Tapas and Addiction: Freeing Up Energy for Spiritual Evolution and Activation
Synopses: the Presentation of Addiction as Attachment in the Yogic Sense and Answering the Question, is Religion simply another Addiction, while Yoga is Liberation? Tapas as the Remedy for Neurotic Sublimation
Addiction (in the context of cultural relativity)
Karl Marx once remarked that religion is the opiate of the people. What he meant was that people were made to become addicted to religion (religion was pushed upon them) in an attempt to numb them out to taking responsibility -- to sedate them and dumb them out. Religion in this case was seen as a pabulum or ersatz neurotic compensation that people substituted for the pain in not taking responsibility for the promulgation of social injustice and their own situation. In other words, religion is an "attempt" to satisfy a "need", but the most common (and tragic) mistake is that the "attempt"or misguided intent is most often confused for the result. That is that one uses religion as an excuse to escape or deny one's day to day "reality", rather than to actually transform our day to day life in a truly spiritually FULL and intact manner. If one continues to confuse the symbolic trappings of a mechanized religious practice with one which is authentic and from the heart putting off the real time implementation of spiritual love and healing into every moment of everyday, then that innate deeper need for connection/wholeness is even further deferred and obscured.
Thus a structured religion built around separation from God (never permitting or acknowledging the possibility of intimate communion, i.e., knowing God directly in all our relations) thus is indeed serves as a surrogate, substitute, sedation, or similar neurotic compensation for the original spiritual split -- for the rending of the circle or the trauma of spiritual alienation and forgetfulness (of who we really are in the context of the whole). Just so, in the opposite situation when some one resides/lives in their core (Heart) energy, then they are abiding in their authenticity and self authority -- they FEEL both empowered and Self confident. They FEEL secure and fulfilled. When they are conscious of that subjective deep abiding of immanent presence, then that produces an integrative subjective/objective unitive strength -- a space which is then accessible, capable of being "re-membered", a space they can give to others as well as themselves (ourselves). Situations created in/from that space are done so effortlessly. They are created spontaneously as a natural expression of who they are -- in the integrative indigenous space of of All Our Relations.
Addiction: A Better Definition or a Dysfunctional Term
Now that we have defined the place of completion, wholeness, fulfillment, contentment, creativity, and spiritual health as being part and parcel of one integrated and intact unitive space, then we can define the word, addiction, as any behavior pattern of mind or body(or both) which habitually compensates/substitutes for this integrative space, but which never produces a satisfying or fulfilling result. Here we will more specifically differentiate between what is compensated activity (addiction/dependence) versus activities which bring us into creativity, wholeness, and spiritual integrity.
Thus, when a person is not abiding in their indigenous space (or intrinsic nature) -- when they are not intact, then they feel needy and insecure. The lack may be generalized and vague or it may take on a specific object as "if only I possessed, had, consumed, communed, had intercourse, or achieved "that" object, then I will be fulfilled. Thus people follow one addiction, object of attraction, need, or compulsion after another. That is what addiction to power, money, clothes, food, status, security, sex, drugs, and religion is all about unless any of those activities finally lead one to ultimate consummation -- a true subjective/objective realization of spiritual Integrity.
Mankind when separated/split off from their indigenous intactness/wholeness, then are separated from a sense of inner security, innate order, intuition, inner wisdom, inner authority, and self confidence. Without knowing how to find the living God inside oneself and in other living beings within God's creation -- without our innate sense of who we are and no longer trusting or being connected to our feelings, then the spiritually self alienated person feels a "need" to follow an external structure, authority, external avenues for "self gratification", external systems of order, organized religion, highly structured ideology, straight line logic, conventional modes of acceptance, status, recognition by peers, approval by "authority" or others, symbolic representations of self worth, symbolic objects of success or gratification, or other similar ersatz addictive patterns which are the "results/symptoms of a more primary split which is not yet recognized (is rather denied and in many cases defended against).
When the average person uses the word, addiction, it is often used as a put down, reflecting a judgment that a certain activity is deplorable, worthy of depreciation, ridicule, out of control, bad, or at least not desirable. In that usage of the word, the speaker is making a statement that someone (the addict) has succumbed, become dependent, and thus has lost their freedom (freedom being defined as an independence from something else) to some activity which they have no control of. Hence the large mistake of defining addiction as a lack of willpower (self control) or character weakness, while in truth it is simply a lack of clear intention -- of a communion with integrative spiritual space as defined above.
Thus in the common sense when we say that a certain person is "addicted", we normally indicate that such a person has lost control over something that a "normal" or healthy person has control of. There are two mistakes here. Again one is assuming that the solution has something to do with the will or ego while the "real solution" abides in indigenous space -- in all our relations. A compound error is that the terms, "normal" and "healthy" are most often culturally relative and conditioned value judgments (devoid of spiritual integrity). For example "so and so" is addicted to tobacco, coffee, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, work, chocolate, sugar, or whatever is a statement that first assumes that tobacco, coffee, work, sex, money, drugs, chocolate, going to church., praying incessantly, or "whatever" is not good, not healthy, or not desirable at all or in the quantity that is being consumed. One then asks if it is not desirable, good, or healthy, why does one act in such a way. The answer is because some part of that person who so acts in this way really wants it or finds "some" compensation albeit temporary for their feeling of malaise. Such activity is as it is, neither good, shameful, bad, evil, or righteous.
Webster's dictionary tries to define the word, addiction, as: "compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful ".
A key subject here is, "withdrawal" symptoms" which will further elucidate the process of how we re-integrate back into original indigenous space (re-habitation) in a later chapter. But first what about mind/body integration? Although we can embrace a body/mind reality in which all mental effects have a corresponding physiological counterpart (which is true), such a definition does not fit inside the usual use of the word as applied to psychological addictions to objects, money, shoes, clothes, mirrors, shoes, music, work, violence, anger, prayer, or other similar "object oriented" addictions which we do not eat, drink, shoot up, snort, or otherwise ingest. Once we get the mind/body problem solved, the motivational factors behind our actions/behavior, then we will see that the greatest addictions exist in the mind -- vasana as defined by the meditators and hence a lasting and very satisfactory depth of beingness can be established which instantaneously puts an end to all striving and addictions effortlessly and with full consciousness beyond knowledge or individual will power.
