is important that at present we believe there is only
one sure pathway to recovery for any alcoholic.
In my own case I was
not entirely ignorant of the causes that led me into excessive
drinking. In a desperate effort to eliminate these causes,
to find a means to better mental and physical health,
I investigated the alcoholic problem from every angle.
Medicine, psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis absorbed
my interest and supplied me with a great deal of general
and specific information. It led me in the end, however,
to the fact that for me here was a mental and physical
disease that science had placed in the category of "incurables."
Briefly, all that this study and research ever did for
me was to show something about WHY I drank. It substantiated
a fact I had known all along, that my drinking was symptomatic.
It did point out a road to better mental health but it
demanded something of me in return that I did not have
to give. It asked of me a power of self-will but
it did not take into consideration that this self-will
was already drugged with poison-that it was very sick.
Intuitively I also knew that a person constrained to temperance
by the domination of will is no more cured of his
vice than if he were locked up in prison. I knew that
somehow, some way, the mental stream, the emotions, must
be purified before the right pathway could be followed.
It was about this
time that I began "flirting" with religion as a possible
way out. I approached the subject in a wary, none too
reverent, attitude. I believed in an omnipotent God or
Deity, but the orthodox approach through the church, with
its dogma and ritual,
me unmoved. The more I struggled to gain an intelligent
grasp upon spiritual development, the more confused I
became. On the other hand a purely materialistic viewpoint
that postulated a "mechanical order of things" seemed
too negative even to entertain. As an artist I had spent
too much time communing with nature-trying to place upon
canvas or paper my emotional feelings, not to know that
a tremendous spiritual power was back of the universe.
There was, however, so much that seemed illogical or sentimental
about religion in general-so many doubts assailed me,
so many problems to be confronted-yet there was within
myself a strong and urgent desire for spiritual satisfaction.
The occasional periods in which I felt a spiritual emotion,
I immediately examined with all the ardor of the inveterate
analyst. Was this emotion just a form of religious ecstasy?
Was it fear? Was it just blind belief or had I tapped
"Most men," wrote
Thoreau, "lead lives of quiet desperation." It was the
articulation of this despair that led to my drinking in
the beginning. Religion, so far, had only added to my
desperation. I drank more than ever.
A seed had been planted,
however, and a short time afterward I met the man who
has for the past five years devoted a great deal of time
and energy to helping alcoholics. Looking back on that
meeting, the simplicity of his talk with me is amazing.
He told me very little but what I already knew, in part,
but what he did have to say was bereft of all fancy spiritual
phraseology-it was simple Christianity imparted with Divine
day I met over twenty men who had achieved a mental rebirth
from alcoholism. Here again it was not so much what these
men told me in regard to their experiences that was impressive,
as it was a sense or feeling that an invisible influence
was at work. What was it this man had and these other
men exemplified without their knowing? They were human
every-day sort of people. They certainly were not pious.
They had no "holier than thou" attitude. They were not
reformers, and their concepts of religion in some cases
were almost inarticulate. But they had something!
Was it just their sincerity that was magnetic? Yes, they
certainly were sincere, but much more than that emanated
from them. Was it their great and terrible need, now being
fulfilled, that made me feel a vibratory force that was
new and strange? Now I was getting closer and suddenly,
it seemed to me, I had the answer. These men were but
instruments. Of themselves they were nothing.
Here at last was a
demonstration of spiritual law at work. Here was spiritual
law working through human lives just as definitely and
with the same phenomena expressed in the physical laws
that govern the material world.
These men were like
lamps supplied with current from a huge spiritual dynamo
and controlled by the rheostat of their souls. They burned
dim, bright, or brilliant, depending upon the degree and
progress of their contact. And this contact could only
be maintained just so long as they obeyed that spiritual
These men were thinking
straight-therefore their actions corresponded to their
thoughts. They had given
their minds, over to a higher power for direction.
Here, it seemed to me, in the one word "Thought"-was the
crux of the w hole spiritual quest. That "As a man thinketh
in his heart, so is he" and so is his health, his environment,
his failure, or his success in life.
How foolish I had
been in my quest for spiritual help. How selfish and egotistical
I had been to think that I could approach God intellectually.
In the very struggle to obtain faith I had lost it. I
had given to the term faith a religious significance only.
I had failed to see that faith was "our common everyday
manner of thinking." That good and evil were but end results
of certain uniform and reliable spiritual laws. Obviously,
my own thinking had been decidedly wrong. Normal most
of the time, it was abnormal at the wrong times. Like
everyone's thinking, it was a mixture of good and bad,
but mainly it was uncontrolled.
I had been sticking
my chin out and getting socked by spiritual law until
I was punch drunk. If one could become humble, if he could
become "as a little child" before this powerful
spiritual thought force, the pathway could be discovered.
The day I made my
first efforts in this direction an entire new world opened
up for me. Drinking as a vicious habit was washed completely
out of my consciousness. I have never even been tempted
to take a drink since. As a matter of fact there are so
many other things within myself that need correction that
the drink habit looks silly in comparison. Please do not
assume that all this is but an exposition of spiritual
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. Where my life had been full of mental turmoil there
is now an ever increasing depth of calmness. Where there
was a hit or miss attitude toward living there is now
new direction and force.
The approaches of
man to God are many and varied. My conception of God as
Universal Mind is after all but one man's approach to
and concept of the Supreme Being. To 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
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