From the BlogMeet Ron

Here is a couple from Chuck

I like a man with faults, especially when he knows it. To err is human – I’m uncomfortable around gods.
–Hugh Prather

We are more comfortable around someone who has faults and knows it. We respect such a person. So why do we have such a hard time admitting our own faults? This matter of honesty comes very gradually and only with hard work. We may have to force ourselves to admit a fault because we expect to feel unworthy. In fact, what we do feel after admitting a fault is peacefulness and self-respect. We may expect to be rejected and judged by friends, but usually friendships grow more solid when we admit our faults. A true friend does not need to trust that we will always be right, only that we will be honest.
At this moment are we being nagged by some fault? Is there something about the way we have talked to someone that doesn’t seem right? Have we been unfair or dishonest? This is a program of progress, not perfection. So, to make progress we admit our imperfections, and as we do, we become more fully human.

God, in this moment when I feel my human mistakes, help me to be open to your love.
————————————
God’s Will

Each day, ask God what God wants us to do today; then ask God to help. A simple request, but so profound and far reaching it can take us anywhere we need to go.

Listen: all that we want, all that we need, all the answers, all the help, all the good, all the love, all the healing, all the wisdom, all the fulfillment of desire is embodied in this simple request. We need say no more than Thank You.

This Plan that has been made for us is not one of deprivation. It is one of fullness, joy, and abundance. Walk into it.

See for yourself.

Today, I will ask God to show me what God wants me to do for this day, and then ask for help to do that. I will trust that is sufficient to take me into light and joy

CHUCK DENMARK

Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain. 
–Carl Jung

We don’t seek perfect relationships in marriage or in other places in our lives. What we seek instead are real and honest connections. Perfection has a picture-book form, but it has no depth and no personality. This means that sometimes we will get upset with others, or they will get upset with us. We need a basic commitment to stay in the relationship dialogue, to continue returning to it as long as both people are willing to work on it. Working through crises is how a relationship grows from simply being an idea to having its unique reality.
We will be frightened by the rough spots. We will wonder if there is something wrong with us or with the other person, or the relationship. We cannot escape such questions. To run from the difficulties cuts off the possibilities for growth. It is a frightening thing to become real, to come into consciousness.

Today, I pray for courage to remain honest and faithful to real relationships through the crises.
===========================
When the Time is Right

There are times when we simply do not know what to do, or where to go, next. Sometimes these periods are brief, sometimes lingering.

We can get through these times. We can rely on our program and the disciplines of recovery. We can cope by using our faith, other people, and our resources.

Accept uncertainty. We do not always have to know what to do or where to go next. We do not always have clear direction. Refusing to accept the inaction and limbo makes things worse.

It is okay to temporarily be without direction. Say, “I don’t know,” and be comfortable with that. We do not have to try to force wisdom, knowledge, or clarity when there is none.

While waiting for direction, we do not have to put our life on hold. Let go of anxiety and enjoy life. Relax. Do something fun. Enjoy the love and beauty in your life. Accomplish small tasks. They may have nothing to do with solving the problem, or finding direction, but this is what we can do in the interim.

Clarity will come. The next step will present itself. Indecision, inactivity, and lack of direction will not last forever.
Today, I will accept my circumstances even if I lack direction and insight. I will remember to do things that make myself and others feel good during those times. I
will trust that clarity will come of its own accord.
======================

Wants and Needs

Wants and Needs

So many of us have been brainwashed to think that we can’t have what we want in life. That is the belief of the martyr. It is born of deprivation and fear.

Identifying what we want and need, then writing it down, sets in motion a powerful chain of events. It indicates that we are taking responsibility for ourselves, giving God and the Universe permission to supply our wants and needs.

The belief that we deserve to have a change in character, a relationship, a new dimension to an existing relationship, a possession, a certain level of health, living, loving, or success, is a powerful force in bringing that desire to pass.

Often, when we realize that we want something, that feeling is God preparing us to receive it!

Listen. Trust. Empower the good in your life by paying attention to what you want and need. Write it down. Affirm it mentally. Pray about it. Then, let it go. Give it to God, and see what happens.

The results may be better than you think.

Today, I will pay attention to what I want and need. I will take time to write it down, and then I will let it go. I will begin to believe I deserve the best.

Science and Religion

The most important function of art and science is to awaken the cosmic religious feeling and keep it alive. 
–Albert Einstein

There is no need to be concerned about a conflict between science and the spiritual life. People have turned to the spiritual in many ways since the beginning of humanity. Some are tribal and primitive, some very emotional, some focused on ideas and philosophy, some centered on tradition. Perhaps in the very center of our humanness is a spiritual compass. When we disown that orientation, do we lose some of our humanness? This program did not invent the spiritual outlook. It only tells us recovery will come through awakening of the spiritual within us.
We are on an exploration. We give ourselves over to it and only discover where our awakening will lead as it unfolds. The Steps tell us to engage with the God of our understanding, to develop a relationship of trust, total openness and humility, and to improve the contact. As the center of our humanness is restored, we come alive and our daily tasks take on new meaning.

May I be awakened again to that cosmic feeling we all inherit.

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

The 12 Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous

To understand the concepts of AA you have to dig deep or attend a workshop/step speaker series on these important components of the program.
A lot of groups don’t teach the concepts and a number of Alcoholics Anonymous members are not familiar with them. It is best to have some sobriety under your belt before you attempt to familiarize yourself and study the concepts because they are complex.
Here, then are the 12 Concepts of AA as referenced on Page 574 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ textbook, also known as “The Big Book”:

Concept 1 – Final responsibility and ultimate authority for A.A. world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our fellowship.
This means that the fellowship is guided by rules and regulations that may not be changed by any authority other than the main headquarters’ trusted servants and that the proper channels have to be gone through for any changes to take place.

Concept 2 – The General Service Conference of A.A. has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in world affairs.

Concept 3 – To insure effective leadership, we should endow each element of A.A. – the Conference, the General Service Board and its service corporations, staffs, committees, and executives – with a traditional “Right of Decision”.

