Dear Sutta Central members, I just wanted to share something that I think can be helpful on the Path.
Yesterday I’ve found a very interesting site OLGA (on-line gamers annonymous), which is site dedicated to help people recover from addiction to computer games. I was one of such people few years ago so the site is quite relevant to me. Anyway I found a very interesting text about addiction to games, in which I’ve changed a few words and wanted to share it here. In general, I’ve changed words like “game” to “craving/samsara” and things relating to “real life” for “dhamma/Truth/bliss/stillness” etc.
Being addicted from any unwholesome thing of course leads to deep dukkha. But people think that curing addiction and getting a “normal life” is the way to happiness. Well it is surely helpful and better than unwholesome addiction. But from buddhist perspective (especially DN27 sutta about Origins of the World
and in relation to Four Noble Truths), it is actually our addiction to craving that gets us out of the Ultimate Truth. You could call it Nibbana, Paramattha Sacca etc., or at least deep jhana or brahma-states (I don’t want to really pin it down, just in general - higher states of mind/or cessation of mind, that are both beyond reach of Mara). What I mean is that vibe of actually being a potentially liberated being that is addicted to craving and diminishing its potential enormously, just like addict does diminish its potential for real life succes. And just as sober people out of compassion wants to get people from shackles of addiction, so Buddhas and Noble Ones want to get people addicted from craving back to “real home”, the Truth, cessation, or at least to heavenly realms.
Anyway here is link to original text called “Crossroads”:
And below is version with my edits. Author of original text is “Muhi” and it was posted 15 may of 2003, on the forum and topic linked above. Below is just a little edit, I intentionally fixed as little as possible. I might change something in the text, but I think it is good. There are of course some personal interpretations of buddhism seen there (and I intentionally mixed up heavenly realms with Ultimate Liberation to make it more inclusive), but I hope that the text will encourage positive dhamma feelings rather than doctrinal disputes.
Please keep in mind that originally text was about getting out of addiction back to “real life”, and I wanted to show that dhamma is getting people out of craving to ultimate truth & cessation or higher states of mind. What is amaziing is that it is like a fractal… that deep addiction to games/alcohol/whatever is an addiction within overall addiction of craving/samsara, and that more or less the same principles can be applied to both levels of addiction. So by looking at phenomena of wordly addiction, we can see principles of samsaric addiction to avijja/craving. I think that as addicts escape to addictions in order to don’t face life problems, in the same way our minds escape from truth of dukkha and anicca into creating world of avijja and craving, of course deepening the problem like every addiction does. I think it is very moving that the Path and dhamma and people following it are like good people curing us from hurtful addiction. Everyone who was addicted to anything will surely understand and resonate with it. And in this way, could more feel the problem of craving in general.
Good beings I refer to in the text is a refference to DN27, that we were good luminous beings before we descended into kama loka where deep defilements started to arise, and we forgot our former bliss and glory of brahma-loka/deva-loka way of being. Okay, I think this is enough, let the text just speak for itself. I recommend reading first original linked above, then edit below. Anyway, here is the edit:
How do we know that craving has taken over our life? How can we accept this?
Craving can be a great thing at times. We can shut our minds and not deal with fear of anicca. How do these things come to light? Our minds were filled with bliss a long time before this, but the addiction is overwhelming, and happiness no longer reigns. Why did we let it get this far? The absolute awe of the whole environment impressed us, and the compulsion began. A new world, a better world, one where we don’t have to face the dhamma, where we can be whatever we want to be, where we can shut ourselves away and no-one knows who we are, neither do they care what we do, we can be whatever we want.
Suddenly, life becomes pointless, as we do not interact with Truth/Love no longer. We interact with a make believe world, a world where, yes we are where we want to be. Why do we want to stay there and resent anybody that tries to take it away from us? Life is painful, life is pointless, there is no bliss any longer. We know we are in trouble now but it doesn’t matter. We can put the Dhamma away and hide it, it no longer matters. We want to stay here, we want to stay in this safe world. We adventure into the deep caverns of samsara, we stick together, we cheer together and we accomplish things together. We must get further in our goals. There is no end to what we can do here. We must get to that higher level, we must get those experiences and items of power.
