The problem with the addicted state and our fixation on it is that we refuse to accept that it is not real, not permanent and not what we have convinced ourselves that it is. However, as anyone who has lived through teenage heartbreak knows, this too does indeed pass. But there’s knowing it on a mental level, where we tell ourselves that we understand the concept of impermanence, and there’s a deep, experiential knowing of this Buddhist principle, where we feel it at the core, at the root, at inception. That’s where delusion dissolves and we begin to break free. My Zen teacher used to say, “A little crack opens up..and the light comes in. That’s the beginning.” But the beginning of what?
For our second summer retreat we’ll be working with some basic Buddhist concepts as they relate to steps 10, 11 and 12 of the AA literature. These are commonly referred to as the “maintenance steps” to be practiced in daily life after working through Steps 1-9. In Buddhism the system of the paramitas (Sanskrit for perfections) are used as a path to enlightenment. The Perfections are Generosity, Discipline, Patience , Diligence, Meditative concentration and Wisdom. Similar to the way Step Six in the AA 12×12 is discussed as an ideal, we practice the perfections. The difference between 12-Step and Buddhism is that Buddhism aims for total liberation from suffering. Rather than saying we’ll never be perfect so why try, the Dharma teaches us how to get free-total liberation, just like Buddha.
This is a review of the 12-Step Buddhist retreat experience by a member of FA – Food Addicts Anonymous. I often get emails asking if the 12-Step Buddhist practices can be applied to issues related with food, so this is a good thing to know about.
Larry Christensen, Ph.D is the resident Zen teacher at the Portland Zen Center Larry discusses Zen, Psychotherapy, Recovery and Spirituality and offers his Three A’s prescription for integrating all.
Darren Littlejohn speaks to yoga teacher and author Darren Main of San Francisco on yoga, recovery, gurus and ethics.