Social scientists and psychologists have tried unsuccessfully to define addiction in the past, because they have lacked the body/mind wholistic understanding. So the current terminology is rehabilitation, recovery, or re-orientation, but to what. To an already dualistic, split off, or alienated way of life. What they really mean is to adapt/conform to a way of life where normal addictions suffice by using will power, prescription drugs, counseling, or other minor adaptive techniques. It usually doesn't work.
The lay person still uses the word, addiction, provincially and prejudicially (devoid of cultural objectivism). In other words the word, addiction, does not fit if the person has decided that it is desirable, i.e., if the user decides that it is not a harmful activity. In that situation judging another person as an "addict" is simply a cross cultural put down. Obviously if physiological withdrawal symptoms was the deciding factor, human beings must be all addicted to air, water, food, gravity, air pressure, sex and a lot more (without such life would not exist). Indeed a certain amount of inter-dependence is necessary for life, and absolute autonomy only exists in the state of absolute death. This absolute autonomy has nothing to do with spiritual liberation as will be shown, but rather the opposite, spiritual liberation has to do with absolute union/communion -- the non-dual (and non-separate) realization of ALL OUR RELATIONS. Neurotic craving starts only when THAT is lacking in our everyday lives and we have forgotten how to re-connect.
As this subject further opens, we will see that even when all necessary physical addictions to that which supports life (such as air, water, gravity, air pressure, warmth, etc.) are satisfied, the physical body will eventually still die in any case. Harmfulness to self thus can not be a factor (for in all of life there exists death) and in this case any sacrifice that praises the martyr and the hero --even honoring the pursuit of those who risk their lives to help or save others, there still exists this self destruction, self harm, but it is rarely "judged" for the common man as an addiction. All of the above contradictions in the way we define addiction, simply reflect a culturally derived predilection and confusion -- a contradictory self adversarial way dualistic way in which the dualistic mind defines "self".
Self sacrificing, pathological, or destructive activity is by itself just that -- but not an addiction. For addiction we have to go deeper. Again the definition is the crux of the problem. Again if we add "circular" or "repeatable" activity to the definition such as in a physiological craving for repetition, then we would have to at least include water, air, protein, and carbohydrates into the definition.
Getting closer however to a functional definition of addiction, may be that addiction is any activity that ties up our time and energy in a circular pursuit where further unhappiness, suffering, disease, and craving are generated with diminishing redemption or reward. It is a habit that dissipates and distracts us from our true happiness -- from authentic joy. So if we include the idea of attachment and slavery where the desire for the object is repeatedly coming up and there is no end in sight (only temporary respites) then we may be getting closer to a more workable definition basically defining all neurotic activity as addiction, but such a definition would be so broad as to defeat the specific value of the word (if it has a distinct semantic meaning devoid of cultural relativism). breaking the addictive circle (which usually involves breaking a habitual thought pattern) frees our energy and brings in new and fresh creative healing energy.
What perhaps describes addiction more than the time honored but contradictory common definition is that it is a subliminal reaction or escape -- an ersatz action rooted in avoidance or denial. It is an attempt to escape the painful absence of fulfillment of a primary desire/need with a compensatory substitute reaction. Here we can include the idea of compulsion i.e., "an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act" .
Only in the word compulsion do we have the idea of irresistible, out of control, or enslaved linked together with irrationality. But compulsion so defined is not addiction -- for in this definition the infant's act of breathing is not rational (to the infant) nor can the infant resist/control it.
Even if we try to link "compulsive activity" with "known to user to be harmful" we get a self contradiction UNLESS the user acknowledges that the action is both harmful and that he/she can not control it.
Thus if some one is says that I am addicted to books, and I enjoy books and do not consider it harmful, then the judgment by the other person is wrong. Likewise, if tea is something that I like and I do not think it is harmful, some one else can not say that I am addicted to tea without misusing the word. This would go the same for chocolate, coffee, drugs, etc. i.e., I would first have to acknowledge that it was harmful and that I did not have control.
The point to all of this is that what is called drug addiction, cigarette smoking, chocolate addiction, etc., can not be called addictions when the user has a decided desire or affinity toward the object, i.e., when they are consciously getting pleasure from the activity, because without the elements of saying that I do not want to do what I am doing AND without acknowledging what I am doing is wrong, bad, or harmful then it is simply a desired/willful activity like everyone else's. In that context, only those who think their own activities are morally superior to "the other" will demean the other's (other) by calling it (them) an addiction (addict) or a weakness (weak), thus making the judge free and strong (or at least freer and stronger relatively speaking).
Here we must make mention that once one is able to re-contact/reconnect our instinct, inner wisdom, innate feelings, indigenous sense of self, inner order and authority and true self confidence, only then will the difference between compulsion and and healthy desire become consciously operative and functional in our lives. Thus authentic addiction counseling must amplify/augment this inner re-connection -- with the innate life force or living spirit. Without direction toward communion with living spirit in all our Relations, addiction therapy has no meaning. It just becomes adaptive crisis care or merely palliative. Being based on treating symptoms, it, itself, thus becomes an addiction to replace an addiction.
There is an ambivalent perspective about judgment in the normal definition of addiction that further causes confusion and dysfunction. This is, what most people mean when they say that they are addicted i.e., that there exists a conflict of wills. One willful part of them wants some thing and has decided that it is desired or good, while another fragmented part of them has decided that it is bad, wrong, or not desired. This internal struggle is not much different from an externally imposed accepted censor or authority which disapproves our activity because much internal conflict are simply manifestations of transference, superego activity, or unconscious imposition of a conditioned conscience upon natural and/or individual functional activity.
For example a laid back nature lover living a simple life may point to an upward mobile greedy and ambitious person as being addicted (even more so if the more money they get, the more they want fulfilling the last quality i.e., tolerance, that characterizes addiction). So it also says similarly that absolute power corrupts absolutely, the building up of tolerance being a clear indication that the activity is not leading toward emancipation or fulfillment. In this sense (like the so-called physiological addiction associated with alcohol and heroin), tolerance does not have to based purely in the physiological, but can have strong emotional/psychological components such as in TV or music. Whether or not some one else (external authority) judges the activity "excessive or extreme" or not, should not be a factor governing our own definition.
