The Objective Seems Obvious

I find the writings of Thomas Merton a profound foretaste to what is painfully obvious to me in today’s media and political and cultural discourse.

“A message to Poets” Thomas Merton  February 1964

“COLLECTIVE LIFE is often organized on the basis of cunning, doubt, and guilt. True solidarity is destroyed by the political art of pitting one man against another and the commercial art of estimating all men at a price. On these illusory measurements, men build a world of arbitrary values without life and meaning, full of sterile agitation. To set one man against another, one life against another, one work against another, and to express the measurement in terms of cost or of economic privilege and moral honor is to infect everybody with the deepest metaphysical doubt. Divided and set up against one another for the purpose of evaluation, men immediately acquire the mentality of objects for sale in a slave market. They despair of themselves because they know they have been unfaithful to life and to being, and they no longer find anyone to forgive the infidelity.”

Anthony DeMello
To be unaffected by praise or blame

Hope is not lost!

I have been blessed with the gift of being a drug addict. In being led as a byproduct of despair of epic proportions found a community where every walk of life come together in common search for a remedy for the Hell of active addiction. The differences that would divide us, in the workplace or social setting are forgotten for a common objective.

The recovery, recovering, recovered from whatever affliction is the same. In my opinion is a spiritual malady and the solution is an awakening to the Love that is inside all of us.

“Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will apparently be worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

That had been my exact experience with the people I encounter in “The recovery community.”

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The most valuable thing

It was slightly more than 20 years ago. A delightful summer afternoon, ironically this memory includes me mowing the lawn. Ironic because I because I mow lawns for a living in the summer. My friend John is walking by. I stop what I’m doing to visit. He tells me about a new type of treatment program that is solely based on the spiritual principles found in the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous.  At this point, having a little more than 2 years of continuous sobriety/clean time. I thought, boy I sure wish I could go there.

Well little did I know at that time, what the mighty Jester of the Cosmos had written in the book of my life. On November 16th, 1998 I entered the program at The Retreat.

The first thing that hit me was, during a Big Book study with Roger B. He says. “I hope you’re DONE and not just here to take a break.” Woah, just woah. Yes, I’m so done. The next thing was again Roger B. “Are you willing to believe in the possibility?” That a Higher Power could restore me to sanity. Yes! That would be the beginning of an intention to improve my conscious contact with God “as I understand God” which is impossible to comprehend. The basis of which is how I am willing to carry on without chemicals.

Fast forward to today. I have discovered the enlightened self-interest of, and the key to staying sober is helping others to recover. Wait, how can I help? What do I have to offer? Well as it turns out I have my experience. Which through sharing that, I am able to stay in recovery from addiction. I have found something else even more valuable than my experience. It is worth more than any material or financial commodity. It costs nothing but requires an immense amount of energy if offered with intention.

The most valuable thing is My Attention

Giving freely of my attention is the most generous thing I can do. With attention I discover understanding and that is what I get in return.

Vindictive

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Chinese symbols for vindictive

I can no longer endure the psychic pain of resentment. I must be rid of it as soon as it becomes evident in my thought. “resentment is like me taking poison and hoping someone else dies”. -Unknown

 

To be rid of it

  1. Consider the person, place, thing or situation.
  2. What happened
  3. Consider how this affects me and other relationships
  4. Where had I been selfish, dishonest, inconsiderate? Where if any had I hurt them. Did I arouse issues?

I write this down if possible, there is a certain magic in writing with pen/pencil and paper and holding it in my hands to be relieved of this discomfort.

I will then take time, to wish them loving kindness, that they will be relieved of suffering and the root of it.

I can now carry on my way, shedding my qualms like a loose garment.

images from Google images

 

Suffering

I posted this as a reflection to my Instagram a year ago. I have migrated to this delightful world called WordPress. This is an excerpt from Thomas Merton’s autobiography Seven Storey Mountain.

thomas-merton-150x150

“Indeed, the truth that many people never understand,
until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid
suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and
more insignificant things begin to torture you, in
proportion to your fear of being hurt.
The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the
end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering
comes to him from things so little and so trivial that
one can say it is no longer objective at all.
It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once
the subject and the source of his pain, and his very
existence and consciousness are his greatest torture.
This is another of the great perversions by which the
devil (Ego) uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature
inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good,
turning them against ourselves.”

I feel blessed to have been guided by Grace to endeavor to acknowledge and embrace my discomfort and “suffering” and have emerged on the other side the better for it.

“And now for something completely different” listen and be with whatever arises

 

 

How does that lead to Integrity?

Welcome, if you’ve not been following along on our trip, investigating the spiritual principles behind working the steps found in the 12 Steps, primarily from the book Alcoholics Anonymous

So here we are at Step 5 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. I am not going to talk here, about how it’s done, or why, or the ways to overcome the inevitable reluctance to performing this step. There is a plethora of writing on those subjects.

I want to relay my experience of how admitting the sheer wretchedness of myself leads to integrity.

Integrity- noun

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:

3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.

 

When I first learned that integrity was the principle behind this, I automatically thought #1 here and was confused other than the idea of integrating my entire past, however repulsive, by honest admission.
I have found, though that this step is imperative to arriving at #2 being whole.
Throughout my life, I denied or fought my demons or impaired myself to escape it. In doing so I gave these secrets power, which in turn pushed me to even more erratic insanity. I have to be a member of the human race and society, however painful it is. By sharing my weaknesses and flaws with another, healing my battered character can begin.

Courage

Courage is defined as noun: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery

I’ll take this definition a step further. As the quality within to take action in spite of fear.

Why? you may wonder, do I need to be courageous. As I am progressing through my endeavor to rid myself of the compulsion to destroy my being, attempting to escape the agonizing feelings of being an addict.

Having navigated my way from Surrender and making my way to the doorstep or possible recovery by way of Honesty and developing some hope Great, so Now What?

The next task is truly a frightening prospect. Requiring all the courage I could summon. Step 4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory. Which I might add, after doing the previous steps thoroughly was immensely easier than I thought, upon first examining the steps suggested.

I had never until this point take an honest look within to ask myself who and what bother me. What happened, how it made me feel and the most important part. What part did I play in that situation, relationship?

By recognizing, acknowledging and embracing the absolute worst I am capable of. I have discovered that I am now liberated to behave in entirely new way.