Radiohead//Daydreaming – Dogen’s Dream within a Dream

Radiohead drop a new track out of the blue. My four year old asked, “Why’s he opening so many doors? When will he be home?”

That’s my boy.

All that manifests within the whole universe is but a dream. This dream consists of all the hundreds of things that sprout up ever so clearly. It is the very moment when we are about to give rise to doubt, the very moment when we are confused. This moment is, say, a sprouting up of the dream, a sprouting up within the dream, and a sprouting up that gives expression to the dream. In exploring this through our training, we find that the roots and stalks with their branches and leaves, and the blossoms and fruits with their lustrous colors and forms altogether comprise the great dream. And you must not confuse it with dreaminess.

Dogen, Shōbōgenzō: Muchu-setsumu: On a Vision Within a Vision and a Dream Within a Dream

Download chapter here.
Commentary here.

Recovery and Right Intention

Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying
I heard telephones, opera house, favorite melodies
I saw boys, toys electric irons and T.V.’s
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people

David Bowie, Five Years

Something I’ve been recently questioning is what “recovery” actually means. Apart from the fact that I have received numerous, no doubt well written and well intended, handouts on the subject for my course (Mental Health and Addiction Support), I’m wondering on a more personal level.

Of course, I’m sure the professionals have something to say. A clear, possibly linear, progression from illness to wellness, like some idealised Yellow Brick Road. Perhaps I’m been a touch unfair there.

But in my experience people seem to view “recovery” as something tangible, measurable. A goal to be achieved, worked towards, like saving for a ticket to fly to some dream destination full of sun, sand and, well, no more “addiction”.

I heard a senior staffer say the other day that they wouldn’t consider hiring someone for a support work role (in the mental health and addiction sector) without them being in recovery for five years. This person has no doubt many years of experience working in the addiction sector, so he should know, right?

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
We’ve got five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
We’ve got five years, that’s all we’ve got

David Bowie, Five Years

AA itself often notes that big decisions should not be made in “early recovery”. It yells “one day at a time”, but also looks to 90 meetings in 90 days to kick things off.

Now I should point out I’m not against goal setting, or planning. I’m just trying to set a context for the messy calendar of recovery, where the numbers hang on the wall but the only one that truly counts is the first – today.

So what is recovery, does it have a beginning, a middle, or even an end?

It’s a loaded term for sure. Dear reader, few as you are, you have found this anonymous blog. I don’t quite know how, but my previous life in digital and SEO tells me you probably plugged some words into the Google machine and voila, here I was.

Was one of those words recovery? What does it mean to you? Is there a Buddhist view of recovery? Is it different from the medical sense of the term?

Five years. It’s a great theme for David Bowie, but it’s a long time. In this country, New Zealand, I suspect you could probably kill someone or commit some heinous crime and still be out in five years.

Is an addiction (or for that matter a mental illness) a sentence to be served? Is it for life? Do we have to do our time until society deems us fit to return having paid our debt and displayed impeccable good behaviour?

Does a small lapse reset the clock on recovery? Or is it an organic process that includes all the trials and tribulations of what we call the human condition?

As someone who has felt like I have been in a recovery space for some years, should my lapses make me reconsider what I hold to be true?

Did recovery start the day I came to fully realise that something was wrong? Or the first time I attended AA? Or my medical detox?

Did it start when my drivers license was returned to me, or when my family and friends sought to re-engage? What are the measures?

Obviously not drinking is one that would come to mind first. But does it entail a complete sea change, a new job, rekindling of failed relationships, a haircut? Sit in the barber’s chair long enough… do people want to see me levitate?

I am alone now
I am beyond recriminations
Curtains are shut
The furniture has gone
I am transforming
I am vibrating
I’m glowing
I’m flying
Look at me now

Nick Cave, Jubilee Street

Do  you have to have all your amends in check, debts paid, before you are truly in recovery? Am I recovering? I won’t even begin to consider whether you can ever be “recovered”, another controversial position in the rooms of AA. Maybe another day!

