Part of the very many difficulties encountered by people trying to work 12 step programs is the strong tendency in groups to prescribe orthodoxy. ThePart of the very many difficulties encountered by people trying to work 12 step programs is the strong tendency in groups to prescribe orthodoxy. The 12 steps as treated in the Big Book and the 12 and 12 always left me feeling like there had to be more. Rami Shapiro is a Rabbi who is works a 12 step program. This book is not only very accessible but right to the point, it would be of substantial help to anyone trying to work their way through a 12 step program and would be of use and interest to anyone with even the slightest tendency to self reflection. He draws on all the world's great spiritual traditions to deal out very deep and engaging treatment of each of the 12 steps. As someone with substantial exposure to the program (17 years in two rounds 10 the first and 7 this time to date) I not only found what he had to say provoking of thought and merciless self examination but tremendously supportive and guiding of the efforts I make very day. Despite the often expressed disapproval of non Program approved literature we encounter at meetings this was certainly a lot more meaningful to me than most of the standard literature available. I recommend it to anyone involved in a 12 step program, particularly anyone involved in sponsorship. A boomer...more
As is often the case on "the journey" this book fell into my hands at just the right time. I have been involved in Buddhist study and practice for aboAs is often the case on "the journey" this book fell into my hands at just the right time. I have been involved in Buddhist study and practice for about three years. It was Meditation that provided me with the "spiritual awakening" and since then exploration of Buddhism and how to apply the teachings to my life has been the central focus of my being. At the same time I found that I was experiencing some dissatisfaction and frustration with AA, both at meetings and in exchanges with my fellow travelers and my commitment to the 12 steps of the program seemed to lose ground in my daily practice. Darren Littlejohn shares many elements of my own story and so the identification that was such a huge attraction when I first entered the fellowship was very strong in this instance, both as an alcoholic and as a practicing Buddhist. He was able to give voice to many of the feelings I had been experiencing and to point the way to integration of both these spiritual paths that have been so central to my life. I feel excited, rejuvenated and more deeply committed than ever to pursuit of freedom from the "bondage of self." I found the book very accessible and a number of his suggestions very powerful. I will be incorporating them into my own daily practice. I did find some of the references to Tibetan Buddhism and some of his explorations of that tradition a bit difficult to relate to since my own tradition is drawn from the Thervada school....but hey I have learned through all of this that the AA trinity Honesty Open mindedness and Willingness can be brought to anything and the results are always astounding. I will take the Buddhas advice in this regard "ehi passiko" (Australian translation suck it and see!) I recommend the book to anyone who is involved with the 12 steps and any practicing Buddhist, there is much common ground hers and perspectives that illuminate both ways. Read it and more shall be revealed!
Well the guy has done his research. I am not sure though, whether it was first hand ! The backbone of this book could have been gained in an afternoonWell the guy has done his research. I am not sure though, whether it was first hand ! The backbone of this book could have been gained in an afternoonn's converstaion with anyone who has worked for any period in a treatment centre; the crash, the clinic romance, the confrontation with significant others and admission of use; the reliance on self and the resistance to 12 step work etc etc. He is a writer with some experience so weaving the story together probably wouldn't have been that difficult for him...but ya gotta hand it to him, to be able to take a few weeks in a treatment centre and slot it onto Oprah's list was a master stroke. Something must have resonated with her ( I wonder what?). For myself having spent a great deal of time working through my own demons that included drugs and alcohol and several admissions to places like this it just lacked....what would I call it? gravitas? .... aunthenticity I think! This kind of experience could have been used to point up the basic flaws in our whole society's approach to life... "the me me me syndrome...gimme more more more"....and from that readers may have been led to look at the conduct of their own lives and the nature of their own values instead of just participating in a vicarious observation of something aberrantly fascinating. I am just not sure whether middle class