People in recovery structure their stories along the lines of “what it was like; what happened; what it is like now.” There is a curious tendency to emphasize the first part – the problem. Alcoholics call it the drunk-a-logue. Therapists call it the problem-saturated story. The solutions are surely mysterious and even people who have experienced one may not always have the language to conceptualize it or describe it.
If the solution involves a transpersonal strength – a higher power or something larger than ourselves – there actually is no language available to describe it. All spiritual language is necessarily metaphor. There is a saying attributed to Henrich Zimmer: “The best things in life cannot be told. The second best things are misunderstood. The third best things are everyday conversation.” Spiritual solution talk is second best.
I have come across three solution paths in my travels and two are overtly transpersonal. There are, I assume, many other possibilities. Again, I am concerned with emotional sobriety. Sobriety (or harm reduction) from substances or behaviors is and should be the immediate problem. In the case of certain substances recovery requires intensive medical care. Go there first.
For “users and players” emotional sobriety is the second, further journey. For everybody else, they might start out on one of these three paths:
- the path of Higher Consciousness – using the thought of Ken Keyes and Ken Wilber
- the path of Divine Therapy – using the thought of Thomas Keating
- the path of Twelve Steps – from Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous
In the next three blog posts I will attempt a sketch of each one, adding how I make sense of them in an integrated life.