Posts tagged #addiction

The Apocalypse 2013 as Truth Unveiling - Mourning Friends in Denial

The apocalypse isn't zombies and atom bombs. Apocalypse means "the unveiling." The unveiling of truth. I feel it happening in me and see it in people all around me. I'm now in deep mourning for several people in my life that are avoiding me like I'm the Red Death -

- literally, not figuratively - they're running and hiding in bushes when they see me coming -

- this started last month when I lost my ability to dissemble and my willingness to enable any falsehood in myself or others.

I love these friends and lovers, more passionately and truly than I will ever be able to say. I see the genius and heroism in them that they don't see.

I'm in mourning for my personal loss of the beautiful aspects of their company. Their singing voices. Their eyes when they're unguarded and gleaming. Their touch.

And I'm and also mourning for them that they don't seem interested in accepting something about the world that's become so plain to me.

This plainness is that the "world" - as in Babylon, as in the lie - is ending. We're at the apocalypse, right now. It's the truth unveiling itself in our hearts and in our words.


And honestly, I'm scared for these friends and lovers and their wellbeing. Because they're in deep denial.

And this is no time for denial.

Denial is the flavor of falsehood that enables addiction.

Denial and addiction is a wretched way to live. I know because I lived it full-time for years.

I know because I used it to keep myself small.

It's a way of life that's made up of evasion and avoidance and non-acceptance of one's heart's power and truth.

It's a way of life that's made up of disconnection and alienation and paranoia.

Denial doesn't meet the fact that our society's consumptive way of life is totally unsustainable, that it has only existed for about 100 years...

... that the global economy is in tumult....

... that our main means of getting food relies on a tenuous system of oil...

....that our society gives every sign of being about to crumble at the same time that its brutal barren scourge of cynicism and boringness and refusal of all Enlightenment-era liberties is at a hysterical pitch...

I'm no longer interested in denial and falsehood because the vast truth is so much sweeter.

The truth, as I experience it, includes the facts that

.. that there's incredible power and magic inside each one of us, readily accessible via meditation and tantra and imagination and yoga...

... that none of us have to do this alone, that we're all each other's brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers...

... that community and non-alienated labor can meet our real needs about a billion times better than atomized corporatist labor and consumption...

... that we all have things we're astoundingly good at and deeply love to do and that when we each do just what it is we truly love to do - whatever it is - grow food, write books, make music, build houses, sew clothes - then things work.

The truth is gleaming. It sounds like my missing friends' singing voices. It looks like their eyes when they're open.

Beauty is truth; truth beauty; that's all ye can know on earth and all ye need to know.

Have you lost the ability to dissemble lately?

Are you missing any dear ones who are still in denial? What's your experience?


Addiction and scarcity: when there isn't enough to go around

Somewhere along the line, we humans get confused about love.  We want it to be special. Which means, we want more of it than other people get.  We want more attention, more nurturing, more recognition than others. This is impossible, though, because love is infinite and always-radiating from the divine and from the hearts of everyone.  To "have more of it" would mean that it would have to be somehow finite in order to be able to be divided up into relative amounts.

But we're confused. We think we can make the infinite small and limited.  In this way we're all fallen angels.  Lucifer, the most famous fallen angel, fell from heaven because he made the same mistake.  He wanted special love, special power from God.  When God wouldn't give it, Lucifer was like, "Well, I'd rather be king in  hell than just a regular somebody in heaven.  So screw this, I'm going to hell."

And that's what we've done to ourselves.  We've made ourselves kings in hell.  I don't mean the hell of fire and brimstone.  I mean the hell of self-rejection, alienation, separation.  The hell of feeling limited and threatened.

Once we're confused enough to think that love can be finite, and once this confusion has obscured for us the awareness that love is actually infinitely abundant and radiating at us all the time - we begin to think that we can use finite things in this world as a substitute for love-energy.

Pie. Coffee. Nicotine. Dopamine from sex.  TV. Heroin. Alcohol. The rush of shopping.  Gambling. On and on.

The thing about pie is that it's not infinite.  Pie is finite.  In order for me to have more pie, someone indeed has to have less pie.

When I'm using pie as a substitute for love, my desire for pie becomes infinite. I want to grab up all the pie in the world and hoard it, because I can never get enough. Even if I have giant warehouses of pie, even if I have more pie than I could ever eat.  Even if eating pie all the time is making me sick and diabetic and obese.  I still have this demand for pie.  Because I'm trying to get an infinite need met with a finite substance, and I'm confused.

Along the way I end up stealing pie from a whole lot of other people.  They can just go hungry.  Fuck them. I need pie.

