Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Advancing Spiritual Growth:
by Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta~

Previous Post: Sunday, July 26, 2009
Update: Sunday, October 18, 2009

~ Stages of Spiritual Healing ~

Spiritual healing from the affliction of addiction is a dynamic active process that starts out, develops and advances in three (3) distinct succeeding stages:
1. Physical sobriety;
2. Progressive recovery; and
3. Spiritual liberty.

At times these different stages of development can blend into each other; they are not static, fixed and frozen, but fluid and flexible in the flowing flux of connected reality. Sometimes we need to focus on one specific area more than another in light of the immediate existential situation we are in ~ our own here and now before us at the time.

"Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.
~ Dr. Carl Jung {July 26, 1875 ~ June 6, 1961}

First of all we must achieve a state of physical sobriety, one must get sober to stay sober; second, one must get actively involved building up a solid strong spiritual program based upon the A.A. 12-Steps; and third, we must consciously work hard on our spiritual growth as responsible global citizens of the world.

“I just know that you are expected, at some point, to do more than carry the Message of A.A. to other alcoholics. In A.A. we aim not only for sobriety---we try again to become citizens of the world that we rejected, and the world that once rejected us. This is the ultimate demonstration toward which Twelfth Step work is the first but not the final step.”
Source: As Bill Sees It: Citizens Again, LETTER 1959 by Bill Wilson {November 26, 1895 – January 24, 1971}

In the process, we want to be liberated from all addictions, especially chemical dependency on drugs and alcohol, unless prescribed for valid medical reasons. We cannot be content with only arresting our addiction. We aim to get rid of the evil plague of addiction once and for all. We need to come together, heal ourselves and seek a real cure. Go all the way or do not venture onward at all. Just try to stay sober on your own and see how long you last. Along the way, we must change the things we can in our lives, as the Complete Serenity Prayer says:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen!”
~ Attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr ~

We must surrender our selfish self-will and put our will power in good harmony with the divine will of the Creator of the cosmos: our Highest Power. If we are in recovery, much of our past addiction involved a selfish egocentric mentality because of our deep fears, personal problems, inner insecurities and avoiding challenges we face in life.

We had the ‘me first’ mentality and always had to make sure we had our ‘issue‘ and satisfied our base animal needs. As a result, we were not concerned with the needs of others, failed to unite with the real world, ignored the impact of our social environment and became divorced from our Creator. Now we need to really wake up, closely examine our past, appreciate the gift of the present and have an inner vision for the future. We need to reach out to help others and thereby actually help ourselves. Helping others makes the world a safer place to be, raises our own personal self-esteem and makes us feel better about who are in our new sane and sober life-style.

~ Physical Sobriety ~

It all begins with a firm decision to stay sober one day at a time. Sobriety is the basis of the whole healing process. Sobriety is a free open gateway available to all who suffer from addiction and leads to active involvement in a strong recovery treatment process and spiritual program.

In practicing sobriety we rid our bodies of the chemical toxins and poisons that have polluted and infected our bodies. We pay attention to our general nutrition, get involved in a physical-spiritual fitness program, including karma yoga, marital arts and deep meditation. In essence, we get involved in our general health and well being. Yes, there are also spiritual poisons we need to recognize that involve eliminating main core character defects, overcoming personal shortcomings and exorcising any inner demons. Those are the reasons why we need to participate in an on-going spiritual program. In fact, obvious outer signs of addiction are really symptoms of deeper core issues in our lives that need to be addressed, understood and resolved on a mental-spiritual level, not the real root origins of the addiction itself.

No sobriety, no chance of any lasting recovery. No recovery, no chance of real spiritual liberty. Understand that the recovery process itself is part of a larger wider spiritual healing process in the form of a spiritual liberation program.

~ Early Recovery ~

In early recovery we are first exposed to the basic spiritual principles and general guidelines of the original A.A. 12-Steps which originally came from the Holy Bible. Those who claim to be into recovery and do not know that the A.A. 12-Steps came from the Holy Bible do not know true A.A. history. As Dr. Bob Smith, an A.A. co-founder along with Bill Wilson and upon whose sobriety date A.A. got its founding date of June 10, 1935, revealed:

“It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.”
Source: The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975, pp. 11-14):

At this early stage, we learn about incorporating the 12-Steps into our personal lives; go to different recovery meetings on a regular basis; get a sponsor to help guide us through the 12-Steps; improve our general literacy level; study the basic recovery literature; discuss relevant related topics; build up a strong support network; and learn the general guidelines for living life on life’s terms sane and sober. It is hard honest work!

Many people have problems working certain steps, such as the 4th and 5th Steps, which involve a deep personal inventory and confessing our wrongdoings before God and another humane being. The ideal is to first work all the 12-Steps as good as we can, then be willing to go over them from time to time again and again in order to learn them well, stay fresh and not get stale.

