Author: James Anderson

Applying Buddhism in Addiction Recovery

buddhist alcoholics anonymous

Anonymity is another tradition and the reason I don’t use my last name. We are trying to reach an international audience of those who are in recovery, those seeking help in overcoming addictive behaviors, and those who are trying to help those in recovery. We have academics and researchers among our founding members as well as practitioners and Dharma teachers. Open to people of all backgrounds, and respectful of all recovery paths, the organisation promotes mindfulness and meditation, and is grounded in Buddhist principles of non-harming, compassion and interdependence. Some of these mistakes are mitigated by the efforts of the larger fellowship, the actual experience of recovery by the founders themselves, and the structural openness AA emphasizes. But the program nevertheless routinely risks becoming quasi-religious, institutionalized, and bent upon its own survival at the expense of actually helping people recover.

  1. On other days and moments my higher power is nothing (emptiness).
  2. Seen through this prism, addiction became primarily a spiritual sickness whose symptoms involved character defects, moral insufficiency, and lack of faith.
  3. Abstractly, the work of recovery involves an initial deep and abiding commitment, based almost wholly on personal faith alone, to significant fundamental change.
  4. Indeed, quality sobriety entails a kind of commitment that is simply incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t actually done it.
  5. Please contact contact at buddhistrecovery dot org if you are interested in any of these opportunities.

From what my friends tell me, Refuge Recovery is a sincere and dedicated program. If you found and maintained your recovery there, or in any other Buddhist-based program, I’m happy for your success. In fact, one of my AA sponsees attends both AA and Refuge Recovery meetings.

How can Buddhism benefit those in recovery?

There was a time when I would say I had two practices, but today my practice is Twelve & Zen, a blend of the two; a symbiotic relationship in which I practice the Twelve Steps and Zen Buddhism fully, without obstacles. Zen and the Twelve Steps have given me a whole new reality, filled with purpose, joy, and gratitude. And I’m aware of quite a few other Buddhists with similar experiences at the Twelve Step meetings I attend. Theravada, Zen, Tibetan, and Nichiren, my friends have all found ways to mutually practice their particular Buddhist traditions and the Twelve Steps. Refuge is a safe place, a place of protection—a place that we go to in times of need, a shelter. Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, money, or relationships with people have been a refuge for many of us.

It seeks to serve an international audience through teaching, training, treatment, research, publication, advocacy and community-building initiatives. Through Steps 6, 7, and 8, person is able to know the dangers of relapsing and conscientiously chooses not to stray from the right path anymore. Through Steps 3, 4, and 5, the person can make the needed adjustments to his lifestyle and activities. Put together, these steps help create a mentally strong, upright, and disciplined individual. Below you will find a number of audio and downloadable pdf guided meditations. Join founder Noah Levine for the ‘First Thursday of the Month Refuge Recovery Talks’ ⁠ LIVE talk, guided meditation and Q&A.

Refuge Recovery Meetings

No matter how much they try to eat, their hunger remains. Dale Vernor is a writer and researcher in the fields of mental health and substance abuse. After a battle with addiction Dale was able to find sobriety and become the first in his family to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Dale enjoys writing about mental health and addiction so that more people can understand these highly stigmatized issues. When not working you can find Dale at your local basketball court.

There’s something about hungry ghosts that makes life loud and unhappy with or without the substance, so much so that drinking and using past the point of addiction and well on towards death itself seems at times like a very very good idea. So the difficulty the program struggles with isn’t in its basic prescription. The trouble instead resides in the way that message is often presented. AA’s founders inherited a primitive religious view of addiction they accepted as basic reality. Seen through this prism, addiction became primarily a spiritual sickness whose symptoms involved character defects, moral insufficiency, and lack of faith. They thought the path to a recovered life flows from cognitive and behavioral change in favor of new, more honest, and wholesome ideas.

buddhist alcoholics anonymous

This process of craving and indulgence provides short-term relief but causes long-term harm. It is almost always a source of suffering for both the addict and those who care about the addict. There’s a phrase in the Big Book that says something to the effect that God is either everything or nothing.

Because of AA’s Tradition 10 (AA has no opinion on outside issues), he doesn’t talk about Refuge Recovery in AA meetings. Finally, we’re urged to internalize and continue this reflective process on a routine ongoing basis, and to turn our attention to helping others with the same problem come into and remain in recovery. At once, we’re then invited to turn our attention inward and begin to fearlessly examine our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and history. We’re asked to review and accept the past, to identify our mistakes, and to try and clarify the patterns and habits that fueled our behavior.

International Conference of Secular AA

It precedes those times and serves as the cognitive basis for why we used in the first place, and continued long after its limitations became apparent. There are however, certain principles in recovery that carry a tremendous amount of force for nearly everyone. The sense of doom, hope, and commitment outlined previously are centerpieces to most people’s ongoing efforts.

However, once that person reaches enlightenment – that is, he truly knows the cause of his suffering and sweeps away all material attachments – he ends his cycle and attains nirvana, which is the state of enlightenment and true happiness. My first teacher, John Tarrant Roshi, would often say that Zen does not require one to believe in anything. I remember when we were talking about what may be the most important statement in the Big Book, that one can have a Higher Power of one’s very personal understanding, and he said, “Good Zen book! ” His statement surprised me, but over the years I have found it to be true.

“The biggest block I encounter with people is the view that the Twelve-Step approach is Judeo-Christian in nature,” said Lindsay Shea, a chemical dependency professional from Seattle. The first edition of the book Alcoholics Anonymous was printed in 1939. Around that same time, some 91 per cent of Americans considered themselves Christian.