When I first got sober, I was overwhelmed by the incessant talk of living a spirituality-based life. I had never been a spiritual person; I had a very science-oriented brain. The thought of believing in a power greater than myself and surrendering my life to a power that I couldn’t see, touch or feel seemed impossible for someone like me.
Despite my disbelief, I now realize that the spirit of the universe puts the right people in our path at just the right time. Two months into my sobriety, a woman who had been sober for several years approached me. We went out for coffee and had a discussion about my spiritual views. She was able to break down spiritual living for me in a way that I could easily understand by explaining the four absolutes.
The four absolutes originated in a book titled The Principles of Jesus by Robert E. Speer, Ph.D. Although this text is biblically based, the four absolutes are a blueprint for spiritual living that anybody can practice, despite their religion or spiritual orientation.
Today, I try to follow these principles to the best of my ability. I believe that aiming to demonstrate the four absolutes in my day-to-day life is one of the sole reasons I am still sober today.
The first principle of the four absolutes is absolute honesty. Often, people who are suffering from addiction live lives that are full of manipulation and lies in order to feed their addiction and get what they need to survive. However, when living a life of sobriety, lying and manipulation are a recipe for disaster.
When practicing absolute honesty, the question to answer is, “Is it true or is it false?” This is a black or white question. When we speak to others, the things we say are either true or false. The concept is simple to understand, but can be difficult to put into practice. Sometimes, dishonesty is chosen to protect an individual’s ego. Also, it can come from the fear of judgment or the fear of becoming vulnerable.
In sobriety, honesty is the first step to healing and living a spiritual life. Being honest with yourself allows acceptance of the past, present and future. Being honest with others allows for the cultivation of genuine relationships with fellow recovering addicts and alcoholics. Being honest helps individuals overcome hardships by allowing them to reach out for help.
During active addiction, it is not unusual for moral standards to be cast aside. Many people will go to extensive and even dangerous lengths to get what they want. This is no way to live happily and honestly in sobriety, which is why absolute purity comes into play.
Practicing absolute purity means taking an honest look at the morals behind your actions before reacting to a situation or making a decision. When practicing absolute purity, the question asked is, “Is it right or is it wrong?”
In early recovery, the brain is still healing, and decision-making processes may still be impaired. For this reason, having a support group is essential. Consulting with a support group before any meaningful decisions are made allows individuals to confide in others and ask for guidance about which direction should be taken.
In the beginning, making the right decisions can be difficult. It may even be emotionally painful. However, as time passes, people do recover and these decisions become easier. People are human and humans make mistakes, but mistakes are simply opportunities to learn lessons, as long as the foundation set is one of pure intentions and moral correctness.
A symptom underlying addiction is self-centred thinking. After years of living in a selfish state of mind, it is imperative to practice unselfishness in sobriety.
When embarking on the road to recovery, another principle to think about is absolute unselfishness. Practicing absolute unselfishness means asking the question, “How will this help my fellow [hu]man?”
After spending time in recovery, a person may come to realize that their purpose in life is to carry the message of sobriety and help the next alcoholic or addict. Many people who get sober do so with the help of others who were addicts themselves.
Only thinking about our own needs and desires diminishes our usefulness to others. If something that is about to be said has no benefit to the recipient, it should not be said. If something that is about to be done is going to negatively affect somebody else, it should not be done.
Instead, practicing unselfishness means looking for opportunities to help others recover and become better individuals, while asking for nothing in return. The primary purpose for individuals in recovery is to give freely to others, as has been given to them.
The previous three absolutes—honesty, purity and unselfishness—set the precedent for absolute love. Absolute love is honest, it is pure and it is unselfish. Absolute love means showing respect and admiration for others and for life as a whole. When practicing absolute love, the question is, “Is it ugly or is it beautiful?”
Dishonesty and deceit are ugly. Acting against moral righteousness is ugly because it is not pure. Being selfish is ugly because it involves egotistical acts and lacks any benefit for others.
Love is beautiful.
Love means taking responsibility for past mistakes, making things right and using these experiences to grow and help others.
Love is more than a feeling; love is an action. Love means taking responsibility for past mistakes, making things right and using these experiences to grow and help others. Love means taking transformative actions to demonstrate appreciation for life and for others. Love is about reaching out to others who are suffering and helping guide them on their journey of healing.
Love is an action word, and recovery is all about action. If people aren’t taking action to grow during their recovery, they’ll return to a cycle of fear, despair and addiction.
Completely surrendering to the change needed on the road to recovery involves beginning to love deeply and fearlessly. Practicing absolute love brings abundant emotional and spiritual benefits, as beauty becomes evident and spirituality becomes a way of life.
By practicing the four absolutes, I have developed a deeper connection with my mind, body and spirit. I have been able to find purpose in my existence by helping others. Most importantly, I have maintained my sobriety, and that in itself is a miracle. Practicing these spiritual principles changed my thinking and my life’s direction, which has allowed me to further develop my spirituality.