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The difference between addiction and devotion

February 2011
The difference between addiction and devotion Addiction is usually to substances. Devotion is towards something that you hold… way above yourself. Devotion cannot be practiced. It cannot be cultivated or cultured. When you are overwhelmed by something or somebody that you see, something or somebody way above yourself, far beyond yourself, naturally devotion comes. It's very natural.

Addiction happens because you taste something and you like the experience of it. The more you taste, the more hooked and trapped you are.

Interestingly, a devotee looks more like an addict than an addict himself. See an addict can hide his addiction but a devotee cannot hide his devotion. That’s his problem. Even a drug addict, who has certain degree of control over himself, can look very normal and deceive the whole world, but a devotee is not capable of such deception or pretence. He just bursts forth anywhere; he cannot hide it.

A similarity between the two is that both devotion and addiction can create a certain pleasant or ecstatic experience within a person. People are getting addicted to something because the experience is strong. Will you get addicted to the neem balls? Never. You have to eat it consciously. Every day you have to think, “Should I do it?” People get addicted to tobacco, coffee, alcohol and various kinds of drugs because it's creating some pleasant experience.

Devotion means your emotions have become very sweet. The ways of a devotee may look utterly silly, illogical and stupid for a thinking person, but a devotee is very intelligent. Think about this: you have 24 hours in day to spend the way you want. What would you consider intelligent? Spending your time in utter intelligence or in complete turmoil with all sorts of problems which have no relevance to the ultimate reality? A devotee is very intelligent because he has understood the fact that if you spend all your time in complete pleasantness, nothing entangles you. There is no pain. It may not seem logical. The concept may look silly for an intellectual person, but there is a very deep life sense involved in a devotee’s attitude towards living. Dissected and analyzed it doesn’t make sense. And the historical fact remains that more people have attained to the ultimate through devotion than any other way.

Devotion also causes ecstasy (not the lumps of chemicals that are labeled ‘ecstasy’).  Imagine a pill which you could pop to be permanently ecstatic—great! But the problem is such pills just get you on a high for a while only to dump you in such a bad way, and ruin you completely in the process. They shrink your physical capabilities and mental capabilities. Devotion on the other hand hugely enhances you.

The difference therefore can be summed up like this: addiction shrinks you, devotion enhances you. Addiction can give you moments of pleasantness. Devotion gives you a constant sense of pleasantness. Addiction pushes you to a corner, makes you totally exclusive to a point where it breaks your body and mind and makes you neurotic. Devotion makes you all inclusive. So one destroys you, another enhances you. That is the big difference.

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