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Tell it to no one, only sages,
For the crowd derides such learning - Goethe
A Shared World
The Shared World of Religion, Meditation, Alcohol, Drugs and Sex
The world-spirit in exile must go through the Inferno of matter and
the Purgatory of morals to arrive at the spiritual Paradise.
- G Quispel
My heartfelt thanks to all entities that enabled the formulation of these ideas. I started working
on this paper two weeks ago and though daunting in some ways, given my relative inexperience and
training, the process turned out to be remarkably smooth. Perhaps the work represents an unfinished
business in this world, and had many archetypal stakeholders that facilitated the flow of information –
Ah! the tuggings at the doors of consciousness, the longing to be seen and heard in the conscious
world, the need to become visible. These writings have had a quality of being generated almost
autonomously, and do not seem to belong to me. They represent the collective wisdom of the cosmic
psyche - I am simply a vessel thru which the work flows. Numerous animate and inanimate, earthly
and cosmic entities of different age, race, culture, and time period have presumably had their say in the
making of this presentation and it is to them I owe a debt of gratitude, and dedicate this piece of work,
for their wisdom guides me in spite of my unlimited limitations.
My special thanks to my family of origin for providing me with the enchanting grounding in
Hinduism that constantly enriches my existence. To Dr Stanislav Grof whose work has provided
validation for my cultural beliefs and my own experiences. I am also grateful to Dr Robert
Romanyshyn who dared me to verbalize and share images and transpersonal experiences from the
depth of my psychotic core, experiences that would otherwise have languished in the dungeons of
repression. And of course Dr Carl Gustav Jung, whose writings serve to expand my consciousness
Tender dedications to Kabir and Utsav, who spent the last two weekends quietly holed up in
their rooms so I could put this manuscript together. On the superbowl Sunday they kept the television
low and even brought me tea and toast to keep me glued! And Shelley, thanx for forcing me to finish.
The Shared World of Religion, Meditation, Alcohol, Drugs and Sex
The gnostics believe that the earthly nature of our existence causes the knowledge of our true
nature and associated realizations to be withheld from us. Such thinking also resonates with the Hindu
philosophical belief in the elusive and deceptive nature of reality. In the realm of psychology, we are
given to understand reality within the context of human projections; our perceptions being limited and
bound by such. We are told that our salvation, moksha, nirvana, and/or psychological well-being
depends on a revelation from a higher form of consciousness – that we can attain our highest potential
by withdrawing these projections, creating awareness about the ultimate nature of reality, and
becoming aware of the totality of our Self.
Fairbairn (1952) and many since have contended that libido is object seeking; the instinctual
energies of man are always seeking relationships in the external world and human efforts are expended
in seeking and maintaining these affective ties. It is my assertion that the object that the libido seeks is
not human, but divine. In seeking the external relationship, the instinct isn’t necessarily seeking to
connect with an external entity, rather, it seeks a connection with itself, the totality of the Self. Such a
connection cannot be achieved without an intermediatory to carry those projections of Self. Like
Narcissus, we can only see ourselves thru a reflection in an external figure. The object that reflects our
personality, thru whose eyes we see and affirm our own existence and worth, that intermediatory other
can be a human or simply another entity, a phenomenon, a set of beliefs, and values, any external
object that is capable of carrying the person’s projections, capable of facilitating the connection with
the Self. Sometimes our projections are carried by our gods and the deities, other times, we are
compelled to fall back on our diagnostically informed addictions.
Synchronicities, Personal Experiences & Countertransferences
Like millions before me, I have mediated long on the question : What is the nature of reality?
What would reality look like, were we able to perceive and comprehend it? And why aren’t we able to
comprehend it? All religions hold divinity as being innate, immanent within the human spirit. Even
psychology proclaims : “As it is within, so it is without.” And Sophia’s dance around the realms of
psychology, spirituality, physics, biology and other material and immaterial sciences causes cross
pollination of fertile ideas that lead to the concept of macro and microcosmic wholeness in the fullness
of time, leading a way to the Pleroma of psychological health.
Why then, this human suffering? Why are we depressed, angry, anxious? And what causes us
to turn to religion, meditation, alcohol, drugs and sex and sexual perversions ? Of the twenty plus
models of addictive behaviors, only Thomas Szasz’s discussions came close to my own experiences
with addictive phenomenon. Are these dependencies and addictions morbid distortions of the religious
functions of the human psyche or are they merely means to the same end?
And as we explore these questions, it is difficult not to become aware of the obsessive
properties of such explorations, and the addictive nature of these epistemological and ontological
quests. And as I examined my own addictions to knowledge and experience, as I concentrated on its
nature and etiology, as I read, experience and discuss addictions I am gradually lead to an awareness
of the fundamentally addictive nature of the human psyche. All my own addictions appear to converge
at the apex of the experience. I can substitute or transform them and derive identical pleasures.
This paper arises from my own encounters with addictive experience, in myself, in my family,
friends and patients. This is an insignificant offering to the hope of liberating the addictions from the
yoke of diagnostically oppressive labels. The paper was born of a vision, an interplay of images that I
had during a session a few months ago.
