Why We Have Cravings

“Why do people repeat the thing to which they’re addicted, the action, the behavior, or the substance? Because it doesn’t bring fulfillment. There’s a temporary joy in satisfying the craving, but there’s no final fulfillment. There’s no saturation with Bliss.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

We’re all familiar with cravings but why do we have them and why are they so powerful? 

What is it about them that makes us go weak at the knees and cave so easily? 

While most of us rely on willpower to beat cravings we know that it’s not a power we can rely on.

In this episode Thom reminds us that the most powerful method to overcome cravings is to make them unnecessary, to create such a strong sense of inner fulfillment that the promise the cravings offer seem petty by comparison. 

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Episode Highlights


Superficial Enjoyment



What Fulfillment Looks Like



The Solution to Cravings



Awakening Baseline Bliss



The Binding Effect of Unfulfilled Desires



If Only…



Petty Cravings No Longer Have Power


Jai Guru Deva


why we have cravings

[00:00:45] Superficial Enjoyment

Q – Thom, why do we have cravings? And what can we do about them? Does karma play a role in the cravings that we have?

A – Craving is a word that we give to something becoming so powerfully charming that we end up overdoing it. Craving is generally an expression of, “I got a desire for something and I overdid it.”

And the reason why we have a tendency to overdo things, and we have cravings, is because we mistakenly go after something which is superficially enjoyable but doesn’t actually bring about fulfillment.

Fulfillment means you have that grounded-ness in that deep inner state of Being. You’re grounded in that state, which is Bliss.

When you’re grounded in Bliss, saturated with Bliss, then the idea that superficial body sensations, superficial flavors, superficial fragrances, superficial sights or sounds, these superficial things no longer give the impression that they could bring you fulfillment if only you had an infinite amount of it.

I once was asked at a conference on addiction how would I define the experience of addiction? And my answer was, “I want an infinite amount of everything right now,” that’s what the feeling of addiction is. I want an infinite amount of everything right now.

And, why do people repeat the thing to which they’re addicted, the action, the behavior, or the substance? Because it doesn’t bring fulfillment. It doesn’t bring fulfillment. And so, there’s a temporary joy in satisfying the craving, but there’s no final fulfillment. There’s no saturation with Bliss.

[00:02:55] What Fulfillment Looks Like

If you were a little child and you walked into what Americans call a candy shop, the Commonwealth speakers refer to it as a lolly shop, and you saw all of those little treats around everywhere, you could be fooled into thinking, “This will bring satisfaction to my hunger,” but it doesn’t.

What if the mouth were filled with honey, and then that saturation, that desire for sweetness, was completely fulfilled by the honey? Then suddenly, this little lolly or that little candy or whatever it is, doesn’t have the same appeal at all because one’s craving for the sweet flavor is already saturated.

This is only an analogy. Don’t put honey in your mouth and go walking around the world. I’m just using this as an analogy.

The idea is, if we can take our awareness into the eternal bliss of Being on a regular basis, and awaken that level, awaken that deep inner, silent place, make it our fundamental baseline, the place from which we experience, then we have fulfillment.

When we have fulfillment, the notion that constant repetition of some sensory experience bringing me fulfillment is ridiculous; we know that it can’t. In fact, we don’t even desire it anymore because that constant repetition of the temporary experiences of a little wave of happiness or a wave of satisfaction no longer has the power to convince the mind.

This is what fulfillment looks like. Infinite repetition of an ever-increasing amount of whatever it is that seems to bring you a temporary joy.

[00:04:57] The Solution to Cravings

So, our solution is groundedness in Being. We must ground ourselves in Being, ground ourselves in the infinite baseline of deep inner happiness. This is exactly what we’re doing through our regular twice-daily practice of Vedic Meditation.

