By: Marilyn L. Davis
“A chrysanthemum by any other name would be a lot easier to spell.” ― Robert C. Savage
The Purpose of Words
I was updating my Glossary of Recovery Terms earlier today for a presentation next week. It is part of my recovery curriculum that I wrote, starting in 1990, and I used several old dictionaries when I wrote it. I got distracted and thought about why I wrote the Glossary.
It was to teach each participant about character defects and positive aspects, codependency traits, and spiritual concepts.
Therefore, a good beginning for finding character defects and negative aspects at that time were the Seven Deadly Sins. From a musty tome in the Brenau University Library, I discovered that it was Pope Gregory, who revised this list in 590 AD to form the more common Seven Deadly Sins:
• Wrath: Anger, Rage, Fury
• Greed: Hunger, Self-indulgence, Covetousness
• Sloth: Laziness, Indolence, Apathy
• Pride: Smugness, Self-importance, Self-Gratification
• Lust: Yearning, Thirst, Desire
• Envy: Jealousy, Begrudging
• Gluttony: Excess
I know that in my addiction, I operated from all of these deadly sins. You?
Sinning: Missing the Mark
All of those represented sins, and in my world, they are also relapse warning signs. Since there’s only one letter different in sins and signs, I wondered about sins. The word sin derives from Old English synn (noun), syngian (verb); probably related to Latin sons, sont- ‘guilty.’
The Biblical terms, translated from Greek and Hebrew literally refer to missing a target or an error.
The word sin seems fraught with visions of hell-fire and brimstone, and I do not hear it used much, whereas I do know about referencing character defects, negative aspects, and self-defeating behaviors.
All of those categories highlight how we act from self-centered and self-gratifying motives. That to me seems like an apt definition of sin or missing the mark as a human being. I constantly was experiencing another missed opportunity, not reaching my goals, or not paying attention to a relapse warning sign in my addiction.
Other Important Resources about Religion and Recovery
The Internet has opened up an extraordinary wealth of wisdom for all of us. We can Google and Bing daily to find inspiration, advice, counsel, information or definitions.
Today I also read an article about Hinduism that gave me pause. It has been many years since I studied religions and yet, I knew that there were often times more similarities than the behaviors of warring religions would have us believe.
Unfortunately, I could not pronounce all of the unusual, comparable, and equivalent words I found today; nonetheless, each reinforced for me that recovery from within is the correct way.
In Hindu theology, arishadvarga — the six passions of mind are: • Kama (Lust) • Krodha (Anger) • Lobha (Greed) • Moha (Delusion) • Mada (Pride) • Matsarya (Jealousy)
Each of these aspects or negative characteristics prevent the man from realizing the atman, the reality of his True Being or moksha: salvation.
Don’t all of those characteristics also prevent us from recovering?
Prophecy, News Flash or Recovery Story?
Our primary focus is on physical pleasures and the pursuit of material possessions. This does not just happen in a period of Kali Yuga, but in our active addiction as well.
We lose touch with our best qualities and inner positive traits. The following Prophesied events during a Kali Yuga reads like a news flash for today or anyone sharing about their life in addiction. Concerning human relationships during a Kali Yuga, Markandeya’s discourse says:
- • Avarice and wrath will be common.
- • Humans will openly display animosity towards each other.
- • Ignorance of Dharma will occur.
- • People will have thoughts of murder with no justification and will see nothing wrong with that.
- • Sin will increase exponentially, while virtue will fade and cease to flourish.
- • People will take vows and break them soon after.
- • People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs.
Each of these describe most addicts, including myself, in our active addiction.
Buddhism and Defects of Character
Kleshas, in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of consciousness such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.
Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term kleshas, such as afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, etc.
Abhidhamma: Ten defilements and unwholesome roots:
• Greed: (Lobha)
• Hate: (Dosa)
• Delusion: (Moha)
• Conceit: (Māna)
• Wrong Views: (Micchādiṭṭhi)
• Doubt: (Vicikicchā)
• Torpor: (Thīnaṃ)
• Restlessness: (Uddhaccaṃ)
• Shamelessness: (Ahirikaṃ)
• Recklessness: (Anottappaṃ)
So, we’re back to what fuels our addictions from a Buddhist perspective, but it could be a conversation in the rooms as well.
Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Recovery: Similarities or the 98%
“And religion–whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things. For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent, that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that.” — David Levithan (Every Day (Every Day, #1))
The more I read, the more similarities that I found between three of the world’s major religions: Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with what I believe to be the fundamentals of recovery. Click To Tweet
All of these reinforce the essential responsibility to change what is wrong within us and to stop those thoughts, actions, and behaviors that are harmful to us and to others.
“Shutting out all external objects, fixing the vision between the eyebrows, making even the inward and outward breaths, the sage who has controlled the senses, mind, and understanding, who is intent upon liberation, who has cast away desire, fear, and anger, he is ever freed.” ― The Bhagavad Gita
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has said that there are three reasons for believing that the destructive emotions can be eliminated from our minds:
1. All the destructive emotions and mental states are fundamentally distorted, whereas the antidotes, such as love, compassion, and insight, are undistorted and based on how things really are.
2. The antidotes have the quality of being strengthened through training and practice.
3. The essential nature of the mind is pure and undefiled by destructive emotions.
Enriching My Day
“By practicing the virtues, we cultivate the soil from which healthy emotions sprout; by letting go of our character defects, we drain the swamp in which diseased emotions breed. ― Ray A
In summarizing the information from various sites, religions, and beliefs, I sincerely hope that I have stayed true to the intent of the particular message, text or philosophy; that was my intent.
In no way do I consider myself anything other than a novice learner about Hinduism or Buddhism. Also, on any given day, if I am operating from character defects, I am a novice in recovery as well.
I also hope that the message of this entire article is that each teaching has value and worth. Dismissing information due to pronunciation difficulties is foolish and short-sighted. After all, it is not 1990, I can use online sources to learn both old and new terms and concepts to gain understanding, awareness, and recovery.
Writing, and recovery heals the heart.
When you’re ready to share your experiences in addiction and recovery, I hope you’ll consider submitting a guest post. The more tones, styles, and voices that write about recovery, the more people struggling with their addictions can get help.