The Buddhist Recovery movement is based on using the Dharma to overcome the suffering arising from addiction.
The Buddhist Recovery Network (BRN) and the Northwest Dharma Association (NWDA) are sponsoring the 2017 Buddhist Recovery Summit. George Johns, President of BRN, and George Draffan, Executive Director of NWDA, have collaborated together to host the second Summit.
They have invited Buddhist Recovery teachers, facilitators and people committed to Buddhist Recovery to come together in the Gwinwood Conference Center, Lacey, Washington from Friday October 20th to Sunday October 22nd, to discuss the state of Buddhist Recovery in the 21st Century.
The summit is open to anyone interested in Buddhist recovery. Space is quite limited, so it is important to confirm your interest in attending as soon as possible. Staying offsite and not at the retreat itself – with a $150 fee – is now the only option. You can get more information right here: Buddhist Recovery Summit.
The Buddhist Recovery Network was founded in 2008 to support people using the tools of the Dharma in their recovery.
This summit, like the conference in 2009 in Los Angeles, is being organized by the generosity of others, by people donating their time and money.
Northwest Dharma Association has taken a pioneering lead in bringing leading Buddhist Recovery teachers from the USA, Canada, England and Australia together to discuss “What is Buddhist Recovery?”.
The origins of Buddhist Recovery lies in the Dharma taught by Gautama the Buddha.
When the Prince Siddhartha gained enlightenment and became a Buddha, his first discourse was on addiction. It is reported that he said:
There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (The Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana.
We could say that the Prince Siddhartha had addictions, and when he became enlightened he went beyond all his addictions and became a Buddha.
We know that before Shakyamuni became a Buddha (waking up to the truth of reality) he tried extreme self-discipline that included abstaining from all forms of indulgence, which was called the practice of asceticism.
His self-mortification included eating just one grain of rice a day, and sometimes walking around with one arm in the air for weeks.
In his search for an end to suffering, Gautama became an addict to asceticism.
Like today’s addicts, he had learned how to master pain, or so he thought. He grew as thin as a skeleton, and did not budge from his addiction. Still he did not find an end to suffering.
We also know that his ascetic practices were in reaction to the hedonistic lifestyle he had been surrounded by from birth. Every sense was indulged in, and that his lifestyle of hedonism and craving was most probably normal. However, he was not satisfied.
It was seeing the four sights of ageing, sickness, death and a man begging for alms that propelled him to escape from the prison of his mind. The Buddha outlines what we could call the Great Escape from Addiction, through the teachings of the four noble truths, the eight fold path, and going for refuge.
Therefore it is not surprising that we saw the birth of the Buddhist Recovery Network in January 2008 at Cannon Beach, Oregon via the inspiration of people like Alan Marlatt, Kevin Griffin, Paul Saintilan and Sheila Blackfoot.
The BRN arose from discussions between Paul Saintilan and Kevin Griffin in September 2006. A meeting of interested parties was held at Cannon Beach (Oregon) in January 2008 to define the mission of the organisation. A Board was formed, the organisation was formally incorporated as a non-profit, and administrative processes were completed, such as achieving tax deductible status with the IRS. The website was seen as a priority from the outset, providing information on meetings and resources.
Long before the Buddhist Recovery Network there was a growing interest in Mindfulness among psychologists and psychotherapists; the worldwide growth of AA in the twentieth century encouraging the practice of meditation in its Eleventh Step. A number of authors were focusing on the intersection of Buddhism and recovery long before the BRN, including William Alexander, Mel Ash, Tomas and Beverly Bien, and Christina Grof. Also including Daniel Goleman’s book Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them?, have all contributed to the Buddhist Recovery Movement.
The first Buddhist Recovery conference was staged in October 2009 at Against the Stream in Los Angeles, was put together by BRN with the assistance of Noah Levine and Mary Stacanvage.
Since then Buddhist Recovery has gained traction, popularized by books written by Kevin Griffin, One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, and A Burning Desire, both and Laura S’s book, 12 Steps on the Buddha’s Path – Bill, Buddha and We. In 2014 two books came out, dedicating the Buddhist Teachings specifically as a way out of suffering. Noah Levine published Refuge Recovery, a book which outlines a Buddhist approach to recovery, along with pioneering the first Buddhist Recovery Rehabilitation centre for people with addictions.
Dr Valerie Mason-John M.A. (hon.doc) and Dr Paramabhandu also published Eight Step Recovery, Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, exploring recovery through the lens of the Buddhist Teachings. Refuge Recovery and Eight Step Recovery have meetings in several countries around the world. And we are beginning to see a plethora of other Buddhist Recovery Meetings, from 5th Precept, to Hungry Ghost, to 12 Step and Dharma meetings.
This year summit will be hosting keynote speakers Vince Cullen from Ireland, Dr Valerie Mason-John M.A. (hon.doc), Noah Levine, and Kevin Griffin. Other attendees also include Dori Langevin, Darren Littlejohn, Christie Bates, and many others.
Paul Santilan and Timothy O’Brien the organizers of the first summit will be facilitating a morning on the future of the BRN, and a way forward. We hope to have enough money to pass onto the organizers of the 3rd summit. And hope that we will not have to wait another 8 years for it to happen.
Please consider making donations to support the Summit on our website, the Buddhist Recovery Summit.