Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Dropping That Drug

--by Anthony de Mello (Sep 09, 2013)

If we really dropped illusions for what others can give us or deprive us of, we would become alert. The consequence of not doing this is terrifying and inescapable -- we lose our capacity to love. If you wish to love, you must learn to see again. And if you wish to see, you must learn to give up this drug. It's as simple as that. Give up your dependency. Tear away the tentacles of society that have enveloped and suffocated your being. You must drop them.

Externally, everything will go on as before, but though you will continue to be in the world, you will no longer be of it. In your heart, you will now be free at last, if utterly alone. Your dependence on your drug will die. You don't have to go to the desert; you're right in the middle of people; you're enjoying them immensely. But they no longer have the power to make you happy or miserable. That's what aloneness means. In this solitude your dependence dies. The capacity to love is born. One no longer sees others as means of satisfying one's addiction. 

Only someone who has attempted this knows the terrors of the process. It's like inviting yourself to die. It's like asking the poor drug addict to give up the only happiness he has ever known. How to replace it with the taste of bread and fruit and the clean taste of the morning air, the sweetness of the water of the mountain stream? While he is struggling with his withdrawal symptoms and the emptiness he experiences within himself now that his drug is gone, nothing can fill the emptiness except his drug. Can you imagine a life in which you refuse to enjoy or take pleasure in a single word of appreciation or to rest your head on anyone's shoulder for support? Think of a life in which you depend on no one emotionally, so that no one has the power to make you happy or miserable anymore. 

You refuse to need any particular person or to be special to anyone or to call anyone your own. The birds of the air have their nests and the foxes their holes, but you will have nowhere to rest your head in your journey through life. If you ever get to this state, you will at last know what it means to see with a vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. Every word there is measured. To see at last with a vision that is clear and unclouded by fear or desire. You will then know what it means to love.

--Anthony De Mello

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Previous Reflections:

On Sep 5, 2013 Pratibha wrote:

 Breath practices especially Pranayama from Raja Yoga for managing the prana in the body-mind is an intervention that helps allay the effects of drug addiction.
Research states that Hatha Yoga helps remove stress, but does not bring sound sleep. On the other hand Pranayama meditation brought sound sleep to PTSD patients.

On Sep 6, 2013 Manisha wrote:

This is such a powerful piece, thank you for sharing it. It explains the concept of simultaneously being alone and loving in plain, clear language. A few sentences really stood out to me, including this one: "Think of a life in which you depend on no one emotionally, so that no one has the power to make you happy or miserable anymore." It reminds me of my 62-year old dad, who is disabled, and is entering his old age as a very calm and gentle person whose own inner feelings and thoughts are not affected by others. No matter what is happening around him, he is always content. He is recognizing that things come and go, and it is better not to be attached. Just keep going, he always tells me. Being disabled can be isolating for him much of the time, yet as his body is deteriorating, his mind is becoming stronger, and I look to him as an inspiration of being happy and loving at all times. He has told me that he desires nothing, and it is evident in the simple way that he accepts whatever is offered to him and gives everything that he has to others. Although my dad and me have had many positive and negative experiences over the years, witnessing him these days is a humble lesson in developing clarity of vision and a real capacity to love.

On Sep 6, 2013 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

 This piece is difficult for me. This sounds extreme. I wonder if it moves against moderation in all things. I don't know. I don't think I have ever let go of "the drug" and felt full freedom. At times I feel somewhat free but my blind spots are often still present. What I have read about an ideal Buddhist relates to what he's saying here in that when a person is no one, going nowhere, one has no desires, addictions, or attachments. I like moving in that direction but my attachment to my blind spots keeps me from moving there quickly. I read what Manisha said after I wrote the above. He seems to have a truly great father. I think it would be great if more people were like his father.  being aware of one's present experience over and over and over is helpful. Learning to forgive oneself again, and again, and again may also be very helpful. When one is kind, one probably has that awareness. Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Warm and kind regards to everyone

On Sep 6, 2013 DrPratibha wrote:

It surely takes time to attain 'full freedom."   Scriptures state and experience confirms that it is progressive.  Certain things lead like virtuous intentions and activities-- in the direction of freedom of mind.  Criticism and some other modes of mind lead in the other direction.  Study of the mind is helped by understanding the three energetics of light, action and inertia / sattva, rajas, tamas Gunas of nature.  They exist in the microsm and the macrocosm, and we can change according to their rules of natural operation.

