the 12 steps, buddhist fashion

one of my twitter friends, ben, has been alerting me to all kinds of interesting links lately. through him i found this here, the 12 steps of liberation, a recovery program from a buddhist view. it’s brought to us by the universal compassion centre.

the 12 steps of liberation
1. the truth of suffering. we experienced the truth of our addictions – our lives were unmanageable suffering.
2. the truth of the origin of suffering. we admit that we craved for and grasped onto addictions as our refuge.
3. the truth of the end of suffering. we came to see that complete cessation of craving and clinging at addictions is necessary.
4. the truth of the path. we made a decision to follow the path of liberation and to take refuge in our wisdom, our truth, and our fellowship.
5. right view. we completely see our life as it is. our goodness is indestructible. we are willing to acknowledge and proclaim our truth to ourselves, another human being and the community.
6. right thought. we are mindful that we create the causes for suffering and liberation.
7. right speech. we purify, confess and ask for forgiveness straightforwardly and without judgment. we are willing to forgive others.
8. right action. we make a list of all persons we harm and are willing and able to actively make amends to them all, unless to do so would be harmful.
9. right livelihood. we simplify our lives, realizing we are all interconnected. we engage in active compassion. we select a vocation that supports our recovery.
10. right effort. we acknowledge mistakes and relapse as part of the path. we continue to practice these steps with joyful effort.
11. right mindfulness. through prayer, meditation and action we follow the path of truth, being mindful moment by moment.
12. right concentration. open to the spirit of awakening as a result of these steps, we will carry this message to all people suffering with addictions.

what do you think of this? i particularly liked, “our goodness is indestructible”.

(as coincidence would have it, below these steps i found a link to the australian buddhist recovery site, which i had already mentioned in a previous post. i like it when that happens. it all felt really nice and organic).


  1. thanks for this – it came to me at a nice organic moment too!

    it’s the higher power in the ‘classic’ 12 steps which i find to be problematic sometimes. particularly for abuse survivors and people who just do not feel that giving up own their hard won power to a “higher” power is the right thing to do…

    this version, in my view, neatly removes this aspect while leaving all the useful stuff intact…

  2. thanks for this comment, sarah! when you have some time (i.e. when your toddler allows you 🙂 i’d be very interested in your thoughts on my other posts on the 12 steps, as well. (you can find them in the categories on the left)

    the question of power in the 12 steps is fascinating. i, too, took a long time to warm up to the idea of a higher power, for exactly the same reason.

    there’s actually a similarity with buddhism. just as buddhism sometimes looks as if it teaches disinterest (when it really is non-attachment, something very different), it can look like the 12 steps teach “victimy” powerlessness when really they teach responsibility through realizing the extent of our personal power.

    isabella mori’s last blog post..stand up against poverty

  3. mmmm, i see what you mean.

    i still think its not appropriate for everyone, though, particulary abuse survivors who are too used to having a sick higher power in control…will check out the other posts with pleasure!

  4. thanks for the info.. i think the 12 steps of liberation are pure ethics… and some ways to live in peace with the others…


  5. My higher power is Christ because I think his ACTIONS are his indestructible, eternal essence–and I’ve found in those actions everything that is in all the various masters from various traditions. My recovery has a strong “Zen” flavor, albeit unintentionally, but it has been noted by various people in my support network. My “Zen” take on “Buddhist recovery” is this: JUST DO the steps (think Dogen) and don’t try to Buddhist-ize them. People’s problem with a “higher power” isn’t because they’re Buddhist…it’s because they’re self-willed addicts. (Did you hear the ‘ka!’ ?)

  6. i really think you guys are over analyzing the religious aspect of it and she is plainly just trying to introduce a more open minded way of looking at the steps in case somebody was having trouble. dont take your religion so seriously

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