Concept 4 – At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional “Right of Participation”, allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge. This translates into meaning that every decision from whether to add a meeting to a schedule to changing the format of meetings has to be pre-approved through a business or group conscience meeting.

Concept 5 – Throughout our structure, a traditional “Right of Appeal” ought to prevail, so that minority opinion will be heard and personal grievances receive careful consideration. This usually takes place at the business meeting which any member is welcome to attend.

Concept 6 – The Conference recognizes that the chief initiative and active responsibility in most world service matters should be exercised by the trustee members of the Conference acting as the General Service Board. This board is the final authority that our fellowship turns to in all matters, controversial and not.

Concept 7 – The Charter and Bylaws of the General Service Board are legal instruments, empowering the trustees to manage and conduct world service affairs. The Conference Charter is not a legal document; it relies upon tradition and the A.A. purse for final effectiveness.

Concept 8 – The trustees are the principal planners and administrators of overall policy and finance. They have custodial oversight of the separately incorporated and constantly active services, exercising this through their ability to elect all the directors of these entities. This would apply to secretary and treasurer positions among others.

Concept 9 – Good service leadership at all levels is indispensable for our future functioning and safety. Primary world service leadership, once exercised by the founders, must necessarily be assumed by the trustees.

Concept 10 – Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.

Concept 11 – The trustees should always have the best possible committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Composition, qualification, induction procedures, and rights and duties will always be matters of serious concern. The definition of this concept is that our program takes seriously all responsible members of each committee and the duties they perform.

Concept 12 – The Conference shall observe the spirit of A.A. tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that its actions never be personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the Society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.
This means that we don’t have anyone “in charge” in AA; that we are all but trusted servants.

Dr. Bob’s Last Message

Dr. Bob’s Last Message
Presented at The First International Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous
July 28 – 30, 1950 at Cleveland, Ohio

In Memoriam Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith August 8, 1879 – November 16, 1950 Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

“My good friends in AA and of AA. I feel I would be very remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to welcome you here to Cleveland not only to this meeting but those that have already transpired. I hope very much that the presence of so many people and the words that you have heard will prove an inspiration to you – not only to you, but may you be able to impart that inspiration to the boys and girls back home who were not fortunate enough to be able to come. In other words, we hope that your visit here has been both enjoyable and profitable.”

“I get a big thrill out of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing that I did a number of years ago, played an infinitely small part in making this meeting possible. I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal and enthusiasm and stick-to-itiveness. If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn’t returned as I would like, so my remarks of necessity will be very brief.

“But there are two or three things that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis; one is the simplicity of our Program. Let’s not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual AA work. Our 12 Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words love and service. We understand what love is and we understand what service is. So let’s bear those two things in mind.

“Let us also remember to guard that erring member – the tongue, and if we must use it, let’s use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.”

“And one more thing; none of us would be here today if somebody hadn’t taken time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to have done numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get the degree of smug complacency so that we’re not willing to extend or attempt to, that help which has been so beneficial to us, to our less fortunate brothers. Thank you very much.”

RESENT SOMEBODY/the spirit of judgment/Letting Our Anger Out

RESENT SOMEBODY
 
The moment you start to resent somebody you become their slave. They control your dreams, absorb your digestion, rob you of your peace of mind and good will, take away the pleasure of your work.
They ruin your spirituality and nullify your prayers. You cannot take a vacation without them going along! They destroy your freedom of mind and hound you wherever you go. There is no way to escape the person you resent.
They are with you when you are awake. They invade your privacy when you sleep. They are close beside you when you eat, when you drive your car, and when you are on the job.
You can never have efficiency or happiness. They influence even the tone of your voice. They require you to take medicine for indigestion, headaches and loss of energy. They even steal your last moment of consciousness before you go to sleep.
So if you want to be a slave, harbor your resentment.
===============================
No one can get rid of the spirit of judgment by an effort of the will. 
–Paul Tournier
 
In the past, we applied our wills and tried to bring about the changes we wanted. We may still unconsciously try to create self-improvement by an effort of will. But, as long as we do that, we continue the same circles of frustration and defeat we knew before recovery. The way to growth is in directions we cannot fully imagine for ourselves. We can become ready for change and then pray for help. The one who simply became ready to have God remove his judgmental attitudes was surprised to find God’s answer was to make them more trusting of others and less judgmental of himself.
The wonders of recovery are miracles because we tried before and couldn’t recover by ourselves. Miracles are surprises that come upon us because God’s will for us is more creative and far reaching in its renewal than anything we can think of.
Today, I pray that I may know the will of God and forgo my limited willfulness.
=============================
Letting Our Anger Out
It’s okay to be angry, but it isn’t healthy to be resentful. Regardless of what we learned as children, no matter what we saw role modeled, we can learn to deal with our anger in ways that are healthy for us and for those around us. We can have our angry feelings. We can connect with them, own them, and feel them, express them, release them, and be done with them.
 
We can learn to listen to what anger is telling us about what we want and need in order to take care of ourselves.
 
Sometimes we can even indulge in angry feelings that aren’t justified. Feelings are just feelings; there is no morality in the feeling, only in our behavior. We can feel angry without hurting or abusing others or ourselves. We can learn to deal with anger in ways that benefit our relationships instead of ways that harm them.
 
If we don’t feel our angry feelings today, we will need to face them tomorrow.
 
Today, I will let myself feel my anger. I will express my anger appropriately, without guilt. Then I will be done with it.
=============================

On Gratitude:

On Gratitude:
“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives – the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections – that requires hard spiritual work. Still we are only truly grateful people when we say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let us not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”
==============================

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together. 
–Thomas Carlyle
Silence does not draw attention to itself. It is the ultimate in letting go and letting be. It is the opposite of the great dramatic event, so we easily forget silence is a basic means by which we grow. We live in a “can do” society that applauds a man of action who gets a job done. Perhaps we learned to think that being alone in silence is empty time with nothing happening.
In truth, some great things happen only by decisive action, but other great things happen only when we get ourselves out of the way and simply allow them to occur. It would be foolish to believe only in action and miss the benefits that come from quiet moments. When we withdraw from the hubbub of the world around us and quiet our minds, we are making room for great things to fashion themselves together.
 