This is the disease of addiction.  It's a fundamental confusion about finitiude and infinitude, and all of us are affected by it to some extent.  Addiction comes from the Latin word for slavery.  It's an experience of being enslaved to the things of this world.   There's nothing wrong with pie, coffee, nicotine, dopamine from sex, TV, heroin, alcohol.  They're all innocent things that can be great medicine on some occasions.  The trouble comes in when we try to use these things as substitutes for what we're infinitely yearning for.

Our whole society is currently operating in this addicted mode.  We're addicted to money, power, oil.  We've gone deep into debt to fuel our addiction.  Rapacious addicts are the "leaders" of this society, because it's a society dedicated to addiction.

Addiction can only thrive inside the lie of scarcity, which comes from being confused about love.  When we're in addiction, we believe there isn't enough to go around.  We need more.  We need to grab it.  The sad thing is that the natural world is abundant, and humans have the innate intelligence to wisely cultivate that abundance to satisfy the needs of everyone.  Scarcity only actually arises when there's addicts running around voraciously consuming way more of various substances than they actually need because they've confused that substance with love itself.

So right now things are tight in the economy.  There doesn't seem to be enough money to go around.  Actually, though, there would be plenty of money to go around - except a handful of addicts are hoarding gigantic piles of it.

This is painful.  It means we've all been harmed by addicts, just like a little old lady who gets her purse snatched by a junkie who also knocks her down onto the sidewalk.  We're bruised.  We've been robbed.

Here's the other thing though: we're also all addicts ourselves.  We have the same fundamental confusion within us as the people who are hoarding all the pie, power, oil, money, etc.

And since addiction is a spiritual confusion, an internal confusion, we can't end it for those other people out there with the giant hoards.  We might be able to heal ourselves and then serve as inspirations for others who also want to heal, but that's it.  That's the limit of our ability to change people who aren't us.

This is part of the reason why violence is completely useless to end our societal problems.  Even if revolutionaries killed the "leaders" and billionaires and took their money and redistributed it tomorrow - by next week someone else would have started to hoard it.  The problem is not with individuals or even corporations or countries.

The problem is with this spiritual illness, this virus, that afflicts us humans. As long as it's afflicting one of us, we're all affected by it.  But we can only address it within our own selves.

So that's what I'm interested in doing, and interested in helping you to do if you desire it.  Ending the confusion, ending my useless attempts to try to meet my infinite desire with finite jollies.  Seeking to go straight to the good stuff and give myself and others love instead.

That's the love revival, and that's what I'll be talking about tomorrow night at Assemble on Penn Avenue at 7 pm:



Posted on September 13, 2012 and filed under Uncategorized.

The Arcana - Chapter 1 - Laney Mitchell's Life Sucks



So, I wrote a first draft of a novel for NaNoWriMo this year.  It's a metaphysical farce, which I know is not as popular these days as bodice-ripping supernatural teen romance-- but, what the hell, it's what I got.


The plot has a few dozen holes and logical inconsistencies-- but there's stuff in it that's really amusing and compelling, in my humble estimation.


I realized that with my ever-mounting to-do list related to making a living, I might never get around to revising this novel into something that fits neatly together and makes sense.  Then I remembered that some of my favorite 19th century novels appeared first as serials in magazines. So, in the hopes that having a bit of an audience might prompt me to do the nitty-gritty fictional work of cleaning this thing up, I've decided to start publishing it in bits here on this blog.


You'll find the work deals with themes I'm generally obsessed with: addiction, romance, mystery. If you feel so moved, please comment on it-- I need all the encouragement I can get.





The Arcana - Chapter 1 - Laney Mitchell's Life Sucks


The Arcana are the mysteries of sex and death, masculine and feminine, transmutation and evolution.  They’re movements in the dance of love and power that pervades all space and time.  They’re the major figures of the Tarot. No one on the deep journey escapes the Arcana. They visit you, they change you, and they either call forth from you your deepest gifts or they rush you into complete despair. The outcome depends on you, but the visits themselves are fated.  They commence the moment you step out of your coded, familiar world and into the vast unknown.  Each mystery has its own initiation and crisis; its own secret and trial.  You are always The Fool. - John Dee, blog post March 2011


Laney Mitchell’s life sucked.  Not sucked a little, as in, “Oh, some things haven’t happened that I would have liked to have happened” but sucked a lot, as in “Nothing about my life is going well at all.”


