Darren Littlejohn’s deeply personal and immensely practical book brings together Buddhism and the twelve steps in an elegant synthesis. As a guide through recovery, the book is true genius–it manages to maintain a reverence and respect for the twelve steps, while allowing for an "atheistic" interpretation of the process. I also loved how gritty and raw the author’s own spirituality seemed, and how, instead of sugarcoating his process, he’s not afraid to meet you in even the darkest places. Win a free copy on the Gaia Giveaway! –Review by Siona van Dijk of Gaia.com
"The 12-Step Buddhist is NOT a light read. In fact, it’s not a one-sitting read. Instead, I find this book better digested over time. Nonetheless, it is well written and comes highly recommended from me.
Daren Littlejohn combines autobiography and reference guide in this enlightened introduction to both Buddhism and the 12 steps. I like the way that he personalizes concepts and offers suggestions throughout the book. I also like the way that he simplifies Buddhist beliefs for an audience (addicts) who tend to complicate things. His no-nonsense approach tells it like it is and challenges the reader to put into PRACTICE what can become highly theorized.
In fact, The 12 Step-Buddhist passes my “direction dive” test…when I’m in need of some divine wisdom, I pick up a book, or dictionary or encyclopedia, open to a random page and read where my finger falls. Everytime I’ve picked up the 12-Step Buddhist, I hear what I need to hear in the moment. For whatever reason, Littlejohn’s writing has both the density and the intention that help me in moments of question. It has become a fixture in my recovery library.
Here are some reasons why you might want to check it out:
1. You are struggling with the concept of a “Higher Power” and looking for alternatives.
2. You are interested in integrating Eastern spirituality to your recovert, but don’t know where to start.
3. You would like to learn more about Buddhism.
4. You are looking for practical suggestions for meditation.
5. You are committed to the 12 steps and want to broaden that experience to help others .
The 12-Step Buddhist gets my highest accolades as a meaningful guide to recovery that fills a gap to alternative spirituality in addiction communities. Thanks to Darren Littlejohn for his work. It seems to have been a lifetime in the making!" – addictionblog.org
Interview in Integral Yoga Magazine Summer 2009
"Recovering from addiction is perhaps the ultimate in working with attachment, and the path of recovery requires a great deal of compassion. That may be why Darren Littlejohn is able to so effectively synthesize the well-known Judeo-Christian recovery program with Buddhism. No matter where you are in recovery, this is a meaty book, with meditations, exercises, and the illuminating story of Littlejohn’s own struggles. Don’t think you have an addiction? You still might want to pick up The 12-Step Buddhist. We’re all addicted to something, Littlejohn says. Some of us just manage to have less obvious vices."–Shambala Sun July/2009 "This book not only provides a unique look into the mind of an addict, in and out of recovery, but also speaks from the heart to those looking for a spiritual practice to help them stay sober. It’s not an easy read. Littlejohn is talking about serious stuff, and he doesn’t pull any punches. It’s not so much his recounting of his struggles with drugs and alcohol that’s difficult to read. It’s his struggle with the truth about himself and his illness that’s heavy going. But he makes it clear that he knows what he’s talking about and that the information in the book is what makes his life sane again. Most people associate 12-Step programs with Christianity, despite the fact that the steps have been rewritten to say “Higher Power as we understand our Higher Power.” Still, the imprint of traditional Christian roots associated with Alcoholics Anonymous remains strong. Littlejohn found little support when he began trying to connect Buddhist practice with AA principles. But Buddhism provided him with a map for his spiritual quest which, in turn, made the 12 steps more meaningful and productive. He has given us a very precise record of how that worked for him." – Anna Jedrziewski Spirit Connection, New York – a metaphysical healing and learning center. Written as a book review for New Age Retailer Magazine, May 2009/Expo issue "Another incredible book from one of our own – I just picked up a copy of The 12 Step Buddhist and am already entranced. It helps that Darren is one of our long-time community members; I’d know a bit of his story prior to beginning the book, but had no idea the extent of what he’d been through. What I love most, so far, is how practical and hard-edged this book is. There’ve been so many watered-down, light-and-fluffy, be-here-now Buddha-books published over the past 10 years or so, and while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that soothing approach, it’s refreshing to see something gritty and raw. Also, the book elegantly uses Zen to enhance the practical workings of a 12 Step program, not to replace it–it’s a remarkably sophisticated approach. I’d love to hear what others think, and will likely be popping back here with more. For now, thank you, Darren. This book, I’m sure, will be a gift to so, so many." – Sionia van Dijk, Director of Community at Gaia.com – http://siona.gaia.com/ "I believe that an addiction is in part, about loosing your way spiritually. I am also a huge believer in the 12 step programs and in the voice of the buddha. I was therefore thrilled to discover this book which, in essence, incorporates two of the most powerful tools against addiction – the 12 steps and the Buddha way of life. What I liked, for the beginning of this book is that the author does not trash either forms of belief – rather he constructed his book on the fact that one belief ties in and compliments the other one beautifully. This book is loaded with personal experiences – those of the author and how he has looked to both 12 step and the Buddha to help him find his way. This book is definitely about belief in a more spiritual way of living and it is about understanding your limitations as a human being. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and found it to be encouraging and supportive." – http://bookshipper.blogspot.com/2009/04/review-for-12-step-buddhist.html Bella Online – the Voice of Women Review Wildmind.org Review – by a prisoner/Buddhist in recovery Review by Scott Leiker, M.Ed. "Littlejohn, Darren. The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction. Atria: S. & S. Mar. 2009. 