Since it is impossible to determine the beginning of our mental continuum, it follows that we have experienced countless rebirths and had countless mothers. These beings are all the living beings present today. Reflecting on this, I find myself having a greater respect for all forms of life and a deeper love and appreciation for my own precious human life.
As someone who struggles with alcoholism, which affects me emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically, it is important for me to address this issue and honour the value of my life. By doing so, I am able to contribute to my community and treat other sentient beings with love.
Wow! The concepts discussed in these two brief paragraphs are profound!
I also recognise that karma has a way of bringing both blessings and virtues into my life. Therefore, my transformation in recovery not only benefits myself but also others around me.
But what does this actually look like in practical, day-to-day actions?
Acknowledging that I am an alcoholic, I rely on my spiritual guide for guidance. This helps me understand that I should not let my ‘self-will run riot’ dictate my actions without control. I follow practical steps each day to ensure my recovery stays on track. Additionally, Buddhist principles serve as a guide in my daily life.
Every day, I aim to meditate for a period of time, clean house, and help others.
The Pratimoksha vows
The Pratimoksha vows, which I renew every day, encourage me to value life and cultivate virtuous speech, actions, and thoughts.
- avoid killing
- avoid stealing
- avoid lying
- avoid sexual misconduct
- avoid intoxicants
It is important to remember that this body, which I refer to as “Mike,” is not my true self. When I contemplate the teachings, I am reminded that this body is merely a temporary vessel, while the spiritual journey has been ongoing for eternity and will continue long after death.
The Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap,” and the advice of Buddha Shakyamuni, The Awakened One, echoes this sentiment. ‘Karma’, derived from Sanskrit, means ‘action’. The actions we take today will have consequences. Children and alcoholics alike need to learn about the effects of their actions.
Furthermore, a recovering alcoholic's life benefits from harmony.
The Big Book discusses the importance of avoiding stepping on others' toes. By living in harmony with the laws of nature and humanity, we can prevent severe and negative consequences. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggests that after making amends and being willing to remove our character defects, we should apply these principles to all aspects of our lives.
Dharma also emphasises acts of gratitude, intention, and repentance.
“Through the virtues I collect by giving and practising other perfections, may I become a Buddha for the benefit of all.”
When I began this sober journey, I was struck by the coincidences in the AA way and Buddha’s Way. By relying on a Higher Power and following ancient guidelines, I find that the path of least resistance is also the Path to Enlightenment. I need only have a pure intention and constant effort.
There is a Buddhist saying which goes something like this. You only require two things to attain enlightenment—to start and to continue.