I appreciate all the hard work that you spend in spiritually enriching the lives of myself and, I’m sure, countless others. It is a matter of life and death for me, as I am on a path of recovery from addiction. I am unable to embrace a “higher power” via the christian concept because of issues in the past, having felt that god was not there for me during a most dire time of need; so an alternative is a serious need for me..
This is turning into a different communication than I had intended, but regarding recovery in the 12 steps, where your “higher power” takes an active role in your life, for example:
- “restoring us to sanity”
- “turning or will and lives over to the care of god as we understand him.”
- “admitting our character defects to him and asking him to remove them”
- (we)Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Does Buddhism have the notion of a higher power that personally intervenes in ones life, or lend guidance on a personal level, one that will actively be on the receiving end of “turning your will and lives over and guide us? Is there a god one can achieve “conscious contact” with or indeed even has a “will” for our lives and can bestow “power to carry it out”? If these concepts do not apply, What might be a counterpart in Buddhism. How might one apply such concepts within the framework of Buddhism?
Or, more broadly how may Buddhism assist one in achieving the same goals, and aid in recovery within or even totally removed from the 12-step concept?
We covered this topic once before in a guest post, which I will link to here: “Buddhism and the 12-Step Process” I would definitely suggest reading that before continuing.
Although there are groups of Buddhists who have something that could be called a “higher power,” most do not. Buddhism, more than any other “religion” emphasizes personal responsibility. You got yourself into this trouble, and you are the only one that can get you out. Regarding the quotes in your question, I’d say there is nothing there that couldn’t be dealt with in Buddhism.
“Restoring us to sanity” That’s pretty much why we’re all Buddhists in the first place, isn’t it?
“Admitting our character defects and asking him to remove them” Meditation and reflection is all about learning about ourselves and seeking to change things that need changing. The only difference is that you must take on the responsibility of change yourself, which if you are coming from the “there is no higher power” point of view, you realize already.
“Praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out” Again, this is meditation and reflection upon our own Enlightenment.
“turning or will and lives over to the care of god as we understand him.” This is the big one. If you want to follow the steps perfectly, then you need to substitute something for God. For Buddhists, this could be your own inner self, the universe as a whole, nothingness, or even the concept of Buddha himself as a wise teacher. And yet the wording of that line is problematic: the whole point of Buddhism is to gain control over your will and life, not to give it to some abstraction. You need to work this one out for yourself.
I read many other social media sites, including Digg and Reddit, both of which have a very vocal group of Atheists. Every time the topic of Alcoholics Anonymous or another group that uses the 12-step program comes up, they are attacked for being “religious indoctrination centers” or something equally hostile. It’s not just the Buddhists who have trouble with the whole idea of higher powers. More and more, people are scrutinizing the 12-step approach and picking it apart. Yet for millions of people it has worked. It’s just a matter of adapting yourself and adapting the program to fit YOUR needs.
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