The Spiritual Malady

“We have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 64

As addicts we can become so focused on the outward form our addiction takes – whether that booze, drugs, sex, overeating, etc. – that we overlook its deep roots at the core of our being.  This spiritual malady is the restless spirit, the soul sickness that if left untreated will begin to ooze symptoms of emotional insecurity worry, anger, self-pity, and depression, even if we have been sober for years.

The great psychiatrist Carl Jung called this a ‘low level thirst for wholeness – for union with God’. Carl Jung wrote in a letter dated 1961. In our addictions, we tried to quench our soul-thirst with fleeting pleasures. The pursuit of them dominated our lives, destroyed relationships, and caused greater desperation than we ever thought possible. We became selfish and self-seeking, ever thirsting for more, and this lust warped us on every level. But we were never satisfied, because but the living presence of God can quench our parched souls.  

Jung went on to write that the helpful formula formula for healing is spiritus contra spiritum: “Spirit over spirits (alcohol).”  This is the spiritual remedy that a dedicated practice of step 11 offers. But many of us resisted, even long into to our recovery. Convicted of our new way of life, we dove headlong into meetings, moral inventories, sponsorship, and service, overlooking the quiet pursuit of conscious contact with our creator.

Even Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill Wilson struggled with this step: “In this lack of attention I probably have plenty of company,” he wrote in 1958, after decades of sobriety. “But I do know that this is a neglect that can cause us to miss the finest experiences of life, a neglect that can seriously slacken the growth that God hopes we may achieve right here on earth; here in this great day at school, this very first of our Father’s Many Mansions.”

The practice of Christian Meditation offers a remedy to the spiritual malady. When we enter the silence with discipline and perseverance, we make space for  the living presence of God to heal us from the inside out.

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