September 8th is International Recovery Day. Every day is a recovery day for me as I wholeheartedly go for refuge to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The more I can place these jewels at the centre of my life, the more I walk the Noble Eightfold path that the Buddhas taught as a way out of our misery.
This path is a way to live our life that will bear the fruits of stillness, simplicity and contentment.
Perhaps choose to focus on one of the stages of the path each week throughout September and October.
When we turn our life over to the Dharma, we surrender to the teachings of the Buddha. What are those teachings? There are many, and I encourage you to explore and see what resonates for you. They are all doorways onto the path of liberation, freedom and a new understanding of happiness.
Perhaps one of the most accessible teachings is the three Laksanas (The three marks of human existence.) In brief;
Dukkha (unsatisfactoriness) – suffering comes up time and time and again in the Buddhist teachings, it is the back bone of the Four Noble truths – a teaching that connects all Buddhist traditions. The Buddha taught: (1) that there is suffering, (2) a path … Read more »
In the 12-step tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous it clearly states in the third step that we need to make a decision ‘ to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a God as we understood him’, if we are to maintain sobriety and abstinence.
Buddhists whether in recovery or not, or have an addiction or not, turn their lives over to the Buddha, Dharma the Sangha. When we surrender to this action, we are placing positive refuges at the center of our lives. We are placing the ideal of liberation and freedom, the teachings of the Buddha and the spiritual community at the center of our lives.
What this means is … Read more »
Often people who are in recovery can wrestle with the twelve-steps in the various programs of recovery. So before I outline the steps in Buddhism that my co-author and I have coined for my book Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, published in 2014. I want to reflect over the next few months how many of the concepts in the twelve steps tradition can be of great use in our lives.
Step Two. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Many people struggle with this step, because they are looking for some God, some divine external rescuer that will deal with all their … Read more »
“For many, negative thinking is a habit, which over time, becomes an addiction… A lot of people suffer from this disease because negative thinking is addictive to each of the Big Three — the mind, the body, and the emotions. If one doesn’t get you, the others are waiting in the wings.” – Peter McWilliams, American self help author.
‘We admitted we were powerless over (addiction) — that our lives had become unmanageable.’ This is step one in the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and all other twelve-step programs that exist including ALANON – which is a twelve-step group for families of alcoholics.
This is a poignant step for recovery – admitting that we are … Read more »
If we believe that we are not responsible for our mental suffering then we are implying we are helpless.
If we believe everything is permanent then we are implying there is no room for change.
If we believe in a fixed self then we are implying we can not transform ourselves.
If we cling on to these thoughts and think they are facts we will continue to be swamped by the ocean of samsara.
If we can begin to see that our mental suffering arises out of our strong habitual behaviours we will begin to transform ourselves.
Is an ocean of suffering,
Vidyadhara Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
So what is Samsara? Most of us have heard of Nirvana. And assume Samsara is the exact opposite. Nirvana is more the juxtaposition of Samsara that can give a feeling of balance. Nirvana and Samsara are here, in this present moment. Both of them right here, right now. If we have suffered from an addiction we would have experienced a taste of what Samsara could be.
I’m not sure it is helpful to define either concept. Though of course Samsara is some of what I have alluded to before. Our lack of recognizing that we have had a precious birth, our denial … Read more »
‘We act, and positive or negative consequences will follow. Just as our bodies move in the world, our shadow will follow us too. Just as we are born, death will follow too. We cannot escape this law of cause and effect, it is with us in every breath that we take.’
From the new book, Eight Step Recovery: Using the Buddha’s Teaching to Overcome Addiction, Publication date 2014, by Valerie Mason-John (me) and Dr Parambandhu Groves
Speak and you have spoken. As soon as you have spoken your words have been heard.
Think a thought and you are thinking. As soon as you think a thought you have acted, creating grooves in your mind… Read more »
Many of us in the world use the new year as an opportunity to let go of the past and make new beginnings. I thought I would acknowledge the new year as one of those GIFTS — a Great Indicator For Throwing Stuff Out.
We are the fortunate ones to be reading this right now, because for some people the world did end on December 21st or thereafter. So here we are, having survived another end of the world date. There have been many such apocalypses predicted in the past and none, of course, have come true. We could spend the rest of our lives worrying about predictions of the end of the world, or … Read more »
Karma can be scary. Does it mean if we get sick we have done something wrong in our life? This was one of the question on my friends lips in her dying process. ‘What had she done so wrong to get pancreatic cancer?’
Nothing, she had done nothing wrong. The only karma in her dying is that she was reborn as a human, and if we take a human birth we will inevitably get sick, or age, and die.
If I get a cold it does not mean I have been unskilful. It could mean though that I went out in the cold, didn’t wrap up well, and so I caught a cold. Hence my … Read more »