Looking at how I understand recovery, and I can only share my own take on it of course, I think it is all these things. And perhaps none. Recovery is so intensely personal, but I hope that the feeling of realisation, the cessation of the craving, the freedom that comes from a mind clear of substances can be universal.

There’s bound to be issues along the way. Like everything else in life. A flat tire. An unexpected bill. But do these things equate to failure, to a need to hit reset, unplug, wait 30 seconds and then reboot the system?

My recovery is recovery because I choose to see it as such. It’s not so much the fact that I’m not drinking. It’s not a negation of the fact that I am an alcoholic, that the first drink could and most likely would take me right back to that sad, lost state of living as a drunk.

But it’s also so much more than the presence of alcohol or the lack thereof. And I certainly don’t value my recovery less because by some standards it might be considered early. For me it’s not a sentence to be served, it’s not as simple as having time sober in proportion to the time I lost to the whisper and ultimate scream of the bottle.

Recovery for me cannot be achieved at some future date, and really I try not to concern myself with tomorrow’s sobriety. As I’ve mentioned I’ve made that mistake before. My recovery is an ever present commitment to a way of living. Clean, free, able to make choices and respond to this moment. And the next. But the next can only happen in light of what I do right here, right now.

In this way then, recovery for me is the Noble Eightfold Path, and particularly Right Effort.

Right Effort is the energetic will (1) to prevent evil and unwholesome states of mind from arising, and (2) to get rid of such evil and unwholesome states that have already arisen within a man, and also (3) to produce, to cause to arise good and wholesome states of mind not yet arisen, and (4) to develop and bring to perfection the good and wholesome states of mind already present in a man.

Walpola Rahula, What The Buddha Taught, p48

In line with my karma, I find myself at this point in time, conditioned by what has gone before. With a multitude of future possibilities that I really don’t need to concern myself with as they haven’t happened yet.

But in this moment, I can set my intention, my will and my effort to respond with wisdom and compassion to my situation, hopefully generating the seeds of positive potential for the next moment.

Recovery is the eternal present tense. The immediate. Recovery, for me, is recovery in the moment, this moment. Then the next. But right now, now.

Like addiction itself can bloom at any particular moment like a flash flood, or that person you idolise in the rooms for their clean time (20 years! how!?) might stumble and re/lapse, a life without addiction is a life lived second by second. But then again, isn’t every life lived in this way?

Buddhism stresses that time is not all it seems in it’s concept of tiny units of time called kasana. thought is said to take 60 – 90 ksana, and there are 900 instances of arising and ceasing in one ksana – there are 32,820,000 ksanas in one day! That’s plenty of moment by moment opportunities to set intention… and complicates the view that it’s a certain unit of time that equates to a successful recovery.

I understand people’s need to have some clear definitions to understand and engage with things like addiction and recovery. They are difficult subjects to engage, especially for loved ones hurt by the actions of an alcoholic, or someone for whom their first thought is simply, “you just need to drink less”.

But for me it’s such a reductive way to perceive our stories. Like our common understanding of time, this perception of recovery as a period of time spent overcoming one’s demons does not marry up with my reality of right now.

This mind wants to see the end of the war, the flags raised, the boats coming home, the fireworks. To know it’s over and we can all move on with our lives.

My mind sincerely hopes the sum total of my present moments is an outward display of my  “recovery” as those close to me would have it. But I think they’ll only come to understand this looking backwards and “seeing how far I’ve come”. That is for them to choose, should they even concern themselves with it.

For me though just now. Press publish. Now. Sober, grateful, setting my intention. Eating, grateful, setting my intention. Typing, grateful, setting my intention. Arising, ceasing. Just now.

When here, it is here, now.
When there, it is then.
But when “then” was “now,”
“there” was “here.”

Whenever anything happens
it happens now
and “now” is this “happening.”

Each moment, when it is this moment, is right now.

But “then” was once “now” and “right now”
tick tick tick
is now “then.”

This moment is not the past moment, not the future moment
but in this moment
what happens as this moment
both shows and hides the past.

Commentary on Dogen’s Wild Time – a great read!



Brad Warner, What is time?


