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12 steps program and Buddhism

PassaddhiPassaddhi UK - London New

Hi, I am new here.
Is anyone familiar with the 12 steps (originally created for people suffering from Alcoholism - the famous AA, then extended to many addictions from gambling to overeating) ?
I feel it could help me but I struggle with the "God/Higher Power" aspect of it. They say you don't have to believe in God to join, but I don't see how to reconcile their program with Buddhism.

Comments

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    I know a fair bit about it although I don’t know it from the inside, I’ve never attended. But I should think that for some Buddhists — Tibetans with their deities, or Pure Land Chinese or Japanese with Amitabha Buddha — it wouldn’t present a problem.

    I think if you just call upon Buddha to light your path with the wise insight that self-destructive behaviour is not beneficial to your progress as a Buddhist, that would do?

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    We have a guy who knows extensively about that I think. @Tosh I haven't seen him for awhile here though but maybe he will get an e-mail if I post @Tosh ?

  • PassaddhiPassaddhi UK - London New

    I think if you just call upon Buddha to light your path with the wise insight that self-destructive behaviour is not beneficial to your progress as a Buddhist, that would do?

    I have never thought of speaking to Buddha directly. I guess you mean the Buddha Within, not the man who lived 2500 years ago ? Sorry if this sound a stupid question, I am new to Buddhism.

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    What exactly happens when you reach Nirvana is not defined in the Sutra’s, so it’s possible that the presence of Buddha in the universe’s field of consciousness still exists. It’s speculation but not unreasonable I think. That means within as well as without.

    So calling upon the Buddha is possible.

    Ren_in_black
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    Buddhists and lineages vary on how much devotional stuff they believe or talk about. Here's a portion of the Avatamsaka sutra that shows an idea of how the ordinary could actually be quite spiritual and seeing buddha everywhere.

    http://www.cttbusa.org/avatamsaka/avatamsaka40new.html

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @Passaddhi said:
    I have never thought of speaking to Buddha directly. I guess you mean the Buddha Within, not the man who lived 2500 years ago ? Sorry if this sound a stupid question, I am new to Buddhism.

    One thing that should be understood: I don’t think you can address Buddha in the same way as you address God. You shouldn’t bother asking him to take your toothache away, he is more someone who will teach proper dental care.

    person
  • @Passaddhi welcome and I wish you well....

    These links may be of help
    Secular 12 Step Programme

    The Atheist and the 12 Step

    How Do Eastern Religions Deal with Substance Abuse and Treatment?

    Remember @Passaddhi the Jewel is already in the Lotus-What we all seek...we already are...

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Metta <3

    Jeroenlobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Yes there are some good articles out there for this topic. I’d recommend:

    https://alcoholrehab.com/alcohol-recovery/buddhist-12-steps/

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Hey @Passaddhi - welcome!

    I have heard good things about these guys.

    https://www.refugerecovery.org/

    Best of luck!

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @Passaddhi said:
    Hi, I am new here.
    Is anyone familiar with the 12 steps (originally created for people suffering from Alcoholism - the famous AA, then extended to many addictions from gambling to overeating) ?
    I feel it could help me but I struggle with the "God/Higher Power" aspect of it. They say you don't have to believe in God to join, but I don't see how to reconcile their program with Buddhism.

    Have you read about the Two Truths? I like to see them as objective and subjective sides to reality. The "higher" could be the Interbeing nature of all things as opposed to individuality.

  • @Passaddhi said:
    I have never thought of speaking to Buddha directly. I guess you mean the Buddha Within, not the man who lived 2500 years ago ? Sorry if this sound a stupid question, I am new to Buddhism.

