Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

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Ginkgo
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Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Ginkgo » Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:19 am

Hi everyone,

I'll start by outing myself as an SGI member, concious of its atrengths, and weaknesses. I really enjoy reading the posts on this forum - the different perspectives and deep knowledge of many of the posters here has been fascinating, helpful and enlightening (ha!) The last thing I'm here for is a sectarian bunfight. But I do like to learn.

Recently Ive been going to NA meetings to get a handle on addictive behaviour that has manifested for much of my adult life. It's difficult though - the Xtian background grates and although I feel things like confessing my character defects etc might be helpful I also feel that admitting my powerlessness and asking 'God' to direct my life runs contrary to my practice.

That said I am very aware of my failings as the 'addict personality' that is described in their literature and in meetings resonates - painfully - with me.

I guess I'm scared - of the programme (I was raised Xtian and screw that) but also that this Buddhism hasn't been enough? Or maybe Im just fooling myself and trying to get out of doing the 'Steps' required by using the exclusivity of the Lotus Sutra as a getout clause.

I dont want to spend my life in meetings (& I say that as an active SGI member :lol: ). Is it possible to do the Steps and remain true to the Lotus Sutra? Or is faith practice and study enough?

I would really appreciate people's thoughts!

Thank you, very much :-)

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Mar 19, 2018 3:08 am

Ginkgo wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:19 am
Hi everyone,

I'll start by outing myself as an SGI member, concious of its atrengths, and weaknesses. I really enjoy reading the posts on this forum - the different perspectives and deep knowledge of many of the posters here has been fascinating, helpful and enlightening (ha!) The last thing I'm here for is a sectarian bunfight. But I do like to learn.

Recently Ive been going to NA meetings to get a handle on addictive behaviour that has manifested for much of my adult life. It's difficult though - the Xtian background grates and although I feel things like confessing my character defects etc might be helpful I also feel that admitting my powerlessness and asking 'God' to direct my life runs contrary to my practice.

That said I am very aware of my failings as the 'addict personality' that is described in their literature and in meetings resonates - painfully - with me.

I guess I'm scared - of the programme (I was raised Xtian and screw that) but also that this Buddhism hasn't been enough? Or maybe Im just fooling myself and trying to get out of doing the 'Steps' required by using the exclusivity of the Lotus Sutra as a getout clause.

I dont want to spend my life in meetings (& I say that as an active SGI member :lol: ). Is it possible to do the Steps and remain true to the Lotus Sutra? Or is faith practice and study enough?

I would really appreciate people's thoughts!

Thank you, very much :-)
Check out Refuge Recovery, it's a recovery program based on the 4 Noble Truths and Eightfold path. It won't be your Lotus Buddhism, but at least to me (I'm a Vajrayana/Dzogchen guy) it's much more comfortable than 12 step stuff. You can also check out Lifering or Smart Recovery if you want something that's not so Christianity-oriented. If you were in a big enough city in the US all three of these will probably be available, across the pond I have no idea. There is a Refuge Recovery book you can buy for cheap, to at least get an idea of how the program works.

Lots of Buddhists have made use of the 12 steps though, if you want to get a better handle on the 12 steps id' suggest reading Understanding the 12 Steps by Terence Gorski. It won't be Buddhist by any means, but it is detailed enough that you can see where many people go a bit wrong in interpreting the 12 steps, and how much room there is for interpretation. this book will De-mystify the steps a bit. You can certainly make use of them as a Buddhist, make your Higher Power the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Dharmakaya etc...it's clunky, but you can make it fit. You can also read the Big Book, 12 Step and 12 Traditions etc. and scan them for ideas that you can kind of "Buddhist-ize". There's some wisdom in those books, it's just hidebound and part of an ossified culture with (in my opinion) some kind of questionable parts.
might be helpful I also feel that admitting my powerlessness and asking 'God' to direct my life runs contrary to my practice.

