Friday, September 23, 2011

Chapter 1: Banquet of Life (Part 1)

A compulsion toward food, alcohol, drugs, sex—or anything at all—has its roots in pride and the terrible willfulness that pride encourages us to express as our due. After all, I’m worth it, we say, as we help ourselves to one after the other of our delicacies or forbidden delights. Then when we realize we’re hooked, we compound the problem of our addiction by reacting to our evolving symptoms as though they were the problem. Some of us become quite adept at dramatizing our helplessness against the awful things that are happening to us.We even get our friends (fiends, that is) and an occasional do-gooder to look on us as the poor, unfortunate victim rather than the author of our own sad plight.

Until we dare to cease our diversionary tactics and take an honest look at the real cause of our wrong relationship with the goodies (mostly “baddies,” really) of the world, we will be unable to bring about any meaningful changes in our life. First we must see that we have created the problem ourselves through our proud, egotistical willfulness. Then we must see that getting mad at the results and doing battle with them only compound the problem.

The frustration and despair that attend our efforts to free ourselves are simply the pitiful cries of our pride as it finds itself sinking in the quicksand of its own creation. It would be better if we simply gave up and did nothing. But, unwisely, we must attack our symptoms with renewed vigor, as though the sheer force of our anger could give us control over the enemy that has enslaved us.

Finally we must submit; before long we are wallowing hopelessly in our sick “pleasures” and seeking solace from the very people and vices that we once regarded as enemies. They are still our enemies, of course, but in our hopelessness, we do not see very clearly: in fact, we want neither to see clearly nor to have anything to do with anyone who does see clearly. Simply, no matter how much we wish to deny it, we can never completely escape the knowledge that we are not showing ourselves in the best light when we are trapped in a compulsion. Whether flailing about in protest or simply wallowing, we are not a pretty sight. All our hang-ups follow this pattern, whether they are with people, places, things, or whatever.

The ego doesn’t take any threat to its supremacy lightly. When it sees that it has been taken captive by a person or a vice, it seeks to turn the tables by consoling itself with whatever it can milk from the once-hated thing. Beware of the “love” that grows out of hatred or resentment!

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