Everyone on the Buddhist path struggles with the 3 fires… the fires of cravings, aversions and confusions… EVERYONE! The Buddha’s very sound advice to everyone was that we should try to extinguish these fires, don’t add any more fuel to them; to put them out and never relight them. That advice is as true today as it was 2,600-years ago… but it is much easier said than done!
So, the Buddha said we all need to ‘recover’ from our craving, aversion and confusion….
we are all ‘in recovery’ from greed, hatred and delusion.
As you know, there are no miracle cures for addiction – recovery is a process – and it is different for everyone. It can take many years to completely overcome the craving for intoxication, the craving for pleasure; the aversion to pain; the craving to become someone/something, the aversion to life, the craving for oblivion.
Perhaps you have read the Hungry Ghost booklet?
Personally, I made a commitment at my kitchen table in England never to drink again… that was more than 22-years ago. (You do not need to fly half-way around the world to vomit in a gutter to get clean… you can do that at home!)
By way of some insight into the Buddhist path of recovery, here are two short quotes from the early Buddhist texts:
“Furthermore, abandoning the use of intoxicants, the disciple of the noble ones abstains from taking intoxicants. In doing so, he gives freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings. In giving freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, freedom from oppression to limitless numbers of beings, he gains a share in limitless freedom from danger, freedom from animosity, and freedom from oppression.”
[ Buddha: Abhisanda Sutta: Rewards AN:8.39 ]
“A layman who has chosen to practice this Dhamma should not indulge in the drinking of intoxicants. He should not drink them nor encourage others to do so; realising that it leads to madness. Through intoxication foolish people perform evil deeds and cause other heedless people to do likewise. He should avoid intoxication, this occasion for demerit, which stupefies the mind, and is the pleasure of foolish people.”
[ Buddha : Dhammika Sutta: Dhammika SN:2.14 ]
And, for a 12-Step perspective, the following is from an early AA paper called ‘Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous‘:
“Consider the eight-part program laid down in Buddhism: Right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindedness and right contemplation. The Buddhist philosophy, as exemplified by these eight points, could be literally adopted by AA as a substitute for or addition to the Twelve Steps. Generosity, universal love and welfare of others rather than considerations of self are basic to Buddhism.”
[ Spiritual Milestones in AA – www.hindsfoot.org/AkrSpir.pdf ]
I can truly say that by keeping the Sajja (to abandon intoxicants) and living in harmony – as best as I am able – with the Universal Five Precepts which includes abstaining from intoxicants, I experience an everyday Nibbana; an everyday Liberation. Every day I have freedom from cravings; freedom from conflict, freedom from blame, freedom from guilt; freedom from shame and freedom from regret… that is a lot of freedom.
So there is much to smile about on any day of the week. Everyday Nibbana, every day
For any friends who are struggling with abstinence or recovery – I offer the following resources :
- Short Video : Setting the wheel of recovery in motion by Vince Cullen [4-minutes]
- Retreats & Workshops : Hungry Ghost Retreats offer Buddhist principles and practices that encourage and support waking up to life after alcohol, drugs and other distractions.
- Short Video : Making Friends with Your Demons and Hungry Ghosts: Buddhist Tools for Recovery by JoshKorda (NYC) [17-minutes].
- Short Booklet : From Hungry Ghost to Being Human (latest version).
- Short Booklet : The Forgiveness Workbook (latest version).
- Buddhist Recovery Network Academy : Meditations and talks on recovery.
- Book and Fellowship – Recovery Dharma Book and Website : www.recoverydharma.org
- Book : Let Go : A Buddhist Guide to Breaking Free of Habits by Martine Batchelor (particularly the chapter on vows and resolutions).
- Book : Hardcore Zen : Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth about Reality by Brad Warner (particularly the chapter “Pass me the Ecstasy, Rainbow, I’m going to Nirvana on a Stretcher”).
- Book : Forgiveness for Everyone by Jeff Oliver (source of “That was how I was, not how I am and not how I will be…” ).
- Book : One Breath at A Time : Buddhism as the 12-Steps by Kevin Grivin.
- Book : Against the Stream : A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries by Noah Levine (particularly the chapter about Truth i.e. Sajja).
- Short Documentary : Withrawal in the Triangle – an interview with Julien who now runs New Life Foundation [12-minutes].
- Documentary : Thamkrabok: The Monastery of the Opium Pipe – In the jungles of Thailand lies a monastery devoted to helping drug addicts kick their habit. the methods used, which include drinking an herbal mixture that induces vomiting and taking a Sajja, vow of action, are controversial and unique. Monks use the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way, Karma, medication, work, and steam paths to help addicts from around the world reclaim their lives. The film features addicts, the monks, the former abbot to tell this fascinating story of suffering and redemption [59-minutes].
- Documentory : The inspiring documentary ‘The Dhamma Brothers‘ [57-minutes]. No one is beyond redemption!
- Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) : Essential guided meditations for recovery on the ‘MindfulRP.com‘ website (scroll to the bottom of the page).
- General Guided Meditations : The Practice of Mindfulness a free download of six guided meditations by various teachers.
- SANGHA – Fifth Precept Sangha Website : www.5th-Precept.org
- Sit-and-Share Starter Kit : Resources for starting your own Sit-and-Share Buddhist Recovery Meeting
- SANGHA – Recovery Dharma Book and Website : www.recoverydharma.org
SANGHA – Eight Step Recovery Book : www.windhorsepublications.com/product/eight-step-recovery-using-the-buddhas-teachings-to-overcome-addiction-2/
- SANGHA – Refuge Recovery Book & Website : www.refugerecovery.org
- Just One More! : Talks and guided meditations from the ‘Just One More!’ – Dependent Origination and Cycles of Addiction retreat by Ajahn Amaro at Amaravati Monastery. [The diagrams on pages 5, 6 and 7 of the Hungry Ghost Booklet are useful when listening to these talks; as is the ‘Just One More‘ booklet listed below].
- Short Booklet : I’m Right, You’re Wrong by Ajahn Amaro is an exploration of Kindness.
- Short Booklet : Don’t Push- Just Use the weight of Your Own Body by Ajahn Amaro is an exploration of Compassion.
- Short Booklet : Just One More by Ajahn Amaro is an exploration of Appreciative Joy.
- Short Booklet : Who is Pulling the Strings by Ajahn Amaro is an exploration of Equanimity.
- Many more resources on the Buddhist Recovery Network website : www.buddhistrecovery.org
Wishing you everyday Nibbana, every day.