If I say to myself that I want to stop, but I get some relief from it -- that the activity in question does something for me. I don't like it, but I do like it. Am I not saying that there are conflicting values present -- some judgment indecision? Is not this the result of intellect and will (in the yoga sense the ego who is creating the conflict? Anything "new" here? The price is too high, right? Everyone would like the ultimate fix without payments, but when the cost is judged too much, then people stop paying and go elsewhere for their fix. This "cost" differs from one person to the next, while many people have lost their way to the greatest bargain, nirvana. Here we will see that tapas is the exercise of any movement in the direction that frees us from addictive behavior -- from old dysfunctional patterns of bondage, dissipation, distraction, disconnection from our core dynamic, or neuroses in general. In so doing the energy so freed is recycled to fuel our spiritual fire. Thus we will see the process of tapas is a key approach, technique, and reprogramming tool focusing our intention and energy so that any addiction (as mere adaptive compensation) is destroyed (regardless of whose definition we use). tapas coupled with parallel practices which further purify the body/mind, re-activate blocked or clogged energy channels (nadis), reprogram dysfunctional old habits (vasana), integrate and re-orientate the body/mind away from negative feedback loops and toward the synergistic psychoneurological state of natural and unconditioned body/mind/spirit integration which is our innate birthright.
Withdrawal Symptoms: Allergic Reactions in Addiction Therapy
All too true, standard recovery programs in the US having been based on a materialistic and dualistic model of human existence. are lacking in psycho-spiritual and psychoneurological reality and support. hence they fail miserably in deprogramming the neurological and psychic basis of the addictive habits, but sometimes are successful in holding it in check. "Cure" in that setting is almost impossible, and most recovery programs are satisfied that the external physical addictive behavior has been decreased or eliminated, even though there still remains the desire and hence tension/stress for it. However when the actual psychic and energetic mechanism of desire changes, then the neurological pattern changes as a consequence. Without neuro-physiological support the addiction disappears entirely without any further effort.
This latter transformation is causal and lasting. It is based on permanent neuropsychological reprogramming and bio-spiritual reorientation. Here the very idea of recovery, from "what" and "where" as well as recovery "back to what" are addressed in functional terms of the primal rend/rift -- as our primal indigenous re-inhabitation is entirely redefined from the dualistic and materialistic contexts of today's dysfunctional straightline and narrow minded recovery programs
Before developing the essential practice of tapas as the activity of allowing for (or surrendering to) nature's innate intelligent order and evolutionary programming (the inherent creative implicate evolutionary intelligence innate in creation) that works its magic spontaneously when given half a chance, a word about resistance is necessary in order that it will be recognized when it comes up. Thus after being recognized, resistance can be dealt with expediently.
Thus an idea in recovery is "detoxification", but it is used mostly to describe the detoxification of the body during physical drug withdrawal. However there is a more subtle, but at the same time more causal energetic and psychic withdrawal and detoxification process which needs to be recognized as well as a subtle, psychic, and energetic reprogramming/reorientation process that must be linked together.
Here is how a common resistance/regression pattern works. One has suppressed feelings, emotions, say for example, anger, due to an old psychic injury or wound that has long since been forgotten (buried deep in the unconscious). In this example of repressed or inhibited feelings and one's resultant reaction/desire not to feel/re-experience the pain associated pain/wound, one then defends/armors oneself psychologically and physically around this injury, walling it off from the rest of one's experience or field of consciousness. This defensive mechanism that disallows consciousness from penetrating can also be the cause of "denial", not admitting the consciousness of the pain or wound in the first place -- disowning the "reality" of the pain/wound. That is the situation when the pain/wound and the fear/protective mechanisms that have been built up around it have taken over many years to the point that a considerable amount of energy has been unconsciously re-channeled into walling off, numbing out, and denying consciousness/feeling access to this place (which usually has both a physical and emotional/psychological component.
So just as when we are detoxing from a physiological drug, cigarettes, or other chemical that has previously been lodged deeply within the adipose tissue or cells and is now coming into the blood stream or through the skin or muscles as part of the detoxification/excretion process causing discomfort and pain, so too can parallel neuro-physiological symptoms occur in that same deprogramming/detoxification mechanisms. Where the old coping/adaptive mechanisms and armorings have become familiar, predictable, and hence "safe" as part of our "self", the new sensations that have become dislodged may also appear disturbing and have display elements of disturbance, irritation, pain, anger, sadness, etc. The key here is to recognize what is happening and not subdue the feelings or suppress the detoxification process by aborting it, or reintroducing the toxic substance by reintroduction of a constant toxic dosage, or by similar mechanisms of resistance. For example this is very common and easily observable in cigarette, heroin, or food detoxification where a small amount of the drug/cigarette will satisfy the discomfort /withdrawal symptoms. In those cases not only recognizing the symptoms as a temporary stage of resistance, but also by speeding up the physiological detoxification/purification will in the long run make the process more comfortable. especially in that phase, the wise application of tapas (as burning off the impurities) is most helpful.
However it is as not always as straightforward and clear what is taking place to the average person undergoing the detoxification process, especially in psychological, emotional, neuro-physiological, and often socio-biologic terms/contexts. So for example in food addiction withdrawal, one might experience detox/excretory distress (both energetically and physically) through fasting from the specific food (tapas stage), In that detoxification stage, eating the specific toxicant will actually relieve the detox symptoms/distress, but will slow down or stop the detoxification itself. So again one must be able to make a distinction between a detox symptom of discomfort or pain on one hand, and a symptom of toxification and/or self poisoning on the other. Obviously these two mechanisms work in the opposite directions, but they are often confused.
Another but easy example occurs in the alcohol detox setting. One who is drying out might display all sorts of symptoms -- all sorts of emotions that were anesthetized, subdued, or tranquilized through the years of alcohol mistreatment may appear. They were never really washed away or drowned by the alcohol, but only forgotten and buried beneath the surface, One finally sees that instead of avoiding these feelings, one has victimized oneself by hiding from them for 30 years (if the alcohol addiction has lasted that long) while all they really need is to experience the pain/sorrow just once -- fully and completely and then go through the requisite mourning, crying, or confrontation of one's inner demon (pain mechanism) to effect the final exorcism/purification where the causative toxin is expelled forever from the body/mind.
