By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Dedicating some time to meditation is a meaningful expression of caring for yourself that can help you move through the mire of feeling unworthy of recovery. As your mind grows quieter and more spacious, you can begin to see self-defeating thought patterns for what they are, and open up to other, more positive options.” Sharon Salzberg
The Purpose of Words
I was updating my Glossary of Recovery Terms earlier today, getting it ready for publication. It is part of my recovery curriculum that I wrote, starting in 1990, and I used several old-fashioned dictionaries when I wrote it.
As sometimes happens, I was distracted and started thinking about the purpose of writing 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 was 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
Sinning: Missing the Mark
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.
However, the word sin seems fraught with visions of hell-fire and brimstone, and I do not hear it used much. In contrast, 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.
Other Important Resources about Religion and Recovery
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 more similarities than the behaviors of warring religions would have us believe.
Unfortunately, I could not pronounce all of the interesting, similar, 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 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?
According to Hindu beliefs, we live in the age or epoch of Kali Yuga or a time of impurities and vices. Many Hindus believe that human civilizations deteriorate spiritually during the Kali Yuga.
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. During a Kali Yuga, the following Prophesied events read 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 standard.
- 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.
Buddhism and Defects of Character
Contemporary translators use various English words to translate 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)
Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Recovery: Finding the Similarities or the 98%
“And religion–whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, the 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 stop those thoughts, actions, and behaviors that are harmful to us and 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 we can eliminate destructive emotions from our minds:
1. All the destructive emotions and mental states are essentially distorted, whereas the antidotes, such as love, compassion, and insight, are undistorted and based on how things 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 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. In addition, 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 heal the heart.