Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:09 am

It could be that a bit of controversy actually helps people engage the thought process and that milk toast presentations actually helps people sleep.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:48 am

Hi chownah,
chownah wrote:It could be that a bit of controversy actually helps people engage the thought process....

I think the Buddha (see Thanissaro's Skill In Questions), Habermas (public discourse) and J.S. Mill (free exchange of ideas), et al would agree. Also, if you look through my posts, I'm reasoning inductively on probablity premises, not deductively on certainty assumptions.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:17 am

Hi all,
In retrospect I realize I probably gave the impression that I think SMART Recovery is the only alternative to 12 Step programs. I apologize. In reality, the alternatives to AA are countless (including Rational Recovery, Life Ring, psychotherapy, religious devotion, some combination of these, etc...). But as far as the current research satistics show, the most popular alternative is to do it alone, without support groups. The fact is most that most addicts who recover do so on their own.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby Aloka » Tue Sep 10, 2013 9:20 am

In reality, the alternatives to AA are countless (including Rational Recovery, Life Ring, religious devotion, etc...


...and including the Buddhist Recovery Network :

http://www.buddhistrecovery.org/


.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby bodom » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:52 pm

danieLion wrote:The fact is most that most addicts who recover do so on their own.
Kindly,
dL


I can only hope that people who are desperately looking for help for alcohol and drug addiction do not come across this thread and this statement.

From the Big Book of AA and from my 18 years of personal experience trying to stop on my own:

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. pg. 59


Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make alcoholics of our kind like other men. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet.

Despite all we can say, many who are real alcoholics are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore nonalcoholic. If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right- about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people!

Here are some of the methods we have tried: Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, switching from scotch to brandy, drinking only natural wines, agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job, taking a trip, not taking a trip, swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath), taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary commitment to asylums - we could increase the list ad infinitum.

We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. pg 31


..may be true of certain nonalcoholic people who, though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies have not been damaged as ours were.But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly any exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience. pg. 39


As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether he has entered this dangerous area, let him try leaving liquor alone for one year. If he is a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success. In the early days of our drinking we occasionally remained sober for a year or more, becoming serious drinkers again later. Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic. We think few, to whom this book will appeal, can stay dry anything like a year. Some will be drunk the day after making their resolutions; most of them within a few weeks.

For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. Many of us felt that we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it - this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish. pg. 34


http://www.aa.org/bigbookonline/en_bigbook_chapt3.pdf

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby PeterB » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:27 pm

Its a bit like reading a critique of lifebelts with a critical appraisal of materials and a neat cost anaylsis, in the middle of a storm while ships are foundering.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby mirco » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:48 pm


PeterB wrote:Its a bit like reading a critique of lifebelts with a critical appraisal of materials and a neat cost anaylsis, in the middle of a storm while ships are foundering.

Well, drunks ain't supposed to read that ^^
This is for the already sober ones :-)
I get what I give
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby chownah » Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:48 pm

danieLion wrote:
The fact is most that most addicts who recover do so on their own.
Kindly,
dL


I can only hope that people who are desperately looking for help for alcohol and drug addiction do not come across this thread and this statement.

bodom,
It seems that you think that all alcoholics are just like you and the people you know who attend AA meetings. I think that this might be wrong. It might be that there are many addicts who stop their habits and you never hear of them because they do not attend AA meetings. It seems that you look to AA meetings to find alcoholics who are recovering but I think that you have not really evaluated the possibility that there are addicts who you have no knowledge of. My father was alcoholic and quit on his own for example and I doubt that anyone who attends AA meetings ever became aware of this.....he was never counted in the estimations of alcoholics who did it alone......seems like there may be many many more. What have you done to evaluate how many alcoholics have on fact quit on their own? Do you think that your attachment to AA is a sign that you are recovering but have not yet recovered?
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby mirco » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:02 pm

Dear Daniel,
danieLion wrote: The fact is that most addicts who recover do so on their own.

may I ask how many addicts you know personally?

:anjali:
I get what I give
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby bodom » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:10 pm

chownah wrote: bodom,
It seems that you think that all alcoholics are just like you and the people you know who attend AA meetings. I think that this might be wrong. It might be that there are many addicts who stop their habits and you never hear of them because they do not attend AA meetings. It seems that you look to AA meetings to find alcoholics who are recovering but I think that you have not really evaluated the possibility that there are addicts who you have no knowledge of. My father was alcoholic and quit on his own for example and I doubt that anyone who attends AA meetings ever became aware of this.....he was never counted in the estimations of alcoholics who did it alone......seems like there may be many many more. What have you done to evaluate how many alcoholics have on fact quit on their own? Do you think that your attachment to AA is a sign that you are recovering but have not yet recovered?
chownah


It is necessary to differentiate between "hard drinkers" who can stop on their own and "real alcoholics" who are absolutely unable to stop without help.

Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.

Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason - ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor - becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention.

But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.

Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees. He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. Yet early next morning he searches madly for the bottle he misplaced the night before. If he can afford it, he may have liquor concealed all over his house to be certain no one gets his entire supply away from him to throw down the wastepipe. As matters grow worse, he begins to use a combination of high-powered sedative and liquor to quiet his nerves so he can go to work. Then comes the day when he simply cannot make it and gets drunk all over again. Perhaps he goes to a doctor who gives him morphine or some sedative with which to taper off. Then he begins to appear at hospitals and sanitariums.