Growing up, Laney passionately fell in love all the time.  Falling in love, excessively and madly was her major forte.  Her first romantic relationship was with a young man ostensibly named Draco, who lived in Vermont, whom she met in an AOL horror movie fans chat room.  Laney did not at all like horror movies.  Except for A Clockwork Orange, which the world in general did not count as a horror movie, but which Laney did because the violence in it terrified her.  She liked Alex in A Clockwork Orange.  She loved his one eye, with false eyelashes on the bottom and upper lid, the way it made his one eye seem so lurid and alert and menacing while his other eye looked so normal and fresh.  While she hated the violent scenes, she loved the threat of violence in Alex’s eye, the mad look in it.


The young man in Vermont whom she met in the horror fans chatroom called himself Draco and identified with dragons.  By regular mail he sent her pictures of himself, and a lock of his chestnut-flat brown hair which he sprayed with his cologne.  When Laney opened, alone in her bedroom, the envelope that he had sent with his hair in it she swooned with joy.  Other things that made Laney swoon with joy were bees and hunger.  Laney loved bees not only because they threatened to sting her, but because they made honey, which seemed like an excessively generous thing for them to do.  She knew that theoretically the bees made honey for themselves, but she never saw pictures of them eating the honey, only making it, so it seemed to her that the honey-making enterprise of bees was exclusively altruistic.  Laney loved hunger because she liked the gnawing, empty pain in her stomach to match the gnawing, empty pain that she carried with her in her heart most of the time, when not presented with cologne-doused locks or bees.


At twenty, Laney had no advantages. She wasn’t pretty. In the least.  In fact, she was the kind of awkward-chubby-and-pimply that you’re supposed to out grow at age thirteen. On top of this, she was intensely, acutely, insanely sensitive.  The kind of sensitive that you’re supposed to out grow at age four.


She lived with her alcoholic mother in a small rent-subsidized apartment in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Laney’s mother, Joan, wasn’t just alcoholic— she was a mean alcoholic, and obese. Her meanness focussed mostly on Laney, who was the only one around to take it.  Joan had never married Laney’s father, Mickey, a day laborer and glam rocker who now lived in New York City.  Joan hated herself and she hated her daughter and she didn’t care much who knew it. Joan got a tiny disability check each month (bad back) and used it  to buy cheap gin, rolling tobacco, and frozen Hungry Man Sports Bar dinners.


Laney’s meals came from the neighborhood Thai restaurant, the Happy Turtle,  where she worked as a waitress.  That part of her life wasn’t so bad.  The owner of the store, Mai, was a good-natured middle-aged lady who felt compassion for Laney and didn’t get upset with her even when she was discombobulated and slow.  Which she often was.  She wasn’t a very good waitress.  Waitressing is a far more demanding profession than most people like to acknowledge, a job which makes all sorts of demands on one’s social skills, short-term memory and co-ordination, none of which Laney had in ample abundance.  She spilled soup while trying to serve it, forgot to refill people’s waters, and out of shyness sometimes waited so long to approach a newly-seated group at a table that the group would just get up and leave.  Still, Mai was kind about it and when Laney cried as she went home at the end of every shift, part of what made her cry was how touched she was by Mai’s patience.


Very vivid dreams


Though Laney had little to offer by way of physical charms (well, maybe we’re being too quick about this— she did have some notable features that could be potentially engaging to a very singular type of taste, namely: large, watery blue eyes,  a snub nose, plump knees, and wealth of red hair that went all the way to her waist), she did have a great deal to offer in terms of soaring, throbbing, obsessive adulation.


Also, she suffered from very intense dreams.


Some people have boring dreams.  They dream that they go to the grocery store and buy furry kiwis, or that they forget to send an important email, or that they’re having sex with a porn star.  These kinds of dreams are just the ordinary human mind coping with its routine pleasures, anxieties, desires.  They’re mild kind of dreams, at just the surface of the unconscious.  They happen at a kind of low volume, and they’re pastel-colored.  Nothing smells too strongly in these kinds of dreams, not the kiwis or the porn stars.  Everything at this level of the mind is a little plastic and a little lame.


Laney never dreamt at a low volume.  She often awoke to her alarm in a sweat, feeling fatigued as if she’d been physically carrying out the work of her night’s journey.  Her dreams were overwhelming, loud, tidal.  They ensnared her in epic expeditions, bullied her into tremendous sagas, and rode her through scenes of pulsing, riveting emotional intensity.  In the morning she’d often sob and moan with grief, still suffering the pain of seeing one of her dream comrades die.


The most brilliant and shocking dream Laney ever had concerned a geode.


