A small porcelain Buddha kissing the sky

The Power of Cherishing Others and Recovery from Alcoholism?

Mike Mather

We Are Powerless

An alcoholic is sorely misunderstood.

But not only is he misunderstood by the community and family, it is only when sober and living a reflective life that he begins to understand himself.

It is therefore, with great relief and wonderment, that Shantideva’s words remind us of this great reveal of the obvious.

“All the happiness there is in the world arises from wishing others to be happy.”

Modern theorists speak of win-win situations, and surely wishing others to be happy is one of those occasions. If I wish for you to be happy, then the actions that follow will be positively intended. Hopefully, there will be a positive outcome, but we cannot be overly concerned with outcomes. These are out of our control.

And with scant regard for our own happiness, we find ourselves happy to be doing something for others. This paradox is similar to the virtuous circle.

You’re happy because someone else cares about you, and I am happy because I’m not thinking about my problems and appearance. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Children raising their hands in joy with peace symbols

Photo by Larm Rmah on Unsplash

see also 'Alcoholics all suffer with self-cherishing ignorance'

Be The Karma Chameleon

The word ‘karma’ is from Sanskrit and means ‘action’. So, the mind that wishes happiness for others is a virtuous mind that creates positive karma.

With the intention to help others to be happy, positive actions will ensue, which create more positive karma. The effects of the wishing others to be happy are like a fountain of positive karma that can manifest immediately or in aeons from now. The results will only be positive from an act of kindness.

When I was still drinking daily, I had a boss that was in recovery and kept it an open secret. He never mentioned that he was alcoholic and attended AA meetings. He didn’t even tell me that he knew that I had wine in the orange juice that I sipped all day long.

When I went to my first meeting, there was Thommo, sitting, smiling, at the back of the room as if he’d been waiting for me to arrive. What a comfort it was for me to understand that he had wished me sobriety all this time and his intention to help had led me to this point where he actually sponsored me for several years. His wishing led to the possibility of real physical help and, finally, recovery.

Small seedling growing in a glass of coins

Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash

The Precious Mind

Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says in ‘Joyful Path of Good Fortune’,  ”The precious mind that cherishes all living beings protects both myself and others from suffering, brings pure and everlasting happiness and fulfils the wishes of both myself and others.”

It is said that self-cherishing ignorance is the root of all my problems. Alternatively, this guidance from Geshe-la above points us to the method of attaining and maintaining everlasting happiness. How wonderful.

Surely, the suffering alcoholic, who is self-centred in the extreme, is in dire need of this illumination.

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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