My patient, who I henceforth will call T., was a 25 year old Caucasian male. T. and his
girlfriend, 24, each saw me individually once a week. T. would often burst into bouts of anger, and
break things at home. He had been deserted by his father at the age of 6. His girlfriend had just had a
baby and wished to marry him, but felt “broken” by his use of marijuana, and his angry outbursts. In
this particular session, T. and I had some very intimate moments of empathic attunement where he
"connected" and "felt understood." The transference field, activated by my own Mother Complex, had
made me feel hopeful about his therapy. As he rambled on, expressing anger about his girlfriend, the
imaginal field opened up and I had a vision, an image of a little blonde toddler in a cul-de-sac, alone,
afraid and crying. There were houses around the cul-de-sac, and their doors all led to safety. The
expression “doorway to the divine” arose in my consciousness. All the houses had different
doorplates. One said : “the Home,” another was “the Church,” another was “the Family” another was
“the school,” there was also a House of achievements with teachers, books and so on…
The crying of the toddler caused the inhabitants of the Houses to step outside. They circled the
child, but their faces hardened, and slowly as if in slow motion, one by one they returned to the safety
of their homes, leaving the crying child behind. The beautiful golden haired boy fell on the ground,
picked himself up, and still crying walked over to the last House in a corner – messy, dilapidated
with broken windows and a haunted look. The nameplate read “the House of Drugs”. As he
approached it, a door opened and a kind, old man with flowing beard picked the child up and said to
him "you can come in, but you will have to give up your body!" The child nodded, the old man
caressed his cheek, wiped his tears and took him in, closing the door behind them.
The felt vision, a powerful and autonomous force, was a non ordinary mode of perception that
saw, transformed, and created all at once. Although I will not attempt to analyze it in detail, for such
an analysis could take hours and yet not fully exhaust itself, I will, nevertheless, briefly draw attention
to the symbolic meaning being presented here. The abandoned child attempts to get help in the cul-de-
sac with houses and is denied any protection. The circle, and the houses are symbols of the Self. My
association and amplifications were that T. was gripped by the archetype of the abandoned child and
had managed to enter the sacred realm of soul consciousness through his experimentation with drugs.
The inner wizard, a senex, had been his benefactor so far. However, I was informed that he was denied
entrance into the House of Family, that he was still a “lost” orphan, and would not give up marijuana
since it was the only way he could access the immaterial, higher states of consciousness, and that self
realization/individuation would only be possible with renunciation of ego-consciousness, or his
egotism and inflation, and should he continue with his excursion into the psychedelics, he would quite
literally be physically destroyed. A few days later he confirmed my fears by informing me about the
first in a series of psychotic episodes, the first in his life, possibly arising from a combination of
marijuana, his refusal to give it up, and the stress of relationship-failure.
Structure of Presentation
It is important to understand the link between the process of Self realization, religion,
spirituality and addictions and its relevance to the practice of psychotherapy because despite the
widespread attempts to contain and spread out negative addictions from our culture, the malaise has
been spreading like cancer. Addictions costs 181 billion for illicit drugs, and $185 billion for alcohol
and these numbers do not even though the deleterious effects on the fabric of family and social life
(drugabuse.gov, n.d.). Nearly 12 million people in US suffer the debilitating effects of sexual
addictions, and internet has spiraled the problem out of control. The narrow diagnostically oriented
treatment plans fail completely and miserably and hospitals, jails and prisons become taxed with the
population that cannot seem to be helped. The society disintegrates as families disintegrate. The
rational, cognitive approaches to treatment of such addictions don’t seem to be working well. Perhaps
a new, more effective paradigm is needed to create a new understanding of such behaviors. A
paradigm that is less punitive, more humanistic, and can access the depths of consciousness.
We begin with a brief conceptual framework that defines the exploration. Sections I through V
explore each of these phenomenon individually, Section VI concludes the argument and discusses the
implications on wellness and mental health.
The truth about the hypothized convergence comes not from scientific evidence, but from the
experiential realm that requires an awareness of and a sensibility to a different kind of reality - the
reality that lies within the world that defines dreams, art, and literature among others, the reality of the
instinct, of primordial images, and openness uncontaminated by the landscapes of the material world.
I invite you to open yourself up to such experiences. For the next ½ please do not let your intellect
dictate the truth about your soul. During this session, you must allow your soul to define the
boundaries of your intellect; for it is your soul I hope to engage.
Addiction and Addictive States
“What is behind this desirousness? A thirsting for the eternal” (Jung)
Addiction is defined as a chronic neurobiological disorder that has genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental dimensions. It is characterized by a continued and repetitive enactment of behavior
despite its detrimental effects, inability to stop enactments signifying impaired control, compulsive or
obsessive attitude or behavior towards the object of addiction, and preoccupation with the object of
addiction i.e. craving for the object.
Addictions can be broken into positive and negative types based on the nature of their outcome
– prayer, running, exercise are deemed helpful, and alcohol, drugs and sex addiction as harmful.
However, when we define addictions too narrowly, we may render incomprehensible their true nature,
so I encourage you to take a step back and look at the phenomenon differently. Could depression be
characterized as a form of addiction to negative thoughts and feelings ? Love addiction is oft talked
about, but what about our attachments to our parents, partners, family – does that imitate addictive
patterns ? Is anger a form of addiction? Are OCD symptoms representative of addictive behavior ?
Though the DSM attempts a categorization of these into neat little bundles, in the psyche these mental
states are amorphous. The addictive phenomenon imposes as a strategic achievement in the psychic
economy, and it exists as a part of human condition, and permeates our being. A lot of addictions that
exist hidden in our daily lives have a noble purpose, and so can we contend that all addictions must
arise of a noble need but possibly suffer distortions in the manifestation of that need ?
Addictive states, like dreams, art and music, can be best understood when approached from the
paradigm of alternative, non ordinary states of altered consciousness, a different state of reality where
personality shifts may temporarily occur. They break free of ego-complexes, and compel, and impel us
in different directions. All addictive strivings may thus be seen as different melodies that arise of the
same underlying musical notes. In our examples1, we note that our spirits are crying out for some form
of connection with the sacred. They all appear as striving propelling us in a particular direction, a
direction that has a higher function – the realization of the Self.
