Living Lineages & Healing Addiction


Offering in Lake ChicabalCan the knowledge and wisdom of living lineages help to heal individuals and a society being devastated by addictions?  This recent article (below) points to a growing awakening, led by the scientific community, over the causes of addiction.  While we often associate addiction with afflictions such as substance abuse or gambling, it is clear that addictive behavior is wide-spread in western society, extending to include areas such as food, material consumption and information (internet).  The emerging realization is that “addiction” may stem more from our human need to bond than a particular pathology, and without perceived opportunities for positive bonding, this innate impulse can lead to vicious cycles of destructive behavior.

Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

Our modern society is driven from a basis of disconnection, from people, environment, and cosmos.  This is required in order to sustain the levels of extraction upon which our systems are built, enabling the concentration of resources.  This disconnect has fostered the “war on drugs” which has not only created further separation for those suffering from addictive behavior, but has had immense impact in separating many of the communities where the healing potential of living lineages reside.

But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

We are not the first civilization to face this challenge, and living lineages have worked at individual, communal and societal levels to both connect a sense of meaning and purpose while awakening our potential to bond in healthy ways that create virtuous cycles at all those levels.

A quick example, with the living lineage of the Maya: It has always been a fundamental aspect of Maya society that individuals understand their purpose in this life, and be supported to fulfill their potential in harmony with that purpose.  Thus, when a child was born, they were immediately brought to an Ajq’ij (spiritual guide) to understand that purpose, primarily through the tools of the Cholq’ij.  For example, a child born under the Nawal (day sign) Tz’i (law, justice) was, at the appropriate age, brought to learn from the judges of the community, to deepen their understanding of the connection between cosmic, natural and human law, to uphold their responsibility to ensure its seamless integration.  We can also use the Cholq’ij as a tool to help break unhealthy bonds and replace them with healthy ones.  For example, we can light purple candle’s on Tijax days to help cut away our (or others) attachments to things that do not serve our purpose, connect with Nawal K’at to free us from those things that trap us and to gather those things that help us on our path, and Nawal Kawoq to connect us with a healthy family and community.  If we work with the tools of these lineages through a sustained effort with an increasingly clear intent, tremendous healing becomes possible.

Many of these lineages emphasize the space between, rather than the object, focusing upon the importance of creating harmonious relationships as a key to ensuring a healthy path.  And their are tools within these traditions to help us re-awaken these connections, shifting our perspective as we have an opportunity to move from a reductive/ separated cosmology towards reclaiming an integrated/ interconnected view that can bring us back towards a path of healing and development.  In this way, perhaps we find hope that the addictive behaviors we suffer through, supported by our cultural context, can be transformed through healthy bonding connected to our true sense of purpose and relationship.

What potential do you see for living lineages in helping us to heal addictions and other afflictions?

Read the article by Johan Hari here:

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

Adam Rubel
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