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ASPECT MOST IMPORTANT
for New Life Comes With Reliance Upon Power
Greater Than Human Ken
(Forth of Six Articles)
readers of these articles by now have doubtless suspected,
the core of the technique by which Alcoholics Anonymous
has worked what often seems like a miracle in the lives
of men and women, is spiritual.
Not religious, but spiritual.
Not mental, not psychological---though
it is all three of these also---but spiritual.
The majority of the
hundreds of alcoholics already reclaimed probably could
have been classed rightly only as unbelievers and agnostics.
Does it seem strange that this attitude proved no bar to
their laying hold on the central truth that is demonstrated
by this group?
No stranger than the
fact that the membership embraces Jew and Gentile, Catholic
and Protestant, all creeds, denominations and faiths.
is no reason why Hindu, the Mohammedan, or the veriest unreclaimed
Hottentot could not translate the central truth about this
cure for alcoholism into his own faith, his own native customs.
It is universal because
it depends on its effectiveness, and depends absolutely
on the recognition of a Power higher than man--the Creative
Spirit over all. The name is immaterial.
It will, however, simplify
matters to use the familiar terminology employed in the
Christian religion, calling this power God.
How you picture Him,
say Alcoholics Anonymous in all reverence, does not matter.
To Smith He may be a patriarch up there somewhere, with
a dazzling robe. To Jones, the agnostic, His form is still
a question mark, if indeed He has any form understandable
to man. And Brown may almost literally feel the reassuring
pressure of His hand as they walk together through the tough
spots of the day.
The Creative Spirit
is in all things. It is not strange that people should differ
in the ways in which they realize this.
But the Power Itself
is one and the same thing.
How did these ex-alcoholics
get hold of this Power? By a simple act of faith. Its
really the way the Good Book tells about.
The alcoholic says in
beat this habit around the bush from hell to breakfast and
back again, and I cant whip it. It has me down. I
cant beat it alone. But there is a Power greater
than I. I shall call on it now; and forever more, daily,
hourly if necessary, to preserve me from this evil.
If this be said in absolute
honesty, and adhered to, the foundation of a new life is
laid, this time on rock. No more shifting sand.
Since faith without
works is dead, however, more has to be done. This
is only the beginning. And it is in the sequence of other
steps in the technique that the alcoholic soon realizes
the unique and amazing practical value.
reward seems to go hand in hand with the deed.
Psychologists and psychiatrists
will tell you that, to change a persons ingrained
habits, one of two things is necessary: either a long and
painful re-education of mind and body, by a supreme and
often agonizing effort of the will, so that one set of habits
finally is ousted and a new set learned by deliberate and
diligent dally practice; or else a change, such as a person
experiences in a complete surrender to spiritual principles.
This later is what is
meant by a spiritual experience. It reaches the inner man.
The old passes away and behold all things are indeed become
If it can be achieved,
it is the simplest, the easiest, the quickest, the surest
way, and the safest from relapse.
William James, the noted
psychologist, in his book Varieties of Religious Experiences,
illustrates the myriad paths by which this inner change
may be wrought. But surrender to the higher Power, and faith
therein, are of the essence of all.
In non-religious terms,
the experience is like the realization that sometimes comes
to a person who has never appreciated good music or good
books, and who all of a sudden gets the idea
of the pleasure, the value to be found in them. Thenceforth
he proceeds with delight to enjoy that in which he formerly
had found no charm, no meaning.
Similarly, the alcoholic
come to a realization that the Higher Power waits to help:
that with God, truly all things are possible.
As outlined in the book
Alcoholics Anonymous, the steps so far outlined
in this article comprise the first three of twelve steps
in the entire technique. In the experience of alcoholics
who have taken all three, what has happened?
stood in the sunlight at last. Scales of pride and prejudice
fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.
Again: After making
this final agreement (not just for another resolution) to
let God be first in my life, the whole outlook and horizon
brightened up in a manner which I am unable to describe
except to say that it was glorious.
is no cocky feeling about this for me. I know
I am an alcoholic; and while I used to call on God to help
me, my conclusion is that I was simply asking God to help
me drink alcohol without its hurting me, which is a far
different thing that asking Him to help me not drink at
all. So here I stand, and it is wonderful.
artist: A chart of my spiritual progress would look
like the graph of a business that had been hit by everything
but an earthquake; but there has been progress. It has cured
me of a vicious habit.
my life had been full of mental turmoil, there is now an
ever increasing depth of calmness.
there was a hit or miss attitude toward living, there is
now new direction and force.
me it makes sense, opens up a fascinating field of endeavor,
and is a challenge the acceptance of which can make of life
the Adventure Magnificent.
Have to Live It
myself, coming down from Cleveland, Ohio, to Houston on
the train, hardly out of my swaddling clothes on this thing,
all of a sudden felt so overwhelmingly illuminated and
relieved by the idea that I no longer had to think about
to drink or not to drink, that I dug out my
notebook and wrote down, How much of my life this realization
turned loose for things of real value!
As my oldest son wrote
me yesterday: Congratulations upon your discovery
that you and alcohol do not agree. Now that you give full
recognition to that fact, you cease to be on deceitful terms
with yourself and all of you can go in the same direction--which
He hit the bullseye
Im free now because
Im all in one piece--no longer a house divided
But this spiritual life
is not a theory. We have to live it.
do not think it is enough merely for a man to stay sober.
What of the swath of
destruction the alcoholic has cut through the lives of others
by his refusal, failure or inability to consider the needs
of those who have trusted him and those who are dependent
Remorse wont pay
this off. Theres some work to be done.
Now that the preliminaries
of surrender and of faith are established, the period of
Here is where the other
nine of the 12 points of the Alcoholics Anonymous code comes
Houston Press Index
Story of a Way
Out for Hopeless Drinkers
to Drink: Alcoholic's Burden
How it Started
and Gained Speed
Spiritual Aspect Most Important
to Overcome Alcoholism
A New Approach
to Psychotherapy in Chronic Alcoholism