Making of An Addict
“If the individual is not truly regenerated in spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum total of
individuals in need of redemption.” (Jung)
Nathan Schwartz-Salant (1998) asserts that every newborn knows a level of numinosum at
birth and loses this awareness to some degree depending on how mother-and-child dyad is able to
maintain its sacredness. The child first projects its spiritual energy on the mother, but the infant is a
prey to emotional disturbances of the most violent order and the infantile experience is not just grown
out of and happily left behind but is built into the personality as its subconscious foundation (Guntrip,
See Annexure A.
n.d.). The awareness of the numinosum is lost thru trauma and to the existential conditions of life lived
in the space-time and materialistic continuum – but the awareness lives on in the unconscious as a
feeling of paradise lost, or as a spiritual potential awaiting an awakening.
Addiction may be viewed as a consequence of a wound inflicted either in early childhood, or as
an intergenerational propagation of wounding. Schwartz-Salant (1998) suggests that some people may
have seen the “madness” of their parent as a constant in their childhood. A person traumatized by such
subtle or overt parental psychosis carries within himself a “foreign object” – parents’ psychotic
process mixed with person’s own splitting defenses. Its an open wound that breeds delusions. This
area is a storehouse of creativity, but the process of extraction of individual creativity from the areas of
madness attracts external chaos. This constant striving for extraction of innate creativity carries within
itself promises of the unfolding of the Self, and leads to addictions, lending credence to Lionel
Corbett’s assertion that “individual psychopathology becomes a entry point into the numinosum.” The
internal representations of addictive experiences are essentially compensatory, and may in many ways
be comparable with god-representation. However, the cost benefit of each is relativized in the
economy of addiction.
Traditional psychoanalysis views religion, spirituality, addictions and perversions as psychic
defenses in the service of survival. However, religion, spirituality, meditation, alcohol, drug and sex
addictions, among many other addictions, are merely psychic attempts to move towards a higher form
of consciousness which is representative of the symbolic father, or the divine presence. Furthermore,
this symbolic father, or the divine presence is a projection of the highest innate potential of the human
psyche, as Jung would call it - the individuated Self. In the process of achieving this movement, the
frugal psyche chooses the most cost effective strategy in the psychic economy to enable this
transformation. Such a view enables a progressive view of addictive phenomenon and provides hope
for meaningful psychic transformation. In the last analysis, addictions may represent a potent desire
for Self Realization.
For this paper, spirituality refers to matters that are other than corporeal or material (Webster,
1970). The terms spirit and the soul are used interchangeably, and are used synonymous with the term
“psyche” which represents a more scientific-sounding term (Lawner, 2001). Though there may exist
academic differences between the terms individuation, self realisation and encounters with the Self, for
the purpose of this paper, these expressions are used interchangeably to signify realization of the
highest innate potential. The Self refers to the…..
We examine the addictive phenomenon using two different theoretical lenses. The subjective
reality of the human psyche is discussed in terms of psychoanalytic literature. We also use the
framework of analytical psychology to explore the objective or collective aspects of the psyche
including their spiritual and religious dimensions. However, what affects one, affects the connected
other, for even in the theoretical arena, there exist a striving for unity and wholeness.
According to David Meltzer (1950), terror of abandonment is a terror of impending doom,
immediate death - a paranoid anxiety that potentially freezes the brain. At these times it is the
internalized image of the parent that steps in to restores vitality and mental health. If this capacity to
repair is prevented by envy etc, healing systems like sleep and dreams lose their value as being
sufficiently therapeutic in repairing the damage. In such cases, an external object that bears
significance of the mother’s breast can accomplish the repair. This requires the person to become
dependent on the external object that symbolizes mother-breast-therapist-objects of desire/addiction. If
such infantile dependence is blocked by defenses that cannot tolerate separation, the process that
would eventually lead to mastering of infantile separation will be repeated over and over in the
external world. The repetitive compulsive phenomenon, in my opinion, fueled by introjections and
projections, is representative of addictive phenomenon that flows well into adulthood.
Given this understanding of addictive phenomenon, Freud’s preoccupation with sexuality and
Gandhi’s journeys of non violence can be viewed as examples of innate compulsive drives fuelled by
their complexes. In fact human psyche appears to be inherently obsessive in its disposition. The need
to master childhood trauma may be viewed as representing the magnetic effects of archetype which
determines the complexes that it chooses to operate from within. Since the origins of such complexes
are unconscious, Jung (and Corbett) affirm that such recreations are experienced as fate.
Being able to meet, and to survive such internal chaos and its terrors is the essential task of
individuation. The gnosis arising of such endeavor represents the realization of our highest potential.
Spirituality allows us to see the opposites within and discern order in chaos. However, the shadow of
ego consciousness creates defenses that force the separation between ego and the unconscious. In this
journey, addictions appear to be psychologically helpful in enabling intrapsychic structures that render
the barriers between ego and soul consciousness porous in an attempt to transform chaos into order, to
bring into consciousness the unconscious dimensions of the psyche, to enable the addict an
authentically significant experience that had been denied to him in infancy.
Section I :The Psyche and Religiosity
The word religion stems from Latin roots re and ligare. Re means again, and ligare means to
bind, to bond, or to bridge. Religion, then, means to bind together again. When we restore the
word religious to its true meaning, it regains its healing power. To heal, to bond, to join, to bridge, to
put back together again - those are the sacred faculties of the psyche as well (Johnson, 1991). Our
innate religiosity then, refers to our inner capacity to heal, to put ourselves back together again. It is a
potentiality that lies within every individual, unleashing its curative powers whenever the psyche
needs healing. Thus the psyche, according to Robert Johnson (1991), is essentially a religious entity.