The Sobriety Countdown aka The Numbers Game

At my AA home group we have a sobriety countdown. “This is to show that AA really works”.

I have mixed feelings about this. At the beginning of my recovery – and for many I meet and see in the rooms – the count is a mixture of pride, and should one relapse (yep, been there) a pretty harsh and humiliating reminder of what you’ve lost or if you are feeling particularly harsh (yep, been there too) thrown away.

I have a strange relationship with numbers. It could be part of my mental illness, such as it is, but I find certain numbers and combinations to hold a magnetic focus. I like things to end in 13. I like to try and fill the fuel with a number that is a reflection (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this), ie. $76.67 or $42.24.

I have found myself trying to give up on certain dates, convinced that the power of the numbers would be that missing ingredient to my long term sobriety. What better day to give up for good than January 1, or the 15/5/15. Or Friday 13.

Or Easter Monday. Or Halloween.

It’s all ridiculous of course, more superstition to cushion the blow of taking away my “medicine”. It sounds crazy as I write this, but alcoholism is a ritual in and of itself, so I suppose no crazier than anything else I’ve done in regards to drinking.

I’ve made 30 days, 50 days, 60 days, 3 years. In my last concentrated effort I’d get very nervous around day 50, day 60 looming large as a point of no return. And then I’d find myself forgetting to take medication, or walking a new way to work past the supermarket, challenging myself to stay strong, all the while knowing I was just grinding down my “resolve” until I could justify a slip.

Just to remember how bad it was, you know. Just one to ensure that I really knew that I didn’t want to drink again. Just one more jump off, just to feel the hangover and be certain that I wanted sobriety even more.

The things I’ve told myself over the years. The ease with which I lied and manipulated myself – in full view of myself and with full knowledge of what I was doing. But doing it anyway. What’s different about Day 60 compared to Day 59? Or even Day 1?

This time is different in that I’ve decided not to consciously keep count. At first I wondered if this was a cop out, an avoidance of raising my hand early in the sobriety countdown, whilst others would raise their hands and smile at 5, 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years.

One of the 30 year up folk is always quick to remind us in the group that they are as close to the first drink as someone on day one. At first I thought this was just a way of deflecting the (potential) jealousy that such a display of willpower might illicit in a room full of drunks.

But as time has gone on I see that they are right. Also, that there is no right way to approach this journey, just the way that works for me and the way that works for you.

One day at a time. The cliche oft uttered as eyes roll and yawns are stifled. Of course, there’s so much undeniable truth in this simple statement of purpose.

Buddhism would agree with this principle. There is only action in this moment. This moment is all we have – we may not ever get a day!

Holding that truth close has helped me immensely in my recovery. That, and beginner’s mind. As Shunryu Suzuki famously shared,

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

I won’t ever know everything there is to know about sobriety, about Buddhism, about myself. But I want to be open to even the smallest new glimpse of knowledge and not fool myself into believing that it’s only the big things that bring about change.

Miracles often happen silently, in the dark, only to be realised in hindsight. That’s how my craving for drinking stopped. I don’t know where it went or how it left, and I’m not in a hurry to delve deeply into searching for the reasons.

All I know is that I want to remain a beginner…

… and that every day for me is Day 1.



“Crooked Cucumber”


Shogaku Shunryū Suzuki (鈴木 俊隆, May 18, 1904—December 4, 1971; Dharma name 祥岳俊隆) born Toshitaka Suzuki, was an influential Japanese Soto Zen priest and founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, the first Soto Zen training monastery in the United States. Today, the San Francisco Zen Center and its three practice locations – City Center, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and Green Gulch Farm – form the largest Soto Zen institution in the United States. His book of compiled talks, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, is considered a spiritual classic…

From Sweeping Zen. Click here to read more.


David Chadwick’s Zen biography of Suzuki Roshi, Crooked Cucumber, is equal parts teaching and biography of this remarkable teacher.

I love this book – it’s a fantastic and accessible portrait of Suzuki, his teachings, and his impact particularly on Zen in the West.

Of course the best place to start is with the teachings of the man himself. As above, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, is one of the best books on Zen I’ve read and it’s one you’ll return to time and time and time again.

