Prior to that, I used to think I was a well-balanced Libra! Accordingly, I never considered myself to have an addictive personality and in that, at least, I think I am correct. But I've come to see "addiction" from a new perspective: one that I choose to call a Vedantic view.
It used to be that the term "addiction" applied to drugs (from nicotine to heroin) and alcohol. Now, however, the term applies to any self-destructive habit (over-eating, sex obsessions, gambling, fanaticism or binging of any kind, and numerous other harmful habits).
"In for a penny, in for a pound" suggests that life itself is an addiction: desires so pressing and so varied as to be as innumerable as they are ubiquitous. Think of the million and one hobbies, which though not destructive, are compulsive and at least "keep people off the streets!"
Once we strip the term "addictive" of its overtly negative connotations, we can say that life itself is addictive because "life is habit forming." Consider the strength behind the compulsive desire for human love; children; approval and recognition; success and security; pleasure and comfort: just to name a few.
From the perspective of yoga and from the general perspective of orthodox religion with its obsession on sin, life can be seen as an impulse away from the perfection of the soul (made in the image of God) and consisting of a flow outwards seeking fulfilment in egocentric experiences and possessions ((materialism-sin).
For most people, human life is nothing less than the search for satisfaction pursuing life's myriad promises of happiness. If so, what could be more addictive than this? Few even question it; fewer can imagine (until it's too late) that these promises will prove false.
Add to this view of life the possibility of our having lived countless previous lives (with countless more to come) conditioned by the consequences of past actions, desires and fear and you may suddenly feel like the giant in Gulliver's Travels held captive by countless small threads. No wonder the concept of determinism or fatalism haunts our darker moments. Isn't this how it feels when one is deeply depressed? Like there's no way out?
Leaving aside the present consequences of past actions, think of how often we seek to cure our boredom or malaise by chasing new forms of excitement; new partners, jobs, hobbies, travel; of how "hope springs eternal" in ever new forms of preoccupation. Think of the near-universal obsession humanity possesses for vicariously experiencing (through movies, books, etc.) war, love, adventure, crime, drama, intrigue, and violence. We are too often desperate for stimulation lest we question whether we are still alive.
Admittedly, those who don't seek new sources of feeling alive may well be wishing they weren't. But must life always swing from one extreme to another?
There is a way out. It is the third state of consciousness: inner peace; contentment; acceptance. And, while we perhaps imagine such a state as passive and all but comatose, the truth is far different.
There are those who, however statistically few in number they may be, are calm, centered in themselves, quietly confident, and possessed of strength and willpower while focused one-pointedly on what's before them. These can be saints, scientists, business entrepreneurs, parents, teachers: in fact, any outward role can be accomplished while living in (but not merely for) the present and for the goals present actions are intended. A saint will be focused on God while an inventor will be focused on his invention but while the former may lead to the beatitude of certitude and the latter to but a passing experience, the experience of calm, one-pointed concentration has its own reward.
For most humans, life IS addictive. It is "restless by nature" (and I mean that literally). Our reptilian past-biases incline us to fear and competition, or fight or flight.
The practices of (physical) yoga and meditation are consciously designed to calm the "natural tumult" provoked by the five senses and enhanced by memory and imagination. Both physical yoga and meditation are properly included in the term "yoga. Yoga bestows presence of mind and body.
At the center of this tumult is the inner peace mentioned above. In that state, we are in the eye of the storm of "I." In this state, the "I" subsides and a higher Eye becomes the Seer and viewer of the parade of life. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote: “When this “I” shall die, then shall I know “Who am I!”
Take for yourself the identity and self-image of a wise and noble seer: a Moses; a mystic; a Christ; Buddha; Lao-Tse; Yogananda. In various ways, each counsels us to move through life as a great actor playing various roles with excellence, artistic flair, and enthusiasm while never being anything but the unique and individual you: always the same and untouched by the drama and the script you have to play.
Enjoy both being entertained, and entertaining others, yet while remaining cognizant that the "drama of life has for its meaning that it is simply a drama." (Paramhansa Yogananda: Essence of Self-Realization).
Yes, you can cry and grieve, just like those great actors in a Shakespearean play. But in the end, you are purified, made clean and whole. In joy or sorrow, your response is the one appropriate to the script of your life at that moment. But act nonetheless with inner freedom, remaining a little apart from your actions, being mindful, self-aware and in touch with the river of inner peace.
Don't be an addict of life. Those who addicted to the drama of life are compelled to experience the highs and lows without end in what becomes, to the soul at least, a living hell. (The ego may crave the drama for fear of the silence but it is simply mistaken and habituated to restlessness.)
Consider the toddler who bursts into a tantrum ("Tantrum yoga") one moment and squeals with glee the next. Consider that you can barely remember what you were thinking five minutes ago. Your memories of last year or your childhood are but fleeting and static. Think of all the emotional cloudbursts of pleasure and pain you have experienced. Can you even remember more than just a few?
Life is a river that flows toward the sea of peace, joy, and calmness. Do what is yours to do; what you are called to do by righteousness and do it with enthusiasm, creativity, and concentration. At the same time, and such is the paradox of existence in the realm of duality where "All is flux" (Pantha rhe), do it even while not feeling that you are the Doer; rather, see yourself as a channel through which "life" flows but doesn't stop as it wends its way to the sea.
This inner peace can be called "God." For this Peace is alive and Self-aware. God can respond and guide you should you form a deep and loving relationship with Him/Her who is our Creator, our Life, our true Self. And THAT who is without name, gender, or form.
We "worship" God by seeking inner communion with God's manifestation in our consciousness in the various forms such as inner peace, unconditional love or joy, light, energy or the sound of the wordless Word. In this, we cannot help but feel gratitude, sacredness, reverence, and humility.
Addiction is our natural, egoic state. Therefore, working to transcend its influence should be a natural and joyful one. Through the daily practice of yoga, the memory of this higher and original state of our soul can reawaken. This state is the "third rail" of happiness and fulfilment.
Let inner peace be your "addiction,"