On Sep 6, 2013 DrPratibha wrote:

 Wonderful to hear.

On Sep 6, 2013 a wrote:

 Born into a Catholic family and having ears "well tuned" to hearing God's word, I fell into anxiety and panic at the age of 30.  Wanting, so, to live according to God's "perfect" will and plan for me, I followed the "letter of the law" too closely . . . and the "letter of His Spirit" too distantly (I would say).  Though my, God given, personality (as described by my husband) is "fluffy and unconventional", my church (Catholic) is on the opposite end of the spectrum . . . NOT fluffy and VERY conventional.  (Most of my friends left the church for this reason. . . too RIGID)
Praise Be To God, however, in my Catholic Christian journey, the Holy Spirit FREED me.  He shifted my focus  from "religion" to "relationship".  Though I was already in relationship with God, I found my adult "church" experience and understanding limited and disabling.  (My dad used to say, the bigger the family, the more "rules" necessary for ORDER)  
 "Personal peace" (freedom from anxiety and panic) I found (in TIME) came directly from Heaven. In letting go of my "religion" (figuratively) and heightening my awareness of Jesus (everywhere . . . In all things and In all people), I eventually experienced "the freedom" that only God/ Jesus/ Holy Spirit can give.

Jesus,I have learned in my time spent with Him, is Fluffy and Unconventional, too!

In Him, I am free!

FYI:  I continue to worship God in a Catholic Church.   Eucharist, I am completely "dependent" on.  I never wish to be "free" of His Presence in it.  All of Jesus in all of me.  amen.   

On Sep 6, 2013 Pratibha wrote:

 Yes the state of 'presence' is the path of remembering the Divine within---called by different names....

On Sep 8, 2013 david doane wrote:

My understanding of the drug of dependency is defining me by what I think the other wants or by what I think will get me what I want.  It means my saying or doing something based on how I think the other will respond.  It is manipulating myself and my expression of myself in order to attain a particular result or goal.  It's being what we call a politician.  To paraphrase Martin Buber, he said that if I am I because you are you, and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you; but if I am I because I am I and you are you because you are you, then I really am I and you really are you, and we can meet.  I being I because you are being you is the drug of dependency.  I being I because I am I is independence and freedom, and often takes much courage to live out.  There is no need to reconcile the interdependence of the universe with being drugged by dependence.  They are different ways of being.  Interdependence of the universe means each form in the universe is independent and free in its being and is affecting and being affected by every other form, but it is not how it is because of the other.  The sun shines and I sweat.  The sun is not shining to make me sweat nor is it dependent on my sweating.  I sweat not because the sun is hot but because I am how I am.  Or, I may say I am bombing another country because of how they are, which is not true and is the twisted thinking of the drug of dependence.  The truth is that if I bomb another country it is because of how I am, it's my independent action and responsibility.  I let go of the drug of dependency when I am true to myself, accepting and expressing my truth as I interact with others and am affected by others. 

On Sep 10, 2013 Cecilia wrote:

 David :Doane  your reflection says it all, to take away your inner divine self,  because you need to be right for everybody else. Fear is the word!  of not being the the best, or not knowing  it all. Fear creates all human failings.Drugs temporally shines a light. Then as the devil does, drops you deeper into that bucket of fear. The word love comes to light so often in all situations, just turn around to that permanent light it never goes out. Choose that divine soul from within help it to survive. Believe what you are. You were born special only you can help your self to remain that way, come what may! 

