Philip Seymour Hoffman and why celebrities die from overdose

People are no longer surprised when news about celebrities found dead from overdose in their apartments hit the headlines.  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death on the other came with a bit of a shock, since he didn’t appear like the typical heroine addict who is usually emaciated and physically messed up from the addiction.  He seemed more like the calm and collected individual with an hedonistic sense of taste. There have been no hint on the news or media that he had been a drug user, at least for the last 20 years, that is why many where surprised with the news.  Unfortunately his name adds to the list of yearly celebrity casualties that fall victim of drug overdose.  Last year it was Glee’s star Cory Monteith and the year before it was Witney Houston, both apparently dead from drug overdose.   The list goes on and on, most of them dying from cocaine or heroin in from their 20’s to their 40’s.

The burden of being rich and famous

We live in such materialistic lives that many of us have come to believe that life is what we own, so modern society has based human values in achieving material enrichment. I haven’t had the “chance” to be rich and famous but in this type of world I can imagine how the question of “And now what?” would arrive once I reach the peak of my life. Artist who have died from overdose have crossed that line and haven’t been able to answer the “And now what? question so seek in drugs a refuge to the anxiety created by the unknown.

One quote that hit home after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was a tweet by Jim Carrey

How purpose can save our lives

The put it in simply the life of excess delivered by fame and fortune forces celebrities to live beyond the threshold of pleasure creating in life a sense of numbness and meaninglessness. Drugs then become a gateway to a higher level of pleasure and meaning. Unfortunately when they go beyond what is physically and mentally permitted there is no way back.

This is the reason why many celebrities who survive the crisis of “And now what?” become so dedicated to charity, humanitarian activities and spiritual growth. The virtue of leading an spiritual life is that it provides a limitless and constructive source of pleasure, fulfilment and meaning to life, something that drugs can’t be able to achieve. A deeper level of relationship with life, with our loved ones with the world. That sense of having purpose in life is what keeps human beings alive, fullfiled and motivated. Many of us are confused that the purpose in life is to be happy, that I believe is wrong, since many counterproductive things can make us happy, like alcohol and drugs. However, we can have a sense of fulfilment after feeling pain in the gym, running a marathon or working long hours to achieve our professional goals. The sense of fulfilment through sacrificing instant gratifications is what leads us to a life full of purpose.

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It is hard to take people out of addiction and the false illusion of happiness it can provide people with, it is a powerful mirage that hypnotises those without a strong character and sense of purpose. The hardest thing is to install that sense of purposefulness in those who believe that the only answer is in a shot of heroin or a line of cocaine.

Dying young, rich and famous

But how do these people who seem to have everything together, success, fame and fortune end up with their lives in this way? The answer is quite complex, it deals with a lot of psychological, biological and genetic components.  They are in a level where they do not need to struggle for almost anything anymore.  Once they realise they cannot go beyond having more in life is when depression and a sense of meaninglessness kicks in. For example having sex with beautiful women is not as rewarding as before since they have become as accessible as fast food, the same thing for luxury and material things.  Having the best car or best house wont be as rewarding as if it came from hard work and merit. The instant gratification level that celebrities access makes material life meaningless which as a result depresses them and pushes them to look for higher levels of pleasure and gratification.

List of some young and not so young celebrities who have recently died from overdose

  • Keith Monteith
  • Witney Houston
  • Heath Ledger
  • Brittany Murphy
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Corey Haim


The most important meditation is critical thinking

If you ever asked the Dalai Lama, what is the most important meditation we can do now.  He would probably answer, critical thinking followed by action.

“I am” a documentary that questions life

The first time I heard this was when watching “I am”, a new age documentary film by Tom Shadyac, the director of Ace Ventura and God Almighty.  Shadyac who became a celebrity after his film successes was living the life after a tragic bicycle accident changed his life.  Although he did not lose any limb, nor had any lifetime threatening physical disabilities, the post concussion symptoms made him face the possibility of his own death. Although it was not a near death experience, the sense of own death made him question  life.  So he decided to embark on a journey around the world to answer two main questions:

“What’s wrong with our world?” and “What can we do about it?

Shadyac interviews the world’s gurus

In the film Shadyac asks this question to the most significant minds of our time, authors, journalists, religious leaders, historians, academics etc. like:

  • Noam Chomsky
  • Howard Zinn
  • Desmond Tutto
  • Lynn Mctaggart
  • David Suzuki
  • Marilyn Schlitz
  • Elisabet Sahtouris

It was in Elisabet Sahtouris interview that she mentioned when she met the Dalai Lama and he was asked, what is the most important meditation question.  The Dalai Lama explained that the most important meditation is critical thinking followed by action.  Critical thinking is the discernment of the world we live in, know the scenario the human drama and then figure out where our talents can fit in to make a better world.  And each of us should do something to make our hearts sing because then nobody would want to do it with us if we are not passionate and inspired.

The Meditation Approach

So basically meditation is critical thinking, action and inspiration, that is very wise.  However it contradicts a bit the mindfulness and still mind meditation approach.  Meditation can be approached in many ways, and probably what the Dalai Lama wanted to communicate is that we should start using a meditation that can serve the world.  I couldn’t agree more, but this meditation approach should be expanded more, developed into a system that can be practiced and thought to people.  This might be the ancient greek school approach, that one used by Socrates, Pythagoras and Plato, where meditation was more like a dialogue, a constructive method of knowledge.  Would this be the answer to make our world better?

Full documentary film “I am”

Permaculture by Masanobu Fukuoka

1998 documentary dedicated to the pioneer of natural farming permaculture Masanobu Fukuoka.  Fukuoka has advocated an entirely new way of farming and put it into practice.  Natural farming employs no plowing, no fertilizers, no pesticides and no weeding, all he does is plant many types of seeds in clay balls and just keep sowing them letting them follow the natural course of nature.  Natural farming is about doing nothing, or almost nothing and leave everything to nature.  Natural farming lets nature follow its course, seeds, weeds, insects and animals all cooperate in symbiosis to let the seed grow in the most natural and optimum environment for harvest.

His natural method of farming is described on his book “One Straw Revolution” which condenses all his farming methodology and philosophy.

Natural Farming Documentary