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S T U D Y  G U I D E

T O  T H E

A A  B I G  B O O K

 

With emphasis upon Principles before Personalities

this Study Guide presents

"A SPIRITUAL VIEW BEYOND THE LIMITS OF TRADITIONAL RELIGION"

by Ken W. as - "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous"

(see Forward to First Edition)

FORMAT REVISED AS OF JULY 2002

 

 

AUTHORíS PREFACE TO THIS STUDY GUIDE:

This is a Study Guide to the book Alcoholics Anonymous. It is dedicated to those who want recovery from alcoholism, but have difficulty with the word "God". Especially, as that word gets used by individuals who embrace traditional religious concepts of what it means to them. Be advised that other ideas and interpretations, which are consistent with the basic AA text, also have value and usefulness in the recovery process.

Should you choose to follow this Study Guide, you will be presented ideas which this author has found to be consistent with the basic text of AA. However, some of those ideas go beyond the limitations many traditional religions have in their interpretation of the word "God" and what that word means for them. Readers who are open minded (see Appendix II) may discover new thinking about "a power greater than yourself".

The three-letter word "God" is generally used to communicate a concept of infinite knowledge and power. Concepts, other than those utilized by traditional religion, do exist. One fundamental idea of God, based upon the basic text of AA, (see pg 55), is being offered in this Study Guide. Some individual alcoholics may find the approach is useful in their personal recovery.

It is self-evident that no person is qualified to speak for God, nor for AA as a whole. The vital spiritual experience, necessary for recovery from alcoholism, is intensely personal to the individual alcoholic. That is precisely the point. A readers concept of God need not follow traditional lines.

The experience of the first successfully sober members of AA tells us:

"Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"

(AA pg 12)

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us."

(AA pg 55)

 

Regardless of whatever approach you choose for yourself, you can be assured that:

THERE IS A POWER FOR GOOD,

AND YOU CAN UTILIZE IT IN YOUR LIFE.

&&& * * * * *

SECTION A02:

HOW TO USE THIS STUDY GUIDE:

COMMENTS:

"FROM REPETITION COMES RECOGNITION"

Any reader of this Study Guide material will quickly recognize that the author repeats numerous points of view with great frequency. There are similarly repeated references to the same pages of the AA basic text for recovery from alcoholism. This is intentional.

For those who are alcoholic, the entire message of AA could be condensed into a simple one-line expression:

"DONíT DRINK - NO MATTER WHAT".

Nothing further would be required as a message of sobriety.

Due to individual differences in a conscious awareness of the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms, there are differences in individual alcoholics. What is understood by one may not be clear to another. That is precisely the point.

Certain mental attitudes repeatedly appear within the basic text for recovery from alcoholism. Comments are made, by the author about those ideas, emotions and attitudes as they repeatedly appear in the basic text. (see pg. 27). Many are repetitious. They appear to have significance for any alcoholic having difficulty reconciling use of the "three-letter word God" in the AA Big Book with the interpretations of that word commonly offered by traditional religions.

"We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us." (pg. 95)

The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is "a company of equals". There is no second requirement for membership. AA gains itís strength from universal acceptance by those who are members, on their own say so.

"The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking." (Tradition 3)

As a result, the issue of "human equality in the eyes of a Creator" becomes a point of departure between the AA program, and the basic precepts of many traditional religions. Where religion defines that which is and is not "God" for their followers, AA does not. Where most religious belief systems have boundaries to define what they "believe about God", the basic text for AA does not.

The only "belief about God" this author has found within the basic text of AA is a statement which finds universal acceptance for any alcoholic who seeks recovery as their primary purpose in this lifetime.

"We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didnít do it." (pg. 133)

Where most traditional religions provide authoritative spokesmen on what is or is not acceptable human behavior "in the eyes of God", AA does not. In fact, the very beginning of AA was based upon a very simple idea:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?" (pg. 12)

"It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning." (pg. 12)

The demonstrated results of AA have clearly established that alcoholics can and do recover from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Those who have recovered obviously possess conscious awareness of something which is possible.

It is the contention of the author in this Study Guide of the AA basic text, that "recovered alcoholics" have "tapped a source of power greater than themselves". It is in the form of "new knowledge" about "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. (see pgs 53, 55, 60(c), 68, 129, 163-164 & Appendix II).

There is universal acceptance of the "three letter word God" as being "the source of all knowledge and the power of that knowledge". Any such awareness of reality is obviously "a power greater than any individual" could acquire during a single lifetime. Furthermore, there is more new knowledge available, than has been discovered by the entire human race since the beginning of time.

For practical human purposes, the available supply of new knowledge about life, on lifeís terms is infinite. (pgs 53 & 68). Where this has application to recovery from alcoholism, the basic text of AA is clear.

"Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

    1. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own

lives.

    1. That probably no human power could have relieved our

alcoholism.

    1. That God could and would if He were sought.

(pg. 60)

At issue is "a fundamental idea of God" which this author suggests will be different within each and every alcoholic. (pg. 55). Every alcoholic will have differences in their personal awareness of that which is and is not "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. Therefore, it is the "belief in their own equality in the eyes of their Creator" which becomes the focal point of concern.

This author does not subscribe to any belief system which claims superiority of some human beings over others.

The word "ethnocentric" describes that mental attitude. Many traditional religions hold to such a belief system for their followers. (see pg. 23). Alcoholics who desire to retain a belief that "our group is superior to other groups" should not be reading this material. Not unless they are open minded enough to consider other ideas which can be found within the AA basic text for recovery.

Having been issued "fair warning", the reader of this Study Guide material should be prepared to encounter challenges to many well established "old ideas" about the disease of alcoholism. This will include observations about "the power" which has produced recovery for countless thousands of men and women from all segments of humanity. They should be evaluated with the "inherent intelligence" which can be found within every man, woman and child. (see pgs 55 & 86).

Before AA, no "second hand belief system" had been able to produce any results equivalent to what the AA program has demonstrated is possible for "any alcoholic with a desire to stop drinking".

"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." (Appendix II)

With that mental approach to the material contained in this Study Guide of the basic text for Alcoholics Anonymous, some specific suggestions follow:

    1. Remember that no individual member of AA is qualified to speak for the Fellowship, except with the endorsement of the General Services Offices of Alcoholics Anonymous.
    2. Rely upon "The Twelve Traditions - (The Long Form) for clarification of what AA is and what AA is not. (see Appendix I).
    3. Consider the viewpoint of any individual member as just that. The view of "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous". This specifically includes any comments by the author of this Study Guide of the basic text. (see Foreword to First Edition).

Each "Section" of the Study Guide suggests reading some particular portion of the basic text. Then comments follow. When reviewing this Study Guide material, it is suggested that the reader consider it as if they were attending "a group meeting which is studying the basic text of the AA Big Book".

In that setting, consider that, over in the corner, sits an "old timer" who has been around AA for over half a century. He is usually long-winded, repeats himself frequently, and has an opinion on just about anything or everything pertaining to the AA program. However, he does usually wait to be called upon before unleashing his viewpoints on others. It is obvious he is reasonably familiar with what is contained in the AA Big Book. His observations are eagerly accepted by some "as a guru", and similarly rejected by others as being the blabbering of "an old man who has forgotten what it is like".

Despite the belief by many that "the old timer is full of crap" he remains sober, and has been sober a very long time. Frequently he may voice "a point of view" with which it is very difficult to argue, dispute, or to find fault with it. After many years of sobriety, he still attends a lot of meetings, and claims to be "reasonably happy, joyous and free". This will sometimes disturb those who find "their own personal belief system" is being challenged by what he says.

During any such meeting to Study the AA Big Book, you would expect to encounter a wide variety of viewpoints on the portions under consideration. The individual "Sections" of this Study Guide material reflect ideas, emotions and attitudes you might hear from the mouth of that "old timer over in the corner". (see pg. 27).

The written material of this Study Guide is being provide in a self-centered attempt to assure the efforts of a lifetime remain available to anyone who might be interested. They are the ideas, emotions and attitudes which produced satisfactory results for a single alcoholic. Other alcoholics are encouraged to put forth similar effort and make "their personal interpretation" available to other alcoholics in a similar and equal manner.

Recovery from alcoholism is something which requires continued effort to "perfect and enlarge a spiritual life". (see pgs 14-15, 35, 129 & 164). When evaluating this Study Guide material, it is suggested that the reader proceed at their own pace. Valid new knowledge will always displace and rearrange "erroneous old ideas and false beliefs".

The only measure of validity for ideas, emotions and attitudes which are the guiding forces in the lives of alcoholics is to be found in how well they work. Do they produce satisfactory results? Are they principles with application to anyone, anyplace and at any time? (see pg. 27).

The improvement of an established belief system is not an overnight matter. (see Steps 10 & 11). With this thought in mind, (pg. 23), study the material of each individual Section carefully, in the light of your own intelligence.

Scan rapidly through the material first, without paying any particular attention to the parenthetical references to other portions of the AA basic text. If the points being made are not clearly understood, then review the references for additional clarification. There is "no other authority" intended to be used than the basic text itself.

If the reader cannot reconcile with the basic text of AA anything they are told by anyone about the AA program, this author recommends it be considered suspect of error.

It is recommended that the reader progress through the extensive comments of the author over an extended period of time. Each individual Section was intended to serve as "a single lesson in an educational variety of a spiritual experience" for those with an open mind to new "ideas, emotions and attitudes". (pg. 27). Hopefully it will be useful to some alcoholics in producing "the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery". The comments are primarily intended for those experiencing difficulty accepting traditional religious versions of "God, as we understand Him". It is anticipated that any such transformation will develop slowly over a period of time.

"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."

(see Appendix II - Spiritual Experience).

For the alcoholic who is "a defiant individualist" there is value in building a personal belief system on the foundation of the AA basic text for recovery. This approach to recovery has produced demonstrated results which remain unequaled by any other thus far. However, "Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer." (pg. 87). Just remember that their discovery of "a truth" is not the same as having knowledge of "all truth".

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg. 164)

With a mental attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness, give thoughtful intelligent consideration to the ideas, emotions and attitudes of any alcoholic who has achieved successful results in their life. Especially those which you would like to have included in your own. While no two individuals will ever be happy, joyous and free in an identical manner, anyone can acquire new knowledge of the Great Reality from almost anyone.

Any improvement in your own "conscious contact with God" will allow for spiritual progress in cooperating with life, on lifeís terms. It will occur as you understand more about "a power greater than yourself". This "spiritual growth" is to be found by constantly seeking new knowledge from the infinite source of all knowledge. That source is some intelligence referred to by use of the "three letter word God".

The individual alcoholic, seeking recovery will quickly recognize a need for reliance upon "a conception of God" that produces practical results. A fundamental idea of God as "the source of all new knowledge" is a simple approach which has worked well for many. (see pg. 46).

This approach to recovery has been particularly valuable to those alcoholics who have difficulty believing the versions of "a power greater than ourselves" offered by and available from the spokesmen for many traditional religious "ideas of God".

What this author has found by way of support for "a fundamental idea of God" from the basic text of AA is being freely offered in this Study Guide material to those who are interested.

TAKE WHAT YOU CAN USE, AND LEAVE THE REST FOR OTHERS

* * * * *

9;

SECTION A04:

F O R W O R D T O S T U D Y G U I D E :

"ALL GENERALIZATIONS ARE FALSE - INCLUDING THIS ONE"

That is a principle, emphasized in this "Study Guide".

 

COMMENTS:

Disagreement with traditional religious beliefs need not block recovery from alcoholism. There can be both value and limitations to some of those old ideas and their belief systems. However, the power of new knowledge is infinite. (see pg 68).

Knowledge is power, and it provides additional freedom with the power of increased choice. There is always more to know. Any knowledge you do NOT possess is "a power greater than yourself".

Seeking new knowledge is equivalent to seeking improved power to make choices that were not previously available due to personal ignorance. As you understand new knowledge you are free to use it. (see Steps 3 & 11).

The ability of alcoholics to recover, from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, was new knowledge for many, when the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" was first written. That new knowledge provided alcoholics new power to make new choices. With those new choices they were able to enjoy a new freedom and new happiness. (see pgs 83-84).

There is no limit upon how much additional new knowledge (i.e.: "the power of God") anyone can acquire. More new knowledge, hence more power is available to anyone, any place, at any time if it is sought. (see pgs 47 & 60(c)).

By seeking more new knowledge, the seeker taps into an infinite source of power. (syn: "God" - see pg 59). That source is a power greater than yourself.

That message reflects a basic view of the AA Big Book which will be found in this Study Guide. It has been prepared for the sole purpose of sharing what has been found in the basic text with alcoholics who have problems with traditional religious interpretations of the word "God" and what that word means to their mind. The book "Alcoholics Anonymous" offers a path of recovery which extends beyond any requirement to conform to traditional religious ideas or practices.

Many alcoholics find personal fulfillment within a traditional religious belief system. Such readers may not be interested in seeking any additional improvements in their life. (see pg 133). For them to read on could expose their minds to other ideas and new knowledge which might disturb what they now believe about life.

Those who have found peace of mind and personal contentment with their faith, are advised to stop reading here, and set this book aside now.

Those who have continued to read this Study Guide material will recognize that many alcoholics have problems with traditional religious interpretations of the word "God". Some of those problems are aggravated by exposure to militantly religious and highly vocal AA members who insist "their way is the only way" to experience the "vital spiritual experience" necessary for recovery. The basic text on recovery from alcoholism does not support that claim. (see pgs 27 & 95).

Some religious groups of alcoholics insist it necessary to shave your head, or meditate in a certain position. Others believe it is important to don a yellow robe and chant in order to find spiritual enlightenment. Large numbers of other alcoholics emotionally insist that engaging in rituals, symbolic of being like a vampire and cannibal, is the only valid way of "communion with their deity". How much intelligence is involved in any of the different belief systems becomes a matter of personal choice. (see pg 23).

Though useful to many alcoholics, religious practices merely reflect personally chosen beliefs by individual alcoholics. Fortunately, none of those religious belief systems are necessary requirements for recovery. If they were necessary, then no one could or would recover without them. AA experience has indicated the only requirement for recovery is a desire to stop drinking. (see pg 58).

Principles of recovery, found in the AA Big Book, have universal application.

Those principles will work for anyone with a desire to stop drinking. There is no second requirement for membership. Similarly, there is no difference between an alcoholic with a Buddhist hang-over or a Baptist hang-over. The AA program works equally well in producing recovery for them both.

Furthermore, the only assumption about "what God wants for the alcoholic" is:

"We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free".

(pg 133)

Some individuals prefer having another human being (i.e.: "equal in the eyes of God") tell them if and when they are happy, joyous or free. If so, a different approach to recovery may produce what they want most. This Study Guide emphasizes the spirit of human equality as a concept which has been found consistently throughout the basic AA text for recovery from alcoholism.

In this regard, the reader may wish to consider the author of this Study Guide to be like "a sponsor". Someone, like a "safari guide" which you have chosen. Someone who is willing to point out what they have found in the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous". Someone willing to take the reader on a guided tour of the basic text, while emphasizing points of interest from a personal perspective with a personal bias built into all comments which get made. Such an approach can be anticipated by anyone who continues reading this material.

Comments made by the author of this Study Guide are offered freely to alcoholics who are interested in them. Others may prefer taking a different approach to the basic text for recovery from alcoholism. The only important approach to sobriety for any alcoholic is the one that works best.

It is suggested the reader utilize whatever new knowledge is helpful to them, regardless of how or where it is acquired. If some of those ideas, emotions or attitudes have broader application in life than sobriety alone, then consider them a bonus benefit. They will be the power of new knowledge you will be free to use as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

* * * * *

SECTION A05:

"COMMENTS ON SPONSORSHIP"

READ:

    1. Basic text of "Alcoholics Anonymous" from frontispiece through end of Chapter 11 on page 164.
    2. Appendices I - VI found in the back of the basic text.
    3. AA Pamphlet (P-15) - "Questions & Answers on Sponsorship".

COMMENTS:

It is a common recommendation to newcomers in the AA Fellowship that they get a sponsor who will help them understand what is in the basic text for recovery. This Study Guide was written with that consideration in mind. If the reader desires to use the author "as a sponsor" it is worthwhile to establish a clear understanding of what that relationship is. Specifically, in regard to interpreting the basic text for recovery that is found in the first 164 pages of the AA Big Book.

Where the reader chooses to use the author of this Study Guide "as a sponsor", it is recommended that anything which cannot be confirmed with that basic text be considered suspect of error.

Be assured that the author has made every effort to reconcile personal comments with the AA Big Book. While these and other outside views may provide value and usefulness, it is not recommended that any alcoholic bet their life and their freedom on something which they cannot confirm with AAís basic text for successful recovery.

Consider anyone you select as "a sponsor" to be like a "safari guide" you have chosen to lead you through territory which is new for you but familiar to them. In the process of your journey, you will inescapably be exposed to the personality of your guide, as part of the process. What they consider of significance or importance may not have the same value to you.

When reading material in this Study Guide, be aware that understanding the personality of the author is not essential to your own recovery from alcoholism. However, improving conscious understanding of the principles of recovery is required for a vital spiritual experience. (Step 11).

"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." (Appendix II)

Because no one has all the answers in AA, individual members share their experience, strength and hope with each other. No individual member is qualified to speak for AA as a whole. Therefore, when selecting "a sponsor" as "a safari guide" to lead you through the unfamiliar territory of the basic text, the use of your own intelligence will be helpful.

Any observations offered in this Study Guide by the author are personal. While they have worked well, it should be recognized that other views exist. The objective is to help the reader improve ways to become increasingly "happy, joyous and free". (pg 133). This occurs by enlarging a conscious understanding of "a power greater than yourself" as presented in AAís basic text for recovery.

Different individuals seek different approaches to obtaining the fulfillment of their desires. (i.e.: "the answers to their prayers"). No one else really knows what they want for themselves. Because this author failed "mind reading" the alcoholic reader must make a decision concerning what new knowledge they are seeking for themselves. Part of that desire (syn: "prayer") may be answered from comments provided in this Study Guide. If so, utilize those ideas freely, and leave what is not suitable for someone who may find them helpful.

Be aware that some alcoholics are, or believe they are, unable to make decisions, in their own best interests. If so, they may require a conservator, caretaker or "a keeper" to protect them from themselves. AA places emphasis upon human equality, particularly in the eyes of a creator. For that reason, participation in AA may not be their best personal approach to recovery. Established AA members are not necessarily qualified to run the lives of other alcoholics. Beyond personal success with their own recovery, there is room for doubt concerning their expertise in other areas of living.

In AA, most established members have admitted their inability to successfully manage their own lives. Most also believe that, in the past, some "power, greater than themselves", had been lacking. (see pg 45). How they have tapped a source of power that has restored them to sanity may vary. The value of their choice will vary according to whomever renders judgment on their mental condition. (pg 23). Therefore the reader would be wise to utilize their own intelligence and exercise caution when making a selection of someone to provide them with "guidance".

Should an alcoholic desire "a sponsor" to run their life for them, they would require a "non-revocable Power of Attorney" in order to be effective. Remember that any alcoholic is always free to rebel, and they would likely try to outsmart "the sponsor" any time they disagreed.

Nonetheless, within AA, there still exists an ample supply of other alcoholics who are willing to run your life for you. The reason is that it is to their own personal best interests to share the secrets of their own success. The reader should be aware that any happiness, joy or freedom will be "their version" rather than your own. (see pg 133). Therefore, caution is recommended.

Because no two alcoholics are precisely the same, any "second-hand version of happiness" will ultimately conflict with a unique and individual personality. Therefore, it is recommended to place priority importance upon "principles before personalities".

Professional help for alcoholics is available from the fields of medicine, religion and psychiatry. Each professional is a specialist who has been trained in their specific discipline. There is no challenge to their expertise or competence in their chosen field of study. However, recognize that alcoholism impacts every major area in the life of the alcoholic. Therefore, no single discipline embraces the entire problem.

Because of their limited effectiveness, the professional community has not been able to offer significant demonstrations of success in producing recoveries from alcoholism. Those which do usually have developed close connections with or reliance upon the AA program of recovery. However, the AA program is not allied nor affiliated with any of them. (AA Preamble & Appendix I - Tradition 6).

Historically, "the reformed drunk" is known to the drinking society with a zealous religious outlook upon life. Experience indicates such emotional upheavals are usually temporary in nature and hold little long-term appeal to most alcoholics.

This author believes that it is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain that strong emotional intensity over any extended period of time. Eventually the intelligence of the alcoholic and the reality of life, on lifeís terms, will interject to disrupt that high emotional pitch. Then the emotional pendulum swings to the depths of depression and despair.

"All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals-usually brief-were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization." (pg. 30)

Accordingly, when considering any religious or other professional approach to recovery from alcoholism, it is recommended that the interested alcoholic apply an old familiar nursery rhyme by asking:

"Pie man, Pie man - let me taste your wares". "May I speak with some alcoholics who have recovered by using your methods please?"

This is considered an intelligent request, before spending substantial amounts of time and money on a solution. First consider the results being offered. Then decide if those results are what you want for yourself.

In San Francisco, California in May 1951 the surviving co-founder of AA related his earlier encounter with the John D. Rockefeller Foundation to obtain financing for facilities to deal with recovery from alcoholism. The man, who had provided much money for humanitarian purposes, wisely declined saying:

"This is the workings of the good will of one human being for another, and money would louse it up".

Human nature has changed little since then. Money, power and prestige can be an alluring diversion from the primary purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous. With the tradition of being self-supporting, AA escapes those distractions from recovery produced by the allure of "other peopleís money".

"Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety" (AA Preamble)

The "blind acceptance" that a "close minded belief" a particular religious concept of God alone is sufficient to produce recovery from alcoholism is yet another distraction. While many religions may offer useful ideas, emotions and attitudes about life, on lifeís terms, none is complete. Many newcomers have difficulty with this when seeking to improve understanding of "a power greater than ourselves". (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 45, 53, 55, 59, 68, 95, 164 & Appendix II).

Be aware there is no "Official God Club" for AA. There is no difference between a Buddhist hangover and a Christian hangover. The reasons why AA has not stamped itself as a "Christian movement" are clearly defined in the writings of AAís co-founder. Some specific comments can be located on page 34 of the AA publication "As Bill Sees It". To avoid emotional confusion between the objectives of AA and "other outside activities" it is recommended those comments be read with an open mind.

Individual AA members frequently comment on what is in the basic text for recovery. Before relying upon "what they say", it is useful to consider "why they say it". Those statements may not be correct, and are still only personal interpretations which sometimes are inaccurate. If it is important, then check it out first with the basic text and decide if it means the same to you.

There can be a difference between what the text says, and a personal belief of what the text means. Because AA accepts anyone, who claims to have a desire to stop drinking, your own intelligence will confirm that you are apt to find a wide variety of people in any AA meeting. Unless you know precisely what is and is not included in AAís basic text for recovery there is no intelligent means of separating a solid foundation for recovery from the personal views of individual members.

Be cautious about relying upon "second-hand information". It can be perilous when it comes from an equal human being who is capable of being mistaken. Obviously you cannot know the difference without first enlarging your own understanding. (pgs 14-15, 35, 58 & Steps 10 & 11).

Where "Sponsorship" is concerned, this author suggests that you first read AAís basic text for recovery. (Pages 1 - 164). Then read the world-wide experience of AA set forth in the pamphlet "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship" (P-15). One provides the "minimum essential requirements for recovery" from alcoholism. The other contains

a variety of different approaches which will be helpful in selecting the kind of sponsor you want for yourself.

Before blindly selecting someone you wish to label as "your sponsor", this author makes the following suggestions and recommendations:

 

    1. Get a personal copy of the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous" to highlight comments about "Sponsorship"..
    2. Open your book to the Frontispiece and highlight the portion that reads:

      "How Many Thousands of Men and Women
      Have Recovered from Alcoholism"
    3. Underline the word "Recovered".
    4. Read the basic text (through page 164) and carefully highlight each and every comment on "sponsorship" so you will know, with certainty, what is and is not contained in the basic text for recovery.
    5. Review the AA pamphlet noting the various approaches to "sponsorship" and decide what kind of a sponsor you want.

This Study Guide can serve "as a sponsor" to walk you through some things found by the author, within the basic text. The reader is welcomed and encouraged to do so. Like a "safari guide" this author will point out some areas considered worth noting during your journey. They reflect the value judgment of the author. You may or may not place the same value or importance on what you are being shown.

It is inescapable that you will be exposed to the personality of the person you choose to be "your sponsor". Be aware that agreement with their personality is not essential for your recovery. Acceptance of the principles of recovery in AA is indispensable. (Appendix I - Tradition 12 & Appendix II).

Most members of AA are willing, honest and open minded about their desire to be happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133). Most alcoholics are willing to "trade up" to something better if it can be intelligently established that it is an improvement. (see Step 11). Therefore, if you believe that your own "success story" already has elements of value to others, then sharing that new knowledge may have mutual value and usefulness. (pg 77).

Hopefully there will be some personal enrichment gained from use of this Study Guide of the AA basic text for recovery. The reader is encouraged to accept, utilize and share anything which provides value in the personal recovery process for any alcoholic. It is being freely offered for that purpose.

Just remember that what is offered here comes only from a single member of AA. (see Forward to First Edition). And, never forget that it is your own choice to accept or

reject the observations of any other individual. It is the use of your own intelligence which decides what has validity and is acceptable for you.

This author suggests your own successful methods for recovery be offered to others "cafeteria style" with the recommendation that they "take what they like and leave the rest". Not everyone is able to use the same information effectively in the same manner. The only real measure of value of any approach to sobriety is in how well the information works for the individual alcoholic seeking recovery. As equals, there is always more to be learned. (pgs 53 & 68).

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE - THEN SO IS IGNORANCE

* * * * *

SECTION A06:

"TO THE SERIOUS STUDENT OF THE AA BIG BOOK"

COMMENTS:

When this "Study Guide of the AA Big Book" was prepared, the author anticipated different degrees of interest by readers. The material is primarily intended for those individual members of AA who, like the author, have difficulty intelligently reconciling what they find in AAís basic text with various religious concepts of "a power greater than ourselves".

The purpose of this Study Guide is to provide those members with any value they can obtain from a half-century of experience in AA by this author. The reader is encouraged to take what they can utilize and leave the rest for anyone else who may find it has value in their recovery from alcoholism..

Recognizably, there will be readers who take a more casual view of both the basic text of AA and this Study Guide material. Some portions may either be accepted or rejected according to the personal belief system of the reader. A recommendation is made that they freely avail themselves of what is offered, with the open minded recognition that others may find different value in the perspective of the author.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that each individual member of AA, when writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, does not speak for the AA Fellowship as a whole. Their comments are no more nor less than that of "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous". (see Foreword to First Edition). They either do or do not believe in their own human equality.

The comments in this Study Guide reflect the experience, strength and hope of one single member with a desire to be of service and usefulness. (pg 77). Other views exist. They should be given equal consideration in the light of the intelligence which the reader can find within themselves. (see pg 55).

For the serious student of the AA Big Book, what follows are some recommendations from the author of this Study Guide in the approach to take when utilizing this supplemental material.

    1. Read the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" from the frontispiece through the end of Chapter 11 ("A VISION FOR YOU" pg 164). Then read the Appendices in the back of the book. The personal stories reflect how different alcoholics have utilized the principles of AA in their recovery.
    2. Scan through the Study Guide material without paying particular attention to the references provided to specific pages of the basic text. Read the Study Guide to obtain the general perspective of the author The parenthetical page references are intended to provide confirmation from the basic text of specific points being made.
    3. Review AA pamphlet "Questions and Answers on Sponsorship" (P15) plus the section "Comments on Sponsorship" provided in this Study Guide. Decide if you desire to have the author of this Study Guide walk you through the basic text. If so, the author will be providing a viewpoint, as a single member of AA, which goes beyond the limits of traditional religious belief systems. (see Appendix II).
    4. Those who wish to avoid being emotionally disturbed by exposure to new knowledge are recommended to set all of this material aside now. This avoidance of reality will delay having your established belief system challenged by inherent intelligence. (see pg 55). Alcoholics who are sufficiently open minded to consider "all spiritual concepts" in their recovery are recommended to continue in the following manner. (see Appendix II).
    5. Use this Study Guide of the AA Big Book as if the author were "a sponsor in print" who, like "a safari guide" is taking you on a conducted tour of the basic text. Each individual section is a single adventure. One where "your chosen guide" will point out various items considered to be of potential interest. Over the entire journey through the basic text, there will inescapably be frequent repetition of pertinent points which this author believes are important. Other "guides" may emphasize other elements found in the basic text. With an open mind, give consideration to them all.
    6. The serious student of the basic text of AA is encouraged to first read each individual section rapidly. Then return to the beginning of the section and check the parenthetical page references for further support to each point made in the Study Guide. Consider the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous" as the authority on recovery, and view any comments made by the author of the Study Guide from that perspective. Use your own intelligence to confirm or reject the validity of any ideas, emotions or attitudes which have been presented for consideration.
    7. Do not blindly accept the views of the author, or of any other individual member of AA as being authoritative. First confirm what others tell you with the basic text and your own intelligence. Unless your own interpretation of the basic text is clear, it is well to challenge "anything you are told about the basic text". See if it will stand up to the light of intelligent examination. Reality is what it is without regard to the different beliefs of individual alcoholics.
    8. Where questions still remain concerning the comments provided in any section of the Study Guide, it is recommended that they be discussed with a wide variety of other members of the AA Fellowship to obtain different perspectives. At some point the serious student of the AA Big Book will make a decision as to what they accept or reject as the ideas, emotions and attitude to guide their own life. (see pg 27).
    9. Proceed, at your own pace, through the entire Study Guide, giving consideration to each section. Discuss your questions with others, either privately or in group discussions. Arrive at your own conclusions concerning your personal relationship with "a power greater than ourselves". (see pg 12). Recognize that any "second hand versions" reflect the beliefs of other individuals, developed at other times, and other places for other reasons. (see pgs 42, 86 & 95).
    10. Recognize that "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms is not negotiable. Continue to enlarge and improve your own conscious recognition and understanding that "what is, is; and what is not the Great Reality" will become life on lifeís terms. (Step 11). Mentally prepare yourself to survive the certain trials and low spots ahead of your own journey through unknown areas of life you do not yet understand. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 42, 129, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II).
    11. Challenge your own belief system to determine if "what you believe" is a principle, which applies to any alcoholic, anyplace, and at any time. If there are exceptions, consider that your belief reflects your "personal preference" and defines your personality. (see Appendix I - Tradition 12).
    12. Share freely of what you find with others who willingly accept whatever new knowledge has enriched your own happiness, joy and freedom. (see pgs 89 & 133).

"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.

May God bless you and keep you - until then."

(pg 164).

* * * * *

SECTION AO7:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR BY THE AUTHOR

COMMENTS:

Any autobiographical comments can quickly become "a premature obituary" and scarcely be labeled as "an objective view of the individual". Such must be the case for this portion of the authorís Study Guide of the AA basic text for recovery from alcoholism.

Countless thousands of men and women have recovered from a once seemingly hopeless condition called "alcoholism". With the possible exception that each individual recovery was "a miracle" because something happened which "was once believed could not happen", any experience of this author is now neither unusual nor particularly noteworthy.

Similar experiences of recovery are readily available in other personal stories which follow the basic text for recovery. Like all others, the journey of this author, as an alcoholic, began with birth and will end with death. There is no place for dispute of human equality on that fact of life.

The only significance of that journey is in how much conscious awareness of the Great Reality was developed of life, on lifeís terms. It is the experience, strength and hope of a single individual. What is offered here was acquired by a careful study of the AA basic text for recovery from alcoholism. That is the essence of this writing, and all else is incidental. Any value it may have will be found from viewing the AA basic text of recovery through the eyes of this author.

This Study Guide material was written for those alcoholics who are seeking answers.

The author recognized a need for "a power greater than himself" but was unable to intelligently reconcile "a conception of God" with the way it was presented by most traditional religions.

Other alcoholics experience similar difficulties. This Study Guide is part of a continuing an effort "to be of maximum service to God and the people about us". (see pgs 12, 55, & 77). It is not intended as "the answer to recovery" for everyone. However, it is an available option for those who can use "the experience, strength and hope" of another alcoholic to enlarge their own spiritual life. (pgs 14-15).

Many alcoholics who come to AA experience sudden and dramatic spiritual experiences or religious conversions, however most do not. The material in this Study Guide is directed to those seeking "the educational variety of a spiritual awakening" which occurs gradually, over a period of time. Of necessity, there is a requirement for a mental attitude of "willingness, honesty and open mindedness" when considering different ideas, emotions and attitudes without contempt, prior to investigation. (see Appendix II - Spiritual Experience).

The author of this Study Guide is offering, what may be awareness of new knowledge for some. It is intended for alcoholics seeking a spiritual awakening to the reality of their relationship to life, on lifeís terms. Only the individual reader can determine if any portion has value and usefulness in their own recovery.

The journey of this author in sobriety has included a wide range of life styles spread over a large portion of the planet. The similarities of alcoholics in different cultures is amazing. They cut across the boundaries which otherwise would separate human beings from each other. And, so does the AA program of recovery. It can and does produce recovery when it is not being blocked by close minded members attempting to force the AA program to fit into "their beliefs about how life should be".

This alcoholic has participated as AA has crossed racial barriers of the Ď50ís in the United States and was able to override the nationalistic attitudes between recently warring Europeans during that same period. Attitudes about alcoholism in West Germany, once were determined by their Catholic or Protestant faith and were overcome by alcoholics seeking recovery in AA. The political walls separating Western Europe from the eastern block and Russia were penetrated by AA in correspondence. Alcoholics in the Far East with religious and cultural attitudes far different from those where AA began, have embraced recovery in AA without abandoning their own unique customs.

As a result of direct experience, this author has reached a conclusion about AA, and the program of recovery outlined in the basic text.

The "universal principles" of AA take precedence over "local tribal customs". Particularly those involving traditional religious belief systems.

This attitude is being reflected by the author in this "Study Guide of the AA Big Book". Local or regional attitudes may be important, however that which has universal application is more important. (see pgs 53 & 68).

The way any alcoholic perceives themselves, and their relationship to life, on lifeís terms, becomes a determining factor in what they choose as actions. (see pg. 27). Each individual has a set of priorities and values. (see pg. 55). This author is no exception.

The priorities of what an individual will or will not do, and when they will do it becomes their moral inventory". That belief system determines the choices of actions made by each and every alcoholic. It reflects their "fundamental idea of God" and is only found within each individual. (see pg. 55).

How an alcoholic "sees themselves" is critical to the choices they make. This was dramatically illustrated by a young woman speaking to a large AA gathering in San Diego. She came from a predominately Hispanic community with a strict code of well defined ethnic, cultural and religious values. Her simple but powerful comment concerning her own recovery was:

"I used to be a Mexican, now Iím an alcoholic"

This author has been and still is many things which are used to separate and categorize individuals. What is important here is that "I am an alcoholic".

Placing "a label of alcoholism" on any individual implies having some idea of what that is. Those ideas can, will and do vary according to whom, when and where you ask about them. Social, political, religious and legal attitudes will vary according to the "local tribal customs" which are currently in effect. Because those views are constantly undergoing changes, any effort to produce stability requires seeking out whatever "principles" have universal application "common to any alcoholic, anyplace at any time".

Such was the case for this author. Successful recovery does have "one single requirement" which can only be determined by the individual alcoholic. It is the requirement that they develop and maintain a simple desire. One which takes priority precedence over all other desires, and thereby constitutes a fair definition of being "their prayer". Something no one else can do for them. On a daily basis, it is the dominant desire (i.e. "prayer") to:

MOVE INTO LIFE INSTEAD OF AWAY FROM REALITY.

This author made that decision in 1951, and has continued to seek improvements ever since. From that free choice all else follows.

Any problems which followed have all revolved around the lack of sufficient new knowledge to cooperate with the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. This author did not know how. No human power had all the answers to all questions. However, it was possible to seek improvement by consciously enlarging understanding of life, on lifeís terms.

This required abandoning "old ideas" and accepting "new knowledge". To do so it was essential to displace and rearrange the ideas, emotions and attitudes which had been guiding life activities. The indispensable requirement was a mental attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness.

The AA basic text of recovery has provided guidance on how to achieve that personality change, sufficient to produce recovery from alcoholism.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? (pg. 45)

"Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power---that One is God. May you find Him now." (pg. 59)

"Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

    1. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our
      own lives.
    2. That probably no human power could have relieved
      our alcoholism.
    3. That God could and would if He were sought. #9; #9; #9; (pg. 60)

"My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why donít you choose your own conception of God?" (pg. 12)

"Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body." (pg. 23)

"Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them." (pg. 27)

"I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental black spotsÖÖÖÖ It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window." (pg. 42)

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" #9; #9; #9; (pg. 53)

"He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so for us." (pg. 55)

"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." (Appendix II)

Recovery, from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body is and has been the dominant desire of the author. It has included a continuing priority to move into this life rather than to seek oblivion - be it recreational or permanent.

This author believes that "the Great Reality" is an intelligent definition for that three letter word "God". In the process of seeking improved understanding, there has been acquired a constant flow of new knowledge about how to personally cooperate with all life on lifeís terms. (see Step 11). The need for new knowledge has constantly changed as conditions have changed. For example:

IíVE NEVER BEEN THIS OLD BEFORE!

The only life, reality, or "God" this author is able to understand is that which is being experienced during "this lifetime". It is increasingly self-evident that there is approaching a point where this author will become "an expert authority on any next life". Until then, my beliefs about what comes next are equally as valid as those of any other living human being.

The author of this Study Guide of the AA basic text of recovery from alcoholism has chosen to freely share his personal experience, strength and hope with those alcoholics who can willingly accept whatever value and usefulness it might have in their own recovery process. If it does have any continuing value, then this author will have achieved "a life after death".

Where that help enables some other alcoholics be more happy, joyous and free, then it will be in harmony with "what God wants for an alcoholic". (see pg. 133). Those alcoholics with different belief systems are encouraged to put forth similar effort to clarify their own thinking for the benefit of other alcoholics who may want what they have discovered in the basic text of AA.

In seeking to improve a conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms, this author discovered an inability to intelligently accept the ideas, emotions and attitudes offered as "the last word" by spokesmen for traditional religious concepts of "a power greater than ourselves". To "survive the certain trials and low spots ahead" it was imperative for this alcoholic to follow the novel idea presented at the beginning of AA and ask myself "Why donít you choose your own conception of God?". (pgs 12 & 14-15). There was no intelligent reason not to do so if I believed in my own equality in the eyes of my creator.

What others believed was what impacted their lives. What I believed would impact my own. That was equitable and fair, on lifeís terms.

"It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning" (pg. 12)

My own priority was recovery now - during this lifetime. Any subsequent experience was of secondary importance. Taking a clue from the AA Slogans, about dealing with "First Things First", this author made a decision believed to be an intelligent one. It was to focus effort, thought and concentration upon living

"ONE LIFE AT A TIME".

The result of that decision was relief from the fear, anger and guilt which had come from personal inability to live up to the expectations and demands of people claiming to have direct and superior connections to "the source of all knowledge and power". That low self-esteem gradually was replaced by a belief in human equality in the eyes of whatever is "the creative source of all life".

With equal access to new knowledge of how to be happy, joyous and free, it was obviously up to this alcoholic to seek it. In the process, it was discovered that new knowledge was being constantly provided on a daily basis.

It comes as "the daily gift of life" where all and everything in an infinite universe is made available. It is up to the individual to learn to either accept or reject it.

The only thing to accept or reject is this life, on lifeís terms. The simple process of being willing, honest and open minded to let go of old ideas and accept new knowledge of "the Great Reality" has produced satisfactory results.

It became apparent that absolutely everything required for any human being to be happy, joyous and free in this life is already being provided with the daily reprieve from oblivion. Having also been provided with brains to use, and the power of choice, it is a personal decision as to what portion of an infinite universe to seek, and then accept or reject. (pg. 86). All and everything which is "God" is already there to be claimed, if the alcoholic knows how to claim it. (pg. 53). Some have acquired that new knowledge, while others try to hold on to their old ideas.

This awareness of reality provided an intelligent concept of "a loving God" which wanted me to be "happy, joyous and free". (pg. 133). Instead of being "a victim" it is the responsibility of the individual to determine what they desire to have for themselves. That "prayer" then determines what they choose to do. The results are produced "on lifeís terms".

The personal problem of this author is continuing to be willing, honest and open minded enough to let go of my old ideas of how I believe life is, and learn to accept new knowledge of "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. Such mental effort to "enlarge a spiritual life" has proven to be a never-ending process sufficient for the entire journey during this lifetime. Thus far, no one has intelligently established themselves as being an authority on any future experience.

This author has achieved and maintained sobriety for over a half-century of living under widely varied conditions and circumstances. What is significant is that, for the most part, it has been a reasonably happy, joyous and free experience.

It is believed that other alcoholics, have had similar difficulties with the "second hand moral belief systems of traditional religions". Some may be interested in seeking a similar approach to recovery from alcoholism. If so, they are invited to freely partake of any useful material being offered in this Study Guide of the AA Big Book.

* * * * *

SECTION A08:

GETTING STARTED WITH AAíS BIG BOOK:

 

Read: From Front Cover through to "THE DOCTORíS OPINION".

 

 

NOTE: For the serious reader, the author recommends you do not skip this portion. It can be useful in placing the entire "Big Book" into the context of how it was first presented to the general public. This may be helpful in understanding the AA program as it now exists.

* * * * *

 

1. Open the front cover. If your book is new, you will note the very first page is blank. For the newcomer to AA, a blank page has been suggested as an indication of your personal knowledge of successful recovery from alcoholism.

For the established member, a blank page may indicate your ability to use new knowledge before you have it.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, -

- IF WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT SO?

2. The next page contains the title selected for the book, and became the familiar name of the fellowship "Alcoholics Anonymous"

.

At the time of first publication, there was a severe social stigma attached to being identified as alcoholic. At that time, alcoholism was considered by most of society to be both hopeless and incurable. Anonymity, as an alcoholic, was a matter of considerable importance to the earlier members. The principle of anonymity continues to be of major significance. Some of the reasons for emphasis have changed. An article "Why Alcoholics Anonymous is anonymous" can be found in the pamphlet "AA Traditions and How They Developed".

3. The next page lists Other Books, published by AA World Services, Inc. These provide information about Alcoholics Anonymous, and are "official AA literature".

Other printed material has been extremely helpful to some AA members for spiritual enlightenment, depending upon their geographical location. The Bhagavad-Gita, the Koran, the Holy Bible, and other "religious writings" are often

considered to contain authoritative definitions of the word "God". Use of such material is a matter of individual preference and personal belief.

It should be noted that AA does not use any religious definition of the three-letter word "God".

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly defines itself as not wishing to engage in any controversy. By the exclusion of religious ideas of God, all who suffer from alcoholism may be included in AA without any requirement for accepting a particular concept of God. (see pg 12). Because different religious belief systems are frequently controversial, they are clearly outside of the realm of the AA program. By contrast, it is strictly a matter of personal preference as to what any alcoholic chooses to believe about "a Power greater than themselves".

4. Frontispiece, The book title page:

In addition to the title "Alcoholics Anonymous", this page indicates that the book is "the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism". Your attention is directed to the use of the word "recovered".

Alcoholism, was once considered "a hopeless state of mind and body" from which recovery was not believed possible. Be aware that the word "recovered" is not synonymous with the word "cured". This author suggests that, when the condition of alcoholism is no longer "hopeless", an individual has "recovered". That they are not "cured" is adequately dealt with in "THE DOCTORíS OPINION" and Chapter 3.

The words THIRD EDITION in your present book indicate two previous publishingís. As of this writing, a "Fourth Edition" is being prepared. It is anticipated that page references for Chapters 1 through 11 will remain the same. Therefore, page referrals in this Study Guide are consistent with the Third Edition. Hopefully they will also be consistent with the new edition scheduled for release early in the new millennium.

Some page and format changes were made after initial publication of the FIRST EDITION in 1939, but the basic text remains the same. The "Forward" to both the first and second editions have been included in the THIRD EDITION for information. It is suggested they be reviewed. There has been growth and development within the AA Fellowship since the initial printing of the basic message of recovery from alcoholism. Personal stories of how different individuals have applied the AA program in their lives now reflect more recent experiences. It is anticipated that THE FOURTH EDITION will reflect similar changes to AA membership.

A circle, with a triangle appeared in earlier copies of the THIRD EDITION. It once was a symbol used to identify "official literature" of AA.

The three sides of the triangle, "Unity, Recovery, & Service", were sometimes thought of like "a three legged milk stool", with a need for balance between them. Though popular with many members, it became apparent that AA did not have any valid claim to the exclusive use of that symbol for AA literature. The symbol was also being utilized by other activities for other purposes. Subsequently, the "circle and triangle" to identify "official AA literature" was discontinued.

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York City, indicates the corporate entity holding legal title to the AA Big Book. This became modified with the passage of time.

5. The reverse side of the Frontispiece page contains data on copyright dates, and printings.

6. The next pages provide the table of contents for the entire book.

7. The Preface is self-explanatory. It introduces the THIRD EDITION which will likely be replaced when the next edition is published.

8. The Foreword To First Edition, states the objective for publishing the original textbook for recovery from alcoholism.

"We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book."

9. The FORWORD TO SECOND EDITION clarifies that:

"Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization. Neither does A.A. take any particular medical point of view, though we cooperate widely with the men of medicine as well as with the men of religion."

10. The FORWORD TO THIRD EDITION - indicates the experience that the AA program has transcended traditional barriers of language, culture and other obstacles which frequently separate people from each other. That unity of action by uniquely individual human beings with the problem of alcoholism continues to date.

* * * * *

SECTION A09:

THE DOCTORíS OPINION

 

Read:

From the beginning of "THE DOCTORíS OPINION" to the beginning of page 1 of Chapter 1, "Billís Story".

 

At the time this endorsement was written on AAís methods for recovery from alcoholism, the "unorthodox approach" was often believed to be "unscientific". Doctor William D. Silkworth, MD placed his professional reputation and credibility on the line with his support for the results being produced. Today, some of that viewpoint continues, in some medical circles. However, to their professional embarrassment, it is difficult to argue with or duplicate the success produced by those who follow the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

One of the more significant observations made in THE DOCTORíS OPINION is that:

"---the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker"

Despite efforts by the professional community, to find "a medical cure", that physiological condition still remains a valid difference between "normal drinkers" and those who drink "as alcoholics".

In terms of the professional community finding a "medical solution" to the ever-present physical problems of alcoholism, the comment made was that:

"Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly all cases, their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives."

That observation was provided as part of THE DOCTORíS OPINION in 1939. It has not yet been surpassed by any other approach to recovery.

While much more has been learned, his observation of that one common denominator that physiologically separates the alcoholic from others, is as valid today as it ever was. In regard to the various types of individuals afflicted he observed:

 

"All these and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence."

The doctor closes his comments with personal observations of recovery by an alcoholic who became "sold" on the ideas presented in the basic text of "Alcoholics Anonymous".

The ideas, provided in the basic textbook for AA, work now as well as they did in 1939. They reflect some universal principles which function successfully for anyone, anyplace, at any time. The resulting recoveries demonstrated by the AA approach to recovery from alcoholism are unsurpassed.

This success story has resulted in those same principles being copied and used in dealing with "problems other than alcoholism". While those problems are beyond the scope of the AA program, any individual, seriously interested in the recovery process, is encouraged to carefully study the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". Hopefully, this Study Guide will be useful in recognizing some of what that book contains.

Use your own intelligence to confirm or deny the validity of the comments you find when reading this Study Guide of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous".

* * * * *

SECTION A10:

ABOUT THE BASIC TEXT

 

The comments provided here are in no way intended to be read as being "Officially Approved AA material". No member of AA speaks for the Fellowship as a whole. That specifically includes the author of this Study Guide of the basic text for recovery.

