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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Converting straw to gold. Converting suffering to liberation..

Here’s some summary notes I made on the chapter 6 of a book about how to develop happiness in the previous post. I’ve added Big Book quotes when they seemed to be saying the same thing. I only made these notes to help me remember it later. :) because I forget !! everything otherwise. So feel free to ignore it if you feel like it..

Reasons why it’s a good idea to work towards reducing ones own suffering.
1. If we let ourselves be overwhelmed by our personal problems, no matter how tragic, we only increase our difficulties and become a burden on those around us.
a. We think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we bust into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. P132. Big book.
2. It is essential to acquire a certain inner sense of well-being so that without in any way blunting our sensitivities, our love, and our altruism, we are able to connect with the depths of our being.
3. "If there is a cure, what good is discontent? If there is no cure, what good is discontent?

Conclusions about suffering.
1. Suffering will always exist as a universal phenomenon, but every individual has the potential for liberation from it.
2. Suffering is not inevitable because unhappiness has causes that can be identified and acted upon. Unhappiness is itself subject to change and can be transformed. There is neither primordial nor eternal suffering. We all have the ability to study the causes of suffering and gradually to free ourselves from them.
a. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn’t do it. Avoid then, the deliberate manufacture of misery, but if trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence. P133. Big Book.
3. Peace of mind does not come simply because we want it to. You have to take action and work towards it. It's not the magnitude of the task that matters; it's the magnitude of our courage.
a. Faith withot works is dead. P76. Big Book. Do not be discouraged. P70. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s a cinch an inch but it’s hard by the yard.

Common misperceptions about unhappiness.
1. Unhappiness is inevitable because it is the result of divine will or other immutable principle ie forever out of our control.
2. Unhappiness has no identifiable cause, is random and has no relation to us personally.
3. Confused fatalism thinking that whatever the cause of suffering, the effect will always be the same. Ie ‘Whats the point’.

Distinguish between ephemeral discomforts and unhappiness.
1. Ephemeral discomforts:
a. Depends on external circumstances.
2. Unhappiness
a. A profound state of dissatisfaction enduring even in favorable external conditions.
i. Restless irritable and discontent. The Doctor’s opinion.

Distinguish between 2 types of suffering: Physiological pain and the mental and emotional suffering it unleashes.
1. Physiological pain.
a. Mental imagery has proven to be the most effective in alleviating pain. eg a Beautiful landscape. Slide show. or a repetitive exercise .
b. Within a month of guided practice of mental imaging, 21% of patients claim a notable improvement in their chronic migraines, as opposed to 7% of control group that did not undergo training

2. Mental and emotional suffering.
a. Emotional reactions to pain vary, but if we allow anxiety to overwhelm our mind, the most benign pain will soon become unbearable.
b. Assessment of pain also depends on our mind. It is the mind that reacts to pain with fear, rejection, despondency, or a feeling of powerlessness; instead of being subjected to a single agony, we accumulate a host of them.
c. Selfless sadness need not amount to mental and emotional suffering because you can suffer physically or mentally - by feeling sad, for instance - without losing sense of fulfillment founded on inner peace and selflessness.

Magic magnifying mind p420 Big Book Acceptance was the answer: The more we think of the problem, the bigger the problem gets. The more you think of the solution, the bigger the solution gets. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/bigbook/pdf/theystoppedintime16.pdf
‘If our mind becomes accustomed to dwelling solely on the pain that events or people inflict on it, one day the most trivial incident will cause it infinite sorrow. As the intensity of this feeling grows with practice, everything that happens to us will eventually come to distress us, and peace will find no place within us. All manifestations will assume a hostile character and we will rebel bitterly against our fate, to the point of doubting the very meaning of life.’

Being happy doesn’t mean you stop caring or feeling.
1. You can be happy despite trauma and tragedy because someone can feel unconditional love for those who suffer and do everything in their power to attenuate their pain without allowing their lucid vision of existence to be shaken.
2. A storm may be raging at the surface, but the depths remain calm. ‘The wise man always remains connected to the depths.’
3. You can be available to others without giving in to despair when the natural episodes of life and death follow their course. It is a design for living that works in rough going. P15. big book.
4. Recovery from unhappiness is managed not cured because just because you are not defeated doesn’t mean events do not affect you or that you have overcome these obstacles forever; it only means that they no longer block your progress toward inner freedom.

The role of self-centeredness in suffering and pain.
1. "selfcenteredness" is the source of most of our disruptive thoughts. From obsessive desire to hatred, not to mention jealousy, it attracts pain the way a magnet attracts iron filings. Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. P62. Big Book.
2. Death/loss of a loved one. Self centered/self obsessed attachment is what causes painful obsession with the other. Remaining painfully obsessed with a situation or the memory of a departed loved one, to the point of being paralyzed by grief for months or years on end, is evidence not of affection, but of an attachment that does no good to others or to oneself.
3. Self-centeredness is the root cause of ‘invisible suffering’.

What is ‘invisible suffering’?
1. Visible suffering. Easy to spot..
2. Hidden suffering. concealed beneath the appearance of pleasure, freedom from care, fun.
a. Eating a fine dish and later getting food poisoning.
b. It remains hidden to those taken in by the illusion of appearances and cling to the belief that people and things last, untouched by the change that affects everything. Ie ‘This too shall pass’.
3. Invisible suffering.
a. The suffering that underlies the most ordinary activities.
b. Eg the inhumane battery farming ‘hidden’ in a boiled egg.
c. Is the hardest to distinguish.
d. Stems from blindness, ignorance, selfishness, selfcenteredness.

Page 84 has examples of freedom from suffering despite great adversity including stories about Guy Comeau (Peace despite great physical suffering) and Tenzin Choedrak (peace despite prisoner of war and torture survivor).
2 Proposed solutions to suffering offered are Mental imaging, where you try to imagine situations that are a source of peace on p74 and secondly a Compassion practice which is like Step 12. As in Service and 'Constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs' big Book which is on page 78 of his book. Although I find helping a newcomer works much the same way. :)

Anyway, I was interested with the similarities between this approach and AA so I just thought I would share that :) Hope you are all having a lovely wednesday :)


Syd said...

I enjoy your posts so much. These words really helped me today. I am not one to stay in suffering. I choose to be positive.

johno said...

Alchemy :) thanks for the post & I love the picture :) have a good Sunday