From Cynic to Taoist in 12 Easy Steps

First of all a shout out and a big thank you to all of you who are following The Spirit of DawnRecovery.  When we go on a journey, we might go faster alone, but it’s a sure thing we’ll go farther together.

Since the topic of that Webcast I was invited to take part in (but could not attend) was “Spirituality in Recovery,” I thought I’d go ahead and talk about it here.  I mean, the title of the blog is “The Spirit of Recovery,” after all.

First some quick background info, which should fill up this post just enough to make you drowsy but not put you to sleep.  Then future posts will concern specific topics within the broad range of spirituality in recovery.

Very well, then.

I was born into a long line of protestants of various shapes and raised in a moderately evangelical protestant church.  I left that church, and pretty much left organized religion entirely, when I was 14 years old.  Tried to make science my religion, but couldn’t find my answers there, either.  During my first tour of duty with the Navy, I found myself stationed in the middle of the Mojave desert (yes, the “Desert Navy”) with little to do after work.  I joined a yoga class at the community college there and was introduced to relaxation meditation, yoga and Buddhism.  I didn’t care much for the yoga, but kept up the meditation practice, and after about a year, swapped the Buddhist philosophy for Taoism.

But it wasn’t long after that when life’s responsibilities overwhelmed all else.  That, and my increasing use of alcohol to escape much of life and its responsibilities brought a complete halt to my search into the mysteries of existence.  This was back in the mid-1970′s.

Fast-forward to a more recent past when, at last, I took the 12 Steps.  I didn’t exactly take them in order.  I did try, but it wasn’t going to work that way for me.  As I mentioned before in “A Point of Order,” I skipped Step 3 and plunged ahead to Steps 4-9.  The work I did and the self-knowledge I gained in those steps brought me back into contact with my spirituality at precisely the point I had left it when the alcoholism took over back in the ’70s.

It Just Doesn’t Matter
Today, my spirituality (or my religion, if you’d prefer the term) is an eclectic blend of Taoism, the Abrahamic faiths, Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy, and a smattering of various other sources.  Not everyone’s cup of tea; but I rarely mention it much anyway, because it doesn’t matter.  In the context of the 12 Steps, it just doesn’t matter what anyone’s specific faith or beliefs are; what matters is how we live our faith and beliefs.

Based on millennia-old, nearly universal principles, the Steps can work for anyone.  They bring us back to our true values, and in doing so, either reunite us with beliefs and faith we’ve forgotten we had, deepen and enrich our faith and beliefs that we already have, or let us discover beliefs and faith where none may have existed before. And that’s a beautiful thing!

One last bit of personal history before I end this post, for no other reason than I love the irony of it.  In 1978, I married the woman I still live with today, and we had a son in 1984.  My wife is a Roman Catholic; my son grew up to join a charismatic Christian church; and I am, I don’t know, I yam what I yam.  And we’ve never argued over religion!  Well, unless you count the time I tried to wriggle out of going to a Christmas midnight Mass with my wife.  (I lost that one, and it was a wonderful Mass.)

How about you?  If you’ve been through the Steps, did you come away with a deeper faith, renewed faith, or find a faith from the experience?  If you’ve yet to take the Steps, do you believe they can do one of those three things for you?  Any questions or problems in the broad topic of spirituality and recovery that you’d like to see discussed here in the future?  As always, we appreciate and value your comments/questions at SoR.  Even when you (gasp!) disagree. 

Again, thanks for being here.  Let’s go far together in 2013!

  1. Great post. Thank you for the topic. I love your line, “my increasing use of alcohol to escape much of life and its responsibilities brought a complete halt to my search into the mysteries of existence.” That rang so true for me. In fact, my use of alcohol brought a complete halt to many of my pursuits….intellectual, relationships, career-oriented. So sad how it ‘fuzzes’ the brain and the damage is so long-lasting! Thankfully, when we abstain, the desire to pursue these things often re-awakens or renews itself with atleast much of the old vigor.

    Keep writing. Your posts are encouraging to someone with less than a year under her belt. Thank you.


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