Comments provided here are intended to be viewed as coming from one single established member of AA. Accordingly, it is recommended that written material provided by AA General Services Offices always be given priority consideration for accuracy. This is the source of "the best information available about AA". Other interpretations, specifically including this Study Guide, may have usefulness in "filling in gaps" or answering other questions. Take what you can use and leave the rest.

Whenever any member of AA shares their view and understanding of the program of recovery in AA, it is unavoidable that their view will reflect any errors which exist within their own mind. (see pg 23). Any reader interested in the historical background of AA will find numerous publications are available from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous. Complete order forms are available from them at Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, N.Y 10163.

The reader should clearly understand that the comments provided in this Study Guide are not an official interpretation of AAís basic text for recovery from alcoholism. Instead, they provide the interested individual with the viewpoint of only one single member of AA. (see Foreword to First Edition).

This Study Guide was specifically prepared as an offering to only those members who have difficulty reconciling that emotionally volatile "three-letter word God" with traditional religious concepts. Hopefully, the reader will use whatever open-minded intelligence they have available when giving consideration to comments offered by the author. (see Appendix II). With an educational variety of a spiritual experience it is possible that some of the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in life will be improved, enlarged and enriched. It has happened to other alcoholics, and could happen to you. (see pgs 12, 14-15, 42, 53, 55, 133, 164 & Appendix II).

* * * * *

SECTION A11:

"ABOUT THE PERSONAL STORIES"

The personal stories which follow the basic text for recovery indicate how different individuals have applied the principles of AA in their own lives. They are essentially "a speaker meeting in print". Their experience, strength and hope is able to be shared on a broader scale than would otherwise be possible. (review Foreword to First Edition).

The essential message of recovery from alcoholism is contained in the basic text for recovery which is provided in the first 11 chapters of the AA "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous. These chapters contain the minimum essential requirements for recovery from a "once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body". The personal stories which follow indicate that those principles have been applied by a wide range of individuals with a desire to stop drinking. They clearly establish the AA program will work for anyone who is capable of being honest with themselves.

Contrary to the pronouncements of some of AAís more religious members:

THERE IS NO SECOND REQUIREMENT FOR AA MEMBERSHIP

Personal stories, which follow the basic text, indicate how various individuals applied the principles of AA in their personal life. They share, in a general way, what it was like before coming to AA, what happened to them, and what their lives were like when those stories were written.

Each personal story provides information on how alcoholics dealt with their own lives to produce changes. As the "AA message of recovery" reached more and more alcoholics, the personal stories, published in the first three editions changed to reflect the changing composition of AA membership. A forthcoming "Fourth Edition" will undoubtedly provide even more variations in how the AA program has been utilized.

NO INDIVIDUAL SPEAKS FOR AA AS A WHOLE.

All any AA member can do is to point out, what they have found in the basic text and clarify their own personal interpretation and application of that material. This specifically applies to any comments made by the author of this Study Guide.

Other views exist, and each member of AA is encouraged to share their personal view of the basic text with other interested alcoholics. The readers are encouraged to consider all viewpoints in the light of their own intelligence.

"We find that no on need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable." (Appendix II)

 

Regardless of common acceptance, it is recommended that any material, other than the AA basic text for recovery, be clearly identified. Obviously there are matters of religion, medicine, and philosophy which overlap in the problem of alcoholism. Because alcoholism impacts every one of those areas their respective approaches should be allowed to stand on their own merits.

It is recommended that the alcoholic reader allow the Fellowship of AA to stand on itís own record of results in producing recoveries. Doing this without any demand that AA be incorporated into some other pre-established concept will reduce conflicts with religion, medicine and philosophies which produce different results.

ALLOW SUCCESS TO SPEAK FOR ITSELF!

In reading the personal stories, this author recommends that they be considered as "A Speaker-Meeting in Print". In earlier times, the wealth of information now available about alcoholism was not easily accessible to newcomers interested in the AA Fellowship. Therefore, efforts were made to provide the "experience, strength and hope" of a wide variety of AA members.

Some areas large enough to have "regular speaker meetings" strove to provide a contrast to emphasize personal differences. Speakers who were well educated were contrasted with semi-literate alcoholics, street-walkers were paired with socialites, atheists with devoutly religious, and the wealthy with impoverished ex-drunks. This enabled any newcomer to recognize and understand the problem of alcoholism cuts across all social barriers, and so does the AA solution. This helped them to clarify the universality of the problem, and their own place as being more ordinary than special. The need to conform to some pre-established standard was reduced as a result.

Personal stories still serve much of that same purpose. The first three editions of the "AA Big Book" provide an indication of the changes which occurred since AA began in the late 1930ís. At this early part of the 21st Century, membership in AA continues to grow, and a Fourth Edition will undoubtedly continue that trend.

As it was in the beginning, it is recommended that the reader

TAKE WHAT YOU LIKE AND LEAVE THE REST

FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE INTERESTED.

* * * * *

SECTION A12:

ABOUT THE APPENDICES - I - VI

 

COMMENTS:

As with all else in this "Study Guide of the AA Big Book", the comments provided by the author are not intended as any official interpretation of any part of the AA program of recovery from alcoholism. The comments are strictly those of "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous". (see Forward to First Edition).

It is the clear understanding of this author that "no one speaks for AA as a whole". Similarly, all comments by any other member about the AA program are personal, individual and should be considered accordingly, except when endorsed by the AA General Services Office,

The Appendices I - V which are found in the back section of the basic text present the official position of AA on a variety of "outside issues". A careful study of "The AA Traditions", (Appendix I), will provide the reader with a definitive explanation both of "WHAT AA IS" and equally important "WHAT AA IS NOT".

* * * * *

APPENDIX I:

"THE AA TRADITION"

The Short Form:

The "short form" of the AA Traditions is frequently read at meetings and provides a handy reminder of what AA has established as itís primary purpose. This is more concisely stated by AAís own definition of itself.

"Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety" (AA Preamble)

A careful study of "The Long Form" of "The AA Tradition" is strongly recommended. This will help to avoid diversion from what the AA program has been able to accomplish, with superior results over any other approach to the problem of alcoholism for the alcoholic.

The reader will note that the Traditions of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has succeeded in doing what no other human activity has accomplished with equal results. It has provided a framework which has enabled alcoholics to successfully join together, for "a common purpose", despite their innumerable personal differences which might otherwise produce conflicts and disrupt the recovery process.

The experience of this author, in over a half-century of active participation with AA activities in a large part of the world, is that those differences of race, religion, language, political philosophy, and ethic cultural values exist.

Differences tend to be divisive and create conflicts between ethnocentric groups. They tend to escalate in importance in areas where one group holds a dominate majority over smaller groups with an equal desire to get sober and stay sober. This frequently creates the impression that "if you are not doing it our way, you are doing it wrong!".

 

The Long Form:

"The Long Form of the AA Tradition" has always provided an equitable and fair resolution of any and all conflicts and differences disputed by groups within Alcoholics Anonymous. Therefore, a careful and thoughtful personal study of the "Traditions" is strongly recommended to any alcoholic seriously interested in their own sobriety and survival. This author cannot emphasize this single point strongly enough to convey itís significance.

One - Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

(Tradition One)

* * * * *

The candid view of this author is that the AA program is highly effective in dealing with itís primary purpose. It is strong medicine for recovery from alcoholism. Regardless of how noble other objectives may be, by diluting the basic purpose of AA with "other considerations" reduces AAís effectiveness and is a diversion from the one primary purpose which AA accomplishes with superior results to any other approach to recovery from alcoholism.

A "vital spiritual experience" appears to be one essential ingredient to recovery from alcoholism. Many alcoholics have erroneously assumed this required accepting "a conception of God" in the form of an established "second-hand belief system". Usually it gets provided by some self-appointed spokesman for one of the many different traditional religions. Fortunately, for all alcoholics, this is not the case. (see pgs 12, 27, 42, 95, 129, 164 & Appendix II ).

It is the understanding of this author that the AA program has provided a solution to alcoholism which is based upon universal acceptance of anyone with a desire to stop drinking. A careful reading of "The AA Tradition - (The Long Form)" will provide intelligent reasons why "conformity" is not required and can be in conflict with "universal acceptance of God as being everything". What is your choice to be? (pg. 53). Remember:

THERE IS NO SECOND REQUIREMENT FOR A.A. MEMBERSHIP

The solution to the specific problem of alcoholism, provided by AA, is still the most effective in terms of results, and it is difficult to argue with the success. Therefore it is counter-productive to dilute the effectiveness by attempting to incorporate it into the different primary objectives of many tradition religious belief systems. Those objectives are finite and limited to their own definitions of who and what they are. However, other pursuits can be freely retained by individual AA members once they reconcile what objective holds priority importance. (pg. 23).

The reader should be aware that AAís Twelve Traditions provide a framework for recovery for alcoholics who otherwise might never ever mix.

The clearly defined path of action by AA provides for maintaining recovery from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. (see pg 95). "Conformity to any particular concept of God" is not a requirement. (see pgs 12, 27). Accepting this fundamental approach can avoid much personal conflict while still drawing strength from "a power greater than ourselves".

* * * * *

APPENDIX II:

"SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE"

There appear to be two distinct varieties of "the vital spiritual experience" required for recovery from alcoholism. (see pg 27).

One is the "personality change, or religious experiences" in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. These "transformations" though frequent, are by no means the rule.

Most "vital spiritual experiences" are of the "educational variety" because they develop over a period of time. (see Appendix II). Those differences in timing to accepting "a power greater than ourselves" create confusion for many newcomers to the AA program.

Many newcomers to AA, especially those who are not familiar with what is written in AAís basic text for recovery, will get confused about a "fundamental idea of God" they can only find within themselves. (see pg 55). Instead of utilizing the brains God gave them, (pg 86), they continue to "hold on to old ideas" by reliance upon a "second-hand belief system" developed by some other person, at some other place, and at some other time, for some other reason.

Personal freedom of choice allows many newcomers to futilely attempt to force-fit an infinite source of power into their already established, but nonetheless finite belief system. The resulting frustrations work against the very thing they most desire, which is to "do Godís will" and be "happy, joyous and free". (see pg 133).

Some alcoholics even abandon the indispensable ingredient of "being honest with themselves" in order to gain the acceptance of an ethnocentric group with a limited belief system. This can be contrary to their own best interests when relying upon a source of power that wants them to be "happy, joyous and free". (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 53, 55, 58, 68, 86, 95, 129, & 164).

Some alcoholics seeking recovery cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program of AA. Instead of letting go of their "old idea of God", they attempt to conform to those "second-hand concepts" created by others. They erroneously believe others have a "monopoly on God" and many attempt to "fake it until they make it". (see pg 95).

With that freedom many abandon a genuine desire to "seek God" and learn how to be "happy, joyous and free". (i.e.: "Godís will" see pg. 133). Instead, they decide to "seek conformity with a second-hand version" created by some other equally fallible human mind. (see pgs 23, 42, & 60(b)).

Without dispute, there is much benefit to be gained from the precepts of many traditional religions. However, it is the belief of this author that there is infinitely more available. (see pg 68). What is your choice of priorities to be? (see pg 53).

AA recommends the acceptance of new ideas, emotions and attitudes as one way to acquire the vital spiritual experience required to displace and rearrange the guiding forces in the life of an alcoholic. (see pg 27). Those who accept the proposition that "God is everything or else He is nothing" will readily recognize that rejecting any part of reality is equivalent to "rejection of God".

Acceptance may require new knowledge and improved understanding of the Great Reality (i.e.: "God" pg. 55 & Step 11). There are others who will insist upon "special favoritism" over "all those who disagree with their belief system" thereby denying them human equality in "the eyes of their Creator".

The essential and indispensable ingredients for the "educational variety of a spiritual experience" are the mental attitudes of "willingness, honesty, and open mindedness" The alcoholic, seeking recovery either does or does not have that mental outlook upon "a power greater than themselves". (see pg 23).

Accordingly, this Study Guide attempts to point out some elements which may be helpful in developing new ideas, emotions and attitudes about that power. It is definitely not intended to be considered as "the last word" on any aspect of the AA recovery program.

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you havenít got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us." (pg 164).

* * * * *

APPENDIX III: "THE MEDICAL VIEW ON AA"

The principles which guide modern medical practices recognize individual differences in human beings. Nowhere are unique individual differences any more significant that when dealing with recovery from alcoholism. Why the differences exist may not be completely understood. However, accepting that they do exist is crucial to recovery for the individual alcoholic.

It is the belief of this author that any attempt to produce any "One Size Fits All" approach to recovery is doomed to failure if it omits recognition of physiological differences between alcoholics and social drinkers. Medical science already recognizes a wide variation in the body processes of different individuals. For example, some individuals absorb fluids from their stomach to their blood stream more rapidly than others. Some have differences in how equitably their bodies distribute what they have absorbed to various parts of the body. Others variations exist in how rapidly their body processes utilize and eliminate what they take in. Those differences apply to the infinitely variable supply of substances available to them as part of a daily diet.

Inherent in every individual is some intelligence which can and does take what is consumed, process it, and produce that which is the physical body of the individual. This occurs, be they alcoholic or not. No one needs to attend classes of instruction in order to learn this process. It is automatic, and will differ by individual in the way it works.

Some understanding of DNA structure has enlarged the ability of the medical profession to deal with some of those differences. Other differences are less well recognized or understood. Recognizing the existence of those differences can be important to the extent that new knowledge is useful in providing relief from alcoholism.

The point here is recognition that some intelligence, unique to each individual, is operative to take the nourishment they consume and change it into something which produces the physical body of each individual alcoholic.

What that is and why it does what it does, in the way it does it, is still beyond the realm of complete understanding by the medical profession. That is precisely the point. There is more to be understood. Seeking understanding of an infinite source of all new knowledge (i.e.: "God") is the essence of all scientific study.

Neither science nor religion has been able to demonstrate that they have "all the answers" to the problem of recovery from alcoholism.

Where traditional religions seek new knowledge only when it is compatible with their definitions of their group, science seeks new knowledge without any such limitations. Both contain some understanding, neither can intelligently claim to have "the answer to explain everything". The AA program readily accepts from either whatever produces desired results.

This author proposes that seeking more new knowledge is equivalent to seeking power to improve cooperation with the Ultimate Reality of life on lifeís terms. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are essential and indispensable ingredients. Scientific investigation is concerned with those principles which have equal application to anyone, at any place and at any time.

The AA program of recovery from alcoholism has transcended barriers which otherwise separate human beings from each other and indicates it is utilizing principles which have universal application. Some of those same principles were also discovered and incorporated into some religious belief systems. Unquestionably, there is more to be revealed.

* * * * *

 

APPENDIX IV: "THE LASKER AWARD"

Now, over a half-century later, the value of Alcoholics Anonymous is still recognized as "a great venture in social pioneering which forged a new instrument for social action; a new therapy based on the kinship of common suffering; one having a vast potential for the myriad other ills of mankind.".

The numerous "spin-off Twelve Step programs" are a testimony to the effectiveness of the AA program. Imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery.

When the Lasker Award was first received, there was a significant decision made, which is believed to be crucial to the success of the AA program. This was the refusal of AA to accept the monetary award accompanying the trophy. While the trophy itself was accepted, the money from outside sources was respectfully declined. The absolute insistence upon being "self supporting through our own contributions" was considered crucial to the continued survival of the then budding fellowship. This was a decision made by alcoholics who had all too often relied upon financial support from "other peopleís money".

The Lasker Award trophy remains a tribute to early AA members deciding to accept responsibility for their own actions and being willing to clean up the wreckage of their own past

* * * * *

APPENDIX V:

"THE RELIGIOUS VIEW ON A.A."

The most significant element of any religious view of the A.A. Fellowship is the extent it believes in the equality of every human being in the eyes of their creator. AA does, many religions do not.

Anything less than total equality is a matter of personal judgment. Any personal judgment is based upon what the individual believes to be their personal relationship to that creative power. It is self-evident that this is a power which is greater than themselves.

The belief system of any individual may be one of superiority to others. Be it as an individual, or as the ethnocentric belief that "our group is superior to any other group". Whenever a belief in superiority is established, then equality is lost to that individual or group. A concept of "a power greater than ourselves" is impacted accordingly. (see pgs 12, 23, 27 42, 53, 55, 62, 68,86, 93-95,129,164 & Appendix II). Conflict is created with the decision to believe that "my concept of God is superior to your concept of God". Resolution of the conflict is found in "how well it works" rather than arguments of "how well it would work if only others would do it my way". What is your choice to be? (see pg. 53).

This author believes that, as children, anyone is capable of being taught to believe just about anything which the dominant adults in their life present to them. As they mature, their own minds are then free to accept or reject what they have been taught. (see pg. 23). This then becomes a power struggle over a matter of personal choice. The maturing child either accepts or rejects themselves, as equal human beings.

Eventually a belief system becomes a guiding force in life. (review pg 27). Unfortunately there are frequently errors which require correction. (review Appendix II). Almost any religious interpretation of "a power greater than ourselves" can be accommodated within the AA program. The alcoholic in AA seeks new knowledge from some infinite source which is all and everything in the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 45, 53, 55, 68, 86, 95, 129, & 164). With most traditional religions, that same mental condition of open mindedness is not necessarily encouraged.

AA seeks to understand and cooperate with all of the Great Reality. Most religions attempt to define it and induce conformity to their limited concept. This, they do to the exclusion of anything outside of their own definition.

Herein lies the potential for conflict within the individual alcoholic. This author believes the AA program offers them an intelligent method for resolving such conflicts by enlarging and improving their conscious contact with that infinite source of new knowledge and power. (see Step 11).

It is proposed here, that if any particular "religious conception of God" were really "the only valid path to recovery" then no alcoholic could or would ever recover without it. World-wide experience has indicated that any alcoholic can and many frequently do recover without conformity to any particular "idea of God". The inescapable fact still remains that, at the very beginning of AA, there was the suggestion made of:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

That idea of mental freedom was presented and accepted. The success of utilizing that approach with alcoholics will speak for itself. Alcoholics Anonymous continues to cross the borders of diametrically opposed religious belief systems to produce successful results in recovery.

While AA accepts any alcoholic with any fundamental idea of God, not every religion is willing to accept alcoholics with "concepts of God" which do not conform to their own well-defined and exclusionary belief system. (pg. 55).

When following the AA program of recovery, the alcoholic is not expected to "throw out the baby with the bath water" and abandon their religious belief system. That which produces "Godís will for the alcoholic to be happy, joyous and free" (see pg 133) is obviously worth retaining. Whatever works does not require fixing. However, there is always room for improvement in how to cooperate with life, on lifeís terms. No religious belief system relieves the alcoholic from the consequences of their own personal ignorance.

The power of necessary new knowledge comes from some "greater intelligence" which is the source of all knowledge and all power. The AA program offers each individual alcoholic a "tailor-made personalized approach to the reduction of their personal ignorance of reality". This is considered preferable to accepting on blind-faith the "second-hand belief system of traditional religions" which often have some other "primary purpose". Not everyone agrees with this observation.

For those alcoholics who desire to be happy, joyous and free in sobriety, they must decide if it is to be their own version or that of some other "second hand belief system". This author recommends that any alcoholic honestly seeking recovery to approach both religion and AA in the same manner.

TAKE WHAT YOU CAN USE AND LEAVE THE REST

That recommendation applies equally to any comments found in this Study Guide of AAís basic text for recovery.

* * * * *

APPENDIX VI:

"HOW TO GET IN TOUCH WITH AA"

There is increased public awareness of Alcoholics Anonymous as an available method for recovery from alcoholism. With the increased speed of communication, alcoholics seeking recovery can more easily locate A.A. groups and meetings.

There is also an increase in the erroneous interpretation of what AA is and is not. Some views are that AA is opposed to drinking alcohol by anyone. Others suggest that a particular "concept of God" is required for participation. Still others assume that the AA program is an arm of the local judicial system. Fortunately none of these is accurate.

For any alcoholic seeking recovery, it is recommended that they rely upon the official literature authorized by AAís General Service Office to interpret the position of Alcoholics Anonymous on any issue or question of importance.

While each member is qualified to speak from their own personal viewpoint, as an individual, no member is qualified to speak for AA as a whole. That specifically includes the comments provided by the author of this Study Guide who is merely attempting to point out what one single member has found in the basic text of recovery. Hopefully it will be of value and usefulness to others who are seeking happiness, joy and freedom in their own recovery from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. (pg 133).

"When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism,, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as Ďa member of Alcoholics Anonymousí. (Foreword to First Edition)

* * * * *

SECTION B:

THE BASIC AA TEXT

SECTION B01:

Chapter 1

BILLíS STORY

READ: Chapter 1: BILLíS STORY - Pages 1 - 16.

* * * * *

This is the story of AA co-founder Bill W.

Because the focus of this Study Guide is upon spiritual considerations, anyone experiencing resistance to the word or idea of "God", may benefit from the approach, presented to him.

"Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"

(Pg 12).

This is a fundamental approach to recovery. It has opened the door for recovery from alcoholism to all who suffer. Because conformity and agreement with any particular interpretation of the meaning of the word "God" has been excluded, the AA program has been able to transcend the finite limits of traditional religions. It also avoids the conflicting boundaries of a multitude of different religious beliefs.

"When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book." (Pg 47)

Understanding the depth and weight of this message can be enhanced by referring to page 34 in the AA publication "As Bill See's It". The significance of the non-alliance of AA to any particular religion is officially clarified for all to see.

This is what co-founder Bill W. used, as a starting point. It is as valid for you as it was for him. As, with many, your own spiritual experience may be of "the educational variety", as referred to in Appendix II. Conformity is not and never has been required for recovery. (Tradition #3, - the long form).

* * * * *

SECTION B02a:

Chapter 2

THERE IS A SOLUTION

PRELIMINARY COMMENTS:

You, the reader, have made a decision to consider the ideas, emotions and attitudes being presented by the author of this Study Guide. If so, consider them for their possible benefit to your own recovery process. From reading the Preface and Forward to the Study Guide you will probably have recognized some idea of the personal bias of the author,

If you were not offended, or did not reject it, then you likely continued and read "How To Use This Study Guide". If so, you discovered the concept of "Sponsorship" was addressed. Also, that there is a separate section in this Study Guide offering a viewpoint on that subject. (see Section A05). It includes possible implications to your own recovery. You would do well to read it before continuing.

The Forward to printings of the AA Big Book, preceding the Third Edition, provide the reader with a sense of the changes that have occurred, since the beginning of AA. That was a time when a handful of alcoholics discovered a solution to their seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Changes continue to occur up to and including this present time. Placing the contents of the AA Big Book into the context in which it was written is significant. It is a step toward understanding the intent of what was written, when it was written, and why. As of this writing, a Fourth Edition is in process of being published.

The personal story of the co-founder of AA, is Chapter 1 - "BILLíS STORY ". It is well to recognize he was simply another human being. One fully equipped to fall into the pit of despair from his own alcoholism and to experience the fulfillment of recovery from that once seemingly hopeless state. If you allow yourself equality, as a human being, his message of recovery is and can always be available to you - if you want it.

This author's primary suggestion is to give priority to the message of recovery. The messenger, being a human being, is subject to human error. No individual has total awareness of that Ultimate Reality of Life which some refer to as "God". If you wish to disagree with the messenger, you will find areas for disagreement. However, there are also similarities. They are found in the message itself. It is a message which may contain useful information to enrich and improve the quality of your own life. That choice to give that message your thoughtful consideration is your own.

* * * * *

 

STEP ONE:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable." (pg 59)

READ: Chapter 2 THERE IS A SOLUTION Pages 17 - 29

This chapter deals primarily with Step One of the AA program:

Having read Chapter 1 - BILL'S STORY, you are aware of some of the details related to his personal recovery. Conformity was not and is not a requirement for recovery. However, some concept of a power, greater than that of the individual, is essential.

The co-founder was free to choose his own concept of what the word "God" meant to him. (pg 12). That message was valid then, for him. It is equally valid now, for you.

The single most significant message is, that there is hope for recovery, if you want it. Your personal chances for recovery are near 100% if you are willing to do what the first members did.

The first thing you will hear read at many meetings is the Preamble of what AA is. AA's own definition of itself includes the simple statement:

"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." (AA PREAMBLE)

There is no second requirement for membership. No one else really knows if you do or do not desire to stop drinking.

The experience of the first members of AA, is read at the beginning of most meetings.

"Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path." (pg 58)

Therein lies the secret of their success and your own freedom to choose the direction you take. Either you want what they have, or else you do not. What they have is recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind a body, called "alcoholism". Is that what you really want?

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps" (pg 58)

* * * * *

 

The following comments, address themselves to STEP ONE:

We are people who normally would not mix. ...... The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action." (pg 17)

The AA concept of alcoholism, as an illness, is presented on page 18. Though incurable, by traditional methods, the ex-problem drinker with a solution, is able to accomplish quickly, what professionals have failed to do, with any comparable degree of success.

This appears to be the common bond that has held the fellowship of AA together. It is based upon mutual desire and enlightened self-interest. It includes recognition that none has all the answers. Each individual example of recovery contains elements of value and usefulness to some, though not necessarily all others who wish to recover. This is an attitude, embodied in the AA approach to dealing with a newcomer. However, it should be noted that not every individual who identifies themselves as a member of AA reflects that attitude in their own personal dealings with newcomers.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING A ANSWER

AND HAVING THE ANSWER.

One approach allows other solutions to exist which you may wish to consider. The other implies that "my way is the only way". The latter attitude is difficult to reconcile with any claim to open-mindedness. (see Appendix II).

The reader will note that, as AA members, none make a sole vocation of working with others (page 19). This is sometimes confusing to those who have encountered hospitals, treatment programs, or social service activities which use the AA program. Usually, there is money involved in those programs, and many have attempted to incorporate AA into their activities. Where money becomes an object of primary interest, the reader should be aware that

THERE ARE NO DUES OR FEES FOR AA MEMBERSHIP.

Many of the professionals have their own personal AA experience which enables them to be more effective in their chosen field of work. Anyone unclear about the separation between the AA program of recovery and other methods will do well to review The Twelve Traditions - The Long Form. (see ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS - Appendix I).

Similarly, it is well to remember that, as AA members, no individual alcoholic lays any claim to professional qualifications, "we merely have an approach that worked with us" with alcoholism. (see pg 95).

There is a different and more practical reason AA members try to be helpful to the alcoholic who is still suffering from the malady.

"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." (pg 20)

Occasionally some AA members consider themselves qualified to offer advice in professional areas where they have no expertise. A newcomer would be well advised to exercise caution and intelligence when deciding who has experience to produce the kind of results they desire. Some help others as a profession for money. Others, with no professional qualifications, try to help others in order to help themselves. The important element for attention of the alcoholic is the result which is produced.

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous has produced successful recoveries, which are unsurpassed by the professional community. If you are interested in what you have to do in order to have those results produced by AA, be aware that is this is the purpose of the AA "Big Book".

The purpose of this Study Guide is to point out what the author has found in that basic text. Other interpretations may have equal or better value and usefulness to individual readers. If so, you are encouraged to utilize whatever may be helpful to you. After all, that is what you are looking for isnít it?

Pay particular note to the need for mutual assistance in the recovery process. Then consider the significance of ignorance and misunderstanding. Particularly when directed to differences between moderate drinkers and the alcoholic.

Remember that many different ideas, emotions and attitudes about drinking get developed in a society where the majority react physically to alcohol in a different way than does the alcoholic. (see pg 27). The thoughtful reader will recognize a thread of ignorance and misunderstanding running through many of their old ideas. Especially those concerning their personal relationship to "a power greater than themselves". Some will come to recognize there is an infinite source of all knowledge which they may eventually describe by use of the word "God". (see pgs 53, 55 & 68).

The moderate and even the continuous hard drinker is different than the alcoholic in one notable way. Unlike the real alcoholic, the average drinker does not lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink. (pg 20).

The inescapable conclusion remains, that once an alcoholic takes any alcohol into his system, it is virtually impossible for him to stop, on his own! This reflects the "phenomenon of craving" which separates the alcoholic as distinct from other drinkers. (see "THE DOCTORíS OPINION" ).

Not everyone who drinks, even to excess, is necessarily an alcoholic. Opinions vary as to why some are different. However, it is certain that some are. Either you are one of them or else you are not.

"We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition." (pgs 31- 32)

There is a description of the real alcoholic in Chapter 2 on-pages 21 & 22, which existed when the AA Big Book was written. Successful recovery by those first members is meaningful. It is important because it has allowed countless others to find a solution before reaching that stage. They recovered earlier in the progression of their personal problem with alcohol. Demonstrated results since then are a tribute to the effectiveness of the AA program.

When evaluating your own problem with alcohol, it is suggested you consider similarities. Does any part of their experience apply to you and your drinking?

Your attitude and what you believe about your own drinking will become a determining factor in your own recovery process. While others may point out to you what they see needs changing, it is only when you see something you desire to change that you will voluntarily take action to do so.

A relatively simple formula exists for changing your life, where alcohol is concerned.

This is what is available in AA. Individual members share their experience, strength and hope with you. You decide if you do or do not want some part of what someone else has to offer. The choice is yours. No one else can, nor will do your wanting for you. That recipe for change may, at your own discretion, be used to make changes in other areas of your life as well.

PRINCIPLES WHICH WORK IN ONE AREA MAY WORK IN OTHERS

Any responsibility for making a choice of what to accept or reject is your own. It is individual and personal. The only valid measure of success is in how well it works - for you.

The consequences of any choices made will also be your own. Either by a conscious selection, or by default by choosing not to choose. Therefore, you, the individual, are ultimately responsible for the results that follow the choices you do make.

The proposition is clearly stated, that "the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than his body". (see pg 23).

Any physical reaction to alcohol is not operative until alcohol is introduced into the body. For whatever reason, a choice got made to pick up a drink. Short of being forced down his throat, it is the mind of the alcoholic which decides there is some "desirable element" connected with the choice.

As an illustration, substitute a different substance. After a hard day of work, few would decide, to treat themselves to "a nice cold glass of bleach". They consciously recognize the consequences as being totally undesirable. (see Step 11). Accordingly, they have little difficulty refusing this option. It is clearly understood that "drinking bleach" will make them sick, quick, and there is no temptation.

However, because alcohol has produced something desirable, in the past, they have a different attitude. (see pg. 27). They may attempt to temporarily recapture a condition that is now gone from their life. This is the insanity of alcoholism. Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. You may recognize the role of ignorance and misunderstanding about reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 55).

While it may be obvious that the main problem of the alcoholic is a mental one, consider the significance of taking the first drink. Particularly with a demonstrated inability to stop, once started.

DONíT GET IN THE ROLLERCOASTER

IF YOU DONíT WANT THE RIDE

At this point, the reader is directed to a careful study of Chapter 3 - "MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM" (see pgs 30-32) to emphasize the experience and suggestions made by earlier members of AA concerning this mental attitude.

It is undeniable that some individuals get a physical reaction which is different from others, when drinking alcohol. Volumes of medical literature have been written about differences in body processes among individuals and the way they react to different substances. Those uniquely individual physical differences are not significantly changed by the use of will-power. Neither is there any medical "cure" available at this time.

Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasnít done so yet. (pg 31)

So, where is the problem? Is not" "lack of power" the dilemma of most alcoholics? (see pg 45).

The alcoholic lacks the power of choice where taking the first drink is concerned. If the alcoholic already knew how to stop drinking, and stay stopped, then that knowledge could and would be utilized by choice. It seems self-evident a need for the power of new knowledge is required. (see pg 59).

The problem is a mental one, impacting the power of choice. The message of AA is not "how to change the physical condition" which is a matter of interest to the scientific community.

The message of AA is that if you are one of those who is bodily and mentally different, there is a solution. (review pg 30).

For the indecisive reader, the crucial question is

WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

You either know the truth about yourself, or you do not. If you have doubts, then try some controlled drinking. (see pgs 30-32).

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent, We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink." (pg 24)

You may, at this point, be consciously aware of some ignorance and misunderstanding concerning your relationship to alcohol where choice is concerned.

New knowledge of the truth (i.e.: "improved awareness of God" -see Step 11) is "a power greater than yourself".

Power is something you cannot utilize until you have it. There are others who had solved their problem and their solution continues to be found in a deep and effective spiritual experience. (see pg 25). They offer any alcoholic "a simple kit of spiritual tools" which will be effective if you want to utilize them.

Be cautious about confusing or equating the term "spiritual" with "religion". No one has a monopoly on the infinite power of consciously understanding "the Great Reality" of all life, on lifeís terms. (review pgs 53, 55, 68, 95, Step 11 & Appendix II).

It may be helpful to consider some universally accepted synonyms used to describe what that three-letter word "God" means to the mind which encounters it. One is "omniscient" - or "all knowing". Another is "omnipotent" or "all powerful". Some other common meanings to describe that word "God" are that "God is Truth", "God is Good", and "God is the Ultimate Reality of Life".

Those terms, and meanings will be utilized with frequency in this Study Guide. While you, as an individual, may disagree in the use of those terms for yourself, they are commonly used in communication by others and have been chosen by the author to illustrate the message found in the basic text of AA.

The reader who dares to question traditional religions or their claims to special knowledge of other characteristics about the word "God", may find it useful to substitute those synonyms. This may make it easier to have the same kind of "deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward Godís universe." (pg 25).

There is a phrase, often heard around AA.

"WE HAVE LEARNED THE TRUTH

AND THE TRUTH HAS SET US FREE"

Consider the extent you are "all-knowing" or "all powerful" in your ability to both control and enjoy your own drinking. It may be beneficial for the alcoholic reader to seek the power of new knowledge from the source. (see pg 59, 60(c), 164, & Appendix II).

Once again, , the reader who is alcoholic is referred to Chapter 3 - "MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM" (see pgs 30-32). This may help clarify your own answer to yourself.

* * * * *

SECTION B02b:

Chapter 2

THERE IS A SOLUTION

STEP ONE - Contíd:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable. (pg 59)

READ:

Chapter 2 - THERE IS A SOLUTION - Starting on page 26 with "A certain American business man. " to the end of Chapter 2.

COMMENTS:

Information on page 26 and page 27 of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS repeatedly appears in this Study Guide of the basic text for recovery from alcoholism. It embodies a fundamental principle related to recovery from alcoholism and the way the mind of an alcoholic works.

The author of this Study Guide strongly recommends that anyone interested in recovery from alcoholism give those comments serious consideration. Do not skim over them lightly. It is recommended you give intense thought to the significance of displacing and rearranging the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are the guiding forces in your life. It may well be the essential ingredient to freedom from the bonds of alcoholism.

* * * * *

A consistent thread of a principle has been found in the basic AA text for recovery from alcoholism, which is the book ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The reader will find it on pages 26 and 27 of that book.

Here is outlined the plight of one alcoholic individual who availed himself of the best medical and psychiatric help available at that time. (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) As an alcoholic, his acquired self-knowledge was useless. He was dominated by ideas, emotions and attitudes which were self-destructive.

The doctor had tried and failed to produce an emotional displacement and rearrangement of those guiding forces. Those mental processes dominated the life of the alcoholic. He was considered a hopeless case.

The only known exception to that otherwise hopeless state of mind and body were found in those who had a vital spiritual experience which displaced and rearranged the ideas, emotions and attitudes which had previously been the guiding forces in their lives.

The individual seeking help felt relieved because he considered himself to be "a good church member". That, however, was not the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery. It was also necessary that he remained "willing to maintain a certain simple attitude".

"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." (Appendix II)

The reader of this Study Guide should be aware of a simple truth.

TRADITIONAL RELIGION DOES NOT HOLD A MONOPOLY

ON THE SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE REQUIRED

FOR RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOLISM !

A multitude of ways exist by which individuals have successfully recovered from alcoholism in the AA program. This has occurred both with and without association with some religious body. The AA program does not embrace one in preference to any other. Therefore, caution should be used when it is proposed that there is only one valid path to a vital spiritual experience in AA. This simply is not so. If it were, no one could or would recover without it.

For the person approaching AA for the first time, there may be a critical difference in what that word "God" means to you now, and a new idea you may acquire as you continue.

When the AA program began, the co-founder Bill W was presented a novel idea now used by many other alcoholics. It was the suggestion

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

The reader of this Study Guide is equally free to willingly "maintain that same simple attitude".

"It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning." (pg 12)

Most traditional religions have some finite boundaries about what they do or do not believe. This defines them as a group. You either do or do not accept their definitions when the word "God" is used. By contrast, a concept exists of the word "God" within AA which does not have those limitations which embrace some alcoholics while excluding others.

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or he isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

"Perhaps there is a better way---we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. (pg 68)

In order to be a legitimate member of any traditional religious group, the personal belief structure of the alcoholic is inside the limits of that organization. It is not outside of those boundaries for those who are honest with themselves about it. Embrace a particular idea of God and it is yours. However, recognize that your idea may not be the only valid one.

For those who are open minded, it is inescapable to recognize the existence of other versions. Some of those other ideas about God may possibly have desirable qualities not included in your own chosen belief.

Willingness to "trade up", whenever and wherever another version produces superior results will enlarge the "fundamental idea of God" which has been a guiding force in the life of the alcoholic. (pgs 27 & 55). That willingness allows a new freedom to consider new knowledge beyond the finite boundaries of old ideas. (pg 58).

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." (pg 83)

Many alcoholics encounter the AA program of recovery with a disbelief in the fundamental idea of God. This is not unusual. It is an arrogant claim that what they now believe about the word "God" is all there is to be known. This attitude can be applied to "believers" and "non-believers" equally. Such a "belief system" can be a guiding force in the life of that individual. Fortunately, those old ideas, emotions and attitudes also can be displaced and rearranged.

Consider the experience of the disillusioned ministerís son who asked himself the simple question:

"Who are you to say there is no God?" (pg 56)

That thought can have particular importance to someone encountering other alcoholics who proclaim "they know the only true version". Different interpretations of the word "God" are available to those who recognize equality in their relationship to the source of all life. Those troubled by the pronouncements of religious alcoholics may ask another simple question:

WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THAT "GOD" IS WHAT THAT WORD MEANS TO YOUR FINITE MIND?

The author of this Study Guide has discovered and is presenting to the reader a fundamental idea for consideration about the AA program. Some AA members may disagree with this approach to recovery from alcoholism.

It is the basic premise of this Study Guide that the program of AA is sufficiently broad and flexible to include any religion. None incorporates the entire potential of the AA program. There is always more new knowledge to be learned and understood by anyone who seeks it. (pg 60(c)).

The author of this Study Guide has found this fundamental idea of God to be consistent and compatible with the basic text for recovery. The alcoholic reader may wish to refer to the basic text of "Alcoholics Anonymous" (pg 55) for emphasis. In the FOREWORD TO SECOND EDITION it is clearly stated "Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization". Comments in officially approved AA literature explain why AA is not allied with any religious belief system. (Suggested reading - "As Bill Sees It" - pg 34). It provides comments written by the co-founder of AA.

"Truth" is a universally accepted synonym for the word "God". An alcoholic who has learned the truth about his condition and an option for recovery may still choose to continue drinking. However, the understanding of that truth has set him free from what previously was a seemingly hopeless condition.

There has been a revelation of truth (syn: "God") in the form of new knowledge of reality. With it there is produced enlarged freedom of choice to use that new knowledge. There is an endless supply of more truth available for anyone. The new knowledge is recognizably "a power greater" than previously possessed. At a conscious level of understanding, there is more truth, hence more God available for anyone to seek and use. (see pg 60(c) & Step 11)

INFINITE TRUTH = INFINITE GOD

For the individual with strong religious ties, it is suggested that no individual, nor any group of individuals, has a monopoly on all and everything that is Truth about the Ultimate Reality of Life on Lifeís terms. (see pg. 95). That is something recognizably infinite and beyond the capacity of any finite human mind to understand. However, more can always be revealed. (pg. 164).

UNDERSTANDING REALITY = UNDERSTANDING GOD

(Step 11)

However, the reader should be "quick to see where religious people are right". (pg 87). Most traditional religions were developed because their human founder had discovered some truth. However, accuracy about one area of infinite knowledge does not mean accuracy in all other areas as well. Many religious alcoholics have erroneously assumed their chosen belief system embodies all truth. (i.e.: "all of an infinite God" - see pgs 53 & 68).

For purposes of this Study Guide, improved conscious awareness of new knowledge is the essence of a "spiritual awakening". (Appendix II).

A new awareness and understanding of the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") becomes new knowledge. Understanding that new knowledge provides an enlarged range of choices, with new power to improve the selection of what is available to be used. (pg 85). Therefore the very process of seeking more truth from an infinite source becomes a practical means of "seeking God". (pg 60(c)).

But, where do we go to look for more?

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it was only there that He may be found. It was so with us." (pg 55)

What does the word "only" mean to your mind? (pg 23).

"Most of our experiences are what the psychologist William James calls "the educational variety" because they develop slowly over a period of time." (Appendix II)

Education occurs in the mind of the individual. There is a thinking process involved. One which confirms, that an idea is valid to the mind of the alcoholic. An idea is believed to be true because it stands up to the light of the intelligence inherent within every individual. (pgs 55 & 86). Anything else will be a "second-hand belief system" based upon the unthinking emotional acceptance of the beliefs of other equal human beings. Many "religious alcoholics" will disagree.

Recognition of a human capacity to learn new knowledge can be equated with an educational variety of a spiritual awakening. Furthermore, an expanded awareness of the Great Reality (syn "God" - pg 55) can be equated with the option to "improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him." (Step 11).

To illustrate the inherent ability to improve conscious contact with reality, the reader is asked to consider the following:

    • Do you believe everything that anyone tells you?
    • Do you believe some things some people tell you?
    • By what process do you decide what it is you will believe?

This author suggests that things you believe are guiding forces in your life. They form the ideas, emotions and attitudes upon which your life operates. (pg 27).

Unless your belief system includes all knowledge, and the power of that knowledge, "a huge emotional displacement and rearrangement" may be required for "the necessary vital spiritual experience" which is essential for recovery from alcoholism. (pg 27).

The alcoholic reader is challenged to contemplate their finite limitations from a lifetime of learning as a single individual. Moreover, consider the ultimate and finite limitations of all human awareness acquired thus far. The only understanding possible is that conscious awareness of the Ultimate Reality which is synonymous with the word "God". It should be self-evident there shall always exist more which is to be known.

IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES.

From a practical standpoint, enlarging the awareness of reality by the individual is a more intelligent approach than attempting to restrict awareness of the Ultimate Reality of Life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God").

While the alcoholic reader may not know how to make personal changes, there is ample evidence from AA that other alcoholics (i.e.: "equal in the eyes of God") have changed the guiding forces in their lives. The reader of this Study Guide has the capacity to learn what others have learned. Using the power of that new knowledge then becomes a matter of personal choice.

Obviously no one can use knowledge they do not possess. (pg 164). The vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism is made clear by "three pertinent ideas":

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage

our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved

our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

(pg 60)

 

If this is valid, then it follows that an alcoholic acquires the necessary vital experience by seeking God. (pg 60). The only place they can find that Great Reality it is within themselves. (pg 55). The ability to improve conscious contact with reality requires willingness, honesty and open mindedness to seek more new knowledge than is already possessed by the alcoholic or any other human power. (review pgs 14-15, 45, 55, 68, 129, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II).

"Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (pg 58)

The only place a change can occur is within the individual. It involves their "fundamental idea of God" (pg 55) and what that word means to their mind. The author of this Study Guide has found a fundamental idea of God, within the basic text of AA which is consistent with "God" as being an infinite source of new knowledge and the power that goes with it.

".....we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be? (pg 53)

The reader may ask of themselves:

    • Does my fundamental concept of God include all of reality?
    • Does it exclude some part of all that is life?
    • Is there something in life which is not God?

Further consider, that the only place any change to a fundamental idea can occur is within your own mind. Involved is what that three-letter word "God" means to your mind, and what you believe about it when that word is used by others.

At this point the alcoholic reader may well be asking:

    • What is it that I really do believe when encountering the word "GOD"? Is it intelligent to my own mind?

(see pg 23)

Some traditional religions reject portions of the Ultimate Reality of Life because it is not part of their concept of God. AA has no opinion on the issue of sectarian religion. (Tradition 11). No AA member nor AA group is qualified to speak for AA on this controversial matter. That specifically includes the author of this Study Guide. (Appendix I - Tradition 10 - The Long Form).

Nonetheless, it is obvious that conflicts do occur, in the minds of some alcoholics. (see pg 23). It is the purpose of this Study Guide to point out material in the basic AA text which may be helpful in resolving those difficulties. It should be noted that many sectarian religions do not embrace all and everything which is life. (pg. 53). The choice of what to believe will be the personal desires of the individual alcoholic, because there is nothing in the basic AA text which rejects any sectarian religious beliefs.

By contrast, the AA program is all-inclusive, and anyone with a desire to stop drinking is a member, by their own decision. (see Appendix II - Tradition 3 -"The Long Form").

THERE IS NO SECOND REQUIREMENT FOR MEMBERSHIP IN AA

For the alcoholic reader experiencing conflicts between sectarian religious beliefs and the AA program, it is advisable you first carefully examine the belief system which has become a guiding force in your life.

Some traditional religions deny validity to any spiritual concepts except their own specific definition of "God". In so doing, they block out all other spiritual ideas in order to stay within the finite limits of their own existing old ideas. (see appendix II). This may not always be sane thinking for an alcoholic confronted with the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. (page 53 & Step 2).

We have no desire to convince anyone there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. We think it no concern of ours what religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals. This should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the light of past associations, or his present choice. #9; #9; #9; (pg 28)

The reader may discover that identification with any particular religious body is of no concern by the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Recognition of this may help avoid confusion and placing limitations on the word "God". Consider this when reading the basic text of "Alcoholics Anonymous". It may be helpful when seeking "the vital spiritual experience" essential to recovery from alcoholism. (pg 27).

As you understand this truth about the AA program of recovery, you may also say to yourself:

"YES, I AM ONE OF THEM TOO; I MUST HAVE THIS THING"

(page 29)

 

* * * * *

SECTION B03a:

Chapter 3

MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM

STEP TWO:

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ: Chapter 3 - MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM - Starting on

page 30 with "Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics." to the end of the first paragraph on page 32, ending with "It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition."

 

COMMENTS:

The AA program of recovery, from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, is contained within the first 164 pages of the AA Big Book. It is:

The Story of

How Many Thousands of Men and Women

Have Recovered from Alcoholism

(Frontispiece)

The author of this Study Guide wishes to point out the word "recovered". The condition of alcoholism may not be "cured", but it is no longer a hopeless condition for which nothing effective can be done.

When the AA program first appeared, it was an unorthodox solution for many in the scientific and religious communities. Because it produced results which they were unable to duplicate, the effectiveness of AA was difficult to dispute.

Over half-a-century later, that same recovery process is no longer surprising. Public focus has shifted from asking "does AA really work?" to asking "what does that have to do with me"? And, "what else can it do?"

Because the AA program has worked well on the universal problem of alcoholism, there is sometimes an erroneous tendency to assume it is also "the answer" for numerous other problems. No such claims are made by Alcoholics Anonymous. Some AA members combined the AA program with their religious belief systems causing erroneous ideas to get voiced by some individual members. Therefore the alcoholic reader is advised to use extreme caution when establishing any individual as an authority on alcoholism.

This is particularly important when dealing with any of the medical or spiritual elements involved in the recovery process. To avoid misunderstanding of what AA is and is not, this author recommends a careful review of the long form of the AA Traditions. They are contained in Appendix I of the basic text for recovery. The officially sanctioned AA pamphlet "Problems Other than Alcohol" will also be informative.

