I wrote this as a reply to a post in Daily Reprieve. I am reposting it here for a friend.
When I came into the program I had been a long-time Buddhist practitioner. I was struck by the similarities between the 12 Steps and the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path:
The Four Noble Truths:
1. All life contains suffering and unsatisfactoriness
2. Suffering is caused by craving (for base objects, goals, desires)
3. This Craving can be eliminated
4. The key to the elimination of craving is “The Noble Eightfold Path”.
The Eightfold Path:
The Eightfold path is further broken down into Wisdom or Prajna (Right View, Right Intention,) Ethical Conduct or Sila (Right Speech, Action and Livelihood,) and Mental Discipline, Concentration and Meditation or Samadhi (Right Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration.)
The cultivation of the path leads to Right Knowledge and Right Liberation.
My mind was spinning when I entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I was confused. Why had Buddhism not cured my Alcoholism? All the elements were there. Now I understand:
But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly
armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of
another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached,
little or nothing can be accomplished.
Buddhism is an atheistic “religion”. I don’t believe, either, that this was my problem. The 12 Steps need not be theistic! This power need only be other than self. Right view, intention, speech, action, etc.; that’s powerful stuff. When these actions are working in my life, I feel power working, particularly when I am practicing the miracle of mindfulness.
I do have a higher power today, and I choose to call that power God. This, for me, is shorthand for everything the Eightfold Path encompasses. I no longer share about my Buddhist beliefs in meetings. Nor do I share about my Jewish faith. My beliefs today are a melting pot; I have come to find that all roads lead to Mecca. Our book tells us to be quick to see where religious people are right. For so long I was quick to tell you where they were wrong. Who was I to say? Today, of myself, I am nothing.