Johnson further concedes that an implication of this awareness is that humans do not have a choice
between being spiritual or nonspiritual. We can either choose to consciously explore our spirituality,
or be forced to divert our capacity for spirituality to our aspirations (perfectionism, addictions,
materialism, greed, fame) that are equally and frightfully potent, numinous and powerful. These
aspirations offer an alternate form of spirituality in that they too are seeking to heal, to bond, to join, to
bridge, to put the soul together again, but they do it in a physically unhealthy way that may cause
psychic and/or physical distress. These aspirations – and addictions being one of them - may then be
viewed as outcomes of a powerful process that was meant for inner healing, a process that
malfunctions and goes awry because the natural ways of healing have been blocked.
Guntrip (n.d.) describes religion as experiencing a relationship with the ultimate all embracing
reality regarded as personal. Personal object relations are a matrix thru which humans experience their
relationship with the environing universe. “Mature and sensitive minds will experience rapport with
the all-environing reality, and will express this in personal terms as communion with God” (Guntrip,
n.d.). The mother being the first carrier of man’s spiritual energy, the relationship with the divine – the
symbolic mother - is modeled on the infant’s relationship with his biological mother. This relationship
also presents as an externalized projection of our relationship with our Self, becoming a model and a
benchmark for all successive relationships. When any other experience threatens to provide fulfillment
that exceeds the experience of this religious unity, the two become intrapsychically conflictual and
warring factions of a personality. One would think that the restoration of this relationship with the Self
must then automatically restore all relationships that symbolize this link. Indeed, in my experience
with clients, I have observed that as they work thru their potentialities, a return to church, god and a
felt compassion for their Terrible Mothers gets automatically indicated in their external world. The
only conclusions we can draw are that even though our sensory organs may experience these
differently in the external world, the psyche appears incapable of differentiating between the breast,
the mother, god, the love-object and object of desire and addiction. These appear to have identical
internal representations. The incestuous taboos around some of these are merely socially constructed
defenses, that prove the point. Hence transformation of one representation into another may best be
viewed as a rhythmic flow of seasons that are separated in time, yet can be felt to co-exist at any given
moment. Such transformations test our civilization, our humanity, our ability and willingness. In any
given space-time-relationship continuum all of these archetypal strivings may become manifest, and
therein lies the mystical elusiveness, and the mesmerizing holding power of any relationship and the
taboos associated with it, including the relationship we forge with divinity, as well as our addictions.
Like meditation and running, religion too has an obsessive and addictive component to it. Are
all addictions, then, ways of seeking connection with the numinous? Are all our endeavors, our tasks,
our journeys thru life, our joys, our hardships a means towards this religious fulfillment? Is the merger
with the divine - the union of ego and soul consciousness - the ultimate human destiny? Let us explore
other addictive phenomena to understand how the soul negotiates the obstructions in its quest for self
Section II : Experiences of Meditation
Meditation involves opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade
of sensations without becoming involves in thinking about them. The meditator sits quietly and simply
witnesses whatever goes thru the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories,
worries, or images. . .meditator concentrates on the present, the here and now. . .The objective is to
attain perfect concentration without blocking out outside distractions to reach the ideal state of
equanimity and objectivity.
What is being described here is a process that enables the stripping away of the layers of
personal consciousness that may lead a way to viewing the true nature of reality. Jung would say
meditation is an exercise that allows us a way of being, a withdrawing where all connections from the
external world are absorbed into the internal world in preparation for an encounter with the highest
form of consciousness – the unconscious Self. Yoga, postulates Jung (1936), was “originally a natural
process of introversion. . . such introversions lead to characteristic inner processes of personality
changes. In the course of several thousand years these introversions became gradually organized as
methods, and along widely different ways” with expansion of consciousness as the central goal.
Consciousness is both the cause and effect of meditation. The unconscious gives birth to the
ego, and then the ego impregnates the unconscious (Edinger, 1994). Through unattached observation
of thoughts and feelings, meditation changes the infantile ego-centered desirousness, which demands
what it wants when it wants, to a desirousness that is centered in the Self and regenerates the Self. The
opposites of attachments and aversions are merged into transcendence of equanimity, an act of
conscious endeavor. Jung (1989) would say that such an endeavor comprises of alchemical synthesis,
leading to a fission – a spillage from collective unconscious, manifested in the dissociative and/or
psychotic symptoms that some meditators report in their meditative experiences. This unfolding of
insight and self knowledge, which is also the knowledge about God, represents Jung’s psychic
synthesis where the nature of cravings and aversions has been transformed by consciousness into
equanimity. These transformed desires are now served religiously by the ego. Most literature on
meditation cautions about the addictive character of such meditative achievement leading to inflation,
which is just another form of addiction in my opinion. And with this transformation of desires we
intellectually enter the realm of other objects of attachments that become the subject of diagnosis –
alcohol, drugs and sex. So here again, I find it difficult to separate from this incestuous relationship
between meditation and addictions, for meditation is addictive, but to be addicted to meditation leads
to cessation of addictive tendencies. In any case, it must be clear that meditative experiences strive for
a total immersion into the unconscious, and an authentic experience of the Self.
Section III : Alcoholism
“You see, ‘alcohol’ in Latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest
religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula
therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.” -C.G. Jung
This above is an excerpt from the latter Jung wrote to Bill Wilson, one of the founding
members of AA with reference to his treatment of a patient called Rowland2. Rowland went thru major
changes, terminated therapy successfully and returned to US. After a few months, he fell back into his
addictions and requested to return to therapy. Jung refused to take him back, expressing his inability to
help, and stating that Rowland could only be helped thru a conversion experience. The phrase
“Spiritus contra Spritium” became the founding basis for Alcoholic Anonymous.
