Friday, 29 April 2011

Simple Not Easy

"Simple not easy a price had to paid, it meant destruction of self centeredness."

Bill Wilson claimed that this was required if a "real" alcoholic hoped to be set free from their addiction. Now of course it is easy to misunderstand and misread this statement. It is not suggesting that a persons inner self requires destroying, merely their self centeredness. He and others discovered that the root cause of their alcoholism was in fact their self centeredness. This is why in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships it is claimed that through coming into relationship with a “power greater than self” an addicted person is set free from the bondage of their destructive mindset; a mindset that had previously compelled them to continue with their self, and other, destructive activity. Perhaps the greatest myth, perpetuated about addiction, is that the sufferer is somehow choosing to do what they do. Even if they are appearing to do so, they are making the “choice” from an insane mindset. How can this be called a “free choice”? That said many millions of people have been set free from their addictions by a change in heart and mind brought on by a way of life that at its core is the principle of self giving love, or agape.

Self transcendence is not about destruction of “self” it is actually about the discovery of the “real self”. It is the key to “real freedom”. It is not a new idea and is a message found at the root of the great religious traditions, theistic and non-theistic. I like to call it the "Diamond principle". Through self transcendence our “real” nature is fully revealed; what Bill Wilson himself has described as the “Great Reality”, deep down within every man, woman and child and all life for that matter. Some call this the “Cosmic Christ” or “Cosmic God”, what Matthew Fox has named as the “I am” in everything. It is a faith based on change, dare I say transformation, because this “I am” can reshape matter for ever. It is a change that is brought on by the spiritual activity of self giving love and not by “will powered” mental processes.
Self transcendence is “really” about delighting in our very being, by understanding that we exist beyond the confines of ourselves. Keith Ward has described it as “Non – egoist delight in being” Karen Armstrong suggests “For human beings transcendence is part of our experience of the world”. It not only changes how we are as individuals but how we relate to the world. It opens our eyes to a far more universal perspective. It enables us to see the world through the eyes of others and not just from our own narrow perspectives. This breeds compassion and leads to a “real freedom” that transforms the world for ever.

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