For the alcoholic, heroin addict, food addict, substance abuser, just like the other detox processes, going back to the alcohol to soothe/smooth out the rough edges is seen as but a temporary solution (actually a step backward). here one sees the purification process as a spiritual liberation from old dysfunctional mechanisms and habits which have tied up too many biopsychic energetic resources preventing one to grow, evolve, create in a healthy manner. This his inner process appears to be arcane precisely because we are not taught about our subtle elf organizing energy fields -- we are not taught about the morphogenic field that we are a living part of, we are not taught the unitive wellness and wholism of body, mind, nature, breath, and spirit. Because we have become disconnected from this wholeness -- from our intact indigeneity -- because we have been programmed to ignore this way of integrative beingness. the common man has become programmed to relegate one's knowledge of this process of wellness and/or disease to external authority -- experts in disease care or recovery -- whom themselves are maladapted, dissociated, inhibited, and disconnected. These experts are not capable of reconnecting us. Only we have that potential. That is because it is dependent not on external knowledge but rather direct awareness of what is happening with our own body/mind process at the moment. Here it may help to have a therapist who can point out to the client what is going on with their process of detoxification, purification, and exorcism while suggesting ways to augment it, but ultimately the client must become a conscious participant in their own healing process. That is done also through tapas of which meditation and purification are two such implementations. Thus effective therapy always brings the client to sacred presence -- to vital awareness of eternal now. There is no substitute that is not neurotic.
Through meditation and other practices of tapas, we can then see that physical addiction has both a physiological and psycho/spiritual component. Also we see that psychological and neurological programming, habits, and karma have physiological components. As one learns to see the subtle in the gross physical, the simultaneous awareness of the gross physical as existing within an ever widening/expansive sphere of energetic matrices similarly comes to our cognition. Thus the cosmic energetic sea in which we swim reveals itself increasingly simply by waking up and allowing ourselves to abide more deeply as a conscious participant in this greater intelligent evolutionary and creative living wholeness. We eventually learn how to feel secure, aligned, and consciously attuned to this innate order to the point that all substitute/compensatory neurotic mechanisms (where addictive behavior is just one) becomes both unnecessary but undesired naturally.
So to sum up, resistance, regressive patterning, and withdrawal symptoms occur as part of the purification process (process of disengagement/non-attachment to the neurotic/compensatory object and mechanism). This is to be expected in many cases and hence when they are expected they can be recognized as such,. Having been recognized consciously then they can be wisely and expediently dealt with.
Withdrawal symptoms are symptoms of addiction. We are most often addicted to what we are allergic to. That is we become addicted and enslaved at the same time where our biopsychic neurological networks become closed in negative biofeedback loop/circuit which sucks our further evolutionary/creative potential. This process mimics allergic reactions in so far that we become addicted to what we are allergic to (or conversely we are allergic to what we are addicted to). In the former scenario when we kick the habit (disrupt the coping mechanism which holds together the e addictive pattern) then we experience the allergic symptoms. When we take the allergic food, drug, alcohol, or cigarette, or similar substance, then in that context the allergic symptoms (detox symptoms are abated albeit temporarily). Thus this a test by clinical ecologists to find out if we are allergic to a certain food. If we refrain from eating a specific food for two days or more, do we always get the same detox symptoms. If this experiment is repeatable, e.g., that every time that food os withdrawn for more than one or two days then a certain detox process is activated), then it is most likely that one is actually allergic to that food. Most people however do not want to go through this often painstakingly difficult process, and often wind up in a dysfunctional negative feedback loop being addicted to certain foods which they crave incessantly. The other (and more natural and traditional test) is periodic fasting (withdrawal from all food for a specified period) combined with various energetic self awareness training (such as yoga, chi gong, biofeedback training, meditation, etc) which puts one into direct communion/reconnection with one's evolutionary and intelligent innate healing energy.
Although food allergy/addiction is far more common than most people ordinarily assume, it is often very insidious. Clearing that up is a great relief to most practitioners on the path. It is especially beneficial to the beginner whose inner awareness is not yet sharp or developed. Again tapas as the energetic mechanism that leads us to true energetic knowledge will eventually disclose all these mechanisms and more, so as we will discuss it is most valuable to implement tapas (as discussed in detail below). It is from that perspective alone that therapy must be directed onepointedly. Anything else is a diversion. In that context then of course all addiction is an allergic activity, as it produces in the long run undesirable results. In many regards many of today's diseases are the result of prolonged exposure to environmental toxins and procedures which suppress/abort the detoxification processes.
According to the conventional modern medical view, allergy develops as a result of repeated or excessive exposure to a specific substance, or antigen. Conventional medical theorists go to explain that as a reaction (unexplained by conventional theories) to this substance, the immune system produces proteins known as antibodies which specifically match the antigen in question (attacking it as an invader). When the body is exposed to a certain antigen, it produces huge quantities of the corresponding antibody, which lock onto the antigen molecules, triggering chemical reactions in the body's cells to disable or destroy the antigen. Although these chemical reactions utilizing the immune system's antibodies are involved in many illnesses (according to the conventional definition at least) such as in certain cases of immune dysfunction, stress, depression, respiratory distress, rash, swellings, itching, pain, soreness, hypersensitivity, irritability, headaches, constipation, and so forth, it must be pointed out that such a limited model does not account for a much wider range of symptoms which do not involve the immediate over production of anti-bodies. Thus a more functional model has been called for by the clinical ecologists and others in environmental and natural medicine. Also one may just as well talk about toxic dosage or tolerance; i.e., to what extent a medicine or food overloads the system or generates a negative reaction. Of related interest is the science of homeopathy (not discussed further here) which deals with the energetic triggering of such responses based on such subtle energetic dosages when prepared correctly.
