Addiction & Creativity

Addiction is getting stuck. Seeking relief from suffering instead of perceiving proprioception, we chase a form of release. It is temporary. Its effects lessen each time we resort to it. Our connection to clarity of perception – including a lived sense of its limits – weakens. Repetition digs us deeper.

Addiction is our organism’s reaction to feeling trapped. A reaction, not a response. A reaction because it does not address stuck-ness. It is merely the result of our seeking to find an escape from the discomfort of being stuck. Our organism responds to danger and instead of following through we run from the unease. The warning goes unheeded.

To respond requires creativity. From the bottom of the hole that is addiction it is almost impossible to find a creative stance. The cascading reactions to discomfort and pain strip us of the capacity to even recognize that there might be an alternative. All of the doubling-down we are surrounded by stems from this erosion of capacities. The more we insist on controlling what we see as the sources/causes of our discomfort – which in our limited state we see only as projections of our own state onto others who we are certain are forcing us to remain trapped – the farther we go from any possibility of seeing past our predicament.

Seeing past our predicament. This does not mean finding a plan that will remove the causes or bring us justice. Seeing past the predicament is an act of seeing how what we take for our trap is a construction of our own making. The assumptions we hold – especially those that are invisible to us – generate what we take as an external force acting against us.

This is not to say that the results of these external forces cannot harm us, kill us. They can. They do. They will, most likely. What we can change is how we interpret what we perceive and how we then go about acting within the constructs of our perception.

Art is what happens when we pay attention.

The creative response is no more or less mysterious than this!

In an addicted state we convince our selves that we are what we think we are and we act within and upon a reality that we should be able to bend to our will.

We cannot create within such a view. All we can do is react and react again. And increase our frustration and the level of stuck-ness we feel, resulting in our resorting to ever more powerful addictions in a desperate attempt to find release.

We find life intolerable. We have no sense of what it might be to live. We seek deliverance but find only death and destruction.

How do we escape?

We don’t escape. This is addiction’s intent. The desire for escape is a symptom of our dis-ease. Let’s leave the entire construction of illness and disease on the heap of irrelevancies! Dis-ease is a simple concept. When we veer from a viable state or circumstance we feel an organic response. A warning that if heeded will help us establish a new state or circumstance that might restore our viability.

We do not escape. We either remain trapped, following the ever more powerful cues to our worsening conditions into ever more powerful addictions or we find some fragment of attention and follow it. Some possibly trivial clue pulls us from the constant struggle with the dis-ease of our addictions. We find – and by some miracle this time are able to not recoil from the insight – that this is a touch of grace. We break the cycles of addiction. Even if only for a moment. If our organism is at all viable we find our way back to this or a similar place. Each time we see a bit more of the gulf between our expectations and assumptions and what comes through us through the simple act of attending.

The reading of Krishnamurti & Bohm’s view of coherence as being the elimination of conditioning seems to be common among the few who give their work any mind at all. It’s always seemed to be missing something. In a way it is intuitive, even obvious. To be proprioceptive is to demolish conditioning at a single blow. This is the way we change. Not by some series of steps of having our minds changed by the opinions of others explaining the benefits or the drawbacks of any particular way of being. When we change it is instantaneous. But what happens in between?

Looking at change within the context of plasticity we recognize that our existence is inextricable from the soil of our biological existence. Any reading of evolution that over-values abrupt and drastic changes as something that happens outside of the matrix that constitutes the day-to-day in between moments of drastic change is a reduction of evolution to force it into a mechanistic mode of perception. There are regime shifts. There are tipping points and reset baselines. There are no transcendent changes that remove the limitations that were there before.

There are only changes that somehow engage with the current situation better than some other, previously predominant way of acting.

We are rooted in a matrix of perception that cannot function without a complex interplay between stasis and novelty, between habit and creativity. We may be able to dissolve a particular conditioning and also re-figure an attitude towards how we interact with the phenomena of conditioning; but we do not leave habit behind and become some super-über-human, post historical fantasy.

I don’t think Krishnamurti or Bohm intended this as the result of their work. I do see it as one of the many ways our conditioning seeks to swallow what they did whole and absorb a distorted view of their insights into business-as-usual.

My own instincts from early on tended to see the distinction between reaction and response as that between stereotypical action and creative action. Seen in this way we don’t lose sight of the place of habit underlying all possible forms of action.

When Jeff writes about the limits of imagination he is referring to this matrix of our existence as perceptual organisms. The key distinction between any viable exploration of our place and yet another phantasm of Ego-driven exceptionalism is right here at the point at which the viable is always driven by an examination of limits. The phantasms always promise an elimination of limits.

Addiction results from the toxicity of such a fugue from limit. Creativity and, embedded within the term itself – what is created and creates, is viable and therefore living – viability, never loses sight of limitation.

Not so that we can sneak-up on some dodge that will allow us to end-run around our limits. Creativity only exists within practices that keep limits constantly in sight. Not as barriers to be overcome. Creativity exists when we see that it is our relationship with limitation that is malleable. Creativity sees that it is only within the clarity of our attending to what we maintain within our proprioceptive awareness as, “What we can change is how we interpret what we perceive and how we then go about acting within the constructs of our perception.” Creative response grows from this recognition of our limits, beginning with the limits of our capacity to see what we think we see.

Addiction and creativity are both much simpler and much more complex than we tend to imagine. Addiction is a state of stuck-ness and the seeking after escape. However it may be dressed to seem more than that it is always a rejection of life and a destruction of viability that, through the mechanisms of projection, cascade through the world around us.

