Steve Woods's Reviews > A Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery

A Burning Desire by Kevin Griffin
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Aug 16, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: buddhism, spirituality, recovery, life-changers
Read from July 17 to August 16, 2011

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 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.
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