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A Shared World


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The Shared World of Religion, Meditation, Alcohol, Drugs and Sex

A paper to be presented at the Annual Conference for Association of Transpersonal Psychology at Atherton on Feb 14th.

Spirituality in Action : Bringing Transpersonal Psychology to a World in Crisis

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A Shared World

  1. 1. Tell it to no one, only sages, For the crowd derides such learning - Goethe
  2. 2. A Shared World The Shared World of Religion, Meditation, Alcohol, Drugs and Sex Madhu Sameer Fresno, CA 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
  3. 3. Acknowledgements My heartfelt thanks to all entities that enabled the formulation of these ideas. I started work 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 knowledge (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 was simply a vessel thru which the work flowed. 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 unconscious depths, experiences that would otherwise have languished in the dungeons of irrelevance and repression. And of course Dr Carl Gustav Jung, whose writings serve to expand my consciousness every moment. Tender dedications to Kabir and Utsav, who spent the last two weekends quietly holed up in their rooms so I could pull this manuscript together. On the superbowl Sunday the television was low and I was served tea and toast in bed to keep me nourished and well fed during the writing of this paper ! And SJS, thanks for the inspiration, and for forcing me to the finish line, even though your methods were punitive! 
  4. 4. The Shared World of Religion, Meditation, Alcohol, Drugs and Sex Introduction 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 understand reality within the context of human projections. We are informed that our salvation, moksha, nirvana, and/or psychological well-being depends on realization of a higher form of consciousness – that we can attain our highest potential by withdrawing our 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. 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 facilitating our connection with ourself. If we are lucky, our gods and the deities will carry our spirituality, other times, we are compelled to fall back on our addictions. Synchronicities & Personal Experiences Like zillions before me, I have mediated on the questions about the nature of reality. What would it be like and why would it be denied to us. Why this human suffering? Why are we depressed, angry, anxious? And as I explored these questions, I became aware of the obsessive properties of such explorations, and the addictive nature of such epistemological and ontological quests. The psyche is fundamentally addictive. 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 everyday addictions, in myself, in my family, friends and patients and it was also born of a vision, an interplay of images that I had during a session a few months ago. T. was my 25 year old Caucasian male patient. T. and his girlfriend, 24, each saw me individually once a week. They agreed that he had an explosive anger that would lead him to destroy property. T. had been deserted by his father at the age of 6. They wished to be married, but she felt “broken” by his use of marijuana, and his angry outbursts. In this particular session, T. and I had intimate moments of empathic attunement where he "connected" and "felt understood." I felt hopeful. As he rambled on, expressing his anger, an imaginal field opened up and I had a vision. A little blonde toddler in a cul-de-sac was 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 these houses to come out. They circled the crying child, but slowly, their faces hardened, and in slow motion one by one they returned to the safety of their homes. The beautiful golden haired boy fell on the ground, picked himself up, and still crying walked over to the last house in the circle – a messy, dilapidated house with broken windows and a haunted look. The doorplate read “The House of Drugs”. As he approached it, a door opened and a kind, old man with flowing beard came out, and said to him "you can come in, but you will have
  5. 5. to give up your body!" The child nodded, the old man picked him up, 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. We will briefly exploration the symbolic meaning of the vision. The circle, and the houses are symbols of the Self. The vision superimposed the past and the present reality of T. T. had been gripped by the archetype of the abandoned child. He had had to forsake the nurturing, relationship oriented aspects of his personality. He had experienced the sacred through his use of drugs, being “held” almost captive by the inner wisdom of abandonment trauma. In the present, his continued enactment of lost child wedded to this infantile wisdom, had prevented any genuine connection with his girlfriend. I realized that his loyalty to the wisdom of marijuana would not be relinquished, and besides, it was his only access to the immaterial states of consciousness. But I became aware that his continued use of marijuana would quite literally destroy him physically. A few weeks later he confirmed my fears – he had 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 Why is it important to understand the link between the process of self realization, religion, spirituality and addictions and its relevance to the practice of psychotherapy ? 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 (, 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 faster than the families disintegrate. The rational, cognitive approaches to treatment of such addictions don’t seem to be working well. The problems may be better understood if viewed thru the lens of an archetypal striving. 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. This 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 an hour 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.
