The ultimate freedom is freedom from pursuits.
BOOK REVIEW: In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, M.D.: According to Dr. Mate, “The ultimate freedom is freedom from pursuits. Freedom from being so needy that our whole life is spent trying to appease our desire or fill in the emptiness. If I really knew that kind of freedom would I need to argue for it? Would I not just manifest it in my life and way of being?”
Dr. Mate is a saint who practices public medicine in the drug infested, open air shooting gallery of East Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Although his low-life clients are the most desperate and distasteful of drug addicts, he presents a universal picture relatable to many who have not sunk quite that low. Everybody is searching for that feeling of well-being. That greater happiness. That bigger high, chemical or natural. Everybody is trying to climb their own personal Mt. Everest. Thank Buddha that these days I can often just sit and be. No video streaming required. I hardly even listen to music anymore. I just sit and be. Advanced practice of the 12 Steps is to just sit and be, in my humble opinion.
The Hungry Ghosts Among Us
The down and out street addicts that Dr. Mate describes live all around me on the streets of West Los Angeles. I see the look of insatiable hunger in their eyes. Their demands, complaints and neediness cast a shadow upon the sidewalks cluttered with their tents, junk and trash. They walk up to the window at Starbucks and do not even say please or thank you for their free $4.00 beverage.
I confess, I am a Hungry Ghost and I always have been my entire life
Hungry for the Holy Ghost. I know because I have the same complaints. I have my own personal neediness. Except my complaints are not physical they are spiritual, just like Dr. Mate’s. I am a hungry ghost hovering over the city. Searching for spiritual nourishment at the Broad museum because it is free today. Hovering like a hungry ghost looking for the cheapest downtown parking within walking distance. Metering and measuring everything with my eccentric thinking.
Freedom from pursuits means freedom from spiritual pursuits also.
When I am in attunement with the universe there is no pursuit there is only freedom.
Addiction gives you a false sense of pleasure. Addiction cuts large swaths across our culture. I am addicted to posting on this blog. It brings me absolutely no income. I am addicted to productivity and optimizing this website. I get a drug like high when I see my blogs about John Herriot on page one of Google. It is music to my ears when a webmaster contacts me for link sharing, and they tell me how great my SEO is.
Dr. Mate says that, “At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only toward the next time, the moment when her brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future–the two elements that make the present intolerable. Many of us resemble the drug addict in our ineffectual efforts to fill in the spiritual black hole, the void at the center, where we have lost touch with our souls, our spirit–with those sources of meaning and value that are not contingent or fleeting. Our consumerist, acquisition-, action-, and image-mad culture only serves to deepen the hole, leaving us emptier than before.
Freedom from monkey mind
The constant, intrusive, and meaningless mind-whirl that characterizes the way so many of us experience our silent moments is, itself, a form of addiction–and it serves the same purpose. “One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove the emotional pain, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity, but all it can ever achieve is to cover it up temporarily. In fact, the harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain, the greater the pain.” So writes Eckhart Tolle. Even our 24/7 self-exposure to noise, e-mails, cell phones, TV, Internet, and non-stop internal and external chatter cannot succeed in drowning out the fearful voices within”