On Sep 10, 2013 Julie Caldwell wrote:

 I love so deeply, and appreciate the interdependency of this world.  How could anyone ever believe we are alone?  And, true freedom is the ability to feel fully and truely see the mistaken identities of addiction (hatred or desire or the manifestation of the these two extremes) in a way that allows us to be fully engaged in this ever changing world without forgetting to acknowledge the mistaken identities that rob us from our true selves.

On Sep 10, 2013 Thierry wrote:

To the degree I have faced my emptiness I have, to some degree, freed myself from a certain psychological dependence. To the degree I have freed myself  from appreciation or depreciation coming from others I feel more alert and able to face and enjoy life just as it is. But this relative freedom, I can sense in myself. is not the whole deal.  Because, up to that point, where does it relate to love? And is  love the feeling of all-oneness (alone/all one) that comes with complete inward freedom and does one consistently feels it in one's daily experience? If not, then, I understand the author to say one has still to quit the drug. I can easily fool myself into thinking I am free. I have to test that against the reality of my experience.

On Sep 10, 2013 Sandra wrote:

 What a delightful arrangements of words from Anthony de Mello.  Words are like musical scores.  There are only so many words one can use but the possibilities of the melodies never stop surprising me.  It's like most music arrangements, some resonate well and fill your soul, others are dissonant to our readiness or lack of readiness to hear the underscore of the music. or the song it sings.

 Anthony's sharing of words or his arrangement of words resonates well with me at this time and I feel that I can hum along, the music or words are familiar and the arrangement pleases my soul.  It is another way of using the Buddha;s teaching 'No Avoidance, No Craving'.  Have the full experience just do not set up expectations or it will feed your addiction of your dependency on the action or reaction of others to make you feel 'full' for the moment.  The moment is temporary and it will rear its hungry head and you will crave more.  More approval, more recognition, all the what if's creep back in needing another fix. 

When I recognize what is happening I remember the words of Teihard de Chardin.  "We are all spiritual beings here having a human experience."   So I choose or not choose to have the full experience of exploring my humanness. Slowly, ever so slowly over the decades I am liberating myself of the expectations. And then my personality, humanness creeps back in and I allow the emotional embroilment to grasp and hold me for a while until I step back and simply enjoy the moment.

On Sep 10, 2013 Mordechai wrote:

Now I understand why my world has been falling apart!. The Universe is preparing me for Love! After getting past feelings of anger that I have had for many years I am now slowly getting in touch with sadness. Its very deep and I can only feel little bits at a time.  The sadness is me being alone. I do understand that I have been dependent on the "outside" since I was a baby, beginning  with my mom. That has transmuted to institutionalized Jewish religion which I am now in a evolution/revolution stage until I find my path being connected to God and myself.  I am hoping that my path will be the one of love! Thank you so much, I feel wonderful that now I can have a community of "lovers:"  

On Sep 10, 2013 angela wrote:

And how sweet the taste of bread and fruit and mountain water can taste when shared in communion with another embodied soul! We are not here to deny ourselves the great privilege and joy and vulnerability of true relationship in order to avoid pain. That is no path to freedom and is neither virtue nor achievement and does not prepare us to love. To compare the desire for love to an addiction (or a drug addiction) is a false and unkind judgment that will induce a superiority notion in those who claim freedom from the desire for love, and guilt and inferiority in those who yearn for love. (Drugs can induce a euphoric feeling, but are only a poor substitute for love.)

A better path to love accept that both loving and being loved necessarily includes pain, sadness, and even misery at times—and then to persevere and even thrive right alongside those difficult emotions. To be loved and to loved are the greatest gifts of our journey here on earth. We must embrace the entire scope of incarnate existence. We are interdependent. To live fully is to love and be loved and suffer, to desire and reject, and to laugh and to cry. And to do each with gusto and presence and to continue on every day, knowing that ultimately, we will all be okay. That is a life well lived. That is awakening. 

