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Skeletal Notes I prepared for my Tricycle Retreat on Addiction

talk 1, the nature of addiction: the root of addiction is a craving to get rid of all forms of stress and discomfort
—some stresses stem from underlying feelings of loneliness, uniqueness, isolation
—some from obsessive thinking
—the inevitable, unavoidable discomforts of life; abandonment, rejection, criticism, blame, etc
—these are inner states that the addict is largely unfocused on and towards which develops little tolerance

addictions primarily relieve our awareness of our inner stress
—the solutions are short term, with long term consequences that in no way develop tolerance or lasting solutions
—the addict largely blames his suffering on external conditions, and fails to see how his lack of tolerance plays a central role in the addictive spiral

karma & coping strategies: neurons that fire together wire together
habitual reactions to stress become increasingly ingrained, the mind develops ruts

finding any additional stress unbearable, further keeping our addictions in place are a set o…

equanimity

acceptance is originally defined as  1) receiving something that's arrived and offered, for example, accepting a package. 2) believing in something as true, for example Christians accepting Jesus as savior, or accepting the validity of an election, etc.
As a psychological activity wherein a person experiences a set of conditions—often uncomfortable and unwanted—without trying to change or avoid it. We're often told that acceptance is a central part of buddhist spirituality.
There is no direct word for psychological acceptance, as just defined, in pali. 
The buddha's never taught that we should experience suffering without trying to change it. All of the buddha's teachings are goal seeking, towards inner peace.
The buddha did teach about learning to develop contentment with whatever external circumstances we find ourselves in: —santutthi, or developing contentment with our acquisition of four requisites, food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. Acquiring these requisites is n…

Now What? Life as a recovering addict.

Of all the passages in our recovery literature I find unintentionally amusing—and there are many—one stands out. It is a memorable paragraph about those alcoholics who “for a variety of reasons cannot have a family life.” They are consoled with the wildly thrilling prospect of transforming themselves into “prodigies of service.” It’s supposed to be inspiring. I remember one friend who used to sigh audibly and cross her arms angrily when this portion was read aloud at Twelve Step gatherings. No doubt she was shuddering at the thrilling plans the program had in store for her. Perhaps she, like me, imagined armies of childless drunks and addicts, dressed in colorless work uniforms, dutifully sweeping up after their happily married fellows had gracefully departed the meetings, en route to the Hamptons. At least the industrious spirits left behind would be lifted by the thought of helping another alcoholic. This patronizing pat on the head is by no means an isolated theme in recovery lite…

ending grasping restores power to each moment

Grasping: in a consumer culture, bombarded by marketing, with the basic message being: "you need this to be ____ safe, happy, loved, etc"—we're bathed in an overriding meme, that there's something that must be gathered in, grasped, attained and clung to if we're to be achieve any lasting peace.—its not just in our advertisements, it lurks in the messages we receive from institutions, chasing diplomas, commendations, linkedIn recommendations, clean bills of health, etc.
this movement can easily be brought into our spiritual lives as well… we want to gather in some special insights and tools to find lasting peace—its no wonder that so much of spiritual literature and courses do so well—what we learn: i pay to be given something that i'm missing to get me where i can find happiness
inherent in grasping and gathering and clinging are at least four important, unconscious events:1) there's a putting off into the future of inner peace; a sense that real peace cann…

disillusionment is part of the path

in capitalism, basic human fears and vulnerability are assuaged by a constant influx of mind boggling toys and transfixing sensual perceptions.—we have a steady supply of gadgets, delivering endless media that provide us with hours of distractions—we can travel to every corner of the globe in search of a wide variety of experiences—lifestyles of the rich and famous are paraded before us, creating the illusion that if we play our cards right, we too can live 'endlessly glamorous lives'
as science and technology promises us longer lifespans with more efficient medications, so the notion of coming to grips with mortality are conveniently put aside.
elaborate social media networks provide everyone the opportunity to feel like "a star for at least 15 minutes" transfixed by our Facebook followers and the 'likes' our postings receive.
so material consumption is established as the means and ends to security and happiness. —we chase after the worldly winds of pleasure,…

being comfortable with not knowing

We don't get to nibbana and the end of suffering until we reach the end of the world
Our desire to "figure out the world and life" stems from a craving for immediate security, immediate control, immediate avoidance of any discomfort.—The conceptual, linguistic, literal mind wants to figure it all out so that we can live without loss or discomfort.—The left hemisphere is the source of so much of our optimism and sense of control.
We cobble together maps of the world, people, life, from a vast array of second hand sources, “common sense,” which point us towards external, short term happiness.—“Work hard and you can accomplish anything." “Absence makes the heart grow stronger.” Not always true.—Views are simplistic, reductionist,subject to examples that break the rules
A feeling of control and power that derives from believing we've got it all sussed, rather than our mind is just filled with a bunch of second hand ideas that help us some of the time.—fueled by fear o…

not caring what others think

We learn by watching others, seeing what works and doesn't work.As human beings we have mirror genes that allow us to empathize with the sufferings of others.Our feelings of safety and security depend on feeling accepted and protected by the tribe; being ostracized cuts deeply, often leaving us feeling alone, insecure, self-doubting.It can be disconcerting when we are criticized, in relationships, work, families, friends, art.—sharp, chiding, disparaging words about our reputationssecurity feel threatened.—there's a tendency to turn disparagements into identity views, to feel trapped—it can leads to papanca, an inner debate with those who disapprove of us.—by the end, the mental agitation far outweighs the original reprimand
if we feel there's some validity to the criticism, it's important to:—dismiss any unskillful elements as the results of stress —incorporate criticism without adding any identity view—reminding ourselves that everyone gets criticized* * * …

grasping

In aour consumer culture, bombarded by marketing, with the basic message being: "you need this to be ____ safe, happy, loved, etc"—we're bathed in an overriding meme, that there's something that must be gathered in, grasped, attained and clung to if we're to be achieve any lasting peace.—its not just in our advertisements, it lurks in the messages we receive from institutions, chasing diplomas, commendations, linkedIn recommendations, clean bills of health, etc.
this movement can easily be brought into our spiritual lives as well… we want to gather in some special insights and tools to find lasting peace—its no wonder that so much of spiritual literature and courses do so well—what we learn: i pay to be given something that i'm missing to get me where i can find happiness
inherent in grasping and gathering and clinging are at least four important, unconscious events:1) there's a putting off into the future of inner peace; a sense that real peace cannot be e…

zencare talk: working with the addict

the addict alcoholic's mind is comprised of mutually reinforcing outlooks that create stress:—a view of oneself as being profoundly unique and different from all others in the universe; the addict/alcoholic believes his/her thoughts cannot be understood
—this results in what the buddha termed papancha, or self obsessed thought: what do others think of me?
The alcoholic takes everything personally, considering himself a victim, conspiracies
feels "uncomfortable in his own skin,"three fold disease alcohol and drugs are stress responses.
he's rendered so stressed, that his search is invariably for an external, magic bullet, solution.
—damn the long term consequences.
drugs and alcohol work at first, relieving the mental agitation and stress, but in the long term one develops a tolerance
the addict/alcoholic doesn't believe other solutions existthe problem with the false solutions—drugs, drink, etc:
—external solutions, don't address the underlying condition
—they s…