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What Is Spiritual Addiction?

By:Caroline Nettle
Date: Wed,09 Mar 2011

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Spiritual addiction is an addiction that is not well recognized and yet it is quite prevalent in our society.

A person will become addicted to spirituality, and from the outside, appear to be leading an exemplary life. However, the addiction here is chasing the high of spiritual connection in order to avoid the pain of life. Spiritual addiction is one of the hardest addictions to accept and recover from, because the condition is largely unrecognized and outwardly, these people are looked up to for living a spiritual life. Also, the high is very addictive, free, and blissful.

For some people, they find this high on a weekend retreat and it is so unlike anything that they have felt before in their life that they spend a large amount of time and money trying to recreate the experience again. In the real world, outside the courses and group work, it can be difficult to recreate the feeling.

You can often tell if someone is addicted to spirituality because it has become who they are. A truly spiritual person has no need for praise, acceptance, approval or possessions- they are truly at peace with themselves and the world. They live in a peaceful way and allow others to be as they are, magnificent. Spiritual addiction (and its closely linked sister, religion addiction) are both fairly easy to spot if the person you are with cannot talk of anything other than spirituality or religion, and often, they try to convert you to their way of thinking. Being spiritual is a part of the way you choose to live your life but for addicts, it takes over.

Anyone who says that they are spiritual and then indulges in judgement, criticism, hatred, bigotry, gossip, self-hatred, materialism, or comes from a stance of better than or less than someone else is not living their truth. We use the word enlightenment so flippantly and yet ironically it happens so very rarely and usually to people who have really surrendered everything and are at peace with life. We put others on a pedestal so readily, and yet true spirituality is a relatively private affair, between you and your inner truth. Spiritual addiction is very much about showing others how spiritual you are, and gaining glory from your spirituality, instead of just leading by example.

For some people, the place they call enlightenment is a place that feels like it, but is not it. As with the heroin addict who thinks the high from heroin is the answer, spiritual addiction takes you to a place that will prevent you from learning to accept yourself completely, shadow side and all, and learn to find peace here on earth.

Many people who find it easy to leave the planet in meditation have learnt to do so as a method of escaping the pain that life causes them. For these people, learning to deal with life on lifes terms and facing their pain and working through it is the way to find peace- the rest is escapism.

Spiritual addiction is, like all the other addictions, cunning, baffling and powerful. If this article has caused a reaction in you, then perhaps you might try to find out a bit more about addictions. It is not the author's intention to label anyone as an addict- this is something you need to discover for yourself, or in counselling. However, we are experiencing great changes on the planet at this time, and I believe that it is a wonderful opportunity to look deep into ourselves and find out what is holding us back from peace and harmony with ourselves, and the planet.

If you struggle with an addiction to anything at all, be it a substance, a behaviour, or a thought process, then spiritual growth is very difficult as the addiction will work very hard to keep you small and suffering- that is what it does, restrict you and keep you in pain. Spiritual growth is about growing, expanding, learning...the two do not go together.

Written by Caroline Nettle.

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Caroline Nettle said:

Well Alan, James and Jill, Thank you so much for your feedback and I am sorry, I was unaware that there were comments otherwise I would have contributed sooner. Alan, I see you are in Bristol, which is where I am! I love intelligent discussion about the larger subjects, and would welcome it whenever it presents itself. Spirituality is indeed a very personal subject matter, and I am glad that it caused some deeper thought, and happy that you enjoyed the article. Love and blessings, Caroline xxx
Wed,04 Jan 2012,16:51:17 GMT

Alan Rycroft said:

Dear Carolyn,
Wow what an article! Shooting from the hip both guns blazing! I guess I have had some sypmtoms of spiritual addiction in my life, the need for escape, always talking about spiritual stuff etc. though not usually obsessively or trying to convert anyone, seeing spirit and God's power as a way to glorify and exalt my very humble and ordinary self, getting off on spiritual highs retreats etc. These have all featured in my life especially in my younger years. I wonder if there are any spiritual persons with no symptoms of some spiritual addiction?! It's just that I am not sure it is always clearcut or that addiction like an addiction of coffeee or chocolate is always a bad thing, maybe for phases one needs that or one could have been addicted to soemthing far worse or just lost and depressed as so many people are!!!
Spirituality and or religion is unlikely to kill you or do you serious harm these days unless you join some of the crazier cults etc. even then it can be alearning experience. Like sex or any other basic human emotion instinct we seem progtammed genetically wired for some kind of spiritual urge and like sex too many of us are addicts in a way in certain moments or times of our life. The problem is our emotions are channelled through ego so there is often distortion but it doesn' t mean to say these expressions are wrong or bad. I think of it rather more like a question of maturity and a initiatory process of maturation; not so much whether one is addicted or not. It is how you deal with your spiritual nature and how you manifest it in your life, relatively non egotistically and naturally or not, or are you in your fire and enthusiasm stranding on street corners harangueing folk with your Bible! It minds me of what they call in Buddhism Zen sickness - addiction to the highs and peace of meditation = I once met a Korean monk who complained of having to having teach children for two hours a week, it interefered with his meditation! I laughed because I am a teacher and am lucky if I only have twenty hours a week! And yes in a busy life it is difficult to meditate that much these days in my latter years I try to balance periods of busy with inner silence and focus etc. best I can do,
Love and thanks again fora great article. It made me think of an old friend too I have who still seems spiritually addicted heavily and is sometimes not pleasant to be with in a subtle way as there seems too much of himself involved! I think if we move in right direction we get humbler clearer we can feel spirit the divine in our hearts more and perhaps understand more with our minds though always baffled and dumbfounded by the mystery of it all and we speak to toerhs ina gentle way and only in certain moments or contexts of appropriacy!
Alan Rycroft
Sun,17 Apr 2011,11:01:29 GMT

James (London) said:

At last, someone with the integrity to speak their truth and face the brick bats from those who need to show that they are not spiritually addicted. The comments on this article will indeed be very interesting, as I suspect many will agree just to show that they are not spiritually addicted? Indeed many of them won's even realise that they are in the first place of course. It is perhaps interesting that the spiritually addicted often tend also to avoid heated debate, which they often see as coming from people who are not spiritual, or who are behaving incongruantly with spirituality. For me, spirituality is a journey NOT a destination, and none of us are perfect, and I for one welcome heated debate because it shows real passion and it enables us to face the very prejudices that come from difference, and challenge to our own beliefs from another who is equally passionate about theirs. Calm, unquestioning and passive spirituality can also be another way of hiding from standing up to be counted and voicing one's beliefs in a world where strong opinion is so often viewed as agressivevenss. What would these people have said if they had been there to witness Jesus destroying the market in the temple I wonder? Would they have considered him unspiritual and not living his words too? Yes they would because theirs is a spirituality of impossible perfection that is unattainable here - which is why we are here of course, to learn. A closed mind learns nothing and neither does a mind that hides from reality. This world needs people to stand up, speak out and act their spirituality instead being sheeple. God needs strong people who stand up for the light, not quiet little lambs who wait for the slaughter. Love, peace, blessings, dear ones, beloved ones and all that patronising and needy stuff is all very well, but is is not changing a thing and stopping human beings self destructing. A great and realistic article that will, in one way or another produce some interesting feedback (which of course it has already Well done Caroline!
Fri,15 Apr 2011,21:52:45 GMT

jill jones said:

'ife on lifes terms yes i very much like that however hard and i should know this article was a breath of fresh air perhaps it means i'm getting there,,, thanks for giving it jill
Fri,15 Apr 2011,00:17:00 GMT
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