So there are some key points in this next chapter, and in no particular order, let me highlight some. The first point that just jumped off the page was a line on the top of page 134, “Recognition of your own addictions requires inner work.” That is simple enough on the surface, but has an explosive punch when you get all up in it. “Inner work?” Just what is that? So Gary Zukav describes it later in the paragraph as loosely being us looking clearly at the places we lose power and where we get defensive. This is two great places to start, as they both are intertwined and can come from the same place of fear. I agree with him in regard to doing inner work, particularly when it comes to any distortions, whether it be addictions or anything of the sort. I would add to this that we should also look and do “inner work” at how we identify ourselves. We can lose power and get defensive over things that really have no bearing on our reality, or our true and “authentic power”, and this comes from mislaying our real Selfhood. It is only inevitable that we would be defensive and/or powerless when we are not aligned with who we are. There is a quote that says,” If you want to know what you ought to do, then know who you are.” I think it was by Abraham Maslow. Knowing what emotions are commonly generated and displayed, what false beliefs you have been duped into accepting, what warped logical processes are you using, or what limitations have you placed on your creativity and vision, these are added layers to the “inner work” that must be done in order to overcome the “addictions” we face, the biggest addictions being the ones to falsehoods, small-mindedness, and restrictions. I would ask any one person or a group of individuals, “What inner work can we do as a collective, meaning society? Should the pillar institutions of society have required inner work as a part of their protocols and policies? This inner work must be applied on a broader scale to really enact true and enduring shifts in the tectonic plates of social order, but the question is how? How do we do it on a level that touches a mass amount of people? Inner work requires us to ‘work out our inner’ and bring it forth so everyone can see and feel.
Another part of this chapter that stuck out to me was when Gary spoke on the idea of “powerlessness” on page 136, when it comes to our decision to act on our addictions. It again made me consider, ‘what is power to me?’ and ‘where does my power reside?’ This is something I would ask anyone to meditate on because having lived much of my life in the U.S. I feel that I was constantly made to feel that I was powerless, which makes me wonder ‘if I was being made to feel powerless, how was I taught to get my power back?’ And I think about that in terms of all the boxes I am put in: as a black person, as a woman, as a millenial, as an inner-city inhabitant…how was I expected to get the ‘power’ I supposedly didn’t have back? Which brings me to the point Gary makes towards the middle of pg. 138 where he speaks on the need to dominate and the need to be submissive and how our soul chooses which one to play in any given situation. Now I had to read that part a few times to really get what he was saying but it is most definitely something to meditate on for sure! The thing I really liked about this chapter overall was the ways Gary ties in responsibility and how it comes from within ourselves, not from others or outside circumstances but from within. He also shows us in this chapter and all the previous ones we’ve read so far how each of these pillars helps to guide us to wholeness and to more of who we truly are while experiencing this journey called life!
The next vital point that was made was on page 140, where the author spoke about addictions being somewhat judged by their costs. Whew, that was deep! To accurately assess the depth of an addiction you must weigh its costs. So if you question whether or not something is an addiction, in the first place, ask yourself what are the costs and trade-offs? If I am addicted to disharmonious sexual encounters, is it costing me my career? Family? If I am abusing alcohol, is it costing me my health? Self-esteem? Even understated addictions, like addictions to conceit, attention, self-loathing, what is it costing me? Friends? Peace? But even more importantly, when we start looking at the addictions we have as a society, keeping people of color incarcerated or keeping rural folk in poverty-rich and resource-deprived conditions, what is it costing us? When we create revolving doors to prison, drug use, under-educated minds, crime, and we cry about the toll it takes on us at-large or the blight it causes in our neighborhoods, this is the costs no one likes to talk about. We all love to throw around credit cards in stores, or while shopping on Amazon, as we can be in denial about the cost of these purchases, and just be caught in the rapture of gifts and boxes of goodies. But when that bill comes in the mail…oh, who wants to joyfully take that on? We as a society have to look at the effects and “costs” of our addictions—poor/underfunded schools, poor healthcare, etc. and these “costs” must be healed or balanced, as this is why things are so out of whack on so many levels. And if you are reading this, then that means you are part of the “addiction” that society has on so many fronts. The first step is to not be in denial (smile). The blessing is that as Gary says on page 143, you can look deeper and honestly at the things that have power over you and take control of them, so there is hope. Say it with me, Jesse Jackson-style, “Up With Hope, Down With Dope!”(smile).
The last points worthy of exploration in this chapter, or at least the ones I will explore, can be combined to fit into one bowl of “authentic power soup.” On page 142 Gary says in plain terms,”All that the human experience is about is the journey toward wholeness.” I should repeat that, but you get how profound that is. So let’s then go to page 144, middle paragraph, that reads,”…you may realize that you are not ready to take that path[of higher wisdom].” So one line says we are on a journey toward wholeness, and the “Surgeon General’s Warning”, if you may, say that you may not be ready to take that path. What is a five-sensory person to do?? Sheesh!! On both a personal and social level, I think it is absolutely necessary that one understands that there should always be hope and optimism in the path we are taking, as long as love, truth, peace, freedom, and justice are the bricks on the path, it is the right one. But there must be an equal understanding that you, as one person, and the collective you that is a part of society, may not be ready to walk with purpose and determination on this path. This is a daunting thought to have to absorb, but one that will do you harm if not fully grasped. This begs the question, “What addictions do you have that you can honestly say you are not ready to overcome? What addictions does society have that they just are not ready to detach from? On both accounts, it demands sincerity, openness, vulnerability, and the opportunity to confront these realities-meaning time to look inward or outward. Remember, an addiction can be whatever you lose your power to, and has significant costs to the flow and function of the natural order of life.
Looking out on our society I definitely would say we have an addiction to distraction. I see it also in a sense of us not remembering who we truly are at our core. Like I take myself for example, when I’ve been asked in the past to describe myself, what I do, what I like, etc. most of the time those answers were based on spaces in our society telling me who I was. So when I look back to my elementary school years I was very much so distracted with regimented curriculum and hard rules and consequences when all I really wanted to do was explore the world, read and be in nature. As I got into a working age and started working a job in retail I was distracted with being in competition with co-workers for ‘rewards’ and instructed on how to talk and behave when all I wanted to do was meet new people without always selling them something and to understand how to manage the money I was making. Then as I graduated college I was being distracted by what ‘I was supposed to do’ and ‘who I should be’ as an artist when in reality I just wanted to use the tools I had and those I gained to carve my own path. And that’s just one area of my life. I won’t even get into the media and how it distracts us as I no longer engage with it nor do I obsess over it. I find pleasure in listening! Listening to my soul, my spirit, nature, my intuition, God! These are the only sources that have helped me truly evolve from the inside out and have helped me become a better person to those around me. Now did it take me time to realize how addicted I was to everything outside of myself…YES but I got to a point where I had to acknowledge those feelings that I perhaps didn’t want to face but knew that in order for me to truly live a life that embodies me and what my soul desires I had to rid myself of distractions in the form of limiting thoughts, relationships, people, places, etc. I, too, liked what Gary said about acknowledging when you are not ready to examine your addictions because that speaks to the humanness in us all and how our lives are a journey meant to be experienced fully, and that it’s not always a straight line but involves twists and exciting turns.