This paperback is another in SkyLight Paths' The Art of Spiritual Living Series. Rami Shapiro is an award-winning storyteller, poet, essayist and author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice and many other books. He is featured as a Living Spiritual Teacher on this website. Shapiro has been struggling with compulsive overeating for 50 years and is a member of a Twelve Step recovery program and a Twelve Step spiritual director. At the outset, he notes:
"My assumption is that alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive overeating, and any other addictive behavior are physical symptoms of a deeper psychospiritual disease, a state of mind that all humans share. The real disease from which almost all of us suffer is the disease of playing God, of thinking we are or should be in control of what happens to us in life."
Shapiro believes that spirituality consists of behaviors that can free individuals from the delusion that their lives can be controlled. Some of these character qualities are justice, compassion, curiosity, awe, wonder, serenity, and humility. Ending the harmful thinking of control is what recovery, awakening, and spiritual growth are all about. With typical prowess and brilliance, Shapiro draws upon the teachings and the practices of the world's religions to illuminate our understanding of each of the Twelve Steps. The book also contains stories from real people who are struggling with addictions.
Shapiro explores in depth the principles behind each of the Twelve Steps: powerlessness (Step One), faith (Step Two), surrender (Step Three), humility (Steps Four, Five, Six, and Seven), forgiveness (Steps Eight, Nine, and Ten), wisdom (Step Eleven), and hope (Step Twelve). We were especially impressed with his inclusion of the spiritual practices matched to the Steps: the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, crying out loud, cultivating humility, Vipassana Meditation, working with karma, cultivating shu, prostration, telling your story, and more.
Whether you are in recovery, suffering with an addiction, or know someone who is, this book will be a lifeline. By combining the rich life-nourishing resources of the world religions with the wisdom and practicality of the Twelve Steps, it can be a life-changer.