Living in the spaces inbetween you and me

One of my favourite books last year was by Ethan Nichtern, a second generation Shambala teacher. His book, The Road Home, is an astute, insightful and very relevant (I hesitate to use the word contemporary or modern which could be seen as flippant as it strikes me as quite authentic and sincere to Buddhist traditions).

He manages to make sense of today’s samsara in today’s language all the while communicating the unbroken essence of Buddhist wisdom. Well, at least to me in my limited and personal understanding and experience of the practise.

He uses one of my favourite concepts to describe our way in the world. We are all travelers, some of us weary from our time on the road (with a wink to Dharma Bum Brother Kerouac).

I often think of my drinking years as my “lost” years. Not just in the sense of lost time and opportunity, but in the deeper sense of feeling overwhelmed by the landscape of “ism”. No map to guide me, no compass, and no one who could share directions to my own road home.

It was nobody’s fault, it’s just that alcoholism is a lonely disease.

I think it’s characterised by disconnection. It’s surrounded by misunderstanding and misinformation. It begins as an escape, a fleeing from whatever particular terror we face – for me the escape ended up being anything but – a cyclic wandering of dark woods, not coherent enough to leave a reference trail, forever stumbling on the same small opening in the woods just to find myself drowning the the same old freezing stream, only to drag myself out, say this time I’ll travel in a different direction.

And repeat.

The Road Home speaks of the journey of the commuter. Forever travelling in search of home, endlessly umping from bus to bus, “never feeling that you’ve arrived”.

But it’s not necessarily the way things are. Buddhism states that we are already home. That we are always home. In our delusion and grasping for the “other”, our endless gaze outwards, we fail to appreciate this. These karmic seeds spin like a 45, the black circle in constant revolution – but we haven’t thought to drop the needle – there is no connection between the signal and the receiver – the lack of sound echoing in our hearts.

“The commuter’s narrative is a tale of resentment, grasping, and isolating fear…” (p11)

“If we can learn to consciously reproduce the feeling of returning home to the present, we start developing confidence that we belong here”. (p13)

The important question then, a question laced with gorgeous irony, is, “How do we get home from here?” Or, maybe more appropriate, “How do we get here from here?” (p19)

I could quote the whole book, but suffice to say you really should seek it out. Our libraries in Christchurch have copies, and you can buy it online. I recommend the latter as there’s a lot to digest and you’ll find yourself returning to it again and again.

So Ethan poses a great question. In light of above, for me the question becomes one of mapping my own personal topography – of finding myself, literally, on and in the world.

From this ground zero of engagement and agency, this foundation of awareness, this lack of loss replaced by a sense of wonderful purpose, I can move forward in the world with confidence. A world inhabited by millions of other people. Some just as lost as myself.

That’s all fine and well but what about the drinking bit? Ah yes, the drinking.

I wanted to shine a light on The Road Home as I think it’s an essential read for anyone engaged in Buddhism, but it also became central to my week again after stumbling across an article in my ongoing search for material on addiction.

You may be well aware of this one already, but for me it was a welcome and intriguing discovery. Entitled, The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think, the article counters prevailing (institutional) logic around addiction.

Author Johann Hari sounds like he surprised himself. Seeking out information on why the “War on Drugs” seems to have been a dismal failure, he notes:

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned — and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

Nichtern’s book is driven by a fundamental Buddhist concept – interdependence. That is to say, everything occurs in relationship to another, even the lack of relationship! We are simultaneously singularly ourselves and inextricably linked to and part of “the other”. Typical contrary Buddhism!

Hari’s argument is similar in that his conclusion that addiction is not necessarily driven by a relentless need to consume our drug of choice. People can, and do, stop. Others don’t. The difference, as he sees it, is that some people find the environmental conditions that do not lead to dependence – for example people in hospital, loaded to the follicles with morphine, who heal post-procedure, return home to their families and pick up their life without the thought – hey, morphine is great, I think I need more and more of that in my life.

