Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs.
~ Adittapariyaya Sutta (The Fire Sermon)
We used to define addiction as a disease resulting from dependency on an addictive substance. Then the list was extended to include dependency on the objects of normal appetites such as food and sex when pursued in excess. Now we acknowledge that people can also get addicted to computer and television, or to relationships, as in so-called codependent personality disorders.
The state of mind sought by the addict is not necessarily the high of a drug-induced bliss but is more commonly a sort of mindlessness or “zoning out” intended to extinguish the flame of unfulfillment. Moreover, this unfulfillment is not created by a force exerted on me by things outside of myself, but by my own belief that I am lacking something I need.
As TS Eliot says “We think of the key, each in his prison; thinking of the key, each confirms a prison (The Wasteland, V. What the Thunder Said)
Our culture of narcissism, by promoting the making and selling of keys-- to success, fun, beauty, bliss and all-inclusive holidays promising fulfillment-- encourages the unyielding pursuit of something outside myself (or, conversely, the compulsive avoidance of lack) by blowing on the flame of this belief.
So, in the pursuit of freedom do we constantly find ourselves imprisoned by the dream of escape, confirmed in our addiction.