Any non-AA material should be considered an outside opinion. It may be valid, or it may be that someone simply believes it is valid. That specifically includes the comments found in this Study Guide which provides the view of one individual. That viewpoint may not have value to every alcoholic reader seeking recovery. That choice of what to believe is individual. The use of caution and intelligence is recommended.

In this Study Guide, the alcoholic reader will be asked, again and again, to examine the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are the guiding forces in their life. (pg 27)

The serious reader will be shown portions of the AA Big Book which clearly suggests they have personal access to some inherent intelligence within themselves. (page 55) That inherent intelligence permits any alcoholic to displace and rearrange the guiding forces in their life. (pg 27). Particular emphasis is placed upon changing that thinking process which creates a desire to distort personal perception of reality with the use of alcohol.

If the alcoholic reader thoroughly follows the suggested steps of recovery provided in the AA program, their lives can become dominated by a completely new set of conceptions and motives. (pgs 27 & 58). That change can, will and must eventually produce different conditions.

IF NOTHING CHANGES, THEN NOTHING CHANGES

Certain promises have been made which will always materialize for those who painstakingly follow the path of action outlined by the AA program for recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 83-84). They are available to any alcoholic who really wants what the writers of the basic AA text found for themselves. Any desire for those conditions is personal. Because mind-reading is an imperfect art, no one else can be completely certain what it is you really want for yourself. (see pg 58 & Appendix II).

Regardless of any disputes about what produces recovery it is clear that, for the drinking alcoholic, continued drinking will eventually lead to confinement or a premature death. This makes the choice of action a very personal matter to anyone with a drinking problem.

As an individual understands the seriousness of their personal condition, there is increased motivation to do something about it. (see Steps 3 & 11).

SOME ARE MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION, OTHERS BY DESPERATION!

For some, hospitalization and treatment by professionals with medical qualifications may be required. That treatment is well outside the scope of the AA program. Many members of AA may have a sincere desire to be helpful, as individuals. However, when offering professional or technical advice:


WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IS MAKE

HOW SINCERELY YOU ROW YOUR BOAT

IF YOU ARE ROWING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION?.

 

Therefore the use of intelligence is recommended when accepting advice. This author suggests looking for principles which have universal application. They tend to be more reliable than personal preferences or beliefs. That specifically includes comments the alcoholic reader finds in this Study Guide.

Once free from the physical craving for alcohol, a newly motivated individual often discovers a new willingness to re-evaluate ideas, emotions and attitudes affecting their life. (Appendix II). When personal survival is involved, that willingness to replace old ideas with a new set that works becomes an intelligent decision. Holding onto old ideas about drinking is non-intelligent and is frequently an emotional choice. Such a choice is difficult to claim as sanity in the light of any intelligent self-examination.

Recognition of this potential for a personal conflict of motives, occurring within the alcoholic brings us to STEP TWO.

S T E P T W O :

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

The mental attitude by which the alcoholic reader approaches Step Two may be critical to their recovery. (see pgs 23, 27 & 58). For the individual with a drinking problem, recognition that some individuals cannot safely drink alcohol is tantamount to acceptance of a personal problem. Physiological differences may account for the phenomenon of craving which differentiate alcoholics from their fellows. ( see The Doctorís Opinion). Thus far, no one has discovered any way to change the body processes of an alcoholic that may differentiate them from others who can safely engage in "recreational oblivion" with the use of alcohol. (see pgs 30-32).

After the phenomenon of craving, has been dealt with, by hospitalization or other means, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body. (page 23). For the alcoholic, the recognition they cannot safely start drinking alcohol again is essential. It must be dealt with regardless of any physical differences which may exist.

The physical phenomenon of craving must be dealt with first. After that, any alcoholic who honestly desires to get sober and stay sober can successfully deal with their problem. (pg 58). No assistance from anyone else would be required unless they lacked power of the knowledge of how to do so. (see pg 45).

IGNORANCE OF A SOLUTION

IS LACK OF POWER TO SOLVE A PROBLEM

With new knowledge, that same individual gains a greater power of choice. An available solution which was previously unrecognized is new knowledge. This may help illustrate that effective recovery is primarily centered in the mind. (see pg 23).

JUST BECAUSE YOU DONíT KNOW THE ANSWER

DOES NOT MEAN THERE IS NO ANSWER

 

New knowledge enlarges the power of decision to accept or reject reality. (syn: "God" - pg 55) It is the power of choice to recognize and accept "what is and what is not". (i.e.: "The Ultimate Reality of All Life" - "God" - see pg 53). An improved conscious awareness of that reality is always available. (Step 11).

Inability to recognize and accept reality may qualify as a definition of "insanity". Any conscious choice to knowingly hold onto old ideas which leads to confinement or premature death would probably be another.

Step Two focuses upon the insanity of drinking - for the alcoholic. Various examples of insane thinking, are provided by recovered alcoholics. Chapter Three describes how that mental condition manifested itself to early members of AA. An ample supply of additional examples are constantly available from other members in AA meetings.

Self-knowledge, when unchanged, is not sufficient for recovery. (pg 39).

There is an obvious inability to use the power of new knowledge which the alcoholic does not possess. (see pg 164). This is continually illustrated by failures of alcoholics to both control and enjoy drinking. (pgs 30-32). There exists an obvious need for the introduction of some power, greater than themselves. (pgs 43 & 45).

Thinking, which is restricted to the finite limits of self-knowledge, does not produce results for new situations. (pgs 14-15). The word "God" implies the power of all new knowledge. However, that idea, when utilized by traditional religion, gets limited, confined, and restricted to whatever is their specific belief system. Their ethnocentric group concept may also contain something which is "not God". (i.e.: "not part of the Great Reality" see pg 55). That chosen belief system is not all inclusive of everything in life. (syn: "God" - see pg 53). As such it is a finite belief system. (see pg 68).

Upon intelligent examination, what is known or believed may not be valid. "You donít know unless you know". Lack of new knowledge blocks the power to choose a belief system which is in perfect harmony with the Ultimate Reality of All Life. (pg 60). To avoid mistaken choices would require knowledge equal to an "omniscient God". Anything less than perfection is subject to error with room for improvement.

To date, this author has not found any such experts. (pg 60(b)). However, both in and outside of AA, there does seem to be an abundance of individuals who claim "second-hand knowledge" which they believe to be valid. Their claims of expertise frequently come from sources of questionable authenticity. It is possible this may be their own choice of a self-centered belief system. (see pgs 42, 46, 62, 95, 164 & Appendix II ).

Many AA groups read a portion of Chapter 3 as part of their meeting format. (pgs 30-32). This has special benefit for any alcoholic who may still be seeking a way to both control and enjoy drinking. This author recommends that the alcoholic reader imbed upon their mind (pg 23) a portion of the first paragraph of Chapter 3. Pay particular attention to the statement:

"The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death" (pg 30)

That single illusion can and frequently does reappear in the mind of alcoholics in disguise. It is an old idea which can be like the actor in a one-man-play who constantly reappears in different forms. One time as a young man, then as a girl, an old man, or the villain. Each new character is in a surprisingly deceptive new costume. However, on close intelligent examination, nothing real has changed. It is all an elaborate mental deception. (pg 23).

What you see is merely another aspect of an old belief system. There are an endless variety of ways an old idea can be presented to any mind which is not paying attention to reality. Therefore, it should not be surprising that the deception frequently succeeds. Nonetheless, in reality, it is still the same old idea. It is a personally chosen belief that there is something beneficial to be obtained from drinking alcohol. Constant vigilance and the use of inherent intelligence (pg 86) is required to prevent that old idea from becoming a guiding force in the life of an alcoholic.

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM IS ETERNAL VIGILANCE

For the alcoholic seriously interested in staying alive and being able to carry their own keys, this is, and must remain a top priority. Experience has indicated that nothing is quite so effective as working with other alcoholics. (pg 89). This is a very practical and available means of survival.

Therefore, by itís own definition, as AA members:

"Our primary purpose is to stay sober, and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety". (AA Preamble)

The difference in motivation and primary objective between AA and "expensive treatment programs" may partially explain why they seldom accomplish significant results when compared to the "cost-free" approach of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The false belief that sufficient money will buy desirable results is not necessarily a valid one. That error has been borne out by many, with seemingly unlimited financial resources, who have destroyed themselves after attempting to buy personal happiness. (see pg 133). That concept of the power of money has limitations and is a false belief held by many members of the professional community.

Most alcoholics need to cast aside that old idea. While expensive treatment programs cater to the affluent, many have depleted their resources before considering recovery. Few professional treatment programs can offer continual "cost-free exposure to new knowledge". Most traditional religions also have a limited ability to provide a constant flow of new awareness of reality. (syn: "God" - pgs 14-15). Their boundaries are defined and within the finite limits of what they have to offer. To the best knowledge of this author, the AA program has no such limitations. Especially for those alcoholics who are seeking the power of new knowledge of reality. (pg 60(c)).

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little." (pg 164)

Old ideas do reappear in an infinite variety of new ways. If they are allowed to remain unexamined and unchecked, they easily become familiar habit patterns of thinking. Those habit patterns of thought then encroach upon the lives of the inattentive. Eventually, they may become guiding forces in the mind of the alcoholic. (see pgs 23 & 27). When recovery from alcoholism is desired, making conscious intelligent choices of priorities about drinking alcohol is a continuing requirement. (pgs 14-15). Recognizing this seemingly automatic mental process is an important part of maintaining recovery.

HOW SAFE DO YOU WANT TO BE?

Continued self-examination is an inherent part of the AA program. (Step 10). It incorporates growth in self-awareness on a continuing basis. It is continually available from the freely given time and attention which gets offered by other members of AA, as individuals. New knowledge is available to those seeking demonstrations of success and failures. The supply of that information is seemingly endless. (see pg 68).

Active participation in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is both available and affordable to any and all who want it. There is no profit motive to distract it from a clearly stated primary purpose. (see AA Preamble).

* * * * *

SECTION B03b:

Chapter 3 - Contíd

MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM

STEP TWO:

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ: Chapter 3 - MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM - Starting on

page 32 with "Though there may be no way of proving it, ......." to page 39, ending with "This is a point we wish to emphasize and reemphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience."

 

COMMENTS:

At the time the AA Big Book was written, many of the early members were what was once referred to as "last-gaspers" . They had pursued their drinking to extreme lengths. Early on in their drinking careers, most alcoholics could have stopped. This is significant to those coming to AA sooner in their drinking than those first members.

It is still not fully understood why some individuals respond to alcohol differently than others. There is however, no dispute that alcoholics are affected differently. It is clear that differences do exist.

With the substance alcohol remaining measurably the same, any differences are to be found within the individual. Unless that individual makes the choice to pick up the drink, the physical phenomenon of craving is not activated. This indicates that "the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind". (pg 23). That problem then becomes a matter of personal belief about the ability to safely consume alcohol.

For the alcoholic reader, there comes the question of application. This author suggests that at least part of the answer to a drinking problem is to be found in some idea, emotion or attitude that is a guiding force in their life. (page 27)

With that thought in mind, in all honesty, ask yourself:

    • How do I decide what I believe is valid?
    • Is what I believe the result of my thinking or someone else?
    • How do others become an authority to me?
    • Does their thinking produce results that work for me?
    • Do I believe better results are possible?
    • If so, why donít I have better results in my life?
    • Could there be something better neither knows about?
    • What do I believe is the source of new knowledge?

(see pg 60(a-c))

In the simplest of terms, consider that you, the reader, do not possess all knowledge about everything in life. Similarly, no group of individuals, knows everything about everything. Some source exists to which individuals have equal access to new knowledge and the power that goes with it. (see pg 59).

Any decision to accept or reject reality does not change "what is and what is not" the truth. It is the belief about reality within the alcoholic which determines their free choice of action. (see pg 55).

WHAT YOU DO AFFECTS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.

Where alcoholism is concerned, the reader probably already knows where they stand. If in doubt, the earlier members of AA suggested:

"....... try some controlled drinking" (pg 31).

If you have already done sufficient research, you are probably aware that once an alcoholic starts drinking, they are unable to control when or where they will stop drinking. When left to their own limited resources, they will continue to drink. Without outside interference, the real alcoholic will do so unless they are locked up or die prematurely. (see page 26). That phenomenon of craving has been considered a physiological difference. One which separates the alcoholic from his fellows because of the way his body processes alcohol. (see pg 30). Those bodily differences cannot be changed anymore than the color of their eyes.

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink." (pg 24)

 

This author suggests that, as long as a sufficient quantity of alcohol is present in the system of the alcoholic, that phenomenon of craving continues. This author believes any attempt to reason with an alcoholic, while they are drunk, is wasting time. Until sufficient alcohol is eliminated from their system, the alcoholic is functioning with distorted intelligence as their personal defense against continued drinking. The craving continues until there is overwhelming interference produced by some unavoidable personal priority. Therefore, it is not surprising that earlier AA members have said:


WHEN THE DESIRE TO STAY ALIVE IS EQUAL TO

THE DESIRE FOR ANOTHER DRINK, THEN

AN ALCOHOLIC IS READY FOR AA.

If, the reader is an alcoholic, this will apply to you. Earlier members pursued their drinking into the gates of insanity or death. No matter how intelligent you may be in other areas, no matter how morally good or financially wealthy and powerful, those qualities are insufficient to produce a change in those unique individual body processes which make you an alcoholic. (pg 38).

Thus far, the only demonstrations of recovery in any significant quantity come from "a vital spiritual experience" capable of displacing and rearranging ideas, emotions, and attitudes which are guiding forces in the life of the alcoholic. Being "a good church member" is not the message of recovery which this author has found in the basic text. (see pg 27).

If you have reached the fellowship of AA early in your drinking career, it may be possible for you to stop by other means. That was the belief of those "last gaspers" responsible for the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". They also qualified that belief with recognition of a bit of reality.

"Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time." (pg 32)

There are both risks and benefits to be considered by the alcoholic when deciding if they honestly desire to stop drinking. In making a personal choice, the reader would do well to ask themselves:

"WHAT DO I STAND TO GAIN, AND WHAT DO I STAND TO LOSE?"

Neither age, sex, length of drinking, nor the quantities consumed seem to determine who is and who is not alcoholic. Neither does language, ethnic or religious background nor differences of race and culture make that determination. Nonetheless, the AA program provides a means of recovery which works for any individual who is an alcoholic. (pg 58).

"We are people who normally would not mix."

(pg 17)

Alcoholism cuts across boundaries which otherwise separate people from each other. The concept of a physical allergy, described in "The Doctorís Opinion", has not yet been replaced by any better explanation. Neither has there been any other approach to recovery which has produced results comparable to the AA program. A predominate belief within the AA program, by those who have recovered from alcoholism, is:

"ONCE AN ALCOHOLIC, ALWAYS AN ALCOHOLIC"

Science may one day prove that belief to be erroneous, but it hasnít done so yet. (see pg 31). In "real life terms" the results will remain the same. Any alcoholic is free to accept or reject that idea as a guiding force in their life. The choice is only as important as their desire to stay alive and carry their own keys.

The reader should recognize the professional community is under great pressure to find "a cure for alcoholism" because of the cost to government and society. That is a matter of interest to those concerned with such issues, and is outside the scope of the AA program for recovery.

Individual alcoholics, who find sufficient personal benefits from drinking may allow their lives to be used for trial and error experimentation. The value placed upon drinking over survival is personal. As alcoholics, it is their own life they are gambling with, and it still belongs to them. However, with sufficient continued drinking, even that may get changed without their permission.

Anyone questioning the benefits and risks of drinking would do well to examine their thinking on the subject. (pg 23). Of special importance is the idea that somehow, someday it will be possible to both control and enjoy drinking alcohol on a risk-free basis. (see pg 30). When benefits outweigh risks, that decision becomes the definition of sanity you desire (syn: "pray for") to have applied to your life. If so, that idea has become a guiding force in your life. (see pg 27 & Step 11).

To date neither science nor religion has produced any method by which alcoholics can both control and enjoy drinking. Until that occurs, any belief that drinking can be indulged in, on a risk-free basis, is an illusion. Where control is possible the alcoholic does not enjoy drinking. When they enjoy drinking there are no controls, restrictions or limitations.

The Ultimate Reality of Life is not changed by "wishful thinking". Individual alcoholics, who claim sanity for themselves, make their own choices between illusion and reality. Those choices may qualify as the difference between "Godís Will" (syn: "the Ultimate Reality") and "self-will run riot".

The alcoholic individual is directly impacted by their own definition of sanity. Other people may have different thoughts on the same subject. They too are free to act upon what they believe and this becomes the basis for the choices they make. That principle implies human equality. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God"). Alcoholics frequently find themselves in conflict with that equality of choice and the freedom to take action according to what they believe.

Human error is possible. It is equally possible for anyone who does not know everything about everything. This will include expert authorities in the fields of science and religion. The author of this Study Guide is no exception.

The reader may not question their own judgment regarding their relationship to alcohol. However, many are willing to stake their life and freedom on the limited and finite degree of knowledge they now possess. Perhaps their best interests would be better served by an attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness to understand more new knowledge. (Step 11 & Appendix II).

More new knowledge is always available. Short of attaining "spiritual perfection" there is always room for "spiritual progress".

(pg 60).

A review of Chapter Three of the basic text illustrates how one alcoholic knew what he knew about alcoholism. He had made a beginning improving his life and then found himself drunk again. The potentially fatal error was in the belief that he had acquired sufficient knowledge to maintain sobriety. The flaw was that he failed to enlarge his spiritual life. (review pgs 14-15, & 35).

FOR EMPHASIS: This author repeats the word - "ENLARGE"

Changes and new conditions are the inevitable result of living life, on lifeís terms. (pg 85). The idea that what is now known is enough to deal with any new situation is an egotistically attractive but "erroneous false belief in personal omniscience". That "all knowing" quality generally gets reserved for an idea of "God". (pg 55). Old ideas may not always apply to new and different conditions. (pg 58). The desire to enlarge awareness of "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God" - pg 55) is a personal desire for more "spiritual growth". (pg 60).

 

HOW MUCH MORE KNOWLEDGE DO YOU WANT?

Because everything in life changes, constantly improving conscious awareness of reality (syn: "God" - see Step 11) is a critical factor in recovery from alcoholism. The total knowledge acquired in a single lifetime is never enough to deal with everything which comes along that is new and different.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR RECOVERY.

Similar limitations can be applied to all human knowledge. The sum total of all human awareness since the beginning of time is not only finite, but it also has limitations. More new knowledge can and will be revealed to those seeking to enlarge their understanding of "the Great Reality" (syn: "God" - see pgs 55 & 60(c)). It is recognized that spokesmen for traditional concepts of "God" may disagree. (see pg 12).

Herein lies a noteworthy difference between reality and many religious interpretations of life, on lifeís terms. Most traditional religions view "God" within the confines of their own definition and belief system. This precludes intelligent adjustments to accommodate new knowledge and excludes the introduction of additional information. (see pgs 53 & 68). That "closed-minded belief system" is difficult to reconcile with life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God") and usually requires an attitude referred to as "blind faith".

What is your choice to be? (pg 53)

A very specific interpretation of the word "God" is a fundamental part of most traditional religions. Accordingly, what they believe about "God" must be defined in finite terms and that gives their belief system limited application. Unless they also claim spiritual perfection, that ethnocentric belief system is incomplete. Other views can and do exist. Some may even produce improved results. (pgs 53, 55, 68, 164, & Appendix II).

There is always more new knowledge to be obtained about an infinite universe. (pg 68). Only someone in possession of "all knowledge" (i.e.: "an omniscient God") would have the power of choice to fully cooperate with principles governing all life. (syn: "God" see page 53).

"But there is One who has all power -- that One is God.

(pg 59)

It is a principle with equal application to all life, on lifeís terms, that each new day of living life presents new and previously unknown conditions. (pg 85). To intelligently respond to changes requires seeking new knowledge. (pg 60(c)). It is one of the "Laws of Life" that apply equally to all, regardless of any other differences which may exist between them as individuals.

It seems self-evident that accommodating new, and previously unknown conditions demands new knowledge. The "ONE SIZE FITS ALL" approach, offered by many traditional religions, has limited application. There is no dispute about the value they do have. (pgs 87 & 89). However, there is the inescapable recognition that more may be revealed. (pg 164).

Should there be conflict with that view, the alcoholic reader may wish to answer some questions about their beliefs involving their relationship to an ever-changing universe.

    • Is yesterdayís knowledge all you require for today?
    • If you need more new knowledge, where do you believe original ideas come from?
    • Where do you believe the first person got their original idea?

Observe how some old ideas continue to prevail as a guiding force even when they may have potentially life-threatening consequences. Frequently there are some beliefs which need to be displaced and rearranged to produce "a vital spiritual experience". (pg 27). While anyone can believe anything they choose, when it comes to understanding "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God" - pg 55 & Step 11) it is self-evident that "you donít know unless you know".

Limited "self-knowledge" is always insufficient to overcome an old idea which is producing insane behavior because it is incomplete. There is an obvious requirement for new and different thinking. There is a need for new knowledge and "a vital spiritual experience" capable of producing a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 23, 27 & Appendix II).

New ideas are an essential ingredient in making intelligent choices under changing conditions. Unintelligent emotional decisions can be self-destructive. "Spiritual progress" requires an intelligently and realistically enlarged awareness of improved results, on lifeís terms. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 60 & Step 11).

INSANE BEHAVIOR OVERLOOKS CONSEQUENCES

(see pgs 37 & 38)

Absence of a conscious contact with reality is commonly considered as insanity. The implications can be disturbing when it is recognized that no one has total awareness of all and everything that is reality. The implication is that insanity is a matter of degree related to conscious awareness of "life, on lifeís terms".

It is worth noting that Step Two does not suggest "a Power greater than ourselves could turn alcoholics into social drinkers like all those others". However, when sober the alcoholic reacts, to life, much as others do. (pg 22). This presents questions about the relative sanity of society as a whole.

In significant contrast to much of society, what is claimed by AA is that:

"No one among us has been able to maintain perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60)

"BUT OBVIOUSLY YOU CANNOT TRANSMIT

SOMETHING YOU HAVENíT GOT."

(page 164)

So, where is the problem and where is the solution? Power to make intelligent and sane choices includes recognition of the consequences of actions taken. That may require more new knowledge.

IF I KNEW BETTER I WOULD DO BETTER

The power to consciously choose a better answer must come from some source of new knowledge. (i.e.: "God"). It does if a more intelligent decision is to get made. This is because the present level of self-knowledge is inadequate. In order to "trade up" to "improved spiritual progress", open-mindedness is an indispensable attitude. (see pgs 42, 60, 129, 164 & Appendix II). Despite the value of many belief systems and their old ideas, this becomes an important factor when making the best possible choice. It is worth recognizing that:

THE GOOD CAN BE THE ENEMY OF THE BEST

&#

Perhaps a story, making the rounds, will lighten the significance.

A man attended the funeral of a business associate. Surprised by his premature death, he inquired of the cause. The widow related her late-husband drank over a fifth of whiskey daily for several years, developed liver disorders, high-blood-pressure, kidney failure and had a heart attack.

The friend asked "hadnít he ever heard of AA?". Pulling herself up with great dignity, she replied "well he wasnít that bad".

Like the widow in the story, some alcoholics have erroneous ideas and attitudes about drinking. They ignore the fact that some people cannot drink without creating potentially life-threatening conditions.

As a consequence of their ignorance of reality, many alcoholics die prematurely because they sincerely applied an erroneous belief system to their own lives.

This author believes this mental condition merits serious and intelligent examination. There are others who may disagree.

 

* * * * *

SECTION B03c:

Chapter 3 - Contíd

MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM

STEP TWO:

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ:

Chapter 3 - MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM - Starting on

page 39 with "Let us take another illustration." to the end of Chapter 3 ending with "His defense must come from a Higher Power."

COMMENTS:

If the reader has accepted the views of the previous section, there should be little doubt that:

"the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge." (pg 39)

"Self-knowledge" is finite and is limited to the amount of information one individual can acquire during a single lifetime. In an endless universe there is always more new knowledge available than any individual mind, or group of human minds can consciously understand about life on lifeís terms. (see pgs 53, 60, 68, 164, & Step 11).

Of necessity, traditional religions have finite and limited concepts of God, which exist within the framework of their own belief systems. While there is nothing in AA in conflict with efforts to define the infinite, (see pg 68), a significant difference between religion and AA is their effectiveness with recovery from alcoholism. If a religious belief system is able to produce the kind of recovery desired, the alcoholic should use it to the fullest extent of its value and usefulness. However, it is well to recognize that there is more. When a chosen religious belief system does not produce desired results, then a different concept of "God" may be more beneficial. (pg 12).

In AA, every alcoholic eventually becomes faced with the proposition that:

"God is either everything or else He is nothing.

(page 53)

That concept is the same as saying:

THERE IS NOTHING THAT IS NOT GOD!

It is a "concept of God" that equally includes every man, woman and child within whom there is a "fundamental idea of God" (pgs 12 & 55). The AA program makes clear some pertinent ideas, including "God could and would relieve alcoholism if He were sought". (page 60). Short of science discovering some "God-gland", or other physical solution, the problem of alcoholism is within the mental processes of the alcoholic. (pg 31).

".......the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body. (pg 23)

For the alcoholic seeking recovery, it is suggested they examine their "fundamental idea of God" which exists deep down within themselves.

In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. (pg 55)

If the word "only" means "there is nothing else", then this author submits that:

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING WITH

That proposition makes certain assumptions about the mental capacities of the alcoholic reader. They are that:

    • God is All Intelligence - you have some intelligence.
    • God is the Source of All Truth - you recognize some of that truth.
    • God is all that is Good -, during your limited lifetime, you have some of what is good.
    • God is the Ultimate Reality - your own mind can recognize some differences between reality and fantasy.
    • God is the Source of All Creation - you have some creative abilities.

If your concept of God includes any of the above you have direct access to some "infinite intelligence" which is described by using the word "God". It may be self-evident there can be more than you, or any group of finite human minds, is now able to understand. (see pg 68 & Step 11).

As an equal human being, your own fundamental idea of God is no more nor less valid than any other. The only validity is if it is or is not true. Anyone can be mistaken. No one really knows everything, nor does any group have total understanding of "the Great Reality" which is called "God".

Within that context, all traditional religions will have a limited view of reality.

ĎWE LEARN MORE TRUTH - AND IT

SETS US FREE FROM "OLD IDEAS"."

New awareness of reality includes new freedom from the limitations of "old ideas". That new knowledge provides for an enlarged awareness of reality. It is "spiritual growth" which allows for greater freedom of choice. (see pgs 14-15, 35 & Step 11).

This author suggests that acceptance of "the Ultimate Reality of All Life" requires recognizing an infinite concept of God. (see pgs 42,49 & 68).

The alcoholic experiences relief from a seemingly hopeless condition in life as he understands more truth about his relationship to life, on lifeís terms. (see Step 11). From a viewpoint that "God is everything", (pg 53), ignorance of any truth is equivalent to "ignoring God".

New knowledge of reality provides an enlarged spiritual life. (pg 35). This implies that old ideas, emotions or attitudes may require rearrangement to accommodate the discovery of new knowledge. (pg 27). It is not by accident that Appendix II "SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE" contains the following quotation:

"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

(Appendix II)

In an ever-changing world, any alcoholic will encounter new conditions. If they are to be dealt with intelligently, new thought, new ideas, and new solutions may be required. Old beliefs about the reality of life may be inadequate. New conditions may open the doors to awareness of something new which is true. Therefore an open mind is indispensable to "spiritual growth". (pgs 14-15, 23, & Appendix II).

Self-knowledge and reliance within the finite limits of what is now known is not sufficient for continued recovery. (pgs 14-15, & 68). This makes it difficult to accept any of the traditional religious belief systems which are unable to demonstrate significant results with alcoholics.

A close minded attitude is particularly difficult to maintain when other approaches offer better results. As a consequence, any conscious effort to do so requires some degree of contempt - with or without prior investigation.

IT IS DIFFICULT TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS

Where the word "God" is synonymous with "the Great Reality", (see pgs 53 & 55), then, as Aristotle once observed:

"WHAT IS - IS; AND WHAT IS NOT - IS NOT"

Some alcoholics consider "the Ultimate Reality of Life" to be the same as "Godís Will". From that viewpoint, any conscious refusal to accept valid new knowledge will become a mental block and barrier to the recovery process. (see pg 42 & Appendix II). When "God is Truth", then:

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE HOW MUCH

YOU KNOW, - IF WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT SO?

However, within that same context, when dealing with recovery from alcoholism:

"But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished." (pg 18)

The significant point is that the "ex-problem drinker" has acquired some new knowledge, which is now sufficient to stay sober. That new knowledge was not available until it was sought and accepted. (pg 60). Constant changes and new conditions in life may require even more new knowledge. (pgs 14-15). Therefore:

"We are not cured of alcoholism......... What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." (pg 85)

With the increased power of more new knowledge comes increased freedom of choice. An alcoholic with that increased power is then able to intelligently displace and rearrange "old ideas". (pgs 27 & 58). That freedom from mental limitations is acquired by developing an attitude of being willing to go to any length to recover from alcoholism. (pg 58 & Appendix II).

As an enlarged awareness of reality is sought, relief gets provided, on a daily basis, from some endless supply of new knowledge. That power is equally available to all. (i.e.: "God" see pgs 14-15, 45, 55, 60, 164ł Step 11 & Appendix II). This mental process is not a cure for alcoholism. However, it does provide relief, from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. (page 60).

As an alcoholic improves their understanding of reality, (i.e.: "God" - Steps 3 & 11), they gain freedom to let go of erroneous beliefs and old ideas in order to accept something better. (i.e.: "Let Go and Let God" -see pgs 82-84). That alcoholic consciously improves what is "good for them". (i.e. "Godís Will for them"- see pg 133 & Step 11).

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE,

THEN IGNORANCE IS ALSO INFINITE!

Expanding the horizons of their own mind is "spiritual growth" available to any alcoholic who seeks it. (see pgs 58-60). Will-power alone does not replace ignorance nor "those strange mental blank spots" due to incomplete awareness of reality. (see pgs 39, 42 & 85). Any alcoholic can obtain a daily reprieve from alcoholism by maintaining an attitude of willingness, honesty and open-mindedness to enlarge their awareness of reality. But, first they must learn how. This is accomplished by seeking conscious contact with the source of all new knowledge. (i.e.: "God"- see pgs 14-15, 35, 42, 85-86, Step 11 & Appendix II).

This "fundamental idea" of a personal relationship to "a power greater than ourselves" is consistent with AAís basic text for recovery. (pg 55). Authorities and spokesmen for traditional religious concepts of God may disagree. Those experts on religion may be able to better explain their differences in producing successful recoveries. The alcoholic reader is always free to agree or disagree with anyone they choose.

 

&# "Why donít you choose your own conception of God?

(pg 12)

Any alcoholic who wants to stop drinking will encounter suggestions from a wide variety of sources. Comments in this Study Guide are only intended for those alcoholics who desire to choose their own conception of "God". This is in direct contrast to other alcoholics who prefer "a second-hand concept of God" developed for them by someone they consider an authority on the infinite. (see pg 68). Ultimately the choice of "who and what to believe" becomes a matter of personal responsibility.

THE ALCOHOLIC READER WHO CHOOSES NOT TO EXAMINE THE "OLD IDEAS" GUIDING THEIR LIFE, SHOULD NOT PROCEED FURTHER WITH THIS STUDY GUIDE.

Blind faith requires conscious thought and effort to have emotional desires over-ride inherent intelligence. Mental confusion and emotional turmoil is the price paid whenever reality forcefully displaces and rearranges the belief system which has been the guiding force for an alcoholic who has chosen not to think. (review pg 27).

The approach to the AA program offered here presumes willingness, honesty and open-mindedness to consider new knowledge about recovery. (see Step 12 & Appendix II). Any preference to hold on to "old ideas about God" may be better fulfilled by some traditional religious belief system. However, this author recommends first evaluating their success record with alcoholics.

Alcoholic readers who choose to continue will also note a similar inability of doctors and psychiatrists to successfully provide any permanent solution to the problem of alcoholism. To their surprise, "a bunch of alcoholics" discovered and demonstrate "a way to stay sober that works". (pg 95) Their "professional know-how" may have great value in other areas, but the professional community frequently lacks the "real-life experiences" which are well-known to many recovered alcoholics. (pg 18).

There is a big difference between finding "a way to live" in contrast to knowing "the only way to live". This becomes one of the more significant differences between AA and many other approaches to recovery. For the alcoholic betting their life on a recovery program it may mean their survival and freedom

Experience indicates a necessity for an alcoholic to constantly enlarge their spiritual life. They must continually improve their conscious understanding of reality. (i.e.: "God" see pgs 14-15, 35, 86 & Step 11). A daily reprieve from alcoholism is contingent upon maintaining this attitude at a conscious level. (pg 85 & Step 11).

That mental condition requires maintaining an "open mind" about the endless changes constantly occurring in life. (pgs 14-15, 23, 27, 35, 42, 45 129, 164, & Appendix II). This includes a "fundamental idea of God" which is compatible with "God" being "everything" rather than "nothing", hence "the source of all knowledge".(pgs 53 & 55).

It is obvious no one can utilize the power of knowledge they do not have. Making changes to accommodate new conditions requires some new knowledge. If the realities of life demand "know how" an alcoholic does not possess, then in that situation they are powerless. (pg 164).

Without knowing everything required, for every new situation, more new knowledge will always be required for continued recovery from alcoholism. Any concept of "God" as being "a source of all knowledge and all power" will fit that idea. (pgs 12, 53, 55, 59, 68, 164, & Appendix II). However, the reader will note that:

THERE IS NO ARRIVAL POINT FOR A "CURE"

An effective mental defense can come from the power of new knowledge. (pg 59). This author maintains that new knowledge is continually required for a continual "daily reprieve" (pgs 14-15, 35 & 85). More new knowledge is always available. More than all human experience has acquired since the beginning of time.

Now, imprint upon your mind a concept of paramount importance.

"Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power." (pg 43)

The significant difference that separates individuals, in regard to recovery from alcoholism, is relatively simple.

THERE ARE THOSE WHO KNOW, AND

THERE ARE THOSE WHO DONíT KNOW

For an alcoholic seeking more power to cooperate with life, on lifeís terms comes the question:

    • Why close your mind to new ideas?
    • What do you stand to gain?

Some alcoholics may already have everything in life they desire (i.e.: "pray for") in order to be happy, joyous and free. (i.e.: "Godís will for them" - see pg 133). They will not be reading this material, or need to seek anything more, because they will already have all they want from life, within their established limits. However, most alcoholics are more like "nice honest street-hustlers", because they are constantly looking for a way to "trade up" to something better than what they already have.

"LET GO AND LET GOD"

To reconcile any conflicts with "old ideas" about the meaning of the word "God", consider the following:

    1. Words are used to communicate ideas.
    2. The three-letter word "God" communicates an idea.
    3. That idea exists within your own mind.
    4. What exists in your mind is not identical to any other mind.
    5. Your "belief about God"" is no more nor less than "your idea of God".

Your "fundamental idea of God" exists within your own mind and "it is only there that He may be found" (pgs 23 & 55).

This author calls your attention to the word "only". It is suggested your "old idea" of what the three-letter word "God" means to your mind may benefit from being "displaced and rearranged". (pg 27 & Step 10). Unless the reader knows everything about everything, it might be possible to improve what you already believe about that word "God". (pgs 14-15, 23, 35, 42, 45, & 164 ). With conscious improvement, your concept may better agree with the Ultimate Reality of All Life, (pg 46), and qualify as "spiritual progress". (pg 60 & Step 11).

Toward that objective, this author suggests the alcoholic reader honestly ask, and answer, to their own mind, the following questions:

    1. Is your "idea of God" producing results you desire?
    2. If not, what needs to be changed? God, or your "idea of God"?
    3. Is your "idea of God" an "old idea"?
    4. Do you know where you got it?
    5. Was it "your idea" or "a second-hand belief" you blindly accepted from someone else"?
    6. Have you ever evaluated "what you believe about God" - in the light of your own "god-given" intelligence?
    7. Do you believe you have "equal access to Godís knowledge and power"?
    8. Do you want to improve your own life?
    9. Does new knowledge produce improvements in your life?
    10. Could that new knowledge be "a power greater than yourself"?

* * * * *

SECTION B03d:

Preliminary to Chapter 4

WE AGNOSTICS

STEP TWO: - Contíd

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ:

Having just read Chapter 3 - MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM, this section is preliminary to Chapter 4 - WE AGNOSTICS.

COMMENTS:

Before beginning Chapter #4 "WE AGNOSTICS", it may be useful to give some separate attention to Step #2 "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity". This section will examine some ideas, emotions and attitudes which accompany that mental process.

As a child, I believed a number of things which did not stand up to intelligent examination. The concept of "a fat man somehow magically coming down a chimney with a huge bag of toys" at the Christmas Holiday was once believable. My own inherent intelligence eventually forced the question of "how does he do that?"

As the result of intelligent inquiry, my belief in Santa Claus eventually was displaced by a more realistic view of the seasonal activities. It was a new view of the holidays that was very different from the "old idea", and much more in line with reality.

How did such a change occur within my own mind? On the premise that:

"ANY PROBLEM CAN BE SIMPLIFIED, IF IT IS

BROKEN DOWN INTO SMALL ENOUGH PARTS"

changing a belief suggests a mental process of letting go of an "old idea". (i.e.: "Let Go and Let God" - see pgs 12, 23, 27,42,58,164, & Appendix II).

This mental process includes a fundamental basic idea which seems self-evident. Namely that a belief compatible with reality is more sane than one based upon fantasy, speculation, or wishful thinking.

An honest examination of "old ideas" which were guiding my life produced the obvious conclusion that some of them might be erroneous. (see pg 27, Steps 4 & 10).

"I NEVER MADE A MISTAKE BEFORE, BUT THIS MIGHT BE ONE!!

 

For example:

    • If I believe something I also believe it is true.
    • Because I believe it is true, I also believed it can not be changed.
    • If something cannot be changed, then others should agree.
    • When others disagree with my truth, then they are wrong.

Where sanity is concerned, this is where the trolley gets off the track. (Step 2). It is an "erroneous old idea" that a belief system is correct when it conflicts with reality. (pgs 23, 27, & 37-38). Many religions have that problem. It particularly includes the expectation that others either do agree, or else they should. Any expectations about what others "should believe" produces conflict. (pgs 60-62). Those conflicts block being "happy, joyous and free". (syn: "Godís will" - pgs 75-76, 84 & 133). This is a potential problem, for the alcoholic, when related to alcoholism and recovery.

EXPECTATIONS ARE A DOWN-PAYMENT ON A RESENTMENT

When reality does not conform with what I believe about reality, my tendency is to force the issue. That includes trying to force agreement from others. (see pgs 60-61). Disagreements destroy any real harmony, balance or compatibility with life, on lifeís terms. This mental action produces conflict. (pg 23) When a resentment accompanies that conflict, the desire (i.e.: "prayer") for escape from reality is not far behind.

Most alcoholics have experienced the "recreational oblivion" produced by drinking. They may not be aware that other solutions are also available to resolve conflicts created within their own mind. New knowledge can provide relief from those same conflicts with reality.

Understanding all of reality is beyond the practical limits of any single lifetime. Seeking to improve conscious awareness of reality is synonymous with seeking "Godís Will". (see pg 133 & Step 11). When there is a conflict with reality, any emotional resistance to retain an erroneous belief qualifies as "insanity" in the form of "self-will run riot".

"Selfishness--self-centeredness! That we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. (pg 62)

Retaliation comes from those other "equal human beings" (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") who get pressured to abandon independent thinking. This denies them their equality by the expectation they will agree with what another "equal human being" believes to be true. The retaliation seems unjustified because of the belief which claims "I am right and they are wrong".

There is significant difference between demonstrating a better answer and claiming to have the only right answer. Equality goes out the window whenever someone insists they are right, and others are wrong. This happens, and resentments arise when individuals, or groups, allow a close-minded belief system to become the guiding force in their lives. While the reader may be exempt,

"Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically." (pg 64)

Strong emotional desires have fueled many erroneous beliefs. Wanting life to be a certain way is not always the way reality is. By improving conscious contact with reality (i.e.: "God" see Step 11), it became apparent that beliefs about "Santa Claus" were an illusion which existed in my own mind. It may have been shared by others, but like it or not:

FANTASIES GET REPLACED BY ACCEPTANCE OF REALITY

There is an abundant supply of established experts on that topic within the professional community. They usually charge a fee for their services. The AA program differs from professionalism in that regard. (review Appendix I - The Twelve Traditions (The Long Form). The author of this Study Guide makes no claim of any professional expertise in the fields of mental health, physical illness or spiritual sickness. The observations that are made are based upon a study of AAís basic text for recovery from alcoholism. They are freely shared with any alcoholic who may find them useful. They are equally free to be discarded by those who do not.

It can be emotionally painful for an alcoholic to replace their fantasies with reality. ("Let Go and Let God"). Therefore it is worth recognizing that:

    • Loss of an illusion can be a disappointment.
    • Disappointments are emotionally painful.
    • Avoidance of pain is natural behavior.
    • Alcohol temporarily masks the pain of disappointments.

An intelligent choice will produce long-term results. (see pgs 37-38).The "temporary relief" received by drinking alcohol is akin to someone peeing their pants during a blizzard because "they wanted to feel warm for a little while". No one disputes that it works.

A desire to believe in Santa Claus is both childish and self-centered when it includes an emotional demand to be right. However, when the belief conflicts with the facts of life, it does appear someone has to be wrong. As a child, my own ego insisted that it wasnít going to be me. Alcoholics have been described as being "sensitive, childish and grandiose". If so, that attitude produces confrontation and conflict with reality which disturbs personal happiness. (see pg 133). Resistance to reality lasts only as long as "old ideas" can be retained by the inherent intelligence which is part of the alcoholics own mind. (see pgs 23, 53, 55, 68 & 85-86)

A close-minded attitude obliges an alcoholic to shut out anything which does not fit what they believe. While retaining that attitude, they can only allow themselves to see what they want reality to be. That is "self-will run riot". Mentally and emotionally a close minded alcoholic is unable to admit being wrong. (see Step 10).

Repeated reliance upon emotional attitudes creates a habit pattern of thinking. (see pg 68). One which produces a childish demand to be "right", and includes automatic rejection of new or different ideas. "The Great Reality" is a reasonable synonym and concept for the word "God". (pg 55). Unhappily for some, any personal efforts to defend erroneous beliefs eventually yield to the Ultimate Reality of life, on lifeís terms. For others, it can be a welcomed opportunity to "trade up" to something better. (i.e.: "Godís will" - see pg 133).

By seeking an expanded awareness of reality (syn: "God"- pg 60(c)) it is possible to experience relief from problems caused by erroneous beliefs. This occurs by improving a conscious understanding of how to relate to that Ultimate Reality (see Step 11). All that is required is to place a demand upon ones own mind for an enlarged awareness of the truth (syn: "God"). If this is a dominant desire (syn: "prayer") it is possible to "let go of old ideas". (pg 58). By that personal choice an alcoholic can change beliefs which had previously been guiding forces in their life. (pg 27). There was a time, for this author, when that equality and freedom of choice seemed impossible. However, with new knowledge of reality, that personal belief system was changed.

Many alcoholics believe it is impossible to be happy, joyous and free without being able to drink alcohol. What gets lost in sobriety is the temporary distortion of reality which is based upon yet another "erroneous belief". Namely, that there is nothing in life worth doing unless there is a drink connected to it. Within their own mind a belief exists that not drinking means being deprived of something worthwhile.

Such a moral value system is a mental attitude that can be a guiding force when making decisions. (review pgs 23, 27, Steps 4 & 10). It incorporates the idea that "what" is believed is not only correct, but also is not subject to change".

It is stupid and illogical to consider as valid something you honestly believe will not work.(see pg 49, 53, & Appendix II). However, when an alcoholic uses "their own inherent intelligence", it is difficult for a "false belief" to stand up to demonstrations of success. (see pgs 23, 37-38, 42-43,46,49,86, & 164).

REALITY IS MORE POWERFULL THAN FANTASY

No human power has yet been able to produce any appreciable number of alcoholics who can control and enjoy their drinking. (pgs 30-32). Personal efforts often fail due to lack of understanding of the physical phenomenon of craving which affects alcoholics but not others. (see "The Doctorís Opinion"). On that matter there is no personal choice involved. To date, it is not yet possible to change whatever unique individual physical body processes produce that phenomenon of craving. (pg 60(a-c)).

"Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasnít done so yet." (pg 31)

Until such a "revelation of new knowledge" occurs, alcoholics have no more choice about how alcohol affects their physical body processes than they do about changing the color of their eyes. The AA program provides alcoholics with a choice of how that bit of reality impacts their life. That personal choice is:

    • YOU CAN BE A DRINKING ALCOHOLIC

      OR
    • YOU CAN BE A SOBER ALCOHOLIC.

This is a fact of life once believed impossible and is now known to be possible. The fact that thousands of men and women have recovered from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body is now a reality. (see "Frontispiece"). It is a bit of reality even the most stubborn minds have difficulty rejecting.

Recovery from alcoholism is now a clearly established option. Those alcoholics who still claim their situation is hopeless are like the man who:

"STOOD ON HIS LEFT FOOT WITH HIS RIGHT FOOT

AND COMPLAINED BECAUSE HE COULD NOT RUN"

New knowledge of Reality (i.e.: "God") has displaced that old belief in limitation. The still-drinking alcoholic remains powerlessness over alcohol, but not the consequences of drinking. Anyone who is alcoholic may never ever be able to control and enjoy drinking. However, they can begin to learn how to be happy, joyous and free without drinking now. That choice is individual based upon what is the alcoholics most important priority. (i.e.: "prayer" - see pgs 53, 68, Steps 4 & 10).

The operative "old idea" recognized personal limitations and lack of power. However, the real problem is a mental one, found in the erroneous or limited belief about changing conditions that can be changed. (pg 23). With an enlarged awareness of reality, (syn "God"), many alcoholics now understand what others have done to produce a successful solution. (pgs 14-15, 42 & Step 11). That successful solution is "a power greater than themselves" because it is derived from new knowledge which they previously did not have.

New freedom requires letting go of the limitations of old ideas, emotions and attitudes which is reflected by the sum total of "self-knowledge". ("Let God & Let God" - see pgs 27, 58, 68, & 83). As the alcoholic is "relieved of the bondage of self", the doors of their mind are opened to accept the power of new knowledge. (pg 63 & Step 10). Until that change occurs, that "power greater than ourselves" remains lacking and unavailable. (see pg 59 & Step 2).

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, thatís exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem." (pg 45)

    • NOTE: THE BASIC AA TEXT FOR RECOVERY SPECIFICALLY INDICATES WHERE THAT POWER IS TO BE FOUND.

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." (pg 55)

Any "traditionally religious alcoholic reader" is always free to disagree or hold on to other ideas. (see pgs 27- 28).

The word "only" often creates emotional problems for alcoholics who believe their traditional religion has an exclusive path to power. Especially when that "old idea" is part of a consciously chosen belief system. They have an emotional stake in "being right". Under those conditions any problems they experience are caused by their personal choice to limit or exclude some portion of reality. (i.e.: "God"). That mental illusion seldom creates a problem when what is believed is compatible with the Ultimate Realty of All Life (syn: God).

"Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (pg 58)

An alcoholic is always free to believe anything their mind can conceive that they want to believe. (pg 23). However, what is believed may not always agree with "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. The real problem is when a belief is erroneous it conflicts with life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "Godís will vs. self-will run riot").

REALITY DOES NOT CHANGE, - BUT BELIEFS DO.

Comparing a belief system with reality allows an alcoholic to be honest with themselves about what is believed. That open mindedness helps them become willing to "trade up" to a new set of conceptions and motives which produce successful results. (see pg 27 & Appendix II). New knowledge and more power is always available for those seeking it. (pgs 42 & 46).

