Addiction and Non-Duality: How and Why to Space Out

Here’s Why to Space Out:

• Addiction is always an addiction of attention.
• Freedom is a freedom of attention.

• Attention is love.

• Attention in its natural state is space-like. (Unbounded love.)
• Attention short-circuited, is planet like. (bounded love)

• Our education, our culture, our physical experience all lead toward short-circuiting of our attention, e.g., short-circuiting of our love, such that most of us, most of the time, experience our attention as planet-like.

• Addiction is attention in its planet-like (short-circuited) state, caught in a particular gravity pattern, revolving around a particular star or two (e.g., tobacco, sex, money, fame, booze, or daily soap operas.)

• Simply remembering our natural state, (e.g., love, space-like attention,) again and again and again until it again becomes our daily experience, is the mechanism for resolving addiction.

• We need not fight the planets that move through space, that move through our attention —nothing wrong with tobacco, sex, money, fame, booze or daily soap operas. We experience them all in passing, in their right time and place, their right orbit. Yet we ourselves remain free, in unbounded love, space-like attention.

• A craving is a short circuit of attention.
• Dissolving a craving is a return to the space of attention.

Here’s HOW:

• So how do we return to the space of attention?
• To “un-train” our planetary attention, we simply devote more and more time every day—formally and informally– to letting go of the innumerable planets—and putting attention on attention itself. We intentionally sense the space-like attention that upholds and infuses and surrounds the constricted planetary attention!

• We allow thoughts to rise up and fall away while our attention is on attention itself.
• We allow images to rise up and fall away, while we place attention on attention itself.
• We allow sounds, sights, feelings, to rise up and fall away, while we place attention on attention itself.

• As we walk around, we inquire, and remind ourselves, “space-like attention?” or, after we’ve practiced enough, simply, “Space?”

• What Keeps Us Addicted and How to Go Beyond:

• The alternate rising of desire and fear is what keeps us addicted. Desire and fear are two sides of the same coin. It is the coin of attention, and more specifically, short-circuited attention.

• We desire our “star of choice”—tobacco, sex, booze, money, fame, whatever. Desire is attention going down a memory path, attention dressed up in a memory costume. (Without a memory, we have no desires!) Attention goes to the bottle, or the smokes, or the relationship, again and again. This is desire. We don’t need to fight our desires, or change our desires—attention in its orbit around the star. We simply need to recognize the wider space in which both the planet and the star are present, are arising, moving. We feel the space around them. Even enjoy the space around them. As we recognize the space (inhabit the space!) around the star and the planet, in which the star and planet are arising, both the planet and the star diminish in size. We, being space, allow desires to simply rise up and fall away, while we remain steady, free.

• We fear the “death star,” in all of its various forms— we fear death itself, pain, suffering, lack, limitation. Fear is attention going down the “projection” path, attention dressed up as a projection. (If we don’t project into the future, we have no fears!) We project the suffering we might experience without our “star of choice,” be it person place or thing. We don’t need to fight our fears, our projections. Again, we simply recognize the space in which they are arising. As we return to the space of attention in which our projections are arising, our fears are arising, we see them steadily diminish in size. They still appear and disappear, rise up and fall away, but in our space-like attention, we are fearless.

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4 Responses to Addiction and Non-Duality: How and Why to Space Out

  1. MikeS says:

    “Addiction is always an addiction of attention.”

    This definition is self-referential, can you rephrase this sentence by replacing the second “addiction”? Thanks, you’ve got a terrific blog, and truly enjoyed your Peace Practice in your other site.

  2. Bear Gebhardt says:

    Thanks Mike. Sorry for the long delay in responding. (My day job as a stop smoking coach still keeps me from offering much attention to this sight. But hold on… things are about to change!) Our attention is what gets addicted— our bodies only follow along. So “addiction is an addiction of attention” points to the key to freedom, to what it is that needs to be freed (our attention!) Addiction happens when our attention gets caught in a loop — like the planets “addicted” to their revolutions around the sun. What we’re looking for is the cosmic candle snuffer, so that the gravitational pull is no longer there. What we’re looking for (an all addictions!) is joy, peace, the naturalness of our own being. It’s closer than our breaths.
    Watch out… don’t get me started. Thanks for checking in. More to come… Bear

  3. Mike says:

    Thanks for the clarifying response, Bear.. and sharing that beautiful metaphor.. it resonated deeply within me particularly on the gravitational pull.. perhaps we become like an apparent asteroid caught in orbit not recognizing we are the space itself, free and boundless.

    I have recently been delving into nondual perspectives (advaita, zen, buddhism and taoism) and how to relate to addiction from it, and I have yet to find as elegant metaphor that addresses it. Thank you.


  4. Bear Gebhardt says:

    Thanks again, Mike. You may want to check out, where Candace O’Denver points out that our first addiction is to our “points of view.” Once we outgrow that addiction, all other addictions naturally fall away. I’d be curious about your response. I’m not doing much with this site, but hope to here soon… in peace, bear

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