Along the way we get more and more connected to our inner soul, our true core character and learn better who we really are on the inside today. We get to know ourselves again in the new bright light of truth. We should experience a daily spiritual awakening, be open to a deep spiritual conversion and strive to be in harmony with the universe, not in stubborn resistance and blind opposition to it. We must commit ourselves to real personal change in any area of our life where we need self-improvement. Our being Honest, Open and Willing to change for the better is absolutely essential for spiritual progress and that is HOW the program works for us.

Even if we suffer a relapse we always need to keep coming back to the rooms of recovery for refreshment. Always remember that a severe relapse is NOT a part of recovery, it is a part of one’s continued sickness and exposes a need for further self-understanding and spiritual revelation about who we really are today. A relapse is really a matter of having a weak useless recovery program, forgetting the basics and an example of lingering self-hatred and self-destructive ways.

If we survive early recovery without a severe relapse then we have arrived at a good understanding of the basic recovery process and our spiritual program. We become aware of the need to dig deeper and find out why we got caught up in the insane suicidal ways of past drug addiction in the first place. We learn from our past mistakes, clearly see the lives of others, both positive and negative examples, and remember the life lessons we have learned the hard way in order to prevent any future self-destruction.

~ We Are Recovering Addicts ~

We need to make a firm decision to get involved in a strong progressive recovery program that has a spiritual basis. We maintain our sobriety as we work on our spiritual growth in order to be free, to be liberated from our addictions and their harmful side-effects. The very nature of a real recovery process is progressive, positive and recognizes the impact of social conditions on our lives. It is the oppressive social conditions in our lives that drive us to escape from them via ‘dope and booze’ that must ultimately be transformed. Beyond recovery, it is all about spiritual growth and transforming connected reality. We must show within our own lives the real transformation we seek in the outer world.

Life is all about changes, transitions and transformations. Look at the comings and goings of the days and nights, the changes of the passing seasons. A real living life is growing, expanding and moving forward in a progressive fashion.

Unfortunately, many good honest people get stuck along the way in their recovery, fail to move beyond early recovery and end up getting strung out and addicted to the recovery process itself with the same obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) they had in their former chemical addiction. Some pride themselves on chasing recovery like they use to chase the ‘dope bag’ instead of proceeding in a calm, rational and balanced manner without needless worry, undue anxiety or mindless stress. At times we need to just stay still, take a deep breath, get down on our knees and pray.

Many falsely believe that ‘once an addict always an addict’ and continue to claim that they are addicts even though they are no longer indulging in street drugs or practicing drug addicts. How can we ever recover, hope to be healed and seek a real cure if we believe that it is impossible?

We former addicts who are now into the progressive recovery process are no longer practicing our past addiction. We are at a new higher level of spiritual consciousness. We should stay wide awake and ever mindful of the priceless preciousness of our natural sobriety. There is a qualitative difference between a drug addict lost in his addiction and a recovering drug addict seeking self-empowerment and helping others who are lost find their way home.

We should stop labeling and condemning ourselves as being addicts and expose the big lie of ‘once an addict always an addict’. We show by our personal examples that the program works for us because we work the program. We should proudly yet humbly declare to others that we are honest humane beings working on our recovery and spiritual growth as ‘recovering addicts’.

Even the old notion of a blanket anonymity should be cast aside as a form of denial of the truth about who we are today. We were surely not all anonymous in our active addiction, why should we hide our being involved in progressive recovery today? The foundation of our spiritual program is a firm belief in the Creator, not any A.A. anonymity. If someone does not want to have anything to do with you because you are into recovery then let them go their own way and you go yours. Avoid fools. Use plain common sense wisdom when dealing with an employer or authority figure, but do not create bad karma with a lie.

Remember the power of the word, the power of belief-systems and the power of labels we define ourselves as. Society already has its own perverted prejudices against drug addicts. Many thousands are caged in prisons because of simple drug possession. Why feed into it? Why add to our own suffering by putting false labels on ourselves? Who wants to hire an addict for a decent job, who can trust an addict or who will fully accept an addict as a parent?

We want to get rid of all forms of fanaticism, all obsessive compulsive disorders and all manifestations of addiction, not replace one addictive behavior pattern with another twisted addictive behavior pattern.

Some folks become stale talking Big Books, cannot think outside the book and fail to speak their own minds. The Big Book is not the Holy Bible! Many repeat the same old worn-out catchy phrases, clichés and automatic answers they picked up along the way, instead of expressing their own fresh original ideas, honest heartfelt opinions and personal analyzes as free thinkers with common sense wisdom.

~ Progressive Recovery ~

When we are strong in our progressive recovery it is time to continue to spread the message of spiritual liberty to others in our lives who sincerely want our help and are ready to make the necessary life-style changes to get better. We cannot force recovery on anybody. It takes what it takes. We can only point the way for others, go our own ways and do our own personal inventory. Ultimately it is an inside job between each of us and our Maker. We best teach spirituality by the power of our personal examples, appreciating the serenity of sobriety and by daily practicing our new found spiritual principles in all our ways.

