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More Step One Notes -- Right Perception?

We tried to think our way to a new way of living,...

Lately i've had Laura S.' book on AA and Buddhism on the table where i do sudukos and crosswords and other essential stuff.  The book is inspiring me to look at the twelve step programs and the eight fold path together.  And there is a rough correspondence between the two "programs."  Steps 1, 2, 3, and 6 seem similar to the first and second steps (right view and right intention, i.e. "wisdom training).  Steps 4 through 10 seem to me to have significant overlap with "ethics training" (wise speech, action, and livelihood).  Steps 11 and 12 seem to cover much the same ground as "meditation training" ( wise effort, mindfulness, and concentration).  In both Al-Anon and the eightfold path i started with the First step/step one. and faltered and struggled and failed to grasp the significant of these steps.

Powerlessness and detachment were eventually incorporated into  my "view," and they were very freeing and eventually seemed "right."  God and reincarnation are still not acceptable to me except through major distortions of the meanings given these words by most people.

The Buddha said there are founteen questions that he could not answer.  Two of those questions related to God and the Soul.  He could find no evidence for or information relevant to either.  Therefore they are not important for Buddhism.  But he was "aware" of 500 of his own previous incarnations so had no doubts about its reality,  In Tibetan Buddhism "everybody" knows that High Lamas are reincarnations of previously deceased High Lamas.  In India many young children recite detailed information about the lives of deceased persons that they could not possibly (?) have known anything about.  Buddhists say that reincarnation is part of the universal wisdom shared by many cultures including Taoism* and Christianity.   Most Asian teachers of Buddhism insist that "real" Buddhists believe  in reincarnation.  But this is a dogmatic statement and Buddhism (Mahayana Buddhism, anyway) has no "dogma" being a philosophy rather than a religion.
Most Western teachers, i am told, do not stress the need for  a belief in reincarnation.  (It is not generally considered  essential in Western  culture.)  Reincarnation is only implied  in the first three Noble Truths (samsara), and it is not stressed in any of the other steps of the 8-fold path.  If i "really" wanted to be a "real" Buddhist, i don't think  i  would have to worry about whether i accepted a belief in reincarnaion.

Although someday i hope that my vision will be clear and my intentions pure, i find it easier to proceed to step 3 (Buddhism) and the Fourth Step (Al-Anon)

* In Taoist philosophy i have found no reference to reincarnation.  If it is mentioned in either the Chuang Tsu or the Tao Te Ching, it was not noticed by me.  As for Christianity, some Gnostic versions may have referred to it, but "the Church" specifically repudiated any belief in it.  Anthropologicially it is associated with certain specific social and economic conditions which i can't remember, but they include settled life in small villages. still a reasonable description of rural India..

...but we had to live our way to a new way of thinking. -- (approximate) AA slogan


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2016 12:44 pm (UTC)

When I was in Al-Anon, people had very diverse ideas of "higher power".  Many just couldn't use the word God at all, could not come up with any God of their understanding. But "Higher Power" was more acceptable, and people defined it in whatever way they could handle. For many, it was the Al-Anon group. I remember one woman defined a doorknob as her Higher Power. At the time, I understood that as a random object, symbolic, like a religious statue or something to which people symbolically give power. (I remember, e.g., a "God box", which a perpetual worrier used to "let go and let God" by writing down her worries, putting them in the box and storing it in a closet or something. The paper and box were granted symbolic power to take away the worry). Only later it occurred to me that (this being Al-Anon), the symbolism of the doorknob was the freedom to walk out whenever she needed to. Still, even as an object chosen at random, it struck me as an acceptable solution to the need for something to which to pray -- because I had to pray before I believed, in order to come to believe. I thought that once this person had made that choice, had made the decision that there had to be a higher power to which she could offer her powerlessness, God would respond with more direct knowledge of Himself as He had with me.

I was taught to pray "God ... if you're there ... you know I don't believe in you so I feel like an idiot doing this BUT they told me my life would be better if I did believe in you so here I am ... If you exist, please make me believe. Show me in such a way that I cannot doubt."  And He did.  I hesitate even to ask, but have you done this? Just ask God to make Himself known to you?  I've done it again for lesser showings, for discernment, and sometimes it comes very clear and sometimes not -- I suspect depending on the completeness of the 1st step on whatever decision I'm trying to discern.


Feb. 13th, 2016 10:14 pm (UTC)
Laura S. who was/is i think any atheist, struggled more with the "God box" than i did. She came to accept G.O.D. (a Gang of Drunks) as her higher power. In the last few years i have become much more at ease with the "G-- word" thanks in part to the Sifi poets -- and to you, my friend.

Love, Bob.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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