Thursday, June 27, 2019

Buddhism and the 12-Steps Working Together

Back in April an article I wrote was posted on the Buddhistdoor site. What prompted me to write this article began several years ago, when I read a sober Buddhists saying that AA isn't a good place for Buddhists to find sobriety. Really? That's not been my experience. And never mind that this person got sober in AA himself.

Addiction and Recovery: Buddhists on the Path to Sobriety in AA

If you are a member of a Buddhist-inspired recovery program and maintain your sobriety with them, Good for you!  Whatever path to sobriety that works for you, I'm for it.

The point I'm trying to make in this article is don't let anyone tell you that AA doesn't work for Buddhists.  You will meet other Buddhists with longtime sobriety at AA meetings. With an open mind, try it out for yourself -- see how the 12-Steps and Buddhism compliment each other.

The editors at Buddhistdoor were kind enough to provide a link to my blog.  A wonderfully eclectic international online Buddhist site I invite you to take a look at Buddhistdoor:

Bill K.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Truly is anything missing in Step 6?

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Koan: Truly is anything missing now?

Truly -- from the word truth -- that which is true: In Zen as well as in AA, being true is at the very core of practice. In Zen we have our True Nature, True Self; and in AA we say, “to thine own self be true.”

Little mind is day-to-day chatter and thoughts, about me, about you, paying bills, fixing dinner, pulling weeds, and a stubbed toe. Then there is Big Mind, which is our True Nature, our True Self, beyond duality.

At our Monday evening CityZen gathering, a story was told (Thank you Chris!), a story that I’ve altered some (think made up) that might add another perspective to our Step 6 discussion.

In this story, there’s is a watcher looking over us as we stumble and bumble about in our daily lives. Think of this “Watcher” as the sky.

In the world of form (stumbling and bumbling, etc.) people do us wrong, resentments grow, things don’t go my way, friends die, I’m rude, I become angry and others are angry, the furnace breaks down, my kid comes home with head lice, I can’t find my glasses, and on and on.  Now, think of one’s character defects over time as clouds in the sky.

If they’re really bothersome they turn into storms or even hurricanes in the sky, all causing relative degrees of chaos and suffering in the mind.

Question:  In real life, have any clouds, storms or hurricanes EVER left the sky harmed in any way? It is like this – the self-centered alcoholic causes harm and still, the Watcher is never harmed.

In Step 6, being true to ourselves, we recognize our character defects – the storms we’ve created over time. Now we find ourselves ready to be rid of these character defects, and allow whatever is watching over us to take them away…just as clouds dissipate in the sky leaving no marks whatsoever.

Elsie gave us a turn-this-upside-down moment when she told us how it was when she first worked the Steps. When she came to Step 6, she thought the “to have God remove” part was like saying, “I’ll have my husband pick up a quart of milk on his way home from work.” Say what? That would be like commanding God to remove defects. “Who could ever be in charge of God, she pondered?” Certainly not me.

Is anything missing now? You bet there is! Since I will never be perfect, no matter how often I search for defects, always searching within, doing the Steps over and over again, there will always be missing “wrongs” to correct. So of course, later I realized that I needed to ask God in Step 7 and was not making commands of him in Step 6.

Dale often says that inventory work is at the heart of his practice.  It’s in the Big Book reminding us to do this by asking if we’ve really done Steps 1 thru 5; have we omitted anything? Is anything missing? If we can’t think of anything missing then we go onto Step 6. “It’s almost like Step 6 is a prelude to Step 7. ‘Are you ready’ is an echo of Step 3 – I’m ready to make this decision.”

Then he laughed saying, “Somewhere I heard that we’ve been given these 12 Steps to do  [keep us busy] while God works the miracles.”

John: “In acknowledging that I’m entirely ready; in that moment of complete surrender; the experience of having peace of mind washes over me.”

When I’m truly ready to let go and let God, relief comes by knowing there’s nothing lacking, nothing extra, and nothing missing – things fit together like boxes and lids – leaving us with expansive blue sky above.

Yours truly,

Bill K.