The term ‘recovery’ is basically a medical term, as when we go into a treatment program for a serious medical illness. Our basic spiritual program helps to prepare and equip us with the tools for sober living, along with other methods of spiritual healing. However, we cannot recover what we never had. Recovery itself will not get you the house, job or life long relationship you never had, though its benefits do have promises. We seek to recover from the rages and ravages of addiction, not fantasize about what we never had. As we advance in our recovery we enter more and more deeper into an open spirituality guided by common sense wisdom.

We should be very practical, very realistic and always remember that this is a very simple program for those who have complicated their lives with the affliction of addiction. For us, recovery means staying sober, getting well, working a spiritual program and continuing to work on our lifelong spiritual maturity. In essence, growing up to be the best we can be.

We can stay straight, be recovered and do it one day at a time with a vision for a bright future ahead. We will always need to safeguard our sobriety and watch out a stupid slip does not go down into a full-blown relapse. Now that we are into sober recovery and spirituality we are armed with the tools, techniques and weapons we need to win the war of life between the forces of light and darkness.

Many times the basics must be repeated over and over again until these ideas are planted deep within our consciousness so that they stay in our memory. We want to keep them in our memory banks and remember them at least on a subconscious level.

Drug addiction itself is the most complete disease known to man because it attacks all of us in the trinity of the mind, body and soul; it attacks our whole being as a human being and has negative bad side-effects on our family ties, our larger community and the world in general. Thus, our overall spiritual program should have a solid and sound wholistic approach that addresses the complexities of who we are as triune beings and where we are at in the big picture of the world at large.

Solitary individual isolation or group exclusion when we attempt to shut out the world outside is a real danger. True social integration on a multi-dimensional level in our lives is where it is at for us to be winners. We should not be afraid of new situations, new learning experiences and facing new challenges. Go out into the world bold and brave!

We should be busy transforming the things in life that slow down, retard or block our spiritual growth. In order to stay sober and survive with our sanity we must continue onward on spiritual pathways towards spiritual liberation. It all about growing up, hanging up our hangups, taking direct responsibility for our lives and helping others along the way to become better humane beings with spiritual principles, humane values and living healthy life-styles guided by a common sense wisdom that seeks pure love, inner peace and mutual understanding.

As we persevere and advance in our spiritual growth we find that life begins to open up for us. The future before us has unlimited potential. It is the process of the journey that is more important than the destination. If you do not stay on this journey you will not reach your destination: to live in love with life happy, free and with a liberated soul.

We must examine the social conditions in our communities that made many of us seek a false escape through indulgence in drugs and the suicidal life-style of the typical drug addict. All along the way we need to help raise consciousness, spread our messages, support positive progressive causes and get actively involved in basic community action to help make this a better, safer and cleaner world for us and generations to follow. It is not all about us as lone solitary individuals; it is about us helping others and helping ourselves in the same process. Recovery is good for our spirits, society and the world at large.

The rate of development of our real spiritual growth will vary from time to time. Sometimes we grow faster than at other times. Sometimes we need to slow down, take stock of our situation and not be afraid to ask for help from others who are more experienced. In the long run, it is the quality of our spiritual growth that is more important than the quantity of sobriety time. Sometimes we are in an empty void where it seems that we are not moving forward. Appreciate the void as a time when we need to stop, breathe, take inventory and appreciate our progress so far. Look ahead!

We need to be patient with ourselves and others as we persevere in our spiritual growth. One should not still be stuck with the hurry-up rush attitude of the old dope fiend who wants instant gratification of his animal needs, a quick microwave recovery and is unwilling to do the concentrated deep spiritual work that is required to get well. At times, we may get irritable and inpatient with others and exhibit the after-effects of PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). Keep an undying inner faith in God and yourself; believe in the overall process of spiritual healing. Trust God that it will all come out for the best for all of us so long as we hold onto our spiritual principles, keep our integrity and make wise decisions in our lives as humane beings with love, concern and compassion for others.

Spiritual growth on a personal level is a very private matter unique to each soul. Each of us has our own truth, our own way of looking at life and should be guided by the light of love. Others can offer general guidelines when it comes to your way of moving forward but if it is all to come true it is up to you.

The soul is eternal and out lives the host body. We are ultimately spiritual beings having a lifetime experience in physical bodies. Our bodies always fall in the end, but the very quintessence of our spirit lives on lifetime after lifetime in our quest towards oneness with the Creator.

We are here now to heal ourselves and the sickness in the world, to help others advance and advance our own spiritual growth, development and maturity as we struggle towards the ultimate aim of true spiritual liberation from the chains of addiction and all forms of oppression that bring us pain, sadness and suffering.



● Progressive Recovery Today!

● CASA 12-Steps Program Blog

● CASA 12-Steps Program Yahoo Group

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