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Release from Addiction:
Addendum to the story of my Awakening Process

By Rev. Dr. Michael Milner

There is more to the story of what Oneness Blessing (Oneness Deeksha) has done for me than I revealed in my two previous essays: My Oneness Process: An End to Personal Suffering, the Dawn of Causeless Joy and Deeper into Oneness: My Experience of the Advanced Deepening Course. Truth is, if I wrote down everything that Sri Amma and Sri Bhagavan have done for me, I would need to write a book.

Before I was ready to tell the story of my release from addiction, I had to deepen in humility and self-acceptance. It was a bit embarrassing to me. I had the idea, and I was sure everyone else did too, that someone who is a bishop and a Taoist priest should not be addicted to anything. Then there is reality. The problem of addiction is such a huge a part of human suffering that I really must tell this story, since it could help so many people. Also, I need to give credit to my beloved Sri Amma and Sri Bhagavan and openly express my gratitude to them for setting me free in so many ways and on so many levels. That said, here is the next chapter of my story.
Let’s begin with the hard truth. Until we awaken to Oneness, we are all addicts, addicted to the illusion of our separate existence and to the pain management programs we institute to perpetuate that mirage.

The illusion of separate existence is painful to the core. There is always loneliness, craving for more, fear of loss and grief. As long as we feel separate from the Oneness of All Being we crave what we think we do not have, we fear losing what little we think we do possess and we grieve the loss of things that cannot last forever. This craving and fear of loss can be for material things, for spiritual things or for life itself. On a deep unconscious level we dread feeling that pain and we will do anything in our power to avoid it. This resistance is the cause of our personal suffering. Anything fully experienced becomes bliss. Anything in our life we try to avoid fully experiencing causes suffering, stress and “dis-ease”. We create elaborate programs to escape from these unwanted experiences and to numb the pain, thinking this will end the suffering which is actually caused by our resistance and craving. These are our “pain management programs”.

For some of us it might be long hours of watching TV, shopping sprees, sports, hobbies, our jobs, sex, romance or even our intellectual, religious and spiritual pursuits. For others it is food addictions and overeating, and the more obvious chemical dependencies on alcohol, tobacco and drugs. These are just a few. The list is practically endless.

I have been no exception. For many years it appeared otherwise. I didn’t smoke, drink, get high or engage in other outward behavior that we think of as “addictive”. Although now I can see that my addictive tendencies were simply more cleverly disguised. I was an “ordained holy man”, a Taoist Priest and a Free Catholic Franciscan Bishop, a healer, a seemingly “enlightened” teacher, a contemplative ecstatic mystic and a spiritual guide to many seekers. Living continually in the Light of the Divine Presence, I traveled the world over and witnessed many miracles, healings and spiritual transformations in my own life and in the lives of others.  
Then one day the bottom fell out of my life. The Spiritual Light seemed to be eclipsed. My prayer life, meditation, and other spiritual practices no longer brought any comfort. Bliss and ecstasy disappeared. Ideas about myself and about the Divine were shattered. I felt abandoned by my beloved God. I lost almost everything and everyone that mattered to me. I was face to face with what remained of my false self, and it wasn’t pretty. I had been immersed in the Divine Presence for so many years, I had no idea there was so much darkness left in me. As a man of God, I felt like a failure, and for 15 years I suffered deeply.