 

 

"Thus we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man with this book in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you will need to begin.

We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself: "Iím jittery and alone. I couldnít do that." But you can. You forget that you have just tapped a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor." (pg 163)

Consider that new knowledge is a source of power to be tapped to gain an enlarged awareness of reality (syn: "God"). That enlarged spiritual life is available to anyone seeking to learn more than they already know. Any previous understanding of reality (i.e.: "old ideas and beliefs") will always have limitations. Improved conscious awareness of reality produces a spiritual awakening to more of that power which some refer to as "God". (see Step11).

Regardless of what any alcoholic now believes about reality, there is more. More new knowledge (i.e.: "new truth") is available for discovery. There is access to more power than now exists in the mind of any individual or group of individuals. There is enough more to be understood, that a concept of infinite reality can be applied to it. That infinite concept of "God" opens the door for any alcoholic to endlessly enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 12, 14-15, 35, 68, 129 & Step 11).

For this author, that revolutionary concept pointed to an unfamiliar path of enlarging a spiritual life by improving conscious awareness of reality. It was a "new idea" that no one need be limited by their "old ideas". Of greatest significance was, that an existing belief system could be changed. Something once believed to be impossible could be changed into a belief that it was possible.

That new idea suggested freedom of the individual who wanted to do so to change any belief by placing a demand upon their own mind. For this author, that implied complete freedom to "believe anything I wanted to believe", regardless of how well it agreed with reality. It was also self-evident that anyone lacking all knowledge and perfect intelligence could easily believe something that was not true.

For many alcoholics, that unstable concept of reality (i.e.: "God") can be emotionally disturbing because the universe they live in is the one their mind believes it to be. (pg 23 & Step 2). Their belief system includes their personal power to create changes. For an alcoholic, the new concept can be pretty "heady stuff". It implies a new freedom and a different relationship about who does what to whom as a "fundamental idea of God". (see pgs 12, 23, 55, 83, 133 & 164).

One bit of reality, which is equally available to all, became self-evident.

"YOU HAVE THE CAPACITY TO CHANGE THE UNIVERSE-

BUT ONLY BY THE COUNT OF ONE"

For an alcoholic, this is the freedom to eliminate one drinking alcoholic from the universe and replace it with one sober alcoholic. Changing others may not be possible, but the chances for personal success are nearly 100%. It is possible, to let go of erroneous beliefs and accept reality. The experience of others has already demonstrated this is possible. Their statement to any alcoholic is:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" (page 58

For alcoholics who still believe they lack power to change, (see pg 45) those early members go on to suggest:

"But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now!" (page 59)

If the reader is asking - "Where do I go to get power to change the universe?" (pg 45). Successfully recovered alcoholics have stated:

"We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up.....We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found." (page 55)

Consider the word "only", and what that word means when changing a belief structure guiding your life. It suggests individual access to the intelligent power of some new knowledge which is greater than you now possess. Also consider that same power in relationship to "three pertinent ideas" about how the AA program works. (see pg 60). Paraphrased, they suggest that:

    • (a) The individual alcoholic does not have all the answers.
    • (b) Neither does any group of humans, including the spokesmen for traditional religions.
    • (c) But, if you choose to seek more new knowledge, you find relief within your own mind as you improve your personal understanding of reality.

Relief comes by tapping into some infinite source of power you find within yourself. (pg 163). If you choose, this can become your own "fundamental concept of God" and what the word "God" means to your own mind (pg 12 & 55). Should you choose to hold on to "old ideas" which have exclusive limits, then any spiritual progress will include those same restrictive limitations.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "BEING A POWER"

AND "GIVING A POWER A DIRECTION"

What any power does is determined by the direction provided by the user of that power. The fundamental nature of a power does not change to suit any belief system or a desire to be right. Those principles stay the same, regardless of how well it is understood. Power just works the way it works according to whatever principles apply. (review Appendix I - Tradition 12 "The Long Form").

For an alcoholic, this relationship is akin to having access to a cross-country high-tension electrical power cable. That power can be used to light cities or destroy lives. Direction given to any power relies upon knowledge and understanding of that power. Any consequences are determined by the way the power receives direction. Those decisions will be limited by beliefs about how the power works. An alcoholic is free to use any available power to do what they want done. (i.e.: "their prayer" see pg 59). In the hands of a child or a fool, access to infinite power can be applied with dangerous and destructive consequences.

Restrictive thinking and a limited belief system creates a concept of "a power greater than ourselves" that overlooks making improved choices. (Step 11). Spiritual progress enlarges that belief system and allows something previously believed to be impossible to be changed into a belief it is possible.

A MIRACLE IS SOMETHING WHICH HAPPENS

YOU DIDNíT BELIEVE COULD HAPPEN?

Personal experience follows about using this principle which merely illustrates a potential for any alcoholic to tap into an unlimited source of "power greater than ourselves". It implies that any alcoholic has a potential, within themselves, to use power to produce miracles. (i.e.: "the miracle of recovery" see pgs 55 & 163).

This author first scoffed at the idea and suggestion that beliefs could be changed. Especially when it was suggested that a demand upon my own mind could change a belief something was impossible into a belief it was possible. With a heavy streak of defiance, the suggestion was rejected as unintelligent, ridiculous, hence unbelievable. The honest emotional desire was to establish that "what I already believed" was correct. However, my own inherent intelligence did consciously recognize that personal improvement was possible. (Steps 10 & 11).

There was a strong emotional need to prove any personal problems were not of my own making. That belief system implied being the victim of some intelligence which had singled me out for special attention. At the time, that old idea fit a belief about a very special relationship to some "power greater than ourselves". That somewhat self-centered attitude never considered that a personal choice to create "self-improvement" might also be available.(see pgs 14-15, 35, 53, 55, 62, 68, 133 & 164).

Exposure to the AA program produced overwhelming evidence that "other equal human beings" (i.e.: "equal in the eyes of God") had changed their lives. Many claimed to have once believed many of the same things that had been guiding my life. If I wanted equal understanding of new knowledge others had, then, there was a need to follow their path to success with an open mind. (pg 58). A strong desire to "stay alive and carry my own keys", (i.e.: "a prayer") made it important to know if they were speaking the truth. (syn: "God"). Especially so when they said "you have the freedom to change what you believe is impossible into a belief it is possible"?

With a strong streak of defiance, the most ridiculous and impossible thing imaginable at that time was "a belief in flying elephants". Certainly that was so outrageous no one could ever even argue about it. My task was to change that belief of the impossible into a new belief that it was possible. This was all supposed to occur based upon my own desire (i.e.: "prayer") to "change my belief". Though more than a little skeptical, I decided to give the idea my best shot by demanding my own mind reveal that "it was possible for elephants to fly". Here is what happened.

Soon, I recalled having read about someone in Nevada who had bred horses to the size of a large dog. It had taken time, but it had been done. "Why not elephants too?". "Just how small could they eventually become?". That was an unknown open to speculation.

A Zoology professor in college had shown that certain tree squirrels had developed skin flaps to help them leap long distances for food. Those that got food were able to breed offspring. Eventually, some of their offspring were able to glide through the air, and that was "flying". "Why not elephants?".

Today, DNA engineers manipulate and modify many life forms. "Why not the physical characteristics of elephants?". Was it totally inconceivable that science might one day be able to reduce elephants to the size tree squirrels? Or, manipulate other genetic changes where tiny elephants might fly as some squirrels now do? Certainty was being displaced and rearranged. (review pg 27).

The next change in my belief system was to acknowledge that if government had a security interest in elephants that could fly, then time and resources would be applied to producing results. Though it probably would not happen overnight, it could happen. Other projects, once believe impossible, had become possible. "We put a man on the moon, didnít we?".

My own mind recalled that, many years ago, when taking high school Chemistry, the experts then believed that "the atom was the fundamental building block of the universe and indestructible". Soon after, that belief system got shattered at a Cyclotron in Berkeley, California by the Galileo of our modern era. Humanities view of reality and the universe (i.e.: "God") is now quite different. Our view of reality, as a result of that new knowledge of the power of atomic energy has improved. Obviously, in the hands of a fool it can create problems.

By placing a specific demand upon my own mind for new knowledge, I had to acknowledge something I once believed to be impossible could be changed into a belief that it was possible. The resulting conclusion was that:

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE, THEN

IGNORANCE IS ALSO INFINITE!

From a practical standpoint, the reader will readily recognize that they are not apt to be making any serious decisions based upon having access to flying elephants during their lifetime. That would not be intelligent. However, it is important to acknowledge that some of our most sacred beliefs are subject to change. Therefore, any choice to hold onto "old ideas" is a matter of your own personal preference.

The great obsession of every abnormal drinker that "somehow, someday he will control and enjoy drinking" is included. It is possible that science may one day accomplish this. However, it is also very apparent that "it hasnít done so yet". (pgs 30-31). How intelligent it would be for an alcoholic to bet their life and freedom on an unproved theory is their personal choice of how to use their brains. (pgs 55 & 86).

Just how valuable such a new discovery might be is open to speculation. Perhaps akin to recent discoveries of how older women, past menopause, can now conceive and bear children. That "blessing" may hold little appeal for many women now freed from raising small children. With that behind them, some have discovered a new freedom and new happiness which they now prefer.

Drinking for an alcoholic is no less demanding than parenting upon their time and freedom. They either want to drink or they want to do something else more. No one else does their "wanting" (i.e.: "praying") for them. The price paid for drinking is the loss of freedom to do other things, or make alternative choices, at the same time.

Though only the alcoholic makes the decision to drink, it has been suggested there are only seven basic reasons for making that choice. For those who donít know what those reasons are, they are: "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - etc.".

Any intelligent choice will have certain requirements for understanding what is to be gained and what is to be lost by the choice. It is important to have an intelligent basis for comparison of differences. Without that awareness, any choice will be made in ignorance of available new knowledge.

Many alcoholics ignore the power of new knowledge and the practical experience acquired by recovered alcoholics. This personal choice to ignore new knowledge leaves them powerless to compare sobriety with a drinking way of life. They have automatically excluded themselves from any advantages to sobriety. (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 45-49, 53, 56, 62, 83-87, 93, & 133).

Some valuable lessons can be learned from the exercise of "changing a belief". One is the discovery that there is new knowledge about anything which is now a guiding force in your life. (pg 27). The supply appears to be infinite. (see pg 68). Another lesson is in how to utilize new knowledge in all our relations and all our affairs to improve being happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133, & Steps 10, 11, 12).

Before a spiritual experience can produce a fundamental change in ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding an alcoholic, some indispensable elements are required. They are a mental state of willingness, honesty and open-mindedness. The only place to find that power is "deep down within yourself". (See pages 23, 27, 55 and Appendix II).

 

* * * * *

SECTION B03e:

Preliminary to Chapter 4

WE AGNOSTICS

STEP TWO: - Contíd

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ:

Scan the entire Chapter 4 - WE AGNOSTICS to gain familiarity with the entire contents of the chapter. More specific page readings will follow.

COMMENTS:

This next portion of STEP-TWO is focused upon the idea of some sort of "a Power greater than ourselves". With that thought comes the implication some sort of intelligence actually exists and human beings are connected to it in some manner. Furthermore, that, as individuals, they have the capacity to utilize that Power to produce changes in their personal lives. That is the essence of Step Two.

For adherents of many traditional religions, there is no question about such matters. Oftentimes, those individuals will speak with great authority, even claiming to know precise details about what that power is, where it is, what it wants, and how to gain special favor with it.

In contrast, there are others who claim, with equal certitude, that no such power exists. Both are doing the same thing. They are claiming knowledge which is beyond the scope of human intelligence. They do this either as "devout believers" or "emphatic non-believers". Both are voicing their personal belief system. Something based upon what they believe and their personal right to believe it. In this Study Guide there is no argument against the right of anyone to believe anything about anything.

Between the two extremes of the devoutly religious and the atheists, there are a large number of alcoholics with an honest desire to stop drinking. Many have questions or doubt the accuracy of what other equal human beings are telling them. Being sufficiently honest with themselves, they are willing to admit they do not know. (see pg 53). They are seeking answers they do not possess, and suspect that what others claim to know is not much better. However, if they are open minded, this allows them to consider new knowledge and new ideas about different answers. (see Appendix II).

Many alcoholics come to AA questioning the accuracy of ideas, emotions and attitudes which have been guiding forces in their lives. Usually, their old ideas reflect a belief system acquired during early childhood which has never been challenged by their own inherent intelligence. (see pgs 27 & 86). Many of those concepts came from well-meaning, but frequently mistaken adults. Many develop a "show-me" attitude which includes willingness to accept new ideas if someone can demonstrate they are an improvement to which they can "trade up".

Many alcoholics who proclaim to adhere to "traditional religious beliefs" are, in all honesty, a bit skeptical. They have nagging doubts over "too many unanswered questions". Nonetheless, they remain nominally religious on the surface. However, once engaged in an honest self-examination many simply discover that "they just do not know". (pg 53). Their religion does not provide intelligent answers to questions existing in their own mind. Many alcoholics are uncomfortable when a very religious person asks them to abandon their own inherent intelligence to accept, with "blind faith", something they are being told by some equal human being. For many of them the unhappy choice is to be gullible and agree, or else be excluded from the group. (see pgs 47 & 86).

Fear of exclusion is frequently aggravated by "pressures to conform". (see Tradition 3 - long form). Often what gets overlooked is that there may be others, within that same group who also have similar doubts. They too are unwilling to display their own ignorance and lack of conformity. This leads to superficial relationships where each one is being "phony" with the others when expressing their beliefs about "a power greater than themselves". Such a personal belief system can create a great deal of inner turmoil. (see pg 23).

In the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" Chapter 4 "WE AGNOSTICS" addresses some of those questions. It may contain valuable information for many alcoholics by providing them a concept of the word "God" as a source of "infinite intelligence" available to anyone. (pgs 12, 46, 53 & 68).

This author suggests the reader ponder the sky on some starlit night for a recognizable demonstration of order in the Universe. It is something which is still beyond the limits of human comprehension.

Where there is order, there is evidence some intelligence produced the orderliness. Inability to completely understand that intelligence seems to be one common denominator for any and all human minds. One belief system is as valid as another unless it is based upon principles supported by facts and reality.(syn: "God").

For the alcoholic reader who may believe they know precisely what that intelligence is, a few questions are worth answering. They involve the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in your life. This is the thinking process which determine actions that impact your life. (see pgs 23, 27 & Step 11).

.

    1. How much knowledge of the Universe do you now possess?
    2. Is it adequate, or could there be more?
    3. If so, how much more?
    4. Could there be more to life than you now understand?
    5. Can you utilize knowledge you do not possess?
    6. Are you ignoring knowledge you donít yet have?
    7. Is there any intelligence greater than your own?
    8. Do you desire (syn: "pray") to cooperate with it?
    9. Could you improve on that cooperation?
    10. Would your life be improved if you did?

What follows are a few observations which suggest awareness already exists of "a power greater than yourself".(pg 55). It does not require agreement or conformity with many of the traditional religious belief systems.

If you burn your finger, it blisters, and you lose skin. Some intelligence immediately goes to work to replace it, without you even having to ask. Whatever that intelligence is, draws upon infinite resources from the universe. It utilizes food, water and air. You are directly involved in the process by your own personal choice of what gets taken into your physical body.

The "stuff of life" gets processed within your body in a manner already operative within you. (review pg 55). Some intelligence converts what was previously unrelated to you, into new skin for your physical body. Not only does that occur, but it happens with great precision. The exact amount of skin required is put in the precise right place. The color is uniquely your own containing your specific fingerprint and DNA pattern. That process involves new knowledge which is not completely understood by any human being. (see pg 164).

The significant point is that the intelligent orderly process operates automatically. It is not something you must learn to do. It does not require the prior approval of anyone. It is operative in your life without you having to ask, plead, pray or do something pleasing. Nonetheless, there is a personalized element involved when you choose to cooperate or resist.

DO YOU BELIEVE THIS IS RANDOM COINCIDENCE?

That intelligent orderly process can be relied upon to work unless action is taken to interfere with it. Blocking that natural healing process can be done by choice. Few alcoholics would consciously choose to take "self-inflicted wounds" if they understood what they were doing. (see Step 11).

The alcoholic reader will note that interference with the natural inherent healing power can occur as the result of ignorance. Actions can be taken to block improvements without total awareness of those consequences. This conflicts with the most intelligent process which is operating automatically in an effort to put your life into order with the rest of the universe.

Consider the implications of unintentionally resisting that intelligent healing process. It occurs because actions get taken based upon the "mistaken belief" that some other choice was better. That "erroneous belief system" is an example of "self-will run riot", and may qualify as being "insane behavior".

STEP TWO of the AA program for recovery suggests that we:

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

The results of chosen actions remain the same despite any amount of "sincerity or good intentions". The reliable orderliness, which operates automatically, has been blocked by "some other concept of a power". One that does not produce the same results. (see pg 55).

When that natural orderliness is blocked by some "erroneous belief system", that idea has become "a power greater than yourself". The results are a matter of personal choice and preference. (i.e.: "self-will run riot"). When that belief system is a guiding force, (pgs 23 & 27),there is great significance to the application of Step Ten

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it" (pg 59)

Step Two suggests that some power "could restore us to sanity". (see pg 59). This process has value when applied to "a fundamental idea of God". Especially any "second-hand idea" based upon traditional religious explanations of what that word should mean to your mind.(see pgs 12, 23, 53, 55, & 68). This author suggests that:

IF YOU KNEW BETTER YOU WOULD DO BETTER!

There is also the implication in Step Two that sanity previously existed, and that an alcoholic could be restored to that state by some power greater than they now possess. This author suggests a departure from sanity may be the result of resisting the inherent intelligent power already within us. Such resistance would be based upon a "mistaken belief" about reality. (syn: "God").

This is where the alcoholic confronts their own "belief system" within their own thought processes. (pg 23). This is where their "fundamental idea of God" defines whatever intelligence produces orderliness in an infinite universe. (pg 55). On the assumption that the universe is all and everything, the alcoholic has a choice between doing their own thinking, or accepting a "second-hand concept of God" on "blind faith" according to what they have been told by some equal human power.(see pgs 12, 23,,53, 55 & 60(b)).

A sane and more intelligent choice would be to improve conscious understanding, and learn to cooperate with whatever that power might be. (Step 11). Conversely, it would be "insane behavior" if they did not cooperate with whatever knowledge and understanding is available until it is intelligently established that something better is available.

If there really is something more than an "infinite universe" to be considered, then whatever that might be would currently be based upon speculation. Until something is established as factual, one speculative idea is just as valid as any other. On that point, freedom of belief is unrestricted and is strictly a matter of personal preference.

Many alcoholics believe the way an infinite universe operates represents "the Will of God". Those who have other ideas may substitute any other interpretation they prefer. The only criteria for any intelligent evaluation is the results produced by the belief system.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

Most humans view "other animals" as "lesser beings". However, it is generally recognized that animals are endowed, by their creator, with basic instincts. They already possess some inherent knowledge of how to be what they are. They have been provided with some fundamental intelligence of how to live in the universe, as it gets presented to them.

Dogs do not attend meetings to learn "how to be a better dog". That observation may appear ridiculous on the surface. However, that belief system changes when it gets applied to the ideas, emotions and attitudes some alcoholics have about other alcoholics. In actual practice, both dogs and small children get trained to conform to different standards of behavior established by human beings. All human beings are equals. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God").

DO YOU BELIEVE YOU WERE ANY DIFFERENT?

At some time in the past, a human power decided what was best for you to believe. (see pgs 60(b) & 62). Admittedly, they probably possessed more awareness of reality (syn: "God" - pg 55) than you had acquired at that time. However, many alcoholics never ever challenge their source of information. (Steps 10 & 11). For an infant, the caring adult in their life is their "God". This remains so until the child gains sufficient knowledge and experience to claim human equality. Some alcoholics never do.

Many children believe the adults in their life always know what is best for them. That belief may or many not be so. However, from a position of authority and control, the adult is able to impose beliefs upon a child the same way they would train a dog. Once trained, those beliefs become the ideas, emotions and attitudes which govern the childís behavior.(pg 27).

Few alcoholics escape some sort of that training. Because their trainer lacked complete knowledge of all and everything, gaps will exist in their belief system. As a result of that lack, mistakes get made which conflict with reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 45).

When conflicts with reality exist, there is usually some pressure to eliminate them. To reduce conflict, there is a need to discard and replace old ideas, emotions, or attitudes. (see pg 27). That can be difficult when they are already firmly established as guiding forces for decisions to take action. Some alcoholics call this process "learning to grow up and become a responsible individual". It is obvious that not every alcoholic wants to free themselves from the beliefs they received from the dominant adults of their childhood.

However, there are many other alcoholics, who were trained to conform, but find they cannot accept the proposition that "other human beings" are their superior. (i.e.: "in the eyes of their creator" - see pg 55). Some inherent intelligence deep down within themselves recognizes their own human equality. Often, their response is to rebel in order to express their own individuality. As a result of this "thinking process" many are easily manipulated. When someone says "yes" they automatically will say "no" in some highly predictable fashion.

Rebellion can become a chosen method of response in life. For many alcoholics it is their response which is still being dictated by the same source of "old ideas, emotions and attitudes". (pg 27). It is their continuing response to the dominant adults who trained them in childhood. It is no longer important if that mental training was by conscious intent, ignorance, or even by default. They are still reacting emotionally to "what others believe".

This "second-hand belief system" specifically includes the meaning of the word "God" to the alcoholic. While it usually occurred with "sincerity and good intentions", that is not always the case. Sometimes a "second-hand belief system" has been forcefully imposed upon a child without them ever being consulted for any in-put about their own desires. (syn: "prayers"). Any freedom to disagree either gets stifled, or else produces "open rebellion". Oftentimes the child gets forced to "stuff their honest feelings" and become "a phony" by conforming outwardly in some superficial manner. Many alcoholics carry that pattern of thought and behavior into their adult life. (see pgs 12, 23 & 27).

Because some adult controls the activities of their life, most children intuitively recognize that resisting a superior force is not sane behavior. For some, conformity becomes such a firmly entrenched mental habit it is difficult to change. (pg 23). Not only are they taught "right and wrong; good and evil; and how to act", but they get told what and how to think by individuals who believe they are "expert world authorities" on those subjects. Sadly, for many alcoholics, those ideas, emotions and attitudes are not compatible with reality. (see pg 27).

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING TOLD

WHAT TO THINK AND LEARNING HOW TO THINK!

Recognition of the difference produces a new freedom to choose different directions when future thinking is involved. (pg 83). That new direction of thinking is directly related to Step Two of the AA program.

Serious mental conflict exists when what you have been taught to believe, is not the reality of life, on lifeís terms. One choice to resolve the conflict involves seeking to improve understanding of those principles which apply to anyone, at any place, and at any time. The only other option is to rely upon speculative wishful thinking based upon beliefs which are not necessarily valid. (pg 68). The reader can decide for themselves which choice they believe would be most sane.

The author of this Study Guide believes that:

INTENTIONAL CONFLICT WITH REALITY

IS INSANE BEHAVIOR

It is not sane behavior to stubbornly let "self-will run riot" by insisting upon holding onto old beliefs, in the face of the Ultimate Reality of Life. (syn: "God" see pg 58). Consider this scenario from a practical standpoint of personal survival for a "Booze-fighter".

You are in a boxing ring with an opponent of endless strength, energy, and stamina. One who knows how to deal with every trick in the technique of boxing. You, on the other hand, may know some tricks, perhaps even a lot, - but certainly not all there is to know.
In the early rounds of your fight, you make a good show for yourself. You show skill and promise, and even land a few spectacular blows. This produces cheers and applause from the spectators. Spurred on for more of their approval, you find you are actually enjoying the challenge.
As the bout goes on, you take a punch or two. Still able to shake it off, you continue , you are undaunted. Your confidence remains high. Then, you take a few more hard punches, and they rattle you a bit. But, not enough to upset your desire for more approval from spectators. So, you pull yourself together and attempt to overpower your opponent.
As you continue, you get slammed to the mat. Not once, but repeatedly in a series of successive blows. You attack your tireless opponent with all the skill, courage and energy you possess. And what happens? You get slammed down again, and again, and again. Now what?

It seems to me, the "Booze-fighter" has a choice. They can stay in the fight, or toss in the towel, surrender and admit they have been beaten by a superior force. (see pg 30).

The world has lost many valuable lives because a "Booze-fighter" tried to stick it out, and "keep on fighting" until there no were no longer any choices or options. But, once they "throw in the towel" the fight stops. The all consuming "battle with booze" is over. Eventually, (with or without aid) the "Booze fighter" is free to do other things. In time, scars and bruises heal unless they go back in the ring for more.

If the alcoholic reader identifies with the "Booze-fighter" you already recognize this bit of your relationship to life, on lifeís terms. By recognizing the reality of your situation, you may have made a decision to change what you have been doing. As the result, you may have already gained new knowledge and learned new and different ways to relate to "a power greater than yourself".

The old idea was a belief that skill and cunning would enable you to gain applause and approval of others. Money, property and prestige were held in high priority esteem as being of supreme value. (review Tradition 6). This produced a belief about being able to wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if only you managed well. (see pg 61). However, in the face of "the Great Reality", (i.e.: "God" - pg 55), the emotional desire to win got replaced by a more intelligent and sane desire to survive. (syn: "a prayer")

THE DESIRE FOR SURVIVAL CAN BE STRONGER

THAN THE DESIRE FOR APPROVAL.

This author suggests that change in a belief system about personal moral values was prompted by some inherent intelligence, deep down within the alcoholic, which is capable of recognizing the truth. In a very practical sense, it is a mental attitude, referred to as "surrender". (see pg 23). The AA basic text suggests the inherent intelligence to recognize and cooperate with "the Great Reality" comes from deep down within yourself. (syn: "God" pg 55).

As a consequence of choices made with improved intelligence, sanity and understanding of "the Great Reality", something happens.

"We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it." (pg 83)

As the result of valid new knowledge, a valuable lesson gets learned about how to accept a new freedom to consciously improve future contacts with reality. (Step 11). This revelation of truth is like the light-hearted comment about a nursery rhyme

"There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.

She had so many Children, she didnít know what to do!"

AND THEN SHE DISCOVERED

WHAT CAUSED THEM!

With an enlarged awareness of reality comes freedom to change and devote attention to other matters. It is no longer necessary to continually repeat making the same mistakes. Not unless there is a return to the automatic habits and behavior of old ideas because the lessons were forgotten. This may be the single most significant reason why some members of AA continue attendance at meetings. How safe do you want to be?

It is well to recognize other beatings in life may occur as the result of other failures to cooperate with reality. There are endless other lessons to be learned in life, but the principle is the same.

An alcoholic can end their career, as a "booze-fighter". It can be ended by "throwing in the towel". Any such choice to "surrender" would likely be considered an "enlarged spiritual life". Making that choice demonstrates "an improved conscious contact with God" (syn: "The Ultimate Reality of Life")" which results in "being restored to sanity". (see pgs 14-15, 35, Steps 2 &11).

The desire for that kind of sanity, and making the choice to "surrender", belongs exclusively to the individual alcoholic. So do the results of whatever action gets taken. Fortunately, for any alcoholic reader, the chances for success in the recovery process are nearly 100%.

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" (pg 58)

* * * * *

SECTION B04a:

Chapter 4

WE AGNOSTICS

STEP TWO: - Contíd

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

READ:

The entire Chapter 4 - WE AGNOSTICS with awareness of preliminary comments made in the two previous sections.

COMMENTS:

The two previous sections have attempted to put this Chapter into context. Specifically, that AAís basic text for recovery does not include the duality of most traditional religions. Any basic belief of "good and evil" is not an integral part of the AA program. Instead, the emphasis is placed upon a "cause and effect" relationship to "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. This includes a concept of the word "God" as being an intelligence responsible for an orderly universe of infinite proportions. (see pgs 12, 45, 53, 55, 68, 164, & Appendix II).

This fundamental idea of "a power greater than ourselves" is a process which gets developed and improved within the finite limits of human intelligence. For the most part, it is the result of an ever-expanding conscious awareness and understanding of what is and is not life, on lifeís terms. (Step 11). Furthermore, that any such fundamental idea of God is a personal concept which varies by individuals. (see pgs 12, 23, 27-28, 35, 39, 42,45-49, 53-56, 77,85-87,89,93-95, 98-100, 129, 133, 152,158,161, 163-164 & Appendix II).

Traditional religious belief systems are not universal to all who have recovered from alcoholism. This is in contrast to results which are demonstrated by using the principles found in the basic text of the AA program. Accordingly, any "fundamental idea of God" is individual. It is a personal interpretation of the meaning of that three-letter word "God".

It is on that point the adherents of many traditional religions find their minds will snap shut. Instead of having willingness, honesty and open-mindedness to consider new ideas, many abandon their own "God-given intelligence" and become emotionally irrational. It is precisely that mental action which is the essence of Step Two. (review pgs 23, & 36-38).

"MY INSANITY IS SUPERIOR TO YOUR INSANITY!"

Once again any reader, who finds themselves being emotionally disturbed by what is found in the basic text for recovery from alcoholism, is warned to set aside the material in this Study Guide - now.

This Study Guide will not change anything which is real. However, reading this material may disrupt some old ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in your life. (pg 27). If you do not want that to happen, then donít continue reading. Any choice to continue is your own.

What follows will address some issues concerning personal belief systems" held by alcoholics. There are many who experience difficulty accepting the words "God" or "spiritual", as having any significance in their personal recovery from alcoholism.

"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible....". (pg 44)

It is suggested that the operative word here is "seems". With new knowledge and an enlarged awareness of reality, a different mental outlook can occur. What once "seemed impossible", now can be viewed as "possible".

New knowledge has produced a change in the way of looking at reality. The word "God" conveys an "idea" about "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. (pgs 55 & 161). That mental concept exists in the mind of the alcoholic using the word. (pg 23). That same word "God" may have a totally different meaning to a different alcoholic when they hear it. It is rare to find two alcoholics who will apply identical meanings when that word is used.

If someone tells you they now have "Buddha in their liver" the chances are you would not understand what they meant. It may have great emotional significance to them, but not for you personally. But what happens if someone suggests you should find "Jesus in your heart"? Is there a difference? Do you really know what that means? Is it not self-evident that what is being said is something highly personal with strong emotional overtones? For that reason, it is an important part of recovery for alcoholics to examine their personal "belief system" for errors. (pgs 12, 27, 42,46).

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT

WHAT YOU BELIEVE MORE IMPORTANT

THAN WHAT THEY BELIEVE?

If so, why do you believe what you believe ? Those ideas, emotions and attitudes make up your personal belief system and determine the actions taken in your life. They include your fundamental idea of God which is a guiding force in your life. (see pgs 27 & 55). From a purely practical view, your personal beliefs about the word "God" are either producing results you desire (syn: "what you pray for") or not.

If your belief system is working to your satisfaction, then use it. If not, you may wish to seek something different. If your dominant desire (syn: "prayer") is to be happy, joyous and free and you are not, then it is suggested that you take action and make changes to improve and enlarge your spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 133 & Step 11). On the premise that new knowledge allows an alcoholic to make improvements, there is always more of that power available to anyone.

"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. It's main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem." ....... "We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, .....". "Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient ......". (pgs 45-46)

At this point, the alcoholic reader of the basic text for recovery is asked a specific question:

"Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe that there is a Power greater than myself?" (pg 47)

The answer you give, to your own mind, may well determine success or failure in your recovery from alcoholism. (pg 23). After that, it becomes a matter details and facts about what you believe. Recognize that your belief may not necessarily be consistent with the Ultimate Reality of Life.(syn: "God").

The question gets addressed in the basic text as to "why" someone should believe in a Power greater than themselves. To consider limited finite human understanding of an infinite universe as being "all there is", smacks of arrogance. It is a mental attitude which is not justified by overwhelming evidence of new knowledge. There are too many new facts of life so self-evident that they cannot be denied with any claim of intelligence.

Any denial of reality appears to be an emotional desire rather than any sustainable claim of intelligence. Some emotionally religious alcoholics prefer to abandon their own intelligence in favor of countless vain attempts to force reality into conforming with the way they want it to be. (see pgs 30, 60-62).

When there is a difference between beliefs and reality, there will be a conflict. That conflict can block or obstruct personal happiness, joy and freedom when dealing with life, on lifeís terms. Nonetheless, large numbers of alcoholics insist upon retaining those conflicts for their entire lifetime. However:

THERE IS ALWAYS MORE AWARENESS

AVAILABLE TO ANYONE

One problem for many religions is that they rely upon an emotional belief system using finite human intelligence in an attempt to understand and explain the infinite reality of life, on lifeís terms. Such a belief system does not stand up well to a concept of God as infinite intelligence. (syn: "omniscient" - pg 68). Human intelligence is limited by what is now known and understood. However, it is capable of being enlarged by improved conscious understanding of what is available to be known. (Step 11).

"Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of Godís ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasnít it?" (pg 49)

As "spearheads of something greater than ourselves", there is always room for spiritual growth into the unknown of the universe.

Any concept of spiritual growth is difficult to reconcile with many traditional religions when their belief systems define boundaries or reject some element of reality. This occurs when some human intelligence claims to possess knowledge of "the Will of God". The claim itself is personal and is not a problem until what is believed gets imposed upon others. Even that imposition need not be a problem if there is equality given to the beliefs of others. (i.e.: "equal in the eyes of God").

There is a problem with a belief system when it denies any idea of human equality to those who disagree. When what someone believes is harmonious with reality, any conflict can be resolved with sufficient new knowledge.

"People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about." (pg 49)

The problems with "blind faith" occur when what is believed becomes undeniably in conflict with life on lifeís terms and how it is being experienced by other alcoholics. Many people with faith in traditional religious concepts find their beliefs make intelligent good sense to them. Their belief system provides them a fundamental idea of what life is about and it is acceptable to them. While it is useful and valuable to them, they do not expect agreement or that their beliefs will be understood by other alcoholics. Their personal idea of what life is about may be logical to their own mind. That is not the point. Something is "true" not because someone believes or said it is. It is true because it IS true.

The fundamental premise about life, which supports a belief system either does or does not, conform to reality.

This author submits that any limited concept of reality (syn: "God") will produce a limited belief system as the guiding force in life. (see pg 27). Conversely, an unlimited concept (pgs 53 & 68) offers endless opportunity for more spiritual growth. (pgs 14-15, 35, 129 & 164). The result of any spiritual progress is an improved understanding of reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 27 & Step 11).

Many alcoholics, experience difficulty accepting limited concepts of reality. (i.e.: "God" - pgs 55 & 161). Not because the belief system is wrong, but because it is inadequate for the needs of life, on lifeís terms.

A desire (i.e.: "prayer") for something "more" creates a need to "seek something more" (see pg 60 a, b & c). That observation can be paraphrased by the statement:

MORE TRUTH NEEDS MORE "GOD" TO EXPLAIN IT

Problems can result from "blind faith" within the limited and exclusive framework of many traditional religious beliefs about the word "God". Those kinds of problems became the basis for preparation of this Study Guide for alcoholics with a similar difficulties accepting reality.

As an illustration:

"Some contemporaries of Columbus thought the idea of a round earth was preposterous." Their concept of reality included a belief in a "flat earth", which of itself is a harmless fantasy. But, put that belief system into action, and what happens?

One or two of the men who believe the earth is flat, get aboard a ship with Columbus at the helm. As Columbus takes them toward what they believe to be the edge of the earth, their fear increases.

Ultimately, there is a fear for survival based upon an "erroneous premise" that the earth is flat. With that belief system operative, as a guiding force in their lives, they may also believe it would be justifiable homicide to throw Columbus over the side.

Such action would be a rational decision based upon a logical idea of what life is all about. However, that impeccable logic would be based upon a belief system with a false premise that "the earth is flat".

What was erroneous was a belief in something which was not consistent with the Ultimate Reality of life.

It should be noted that alcoholics are held accountable and responsible for their actions.

Therefore, the alcoholic reader is advised to consider that:

WHAT YOU DO AFFECTS WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU

Because part of a belief is erroneous does not necessarily mean the entire belief system does not have some validity. That is a mistake often made by those alcoholics who completely reject all of the values found in traditional religions. This attitude is akin to "throwing out the baby with the bath-water". Some old ideas may be based upon an "erroneous belief system" while other elements retain their value and usefulness and continue to have practical application.

As a further example:

Galileo's views were once labeled as religious heresies when he claimed the earth moved. An "infallible authority on God" said, "the earth stands still". There was practical proof provided by a method of celestial navigation at sea. The navigator charts a course based upon the movement of the stars in the heavens.

Many of those methods of navigation are still used today. Within certain limits, they continue to have practical application and are still useful to those functioning within the boundaries of that harmless illusion about reality.

It is also worth noting that, after 300 years of accumulated new knowledge one "infallible authority on God" felt compelled to proclaimed "the previous infallible authority had been mistaken".

The point is that there is always "more truth" to be learned about reality. Even by those who are your chosen experts on "God".

EVERYONE STANDS ON THE THRESHOLD BETWEEN

INFINITE KNOWLEDGE AND INFINITE IGNORANCE.

At this point, the alcoholic reader may have noticed a difference between a personal belief and those universal principles which govern all life on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God" see pgs 53, 68 & Appendix I -Tradition 12).

Such a difference is of no great consequence unless there is a problem.

But, when other concepts produce successful results you are unable to duplicate, it becomes obvious they may know something new or different. If their results are desirable, it is difficult to argue with their success.

"When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did." (pg 52)

For the alcoholic willing to examine their personal belief system, some questions arise.

    • Are the fundamental beliefs guiding your life based upon principles or your personal preferences?
    • Do you ask "is it moral" or "does it work"?
    • Which set of "standards" do you use?
    • Why do you believe one is better than the other?

There are many choices of moral standards which are available. However, universal principles have universal application which are equal for all. When personal preferences conflict with reality, a change may be required. (see pg 42, Steps 4 & 11).

The alcoholic reader is advised to investigate whom, or what is the "moral authority" for their life. How certain are you of their credentials or their validity to be one? Why have you chosen them to guide your actions? "Are they your God?" Remember that it is your actions for which you will be held accountable as an individual during this lifetime.

It is recognized that "other ideas and beliefs" may have a greater range of consideration. Your present belief system may have elements of usefulness. However, recognize that, just as a concept of this planet being the center of the universe still has value for nautical navigation, that same belief system is not adequate for a spaceship landing on the moon.

On that note, you may wish to consider comments and references in Appendix II concerning "open-mindedness". What is your attitude when new knowledge is presented for consideration? There is a simple "cause and effect" relationship involved in recovery from alcoholism.

"It is the work done that is alone of moment, and the way in which it works, on the whole that is the final test of a belief."

Thus far, more alcoholics have become sober by utilizing the principles of the AA program than from any other approach. (see pgs 44 & 45) It may not be "moral" or "good" by traditional standards of medicine, religion or psychiatry, but, it does work, and there is more to be revealed: (see pg 164)

IT IS HARD TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS

.

For the alcoholic seeking personal recovery there is a question of personal priority. Is it more important for you:

    • To achieve successful results?
      or
    • Conform to a "second-hand belief system"?

Some significant comments about the word "God" are to be found in this portion of AAís basic text for recovery. Being open minded to different concepts and new knowledge may help the alcoholic who is experiencing difficulty with the way that word "God" gets used by the authorities of many traditional religions.

The observation has been made that a fundamental idea of God is an inherent part of everyoneís make-up and is to be found within ourselves. Furthermore, that it is only there that idea may be found. (pg 55)

It has also been suggested that, by thinking honestly, and searching diligently, if you wish, you can join in a recovery process which produces successful results. (see pg 58). This introduces questions about beliefs in human equality.

The AA recovery process still works better than any other approach thus far. With emphasis placed upon the process, this author suggests that when the alcoholic reader is seeking to enlarge their understanding of "a power greater than ourselves":

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, IS

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING WITH.

THE POWER YOU ARE SEEKING is your own fundamental idea of God. There is more than exists now which is available from within your present and limited conscious understanding of reality. It is possible there may be an infinite amount more new knowledge which can be discovered and revealed from within your own mind, if you seek it. (review pgs 23, 27 & 60).

The alcoholic reader who is serious about their own recovery process may wish to review the entire basic text with this thought in mind. This author strongly recommends that you do so. You may discover you already possess some inherent intelligence and the power to recognize the truth.

Though you may question human equality in other matters, regardless of how morally superior you might consider yourself to be, you cannot utilize knowledge you do not possess. (see pgs 68 & 164). Only a mind willing, honest and open-minded to the acceptance of new knowledge will be able to improve. What gets improved is a conscious contact with that Ultimate Reality of All Life which gets defined by use of the three-letter word "God". It is suggested that this mental action qualifies as "spiritual progress". (see pg 60).

An alcoholic who was emotionally attached to an old idea raised an important question concerning the validity of all beliefs of all religious people. (see pg 56). His problem was not with "God", (syn: "the Great Reality"- pg 55), but rather with his own "fundamental idea of God", and the claims made by others.

It is worth noting that, from within his own mind came a thought. One which acknowledged there might be finite limitations to his beliefs.(review pgs 53, 55-56, & 68). By questioning his own belief system he was able to displace and rearrange the ideas, emotions and attitudes which had been guiding his life. (see pg 27).

A thought produced the change. That thought came from within his own mind. This is where the real problem existed. (see pg 23).

That change in attitude was a vital spiritual experience produced by a willingness to believe there was something more than what he already understood. (see pgs 12, 23,27 & Appendix II).

This "revelation of reality" (i.e.: "God") occurred by honestly and open-mindedly being willing to ask of his own mind the question:

"Who are you to say there is no God?"

This author suggests his own mind discovered a simple truth concerning his personal importance in an infinite universe. Where "Truth" is a valid synonymy for the word "God", it follows that he acquired "a conscious contact with God". It was a revelation of truth and a "vital spiritual experience" which included a concept of something which existed beyond the range of human understanding. (see pgs 27, 53, 68 & Appendix I - Tradition 12).

As an equal human being, in the eyes of his Creator, he had enlarged his spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 129, 164 & Appendix II) It came by seeking an improved understanding of "the Great Reality" which is God. (see pgs 53, 55, 60(c), 161 & Step 11).

The reader may observe that this "revelation of reality" occurred while he was thinking about his thinking. That mental action has value as a definition for the word "meditation". (see pg 23 & Step 11). You may wish to use it in your recovery process.

* * * * *

SECTION B05a:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP TWO: - Contíd

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

READ:

From the beginning of Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, commencing with "Rarely have we seen a person fail..." to page 60 (c) ending with "That God could and would if He were sought"..

COMMENTS:

This is the portion of the basic text for recovery from alcoholism which is frequently read at the beginning of many AA meetings. The reader should be aware that the comments provided in this Study Guide about any portion of the AA Big Book, are those of a single individual speaking or writing as "a member of Alcoholics Anonymous." (see Foreword to First Edition).

No individual member is entitled to speak for the AA Fellowship as a whole. Accordingly, the reader should be aware that these comments are expressing personal ideas, emotions or attitudes. (see pg 27). There are no claims made to be an authority. No endorsement by AA or any other activity is intended or implied The reader is free to accept or reject any of the contents of this Study Guide according to whatever value they might receive by considering the personal views of this author.

In preceding chapters, the personal powerlessness, insane behavior, and need for power, of the alcoholic, were illustrated. It was established, that other alcoholics had recovered from their condition by tapping a source of power greater than they previously possessed. Power is power and:

ANY POWER FUNCTIONS ACCORDING TO CERTAIN PRINCIPLES

There is no evidence any part of the universe is functioning differently. The reader of AAís basic text has already been asked to choose a personal concept of an infinite power referred to as "God". (see pg 12).

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

If the reader has chosen to believe the proposition that "God is everything", then there is nothing which is "not God". Of necessity, that would include all power. (pg 59).

Life functions according to certain principles which may or may not be understood by the alcoholic who is experiencing them. (see Step 11). Those principles have endless implications as more new knowledge about "the Great Reality" is revealed. (pgs 55, 161 & 164). Many alcoholics believe those principles are "The Laws of Nature" or "Godís Laws". (see pgs 93-94). Whatever else they might be, and regardless of how well they are understood, they are non-negotiable conditions. They govern all of life, as lifeís terms for human existence. The religious alcoholic should feel free to substitute any concept with a more intelligent explanation of reality.

The "power of God" is either "everything or nothing". Any ideas, emotions or attitudes about that power are based upon a personal belief system. (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 53 & 55). Either all or nothing! That is as much as any human being can comprehend during this lifetime. Whatever life is, that is all there is.

However, during this lifetime, there is an infinite supply of more power to be found by seeking new knowledge of reality. (i.e.: "God"- see pgs 55 & 161). Any alcoholic who uses that power with intelligence will seek to improve their understanding of the principles by which that power operates. They have a need to know if they desire (i.e.: "pray") to minimize personal mistakes in judgment. Anything which may occur beyond this lifetime is still speculation based upon some chosen personal belief system. That speculation will quite naturally involve a belief about how the principles of power work for them.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, thatís exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral." (pg 45)

A principle works the same for anyone, anywhere, at any time. Principles do not apply only to special groups, and not all others. Whenever someone claims to base their life upon "Godís Laws", they are of necessity referring to "those principles" which govern life on lifeís terms. This implies they are privy to "all knowledge and all understanding". (see Steps 10 & 11). On that point, this author suggests that:

INFINITE POWER REQUIRES INFINITE KNOWLEDGE

FOR COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING.

 

 

In most traditional religions, there exist emotional arguments to the contrary. Almost invariably a traditional religious belief system will exclude some portion of reality. Any such belief system will conflict with the proposition that "the power of God is everything" because something in life gets excluded as "not being God".

The alcoholic reader will decide for themselves what they choose to believe. That choice will be influenced by whomever they have chosen as an authority in their life. Many alcoholics have problems accepting any authority.

Someone demonstrating success with how a principle works is qualified to tell others what they did to produce those results. Alcoholics who have recovered from "a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body" are qualified to comment on their own experience. This experience has validity, despite any other differences. However:

PERSONAL EXPERTISE IN ONE AREA

MAY NOT EXTEND INTO OTHERS.

In Chapter 5 the reader is offered specific experience of early AA members concerning recovery from alcoholism. With the validity of their own experience and success as the basis of their authority, they inform any alcoholic that:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." (pg 58)

The good news for the still suffering alcoholic is that their personal

chances for recovery are about 100%. The bad news is they must do what the others did to recover.

This places personal responsibility upon an individual alcoholic to decide if they want what those early members had. If they are "willing to go to any length to get it", then that decision and desire becomes a reasonable definition of "a prayer for new knowledge". Only the individual can really decide what it is that they want. The choice is a simple one, and personal responsibility is inescapable.

Some alcoholics cannot or will not make decisions in their own behalf. Institutions and others will often try to fill their needs. (pg 60(b)).

There are alcoholics who will prefer to have someone else run their lives for them. Many of them cannot or will not accept the truth about themselves or take any responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. This may be due to some inborn defect which is beyond the scope of the AA program. The early members of AA recognized this:

"Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest." (pg 58)

Serious mental or emotional problems need not completely bar an alcoholic from recovery. Remember, that the capacity to be honest, is essential to the recovery process. A "limited capacity to be honest" may only produce "limited spiritual progress" (see pgs 58-60). On that point, the alcoholic may question whomever they believe is the expert on their mental or emotional condition. How did that person become an authority, in your mind? (pgs 12, & 23).

A general pattern of principles for recovery emerges from the personal experience of alcoholics who have recovered. Those principles have universal application. (pg 95). Sharing their stories of recovery allows others to evaluate their "personal secrets of success". Then there is an intelligent basis for deciding, if they want any part of that available new knowledge. The newcomer either does or does not want to change.

IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE, YOU HAVE TO CHANGE!

