First Step/First Noble Truth/First Stage Dependent Arising

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.  

There are various ways of looking at the 12 steps, but basically the 12 steps are a method of problem solving. You could use them to solve any problem you encounter as a set of guides. The first step helps a person determine whether they have a problem that is appropriate for a 12 step solution. It asks two question as a test. Is this problem interfering with your happiness and can you solve this problem yourself? If it is not interfering with your happiness, it is not really a problem. If you can solve the problem yourself e.g. you have control over solving this problem, then just solve it and be happy. However, if you have a problem that is making you unhappy and you can not solve this problem yourself, then this is a time to apply the 12 steps. When you decide you can not solve this problem yourself, you are essentially admitting that the solution to this problem does not reside within your current capacities. Perhaps you have tried everything you can think of and nothing so far has worked. You are as the 1st step says, "powerless".

Powerlessness is paradoxical in the way it is used in the first step of the 12 steps of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Suppose I see a diamond in a hole in the rock. Everybody would want that diamond, right. So I reach in to get the diamond. I really want it. The only problem is when I close my hand around the diamond; I can't get my fist out of the hole. I am not going to let go. I try and try, but I can't get it out. I'm tired and hungry and I'm late for work, but I'm afraid if I give up somebody else will succeed where I have failed. I am miserable. I hate the way my life is going. I'm stuck in this hole. You might say I am powerless over the diamond in the hole. I can't really get on with my life until I let go. When I let go, I am free. To be powerless in the face of impermanence is to suffer. 

  1.  The Truth of Suffering

The Four Noble Truths are based on a medical model. The model begins with signs and symptoms, then proceeds to mechanisms and causes, then to prognosis and finally the remedy. The Noble Truth of Suffering identifies the symptoms of the disease of life. The symptoms are suffering, pain, old age, sickness and death. What has a beginning, must have an end. Nothing stays, everything passes away. The primary symptom of the disease of life is suffering. 

 1.  Ignorance (unawareness, robot mode, conditioning)

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