Sadhguru responds to a seeker asking about the difference between devotion and addiction: “Addiction is usually to substances. Devotion is towards something that you hold – you can only be devout towards something that you hold way above yourself.”
Questioner: Sadhguru, what is the difference between devotion and addiction? In devotion also one is in a state where he cannot live without his object of devotion. So what is the difference?
Sadhguru: Addiction is usually to substances. Devotion is towards something that you hold, you can only be devout 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 comes because you taste something, and you like the taste of it or the experience of it. You want to do it little more and little more and little more, after some time you are trapped in it. But a devotee looks more like an addict than an addict. An addict can hide his addiction. A devotee cannot hide his devotion. That’s his problem. Even a drug addict, if he has little bit of control over himself he can make himself look very normal and deceive the whole world, but a devotee is not capable of that. He just bursts forth anywhere; he cannot hide it.
This question of devotion or addiction coming together, they are not two opposites in any way but they have come together because both of them are sought or both of them to some extent create some very pleasant or ecstatic experience within the person who is involved in it. People get addicted to something because the experience is strong. Otherwise who would get… did you get, will you get addicted to the neem balls? Ah, you got to do it consciously. Everyday you have to think, ‘Should I do it?’ You have to decide ‘Ok, let me do it, one more day.’ You will never get addicted to the neem ball. So, it’s safe. If you do not know the benefits of the neem ball at least you know it’s safe. It doesn’t entangle you. So someone is getting addicted to something because it is creating some pleasant experience for them. People get addicted to tobacco, people get addicted to coffee, people get addicted to alcohol, various kinds of drugs because it’s creating some pleasant experience for them. If it caused pain, if it put them off, they wouldn’t get addicted to it.
So devotion and addiction are only connected on the level of experience, nowhere else. They are not at all… you should not even look at them together; but in terms of experience, yes, they have a common ground. Both of them create an extremely pleasant experience. What devotion means is your emotions have become sweet, very sweet. A devotee may look like a mad man to somebody else. A devotee’s ways… The ways of a devotee may look utterly silly, illogical and stupid for a thinking person. For an intellectual person the ways of the devotee look utterly foolish. But you tell me, you have this choice in your life – in 24 hours of time, if you can spend the 24 hours in utter pleasantness, is that intelligence or going through all kinds of turmoil in your mind, which has nothing to do with the reality, is that intelligence?
A devotee is very intelligent. There is a deep life sense involved in it. There is a very deep life sense, a profound sense of life involved in it. He has understood that ultimately the most important thing is, if you make this experience of life extremely pleasant… 24 hours of the day, all the time through your life, if you make the experience of you being here totally pleasant then nothing will entangle you. Everything will release you. He has understood that. It’s a very deep sense of intelligence. It may not be logical. It may look silly for an intellectual person, but there is a very deep sense of intelligence involved. And obviously this is a historical fact – more devotees have attained to the ultimate than any other way. Devotion is always been the quickest and most successful way. But only problem is they may look like nuts to the rest of the society. If you don’t mind looking like a nut, or if you have realized you are one whichever way then there is no problem being a devotee.
Devotees are fools; devotees are fools who are not even thinking about their well-being. But they don’t have to think about it because they found their well-being. Only those who have not found it have to constantly think about well-being, isn’t it? A devotee is well, if he has to die tomorrow, he is still well. That’s how he is. So he has found his well-being, so he doesn’t need to think about it. He doesn’t feel the need to think about his well-being because he is well, really well within himself.
So it’s a very very profound sense of life. If this life sense is dissected and analyzed it doesn’t make sense; but in your experience it makes sense. So devotion also causes ecstasy. Today simple lumps of chemicals are also labeled ecstasy, you know? Tablets are called ‘ecstasy.’ If there was a tablet, if you popped it, for the rest of your life you are going to be ecstatic, I’m not against it. I’m ok with it. What’s the problem? I’m perfectly fine with a drug. If there was a drug that you can take it and the rest of your life you are ecstatic, what is the problem, let’s take it. But the problem is it just gets you on a high for sometime and then dumps you in such a bad way and in the process of doing this it just ruins you completely. That’s the problem. If there were no side effects, if you pop one pill and… or even one pill a day, like vitamin, if you pop something, an LSD or an ecstasy or whatever the names they have for it, and for the whole day you are ecstatic and there is no damage to the body, you will live well and your intelligence still functions, that’s important. If your intelligence still functions and it expands you and makes you enhanced in every way, I don’t see what’s wrong with the drug. But that’s not what the drug does.
It’s just that with the drug, with the addiction, both the physicality and the mentality, both the body and the mind shrinks. The physical capabilities will shrink and the mental capabilities will shrink. So as a human being you are not enhanced, you are destroyed. But devotion makes you hugely enhanced. Things that you never thought you could do, now you can do because there is no limitation on you. A devotee is also insane with ecstasy but he will never jump off a mountain or he will never jump off a high rise building. You know this happened to lots of people in United States during the 60’s; people jumped off high rise buildings because they were on LSD and they thought they are free and they could fly. Devotee also feels like that but he will never jump off because his mind and his body is in full function because he is in such a state of pleasantness within himself.
So addiction shrinks you, devotion enhances you. Both of them could be pleasant experiences. Addiction can give you moments of pleasantness. Devotion gives you a constant sense of pleasantness, but the most important thing is, it enhances you, expands you, makes you all inclusive. Addiction pushes you to a corner, makes you totally exclusive, totally exclusive to a point where after a period of addiction most people become neurotic or broken with anxieties or depression because the mind is broken, the body is broken. So one enhances you, another destroys you. That’s the big difference.
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