” Serenity is in the letting go!”
Alcoholism ( depression) and addiction, characterized as they are by the rigid clinging of obsession and compulsion, help us to understand the experience of release. Perhaps the greatest paradox in the story of spirituality is the mystical insight that we are able to experience release only if we ourselves let go, This is the paradox of surrender. Surrender begins with the acceptance that we are not in absolute control of the matter at hand – in fact, we are not in absolute control of anything. Thus the experience of surrender involves the “letting in” of reality that becomes possible only when we are ready to let go of our illusions and pretensions (our “unreality“).
If surrender is the act of “letting go” the experience of conversion can be understood as the hinge on which the act swings – it is the turning point, the turning from “denial” as a way of seeing things, to acceptance of the reality revealed in surrender. The self-centeredness that undermines spirituality is rooted in a self-deception that reflects a false relationship with reality, and that false relationship begins with distorted seeing, with some kind of false understanding about the nature of reality and our relationship with it. Breaking through that denial and confronting reality is what members of Alcoholic Anonymous mean by “hitting bottom.”
The experience of release most frequently comes at the point of exhaustion, at the moment when we “give up” our efforts and this permits ourselves to just be…
“What blocks release more than anything else is the refusal to “let go” that comes from the demand for security, for certainty, for assured results. Release, like spirituality itself, requires risk.”
SOURCE: The Spirituality of Imperfection. Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. Bantam Books, 1992. pages 168-169.
NOTE: This excerpt was reprinted in the Volume 8, Number #1 Issue of The Antidepressant Tablet. Louisville. KY.
“When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.
My depression deepened unbearably, and finally it seemed to me as though I were at the very bottom of the pit. For the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed. All at once I found myself crying out, “If there is a God, let him show himself! I am ready to do anything, anything.!”
Suddenly the room lit up with a great white light. It seemed to me, in the mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man. Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but now for a time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, “So this is the god of the preachers!”
SOURCE: Bill W., As Bill Sees It. Page 2. “In God’s Hand.” (The above quote is from Alcoholics Anonymous, P.100.)
I sometimes believe that the rise in single person households in the USA might either be the cause of a rise in Depression or at least show a correlation between these two variables. I believe that our modern culture helps produce the human monad or let’s say, a human nomad, rootless and alone. As the reality of a person isolated and alone can many times enkindle a personal sadness and atrophied social skills, we might be able to deduce from this that an individual could be setting themselves up for episodes of depression. Our modern mass culture, dedicated as it is to being a consumer of things and stuff (cf. George Carlin), and being part of a homogenized society with its focus on appearance, affluence and acceptance (cf. Mary Pifer’s work REVIVING OPHELIA: Teenage girls and depression), we find the isolated monad, in a society dominated by the pursuit of wealth, ( most of society struggling to make ends meet, working part time and low wage jobs) so why wouldn’t a person find themselves depressed.
I also think that most of us desire a life with meaning. A life that has purpose bigger than ourselves. But the more walls we butt our heads against, trying to find meaningful work, or any work and just wages, the deeper the pit of our frustration grows
Today in this age of an ever changing technology, more of us might find ourselves like the wandering nomad in a desert, no longer provided with guideposts directing us on a way out of our isolation and alienation from ourselves and our society. There is always another NEW and IMPROVED gizmo, for consumers to salivate over, marketed 24/7 on all our electronic devices. And, not surprisingly, the message is to always have the right appearance so to fit into all the right social groups; accepted by the all the right cliques of people; to live in the right affluent neighborhood (usually always more than our income allows).
Finally, when the bubble of our chase leads to a loss of self, and our bubble of isolation bursts, we either admit we are on the wrong path or we continue to deepen the pit of our own isolation and sadness. To this end, speaking for myself, we begin the search for the real deal, where people are really themselves, warts and all. We want to become part of that society (fellowship) larger than ourselves, where we now have a purpose motivated life. We now are neither monad or nomad but part of a group of men and women who live a life filled with hope and serenity. The chase has ended. What do you think?
Is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely, nothing happens in God’s world by mistake;
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.