Back in seventeenth century, much before Jung has explored this inter-relationship between
religion and alcoholism, Descartes held that the social construction of the self and the world caused the
self to perceive of a separation between itself and the objects “out there” which caused us to objectify
the world and the people in that world. This contradicted an intuitive understanding of the
interdependependence and interconnection of subject and object. In psychological terms, this
disjunction, or split, between intuition and cognition causes an intrapsychic conflict. G. Bateman, an
anthropologist who worked on alcoholism, used Descartes views to posit that alcohol reduces this
epistemological error - an alcoholic feels that lines between self and object are blurred thru his
addiction. Bateman asserted that alcoholic sobriety is wrong – when we ask the alcoholic to give up
alcohol, we are asking him to exist in contradiction with the amorphous nature of reality as is innately
experienced by him. Viewed thru Jungian lens, we could say that thru his addiction, the alcoholic is
provided with a pathway that connects him to others, and thru others, to himself. Any transformation
away from alcoholism could only be successful when the alcoholic’s ego consciousness encounters
something greater than itself – a conversion experience. Heinz Kohut would say that necessary aspect
of such a conversion would be a movement from mirror transference to idealizing transference.
Religion appears to provide just such an experience – hence the effectiveness of AA.
And so we can begin to understand alcohol as a catalyst that breaks the barriers between the
conscious and the unconscious to provide the addict with an authentic encounter with the Self. In such
a way it fulfils the religious strivings of the psyche.
Section IV : Drugs
Mystical experiences can be defined as the experience of unification with the divine source of
being. In context of Hinduism, a mystical experience represents the unity and identity of Atman and
Brahman, merger between the Self and the Absolute. In Buddhism it is the experience of Nirvana, or
the dissolution of ego-consciousness. In Christianity mystical experience represents the personal
experience of Christ Consciousness. In Mystery Schools it was the awakening of Sophia, the Goddess
of Wisdom. We associate Dionysian rites with wine, and the trance of sybil at the Delphic oracle was
aided by her inhalation of the vapors of the chasm and fumes of laurel. There is indication that drugs
were employed at Mysteries of Eleusis. The ancient Rig Veda praises the divine Soma, that brings one
to exalted states of consciousness and direct perception of the divine. They unfold spontaneity.
The use of visionary plants and fungi to introduce altered states of consciousness continues
from antiquity. In fact, genuine and effective shamanism is felt and experienced directly in
consciousness, and is aided and facilitated by consciousness altering drugs. Jung saw shamanism as a
form of individuation process – shaman is someone who has been seized by autonomous psychic
forces spontaneously, the sponteniety being the authentic experience.
Again, in the interest of time, explorations into the consciousness enhancing properties of
psychedelics have to be limited to the bibliography provided at the end of this presentation. My own
See Annexure B.
thoughts and feelings have been informed by Dr Grof’s work, along with the explorations of the
McKenna brothers – Dennis and Terence. Whatever the source, we can all agree that psychedelics
have an effect of breaking thru the barrier of repression, thus allowing the contents of the deepest areas
of our unconscious mind, to emerge into consciousness. It follows that any conscious or unconscious
behavior that leads a person to drugs must represent an unconscious striving for an authentic
experience, an encounter with the Soul, a journey into the underworld that is ruled by our loftiest gods
and their alter egos. Even though entheogenic spirituality is viewed as make believe, imaginary, and
hedonistic, and not as a true spiritual path unless, like shamanism, it is associated with healing and
religion, the root of such striving appears as a quest for a spiritual journey.
Is it conceivable that in people with history of drug abuse, the call for spiritual aspirations is as
genuine, but the developmental trauma creates an urgency and greed that distorts the striving beyond
its usefulness ? Almost in the way the eating disorders distort our hunger for nourishment. But the
quality, texture and the content of this terrible hunger may be identical to the one that guides shamans,
fakirs, and the mystics – rendered less sophisticated and subtle due to its desperation. When the needle
gets stuck in a groove on a vinyl record, the melody becomes repetitively jarring and meaningless. The
meaninglessness of drug addiction can probably be understood in the same context.
This has implications on treatment methods, discussed in Section VII, for if substance abuse is
a consequence of arrested spirituality, cognitive and behavioral interventions will have little effects.
Like the alcohol addiction, an effective cure may lie in a conversion experience, in realization of the
altered states of consciousness thru other, less invasive, means which do not harm the body. A person
with history of substance abuse may have to be brought to terms that there are other ways to
experience this merger with the divine, other ways to experience the highest innate potential. The
consciousness altering properties of Vipassana Meditation may be responsible, for example, for its
effects in controlling substance abuse, with low recidivism and relapse rates observed empirically.
Section V : Sex Addiction/Perversions
In her paper A Servant’s Bargain: Perversion as Survival Svetlana Bonner (2006) outlines
perversion as a ubiquitous adaptation as a derivative of the infant’s horror of the nameless dread
uncontained by the tantalizing environment. Whether perceived or actual, parental abdication of their
protective responsibility can threaten the child’s capacity to learn to contain his affects, and can bring
forth the creation of a festishistic artificial container as a substitute for a reliable connection. A
fantasized instant unison can take the place of genuine intersubjectivity. Perversion, she insists,
represent dejected states of mind, a person’s last effort to protect himself from the anticipated
breakdown, in which excitement serves as a smokescreen that hides the internal terror.