  6. 6. A narrow definition tends to render incomprehensible the true nature of that which is being defined, so lets take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Could depression be characterized as a form of addiction to negative thoughts and feelings ? What about euphoria and ecstasy of manic episodes? 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. Most addictions hide themselves in our daily lives and have a noble purpose. Most 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 towards 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, 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. Hypothesis 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 others, are merely psychic attempts to move towards a higher form of consciousness which is representative of the divine presence. Furthermore, 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 such transformation, the frugal psyche chooses the most cost effective strategy 1 See Annexure A.
  7. 7. in the psychic economy. Such a view enables a progressive view of addictive phenomenon and provides hope for meaningful change. In the last analysis, addictions may represent a potent desire for Self Realization. Common Definition For this paper, the term Self is used in Jungian terms, to signify the unified consciousness and the unconscious psyche. Symbolised by a circle with four quadrants. There are two centers of the personality - the ego being the center of consciousness, and the Self is the center of the total personality, which includes consciousness, the unconscious, and the ego. The Self is both the whole and the center, the ego is a self-contained little circle off the center contained within the whole, the Self can be understood as the greater circle. Jungian psychology holds that the Self is endowed with an innate potential much the same way an accord has the potential of becoming an oak tree, or the caterpillar holds the potential of becoming a butterfly. The process of realizing this potential is called self realization, or individuation. 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 term 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). Conceptual Framework 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-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. This repetitive compulsive enactment, in my opinion, fueled by introjections and projections, is representative of addictive phenomenon that flows well into adulthood. Given this understanding, 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 rendering the barriers between ego and soul consciousness porous and attempt to transform chaos into order, to bring into consciousness the
  8. 8. unconscious dimensions of the psyche, to enable the addict an authentically significant experience that had been denied to him in infancy – the experience of himself. Section I :The Psyche and Religiosity Robert Johnson (1991) suggests that 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. He posits that 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 Johnson (1991), is essentially a religious entity and that an implication of this awareness is that humans do not have a choice between being spiritual or non-spiritual. 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 gone awry because the natural ways of healing have been blocked. From the psychoanalytic perspective, Guntrip (n.d.) too 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 infant first projects his spiritual energy on his mother, and his subsequent relationship with divinity – the symbolic mother - is modeled on this relationship with his physical 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 replace 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 explanation I have for this phenomenon is 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 – they all appear to have identical internal representations. The incestuous taboos around some of these are merely socially constructed defenses. Hence transformation of one representation into another may best be viewed as a rhythmic flow of seasons separated in time, yet 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
  9. 9. other addictive phenomena to understand the soul’s ways of negotiating the obstructions in its quest for realization. Section II : Experiences of Meditation Meditation involves opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations without becoming involved 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 psyche. 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 a spillage from collective unconscious, manifested in the dissociative and/or psychotic symptoms of meditative experiences. Contents of the unconscious become accessible to detached observation. This unfolding of self-knowledge, which is also the knowledge about God, represents Jung’s psychic synthesis where the cravings and aversions are consciously transformed into equanimity and are now served religiously by the ego. And with such 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 discern a separation in 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, the meditative experiences strives for a union between the conscious and the unconscious psyche, and that union brings forth 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’s treatment was a success, but after a few months, he fell back into his addictions and requested to return to therapy. Jung refused to take him back, stating that Rowland could only be helped thru a conversion experience. The phrase “Spiritus contra Spritium” became the founding basis for Alcoholic Anonymous. In seventeenth century, much before Jung has explored this inter-relationship between religion and alcoholism, Descartes held that the social construction of the self in relation to the world created an erroneous perception of a separation between the subject and the object which contradicted an 2 See Annexure B.