Laney dreamt that she was the pageant director for religious plays inside a giant cathedral.  She lived in the attic of this giant cathedral— she had a small moppet of a dog and a rusty red tea kettle there on a little wood stove — but it wasn’t a normal Christian cathedral.  It was something else, something pagan.  The stain glass windows depicted Dionysus instead of Christ— lots and lots of grapes, barrels of wine.  Her mission, as pageant director, was to put on plays that would inspire the audience and remind them of their faith, of the miracles in everyday life.  Accordingly, Laney designed a little presentation in which a geode stood on a tall pedestal.


A young boy would throw a rock at the geode, thus knocking it off its pedestal and onto the floor.  In its fall to the floor from its pedestal, Laney estimated, the geode would break open and the ordinary-appearing stone would reveal its magical wealth of crystals inside.  Laney reasoned that this breaking-open of the geode would be a thrilling sight for the crowd, and a reminder of divinity’s sometimes-hidden but ever-present splendor.  Yet when the time came to present the pageant and all the congregation assembled in the cathedral attic to see Laney’s show, the little boy threw the rock at the geode and the geode fell and broke open, but when it broke open, it didn’t just reveal its internal amethyst.


No, instead, a very fat and tender green shoot, about the width of an arm, unfurled rather lewdly from the center of the broken geode.  The shoot swelled into a bud.  The bud plumped and gradually, luxuriously, opened up into a light-blue lotus flower the size of a kiddie pool, which proceeded to revolve very slowly in the air.  Then, adding perplexity to perplexion, another tender green shoot emerged from the center of the lotus.  This shoot turned into a long, tall stem and then eventually bloomed into the cup-like form of a lily.  Out of the open mouth of the lilly spouted a fine mist of glitter and it also began to revolve.  The glitter hung motionless in the air surrounding the revolving flowers.


The cathedral audience in Laney’s dream stood up and gawked.  They pointed at the spinning floral shimmering affair and began to shout at her: “Mirablis! Mirablis!” until Laney’s guts shook with fear.  She realized that they were accusing her of being a miracle-worker.  “I didn’t do it!” she cried back at them, “I didn’t plan for those flowers to pop out! They weren’t supposed to!” but the crowd rushed at her and lifted her up on their shoulders, carrying her downstairs to the cathedral altar in order to annoint her.  Laney woke from that dream in a cold sweat.  She had a sense that the dream meant something deeply significant, but she wouldn’t allow her conscious self to know just what that significance might be.  Something inside her heart, though, said that the dazzling appearance of the flowers signaled a tremendous birth of magic in her own soul, and that the dream meant that she could complete the great work of self-realization in this lifetime, that she could succeed in becoming unconditionally loving.


Laney secretly longed to heal the whole world but didn’t dare believe that she could be someone capable of achieving that healing.  She hated the greed and injury she saw everywhere, but she felt too weak and too small to combat it.  The only way she could understand all the hard-heartedness she saw around her was to imagine that people who behaved cruelly had themselves somehow been treated very badly somewhere along the way.  She suspected that the world could be a shining and delightful place to live if only this cycle of cruelty could be broken, if only no one ever had to have her heart stomped upon.


The stomped-on heart


Laney’s own heart had been stomped upon when she was seven years old.  That was when Mickey, her father, left the small apartment that he shared with Laney and Joan.  When Laney was a very little girl, Mickey had seemed to her the most loveable and thrilling creature in existence.  He took her for long walks in the woods and taught her how to tell regular grass apart from onion grass, which was greener and taller and tasted like garlic when you chewed on it.  He showed her how to find daddy long legs in piles of rocks, and told her that she was a princess.  That’s ordinary stuff that fathers do, but Laney wasn’t an ordinary girl.  She was a girl extraordinarily capable of imagination and love, and she fully believed Mickey when he said she was really a princess and he was a king, even though no one else knew it.  This secret knowledge that Mickey and Laney shared of their underground nobility colored all of Laney’s childhood world and made the nonsensical pain of living make sense.  When the other kids in the neighborhood teased her for not liking to play rough games or for being bad at sports, Laney just had to remember that she was a princess, therefore different from the rabble, and didn’t have to feel bad that she was so different from the others.  She could go home and have her father sing to her before bed and feel magnificent and adored in his eyes.


When Mickey left because the screaming fights he was having with Joan got to be too bad, he made efforts to stay connected with Laney.  He tried to get custody of her, but Joan prevented him, showing the court photos she had of Mickey cross-dressing in eyeliner and high-heels for glam rock shows and doing cocaine with his buddies.   Every time Mickey showed up to pick up Laney for a weekend visit to the zoo or an ice cream shop, Joan would make sure than she and Laney weren’t at home.   Mickey would sit outside waiting on the stoop of the apartment building until the landlord would make him leave.  The sad thing about Mickey was that he didn’t have much perseverance.  He could have fought harder for Laney, but he didn’t.  After months of struggling with a resentful and drunk Joan to get a chance to see his daughter, he gave up.  He got more into drugs and more into music.  He moved to New York City.  He sent letters to Laney which Joan burned.  Whenever Laney asked Joan about her father, Joan just told her that her father was a creep and didn’t care about her.