Today, I will remember the importance of silence in my growth. I will set aside some of my busyness and be still.

==============================

Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. 
–Dag Hammarskjold
 
In our struggles with self-hate and guilt, we may have thought we were humble – or perhaps even too humble. But self-abasement, which often alternates with feelings of superiority, is not the spiritual quality of humility that we strive for in our program.
With humility, we respect ourselves and our place in the universe. Humility is having ourselves in perspective, knowing we are connected to the whole world, accepting how small and powerless we are, and accepting the power and responsibility we have. With this spiritual feeling comes a sense of awe for the world we live in and a feeling of gratitude for the life we’ve been given.
 
The humility I feel today goes hand in hand with my self-respect and gratefulness for being part of life.
==============================

Accepting Love/Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. 

Accepting Love
Many of us have worked too hard to make relationships work; sometimes those relationships didn’t have a chance because the other person was unavailable or refused to participate.
To compensate for the other person’s unavailability, we worked too hard. We may have done all or most of the work. This may mask the situation for a while, but we usually get tired. Then, when we stop doing all the work, we notice there is no relationship, or we’re so tired we don’t care.
Doing all the work in a relationship is not loving, giving, or caring. It is self-defeating and relationship defeating. It creates the illusion of a relationship when in fact there may be no relationship. It enables the other person to be irresponsible for his or her share. Because that does not meet our needs, we ultimately feel victimized.
In our best relationships, we all have temporary periods where one person participates more than the other. This is normal. But as a permanent way of participating in relationships, it leaves us feeling tired, worn out, needy, and angry.’
We can learn to participate a reasonable amount, and then let the relationship find it’s own life. Are we doing all the calling? Are we doing all the initiating? Are we doing all the giving? Are we the one talking about feelings and striving for intimacy?
Are we doing all the waiting, the hoping, and the work?
We can let go. If the relationship is meant to be, it will be, and it will become what it is meant to be. We do not help that process by trying to control it. We do not help the other person, the relationship, or ourselves by trying to force it or by doing all the work.
Let it be. Wait and see. Stop worrying about making it happen. See what happens and strive to understand if that is what you want.
 
Today, I will stop doing all the work in my relationships. I will give myself and the other person the gift of requiring both people to participate. I will accept the natural level my relationships reach when I do my share and allow the other person to choose what his or her share will be. I can trust my relationships to reach their own level. I do not have to do all the work; I need only do my share.
====================================
Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them. 
–Alan Watts
 
As we live our very busy lives we might say, “How full and rich my life is!” But are we stopping long enough to look, to take in experiences, digest them, and grow from them? Or is our attention always focused upon the next event? Are we running from one thing to another, never truly being present in the current moment?
For spiritual deepening, many of us do not need to enrich the events in our lives as much as we need to simplify and quiet ourselves. We need to slow down and look at what is here. At a banquet, we might appreciate a few fine foods served in a tranquil atmosphere more fully than a lavish variety served in a frenzied atmosphere. For today, we are not able to stop the hectic pace of the world, but we can slow ourselves down and notice and reflect upon our experiences. Then they will have meaning and value for us.
  Today, I will slow down. I will notice what my experiences are and give myself time to look.
====================================
AA Grapevine – September 1948

The Fundamentals–In Retrospect –
Dr. Bob

THE feeling that one belongs to and has a definite personal part in the work of a growing and spiritually prospering organization for the release of the alcoholics of mankind from a deadly enslavement is always gratifying. For me, there is double gratification in the realization that more than 13 years ago, an All-wise Providence, whose ways must always be mysterious to our limited understandings, brought me to “see my duty clear” and to contribute in a decent humility, as have so many others, my part in guiding the first trembling steps of the then infant organization, Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is fitting at this time to indulge in some retrospect regarding certain fundamentals. Much has been written, much has been said about the 12 Steps of A.A. These tenets of our faith and practice were not worked out overnight and then presented to our members as an opportunist creed. Born of our early trials and many tribulations, they were and are the result of humble and sincere desire, sought in personal prayer for Divine guidance.

As finally expressed and offered, they are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are the proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary. And it has become increasingly clear that the degree of harmonious living which we achieve is in direct ratio to our earnest attempt to follow them literally under Divine guidance to the best of our ability.

YET, withal, there are no “shibboleths” in A.A. We are not bound by the thongs of theological doctrine. None of us may be excommunicated and cast into outer darkness. For we are many minds in our organization and an A.A. Decalogue in the language of “Thou shalt not” would gall us indeed.
Look at our 12 Points of A.A. Tradition. No random expressions these, based on just casual observation. On the contrary, they represent the sum of our experience as individuals, as groups within A.A. and similarly with our fellows and other organizations in the great fellowship of humanity under God throughout the world. They are entirely suggestive, yet the spirit in which they have been conceived merits their serious, prayerful consideration as the guidepost of A.A. policy for the individual, the group and our various committees, local and national.

We have found it wise policy, too, to hold to no glorification of the individual. Obviously, that is sound. Most of us will concede that when it came to the personal showdown of admitting our failures and deciding to surrender our will and our lives to Almighty God, as we understood Him, we still had some sneaking ideas of personal justification and excuse. We had to discard them but the ego of the alcoholic dies a hard death. Many of us because of activity have received praise not only from our fellow A.A.s but from the world at large. We would be ungrateful indeed to be boorish when that happens yet it is so easy for us to become, privately perhaps, just a little vain about it all. Yet, fitting and wearing halos is not for us.

WE’VE all seen the new member who stays sober for a time, largely through sponsor-worship. Then maybe the sponsor gets drunk and you know what usually happens. Left without a human prop, the new member gets drunk too. He has been glorifying an individual instead of following the Program.

Certainly we need leaders but we must regard them as the human agents of the Higher Power and not with undue adulation as individuals. The 4th and 10th Steps can not be too strongly emphasized here–“Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves . . . continue to make personal inventory . . . promptly admit it when we are wrong.” There is your perfect antidote for halo-poisoning.

