Great comment last night from a recovered atheist. For the record, you’d have to be considerably touched to think a Buddhist or other atheistic individual cannot recover, grow spiritually or become enlightened due to what is simply a difference in semantics. For further elaboration, do yourself a favor and read Thich Nhat Hanh’s, Living Buddha, Living Christ. I’ve also tried to address this topic in several previous posts such as Don’t Care What You Feel or Believe, Adopt a Belief? & God Isn’t a Concept. I also tried to address this anecdotally in my book.
Ultimately, all that matters in recovery is living right and doing right, not what we believe. Let’s face it, what’s the point of believing in God if you run around abusing the shit out of people? I think I’d rather have a friend who is a kind atheist as opposed to an asshole believer… and I’m sure there are plenty of asshole believers. I’m probably one of them.
That said, I believe that Buddhism and Christianity are quite similar in moral essence and proverb. And with recovery, it’s not so much about belief system but rather action system. What are we actually doing? How are we living? Are we treating others with kindness, tolerance and respect?
The one difference, for me anyway, is that for an addict to cultivate humility, I think it’s important to get underneath something. It feels more humble not to take credit for my recovery and the ensuing blessings. When I start taking credit, that is the very thing that gets me in trouble.
Plus, I can’t deny that God is responsible for my recovery because of what happened to me, because of the way the obsession was lifted. I felt His presence, His mind-bending power. It came from outside of my being and hit me like a ton of bricks. It flowed through me for a brief time, and fundamentally changed my mind forever. From that moment on, obsession gone. Thoughts to drink alcohol and use drugs suddenly had zero power over me.
Finally, I’m not quite sure how many of us are really atheists. I know this will sound cocky and perhaps even dangerous, but God is not a belief in my opinion. God simply Is. God is more of a Knowledge I have as opposed to a concept, though I can understand the difficulty in accepting this if our experience with God only rests with others’ man-made conceptions and not with any direct experience of our own. Indeed, man-made conceptions of God and definitions of the word “God” have most certainly led us astray.
“We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we has to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us.” Alcoholics Anonymous, p.55