Again, reading the article is recommended, as the above is a bit crude. But the telling line is strikingly simple.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

Tying all these strands together at the very least raises an interesting point. I can’t remember how many times I’ve sat in AA and other meetings hearing people talk of having no support; of being abandoned by family and friends before and during their addiction; of feeling isolated and unloved; of bonding with the bottle. And, of course, finding hope in their “new family”, the fellowship of AA.

In AA, the Steps are what creates transformation. It should be noted that when Bill and Bob started the steps were all they had – meetings came along later.

But the meetings are crucial and often held up as a lifeline for the recovering alcoholic. They are the opportunity to connect – to realise that even in our differences we are more often than not very much the same person as the woman or man sitting next to us. Keep coming back we chant, do more meetings is common advice.

The Three Jewels of Buddhism include the Sangha. Like recovery, Buddhism is an individual path, but one that’s universal and ultimately shared.

Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect.” But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness.” We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander … told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

In The Road Home, Ethan Nichtern talks of “heartmind”. It’s where intellectual intelligence and emotional wisdom are inextricably linked, and foster an awakened conscious.

I had to change my drinking. My attitude towards it and my unhealthy relationship with it. I had to break the connection, dissolve the bond. But stopping the picking up was just the very first glimpse of recovery… just the first step on a life long journey home.

Recovery then might be more about moving into the world of engagement, with wisdom and empathy, understanding that my personal story of addiction and disconnection is just one small spoke in a giant wheel of a world that drives people to flee into the “ism”. And that without your recovery, my recovery can never be complete.

Sobriety – welcome home.




Here’s Johann’s awesome TED talk


Buy The Road Home from Amazon.

Shambala Times interview with Ethan Nicthern.

Hipster-zine Vice talks with Ethan about his book.

Habit, Karma and Brushing My Teeth

It’s interesting in the early days. I’ve stopped and relapsed as a cycle, each time thinking that this was the “rock bottom” I’ve heard so much about. Even feeling it, my body tight and my jaw clenched as I say, “this time, never again, there has to be a better life than this”.

Only to encounter some stress, challenge or change. And out of habit, out of fear, my mind has managed to convince me that just one glass of something would just take the edge off. Just give me that warm glow of booze fuelled confidence, just speed up time so tomorrow could roar through to save the disaster of today.

Of course, it’s never just one. Things are seldom that simple.

I like to try and frame things in Buddhist terminology so that my sober learnings and my spiritual learnings (if I can use the word spiritual in as far as Buddhism, but that’s another story) feed into each other and help me as I try to essentially rebuild myself in sobriety.

Each day I receive an email from Tricycle, an American Buddhist magazine. This “Daily Dharma” sometimes infuriates, confuses and inspires. As an aside I also read the AA’s “Daily Reflections”, just to try and keep at the forefront of my mind what I am seeking to change and, most importantly, why.

Here’s one I received from Tricycle a while back:

Karma is basically habit. It’s the momentum of repeated actions that become habitual. It’s in our best interest to develop as many positive habits as we can.

—Andrew Holecek, “The Best Possible Habit

Karma. I’ve seen it expressed as some type of behavioural stock market, where we try and trade and cash in on our times of “goodness” to avoid the repercussions of “evil” acts.

But  my understanding is as Andrew Holecek frames it.

Habits – so easily learnt and seemingly impossible to break at times. But the key is we can develop new habits, positive habits – it takes time and commitment, sure, but then again if I think of how much energy, cunning, and focus I put into ensuring I could drink every day then I know I have the resources at my hands should I channel them in a positive direction.

AA often say “don’t pick up the first drink”. There’s an acknowledgement implicit in this – the first drink is just that. It’s seldom the last drink for an alcoholic, no matter how our addled brains try to reassure ourselves that we know better this time. This time, just the one!

For me, karma is just that. It’s the decision I make now that will impact and establish the context for the next moment. And so on. If I lie now, then next I have to maintain the lie. And so it goes, the stress (and guilt) building as I exhaust myself sticking to a story I know is not true but holding on to it like a life raft at sea.

