Recovery and Spirituality
Many people know I’m a person in recovery from alcoholism, and some know that began more than thirty-one years ago. Yes, that's a very long time without a drink. I’d love to claim credit except had it not been for a host of people who assisted me, I’d be just like countless others who never overcome their addictions. The best estimate I’ve seen suggests that only one in every six people with active addiction will experience long-term recovery.
I’d be happy to report I’m exceptional or a prodigy, yet the more I’ve examined the data and the world of recovery, the more I appreciate my good fortune. I cannot honestly claim credit.
I am often asked what keeps me engaged in recovery work. Why do I still need it? After all, it’s been so long. And I've done a lot for others including creating a website with free content on recovery (www.ProgressiveRecovery.org). Isn’t that enough?
I do love working with others, and I do like feeling grateful. And no doubt the benefits of a life lived well are many. However, I’ve seen that none of these ultimately suffice unless I continue to experience WIIFM, or "What’s In It For Me." Yes, I am a self-involved human being first and foremost.
That brings me around full circle to what I find to be the most powerful benefit of spiritual recovery. Please note, I just shifted from recovery from alcoholism to spirituality. That’s because it is the advancement of my spiritual nature, which keeps me pressing forward despite the years and many material benefits. I need something more to feed me, not just worldly benefit.
That brings me to what is known in recovery as the 12th Step: "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs." As background, the first eleven steps involve a lot of work to set the stage.
As a result of the work of one of my primary spiritual teachers, Joel Goldsmith, I have come to see this idea as much more than my actions, my behavior, my attitude, or even my life. In fact, I no longer believe that I can “do” the 12th Step. Instead I see it as “pouring-forth-ness.”
My experience now shows me that if I’ve successfully cleaned up my behavior, my history, my affairs, and especially my inner being, there will be a blossoming that occurs. My life will bear fruit. If the spiritual channel within me has been cleared, all manner of things should come to manifest in and through me and my life. On the outside we will see thriving.
Yet if we make the mistake of believing we are the doer, the manifester, the achiever, we miss the greatest of all things. That is when we are fortunate enough to become beholders. We see the fruit, and we see the multiplication of the fruit in ourselves and others, but we do not attribute it to ourselves. Instead we understand we are the beneficiaries of something that defies explanation. No wonder so many mystics have labeled it a mystery.
I once asked my long-time spiritual mentor how this could be so, how it was that great good could fall upon us. He just laughed. Then he said to me, "Ron, the entire spiritual design of the universe is for our benefit. You can trust it.”
Having seen and experienced pouring-forth-ness, I finally understand a great notion from A Course in Miracles. You need do nothing, because nothing need be done. To which I would add, that’s comforting because I have no evidence I actually know what needs doing.
Seeing True™ in Action
Sometimes a simple written inventory can be very helpful to assist us in getting past ourselves. Start a list of all the things in your life for which you truly can claim no credit. For example, the genetics you inherited that made you smart, or attractive, or tall, or provided a good voice, or great vision. Or the benefits of being born into a culture that provided you with freedom, or economic security. Or even the people who took care of you when you couldn't even feed yourself or speak the language.
Keep asking yourself whether you did anything to produce these, or whether you are merely beholding and benefitting from them.