kick is wonderful, the kick that you are talking of is in some way similar to Joy.

You are running, your legs are aching, and still, there is a deep pleasure beyond the body. It is reminiscent of Joy, but why should that Joy be available to you only in running? Let every small thing offer that Joy, and it does. Why must you block it? In fact, let running remind you that a similar Bliss is easily available elsewhere as well.

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