Recently, comic Russell Brand reached the milestone of ten years clean and sober. He is a former heroin, alcohol and sex addict. He has often attributed his recovery to meditation, and Krishna Consciousness. I believe he practices japa, but not sure. I do know this: On his television show and in more recent stand-up specials he does wax quite philosophical. He will often drop a bit of dharma without making much of a fuss about it. He delivers these truths as though they are just that. True. No need to convince anyone. So he is not proselytizing. He never mentions Krishna, or any other Hindu deity for that matter.
His ability to offer this in such a matter-of-fact, detached way leads me to puzzle at those critics who say Brand is an egomaniac. A show-off maybe, but what celebrity isn’t? Especially comics! So sure the ego is still there, and quite openly, on some level.
What gets me is that his practice of meditation has assisted him to kill off, or at least keep at bay the demons which led to addiction to a substance as addictive as heroin (along with alcohol AND sex – a very strong force on its own), but somehow, the ego is still very much present.
But at the same time it shows how a serious practice of meditation can cut straight through to the heart of a serious problem. Though it should not be expected to work this way. It does take effort. I don’t know a lot of about 12-Step type programs but it seems to me that the most palatable method for dealing with addiction and other disorders (psychotherapy comes to mind) would be dealing with the small stuff first and building up to the big issues.
But a little bit of ego can wait when you’ve got life-threatening addictions. Always know that yoga is meant to get one in touch with the True Self. The Innermost Self. The Foundation of One’s Being. To strip away any hindrance to one’s knowledge of that Self.
But therein lies the trouble. Study of Hindu texts will leave one with the impression that the ego is the be-all and end-all of inner “demons”. And really, it is. Because being addicted to a substance has a lot to do with ego, but in a form that on the surface seems very different from the “look at me!” show-off kind of ego. It’s just that drugs can help one lose one’s inhibitions and allow them to be a little bit more…show-offy.
Thankfully now Russell Brand can be his brilliant (in my opinion) show-offy self without drugs or alcohol.