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.

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.
Read more…

Carry The Message, But Carefully

There was this town where they had a monster that was causing the people a lot of worry. It’s not that the monster was doing very much, but the people worried about it a lot. The people of the village had the average IQ of a zucchini, so they put an ad in the paper that they needed a hero to come slay the terrible monster. Continue reading “Carry The Message, But Carefully”

Humility

Humility involves accepting that we are only human; we know only a little and our conclusions may be flawed. Be like the bamboo: the higher it grows, the deeper it bows.

Think About What You’re Posting!

Hell…think about what you’re thinking!

I was just browsing Instagram and found the following:

“The moment you doubt whether you can
fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

I see this kind of New Agey stuff frequently. It’s indicative of the lack of attention we give to the things we post and the messages we send. I’m sure that the woman who posted it saw the aphorism someplace and thought “Oh, inspiring,” then posted it without further thought.

But what is the underlying message? If you get discouraged, quit; it isn’t going to happen. If we applied that philosophy to life most of us addicts would be dead now (or wish we were) and very little would get accomplished in general. Continue reading “Think About What You’re Posting!”

Gurus

Beware of those who claim to have The Answer.
They probably don't understand the question.

The difference between a guru and a teacher is that gurus claim to have The Answer and they want you to accept it; teachers attempt to lead you to your own answers.

The world is full of gurus. We find them on television, on bookshelves, in religious establishments, and in the rooms of recovery programs. They all claim to have found a way to overcome (insert problem here) and that you’d do well to follow their direction or else. This flies in the face of common sense and usually appeals to people who are used to being led around and told what to do. Many folks, however, are likely to find this know-it-all attitude not only annoying but offensive. It only takes a bit of thought to conclude that people who spout dogma and the words of others most likely don’t have much to say on their own. Continue reading “Gurus”