This past week, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his home, reportedly with a needle in his arm and evidence indicating he had suffered a heroin overdose.
By the time this blog is posted, many details and more will probably be confirmed, but it was a sad ending for a man who, by all appearances, was capable of so much.
What struck me the most though was not that Hoffman had possibly died of a drug overdose, or even that he had earlier admitted to having a drug problem, but the fact that he lived a life clean of drugs for more than 20 years, and then somehow went back.
Our mind is a powerful thing. Even in the midst of all logical evidence, it can still lead us down a path of destruction.
I’ve seen it happen to people in all kinds of situations. Sometimes people choose to ignore their health, or they have a pattern of worsening relationships. Or maybe they struggle with work, or finances, or possibly a combination of things. What is the common thread though is that when these issues are ignored year after year, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to turn around what can become over time a gigantic freighter.
And even when that ship has been turned – as Hoffman apparently managed to do earlier in his life – there remains that well-worn path that niggles at the mind.
Anyone who has beaten any addiction knows what I’m talking about. Once on the road to recovery, there needs to be no looking back.
Ernest Holmes used to call this: “turning away from the condition.” In other words: it’s time for the mind to believe that it is as though the “thing” never happened at all. And at any point when the past rears its ugly head in consciousness, simply turn away as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Holmes used to say that a spiritual mind treatment – or positive prayer – continues to be done as long as the condition persists. If it comes to mind, it’s time to clear it.
Our mind requires a firm mental hand, and sometimes we’re reluctant to take that action, to – in the words of Bob Newhart – “just stop it!”
Training ourselves to become conscious of thoughts provides us with some breathing room so that we have a chance to come up for air before we drown in our own sorrows.
My heart goes out to all those who struggle with addiction. It is pernicious because it twists our greatest gift – our mind – and clouds us from being able to see the greater Mind that is within us all.