320p. index. ISBN 978-1-58270-223-0. pap. $16. "Buddhism, it seems, is like the color black: it goes with anything. Littlejohn, a recovering addict and student of Tibetan and Zen Buddhism, has written a book that thoroughly integrates the 12 steps of recovery from addiction with Buddhist principles and precepts. Each of these persuasions is so powerful that one would have thought they would leave room for nothing else, but Littlejohn effectively suggests that the richness of Buddhist insight can ground 12-step recovery in true self-knowledge." – Library Journal "According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 10 percent of people aged 12 or older needed treatment for drug or alcohol problems in 2006. That astonishing number suggests a need for books such as this, written by recovering drug and alcohol addict Littlejohn, who is also a student of Buddhism. The author, who has also studied psychology and research methods, has most definitely been there. Using the Buddhist idea of attachment as a key insight into addiction, Littlejohn correlates the 12 steps of recovery programs with Buddhist ideas and practices, drawing from both Zen and Tibetan traditions. This approach can especially benefit those who may have trouble with more conventional understandings of a Judeo-Christian God as a Higher Power, since 12-step programs depend on acceptance of such a power. Some of Littlejohn’s practical exercises—certain Tibetan visualizations, for example—can be abstruse, and an appended glossary could provide more help with Buddhism, issues that more rigorous editing could have addressed. But the author has guts and clarity; this book is a welcome beacon on the troubling ocean of addiction." — Publisher’s Weekly 02/09/09 “Addiction makes your life completely meaningless. …It blocks your path to enlightenment, your spiritual path. But overcoming addiction is not easy because there are so many habits from the past. Studying Dharma is unbelievably important and is something that should be done right now, because death can come at any time. It is also the main thing for achieving everlasting happiness, total liberation from samsara, and from all suffering. It is the foundation for achieving enlightenment, for the benefit of others. Thus the benefit of practicing meditation is not just overcoming addiction.” —Venerable Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition “The 12-Step Buddhist is one of those rare books that transcends genres by seamlessly integrating the 12-step approach, Buddhist principles, and a compelling personal struggle with addiction and a quest for spiritual awakening. With its refreshingly direct, tell-it-like-it-is style, this book takes systematic approach to blending the 12-steps with timeless Buddhist meditations and wisdom. The 12-Step Buddhist is an important guidebook to living life ‘just as it is,’—beyond the insanity of addiction and recovery. This book is ideal for both spiritual seekers and those who feel that their life is out of control. As a former Buddhist monk and a practicing psychotherapist who works with recovering addicts, I highly recommend this book!” —Donald Altman, M.A., LPC, author of Living Kindness and Meal by Meal Darren Littlejohn, a recovering addict himself, knows all too well the tribulations of drug addiction. The 12-Step Buddhist is a unique synthesis of the traditional 12-Step model and the liberating wisdom of Dharma, bridging the divide between traditional programs, which suffer from problematic terminology and pedagogy, and Buddhist teachings, which aren’t equipped to address the some of the specific needs and concerns of the modern addict. Littlejohn carefully explores each Step in turn, suggesting alternative Buddhist perspectives and providing valuable meditation exercises to serve as additional support. Peppered with raw accounts of late-night drug binges, arduous recoveries and devastating relapse, this personal presentation of the tools Littlejohn used to find his own liberation from addiction is certainly never boring, and well worth reading. ⎯Mandala Magazine "In this refreshing look at the true reasons behind destructive, addictive behavior, Littlejohn combines Buddhist wisdom with the traditional twelve-step program, presenting a guidebook to inner peace and spiritual sobriety – written from the point of view of someone who has made the journey himself. He provides a complementary practice to more standard treatments, and provides an inspiring resource for those struggling to overcome addictions." ⎯The Snow Lion Buddhist News & Catalog “This book is written not based on theory or assumption, but by a person who actually went through the experience of recovery and from that experience has seen the benefits of this system as a way to help other people who are facing the same circumstances. This will be an important contribution to the literature of Buddhism and of recovery in the West.” —Yangsi Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and president of Maitripa Institute Darren Littlejohn has created a useful tool interfacing two important contemporary paths, bringing Buddhism principles into direct relationship with the 12-Step path of recovery, a practical down to earth guide for those interested in integrating Buddhism and the 12-Steps which have often in the past been framed in theistic language, an important contribution to recovery literature. —Tsultrim Allione author of Feeding Your Demons and Women of Wisdom, founder of Tara Mandala Retreat Center “Darren’s book is an insightful, personal meditation on the many fruitful intersections between 12-Step recovery programs, science, and Buddhism. For those seeking recovery, but put off by what seems like a heavy Judeao-Christian orientation in many 12-Step programs, Darren’s story will be a refreshing eye-opener to alternative possibilities” —James Blumenthal, professor of Buddhist Studies, Oregon State University and Maitripa College, author of The Ornament of the Middle Way “If the 12-Step program leads to recovery, Buddhist practice and philosophy can provide the spiritual underpinnings needed to stabilize that recovery. [Darren Littlejohn’s] interpretation of the 12 Steps as seen through the lens of this wisdom tradition is fascinating and useful. A very practical and inspired guide.” —Susan Piver, author of How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life “Darren Littlejohn’s The 12-Step Buddhist is a down-to-earth presentation of the tools that helped him become familiar with his mind and how to change it. The 12 steps, in their emphasis on looking inside, taking responsibility, and having the courage to change, fit the Buddhist approach like a glove. We’re all addicts, it’s just a question of degree. When we understand that the nature of attachment is dissatisfaction—the aching sense of never being enough, never having enough, always wanting more—this can begin to make sense. What Buddha’s saying is deceptively simple: fulfillment, happiness, satisfaction, contentment are within our grasp.” —Venerable Robina Courtin, executive director of the Liberation Prison Project, USA and Australia Get the Book