Thus we are not defining allergy in the traditional framework of modern immunology as eliciting a characteristic antibody reaction, but rather the term, "allergic reaction" is used in the sense that such an exposure causes the body/mind organism undesired results which degrade one's innate energetic matrices and at the same often mimic addiction patterns when the exposure source is withdrawn. In other words the consummation of the antigen produces a toxic reaction/response that somebody else may not ordinarily experience and hence it is differentiated from a mere poison/toxin which most every human would experience as toxic. This toxic effect does not have to be exaggerated nor manifest physiologically with immediate symptoms. It's allergic characteristics (just like the more immediate effects such as sneezing, coughing, sinusitis, excess mucous, vomiting, headaches, muscle cramps, swellings, bloatedness, irritable bowels, alternating diarrhea or constipation, skin rashes, irritability, or generalized malaise associated with toxification/detoxification not being limited to immediate effects, can have a long term effect (like high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibroid conditions, rheumatism, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and so forth), which take many years to manifest. Allergic reactions can be provoked/triggered by physical substances, situations, emotional, physical circumstances, or relationships that are without comparable effect on the average individual. At the root again is an energetic matrix or circuit which is triggered and becomes causal to the physical as well as a mechanism which resists detoxification/reprogramming, purification, exorcism, or rather self liberation.
Thus a subtle distinction is made between a toxic antigen as opposed to a common poison. The difference is that the latter is toxic to everyone. Although not all antigens (toxins) are addictive (many are), but all addictions may be broadly classified as allergenic (toxic) in so far that they have withdrawal symptoms; i.e., they evidence periods of resistance (attempts at self protection or regression) when one is withdrawing, disengaging, purifying, or being liberated from that type of ersatz/neurotic consumptive association/circuitry which interferes with the greater wholistic reconnection with the more primary creative/evolutionary energy circuits within the body/mind (chakras, marmas, meridians, nadis, and activation of the internal evolutionary endocrine substances or bindu). Where antigens are said to trigger undesirable immune system reactions, on the other hand healthy foods, healthy water, clean air, other pure substances, thoughts, relationships, and activities trigger the internal evolutionary circuits and endocrine substances (chakras and bindu). One eventually learns how to make that distinction (viveka) as one's inner wisdom and intuition as conscious awareness becomes more subtle, deep, focused, and stronger. So on one hand we can say an allergic substance is toxic in that it triggers negative biopsychic circuitry and endocrine substances which weaken the auric field, while healthy activity generate evolutionary and healing internal endocrine substances while activating the heretofore dormant evolutionary circuitry.
Just as important and more causal to kicking physical addiction (cigarettes, food, alcohol, drugs, etc.) is to kick old mental and neurological dysfunctional patterns of addiction/habituation which no longer serve us. Although more subtle than what appears to be physical or physiological addiction, These are most often causative to the physical addiction as well, but beyond the removal of the physical addiction, this is where most of our evolutionary/creative energy has become subjugated, depleted, inhibited, and wasted. Here through addressing the psychic habits programmed and operating inside of the biopsychic neuropsychological matrices, which support it all addictions are capable of being broken. Here we are addressing social addictions, life style addictions, physical addictions, religious addictions, political tendencies, addictions to thought patterns, etc. -- in short eventually independence from all karma, all conditioning, and all dependence everywhere by everyone in ultimate liberation by recognizing who we are in transpersonal non-dual context of All our Relations.
Tapas as a Pause: Space, Emptiness
So we are getting closer to tapas as the process or technique that fuels further spiritual passion or heat -- the energy liberated from past dysfunctional attachments that we can now dedicate toward complete spiritual emancipation. In other words in yoga any attachment to pleasure from an I-It relationship drains our energy and is bound to produce suffering. In yoga this is the definition of enslavement or being entwined/enslaved in Maya (illusion). Of course when in illusion we create suffering for ourselves, don't know what we are doing, and thus do not see our choices, often requiring more and more while receiving less gratification or fulfillment. All of the preceding fits the definition of addiction well.
The question whether or not addiction is "good" or "bad" is simply irrelevant (like is addiction to religion worse or better than the addiction to work or self mutilation). "Good" or "bad" means nothing in the sense of cross cultural relativism, but in the interest of liberation, we can ask if the activity and its results are desired or not in relation to free choice for the individual concerned.
Traditionally within the yoga context the major activities of tapas were refraining from food (fasting), silence of speech (mouna), and refraining from materialistic worldly activities (such as meditation in a cave). These should not be seen as austerities. self abnegation, penance, or denial, but rather free choice -- a negation of one way of life and an affirmation of a another way of life -- a liberated life, especially when such choices manifest naturally and spontaneously without will power or effort. In the modern sense, if we do not have a neurotic need to eat, to talk, for fancy shoes, houses, cars, clothes, TV, and other vanities, but feel quite content in nature/creation -- being confident that nature will provide everything then only viewed FROM THE OUTSIDE this activity may look like austerity or sacrifice, but from the yogic sensibility it may be a natural and spontaneous statement of bliss and emancipation -- of a deeper spiritual sense of completion, communion, and fulfillment. Yet a cultural "outsider" or stranger may say that the yogi is attached or addicted to yoga -- or to tapas. Hence this judgment of addiction simply reflects the outsider's values (of what is "good" or bad".
Certainly just acting out acts of self mortification, self denial, self abnegation, or even self mutilation will not bring about emancipation or bliss, neither will addiction to these types of negative symbolic activities. real sacrifice occurs upon an altar where one offers up the old, for something new; where one dies and another is reborn. It's a process of giving up or surrendering (as in vairagya and isvara pranidhana) one activity in one direction, while redirecting that energy in another direction.
Spiritual evolution is not that simple minded. A common psychological reaction to feelings of deprivation does not at all produce a corresponding accommodation, adaptation, and and passive inhibition, but rather the opposite including bipolar swings toward over gratification or compensation such in the well known anorexia starvation/binge cycle, eating disorders, hard work during the week and over indulgence on the weekend, etc., while balance, harmony and integration in most cases are a much more effective and desired modality to be cultivated.
An analogy would be one chooses to not go out drinking alcohol at a tavern, but rather to go to a yoga class instead. We withdraw our energy, attention, and grasping upon something external and harmful to the life force (prana), and then free the energy and , attention for another activity -- to do something else which is empowering, freeing -- which amplifies consciousness and prana. That is true tapas. In dysfunctional definitions of tapas, one gets stuck in chronic aversion or sacrifice thinking sacrifice is the path in itself forgetting what one is sacrificing toward.
So in authentic and functional tapas we have not only renunciation (of the tendency toward distraction or neuroses) which is a withdrawal of attention and energy in that direction, but just as important the positive affirmation -- a firing up, activation, and acceleration of the self growth process -- of spiritual evolution and change where that freed up consciousness and energy that was attached to a dualistic I/It activity has been gathered in and then redirected. Here one sacrifices not as an end but places the sacrifice into the sacrificial fire for spiritual fuel. .