So with the question of Anonymity. If we have a banner, that word, speaking of the surrender of the individual–the ego–is emblazoned on it. Let us dwell thoughtfully on its full meaning and learn thereby to remain humble, modest, ever-conscious that we are eternally under Divine direction.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS was nurtured in its early days around a kitchen table. Many of our pioneer groups, some of our most result-full meetings and best programs have had their origin around that modest piece of furniture with the coffee pot handy on the stove.

True, we have progressed materially to better furniture and more comfortable surroundings, yet the kitchen table must ever be appropriate for us. It is the perfect symbol of simplicity. In A.A. we have no V.I.P.’s nor have we need of any. Our organization needs no title-holders nor grandiose buildings. That is by design. Experience has taught us that simplicity is basic in preservation of our personal sobriety and helping those in need.
Far better it is for us to fully understand the meaning and practice of “Thou good and faithful servant” than to listen to “With 60,000 members you should have a 60 stories high administration headquarters in New York with an assortment of trained ‘ists’ to direct your affairs.” We need nothing of the sort. God grant that A.A. may ever stay simple.

Over the years we have tested and developed suitable techniques for our purpose. They are entirely flexible. We have all known and seen miracles–the healing of broken individuals, the rebuilding of broken homes. And always, it has been the constructive personal 12th Step work based on an ever upward-looking faith which has done the job.

IN as large an organization as ours, we naturally have had our share of those who fail to measure up to certain obvious standards of conduct. They have included schemers for personal gain, petty swindlers and confidence men, crooks of various kinds and other human fallibles. Relatively their number has been small, much smaller than in many religious and social uplift organizations. Yet they have been a problem and not an easy one. They have caused many an A.A. to stop thinking and working constructively for a time.

We cannot condone their actions, yet we must concede that when we have used normal caution and precaution in dealing with such cases, we may safely leave them to that Higher Power. Let me reiterate that we A.A.’s are many men and women, that we are of many minds. It will be well for us to concentrate on the goal of personal sobriety and active work. We humans and alcoholics on strict moral stock-taking must confess to at least a slight degree of larcenous instinct. We can hardly arrogate the roles of judges and executioners.

Thirteen grand years! To have been a part of it all from the beginning has been reward indeed.

Dr. Bob
AA Co-Founder, Dr. Bob, September 1948
The Best of the Grapevine, Volume 2
====================================

The Fundamentals–In Retrospect – Dr. Bob

AA Grapevine – September 1948
 
The Fundamentals–In Retrospect –
Dr. Bob
 
THE feeling that one belongs to and has a definite personal part in the work of a growing and spiritually prospering organization for the release of the alcoholics of mankind from a deadly enslavement is always gratifying. For me, there is double gratification in the realization that more than 13 years ago, an All-wise Providence, whose ways must always be mysterious to our limited understandings, brought me to “see my duty clear” and to contribute in a decent humility, as have so many others, my part in guiding the first trembling steps of the then infant organization, Alcoholics Anonymous.
 
It is fitting at this time to indulge in some retrospect regarding certain fundamentals. Much has been written, much has been said about the 12 Steps of A.A. These tenets of our faith and practice were not worked out overnight and then presented to our members as an opportunist creed. Born of our early trials and many tribulations, they were and are the result of humble and sincere desire, sought in personal prayer for Divine guidance.
 
As finally expressed and offered, they are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are the proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary. And it has become increasingly clear that the degree of harmonious living which we achieve is in direct ratio to our earnest attempt to follow them literally under Divine guidance to the best of our ability.
 
YET, withal, there are no “shibboleths” in A.A. We are not bound by the thongs of theological doctrine. None of us may be excommunicated and cast into outer darkness. For we are many minds in our organization and an A.A. Decalogue in the language of “Thou shalt not” would gall us indeed.
Look at our 12 Points of A.A. Tradition. No random expressions these, based on just casual observation. On the contrary, they represent the sum of our experience as individuals, as groups within A.A. and similarly with our fellows and other organizations in the great fellowship of humanity under God throughout the world. They are entirely suggestive, yet the spirit in which they have been conceived merits their serious, prayerful consideration as the guidepost of A.A. policy for the individual, the group and our various committees, local and national.
 
We have found it wise policy, too, to hold to no glorification of the individual. Obviously, that is sound. Most of us will concede that when it came to the personal showdown of admitting our failures and deciding to surrender our will and our lives to Almighty God, as we understood Him, we still had some sneaking ideas of personal justification and excuse. We had to discard them but the ego of the alcoholic dies a hard death. Many of us because of activity have received praise not only from our fellow A.A.s but from the world at large. We would be ungrateful indeed to be boorish when that happens yet it is so easy for us to become, privately perhaps, just a little vain about it all. Yet, fitting and wearing halos is not for us.
 
WE’VE all seen the new member who stays sober for a time, largely through sponsor-worship. Then maybe the sponsor gets drunk and you know what usually happens. Left without a human prop, the new member gets drunk too. He has been glorifying an individual instead of following the Program.
 
Certainly we need leaders but we must regard them as the human agents of the Higher Power and not with undue adulation as individuals. The 4th and 10th Steps can not be too strongly emphasized here–“Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves . . . continue to make personal inventory . . . promptly admit it when we are wrong.” There is your perfect antidote for halo-poisoning.
 
So with the question of Anonymity. If we have a banner, that word, speaking of the surrender of the individual–the ego–is emblazoned on it. Let us dwell thoughtfully on its full meaning and learn thereby to remain humble, modest, ever-conscious that we are eternally under Divine direction.
 
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS was nurtured in its early days around a kitchen table. Many of our pioneer groups, some of our most result-full meetings and best programs have had their origin around that modest piece of furniture with the coffee pot handy on the stove.
 
