Empty Hand vs. Drugs

What we do is the opposite of addiction. 

We move forward, like a river. We continue, following our course, with purpose. We change. We meet obstacles, we adapt, we move on. Sometimes our course is smooth and clear, and then maybe with no warning, narrows, cascades, cataract, whitewater. We deal with it. We continue. Our life has direction, we persist, and whoever we meet can draw something good from us.

Addicts don’t live this way. They don’t flow on. They remain caught in a cycle, a whirlpool of desire and gratification, looped endlessly. Their first taste of pleasure is never duplicated, but they pursue it, endlessly. Their pleasure recedes, replaced by even more urgent desire. Their desire is obstructed. Fever, panic and frenzy set in. Instead of flowing on through life the addict gets stuck in place, like a whirlpool stuck at the edge of a river, revolving faster and faster, deeper and deeper, pulling anything nearby into itself, as desire turns toward gratification which turns back to  craving, turning around again and again in a tightening loop of mind and action, with no way out. 

Intoxicating drugs and alcohol are obvious addictions. Promiscuity, craving for wealth, status, indolence and attention all work the same way. Addicts become slaves of their dealers, handing over first their attention, then their wealth, then their time, devouring their relationships, ruining their bodies, degrading their hearts and minds, robbing their neighbors and anyone else they can, as the vortex of their addiction spins faster and faster, out of control, controlling them. 

What we do in our training is the opposite of addiction. We live with purpose. We take care of ourselves and other people. We value our bodies and minds and keep them healthy, so we can use them to bring benefit to ourselves and to our friends and families, to do good work, as we make our way toward the vast ocean.

We might think of addicts as people nodding and vomiting on the street: crazy, needy, violent, pathetic, menacing or smelly. But some well-dressed, powerful people seem like addicts too. Drawing the whole world into the vortex of their desire, their need for admiration, authority, special status, immortality or fame. They are just as desperate as the addict sleeping on the sidewalk, and just as blind, just as obsessed with the next hit – the next deal, the next payoff, the next movie, the next meeting, the next sexual encounter, the next sugar rush, the next assertion of power that reminds them and others of their dominance, the extent of their influence. They cannot escape the prison of their own minds, no matter how far their jet flies, how exquisite their destination, how notable their contacts. The jolt of gratification quickly passes. Then disturbance, fever and panic follow. They need more, different, better, faster. The seething, strategizing, anxiety, pleasure and gloating preoccupy them, and destroy the hope of happiness, peace and satisfaction which they pursue. They cannot flow on. They turn and spin, again and again, in place, trapped until they are torn apart by the maelstrom, caught in a spinning vortex of desire, gratification and pain, repeated endlessly. 

Addiction spins down. And it will draw in whatever is nearby. Training with purpose, flows on and on in freedom. It changes. It adapts. It nourishes life, nearby and far away.


Post by Jeffrey Brooks Copyright© 2022 Mountain Karate DojoYamabayashi Ryu Honbu, in Saluda, NC

Photo by Andrew McLeod via Pexels

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