Creativity is the possibility of recognizing when we are merely reacting stereotypically and letting go of the seductions of addiction. In this pregnant state we are open to what-is. Something might happen externally; but what we touch-on is an awareness that limits cannot be overcome; but they can be seen in a different light. So much of what we take as the frustration of beating against limitations is not a struggle with anything outside. It is a struggle, a refusal on our parts to recognize, that our frustration is with futility and not limit.

Acting outside the binds of futility we see limit in a different light. We find a viable path. In this light we can recognize and come to grips with the limits of our particular viability. Paradoxically – from within an addicted point of view – when we stop trying to escape our limits – all of them, including death – we stop feeding destruction and the mega-death of wide-spread extinction. We begin to live. We live within the limits of viability. This places us within the forces of life. We participate in its evolution in ways that are opaque to our understanding; but are so much more satisfying than any fantasy of transcendence ever could be.





Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

7 thoughts on “Addiction & Creativity

  1. There’s a lot to think about here. This extends and inadvertently (and beautifully) challenges what I was thinking. You know, I do tend to look at perception as being generally stuck on a fundamental, lynch-pin error, which is perpetually reasserting a frustrated relationship to limits (a circular pattern). So that we toggle, generally speaking, back and forth between two very different relationships to limit. You’re looking at this aspect a little differently maybe? On a different plane? As creative and non-creative relationships to these circular patterns. So that these patterns may not ever disappear, but our relationship to them changes? The assumption here has been that these circular patterns (habits of circularity) are signs of an underlying error, so the belief was that they might or do occasionally (at present) disappear. I saw that as the disappearance of conditioning. So maybe I’ve been looking at it in a way that is questionable. What do you think of this reading? Am I off base in seeing a possible creative difference that would be fun to spread out and look at from different angles? Or have I misread it a bit? At any rate, I love this. Beautifully said and seems very valid.


    1. I think you’re touching the point.

      It’s so good to see a reflection – with all the idiosyncrasies and particularities of another sensibility at play. Yes. Something about taking the limits as given and finding where movement is possible. Distinguishing between stereotypical reactions and creative movement. The habits do change; but habit remains. Perception and habit, and all that we may imagine or do – and recognize – Especially that we actually recognize that we’ve done something and not nothing, or something else…. That we recognize that what has the most potential for action is in how we recast our perceptions. From there we may still project; but from where our projections are not those of just our fears. What happens when we begin to do that?

      As with all I’ve been writing here, at least for a long time, this just touches on a broad swathe of potential consequences and iterations. What’s been missing is the follow-up in dialogue with others. Thank you for taking up some of this slack!


  2. I was starting to lay out the perspectives on this — like spreading out sheaves of wheat. And when I was done the differences began to melt. But see what you think, because I could have these summaries wrong. (This “spreading the sheaves” of perspectives was something I used to try on a Bohm dialogue list serve, but it required looking at everything as merely an assumption. And very few people wanted to lay out their views on a table like that, except for the woman Pat Styer. She was very good at letting go like that. It allows us to see how we envision what another has said, so that we can be corrected in our misperceptions of the other. And it inadvertently widens the angles of view. So I’m asking to be corrected. I’m in a yielding position doing this, so that I can get a clear take on the perspective. And in noticing differences, there is automatically more attention given to wider angles of perspective.

    OK, so, I’ll try to spread out the alternatives in the visions as I currently see them, which inevitably tramples much nuance and alters the emphasis. So please feel free to tell me where I’m making of mess of it. So here goes:

    In “Addiction & Creativity” there is no fundamental error underlying habits of thought. In other words, there is no “magic bullet” insight that eliminates conditioning. No ending of conditioning. Here there is a more open versus a more closed relationship to that conditioning – a creative response versus a stereotypical reaction.

    Now for the assumptions I was carrying into this reading: The assumption of a fundamental error underlying habits of thought. The possibility of freedom from the compulsion to obey conditioning, which fundamentally alters the relationship to conditioning. Here there is a perspective tied by compulsion and ignorance to conditioning (stereotypically reactive would work!) versus a perspective let loose from the leash of compulsive conditioning (uninfluenced or creative).

    Now they don’t seem so different! But there is an emphasis in the first that seems to avoid the idea of a fundamental, abrupt shift, and an emphasis in the second that calls this a fundamental, abrupt shift.

    Does this misrepresent “Addiction and Creativity”? And what do you make of this proposed difference (or in fact similarity cloaked in different emphasis)? Any validity?

    And thanks for putting up with this experiment in how to lay out differences. The intention isn’t to keep “spreading the sheaves” for good, which would lead to a pedantic analysis. I only want to do this now and then when corresponding by writing in order to obtain some clarity on the fundamental assumptions in circulation. It makes up for the lack of nuance when not speaking face to face. Or it can work, depending on if a person can stand it or not. If you don’t like this way of stating it, I won’t try it in the future. Anyways, thanks!


    1. These two perspectives with their differences and similarities do seem to frame the area of this question. I think both apply. My hunch is that Bohm would agree.

      The trouble comes when we land too heavily on either a transcendent change, “abrupt shift,” or the impossibility of it.

      Each extreme says a lot about tenacious assumptions persisting into a new vocabulary. It’s this scheming after salvation that I’d like to steer clear of.

      We are animals and our whole organism is built on habit. Even beyond animals, think of Sheldrake’s “habits of Nature” as a way to recast how we see Newtonian “Laws.” We don’t escape this foundation when we arrive at some relation to proprioception and the rest. We actually re-vitalize it. Addiction is degraded habit. If we see this degraded habit as what K & B meant by conditioning, then there is no conflict.

      What this emphasis gives us is an awareness that we are not flying off into some salvation/escape. We are re-entering the world of functioning habit and finding strength from tying into all that the previous struggles were alienating us from.

      It’s an approach to integration.


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