Nov 05, 2006
“12 Steps on Buddha’s Path: Bill, Buddha, and We,” by Laura S.
12 Steps on Buddha’s Path is an gripping account of the connections between the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12 Step Program and the Buddhist path. The material is presented in three parts: First, Laura S.’s experience of coming to terms with her alcohol abuse through AA; second, a basic overview of the Buddha’s teachings; and lastly a melding of the two paths in the author’s life.
Part One reviews AA’s program and how the author came to understand the 12 Steps. Of particular interest to me, and presumably to others who practice the 12 Steps in the context of a non-theistic faith, is how the author deals with the idea of “God” or of a higher power and its fundamental importance to the program. The author developed an interesting take on this early on in her recovery by devising her own idiosyncratic form of non-theistic prayer.
The second part of the book is perhaps one of the best explanations I have seen of the core tenets of the Buddha’s teachings, such as the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, Dependent Origination, and Karma. The author’s illustrations and examples help relate these teachings to daily life, and I would recommend this chapter as a standalone guide to any beginner to Buddhism.
The final section of the book ties the earlier material together and details how the author, having begun her 12 Step recovery program, later integrated it with Buddhist practice, starting with “Alcoholism is Dukkha [suffering]” and building up to teachings on “The Four Sober Truths,” “The Sober Eightfold Path,” and “Taking Sober Refuge.”
12 Steps on Buddha’s Path is a valuable resource for anyone in addiction recovery who has issues with the notion of a theistic God upon whichthe 12 Step Program is based, but especially for those who wish to integrate the 12 Steps and Buddhism. The book is also a powerful story of hope and success, and shows an uplifting transformation from the depth of the disease of addiction. It is an inspiration for all.
Brian Sullivan is a practicing Buddhist and recovering alcoholic, and is currently serving a prison sentence for an alcohol-related offense.