Turning It Over

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In the 12 Steps, the 3rd step refers to "turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him."

I have been thinking about this phrase for several days. I do relate to a Higher Power (as is spoken of in these meetings) as being the wisdom of Buddha--known collectively as the Dharma.

This is not the traditional way of engaging in this step, but I find that I cannot do this thing of letting go of mindless or emotionally-triggered eating on my own and I must turn to my Higher Power in earnest for assistance.

But as I thought about it this morning, I focused on how the "turning over" part sounds like a passive activity. That's easy--just decide to "turn it over" and I'll have it made. But for years that idea of letting something else in the universe "fix" me (or fix the results of my poor choices) has not worked. I am starting to understand that the "turning over" part is not passive--not if I hope for it to work in my life.

Turning Over forces me to recognize that the choices I make, when not in a mindful and aware place, are often poor ones. That there is a higher power that has the wisdom I lack, but aligning myself with that power is an enormous undertaking. At least for me, in the way that I am thinking about this.

The Dharma instructs us that for us to have a life that will lead to happiness (for ourselves and others) it is necessary to faithfully and constantly move through our day in a manner that is aware of all that we do--and not be distracted by thoughts that invite us to do careless things that will end badly. It is all about making wise and useful decisions at the time--rather than trying to fix things later.

And its not just about reading the books, listening to others talk about how to do it--all of which is fascinating to me; its really about my decision to live in that way. Otherwise, all of my interest in hearing and learning about it is just a little distraction for a while until I am called away to do something else.

It is dawning on me slowly, that this is not meant to be something interesting to learn about--but a matter of life and death almost, in terms of the quality of life choices one will henceforth make on this path.

Does that sound too dramatic? Well, every time I can't say no to eating something I hadn't planned on, or especially when I turn to food for comfort--and eat till I just can't eat anymore--that's a life & death decision. I know that--my doctors tell me that my extra weight is cutting years off my life. Which doesn't mean a lot until I am in the solitude of my own space--then I feel so very sad that I struggle, alone, every day with a habit that will keep me from living some of the precious years of my life.

Unless I "turn it over" to a higher power as I understand it. What I understand through the Dharma, are the Precepts that guide us not to do actions that will hurt ourselves or others. They are very specific--but they are not so easy to stick with. They cover things such as not gossiping, not taking intoxicants, not doing harm to any living creature, and so forth.

How does one go through a day without mindlessly doing things like that sometimes? Swat at a bug? That's a living creature who needs its space and life just as I do. Speak gossip about someone? That person will be injured by my carelessness, just as if I had done it to them directly. Do not take intoxicants? Well, for me, a binge at night (that starts out as just a simple and healthy snack) can be very intoxicating.

This turning it over is a complicated commitment, and I am realizing more and more that it may be the hardest of the 12 steps to achieve. However, I am grateful for the Precepts to guide me, and I am going to focus on realizing them (that is, making them REAL) in my actions, not just in theory.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • SILLYHP1953
    Your blog kept me interested all the way through. I just read a book called Buddhism for Busy People, kind of a beginners guide. I believe a lot of what Buddhism teaches, but have not studied it. You are definately doing some serious inner work and made me think about the 3rd step in ways I never had before. I really like that Buddhism is about the doing, not the sitting and thinking about it. I'm looking forward to more blogs from you.

    emoticon Phyllis
    3149 days ago
    Best wishes on your journey towards increasing your mindfulness.
    emoticon emoticon
    Remember not to be too down on yourself when you get lost in thoughts - the important thing is to just gently bring your consciousness back to the present moment.
    3228 days ago
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