Posted by: innerpilgrimage | March 5, 2010

Due by Two: Connecting to a Power Greater than Myself

Abstinence from Compulsive Eating: 4 months, 19 days (142 days)

      Still reading that 10-year-old group copy of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. Much more intense, I think, than OA’s 12&12, the need for humility and acceptance of a Higher Power really does set that foundation we pour when we admit that our need to control our food intake (be it bingeing, bulimia, or anorexia) has got us beat.
      Hard words to read for an agnostic, let me tell you.

      “Use a little willpower!” has become internalized as a personal badge of strength and the lack of it is a bright red W we wear in our personalities. I mean, we’ve just admitted there’s a problem, and we’re ready to get in there and fix it, right? This is my battle, this is my problem, and no amount of religion can fix it! we think.
      For me, I gave up on God years ago because I was told God was limited by The Word. Dinosaur remains and evolution were tricks by the Devil to turn me from my One, True Savior (TM). I’ve traveled through a few religions, and I’ve come up with an answer that actually comes from the Bible. Romans 11:34 states, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor?” and 1 Corinthians 2:16 follows up with: “For who has known the mind of the Lord? But we have the mind of Christ.”
      Well, Christ said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
      So dinosaurs and guided evolution are things God could do. That said, the damage is done, and it is permanent. The God I knew as omniscient and omnipotent as a child had been locked into a prison called church. In my wanderings over the last 30 years since I turned away from the Christian faith, I have grown to realize spirituality is like an OA food plan: Everyone’s plan is personal, even if they have the same one as several or many others do. As long as it encourages abstinence (or in spiritual practice, true faith), the plan works. Christianity is a beautiful path when it’s not warped–as are all of the peace-seeking world religions. The difference, to me, is whether the religion is living (and growing) or dead (and static, demanding faith without growth). The people who live and grow in the Christian faith instead of spout ancient doctrine are just about the nicest people I’ve met, and I admire them–enough that I sometimes consider returning to the religion until I remember they are the minority.
      For me, I am closest to Theravada Buddhism: Instead following the doctrine of blind faith, I open myself up to the Universe for my spiritual guidance. Though Theravada has no real structure outside of what is best described as a scientific method approach toward life in my practice of it, I find that questioning my faith has led to a deeper connection to it. I appreciate that the 12 Steps has done a lot to advance that inner journey. I may not know the history of God as set down by the priests of the religion, but I know in my heart I am both infinite and infinitessimal in the grand scheme of things. I like to consider Sutta 72 (Where the venerable Vachagotta and the Buddha discuss the ten unanswerable questions/positions) when I consider whether there is a God or not–some questions are too big for me to answer because I am not in a position to know them, limited as I am by my current incarnation.

      In the same respect, some problems are too big for me to solve, limited as I am by my current incarnation. Therefore, the truths I do know–that there is something out there bigger than me and that I can see and recognize the patterns in the Universe which lead me to enlightenment–are what can be classified as my Higher Power. When I release the self to my Higher Power, I am releasing the mara of the addiction and the attempt to control it. It, like Vachagotta’s fire, hasn’t gone North, East, West, or South. It simply goes “out”. It is not anywhere I can conceptualize of, and to seek it out is to actively seek the addiction.
      Why would I want to do that to myself? Is it reasonable to actively seek something that poisons my life? Is it sane to have that ability to avoid taking the poison yet take it anyway with the hopes that I am strong enough that it won’t kill me? I would not actively drink poison if a vial were in front of me, so why would I actively choose to fight an addiction alone?
      Ego.
      Releasing to a Higher Power is an act of humility, of taking one’s self out of the chewy center of the candy-coated Universe. What a blow to the self, right?
      Wrong. I can do more because my mind is not focused on me and how I am going to beat this food addiction. I have time, and it is filled with not-food.
      That is the sanity a Higher Power can give. That is the fulfilled promise of the second step. Yes, sometimes I want to reach for it, but I can turn away from the poison and toward the Universe that surrounds that tiny vial of pure addiction. That vial of compulsive eating–just like me–is infinitessimal and discrete in the grand scheme of the Universe.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict who is thankful to be sane today because a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.

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