However, viewing a flawed childhood from the perspective of a spiritual arrest, perversions
may seem to represent the same repetitive compulsive aspect of the traumatized psyche as other
addictive behaviors. Could they too represent foiled attempts to take a person forward on the
developmental continuum? Meltzer (1950) states that perversions crystallize around objects of sexual
excitement turning them into dismantling objects. The dismantling creates a phenomenon of
insatiability that is indistinguishable from greed; it is a denigration of emotionality from love to
sexuality. These dismantled objects are not worth protecting from sadistic attack by bad parts of the
However, I was recently led to revisit the phenomenon of increased premature sexuality among
female-victims in areas of political unrest, or those confined to refugee centers. Their psyche, sensing
impending danger to life, sets forth seeds to ensure propagation of species before death. The increased
and premature sexuality of these adolescent girl arises in response to death anxiety. If that is so, could
the sexual addiction generally present itself as a consequence of such perverse death anxiety rather
than as a cognitively negotiated explanation that such people substitute for reliable connection?
Synchronistically, as I pondered on these issues, I had a new patient that provided validation for my
ponderings. The case was especially interesting because of the speed with which her therapy unfolded
over 10 short weeks.
M. was a 23 year old self diagnosed sex addict who wanted help with breaking off her
relationship from her two timing boyfriend. M. reported masturbating as well as having sex more than
20 times per day. She had no religious leanings although her family of origin had been deeply
religious. In a few weeks she found the ego strength to break her relationship but disclosed “going
crazy” without sex. The symptoms included scratching, bruising, clawing herself, constantly
masturbating till she was sore, but continuing anyway to the point of self harm. Taken aback by the
severity of the symptoms, I wondered aloud if her sexual addiction was really a coping mechanism for
a perverse state of anxiety that she disguised as sexual? The interpretation brought immediate relief
and she disclosed that she would blank out several times per day when the environmental noise
became unbearable, Loud conversations, loud music, harsh words caused momentary loss of
consciousness. We uncovered seizures during her infancy – perhaps the experience of death anxiety
continued in the form of dissociative states in adulthood. This insight, linking her sexual anxiety with
her general anxiety and fear of death due to seizures in infancy miraculously brought instant relief, and
she reported spending nights snuggled up with male friends without needing sex. “It’s the first time in
7 years,” she claimed. Her dreams now had strong religious themes and she started going to the church
regularly. She took a break over Christmas, and when she returned, her anxiety levels were low, a
certain mellowness seemed to have descended on her, she seemed to be full of energy and stated that
her vacation with her mother and her sibling had been the most enjoyable she had ever had. She
remained in therapy till the end of January, and claimed to have remained celibate during the entire
period from mid December to end January. Considering herself healed, she decided to terminate
therapy and dedicate more of her time to God, and the church.
I was only able to put her story together in retrospect. It appears to me that she instinctually
carried the preverbal terror of annhilation into her adult life, and her daily dissociations maintained
that fear as a self re-reinforcing system. Such a drastic change in her in such a short time can only be
ascribed to a psychic readiness, a striving for transformation of sexual desire into a shift or an
expansion of consciousness when the instinctual terror of death was objectified and made available to
consciousness for processing and transformation – a transformation that was accompanied by a burst
of creative energy that permeated her life. I wished all my clients with sex addiction were similarly
motivated and transformed, but sometimes the stuff that blocks the encounter with the Self is much too
potent, and requires rigorous working thru.
On this continuum of sexual desires, Swami Muktananda, a renowned Indian meditator
recounts his experience of intense sexual excitement in his path of self realization. He posits that such
experience becomes very strong in the process of unfolding Kundalini – when Swadhisthana chakra
opens up so that the flow of sexual fluid may be turned upwards and meditators lust destroyed forever.
Muktananda appears to describe the process of transformation of desire.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, nirvana/moksha can be achieved thru the paths of Sutra or Tantra
- thru renunciation or thru blissful union. In Yoga Tantra, desire for union leads to union and a
blissfully withdrawn consciousness that the practitioner then uses to realize emptiness. The realization
of the emptiness inherent in existence is said to destroy the possibility of desire. Desire is a means
used to achieve the end, a lot like the worm that is born out of rotting wood, and once born, it eats up
the wood. Hence desire may be a necessary component of the religious functions of the psyche.
Rumi’s love poems and Dante’s passion for Beatrice are but two examples of the transformative nature
of love and lust. In both cases passion led their way to paradise, and god.
Is it possible, then, to see sexual addictions either as disruptions and distortions in the process
of such unfolding of higher energies or even as a desperation for such an unfolding? Jung would say
that the objective psyche possesses a knowledge of, and archetypal striving for such transformation.
However, the contamination of the environment creates barriers to such transformative processes, and
like a needle stuck on a gramophone record, the person remains trapped in an endless repetitive cycle
until and unless an external force – therapy, religion etc – enables a change in the status quo. Like with
alcoholism, a conversion phenomenon is needed for transformation.
Section VI : Discussions, Conclusions & Implications for Treatment
My arguments hopefully support my belief that all addictions appear to be manifestations of
the repetitive compulsive nature of the psyche. In a non-clinical language, they appear as states of
mind that need external stimuli to remain engaged in that mode, representing efforts of a weak ego to
access the soul in an attempt to quench it archetypal thirst for self realization. The choice of a
particular addiction, the quality, quantity and strategy of addictive phenomenon is informed by our
deterministic past and in the way intergenerational trauma may be held, processed and transmitted to
Conceptualizing the clinical problem in terms of the archetypal Self within the environment
adds a spiritual dimension to the problem. Such sensibilities, according to Corbett (XXX) enable a
shared language between spiritual and psychological suffering, and allow for the acknowledgement of
the totality of the psyche. A shared language that can honor all - the sacred, religious, spiritual and
clinical aspects of the psyche, a language that refuses to split the sacred and the profane because
though religious experiences may be pathological from clinical point of view, yet they maintain their
transpersonal stance and healing powers. Religious myths often lead us to the conclusion that human
beings were created with the sole purpose of serving the gods from whose life-blood they have been
created. In psychological term, this means that the physical is formed out of the lifeblood of the
psyche, and the act of creation mandates that ego-consciousness serves soul consciousness. Psyche is
not an epiphenomenon of the body - each of us is a psyche that dwells in a body. (Corbett, XXX). If
people are unduly pushed towards sublimation of their instincts in therapy, their life may become
harder, for restrictions on the body become meaningless if the soul is spiritually arrested.