Laney’s very large, very sensitive, and very delicate heart was dealt a near-fatal blow by her father’s departure.  Without Mickey in her life, Laney couldn’t maintain the make-believe that she was a princess.  She succumbed to thinking she must really be what all the other kids said she was: a loser, a weirdo, a freak.


The magical power


Laney’s dreams were right, though.


She had magical power and potential.


Laney’s power wasn’t anything flashy or dramatic.  It was something that all of us have, but which very few of us are aware of.


Laney could heal things and people and situations with the love inside her.  And this kind of healing wasn’t just the kind that fixes something that’s broken— it was the kind that could actually evolve beings into higher versions of themselves.


Stay tuned for our next installment...




Surrender your addiction to suffering - Part One


If you're like me, your mind's default setting is "I suck and everything sucks."  Your life may have lots of wondrous things in it, but still you wake up in the morning with a feeling of dread that could impress Franz Kafka.  This feeling can shake off at some point during the day-- or it can grip you continuously.  It's paralyzing and heavy.  It can make it difficult to complete creative projects, go to work, or just be out and about in the world.


This perception of suckiness and the feeling of heavy dread that accompanies it is part of a spiritual illness that many of us human beings have, namely, the disease of addiction.


The disease of addiction is, at base, just that: dis-ease.  It's the discomfort, difficulty, suffering that comes from attaching to and believing in the thoughts and stories that the mind produces, especially the negative and frightening stories. Once that basic dis-ease is happening, it prompts us to reach towards behaviors and substances to soothe the internal discomfort: over-eating, over-sleeping, coffee, cigarettes, obsessive romance, drugs, on and on.


Unsurprisingly, the "soothing" behaviors that we adopt to cope with the dread themselves have painful consequences that only make us feel worse.  Every high brings with it a yucky low.


You probably have experience with quitting your symptom-level addictions. That's what New Year's resolutions are for, right? But don't your symptoms always re-surface again, in some form? Life gets stressful and soon you're back on the wheel?




What if it was possible to strike the disease of addiction right at its root?  What if you could be free not only from the substances and behaviors that hook you into painful cycles, but also from your addiction to suffering itself?


This is the possibility that interests me.  Lately I've been smoking like a forest fire, pouring coffee into my mouth, eating chocolate in quantities that would astound Willy Wonka himself ("Augustus! Augustus, honey, stop! Save room for later!"), and procrastinating on important projects.  I want to stop indulging in these dubious "comforts" -- but I want more than that, too.  I want to drop the painful mental processes that cause me to reach for such comforts in the first place.


I know that this dropping is possible because I've accomplished it for periods of time recently. I know that freedom from the mind's tyranny feels like wondrous spaciousness, deep love, and a rich sense of hope and possibility. It feels like being in total agreement with the flow of reality-- even when reality doesn't match up with my ego's dictates of what should be happening.  What interests me is living in this spaciousness and flow all the time, not just for short visits.


So I'm inviting you to join me on a journey of letting go of the fundamental dis-ease. This journey consists in a series of nine daily commitments that are simple but radical:


  1. Notice that your mind continuously judges against you and against people and situations in your life
  2. Understand that these judgments, though voiced by your own internal monologue, represent the distorted perceptions of a spiritual dis-ease and not "the truth"
  3. Get honest with yourself about the consequences of exactly what happens when you accept your mind's judgments as "the truth" and then act on them or allow them to affect your mood
  4. Recognize when you've hurt someone as a result of your dis-eased thinking and make immediate amends
  5. Vividly imagine what your life would feel like without your mind's judgments and stories about the past and future playing all the time
  6. Practice having faith that it's possible to be totally sane, joyous, and free, no matter what's happening
  7. Experiment with fully agreeing with reality as it is rather than as your mind says it should be
  8. Attempt to be fully present as loving awareness with yourself and with others
  9. Give up trying to figure out the future at all and instead simply trust that the silent, loving awareness of your being will lead you where you need to be
I'll be writing posts about the how to's and benefits of practicing each of these commitments. As we get ready to take this journey together, I ask you to ponder this question and to answer it in the comments section: do you really believe that a life free from suffering is possible? And if not, why not?