By Greg Ascue
The last time I posted I discussed how addiction and compulsion often has two sides. These sides could be called craving and aversion. But addiction and compulsion is much more than this. An addiction or a compulsion is a natural consequence of your whole life. Who you think you are, your identities, what you believe to be true, what you fear, and your solutions to this fear.
I have come to believe that the primary problem for most people is a case of mistaken identity – not knowing who they really are. These mistaken identities are stories such as “I am unloved”, “I am unwanted”, “I’m special”, etc. Basing a life on a mistaken identity is the same as building a castle of sand or a house of cards. Such a construction is inherently insecure (and ultimately will fail). With this mistaken identity, fear, anxiety, and numbness (and other afflictive states) arise. With the arising of these afflictive states compulsive behaviors and addictions arise as well. These compulsive behaviors and addictions are misguided attempts to “fix” or “control” what is wrong. It’s inevitable that all of this would happen (given the original “mistake”).
The inquiry work, that we do, looks directly for the existence and truth of these mistaken identities, anxieties, and compulsions. We have inquiries designed to look at each of these. The Unfindable Inquiry (UI) looks at the mistaken identities, the Anxiety Inquiry (AI) looks at the flight, fight, and freeze responses that we experience (fear, anger, numbness), and the Compulsion Inquiry (CI) looks for the actual cravings and aversions. We use these inquiries in conjunction with each other or woven together in some fashion. When looking at a compulsion or addiction we utilize all of these inquiries in looking at your whole life. Just looking for and at the cravings and aversions (using the CI) helps. But without doing this kind of complete looking (using the UI and AI) the causes remain unexamined (the mistaken identities and the fear and anger)
Using the inquiries in conjunction with each other (and not being able to find the existence of these mistaken identities, anxieties, and compulsions) tends to lead to ease and peace.