I once confessed to a guru that I suffered from an addictive personality. He startled me by roaring with laughter. “You and everyone else on the planet, Mira,” he retorted. “Anyone not fully enlightened is an addict of samsara.” Today I interpret his words this way: some of us are outright addicts to a range of substances. But there are subtle addictions too — to a particular lifestyle, a work routine that massages the ego, a favorite person, a diet, attention from others, sexual gratification, the consuming need to be appreciated by the world — and the list goes on, ad nauseam.
Substance addictions are the most easy to spot — and therefore easier to heal. Stop smoking, for instance, and you instantly halt the addiction. But subtle addictions are far more slippery: how to deal with the egoic compulsion to impress others with one’s beauty, intelligence, talent or wealth? Especially in an increasingly insane and plastic world, where we are encouraged to live artificial lives and are held to false standards, and where the workaholic, film star or billionaire is lauded and applauded? Continue reading