All medicine gurus, Buddhas and blue-bodies light healers be Present, here and now where you are needed. I call upon your promise to help suffering beings like me. Bless me with your healing light. At least allow me the wisdom and presence to bear this pain without making it worse. Help me see the true condition of my spiritual being, beyond physical limitations. Be with me here, now. I need you.
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.
…if they see someone at a meeting sharing about their problems one day and on the meditation seat teaching Dharma the next they might not understand. This diverse application of principles and membership in different groups can leave some people feeling a lack of trust. They might say things like, “Who does this guy think he is?”, “He thinks he’s better than us, “Hey, that guy’s trying to make money off of 12-Stepping,” “I’m not going to yoga, he’s trying to start a cult,” and so on. This makes my situation somewhat complicated. While historically there have been many cults in the history of yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism and even in 12-Step, there is no Kool-Aid being served here.
Many times over the years I’ve seen one or another version of a common scenario. The addict, after plenty of struggle, finally does get some clean time. We’d expect that would make everyone in his life happy. It does and it doesn’t. With sobriety the mechanisms of relationships-individual, family, or workplace-shift. Things fall apart. It’s because everybody plays a role in the addict’s life. When the addicts stop actively participating in their addiction, the co-addict sometimes loses their place. The frame of reference changes. Things stop making sense. That’s because each player in the system has a role. The system is sick.
I embrace the teaching of mindfulness; I abstain from substances and actions that lead to intoxication and heedlessness. This precept counsels us to cultivate mindful consumption and sobriety and to abstain not only from drugs, alcohol, and other intoxicating substances, but also to avoid anything that has toxic effects, such as pornography; certain films, television programs, books, magazines, foods, and activities (like gambling or enabling another person’s addiction); or even some conversations. Keeping this precept benefits our own mental, spiritual, and physical health, and promotes our families’ and communities’ well-being, too.