12 Steps on Buddha’s Path - Foreword

Bill, Buddha, and We

I often have the opportunity to speak about the benefits of my Buddhist meditation practice to groups of people who have no background in Buddhism. It might be at the monthly meeting of the Parent / Teacher Association of the local middle school, the Library Club of a senior residential center, the Tuesday morning breakfast meeting of the Rotary Club in a nearby town, or the spring benefit luncheon of the county Association of Family Lawyers. The ages of the people in the audience vary and their reasons for coming together are different, but my message is basically the same wherever I go:

I tell them that the Buddha taught meditations as one way of cultivating wisdom and kindness. I say that the fundamental premise behind all the practices that the Buddha taught is that it is possible to have minds that are peaceful in the middle of lives, and in the middle of a world, that are continually and inevitably problematic.

I begin with the first of the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha’s summary expression of his understanding of the causes and the end of suffering. Life is difficult, he taught, inherently challenging, because it requires constant accommodation to changing, often painful, circumstances. I say the Second Noble Truth this way: Suffering is the insatiable need to have things be other than what they are. I continue with the Third Noble Truth: Peace is possible, happiness is possible, because peace and happiness in life do not depend on what is going on but rather on how the heart and mind respond to what is happening. I add that the Fourth Noble Truth is the program of practices the Buddha taught to promote the heart’s wise response.

It is very often at this point that someone in the audience will say, “Wait a minute. I say something like this every day. I say, ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Isn’t that what you’re saying?”

I say, “Yes. It is.”

The idiom of the 2,500-year-old Buddhist tradition and the idiom of contemporary Twelve Step teachings are different, but both paths share the powerful message of the possibility of peace and happiness. The author of this book has used her own experience in decades of Twelve Step work and as a Buddhist meditator as the vehicle for presenting both practice paths. As I read these parallel reflections, echoing the promise of the end of suffering back and forth between them, the promise of liberation from suffering sounded stronger and stronger, as if two familiar voices were calling out “ Yes!” and “Amen!” to each other. I finished the book inspired. It renewed my zeal. I think it will do the same for you.

The author, writing under the pseudonym Laura S., offers this book anonymously, in respect to the Twelve Step commitment to anonymity and in the understanding that no one does anything alone. Everything anyone does is an expression of all the circumstances, connections, and communities that have been part of that person’s experience. Laura S., Bill W., the Buddha, and We all wrote this book. May all of us and all beings share in its merit.

 

—Sylvia Boorstein
  Spring 2006

 

How to cite this document:
© Laura S., 12 Steps on the Buddha's Path (Wisdom Publications, 2006)

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