Thought: ‘Sometimes we need to give up everything except hope.’
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There is a common teaching in religious traditions that advocates renouncing everything into order to focus on spiritual progress.
The thinking is that everything worldly is a distraction and self denial and abstinence removes everything between us and the real truth, the ultimate reality (whether that is seen as God or something more abstract and less personal).
All this parallels what every recovering addict knows: that alcohol, drugs or the process that obsessed us and dominated our life has to be set aside so that we have room to grow.
The abandoning of worldly distraction seems an impossible burden to accept but often those who have embraced that sort of asceticism claim it is liberating, and that it is possessions and ambition that stifle growth, not simple living.
Now extreme self-denial is probably not the right path for the majority of us. But when the Twelve Steps and other methods ask us to make careful inventories of our character and lifestyle, we are being invited to weed out the overgrowth and surplus and “get back to basics” in our lives. Even a little pruning lets in the light and makes room for growth.
Most of us would probably say that we know that a giving up everything and making a fresh start is an appealing ideal but something way beyond practicality. The fact remains that, even in more modest ways, the more we can give up, the more we will gain.
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