#5161: Olympics, Homophobia, and Addiction

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have been in the news this week, in part because of some of the funny ways in which organizers don’t seem to be prepared:


Dmitry Kozak, the Russian deputy prime minister responsible for Olympic preparation, made an enlightening slip of the tongue when he revealed the existence of surveillance video footage he has observed from INSIDE certain hotel bathrooms:


Jason Kottke of kottke.org is one of the world’s busiest and most discerning web surfers. He posted a link this week to an interesting visual piece that overlays various Olympic venues on top of different locations in New York City:


Russia has also been getting a fair bit of press about their homophobic cultural tendencies. To my delight, this light-hearted public service message from a Canadian diversity group went semi-viral this week:


Google softly tossed its own rainbow-coloured hat into the debate with its Google Doodle from the opening day at Sochi:


From the host city of the 2008 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, our new friend, the recovering addict, professional writer and art photographer Norman Fox posted this photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin from Fox’s imagined summer vacation with him deep in the British Columbia forest last year:


Several other recovering addicts have posted their reflections on the deeply tragic death of titanic actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman this week. One of the better articles was published on Slate by an excellent science journalist named Seth Mnookin:


Award-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, The Social Network) also weighed in on Hoffman’s passing, and on the nature of drug addiction itself. During filming of Charlie Wilson’s War, Sorkin recalls a conversation during which Hoffman told him that “if one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.”


A handful of “nondualists” have developed their approach in some measure as a result of addiction recovery. I feel like the first and probably most famous of the bunch was Australian “Sailor” Bob Adamson, although he seldom talks about his alcoholism publicly and doesn’t explicitly factor it into any of his teachings that I’ve seen. Some others include Fred Davis, Paul Hedderman, and Scott Kiloby.

From what I’ve learned of all of their approaches, it seems like most of them attained sobriety first through the fellowship of AA, while most of them have also gone on to develop more profound levels of recovery by dint of immersing themselves in a more constant, day-to-day nondual awareness. That is to say, by “successfully” transcending their own attachment to their own very sense of self, they’ve successfully released themselves from the hold that their addictive drive to ingest mind-altering substances had.

But how does this happen? For those fully in the throes of their own addiction, I suspect it’s an extremely rare case in which a sudden nondual awakening snaps them out of their cycle of drug use; a complete sobriety must almost certainly settle in beforehand. However, it seems clear to me that nondual insight can make a significant difference in a person’s ability to relinquish their desire to make things be other than how they are, which is the most fundamental insight required to recover from any deep-seated addiction. Also, a proper embrace of the first of The 12 Steps does imply a certain nondual insight: once you truly admit that you’re powerless over your addiction, you have to recognize at some level that there is no “you” to control your interaction with your drug of choice — it just happens.

In my own struggles with addictive and compulsive behaviours with certain drugs, activities and food, I’ve noticed that my desire to ingest such mind-altering substances almost always comes from a desire to escape the banality or penurious stress of my daily grind. That desire is borne out of an underlying discomfort with the way things are at that moment, and it can only arise when I’m not fully at peace with myself and/or with whatever’s going on at the moment.

Anyone who has suffered from any significant degree of abuse or trauma at any point in their lives and who hasn’t made amends with those experiences and successfully accepted their having occurred without taking personal blame for their having occurred, can easily find themselves ripe for the seeds of addiction to be sown and cultivated. It’s a rare alcoholic, drug addict, porn actress or prostitute who hasn’t suffered from some form of past emotional, physical or sexual trauma.

For more serious addictions like the one that Phillip Seymour Hoffman and so many others have to alcohol, IV drugs, or most dangerously of late, opiate-based prescription painkillers, it must well be successful trauma recovery that’s required first. The addiction is almost always subsequent to the trauma. Despite my best wishes, however, I’m not aware of anyone who has successfully recovered from a serious addiction purely as a result of an awakening to their true nondual nature.


3 thoughts on “#5161: Olympics, Homophobia, and Addiction

  1. John Bogg

    Of course many people quit drug and alcohol addictions without the 12 steps. Many reject the disease/powerlessness model. Independent recovery is not that uncommon. It’s worth checking out “Rational Recovery”, a non-12 step method developed by Jack Trimpey. On the surface it appears very dualistic because it centers on the Addictive Voice Recognition Technique (AVRT). With AVRT you locate the urge to drink or use (the “addictive voice”) and separate yourself from it, something like what happens when you “see the false as the false” (Nisargadatta, who also pointed out that “you are not the body”). Trimpey asserts that “you are not the addiction/addictive voice”. Seeing the false self and the addictive voice for what they are (they are not “you”) doesn’t mean they disappear never to return. It means you no longer have to do their bidding. That’s powerful.


  2. Brendan Mccarthy

    To the writer above, I’m not sure where you get your information on drug/alcohol recovery: the rates of success in AA and treatment centres are about 5% (less for treatment) which is appalling given that this forms the basis of most recovery models. It’s only marginally above natural remission, people maturing out of the behaviour.

    Sailor Bob was pretty much the first ‘non dualist teacher’ I came across, though he seems to have faded into the background somewhat, but then he is pretty old now. Gilbert Schultz is pretty clear and to the point.

    I’m currently reading Perfect brilliant Stillness’ by David Carse which is very clear on ‘it’. Really enjoying the book. Recommended.


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