Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
Spirituality and Addiction
Spirituality and Addiction

Stinking Thinking

Monday, November 15, 2021

Spirituality and Addiction

Stinking Thinking
Monday, November 15, 2021

I do not understand my own behavior. I fail to carry out the very things I want to do, and find myself doing the very things I hate. . . . For although the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not. —Romans 7:15, 18

Father Richard Rohr continues his thoughts on addiction and transformation:

Addiction is a modern name and honest description for what the biblical tradition called “sin” and medieval Christians called “passions” or “attachments.” They both recognized that serious measures, or practices, were needed to break us out of these illusions and trances. In some cases, the New Testament calls them “exorcisms”! They knew they were dealing with non-rational evil or “demons.”

“Stinking thinking” is the universal addiction. Substance addictions like alcohol and drugs are merely the most visible forms of addiction. Actually, we are all addicted to our own habitual way of doing anything, our own defenses, and, most especially, our patterned way of thinking, or how we process reality. The very fact that we have to say this shows how little we see it. By definition, we can never see or handle what we are addicted to. It is always “hidden” and disguised as something else. As Jesus did with the demon at Gerasa, someone must ask, “What is your name?” (Luke 8:30). The problem must be correctly named before the demon can be exorcised. We cannot heal what we do not first acknowledge.

Contemplation teaches us how to observe our own small mind and, frankly, to see how inadequate it is to the task in front of us. As Eckhart Tolle says, 98% of human thought is “repetitive and pointless.” [1] How humiliating is that? When we see how self-serving, how petty, how narcissistic, and how compulsive our thinking is, we realize how trapped and unfree we truly are. We might even call it “possessed.”

The only way to be delivered from our “body of death” (Romans 7:24), or what Tolle calls the “pain body,” [2] is to find oneself inside of a “body of resurrection” (1 Corinthians 15:35–44; Romans 6:4). In other words, an experience of a deeper love entanglement absorbs all our negativity and nameless dread of life and the future. Paul’s code phrase for this positive, realigned place is en Cristo (in Christ), which is to live by choice and embodiment within the force field (“Mind”) of the Risen Christ.

I truly believe the only cure for possession is repossession—by our original Source. To use the language most often found in recovery circles, this is what a “vital spiritual experience” [3] does for all of us, whether we name it as Jesus, God, Spirit, Higher Power, or Love. Afterward, we simply know that we belong in this world, and that we are being held by some Larger Force. For some seemingly illogical reason life then feels okay and even good and right and purposeful. This is what it feels like to be “saved.”

[1] Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Plume: 2006), 30.

[2] Tolle, 140.

[3] Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book (Ixia Press: 2019), 32.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Little Way: A Spirituality of Imperfection (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2007), MP3 download; and

Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (Franciscan Media: 2011, 2021), xxviii–xxix, 108, 109.

Story from Our Community:
When my first marriage ended, I immersed grief in alcohol, drugs, women, and denial. Through an overdose, I met Jesus, “my savior.” I discovered my grief was not about the relationship ending, but thinking my desire to serve God was gone. Who would want me? The answer—God! Through this realization, I am able to serve God and my sisters and brothers as an addiction and mental health counselor. —Gary C.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team.
Image Credit: Rose B. Simpson, The Secret of Flight (detail), 2015, sculpture.
We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.
Image Inspiration: I’m this post-colonial, bi-cultural being in the world who has experienced. . . the gift of perspective in context in this foundation but also this deep asking of why. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we live the way we do? Why have the things happened to us that have happened and why do we continue to abuse each other and also our environment and ourselves? —Rose B. Simpson, CONSPIRE Interview, 2021
Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.