But that’s just one narrative. I could choose to tell the truth. Or if I catch myself in a lie, could apologise and admit that I have no idea why I just said that and the opposite is true. In doing so I set in motion a chain event of positive impacts – I set my intention to 11 on the Spinal Tap amp of abiding peacefully in the world.

These days, meditation for me is like brushing my teeth. Remember how it was when you were young? Your parents had to force you to brush your teeth. But now you do it every morning and night without being asked.

—Brad Warner, “A Minty Fresh Mind

I love Brad Warner. In fact I must write about him soon, and I’m eager to get my hands on his new book, Don’t Be A Jerk.

He puts things in a language that I understand, with irreverence, wisdom and a healthy dose of humour. In the above, another Tricycle dispatch, he really hits it on the head for me.

I don’t question brushing my teeth. I didn’t, for a long time, question why drinking 3 bottles of wine a day was a bad thing. It insulated me against pain and loneliness. It helped my engage with others, and most of all it helped me sleep and avoid the torment of nightmares and hours spent staring at a LED display wishing the numbers would tick over at double speed.

I embodied drinking, just as I embody showering, brushing my teeth and getting dressed each morning. In recovery I need to establish habits that contribute to my wellness and that ensure that I set my intentions to have a sober day.

It’s fucking hard. Perhaps not at the outset when the pain of the wreckage is fresh and the motivation consuming you, like a fire raging through your body that no-one can see. AA call it the “pink fluffy clouds”. It seems like all the pain was leading up to this moment. Peace. Power. Control.

Then I drop out of the sky, Icarus style.

I think of how hard I have to convince my children to brush their teeth. Heck, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles might be on and what’s more important? They have a child’s understanding and so I parent them, because I know the importance of such a small act.

My early recoveries have been like this, except I’ve often missed the point. I need to be parented as my recovery is in infancy. I need AA, meditation, the Big Book, the Heart Sutra, a sponsor and a sangha to help show me the way and remind me of the importance of practising so that I can develop new habits on my journey to a life without alcohol as the ever present escape.

Today I choose to create and foster positive karma. Knowing that even if it is difficult, meeting that challenge head on will save me a considerable amount of pain – and not cause more damage to other people, places and things – in the next moment.

Moving this way I am at peace with the world. Just for this moment, just for today.



See the bottle, kill the bottle

Not another anonymous sobriety blog. I know. But I won’t be promoting it so those who find it will hopefully need to and those who don’t hopefully don’t find themselves where I find myself.

30 something, educated, with a lot of opportunity. Who found and loved Zen at an early age, but none of this helped me (yet). Who sits here at the beginning of another long journey into the koan of sobriety… something that has to be actualised and not intellectualised, although no doubt I’ll do the latter.

Sitting alone in a room with a wife and two beautiful children across town in the home we built only for me to lose it. For a variety of reasons that could be mental health related, but at the end of the day my relationship with alcohol has taken them from me. And jobs, and other things too… like my practise.

I have held onto Zen over the last couple of years, but I haven’t integrated it into my life just as I haven’t got sober and stayed sober for long. Like bursts of energy for meditation, sobriety has come and gone. Strange to say I have embraced the pain of samsara rather than the uncomfortable-ness of thirty minutes on a cushion; the pain of lonliness rather that the difficulty of embracing other people as myself and living compassionately with metta and prajna.

So the koan still sits with me, gifted by the teacher of addiction, unanswered in any way apart from to say the mountains are too high to climb, the rivers too deep to cross. Craving and desire, no matter how unsatisfactory, have been the easier path.

I’ve heard someone at AA say that this is the most expensive club in the world because it takes everything. But as they say, everything changes.

I’m trying to use this blog to document my own journey. Of course I want sobriety, but I also want to deepen my practise and practical understanding of the Three Jewels, teachings I can’t walk away from although I have tried time and again because I know them to be true.

Of course inspired by the Dharma Punx and Noah Levine/ Josh Korda (see also Refuge Recovery which I’ll certainly blog about), I hope I can develop wisdom and knowledge to help me – along with other practical steps! – finally find some acceptance of the way things are and in doing so leave behind this endless cycle of drinking.

And maybe regain some of the people I lost along the way.