Lately, I have been really toying with the idea of writing a book about my experience with meditation, Buddhism, recovery, community service, and subculture. On one hand, it feels rather ego-centric of me to write about something being 6 years in, with such teachers as Noah Levine, Kevin Griffin, and Darren Littlejohn having already delved rather deeply into the intersecting subjects. On the other hand, with my primary skill set in writing, and the fact that the subjects haven’t exactly been oversaturated, a fresh perspective may be in line.
Levine just recently released his latest book, Refuge Recovery, which is a reformulation of 12 step style recovery, but without the initial 12 steps and a heavy focus on the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. I am glad that this is happening because the secular(ish) world finally has a prominent voice and is allowing for people to find other avenues of recovery and purpose. That being said, I did find recovery in a 12 step program, and even though I am agnostic and Buddhist, I have found no need to divert from the God-centric foundation of my sobriety.
Kevin Griffin did expand on the Higher Power concept, so prevalent in 12 step communities by illustrating how one might come to a Buddhist understanding of of Higher Power through different Buddhist lens’. In Burning Desire: Dharma God and the Path of Recovery, Griffin gave fully investigated examples of how Buddhist concepts of dharma (translated loosely as Buddhist teachings or truth), mindfulness, and karma could translate into Powers greater than one’s self. Therefore I have no need to expand on how I have been able to make Buddhism work in the heavily Western theology enriched 12 steps.
But I wonder if it would be beneficial if I wrote about how I came to some of my more elusive insights into the idea of the Higher Power, service, inventory, and meditation, which are all deeply entrenched in 12 step work, through a Buddhist lens. Many topics in Buddhism seem to intersect smoothly with 12 step principles, when diligence, patience, and practice are foundational aspects of one’s recovery. There are also many easy transitions between Buddhism and the rebellion inherent in punk rock, which has also been hastily covered in Levine’s works. Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen, is another great resource for such insights, even if they are rather elusive.
I support all these men and their work. Were it not for their books and the friendship of a few of them, I would not have been able to be where I am today. I am actually nearing the end of a fundraising campaign in which I hope to raise enough money to attend the Engaged Mindfulness Institute’s Teacher Training & Certification program. Were it not for these men, I would never have found a dharma that works for me, and I wouldn’t be trying to teach meditation to at-risk and incarcerated youth. Maybe there is room for my voice among the others. Just as line of poetry I wrote once:
One can only ever hope
to become an empty instrument
In which God’s breath passes through
and erupts as beautiful music.
Maybe my voice could add to the harmony. Or maybe it becomes the element of cacophony that some people may desire. I don’t know. Life has always been best when I don’t have all the answers.