If already you’re practicing Vedic Meditation, and you still find you have some cravings, then you need to ramp up the quality or strength of your practice by coming away on retreats. Or go away with one of your local qualified Vedic Meditation Initiators, an Initiator, someone who has been trained to initiate people into this practice’— they are regularly having retreats— and get some industrial-strength meditation done, and then take that back into your daily life.

So, the only way to bring craving to an end is to awaken baseline happiness. I say it’s the only way because it’s a common experience that if somebody white knuckles their way through stopping an addiction, then what tends to happen is their tendency to become addicted, simply pops up and appears with different subject matter.

[00:06:25] Awakening Baseline Bliss

So, someone who is craving nicotine, and smoking, and they force themselves to stop smoking, they find they begin eating more than what’s healthy. Then if they force themselves to stop eating, they might become anorexic bulimic.

Then if they forced themselves to stop doing that, they might become sex addicts. And if they force themselves to stop doing that, then you see what I mean? This tendency to the unnatural craving for whatever is out there that can give me temporary happiness just keeps on and on and on. It’s never-ending.

How do we defeat the underlying problem? Only through awakening baseline Bliss, that baseline happiness that’s readily available to anyone through a ridiculously simple program of just closing your eyes and practicing Vedic Meditation twice every day for 20 minutes.

And this should do it, or if you’re already doing it, and you’re still having these petty cravings, then ramp up the strength of it by finding out from your local qualified Vedic Meditation Initiator, someone whom I’ve trained, where can you go away and get some industrial-strength meditation done? Under what conditions… and they’ll have an answer for you.

[00:07:53] The Binding Effect of Unfulfilled Desires

We do have a tendency to carry from lifetime to lifetime an unnatural fascination with fulfilling unfulfilled desires. The seed for reincarnation is unfulfilled desires. Unfulfilled desires themselves are the thing that is the motivator, the impetus, and the binding effect that causes us to return again, and again, and again, trying to fulfill desires.

So, a craving for continuous experiences of that that never brings fulfillment, this is the source of rebirth, reincarnation, being trapped endlessly, evidently, endlessly, it actually does have an end, but endlessly in the cycle of birth, and then living a body life, and then body death, and then rebirth, and doing it all over again has to do with this notion that, “If only I can continue to get things off my checklist.”

People have often said to me, “Thom, do you have a bucket list?”

And I said, “Well, what is that? Is it like some lists about what kind of buckets you want or something?”

“No, no, no. It’s, you know, before you kick the bucket, things that you want to experience.”

And I said, “Yes, I, I want to experience meditation having been brought to a larger number of people. Other than that, I can’t think of anything.” And that’s going to happen anyway with this body or without this body. It’s certainly not going to be any kind of seed for me being born into a body again.

[00:10:02] If Only…

And so then what is it that causes people to come back, and get into diapers, and nappies, and go to high school again, and go through the whole process again. It’s the very idea that, “If only…”

When, at the time of death, we have this idea that, “If only…” If only what? “If only I had said this to so and so.” “If only I had spent more time with my children.” “If only I’d had children in the first place.” “If only I had made a success of myself.” “If only I had done whatever.” “If only…” fill in the blank.

When we have that, “If only…” mentality, then we can see that there are unfulfilled desires there at the time of body death, and this is going to be the seed from which sprouts the next lifetime, that likely also will be ended with lots of “If only…” because for any intelligent person, the number of things you can imagine that you might like to have experience is infinite. There’s no end to it.

[00:11:25] Petty Cravings No Longer Have Power

And so from our perspective, we need to get rid of the, “If only…” and replace it with the “Aha,” the “Eureka, this is It,” the experience of silence. And how can silence occur? Only through B-L-I-S-S, Bliss.

Bliss is the only thing that can cause the ever-craving mind to experience silence. Bliss causes silence. You cannot silence the mind’s craving. You can bring all that craving to fulfillment by diving into the honey-like nectar of the eternal bliss of Being. And then you have baseline happiness, awakened, and then these petty cravings no longer have their power over us.

Jai Guru Deva.

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