America or middle class anywhere else for that matter would be ready for a truthful rendition of the particular hell that can be had in these places.. that is if it could really be rendered into prose. It certainly wouldn't be something that the readership of Oprah's book club could readily relate to. A missed opportunity glibly written and neatly packaged and is about the best I can say for it. He shouldn't spend too much on lottery tickets he's had his big win when he got that little gold circle from Oprah pasted on the front cover. It may be worth thinking for a moment about Oprah. A person more self obssessed and driven it would be difficult to find and from what we were able to gather from those who worked for her on her recent trip Down Under someone, also prone to a little judicius use of abuse in the service of propping up the old ego. That is not a put down, she is after all human and given the wealth, adulation sway and influence she has been able to garner ( Australia put a big pink "O" on the Harbour Bridge for Christ's sake, even the Queen didn't do as well) it would be odd if she didn't behave as she does. More might be seen in all this about the greater bulk of those who have "adored her" to riches and fame than about the woman herself. Not only does a population of a democracy generally get the Government it deserves ( certainly evident in Australia for the last decade) it's heroes plumb the depths and dare I say itm the shallows of the souls of its members....more
I have been delving into the relationship between Buddhism and the 12 Steps. It's working out to be a fascinating journey, confirming all my intuitionI have been delving into the relationship between Buddhism and the 12 Steps. It's working out to be a fascinating journey, confirming all my intuitions. There is a bit about now. Here's one you mightfind useful. "12 Steps on the Buddhas Path: Bill Buddha and We" Laura S. The first part of this book is her story. She is a middle class professional (no doubt Democrat) American female Control Queen, so the story part is full of 1950' leave it to beaver type shmulz. She called her HP "Honey Pie" for Christ's sake.
Having said that, she has a brain and more than a passing understanding of Buddhist teaching. She draws some interesting parallels and tie's the 12 Steps and Buddhist teachings together well in quite a few places. It's worth a read, you can safely skip Chapetrs 1 and 2, if it wasn't for my stubborn nature I might have binned it, but I persevered. Glad I did!
Well this is a ripper! I have been delving into this particular line of inquiry for a while and have belted through 4 books already. All had somethingWell this is a ripper! I have been delving into this particular line of inquiry for a while and have belted through 4 books already. All had something to offer but this one is a definitive work. Kevin Griffin's earleir work "One Breath At a Time" was a major stimulus for me to start on this path that has become so central to my life, not that at that time I really had any choice but to fall though the bottom of my rock bottom. That book showed me how to relate to 12 step programmes in a way that helped me overcome the stumbling blocks that had continued to hold me in the bondage of self and ultimately led me to despair and to give in to the self annihiliation of chronic addiction. That book was seminal to my recovery this time around, in this volume Griffin's ideas have gained depth and marturity and are all the more valuable for that. In 12 step programmes there exists an ever present hoary problem of the Higher Power. It is rarely discussed in a programme that has largely been co opted by a heavy Christian bias that was not, according to early documents, the intention of the founders. This book looks at that issue from a Buddhist perpsective...that would be from the perspective of what is rather than the way we would have things, he does this brilliantly. It is a way into the transformative process that underlies 12 step programs for anyone who has a problem with the "GOD" thing. The necessity for a power greater than self is clearly demonstrated and it is also made clear that the anthropomorphic guy in the sky deal so prevalent among AA members is just not it...though some people may find their way through this door it is not such a comfortable fit for most people. In my own experience I had to find a way to get around the pronouncements common in AA that I had to find God or die! In fact that process of trying to personalise God as so much of the programme and associated literature indicates as necessary has the seeds of defeat held within. The whole thrust is to get "My Higher Power" ( and a person isl left in little doubt at meetings what that should look like) nut inthat process the Higher Power is of"My" making, just another extension of the same ego, the same self that holds me in chains. The same chains which must be broken if we are to know serenity and peace.
