Author: Michael Ortiz Hill, RN/Monday, November 11, 2013/Categories: Spirituality
Sobriety is about God. We find him there.
Reaching for the ultimate freedom from the bondage of addiction — a
rigorous transition from near death to a life cultivated — keeps
recovering addicts in the Steps. Becoming aware is our beginning, while
the constant action of reaching keeps us in the process; meaning in
recovery is limitless. Our life cycle might end but our spiritual
evolution continues. We break free of devastating pain in addiction to
arrive at our path. God is clever. He brings us home.
Understanding the 12 Steps is a simple necessity. Make it right with
God in Steps One, Two and Three. Make it right with ourselves in Steps
Four, Five and Six, and, finally, make it right with others in Steps
Seven, Eight and Nine. Living compassion guarantees us freedom from a
death-spin that had evolved from a biopsychosocial history of influences
on what ultimately becomes our true, Genuine Self. Only God stops the
“slow-motion suicide” called addiction.
When working with others, I focus on action. Even in the deepest
world of despair, degradation and demoralization — so perfect for the
Disease of Addiction — the light of Recovery warms us through
understanding and keeps us safe through action. Our actions bring us to
the source: our Higher Power, the Light. Without a transformative
program of action, our spiritual journey is not possible. The simplest
prayer is action. Our simple prayers connect us so that living
compassion becomes our blissful state.
We value what we do and do what we value. Self-discipline is practice
and training. We were experts at destroying our body, mind and
emotions. What I discovered in Recovery, to my surprise, is that the
spirit endures and it will never die. If only the Disease of Addiction
knew this. Suffering is a spiritual torture, a tug-of-war between
self-will and His will. No more rope-burns here. I finally let go.
Suffering becomes merely an option to even the most resistant addict if
Self Compassion is learned in the Steps. As we connect, perhaps again
for some, to a God of our understanding in the Third Step, suffering
begins to evaporate and gives way to an energy flow that is promised in
Recovery. A restful state of mind and body develops that can only be
interrupted by relapse. In this state, I practice the Self Compassion so
skillfully described by Michael Ortiz Hill.
In my last book, Hug Me, My Daddy’s Not a Drug Addict, I give to
others delicate, personal messages learned from my journey in Recovery
and fatherhood. For our readers, I’m hopeful that we can all discover
what “loving our fate” means, stay true to Self through action, teach
others about being teachable and evolve through the 12 Steps of Living
Compassion. Then, our spirits can wander almost like children playing,
Freedom. ~By Brandon Beckman
God is Love, and whosoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in her. ~ 1 John 4:16
“Love is God, God Love”
That is all ye need to know on earth,
And all ye need to know. ~Homage to John Keats
Yet, it’s precisely within the contour of our shame that we are
summoned to wholeness. “Even there, even there,” Psalm 39 tells u s—
even in the darkest place we are known — yes, even there. ~Gregory Boyle
Love as much as you can from wherever you are with what you’ve got.
That’s the best you can ever do. Remember it’s the process, not the
content that counts. ~Zen teacher Cheri Huber
No creature ever falls short of its own completion,
Wherever it stands it never fails to cover the ground. ~Dogen Zenji, founder of the Soto school of Zen Buddhism
The Twelve Steps of Recovering the Heart
We admitted we were toxic with self-centeredness and our lives had become unmanageable.
Came to believe that loving and being beloved could restore us to sanity.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to loving and being beloved as we understand it.
Examined fearlessly all that has stood between us and the heart of compassion.
Admitted to Love, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our heartlessness.
Were entirely ready to have Love remove all of our resistances to loving.
Humbly asked Love to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all those we had harmed by heartlessness and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such beings whenever possible.
Continued fearlessly to examine our moment-to-moment failures of love, and when we missed the mark promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
with Love as we understand it, praying only for knowledge of Love’s will
for us and the power to live it out.
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to
carry this message to the loveless, and to live compassion with all
that we meet.
When I was teaching the Craft of Compassion to doctors and nurses, it
occurred to me that that this radiant and exacting path could be
translated into the Twelve Steps.