Unless you believe you are "a victim of God", your life is your own responsibility. No one else does your wanting ("praying") for you. To the degree you have any responsibility for your own life, there is no intelligent reason to live a life you do not want to live. (see pg 133).

Many alcoholics prefer the "recreational oblivion" provided by alcohol and do not want what the AA program has to offer. If so, then honestly ask:

"WHAT DO I STAND TO GAIN, - AND

WHAT DO I STAND TO LOSE?"

Should the desire to drink come into balance with an equal desire to stay alive and carry your own keys, you may wish to reconsider. (see pgs 31 & 32).

Because a phenomenon of craving makes alcoholics bodily and mentally different from their fellows. (see "The Doctorís Opinion" & pg 30) it is not possible for them to both control and enjoy drinking. Like it or not, for the alcoholic, it is a choice of either uncontrolled drinking, or total abstinence. Some alcoholics disagree and pursue their belief into the gates of insanity or death. Those who stop drinking before it is too late are able to accept new knowledge of their relationship to reality and then have a different set of options open to them.

With new awareness and understanding (see Step 11) the alcoholic is in an improved position to decide what they want most. While it may not be possible to have it both ways, a dominant desire is a reasonable definition of "a prayer". Upon that, there is total freedom. The alcoholic is always free to want to cooperate with life on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "praying for Godís will"). They can also demand something else.(syn: "self-will run riot"). While the principles of life may respond to either desire, (i.e.: "answer either prayer") the desire to accept or reject reality is personal.

ACCEPTANCE = "LIKE IT OR NOT, THATíS HOW IT IS!"

For those alcoholics who have decided they want a path to recovery, it is available to be claimed now. The AA program has already demonstrated results. They are real and are more successful than any other approach thus far. The extent and depth of a desire (i.e.: "prayer") for sobriety is directly related to how clearly the alcoholic understands the truth about their drinking and their personal relationship to reality. (see pgs 30-32 & Step 11).

That understanding will include some new knowledge concerning those principles which govern all life, on lifeís terms. They are the same principles which many call, "the Laws of Life" or "Godís Laws" and are something no one understands completely. (pg 68). Few alcoholics would dispute there is more to be understood about their personal relationship to alcohol.

Either you are or are not alcoholic. Reality will not change simply because it is not the way you believe it should be. Awareness of reality can be enlarged by including new knowledge. (i.e.: "conscious contact with God" - see pages 14-15, 35, 68, 129, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II).

A review of Chapter 3 of AAís basic text may help clarify what is consistent with your experience? Self-honesty is helpful in deciding if recovery from alcoholism is desirable. It will be, unless you do not believe you have a problem. (pages 30 - 32).

Any alcoholic with a strong desire to stay alive and carry their own keys, is usually ready to consider the AA solution at any cost. Having acknowledged the existence of a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, they will wish to be free from that life-threatening problem. The most intelligent choice is to choose a path of action which produces results. (see pages 83 - 84).

"At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (pg 58)

Spokesmen for traditional religions often make questionable promises about receiving rewards in some "next life". Alcoholicís, who are serious about recovery during this lifetime, will ask of them:

DONíT TELL ME - SHOW ME

When an alcoholic arrives in AA they usually carry a lot of excess mental baggage in the form of "ideas, emotions and attitudes" by which they run their lives. (see pg 27). Because those guiding forces are used to deal with life, on lifeís terms, there is understandable resistance to letting them go. Most alcoholics need to be convinced that something better is available. The demonstrations of results by other alcoholics is a powerful argument. It frequently overwhelms any speculative belief system which suggests that they:

"Work and pray and live on hay!

Thereís pie in the sky bye and bye

when you die!"

Recovered alcoholics usually find it is necessary to make significant changes to the belief system which has been a guiding force in their life. (see pgs 27, 42, 45 58, 129 & 164). New knowledge is required if they want to change their personal relationship to alcoholism. To do this it is necessary to change their belief system. This is a frightening experience when it is all they have to work with.

NEW KNOWLEDGE REDUCES OLD FEARS

As long as "an old belief system" is a guiding force, it is not possible for new knowledge to operate effectively. Insistence that reality conform to an established belief system, (i.e.: "self-will run riot"), blocks spiritual progress. Any improvement of a conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms requires the power of new knowledge. (Steps 10 & 11).

"Remember that we deal with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now!" (pg 59)

It should be self-evident that "alcohol", per se, is not anything which is a "cunning, baffling and powerful" force. A bottle of whiskey will just sit there gathering dust until someone does something with it. It has no conscious capacity to baffle, be cunning, or exert any power over anyone or anything. Not even a hopeless, helpless alcoholic. It is thinking about drinking which is "the problem". (see pg 23).

The alcoholic reader will recognize that their thinking is based upon the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in their life.(pg 27). They constitute a belief structure involving a personal relationship to life on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God"). Some of those beliefs may not be consistent with what is or is not that "Great Reality".

Thinking itself is not the problem for the alcoholic. It is their "erroneous thinking" which is in conflict with reality. Those differences are what produce undesirable results. (see pgs 85, 86, 87 & 133).

It should be obvious that before any alcoholic can get drunk they must first make a decision to pick up the bottle; remove the cap; and then put the "bottle of booze" to their lips, before the contents can do anything to, or for them. It is that action which produces certain consequences. Any results are determined by the choice of action. Their attitude about the consequences is either one of approval or disapproval.

This author suggests that assigning intelligence to a substance in a bottle is insane thinking. It is mental rationalization intended to escape responsibility for the consequences of a choice. (see pg 23)

It is "the idea" of taking a drink that is cunning, baffling and powerful. It is an "old idea" fighting for survival. One based upon a belief in a false premise that there is something of value to be gained from taking a drink.

Denying validity to an "old idea" is to challenge the belief system which provides the foundation for an entire lifetime. Such a drastic action can be a very frightening consideration.

When an alcoholic demands to be "right at all costs", then when something goes wrong they must insist the fault is outside of themselves. (see pg 62). Any personal responsibility for picking up the drink, is unacceptable, and especially so when there are undesired consequences. Regardless of the excuses, it does not invalidate the truth. The choice to pick up the drink was their own.

So here is the dilemma of the alcoholic. Their inherent intelligence recognizes they have freedom of choice. Their belief system prompts actions based upon old ideas they think will produce results to their personal best interests. Self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity blocks intelligent self-examination which might establish they are mistaken. With an obvious need for a solution, they seek a source of power outside of themselves.

It may never have occurred to the mind of that alcoholic they already have direct access to the infinite power of new knowledge, from deep down within themselves. As a result of that oversight, they ignore "the Great Reality" and their potential for spiritual progress which is already part of their make-up. Any alcoholic has, within themselves, the capacity to enlarge their spiritual life by seeking the power of new knowledge. (review pgs 12, 14-15, 23, 27, 35, 42, 45, 53, 55, 68, 77, 85-86, 93-95, 98, 129, 133, & 161).

It is self-evident some intelligence produces order in the universe. Something demonstrates an ability to keep life in working order in accordance with certain principles which govern all life. Understanding those principles requires seeking new knowledge before that power can be utilized. Whatever other qualities one might assign to it, that power becomes a reasonable explanation for the word "God". (see pgs 10 & 12).

An ability to tap into that intelligence, and thereby improve cooperation with the principles of life, is the "hope" shared by early members who suggest "if we can do it - you can do it too".

This author suggests that, any alcoholic with a sufficiently strong desire (i.e.: "prayer") to recover can do what they did.

SOME ARE MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION,

OTHERS BY DESPERATION.

The early AA members, acquired the power of new knowledge by seeking to learn "the secrets of successful recovery". (Steps 1-12).

"Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon" (pg 59)

The principles of recovery are not new, even though they may have never been successfully applied to alcoholism before in quite the same way. The principles which govern all of life have been discovered and re-discovered since the first cavemen sought ways to improve his lot in life. The infinite variety of uses which can be made of those principles are determined by the objectives and goals of the user. Out of their desperation, the first AA members applied them to their personal survival from alcoholism.

Continued drinking for them was insane. It lead to an early death or confinement. Available "ideas, emotions and attitudes" about life on life's terms had proved to be inadequate for survival. But, by trial and error they discovered that "other ideas" worked.

The word "God", conveyed an idea of new knowledge and the power they needed to survive. New knowledge is always available for any alcoholic and seeking it allows alcoholics to be free, - on life's terms. This became part of their conscious understanding of reality. (Step 11). The need for that mental improvement was a self-evident requirement for continued survival.

"Faith without works is dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that." (pgs 14 & 15)

As alcoholics, it was necessary that they decide which direction to go. Those who were ready to abandon their old ideas completely, became free to set their lives in a totally new direction. Improving a personal understanding of reality is one direction which is always available to anyone. For many alcoholics, that is synonymous with improving their fundamental idea of the word "God".(pgs 12, 55, & Step 11).

For some alcoholics, the admonition to:

"LET GO AND LET GOD"

becomes:

"LET GO OF YOUR OLD IDEAS AND LET

WHAT IS GOOD FOR YOU HAPPEN".

As the first members discovered a solution to their seemingly hopeless state of mind and body they recognized it was the result of doing certain things. What they did was to break their actions down into small steps which ultimately became a program of recovery.

"Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:" (pg 59)

Evaluate what is your primary purpose. (see Steps 4 & 10).

    • Are you trying to be good rather than get well?
    • Are you trying to please someone or something?
    • Is it producing results that work for you?

Nothing is wrong with being good for moralistic reasons. It is an admirable human quality worth development. However, when it conflicts with survival and personal freedom, the important practical question is:

    • When will there be results?

The answer to that question becomes critical for most alcoholics. Especially when the promises involve some speculative life after this life. This may hold priority importance for some alcoholics. However, many others seek results which can be demonstrated in this life.

Of course, there are those religious arguments which suggest:

    • Be good now and collect your reward later.

That admonition is based upon a belief in some next life. This may or may not be accurate. The "pay now and collect in the next life" is difficult to explain as being an intelligent belief system due to lack of any creditable evidence to support it. Without any factual support, what is believed is more likely to be a strong emotional desire to have reality conform to a matter of personal preference. (syn: "self-will" see pg 85).

Eventually, every alcoholic will be an expert authority on whatever happens "after this life". Until that personal experience is acquired, this author suggests that:

"MY IDEAS ABOUT THE NEXT LIFE

ARE JUST AS VALID AS ANY OTHER"

 

A practical morality for an alcoholic seeking recovery is to live "One Life at a Time" and utilize the wisdom found in an old nursery rhyme:

"Pie man, pie man - let me taste your wares!"

by asking those who offer some other solution:

"May I see some samples of your results, please?".

Some alcoholics prefer a chance to observe others, who drank similarly, and then recovered by those methods. This provides an intelligent basis for deciding if that is what they would want for themselves.

What the moral authorities of some traditional religions have to offer may or may not be wishful thinking. For some alcoholics, it can have greater appeal than AAís practical experience of living this life, on lifeís terms.

This author has learned that:

THE APPROACH OF AA TO SOBRIETY IS PRACTICAL

BECAUSE IT PROVIDES BENEFITS IN THIS LIFE.

Rather than offering the alcoholic an official list of rewards and punishments, to be experienced in some next life, AA provides a cause and effect approach to a spiritual awakening. One which can be experienced in this life. A "spiritual awakening" with a continuing effort to "enlarge their spiritual life" is essential for the alcoholic who really wants to recover. (see pgs 14, 15, & Appendix II).

There are significant differences between the two differing approaches to sobriety. The individual alcoholic must decide which one they prefer.

It should be noted that AAís 12 steps of recovery, are based upon principles which work for any alcoholic. They are not limited in their application to some select group of personalities which has been specially chosen to the exclusion of other alcoholics.

* * * * *

SECTION B05b:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP TWO: - Concluded

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (pg 59)

READ:

From the beginning of Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, commencing with "Rarely have we seen a person fail..." to page 60 (c) ending with "That God could and would if He were sought"..

COMMENTS:

For the alcoholic seeking a practical approach to recovery, there is value in reviewing AAís -12 steps in a business-like manner. (see pg 64).

An intelligent businessman will have the capacity to recognize when he is going bankrupt. He will recognize the inability to continue conducting his affairs in the same manner they have been managed in the past. This will become apparent after first exploiting all of his best known skills. Then, in a final act of desperation, he may seek out other sources of new knowledge for help to survive.

Essentially, this is what the first members of AA did with their bankrupt alcoholic lives. Once recovered, they were consciously aware that they had tapped a different source of power which enabled them to survive. This included a "price tag" in the form of an obligation to help others in similar circumstances. As result, they offered that knowledge to those who were interested.

Try reviewing the 12-steps in this very practical context:

    1. We admitted we were not running our lives intelligently, and we had become bankrupt as individuals.
    2. We came to believe our lives could be salvage with the use of greater intelligence.
    3. Decided any improved intelligence, could do a better job, once we understood what was possible.
    4. Took stock of what we knew of successful living.
    5. Admitted the possibility of being mistaken.
    6. Let go of worthless old ideas.
    7. Asked for help to unload belief systems which were no longer useful.
    8. Listed people owed, and became willing to set things straight with them.
    9. Made things straight and equal when we could, unless it would hurt them or force us out of business.
    10. Inventoried new ideas, and quickly unloaded mistakes.
    11. Studied other belief systems to improve our own.
    12. Paid for the help we received by trying to help others.

The alcoholic reader may find value in viewing AAís 12 Steps of Recovery from this practical business-like manner, rather than from a religiously moralistic viewpoint. It can be useful to view recovery from a different perspective that removes myth and superstition and puts it into a more practical context. The author recognizes the foregoing analogy may appear overly simplistic when applied to a life-threatening condition.(see pgs 25, 46,, 52 & 57).

Obviously there is more to AA than a business-like approach to spiritual bankruptcy. However, it can be a useful starting point for alcoholics who have difficulty with "second-hand belief systems" about morality. It may open doors to new thinking and the discovery of how much more new knowledge is available. It can be if you do not close your mind to all spiritual concepts. (see Appendix II).

Alcoholics who are accustomed to "traditional spiritual concepts", may be emotionally overwhelmed by the suggestion to "open your mind to more than what you already believe". If so, they will find themselves in good company with early AA members.

"Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I canít go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints." (pg 60)

Either you are or you are not willing to salvage your own life by accepting help from intelligence greater than you now recognize is available. (see pg 164) Willingness is what is required. That is a personal choice no one else can make for you.

Nothing is required which you do not already possess!

However, only you can provide the desire for spiritual progress. (pg 60).

NO ONE ELSE CAN DO YOUR WANTING FOR YOU!

Whatever is your dominant desire is a reasonable definition of "your prayer". By definition, it is something you want, above all else. If any intelligent power responds to something called "a prayer", then that is what it responds to. This author suggests there is a requirement for new knowledge. Otherwise, you would do it yourself - if you knew how.

It makes sense to carefully consider what you want. Your desire is what establishes the direction any power will take to provide your fulfillment. Or, if you prefer more traditional terms, - "to answer your prayer".

Unfortunately many alcoholics cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program because they are unwilling to accept the answers they ask for.

WHY BOTHER PRAYING FOR SOMETHING,

IF YOU WONíT ACCEPT IT

WHEN YOU GET IT?

In the real world, any answers you get will be on lifeís terms, not yours. If you are dissatisfied, it suggests you believe a mistake has been made. Should, reality be unacceptable it implies whatever created an orderly universe (i.e.: "God") needs improvement.

That idea also suggests you already understand how reality should be. Further, that it would have been a good idea to consult with you first. Could that be spiritual pride? Could it possibly be that your own belief system might be erroneous and the real problem is your attitude? Which choice would be the most intelligent to your mind? Remember, the focus here is on "being restored to sanity".

Most alcoholics have a desire for the best answer to a problem. (see pg 133). Until someone understands all the realities of life, on lifeís terms, it is inevitable that mistakes will be made. Some mistakes may be due to intentional resistance to reality. However, they usually occur from a lack of understanding of how things really are. That is ignorance, because it ignores whatever new knowledge is required to produce better results. (see Step 11).

IF I KNEW BETTER IíD DO BETTER.

Only "a saint" would never make a mistake.

"We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60)

The operative word is "grow" for spiritual progress. That means "enlarging a spiritual life" by "improving conscious understanding" of some infinite intelligence which is called "GOD". (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 35, 42, 53, 55, 60(c), 129, 161, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II). This is an endless process.

It is on this point the traditional morality of religions and the practical morality of the AA program frequently part company. They take different directions with their primary purpose. Religion offers the last word on the destination. AA leaves everything open to change.

In AA, anything which is now believed to be true is subject to change and revision as more is revealed. (see pg 164, Steps 3 & 11). There is no dogma from "authorities" or "self-appointed spokesmen" who issue precise instructions on spiritual guidance they have received but you did not.

This author recognizes that emotional arguments exist in support of claims made by traditional religious spokesmen. Sadly for them, they are unable to provide an approach to "the Great Reality" (syn: "God" - pg 55) which can intelligently support any claim to having the last word on what is best for all. The reader of the basic text of AA will discover that it does not have any sacred cows or unintelligent emotional beliefs to be defended.

As a matter of personal preference, most alcoholics willingly "trade up" to something better. Which approach to life is "better" will vary, by individual. It will be determined by what they want and what they believe is "the best available" to them.

The alcoholic reader may have already achieved their own version of "the best" and not desire anything more. However, other alcoholics seek new knowledge to improve their lives. (see pg 133). You, may ask yourself which it is that you most want for yourself.

Any alcoholic is able to "trade up" in the way they manage their lives by using a practical business-like approach. (see Steps 10 & 11). By using principles which improve results, there is always room for spiritual progress. (pg 60) This process develops a better relationship to "the Great Reality" of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God").

It is possible to experience spiritual progress without having all the answers. There is spiritual growth in gaining power from new knowledge and enlarging conscious awareness of reality (syn: "God" - pgs 14-15, 35, 55, 161, & Step 11). With a fundamental idea of God as the power of infinite new knowledge, there is always room for more improvement.. (see pgs 12, 53, 55, & 68). Each alcoholic either chooses to seek more, or else rely upon what they already have. (pg 60(a-c)).

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."

(pg 68)

An alcoholic who is completely satisfied will have little motivation to seek improvement. If life is acceptable, within the range of what is currently known, they will not be interested in seeking anything more. There is no intelligent purpose in having a desire (syn: "prayer") to "trade up" if there is nothing to be gained. Alcoholics who believe they have "arrived" at that point are not likely to be reading the material found in this Study Guide.

Recovery from alcoholism is available to any alcoholic who is willing to grow along spiritual lines. (see pg 58). Uncontrolled drinking produces life-threatening conditions. A refusal to accept recovery is a decision of questionable sanity. (see pg 30). Particularly when offered a solution which has demonstrated successful results,

IT IS HARD TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS

Those who acquire the "know-how" have the power to use it in their lives. They also have the choice not to use the power of that new knowledge. Once again, no one could do their wanting for them. (i.e.: "their praying").

This new and enlarged freedom of choice was discovered by early members of AA seeking a way to recover. They acquired new knowledge of what worked, when other available approaches failed. To the alcoholic who wanted to recover they provided the following message:

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Those three pertinent ideas may have been used elsewhere. They represented new knowledge for alcoholics desperately seeking recovery because they focused on problems with alcohol. This author suggests that they replaced the primary purpose found in old ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding the choices of the alcoholic. (pg 27). Where the previous belief structure did not work, a new set of conceptions and motives did.

To paraphrase what the first members had to say, consider it from the following perspective:

(a) Where our drinking was concerned, the knowledge we possessed was not enough to produce recovery.

(b) No person, nor group of persons had all the answers for our unique individual problems

.

(c) Relief was found by seeking new knowledge from a source of power greater than we had been using.

 

Regardless of the approach, the fact remains that the condition of alcoholism is no longer a hopeless one. Action can be taken to produce recovery, if the alcoholic wants it enough. That is the message in the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. The choice to accept or reject recovery is yours, and yours alone.

Recovery has the requirement to become willing to discard old ideas, emotions and attitudes which have been guiding forces in life. To the surprise and disappointment of many alcoholics, their "religious convictions" do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery (pg 27). To experience recovery, the alcoholic must replace them with a new set which produce successful results.

A path toward successful recovery and improved sanity is to be found within the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous". They are mentioned specifically in Chapter Five entitled "How It Works" which reflects the experience of early members who had acquired new knowledge, and it worked. They had tapped an infinite source of new knowledge and power and they knew it.

"Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product." (pg 129)

* * * * *

SECTION B05c:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP THREE:

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him."

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 60 with "Being convinced, we were at Step Three....." through to pg 64, ending with "Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."

COMMENTS:

By now the reader has had ample opportunity to consider the authorís viewpoint concerning the first two steps in the AA recovery program. Be reminded there are other views. Use those ideas which produce results you desire for yourself. After all, it is your own life with which you are dealing.

There is no rigid conformity required in AA. In fact, quite the contrary. There are no official authorities or spokesman on correctness. There is only personal experience concerning the recovery process. (see Tradition #3 "The Long Form"). Perhaps this is one of the more revolutionary aspects of the AA program It certainly is when compared to other approaches to sobriety. That also applies to any AA member who may attempt to interpret the AA program for you. (see Foreword to First Edition). This author is specifically included.

This personal freedom of choice will extend itself to any fundamental idea of superior intelligence or power capable of providing relief from alcoholism. For many adherents of traditional religions, AA has done the unthinkable by starting with that idea of personal independence:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?" (pg 12)

The alcoholic who conceded to Step One

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable"

had the choice to hold on to their old idea of God or seek survival by considering a different approach to Step Two as others had when they conceded powerlessness and:

"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

If you, the alcoholic reader, are unable to accept that approach to Steps One and Two, try reversing them and try honestly to acknowledge that

&#"you are not powerless over alcohol, and that your life is not unmanageable"

furthermore that

"there is no Power greater than yourself, and that your life is the direct result of deliberate sane actions you have chosen as your version of personal happiness".

Such a view would include that you only drank by choice, and the results were something you consciously planned to have happen the way they did. (review Steps 10 & 11). This view may provide the reader with some fresh thinking about any problems concerning their drinking. (review pgs 23, & 42).

The alcoholic reader is invited to consider their personal behavior while drinking. Can you honestly claim it qualifies as any definition of "sane behavior"? For those who may debate the issue, your attention is directed to a suggestion by the earliest members of AA.

"We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking." (pg 31)

Be aware that such an experiment is perilous and potentially life-threatening for someone who really is alcoholic but believes differently. For them, reality is a fantasy in their own mind. (pg 23). This author suggests reality will ultimately prevail, despite any personal beliefs to the contrary.

The Ultimate Reality of life on lifeís terms (syn: "God") will eventually conflict with an "erroneous belief system". The alcoholic will experience the emotional turmoil of a conflict unless they know how to effectively deal with it. That knowledge is the power to enjoy a quiet mind.

It is suggested that "the power of the truth" is a viable concept of a power greater than the alcoholic possesses. Only the truth, which is recognized and understood at a conscious level, is available for use. (see Step #11).

Any continued conflict with reality is not a sane choice if there is the "know-how" available to resolve the mental confusion and emotional turmoil. For the alcoholic, that new knowledge capable of producing effective results, is "a power greater than themselves". Once again, "new knowledge is new power".

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW

This author suggests there is always more to know. The three-letter word "God" is most often used to describe "all and everything (see pg 53). Regardless of disagreements about the nature of reality, rejecting it is tantamount to rejecting the word most used to describe it. Reality is what it is.

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be? (pg 53)

The serious reader will have reviewed their relationship to alcohol in the light of Steps One and Two. This author can only point to areas which may not have been considered. Actions, taken, in your best interests, will be your own. The choice of action is yours alone. It will be to "accept reality" or else reject it because of a "different belief system".

Others may pressure or coerce an alcoholic into doing what they believe is best for them. The alcoholic reader may even agree to let others run their life and do their thinking until they are able to make choices for themselves. This may be convenient, until gaining a position to outsmart them. Until then, the price they pay is with their own personal freedom. Eventually, an alcoholic will do what they really want to do.

A word of caution to those who make that choice. Be aware if you turn your will and your life over to another human power, (see pg 60 (b)), and that person is also an alcoholic, they may fall short of perfection. They may provide some answers, but none have all the answers you may require. Eventually you are likely to need more new knowledge. This may be information which is power greater than they possess. At some point, a need will arise to seek the source of all new knowledge. (syn: "God" see pg 60 (c)).

The individual alcoholic is the only person who can effectively decide where they stand concerning the first two steps of the AA program. It is worth recognizing that there shall always be other opinions. Some may or may not be valid. However:

THE REALITY OF THE TRUTH, AND

THE TRUTH OF REALITY

DOES NOT CHANGE.

If you are alcoholic, but do not believe you are, then continued drinking may be required. If your relationship to alcohol is unacceptable now, then more drinking will probably convince you of the true nature of your condition. (see pgs 31 & 32). This author cautions that the risks involved are potentially life-threatening. Any decision to take them is your own, and based upon what you believe is reality and how it applies to you. Are you so confident about "what you believe" that you are willing to bet your life on it?

Some alcoholics have already acquired a full knowledge of their condition. They already know they are unable to both control and enjoy drinking. (see pg 32). If the reader does not know, then the solution to their problem may require new knowledge which is power greater than they now possess. With this admission, and by their own choice, they are mentally ready to continue in the recovery process -. (see pg 23).

 

"Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?" (pg 60)


S T E P T H R E E :

Breaking this next step into smaller parts can be helpful.

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him".

"Made a decision ----". This is an inescapable personal responsibility. Where freedom of choice is a reality, no one else decides what you want. Your dominant desire. (syn: "prayer") is your own. No one does your wanting for you.

There may be coercion, intimidation or even force for your compliance with the desires of some other human power. However, your true and equal desire (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") is always your own. Left to your own devices, within your own mind, you want what you want. This freedom is your own, regardless of approval or agreement from others.

Freedom to decide what is most desired (i.e.: "prayed for") is a mental quality equally inherent within all human beings. Any decision to exercise that personal freedom of choice, when the opportunity presents itself, inescapably rests with the individual. This has particular significance when choosing what to believe about the word "God".

For an alcoholic, the successful approach to recovery in the AA program, contains an essential ingredient. It is a decision to believe, or even be willing to believe there is some power, greater than themselves. (see pg 47). Those alcoholics convinced that Steps One and Two have application to them, will recognize continued drinking is a destructive power greater than themselves. It should be obvious they require access to a constructive power capable of producing recovery.

THERE IS POWER FOR GOOD AND YOU CAN USE IT

Merely acknowledging the possible existence of such a power is enough to create hope some such power might be available for personal use. That hope exists in the mind. (see pg 23). It is "a thought" which the alcoholic has created. It is available if that thought is what the alcoholic truly desires.(syn: "prayer"). It need not conform to reality, but would be "a sane thought" if it did.

Awareness of another alcoholic who knows how to recover from alcoholism is adequate proof such power exists. Alcoholics who acquire that "know-how" have both the power and the freedom to recover. Their new knowledge is obviously a "greater power" . Where drinking is concerned, recovered alcoholics possess a conscious understanding of reality the still drinking alcoholic does not yet have. (see Step 11). Those who already have the power of that new knowledge can use it to make improved choices. Any other alcoholic could learn what they understand, if they wanted to. That capacity has already been provided, and continues to be provided on a daily basis. (pg 85-86).

"----to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God,----" is a mental attitude reflecting a belief about a personal relationship to the source of all life (syn: "God"). For purposes of recovery from alcoholism, that belief system may be incomplete or inadequate. Its validity will depend upon how well it produces satisfactory results. Alcoholics who believe they have no choices will not likely attempt something they do not believe to be possible. Those seeking survival and an improved awareness of reality (syn: "God" - pg 60(c) & Step 11) are more apt to allow their minds to grow spiritually. They do this by correcting mistaken beliefs about reality and eliminating erroneous limitations in order to enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 164, & Step 10).

It may be useful to consider some synonyms commonly used to define the word "God". These are some of the same definitions used by many traditional religions. They reflect fundamental ideas about the nature of the "power greater than ourselves" required for recovery from alcoholism:

    • God is Truth
    • God is Good
    • God is the Ultimate Reality

The reader has an available option to view Step Three in a manner which goes beyond the limits of myth or superstition. (pg 23). Step Three can become an attitude of substituting practical mental equivalents of:

    • I would rather be told the truth than something I would like to hear.
    • I would rather have what is good for me than to get my own way.
    • I would rather live in reality than live in fantasy.

Those ideas, emotions and attitudes, are available as a guiding force capable of producing a vital spiritual experience. While religious convictions of an alcoholic may be very good, they are nonetheless restricted by the finite limits of that "exclusive belief system". Whatever else they may be, most traditional religious belief systems include some elements of reality while simultaneously rejecting others. (see pg 27).

This becomes increasingly apparent with the conscious understanding that:

    • there is more truth
    • there is more good, and
    • there is more reality.

There is more to be understood of "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God" - pg 55) than that which any human power currently understands. (see Step 11). With an "infinite concept of God", there is always more available than any finite mind could possibly acquire in a single lifetime. (see pgs 12 & 68). All that is required for any alcoholic to have more is to seek more. (see pg 60(c)).

Seeking more is a choice based upon the inescapable personal responsibility to want more power.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?" (pg 45)

"But there is One who has all power---that One is God. May you find Him now!" (pg 59)

"----as we understood Him"--- can be troublesome until the word "as" becomes the operative word in this step. Improved understanding can be found by breaking this portion to smaller parts.

Any emphasis upon the word "we" would imply some approved "AA concept of God". Such an idea would suggest that "we of AA know God and all those others donít". Such an idea would be equivalent to creating a new religion, in competition with traditional religions, for the beliefs of mankind.

That is an erroneous idea which conflicts with the very essence of what AA says it is. (see the AA Preamble, Foreword to Second Edition, pgs 12, 17, 19, & 95). For further correction of that mistaken idea, this author recommends a careful review of the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous". (see "The Doctorís Opinion", pgs. 27,28,42,44 - 50, 52-56, & Appendices I, II & V).

Emphasis upon the word "understood" produces some equally disturbing questions which remain unresolved.

    • How can any finite human mind understand something which, by definition is infinite?

In Western cultures, it has been traditional to use the word "Him" when referring to the source of all creation. The AA program works equally well in Eastern cultures with a different tradition. This raises unintelligent, but frequently emotional sexist overtones.

One need only consider the obviously ridiculous question of:

    • Does your own mind cloth the deity in a "jock-strap" or a "bra"?


It should be self-evident using the word "Him" is allegorical rather than realistic. And, of course, "who would really know?"

However, the meaning of the expression "as we understood Him" is changed when emphasis gets placed upon the word "as". By making the word "as" operative, the pieces fall into place and begin to make intelligent sense.

The word "as" implies a process and some sort of change. In recovery from alcoholism, the change is clear. It is a change from "a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body" to one of "hope." (see "The Doctorís Opinion & Chapter 11). That hope is fortified by the practical experience of successfully recovered alcoholics who stated

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path" (pg 58)

The experience of this author has been that "as I understand the truth", there is "relief from ignorance of reality". There is "relief" from the consequences of repeating mistakes based upon "erroneous beliefs" about reality. (syn: "God"). The relief is a new freedom to correct the ideas, emotions and attitudes which had been guiding forces. (see pgs 27 83, & Steps 10-11).

What was erroneous was a belief system which left out unknown portions of "the Great Reality" defined as "God". (pg 55) The mistakes of old ideas were errors of omission. The previous belief system left out some part of reality that was good for me. As conscious understanding of that portion of reality, is enlarged, spiritual progress occurs. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 164 & Step 11).

When a personal concept of reality (i.e.: "fundamental idea of God" pg 55) is no longer limited by old ideas, then conflicts with reality change. Choices are possible which are more in harmony with life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Will"). The inevitable consequence is an improvement in personal happiness, joy and freedom . (see pg 133 & Step 11).

For this author, there was further relief "as" I understood it was good for me to accept the premise that "Godís Will for me" is to be happy, joyous and free. ( see pg 133). The result of that decision was more personal freedom to "trade up" to that condition. That enlarged freedom of choice eventually held greater value than holding on to old ideas. (see Steps 10 & 11).

Furthermore, "as" an improved awareness of reality was acquired, new freedom was gained to cooperate with it. (see pg 83). Having accepted that the word "God", meant "God is everything" (pg 53), it was necessary to make another decision about trust. Either to "come to believe" that the ultimate reality of life, could and would provide something superior or else to hold on to old ideas. (i.e.: "Godís Will" vs. "self-will run riot"- see pg 58).

Those who had already recovered from alcoholism claimed "we trust infinite God rather than our finite selves". (pg 68). Human minds have limitations as to how much understanding can be acquired in a single life-time. With "the Great Reality" being "everything" (i.e.: "God" - pgs 53 & 55) this must include everything that can be known about reality.

No individual or group of individuals can sanely or intelligently claim a complete conscious awareness of infinite knowledge. With incomplete understanding it follows that some old ideas, emotions and attitudes might be mistaken. This enlarged spiritual awareness produced more questions:

    • Was I willing to be honest with myself about what I believed, and open minded to the suggestion there could be more to understand?
    • Could I acknowledge "my old idea of God" might not include everything to be known?
    • When I was wrong, could I admit it? (Step 10).

To this author, certain conclusions seemed self-evident. Complete knowledge and understanding of "everything" is more than any religious group can acquire. The sum total of all human knowledge may be vast, but nonetheless finite and limited in scope. The potential for human improvement and progress by consciously understanding reality (syn: "God") is both unlimited and endless.

Seeking to understand more truth, good and reality in life, is an acceptable equivalent to seeking God. It is a continuing process. The limiting restrictions found in many traditional religions are noble attempts to define the infinite created by other finite individuals. They merely attempt to define what they believe about some infinite power and what it does or does not include. Those numerous belief systems may contain exceptions, accuracy and mistakes.

With the AA approach to recovery, there is freedom from any and all of those limitations created by a belief in old ideas. In particular, any "old idea about God". Ideas, emotions and attitudes which guided decisions in life can be improved with change. The change occurs by being willing to give honest and open minded consideration to the experience, strength and hope of recovered alcoholics. (see Frontispiece & pg 27). That allows freedom to question old values, (pg 83), and asking for an honest answer to the question:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

That revolutionary attitude about spiritual progress can open the door to an unlimited opportunity for more happiness, joy and freedom. (see pg 133). Any new knowledge of reality allows for an enlarged spiritual life which previously had been blocked by a closed-minded attitude. (see pgs 14-15, 25 & 35). It changes a "fundamental belief system" that some "self-appointed spokesmen for God" hold a monopoly of the subject. (review pg 95). This includes recognition that any other personal and equally limited views are being excluded from consideration.

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE, SO IS IGNORANCE

How much change and improvement is desired? Once again, how much knowledge and understanding of reality does anyone desire? That desire is inescapably personal. It begins with a basic and fundamental desire (i.e.: "prayer") for spiritual growth.

    • Do you want more? - or
    • Are you willing to settle for what you know now?

The point any alcoholic stops seeking more new knowledge is the point where they stop seeking "God". That decision to stop seeking any improved understanding of life may be made consciously or by default and neglect. The results are the same. (see pgs 14-15 & Steps 10-11).

An endless supply of more power resulting from new knowledge is always available. (syn: "infinite God" vs. "our finite selves" - pg 68) The point an individual stops seeking more new knowledge is the same point they start shutting out God. This thought will be emotionally disturbing to alcoholics who believed they had "this God business nailed down with their religion". (pg 27).

Religions can be spiritually satisfying to many alcoholics until some overwhelming problems arise. Many living problems require more new knowledge and a greater understanding of reality than the old religious belief system is able to provide. Then satisfactory answers are required which are based upon reality. When old ideas do not provide a solution, many complain and wonder "why me?". As equals, in the eyes of their creator, there is the question:

"WHY NOT YOU?"

Some alcoholics believe they are the victim of some malevolent intelligence which has singled them out for specialized treatment. That belief makes them a very special and important individual. This is often easier to believe than to accept personal responsibility for errors in those ideas, emotions and attitudes which dominate their actions. (see pgs 27, 62 & 133).

For an alcoholic, such an attitude may qualify as "self-will run riot" by relying upon a self-limiting belief structure to guide their choices. Then they become like the man who stood on his left foot with his right foot and cried because he could not run.

With change as a constant element of life, rejection of personal change is equivalent to rejection of personal growth. Spiritual growth comes from improving a conscious understanding of the Ultimate Reality of life. (syn: "God" see Step 11).

From that perspective, any resistance would be a decision to resist "the Will of God" to be "happy, joyous and free." (see pg 133 & Step 2). For the alcoholic, this is using their "god given power of choice" to produce destructive resistance to reality and to their fundamental idea of God. Something which is the foundation of the belief structure of every man, woman and child. (see pgs 12, 55 & 62).

The power of choice exists within alcoholics to take actions compatible with the reality of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Will"). They also have the ability to improve their conscious understanding of what life is (syn: "God" see Steps 10 & 11). Intentionally resisting improvements in personal happiness, joy and freedom could be considered insane behavior. Particularly when the power to accept that spiritual progress has been made available. (pgs 60 & 133).

So where is the real problem? Is it not a closed-minded attitude about letting go of old ideas? (see Appendix II). As a consequence, alcoholics can become victims of their own ignorance. By placing blind faith in old ideas of God, they ignore "Godís Will for them". (pg 133). They choose not to believe that "God wants them to be happy, joyous and free".

IF THEY KNEW BETTER THEY WOULD DO BETTER

The intelligent choice for most alcoholics would be a personal preference to conduct their lives in optimum harmony, balance and compatibility with reality. Such a condition would reduce conflicts, and increase personal happiness. Most alcoholics freely and willingly select such a relationship to life (syn "Godís Will") when they have the "knowledge" of what is required.

The power to choose personal improvement is available to everyone on an equal basis. Any personal power of an alcoholic reflects their personal level of understanding of life, on lifeís terms. This is a term synonymous with, and a valid concept of the word "God". Within the limits of their fundamental idea of God. (see pg 55), an alcoholic is free to accept or reject reality. Their choices reflect their beliefs about reality. Though reality is what it is, the belief system is always subject to change, as more new knowledge is revealed. (see pg 164 & Step 11).

The author recommends the alcoholic reader review Step 11 in light of that fundamental idea of God which is found deep down in every man, woman and child. (pg 55). Ask yourself if your dominant desire (syn: "prayer") is for improved harmony, balance and compatibility with what is good for you. Unless you have already reached a pinnacle of being happy, joyous and free, the ability to make improved choices requires new knowledge and greater understanding of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God")

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW!


The need for new knowledge and greater understanding is essential for anyone seeking improved cooperation with reality.

There is a quote of Herbert Spencer provided in Appendix II on "Spiritual Experience". It has important implications when applied to a fundamental idea of God that may already exist within your own mind. (see pgs 23 & 55).

"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." (Appendix II)

From that perspective, this author has reached some conclusions. Namely, that the indispensable essentials for recovery are to be found in a willingness to replace inadequate old ideas which are guiding forces in life. Honesty is required in acknowledging that "old ideas about God" might be inadequate due to incomplete knowledge and understanding. (see pg 45). That open-mindedness is essential when considering other conceptions of God in the light of oneís own intelligence. (see pg 12). The reader may prefer a different interpretation.

With that focus, the alcoholic reader is asked to answer to their innermost self if their mind is open or closed to all spiritual concepts. If you agree that "God is everything" (pg 53), then this author suggests there is nothing to accept or reject except God. (i.e.: "the Great Reality" see pg. 55).

The power of acceptance is a choice which remains with the individual. Are you, the reader, completely happy, joyous and free with your life, as it now? If so, your most intelligent choice is to continue viewing life as you do now. There would be no valid reason to change. There would be no intelligent purpose in seeking improvement in any present condition. If, however, you believe more improvement is possible, then an "enlarged spiritual life" is available if you seek it. (pgs 14-15, 35, 60(c) & Step 11).

EVERY ATTITUDE YOU HAVE IS

ONE OF ACCEPTANCE OR REJECTION!

* * * * *

 

SECTION B05d:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP THREE:

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him." (pg 59)

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 60 with "Being convinced, we were at Step Three....." through to pg 64, ending with "Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."

COMMENTS:

Because the word "God" has produced such volatile reactions from so many different sources, there is no desire here to create more controversy on that subject. Very frequently, groups will argue about the superiority of their version of that word, and what it means to them. That is their belief. It may have elements of both accuracy or error. With an infinite concept of "God", (pg 68), regardless of what part of the belief system may be valid, it follows there can always be more. Hence, any individual interpretation is, of necessity an incomplete belief system.

By contrast to an infinite concept of a Power, greater than ourselves, most religious definitions are finite. They tell you what is and is not within that specific belief system. Individuals then choose to agree or to disagree. They either do or do not embrace that particular belief structure. Other concepts do exist.

What the alcoholic chooses to believe becomes their fundamental idea of God. It is a thought that exists within the mind of every man, woman and child. (see pgs 23 & 55). Alcoholics believe in a particular concept of God because they believe it. Those who are honest with themselves recognize anyone has the capacity to change what they believe about that power.

For many, it is inconceivable that differences might exist between "God" and their "personal idea of God". Some then become troubled by efforts to reconcile their belief structure with the inherent intelligence existing within their own mind. (see pgs 23, 27 & 86).

WHATEVER A PERSON BELIEVES

THEY ALSO BELIEVE TO BE TRUE

For many alcoholics it is a shock and surprise to discover that what they believe is not necessarily so. It may be valid, in part, but is seldom, if ever, a complete understanding of that "infinite power". (pgs 53, 68, 164 & Step 11).

This lack of knowledge produces conflict with any attempt to reconcile what is believed with the Ultimate Reality of Life. (syn: "God"). Resolution of the conflict requires the power of more new knowledge. (pg 45).

Without a complete conscious awareness of the Ultimate Reality (syn: "God"), gaps will always exist in what is understood. However, it is always possible to make improvements.

"We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60)

To experience personal improvement requires being willing to cooperate with the realities of life. This open-mindedness must be an honest desire to seek spiritual progress rather than rigidly adhering to the old ideas of a personal belief system. (see pg 61, Step 11 & Appendix II)

Only an innocent child will believe everything anyone tells them. It is likely the reader does believe some things some people tell them. How do you decide what it is you will believe? (see pg 23).

This author suggests, every man, woman and child has some inherent intelligence they use to decide what they believe and what they do not believe. As a child, the alcoholic has made their personal choice from an endless supply of new knowledge. Some alcoholics stop seeking to enlarge and improve their conscious understanding of that infinite source of new knowledge, (i.e.: "God" - see pg 68 & Step 11). It is that new knowledge which is power anyone can tap into as "a power greater than themselves".

"We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us. (pg 55)

Early members of AA suggested that alcoholics have direct access to a source of power greater than themselves. (pgs 12, 14-15, 23, 27, 35, 39, 42, 45-49, 52-55, 62, 68, 85-87, 93-95, 98, 163-164 & Appendix II). Many different "god clubs" previously discovered various elements of that same intelligence (syn: truth, good, reality = "God"). Many also believed they had found "the last and final word" on what others should believe. With an open mind, any of them can be improved by seeking more conscious awareness of reality. (i.e.: "God" - see pgs 42, 60(c), 129, 164 & Appendix II).

This observation will have little value or usefulness to alcoholics who are completely satisfied with their lives and no longer seek spiritual progress. Alcoholics with a "mind set" locked into protecting "old ideas" will often disagree. Others are only indirectly concerned with those differing belief systems.

Almost all alcoholics have some degree of inherent intelligence. In the interests of personal survival, they will intuitively avoid self destruction. Those with sufficient intelligence will recognize a threat to their survival. Alcoholics who continue drinking will eventually include mental distortion from drinking as being life-threatening. (Steps 1-3 & 10-12). As they understand this personal relationship to life they will also recognize it is not restricted nor limited to any particular religious belief system.

Many alcoholics consider themselves victims of some whimsical force and deny their own capacity to recognize reality. However, for those alcoholics, desperate enough to try anything to survive, some interesting suggestions and observations were made by the earliest AA members:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves"

(pg 68)

"But he had found God--and in finding God had found himself." (pg 158)

"We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg 164)

Old ideas about God either work, or they do not. Either they produce happiness, joy and freedom for the individual alcoholic, or they produce something else. (see pg 133). The individual alcoholic decides what answers the dominant desires in their own life (syn: "their prayers").

Few alcoholics will require someone else to tell them when they are happy, joyous and free. (see pg 60(b) ). It is a capacity, they find deep down within themselves (see pg 55). They are also able to recognize when they are not in that "heavenly state" but in conflict with reality. That inherent intelligence is evidence of access to a power to recognize more truth, more good and more reality (syn: "more God"- see Step ll)

LIFE IS THE GREAT REALITY

This author contends that, because life is constantly undergoing changes, there never can be a final or last word on what is "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God" - see pg 55). Readers with a "fixed conception of God" may disagree. (see pg 12).

Old ideas in conflict with reality are not morally bad. Morals are belief systems created by individuals. Some self-proclaimed authorities on morality have established rules for others to live by.

Spiritual belief systems can be enlarged or discarded. Any alcoholic is free to believe anyone or anything they choose to believe. On a practical basis, old ideas may be recognized as inadequate simply because they are incomplete when dealing with reality. (syn: "God"). This author has observed that those claiming expertise or moral superiority usually rely upon emotional rather than intelligent arguments to support their claims.

In an infinite universe, there is always more of anything. This specifically includes more knowledge of Godís will for us and the power to carry it out. (pg 133 & Step 11).

Any enlarged personal awareness of reality is equivalent to an improved spiritual life of the educational variety. (see Appendix II). It is always available, if sought.

THERE ARE NO LIMITS ON HOW MUCH

ANYONE MAY LEARN ABOUT THE

ULTIMATE REALITY OF LIFE

 

STEP THREE:

An essential spiritual concept found in the AA "Big Book" is:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"
(pg 12).

Comments provided in Chapter Five concerning Step Three indicate that earlier members made a decision to turn their will and lives over to the source of all power. It became their personal concept of God, as they understood what that was. A "concept of God" was neither defined for them, nor for any of the alcoholics who came to AA after them.

There is no "official AA version of God". Neither is there any definition of how "we" (of AA) understand God. By contrast, the AA Big Book repeatedly makes statements indicating AA is dealing only with general principles common to a variety of belief systems. (see pgs 93-95). Any emphasis upon the word "understand" implies an ability to fully define or comprehend that "infinite power", which is God (see pg 46, 53 & 68). Any view of Step Three emphasizing the word "Him", carries sexist connotations which lead to ridiculous conclusions.

However, the word "as" does imply a process of understanding that occurs within the alcoholic. This appears to be a more intelligent and unrestricted interpretation. Many alcoholics choose traditional religious concepts of "God" because they prefer limitations to their personal understanding.

For alcoholics who have found fulfillment within the limitations of traditional religious belief systems, there is no purpose in seeking anything more. Being open-minded to "other ideas" would not increase personal happiness, joy, or freedom (see pg 133). This author suggests such a choice establishes a limit on how much "God" you want in your life. (pgs 23 & 42).

At the risk of over-simplification, (see pgs 57 & 62), this author believes:

"THERE IS MORE TO UNDERSTAND

THAN CAN BE UNDERSTOOD"

Few alcoholics choosing an infinite concept of God will dispute that idea. It is repeated in Step 11, and endless opportunities exist to enlarge a spiritual life.(see pgs 14,15, 35, 47, 53 & 68). Many alcoholics will enlarge their spiritual life through traditional religions much more than they might have done without them.

"We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions." (pg 49)

The significant issue is acceptance or rejection of anything more. Within the precepts of their chosen faith, some alcoholics automatically exclude any different ideas of God? The alcoholic reader may believe their chosen religion possesses the last and final word on "a Power, greater than ourselves"? If so, have you adequately resolved the question:

IS THERE MORE?

