An Oral History of Refuge Recovery

FWIW I really wanted to put more details out there about the collaboration on the book so I did a long interview with Gary Sanders, one of the original RR organizers, about the early days and how the book was written. It’s 80 mins and there’s also a transcription on my blog. Hopefully it’s a good resource for anyone who wants more proof that Noah’s ambitious statements about having created RR himself are very misleading. –Jer Clarke

Gary Sanders, one of the original founders of the Refuge Recovery program, sits down with me to discuss how the RR book was written collectively based on the meetings that were already happening in LA. We discuss the program itself, the early days when the program was being developed by a group at Against the Stream, the process of collectively assembling the book and much more! LINKS, REFERENCES AND TRANSCRIPTION For links and references to everything discussed, as well as a full transcription, see my accompanying blog post:… LIST OF SECTIONS W/ TIMECODES Introduction Gary Introduction 1:23 ATS Center opens and Gary attends 3:09 Gary asks for recovery meetups and holds 12-step meeting at a retreat 3:53 Buddhist Recovery Network Conference 4:41 Opening of ATS and Noah’s story 7:40 First two Recovery meetings led by Gary, Jordan, Joseph and Enrique 9:00 Quick Growth of Recovery meetings and relationship to 12-step programs 12:00 Sidenote: Refuge Recovery Portland has amazing growth too! 12:54 Original meetings were facilitator-led and the transition to peer-led like Dharma Punx meetups 13:54 Origin of the book idea and the name “Refuge Recovery” 16:50 On the similarity of the name “Refuge Recovery” to Tara Brach’s book “True Refuge” 19:18 On the book being rushed and Noah not wanting his name as author 19:58 Sidenote: Women’s safety at recovery meetings 21:30 Sidenote: Portland conversion of 12-Step buddhist meeting into RR 22:38 Sidenote: Affinity Groups in the Portland RR sangha 23:10 Refuge Recovery as “graduate program” that exists alongside 12-step meetings 24:08 Summarizing the sexual misconduct situation with Noah 26:47 The desire and need to distance RR from Noah 29:20 Getting specific about how the book was co-written because reading Noah’s words is a problem for some people 30:56 Sidenote: RR meetings should make decisions about reading material communally 34:41 Noah was not central to the early development of meetings, and had lots of help with the book 35:44 The core ideas of the program aren’t original, they are Buddhism 37:11 Noah was quickly removed from power after scandal arose 38:18 Dharma is for troubled people, we are imperfect 38:53 RR has less problems with abuse than some other fellowships 39:30 Refuge Recovery the organization has been responsible in their handling of the situation so far 41:40 Buddhism and Recovery Conference details 45:54 Five-week course and Joseph writing the inventory questions 47:13 Disagreement around the terms “inventory questions” and “mentor” 48:00 Requirements for being a “mentor” in the book are too strict, Noah has said “mentor each other” 49:33 Kalyanamitta — Spiritual friends — alternate concept to mentorship 50:49 Sidenote: Starting a daily practice and concentration v. metta as initial meditation focus 52:35 Sidenote: Ongoing mutual support among “kalyanamitta”/Dharma Buddies 53:21 Acknowledging flaws in the book, and that some of them come from Noah not being deeply involved in the early meetings 56:58 Possibilities for new books/materials going forward 58:34 Early drafts of the book were shared with the group for editing 59:50 Group process of resolving disagreements about the book 1:01:08 Origins of the emphasis on process addictions 1:02:42 How were the eightfold path chapters written? 1:05:33 What would the cover of the book ideally have said, rather than Noah’s name? 1:07:41 Was there consideration of making the book free online? 1:08:31 What do you think is likely for the future of RR book-wise? 1:10:27 Discussing other books being used in RR meetings 1:13:03 Thanks to Gary and how to find him 01:21:13 Dedication of merit 01:23:55


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