12-Step Buddhist GEAR

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Saturday – 12-Step Speaker Meeting
Sunday – Namkhai Norbu Dzogchen practice group at my house, followed by 12 Step Study and 11pm-5am shift on the 12-Step hotline.
Monday – Intergroup service commitment for my recovery meeting.
– Meditation with the Lama Surya Das group.
– Meditation and discussion on koans with the Portland Zen Center group.
Thursday – Meditation with Yangsi Rinpoche at Maitripa.
Friday – study texts, meditate, go to 12-Step meeting to hear a fellow practitioner speak.

This was the week ending Friday, March 16th, 2007. Pretty typical, except that every other week I do 12-step instead of the Lama Surya group, and every other week I do psychotherapy. I also work with some people in jail and am stepping up the number of inmates that I talk to pretty soon. I sit at Starbuck’s a LOT, reading and having one-on-ones with fellow travellers, practitioners, community members. I’ve pretty much stopped working on my non-profit music program, Portland Jazz Jams. I’ve turned it over to other people to keep it going. My main focus now is study, practice and integration of the spiritual principles of AA with all of these other practices. It’s very interesting to compare notes between all of these, which I won’t go into yet. If you’ve been reading the blog (you can click the past pages or tags to catch up) you’ll know that I’ve been working on this for a while now.

You may wonder why the hell I go to so many groups. Well, as we say in the program, “some are sicker than others”. Frankly (yes, I love saying that), I can’t handle just one group. They all drive me nuts in their own ways, but I find that if I attend a variety, I can get what I need from each without making unreasonable demands on any. For example, if I only went to Maitripa, I’d be worried and upset because the people there aren’t all that fun to talk to, and it’s hard to get a lot of teachings there unless you’re in the university program. If I only went to the zendo, I’d have very little to talk about with anyone. It’s easy to get in a 12-step rut, and therapy is only one hour every 2 weeks.

I try to keep my focus throughout all of these activities. Following are some notes from meditation on Tuesday afternoon. Maybe they reflect the work I’m working on as I try to work it out:

Thoughts attempt either to stop what is from coming into or being in experience, or to prevent what is in our experience from diminishing or ending. Either way what is, is. Whether it’s coming or going, the clarity of experience is that phenomena are coming and going. All of it. Everything comes and goes. Nothing is permanent, particularly the “I’. Thoughts, sensations, our visions – all come and go, regardless of our obsession to
attach to or avert from them. It’s as if the ego is like a paranoid, cracked out traffic cop who blows his whistle all day long, trying to stop some cars that won’t stop’, and hold back some cars that won’t stay.

Awareness observes this. Likes, dislikes, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, form and formless. Awareness is unaffected. The intellectual mind wants to understand what cannot be understood conceptually and the ego wants to control what cannot be controlled. This is our condition. It is very, very similar to what us addicts went through with the substances. But we all do it, all the time. It’s just not as obvious. Until you start to contemplate.

Inasmuch as this is our state of reality, namely all phenomena are dependent arising, our efforts to deny phenomena of this movement is initself a denial of that reality. For no matter how hard we work at it, how much time we spend on it or how clever our ego gets as it goes about it’s manimpulations, we are foreer unsuccessful. The lenth of time of arising and decay varies, but the eventuality of impermanencde remains. Eckhart Tolle says that this is the insanity of the egoic mind and most of the people on the planet.

The process continues.

may you be free of suffering, and the root of suffering


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