Each individual must decide either to look, or not to look beyond the boundaries of their particular faith. However, certain mental attitudes are indispensable to recovery from alcoholism. (see Appendix II). There is spiritual growth to be found by looking beyond traditional religious terminology. When describing their "fundamental idea of God", it is recommended the alcoholic reader determine if there might be more. (pgs 23 & 55).

Before that can be done, the alcoholic must first quit pretending to already possess infinite knowledge and the ability to apply its power in their life. (see pg 23) Anyone is free to claim they possess that power. The results speak for themselves. It should be self-evident that no human, nor group of humans embraces all knowledge. (syn "God" - see pg 60(b)). In plain language:

    • Do you have all the answers to life? - or
    • Could there be more to learn?

Where a desire exists for more new knowledge (syn: "more God"), there is a need to enlarge a spiritual life for those who want results. (see pgs 14,15, 35)

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE

HOW MUCH YOU KNOW --

IF WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT SO?

Any improved conscious awareness of "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God") which goes beyond the present limits of understanding by individuals or traditional religious groups, allows for an enlarged spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35, & Step 11). This can produce an improved personal relationship to "life on lifeís terms".

"First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didnít work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director." (pg 62)

Anyone making a decision to seek an infinite concept of God, becomes faced with human limitations. There are finite limits to human understanding of that which is infinite. This specifically includes any and all accumulated human knowledge to date because there is always more to be understood.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. (pg 45)

There is a limit to how much of reality any human mind is able to understand in a single lifetime. There is no limit to how much more new knowledge any individual may seek at any given time.

The limited range of human understanding identifies a fundamental difference between AA and most traditional religions. One is an open-minded desire to constantly seek and understand more of the infinite reality of "All Life". (syn: "God" - pg 53). The other defines boundaries. AA readily acknowledges "we know only a little". (pg 164). Many religions function from an erroneous premise of having discovered what "God" is, and then deciding not to look beyond that idea. The choice to accept that fundamental idea is individual and personal. (pg 55).

This author suggests any alcoholic can be free from such limitations to their spiritual life by clearly establishing a simple mental attitude. (see pgs 23 & 27). It is an attitude about Step Three which includes an honest desire to:

    • Be told the truth instead of what you would like to hear.
    • Get what is good for you, instead of having your own way.
    • Deal with reality, instead of fantasy.

These are all synonyms used to identify the meaning of that "three-letter word ĎGodí". If that is something better than what you now enjoy, it will be necessary to accept it before you can enjoy it.

The reader, making the decision to seek more truth, good and reality, (pg 60(c)), becomes faced with a choice. Either:

    • You have all you want from life. (syn:"God"),

      - or else
    • You want more.

If another human being is able to claim from life something you desire, then they know something you do not know. With that knowledge, they have the power of choice to accept something life offers, on lifeís terms. As an equal, you may also enlarge your own spiritual life and go beyond your own present level of understanding. The important question is where the alcoholic places faith in what produces spiritual progress. (see pg 60).

"We trust infinite God instead of our finite selves." (pg 68)

Any choice to enlarge a spiritual life will impact the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces (see pgs 14, 15, 35, 27 & 47). When making such a choice, consider the following:

    • Why accept a concept of how to manage your life based upon inadequate knowledge?
    • Why accept that some human power already understands all new knowledge? Specifically, any "religious spokesmen for God"
    • Why limit where or how to improve conscious understanding of new knowledge received from the source of all knowledge? (syn: "God")

Each alcoholic has the inescapable responsibility to utilize their "god-given" freedom of choice. With it, they establish the direction which will be the guiding force in their life. Deny that and you deny your own humanity. What each individual wants the most is what they will choose as their direction. That dominant desire is equivalent to any concept of a prayer.

Wherever there is order, there is evidence some intelligence produced the orderliness. The ability of an alcoholic to produce orderliness in their own life is restricted to what intelligence they recognize, understand and control.

This author considers it self-evident some "infinite intelligence" produced the orderliness of a seemingly endless universe. Other opinions exist which include specific locations where specific activities have occurred. Some religious individuals claim to have special knowledge of precisely what those places are like. It is the belief of this author that no one really knows those details. Some alcoholics will seek more new knowledge. In contrast, some will choose a belief structure on blind faith with an assumption there is nothing beyond what they have been told by others.

Because each alcoholic is part of an endless universe, they have freedom of choice to either cooperate with or else resist whatever that fundamental orderliness of life might be. Any cooperation requires some degree of conscious understanding of what is going on in life. (see Step 11). Personal happiness, joy and freedom appear to be a by-product based upon the degree of personal understanding. With enlarged understanding, derived from new knowledge, there comes new power to cooperate with "the Great Reality" of life (syn: "God"). With that enlarged spiritual awareness also comes the freedom to choose new directions which reduce conflicts caused by ignorance.

"God, I offer myself to Thee - to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt" (pg 63)

For some, that idea of a fundamental relationship to God, is expressed by the open-minded attitude of:

I WANT TO BE SHOWN THE WAY

THAT IS BEST AND RIGHT FOR ME.

Such a mental attitude presumes lacking present ability to make that elegant choice within the range of self-knowledge already acquired. (see pgs 23, 45 & 133). It also opens the mind to accept new knowledge and spiritual progress.

Alcoholics who believe they completely understand right from wrong will also believe their mistakes are willful intent to take "self-inflicted wounds". (Review Step 2). What they claim to understand will be a "second-hand belief system". One provided by their chosen set of authorities on that subject. Closed minded alcoholics will neither need nor desire help beyond what they already believe. Other alcoholics may allow room for personal improvement and seek enlarged awareness of "the Great Reality" (syn: "God" - pg 55, 164 & Appendix II).

However, a desperate alcoholic will want to "trade up" and make the elegant choice. They will seek "the best possible conception" of spiritual progress which is available to them. (see pg 12). Whatever enables that progress is the essence of some personal power. (pg 55).

Any alcoholic seeking improvement is free to utilize any of the thoughts freely shared by this author. Some ideas may stimulate new thinking about the meaning of the word "God". (pg 23). You, the reader, are free to use any idea from any source - if you choose.

With an open mind, there is freedom to constantly enlarge a spiritual life. This new direction includes recognition and acceptance that there can be more to "infinite God" than is included in any "second hand belief system" provided by self-proclaimed authorities.

Any alcoholic has a capacity to acquire a better understanding of life. (see Step 11). An open minded approach provides new thought and access to more of the intelligence that is inherent within everyone. (see pg 55). Improved understanding is required to cooperate with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God"- see pgs 14-15, 35, 42, 95, 129, 164 & Appendix II).

Accordingly, this author believes an open minded choice about a personal conception of "God" is a practical choice. (pg 12) It will be the best choice of all available choices when contrasted with unthinking conformity to "second hand moral codes".

Progress occurs when the dominant desire (i.e.: "prayer") of the alcoholic is to enlarge their spiritual life (pgs 14, 15 & 35). Complete understanding of the elegant choice is not an option within any individual lifetime. However, "spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection" is always possible (pg 60).

With this chosen objective comes the desire (syn: "prayer") to acquire more understanding, and to improve cooperation with reality. (syn: "God"). More happiness, joy and freedom occur as a by-product. (see Step 11 & pg 133). At the worst, there will be an improvement over holding on to old ideas which are in conflict with reality.

"Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will" (pg 63)

No two individuals think in precisely the same manner. Thought patterns are both unique and personal. Accordingly, some degree of personal responsibility exists for those habitual thought patterns which are guiding forces in the life of an alcoholic. (pgs 23 & 27). This can become "the bondage of self" when those habits of thinking are a block or barrier to something better. This author believes that whenever spiritual progress is sought, it is essential to be willing to let go of old ideas in order to let what is good happen. (i.e.: "Let Go and Let God" - see pg 42)

"Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life." (pg 63)

Improving a conscious awareness and understanding of truth, good and reality helps eliminate ignorance of "the Great Reality" (i.e.: "God"- pg 55 & Steps 10-11). By seeking an infinite concept of God, more is constantly revealed. (see pgs 60, 68 164). As this occurs the limited and finite spiritual understanding of the alcoholic is enlarged. (see pgs 14-15, 35 42, 85, 87, 129, 163-164).

Concurrently, the personal ignorance of the alcoholic will be gradually reduced, dissolved and eliminated. (review Appendix II). This "educational variety of a spiritual experience" produces a new attitude about reality. Included will be a desire to have "erroneous beliefs" displaced and rearranged by improving a conscious awareness of truth, reality, and what is good. (pg 27).

This new attitude is available to any alcoholic if "God" is sought, without placing religious limitations on the definition. (see Step 11). For many, this requires breaking out of traditional habits and thought patterns. (pg 42). Doing so allows the alcoholic to accept more freedom to cooperate with life on lifeís terms. (Review Step 11). Reduction of personal conflict with reality improves personal success in living. When observing this occur in another alcoholic, the reader will notice a personality change. (Review Appendix II).

Such a personality change often provokes interest from other alcoholics. If the results are an improvement, others may decide they want to "trade up". (see pg 58). What they desire is something they did not previously possess. Is it not the power of new knowledge?

A natural by-product of alcoholics who learn how to cease fighting anyone and anything is "a love of life". (pg 84). It becomes "a love for a chosen way of life" which seeks cooperation with reality. As that occurs, there is ever increasing harmony, balance and compatible with life, on lifeís terms. (see pgs 85, 133, Steps 3 & 11).

"May I do Thy will always!" (pg 63)

This simple attitude is a personal preference for a new way of living. When that attitude becomes the dominant desire of the alcoholic, it becomes their "prayer". It is a desire to let go of old habit patterns of thinking as guiding forces in their life. (pg 27) Acquiring such a new attitude is of critical importance to the alcoholic seeking recovery. It is always available to those willing to work for it. (see pgs 58, 83 & 84)

"PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics." (pg 89)

For the alcoholic seeking recovery, that immunity from drinking is not denied to anyone.

"THERE ARE STILL ENOUGH DRUNKS TO GO AROUND"

However, any decision to significantly change a way of life is not to be taken lightly. The capacity to be honest is a critical element to success. Being coerced, or merely "going through the motions" is not necessarily effective. The alcoholic reader already knows if they really desire to change their life.

"We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser. But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand" (pg 63)

Misunderstanding is possible for anyone. The alcoholic reader is cautioned to beware of those overly zealous AA members who state "God told them what He wanted for you". The foundation of your own recovery will be on questionable grounds unless you can reconcile their claims with the principles found in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". Therefore, ask yourself the question:

"HOW SAFE DO I WANT TO BE?"

Unless you are able to confirm something with AAís basic text for recovery, it is suggested the alcoholic reader consider it as "suspect of error". It may not be a "principle of recovery", but merely reflect "the personality of your chosen authority". This admonition specifically includes any comments offered by the author of this Study Guide.

PRINCIPLES BEFORE PERSONALITIES

(Tradition 12)

New ideas impact decisions made in other areas of life beside drinking. To some degree, they will rearrange a basic approach to life.(see pg 27). Such growth and change is required to improve understanding of all and everything that is life. (syn: "God", see pg 53 & Step 11).

Once again, it is suggested that the alcoholic reader consider Step Three as a process of enlarging a spiritual life by developing a new mental attitude of:

    1. I would rather be told the truth than something I would like to hear.
    2. I would rather have what is good for me than get my own way.
    3. I would rather live in reality, than in some fantasy.


Taking this vital and crucial step has little permanent effect unless accompanied by willingness to let go of old ideas, emotions and attitudes which have dominated behavior in the past. That means accepting freedom from "the bondage of self" which has prevented an enlarged spiritual life. What was previously believed was not necessarily morally bad, but instead was practically ineffective. (pg 27).

Any attempt to be "good" presumes someone has an "official standard for goodness" and is competent to instruct others on what that is. Getting "well" presumes reducing conflicts with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God"). What is your choice of direction to be? Do you believe you are:

    • "Bad" with a need to be "good"
      or
    • "Sick" with a need to "get well".

This may be difficult for an alcoholic who habitually views themselves as a "victim". Especially if they believe they are being "punished for being morally bad". Such a belief system will include being punished by some whimsically unpredictable and malevolent personality. The alcoholic, seeking recovery must either accept or reject the observation of successfully sober AA members:

"So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesnít think so." (pg 62)

This is bad news to the alcoholic who believes their emotional stability is dependent upon the favorable opinion of others whom they cannot control. The erroneous belief is that other equal individuals are in control their own personal happiness. The good news is that many, who once considered themselves victims, have now tapped a source of new power, they find within themselves. (pgs 55 & 163). As they discover this truth about themselves, they are set free from the limitations of their old ideas. They now possess the power to change the universe -- but only by the count of "ONE". For the alcoholic reader, this means:

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO ELIMINATE ONLY

ONE DRINKING ALCOHOLIC FROM THE UNIVERSE

AND REPLACE IT WITH ONE SOBER ALCOHOLIC.

Before embarking upon any vigorous action to produce changes, first consider what it is that needs to be changed. (pg 63). Which erroneous beliefs are still guiding forces in your life? Which parts of your belief system are practical and which parts are ineffective? It is advisable to make this determination before changing your present way of life.

Habitual patterns of thinking determine what you will do, and when you will do it. (review pg 27). This suggests a need for an inventory of the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces and reflect your personal moral values. That thought brings us to Step Four where we:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

* * * * *

SECTION B05e:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 64 with "Therefore we started upon a personal inventory." ---through to page 67 ending with "We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."

 

COMMENTS:

It is reasonable to assume that any alcoholic who has read this much of the basic text of AA is now considering the personal value of examining old ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in their life. (see pg 27). Some consideration is now being given to "trading up" from a belief system which may not have worked well in the past to something which will produce improved results. Those who seek an infinite concept of God can be assured that more improvement is available. (pg 68).

Alcoholics who are not yet convinced that drinking is a problem for them may find it necessary to try some controlled drinking in order to gain a full knowledge of their condition. (see pgs 31 & 32). That potentially lethal action may help them decide if their present belief system could benefit from changes in the moral values which determine what they will or will not do, and when they will do it. As such, they are guiding forces. Continued survival may require some of them be displaced and rearranged. (see pg 27).

Those alcoholics, already convinced that drinking is life-threatening, are already aware of being unable to start drinking and then control when and under what conditions they will stop drinking. With that awareness, they recognize that some portion of their life has become unmanageable. (see Step 1).

Some recognize their life may not be completely unmanageable every time they drink. For those who still want to drink, this author recommends they drink only on those occasions when they can control it. The value of benefits derived from drinking compared to risks to life and freedom reflect "moral priorities" guiding their life. Only the individual alcoholic will know if and when those conditions exist. (review pgs 30-32). Any mistakes in judgment can be tragic.

The alcoholic reader will recognize it is their own life which is being considered here. In any effort to create "a way of life" which is in harmony, balance and compatibility with reality, it makes intelligent good sense to take stock of what values you are working with. How well do your own "moral priorities" produce desired results?

That requires mental action and the examination of the ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding your life. (see pgs 23 & 27). Other opinions on morality exist. Many are worth considering. This author suggests such an examination is the essence of Step Four.

Within that context it behooves the alcoholic to intelligently examine their own moral values, and open-mindedly consider value in other belief systems. There is always room for improvement for anyone in their conscious understanding of the Great Reality which is "God". (see pg 55 & Step 11). If the objective is to "trade up", this may be obvious. (see pg 60(c)).

That concept recognizes human equality in relationship to a Power greater than ourselves. Accepting that equality is a point of mental confusion and emotional turmoil for many alcoholics.

Religious belief systems were developed by others "at some other time, in some other place, for some other purpose". Once an alcoholic is aware that the seemingly impossible morality of many traditional religions belong to someone else, they are obliged to deal with their own belief about human equality. Specifically where it concerns "their own conception of God". (see pg 12).

New knowledge can and frequently does provide improved understanding of "the Great Reality" which is defined as "God".(see pg 55 & Step 11). Values from antiquity may not be in harmony, balance or compatible with life on lifeís terms as it is being experienced now. The moral values of others who were not alcoholic may not be the valid standard for every alcoholic in every specific situation. It is not necessary for any alcoholic to adopt moral values developed in antiquity in order to be happy, joyous and free now. (syn: "Godís Will"- see pg 133). It is only necessary to adopt those morals which do produce the results desired. Many spokesmen for various religions will disagree.

The reader should be alert that Step Two of the AA program does not suggest some "Power greater than themselves" will make alcoholics like people who are not alcoholic. This may be "a blessing" because we may not be living in a sane society. Similarly, Step Four does not say the values of any of the traditional religions are necessarily valid. While their self-appointed spokesmen may often make those claims, it is the alcoholic (i.e.: "equal in the eyes of God") who ultimately makes that determination for themselves. (review pg 95). Many religious belief systems contain beneficial elements because they are the same universal principles which have continually been rediscovered since the days of primitive man. Which "moral values" are chosen will depend upon what the individual alcoholic "believes are best".

Benefits from some belief systems get deferred until some speculatively future lifetime. It is recommended an alcoholic follow those spiritual leaders who are able to demonstrate the kind success they desire. (i.e.: "pray for"). If, their primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety in this lifetime (refer to "The Preamble" of AA), they may prefer to ask to see results. This would imply a priority preference for results in this lifetime over some speculative other experience. Once again, this choice of values is a personal one.

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it--then you are ready to take certain steps." (pg 58)

The intelligent alcoholic will inventory their own moral values instead of blindly accepting a set of values established by others. That choice may involve when they want results. There is practical value in paraphrasing a familiar AA Slogan:

"ONE LIFE AT A TIME"

If the reader accepts personal equality, as a human being, they already know they possess all the human capacities required to be one. And, so does everyone else equally as well. As individuals, each alcoholic is free to develop or not develop any personal traits which are human qualities. A single lifetime will not allow sufficient time to perfect every personality trait. However, you the reader, have already improved upon some portions of your personal life.

Time was when anything you now do well, was new knowledge. Others have also made individual choices to develop their human qualities. Different groups place different values and priorities upon different qualities. Depending upon the objectives of the group, some may also develop an ethnocentric attitude that their group is superior to other groups. This does not mean they really are, it just means they have their own choice of values. When followed, those belief systems will have different priorities which produce different results.

A self-evident conclusion is that there is always room for improvement in any area of life. (see pg 60 & Steps 10-11). Some spiritual progress may be easier due to unique characteristics which allow every individual to be separately identifiable. As an individual human being, each alcoholic is both unique and equal. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God").

HUMAN EQUALITY AND SAMENESS

INCLUDES PERSONAL UNIQUENESS

This author suggests personal uniqueness is part of your sameness with every other human being because everyone has it.

Personal improvement is a choice either made by you, or by some other human being. Allowing the moral values of others to guide your life reflects your own priorities. (see pg 27) Who else could have appointed another person as an authority for your life?

No alcoholic can be more than human. Any alcoholic has some capacity to do whatever is humanly possible. Moral values reflect when and how an individual alcoholic will make their best choice.

"Many of us exclaimed "What an order! I canít go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60)

 

On the premise that what you do impacts what happens, this approach determines your relationship to life (syn: "God"). How much intelligence and how much emotion go into the choice will reflect your belief system and personal priorities.

The good news is that you are no longer a victim. You have the option to enjoy a new kind of freedom and happiness. (see pg 83) The bad news is that you are obliged to accept personal responsibility for your own mistakes in judgment. (see pg 133). Improving that mental action (pg 23 & Step 11)) requires self examination. Many alcoholics consider this preferable to conformity with a "second hand set of rules" developed by other and equal human beings.

S T E P F O U R :

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves"

Before beginning any journey toward a new goal, it is desirable to know where you are starting from. This permits intelligently charting a course to move in the desired direction. Evaluating ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces (pg 27) helps determine if those choices produce the desired new direction in life. If not, then thoughtful replacement with a new set of values that does work is probably indicated.

There is a natural resistance to abandoning habitual ways of dealing with reality (syn: "God"). Familiar patterns of behavior may be the only known way of dealing with problems even when there is something better available. (pg 60(c)). For many alcoholics, "trading up" to an improvement (syn: "conscious contact with God" - see Step 11) is their preferred choice. While a "better way" may be available, if it is not understood it cannot be used. Therefore, ignorance of the truth can be a flaw which blocks personal progress.

Placing the principles of life before any limited personal value system is a change in moral values. An attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial toward personal ignorance can be a formidable obstacle to personal progress. (see Appendix II). Change that way of thinking and you change your fundamental relationship to life. (syn: "God" see pg 55). When alcoholics do this, their whole attitude and outlook upon life will be new. (see pgs 27, 84, & Appendix I -Tradition 12)

Some alcoholics have discovered that placing priority on principles of life over their personal belief system, has produced desirable results which others can learn and enjoy. It occurs as the result of adopting a new attitude about personal ignorance of new knowledge (syn: "God"- see pg 27). An infinite supply of new knowledge is available to anyone who seeks it.

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW!

Awareness of a lack of the power to be happy, joyous and free, (see pgs 45 & 133) eventually brings each alcoholic face-to-face with their old idea of "God".(see pgs 53, 55, 58 & 68). Familiar ideas and habitual patterns of thinking exist deep inside everyone. When a fundamental idea of God is erroneous, there is value in promptly admitting it is wrong. ( see Step 10).

The alcoholic reader may have already established that their old ideas were not working sufficiently well to produce desired results. (i.e.: "the answer to their prayers"). When presented with the proposition that the source of all new knowledge, can provide relief. (syn: "God" see pgs 60(c) & 68) this will require a decision. One of choosing personal priority value between two seemingly conflicting concepts of a power that will produce results.

"Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (pg 58)

Where a life-threatening condition is recognized, many will make changes out of desperation rather than from inspiration. Some will seek help outside themselves, from a desire to be good. (see pg 55). They may even rely upon a "second hand belief system" where some other human power is qualified to tell them what is good for them. (syn: "God") This is frequently based upon some emotional promise of rewards and punishments rather than any intelligent recognition of cause and effect.

The desire to stay alive and carry their own keys is likely to be the real motivating factor. This will readily occur with those alcoholics who have pursued their drinking careers to where their primary objective is survival..

"We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck....................." (pg 17)

When traditional religious values are in conflict, it becomes a matter of personal preference between "goodness and survival". Under those conditions, it is easier to accept a solution that works. ("First Things First").

Most alcoholics recognize it is the most intelligent choice to survive first and then be good later. The reverse may not be an option. No one really knows for sure. Eventually, everyone will become an equal expert.

Alcoholics, who seek answers beyond their present belief system, can be reassured that help is available from the results others have produced. Others have learned to understand new knowledge after not knowing how to recover from alcoholism. The ideas, emotions and attitudes which had guided their lives got displaced and rearranged, out of their own desperation to survive. (pg 27).

IT IS HARD TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS

The Ultimate Reality of life (syn: "God") did not change. What did change was the conscious understanding of reality by the alcoholic who learned how to improve cooperation with it. (Step 11). It was necessary for them to discover what was lacking in their conscious awareness of reality. (i.e.: "God" - see pgs 53, 60(c), 68 & 164).

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma." (pg 45)

Drinking alcoholics lack the power to utilize the same new knowledge which sober alcoholics possess. (see Step 11). However, the power of that new knowledge is available, if it is sought. (pg 60(c)). If one alcoholic can understand how to stay sober, any drinking alcoholic can learn more of what they know. This brings the drinking alcoholic to a point of decision. Either they want new knowledge, or they prefer to hold onto their old ideas. (see pg 58). Either they will be obliged to seek more power from an infinite source of new knowledge (syn: "God"- see pg 45) or else settle for what they have. So, what is your choice to be? (pgs 53 & 68)

INDECISION IS HELL!

To make matters worse, those who believe there is no "power, greater than themselves", may be asked:

"Who are you to say there is no God?" (pg 56)

On those occasions where understanding reality is inadequate, the alcoholic is vulnerable to their own ignorance of what is good for them. (syn: "God for them"). The mind of the alcoholic is resisting some greater good and increased happiness. (see pgs 23, 68, 133 & 164). Under those conditions they encounter fear of the unknown. This author suggests it is fear of new knowledge coming from a self-centered struggle for survival of old ideas, emotions and attitudes. (pgs 27 & 62).

Some alcoholics find an opening in the walls of their mental defenses (see pg 23) where their minds will allow in new knowledge. The power of valid new knowledge breaks down defenses of erroneous beliefs, and reality is eventually forced upon them. Then, huge emotional displacements and rearrangements will occur as a natural result. (see pg 27).

This author suggests that, when we know the truth, we become freed from the limits of our former belief system. (see pg 83). For those who question this process, you are asked to consider that:

EVERYTHING YOU NOW KNOW

WAS ONCE UNKNOWN TO YOU!

Few alcoholics believe everything everyone tells them. Most do believe some things some people tell them.

 

Within the mind of an alcoholic, there are some people who are considered to be authorities. At the same time, there are others who are not viewed in that same light. The choice of who is and who is not believable becomes a determining element in how an alcoholic will approached their problems. It is often a decision they made at some time in the past which is now placing them in a position to be hurt. (pg 62). Unless they are getting results they desire now, (i.e.: "pray for"), some of their old ideas about "who and what to believe" is now a road-block to recovery. (pg 58).

The problem, is they made "gods" of other people accepted as authorities on "what to believe is the truth". (syn: "God"). This was followed by a calculated defense against anything that might establish they were wrong. (see Steps 10 & 11). Was there room for error? (see pg 23).

INHERENT IN ANY BELIEF IS THAT

THE BELIEF ITSELF IS TRUE!

By acting upon false beliefs, the alcoholic becomes a creator of confusion. (see pgs 61-62, & 133). Cooperation with reality is obviously more sane than fighting it. (syn: "God"- see pg 84). When, out of personal ignorance, an alcoholic rejects what is good for them (syn: "Godís Will vs. self-will run riot") their troubles are of their own making. (pgs 62 & 133).

"WHY BOTHER TO SEEK ANSWERS

IF YOU WONíT ACCEPT THEM?"

 

 

At those times, the alcoholic lacks the power to choose to cooperate with life on lifeís terms. Before it is possible to reduce any conflict with reality, (i.e.: "God"), the first requirement is to recognize it exists. This was essentially done in Step One. Making spiritual progress toward cooperation with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God &/or Godís Will for us") is obviously more sane than to deny it. Whenever conscious understanding of reality is lacking, (see pg 45 & Step 11), improvement is always possible.

Anything short of "omniscience and omnipotence" requires some sort of "power greater than ourselves" to improve sanity. An alcoholic needs more new knowledge of reality in order to have more sanity about drinking alcohol because drinking it distorts their perception of reality. (i.e.: "God" -see pg 55). Seeking that power begins by letting go of old ideas and changing fundamental beliefs about the power. (see pgs 23, 27, 55, & 58). Many old ideas about the nature of the power may need to be cast aside. ("Let Go and Let God" - see pg 42).

This often occurs after an alcoholic has observed others obtain different results from what their "chosen authorities on ĎGodí" had told them. If they had been telling the truth, they would be producing successful results. If different concepts provide what is most desired, many alcoholics will seek the power of that "know-how". This appears to be a more sane choice than belligerently "holding on to old ideas". (pg 58 & Appendix II). Giving open minded consideration to new knowledge becomes the essence of Step Two.

When alcoholics have an honest desire (i.e.: "prayer") to cooperate with life, on lifeís terms, it creates a demand for new knowledge of how to do it. That demand is for the "power of intelligence greater than their own". No matter how else it is defined, the "three letter word ĎGodí" incorporates that idea. (pg 63).

That same demand is also for help to produce "a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism". This author believes the acceptance of new knowledge to replace old ideas becomes the essence of a spiritual experience. (see pgs 27, 68 & Appendix II).

Each alcoholic is faced with making a decision to hold onto old ideas, or else seek conscious contact with new knowledge greater than they possess. That new knowledge includes power to produce desired results. Without that new knowledge, any conscious cooperation with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") is not possible. Fortunately, for any alcoholic who seeks recovery, that personal improvement is always available to those who are willing to accept it.

Making a decision to seek improvement (pg 60 & Steps 10 & 11) allows "a completely new set of conceptions and motives" to become dominate.(see pg 27). Hence, the alcoholic is required to decide what is their dominant desire (syn: "prayer"). Their new attitude establishes a new and different personal relationship to the One Power which is the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (pgs 53, 55 & 59). It also gives direction to that available power.

POWER IS POWER AND IT

WORKS THE WAY IT WORKS

Any power operates according to certain principles - be they known or unknown. Giving any power intelligent direction requires understanding of the principles by which it operates. (see Step 11). This is "life on lifeís terms". Unfortunately, there are those who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program. (pg 58).

Because they have nothing better with which to relate to life, except their old ideas, many alcoholics are afraid to let go of their old ideas and let what is good for them happen. ("Let go and Let God"- see pg 67). According to their old conception, this would be abandoning God. (see pgs 12 & 55). However, with an open mind they may eventually recognize there may be value in ideas other than their own. (see pgs 164 & Appendix II). This author believes there is always more new knowledge available about anything and everything which is God. (pgs 53, 68 & 164).

"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." (Appendix II)

At some point, alcoholics will recognize an unpalatable truth. Not only have their minds been distorted by alcohol, but they have also been distorted by misinformation. As a consequence, they were mistaken and have believed things that were not in harmony, balance or compatible with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God"). As a consequence of believing things that were not true, their perception of reality was often an erroneous one. The "light comes on" once they become consciously aware of the true nature of their mental condition. (see pg 23 & Step 11).

CLEAR AND ACCURATE THINKING CANNOT BE

PRODUCED FROM A DISTORTED MIND.

"Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind....." (pg 23)

With this improved consciousness (see Step 11), many alcoholics who have embraced traditional religious ideas about "God" become fearful they must abandon their faith in God. This is not so!

The only suggestion made in AA is to let go of old ideas and erroneous beliefs which do not produce results. There is a significant difference insofar as reality (syn: "God") in concerned,. A fundamental idea of "God" as an infinite source of new knowledge does not have limitations. (pgs 53 & 68). This author has observed that most traditional belief systems do. There is no need to "throw the baby out with the bath water". What is required is "the wisdom to know the difference". The real problem is one of not knowing which old ideas are valid and which ones are not.

With a need for more wisdom, (see pg 68) a decision is required to replace or improve old ideas, emotions and attitudes. (see pg 27, Step 11 & Appendix II). This effectively becomes an "educational variety" of a "vital spiritual experience". It is a decision to "trade up" to the acceptance of greater power. (pg 68). That very personal choice is an essential part of Step Three.

Having made that decision, there now comes the need to improve conscious understanding of what does and does not work. (Step 11). Understanding what produces desired results is the process of recovery from alcoholism. (syn: "God as you understand Him").

Many alcoholics are surprised to discover their recovery is not on the terms of their belief system but on lifeís terms (syn: "Godís Will").

To understand what terms are guiding forces requires an alcoholic to take stock of their personal value system. (see pg 27).

"So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory."

(Pg 64)

Most alcoholics acquire some erroneous perceptions about their relationship to life. Some from distorting their minds with alcohol. Other, more subtle errors, come from blindly accepting inaccurate information assumed to be true. This is not so much a moral problem of being good or bad, but instead is ineffective because it is incomplete. With willingness, honesty and open-mindedness to accept improved information about life (syn: "God"- see Steps 10, 11 & Appendix II), many discover everything they believed was neither accurate nor complete.

I NEVER EVER MADE A MISTAKE BEFORE,

BUT THIS LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT BE ONE!!

Mistaken beliefs about what is and is not reality fairly well define alcoholic insanity. (Step 2). Recovery requires a vital spiritual experience. (see Appendix II). To the dismay of many, religious convictions do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27). When what is already believed does not produce "the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism" (see pgs 39, 42, 45, 68 & Appendix II), the alcoholic is obliged to seek the power of new knowledge. (see pg 68). This requires a fact-finding process of examining the ideas, emotions and attitudes that guide choices of behavior. (pg 27) and discovering what does and does not produce results.

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW!

This author believes, alcoholics will repeat mistakes until they discover the error in their thinking. They are not being punished by some whimsical tyrant for being "bad", but are making their own misery out of ignorance of reality (i.e.: "God"- see pg 133). Other belief systems will produce different conclusions.

* * * * *

SECTION B05f:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 64 with "Resentment is the "number one offender".............." to page 67 through "We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."

COMMENTS:

Hopefully, by this point the reader is aware there are practical reasons for taking a personal inventory. Particularly an inventory of ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in their life as an individual. One objective of an inventory is to understand which patterns of behavior do or do not produce personal fulfillment. Any long range objectives then become important. They will likely fall into one of two categories. The reader may wish to evaluate which receives greatest importance. This author suggests it will be based upon either:

    • your own thinking, - or
    • values established by others.

Any personal fulfillment objectives will be part of your own thinking. Hopefully they will be based upon desires (syn: "prayers") which are both realistic and intelligent. If someone else is telling you what should want, you have appointed them as an authority for your life. As that authority they have become your version of God. Have you ever checked their credentials to be one?

At issue is what you think about human equality. Everyone has a capacity to be mistaken. It is important to understand why you believe someone else is an authority for your life. With so many different viewpoints available, why do you choose one individual as an authority and not someone else? Was the choice based upon intelligence or upon an emotional desire to be told what you want to hear?

That same question applies to other goals you have for your life. (see pg 23). Are your objectives intelligent or emotional? Is what you want for your life (i.e.: "your real prayer") the result of intelligent thought, or is it what someone said you should want? Perhaps it is just a childish demand of "I want what I want when I want it!!". (i.e.: "self-will run riot").

Both intelligent and emotional choices give direction to whatever power is applied toward achieving a goal. This author believes intelligent choices are more stable than emotional ones. Some belief systems recommend you abdicate freedom of choice by allowing their spokesmen to tell you what you should desire for yourself. The reader is free to do this if they so choose.

Your ideas, emotions and attitudes are forces, which guide your life (see pg 27) and determine what actions you will or will not take. (pg 54). This author believes that what you do impacts what happens to you. Those actions reflect the moral values which govern your life. They are inescapably personal, therefore ask yourself:

    • ARE THEY INTELLIGENT?
    • ARE THEY REALISTIC?
    • ARE THEY REALLY YOUR VALUES?
    • IS THAT ALL THERE IS?

Your response may highlight some significant differences between a religious and a spiritual approach to living life. You may discover which relies more upon emotion than upon intelligence.

Traditional religious approaches to life are usually based upon some appointed authority telling you what to think. Often it is another equal human being who has been accepted as an authority to define moral values. This requires "placing faith in some human power". (see pg 60(b)) because "you want to believe them". Intelligence suggests that unless they know everything about everything, the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn" "God") may be different.

Most individuals have some knowledge which would be new knowledge for others. Some facts of life they may understand better than others. Nonetheless, everyone lacks having all knowledge. (syn: "God" see pg 45). Your own inherent intelligence will recognize that no one has "all the answers to everything" in life. (syn: "the Great Reality" - see pg 55). In that regard, each individual is equal, but unique and different in what they know.

When choosing another human being to define what you should want, you become dependent upon them. By your own choice, you limit your happiness, joy and freedom to what they know, or believe they know.(see pgs 62 & 133). Those limits are restricted to what they think produces happiness, joy and freedom for you. They may be mistaken. When the results are unsatisfactory a resentment can follow. (see pg 64).

This author suggests that learning how to think, is equivalent to learning to live your own life. To do so may require that you throw several lifelong conceptions out the window. (see pg 42).

When seeking the source of all knowledge (syn: "God" - see pg 60(c)) an alcoholic becomes free to accept valid principles for living from anyone, any place and at any time. (see Step 12 & pg 83). With this mental attitude, they are then free to enlarged their spiritual life, and are no longer dependent upon some specific human power. (see pgs 14, 15, 23 , 35 & 83). Reliance upon this enlarged source of new knowledge effectively produces a vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27).

Each alcoholic has a belief system which is a fundamental idea about their relationship to life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" see pg 55). Any, conflict with the Great Reality shows up in how well that belief system works. Any conflict will occur within the mind of the alcoholic because "the Great Reality" does not change to accommodate disagreements or conflicts created by individuals. (see pg 23)

What is believed may be intelligent and agree with reality, (syn: "God"), or it may be emotional and a fantasy. This requires alcoholics to investigate their personal belief system and determine if it is intelligent or emotional. (Steps 3, 10 & 11). Usually there is some mixture of both. Those who want to recover have a need to reduce their personal conflict with reality. (syn: "God").

This author suggests that intelligent beliefs are more realistic than emotional wishful thinking. Acceptance or rejection of an entitlement to your own view of reality is part of the force guiding your life. (see pgs, 27 & 55). Other opinions exist. Your attitude about human equality determines how intelligently you accept or reject a human power as the authority for some portion of your life.

Do you tell others what is acceptable to you, or do they tell you? Are your moral values your own intelligent thinking? If not, who does your thinking for you?

"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.

Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory." (pgs 63 - 64)

* * * * *

STEP FOUR:

A personal inventory of moral values establishes the starting point for progress toward a new goal. (see pg 60). New knowledge will be required. That implies seeking some source of new knowledge greater than now possessed. (pg 60(c)). To do so requires taking stock and evaluating what is being used now.

Relief from alcoholism requires keeping an open-mind about enlarging a spiritual life. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & Appendix II). A similar attitude is required when seeking some infinite power of new knowledge which exceeds human understanding. (see pg 60(a),(b),(c), pg 68 & Step 11). To obtain improved understanding requires examination of old ideas, emotions and attitudes, and a moral inventory by the individual alcoholic. (pg 27 & Step 11). That mental action is the beginning of a life-long process where more will constantly be revealed. (see pgs 129, 164 & Step 10).

There is always more to know and understand about the Great Reality. (i.e.: "God", see pgs 53, 55, 68 & Steps 10 & 11). There is always room for improvement. Any moral inventory will reflect the current values of the individual alcoholic.

It is presumed the reader is willing to accept some responsibility for choices made in their life. Those who believe they have none are advised to stop wasting time reading this material. According to that belief, it would be pointless to seek improvement. With that belief system you are able to sit back and let whatever runs your life do it to you because you have already attained spiritual perfection. If that is correct, then congratulations are in order.

By contrast, this author believes that no one is exempt from the consequences of their choices. Only temporary comfort is obtained by allowing "second-hand ideas" to determine current actions. (pg 58). Eventually, such a belief system will include you being "a victim" of whatever authority is running your life because nothing will ever be your own fault.

If that is a chosen belief system, a healthy dose of self-honesty may be required for survival. Escape from all personal responsibility in this lifetime is an illusion. Belief systems which promise benefits in some subsequent experience are difficult to confirm with any intelligent examination of reality. (syn: "God"). Alcoholics are usually held accountable for the actions they take rather than what they believe. From that purely practical perspective, this author recommends the alcoholic reader consider living

"One Life at a Time".

Seeking more new knowledge about the reality of this lifetime (syn: "God" - see pgs 53 & 60(c)) is an intelligent objective. Intelligent awareness ultimately displaces erroneous beliefs regardless of any emotional attempts to hold on to those old ideas. (see pgs 58 & 84). As more new knowledge is revealed, improved conscious understanding of reality can and will be recognized as "a power greater than yourself". (see pg 164 & Step 11). The reader, has every right to believe anything they choose to believe. So does everyone else, with equal authority.

The value of any belief system is how well it works, and the results it produces. Particularly for any approach to recovery from alcoholism.

For alcoholics in AA who "completely give themselves to this simple program", (see pg 58) taking stock of personal moral values is an obvious next step. It is a start on the path of recovery. There is intelligence in the slogan:

"First Things First!"


It is now assumed that some spiritual progress is desired by any reader of

this Study Guide. Taking an inventory of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding your life, is recommended. It includes recognition that:

"Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else." (pg 64)

This provides a clue about where to begin. By improving ideas, emotions and attitudes which produce resentments, some progress is inevitable. It will occur unless the reader believes they are a victim incapable of making choices which allow for personal improvement.

The alcoholic with all necessary knowledge for successful living at a conscious level, would use that "know-how" to be happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133 & Step 11). They would already possess sufficient self-knowledge to produce their own personal fulfillment. (syn: "the answer to their prayer" see pg 39). The alcoholic reader either claims that perfection or they seek something more. (see pg 60). To get more you must be willing to seek and accept more.

"If you have decided you want what we have, and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps" (pg 58)

Self-knowledge is both finite and limited. (pg 68). Presumably the alcoholic reader is seeking an effective mental defense against the first drink. (pgs 23, 43, 45, 60(c) & Appendix II). Improved understanding of reality is available from the source of all new knowledge. (i.e.: "God" see pg 60). Hopefully they recognize they do not have all the answers to life they may require.

"But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge." (pg 39)

Whatever new knowledge may be required for continued recovery must come from some source of intelligence which is "a power greater than ourselves". ( review pgs 14-15, & 42-43). Religious alcoholics often claim precise knowledge regarding that power. Those claims of knowledge are frequently based upon hearsay evidence and a "second hand belief system" which cannot be intelligently confirmed as being accurate.

In AA, recovered alcoholics tap a source of infinite power and seek to enlarge and improve their conscious understanding of it. (see pgs 60, 68 163, & Step 11). Regardless of any belief, the constant improvement and enlargement of a spiritual life is always possible. That spiritual progress is an essential ingredient to continued recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 14, 15, 35, 60, 129, & 163).

Differences exist between religious convictions and enlarging a spiritual life. (see pg 27 & Appendix II). The reader may choose to limit their own conscious understanding of the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") to the finite boundaries of their religious faith. However "an infinite concept of God" (pg 68) will offer more relief simply because there is more to be revealed. (pgs 53, 60(c) & 164).

There is valuable new knowledge to be found outside the limits of any religious belief system, This is especially so when religious authorities define "what to believe". As a consequence, "in seeking more anyone can find more" and then be free to use that improved understanding in all their affairs. (see pg 83 & Steps 10, 11 & 12). The use an alcoholic makes of any new knowledge may be either intelligent or emotional. (i.e.: "Godís will vs. self will run riot"). Only the results really matter.

Regardless of approach, alcoholics can and do recover. (see Frontispiece). Those who have recovered are able to demonstrate some knowledge of how to stay sober. There are alcoholics who want to stay sober, but are unable to do so because they do not know how. If they did know, they would be using that new knowledge to produce successful results.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma." (pg 45)

Changes in thinking are required to learn what others know about recovery from alcoholism. (see pg 23). That change amounts to a vital spiritual experience for the alcoholic who is still ignorant of what is possible. When the power of valid new knowledge is acquired, it will manifest as a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. It may occur rapidly, or be of the educational variety. It will always materialize for those who are willing to work for it. (see pg 84 & Appendix II).

It is important to recognize that this mental action will be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements . While the religious convictions of the reader may be very good, they may not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27).

No alcoholic has sufficient knowledge to understand that which is infinite, or how well their religious convictions are compatible with the Ultimate Reality of Life. (syn: "God"). Their conscious awareness of reality is always finite and limited. However, you, the reader, always have the option to seek more. You can do this by constantly improving and enlarging your own spiritual life. (pgs 14-15, 35, 60 & Step 3).

This decision requires mental action. (see pg 23 & Steps 10 & 11). It is necessary to be willing to learn something new. To do so, requires being honest with yourself (see pg 58) about what you believe. Then be open-minded that something better could be available. To obtain improved results, it is necessary to "trade up" by accepting reality. In the process of spiritual growth, personal mistakes in judgment are possible. (see Step 10).

Maintaining this attitude is indispensable and embodies a willingness to "trade up" to principles that produce success. (review Appendix I, Tradition 12 & Appendix II). The alternative choice is to hold onto a limited belief system which rejects some portion of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" - see pg 53).

Individual AA members have their own limited view of recovery from alcoholism. No AA member has all the answers. This author is specifically included in that observation. Some personal responsibility is involved when choosing which approach to follow. (see pg 62). Successful recovery for any alcoholic involves placing principles before personalities. (see Tradition 12).

Groups have more knowledge of those principles than any individual member. They demonstrate a greater variety of ideas, emotions and attitudes that work. Therefore, a group approach usually works better than blindly accepting any individual approach to recovery. This can be a starting point. A vital spiritual experience is a mental journey toward an endless supply of new knowledge and all the power that goes with it. (pg 59).

Group knowledge is a power greater than individual self-knowledge when it is capable of demonstrating successful results. Many alcoholics recognized the collective experience of all of AA is a resource of great strength. Most recovered alcoholics eventually discover an even larger and improved source of power. It is available by constantly improving conscious contact with the source of all new knowledge and the increase in power that goes with it. (syn "God" - see pgs 23, 45, 59 & 60).

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg 164)

New knowledge, is acquired from the source of all power (syn: "God" - see pg 59), and is always available for anyone to claim if they seek it. Ultimately, many alcoholics recognize that an endless supply of new knowledge is always available to provide relief from alcoholism for anyone who suffers. (see pg 60(c)).

An alcoholic can only use whatever power they consciously possess. With new knowledge comes more power and new freedom. The person who improves their conscious contact with the source of all new knowledge is then free to use more power. (see pgs 45 & 83) They may use that power with intelligence or apply it emotionally as "self-will run riot".

For some alcoholics "an infinite source of new knowledge" becomes their fundamental concept of "God". (see pgs 12 & 55). Others will prefer to hold onto limited old ideas and "second hand religious concepts". (see pg 58). What is your choice to be? (pg 53).

Any approach to all knowledge (syn: "God") is personal and is a choice made by each alcoholic. (see pg 55). Some gain new knowledge through the teachings of various religions. Those fundamental ideas of God are usually interpreted by someone designated as an authority on that belief system. Other alcoholics prefer to go directly to the same source of all new knowledge which allows authorities to claim their expertise.

Using another human being as "a middleman to God" is a personal choice. It allows someone else to do your thinking for you, with your own permission. Where recovery from alcoholism is concerned, it is results which really count. The alcoholic reader is advised to evaluate results and then consider:

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE HOW MUCH
THEY KNOW, - IF WHAT THEY KNOW IS NOT SO?

Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (Step 4) implies a review of the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are the guiding forces in our lives. (see pg 27). With resentments being the "number one" offender, they become an intelligent starting point for a personal inventory.

"In dealing with resentments, we set them down on paper." (pg 64)

There seems to be good reason for writing down resentments on paper. As "free-floating thoughts", they are a guiding force without benefit of intelligent definition or examination. Writing them down puts them into tangible form for exposure to the light of reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 53 & Step 11). It is the experience of this author that writing down resentments allows an alcoholic to use of a critical capacity which is more commonly used to find fault in others. That same quality can be redirected for personal benefit. Fault-finding becomes a valuable tool in recovery once a simple principle is recognized that:

FIXING OTHERS DOES NOT FIX ME!

Where the character trait of "fault-finding" may carry some negative connotations, it is a positive asset when applied to personal improvement. This occurs by a mental change of direction. (pg 23). Instead of pointing out the shortcomings of others, (syn: "their departures from ĎGodís willí" - see pgs 55 & 133) that same capacity identifies opportunities for personal improvement. Improved ideas, emotions and attitudes can become new guiding forces for the alcoholic in their relationship to life. (pg 27 & Step 11)

With improved awareness of reality, self-improvement is possible. (Steps 10 & 11). A capacity to recognize the Great Reality is something which exists within each individual. (syn: "God" see pg 55). The reader may discover that option is part of their personal freedom. Use it or lose it!

Some alcoholics operate their lives with a belief that "if my life is a mess, someone else is responsible" This is a childish emotional response which claims "I didnít do anything,- it was their fault". (see pg 62). Realistically, it is an indication that

"THEY FLUNKED SANDBOX"

and are not prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. Obviously, that attitude is not an intelligent one.

Freedom includes assuming the responsibilities that go with it. On lifeís terms asking for freedom without responsibility is like demanding "fat free chicken fat". It is an obvious contradiction in terms.