  10. 10. intuitive understanding of their interdependependence and interconnectedness. In psychological terms, this split between intuition and cognition causes an intrapsychic conflict. G. Bateman, an anthropologist, used Descartes views to posit that alcohol reduces this epistemological error because alcohol blurs the lines between self and object. 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 reality as it is intuitively 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. Alcohol thus provides a balancing factor that allows him an authentic experience of himself. He can surrender alcohol only when he encounters something greater than himself – a conversion experience. In Kohutian language, a necessary aspect of such a conversion would be a movement from mirror transference to idealizing transference. 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 and parallels the experience of meditation. Section IV : Drugs According to James Ball (XXXX), mystical experiences can be defined as the experience of unification with the divine. In context of Hinduism, a mystical experience represents the unity and identity of Atman and Brahman, merger between the Self and the Absolute. He cites the experience of Nirvana, or the dissolution of ego-consciousness in Buddhism. In Christianity mystical experience represents the personal experience of Christ Consciousness. In Mystery Schools it was the awakening of Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom. Ball then explores the importance of hallucinogens in creation of such experiences - the Dionysian rites with wine, the trance of sybil at the Delphic oracle aided by her inhalation of the vapors of the chasm and fumes of laurel, the employment of drugs at Mysteries of Eleusis. The ancient Rig Veda also praises the divine Soma, that brings one to exalted states of consciousness and direct perception of the divine that unfold a spontaneity in experiences. Ball concludes that the use of visionary plants and fungi to introduce altered states of consciousness continues from antiquity. 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. Ball suggests that genuine and effective shamanism is a felt and experienced form of consciousness, aided and facilitated by consciousness altering drugs. Again, in the interest of time, explorations into the consciousness enhancing properties of psychedelics have to be limited. My own 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 unconscious psyche 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. Ball points out that 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, and the root of such striving appears as a quest for a spiritual journey. Is it conceivable that people with history of drug abuse are facing the same delimma as those that fall into alcohol? Perhaps in both, the call for spiritual aspirations is as genuine as in those that pursue the path of religion, or meditation, but their 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 by its desperation. When the needle gets stuck in a groove on a vinyl record, the melody
  11. 11. becomes repetitively jarring and meaningless. The meaninglessness of drug addiction can probably be understood in the same context. This has implications on treatment methods, for if substance abuse is a consequence of arrested spirituality, cognitive and behavioral interventions will be ineffective. Like the alcohol addiction, an effective cure may lie in a conversion experience, or 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 enabled into alternate ways of experiencing this merger with the divinity of his unconscious psyche. 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. We complement this understanding of sexual addictions and perversion as a spiritual arrest. As discussed earlier, mother is the first carrier of the infants spiritual energy, and as a consequence of a distortion in this relationship, the infant is denied his ability to project his idealized Self on her. Disappointment in the good object causes anger which is then used to contain the required idealization by erecting defenses of reaction formation. 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 self. The nature of perversion may be understood as a consequence of failed union, the addiction of perversion being the reparative attempts for restoration of such union. As discussed before, since the psyche appears incapable of distinguishing between self-breast-mother and/or the object of desire/addiction, it follows that successful repair in the subject’s relationship with one would lead to repair with others. In addition to the above, 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 her 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 seemed to bring immediate relief and she disclosed that she often blanked out several times per day when the environmental noise
