Thought for the day 6/18/2018

“We are quick enough at perceiving and weighing what we have suffered from others, but we mind not what others have suffered from us.”
~ Thomas à Kempis

Thought For The Day 6/17/18

Happy Father’s Day!

That we're not God simply means that we don't dictate the laws of reality. It doesn't really matter who does; the important part is, it's not our job.

I Don’t Believe In God. How Can I Work The Steps?

From time to time I run across people in the rooms and elsewhere who ask about my religious beliefs. When I tell them that I am agnostic, the responses vary from “Oh” to “I’ll pray for you.” (Not too many of those, thank goodness.) Occasionally someone will ask how it’s possible for me not to believe in a God, since I profess to have turned my will and my life over to a Higher Power. If they seem sincerely interested, I may try to explain.

To me, whether there is or is not a God (theism or atheism) is irrelevant to my program. I’m quite willing to admit that I couldn’t, the other folks in the rooms could, and I needed to learn from them and do what they did in order to survive my addiction(s). That, to me, exhibits all the humility and acceptance of my own non-God-ness needed to progress in my recovery.

Contrary to popular belief agnostics do not believe that there is no God, but rather that whether there is a God is ultimately unknowable. That is either a tenable position or not, depending on one’s feelings about an afterlife or lack thereof, but it’s really pretty balanced when you think about it. Not knowing is a pretty good mental state to maintain if we can, because that’s when we’re open to learning and experiencing new things. “Beginner’s mind,” as the Buddhists say, or as another of my favorites goes, “You can’t teach a man what he thinks he already knows.”

Most of us are more interested in what we already know, or think we know, than in learning something new. If I believe there is a God, and in reality there isn’t, no matter how obvious that is I’ll never see it because I am blinded by my belief that there is. Likewise, if I believe that God doesn’t exist, God could be right in front of me and I wouldn’t be able to see that because of my belief that there isn’t a God.

While it’s pretty scary to think that the safety net one has depended on to catch them at the next stage of existence might not be there, to me it’s even scarier to remember the way theistic beliefs blinded me to myriad wonderful things about the world and the universe that were contradictory to them. That’s especially true when I’ve yet to encounter proof one way or the other about the existence of a deity or deities. Should credible information come to my attention I might be swayed one way or the other, but it wouldn’t change one iota of how I live my life. I do my best and if a theoretical God asks for more than that I’m sunk anyway.

In either case our beliefs–whatever they may be–can blind us from seeing reality. To that extent an open mind, coming from either direction, is a desirable thing to have.

Binary Thinking

It seems that addicts, especially in early recovery, are exceptionally inclined to find fault with other entities, whether people or organizations. This is especially true early on when we’re in denial about most everything and our fellowships are beginning to strip some of it away as we kick and scream. But it’s also true about the world at large, and not only those of us who admit to addictions are guilty. Psychologists believe this is partially because it enables people to feel better about themselves, but also due to the human tendency toward binary thinking: wrong v. right, good v. bad, black v. white, our tribe v. them, our warriors (teams) v. theirs, and so forth.

Binary/black and white kinds of thinking may come from upbringing by caregivers who thought that way, religious influences, our desire–perhaps need–to believe we are superior to others and counteract our own doubts, or other reasons. Actually, regardless of the reasons, we’re stifling our ability to understand others and broaden our own horizons. Continue reading “Binary Thinking”

What Is Hindering My Recovery?

Buddhists speak of the Five Hindrances to Enlightenment:

  • Ill-will (resentments)
  • Sensory desire (craving)
  • Restlessness and worry (fear of the future and shame about the past)
  • Doubt (denial)
  • Sloth and torpor (laziness, apathy)

If I substitute recovery for enlightenment, how do these things bear on my sobriety?

Thanks Joe C.

The Stockbroker and the Proctologist

Today is being celebrated as the 83rd anniversary of the last drink by a drunken proctologist from Akron, Ohio. His sobriety eventually led to the founding of the first Twelve-Step fellowship.
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