Friday, 13 June 2008

Gaining merit... or it's a program of action

Today I told a sponsee "That's bull... you're creating a crisis to avoid taking action". It might have been news to her but it's such a common scenario in recovery that it can hardly be news to most of us. I've done it, my husband - also in recovery - has done it and so has every sponsee either one of us has ever had. But whether any of us were capable of actually seeing the action-avoidance at the time it was happening seemed to depend on karma discernable only by a fully enlightened being. Or to put it another way, it depended on how much positive merit we had accumulated.

I'm continually amazed at just how difficult it can be to take positive action for my recovery. I want to do it. I mean to do it. I really intend to do it. But how often do I get to the end of the day and discover that, in fact, my Step work remains unwritten... or whatever the obvious recovery task of the day was. I sometimes suspect that the phrase "don't use and go to meetings" was created just so I wouldn't have to beat myself up too badly for the sorry state of my Step work.

Unfortunately my meditation practice looks much the same. I mean to do it. I want to do it. I absolutely intend to do it... and yet for many years I would get to the end of the day without even five minutes of time spent meditating under my belt. It was Geri Larkin in "Stumbling Toward Enlightenment" who provided me with the excuse I needed to not beat myself up too badly about the sorry state of my meditation practice. She recounts:

"The trick is to just keep going. Buddha said the same thing. So did my teacher. Over and over Sunim reminded me to just keep meditating, just keep meditating. When I told him I couldn't concentrate for half an hour he told me to sit for fifteen minutes. When I said that was too much, he suggested five. When people come to me at this stage in their practice, if they can only do a minute of sincere practice, I say a minute will do. That's all. The important thing is to just keep going."

And so I did. I do. Neither my recovery or my meditation look like I think they should. But they work. They are good enough. It's progress not perfection, for sure. But the only reason there's and progress at all is because I hang on in there and work for it. Whatever I can manage to kick my butt into doing, I do. This is "a program of action" so if I don't just keep going then I'll just stay stuck in the samsaric world of addiction.