Case in point

Then don't. Instead admit your options are limited by the karma you have generated which brought you to your addictive behaviors in this present life, and that you cannot find your way out without the help of The Lotus Sutra/Shakyamuni Buddha/The Dharmakaya, what have you. Remember, even in AA/NA literature, the phrase is "God as we understood him". You can plug in your own Buddhist understanding here, and be completely honest, without the Dharma you are powerless to change this. This is actually true for all practitioners too, so you don't need to feel like it's a stretch. In fact, the First Step is quite compatible with Buddhism if you really dig into it.

12 step culture is what it is, I'd suggest just shopping for meetings with like minded people if possible, and possibly looking into actual counseling in addition to the sober support stuff, which tends to be more of a mixed bag in terms of approach. For long term recovery counseling + 12 step/self support groups has the highest success rate. There are lots of different opinions on the how and why of the 12 steps, you don't have to take anyone's word for it.

My own personal editorial:

There is nothing of great value in the 12 steps that you won't find in Buddhadharma, but the only addiction recovery program I'm aware of that specifically takes a Buddhist approach is Refuge Recovery, I wish there were more. If you don't like the inherent shame and personal identification with 'disease' that exists in some 12 step groups, I'd give something like this a try, I have enjoyed RR. I personally cannot stomach the shaming, black and white thinking, and enmeshment that sometimes goes with the 12 step approach, but I know a number of Buddhists in recovery that have been through it and swear by it, and have had -very- different experiences.. so you have to decide for yourself. There is value and wisdom in the 12 steps, but culturally as a Buddhist you will likely be something of an "outsider", at least that is my experience.

You need a program though, most people do at least. It's possible to get through it for some with simply having spiritual support and mentorship, but don't try to go it alone.

Whatever the case, please take care of yourself and be well!

http://www.buddhistrecovery.org/

https://www.refugerecovery.org/
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

smcj
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by smcj » Mon Mar 19, 2018 4:33 am

In “As Bill Sees It” there are several anecdotes that Bill W. talks about where some form of Japanese Buddhism was able to adapt the 12 steps into their tradition. So there’s no problem as far as the founder of 12 steps goes. If you do NA meetings it would be good to look those quotes up so you have a defense against stupid people laying trips on you.

As far as SGI goes I have no idea. I’m Vajrayana myself. But I see many of the 12 having corresponding teachings in Lam Rim and NgonDro.

Since you mention it as an obstacle, I’d like to give what I see the corresponding teaching to the 12 step
“powerless” idea. It’s renunciation. Basically in both traditions the point is to give up hope that you can manage to make things work out on your terms. It’s about letting go of “for me on my way”, non-attachment. If you can see your own mentality as the problem you’ll have a great start with Refuge and Renunciation in Buddhism.

Hope that helps. If you want to talk about it more PM me. I get hostile posts when I talk about certain subjects.
I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against Lama abuse.

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by narhwal90 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:03 pm

I've met 2 SGI buddhists suffering from addiction issues, one in a meeting where I was sharing my Alanon experience- he came up after and shared his experience with alcohol and AA- he works a classical AA 12-step program w/ a sponsor etc and had been sober for a couple years when I met him. He story was poingnant, he was desperately praying and chanting to stop drinking and couldn't- a very common story, but found sobriety in the program. His sponsor was christian, but the question of religion was not an impediment.

I met the other SGI person in a rehab meeting, I don't know much about her story but pitched the Alanon angle for her mother and family with whom she was concerned- also a common story. There was only a few minutes to chat before we left but I shared about the AA/SGI guy, she was concerned about compatibility etc...

Personally drugs and alcohol were never more than entertainment for me, so I come at the 12 steps as an Alanon- friends and family who have alcohol issues and/or self-described alcoholics. I do have my full measure of the usual afflictions which come along with this, I have found Alanon, as a practice, to be a profoundly efffective remedy. I concur with the renunciation angle, I've used it myself for several "related issues", I find the 12-step and buddhist practice to be very important in keeping issues "renunciated".