    We have a Buddha within? Who would have thought it … ;)

    Buddha just means 'woke'. They (buddhas) point to the alarm clock ticking away and shout wakey-wakey. That is when we realise we were only dozing. Half awake, half asleep and half drunk on samsara …
    https://insighttimer.com/peacebeyondsuffering/guided-meditations/kamma-in-samsara-kamma-leading-beyond-samsara

    Meanwhile …
    Many of us are addicted to drugs, drags, dildos, douche bags, dopes and other delta variants. Buddha is a higher ideal rather like someone sober, ultra sane and sanitised …

  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Passaddhi said:
    Hi, I am new here.
    Is anyone familiar with the 12 steps (originally created for people suffering from Alcoholism - the famous AA, then extended to many addictions from gambling to overeating) ?
    I feel it could help me but I struggle with the "God/Higher Power" aspect of it. They say you don't have to believe in God to join, but I don't see how to reconcile their program with Buddhism.

    Hello; welcome to New Buddhist. I sincerely hope you enjoy your experience here.

    I celebrated twenty-nine years clean this last May and have been around Twelve-Step programs in some capacity, since being court-ordered to meetings back in the seventies. I've experienced the traditional programs as well as the newer off-shoots. I have two entirely different answers to that. I'm way outside my comfort zone of blunt but, here it is: Yeah, truth is it can be a problem; it was to me. For years, I tried to make it work - refusing to give up Buddhism. Nothing I tried worked; nothing, but I kept on trying. And, I never got clean. So, I stopped trying - and made it work. I made it work in spite of how inhospitably those steps had welcomed me. Turned out, that was the price of admission to be free of addiction, for me. Your mileage may vary. The only thing I know for sure, is that I don't know your answer - but I hope you do.

    Ask a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who attends meetings regularly if s/he has been to any good meetings lately. Once you get them past their "My homegroup is the most perfectly imperfect..." perfunctory praise, most will admit it's been hard 'these days' to find a meeting with a lot of 'real' recovery. In fact, I got that very call this morning. From a fellow in Brooklyn, who went on to say he has a network of a few members who report back on the new meetings they tried out. Brooklyn is actually just a piece of a city, and it's got over two hundred meetings a week to chose from... And they can't find a good meeting? What chance have we got, right?

    Reasonable people might quibble over how much responsibility Brooklyn bore for his experience of finding little 'real' recovery - but it would be hard to argue that it wouldn't be easier to find it with over two hundred meetings a week to choose from than you are in twenty. That's the problem with the smaller organizations. The start out all gung-ho, like teenagers ready to become emancipated, move out and take on the world. Then there's a funky middle period where they have growth spurts and get tested on how solid their principles are. A few make it, but most end like gung-ho teenagers ready to become emancipated, move out and and take on the world - who saw a squirrel.

    In a nutshell: It's hard enough without them distracting us by wielding their Christian privilege so cluelessly. But it is what it is - and what's more Buddhist that complete and utter surrender to what is?

    Jeroen
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @yagr said:
    In a nutshell: It's hard enough without them distracting us by wielding their Christian privilege so cluelessly. But it is what it is - and what's more Buddhist that complete and utter surrender to what is?

    I’d hope that 12 Step program facilitators were a little more understanding than most ordinary Christians for people wanting to use alternate texts as long as they were showing results.

    yagr
  • yagryagr Veteran

    @Jeroen said:
    I’d hope that 12 Step program facilitators were a little more understanding than most >ordinary Christians for people wanting to use alternate texts as long as they were >showing results.

    Some do; some don't. Since "...leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern" everyone is simply a volunteer. Actually, that's from Tradition Two; the whole tradition reads as follows:

    "For our group purpose there is one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern."

    Some volunteers are 40 years away from their last drink & some found their way out of the trap house for the first time 90 days ago. Actually, AA's "Big Book", which is the official guide off of which every 12-step program has been fashioned after says, in the chapter 'We Agnostics', "Well that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself, which will solve your problems. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God." [emphasis mine]

    Not too many years ago, after responding to a question put to me by a member with over thirty years sober, I explained that I was Buddhist. I was hit repeatedly by his spittle as he screamed in my face how he believes 'in the one true God and none of this new-age bullshit..." I would have walked away but I was in front of my home that I was renting from him. I was attending meetings with my wife at the time, and during the time we lived in that area, we never attended a meeting that didn't have the Bible read out of at least once.

