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10 Myths about Walking a Spiritual Path
“Walking the Road of Happy Destiny”
On the last page of the Big Book of AA, Bill W. describes “walking the road of happy destiny.” He speaks of a wide and easy path leading to serenity in our lives and which is available to all.
This is what I mean by walking a spiritual path. He also said we learned that living by spiritual principles will solve all our problems, principles like honesty, kindness, and compassion.
However, there are many misconceptions about what it means to walk a spiritual path. Let me try to dispel a few.
- I must give up having fun. Fun is an essential part of recovery. I promised myself that if recovery was not as much fun as using, I would go back to using. That was 23 years ago.
- I must give up innocent pleasures and desires. Certainly, my ideas about pleasure have changed. No longer are cocaine and wine at the top of the list. The little things in life take on a joy I couldn’t see when I was using. Now, high on my list are my new relationships, my family, and waking up happy and sober.
- Give up old friends. Well, yes, there is that. But in the days of my using, my drug buddies were only friends as long as I had more dope. My new friends in recovery accept me for who I am, and their friendship is real.
- I must be solemn, and gloomy, and weep and moan all day long. This better describes me in the throes of my addiction. A black and gloomy cloud lived just above my head. Now, I can take a deep breath without feeling a knot in my stomach. If I cry today, it is with joy.
- I must retire from the world, live on a mountain top. Well, you can if you want to, but life in recovery puts me in the middle of life in all its diversity and beauty. Isolation was a mark of my addiction, but today I am never alone, and I am never lonely.
- I must pray all the time. I have learned much about prayer in my time in sobriety. Prayer is the most powerful kind of thinking. It projects my feelings and needs out into the universe. So actually, every thought in my head is a prayer.
- I must be ascetic, leading a life of self-denial and self-mortification. God, I hope not. The further I get on the path, the more wonderful life becomes. To the extent that I can let go of my ego and let the love of God flow through me, the more the wonders of life are bestowed on me.
- I must be poor, begging on the street for spare change. The love of money is certainly one of the causes of evil. Pursuing the goods of the material world never gave me lasting happiness. But if my goal is to first pursue a life of the spirit, the universe will shower me with more good things than my arms can hold.
- Shave my head, chant at airports, and wear yellow robes. My first sponsor was a Hindu and he did teach me to chant Hare-Krishna, but he also taught me about the spiritual truth that can be found in any religion. He was a truck driver. No yellow robes here, just serenity.
- I must only read religious texts and sing hymns that sound like dirges. Recovery opens doors I never knew existed. I have the opportunity to redefine who I am as a human being. I can explore new ideas, read new books, and sing new songs. A full and fulfilling life lies open before me.
I didn’t begin recovery to get my old life back. My old life was horrible, and I don’t want to go back there. I gave up hang-overs, tracks in my arms, and a heart filled with darkness. The most important thing I have discovered in sobriety is that life is infinitely better when I move my ego out of the way and let the Universe choose for me. That is, Let Go and Let God. God’s will for me is always something far greater and more wonderful than anything I can imagine for myself.
There’s one other thing. When we live with God’s love flowing through us, we necessarily improve the lives of those around us. The benefit we receive reaches out farther than we can imagine. We become a light, however small and dim, to others. But the coolest part is that we will never know the names of the people we have helped.