As part of the practice, the programs pitch service and fellowship. In my experience both have been essential- physical, emotional, spiritual isolation is part of the problem that the program gets at. I was straightening out my phone contacts yesterday, looking down the several dozen names with "al" and "aa" prefixes, knowing something about each one and recollecting them with a smile was great- I have never gotten to know so many folks before.

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Ginkgo » Tue Mar 20, 2018 9:00 pm

Thank you so much for responding and being so helpful guys. I really appreciate it. Im gping to check out Refuge Recovery (Im in London so there are a couple of meetings) and also keep looking round NA meetings too.

It's great that practitioners of different schools and traditions can come together on this site. Thank you!

*insert uplifing quote about winning by Daisaku Ikeda here* ;) :lol:

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by pjalus » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:43 pm

Hi Gingko,

This book is about addiction and the Lotus Sutra written by a Nichiren Shu Buddhist and 32 years in sobriety. Please check it out, this lady has all the experience and tools you will need.

https://www.amazon.ca/Dancing-Garden-Lo ... otus+sutra

With Gassho...

Paul

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Queequeg » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:57 pm

pjalus wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:43 pm
Hi Gingko,

This book is about addiction and the Lotus Sutra written by a Nichiren Shu Buddhist and 32 years in sobriety. Please check it out, this lady has all the experience and tools you will need.

https://www.amazon.ca/Dancing-Garden-Lo ... otus+sutra

With Gassho...

Paul
Thanks, Paul. Just ordered to check it out.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

narhwal90
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by narhwal90 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:12 pm

A really good recovery message in that "Dancing in the Garden" book- google books preview shows a number of pages.

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Minobu
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Minobu » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:25 pm

Ginkgo wrote:
Mon Mar 19, 2018 2:19 am
Hi everyone,

I'll start by outing myself as an SGI member, concious of its atrengths, and weaknesses. I really enjoy reading the posts on this forum - the different perspectives and deep knowledge of many of the posters here has been fascinating, helpful and enlightening (ha!) The last thing I'm here for is a sectarian bunfight. But I do like to learn.

Recently Ive been going to NA meetings to get a handle on addictive behaviour that has manifested for much of my adult life. It's difficult though - the Xtian background grates and although I feel things like confessing my character defects etc might be helpful I also feel that admitting my powerlessness and asking 'God' to direct my life runs contrary to my practice.

That said I am very aware of my failings as the 'addict personality' that is described in their literature and in meetings resonates - painfully - with me.

I guess I'm scared - of the programme (I was raised Xtian and screw that) but also that this Buddhism hasn't been enough? Or maybe Im just fooling myself and trying to get out of doing the 'Steps' required by using the exclusivity of the Lotus Sutra as a getout clause.

I dont want to spend my life in meetings (& I say that as an active SGI member :lol: ). Is it possible to do the Steps and remain true to the Lotus Sutra? Or is faith practice and study enough?

I would really appreciate people's thoughts!

Thank you, very much :-)
we live alongside christians. We have a differing view of god the creator. we don't get theirs they don't get ours.

the 12 step programme works.
I hope the gakki is not making you feel weird in any way about the 12 step program's use of god ..

they look to a higher source to help.....it works in getting them off the drugs and alcohol...

basically you need to make a strong and believable/knowing relationship with gohonzon and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas depicted on Gohonzon and know they are there even more than this god the creator is for them...keep it secret...don't feel fear or you are being a traitor if you refer to Gohonzon as god in their presence. after all what is this word god pointing to????

it's not the place for shakabukku it's a place for you to learn skills at quitting and staying off drugs.
do not focus at all on the religious or the feeling you need to stand up for lotus buddhism...

lotus buddhism needs you to be happy and healthy ..not alienating yourself from the christians...

i'm like a knowing lotus buddhist and yet i "God bless you and your family " all the time when i'm amongst christians...it makes them feel good and the blessing i know is theirs for the taking is not God...

besides we have Brahma on the Gohonzon...Nichiren shonin knew the gods well ..they protected Him.

it's not your fault you understand what the gods really arte and what God the creator really is...


as for drugs....it's a con...everyone that is anyone quits them eventually...

