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Barbed-Wire Blankets of False Comfort

Updated: Feb 20


"Argue for your limitations, and they will be yours - FOREVER." Jim M.


That's how my buddy Jim would sign peoples books, when they'd ask him for his phone number. He was the kind of person that I'd colloquially refer to as a "Super Old-timer," in the fellowship I grew up in. He was a predecessor who worked extraordinarily hard; with other early members of Narcotics Anonymous. They provided each other, and addicts seeking recovery from active addiction their valuable experience, strength, and practice on how to live recovery inside and outside of regularly attended meetings.


Skillfully they managed to capture experiences through the creative action of writing out how they live the Twelve Steps, and Twelve Traditions. This effort offered an opportunity to feel, deal, assimilate, integrate, and heal from a disease rooted in self-obsession that tends to revolve around physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual insecurities. As a result this oozes out in self-centered, compulsive activities and behaviors; wherein we act against our values, healthy sense of self, logic, reality, and repetitive negative consequences on a spectrum. The actual problem is what I sometimes call our "Thought-life," that's nothing more than a virtual reality on steroids. The goal is to help self and others to be "Fully whole, and wholly free," from the disease of addiction, which is something that's way bigger than chemical dependency.


Jim writing that in one of my books, was his way of saying that in his experience, barbe-wire blankets are a false sense of comfort. Whatever those "Limitations," are that we often settle on, or feel like we so-called "Deserve," are what tend to make us smaller, and remain a prisoner of the mind's sense of suffering.

In recovery though many have a tendency to focus on specific books, what has been extraordinarily helpful is a particular information pamphlet called "Another Look," that for me embodies staggering insight into the nature of mind and MIND, and the nature of being as Jimmy Kinnon, founder of Narcotics Anonymous described as being "Fully whole and wholly free." Instead of talking about with something is, skillfully he tells you what it's not, which as it turned out for me to be extremely helpful. As a point of influence from one of his friends David Steward Jimmy writes addiction is not four particular realities:


1) Addiction is not freedom. [it's slavery on a spectrum because free-will and choice is abducted by physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual insecurity AKA expressions of fear-based existing]


2) Addiction is not personal growth. [it's personal rotting, endless shrinking, and contracting and being contorted into what we're authentically not... which is Universal Loving Presence].


3) Addiction is not goodwill. [self-obsession and self-centeredness are metastasized ill-will].


4) Addiction is not a way of life. [it's a way of death on a sliding-scale].


note: brackets are my comments, based on experience.


Today I could summarize these four points Jimmy Kinnon makes... Barbed-wire blankets... no matter how we wear or carry them... but especially in the form of "Character defects," are false allies, because they have the result of curtailing sustainable freedom and happiness, expanding suffering exponentially. I cannot recall any person, addict or not that doesn't struggle with the barbed wire blanket of character defects. Usually the only difference between an addict and a "Non-addict," is that as a result of self-obsession, self-centeredness, and compulsion, addicts are often so disoriented by them we don't know when to stop; because there's a certain distorted comfort in old familiar pain. That's the nature of being powerless over self and other rejecting thoughts. Toting around “Barbed-wire blankets," despite intellectually seeing the problems, drama, and continuance of trauma AKA suffering is often nothing more than an expression of self-defeating rebellion, which becomes the barrier to the promise of being fully whole, and wholly free, being fulfilled.

Image of handwritten draft of "Our Symbol," by Jimmy Kinnon.

Setting aside our barbed-wire blankets requires a certain kind of deep willingness, perseverance, consistency, and courage. The solutions tend to be simple, but thanks to an unhealthy relationship with the mind, we tend to accept how ego likes to complicate things to keep us in the grip of the virtual reality it creates, as it feeds off of our life.


That said, we have to consciously, and intentionally treat barbed-wire-blanket-mind, in the same way a diabetic needs to take care of their diabetes, if one is going to stop being dominated by the nature of the illness; when not properly addressed and treated. Barbed-wire-blanket-mind is so adept, it can convince us that we are the barbed-wire-blanket itself, and that it's our default nature and state.

Fully whole and wholly free could be, freedom from the minds marketing campaign about our allegedly unhealable internal blemishes, moles, warts, and scars that the unfriendly mind litigates us to settle on. It could be relief from obsessing about unattractive aspects that can have us convinced that we are "Damaged goods," or a "Broken person," that will never be "Good enough," to be truly accepted as our genuine self. It means setting aside misplaced trust and aspects and tendencies that we put so much time, energy, faith, and trust in that don't authentically support us in healthy ways; causing us to leak self-esteem, energy, vibrancy, creativity, and happiness.


Koan: Who is the actual owner of the barbed-wire blankets that we have claimed as our own?


Just like the Twelve Steps and Traditions of recovery are meditation practices; designed to be applied in a specific order, so too of Zen training and practice. Though it can at times be tempting to practice them randomly, without following the framework... the mechanics... people often get results... just not the one's intended by those that authored the framework. Trust me when I say... I know a lot of people that are partially whole, and occasionally free; but there are also people that I have known that are truly fully whole, and wholly free.

One such friend was Leslie Lord-Humprhey who recently transitioned as a result of cancer. Even despite the most severe challenge... watching her cancer exhaust her body, each conversation I experienced with her, brought tears to my eyes, as I experienced her elegance, kindness, and compassion. Leslie left nothing on the table. She was a true and thorough-going bodhisattva, in every sense of the word. Very definitely no barbed-wire blankets for her. In one such conversation to a dilemma I was facing several months ago she put it this simply...


1) What is it that you really want to do (or not want to do)?


2) When are you going to trust yourself?


3) How about today?


No barbed-wire blankets indeed.



So here is the framework of Shakyamuni Buddha... or Universal Identity of Loving Presence, manifesting though Shakyamuni. Some know it as the "Eightfold Path:"


8) Consistent and daily meditation practice.


7) Consistency as Mindful Presence.


6) Consistent ethical conduct.


5) Consistently livelihood that does not exploit oneself or others.


4) Consistency of healthy action


3) Consistent caring communication supporting harmony


2) Consistent resolve


which yields the natural result of


1) Sincere understanding that we all have Buddha-DNA... our default nature is Universal Identity of Loving Presence.

There it is. No dues, fees, or membership requirements. No proof a citizenship, insurance, economic status, or whatever else barbed-wire blanket mind can conjure up as a turd in the punch-bowl of the Buddha-field... the field of Universal Loving Presence. As Jim said... "Argue for your limitation, and they'll be yours - FOREVER..." or at least until, we transition from our body. Please confirm through your own experience.


一Dignity and Grace

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