This part of the spiritual journey is rooted in our need for "self-acceptance" and is often called the "Dark Night of the Soul". As the process of collective human awakening unfolds, Divine Grace is making the "dark night" passage shorter and less intense or altogether unnecessary, but in the past virtually everyone on the spiritual path went through it at one time or another and it lasted for years.
In his treatise, Dark Night of the Soul, St. John of the Cross describes three temptations that assail seekers during their passage through the “Dark Night” experience. These are dizziness, blasphemy and fornication: “dizziness” because our heads are spinning, our assumptions about ourselves and the Divine are shattered, and we no longer know what to believe or what to do, “blasphemy” because we tend to blame the Divine for allowing this to happen to us, and “fornication” because at this point we might consider any number of forbidden pleasures to numb the pain and make ourselves feel better for even a little while.
Among various pain management programs I tried during this period of my life were tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. A Taoist shaman can do whatever he likes. An Irish Franciscan Catholic priest is allowed to smoke and drink. The marijuana was harder to justify, but it is after all an herb sacred to Lord Shiva and to a host of Indian Sadhus and Yogis. It seems to temporarily unblock painfully bound-up energies and for a short time releases the sufferer into higher states. By the end of my 15 year ordeal I got to the point where I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes, drank a pint of blue agave tequila and used marijuana every day. It didn’t end my suffering, but it certainly numbed the pain. I wanted to free myself from these addictions, but I felt powerless to do so, even though I continued to follow a daily regimen of deep meditation, prayer and Taoist qigong.
Then I experienced the Grace of Sri Amma Bhagavan and began to receive Oneness Blessings (also known as Oneness Deekshas). You can read about my experiences in greater detail in the essay My Oneness Process: An End to Personal Suffering, the Dawn of Causeless Joy. After I had received Oneness Blessings weekly for about a month, I began to feel really awful about my separate self, my destructive habits and my addictions.
One day as I got ready to go home from work I said, “Bhagavan I am helpless. Please set me free. Erase my “separate self”. Free me from my suffering and addiction. Let’s get this over with. I have been struggling with this false self as long as I can remember. Long enough, I’m done. I give up. Help me!”
As I got in my car to drive home I heard a voice within me quote the Bible saying, “Happy is the man who does not condemn himself for the things which he allows.” This was followed by laughter. I recognized the statement as a quote from St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 14:22). Initially I thought it was Christ or the Holy Spirit speaking to me. I have experienced this many times over the years. But the laughter was different. Somehow, I knew it was Sri Bhagavan quoting the Bible to me and laughing. It spoke volumes. This section of Romans says that there are no hard and fast rules about what you can or cannot do on the spiritual path. Just try to avoid things that might cause others to stumble, and if you decide to allow yourself to do something controversial, don’t condemn yourself for it. Bhagavan’s humor and laughter immediately set my heart at ease.
I said, “Bhagavan, I’m impressed. You knew that Paul was my patron saint.” I am the Bishop of the Free Catholic Diocese of St. Paul, and for years I taught the revelation of St. Paul concerning the Mystery of God-within us – the Indweller. Evidently, Bhagavan knew all about that. He also knew the Bible quite well. He knew that I would recognize the passage from Romans and would understand the deeper meaning. I said, “You knew that verse would free me from my self judgment.”
Bhagavan answered, “Michael, I know you better than you know yourself. Smoking and drinking and using marijuana are not the real problem. If you want to quit these things, it’s easy, I will help you. The real problem is what underlies those habits and needs to be healed deep inside of you. I am going to heal those things. I am working in you right now at a depth you cannot even imagine.”