We forget how we once enjoyed the things that we did. When we blissed out in jhānas and higher heavenly realms. How all beings, all streams of consciousness, all our brothers and sisters in dhamma were there too.
Instead, hurt reigns. We hate ourselves and we hate the people around us. We hate what we do, and we hate the people that try and stop us. Our goals are close, we are so close to achieving them. Unfortunately, once we achieve them there is always something else we want to achieve. Our friends in cravings encourage us; we can’t let them down, we want those things too, we don’t want them to have them, we want to show we are needed too. But the comradeship of the craving is there, they know why we are there, they agree with us too.
We now start to see wise people and dhamma as enemies. Why do they interfere so? Why do they want to take the pleasure that I get away from me? Why do they still stick around? Why are they still here? We have now forgotten how it used to be, how it use to be before. This is how life should be, you argue, there should be no work of dhamma. This is how it should be. All our inhibitions.
Wise people say you have got a problem, and you are turning inwards on yourself. You can no longer interact with stillness, how could you let go of attachments? You see the wise people as interfering and doing you no good. What could they possible know? I’m in control.
Then it happens one day.
The crossroads for us all.
A choice we must make. Depression has set in, and we see no point to life. But maybe there is a chance.
A chance to drag yourself out of this hole, it doesn’t have to be like this. It could be so different.
Remember deeply back on the happier times, where we enjoyed bliss of samādhi.
The samsara and its cravings has become a ritual, we no longer enjoy it, we need it but it does us no good. The samsara is a job, so a job consumes us 24/7, we have a breakdown. We need a break from this. Can’t take it any longer, something must give. What gives is your choice. Let’s hope it’s the right one.
A light is shining bright, and we can shine so much if we let it.
There is no need for all this dukkha, we can beat it. We can change things around, nothing is ever too late. We have become in need of the craving, because that is all we have now, but we must break away from it. It is our way of ignoring problems, of dealing with problems, and yet we can give up so much just because of it.
It is not easy. It is not easy to try and regain heavenly Bliss we once had. What will good beings and God(s) think of me? They know what has happened and I’m ashamed. I am ashamed of how I could have had let this happen. I don’t want good beings and God(s) to think of me in that way, that I am weak, that I could give up the Truth over something like craving.
But there is hope.
In this very life.
What do you want to achieve with your life?
There is so much out there, there is so much Peace, so much you could do.
Ending of craving is there to be realised, why can’t you?
Do you really give everything you’ve got any particular thing, except the craving?
Do you want to be disconnected from the cosmic Bliss/Peace and Truth for the rest of your life?
What would you want good beings/God(s) to remember you by?
If you had a choice of doing anything or changing your life to the way you want it, what would it be?
We sometimes get confused on our journey, the most important thing is to re-find the Noble Path.
A small change can lead to a greater one. You will be surprised how much better you feel if you just take one day to dhamma / or with someone and do realise some dhamma. Make that one day, two. Take back up the old good habits you once had, at least in past lives. Start to find an interest in dhamma, preferably meditation, or dhamma study, as this can work wonders. Being outside on a beautiful hot day, or listening to the nature of what is around you, can too be relaxing. Remember, if you have played game of craving 24/7, you have basically had no stillness whatsoever for months and months. No wonder you feel snappy, anxious, moody, depressed.
There is no shame in admitting what you’ve done. The important thing is to remember that you are now on the road to recovery and to highest realisation of Life. A better life where one day you will say “craving doesn’t interest me no longer, what a waste of time”. Where you will once cherish the important things in life – the dhamma.
Addiction to craving can be overcome and can be controlled. Sometimes, it is a means of an escape, even if you don’t think you are escaping from anything. I know one thing that can be off putting is when people categorise, and don’t really offer any sort of words of help. “About time you snapped out of that”, to me leads to more resentment and doesn’t address the situation.
Your mindfulness is in control of your life, not your craving, not your friends who wants you to stay do another task in samsara. Learn to say no and mean it. After all, do they really appreciate what you do to help them? That you have sacrificed some time for dhamma to do something unwholesome for them? No, they will just want more the next time. Is samsara really, really worth, giving up Ultimate Truth & Peace of Awakening?