FREEDOM AND RESPONSIBILITY ARE

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

The consequences of an unrealistic demand upon life (syn: "an unrealistic prayer") are self-evident. The result is disappointment and frustration. This author believes that ultimately

ALL FRUSTRATION LEADS TO AGGRESSION.

The natural result of any frustration is a resentment and a desire to "get even". That desire (syn: "prayer") usually gets directed toward others on the erroneous assumption that "if something goes wrong, and things do not go my way it canít be my fault because I was sincere". (review pgs 60-62). Any expectations for fulfillment, (syn: "answer to a prayer"), were created in the mind of the disappointed individual. (see pgs 23, 62, & 133). When expectations are unrealistic, then frustration, anger and resentments follow.

EXPECTATIONS ARE A DOWNPAYMENT

ON A RESENTMENT

When a resentment gets directed to others it incorporates a fundamental idea there is some sort of a power which can correct them.(see pgs 55, 62 & 133). Some alcoholics never become sufficiently open-minded to examine that old idea or admit they might be wrong. (see Step 10).

Eventually, the realities of life will force an alcoholic with a resentment to "grow up" and accept life, on lifeís terms. Truth, Good & Reality (syn: "God" - see Step 3) will require them to change their ideas, emotions and attitudes for continued survival (pg 27). Any alcoholic is ready for the AA program when:

THEIR DESIRE TO STAY ALIVE AND

CARRY THEIR OWN KEYS EQUALS

THEIR DESIRE FOR ANOTHER DRINK

 

Hopefully, when that choice is made there will be some spiritual progress. If the personal mess in the life of an alcoholic is ever going to get cleaned up, they need to know that no one else is going to do it for them. (pg 60(b)). Certainly no one else will do it in any manner consistent with their own personal freedom.

For most alcoholics, their "spiritual progress" is "the educational variety" and produces "a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. (see Appendix II). If it is to continue in this lifetime, there is room for further improvement. (see Steps 10 & 11 & pg 164). Other concepts will produce other changes toward different primary objectives. Most religious concepts of improvement are primarily concerned with benefits to be gained in some subsequent experience and the idea of "Pay now and collect later".

Any improved awareness of the truth (syn: "God" - see Step 11) includes the need to discard and replace erroneous ideas, emotions and attitudes. (see pg 27 & Step 10). Especially those which are guiding forces. (see Step 12) and also conflict with reality (syn: "God"). Some of those old ideas may need to be replaced with an improved set which work, such as "Cash and carry". (pg 58).

The mental action of "trading up" can qualify as a vital spiritual experience. (pg 27). Although many traditional religions may use a different approach, the only thing that really counts are the results which are produced. If the reader has already found the success they desire, (i.e.: "the answer to their prayers") they will want to continue using it because it works as their own version of the best.

Resentments get defined when they are put on paper. Until then they only exist in the mind of the alcoholic who has them. When writing them down, there is no point in being self-deceptive. The defining action is for personal benefit because it has a direct impact upon the life of the alcoholic. Therefore:

YOU HAVE A NEED TO KNOW!!

Any choice of action which does not produce personal happiness, joy and freedom is a defect of character. (see Step 6). A departure from an intelligent way of life which conflicts with reality (syn: "Godís will" - pg 133) is a personal flaw. It is a consciously chosen cause of personal failure. (pg 64).

Strong emotion is involved in any self-examination which challenges the integrity of an established belief system. (see pg 62). This seems to be natural. In simplest terms, it is the emotional defense for self-preservation of old ideas.

That emotional response attempts to defend values used in the past. With improved understanding more new knowledge of reality is revealed. (syn: "God" - see pg 164 & Step 11). Then a more intelligent response is available. Nothing is lost, and those old ideas continue to be available after any decision to "trade up" to something better.

Any emotional self defense is resistance to change. It is not easy to let go of emotional beliefs or retain portions which conflict with reality. Although some old ideas may have continuing value, there is no intelligent reason to hold onto a belief system which blocks spiritual progress.

Mental action to let go of old ideas and accept something good instead, ("Let Go and Let God") involves how much emotion or intelligence is involved. Every action is 100% complete at the time taken. There is usually some mixture of both intelligence and emotion. That balance impacts how well the action is in agreement with reality. (syn:"God").

This author has observed there is more stability in intelligent responses than in emotional reactions. Because everyone has some knowledge of reality (syn: "some awareness of God" - see pgs 53 & 55), most individuals apply some intelligence to their affairs. Few are free of any emotional reactions. It is the balance between intelligence and emotion that is significant.

Consider the premise that cooperation with reality (syn: "Godís Will") is the most intelligent choice any alcoholic can make. Decisions using 80% intelligence and 20% emotion are more stable than those which are 80% emotional and only 20% intelligent. (see pg 62). Opposing views exist that feelings take precedence over reality.

Some religions attempt to define reality within the framework of their belief system by doing so emotionally. Some attempt this without acknowledging validity to facts of life or to any other beliefs. This creates a very limited perspective of reality. (syn: "God" pg 55). They then find it awkward when other belief systems produce superior results in recovery from alcoholism. When it comes to being open minded, what is your choice? (pg 53).

IT IS HARD TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS

Many alcoholics find seeking new knowledge as the most intelligent way to improve their life. (pg 60(c)). It has direct value when taking a personal moral inventory. After setting resentments down on paper, any new knowledge becomes available for later use. Without use or review that new power can easily be buried under thoughts of other things. Conscious awareness of those guiding forces is improved as reality is understood. (i.e.: "God" see Step 11) That mental action creates vital spiritual growth. (see pgs 12, 14-15, 23, 27 & 35).

A moral inventory allows improved understanding of any guiding forces to determine if they are intelligently in agreement with reality. (syn: "God"). Perhaps some guiding forces are really sensitive, childish or grandiose emotional reactions. (syn: "self-will run riot"). There is no purpose in denying whatever emotions accompany a resentment. Justified, or not, they are the fuel for anger and retaliation that leads only to futility and unhappiness .(see pgs 27 & 66).

By giving definition to emotional reactions, they are no longer nebulous free-floating monsters in the mind. (see pg 23). Instead, they get changed into something tangible when set down on paper. Then they can be observed and dealt with intelligently. In tangible written form, they are no longer illusive sources of frustrations, futility and unhappiness, and spiritual progress becomes possible. Use of the familiar AA "Serenity Prayer" is frequently helpful in the process.

It is the experience of this author that strong emotions are unstable and cannot be sustained for any extended period of time. Eventually, they subside and are confronted by reality. Improved understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God") allows for improved stability. The capacity to produce emotional stability is inherent within every alcoholic. (see pg 55, 153 & Step 11). Those with the "know how" will want to use that power to be happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133).

Unintelligent emotions are difficult to maintain in the face of reality. All human beings have some capacity to recognize reality, and it will eventually force itself upon anyone. If confirmation is required, just ask a drinking alcoholic to explain their behavior intelligently on "the morning after the night before!!".

The same principle applies to justifications for resentments held by alcoholics. Emotional reasons are difficult to maintain, in the light of intelligence. (i.e.: "the ĎLight of Godí").Those alcoholics who are willing, honest and open-minded enough to seek the source of all knowledge will find relief by improving their conscious contact with reality. They are then able to make improved choices and gain freedom from the destructive force of old and erroneous ideas. (review Step 11 from this perspective).

"We found the Great Reality deep down within ourselves. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." (pg 55)

The reader may wish to consider fault-finding as "a gift from God" which allows them to enlarge their spiritual life. (pgs 14, 15, & 35). Such mental action might be considered as part of "a vital spiritual experience". (pg 27). Once resentments are put on paper, they can be set aside. When the mental confusion and emotional turmoil has subsided, that chaos can be viewed with intelligence. Later, the inherent capacity every alcoholic has to find fault with others can be applied toward self improvement.

In the past, "the gift of fault finding" may have been used in efforts to fix others. (see pg 61). By now the reader should be aware that attempts to change other people only creates mental confusion and emotional turmoil. (see pg 61).

When other alcoholics are enjoying improved success, the intelligent choice is to learn to do what they know how to do. Especially when those other alcoholics are demonstrating happiness, joy and freedom in their personal lives. That means seeking to understand that new knowledge.

This requires acknowledging that:

IF YOU WANT WHAT THEY HAVE,

YOU NEED TO DO WHAT THEY DID

TO GET WHAT THEY GOT.

* * * * *

 

SECTION B05g:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

READ AGAIN:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 64 with "Resentment is the "number one offender".............." to page 67 through "We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."

COMMENTS:

Because of the importance resentments play in recovery from alcoholism, additional comments are being provided on the subject. They are part of the thinking processes of the alcoholic.

"Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body." (pg 23).

Correction of destructive thinking by an alcoholic requires a vital spiritual experience where ideas, emotions and attitudes.......are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. For a seemingly hopeless alcoholic, religious convictions may be very good, but do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27). For some it is necessary to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. (see pg 42).

"Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?"

"...........And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God." (pg 45)

For many alcoholics, the subject of "God" presents problems. Therefore, consider what that specific three-letter word means to your mind. It may be that your conception of God is a problem. (see pg 12)

To the shock and surprise of many, recovery occurs with many different conceptions of God. Those differences reflect personal concepts of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pgs 12, 53 & 55). Many alcoholics find relief by adopting a concept of God, different from their old idea, which they had assumed to be "the only right idea of God".

"We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power which is God."

"Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider anotherís conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps." (pg 46)

Some traditional religious conceptions of God rigidly define that Power, including what is or is not acceptable, as "Godís Will for all mankind". While this may appear presumptuous, the reader has complete freedom to believe anything that anyone might tell them. However the use of inherent intelligence may produce improved results. (review pgs 55 & 86)

Numerous religions omit some facts of life and reality or add something unrealistic in their various belief systems. Their followers are limited to those definitions of the power which seldom produce the volume of recoveries enjoyed by those alcoholics who said:

".....we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

The greater success of AA suggests seeking Power, somewhere beyond the limits of those traditional religious ideas. According to most religious belief systems, there is "their idea of God" and then "all those others which are not God". Unquestionably, any religion has discovered some of God, but, by their own limited definitions, it does not include all of God. (pg 53).

"Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." (pg 55)

Those who thoroughly followed the path outlined by early members of AA, rarely failed to recover. (review pgs 10 & 58). They claimed only spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. (pg 60). They had discovered a answer, but made no claim to having the answer.

This author believes there is a significant difference between those two approaches to recovery from alcoholism. The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous only claims to offer a answer to a specific problem. By contrast, many traditional religious approaches claim their version of that word "God" is the answer to all problems for all mankind. It is recommended the reader evaluate, with their own intelligence, the results being produced. (review pg 55).

Many recovered alcoholics had tried religious approaches to recovery without success. Many recognized that no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. (pg 60). Religious conceptions of God are developed in the minds of human beings. (see pg 23). Alcoholics are equals in their personal relationship to the Power of God. Those with religious expertise are neither superior nor inferior, but merely different. The significant difference is their claim to understand details about a power required for recovery.

The still suffering alcoholic recognizes the need for power, greater than any power they possess. In AA they discover they have access to power which does not require a "middleman", (pgs 28, 42 & 46), and improved understanding of the Great Reality, is available, if sought. (see pg 60(c) & Step 11). The "god-given" capacity to learn new knowledge is within themselves. (pgs 55 & 86). They are able to learn what others have learned.

It appears self-evident that an old fundamental idea of God was not perfectly aligned with the Great Reality which is God. (review pgs 55, 60(c) & 133). However, improvement and spiritual progress is available for those willing to enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & Step 11).

To enlarge awareness of a Power greater than ourselves requires a careful examination of the old belief system. This specifically includes ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces. (see pg 27). Some have tried to hold on to their old ideas, without results. (see pg 58).

Continued self-examination produces the enlarged spiritual awareness required for continued recovery. (see pgs 14, 15 & 35). Intensive work with other alcoholics helps maintain that spiritual progress. (see pg 89).

"Selfishness--self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." (pg 62)

Many alcoholics discover that, at some time in the past, they had chosen a limited, and erroneous concept of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things. (see pg 46). The delusion their old concept of "God" was complete, combined with the fear of being mistaken turned out to be a mental flaw in their make-up.

"Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations." (pg 64)

In reviewing ideas, emotions and attitudes which were once the guiding forces, (see pg 27), it became apparent to most that:

"Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically." (pg 64).

 

* * * * *

STEP FOUR - Contíd:

A fearless moral inventory will include ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces for the alcoholic who desires recovery. Such an inventory is essential for the alcoholic who is absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. (pg 39). Tragically, many alcoholics have relied solely upon traditional religious approaches to a Power, greater than themselves for their recovery. While their religious convictions were very good,.....they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27).

This is a natural consequence of inadequate understanding of infinite power. Religious belief systems were developed by other, and equal human beings, who had their own mental limitations. (see pg 46). Though limited examples of recoveries have occurred with various traditional religious approaches, a far greater number are produced by AA. Some universal concept of power, greater than any religious version, is able to provide additional spiritual progress. However, this requires willingness, honesty and open-mindedness to seek and accept an enlarged spiritual life and more spiritual growth. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 60(c) & Appendix II).

Improved awareness of the Great Reality (syn: "God") calls for an enlarged concept of the Power. (see pg 60 & Step 11). An infinite concept of God (see pgs 12 & 68) will be greater than a traditional religion developed within finite limits of human intelligence. The broader concept will include all and everything which is part of that Great Reality which is God. (see pgs 53, 55 & 68). Unlike religious belief systems, nothing that is "God" will be excluded or rejected.

Regardless of any religious convictions (pg 27), there arises the matter of trust. What is the basis of trust? (see pg 68). To recover, the alcoholic needs to trust "the Power of God". Traditional religions have unquestioned value in other areas. However, they simply do not produce comparable results for recovery from alcoholism in this lifetime. Not when compared to those found within the AA program of recovery.

By the definition of their belief system, religious approaches usually place limits upon the beliefs of the individual. The AA approach to God does not. (see pgs 17, 46, 49, 52 & Appendix II).

Recognition of this fundamental difference has prompted many religious alcoholics to enlarge their spiritual life. (pgs 14, 15 & 35). By seeking new knowledge beyond their religious definitions of reality, many acquire an enlarged concept of the power required for recovery. They develop a concept of "God" which enables them to include all of the Great Reality. (see pgs 12, 53 & 55). They place trust on a basis which is broader than their proclaimed faith.

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."

(pg 68).

With admission of powerlessness over alcohol, (Step 1), there is recognition some greater Power is required for recovery. (Step 2). That Power is greater than any human power.(Step 3). By definition, it is infinite and beyond human capacity to fully define or comprehend. (see pg 46). However, as it is understood, relief from alcoholism occurs, if it is sought. (pg 60(c) & Step 11).

Those experiencing recovery claimed continued spiritual progress by constantly enlarging their spiritual lives. (see pgs 14, 15, & 35). Their relief came as they understood and improved conscious contact with that Great Reality. (Steps 3 & 11). This author suggests that the operative word "as", when used in Steps 3 and 11, denotes a process. It involves a process of enlarging finite human understanding of that which is infinite.

Improving conscious understanding of infinite power, requires recognition of personal limitations. This includes the ideas, emotions and attitudes by which the alcoholic guides their life. (see pg 27). One obvious step is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of that value system. (Step 4).

When making such an inventory, the most intelligent approach will include correcting the most troublesome areas. Those who were successful suggest that resentment is the "number one" offender. Then they set them on paper.

The reader, willing to thoroughly followed that path, will notice three columns, (pg 65), and place for a fourth column to list "our own faults". (see pg 67). Without a willingness to examine that specific element, there is little possibility for self-improvement. In the process, many have discovered that:

FIXING OTHERS DOES NOT FIX ME!

The people, places and things listed may not even be aware of any inner turmoil experienced by an alcoholic seeking recovery. Often they are both indifferent and unaffected. With inability to change others comes new knowledge of personal limitations. Some obvious questions which follow are:

    • "Just what can I do?"
    • "Can I change anything?" - or
    • "Am I just a victim?"

The good or bad news is that no one has the power to really change another person without their permission. We may coerce and intimidate others into compliance. Anyone may attempt to "arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players", (pg 60), but the results are only temporary. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, each individual will do whatever they want the most. Their choice of action will reflect their dominant desire. (syn: "the answer to their prayer")

As equal human beings, everyone has desires and demands upon life. (syn: "God"). "Our lives had become unmanageable" insofar as forcing other people to want, what we want them to want. Essentially, this confirms Step One. That is the bad news.

The good news is that we are not victims. We can change our own lives, and how we relate to others. However, that requires the courage to change old ideas. Specifically included are any erroneous concepts of how we relate to the Great Reality. (i.e.: "God" pg 55).

Alcoholics are unable to change the principles which govern life, on lifeís terms. Fixing others does not produce any change to those principles. There are finite limits to human understanding of those principles and there is always more to be understood. (see pgs 46, 53, & Step 11). Accordingly, any traditional religious or scientific understanding of the Great Reality ( syn: "God" see pg 55) has limits. An infinite source of all knowledge (syn: "God" by definition) has the advantage of greater power. The advantage is found in the power of new knowledge which is still beyond the present limits of human understanding.

In that context, individual alcoholics, are indeed powerless. They have less power than is required for continued sobriety. New conditions appear constantly. To maintain sobriety an alcoholic must constantly seek new knowledge to improve and enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 85, 89, 93, 95, & 129).

New knowledge of how to improve must come from some power greater than ourselves, and it has already been provided as part of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Universe"). This author submits anyone would already have what they wanted the most. (syn: "the answer to their prayers") if they could decide what they were looking for and understand how to claim it. Conscious awareness of new knowledge is required for that improvement and understanding. (Step 11).

"God, grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change, the courage

to change the things I can, and the wisdom

to know the difference."

Enlarging understanding and accepting continual improvement is the place many alcoholics find conflict with traditional religious versions of the word "God". The traditional religious approach is usually defined, specific and final. Often it is a "second hand belief system" acquired from someone who lacked "all the answers". An alternative concept is to be completely open minded to room for improvements. That mental attitude allows an alcoholic to accommodate, new knowledge of reality. (see pgs 46, 164 & Appendix II).

Any alcoholic is free to believe their own concept about the power. (pg 12). The alcoholic, seeking recovery will note that most traditional religions have not produced significant results. Not when compared with alternative ideas of AA which are without limitations or exclusions.

Some alcoholics become happy, joyous and free (syn: "Godís Will - see pg 133) when they discover something in AA that works better than any results traditional religion can duplicate. They have tapped a source of power which produces peace of mind as equals. (see pg 63). As they seek that new knowledge of success, those alcoholics who are already experiencing it usually suggest:

"THE ANSWERS ARE IN THE BOOK"
("Alcoholics Anonymous")

So what really is the problem?

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well thatís exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. (pg 45)

"Hence we are at pains to tell why we think our present faith is reasonable, why we think it more sane and logical to believe than not to believe, why we say our former thinking was soft and mushy when we threw up our hands in doubt and said, "We donít know." (pg 53)

"Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself.

We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us"" (pg 55)

From this perspective, and utilizing the Big Book "Alcoholics Anonymous" as a basic text for recovery, the reader may conclude that:

THERE IS A POWER FOR GOOD,

AND YOU CAN USE IT IN YOUR LIFE


The really good news is:

"You can use that power any way you want to use it."

The bad news is:

"The results you get are on lifeís terms, not yours."

That is a pretty heady observation about personal freedom and personal responsibilities. Built in are some simple truths about your relationship to life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God").

    1. You are not the power.
    2. You do give the power direction.
    3. So does everyone else, on an equal basis.
    4. The choices you make determine the direction the power takes in your life.
    5. Your choices are limited by your knowledge.
    6. You possess the power to change the universe.
    7. You change the universe but only by the count of one.

The alcoholic reader has the capacity to change the entire universe (syn: "Godís Universe") by eliminating one drinking alcoholic and replacing it with one sober alcoholic. Others have done this, and so can the alcoholic reader, if they are willing to thoroughly follow their path to recovery. (pg 58).

Many religious alcoholics disagree by claiming they are mere automatons in life. They believe they are puppets manipulated by outside intelligence dictating their every action without any personal responsibility or choice in what they do.

This author suggests anyone with that belief system still has the choice to set this Study Guide aside now. That way they can close their mind to prevent intelligent consideration of any opposing ideas. (review Appendix II). However, for the alcoholic who is willing to go to any length to recover:

"Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable." (Appendix II).

The belief an alcoholic can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if only they manage well is an illusion. (pg 61). Alcoholics fail because they do not understand enough about the principles of how the power works. (Appendix I - Tradition 12). Although the alcoholic is not the power, they do give the power direction. Their choice of direction is confined to what they know. That self-knowledge is imperfect, and mistakes get made. (pg 39).

THOSE WHO REALLY KNOW BETTER DO BETTER

This author suggests that each of us intuitively recognizes a right to be happy, joyous and free. (syn: "Godís Will for us" - pg 133). What we may not have recognized is that we had been going in the wrong direction to acquire that improvement. (see Step 11).

Old ideas, emotions and attitudes which gave direction to the power in our lives needed to be displaced and rearranged. (pg 27). Because our old ideas were limited and finite they were inadequate and did not work as well as we desired.

"Perhaps there is a better way--we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves." (pg 68)

By placing reliance upon the power of new knowledge, we immediately tap a source of power greater than ourselves. It is power that comes from the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God"). By discarding the limitations of old ideas, we are free to seek and accept as much new knowledge as we choose.

No one is in possession of all knowledge (syn: "God"- see pg 46). No one can transmit something they do not have. (pg 164). This author suggests personal improvement requires seeking spiritual progress rather than blindly accepting any second hand concept of spiritual perfection established by equals.

Those successful, in recovery from alcoholism, claim spiritual progress. (pg 60). They have not found the answer, only a better answer which continually provides improved conscious contact with God. (syn: "the Great Reality - see pg 55 & Step 11).

Some resentments are the result of efforts to change the universe to conform with a traditional religious belief system. They are usually the result of someone claiming to have "the answer" (review pgs 60-62) instead of "a limited part of a answer".

A personal moral inventory addresses "where were we to blame?". The moralistic admonitions made by self-appointed spokesmen for good and evil are not a requirement for recovery. Experience indicates this is not so. If they were valid interpretations of "the will of God", no alcoholic could recover without following that guidance. However, the direction of change to which power is applied is a critical factor, and new knowledge is required about the exact nature of our wrongs. (see Step 5). Those who believe they are victims will also believe they are the exceptions entitled to special considerations and benefits.

Beliefs about rewards and punishments are found in many traditional religious ideas about God and may have value elsewhere. What is required, for recovery from alcoholism, is a practical recognition that if something is wrong it is wrong because it does not work.

For most alcoholics, their need to get well during this lifetime, takes precedence over their desire to be good for some later experience. The program outlined in the Big Book "Alcoholics Anonymous" works better to fulfill that desire (syn: "answer that prayer") and does so without denying the value found in other approaches. It is suggested the alcoholic reader look for and decide what they most want for themselves.

Religious belief systems have not worked well with alcoholism historically, because they produce a limited relationship to life. Necessary changes were seldom accomplished within the closed loop of those old ideas. The alcoholic needed additional help because the belief structure which dominated and guiding their thinking was usually inadequate for the task of recovery. Something more was required. With improved awareness, a search for new knowledge can become a new dominate desire. (syn: "prayer" - see Step 11).

What is needed is more new knowledge of the Great Reality (syn: "God" - see pg 55) which is adequate to deal with life on lifeís terms. Personal efforts to continue life, within the closed loop of an old belief system become self-will run riot. Individuals pit their personal demands to have what they believe to be right (syn: "self will") against the Ultimate Reality of life on lifeís terms (syn: "Godís Will"). Small wonder their best efforts are not successful.

OUR BEST THINKING FORCED RECOGNITION

OF A NEED FOR BETTER THINKING

The problem is usually that results do not match the personal terms desired. Without question, the fantasy world of drinking produces relief from boredom, it quiets fears, and provides a pause from the demands of reality. Alcohol definitely provides those benefits. However, most discover "the real pay-off" for drinking comes on lifeís terms. To let go completely of an old idea and seek something new and different requires new knowledge. Many prefer to see results before making their choice.

Use of alcohol temporarily erases concerns about reality. It works well. It works like the man who took tranquilizers for diarrhea. When asked if they solved his problem, he said "Yes! - my underwear is still a mess, but now I donít care!". A person making such a choice is not likely to gain sympathy nor compassion from others when they complain about the mess in their life. Especially if they have been shown a way to "clean-up their act". Anyone declining to make the obvious changes and improvements might well be considered insane. (see pg. 38)

Where efforts to control and enjoy drinking have failed, (pg 30), the failure exposes a limited awareness of reality. There is a need for more truth, more good and more reality (all syn: "God"). The need is for more new knowledge about reality.(syn: "improved conscious contact with God" - see Step 11). For many that included a simple revelation that:

A DISTORTED MIND DOES NOT PRODUCE SANE BEHAVIOR

The effects of drinking eventually wear off, leaving the old frustrations still there. Meanwhile, the decision to drink has created new frustrations. They do not belong to anyone else. Conscious recognition and awareness of the way alcohol works, for alcoholics, produces awareness of life on lifeís terms. Eventually most alcoholics face a bitter but inescapable truth. (syn: "God")

".....it is clear that we made our own misery. God didnít do it." (pg 133)

The alcoholic must get off that "merry-go-round" of self-will, frustration, anger and resentments. Those who do not will usually destroy themselves completely. (see pg 26).

"If we were to live, we had to be free of anger."
(pg 66)

With, or without alcohol, everyone experiences fear, anger and guilt. These emotions arise from not knowing how to deal with reality. When it is recognized others, with similar problems, had found a solution, there is less isolation and more harmony with reality (syn: "God").

The real problem is ignorance. Ignorance of the truth, good, and reality.(syn: "ignorance of God" - review Step 3). When an individual has acquired their own new knowledge, they have tapped the source of all knowledge (syn: "infinite God") which allows them to intelligently choose a personal concept of God. (see pgs 12 & 55).

"There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation." (pg 25)

Resentments about reality (syn: "life on lifeís terms" &/or "God") may be the dubious luxury of others but are deadly poison to the alcoholic. (see pg 66). Those, only temporarily inconvenienced by drinking may also welcome new knowledge as a means of experiencing new freedom and new happiness. (see pg 83).

Either the reader is seeking temporary relief, on their own terms, or a solution that will produce demonstrated success on lifeís terms. Distorting mental activity does not create a successful life that is happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133).

By contrast, accepting life on lifeís terms produces harmony with reality. (syn: "Godís Will"). With the desire to be helpful to others (see pgs 18, 67, 77 & 89), a personal life gets turned toward a new direction that produces spiritual progress. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 58 & 60)

When established moral values do not work, the alcoholic is "de-moralized" by futile attempts to have life, on their own terms, (see pg 61). Then they learn, the meaning of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. (see pg 30).

 

* * * * *

SECTION B05h

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 67 with "Notice that the word "fear" is bracketed......" to page 68 ending with "At once, we commenced to outgrow fear."

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

Early members of AA indicated that continual enlargement of a spiritual life is an essential ingredient for continued sobriety. (see pgs 14, 15, & 35). It is valuable to know where you are at before embarking on a journey into new mental territory. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves provides a means to establish a starting point for spiritual growth.

Life continually presents new conditions to be dealt with which are not yet understood. This has equal application for all alcoholics who experience fear of new conditions. (pg 85). Improved understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God" - pg 55) is required in order to deal with any of those new or unknown conditions as they appear. For example:

 

IíVE NEVER BEEN THIS OLD BEFORE AND THAT IS NEW.

A searching and fearless moral inventory becomes the starting point for a new direction. It begins a new direction of turning our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him. There is always something new to be encountered in dealing with the Ultimate Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" see pgs 14-15, 35, 53, 129 & 164).

The word "AS" has significance as an operative point for focus in Steps 3 & 11. Seeking improved awareness of life, on lifeís terms (i.e.: "Godís will") is a never ending process which requires continual spiritual growth. (see Steps 10 & 11). That which requires greater understanding is life. (syn: "God"). By definition that is infinite. (see pgs 53 & 68).

When seeking spiritual progress, the reader may recognize the intelligence in seeking personal improvements in this lifetime as having priority over attempting to correct the shortcomings of others.

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you havenít got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us." (pg 164)

Those who believe it possible to "wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if only he manages well" are victims of a delusion. They believe that personal happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís Will for us" see pgs 61 & 133) can be obtained by fixing others. That erroneous belief system reflects a fundamental idea about the nature of the power which produces success. (i.e.: "God" - pg 55). Any ability to share experiences of success will include those mistaken beliefs about the power which produced it.

"Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body." (pg 23)

Any individual shortfall from spiritual perfection reflects the workings of the mind of a single personality. Emphasis here is upon seeking flaws in our own personalities, rather than inventorying the faults of others. This does not modify the principle involved in the recovery process. (review Tradition 12). Any ability to share experience of success will include the beliefs about the power which enabled it to happen. Personal improvement is not obtained by changing the moral values of others. However, spiritual growth in others can occur, if they have decided they want what you have to offer, and seek the knowledge you have acquired. (refer to pgs 58, 67, 77, 84 86, 89, 95, 97 98, 102, 120, 129, 130, 132, 159, 163 164).

"To be helpful is our only aim" (pg 89)

At this point, the author wishes to point out that there is a very significant point about the process of "sharing experience, strength and hope" with a still suffering alcoholic. The reader will note the difference between:

    1. "BEING HELPFUL"

      and
    2. "DOING GOOD ALL OVER SOMEONE".

Especially, if they are expected to thank you when you are through with them.

* * * * *

 

STEP FOUR - Contíd:

For the alcoholic, resentments have been identified as the "number one" offender, because they destroy more alcoholics than anything else. To make a 180 degree turn in mental direction is one of the basic problems in recovery. At the risk of oversimplification, it requires a decision about the priority of values in the recovery process. This author suggests the alcoholic reader consider if they are:

    • Trying to force-fit the AA program fit into an established second hand set of religious ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces. (pg 58)

OR

    • Seeking a huge emotional displacement and rearrangement of guiding forces by allowing a completely new set of conceptions and motives to begin dominating their life. (pg 27)

An individual alcoholic is either willing to completely let go of old ideas or else they are not. This is the turning point. (see pgs 58-59).

This author suggests that spiritual growth arises from a willingness to continually replace personal ignorance of reality (syn: "God") with improved understanding and cooperation with life, on lifeís terms. (Step 11). The capacity to make such a realistic choice is within every man, woman and child, and it is only there that it may be found. (see pg 55).

Every alcoholic, this author included, has resentments where some personal improvement and spiritual progress is possible. In AA, the only valid measure of success is found in how well a particular approach produces results that work in this lifetime. For the individual, their own version of success is based upon what they most desire for themselves. (syn: "their prayer"). That desire may place priority importance upon what might happen in some other lifetime.

It is a universal principle that any experience of successful living will occur during this lifetime. This principle applies equally to any alcoholic, at any place, and at any time.

Conscious awareness of life, on lifeís terms is restricted to what can be understood during this lifetime. Eventually, everyone will become an expert authority on anything which may follow. Meanwhile, this author suggests living "One Life at a Time", until they really know the truth. Until then, they are free to believe anything they choose about what comes next. (see pgs 46 & 55).

Self-honesty is useful if you desire to make an intelligent choice about what to believe. (see pg 58 & Appendix II). Having acknowledged resentments as one of "the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure", it is worthwhile to examine any ideas, emotions and attitudes which allow resentments to be a destructive guiding force in life. (pg 27). It should be obvious they are a force or power which creates conflict rather than cooperation with reality (syn: "God").

Conscious awareness of "the Great Reality" (syn: "God" - see pg 55) is a power found deep within ourselves. Those principles of reality which govern life, on lifeís terms do not change.

The Ultimate Reality of Life (syn; "God") does not change no matter how strongly anyone may desire it to be different than it is. However, each individual has an inescapable personal responsibility for the direction they seek to improve their conscious awareness of reality. (see pgs 62, 66, 133 & Step 11). Most sane individuals would fully cooperate with reality, if they had sufficient understanding to do so. Lack of power of that new knowledge is their dilemma. (see pg 45).

This author believes there in nothing wrong with reality. (syn: "God"). Life just is what it is and works the way it works. That reality is always what it is, regardless of how much personal understanding exists about spiritual principles. All power works according to certain principles without regard for personal preferences of any individual using the power. ("Principles before personalities" - see Tradition 12).

Differences show up according to the direction in which individuals apply power in their personal life. The differences are the result of personal choices made in the application of power. (review Step 11). Specifically, in how they have applied available power in their relationships with people, places and things. Those differences reflect personal understanding at a conscious level. (Step 11)

THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT.

The way any power works is understood or it is not. That understanding either is or is not in harmony with reality. The Ultimate Reality is life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Will").

It should be apparent what is not in harmony with reality is a fair definition for "self-will run riot" and creates a conflict. It is suggested that any conflict with the principles of life is a manifestation of the personality of the alcoholic.

It makes intelligent sense for an alcoholic to review the mental tools they use. The way they are being used is important when making changes from failure to a condition of happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís Will for us" - pg 133). The reader is asked to consider:

    • Who decides if you are happy, joyous and free.?
    • Does some other equal human being, decide for you?

All human beings have distinct physiological differences which identify them as a unique individual. They also have differences in their conscious understanding of "the Great Reality" which identify them as unique personalities.

If conscious recognition and awareness of those differences had been sufficient to produce recovery from alcoholism, (see pg 60(a)), the alcoholic would have used the power of that knowledge to produce recovery when recovery was desired. (syn: "the answer to a prayer").

 

 

"No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people." (pg 30).

Many alcoholics recognize some differences which set them apart from others, as unique individuals. Because each person is one of a kind, each is unique, and unlike any other person in the universe. Separate identity is one thing we all have in common.

UNIQUE INDIVIDUALITY IS A PRINCIPLE

SHARED IN COMMON WITH ALL OTHERS

As individuals, each of us knows something. We all possess some knowledge of reality (syn: "God") which is uniquely our own. Something not known to any other person. It may only be something discovered while being alone. That separate knowledge identifies the unique personality of each individual.

Conscious awareness of unique individuality does not deny itís existence as a principle shared with all other human beings.

Obviously, other alcoholics have demonstrated success in their recovery from alcoholism. However, they too are equal human beings with equal limits to their personal awareness of an infinite reality. (syn: "God" see pg 60(b)). Each alcoholic has a "god-given capacity" to learn more of what other alcoholics already understand. (pgs 12, 14-15, 23, 27, 35, 55, 86, 95, 129, 164 & Appendix II).

As individuals, we all have a finite and a restricted capacity to understand everything. (syn: "God" - see pg 53). That is an inescapable principle. Each alcoholic shares that principle in common with every other alcoholic. Each individual has restrictions determined by what they choose to learn during their limited lifetime. From that perspective, this author suggests what separates each of us from "God" and our fellow man is based upon:

WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE DONíT KNOW

When a chosen concept of the word "God" means "the source of all new knowledge", (see pg 12), it follows on any specific point of personal awareness we are either in conflict or in harmony with that Ultimate Reality. It also follows that, without all the knowledge of how to cooperate with an infinite reality, there shall always be some conflict. (pgs 53 & 68).

Every individual experiences conflicts in life, to some degree. The only exception would be the individual who possessed all knowledge. That person would always be in complete harmony with "God". A few individuals try to make such claims for themselves. Unfortunately they lack sufficient facts to be able to intelligently or convincingly support their claims.

Personal ignorance blocks individual alcoholics from experiencing complete unity, harmony and cooperation with that infinite power called "God". Their inability to understand everything (syn: "infinite God" see pg 68) places finite limits in how much they can learn in a single lifetime. Where reality is concerned, this precludes complete understanding of how to cooperate with it.

"No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60)

If the reader accepts their equality, (in the eyes of "God"), then as an equal they are free to cooperate with their own definition of "God". No one has complete understanding of an Infinite Creative Intelligence. (see pg 46). Because there is always more to be understood, it is presumptuous to assume any one version is superior to any other unless it can demonstrate superior results in this lifetime.

Ultimately, any second hand claim to superiority will be determined by how well it agrees with the Great Reality. ( syn: "God"- see Step 11). Obviously lack of understanding of anything beyond this lifetime is a common factor, shared equally by all but the all knowing. Inherent intelligence makes those claiming special knowledge to be suspect of error.

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE,

THEN IGNORANCE IS ALSO INFINITE

There will be no conflict when limited knowledge of reality is in harmony with reality. The alcoholic who restricts their life to what they understand will not be obliged to deal with any conflicts produced by newness or change. Sadly for some, this is not realistically possible when dealing with life, on lifeís terms.

It should be self-evident to anyone that changes are constantly occurring. Life continues to function on lifeís terms and constant changes are inescapable. Recognizably, any fear of change will disrupt the comfort of the familiar. The Ultimate Reality (syn: "God") always prevails and life has no obligation to comply with preferences of the individual. Any effort to resist change is "self-will run riot", and the problems created are of our own making. (see pgs 62, & 133).

Undesired results occur as the result of a lack of understanding. Due to that personal ignorance, alcoholics become the creative source of their own confusion. (see pg 61).

Some alcoholics will consider themselves to be an exception. As victims, they may wish to evaluate how much intelligence or emotion is involved in their belief system that something is running their life without their own participation in the decision-making process. Only self-honesty and the results will determine the accuracy of that conclusion.

This author believes that:

As intelligent agents, spearheads of a Creative Power (syn: "God") we give the power direction. (see pg 49).

* * * * *

SECTION B05i:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

RE-READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 67 with "Notice that the word "fear" is bracketed......" to page 68 ending with "At once, we commenced to outgrow fear."

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

This author suggests the word "AS", found in Steps 3 & 11 holds the key to reconciling the limited exclusive approach of many traditional religions with the all-inclusive approach of the AA program. The word "as" implies a process of understanding the infinite. During this endless process, some of traditional religion will be in agreement with reality, but not all of it is.

Many spokesmen for traditional religious belief systems are competent and you can learn much from them. (pg 89). However, the alcoholic reader is cautioned that, from within the limits of their view, some religious authorities may wish to interpret all of reality for you, if you let them. There is always more new knowledge to be understood. (pg 164 & Step 11).

An ancient belief was that the heavens revolved around the earth. Some aspects of that old idea continue to have practical value. It remains a practical method for celestial navigation at sea. However, travel to the moon today would be impossible without new knowledge and an enlarged understanding of reality. (syn: "God"). Similarly, in order to recover from alcoholism, many alcoholics are obliged to improve and enlarge their conception of God. (see pg 12).

Spiritual progress on a continuing basis is essential for continued recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & 129). All progress has a starting point. This author suggests a personal inventory of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding the alcoholicís life is that starting point. This is what requires rearrangement and displacement. (see pg 27 & Step 4).

What is being sought is an improved conscious recognition and awareness of a personal relationship to the Great Reality which is life, on lifeís terms. This occurs within the individual. (see pg 55 & Step 11). It is a process without end. (see pgs 68 & 129).

Because reliance upon a Power greater than ourselves is part of the recovery process, the fundamental idea of God which guides the individual becomes an inseparable part of any moral inventory. Individual beliefs sometimes conflict with reality, and false beliefs require rearrangement and displacement as an indispensable part of that recovery process. (pg 27).

When willingness, honesty and open mindedness are applied to examining a fundamental idea of God, no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. (see pgs 46, 55, Step 10 & Appendix II). Many find it necessary to throw several lifelong conceptions out the window. (pg 42). A completely new set of conceptions and motives can then begin to dominate the mind of the alcoholic seeking recovery. (pg 23). While religious convictions may be very good, they do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery. (see pg 27).

Despite their chosen beliefs, at certain times the alcoholic has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Defense must come from a Higher Power which is only found within the individual seeking recovery. (see pgs 43 & 55). The source of all knowledge and all power is something to which every individual has personal access. (pg 68). Because it is infinite, there is always more available for anyone.

Most sane individuals would choose to cooperate with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") if they knew how. It would obviously be to their best interests to do so. The problem of the alcoholic appears to be a mistaken understanding of what is real. (syn: "God"). So, what is the block, barrier or obstacle to experiencing happiness, joy and freedom? (syn: "Godís will" pg 133). Is it not a belief that there is something desirable to be obtained by distorting their mind?

Individuals make mistakes when they believe something which is not in line with reality. Followers of different belief systems argue, fight, and even kill each other disputing what is the truth, good and reality (all syn: "God"). Many will place unwarranted emotional importance upon personal rightness when their belief system conflicts with others.

In some cases there is an emotional demand for agreement without any regard for the facts or the use of intelligence. This mental attitude will reject the equality of others to have their own conception of God. To this author, such a closed minded belief system qualifies as "self-will run riot". It includes insistence that others abandon their individuality and be "just like me".

Those who hold onto that contempt, prior to investigation, (see Appendix II), voluntarily set themselves apart from others as models of individual rightness. Small wonder that alcoholism is characterized as "a lonely disease!!". The mental cause stems from believing that "what we believe is true, and if others do not agree with us, then they ought to". (see pg 23).

By insisting that a personal view of reality (syn: "God") is the only valid one, the alcoholic produces confusion rather than harmony. (review pg 61). This author has a personal belief system. Any alcoholic who disagrees with it is encouraged to use their own intelligence to "trade up" to any other belief system capable of producing superior results. You will note that adherents of second hand religious belief systems will rarely make that suggestion.

"Selfishness--self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate." (pg 62)

It is the structure of a personal belief system which identifies each of us as different and unique personalities. What separates us is what we know and what we donít know. On the premise that the only thing to know anything about is the Ultimate Reality of Life, (syn: "God" - see pg 53), then everyone knows something. None knows everything. Being right about something may conflict with what others believe is correct right information.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE

HOW MUCH YOU KNOW,

IF WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT SO?

This brings the subject of fear to the foreground. Personal conflict with the Great Reality (syn "God" - see pg 55) includes some degree of fear of the unknown. This author submits that:

FEAR IS BASED ON IGNORANCE.

Fear reflects a lack of understanding of how to cooperate with the Great Reality.(see pg 55 & Step 11). The alcoholic is incompetent to successfully deal with some aspect of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God"). Fortunately, with new knowledge, improved cooperation is possible.

Each individual has fears which are uniquely their own. New knowledge may be sought which will reduce, dissolve and eliminate those fears. It can occur in a mind which is open and ready to consider new knowledge which may not agree with well established old ideas and beliefs.

When there are differences, new knowledge may threaten the validity of a second hand belief system. Of importance are old ideas about the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God"). Consider if "the idea of God" represents "the source of all knowledge" to your mind. You will only find this mental action deep within yourself as part of that inherent intelligence which is your capacity to recognize reality. Deny that and you deny your own humanity. When fear is sufficiently strong, it can displace the "god-given" intelligence inherent within every alcoholic.(see pgs 12, 23, 27, 55, 67 86 & Appendix II).

Now consider how well an improved understanding of the Great Reality can eliminate "fear of the unknown" (review Step 11). Is your trust in a capacity to learn more new knowledge about an infinite concept of God? Or, do you place reliance upon a finite second hand concept which someone else has established for you to accept on blind faith? (see pg 68). Does your own ignorance of reality establish boundaries for your mental exploration of an infinite unknown? (see pgs 12, 27 & 68).

At this point it is worth re-stating, that the alcoholic reader is being provided a perspective by the author which emphasizes personal freedom to accept or reject any portion of reality. This freedom includes the natural consequences of that choice. It is assumed that any acceptance or rejection will be what the alcoholic reader believes to be in their own best interests.

 

The author relates a personal experience with fear for consideration:

When I was a child there was a swimming pool and I did not know how to swim. It was obvious I would be in water over my head, and did not know how to take care of myself in that condition. Fear, based on self-preservation, kept me away from the deep end of the pool.

Others were enjoying swimming. I had a desire to be part of something that was new for me. With help from others, I learned to hold my breath under water, to "dog paddle" and keep afloat. When I knew that I knew how to swim, you could not keep me out of the water, nor the deep end of the pool. This opened up a new kind of freedom and happiness because I was no longer afraid of the water. ( see pg 83). WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FEAR?

It is suggested that the fear was dissolved and removed by acquiring new knowledge . With "God" as the source of all new knowledge, there is intelligence in the observation that "God removes fear". Not by some "fairy-god-mother" who rewards some while whimsically punishing others. Rather, it occurs more simply and equally for all. Fears get reduced, dissolved and eliminated by acquiring valid new knowledge of reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 60, "c").

An infinite reality is what it is and it works the way it works. That knowledge has always been available to be discovered by anyone seeking to improve their conscious awareness of it. #9; (see Step 11). Spiritual progress can be blocked by old ideas and false beliefs which get in the way. (pg 58). Endless improvement is always available. ( pgs 53, 68, 83 & Step 11). As individuals, we get relief from our fears by seeking improved understanding of the Great Reality. This becomes an enlarged awareness of God. ( review pgs 55, 60 "(c)", & Appendix II).

When reading the basic text of AA, or any comments on the subject of fear, this author suggests the alcoholic reader give this view of fear some thought and consideration in the light of their own inherent intelligence.

"We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg 164)

Note that fear somehow touches every aspect of our lives. (see pg 67). Any emotional attitude which impacts being happy, joyous and free (syn: "Godís Will for us" pg 133) is worthy of examination. Serious attention to those fears which are uniquely your own merit special attention.

"It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didnít deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling?" (pg 67)

This author suggests an internal conflict exists when an alcoholic experiences fear. It is a conflict between what the alcoholic believes reality to be, and some inherent intelligence within the individual which intuitively knows there is more to be understood.

"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found."

(pg 55)

This internal conflict is usually the result of what the alcoholic has been taught about the Great Reality. It is the result of mentally accepting as valid knowledge something which was believed by others who only had a limited awareness. Improvement is possible by placing trust in an endless supply of new knowledge which is available to anyone on an equal basis. (see pgs 53, 55, & 68).

This Study Guide has been prepared for those alcoholics who have been experiencing difficulty with the limitations they find in traditional religion. Any improved understanding of how to deal with fear can enlarge their spiritual life with new knowledge about a personal relationship to "a power greater than ourselves". (see pgs 14-15, 35 & Step 11). Any such enlarged understanding of reality would qualify as being spiritual progress. (see pg 60).

One potential for an enlarged understanding is recognition that:

FEAR AND FAITH ARE BOTH BELIEFS

IN A POWER - GREATER THAN OURSELVES.

Whenever their personal belief system gets challenged, some sober alcoholics become emotionally defensive and try to hold on to their old ideas. (pg 58). Often any inherent intelligence they have will fly out the window. In this respect, they are still very much like the drinking alcoholic. Their attitude about their relationship to life, as equals (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") is threatened by an erroneous belief in their own moral superiority. Those who remain sober eventually discover that:

".......we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." (pg 62)

Their concept of "God", as "the source of all power and all knowledge", is limited to definitions provided by a second hand belief system developed by other equal human beings. Their problem is that "what they believe" conflicts with reality. They are free to believe anything they choose. Out of fear of the unknown, they have chosen to limit the guiding forces in their life to that which others claim to understand, and overlook that there is always more to be understood by anyone.

Any self-centered demand to be right in the face of reality will inescapably conflict with life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God"). When a belief structure excludes or rejects some portion of reality. (syn: "God") that attitude is a personal choice. A choice equivalent to refusing to enlarge a spiritual life. (pgs 12, 14, 15, 35, 45, 49).

Such a personal belief structure creates conflict for the individual. In essence, a finite mind has attempted to put a fence around that which, by definition is infinite. This, however does not negate the value of what they may know that is in agreement with the reality of life. (syn: "God").

KNOWING SOME TRUTH IS NOT KNOWING ALL TRUTH

The reader, like the author, has probably encountered individuals who confidently claim to "know God" and what lies ahead. Not only in this life, but in some "next life". While their belief system may have some useful value, it does reflect a closed mind. With the basic proposition that "either God is everything or else He is nothing" (pg 53), those alcoholics have already decided that what they now know is either everything or else it is enough.

