Council on Spiritual Practices About CSP | Site Map | ©
Search CSP:   

Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

The Thirst for Wholeness: Attachment, Addiction and the Spiritual Quest.

Grof, Christina. (1993).
San Francisco: HarperCollins.

ISBN: 0-06-250314-6

Description: Hardcover, x + 283 pages.

Contents: Acknowledgements, introduction, 12 chapters divided into 3 parts: 1. The Thirst for Wholeness, 2. Walking in the Desert, 3. Healing and the Path to the Self, references.

Excerpt(s): Early in my recovery from alcoholism, I came across part of a letter from the Swiss psychiatrist Jung to Bill Wilson, cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Referring to one of his former patients, Jung wrote, "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God."

As I read on, I realized that Jung was describing something that I know well. I have felt a nonspecific craving for most of my life. Many of us do. And I recognize it from my recovery. It is different from and more far-reaching than the physical craving for alcohol. A trip to the mall, a piece of cake, a cuddle: none of these momentary solutions quenches the deep thirst. (page 1)

And we frequently feel a pervasive restlessness, a desire for something more. This yearning takes us into destructive or self-destructive relationships, activities, or substance use that may seem temporarily to provide the missing piece. Rationalizing or denying the implications of our conduct, we go back for more and more. At first, our sexual encounters, eating binges, use of alcohol or other drugs, gambling, or other potentially addictive behaviors seem to satisfy us. I have heard many people say, "When I took my first drink or my first drug, I felt that all my problems were solved. I was home." (page 11)

There are, I am sure, some fortunate people who feel this longing but do not act upon it in painful ways. However, many people identify the spiritual yearning as a persistent voice in their lives, one they often confuse with their everyday aspirations. At first, they identify it as the desire to excel on the playing field, to develop their intellect, to get into the right college, or to meet the man or woman of their dreams. Perhaps they feel an overwhelming craving for a certain model of automobile, for a new outfit, or for sexual contact. (page 13)

As a culture, we do not have many sanctioned frameworks in which to deeply experience and satisfy the yearning for wholeness. As a result, people of all ages distort and misdirect this immensely strong impulse into addictions of all kinds, not only addictions involving the use of chemicals, but also eating disorders, sexual addictions, and addictions to power, money, relationships, gambling, and countless other addictive activities. (page 15)

I believe, however, that this fervent thirst for wholeness, as well as the discomfort with it, is the underlying impulse behind addictions. This deep yearning goes beyond the very real physiological craving of those of us who become hooked into the cycle of chemical addiction, and it is different from our desire to escape pain through addictive behaviors. Our innate longing to rediscover our spiritual nature is an often unconscious driving force that many of us feel throughout our lives. (page 18)

This compilation by Thomas B. Roberts & Paula Jo Hruby, © 1995-2003 CSP

[Error Creating Counter File -- Click for more info]