True, we have progressed materially to better furniture and more comfortable surroundings, yet the kitchen table must ever be appropriate for us. It is the perfect symbol of simplicity. In A.A. we have no V.I.P.’s nor have we need of any. Our organization needs no title-holders nor grandiose buildings. That is by design. Experience has taught us that simplicity is basic in preservation of our personal sobriety and helping those in need.
Far better it is for us to fully understand the meaning and practice of “Thou good and faithful servant” than to listen to “With 60,000 members you should have a 60 stories high administration headquarters in New York with an assortment of trained ‘ists’ to direct your affairs.” We need nothing of the sort. God grant that A.A. may ever stay simple.
 
Over the years we have tested and developed suitable techniques for our purpose. They are entirely flexible. We have all known and seen miracles–the healing of broken individuals, the rebuilding of broken homes. And always, it has been the constructive personal 12th Step work based on an ever upward-looking faith which has done the job.
 
IN as large an organization as ours, we naturally have had our share of those who fail to measure up to certain obvious standards of conduct. They have included schemers for personal gain, petty swindlers and confidence men, crooks of various kinds and other human fallibles. Relatively their number has been small, much smaller than in many religious and social uplift organizations. Yet they have been a problem and not an easy one. They have caused many an A.A. to stop thinking and working constructively for a time.
 
We cannot condone their actions, yet we must concede that when we have used normal caution and precaution in dealing with such cases, we may safely leave them to that Higher Power. Let me reiterate that we A.A.’s are many men and women, that we are of many minds. It will be well for us to concentrate on the goal of personal sobriety and active work. We humans and alcoholics on strict moral stock-taking must confess to at least a slight degree of larcenous instinct. We can hardly arrogate the roles of judges and executioners.
 
Thirteen grand years! To have been a part of it all from the beginning has been reward indeed.
 
Dr. Bob
AA Co-Founder, Dr. Bob, September 1948
The Best of the Grapevine, Volume 2

Being Gentle with Ourselves During Times of Grief

I resolve to meet evil courageously, but when even a small temptation cometh, I am in sore straits. That which seemeth trifling sometimes giveth rise to a grievous temptation. 
–Thomas a’ Kempis
 
Even in recovery, we know we are vulnerable, always subject to a return to old patterns. Sometimes we can understand the triggering event; other times there is no apparent reason for temptation to reappear. Perhaps it comes when we least expect it, when our guard is lowest. We may be tempted simply because we are alcoholics or codependents. Our powerlessness reminds us of our need for faithfulness to the program.
When we think we have moved beyond the draw of old behaviors, we veer away from our path of recovery. In saying we have grown out of our powerlessness, or to makes us more honest, more accessible, more spiritual, and more ready to deal with threats to our recovery.
==============================

Being Gentle with Ourselves During Times of Grief  
 
The process of adapting to change and loss takes energy. Grief is draining, sometimes exhausting. Some people need to “cocoon for transformation,” in Pat Carnes’s words, while going through grief. 
We may feel more tired than usual. Our ability to function well in other areas of our life may be reduced, temporarily. We may want to hide out in the safety of our bedroom. 
Grief is heavy. It can wear us down. 
It’s okay to be gentle with ourselves when we’re going through change and grief. Yes, we want to maintain the disciplines of recovery. But we can be compassionate with ourselves. We do not have to expect more from ourselves than we can deliver during this time. We do not even have to expect as much from ourselves as we would normally and reasonably expect. 
We may need more rest, more sleep, more comfort. We may be more needy and have less to give. It is okay to accept ourselves, and our changed needs, during times of grief, stress, and change. 
It is okay to allow ourselves to cocoon during times of transformation. We can surrender to the process, and trust that a new, exciting energy is being created within us. Before long, we will take wings and fly. 
God, help me accept my changed needs during times of grief, change, and loss.
==============================

==============================

Self-Disclosure /Loneliness – AA Has the Answer 

Self-Disclosure 
 
Learning to gently reveal who we are is how we open ourselves up to love and intimacy in our relationships. 
Many of us have hidden under a protective shell, a casing that prevents others from seeing or hurting us. We do not want to be that vulnerable. We do not want to expose our thoughts, feelings, fears, weaknesses, and sometimes our strengths, to others. 
We do not want others to see who we really are. 
We may be afraid they might judge us, go away, or not like us. We may be uncertain that who we are is okay or exactly how we should reveal ourselves to others. 
Being vulnerable can be frightening, especially if we have lived with people who abused, mistreated, manipulated, or did not appreciate us. 
Little by little, we learn to take the risk of revealing ourselves. We disclose the real person within to others. We pick safe people, and we begin to disclose bits and pieces about ourselves. 
Sometimes, out of fear, we may withhold, thinking that will help the relationship or will help others like us more. That is an illusion. Withholding who we are does not help us, the other person, or the relationship. Withholding is a behavior that backfires. For true intimacy and closeness to exist, for us to love ourselves and be content in a relationship, we need to disclose who we are. 
That does not mean we tell all to everyone at once. That can be a self-defeating behavior too. We can learn to trust ourselves, about who to tell, when to tell, where to tell, and how much to tell. 
To trust that people will love and like us if we are exactly who we are is frightening. But it is the only way we can achieve what we want in relationships. To let go of our need to control others—their opinions, their feelings about us, or the course of the relationship—is the key. 
Gently, like a flower, we can learn to open up. Like a flower, we will do that when the sun shines and there is warmth.
   Today, I will begin to take the risk of disclosing who I am to someone with whom I feel safe. I will let go of some of my protective devices and risk being vulnerable—even though I may have been taught differently, even though I may have taught myself differently. I will disclose who I am in a way that reflects self-responsibility, self-love, directness, and honesty. God, help me let go of my fears about disclosing who I am to people. Help me accept who I am, and help me let go of my need to be who people want me to be.
=====================================
Nothing worse could happen to one than to be completely understood. 
–Carl Jung
 
 
We so often long to be understood. We imagine it would cure our loneliness and empty feelings. We think of it as a kind of intimacy. Yet, we may be longing for a false goal. We are each a unique man on an incomplete journey. We don’t yet fully understand ourselves. There is still much mystery beneath the surface of our being. If our partners or friends completely understood us, where would we go from there? We would no longer belong to ourselves.
Perhaps we are completely understood by our Higher Power but not by another person. It is a fact of life that we continue to grow and to reveal deeper layers of ourselves. We have relationships in which we can share the mysteries as they unfold. We can talk and be understood. In communication we find our closeness and intimacy.
   Today, I will remember that at the deepest level no one can fully understand me.
I will communicate with others to deal with my loneliness.
=====================================
AA Grapevine 
July 1951 
 
Loneliness – AA Has the Answer 
 
 
ONE of the great problems of the alcoholic is loneliness. Alcoholics Anonymous has an answer to this basic problem for each and every alcoholic.
 
