I am not a Buddhist or a Christian, but I feel a great love for Buddha and Jesus. They are our worlds great messengers of peace and love. Buddha lived to be eighty years old as a master teacher; he lived in peace and health. I wish I could say that the countries that embraced Buddhism also embraced peace and became the leaders of a peace movement all over the world, but that has not come to pass. Jesus lived to be thirty three and died a horrible death and because of this he stands out in a more dramatic way than Buddha. Jesus’ language is more dramatic, too. He didn’t just suggest that human beings should love each other, he commanded it over and over again. He could have said it no plainer: love your enemies. And he practiced what he preached, even towards the Pharisees that he rebuked for being scholarly hypocrites. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for another person is to be direct. The shock of the confrontation is a wake up call. It wasn’t business as usual with Jesus. He did not conform to the sickness of the culture he lived within, inviting some to listen to his message while rejecting others. Everyone was welcome; he spoke to everyone.
Almost a third of the world’s seven billion plus people claim to be “Christians” or followers of Jesus, but they are not. If they were then at least over a third of the world would be committed to pacifism. Jesus was willing to die for peace and he did. No, mostly men continue to be willing to die, be maimed, maim and murder others by participating in the practice of war. But this faith in war goes much deeper into conflict within nations, within communities, within families, and most particularly within our own souls. Who is really our worst enemy? We are to ourselves. You cannot extend love out to others in a genuine and life changing way until you face yourself and accept yourself with all your strengths and weaknesses. But most of us run from facing ourselves as much as we run from facing the fact that all of us will die.
And so, in over two thousand years since the murder of Jesus, we have become a world of addicts. God has repeatedly touched the lives of spiritual teachers like Buddha and Jesus and sent the message out. The message is love. Love yourself, love others, love this planet, love God. It is so simple, so basic, so logical. So what do we do with this message? As a species, quite simply, we reject it. We are just where we should be, clinging to our illusions as our very world is in the process of succumbing to the poisons we so willingly produce within it. Can we save ourselves? What group of people can lead the way? The answer: addicts committed to recovery. Addicts are interspersed throughout the whole world’s population. Those who commit to recovery are committing to it all over. They are like white blood cells fighting off the infection in a sick organism.
In recovery programs all over the world addicts are taught that they must love and accept themselves as they are. Self hatred is the plague of the using addict and it is a way of being that must be confronted right from the start. There can be no personal recovery without self love. I know 12 Step programs are not the only way to recovery, but as far as I can judge, they are to date the most effective and the most widespread. It is a requirement that each individual addict admit to themselves and publicly that they are indeed an addict. We must admit that we are powerless over the illness, an illness both physical and spiritual. Addicts who become this self aware also become very aware of the elements of addiction interspersed throughout the culture they find themselves living in. Using addicts are everywhere, inside religious organizations, governments, businesses, education, courts of law, communities, families - everywhere. There is really no place left to turn but to something greater than humankind, to the Higher Power. And so it should be. Our sickness is just too deeply rooted into the core of the human species.
The way to heal the world is to focus on healing ourselves and healing ourselves means becoming honest, peace loving, responsible, humble, spiritually disciplined individuals. There is no other way. There never has been.
A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.