The attitude of renunciation without affirmation too often produces the negative consequences of chronic repression, aversion, negativity, resentment, anger, jealousy, as well as the tendency then to over-indulge or sublimate in a neurotic compensatory activity. Too often a negative attitude of avoidance creates chronic and domino effect aversion (including hatred, fear, jealousy, greed, and all the other kleshas which create suffering).
True spiritual progress lies in the exact opposite direction. Too often such a negative attitude will create fear or hatred of life itself as well as self abuse and abuse toward others. When some one does not value life and feels negative and abusive about oneself, it is then not difficult for them to accept the suffering of others passively or even contribute toward it -- to be negative and abusive toward others. This is an all too common cause for the justification of much body negative and earth negative ideology self justifications and along with it the passive acceptance of injustice and suffering -- cynicism and nihilism.
Although "embodiment" appears to complicate the matter of spiritual existence for those who have bought into institutionalized systems of spiritual alienation, it is merely an illusion of the intellect -- an act of denial and escapism to simply negate the body, the sense world, nature, the earth, and physical reality -- the walling off of man from his spiritual depth -- the dysfunctional avoidance of having to deal with fertility, the soil -- the unpredictability of wilderness and organic reality - the Great rich mystery which is life. Rather the yogi's quest is to integrate it with the eternal, align heaven and earth, crown and root, pingala/ida, left brain/right brain, siva/shakti, creator/creation, consciousness and being, spirit and nature, and so forth in each and every moment -- in the Eternal Now as a sacred dance in ALL OUR RELATIONS.
Tapas in Action
The above may give us PAUSE to wonder. This pause is not just a break or ordinary gap, but more so the act of honoring the inner guidance -- of inviting in the receptive moment. We pause from our doingness and listen, Then even deeper we connect up to that Great holotropic transpersonal multi-dimensional transceiver – the Infinite Mind – embracing THAT- we are embraced, resting there we are restored, supported, nourished, and revitalized by THAT.
When we “RE-MEMBER” (and that is the hard part) to pause from our “busyness”, then we allow for this integration to take place. The great simplicity of pure Beingness or sacred presence. What a gift to give to ourselves.
That is Grace. That is Being Here.
Although this Grace can and “should” happen all at once and “should be” available all the time. There are a few parts of this process that may be effectively deconstructed for the benefit of those who may be caught at the doorway/portal.
The first part then is of course to remember to pause, having faith that some where underneath the noise of the “busyness” is the wholistic state of pure Beingness/Grace or sacred presence of the eternal now. The pause is like simply letting go of what you are doing – taking a moment out of linear time and attachment. Perhaps taking a deep breath or two to start the process may be helpful.
Then actively listen. Listen not just for physical sounds, but simply be present and not judge or react. Just take it all in – breathe it in. Feel with all the senses what is as it is without the “normal” filtering or judging. We should also take a look, feel, listen to what is going on inside the body at this time – not just the external environment.
Is there tightness, inner sounds, tension, softness or hardness, stress, pressure, subtle lights, subtle qualities that we can become aware of? Can we let the hardness turn into softness, the edginess round out, the pressure deflate, the stuck or blocked energy circulate into streams of light, and let the love and healing energies increase and flow through us? Can we receive this intelligent infinite love and amplify/generate it at the same time? Let us bathe in it and be embraced by it. Let us embrace it.
By reminding ourselves to “take pause” increasingly more often, we create a new psycho-neurological habit, a positive one. The times between the pauses decreases as the pause eases gently into itself void of any boundaries.
Tapas as a Sanskrit word, refers to activities which generate spiritual fire, heat, passion -- those activities in the alchemical sense which fires the cauldron. In that sense this necessary heat/fire that cooks the soup is simultaneously directed to and reflected from an infinite Source, but the way to harness it is to consciously practice energy conservation (pratyhara and tapas) -- to cease dissipating our energy outward into neurotic and dualistic ersatz addictions and substitute activities. Rather the neurotic engagement is disengaged (unattached) at then directed inward toward spiritual communion. That is the practice of tapas is related to the yogic practices of pratyhara, vairagya, and bhakti (one pointed focused intent and devotion/dedication to ever-present Source.
In a dualistic framework one may say that the yogi generates this heat and passion through various practices associated with the specific spiritual techniques of fasting (or eating less quantitatively but more in a selective manner with energetic awareness, silence of speech and thought (mouna), simplification of our life and non-hoarding (aparigraha), satyagraha (dedication to that which is true and and real, saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), and in a broad sense the natural embodiment of all the all the other yam/niyams spontaneously.
As a matter of fact any action that frees us from the dualistic illusion that life and spiritual energy comes from a discrete, separate, or exclusive relationship (called ego), that affirms that wellness, fulfillment, and satisfaction (santosha) comes from wholeness -- from the Sacred Reality of All Our Relations, that is called tapas. This is based on the non-dual "Realization" that in our natural unconditioned state we are all inextricably bound together and have no separate ultimate existence. Here the well known Sanskrit saying, neti neti, (most often translated as "not this, not this" not this) actually means not just this by itself as a separate reality or not separate self, not separate things, nothing is separate or exists apart from SAT.
In other words, we are not just the body (in terms of separation), but rather in the non-dual terms of creator/creation the human body exists as a result of millions of years of co-evolution not only with the planet but with the entire universe. To see this reality out of this sacred context is indeed an ignorance and illusion, but rather to see it in its sacred perspective as it "really is". That brings us into communion and relationship or rather identification with the Long Body -- the Large and Transpersonal Self, the ineffable Great Omnipresent Integrity where there is no limitation nor separation -- that which is innate and is always accessible.
Thus the yogi's task is to arrive home -- to sacred presence, by placing an end to endless becoming -- back to our core/heart natural unfragmented and undistorted energetic multi-dimensional dynamic and living relationship with spirit/source wherein all things are inter-connected. Thus for example since we may be fooled that we get our nourishment from eating food in the when we assume a dualistic and incomplete straight plane context of scarcity or separateness, then the practice of fasting as tapas will teach us how to get our energy more direct (versus second hand). The practice of silence (mouna) will teach us also how we dissipate our energy talking and feeding the discursive mind. Meditation will teach us how our core energy and attention becomes dissipated and imprisoned in thought patterns. But those are only the classical and more obvious practices of tapas.