As a new man in AA I was desperately lonely. I had loneliness of that heart-achy type that wears a man down and down. Loneliness and friendlessness go hand in hand with chronic alcoholism. The friendliness of an AA meeting constitutes the first break in this horrible condition. For once the alcoholic meets people on a common ground, the ground of people like himself, afflicted with the same set of troubles, almost note by note.
 
At first I looked forward in desperation to the “next meeting.” I was unable to see that I now had the means of carrying the meeting right with me into the work a day world. But that is what successful members all accomplish. It is like this, the meeting is over but the facts of life go on. The truths of the AA Program go on. The parts of this Program that adhere to us, miraculously keep us sober from day to day. At each meeting something new is added; it cannot be seen, counted, weighed or assessed. These particles seek each other out, join with other particles and the sobriety again miraculously continues.
 
There comes a day when these particles have joined to form a pattern in our make-up. Something is now in us and of us that did not exist before. We begin to see beauty in surprising things. . .it can be a cloud, a flower, a child, a building, a sunset. A myriad of things change their relationship to us and us to them. We are in the company of all these new found things for the first time. None of these things can coexist with fear, so fear diminishes and finally leaves for parts unknown. .
 
A man cannot read and re-read the Second Step without soon feeling its stabilizing effect. A man can’t “turn his life and will over to the care of God as he understands him” time on end without feeling a sense of close companionship. At first it gives a feeling of distinct relief to turn his life and will over to some power that is so much better qualified to carry the load. The feeling of companionship in all things grows. It never diminishes once it starts. The alcoholic begins to live with himself, not just hate himself. Automatically he begins to live with other people.
 
How can loneliness endure in the presence of the 11th Step? This is where we tune in on the universe. This is where we start to roll with it. Here we join forces with unseen power operating over us, around us, through us, and under us. How can loneliness remain when we begin to know that we are an important part of the scheme of things with a job to do. What job?
 
“Having had a spiritual experience, as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics”–and this is the grand pay off in all AA. I never knew an AA who had time to be lonely, once he turned his mind and heart to some form of 12th Step work. And praise be, it can consist of so many things. Twelfth Step work has no boundaries, from simply making coffee clear down to sitting on the chest of a DT patient while the straps are being applied.
 
To you in AA who have a problem of loneliness and the number is large, for we all have it in one form or another–may I tell you of one of the most thorough remedies that ever came my way. It was from a man in AA, comparatively new to the Program. He said that he used his watch to help him operate the 24 Hour Program. If it was two o’clock when he looked at his watch he said to himself, “Came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” Whatever tendency to be “screwey” at the moment leveled off. It was ten o’clock, he “continued to take inventory” for an instant, and this served as a check point for whatever activity he was engaged in. Should the hour hand point near “Eleven,” what better time could there be to tune in with the power who made him in the first place. Particularly so if the time was evening.
 
Practice Step Eleven at bed time boys and soon you will know again what they mean when they say “slept like a baby.” In my case it turned out to be for the first time in over 30 years.
–Anonymous
Muskegon, Michigan
=====================================

Here are some more from Chuck

Friendship and community are, first of all, inner qualities.
–Henri J. M. Nouwen
Many of us mistakenly search outside ourselves for answers. We feel small inside and not very powerful. Many of us have tried to change our lives by affecting the people around us. Naturally, when we think of making friends, we assume we would start by getting a friend. But such beginnings often don’t lead very far.
Friendship begins as an inward attitude or feeling before it is expressed outwardly. Perhaps we could first notice whom we feel friendly toward. Whom do we admire? Whom do we feel an affinity with? Let that friendliness exist within, and it will begin to express itself. Are we grasping for acceptance or response? Let us remain with our own goodwill and not return to old attempts to get someone else to change. Friendship exists as a feeling of admiration, of love, of fellowship, without demand. And when we are another’s friend, let us accept their friendship and enjoy it without trying to change it or them.
Today, I will simply notice my friendly feelings toward others.
============================
Life without idealism is empty indeed. We must have hope or starve to death.
–Pearl Buck
Our ideals, the principles that order our lives, are essential to a healing life. Some of us have lived a pattern in which we did not know what we believed. If someone we liked stated a viewpoint, we might wear it for a while like a new shirt – but with no personal commitment. Others of us have indulged in negativism and hopelessness. Life is more fulfilling when we assert our beliefs and give ourselves to them. As human beings, we are unable to perfectly live out our beliefs, but we become whole by giving our energies to the attempt.
Is beauty in music, art, and nature a worthwhile ideal for us? Are fairness and justice for all people what we value? Are love and brotherhood ideals we hold dear? When we dare assert these values in our lives, they are life giving to us. They mature us. Reaching for what is worthwhile, rather than cursing what is not, gives us a design for making all our choices, and we have hope.
I will dare to meet my negativism with my ideals.
My spiritual health will give me life.
============================
The Language of Letting Go

The Importance of Money
We cannot afford to allow our focus in life to be money. That will not lead us into the abundance we’re seeking. Usually, it will not even lead to financial stability.
Money is important. We deserve to be paid what we’re worth. We will be paid what we’re worth when we believe we deserve to be. But often your plans fail when our primary consideration is money.
What do we really want to do? What do we feel led to do? What are our instincts telling us? What do we feel guided to do? What are we excited about doing? Seek to find a way to do that, without worrying about the money.
Consider the financial aspects. Set boundaries about what you need to be paid. Be reasonable. Expect to start at the bottom, and work up. But if you feel led toward a job, go for it.
Is there something we truly don’t want to do, something that goes against our grain, but we are trying to force ourselves into it “for the money?” Usually, that’s a behavior that backfires. It doesn’t work. We make ourselves miserable, and the money usually goes wrong too.
I have learned that when I am true to myself about work and what I need to be doing, the money will follow. Sometimes it’s not as much as I want; sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, and it’s more. But I’m content, and I have enough.
Money is a consideration, but it cannot be our primary consideration if we are seeking spiritual security and peace of mind.
Today, I will make money a consideration, b
t I will not allow it to become my primary consideration.
God, help me be true to myself and trust that the money will follow.
============================

Siren Song/ Let’s Ask Bill

Siren  Song AA Grapevine April 1997
I have told the following story at several AA meetings as a reminder to all of us not to be too complacent concerning our illness: An old man stood in front of us with tears running down his cheeks. He could hardly speak as he began to tell us his story. He’d been sober for thirty-four years and things were going quite well for him. His life was under control and there were no real pressing problems plaguing him. He was walking past a liquor store and for some unknown reason decided to buy a half pint of whisky. A half pint won’t hurt me, he said to himself as he walked through the doors. Within a few days he was up to a fifth a day. His friends in AA discovered he was drinking again and helped him to regain his sobriety once more.
 
I just celebrated my twenty-second year of continuous sobriety, so I had my sobriety well under control, or so I thought. Little did I know I was about to be exposed to a situation that tested my resolve and caused me to revamp my attitude toward my sobriety.
 
My significant other was going on a business trip to California and asked me to join her on the weekend to meet her father. I’d wanted to meet him for some time so I jumped at the chance.
 
Her father was a member of a band that plays in various bars around California on the weekend. He asked us to come listen to him and I didn’t see any harm in that. My friend had just celebrated eight years of sobriety, and I had twenty-two years of sobriety. What could go wrong?
 
The evening was really fun. The band was great, and my friend and I discovered a new wonderful aspect of our relationship by learning to dance together for the first time since we’d become a couple.
 
People in the audience were buying her father glasses of straight whiskey that he was drinking on stage as he played the steel guitar. During one of the short breaks that the band took, he came over to our table to chat and brought his glass of whiskey with him. While he was at the table with us, someone brought him another glass of whiskey that he put on the table in front of me. When he went back to the stage, he left this glass of whiskey on the table.
 
As I turned to watch the band, I saw the glass of whiskey sitting before me. For the next hour and a half, that glass of whiskey tempted me beyond what I thought was possible. I thought all those years of sobriety would protect me from even being tempted. But I was wrong.
 
All kinds of reasons kept going through my mind as to why it would be okay to take a drink of that whiskey. “One little sip won’t hurt anything. I’ll take a sip while my friend is in the rest room. I have breath mints so she’ll never know. Just one little sip is all I’ll have. Nobody will notice if I take just one little sip.”
 
My Higher Power and all I’d learned from AA throughout the years kept me from taking that drink. Knowing other alcoholics’ experiences proved to be helpful to me in this situation as well. I remembered that elderly man with thirty-four years of sobriety. I remembered how he slipped, and it was enough to keep me from making that fatal mistake of taking the first drink.
 
I acquired a new respect for my illness that evening. I learned it was just lurking under the surface waiting for the first opportunity to raise its ugly head. I learned it truly was cunning and baffling.
Rawlins R. – Tucson, Arizona
=========================================

Lets Ask Bill


Q – Could you explain AA’s tradition concerning other agencies in the field of alcoholism. 


A – I remember very well when this committee started (January, 1944) It brought me in contact with our great friends at Yale, the courageous Dr. Haggard, the incredible Dr. Jellinek or Bunky as we affectionately know him and Seldon and all those dedicated people.

The question arose, could an AA member get into education or research or what not? Then ensued a fresh and great controversy in AA  which was not surprising because you must remember that in this period we were like people on Rickenbacker’s raft. Who would dare ever rock us ever so little and precipitate is back in the alcohol sea.

So, frankly, we were afraid and as usual we had the radicals and we had the conservatives and we had moderates on this question of whether A.A. members could go into other enterprises in this field. The conservatives said, “no, let’s keep it simple, let’s mind our own business.” The  radicals said, “let ‘s endorse anything that looks like it will do any good, let the A.A. name be used to raise money and to do whatever it can for the whole field,” and the growing body of moderates took the position, “let any A.A. member who feels the call go into these related fields for if we are to do less it would be a very antisocial outlook.” So that is where the Tradition finally sat and many were called and many were chosen since that day to go into these related fields which has now got to be so large in their promise that we of Alcoholics Anonymous are getting down to our right size and we are only now realizing that we are only a small part of a great big picture.
We are realizing again, afresh1 that without our friends, not only could we not have existed in the first place but we could not have grown. We are getting a fresh concept of what our relations with the world and all of these related enterprises should be. In other words, we are growing up. IN fact last year at St. Louis we were bold enough to say that we had come of age and that within Alcoholics Anonymous the main outlines of the basis for recovery, of the basis for unity and of the basis for service or function were already evident.

At St. Louis I made talks upon each of those subjects which largely concerned themselves about what A.A. had done about these things but here we are in a much wider field and I think that the sky is the limit. I think that I can say without any reservation that what this Committee has done with the aid of it’s great friends who are now legion as anyone here can see. I think that this Committee has been responsible for making more friends for Alcoholics Anonymous and of doing a wider service in educating the world on the gravity of this malady and what can be done about it than any other single agency.

I’m awfully partial and maybe I’m a little bias because here sits the dean of all our ladies (Marty M.), my close, dear friend. So speaking out of turn as a founder, I want to convey to her in the presence of all of you the best I can say of my great love and affection is thanks.

At the close of things in St. Louis, I remember that I likened A.A. to a cathedral style edifice whose corners now rested on the earth. I remember saying that we can see on its great floor the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and there assembled 150,000 sufferers and their families. We have seen side walls go up, buttressed with the A.A. Tradition and at St. Louis, when the elected Conference took over from the Board of Trustees, the spire of service was put into effect and its beacon light, the beacon light of A.A. shone there beckoning to all the world.

