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Taoism and Addiction

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“As I am going to study philosophy next year, I often think of how religions and other theories of life might view addiction and recovery. Is it acceptable? Is there a reason? Is there a cure? To start my regime on educating myself with the various opinions I took a look at some articles. This one is written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com and it gives some insight on addiction using the practice of Taoism. If your interested in “The Way” (as tao the ching is translated), or are even struggling finding your Higher Power, this article may shed some light on the matter. Keep in mind, Taoism is not a religion, its a philosophy, a “way” of life.” -Love and light, Robyn

taoism

Any kind of addictive behavior makes it really difficult to conserve our “qi” — to garner a beneficial surplus of life-force energy — for the simple reason that addictive behaviors, with their corresponding mental/emotional patterns, almost universally drain our qi.

Can Taoist practice help us unwind addictions?

I would say: yes! I’ve touched on this in my essay, Addiction, Habit & Ritual — making a distinction between, on the one hand, flowing with the (seemingly repeating) patterns of the Tao, in a way that is awake and responsive; and, on the other hand, becoming a slave to the unconscious impulsive dictates of an addiction.

On a very practical level, there are ear-acupuncture protocols (NADA and ACACD) which have been hugely beneficial — in conjunction with counseling, education and group support — in resolving addictions.

Here a recovering alcoholic, in expressing how, as an atheist, he was able to make 12-step programs work for him, articulates quite beautifully the process of realigning with the rhythms of the natural world, a quintessentially Taoist approach to sanity:

“But, you might ask, if there’s nothing there, no sentient god, how do you get restored to sanity? Again, simple. A tide lifts a boat without being asked and without being sentient. Meet the conditions: place a boat on a tidal body of water. Wait. Then it happens. Be open to understanding the principles that govern your world and do your best to act in harmony with them, do your best not to waste your energy in trying to change the things you cannot change, turn your efforts to identifying and changing the things that can be changed, and the tide will lift your boat. Simple, no?”

Aligning with the elemental wisdom and rhythms of the natural world can be hugely supportive in transforming addictive behavior and perception. In doing so, we establish a perspective or view that’s in alignment with reality, and supports spontaneously “right” — healthy and harmonious — action.

In Buddhist practice, a similar notion is spoken of in terms of Samma Ditthi or Right View. The Pali word Samma was, as I understand it, originally a musical term, and points to a kind of “right” that means “attuned” — in tune with the contexts unfolding in the present moment. It’s about becoming sensitive to our surroundings, and our relationship to them, in a way that allows us then to act skillfully — rather than out of unconscious (e.g. addictive) preconceptions.

Written by Elizabeth Reninger from About.com

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