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-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 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
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. 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.
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 interesting, 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 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 are living 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. The following Prophesied events during a Kali Yuga reads like a news flash for today or anyone sharing about their life in addiction. With regard to 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, whilst 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 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)
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, 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 essentially 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 the 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. 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 heals the heart.