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by shaunc » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:38 pm

I'm sorry I haven't got any practical advice for you but I'm a sober member of AA for 30 years. I've always used the triple gem (Buddha, dharma, sangha) as my higher power. I feel no need to advertise this at AA meetings.
To get sober you don't need a belief in God, what is needed is a belief in a higher power.
Good luck and best wishes.
Namu Amida Butsu.
Shaun.

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Queequeg » Thu Mar 22, 2018 9:43 pm

Minobu wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:25 pm
i'm like a knowing lotus buddhist and yet i "God bless you and your family " all the time when i'm amongst christians...it makes them feel good and the blessing i know is theirs for the taking is not God...
A few weeks ago, my father went in for triple by pass. It was a really scary time. Its a routine surgery these days, but if it goes wrong, its catastrophic. As I was sitting with him as he prepared for the surgery, it was really heavy on me that these might be the last words that I would ever have with my father. So, we talked about the usual stuff we talk about - history, movies, politics, etc. The orderly who was helping prepare my dad was a big, cheerful black guy making off color jokes involving strange women and bottles of Hennesy - if you've lived in NY, especially the outer boroughs, you've met similar personalities. He was finishing up and he all of a sudden said, "OK, something we gotta do." and he put one hand on my father's shoulder, and held my hand with his other, and led us in a prayer, something along the lines, "Please, God, let everyone who comes in contact with ___ today be attentive and mindful, and please carry brother ___ through safely today." I said, "amen" - my father, the lapsed Catholic and sometimes Buddhist did not. It was what I could do to show my appreciation for the care that this man was sharing for my father, and aside from God, I agreed with the sentiments completely.

I'm destined for hell, in some people's book.

I also say, "Merry Christmas", I go to Passover and participate with my wife's family. I don't see the big deal. If I can share in the expression of ideals and joy that we share, notwithstanding the names we give it, sign me up.

"Wish I knew everyone's nickname,
all their slang and all their sayings.
Every way to show affection,
How to dress to fit the occasion...
Wish we all waved... "
-Jane's Addiction
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by narhwal90 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:05 am

I recite the Lord's Prayer and the Serenity Prayer in AA/Alanon meetings and along with the group I volunteer with at a local church, I really appreciate the message & subtlety in both. When the volunteers get ready to start, either the group lead or the Father comes in the bless the work, I respectfully assemble with them and say Amen alongside; even though I'm not involved with the religious proceedings itaidoshin is the name of the game.

The other volunteers exchange religious greetings on occasion but use secular forms with me. I'm not sure how fine the line is there, it may be I'm making more of a line than they are; but its their church and I'm a guest & volunteer so want to be respectful. They said its ok for me to address the Father as such, which is convenient. Early on a few of them were curious how I ended up in their operation eg "what mass do you attend" sorts of questions but thats the extent of the curiosity- perhaps part of the reason is the project is a food pantry so its about doing the work and not doctrinal.

I confess its fun when the church brass shows up, last month a bunch of seminary students helped; complete with cassocks etc- lends some gravitas to the scene. They really helped move the bagels which have been accumulating a bit over the last couple months.

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Minobu
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Minobu » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:04 am

so this is off topic but it really needs to be said for Ginkgo to understand it is ok to respect others and take part in their belief.

i'm sure the 12 step program will teach the skills needed to move on.

when i was a fanatic i would relish the whole book burning mentality..

