bobby1933 (bobby1933) wrote,

Taking The Twelve Steps On The Eight-fold Path.(Part 1)

"It became clear to me that for my personal spiritual journey, I needed both AA and the Dharma. AA alone does not fulfill all my spiritual needs, and Buddhism alone will not keep me sober." -- Laura S., p, 101.

I should say that i am neither an alcoholic nor a Buddhist, though i think i might come close. I engage in repetitive, non- productive, "stimming" behaviors which might be autistic or a classic symptom of an "addictive personality."  But there are active alcoholics in my immediate familY and so I was acttive in Al-Anon from 1980 to 1984.  When i needed a "meeting" and no Al-Anon group was available, i often attended AA meetings.  Like Laura S., i had had an interest in Eastern Religions and had taught a "sociologized" version of "comparative Religions" for several years.

I saw a course outline, maybe around 1970, that Simone Weil had used to teach Sociology to High School Girls in or about 1930, this was so nearly identical to the one i had created for college classes forty years later that was shocked to the point of  almost wondering if the spirit of Weil had somehow channeled the outline to me.  Although i knew that in a few  years a distinct mystical dimension would develop  in Weil, that fact did not seem relevant to what she taught in 1930.  In the next few years (between 1933 and 1937?)  She went from a strong criticism of the Roman Catholic Church -- it  had committed unprovoked genocide against the peaceful Cathars) to almost knocking at the door of the Church for admission.  Had she  lived a few years longer she probably would have become a Catholic, and her Wikipaedia  biography introduces her as a "Christian" mystic.

I now have to wonder whether there was a spiritual "seed" or "embryo" emerging within me in 1970 which has yet to blossom in 2015.  But the next time i read the Tao Te Ching it was a totally different book.  Reference material for an academic course had become, well -- scripture i guess.  But the implications of that change lay dormant until after i left Al-Anon (due to Dianne's illness).

The Tao Te Ching (1975- ?) became my spirit's mind, Al-Anon (1980-1984) became its body.  Though i have not been to an Al-Anon meeting in over 30 years and have  never met a bona fide Taoist, i   identify strongly wiith both the 12 steps and Taoism.  They will be markers on my "spiritual" "path."  So will animism, Sufism, Buddhism, Kabbalism, and Christian mysticism -- other markers will no doubt be added.

But unlike Laura S., i do  not so much see the twelve steps and the eight-fold path as complementary, though they are that, but as alternative languages, both exceptionially good as languages go, groping for the same elusive reality,

I have only skimmed the first half (80) pages, equally devoted to, first AA, and second Buddhism (Mahayana plus Insight Meditation).   I read enough to know that they are good descriptions and i would not hesitate to use this book to explain either "program."  But due to recent exposes of AA, i feel i must add a note of caution.  Neither Buddhists (already perfect but don't know it) nor twelve-steppers (seeking perfection but never perfect) are, in their present state of illusion, perfect.  They do not always leave their imperfections (or lack of "skill") outside when they enter a Sangha or a meeting.  Sangha's and twelve step meetings have been the occasion for harming people or causing relapse, because someone has allowed his or her affiliation to feed ego rather than to find enlightenment or  sobriety.  Personally, i have never been part of a sangha and i  have always felt completely safe in twelve step meetings, but i am assured that offenses do occur, and since both kinds of groups are extremely democratic, almost to the point of being anarchical, we must not leave our common sense or our fear instincts  outside.

This is getting really long and the most important feature, walking the 8-fold path within the 12 steps (or vice versa) has not been touched on.  So  this will have to be a two-parter.

Tags: 12-step programs, buddhism, spiritual experience
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