I am enjoying 3 books this week
The AA big book – Step 4
The AA “12×12” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions) – Step 4
Pema Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart”
Here are quotes from these books that stood out for me and wove together:
Our desire for sex, for material and emotional security, and for an important place in society often tyrannize us.
Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct. When that happens, our great natural assets, the instincts, have turned into physical and mental liabilities.
Demands made upon other people for too much attention, protection, and love can only invite domination or revulsion in the protectors themselves – two emotions quite as unhealthy as the demands which evoked them.
We have drunk to drown feelings of fear, frustration, and depression. We have drunk to escape the guilt of passions, and then have drunk again to make more passions possible. We have drunk for vainglory – that we might the more enjoy foolish dreams of pomp and power.
We thought “conditions” drove us to drink…it never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves in order to meet conditions, whatever they were.
We learned that if we were seriously disturbed, our FIRST need was to quiet that disturbance, regardless of who or what we thought caused it.
Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought. This required great willingness even to begin.
The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression.
When you have made good friends with yourself, your situation will be more friendly, too.
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.
We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
The spiritual journey is not about heaven and finally getting to a place that’s really swell. In fact, that way of looking at things is what keeps us miserable. Thinking we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly. The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last — that they don’t just disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security. From this point of view, the only time we ever know what’s really going on is when the rug’s been pulled out from under us and we can’t find anywhere to land. We use these situations to wake ourselves up or put ourselves to sleep. Right now — in the very instant of groundlessness — is the seed of taking care of those who need our care and discovering our goodness.
To stay with that shakiness – to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge – that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic- this is the spiritual path. Getting the knack of catching ourselves, of gently and compassionately catching ourselves, is the path of the warrior.
Refraining is the method for getting to know this restlessness and fear. It’s a method for settling into groundlessness.
The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong. What a relief. Finally somebody told the truth. Suffering is part of life, and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.
Rather than realizing it takes death for there to be birth, we just fight against the fear of death.
But if we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship, on that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.