Addiction and Meditation

lotus“By effort and heedfulness, discipline and self-mastery, the wise one makes for himself an island which no flood can overwhelm.” Dhammapada 25

These days we hear a lot of discussions on addiction. People talk sadly about the harm that addiction to various substances (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) can bring to people’s lives. Why people start to use these substances? There could many reasons for this. But we should understand that our mind is vulnerable to get into an addiction if we do not develop an inner source of satisfaction. When we completely rely on sensual gratification as a way of being happy in this life, we will not find a full satisfaction. No matter how fascinating they are, we do not feel enough at the end of such a gratification. This constant feeling of lack of satisfaction can lead oneself to the use of these substances. Moreover, when we do not have an inner source of satisfaction, we may not handle our issues in life skillfully. We will not be able to watch our own anger, jealousy or greed. We will do things that will harm our relationships, our health and our work. When these issues are overwhelming, one would draw oneself to the use of substances as a way of numbing oneself.

All these possible situations show us the importance of keeping a spiritual practice in one’s life. Through a spiritual practice, one can create an inner source of satisfaction that does not rely on sensual gratification. We will have enough strength to face and handle challenging issues in our lives. A spiritual practice consists of a moral behavior, selfless service to one’s family and larger society and training of mind.

The most trustworthy inner source of satisfaction is the sense of contentment we experience as a result of meditation. If we train ourselves to sit down calmly for a while, to feel our body, to generate loving-kindness to ourselves and to others, to feel the breath joyfully, we begin to feel a deeper satisfaction and a worth of our being. No matter what is going on in our lives, our ability to experience this deeper satisfaction daily or at least weekly can give us the inner strength to stay unshaken and to skillfully response to those issues.

It is like a creating an anchor within ourselves to settle. Once we develop this, even at the absence of sensual gratification, we do not feel empty or anxious. Imagine a day that your TV is broken, or day that your cellphone is lost, or your computer is broken and you cannot use internet, how would you feel? Can we realize that how much we rely on other instruments to feel OK? A spiritual practice can help us stay contented in the absence of entertainments. Remember that your ability to feel your body, generate loving-kindness and feel you breath will never leave you until the last moment in our lives. They are always there. What we need is to find time to pay attention to them. Then we will not be swayed away by any kind flood that comes our way.

Wish you all an anchored week !

Bhante Pemaratana

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