This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the true alcoholic, as our behavior patterns vary. But this description should identify him roughly.
Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of experiences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink? Why can't he stay on the water wagon? What has become of the common sense and will power that he still sometimes displays with respect to other matters?

Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these questions. Opinions vary considerably as to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. We are not sure why, once a certain point is reached, little can be done for him. We cannot answer the riddle.

We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this.These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really makes sense in the light of the havoc an alcoholic's drinking bout creates. They sound like the philosophy of the man who, having a headache, beats himself on the head with a hammer so that he can't feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to talk.

Once in a while he may tell the truth. And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have. Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are a baffled lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are down for the count.

How true this is, few realize. In a vague way their families and friends sense that these drinkers are abnormal, but everybody hopefully awaits the day when the sufferer will rouse himself from his lethargy and assert his power of will.

The tragic truth is that if the man be a real alcoholic, the happy day may not arrive. He has lost control. At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy and readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove.

The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual way, "It won't burn me this time, so here's how!" Or perhaps he doesn't think at all. How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, "For God's sake, how did I ever get started again?" Only to have that thought supplanted by "Well, I'll stop with the sixth drink." Or "What's the use anyhow?"

When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane. These stark and ugly facts have been confirmed by legions of alcoholics


http://anonpress.org/bb/Page_17.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby daverupa » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:44 pm

"Real alcoholics"? This looks like a 'no true scotsman' fallacy... is there any peer-reviewed literature on how to distinguish 'real' alcoholics from 'hard drinkers'?

Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse are the terms I'm used to seeing.

---

To the best of my knowledge, a 'real' alcoholic is defined in the Book as someone who can't quit simply through an exercise of will, while a hard drinker could do so, even if both drank the same amounts with the same consequences beforehand. I'm simply not aware of this distinction in any scientific literature on the topic.
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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby PeterB » Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:51 pm

Its not about systems, perfect or imperfect.
Its not about stats or arms -length studies or the opining of the learned.
Its all about warm, imperfect, inconsistent human beings giving support to other imperfect and inconsistent human beings in need.
With all the messiness and variability and subjectivity that is implied in that.
I spend part of my working week in a Therapeutic Community which provides a service for human beings with a range of challenges..alcohol abuse is common to many.
When we are able to help it has nothing to do with text books or cross referring to various studies. We are most successful we we open our hearts to the raw emotional needs of the clients.

I suspect it may be similar with AA groups.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby Justsit » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:27 pm

Well said, Peter, you nailed it. Thank you. :thumbsup:
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:47 pm

Aloka wrote:
In reality, the alternatives to AA are countless (including Rational Recovery, Life Ring, religious devotion, etc...


...and including the Buddhist Recovery Network :

http://www.buddhistrecovery.org/

Thanks dear.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:53 pm

Hi all,
The Big Book and personal experience in AA are much less authoritative sources than the research I've cited (especially in my blog) which inidicates most people who recover do it alone, without the help of support groups, or any recovery programs.
Kindly
dL
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:59 pm

mirco wrote:Dear Daniel,
danieLion wrote: The fact is that most addicts who recover do so on their own.

may I ask how many addicts you know personally?

:anjali:

Hundreds.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby mirco » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:12 pm

danieLion wrote:
mirco wrote:may I ask how many addicts you know personally?

Hundreds.

So, this means the came from all 'sides':

non 12 step that worked,
non 12 step that did not work,
12 step that worked,
12 step that did not work

and each single one of them shared her/his personal experience with you over many years?


:anjali:
I get what I give
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:16 pm

mirco wrote:
danieLion wrote:
mirco wrote:may I ask how many addicts you know personally?

Hundreds.

So, this means the came from all 'sides':

non 12 step that worked,
non 12 step that did not work,
12 step that worked,
12 step that did not work

and each single one of them shared her/his personal experience with you over many years?


:anjali:

Hi mirco,
I haven't scientifically surveyed them. My claims are based on research (see my blog), not anecdote. However, the research reflects my anecdotal experience.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:22 pm

To the idea I haven't "humanized" my presentation enough: REBT, CBT, etc... are based in humanism. It is a false dichotomy that wants to separate the rational from the human. Ellis also distinguished REBT from rationalism.

To the issues of powerlessness, absolute surrender, over-reliance on the group, sponsors and the Big Book, "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic," "you have to hit rock bottom," three REBT irrational beliefs are particularly relevant.

1. The idea that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourself on which to rely --

Instead of the idea that it is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.

2.The idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it --

Instead of the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.

3. The idea that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling disturbed about things --

Instead of the idea that we have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the “musturbatory” hypotheses which we often employ to create them.
Kindly,
dL
Last edited by danieLion on Tue Sep 10, 2013 10:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Problems with "9 Essays: Buddhism & The 12 Steps"

Postby danieLion » Tue Sep 10, 2013 8:51 pm

IMHO, there is one thing virtually all recovery methods have in common, including the solo route:

The principles of acceptance, change and wisdom, despite the God language (Buddhist, secular, et al substitutions are easily made), as reflected in Reinhold Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer."

Kindly,
dL
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