If the addictive phenomenon can be viewed as an innate striving distorted by personal or
collective trauma, then the objects of addiction – ranging from depressive and suicidal thoughts to
sexual fetishes – can be viewed as an external objects that carry our projections. The purpose of such
projection is always therapeutic, asking of healing experiences. Our hunger for a communion is an
archetypal thirst. Like development of ego consciousness is facilitated by the presence of a loving
mother thru whose eyes we affirm our own self worth, the merger with the divine is facilitated by such
objects that carry our deepest aspirations, our potentials and potentialities, the totality of ourselves, of
who we are deep down inside. Thru their addictions, our patients are allowed their heroism, they are
allowed to slay their dragons, they rescue their damsels in distress, and they can be who they are.
However, such victories are arrested in their outcome. Battled are fought on a daily basis, but no wars
are won, no celestial marriages take place – the psyche remains stuck. Much like the movie the
Groundhog Day, the addict sacrifices his victories to the smithy of his deformed object relations, to
internal demons. At their feet he lays bare his aspirations for individuation and self realization, but
from whose grip he cannot extract his creative essence. Until, he can own his positive shadow, until he
can find the divine within, until, as Jung posits, he encounters something greater than his ego-
consciousness and is changed forever.
In my vision, the wise old man – the senex, sage, wizard or sophos, tells the child “I will take
care of you, but in return you have to give up your body.” The vision establishes the hegemony of soul
consciousness over body consciousness, asserting that achievement of such soul consciousness is not
limited to any predefined path. It guided me to T.’s innate striving, his search for individuation thru
the only means that were available to him, thru his marijuana use. He over evaluated marijuana, and
was fascinated by it. Such over evaluation constitutes an idealization of objects, and bespeaks of an
unmet need. Kohut would ascribe developmental goals to these instincts that are crafted by our
infantile experiences and are valid expressions of the psyche. The aim of psychotherapy, and religion,
and meditation, and addictions, is to lay bare the pure human nature. In every case, our gods and our
deities become silent carriers of our loftiest aspirations and potentialities. More research, more
discourse and a deeper exploration is needed into the study of addictions as a striving for spiritual
fulfillment, as an emergent need arising of, or accompanying individual or collective trauma but also
as the archetypal desire for being, a desire that gets foiled – and forged - in the furnace of everyday
existence. And although the darkness and chaotic power of the unconscious may threaten our fragile
conscious order, the depths of feminine ocean bring water, whose divine grace revives and renews our
courage to persevere with our struggles of the new awakenings. And so, it behooves us to use
feminine, intuitive, nurturing ways of dealing with the predicament of addiction, for who amongst us,
is not an addict, who amongst us would not be mothered by divine grace?
Annexure A : Quotes
The handout provides excerpts from people who have had, for the lack of a better word, mystical
experiences, altered states of mind, transformed consciousness – whatever you may want to call it.
Please go thru each quote, and categorize them into one of the following:
1. Religious experience
2. Sexual experience
3. Drug related experience
4. Alcohol related experience
5. Sexual experience
6. I am unclear which of the above fits
After reading them, please circle True or False on the questions below. You can choose not to answer
a question if you feel neutral about it or you do not know.
1. The first quote represents a ______ experience
2. The second quote represents a ________ experience
3. The third quote represents a _________ experience
4. The fourth quote represents a _________ experience
5. T/F It was easy for me to figure out which was which?
6. The reason it was difficult to figure out because:
a. T/F The language is not evolved enough to express the finer nuances
b. T/F The psyche cannot differentiate between such experiences
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
[I] saw in that universal form unlimited mouths, unlimited eyes, unlimited wonderful visions. The
form was decorated with many celestial ornaments and bore many divine upraised weapons. He wore
celestial garlands and garments and many divine fragrances were smeared over his body. All was
wonderous, brilliant, unlimited and all expanding. If hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise up at
once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of L. in that universal form. At that
time [I] could see in the universal form. . .in the unlimited expansion of the universe situated in one
place although divided into many, many thousands. Then bewildered and astonished, his hair standing
on end, [I] bowed to offer obeisance, and with folded hands, [I] began to pray.
I found something giving way in my brain. As if a new aperture had opened . at first I was terrified. .
I found a stream of silvery light was pouring into my brain. There was a sound like thunder or like
waterfall and the noise grew louder and louder and louder. I began to expand. . .it seemed that my
consciousness was now gaining a wider and wider space and I was leaving my body behind and
projecting myself, spreading myself all around in the universe. The body grew dimmer and dimmer
and dimmer. . .It was the vision of a silvery luster, alive luster, alive, living, vibrant with life,
conscious but spreading around me The small self that was I seemed to become like a point of
awareness. . .this great intelligence that seemed to encompass the whole universe like a small cork
floating in the whole ocean, aware of the whole ocean. . .a small point of awareness floating in an
ocean of consciousness. . .i felt myself expanding. . .attended by a happiness that is not possible to
describe . . I felt in a state of jubiliation, happiness and elation that I had never experienced in my life
until that time. . .and I was completely baffled as to what had happened to me. . .the vision drew me to
it. . .I was fascinated my whole attention was attracted as if as an iron filing is attracted to the magnet.
