Both the 12-Step program and the Buddhist path of recovery from suffering can be described as “recovery from the ego.” Scott Kobai Whitney, resident teacher at the Plum Mountain refuge unpacks how crucial vigilant mindfulness is to both formulations of the path.
There is in the Buddha’s early teachings a concept very much like the 12-Step ideal of true sobriety. It’s called, in Pali, appamāda. In fact, this is the title of the second chapter of the Dhammapada. Like most modern scholars writing in English, Gil Fronsdal translates appamāda as “vigilance.” In the commentary to his translation (Shambhala 2006), he elaborates, saying that it could also be translated as “diligence, heedfulness, watchfulness.” And he adds his own gloss, which is “energetic mindfulness.”
And this, to me, is what it takes to stay sober over the long term. Not just light and airy mindfulness, but a very serious commitment to always watching the body/heart/mind. For those of us who are addicts, this staying sober thing is serious business. So that’s why we need our mindfulness to have some energy behind it.