By Jim Jensen
Religion, spirituality and recovery from addiction have been linked together for well more than 100 years, and likely much, much longer
Before the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Carl Jung spoke of man’s need for a spiritual connection, as well as his belief that alcoholics were attempting to secure this connection through their drinking.
Well into his own sobriety, A.A. co-founder Bill W. continued to seek this same connection by experimenting with entheogens (the name means “generating the divine within”). These drugs are used for recreational, religious and spiritual purposes.
In my case, I knew I couldn’t begin building some sort of spiritual life until I stopped using entheogens, particularly LSD. I had the same questions about life that most people do, but two things were clear: I hadn’t found any answers to them in the drugs I’d been taking, and my upbringing in the Lutheran faith hadn’t answered any of them either.
What was I looking for?
I suppose I wanted what most people do — some answers, the feeling of safety, comfort.
And what were the questions? Well, they were daunting to say the least.
How did we get here? Is there a God? If there is a God and (S)He is all-powerful, then why hasn’t my football team ever won the Super Bowl? I mean, I pray as hard as anyone else during the football season.
I guess I’m getting off track here…
Is there meaning to life?
These kinds of questions usually get the, “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” or, “just have faith” treatment. One of our braver Sunday school teachers, Miss Nesbitt, tried to convince us once that God exists by saying that God is God because it says so in the Bible, which came from God.
All I got from that was dizzy.
Somewhere to one side of the big questions lie the ones having to do with spirituality, ones that people like Christina Grof, author of “The Thirst for Wholeness,” believe are essential for those in recovery to explore:
How do I define spirituality? What is the purpose of having a spiritual component to my life? Are spirituality and religion the same thing? What elements make up a spiritual life?
To read about how Jim answered his questions and found peace with the unknowns, read the rest of his essay in the latest issue of Renew.