These activities happen spontaneously and automatically when we are aligned and connected -- abiding in Divine Love -- where the inner endocrine juices (bindu) are freely flowing and the energetic matrici are holographically activated.
However at "other times" when we are lost in subject/object duality then through tapas we reclaim the outward flowing grasping upon objects (physical or mental) through the senses or the mind. We then make that energy and consciousness available for activating our innate creative and evolutionary functions. We can take up practices which help us become consciously aware of ALL our actions, speech, and thought, and from this awareness ask the question, will this activity lead me back home -- into the core or away from it? Is it based on separateness or is it based on love? Will this activity or that liberate and free up more energy or on the other hand will it dissipate, confuse, distract, or disempower? Inner wisdom will answer as to what are the consequences of any action -- is it neutral, positive, negative, but in order to get started we must have first developed this energetic awareness. That is where yoga practice comes forth to aid the practitioner. When we apply this principle of tapas toward all our activities, reducing and/or eliminating those activities that dissipate and distract, then we are focusing our passion toward achieving liberation and are reaping the benefits of authentic tapas.
It can be as simple as breaking up an old pattern of dissipation and addiction as mentioned above; as simple as not watching TV as a neurotic escape, not eating food for entertainment or an ersatz gratification, not getting in an argument over ideology or out of a defensive need, not thinking negative thoughts of others as a prideful attempt to bolster one's sagging lack of self esteem, refraining from activities of comparative advantage and condemnation, freeing up our time, activities, energy, and MIND. It can be as simple (but none-the-less very profound) as taking pause -- time out and asking for energetic guidance from our highest potential. This occurs when tapas, isvara pranidhana and swadhyaya (three niyama practices in yoga) combine as one movement (in what Patanjali called kriya yoga).
There can be many everyday examples of tapas in action such as choosing not to buy new clothes merely as a means of self aggrandizement, eliminating neurotic self gratification activities in general, eliminating entertainment and recreation altogether, just creating more space for silence to speak -- for stillness. very empty space which can then be filled with light and love.
Simply creating space (by eliminating spurious activities which preoccupy us in limited ways) by refraining from wanton acts of consumerism and symbolic representation can liberate valuable energy and time, but this renunciation works best when we have some idea of where to put this liberated energy -- renunciation only works in harmony with affirmation and this is what functional tapas is. Tapas frees up space and time and invites spirit to come in. Refraining from possessing objects, eating unhealthy foods that may titillate the palate, identifying with the objects which one possesses, and consumption in general all liberate time, attention, and energy that now can be rested and redirected for healing and spiritual pursuit. That time, attention, and energy can thus be recycled -- it has the potential to propel us, fuel, and accelerate us further for spiritual self healing, should we so decide to direct it. In fact the attitude of tapas is the attitude of the one who renounces bondage (the true renounce/renunciate) and at the same time it is the expedient attitude which leads us further in the direction of liberation. Thus authentic tapas can not be seen as a negative renunciation or escape, but rather combing that aspect with a necessary positive affirmation. That is why in classical kriya yoga, tapas is most often combined with isvara pranidhana and swadhyaya. Of course it also strongly associated with vairagya (non-attachment/non-grasping), pratyhara, dharana, pranayama, asana, and all the yam/niyams as each limb in Patanjali's astanga yoga complements the other limbs disclosing an underlying coherent wholistic Reality.
As long as these type of activities are not done in the context of an inhibition, self restraint, repression, control, rigidity, tension -- as long as they are not done as a willful action of the ego upon the ego, but rather as a transpersonal and non-dual affirmation of a Greater Wholistic Integrity -- of our true Self nature beyond fragmented duality, only then will this generate and augment functional results -- only then will the auspicious culmination of the heat, fuel, and divine passion self fulfill itself. Then the fire inside is potenized to feed the flame of our spiritual practice effectively and effortlessly. Here in the profound non-dual context, the inner fire and the outer fire merge as one -- they have no separate Source.
One eventually has to get to the basic question of asking who they are – what is life about and be willing to accept an energetic searing answer where words can not penetrate. On that path we find out why there existed an addiction in the first place. Of course the addiction is a symptom of a greater need not being met; i.e., that people go to "substitutes' for their wowsers when it isn't present in their everyday life.
That's the chronic problem in today's dysfunctional addiction/recovery programs which are not able/willing to look into causes, but rather attempt to treat the symptoms without changing some of the overall contributing/causal circumstances.
So yoga opens up the blockage and provides a reconnect/touchdown. It then FEELS good to be in the body, to be present, to be HERE and NOW in sacred presence. Addicts need " something" to ground themselves HERE, versus chronically going "there" for a fix.
Heroin or alcohol are also anesthetics-- they numb out the pain and the feeling. Most addictions are substitutes dissociative escapes from feelings -- from being present in the moment. Yet nothing is more empowering than being HERE NOW. Yoga makes you feel good in the body and thus reestablishes this healthy body/mind connection. Yes it gets the internal juices flowing -- it brings us home.
You know case histories are simply a series of anecdotal stories. I know one rehabitation/recovery program in San Francisco who recommends to those with a long standing heroin addiction to not practice yoga, if one is judged as having an "addictive personality". That happened to a an old friend. that is those who ran the program thought that he would just trade in one addiction (heroin) for the other (yoga). Of course they were blind to the fact that their therapy/program could be evaluated in the same light; i.e., as a substitute addiction. that person had been using yoga successfully for over five years, but due to an injury caused by bullheadedness he stopped and back slid. Coupled with the above erroneous advice, he stopped yoga entirely and has continued to backslide for four years.
The simple truth is that there exist "good' habits, bad habits, the state where we are from habits (but the latter is very difficult to achieve). Some say that the latter is impossible, but it depends how we define Self. Freedom from any addiction can’t be achieved until people create a positive attitude toward their body, nature, and their underlying true nature (underneath creation/creator). One must wholeheartedly desire to know the Truth of Self in order to achieve such. It can’t happen until one has made a life changing and ego shattering affirmation that one’s past addictive nonsense is no longer worthy of engagement. For direction to be changed a new path must be investigated willingly and then explored. Then the old prisons and habits will no longer hold any sway on the individual and can’t ever hold them back any more. Then much more happens than being free from dysfunctional addictive behavior.
