There’s a backstory to me working the 12 steps in a Buddhist light, so I should share that.
I’ve been in an Alanon program since 2003, which has worked on me for over a dozen years. During that time, I’ve found a semi-solid Higher Power to rely on, though there remains a distrust of the basics of religion. Mostly Christianity, to be honest, bothers me – though I haven’t needed to have any of my disgruntlements directly towards another religion yet, really. But about a year or so, maybe two years, ago I was doing 3 days a week in the early mornings my as part of a 12 step meditation group. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would show up at 7am and we’d sit in silence together. I got a lot from that, partially because I did some homework on meditation.
In that research, I found a lot of the Buddhist folks were good to listen to. And I still listen to them when my spirit is willing. The podcasts were an easy entry for me. I still remain subscribed (and sometimes listen to) Audio Dharma and Against the Stream.
Along the way I did some reading as well, including the one book I read through: The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation.
In all of this, I found a lot of the same need for sanity being given in the equanimity of the Buddhist world that I also had found in the 12 steps.
Recently, there’s a nice lady in my Alanon group (we shall call her E) who had been going to Thich Nhat Hanh’s retreats. She got a fellow to come from Atlanta to sit a Songa with a few of us as well, and she’d invited me to go on at least one or two of her retreat weekends.
I’m helping a Sponsee work the steps, and he’s doing very well, but I wa a thinking he was getting a better deal than I’d had going through the steps. He’s got me, of course, and that lends itself to working steps in my wholesome healthy way. I started thinking that I’d worked steps pretty much because I thought I “should” and I had limped through with what was probably the minimum willingness that could happen.
So … That’s a simple quick backstory – I just found myself in a place with a willing E and a willing self to look at a second run through of the 12 steps – this time utterly devoid of any Christian gobbledygook. This time, I’ve got solid principles for the “letting go” steps. I’ve got solid principled Noble Eightfold Path items to inventory for character defects. Most of all, I’ve got a solid program already, so I can enjoy the steps and what I can make with them and myself, instead of a sorry fumbling ignorance slowly lifting (which was exactly what I needed back then, mind you).