Although I bottomed out as a homeless teenager, I have spent my life
learning that the process of becoming clean and sober involves giving up
one addiction after another, letting go of attachment after attachment –
whether it be to substance or process – and shedding layer after layer
of defenses that preserve the illusion of separation from Spirit, from
others, from love. Sobriety is an ever-deepening process of letting go
of the old life of dissociation and disconnection, and with the help of
the Twelve Steps, moving into an unfamiliar and unknown new life of
association and connection. In this journey, we come to understand that
the ultimate addiction is not to any given substance or process, but to
separateness, to a separate “me, myself, and I,” an entity that,
ultimately, does not even exist.
To settle into this new life is to rest in the heart of compassion.
The Twelve Steps are a guide to yielding to the Pervasive Presence of
Step One is awakening to find ourselves in the prison of
self-centeredness, which some enact in addiction. Steps Eleven and
Twelve are the fulfillment of being Love-centered, the way of living
Living compassion is, in fact, freedom.
The intelligence of Love flows through the Twelve Steps.
“Nothing is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the
hard and the inflexible, nothing can surpass it,” says Lao tze.
Dissolving is intermittently terrifying and liberating.
The following steps proceed through bearing witness to, and seeing
through, the apparitions that try to solidify a self that no longer is.
In this “twelve step book of the dead,” we proceed with rigorous honesty
and heart to understand, and let go of, the distortions of our
commitment to “me, myself and I.”
In Steps Two through Nine, we gather seeds for the upcoming harvest.
The heart softens as we learn Self-Compassion, and through
Self-Compassion, compassion for others.
The Buddha defines compassion with such clarity. Compassion, he says,
is sympathetic joy and sympathetic sorrow — sorrow over another’s
sorrow and delight over another’s delight.
In these steps your story is no longer a prison, but the school of transition where compassion is learned for real.
Steps Nine, Ten and Eleven are about becoming, for a new life of freedom and an unimpeded compassion beckons.
In Step Nine we make amends to those whom we harmed in our previous life of selfishness.
In Step Ten we step into radical empathy – seeing through another’s eyes.
In Step Eleven we refine our moment-by-moment practice of refining our conscious contact with Love.
In Step Twelve, we step across the threshold toward living compassion
– the intent of extending compassion to ourselves and all that we meet.
Here we see that we are not, nor have we ever been, the Source of
Compassion is a gift, pure and simple, and these Twelve Steps have well prepared us to receive the gift and pass it on.
“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we
tried to…practice these principles in all of our affairs,” says Step
Twelve, and we live compassion for all who suffer lovelessness.
English likes to nail things down with nouns. “Awakening” and
“compassion” are verbs. Neither are possessions and both are the
activity of gift-giving.
This path is the moment-by-moment practice of learning what
compassion is — for ourselves and the world of suffering. We will fail,
and forgive our failures, but in truth, “success” and “failure” don’t
describe the practice we are in.
Everything instructs the heart.
A few notes on language and perspective in Recovering the Heart are in order.
I do not speak of a Higher Power, but of a Pervasive Presence —
higher and lower, hither and thither and yon. Beneath every stone, in
the flight of every bird, every word you read, every breath you take.
Not “Lord” — that feudal projection. And not “Father in Heaven” that makes “Him” so far away and unapproachable
The edifice of hierarchical language has bones in its basement. How
many thousands of years can we presume that men are superior to women,
humans to animals, God the Father altogether superior to everything? I
much prefer to invoke, like the Sioux, mitakuye oyasin, “all my
Or at least bless the wild plurality of sacred ways.
Alpha and Omega yes — the snake does swallow its tale.
Right here and now is eternity.
And this nowness, this Pervasive Presence, is Love.
Love is the Pervasive Presence of the Infinite. This is not about
reducing God to a Divine aspect. God is whole and intact in every
gesture of love.
Throughout this book Love — italicized, capitalized — means simultaneously God.
My renditions of the Twelve Steps are about turning our wills and our lives over to Love.
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