A Buddhist and a Junkie Walk into a Bar…

Every day is a lesson.

Some days the teacher is stricter than on others.  Some days the student is just stupid.  Some days you find that the only thing you can do well is to lie perfectly still and have no idea of why.  Despite all the efforts of those who’ve sought to preserve my sanity while I’ve been doing all I can to lose it, today’s been that kind of day.  A list of my screw-ups, however, would be petty and boring,  so rather than either be thought of or actually recognized as such, I’ll not print that document here.  Instead I’d like to escape (Escape, remember that word) into my head to bring you all up to date on what’s been happening in there.  Not that the random banging of my neurotransmitters is all that interesting, but enough self-deprecation.  Let’s go to the content!

This is all background:

For the past 50 or so years I’ve been thinking about drug addiction and Buddhism.  Both of which have played and, actually, continue to play major parts in my life.  The first has evolved from the condition I exhibited to the one I now treat in others.  The second has moved from an intellectual preoccupation to a daily life practice.  For the most part neither has made a great deal of sense to me in the conventional understanding of sense, but both have been powerful–make that overwhelmingly powerful– determinants of the way I’ve lived and live.

Originally I sought the same thing from both: a happier accommodation with life.  It’s not that my life was ever a bad place or even a difficult one.   There was always enough of everything and so what if I wasn’t a great athlete.   Mom and dad both loved me, didn’t beat me and only wanted “the best” for me.  As it turns out, it was their deaths that brought me to the respite of alcohol, then marijuana, then–if only until Cousin Jon and I proved that all it did was make us want more–cocaine.  Buddhism began to invade my thought when I was struggling to accept my intellectual mediocrity while in college.  Every-so-often  and without really knowing how I’d try meditation, only to give up after less than 3 minutes.  Eventually this became a once-every-five-years attempt, never reaching even the five minute mark until 2001.  It’s consequence in the interim: one more failure and hence one more reason for self-discontent.

Whatever…that was all then.  Now I no longer practice active addiction to what we in the field call  “chemical substances.”  I do practice daily meditation in a Buddhist tradition.   I read Buddhist texts and discuss them with folks who know vastly more than I do and apply them as guides to my daily living.

If I  haven’t yelled at you over nothing in a while, this is why.   If I have, well, I’m still working on it.

What most concerns me is  how to bring the ideas and meditation, the actual practice, to my clients.   Meditation puts them to sleep.  Buddhist thought places suffering at the center of life just as my clients do, so the fit seems natural.  With the proper understanding, it goes on to say, suffering is no more than a creation of the mind.  It goes on to say that in (capital R) Reality there is no suffering.  Just as that proper understanding of  Reality eluded me for so many years and continues to escape me every once in a while, it is well outside what my guys are ready for.  So my question: How to reframe or rephrase or re-present it in a way they can use?

To sum it all up:

Whether things are real or not, whether our perceptions are accurate or not
They cause suffering which, to the sufferer, is absolutely real.
To know they are unreal is, at first, an intellectual achievement
One that holds little sway over the emotions.
Only to demonstrate it,  to make it experiential (OUCH!)
Is to make it indisputably real.
Pehaps this is why my clients so believe in their drugs:
     They wish to escape from their internal reality,
          They drug,
               They’ve escaped.

I’ll take any and all suggestions.

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment