Writer, spiritual counselor and expert speaker, Howard Beckman knows what it takes to recover from substance abuse and get to a place of strength, contentment and peace of mind. He shares how he took charge of his own destiny and healed his addiction, without 12-step programs or medications, in his newly-released, riveting memoir, Tempting the Devil in the Name of God: The Heavy Hand of Fate.
I was sent the book to review, and it was quite an interested read. He is a man who has really come a long way, with a unique sense of self and spirituality. I had a chance to interview him to learn more. These were his words.
I decided to write the book a little over 5 years ago when I was visiting family and friends abroad. I was sitting with some friends in London, a few of whom are old musicians, and one a publisher that I used to write for, as he published several alternate magazines in the 1990’s. The subject of a friend, who is a very famous musician, came up and his inability to see his drug problem for what it is and to deal with it. That brought up a discussion and I told them my story. You could have heard a pin drop by the time I was through (and it was obviously a very brief recount). My friend the publisher said “why haven’t you written a book about your experiences? Do you know how many people are suffering, caught in the jaws of depression and substance abuse that you could reach out to and help?”
Then I told the story to my wife’s family in a discussion about another family member’s drug problems and the same thing happened. “Why haven’t you written a book? My God, this would be one heck of a movie, as well. You owe it to yourself and the possibility of helping others to at least write it and see what happens.” So I thought about it and the more I did I decided that I needed to tell the story...for myself, as well.
“Tempting the Devil in the Name of God...The Heavy Hand of Fate” became the title. At first it was just “Fate”, then “The heavy Hand of Fate”, then the title as it is today. You see, Bekah, I was a monk, a yogi, a devotee of God (so I thought) trying to bring an important spiritual doctrine to others, or “doing God’s work” might be a term used today by others who feel their preaching efforts are inspired by God within their hearts.
So how does a man of God, a yogi, one on the spiritual path, fall back into the long ago rejected activity of intoxication and drug dealing? And further morph into a heroin smuggler and merchant of death? Well, the heavy hand of FATE certainly came down upon me. I spent almost a total of 4 years in prison, 2 & 1/4 years of it in a southeast Asian prison enduring suffering that many have said would surely drive them to suicide. But after some time I began to develop a system of meditation, even while I was locked inside a 4’ X 6’ X under 5’ (height) dungeon in the infamous “Klong Prem Prison” in Bangkok, nicknamed “The Bangkok Hilton”.
Everything is there in the book, my heart, my emotions, my trials and tribulations, as well as my hope and my eventual healing and becoming a person I am proud to be today.