Addiction as a barometer

I recently had an amazing teacher-pupil meeting with Kathy, and we both want to share it with you. The meeting was preceded by an email from Kathy, in which she said that she had just realized that, following an earlier discussion on “resistance” and “decision,” she had gone through a month of actual resistance. To get more of a handle on what was going on, she had been looking up references in the Course to “resistance” and “decision.” She ended her email with, “I feel that I may be on the verge of a breakthrough with this!” What follows is Kathy’s report on that breakthrough.


For the past little while, I’ve been working on the idea that addictions can be a way to freedom, a way to awakening. For a time, I had been sailing along, with ideas and insights coming fast and furious. My life was smooth and time was on my side with all of my commitments easily met. I was really impressed by Lesson 140 (“Only salvation can be said to cure”) and felt I was on top of the game. This lesson was compelling me to turn completely from addiction––in my case an addiction to food––which I was coming to understand as resistance, and make the complete choice for God.

Over the course of the next few days I found myself slipping! I kept making discoveries and I was still studying and doing my practice but something was off. It was insidious and camouflaged and I soon found myself drowning in heavy resistance. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was wrong and ended up trying to let go of a number of things I thought were the cause, but nothing worked. I just kept getting more and more sluggish and lethargic, and I noticed I had started to succumb to the food addiction. However, I did keep up with my practice, and then the idea of looking at the words “resistance” and “decision” came to me.

As I explored these words in the Course, I looked back in my journal and discovered the problem. Way back 5 weeks ago I had been about to choose God in a more deeply committed way. I had been about to release addiction/resistance and leave it behind! Then, whammo! The ego surged powerfully to make me forget. Now, though, I could see what had happened. I had thought there were any number of reasons in my life that could have been causing my discomfort,but it was my fear of change that was triggered by my practice of Lesson 140, especially paragraphs 10-12, which I had turned into a prayer. That was where I had chosen to start listening to the ego instead of God!

Here was the place where I had gone off on a tangent and completely let drop my investigation of using addiction as a way back to God. Now, many weeks later, I am realizing the power of Course practice in dealing with heavy resistance. I see the way to use it in my daily life in order to continue to return to that decision to use addiction as the way back to God.  I have been able to use the Course during this time to find a way back to where I made the wrong decision and choose once again. I have been able to use the teaching and the lessons that Jesus gave us in a very practical way to help me change my mind.

As Mary Anne and I talked about all this, I realized that addiction is not something that has to control me. Instead, I can see it as a barometer. The degree to which I succumb to it is directly proportional to the degree to which the ego is threatened. I can use addiction to hide away and choose the ego or I can ask the Holy Spirit to help me use it as an indication of the need to choose differently. Resistance exhibited through overeating can be seen as an indication of the discomfort of the ego, of a decision for the ego instead of God. Now I can see addiction as a barometer to gain insight into my choices rather than as a loss of control.

As I was working all this out, it struck me that this realization answers the question we are supposed to ask of everything: “What is it for? What is the purpose?” Does this bring me closer to or farther away from the truth?  When I look on my addiction as a barometer, it will serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose and will bring me closer to the truth.

Mary Anne:

Although Kathy was using the idea of addictions as a barometer, I saw that it could be generalized and applied to all forms of resistance, as well as to all types of emotional responses. Anger as a barometer of what we are deciding to see and feel. Worry as a barometer of which voice we are listening to. Fear, depression, frustration, impatience, judgement: each can be seen, not as something over which we are powerless, but as a barometer. Then we can use this barometer as a decision-making device, much as one uses a weather barometer to make decisions about what to do and how to proceed. Seeing an addiction, or resistance, or emotion, as a barometer takes all the power out of it. It takes the wind out of the ego’s sails!

What I found amazing about our meeting was the way in which the Holy Spirit worked with us to bring Kathy to this realization. She started off in one place and, as we talked and explored the issue, she went from here to there, and then to the barometer idea. I can’t even say how we got there. The movement was almost imperceptible and seamless, but clear and direct nevertheless. I love the way the Holy Spirit works in someone who is ready and willing for change and healing!