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1. Honesty

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Principle: Honesty

Definition: To truly heal and recover one's well-being, one must concede to their innermost self that they are truly powerless.


In the First Noble Truth, the Buddha said life is full of suffering (dukkha). Dukkha arises out of ignorance, which leads to thoughts, which lead to consciousness, which generate feelings, that generate desires or cravings, which create grasping or attachment, which create the condition of dukkha. Step One is the process of recognizing this Truth. Buddha said we should respond to this Truth by seeing it clearly, not shying away from the pain, but understanding the cause(s) of our suffering. Buddha recognized that even in our moments of fulfillment we are grasping toward more.
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Step One is the admission that we are dependent on God's will. It requires that we unequivocally place our faith in Him. When we are are misguided or self-absorbed we discover we have placed our faith in other people, money, status, power or notoriety. This step is a recognition that this misplaced faith has not worked, and in fact, has caused our lives to become unmanageable.
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We admit we are powerless over an addicted society, and that our lives and all of life has become degraded. When the consumption of anything is killing us and we cannot stop, we are addicted. We are one with the Earth and the Earth is becoming toxic. This poisoning is the result of overproduction and over consumption. According to cultural historian, Thomas Berry, the main reason we find ourselves in such ecological chaos is because we are in between stories. "We are out of touch with our true and larger Self." We have not integrated what we are learning about the Cosmos from science into our existing creation story.
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Human predicament is marked by ignorance (avidya), desire and aversion. How do we who are Brahman fail to know what we are? People are ignorant of their true identity as Brahman. We fail to understand our true nature. We are driven by desire for that which promises to fulfill the needs of our body and mind. Without liberating knowledge human behavior is much like animal behavior - being driven by instinctual desires and aversions.
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The Qur'an frequently depicts unbelievers as having hearts which are diseased. This belief is in alignment with the medical model of addiction - for those who meet the criteria of dependence, it is a disease. It also aligns with the fundamental belief that those who do not have spirituality in their life, experience dis - ease for which they continually seek external means of fulfillment. In Islam, Allah provides the solution which again parallels the 3rd Step - submission to the will of Allah.
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This step follows in the footsteps of our ancestors. When the Jews were poised at the edges of the Red Sea, with the Egyptian armies in pursuit they were panicked. The Israelites were afraid to cross. Moses cajoled them, but to no avail. Fearful that they had come so far only to perish in the waters, our ancestors were ready to return to Egypt and again become enslaved. This may also be our fear. With this step we stand at the threshold of the Red Sea every day - struggling, fighting the urge to return to the slavery of our dependency.
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Native American Spirituality

Because of my dependence on alcohol, I have been unable to care for myself and my family.
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The focus of the 12th Verse of the Tao Te Ching reminds us that allowing the desires of our senses to drive our actions results in excesses and a loss of connection with our inner truth. Because everything in our world is transitory, it is easy to chase appearances and illusions and be distracted from what has meaning and purpose. Dr. Dyer in Change your Thoughts, Change your Life, translates this simply to mean, "We cannot know the creator if we're focused exclusively on what is created." The Tao provides a clear description of the power of addiction, "the chase and the hunt craze people's minds." It goes on to affirm that it is a waste of energy which in the end impedes our emotional and spiritual development. If we live according to the Tao we learn to live in the world, but not to be solely of the world because we no longer allow it to be the master of our choices. Our senses become instruments through which we experience the world, broadening and deepening our appreciation and gratitude for its diversity and abundance.
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