So yes getting high on the breath, on the prana, on feeling connected to life, on feeling good in the body/mind, that is all preliminary work to build up awareness and sensitivity, to allow us to purify and activate so that we can integrate – reestablish that innate integrity of love.
Thus in the greater context of yoga, addiction can be seen as attachment to any unconscious or ignorant (and thus dysfunctional and pathological) habitual and dysfunctional repetitious activity -- a series of related activities that occupies our neural synapses, attention, time, and energy, closing down or sapping the activation of our higher but dormant/inhibited potential -- the energy or light body, and thus through this spiritual estrangement and errant ways of thinking and doing we create more suffering, until we learn to see more subtly -- until we are turned upon the wholistic path.
The pain and struggle is actually greater when we we do not know we have the pain -- when we do not even know we have a choice, or do not know how to implement the choice effectively to liberate our bound up energy, blocked nadis, and clogged circuits that hold the wisdom energy. When we have lost sight of our greater potential, we live in forgetfulness - in an alien land of spiritual self estrangement. In this context it does not matter if an activity is perceived as being painful or pleasurable, addictive or non-addictive, rather all that matters is what the intelligent living energy vortex signals through the flames -- how well we are able to listen to the fire behind the fire and decipher her loving message. The energy that is liberated through the process of detaching from circular modalities of bondage into separateness (vairaga) frees up and generates sacred space -- it speeds up and quickens our cells and vibratory rate strengthening the aura. When we consciously engage upon activities to ramp-up or accelerate our spiritual practice with focused attention, that is called exercising tapas. This in turn helps fuel the fire which the alchemical lead is transformed to gold -- which propels us over into a new evolutionary space. It is said that genuine tapas activates the kundalini (the evolutionary potential innate in man). It is an essential practice that fires our spiritual liberation as a people, species, as a galactic member as well as an energy/form body. It brings into the union of heaven and earth, emptiness and form, objective/subjective, shiva/shakti, spirit and nature. here we remove our suffering and in turn that that of others. Tapas as such does not cause suffering or pain, self abnegation sacrifice or punishment, but rather liberates one from separateness (ego) and places us in our rightful place (swarupa) which is the union of our true ultimate nature here and now while embodied (with form). That ultimate nature is at the same time not dependent upon form. That transpersonal unitive alignment the body, mind, and spirit removes suffering -- it is pure bliss -- pure from the beginning and not dependent upon aversion/alleviation. It is this joy and lasting unconditional happiness that the sages of throughout the ages have kindly shared. It is here -- allways/always. Unconditional joy, pure bliss, and true happiness is not dependent upon any conditions whatsoever. At the same time being unconditioned it is not fabricated or artificial, but ultimately REAL should our small mind wake up entertaining its immanent potential.
This has to be said because too often in classical theological anti-nature systems where creation, nature, or the body is demonized, the activity of tapas is defined by them as activities that demean, deprecate, mortify, or even punish the body equating tapas as self mortification, self sacrifice, self abnegation, punishment, or penance in an attempt to overcome embodiment. In those dualistic systems, earthly existence is like a curse or otherwise hellish, while perfection or heaven is the transcendence of embodiment. In tantra and hatha yoga however accomplishment occurs as a non-dual integration or harmonization where beingness and consciousness, form and emptiness, earth and sky, mother/father, body and mind, shakti/siva, etc. are united within an all inclusive Reality.
In this context subscribing to ordinary religion with its authoritarian beliefs, dogma, absolutism, moral laws, ceremonies, rituals, repression, wilfulness, inhibitions, control, and so forth is just another self limiting counter-productive addictive habit to break just as the addictive activities of watching TV, smoking cigarettes, alcoholism, drugs, food addictions, material addictions, habits in general may be viewed as an attempt (albeit unconscious) to transcend/escape one's situation or feelings. The yogi's goal is not to be free from Every "thing" in the sense of being separate or isolated from "any separate thing". Only in this non-dual context, it is not aversion. Thus true yoga is not fear based nor transcendent (in the sense of escaping, avoiding, denying, overcoming, or controlling a situation), but rather being free in the sense of residing in the unitive state in which there is no separation, no separate self, no lack, no absence of the sacred, in the first place, from the very beginning, there is no need but the spiritual passion of pure unrequited love -- of complete communion that burns through her/him to and from the central core in ecstatic bliss and as such, tapas is best viewed in this non-dual context of an all inclusive affirmation rather than as a negation -- to be comfortable (santosha) with everything everywhere, all the time, now, while acting as a free and open channel for unconditional and eternal love, peace, happiness, and truth.
In short then, when we are stuck between a hard place and a rock, when we seem to be stuck, hopeless, depressed, run down, and unenergized -- look toward tapas. Pause, empty, empty -- create empty space! Tapas is about doing less not more -- doing nothing but letting go, and residing in that great ineffable emptiness -- sunya -- embracing the immanent love in the sacred moment. Practice tapas now!
ALL OUR RELATIONSHO IT IS SACRED!
Back to HeartMind Yoga Home
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras Chapter Two (Sadhana Pada) for Patanjali's discussion of tapas (Sutra II-1 and Sutra II- 43)
Tapas and, Addiction Remediation as Re-habitation to the Earth and the Body
Understanding Trauma in Daily Life: The Relationship between Trauma in Body Psychotherapy and the Formation of Samskaras (triggers) in Yoga Philosophy s
Chronic Armoring Around Pain, Trauma, Denial, and Dysfunction
Manipulating our inner environment and electro-magnetic fields; Coping with electronic pollution and stress by strengthening our aura, chakras, and vibrational body through ancient and modern spiritual practices.
The Effects of EMF and Electrosmog on the human mind: The psychological, social, and political ramifications of electrosmog addiction.
Books on Clinical Ecology by Theron Randolph. MD and Ralph Moss, MD
National Integrated Health Associates: Environmental medicine and Clinical Ecology
Allergies and Biodetoxification for the Arthritic
Dr, Roy Walford's Caloric Restriction Diet (father of yogini Lisa Walford)
Caloric Restriction Foundation
Quality Longevity by Mark Lovendale
Rainbowbody's link page for additional material on psychological trauma issues