The Sacred Illness

Yesterday, I picked up Scott Peck’s latest, a sequel to The Road Less Traveled, and after I got over being annoyed with myself because he had the courage to go ahead and explicate and publish on topics I’ve researched and contemplated for years–how dare he have the nerve to do what I didn’t!–I was impressed by his bravery in calling addiction what it really is: a sacred illness. You know how it is when someone voices a phrase that’s been percolating in your unconscious for some time?

The point here, and one I’ve been working with for a long time, is that people who are addicts just really don’t like being here on the earth plane. Often, they are fragile, highly advanced souls with too exquisite attunement to the pain of the world. They have too much sensitivity to tolerate the shock and coarseness of the earth plane: it’s just more than they can handle. Substances seem to provide enough that reminds them of “home,” but of course tend to backfire, and there we have it: a wasted life, all too often, or at the least, a far-too-painful life for someone who doesn’t deserve it, and a purpose thwarted–or so it might seem.

But I’ve always said–I’m an addictions therapist, among other things–that I never met a drunk I didn’t love. And I’ve known quite a number of them! They are invariably deep, caring souls who want to know what life is all about. Bill W. discussed this in The Big Book.

Peck is a big fan of 12-Step groups, apparently; he discusses the concepts and some of the research around the concept, and makes the point that this program is a good containment for the fragile soul who needs to be held during recovery. I suppose I agree with him, although in my experience, the 12-Step meetings often hold so many toxic personalities that I can see why many people do not feel safe in them. It’s a conundrum, for sure. I too believe in that Bill W.’s inspiration was truly a gift from God to the world.

I was interested to hear Peck confess to his own addiction–smoking–as I had heard this about him, and I find myself wondering at his instruction to others about dealing with addictions, even as he himself evidently cannot–or will not–manage his own. This is common, of course, and is not sufficient reason to “shoot the messenger,” but it does make me wonder if sometimes addiction–or some addictions, perhaps–do allow the addict to function on the earth plane, to some extent. Is it possible that some of us need our addictions? Obviously, some addictions are safer and more legal than others, and as well, some addictions are less consciousness-altering in ways that keep the soul from functioning at all.

Are we meant to be “perfect” on this plane? Or are we meant to experience it fully–warts and all? Inayat Khan said, “Hail to my fall from the Garden of Eden! Had I not fallen, I would have lost the opportunity to probe the depths of life.”

I’ll be darned if I know.

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