An Unsuspected Inner Resource
This reading is a combination of Appendix II in the Big Book on page 567
And Chapter 12 (Step 12) of the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, pgs. 106-107
Also, the pronouns have been changed to the plural them rather than the singular her or him
The terms "spiritual experience" and "spiritual awakening" are used many times in the Big Book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.
When a woman or a man has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of this is that they have now become able to do, feel, and believe that which they could not before on their own unaided strength and resources. They have been set on a path which tells them they are really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense they have been transformed, because they have laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, they have hitherto denied themselves. They find themselves in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind, and love that before they had thought themselves incapable.
With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource, which they presently identify with their own conception of a power greater than themselves. What they have received is a free gift, and yet usually, at least in some small part, they have made themselves ready to receive it.
A.A.'s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the Twelve Steps in our program.
An author owns a snappy title, and then the snappy title owns the author. Robert Wright, having titled his new book “Why Buddhism Is True,” has to offer a throat-clearing preface and later an apologetic appendix, in order to explain exactly what he means by “Buddhism” and exactly what he means by “true,” while the totality of his book is an investigation into why we think there are “whys” in the world, and whether or not anything really “is.” Wright sets out to provide an unabashedly American answer to all these questions. He thinks that Buddhism is true in the immediate sense that it is helpful and therapeutic, and, by offering insights into our habitual thoughts and cravings, shows us how to fix them. Being Buddhist—that is, simply practicing Vipassana, or “insight” meditation—will make you feel better about being alive, he believes, and he shows how you can and why it does.
Adam Gopnick, The New Yorker , August 7 & 14, 2017 Issue
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a meditation teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, has said, “Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.” What he meant is that if you want to liberate yourself from the parts of the mind that keep you from realizing true happiness, you have to first become aware of them, which can be unpleasant. Okay, fine; that’s a form of painful self-consciousness that would be worthwhile—the kind that leads ultimately to deep happiness. But the kind I got from evolutionary psychology was the worst of both worlds: the painful self-consciousness without the deep happiness. I had both the discomfort of being aware of my mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them. With evolutionary psychology I felt I had found the truth. But, manifestly, I had not found the way. I felt I had seen the basic truth about human nature, and I saw more clearly than ever how various illusions imprisoned me, but this truth wasn’t amounting to a Get out of Jail Free card.
So is there another version of the truth out there that would set me free? No, I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think there’s an alternative to the truth presented by science; natural selection, like it or not, is the process that created us. But some years after writing The Moral Animal, I did start to wonder if there was a way to operationalize the truth—a way to put the actual, scientific truth about human nature and the human condition into a form that would not just identify and explain the illusions we labor under but would also help us liberate ourselves from them.
As commonly described, mindfulness—the thing mindfulness meditation aims to cultivate—isn’t very deep or exotic. To live mindfully is to pay attention to, to be “mindful of” what’s happening in the here and now and to experience it in a clear, direct way, unclouded by various mental obfuscations. Stop and smell the roses. This is an accurate description of mindfulness as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go very far. “Mindfulness,” as popularly conceived, is just the beginning of mindfulness. And it’s in some ways a misleading beginning. If you delve into ancient Buddhist writings, you won’t find a lot of exhortations to stop and smell the roses—and that’s true even if you focus on those writings that feature the word sati, the word that’s translated as “mindfulness.” Indeed, sometimes these writings seem to carry a very different message.
What is presented today as an ancient meditative tradition is actually a selective rendering of an ancient meditative tradition, in some cases carefully manicured. There’s no scandal here. There’s nothing wrong with modern interpreters of Buddhism being selective—even, sometimes, creative—in what they present as Buddhism. All spiritual traditions evolve, adapting to time and place, and the Buddhist teachings that find an audience today in the United States and Europe are a product of such evolution. The main thing, for our purposes, is that this evolution—the evolution that has produced a distinctively Western, twenty-first-century version of Buddhism—hasn’t severed the connection between current practice and ancient thought.
Modern mindfulness meditation isn’t exactly the same as ancient mindfulness meditation, but the two share a common philosophical foundation. If you follow the underlying logic of either of them far enough, you will find a dramatic claim: that we are, metaphorically speaking, living in a delusion. However mundane mindfulness meditation may sometimes sound, it is a practice that, if pursued rigorously, can let you see the exact nature of your own personal delusion.
On my first meditation retreat, I had some pretty powerful experiences—powerful enough to make me want to see just how deep meditation could take me. So I read more about Buddhist philosophy, and talked to experts on Buddhism, and eventually went on more meditation retreats, and established a daily meditation practice. Though evolutionary psychology had already convinced me that people are by nature pretty deluded, Buddhism, it turned out, painted an even more dramatic picture. In the Buddhist view, the delusion touches everyday perceptions and thoughts in ways subtler and more pervasive than I had imagined. And in ways that made sense to me. In other words, this kind of delusion, it seemed to me, could be explained as the natural product of a brain that had been engineered by natural selection. The more I looked into Buddhism, the more radical it seemed, but the more I examined it in the light of modern psychology, the more plausible it seemed. My personal delusion came to seem profoundly deceiving and ultimately oppressive, and something that humanity urgently needs to escape. The good news is the other thing I came to believe: if you want to escape from your personal delusion, Buddhist practice and philosophy offer powerful hope.
Buddhism isn’t alone in this promise. There are other spiritual traditions that address the human predicament with insight and wisdom. But Buddhist meditation, along with its underlying philosophy, addresses that predicament in a strikingly direct and comprehensive way. Buddhism offers an explicit diagnosis of the problem and a cure. And the cure, when it works, brings not just happiness but clarity of vision: the actual truth about things, or at least something way, way closer to that than our everyday view of them.
Some people who have taken up meditation in recent years have done so for essentially therapeutic reasons. They practice mindfulness-based stress reduction or focus on some specific personal problem. They may have no idea that the kind of meditation they’re practicing can be a deeply spiritual endeavor and can transform their view of the world. They are, without knowing it, near the threshold of a basic choice, a choice that only they can make.
Wright, Robert, Why Buddhism is True
Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition