Clinging to Deviant Means
Need and deprivation cause suffering, and for this reason the mass of people are in perpetual battle against need and de- privation. But the people all whose material needs are satisfied become subject to a kind of spiritual malaise and agony. In order to escape this state of nervousness and agitation they often opt for methods and ways that lead to destruction of their vital and intellectual powers. For instance, they take refuge in alcohol or drugs, which appear to them as the only remedy, and become addicted to these destructive evils so as to escape their anguish and inner torment for a short time. They think that they can do nothing else except seek refuge in alcoholism and drug addiction to obtain relief from their pain and suffering; but in reality they undermine their own personality, For everyone knows that addiction to these things for relief from anxiety and inner distress does not lead to good consequences; for as soon as the effect of intoxication is gone, his anguish returns to badly torment him again. Moreover, the effect produced by drugs is gradually diminished due to continuous use and they themselves give rise to many diseases and afflictions.
Psychologists explain the causes of taking refuge in alcoholism as follows:
Those who are used to alcohol are not capable of satisfying their wants in a complex and complicated world. Therefore, in order to evade difficulties and delve in unrealistic fancies they take resort in alcohol. Alcohol makes a drastic effect on the nervous system and, in addition to that, enfeebles the rational faculty. One who is drunk behaves in an unnatural manner, and intoxication does an irremediable harm to him. He not only injures his own health, but achieves nothing by escaping problems by taking resort in a harmful beverage. Ultimately, he loses respect in the eyes of his friends, family and relatives. When he returns to his ordinary state, his capacity to confront his difficulties is further diminished. The consumption of alcohol does not afford any progress in the solution of problems, and one who makes alcohol a means of evading problems only makes his hardships graver. Then this exacerbation of the difficulty induces him again to turn to alcohol. Some kinds of daydreaming and the use of alcohol are similar in regard to the escape from problems. Of course, the use of alcohol is physically more harmful. In these two kinds of escape, the person does not attempt to solve the difficulty by the means of reasoning. Rather, he wants to evade it, and since the escape cannot be permanent, he is forced to return to the real world in a state of greater disharmony and anguish. 5
A man's thoughts and ideas exercise a profound influence on his spiritual well-being. His progress and backwardness and, in a word, his spiritual qualities depend on his way of thinking. Various factors have an effect on one's way of thinking and looking at things. One who enjoys an active intellect is not overwhelmed by total despondency in his inability to obtain material resources and derive benefit from the external world. The world does not appear to him to be dark and frightful. Rather, he immediately closes shut the windows of the spirit that face external things and turns to the enjoyment of spiritual pleasures. Thereby he takes himself into a world free from the bondage of suffering and where he can satiate himself with the cup of felicity and peace.
However, those who are short-sighted seek refuge in external means in order to seek freedom from the chains of anguish. Because, on the one hand, man's wishes and desires are in a state of perpetual change and, on the other, there is nothing permanent and enduring in this turbulent world. Should man's happiness depend on external things, it would always be prone to destruction. Therefore, such a person, like a drowning man, clings to every thing that he can catch hold of but which cannot save him. Ultimately, nothing that is transitory and impermanent can give him true peace.
Carlos describes the wretchedness of this group of people in these words:
One abandons his beautiful mansion in order to escape monotony, and fruitlessly takes resort in various means. Another speedily runs away from his wife and children, like a fire engine hastening to extinguish a fire, but as soon as he reaches his destination he again comes face to face with his pernicious enemy: spiritual boredom and malaise. Thereat he goes back with the same haste that he had gone forth, confounded and lost like a madman. 6
5. Marguerite Malm and Herbert Sorenson, Psychology for Living, Pers. trans. Rawanshendsi baray-e zistan, p. 230.
6. Shafiq Hamadani, Afkar-e Schopenhaur, (Tehran: Chapkhaneh-ye Kayhah, 1326 H. Sh.), p. 64.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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