We are all addicts. Human beings are addictive by nature. Addiction is a modern name and description for what the biblical tradition calls “sin” and the medieval Christians called “passions” or “attachments.” They both recognized that serious measures, or practices, were needed to break us out of these illusions and entrapments; in fact, the New Testament calls them in some cases “exorcisms!” They knew they were dealing with non-rational evil or “demons.” Substance addictions are merely the most visible form of addiction, but actually we are all addicted to our own habitual way of doing anything, our own defenses, and most especially our patterned way of thinking, or how we process our reality. By definition you can never see or handle what you are addicted to. It is always “hidden” and disguised as something else. As Jesus did with the demon at Gerasa, someone must say, “What is your name?” (Luke 8:30). You cannot heal what you do not first acknowledge.
It seemed that out of battle I escaped Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred. Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless. And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,— By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained; Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground, And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan. “Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” “None,” said that other, “save the undone years, The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours, Was my life also; I went hunting wild After the wildest beauty in the world, Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair, But mocks the steady running of the hour, And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here. For by my glee might many men have laughed, And of my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled. Now men will go content with what we spoiled. Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled. They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress. Courage was mine, and I had mystery; Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery: To miss the march of this retreating world Into vain citadels that are not walled. Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, I would go up and wash them from sweet wells, Even with truths that lie too deep for taint. I would have poured my spirit without stint But not through wounds; not on the cess of war. Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
“I am the enemy you killed, my friend. I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed. I parried; but my hands were loath and cold. Let us sleep now. . . .”
I built my house by the sea. Not on the sands, mind you, not on the shifting sand. And I built it of rock. A strong house by a strong sea. And we got well acquainted, the sea and I. Good neighbors. Not that we spoke much. We met in silences, respectful, keeping our distance but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand. Always the fence of sand our barrier, always the sand between. And then one day (and I still don’t know how it happened) The sea came. Without warning. Without welcome even. Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine, less like the flow of water than the flow of blood. Slow, but flowing like an open wound. And I thought of flight, and I thought of drowning, and I thought of death. But while I thought, the sea crept higher till it reached my door. And I knew that there was neither flight nor death nor drowning. That when the sea comes calling you stop being good neighbors, Well acquainted, friendly from a distance neighbors. And you give your house for a coral castle And you learn to breathe under water.
The early Patristic Church Father, Origen, felt guilt for thinking too much of dancing girls. So, he chose to solve the problem, to suppress his Shadow, by castrating himself. Shortly thereafter he thought of dancing girls. – James Hollis, Why Good People Do Bad Things
COME swish around, my pretty punk, And keep me dancing still That I may stay a sober man Although I drink my fill.
Sobriety is a jewel That I do much adore; And therefore keep me dancing Though drunkards lie and snore. O mind your feet, O mind your feet, Keep dancing like a wave, And under every dancer A dead man in his grave. No ups and downs, my pretty, A mermaid, not a punk; A drunkard is a dead man, And all dead men are drunk.