Buddhism, the 12 Steps, & the 12 Traditions

12 Steps audio | 12 Traditions audio

There are numerous parallels and congruencies between the Buddha's teaching & the 12 Step path that has benefited millions of people with addictions. In a sense, the Buddhist exploration of how clinging to “I” and “mine” generates selfishness & suffering is a matter of addiction. This provides one meeting place for dialogue among followers of these two not-separate paths.

Our group met for two years in Oak Park to discuss the parallels between Buddhist practice and working the 12 Steps. The material on this page is now somewhat old, as we haven't been able to carry on this 12 Step partnership since moving to Wisconsin. However, in recent years Santikaro has been helping the spread of AA meetings in up-country Thailand and continuing the Buddhism & 12 Step dialogues there.

The Twelve Traditions

In 2006, we will continue our dialogue by exploring the 12 Traditions, which have much wisdom to offer spiritual and service groups wishing to stay true to their values and not ossify as institutions. We believe this will be relevant to the development of Buddhist Sanghas in America and Liberation Park in particular.

After a short meditation, Santikaro will offer a reflection on the tradition up for discussion each month. He will draw upon Buddhist principles and consider non-theistic expressions of the steps & traditions. Our aim is practical, from both the 12 Step and Buddhist sides.

Participants, especially those who work the 12 Steps, will be invited to respond to the speaker and share their own experiences & reflections. This will be an ongoing series of discussions.

Click for Audio files on the 12 Steps.

All quotations are from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services

Audio files on 12 Traditions

The First Tradition: Audio (part 1 | part 2)

Our common welfare should come first;
personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

The Second Tradition

For our group purpose there is but one authority -- a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

May 13 ... The Third Tradition

The only requirement for A.A. membership
is a desire to stop drinking.

June 10 ... Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Traditions

Fourth: Each group should be autonomous except in matters
affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

Fifth: Each group has but one primary purpose --
to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Sixth: An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name
to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of
money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

September 16 ... Seventh, Eight, & Ninth Traditions ... 1:30 - 3:30 pm

Seventh: Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting,
declining outside contributions.

Eighth: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional,
but our service centers may employ special workers.

Ninth: A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards
or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

To be completed ...

Tenth: Alcoholics anonymous has no opinion on outside issues;
hence, the A.A. name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.

Eleventh: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion;
we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.

Twelfth: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,
ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.