Spiritual life can usefully be pictured as a progressive recovery from the addiction of ordinary life, which is inherently schizoid and hence lacking in fullness and bliss. The well-known twelve-step program of recovery used in the literature of addiction also serve as a convenient model for spiritual process. Spiritual recovery is an uncovering of the spiritual dimension, whether we call it transcendental Self, God, Goddess, or the Ultimate – the dimension that is ordinarily covered up by the self-divided ego-personality, especially when it comes under the influence of the rational consciousness.
Here are the 12 steps of spiritual recovery:
1. We admit the fact that our ordinary human condition, based on the dualistic perception of life, is a stubborn habit that we normally conceal from ourselves through denial.
2. We begin to look and ask for guidance in our effort to cultivate a new outlook that embraces the spiritual vision of the interconnectedness of all existence. The means of doing so are varied from supportive spiritual environments to uplifting books.
3. We initiate positive changes in our behavior, which affirm that new outlook. It is not enough to read and talk about spiritual principles. Spirituality is intrinsically a practical affair.
4. We practice self-understanding; that is, we accept conscious responsibility for noticing our automatic programs and where they fall short of our new understanding of life.
5. We make commitment to undergoing the catharsis, or purification, necessary to change our old cognitive and emotional patterns and stabilize the new outlook and disposition, replacing the egoic habit of splitting everything into irreconcilable opposites with an integrative.
6. We learn to be flexible and open to life so that we can continue to learn and grow on the basis of our new outlook.
7. We practice humility in the midst of our endeavors to mature spiritually. In this way we avoid the danger of psychic inflation.
8. We assume responsibility for what we have understood about life and the principles of spiritual recovery, applying our understanding to all out relationships so that we can be a benign influence int eh world.
9. Guided by our new outlook, we work on the integration of our multiply divided psyche.
10. We cultivate real self-discipline in all matters, great and small.
11. We increasingly practice spiritual communion, which opens us to that dimension of existence where we are all connected. Through such communion and through continued growth in self-understanding, we become transparent to ourselves.
12. We open ourselves to the possibility of bliss, the breakthrough of the transcendental reality into our consciousness, whereby the ego principle is unhinged and we fully recover our spiritual identity. Through this awakening the world becomes transparent to us and we are made whole.
Source: “The Twelve Steps of Spiritual Recovery,” from The Deeper Dimensions of Yoga , by Georg Feuerstein
Photo courtesy of Temari
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