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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Tao of Selflessness

In the Eleventh Step Prayer, we affirm that: "(I)t is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying (to the ego) that one awakens to Eternal Life." Thus we see that a transformation of consciousness is what we are truly seeking, for the so-called normal, egoic consciousness of the alcoholic addict is the basic problem for which booze and/or drugs was once a viable solution - that is, while they still worked to bring us out of our narrow self-consciousness. Anything short of such a transformation of consciousness is bound to be painful and ineffective over the long haul.

In the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous it is pointed out (at pp. 44-45) that mere knowledge and intellectualism is insufficient to overcome alcoholic addiction.
"If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism," we read, "many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power was not there. Our human resources as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed us utterly."
"Lack of power (is) our dilemma," we are then told, and the purpose of the 'Big Book' is to show us how and where we might find and establish conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves in order to transform our inner being.

Thus, philosophy and intellectual knowledge are insufficient for our purposes, but actual spiritual experience - if it is real and effectual - will relieve us from the fears and desires that constitute the raw fuel of our lower, egoic self-consciousness. We will find such a Higher Power "deep down within us" we are later told, and this paradoxical discovery - the paradox of all spiritual paths - will solve our dilemma of powerlessness and life's unmanageability.

In the Taoist book of spiritual wisdom, Lau Tzu's "Tao Te Ching," we read:
"Exterminate the sage, discard the wise,
And the people will benefit a hundredfold;
Exterminate benevolence, discard rectitude,
And the people will again be bound;
Exterminate ingenuity, discard profit,
And there will be no more thieves and bandits.
These three, being false adornments, are not enough
And the people must have something
To which they can attach themselves:
Exhibit the unadorned and embrace the uncarved block,
Have little thought of self and as few desires as possible."
 It is by forgetting self - with all the fears and desires that preoccupy our lower thought lives - that we ultimately find recovery, sanity and wholeness in a new, transformational state of consciousness and being.

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