  12. 12. became unbearable, Loud conversations, loud music, harsh words caused momentary loss of consciousness in her everyday life. We uncovered seizures in her childhood, and a significant amount of loudness in parental conflict. Her death anxiety seemed to have manifested as dissociative states in adulthood. This insight, linking her sexual anxiety with her general anxiety and fear of death miraculously brought 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 began to have 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 stated that her vacation with her mother and her siblings 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 to volunteer more of her time at the church. I was only able to put her story together in retrospect, and in her absence. It seemed that the preverbal terror of annihilation was carried into her adult life, and maintained thru her daily dissociations as a self re-reinforcing system. The sorrow and torture of everyday wounding, and the creativity required for negotiating existence had been intractably linked to her mortality. Her instinct for procreation could afford to be delayed when conscious processing of existential anxiety was facilitated by thru such objectification. This transformation was accompanied by a repair in her relationship with her physical mother, and the symbolic father (her physical father had passed away a few years ago). Swami Muktanand, a renown Indian meditator, talks about such process of transformation of desire, recounting periods of intense sexual excitement in the process of unfolding Kundalini – when his Swadhisthana chakra opened up so that the flow of sexual fluid may be turned upwards and meditators lust destroyed forever. Hinduism and Buddhism hold that nirvana/moksha can be achieved thru the paths of Sutra (renunciation) or Tantra (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 appears as a necessary component of the religious functions of the psyche, for in Rumi’s passion for Shams and Dante’s passion for Beatrice they each found god. Sexual addictions can thus be seen 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 states. However, the contamination of the environment creates barriers, trapping the psyche in endless repetitions until an external force enables change. Section VI : Discussions, Conclusions & Implications for Treatment These arguments hopefully support the spiritual aspect of addictive phenomenon. Addictions 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 us. 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 the sacred, religious, spiritual and clinical aspects of the psyche, because though religious experiences may be pathological from clinical point of view, yet they maintain their transpersonal stance and healing powers.
  13. 13. 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 just 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 the body will not be contained if the soul is arrested. If the addictive phenomenon is 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. Our hunger for a communion is an archetypal thirst. 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 meaningless in that though the battled are fought on a daily basis, no wars are won, no celestial marriages take place because the addict sacrifices his victories to the smithy of his deformed object relations, to internal demons. At their feet he lays bare his aspirations, but from whose grip he cannot extract his creative essence - until he dares to own his positive shadow, until he finds the divine within. 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. As Jung (xxxx) posits in Mysterium Coniunctium, 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 wish to be nourished by the divine grace? Annexure A : Quotes Individual Experiences 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:
  14. 14. 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
  15. 15. Individual Experiences The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao (I-Ching) I [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. II 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. III 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.
  16. 16. IV 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.
  17. 17. 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
  18. 18. 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 spiritum. Thanking you again for your kind letter I remain Yours sincerely C. G. Jung* "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." (Psalms 42:1)
  19. 19. References Ball, M.W. (2008). The entheogenic evolution : Psychedelics, consciousness and awakening the human spirit. Kyandara Publishing. Edinger, E. F. (1994). The mystery of the coniunctio: Alchemical image of individuation. NY: Inner City Books. Fairbairn. W.R.D. (1952). Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality. London:Routledge Goethe, West Eastern Divan, translated by J. Whaley, Munich, 1979, p.27 Grof, S. (2009). LSD : Doorway to the numinous. Vermont: Park Street Press Guntrip, H. (n.d). Psychotherapy and religion. NY. Harper. Hardings, E.M. (2003). The parental image: Its injury and reconstruction. Toronto: Inner City Books Jung, C.G. (1938). Psychology of Religion. London: Yale University Press. Jung, C.G. (1936). Yoga and the West. Jung, C.G. (1943). The psychology of eastern meditation. Jung. C.G. (XXX). The undiscovered self. Jung, C.G. (XXXX). Mysterium Coniunctionis. Translated by R.F.C Hull. CT. Princeton University Press. Lama, D., Dzong-ka-ba, Hopkins, J. (XXXX). Yoga tantra; Path to magical feats. Levin, J.D. (2002). Treatment of alcoholism and other addictions: A self psychology approach. NJ: Jason Aronson Neumann, E. (XXXX). Fear of the feminine and other essays on feminine psychology. Princeton: Bollinger series Meltzer, D. (2008). Sexual states of mind. NY: Karnac Schwartz-Salant, N. (1998). The mystery of human relationship: Alchemy and the transformation of the self. NY: Routledge
  20. 20. Stein, M. (1998). Tranformations: Emergence of the Self. TX: Texas University Press