Buddhism and the 12 Steps

Both Buddhist practice and 12-Step programs encourage followers to have faith in their own experience.


06/27/2006 01:05:07 PM

Buddhism and the 12 steps: I know the twelve step program and I know a little about Buddhism. For me to become a little more enlightened I felt it necessary to give up alcohol. Instead I find other things to drink with similar taste such as my orange-pineapple and Sprite Mimosa.


09/20/2004 10:00:11 AM

When I read any book, especially one which puports to help people, I ask myself, "Does this book have heart?" "One Breath at a Time" meets the criterion. It is not a "clever" book, full of koans to "avoid" recovery truths, but is an honest attempt to convey how the Twelve Steps can be interpeted in the light of Buddhist practice. It is invaluable. So many twelve-steppers equate recovery with evangelical christianity, sprinkling their shares with the word "God." It is a problem for a practitioner to both struggle with recovery AND with the compelling, reist language in which the experience is couched. An ultimate mover and an existent self are two ideas with which a practitioner has struggled yet, now in recovery, a practitioner is thrown into the Sangha of people who mostly subscribe to just that belief. This book provides a map for that experience. The author shares his strength and hope. It is, for me, a book wit heart. Ian.


08/06/2004 09:09:45 AM

There are plenty of atheists and agnostics in AA. A Higher Power can be the power of good health, of peace, of good works, of karma. Suggested for anyone who has felt emptiness even while sober and in mainstream AA: try Big Book Step Study. Not a BB meeting, not a 12 and 12 - but a BBSS. They are in various parts of the country. More info at their site bigbookstepstudy.org


08/06/2004 06:46:42 AM

I just finished reading "Bush on the Couch" which talks the problems concerning the alcoholic who uses a fundamentalist HP because of the peculiar mindset of a "dry" alcoholic. (I won't get into politics here) but the book has some enlightened views pertaining to alcoholism and HPs. The book gives an argument that some "HPs" are better than others for recovering alcoholics. The book illuminates why some alchoholics choose fundamentalist or exotic religions. In general, those religions that "give" power (ie the power to prophecy, to heal, to rebuke demons, to work magic, etc) are not about "powerlessness," and instead promise "power" to the believer. Concerning religions that are "outside" of an alcoholic's experience (such as Buddhism would be for many Americans), this constitutes a "willful" rebellion against (a running from, not a running to) an HP, that can also create problems. So it seems that maybe not every "higher power" is necessarily beneficial to drunks.


08/05/2004 08:16:50 PM

For those who might need an alternative to AA, I recommend "Mindful Recovery" by Thomas and Kathleen Bien. It has much helpful advice, whether one is Christian or Buddhist.


08/05/2004 05:28:56 PM

Perhaps Mr. Griffin is still hung up on the idea that a "Higher Power" must be a humanized "God" figure. If karma is not a "higher power" neither is gravity. I have never seen anyone successfully defy either of those powers. Karma and Buddha-nature are Higher Powers. It really is that simple. gassho -fd-


08/05/2004 11:48:17 AM

Well, I won't be reading Kevin Griffin's book "Buddism and the 12 Steps". He says in the excerpt 'Step two is not a huge step'. Came to believe that only a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Not HUGE? Puh-leeze!!


08/04/2004 06:02:06 PM

This is a great parrallel. I think this article should be seriously heeded by all readers, especially the part about how to select a belief. Too many people I know have only ever given one religion a chance, and have come up with some very poor decisions as a result. "I was raised that way" is not a good reason!


08/04/2004 03:15:06 PM

LAHSM--I also love that psalm--#46--and find that verse very meaningful. As the oldest of 6 kids myself, I know what you mean about quiet--it takes some work just to"be" and not "do". My prayers are with you in your religious training. I was a Catholic my whole life until about one year ago, when I could no longer square my beliefs about what Jesus teaches us with what's happening in the Catholic church--not just the sex abuse, but the detachment and disdain for the beliefs, talents and opinions of us regular folks, particularly us regular female folks. Good luck to you.


08/03/2004 07:22:00 PM

Another story that you all might appreciate. I have an older brother in AA that has been sober for 4 years. His sponsor once suggested to him that he place his wallet and keys on the floor beside the bed at night so that he will start out every day on his knees (a reminder to pray.) So when my brother tried it, he spent the next morning tearing up the house looking for his wallet and keys. Doesn't that describe us all at times.


