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Lions Roar : September 2014
ACtIVe AddICtIon is a kind of hell. It is like being a hungry ghost, wandering through life in constant craving and suffer- ing. Refuge Recovery, a Buddhist-inspired approach to treating addiction, offers a plan to end the suffering of addiction. Refuge Recovery follows the traditional Buddhist system of the four noble truths, which begin with four actions: 1. We take stock of all the suffering we have experienced and caused as addicts. 2. We investigate the causes and conditions that lead to addic- tion and begin the process of letting go. 3. We come to understand that recovery is possible and take refuge in the path that leads to the end of addiction. 4. We engage in the process of the eightfold path that leads to recovery. The core philosophy of Refuge Recovery is based on renuncia- tion and abstinence. We believe that the recovery process truly begins when renunciation is established and maintained. We also understand that imperfection and humility are part of the process. Even when we refrain from the primary drug or behavior, addiction at times manifests in other behaviors. We are not holding perfection as the standard, but as the goal. We believe in the human ability and potential for complete renunciation of behaviors that cause harm. We understand that for many this is an ongoing process of establishing and/or reestablishing renunciation. Renunciation alone is not recovery, however. It is only the beginning. Those who maintain abstinence but fail to examine the underlying causes and conditions are not on the path to recovery. They are simply stopping the surface manifestations of addiction, which will inevitably resurface in other ways. The eight factors, or folds, of the path are to be developed, experienced, and penetrated. This is not a linear path. It does not have to be taken in order. In fact, all the factors need to be developed and applied simultaneously. And to truly break free from addiction, the eight folds of recovery must be constantly maintained. This eightfold path leads to safety, to a refuge from addiction: 1. understanding. We come to know that everything is ruled by cause and effect. The four truths are an ongoing prac- tice. In this step, we gain insight into the impermanent, unsat- isfactory, and impersonal nature of life. Forgiveness is possible and necessary. 2. intention. We renounce greed, hatred, and delusion. We train our minds to meet all pain with compassion and all pleasure with nonat- tached appreciation. We cultivate generous, kind, and compassionate wishes for all living beings. We practice honesty and humility and live with integrity. 3. communication/community. We take refuge in the community as a place to practice wise communication and to support others on their paths. We practice being honest, wise, and careful with our communications, asking for help from the community and allowing others Adapted from Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction, by Noah levine. © 2014 by Noah levine. With permission of HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Taking refuge in the Buddha means taking refuge from our suffering. noah levine uses Buddhist principles and meditation practices to help people take refuge from the terrible suffering of substance abuse. To End the Suffering: The Eightfold Path of Recovery SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2014 59