The teachings of the Buddha, particularly the four Noble Truths, no self, impermanence and dependant origination have provided me with the daily tools in a form I can get hold of day by day minute by minute. The great failing of the AA programme for me was that despite my best effforts that included attendance at thousands of meetings over a 10 year period and doing everything that was suggested, it failed to provide those tools in a form that I could relate to. I know from listening at meetings and talking to others I am not the only one to have had that problem. This book can go a long way towards opening the door to that "new dimension" we are promised in the Big Book....more
There was some good material in the early parts of this book, those that dealt with the Steps and the author gave us his take from what would be his pThere was some good material in the early parts of this book, those that dealt with the Steps and the author gave us his take from what would be his personal Zen Perspective. The sections titled reflections and directions were a bit facile and pretentious in parts. I experienced sections of the book in those parts as "the author" being teacher rather than relating his experience in a very personal way, at those times the material just didn't have any weight for me. It's not that what was being put was false it just didn't connect with me, it seeme strained and forced in parts... seeking to impress?...maybe me rather than Mr Ashe but it would have been a better book if he had kept it condensed around the issue of the relationships between the 12 steps and Zen and left the raves for midnight coffee crawls with the groupies. ...more
When I first picked this book up I thought it was going to be pretty light weight. The easy personal style was deceptive. The author has managed to weWhen I first picked this book up I thought it was going to be pretty light weight. The easy personal style was deceptive. The author has managed to weave the imoprtant teachings of Buddhism into her story and to show how they might be applied to a person with the habit patterns developed by practising addicts, alcoholics or adult children of same. She effortlessly weaves the 12 steps through it all in a way that is totally non confronting and readily accessible. Some understanding of the basics of 12 step programmes and of Buddhism would be a help but not necessary. I can see how this book could readily act as the lever that lifts the lid on the can of worms, leading a person who might be suffering in ways that only an alcoholic or addict or a child of same can really know, into the first glimpse of light. I really enjoyed reading it, I'd recommend it as to anyone wherever they may find themselves on the journey of the spirit....more
This little book has helped me a great deal in coping with periods of huge internal displacements that have occurred as a result of my practice, It ofThis little book has helped me a great deal in coping with periods of huge internal displacements that have occurred as a result of my practice, It offers insigghts into common experiences of people going through these spiritual paradigm shifts outlining the mental, emotional and physical side effects of the process. It has really helped me when I thought I has lost me way and the plot and that I was just going crazy. It took away a lo of the fear and allowed me to accept openly and willingly if not always happily what was going on. It's a must have for anyone on a path of spiritual search and change....more
This is a book by a woman who suffered an extreme childhood that resulted in what she calls complex ptsd. The kind of moulding of the human experienceThis is a book by a woman who suffered an extreme childhood that resulted in what she calls complex ptsd. The kind of moulding of the human experience by long term, constant trauma of the kind suffered by people who are held hostage or imprisoned for long period by a tormentor, long term POWs who have been tortured. On top of that she was unfortunate to experience rape which overlaid an incident specific ptsd that is more frequently seen in people who are combat veterans, victims or first responders to disaster. My own exploration of ptsd has arisen from my own combat related experiences in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970's. This has always been the focus as it has been the most accessible explanation for the way I experience and respond to life. I have always of course been aware of the difficulties I experienced in my childhood, living with a violent alcoholic father who believed I was the bastard child of another, and I could see the connections between that experience and my combat related ptsd. It was not until I read this book however, that I truly appreciated how severe the impact of that childhood trauma was in my life and how it magnified so many fold the impact of the war experience. Much of my behaviour as a soldier, particularly in Cambodia, was driven my the traumatised framework of that childhood experience, and therefore so were the actions I engaged in towards myself and others and that explains much of its extremity. The guilt I have felt for so long over much of that I saw as deriving from an essentially flawed character I see now that it came instead from the tortured soul and shattered sense of self worth that were the bequest of my father. The blanks in my memory and the confusion over timelines, the remembered experience of childhood now all make sense to me. I am indebted to this woman for having the courage to share her life with me, it could be a traced overlay for much of my own....more
Depression has dogged me for most of my life, but I managed as best I could until a couple of decades ago when I fell into the abyss, much as Styron dDepression has dogged me for most of my life, but I managed as best I could until a couple of decades ago when I fell into the abyss, much as Styron describes here. It lasted for nearly two years and its progression followed the trajectory outlined here, I just never had the words to relate to others what I was going through. I hid it from my children, though of course they knew its timbre; I hid it from colleagues, and I became very good at "acting as if" between collapses; as for the professionals, much like those in Styron's tale they behaved in a predictable way given their complete lack of capacity to empathise,they only had the DSM and their lecture notes and their opinions as guides after all; and anyone else really didn't want to know. They couldn't have coped had they been brought to that knowledge anyhow.
