A young man punching the sky in exaltation. He is sitting on a mountain surrounded by pink clouds

Alcoholism and How To Find Your Higher Power

Mike Mather

There is power in being agnostic that I miss.

After realising how intelligent I was, I began to strip all dignity from my father’s religion. I did this for 25 years whilst drinking myself into an early grave. It is said that you can’t be intelligent and smoke a cigarette at the same time, and I feel this applies to my alcohol consumption too.

When I arrived, broken as AF (as fuck), at the doors of AA in 2005, I had accepted my powerlessness over alcohol. Maybe, I thought I could still manage my life though, because for another 30 months I bobbled along the bottom of existence.

When my father died, I was in a very precarious mental state and on the first anniversary of his death I hit the bottle hard. My son turned 18 that week, and I was too drunk to partake in his celebrations.

See also 'Childhood Trauma That Ended Long Ago'

I had discovered a Buddhist class had opened nearby, and a Nun was talking next Thursday night. I went to my doctor and got some Valium for the DT’s and went to that class. I haven’t had a drink since.

This will probably not happen to you, or anyone else. Our lived experience, I found out later, has something to do with our karma. Who would’ve thunk?

As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Gen Tsalden flew 1000 km that Thursday to appear to me!

Young woman in red dress perched on a cliff above a gauge

Photo by Martin Baron on Unsplash

Finding a HP (Higher Power) is such a wonderful and nail-biting drama. What I have found in the spectrum of Buddhist teachings is that there is a tradition for all, and simple, basic ethics and morality apply.

Buddha himself, I believe, said something like, “Don’t take my word for this. Check it out in your own experience”.

Here is something that I often share – there are a lot of unexplainable things in the world.

Each day, miracles happen.

The space between a neutron and its electron is something. How is quantum entanglement a thing? Déjà vu, Harry Houdini, and the popularity of bubble tea. Mysteries that defy human intelligence, yet they exist.

Love is a mystery.

Letting go of my need to control everything about my life was the hardest and best thing I ever did.

When I let go, my ego died just a little; and the work then was to keep that ego-deflation going. I do that with meetings, meditation, and the implementation of my vows. (One Vow At A Time)

In March 2008, I let go of my previously long-held convictions – that my father gave me. I had believed for 45 years that the correct view was the one that I had. And it wasn’t even mine!

Out of obedience, or family pride, or ego, or whatever – I had faith in God that was borrowed.

When I began to feel differently about other peoples gods, I also asked myself this pertinent question.

“What else I’ve been wrong about”?

Ego Deflation at Depth

You see, Buddha didn’t have to strip me of ego. I had to hit rock bottom and have my ego stripped to see that Buddha had something to offer me.

This is not going to be the same for everyone.

The big question is still going to be – ‘Am I choosing the Pleasant Life. The Good Life, or The Meaningful Life’? I am still having a bit of each, I admit. That’s because I am a flawed individual. The choice is still mine to make.

A tall man and shorter woman holding a baby with a cap on between them

Photo by Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

Buddhism has helped me to understand myself a little better and to make peace with my position in Society. Once, I was only conforming in Society to be liked or angry at Society because of how it made me feel. This sounds a lot like addiction.

When I started to understand this, meditating for peace of mind and treating others with compassion made a lot of sense. The ‘rules’ of Buddhism then gave me some framework outside my mind that I could rely upon to behave and think kindly to others and me.

The need for conformity dropped away, and I was comfortable being me. There are daily regressions. I can see that the path to enlightenment is a long and winding road. The great thing about my new-found beliefs is that I actually enjoy the vicissitudes now, rather than riling against them.

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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