FIRST PATHWAY I am freeing myself from security, sensation, and power addictions that make me try to forcefully control situations in my life, and thus destroy my serenity and keep me from loving myself and others.
Why do addictions destroy happiness? Are there some harmless addictions? Can’t I have even one addiction? Aren’t there good addictions like addictions for love, knowledge, or consciousness growth?
Of course you can have one addiction—or any number you want, but for each one you pay a price in lost happiness. Since an addiction is backed up by the full rush of your emotions, each addiction from time to time puts you in a state of emotional warfare with yourself and others. They dominate your consciousness and keep you from perceiving clearly. Addictions separate you from others, for everyone is instantly valued by the degree to which you suspect threat or support. Addictions are not needed because you can do the same things and enjoy the same life experiences on a non-addictive basis. Through higher consciousness, you can have every beautiful experience that life offers you.
All things in the world around us are constantly changing. Our bodies and minds are constantly changing. These changes, moment by moment, month by month, year by year, affect our ability to make the flow of our life conform to the arbitrary addictive patterns that we desire and expect. So we’re caught in an absolutely endless moment-to-moment struggle to make the outside world fit in with our addictions. And it is always a futile struggle in the end. No one that ever lived has ever had enough power, prestige, or knowledge to overcome the basic condition of all life—you win some and you lose some.
The operation of our lower consciousness feelings is such that even if we satisfy many addictions during a day, the one addiction that was not satisfied will prey on our consciousness and make us unhappy. There is just no way to win the battle of our addictions. There are no addictions without unhappiness, although with the higher addictions (love and consciousness growth) you experience less suffering than with the lower level addictions of security, sensations, and power.
As long as you have addictions, your exquisite biocomputer—your mind will be dominated by the vain attempt to help you find happiness by manipulating the world around you into fitting your addictions. A mind dominated by addictions is not able to tune in to the finer vibrations of the surrounding people and things—just as a drummer who plays too loudly can keep you from hearing the violins and flutes of a symphony. To be fully here and now, you must be able to experience all of the instruments of the symphony. To live in the beauty of higher consciousness, you must be able to perceive both the grosser and the more subtle aspects of the world around you. Addictions are not evil or bad—they just cost you too much in lost perceptiveness, wisdom, effectiveness, and happiness.
Addictions always cause unhappiness sooner or later. Preferences never do. When an addiction is not satisfied, you are unhappy. When an addiction is satisfied, you feel momentary pleasure, relief, or indifference. When a preference is not satisfied, you are simply indifferent—it was only a preference after all. But when it is satisfied, it adds to the texture and beauty of your life. Your ego and rational mind do not have to guard the source of your satisfaction because you are not depending on it for happiness. Upleveling all of your addictions to the status of preferences (or eliminating them if they cannot add to your joy of living) is a Living Love key to being joyous and loving all the time. A practical rule of thumb for one starting on the road to higher consciousness is to grant oneself emotion-backed demands for physical necessities such as air, food if starving, or shelter if about to freeze—and all other addictions are sickness!
Only your emotional programming determines whether something is an addiction or a preference. You must clearly understand that when we discuss giving up an addiction, we simply mean reprogramming that part of your brain that makes you restless, churning, and unhappy if a desire is not realized. Your living patterns may or may not be changed when you uplevel your addictions to preferences. It is vital that you fully understand that the growth we are describing lies wholly in reprogramming your automatic emotional programming—it is not necessarily aimed at changing your external actions. You can do anything you prefer as long as you are not addicted. For when you are free of addictions, your actions will be characterized by wisdom and oneness.
Some addictions are more costly in lost happiness than others. An addiction for having money in your bank account may yield less satisfaction than an addiction for having a Ph.D. But both keep you in a constant state of threat, both dominate your consciousness, and both keep you from fully tuning in to the beautiful spectrum of the world around you. And, of course, you do not need to be addicted to money or knowledge in order to acquire them. You can prefer to have money and knowledge (or anything else) and you will then (and only then) be able to totally enjoy whatever money and knowledge the river of your life brings to you.
Thus it is not the external circumstances that constitute your addiction—it is only your inside emotional programming that must be changed. And the wonderful thing is that it is fully within your ability to do so—whereas up to now you have been hopelessly trying to manipulate the outside world to conform to your addictions. You will live in a peaceful world when you eliminate your addictions and then spend your time making choices on a preference basis.
Handbook to Higher Consciousness (Ken Keyes Jr.)
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