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Monday, September 19, 2011

Seeking Humility

"Out of suffering may come the transmutation of values, even the transfiguration of character. But these developments are possible only if the man co-operates. If he does not, then the suffering is in vain, fruitless."

-- Paul Brunton --
("Perspectives," page 157.)
In reading through the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous we come to see that selfishness and self-centeredness - i.e., egoism - are the root causes of our addiction, and that "self" or "ego" must be gotten rid of, or at least reduced at depth, if we are to live happy, sane, and productive lives. The shift from living an egocentric life to one that is God-centered is, however, a transition that requires an act of great humility. It is to wholly admit that life is, in fact, unmanageable and to humbly admit that we cannot be rid of our character defects by any action of our own unaided will. It is to admit that that which we had relied upon - our self-will - has failed us. Thus, we read in The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (at page 72),  that "the process of gaining this new perspective is unbelievably painful."
"It was only by repeated humiliations that we were forced to learn something about humility," we read. "It was only at the end of a long road, marked by successive defeats and humiliations, and the final crushing of our self-sufficiency, that we began to feel humility as something more than a condition of grovelling despair."
Fortunately, as philosopher Paul Brunton notes (above), we can co-operate in our own transformation. Indeed, at page 75 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions we read that "we needn't always be bludgeoned and beaten into humility;" but, rather, that "(i)t could come quite as much from our voluntary reaching for it as it could from unremitting suffering."
 "A great turning point in our lives came," we read, "when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven: "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.""
Just as honesty means that we don't have to remember our story, so humility means that we do not have to remember our persona, our actor's role. Is humility something I truly want in life? If so, am I willing to let go of my own story?  If I don't, as Brunton notes, all the suffering of my alcoholic addiction will have been in vain.

1 comment:

  1. Humility is indeed an important step in overcoming addiction; certainly without the humility to admit a problem, an addict can never hope to over come it. Once they admit they have a problem, we hope that they will seek the help and inpatient addiction treatment they need.