I realized that as I sat here today that that was not a big enough concept, for on the floor of the cathedral of the spirit there should always be written the formula from whatever source for release from alcoholism, whether it be a drug, whether it be the psychiatric art, whether it be the ministrations of this Committee. In other words, we who deal with this problem are all in the same boat, all standing upon the same floor. So let’s bring to this floor the total resources that can be brought to bear upon this problem and let us not think of unity just in terms of A.A. Tradition but let us think of unity among all those who work in the field as the kind of unity that befits brotherhood and sisterhood and a kinship in the common suffering. Let us stand together in the spirit of service. If we do these things, only then can we declare ourselves really come of age. And only then, and I think that this is a time not far off. I think we can say that the future, our future, the future of the Committee, of A.A. and of the things that people of good will are trying to do in this field will be completely assured. © (Transcribed from tape. Address to The National Committee for Education on Alcoholism©. March 30, 1956).

 

A Date With Destiny?Bill W.

A Date With Destiny?

AA Grapevine October 1944

Somebody once said, “As much as you may grow, as many recoveries as there may be, I think the eventual by-products of A.A. will be greater than A.A. itself.”

Everywhere now, we hear such remarks. They come from all kinds of people. Doctors think of applying our methods to other neurotics; clergymen wonder if our humble example may not vitalize their congregations; businessmen find we make good personnel managers–they glimpse a new industrial democracy; educators see power in our non-controversial way of presenting the truth; and our friends wistfully say, “We wish we were alcoholics–we need A.A. too.”

Why these stirrings? They must all mean, I am sure, that we have suddenly become much more than recovered alcoholics, A.A. members only. Society has begun to hope that we are going to utilize, in every walk of life, that miraculous experience of our returning, almost overnight, from the fearsome land of Nowhere.

Yes, we are again citizens of the world. It is a distraught world, very tired, very uncertain. It has worshipped its own self-sufficiency–and that has failed. We A.A.s are a people who once did that very thing. That philosophy failed us, too. So perhaps, here and there, our example of recovery can help. As individuals, we have a responsibility, may be a double responsibility. It may be that we have a date with destiny.

An example: Not long ago Dr. E. M. Jellinek, of Yale University, came to us. He said, “Yale, as you know, is sponsoring a program of public education on alcoholism, entirely non-controversial in character. We need the cooperation of many A.A.s. To proceed on any educational project concerning alcoholism without the goodwill, experience and help of A.A. members would be unthinkable.”

So, when the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism was formed, an A.A. member was made its executive director: Marty M., one of our oldest and finest. In this issue, she tells The Grapevine of her new work. As a member of A.A., she is just as much interested in us as before–A.A. is still her avocation. But as an officer of the Yale-sponsored National Committee, she is also interested in educating the general public on alcoholism. Her A.A. training has wonderfully fitted her for this post in a different field. Public education on alcoholism is to be her vocation.

Could an A.A. do such a job? At first, Marty herself wondered. She asked her A.A. friends, “Will I be regarded as a professional?” Her friends replied, “Had you come to us, Marty, proposing to be a therapist, to sell straight A.A. to alcoholics at so much a customer, we should certainly have branded that as professionalism. So would everybody else.

“But the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism is quite another matter. You will be taking your natural abilities and A.A. experience into a very different field. We don’t see how that can affect your amateur status with us. Suppose you were to become a social worker, a personnel officer, the manager of a state farm for alcoholics, or even a minister of the Gospel? Who could possibly say those activities would make you a professional A.A.? No one, of course.”

They went on, “Yet we do hope that A.A. as a whole will never deviate from its sole purpose of helping other alcoholics. As an organization, we should express no opinions save on the recovery of problem drinkers. That very sound national policy has kept us out of much useless trouble already, and will surely forestall untold complications in the future.

“Though A.A. as a whole,” they continued, “should never have but one objective, we believe just as strongly that for the individual there should be no limitations whatever, except his own conscience. He should have the complete right to choose his own opinions and outside activities. If these are good, A.A.s everywhere will approve. Just so, Marty, do we think it will be in your case. While Yale is your actual sponsor, we feel sure that you are going to have the warm personal support of thousands of A.A.s wherever you go. We shall all be thinking how much better a break this new generation of potential alcoholic kids will have because of your work, how much it might have meant to us had our own mothers and fathers really understood alcoholism.” Personally I feel that Marty’s friends have advised her wisely; that they have clearly distinguished between the limited scope of “A.A. as a whole” and the broad horizon of the individual A.A. acting on his own responsibility; that they have probably drawn a correct line between what we would regard as professional and amateur.

Bill W. AA Co-Founder, Bill W., October 1944

“A Date With Destiny” The Language of the Heart
================================

There is no greater weakness than stubbornness. If you cannot yield, if you cannot learn that there must be compromise in life – you lose. 
–Maxwell Maltz
Glass is very hard, but fragile. By contrast, leather is tough and resilient. A blow to a glass dish will break it, but a blow to a shoe will just be absorbed. Our program leads us to avoid the folly of being hard like glass, and we become tougher like leather. We must endure surprises, pressures, and blows from the world as a normal part of life. The more able we are to absorb the blows, the stronger and more whole we are as men.
A friend who has a different opinion from ours can be listened to and his ideas considered. There is no need to compete with him or prove that we are right. When our plan for a project at work gets set aside, we will feel the frustration but we need not come apart over it. Perhaps our Higher Power is leading us to a better plan. Frustrations with spouses or friends can be turned over to our Higher Power. We do not have a rigid recipe for life, and we must be open to more learning.
I will surrender my fragile stubbornness in exchange for the toughness I can learn in compromise.

================================

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

Big Book

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

The terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.

Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous. 
In the first few chapters a number of sudden revolutionary changes are described. Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God-consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent, are by no means the rule. Most of our experiences are what psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our members find they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves. 

Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it “God-consciousness.” 
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. 

We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable. 

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance —  that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” 

– HERBERT SPENCER