Styron knows and is eloquent in his expose, for the benefit of those without the experience. Also for those who have been through this darkness visible, for us it pricks the delusion that somehow we were unique in our suffering. I must say though that despite even his formidable eloquence he still comes nowhere near to touching the true depths of the despair so found. I have no idea how I survived, but like him I did. In my case however neither the hospitals, nor doctors, nor self help groups, nor medication nor anything else did anything to relieve the agony. I reached that point he speaks about where life in that space is no longer bearable, I left country, culture, children and all else to follow a slow road towards the suicide that seemed the only option. I decided that I would go on as long as I could hold out, but sensed that things were on such a knife's edge that it might be best if I were in a place where I could disappear without trace or explanation when that became necessary. After another 10 years self medicating with alcohol and a pharmacological variety pack I had to find Buddhism and meditation before the plunge halted then the true journey began and in that through the space the time and the silence I found a hint of what I had sought all my life, the glimmer of light to which so many had exhorted me to turn. It has been now 7 years since that terrible cloud began to lift. It has been constant hard work and focused attention, but now at least medication free, my days resemble life rather than a walking death....more
This is not a written history. Maybe the author just lacks the academic background and discipline to write history. It is in fact a collection of sourThis is not a written history. Maybe the author just lacks the academic background and discipline to write history. It is in fact a collection of sources. It would be a very useful tool for someone writing a traditional history of AA, and it is in that that the book has value. The author has done an exhaustive job researching the material both from the written record, personal papers and oral recollections but without a background in AA and a fairly broad historical context within which to place the material it really wouldn't make much sense. Reading it was a task, for anyone without a specific interest it would be disorganized, poorly composed and simply boring,...more
This is a great course of meditations for anyone who is experiencing difficulties in life or rough going as emotions from past trauma arise in their lThis is a great course of meditations for anyone who is experiencing difficulties in life or rough going as emotions from past trauma arise in their life. For anyone who has had a traumatic childhood, or experienced severe trauma later in life in ways that may have led to ptsd, following these meditations through for a few months will undoubtedly help. They will provide some valuable insight into how our sense of self conditions our experience of our life and how we can untangle the knots wrought by our minds exploring our "stories". The exercises lead to a path of letting go of much that troubles us. They bring the mind into the present with the knowledge of the certainty of death and the unpredictability of its coming. Health care professionals take note....more
This one is truly out of the box! It consists of a collection of papers by a broad variety of people involved in practice and psychotherapy. After 5 yThis one is truly out of the box! It consists of a collection of papers by a broad variety of people involved in practice and psychotherapy. After 5 years of practice and a great deal of reading, my own drift has been towards a form of Buddhist practice that seems to be emerging in the west; and it is heavily informed by western thought about the issues involved in psychotherapy. Something I hace gained some considerable familiarity with over the years.
I had already read some of the people who contributed papers here and others I had not even heard of. This is truly cutting edge stuff, and a lot of it just "blew my mind" to borrow a 60's cliche. Much of my own thinking and direction were confirmed and given a solid boost. I am just so excited by the prospects raised by some of these papers, I can't wait to get into some more substantial material having tasted an introduction here. It would probably require a fair familiarity with Buddhist concepts to make much sense out of some of the material but it is a real winner for anyone who has been at it for a while and who is wondering about possible direction.
I can't give a strong enough recommendation ...more