Suddenly it struck me. I understood how vast the consciousness was of the One who was speaking to me. The depth of his insight and intelligence was staggering!
I stopped my car at a red light and said, “Bhagavan you scare me.”
“I’m going to heal that too," he replied (referring to my fear). Then he added, "Do you want the gift of Awakening I am offering you?”
“Yes” I answered, and in the next instant I saw Sri Bhagavan’s hand appear before me. Brilliant light came swirling out of his hand, filling me completely. I dissolved in the Divine Presence. I couldn’t find my body or the car. I said, “Bhagavan, the light is going to change soon. I need my body.” Just as the light turned green, I was back in my body and it began to drive the car quite well all by itself.
I said “That’s impressive, but what about Christ? He’s my Antaryamin (the Indweller, the God-within me).”
“I’ve already spoken to Him. It’s alright. You’re “on loan” for this project. Ask Him yourself. I’ve also spoken with your Taoist master. He’s ok with it, too. You are coming to India.”
I did ask Jesus. Bhagavan was right. Christ assured me that there is no conflict between my devotion to Him and the mission of the Oneness Movement. My Taoist master wrote me soon after this. He always signed his letters “Moving with the Tao”, but this one was signed “Toward the Great Oneness”. That was my answer.
Since then, Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma have spoken to me often. I see and hear them clearly inside of me. It is not a question of who lives in me, Christ or Amma Bhagavan. There is only One Supreme Consciousness manifest in myriad forms. It is that Divine Consciousness who lives in me expressing and experiencing it-Self through me, as “me”. The “separate self” I was begging Bhagavan to erase never actually existed. It was a mirage.
I was completely free from tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. Overnight I went from smoking 2 packs of cigarettes, drinking a pint of tequila and using marijuana every day to nothing at all. There were no struggles, no cravings, no gradual reduction of intake and no symptoms of withdrawal or detoxification. I was simply liberated overnight by Divine Grace! Thank you Amma Bhagavan!
Soon after this, one evening during a teleconference I received an Oneness Blessing. It was sent with the intention of giving us Grace to more fully experience our suffering. Sri Bhagavan teaches that anything fully experienced turns to Bliss. Strangely, this was the first time I received an Oneness Blessing and felt absolutely nothing. The next morning I still felt nothing. As the day progressed I felt even more nothing. It took most of the day for it to dawn on me that in this case to feel nothing was a good thing, because out of that inner nothing began to emerge permanent causeless joy! You see, my personal suffering had vanished just as completely and mysteriously as my addictions had. 15 years of intense suffering finally came to an end! From that day to this, neither the suffering nor the addictions have returned. Instead I experience continually deeper Love, Joy and Peace in the Divine Presence.
This happened prior to my 21 Day Process in India. Before I ever got to India I was already the happiest, most grateful man on earth! In India during the 21 Day Process and later during the Advanced Deepening course I experienced even more blessing. I came to experience profoundly that the One who is aware of being “Michael” is the Divine Presence itself, expressing and experiencing its-Self through me. There is no one else at home here, and there never was. The “separate self” never existed. Man and God are two ends of the same reality. You could actually say that there is no Experience-r or Experience-d, only the Experiencing, only Divine Awareness. That’s all that exists. The entire Universe is none other than the Divine Consciousness expressing and experiencing its-Self.
But more profound than all the cosmic experiences and insights I have had during this amazing journey of awakening to Oneness is the insight that the heart of awakening is SELF ACCEPTANCE, accepting ourselves as we really are with all of our strengths and weaknesses and without any attempt to cover them up. Resistance is futile and is the cause of great suffering. That's it. No Big Bang. It's not about being "zapped" into some higher mystical state. It's about SELF ACCEPTANCE. That's what opens the door to LOVE, to the FLOWERING OF THE HEART, to the AWARENESS, BLISS and JOY of the Present Moment, to ONENESS and FREEDOM from "the illusion of a separate self" with its "craving and personal suffering", its addictions and pain management programs and finally blossoms into the living experience of GOD REALIZATION. That's it, just SELF ACCEPTANCE. How beautiful and simple can it be? And it's all the work of DIVINE GRACE!

When we become aware of ourselves and accept ourselves as we are, without judgment or resistance, acknowledging our helplessness to change and invite the Divine Presence, then Grace comes, and a shift takes place. Freedom is at the Door!
St. Paul looked back at his life. He had been known as Saul of Tarsus, an arrogant, self-centered persecutor of the Disciples of Christ. As he rode on horseback toward Damascus with orders from the high priest in Jerusalem to imprison and execute all the Christians he could find, he was struck from his horse by a blinding flash of light from Heaven, from Christ Himself. When he arose he had been transformed into St. Paul the Apostle, destined to become one of the greatest Disciples of Jesus Christ. In retrospect he concluded (I am paraphrasing) “I am what I am by Divine Grace alone. I was the chief of all sinners. If the Divine did this for me, it was to serve as an example for all of humanity, to let all people know that this same Grace, this same Unconditional Love, can and will help anyone and everyone.” These are my sentiments exactly. I believe my release from addiction, suffering and the cravings of the separate self are a sign to all of the Divine Grace which is available to everyone who wishes to be free.
In eternal Gratitude I offer my life in Seva (service) to the Divine. May all humanity awaken to Oneness and enter the Life of Grace and Joy! May the whole World become Golden! Amma Bhagavan Saranam! (“saranam” means “I surrender”).



"I pray... That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us... one even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one..." - Jesus Christ

(John 17:20-23)



To read a personal profile, click:

Bio of Rev. Dr. Michael Milner, Ph.D.


To read more about Michael's spiritual journey,

click these links:

My Oneness Process: An End to Personal Suffering, the Dawn of Causeless Joy


Deeper Into Oneness: My Experience of the Advanced Deepening Course



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