08/03/2004 07:18:11 PM

"Be still and know that I am God." I forget which psalm that is from, but it's one of my favourites. I am a brother-in-training with a Catholic religious order, and I know that my first experience with long meditation was quite intimidating. I was doing a live-in with a community in Cleveland, and right after morning prayer was a half hour of silent meditation. Even Bro. Mike, one of the loudest people I know, kept silent during this meditation. I am one of six children, so silence is not something I'm used to, but I managed to uncomfortably stay silent for the half hour. However, somewhere within that half hour, I remembered those words, "be still and know that I am God" I was surprised how refreshed I felt at the end of that meditation. Every day of that week, we had the half hour meditation, and every day it became easier to do. Meditation can definately be intimidating, but it has such cleansing power.


08/03/2004 03:00:36 AM

I quit drinking at the age of 24, as a confirmed alcoholic at that age I was ordered by the Military to attend AA. It worked, I attended meetings for 8 years, did my share of helping as best I could and left. Why? It ran its course for me, I have been sober for the past 33 years and never picked up a Bible or a bottle of alcohol/drug again. Trust me if I could I'd launch a class action law suit against the makers of this drug(alcohol) the same as the cigarette companies, I'd do it in a flash. Alcohol was a way of live in the Army, and yes I had to re-condition myself to break that hold it had over me. AA was a wonderful starting point for me. But I had to move on, and leave the 'dry-drunk' in me behind. AA in lots of ways gave me a place to to be with those suffers's also. It is a wonderful organization with excellent tools for someone to start their life of soberity with and move forward, to live one day at a time or one moment at a time...whatever it takes....thank you


07/29/2004 11:50:01 PM

"While AA has restored thousands of poor Christians to their churches, and has made believers out of atheists and agnostics, it has also made good AA's out of those belonging to the Buddhist, Islamic, and Jewish faiths. For example, we question very much whether our Buddhist members in Japan would ever have joined this Society had AA officially stamped itself a strictly Christian movement. "You can easily convince yourself by imagining that AA started among the Buddhists and that they then told you you couldn't join them unless you became a Buddhist, too. If you were a Christian alcoholic under these circumstances, you might well turn your face to the wall and die." Bill W. in a 1954 letter, reprinted in "As Bill Sees It" p. 34.


07/29/2004 09:20:17 PM

I agree with Griffin that the process of getting sober is really a re-conditioning of one's behavior from one set of assumptons and behavior to another set assumtions and behavior that in the end cuts to the core of a person andn transforms consciouness. Personally I think the AA big book has application to a wider view of human behavior than simply alcoholism although this is where it seems it has the most influence.


07/29/2004 09:20:05 PM

I agree with Griffin that the process of getting sober is really a re-conditioning of one's behavior from one set of assumptons and behavior to another set assumtions and behavior that in the end cuts to the core of a person andn transforms consciouness. Personally I think the AA big book has application to a wider view of human behavior than simply alcoholism although this is where it seems it has the most influence.


07/29/2004 12:53:13 PM

A true story. I once heard a lady speak at a meeting, and the occasion was her 18th anniversary of continuous sobriety. She told how she had first come into the fellowship shortly after moving from Phoenix to Boston, and with her gin-soaked brain, she thought she heard the people saying that they all had faith in Hyapowah. She concluded that these people were praying to a Native American princess, and were obviously more than a little cracked. She had been raised in a Christian home, she reasoned, so if she was going to start praying again she was going to do it right or not at all. But after one more devastating bender she was finally desperate to stop drinking, and that desire overrode all of her theological misgivings. So she started praying to Hyapowah, and her compulsion to drink promptly vanished and had never returned. Three weeks or so later her head had cleared up enough to realize that they were saying "Higher Power."


07/29/2004 12:52:55 PM

Ditto. I'm in AA too, and I haven't found it necessary to pick up a drink OR a Bible for 15 1/2 years.


07/28/2004 10:23:13 PM

I believe that if you have not gone thur the first 164 pages of the AA Big Book with a competant sponsor, you will miss alot of information that would answer the majority of everyone's dilema. The Big Book is registered in the Library of Congress as a textbook. That means you need a teacher to learn it. As for the HP thing, Ebby Thatcher was 12 stepping Bill Wilson and told him to "chose his own conception of God." This is miraculous considering that Ebby got sober thru the Oxford Group which did not allow an individual conception of God. I am a practicing witch and have been sober for over 18 years. I find that AA is a "design for living that solves all my problems". Please read the Big Book with a competant sponsor so you will have the correct information. AA has enough problems without more misinformation being spread. Peace