The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction
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Author Darren Littlejohn has been there and back, and presents a complimentary guide for recovery to the traditional twelve-step program, out of his own struggles and successes through the study of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.
The face of addiction and alcoholism is a face that many have seen before -- it may be a celebrity, a colleague, or even a family member. And though the 12-step program by itself can often bring initial success, many addicts find themselves relapsing back into old ways and old patterns, or replacing one addiction with another.
Working with the traditional 12-Step philosophy, the author first shares his own life path, and how he came to find the spiritual solace that has greatly enhanced his life in recovery. Then, he details out how his work integrating Buddhism into the traditional twelve-step programs validates both aspects of the recovery process. While being careful not to present himself as a Tibetan lama or Zen master, the author shows how each step -- such as admitting there is a problem, seeking help, engaging in a thorough self-examination, making amends for harm done, and helping other drug addicts who want to recover -- fits into the Bodhisattva path. This integration makes Buddhism accessible for addicts, and the 12 Steps understandable for Buddhists who may otherwise be at a loss to help those in need.
The 12-Step Buddhist is designed to be a complimentary practice to the traditional 12-step journey, not a replacement. While traditional twelve-step programs help addicts become sober by removing the drug of choice and providing a spiritual path, they rarely delve deep into what causes people to suffer in the first place. The integration of Buddhism with the traditional process provides the wisdom and meditations that can help addicts truly find a deep, spiritual liberation from all causes and conditions of suffering -- for good.
last breath. I know that moment will come, and it will be my last. But I don’t know when that’s going to happen. With this mindfulness, I intend to practice seeking in Step Eleven as much as possible. My sobriety is contingent on my spiritual condition. My spiritual condition is maintained by spiritual practice. Meditation is spiritual practice. I can meditate anywhere, anytime, using the methods I have learned in this process. When I wake up in the morning, I am mindful of the miracle that I am
enlightenment. I didn’t know this for a really long time. It took over twenty years, some hard falls, and a lot of suffering. As a fellow addict said in a meeting recently, it takes what it takes, until it takes. The main practice of the bodhisattva path is to dedicate your life to others. This notion is echoed in typical 12-Step focus: “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend on our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs,”3 and “learning how to live in the
Buddhism really is a total solution for the problems of the mind. But it’s really, really hard to apply it if we’re (a) not sober, (b) nuts, (c) not sober and nuts. Unfortunately, most people in the 12-Step community don’t want you to talk about mental illness openly. It makes them really uncomfortable. The literature talks about it from an outdated perspective. In order to be of service to the dually diagnosed, I recommend that we approach those sicker members with compassion. As is the
know I’m still sick,” but no longer believe them. On the outside, we look so different than when we came in from the cold that it’s kind of hard to believe we’re really still sick. Inside, memories of suffering have grown dim with time. People say they’re grateful, recovering addicts—which is fine. But deep inside, a lot of us really wish we could just be like the normies. This is a function of the disease. We treat it in Step One, but it is pervasive throughout the life of recovering addicts.
suffering, death, and rebirth. On and on it goes. Where does it stop? Well, like we say to newcomers in the program, “You get to the bottom when you stop digging.” I think we can learn a lot about Buddhism from the steps and a lot about the steps from Buddhism, but as to what you should do and how you should proceed, I defer to the Buddha. Let the principles, methods, steps, and teachings show the way. Walk your own walk. In the program we say, “Keep your own side of the street clean.” Dilgo