Acharya Prashant: Man’s most fundamental addiction is ‘man’ himself. ‘I am’ is the most fundamental addiction.
An addiction is defined as something that is external, very difficult to get rid off; nevertheless.
One can get rid-off an addiction. This feeling of taking oneself as one takes himself to be is the most fundamental addiction — the “I’’ tendency.
We are so staunchly addicted to it that it seems impossible that there can be oneself life without our conception of the “I.” It seems not only difficult but altogether impossible. It appears so difficult only because we are very deeply addicted. It is the addiction that starts with the first breath. It is the addiction that starts probably even before the first breath.
The tendency to take oneself as a limited being, as a body, as a personality, as a set of principals and concepts, as everything that one thinks himself to be. From that addiction, the hundred other addictions are born. That is why treatment of addiction is such a difficult thing because unless the ‘mother addiction’ is treated, treating the other addictions remains a problem.
It could be addiction of money, material, person, drugs, substance abuse, all kind of mental distortions. Whatever be the specific name of the addiction it invariably arises from the central mother addiction itself. That is why you remove one addiction and man finds himself trapped into another one. In fact, often addiction therapy is just about finding a suitable addiction. Don’t you see how addictions are commonly taken to be treated? A boy seems to be taking to drugs, the well-wishers would say, “well, let him indulge in sports” or if he is a little elder parents will say, “let’s marry him off.”
Do you see how one addiction is used to counter way another? It is because Man fundamentally can’t live without addiction. Because our fundamental definition itself is based on a great ‘attachment.’ Addiction is an ‘unnecessary attachment.’ For that which we are, it is totally unnecessary to be attached to that which we think we are. It is unnecessary but it becomes the foundation of life and that is all quite unfortunate.
There are no good or bad addictions.
An addiction is just what it is — “An unnecessary relationship.”
Whatever you can do without, is unnecessary and if it persists for long and deeply, is an addiction.
There is a lot that one can do without. The more you can do without, the better you do. The more you tie your existence to stuff, the more bulky, heavy, loathsome and tired you live.
Addiction says that you need something. Need is the first addiction.
Whatever you claim that you need that is your first addiction.
A need implies incompleteness. That which you call as ‘ego,’ is another name for an addiction to incompleteness, you may call it addiction to incompleteness or you may just call is incompleteness, they are the same thing.
Listener: Then addiction shows someway. For example, somebody is addicted to camp?
If someone is addicted to camps than he is not coming to camps at all then he is coming to some other place of his dreams.
L1: If somebody is addicted to some particular type of behaviors, can be his behaviors develop some understanding?
AP: Addiction in the beginning itself means that there is no understanding. What you are asking is similar to asking that if one dreams of camps, then will he benefit from a camp? If one dreams of holy-scripture, then will he benefit from holy- scriptures?
The holy scripture is secondary, what is primary is the dream. Whatever is happening, is happening in the dream state. And in a dream state how can there be any understanding? It doesn’t matter whether you break your head with a brick or with a voluminous book? If you take a thousand page bulky book and bang it against your head, will it hurt less? The beginning of addiction itself is an absence of understanding. One must clearly see that the beginning of something cannot be different from the end of it.
That which begins as ignorance and dreams, cannot end as understanding.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant on Rumi: Fall in faith, and you will be given wings
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