When a Geshe explained to me that the real teaching in the Lotus sutra is there is no highest teaching...it is what ever you need to do right now which is perfect for you....this was after he said the Lotus sutra is the buddha's highest teaching...he said this is why when the dharma wheel is turned all these teachings and gurus and teachers and prophets appear all over the universe....the whole three carts thing from the angle that each cart will take you where you need to get to till you see the other cart ...the final cart is for those that are ready...it takes time to get there...

once you get that you find sanctity in all teachings for they are helping sentients towards the ultimate goal...it's why it takes hundreds of kalpas for some...also you gain security in your belief and you no longer need to attend book burnings to feel righteous...you are just glad to see others try their hand at philosophy that help purify themselves and start creating better wholesome karma for themselves,,,,,


anyway...i don;t know what drugs Ginkgo is on but it's not easy to kick opiates...but you do get better and like it becomes sort of cool to actually live in a normal body after being high for so long...at first . for me, it was like there is no life outside the life....and for me that was the hardest part...but i came around to enjoy the simpler part of living...


it's actually a great accomplishment and not something to be ashamed of if you fail....it's all training and learning about life...you might even have to ruin a few bodies and develop stronger negative karma...then it's like wow look at what i came through...


when we all are in a pure land somewhere and everyone knows everyone's past deeds.. :popcorn: ..hopefully you won't be too embarrassed :jawdrop: for all of eternity. :rolling:

Ginkyo
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Ginkyo » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:26 pm

I'm so sorry to have started this thread and then buggered off without replying - things have been pretty hectic in all sorts of ways recently. Thank you so much to everyone for taking the trouble to reply.

I've been going to Refuge Recovery meetings and also secular meetings with 'SMART Recovery' which have been incredibly helpful.

Something I've found interesting and didn't realise - a number of Gakkai members also go to various 12 Step Fellowships - NA, AA, Sex and Love Addicts etc. They jiggle the Gohonzon, Buddha-nature or NMRK to take the place of god in Step 3. I just can't do that though. I was surprised though... I thought that a lot of members would be anti-12 step stuff and would say that the Practice is enough to solve every problem, including addiction. For me, it's been helpful in all sorts of ways, but it's not a program. And that's what I needed.

narhwal90
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by narhwal90 » Sat Sep 29, 2018 6:58 pm

I'm in alanon, there was no "God" problem for me in Step 3, the decision was to start doing the practice and quit with the interpreting and editorializing- it was the natural choice once it was clear I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I found Step 6 & 7 to be similar- I like Chuck Chamberlain there; step 5 reveals the defects, Steps 6 & 7 invite one to learn how to stop acting upon them.

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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:40 am

Ginkyo wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:26 pm
I'm so sorry to have started this thread and then buggered off without replying - things have been pretty hectic in all sorts of ways recently. Thank you so much to everyone for taking the trouble to reply.

I've been going to Refuge Recovery meetings and also secular meetings with 'SMART Recovery' which have been incredibly helpful.

Something I've found interesting and didn't realise - a number of Gakkai members also go to various 12 Step Fellowships - NA, AA, Sex and Love Addicts etc. They jiggle the Gohonzon, Buddha-nature or NMRK to take the place of god in Step 3. I just can't do that though. I was surprised though... I thought that a lot of members would be anti-12 step stuff and would say that the Practice is enough to solve every problem, including addiction. For me, it's been helpful in all sorts of ways, but it's not a program. And that's what I needed.
The other thing about the whole 12 step deal is that it is it's own culture. Depending on the meeting, you find it works for you or not. It's also intertwined pretty deeply with our entire approach to treating addiction, for better or worse. One issue is that (for example) courts will mandate people to do meetings, and you end up with some meetings which are half people who are simply compelled to be there, not exactly a recipe for success. There are also meetings that use alternative/less religious language out there etc. As someone who works in the addiction field, my advice is to go with whatever group is actually doing something for you, whether it's based on the content, or simply the social group, social support is of course huge for long term recovery...recovery skills are recovery skills. Glad to read your update.
"it must be coming from the mouthy mastermind of raunchy rapper, Johnny Dangerous”

-Jeff H.

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Lotus Buddhism, addiction & the 12 Steps

Post by Fortyeightvows » Sun Sep 30, 2018 2:51 am

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the "Naikan therapy". It comes from the japanese pureland tradition and is used for drug addiction treatment.

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