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From the Files of Ron Farmer  
CASE OF ADDICTION TO MARIJUANA

Michael had just turned thirty when his employer asked me to see him at my clinic on the Gold Coast, Queensland. He flew in from Perth, a long journey by air, and we had just one four-hour session together. His problem was that, although one of the firm’s top insurance salesmen, his performance had plummeted over the previous four months as he became increasingly addicted to smoking marijuana.

The first half-hour of our discussion explored if some of the many facets of his life – marriage, work, family, childhood, etc – could have triggered the addiction. There wasn’t anything which stood out requiring attention. In view of this I shared with Michael my understanding of a higher purpose underlying his urge to use this particular drug. I said something like:

I have come to believe that every addiction - whether it be gambling, heroin, marijuana, pornography or whatever – is really a misdirection of a powerful force for change. All religions, saints and sages claim that our true nature is happiness beyond compare. Within us is our Higher Mind or Wise Self which both prompts and guides us towards this perennial joy residing within us. But if we are not aware of this essential Truth, instead of the search being directed within, the urge for union with our innate bliss will attach itself to some ‘external’ source like alcohol, drugs, gambling, power, possessions or sensual stimulation.

I went on to share some analogies with Michael to explain my understanding of what he’d been experiencing. For example, in the Australian goldfields tourists are taken to a dry river bed where they ‘pan’ for gold, washing away the mud in the sieve until all that is left are pebbles. Occasionally a grain of what appears to be gold will be discovered amid great excitement but usually the tour guide will advise that it is only ‘fools gold’- not real gold, although having the same colour and texture. Seldom is real gold found, and then only after lots of searching. In the same way, I explained, the happiness gained from marijuana was like ‘fools gold’ – it was not the real thing, not the pure, lasting, unsullied happiness that is our rightful inner treasure.

Michael readily agreed that the drug-induced happiness could not be the real thing because of the after-effects of lethargy, loss of short-term memory and practical commonsense. Even so the delight in smoking it was so compelling that he was drawn to indulge in it more and more. He often wondered, “If this happiness is not real, how come it feels so good, as if it’s really ‘me’ coming alive?’ I said to him:

We can understand the illusory nature of the drug’s effects when we consider the behaviour of a really hungry dog, one who hasn’t eaten anything for ages. One day he chances upon an old, old bone that has been bleached dry and hollow over several months. The dog is so hungry that its instincts make him attack the bone in a frantic desperation. His teeth crack off a sliver of bone which punctures his gum and he tastes blood. ‘Oh what a good bone this is!’, the dog thinks, not realizing that it is his own blood that he is tasting, and not from the bone.

 In the same way, it is not the marijuana which brings the feelings of joy and contentment. Those delights already lie within, in vast limitless amounts, as the sages remind us. As with the old bone, the drug merely punctures our hidden reservoir of happiness, allowing some to seep out into our conscious mind. However, gaining access to our innate treasure in this artificial way not only gives us a distorted glimpse of the boundless joy waiting within, but, as you know, it brings in its wake those unwelcome after-effects.

I offered him yet another simple analogy as to why smoking the drug felt so good: In Siberia there roams across the plains a special deer which emanates a beautiful smell of musk. It is said that the reason for the musk deer’s ceaseless roaming is that it is searching for the source of the captivating aroma; only when it finally lays down to die does it realise that the source was all of the time within itself. This would seem to describe the human condition as well, in that we often find ourselves lured hither and thither chasing a deeper lasting happiness which remains ever-elusive. For many of us it is not until we make a decision to ‘die’ to who and what we think we are, that we begin to discover the true source of joy waiting within.

I went on to share with Michael the point of view offered by Gerald Jampolsky who wrote the book, ‘Love is Letting Go of Fear’. Our addiction to the drug, gambling, sex or whatever, is really meant to be an ‘addiction’ to the inner search for everlasting happiness. Not realizing this, we get sidetracked into chasing after ‘fools gold’ instead of the ‘real gold’ of our innate limitless joy.

Michael responded positively to these explanations and told me that he’d been ‘nibbling at the edges’ of spirituality for some years. Not knowing where to start and concerned about getting caught up with false gurus, he had even avoided meditation. I led him into a ten-minute guided meditation where he focused his attention on the breath while repeating silently in his mind, ‘I breathe in happiness. I let go discontent’, said in consort with the in and out-breaths. This produced a feeling of peace and relief from a troubled mind.

I explained to him that, by focusing on the breath and repeating a ‘mantra’, the flow of thoughts through the mind steadily decreases. A mind that is not blindly following after this thought and that becomes steady and quiet. This process can be compared to cleaning the dust off the face of a mirror so we can see a clearer image of ourselves. With a quiet mind we gain an improved reflection of our inner Being, the eternal Witness, the one true source of all our happiness. Michael said that he would like to practice meditation regularly, creating a small shrine or altar in his house where he could sit every day.

I gave Michael a copy of our CDs, ‘Simple Meditation’ and ‘Self Esteem’ and recommended that he begin reading books by Wayne Dyer, Depak Chopra, Gerry Jampolsky and some others. Six years later he remains drug-free and has reassumed his role as a top salesman, even though he had to go through a very difficult period when his wife left him. He is doing just fine.

Relevant CDs: Simple Meditation   
Self Esteem