Thursday, October 06, 2005

Addiction: Triumph of the Animal Aspect

As you know from my profile, I'm a clinician working in the addictions field. I've been wanted to post a Baha'i view about addiction for a while, so here goes. It begins with a Baha'i view of what a human being is. The reality of the human being is the soul and the mind is its essential quality, "Spirit is the tree and mind is the fruit". The Baha'i writings point out that another aspect of the human being is the material or animal aspect. Our spiritual development in this world involves the struggle of the soul to transcend the animal or material aspect of our lives so that the animal aspect can become a vehicle that serves the progress of the soul rather than enslaving it. Addiction turns this divine process on its head and puts the animal aspect firmly in control, spiritually, morally and mentally. It is the ultimate triumph of the animal side of our nature. A human being becomes defined by the need to gratify their animal desire for pleasure and need to avoid pain. That is why we find that people with addictions do things that are dehumanizing to them and everyone around them. This is why addiction is one of the greatest afflictions that a human being can suffer from. Recovering from addictions involves putting the animal aspect of our nature back in its proper place as a servant of the soul's progress in this world. It is thus a spiritual and moral process in addition to a mental and physical one.