    Typically when I do attend meetings these days, and I need to use the phrase 'Higher Power' in a sentence, I'll say, "...my Higher Power, who I choose to call none-of-your-damn-business..." to kind of offset and offer and alternative to the ever-popular, "...my Higher Power, who I choose to call Jesus Christ..." It is almost always greeted by good-natured chuckles, which is why I choose that route - no hard feelings, yet point made - we are supposed to be inclusive. In fact, read before every Narcotics Anonymous meeting is the line, "We are not interested in what or how much you used...but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help." If the drugs you used aren't important because "we want to concentrate on our similarities, not our differences" then what 'Higher Power' you choose isn't important either, and so my utterance is intended to drive that home. Those who have ears let them hear et al. :)

    JeroenShoshin1Bunks
  • PassaddhiPassaddhi UK - London New
    edited September 4

    @Shoshin1 said:
    @Passaddhi welcome and I wish you well....

    These links may be of help
    Secular 12 Step Programme

    The Atheist and the 12 Step

    How Do Eastern Religions Deal with Substance Abuse and Treatment?

    Remember @Passaddhi the Jewel is already in the Lotus-What we all seek...we already are...

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Metta <3

    Thank you @Shoshin1. These links are very helpful.

    I tried a Atheist/Agnostic meeting, and I felt more comfortable. The "Higher Power" can be the support of the group, but it can also be the Dhamma.

    The Jewel is already in the Lotus : Does it mean the solution is in the problem ?

    @yagr said: For years, I tried to make it work - refusing to give up Buddhism. Nothing I tried worked; nothing, but I kept on trying. And, I never got clean. So, I stopped trying - and made it work. I made it work in spite of how inhospitably those steps had welcomed me. >Turned out, that was the price of admission to be free of addiction, for me. Your mileage may vary. The only thing I know for sure, is that I don't know your answer - but I hope you do.

    @yagr Thank you for sharing your experience. How did you make it work ? Did you give up on Buddhism temporarily and pretended you believed in a God ?

    yagrShoshin1
  • Shoshin1Shoshin1 Veteran
    edited September 5

    @Passaddhi said:

    Thank you @Shoshin1. These links are very helpful.

    I tried a Atheist/Agnostic meeting, and I felt more comfortable. The "Higher Power" can be the support of the group, but it can also be the Dhamma.

    The Jewel is already in the Lotus : Does it mean the solution is in the problem ?

    You're welcome @Passaddhi

    There are a number of ways to interpret this mantra......

    However, I like to keep things simple ...

    What you are seeking is already within you....
    The strength you seek is within you....

    We already possess the tools to build (our) happiness, we just need to learn how to use them...

    Be well <3

    lobster
  • There are other steps …

    For example prostrations, which are used as a way of stepping towards 'Buddha Power' as well as a slow pilgrim mode of travel.
    This is a very intense form of improving and changing the physical being/craving. 108 is the usual minimum.

    yagrBunks
  • yagryagr Veteran
    edited September 7

    @lobster said:
    There are other steps …

    For example prostrations, which are used as a way of stepping towards 'Buddha Power' as well as a slow pilgrim mode of travel.
    This is a very intense form of improving and changing the physical being/craving. 108 is the usual minimum.

    About three weeks ago now, I awoke to about 150 flea bites - I am horribly allergic and before the day was out I was one big hive. Worse, on 3 August, for the first time in my life, I stopped biting my fingernails. So while I may have struggled to not scratch when I was awake - I had no idea that I was ripping myself to shreds in my sleep until I woke up with blood everywhere. Did I mention that histamine blockers have no effect on me? Prostrations, which I had never done before, kept me sane. I slept through the night for the first time (since this happened) last Wednesday, and I'm almost completely healed up but...grateful for those prostrations.

    P.S. No pets here, but the neighbor has a mangy little dog - not to insult him but he has clumps of hair falling out everywhere, etc. Anyway, turns out she bombed her apartment for fleas three weeks and one day ago. I wonder where they came from? ;)

    Bunkslobster
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