I could not withdraw my attention from it. . . Finally the circle of light grew narrower and narrower
and I who had expanded, began to feel myself contracting. The “I” became narrower….and I found
myself [back] in my body.
There were candles everywhere, and incense. I closed my eyes in silent supplication, an offering. To
leave them open seemed like sacrilege. My thoughts were chaotic, everything seemed too difficult to
put into words. I felt as if I was leaving my body, that there was no body, just a point of concentration
that was exploding in its emotional intensity. I felt like I was entering into the realm of the sacred.
Where was God? What was God like? Was this God’s power ? In slow motion, in a dance of the
sacred, I remember feeling enveloped, immersed in warmth, and love – a connection I had never
experienced before in my entire life. My whole being was bathed by an excruciatingly painful yet
blissful longing for permanence, to remain in this ecstatic state, and a fear that it would end and I
would return to the mundane, the profane. I felt a sense of awe, a worship and my eyes teared up. I
started crying softly in ecstacy, and the anticipation of the end, a sense of absolute loss overcame me.
Within the space of a few heartbeats, I had completely expanded. . .eyes open in absolute awe and
wonder the room dissolved, my ego dissolved, my entire world dissolved. . .there was nothing to see,
noting to experience, nothing to perceive. Absolutely pure nothingness. And this nothingness was
pure consciousness. And it was love. Infinite love and infinite perfection. Everything was in a state of
divine perfection, nothing was out of place. Nothing was good or bad. Nothing was right or wrong.
Everything was simply perfect in this state of consciousness, this pure state of being. And this state
was not a thing, not an object of perception. It was not a concept. It was not an emotion. It was not
anything I could describe in any way. . .in truth it was nothing. But that nothing was everything. It was
God, and it was my deepest nature. I was one with God.
Annexure B : Jung, Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous
Jung’s Case of Rowland
Sometime in 1931, another man, a young, talented, and wealthy financial wizard, had found
himself on the verge of despair over his inability to control his drinking. Having attempted virtually
every other “cure,” he turned to one of the greatest medical and psychiatric talents of the time,
traveling to Zurich, Switzerland, to place himself under the care of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung. For close to
a year, Rowland H. worked with Jung, finally leaving treatment with boundless admiration for the
physician and almost as much confidence in his new self.
To his consternation, Rowland soon relapsed into intoxication. Certain that Jung was his last
resort, he returned to Zurich and the psychiatrist’s care. There followed, in Bill Wilson’s words written
to Dr. Jung in 1961, “the conversation between you [and Rowland] that was to become the first link in
the chain of events that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.” That conversation, in Wilson’s
and Jung’s later memory, had made two points. “First of all, you frankly told him of his hopelessness,
so far as any further medical or psychiatric treatment might be concerned.” Second, in response to
Rowland’s frantic query whether there might be any other hope, Jung had spoken of “a spiritual or
religious experience — in short, a genuine conversion,” cautioning, however, “that while such
experiences had sometimes brought recovery to alcoholics, they were . . . comparatively rare.”
Concerning the first point, Wilson wrote to Jung: “This candid and humble statement of yours
was beyond doubt the first foundation stone upon which our society has since been built.” In response
to the second statement, which offered a slender thread of hope, Rowland had joined the Oxford
Group, “an evangelical movement then at the height of its success in Europe.” In recalling to Jung this
channeling of his idea, Wilson — who was linked to Rowland H. through their mutual friend Ebby T.
— stressed the Oxford Group’s “large emphasis upon the principles of self-survey, confession,
restitution, and the giving of oneself in service to others.”
Within the Oxford Group, Rowland had found “the conversion experience that released him for
the time being from his compulsion to drink.” Returning to New York City, he joined and became
active in the Oxford Group at its United States headquarters — the Calvary Episcopal Church of Rev.
Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. Alcoholics had not been a primary interest of Oxford Group adherents in
America or in Europe, but Rowland chose to devote to such sufferers his efforts at living out and
promoting his own conversion experience. Thus, in August 1934, hearing that his old friend Ebby T.
was threatened with commitment to an institution because of his drinking, Rowland H. intervened, and
with his friend Cebra G., pledged for Ebby’s parole, leading him to the Oxford Group and so to his
first period of sobriety. (Ernest Kurtz; NOT – GOD, p. 8).
Courtesy : An unknown Internet site
Jung’s Letter to Bill Wilson.
Dear Mr. W.
Your letter has been very welcome indeed. I had no news from Rowland H. anymore and often
wondered what has been his fate. Our conversation which he has adequately reported to you had an
aspect of which he did not know. The reason that I could not tell him everything was that those days I
had to be exceedingly careful of what I said. I had found out that I was misunderstood in every
possible way. Thus I was very careful when I talked to Rowland H. But what I really thought about
was the result of many experiences with men of his kind.
His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for
wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.*
How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?
The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can
only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be
led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a
higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism. I see from your letter that
Rowland H. has chosen the second way, which was, under the circumstances, obviously the best one.
I am strongly convinced that the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized
spiritual need into perdition, if it is not counteracted either by real religious insight or by the protective
wall of human community. An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in
society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil. But the use of such words
arouses so many mistakes that one can only keep aloof from them as much as possible.
These are the reasons why I could not give a full and sufficient explanation to Rowland H., but
I am risking it with you because I conclude from your very decent and honest letter that you have
acquired a point of view above the misleading platitudes one usually hears about alcoholism.
You see, "alcohol" in Latin is "spiritus" and you use the same word for the highest religious
experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra
Thanking you again for your kind letter
C. G. Jung*
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." (Psalms 42:1)
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