On Sep 10, 2013 mordechai wrote:

maybe breaking the unhealthy bonds is about creating the space and fertile ground to have the capacity to love .maybe the sadness and challenges are just necessary for fine tuning, they are different stages of development and the expression of living love

On Sep 10, 2013 Kate Magdalena wrote:

 Thank you for your words of wisdom and inspiration.

On Sep 10, 2013 a wrote:


On Sep 11, 2013 Amy wrote:

 You are so true, Angela!  Thank you for sharing!

On Sep 13, 2013 Dilip Shah wrote:

Manisha - Thanks for your input. I am approaching 76 and have both hands totally numb, am diabetic, have left foot totally numb below ankle and left side numb between ankle and knee. My attitude is similar to your father's. I am quite happy with all that I have. To me, a problem is a problem only if I let it become a problem. Otherwise, all I have is mere inconveniences, sometimes minor and sometimes not so minor. Life goes on and I can do most of the things that I need to do, and much more. So, I have no complaints. I accept life as it comes day by day and try to be happy. Good luck to your father.

On Sep 13, 2013 Dilip Shah wrote:

 At the last Wed Circle meeting at Harshidaben and Dineshbhai's house, subject of attachment was discussed by some and Dineshbhai mentioned that he worries when some people do not send RSVP. He wondered if that is good thing. Here is my take on attachment. I think many times we misinterpret love as attachment. Love for your family, friends, all beings (human and non-human) is a good thing. When I think of attachment, I think of attachment for material and worldly things - wealth and other "signs"  of prosperity. Even those are not really bad. What is bad is what we do or do not do with what we have. Take lessons from Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, the . Kennedys, the Rockefellers and many more philanthropic people. So, let us all enjoy what we have, share as much as we can and enjoy.

On Sep 26, 2013 Fedhassa wrote:

 I REALLY LEARNT ALOT LOT OF THINGS ! it helps me to change my attitude.

On Oct 1, 2013 Petro wrote:

I am on this journey and I did take control of my emotions and each time someone tries to manipulate me, or hurt me, or control me, I stand back, and say to myself, I can choose not to feel hurt, not to be controlled ... I know myself.. I can live with myself  ... I can be with only myself for hours and  enjoy it ...My journey has only started and it is by reading stuff like this and by learning from the masters, that my life take shape and  love and joy fills me up and lead me to new horizon's not known to me before ... thank you ...  May your day be filled with joy, beauty and abundance  ...

On Oct 1, 2013 Jo wrote:

 Amen, Petro

No man an island, however.

Always love on your journey . . .

On Nov 21, 2013 catalina wrote:

To prahtiba,thanks for sharing.How did the pranayama meditation helped for insomnia.How is it done?
Thanks so much for your kindness 

On Nov 21, 2013 Pratibha wrote:

 Catalina,  Happy to show you but little difficult to show only in writing. I'll give my email, and you can contact me direct. rmg.pratibha at

On Nov 26, 2013 John wrote:

I feel some discomfort with Anthony's article. I think it is in his use of the concept of aloneness, for I believe that at our deepest essence we are one with all that is and therefore never alone. Even on the level of this human existence we are interdependent to the extent of never being alone. But this does not mean we must give up our ability, our responsibility to choose our response to whatever we encounter in life based on who we are at our core. In relinquishing our dependence on others to act toward us in ways that we define as loving, in choosing to act in ways that authentically reflect who we truly are, to live with integrity rather than trying to buy or force others to give us the love we want, we set ourselves free. We can then take responsibility for creating all the love that we need. The heart does not know the difference between receiving love from others and giving love to others. It is the flow of love that matters. When we live with love, we will have all the love that we could ever hope for. 


On Sep 13, 2015 Robert Guy wrote:

 At first this saddened me a little. Then I think I realized what he said, that only when we are free of the influences of our own needs, then and only then are we capable of real love

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