For example, it was once believed as the last word on reality, that the earth stood still, and the stars moved around it. That belief system prevailed until it was displaced by new knowledge. Nonetheless, that old idea still retains useful value today. Although it is a limited and erroneous belief system it remains an excellent basis for celestial navigation at sea. It worked then, and still works now . However, it restricts travel to earth. Today we know there is more.

The point is, more new knowledge is still available. The sum total of all knowledge acquired by the human race to date, remains limited to what is now known. There shall always be more to know. (pg 68)

There is a relationship between a limited belief structure and personal fear.

LIMITED BELIEFS PRODUCE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

Let us assume an individual believes what he was taught, in 1491, that "the world is flat". Then he gets on one of the ships which Columbus commands. As visual contact with the safety of land disappears, the ship heads into the unknown area he believes the edge of the earth to be. There is fear.

With inability to control others, fear increases. He believes his life is in danger. Within the framework of his belief it would be reasonable, even justifiable homicide, to mutiny, toss Columbus over the side, and return to the familiar which is the safety of the shore. However, he will be held accountable for his actions.

By contrast, his fear, based on a false belief, gets eliminated when he sets foot on new land he did not believe was there. Valid new knowledge has displaced and rearranged the old ideas which were guiding forces in his life. (review pg 27 & Step 11).

A personal attitude about new knowledge will determine how an alcoholic will make choices when discovering new aspects of reality. (syn: "God" pg 53) The author suggests that where ignorance exists there is also fear of that unknown.. A genius would not have time in 150 years to understand everything mankind already knows about reality. But, this does not prevent anyone from discovering new knowledge nor knowing something more about anything.

Every alcoholic has some capacity to know and understand some limited aspect of reality. Each possesses, deep down within himself, access to some portion of the source of infinite knowledge which by definition is called "infinite God". (see pgs 53, 55 & 68). Improving and enlarging that spiritual life, as equal human beings, appears to be helpful to anyone seeking to know more. (Steps 10 & 11).

Many traditional religions stress agreement, compliance and conformity, but only within the framework of their established belief system. The basic text of AA suggests harmony, balance and compatibility with all of reality (syn: "God") by seeking to understand more. ( review Step 11, pgs 46, 68, 71, 85, 86, 87, 89, 93, 94, 95, 129, 132, 158, 163, 164). There are fundamental differences between the two approaches. One is exclusive, the other is not. (see Tradition 3 "The Long Form")

Relief from alcoholism occurs as the individual enlarges their spiritual life. (pg 35, & Steps 3 & 11). Here the operative word is "as" which implies a process of improving and enlarging personal understanding of the reality of life. (syn: "God"). It is a chosen attitude of willingness, honesty and open-mindedness which is indispensable to recovery. (see Appendix II ).

With an enlarged spiritual life, there will be improved freedom of choices. As that understanding is improved, any choices made will be increasingly consistent with life, on lifeís terms. (see pgs 83, 84 & Step 11). With that improved ability to cooperate with reality comes increased freedom to consciously choose being happy, joyous and free (syn: "Godís will for us" - pg 133). Any intentional resistance to "the will of God for an alcoholic" would likely be considered insanity.

When an irrational choice is linked to an unrealistic religious belief system any fundamental idea of God takes on increased significance in Steps Four and Ten of the AA program. Then a compelling need arises to challenge beliefs which remain unexamined. Nowhere does this need for self-examination become more obvious than with the alcoholic seeking recovery. Especially if those old ideas are still operating as guiding forces in their life. (see pg 27).

Each alcoholic has a fundamental idea of God. (see pg 55). They acquired their belief, either by conscious intelligent choice or else by unthinking default as the result of being trained by others. One way or other it is a guiding force in their respective lives. (see pgs 27 & 55). That idea either is or is not in agreement with reality. It may or may not limit spiritual progress. (pg 60). Any such limitation precludes enlarging a spiritual life by limiting conscious understanding to that which is already a second hand belief system. (see pgs 14,15, 35 129, & Step 11).

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." (Step 10 - pg 59)

Observe what happens whenever you challenge the belief system of someone with blind faith in a limited concept of God. Note that their reaction usually has strong emotional content as well as being automatic and unthinking. The emotion you have triggered is fear. You have just threatened their fundamental relationship to life which is based upon what they believe rather than reality. This requires them to compare old ideas against reality in the light of their own intelligence. (review pg 55 & Step 11). This pits their own inherent intelligent capacity to "improve their conscious contact with God" against an established second hand belief system with a limited belief about reality (syn: "God"). Certain perils and strong emotional reactions can occur when making such a challenge.

To acknowledge the errors of an establish belief system is often more than some individuals are able to tolerate in a sane manner. New knowledge may provoke emotional and irrational behavior. You may be threatening the only thing they have to relate themselves to reality. For some individuals this will be more than they are willing to handle and may prompt vain attempts to silence the inescapable truth of reality. Because some bit of reality is a threat to everything they believe, it is often the messenger of truth which gets destroyed.

IF YOU LOSE SOMETHING TO THE TRUTH,

YOU REALLY HAVENíT LOST ANYTHING!

This author suggests those strong emotional reactions arise from some inherent intelligent awareness of the truth. Within every alcoholic there appears to be some intelligence which has access to more new knowledge than their conscious mind understands at that time.

WHERE DO ORIGINAL IDEAS COME FROM?

Consider that the suggestion "if you donít take the first drink you canít get drunk" may have been a novel idea to an alcoholic when they were new to the AA program. However, there is something within every alcoholic that recognizes this is true. Who do you believe was the first person to come up with that idea, and where did they get it? What is it in you which allows recognition that this is an accurate statement about reality?

There is deep down within every alcoholic some intelligence which is capable of recognizing the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - pg 55). Though it may get rejected, that inherent intelligence is there. It allows any alcoholic to improve their conscious understanding of what is good for them (syn: "Godís Will for them" - see pg 55, 133 & Step 11). Enlarging that awareness is dependent upon an attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness toward accepting conscious contact with the Ultimate Reality of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God"- see pgs 14-15, 42, 45, 129, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II).

From that perspective, this author offers the suggestion that, when seeking "God":

 

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

IS THE SAME THING YOU ARE LOOKING WITH

How else could you recognize it when you finally encountered it? (see pg 23).




For the alcoholic,

"Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable." (Appendix II)

Any individual shortcomings from spiritual perfection of an alcoholic will reflect the things they do not know. Errors in judgment result from personal ignorance of "the elegant choice" which would be the best of all possible choices. This is a valid principle which applies equally to anyone, anyplace at any time. It seems to have universal application to all alcoholics, rather than to just a chosen few.

As a "principle applicable to all life", fear may be a natural consequence of an individual getting in over their head when dealing with some aspect of reality. (i.e.: "life on lifeís terms"). Fear is the warning alarm that the present level of conscious contact with reality is inadequate. (Step 11). It is also highlights an opportunity for spiritual growth.

With a concept of God as infinite knowledge, and recognition that knowledge is power,

"We never apologize to anyone for depending upon our Creator. We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Paradoxically, it is the way of strength." (pg 68)

There is a never ending process of seeking and improving conscious contact with new knowledge essential to maintain a vital spiritual experience. (pgs 12, 27, 68, & 129). Some alcoholics try to retain a belief that traditional religions have "a monopoly on God". Fortunately for many others in AA, this is not the case. (see pg 95).

If traditional religion held "a monopoly on God", many alcoholics who have recovered would not have done so. They too have tapped "the source of all power", but in a different way. (pgs 59, & 163).

Alcoholics who seek and trust "God" have tapped an infinite source of new knowledge. They are consciously aware that improving their conscious contact with a power greater than themselves is available to anyone. (see pg 85).They are able to understand what it is to have a quiet mind while enjoying continuing access to an endless supply of new knowledge. (see pgs 60(c),& 68).

Continued relief from alcoholism is always possible for those who are willing to work for it. (see pgs 84 & 129). Any alcoholic who consciously chooses to retain fear of some whimsical power, is at a distinct disadvantage.

 

What is the difference between them? This author suggests that, as the result of an improved conscious understanding of "the Great Reality" (review pg 55 & Step 11):

THERE ARE THOSE WHO KNOW, AND THOSE WHO DONíT KNOW.

* * * * *

SECTION B05j:

Chapter 5

HOW IT WORKS

STEP FOUR:

"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (pg 59)

 

READ:

Chapter 5 - HOW IT WORKS, starting at pg 68 with "Now about sex............." through pg 71 and the end of Chapter #5.

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

Those readers who turned to this section first, will be lacking a preliminary foundation provided in earlier portions of this Study Guide. Such readers are at a disadvantage, compared with those who have given consideration to other comments on the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. As with all personal choices, it is based upon the readerís established priorities of interest.

This author is pointing out ideas repeatedly and consistently found within the basic text for recovery from alcoholism. Not as an authority or spokesman, but "as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous". (see Forward to First Edition). As such, the reader is being provided benefit of ideas of only one individual who has been over the material and is pointing out what has been found. Any other interpretation by the reader is their personal choice.

This Study Guide was specifically written for those individuals who, like the author, experience difficulty reconciling the spirituality of the AA program with concepts offered by many traditional religions. Frequent use of the three-letter word "God" appears in the basic text. Some alcoholics are disturbed by different views than those provided by their religious faith. If the reader is one of those, they are advised to stop reading now. Any of those second-hand old ideas which cannot be reconciled with your own inherent intelligence can produce mental confusion and emotional turmoil. (see pg 58). Where spiritual progress is the dominant desire (syn: "prayer"), new thought can enlarge a spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15). However, it should be recognized that "thinking about thinking" (syn: "meditation") often upsets old ideas.

Be aware that when the word "God" is used in the AA text, the meaning is not identical with many religious interpretations. AA consistently leaves the concept of God open and all inclusive, (see pgs 12, 28, 45, 46, 47, 93, 94, 95). Such a choice is, and must be personal. Accordingly, AA neither endorses nor opposes any personal religious belief systems. (see pgs 23 & 55).

Most traditional religions provide a "package deal" in the form of an exclusive and limited concept for acceptance "on blind faith". Oftentimes their belief system will reject any interpretation which does not agree with their own. (see Appendix I - Tradition 3). Their exclusive religious views of "God" are usually considered to be the only correct interpretation. Although some other ideas may be tolerated, they are seldom embraced or included in their interpretation of reality. (see pg 53).

This fundamental difference can be an obstacle to recovery for many alcoholics. It is for those alcoholics that this Study Guide has been prepared. Others, who wish to avoid challenges to their established belief system, are advised to set this Study Guide aside now.

Many traditional religions have some rigid inflexible ideas, emotions and attitudes when it comes to the subject of sex. (see pg 27). Self-appointed spokesmen tell others "what God told them they should want". Whenever that happens, any equality goes out the window. By contrast, AA began with a novel idea of equal access to the power referred to as "God".

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

There is nothing in AA which claims any monopoly on understanding God nor the right to establish any spiritual or moral values for mankind.

"We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us." (pg 95)

There is power and freedom in that statement offered by AA, but it is seldom offered by most traditional religions. In AA, every encouragement is for the individual alcoholic to develop their own potential by establishing what that word "God" means to their own mind. (see pgs 12 & 23). A careful study of the AA Big Book will help the reader establish their own concept of God which can become a fundamental basis for unrestricted reliance upon "a power greater than themselves". (see pg 68).

Most traditional religions require conformity and agreement with some definition they have provided to their members. That definition is specific and is presumed to be the only correct definition possible. While there may be unquestionable value to be gained within the framework of that concept, it is nonetheless a finite definition. As such, most religions provide an exclusive and limited approach to "the infinite power of God". By your own choice, you either belong with that ethnocentric group or you belong somewhere else.

For the alcoholic, such an approach is inherently incomplete. Most religions are unable to address all who wish to recover without first establishing a requirement for conformity. The conformity demanded is agreement with the concept they provide of a power greater than ourselves. By noteworthy contrast, the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, is inherently all-inclusive. By itís own traditions

"Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation." (Appendix I - Tradition #3)

There is no discernible difference between a Buddhist "hang-over and a Baptist "hang-over". The AA principles of recovery work equally well on both. The more recent approach of AA to recovery from alcoholism recognizes a simple fact of life.

The principles of recovery in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous", have universal application. They are valid and effective when dealing with recovery from alcoholism. Therefore, a careful study of that basic text is recommended, unless the alcoholic reader has discovered something which works better.

Sex is a natural drive to preserve the species and is second only to the desire for self-preservation. Many traditional religions have made sex a major moral issue to control the behavior of the ignorant. Much of their belief system got developed at a time when equality and individual freedom were not commonplace. Moral codes designed to control that basic natural drive, also allowed for control of the individual. This has long been an area of conflict for many alcoholics.

Some alcoholics are either unwilling or unable to conform to unrealistic standards for sexual behavior established for them by others. Because they are equal human beings, but were not allowed a voice in making the rules, many have experienced intense personal conflicts. Many of them have sought relief by uncontrolled drinking, in their attempt to escape "lives of quiet desperation".

Many religions have created that kind of conflict by claiming to know what is or is not acceptable sexual behavior to God. (see pg 133). When given the power, moral and civil legislation often follow. Restrictive controls are usually based upon emotional religious beliefs rather than any intelligent understanding of reality. (review Step 11).

The reader will note that moral values differ significantly between ethnic cultures. Wars and persecution continue amongst those who self-righteously attempt to establish who is right.

IN AA IT DOESNíT MATTER WHO IS RIGHT

ONLY WHO IS LEFT.

The AA program does not claim to understand the highly controversial subject of sex. By contrast, individual alcoholics are encouraged to accept the idea that "God wants us to be happy, joyous and free". (see pg 133).

Few alcoholics require a middleman to instruct them in what that is. However, freedom of choice does not relieve any alcoholic from being held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

The basic text of AA is meant to be suggestive only. (see pg 164). When itís members are being what they claim to be, AA takes no position on the controversial subject of sexual morality. (Appendix I - Tradition 10).

 

By itís own definition of itself:

"...........AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes........" (AA Preamble)

The ideas, emotions and attitudes established by the self-appointed spokesmen for second hand religious belief systems are not AA. Tragically, many alcoholics are unable to differentiate between the objectives of their religion and the primary purpose of AA. (see AA Preamble).

"To be helpful is our only aim." (pg 89)

Individual members of AA need to resolve such controversial matters for themselves. Because ideas, emotions and attitudes about sexual morality are both personal and controversial, no individual can establish guidelines for others without first disturbing the equality and unity of AA membership.

In this respect, the traditional position of AA is:

"No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues--particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever."

(Appendix I Tradition #10)

At this point, it is significant to re-state that this author is merely sharing observations found within the basic text for recovery. Comments are definitely not intended to be the voice of any AA group, or implicate AA as a whole. The sole purpose of this Study Guide is to provide other alcoholics with awareness of what one individual has discovered within the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". Other individual interpretations are possible.

Please note that the basic text for recovery from alcoholism is the only reference utilized in this Study Guide. It has been studied because of its demonstrated superiority in producing results. Other writings on morality exist without ability to produce comparable results in recovery from alcoholism. The reader is encouraged to accept what is useful and discard that with which they disagree.

In many western cultures, the subject of sex is equated with religious morality. This is troublesome for many alcoholics.

The basic drive for the preservation of the species seems secondary only to the desire for self-preservation. The role it plays for the alcoholic is personal, unless that individual requires someone else to tell them if they are experiencing happiness, joy and freedom. (see pg 133). There appear to be some who do.

When making a moral inventory, the alcoholic will decide if they abdicate responsibility for their own desires. (syn: "prayers").

Whenever someone tries to decide appropriate behavior for another individual, equality gets left out of the process. While they may claim the privilege of telling you what they believe is right, they seldom allow you an equal opportunity to tell them. Accordingly, the reader may wish to consider how much of an attitude of equality is present when the subject of sex is being discussed. Is there respect for individuality in the equation? Regardless of the subject, for many alcoholics;

ANY CLAIMS OF MORAL SUPERIORITY ARE OFFENSIVE.

The reader may note when other AA members suggest "celibacy during the first year of sobriety", they are seldom sleeping alone. They are implying that something magical will occur, at the stroke of midnight on the 365th day, which could not have been achieved sooner. While that may have been their experience, nothing in the basic text of AA supports that sexual fantasy.

Change the ideas, emotions and attitudes you have about sex, or any other subject, and you change everything about it for you. Those changes can and will occur, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly for those who work for them. (pg 84).

The rate of growth and change you, the reader, will make in your life is individual and personal. It is determined by the strength of your desire (syn: "prayer") to change the ideas, emotions and attitudes which are the guiding forces in your life.(see pg 27). Your spiritual growth and change will be affected by how quickly or slowly you are willing to let go of your old ideas (see pg 58), and displace, rearrange and replace them with a set that allows you to be happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133).

That mental action is your own version of "the will of God" for you, unless you have abdicated personal responsibility to some other human power. (see pg 60(b) & pg 68). This author recommends following the AA slogan of "Let Go and Let God" by letting go of old ideas and let what is good for you happen. (see pg 69).

As regards recovery from alcoholism, any individual sex problem is primarily one of personal attitude. Consider that the importance of sex is 10% friction and 90% mental attitude about the friction. (pg. 23).

Any attitude about sex will be uniquely personal and individual. It will reflect a belief about the equality of the individual to a creative power. If it is part of a belief system which is restrictive, grim and inflexible it will be a guiding force chosen by the individual. (pgs 27, 62 & 133).

This author enjoys humor. The comic potential was not lost when it was discovered that, by some wry quirk of events, comments about sex appear on page 69 of the basic text. To lighten up, what is a deadly serious topic for some, here is a story which has been making the rounds. It may be amusing.

"A newcomer to AA with a sex-problem affecting her sobriety, went to an old-timer for advice. She was bluntly told Ďthe answers are in the bookí. On demanding to know Ďwhere in the book?í the old-timer confusedly referred her to page 96 instead of page 69. When doing what her sponsor told her to do, she was delighted to read the following:

"Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you have to offer."

The moral is simple. Ultimately, it is your own understanding which is critical to your own recovery. Therefore, read the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" and interpret it for yourself. Others, this author included, are only an authority if you make them one in your own mind. (pg 23). In reality, they only have the power to point out what they find. You then consider it in the light of your own inherent intelligence. (see pgs 12, 27, 42, 53, 55, 86, 164 & Appendix II).

The same admonition can be applied equally to other written material. In particular are those ancient writings intended to establish a second-hand moral code to be followed on blind faith. The reader will recognize that numerous religious interpretations already exist. Usually those interpretations result in claims to have "the right answer" instead of having "a answer that works".

This author recommends the reader choose the version of morality which provides what they want the most (syn: "the answer to your prayer"). However, do recognize that others, as equals, may seek different results. What you select, from an infinite variety of options, will determine your happiness, your joy, and your freedom in your life. (see pgs 12, 27, 53, 68 & 133).

After all, it is your own mind and you can do anything with it you want to, canít you? (see pg 23).

Do not overlook the fact that, as an equal, you have as much potential for being right or wrong as anyone else. That attitude about personal equality will make a difference in how you relate yourself to others. As an individual, you will reap the benefits of the wisdom to know the difference.

The subject of sex is but one of many problem areas for the alcoholic seeking recovery. There are many other disturbing old ideas, emotions and attitudes which have dominated our lives in ways that destroy personal happiness, joy and freedom. (see pg 133). There is a continuing need to enlarge a spiritual life and constantly seek improved understanding of a personal relationship to the endless changes in life on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Will" - see pgs 14, 15, 35, 60, 68, 129 & 133).

"If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people. We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can." (pg 70)

If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning. That being so you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself." (pg 71).

With an enlarged awareness of a unique and individual approach to life on lifeís terms, the reader will be in an improved relationship to reality. (syn: "God" - review Step 11). Any improvement implies some degree of change. This author suggests the change occurs in the ideas, emotions and attitudes which have been guiding forces for the individual alcoholic. (see pg 27).

Because you, the reader, probably do not possess all the answers concerning your relationship to life, you can anticipate that more will be revealed. (see pg 164). AS you experience more of the reality of life (syn: "more of God"), Step Ten will become increasingly useful. It provides a path allowing you to accommodate more new knowledge in your life. (syn:"more God", see Appendix II on "the educational variety" of Spiritual Experience.).

The author of this Study Guide has now completed personal observations and interpretations of what has been found in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" specifically directed to Step Four. The section which follows is addressed to Step Five and Chapter 6 - "INTO ACTION".

* * * * *

SECTION B06a:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (pg 59)

 

READ:

Chapter 6 -- The first paragraph on page 72.

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

To this point, the alcoholic reader has been dealing primarily with their own good intentions. Retreat from further involvement with sobriety has remained an option. While a personal moral inventory may have been taken privately, some personal secrets may not have been shared with anyone else. If so, no total personal commitment has been taken which cannot be reversed out of fear of facing reality. (syn: "God" see pg 55)

Major flaws may have been set down on paper. However, the exact natures of any mistakes in judgment still remain in that nebulous and free-floating realm of the mind. (see pg 23). Step Five clearly defines those mistakes by bringing them into perspective with the rest of reality. For many, this action includes fear related to their fundamental idea of God. It is a fear that somehow, the Great Reality (syn: "God"- see pg 55) may have hostile motives toward certain individuals. With that attitude, trust is difficult. (pgs 23 & 68).

Most alcoholics readily acknowledge personal problems, for which they lack satisfactory answers. That awareness usually includes a desire for a solution. (syn: "a prayer for help"). If they already had the answer, they would be using it. Obviously, the solution has to come from some concept of "a power greater than ourselves".

The three-letter word "God" communicates an idea of such a power. (pg55). Regardless of other special attributes assigned by traditional religions, there seems to be universal acceptance of certain qualities. Specifically, that "the power of God" is both "omniscient" ("all-knowing") and "omnipotent" ("all-powerful").

Omniscience and omnipotence are qualities no finite human intelligence can claim. (see pgs 53 & 68). However, individuals have direct personal access to infinite intelligence. (see pgs 23, 27, 55, 60 & 68). The specific new knowledge, required to correct mistakes in personal judgment is provided from the source of all new knowledge which is universally referred to by use of the word "God".

This Study Guide is intended for those alcoholic readers who have experienced difficulties reconciling an infinite concept of "God" (see pg 68) with the other attributes assigned by traditional religions. Religious alcoholics trust those other qualities within the finite limits of their own "self-knowledge" and understanding. (see pg 68 & Step 11).

Recognizably, the variety of religious versions of "God" have tremendous value for numerous individuals. Nonetheless, each one is but a human interpretation of the source of all knowledge. Religious spokesmen unquestionably possess some knowledge. However, none can intelligently claim to know it all.

The wide range of optional belief systems available about the word "God" make it confusing to choose a personal concept. (see pg 12) This personal choice is aggravated by unfounded claims that one is superior to another. Arguments that "my God is better than your God" become unintelligent when it is accepted that, "in an infinite universe, all human beings are equal" ("in the eyes of God"). Because there is an endless supply of new knowledge available, any one idea of God is no more nor less valid than any other. (see pgs 23, 27 & 55). Obviously in certain areas, some are more popular that others.

When consciously recognized that no human spokesmen for God can have complete knowledge on the subject, (pg 60(b) & Step 11), it follows that the experts could be mistaken. What they believe, along with their good intentions are merely personal statements. The popular majority may be in control and still be wrong. (review Traditions 2, 3 & 12).

IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE SINCERE AND MISTAKEN AT THE SAME TIME.

 

Regardless of how much conscious understanding a person may have, there is always more. (see Step 11). Personal improvement is always possible and available. (see pg 68). Without possession of all knowledge (syn: "Godís omniscience"), no human spokesman for God can be correct in solving every problem. (syn: "Godís omnipotence" - see pg 164). However, IF "God" is intelligent, the alcoholic reader may choose to seek "the most intelligent concept available". (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 60(b), 86, 93-95, 129, 158-159, 164 & Appendix II).

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it--then you are ready to take certain steps." (pg 58)

There was a time, before AA, when alcoholism was considered to be a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. (review pg 51). We now know alcoholics can recover. (see "Frontispiece"). For any alcoholic who wants what the AA program has to offer, their most intelligent choice would be to improve conscious understanding of what works. (Step 11). That implies being open-minded and willing to seek whatever new knowledge is available which will produce the results desired. (syn: "the answer to a prayer" - see Appendix II).

From itís earliest beginnings, the AA approach to a solution embraced a rather revolutionary concept of spiritual equality. When dealing with an interpretation of the power, essential for a vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27). AA began from a simple recommendation:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"
(page 12)

 

If the reader can honestly concede that "God is intelligent", then:

WHY DONíT YOU CHOOSE

AN INTELLIGENT CONCEPT OF GOD?

In dealing with personal recovery, an intelligent concept of God may produce superior results to those historically produced by emotional approaches to the source of all power. (see pgs 27. 55, 59, 60(b), 86, & Appendix II).

When seeking relief from alcoholism, it could and would be produced from "God ... if He were sought".(page 60(c)). Seeking a solution requires some new knowledge greater than possessed by the drinking alcoholic. (pgs 39, & 45). This can be synonymous with seeking God if it is accepted that God is the intelligent source of all new knowledge. (see pgs 12, 23, 45, 46, 47, 49, 53, 55, 60, 68, 77, 85, 86 & 88). Alcoholics who are already happy, joyous and free, may not be interested in seeking improvement. (see pg 133 & Step 11).

Early members of AA were precise about where to find the infinite intelligence identified by use of the word "God". They applied the word "only" when they stated that "the Great Reality" was deep down within ourselves. (review pg 55).

If they are to be believed, this author suggests that every man, woman and child already has equal access to that source of new knowledge. Every alcoholic has the "god given" capacity to discover the most intelligent answer currently available. (see pg 86). Those who deny their own inherent intelligence tend to abdicate any personal responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. (see pgs 62 & 133).

The early members of AA suggested alcoholics make use of what the spokesmen for various religions had to offer, when they were right. Not by blindly accepting all of their claims. Not by assuming they had complete answers for everything or anything. Rather, by the use of an inherent intelligence capable of being "quick to see where they are right". (see pg 87).

This author suggests that conscious recognition of answers, consistent with the Great Reality, (syn: "Godís Will"), is only to be found deep down within each individual alcoholic. (see pgs 55, 87 & Step 11). Furthermore, that conscious awareness is subject to both improvement and change. It occurs as improved awareness of the Great Reality is revealed. (see pgs 55, 93-95 & 164).

DO YOU BELIEVE EVERYTHING ANYONE TELLS YOU?

Recognizably, no human intelligence has all the answers. However, new knowledge is available to improve conscious understanding of "the Great Reality". (i.e.: "God" see pgs 55 & Step 11). That supply of new knowledge is endless, there is always more available. This leaves any current best answer as being suspect for error with the discovery of a different set of values which do produce desired results. (syn: "the answer to a prayer").

Within every man, woman and child there exists some mental process allowing them to recognize the most intelligent answer currently available. Constantly seeking that elegant choice produces spiritual progress toward results most desired. (see pg 133).

This implies that every alcoholic has personal access to the source of infinite intelligence. (syn: "God" see pgs 55 & 60(c)).

Alcoholism was once considered hopeless without a vital spiritual experience. That vital spiritual experience requires displacement of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding the lives of the alcoholic. (pg 27). Those old ideas must be replaced by a new set which produce results.

Although religious convictions may be very good, they do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism. (review pg 27).

This approach calls for direct confrontation with old ideas, emotions and attitudes concerning a fundamental idea of "God". (pg 55). For the alcoholic, serious about recovery, some questions get raised:

    • Do I have the power to choose what I believe about God?
    • Do I really want to let go of my old ideas?
    • Does my current conception of God stand up in the light of my own intelligence?
    • Am I really willing to seek more understanding of reality?

Results are the significant factor in recovery from alcoholism. (Review the above with pgs 42, 55, 58, (60(c), & 12). The intelligent measure is in how well either those old ideas or new knowledge actually produce desired results. When compared to personal survival, the agreement or disagreement of others is no longer an important issue.

CONSIDER THE MESSAGE RATHER THAN THE MESSENGER!

When the intelligence of the message is given greater importance than emotional appeals by the messenger, many alcoholics are in an improved position to recover. (review Step 11). They have improved access to intelligent power and the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery.

Advocates of emotional religious conversions may disagree. They are called upon to demonstrate comparable results. This author believes that innumerable different ways exist for any alcoholic to seek and improve personal understanding of the Power, greater than ourselves. (review Appendix II).

DONíT TELL ME, - SHOW ME !

 

Ability to access the most intelligent choice is available. It is already part of our make-up. (see pg 55). Because the only place an alcoholic finds "the Great Reality" is deep within themselves, this has led many to the conclusion that:


THE THING YOU ARE LOOK FOR

IS THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING WITH!

By way of illustration, consider what occurs in the mind of a seemingly hopeless alcoholic when confronted with the proposition that:

    • If you donít take the first drink you cannot get drunk.

Within the mind of that alcoholic, there exists a capacity to recognize the truth inherent in that statement.(syn: "God"). If that were not the case, nothing which is true, good, or real (all syn: "God") could ever be known or understood by anyone. Without that capacity to recognize "God", even proponents of traditional religious ideas would have no basis to support claims made for their own particular version. However, each individual must begin their personal search from their present point of understanding of the Great Reality. (pg 55).

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE HOW MUCH YOU KNOW,

IF WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT SO?

Many alcoholics claim their finite fundamental "idea of God" is superior to all others. It may be, if that idea is capable of producing superior results. Then inherent intelligence within the individual will recognize it. However, there is significant difference between asking

    • IS IT MORAL?

      and asking
    • DOES IT WORK?

A moral view requires dependence upon some appointed authority on morality and their "second-hand concept of God". The practical spirituality is available to anyone, based upon their own inherent intelligence, and a "God-given" capacity to recognize the truth. (syn: "God" see pg 86).

Inherent intelligence is found deep down within each individual. (see pg 55). That intelligence allows evaluation of results. If results produce what is most desired, (syn: "the answer to prayers"), most alcoholics will "trade up" and accept improvement. (Step 11)

Without some intelligent demonstration of superiority, any concept of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" see pg 55). is equally as valid as any other. Those who accept their equality ("in the eyes of God") are free to suggest to those claiming spiritual superiority that:

"I HAVE A CONCEPT OF GOD AS VALID AS YOURS".

The degree of intelligence (syn: "God") present in any belief system is best gauged by the results it claims to produce. The only measure of validity of one concept over the other is found in how well it works. This author suggests the capacity to recognize those results is the same inherent intelligence which allows the alcoholic to accept or reject any concept of God.

"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

This author believes that intelligence, required to make a choice, is within every individual alcoholic. The dominate desire of the alcoholic. (syn: "their prayer") will determine which choice gets made.

Fulfillment of a dominate desire for sobriety implies wanting sobriety above all else, and being willing to go to any length to get it (pg 58). Then a daily reprieve (pg 85) becomes acceptable to those who consciously seek improved understanding of how to apply available power. That power is in the acceptance of new knowledge capable of producing improved results. (see pg 60 & Step 11). The reader may equate this mental action with a vital spiritual experience. (see pgs 23 & 27).

Freedom to choose that mental action allows alcoholics to make decisions. As a consequence of choices made, some past decisions have placed many alcoholics in a position to be hurt. (see pg 62). Unless they are completely happy, joyous and free, (syn: "Godís Will" - see pg 133), most alcoholics will desire changes to improve their personal relationship with life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" - see Step 11). It follows that the alcoholic, who wants to be more happy, joyous and free, needs to make more intelligent choices where "their will" is more in line with "Godís Will". What is required is lacking. (pg 45). Without a conscious understanding of how to improve, it is likely that mistakes in judgment will continue. To correct those errors in thinking, this author suggests that additional new knowledge is required. (pg 23).

Few alcoholics are isolated from some involvement with other human beings. A practical need exists for dealing with others in an intelligent manner which allows personal happiness, joy and freedom. (pg 133). This then, brings up the essence of the fifth step

"Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (pg 58)

For many alcoholics, their true ideas, emotions and attitudes have been hidden from others. Fear of exposure and rejection by others has been the guiding force. (review pgs 67-68). Exposing them to the light of reality (syn: "the light of God") allows improved intelligence to be applied to the root of those "wrongs" which are errors in personal judgment. Then spiritual progress becomes possible. (pg 60).

Having reached that "turning point", a decision is required. The alcoholic must choose either to move forward or retreat. Either to seek increased happiness, joy and freedom or else go back into old, established ways. This is a turning point for dealing with the realities of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" - see pg 59). This author recommends the reader consider what your choice will be. (review pg 53).

Facing fears demands courage, not denial that the fear exists. Courage is required to face the unknown after exploiting all personal resources. (pg 39). This occurs by acquiring faith that intelligent answers exist to problems which are not yet understood. (Step 11). New knowledge can be obtained, if it is sought. (pgs 43 & 60(c)). This author suggests that anyone can improve their conscious contact with the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 55).

With that recognition comes the need for intelligence greater than is currently available, at a conscious level. Freedom to seek more God, from within, requires using that power of free choice to seek God. (pg 60(c)).

The basic instinct for self-preservation produces courage to seek personal survival in this life. Those alcoholics with priority interests for promised benefits in some future experience may not wish to include themselves in the observation that whenever an alcoholic is sufficiently motivated, they will recognize and accept reality. (syn: "God"). Continued drinking blocks mental clarity, until the alcoholic consciously recognizes the "phenomenon of craving" as being life threatening. (see "The Doctorís Opinion", pgs 30-32ł & Step 11).

When the desire to stay alive and carry their own keys is sufficiently strong it will match and take precedence over the desire for another drink. That new dominate desire (syn: "prayer") will then be the motivation for the alcoholic to go to any length to recover.

Unfortunately, to be effective, that desire requires new knowledge of how to do what the alcoholic now wants to do. (i.e.: "their new prayer"). Any desire to successfully stay sober must be accompanied by the power of that new knowledge. Fulfillment of the new dominate desire (syn: "the answer to a new prayer") requires "know-how" beyond what is understood at a conscious level by the alcoholic with the problem. (Step 11). Answers must come from some power, greater than themselves. (see pgs 24 & 43).

The capacity to recognize that other and equal individuals are enjoying successful results, make an intelligent decision possible. The alcoholic can learn and understand more of what it is that others know how to do. Improved conscious awareness of that portion of truth and reality (syn: "God") encourages willingness to intelligently consider methods different from those which are already understood. (see Step 11 & Appendix II)

While religious convictions may be very good, unfortunately they do not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism. (see pg 27).

When compared with results for survival in this lifetime, those old ideas become of secondary importance to most alcoholics because:

IT IS HARD TO ARGUE WITH SUCCESS.

This author suggests the AA approach to recovery is currently the most intelligent choice available. Anyone can have it if they are willing to let go of their ineffective old ideas. (Review pg 42).

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." (pg 58)

For some alcoholics their dominate desire qualifies as "a prayer". There is a belief that some sort of intelligence will respond. One only need be exposed to a newborn infant to recognize the demand for results exists at a very basic level. The belief that fulfillment is possible may be inherent in the basic nature of human beings. (see pg 55). As such, any desire incorporates a belief some power can fulfill the desire. (syn: "answer a prayer"). Most religions claim it to be "their version of God".

For an infant the controlling adult is their "God". In time, most enlarge their spiritual life to embrace a broader and more intelligent concept. As that new concept is understood, (see Steps 3 & 11), spiritual progress and growth is able to occur. However, at some point, many alcoholics stop enlarging their spiritual life. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & 129). This decision produces conflict with the Ultimate Reality by the self-delusion that some "second hand belief system" adequately defines the three letter word "God". (pg 62).

At itís core is a fundamental belief something in life can fulfill a dominate desire and "answer prayers". The good news is that this concept of "God" appears to be valid. For many, the bad news is that fulfillment occurs "on lifeís terms" (syn: "Godís Will") rather than their own belief system. (syn: "self-will run riot").

Many adult alcoholics retain emotional ties to an unintelligent and infantile concept of "a power greater than themselves". Often they maintain their dependence upon ideas, emotions and attitudes which they acquired from parents who continue to be "the guiding forces in their lives". (see pg 60(b)). There is a need for some sort of parental authority when a child is dependent and helpless. However, continued acceptance of that authority may not hold up in the light of intelligence (syn: "the light of God") once the child accepts responsibility for their own life. Some adult alcoholics never do detach themselves from that parental guidance and control.

When voicing the ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding their lives, it is not uncommon to hear:

    • "My father always said that ........"
    • "My mother taught me to ............"
    • "Iíve always been a ................... "

Some adult alcoholics never question those old ideas nor challenge the validity of authorities in the light of their own intelligence. (syn: "God within" pgs 53 & 55). By default, they fail to enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, & 35).

To the precise extent an alcoholic retains the unchallenged beliefs of others, do they lack their own personal concept of "God". By choosing not to choose, and refusal to do any independent thinking, they deny themselves the most intelligent choice available to guide their life. ("Think, Think, Think").

Without intelligent evaluation, old ideas will become an established belief system about the source of personal fulfillment. (i.e.: "God"). That belief system automatically incorporates any unchallenged authorities and the spokesmen for traditional religious ideas of God. How did you develop the free choice of ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in your life?

Perhaps a story can illustrate the point.

A mother gave her son two pieces of cake, one being for his little sister. She told him "let her choose first". When his sister reached for the piece with more frosting he grabbed her wrist and said:

"Put that back, and CHOOSE!!"

Such has been the freedom of choice allowed to many alcoholics during their formative years. From this pattern they developed ideas, emotions and attitudes which subsequently guided their lives. (pg 27) Many never recognized the truth that their parents and family are merely equal human beings (i.e.: "in the eyes of God"). Each having their own personal belief system concerning the Ultimate Reality of Life. (syn: "God").

Alcoholics who are seriously seeking progress in the AA program, will eventually be confronted with the foundation for their own concept of "God". As equals, it will constantly improve as a natural consequence of their continued assessment of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding their lives. (see Steps 10, 11 & 12).

Challenging a basic belief structure is something many alcoholics will prefer not to do. Everyone wants to believe that what they believe agrees with reality. "It Ďtaint necessarily so!!". With a life-threatening condition of alcoholism, a more urgent need exists to make changes. The alternative choice is to hold onto old ideas concerning recovery. Inherent intelligence is capable of recognizing which mental approach produces the most desired results.

"We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon." (pg 59)

At this point, the author assumes the alcoholic reader wants to make changes which allow recovery from alcoholism. Only the reader knows their own true motives and desires (i.e.: "their prayers") for this lifetime. This will determine what changes are acceptable as ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding their life. Those values may have been consciously chosen or have been imposed upon them by other equal human beings. This specifically includes well-meaning parents or any others they made an authority in their own mind. (see pg 23).

Consider that a belief system developed from childhood has provided the foundation for a fundamental idea of God "as you understand God". There may be human errors in that foundation. Regardless of what you now believe, in an infinite universe, there is always more to be understood. This is based upon the proposition presented in the AA Big Book:

".....either God is everything or else He is nothing"

(pg 53)

If that be so, there is nothing in life to accept or reject except "God". The alcoholic chooses what they accept, or reject in life, on lifeís terms. Each alcoholic has the inescapable personal responsibility to answer the question:

ARE MY CHOICES CONTROLLED BY INTELLIGENCE OR EMOTIONS?

* * * * *

SECTION B06b:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." (pg 59)

 

READ AGAIN:

Chapter 6 - The first paragraph on page 72.

* * * * *

MORE COMMENTS:

If the reader accepts the proposition that

"either God is everything or else He is nothing."

(pg 53)

then it intelligently follows there is nothing to accept which is not God. Should that concept be unacceptable, then some other idea, which is different from the AA program, may be believed to be superior. Any belief is individual. Though that same belief system may be shared with other individuals, it is nonetheless "a choice of what to believe about God". It may or may not be accurate.

Any declaration concerning what is or is not acceptable in life is presumptuous, and implies having "the only correct answer". Such an attitude smacks of "self-will run riot" when accompanied by unsupported pronouncements about what God wants. Others are then expected to agree. In reality, this is not likely, and resistance can occur. (review pgs 60 & 61).

EXPECTATIONS ARE A DOWN-PAYMENT ON A RESENTMENT

Whenever a fundamental belief system is questioned, it presents the need for a decision. The decision is either to change or not change what is personally acceptable or unacceptable. Individuals choose what they do or do not believe based upon either their intelligence or their emotions. Some alcoholics suggest the Great Reality (syn: "God" - see pg 55) is maintained in perfect order by an intelligence which created that orderliness. Others assign body parts and emotional passions to their fundamental idea of God.

The choice made by the alcoholic reader about what to believe will be significant. It will reflect ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in their life (see pg 27) Furthermore, it will establish the boundaries within which happiness, joy and freedom is believed to be acceptable.

Investigation of the AA program, implies a desire for improvement and new knowledge. (see Step 11 and pg 133). Presumably improved happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís Will" - pg 133) is already believed to be available and that seeking it is acceptable. Otherwise, the alcoholic reader would not be seeking the power of that "know-how" because the AA program would have nothing of value to offer. Examining the ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding life implies having a personal desire (syn: "personal prayer") for something more than available within the limits of old ideas. (see pg 58 & the quote in Appendix II).

Fear of the unknown (syn: "the part of God not understood" - see pg 53) is a core issue in the process of recovery from alcoholism. (pg 67). Facing fears cracks open the doors of the mind to an improved conscious awareness of life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" - see pg 23 & Step 11). This mental action tends to confirm the existence of personal equality

The inherent intelligence of the alcoholic (syn: "the God within" see pg 55) intuitively recognizes that no one knows everything about everything. This author believes that anyone and everyone can make improvements in their relationship to life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God" pg 53). They can if they want to.

"Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable."

(Appendix II)

How decisions are made will likely be guided by one of two basic mental approaches. The method chosen will determine the results.

With an emotionally dominated moralistic approach, someone else claims expertise on what is or is not acceptable within their chosen belief system. That "second-hand belief system" is usually based upon standards established by yet some other authority on morality. This provides the unthinking alcoholic with a "package deal" of what is "acceptable to God". Independent thinking is not required, and is frequently discouraged..

The practical and pragmatic approach of the AA program recognizes the value of the intelligence of the individual alcoholic. It encourages alcoholics to think for themselves by using their own inherent intelligence (syn: "God within") and make a decision to choose between what does and does not work. This includes accepting personal responsibility for correcting mistakes. With this approach, there is an assumption of direct personal access to whatever intelligence has the corrective power. (Steps 10 & 11). Except for the finite limits of a human lifetime, the potential for personal improvement by any alcoholic is endless.

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."

(pg 68)

One approach claims to have "the only answer". The other accepts "the most intelligent answer currently available". The difference determines how much conflict there is with life, on lifeís terms. (review pg 55).

The author suggests the reader consider which approach they use in making their own decisions. A pre-established moralistic and "second hand belief system" may conflict with your own inherent intelligence. While the ideas of others may include some intelligence, the arguments of traditional religions frequently depend upon an appeal to the emotions of alcoholics dominated by a fear of the unknown. (see pg 67). For recovery from alcoholism

"Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices"

(see "The Doctorís Opinion")

By contrast, the pragmatic approach of AA assumes the inherent intelligence of the individual is able to recognize results. (see pg 95). Does an emotional or an intelligent approach take priority for you? Do you ask:

    1. "Is it good?"

      OR
    2. "Does it work?"

If something is "good", then "whose version of good?". If something works, any gullibility from blind faith gets resolved with "donít tell me, show me".

Any belief system got personally chosen by the alcoholic who believes what they believe. Some process of acceptance or rejection occurred within their own mind. (see pg 23). This specifically includes the method by which they chose their "fundamental idea of God" (pg 55). Included is anyone they have accepted as an authority on the subject.

All too often the credentials of someone claiming to be an authority have never been intelligently questioned. As a consequence, many alcoholics believe their chosen authorities on God are infallible. (syn: "all knowing" hence "God"). In the event they do not "know it all", they too are subject to change and improvement. (syn: "as equals in the eyes of God").

This thinking defines the attitude of the alcoholic about their own personal equality. They either accept or reject equal access to whatever intelligence is producing an orderly universe. That universe has infinite proportions - as far as anyone knows.

In dealing with the reality of life on lifeís terms, there is nothing to accept or reject which is not "God". (see pg 53). Anything which cannot be intelligently confirmed as being part of "the Great Reality" is either speculation, or emotional "wishful thinking". Often such ideas are based upon a "second-hand belief system" accepted from some equally inadequate human source which has been chosen as an authority. (pg 60(b)).

An open mind is recommended. Consider that, when dealing with problems, only three intelligent options are available. When a problem exists, the ultimate reality of choice is to:

 

    1. ACCEPT IT
    2. CHANGE IT or
    3. GET RID OF IT.

Anything which is a problem contains some fear of the unknown. Without sufficient new knowledge to resolve the problem, some fear is present that the solution will be unacceptable. When motivated by fear of reality, (i.e.: "fear of God"), the most intelligent answer can be rejected by the alcoholic seeking an emotionally comfortable solution to a life-threatening condition. (i.e.: "self-will run riot").

"When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane." (pg 24)

Avoidance of reality is common practice among people who drink alcohol. That is the basic benefit provided by drinking it. However, for the alcoholic, with the phenomenon of craving, it ultimately requires complete avoidance of any people, places and things because they are unable to get what they want on their own terms. (syn: "cooperation with Godís will - pg 133" vs. "self-will run riot"). When using a distorted mind, this is the most intelligent choice they are able to make at the time. (pg 23).

Fortunately, it is possible to learn to enlarge and improve spiritual fitness without being threatened by reality. (see pgs 100 & 101). Others have acquired the power of new knowledge which they previously did not possess. With an undistorted mind, any alcoholic can learn what other alcoholics have learned. (see pg 58).

Where a threat exists to survival, more new knowledge is required. Seeking that "know-how" is like learning how to play "Russian Roulette" and still live. The formula for success is exceedingly simple.

RULE #1 IS "NO SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS"

    1. When a threat is certain, donít take the action.
    2. When safety is certain, the action is optional.
    3. When in doubt - donít choose any action until certain.

Recognize that mistakes in judgment and human error are inevitable. However, with this formula, all your mistakes are in favor of survival.

There are some conditions which upset emotional stability, and are sometimes a threat to survival. Some alcoholics never do learn to deal with them successfully. For many alcoholics, marriage, strong emotional ties and family relationships belong in that category.

There are other troublesome situations which most alcoholics learn to handle easily without them being a threat. Office and work-place parties, with drinking as the focal point, are a common example. (see pgs 102-103).

Remember that the knowledge and intelligence of others is not your own. Neither is their degree of emotional stability. Your own emotional dependence upon others gives them ability to influence potentially life-threatening decisions. (see pg 60(b)). Alcoholics differ individually in such issues. Extreme caution is recommended when making an authority of some other alcoholic. (see pg 60(b)). It is better if you can develop your own personal connection to the source of knowledge and power which is God". (pgs 12, 55 & 60(b)).

AS an alcoholic understands new knowledge, they become free to change their choices. (see pg 83, 133 plus Steps 3 & 11). This new freedom comes from new knowledge of the Great Reality . (review pgs 45 & 55). There is enlarged and improved understanding of a fundamental relationship to life, on lifeís terms (syn "God").

Old ideas and erroneous beliefs can block spiritual growth and the vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 14-15, 27, 35 & 58). By enlarging and improving a fundamental idea of God, the alcoholic is less limited by the restrictions of that old belief system.

From this perspective, spiritual progress can be viewed as a process. One capable of producing a new kind of happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís Will" - see pgs 83-84 & 133). It is new because it reflects new knowledge and new power of choice which was not available before being sought and accepted.

It is self-evident that new knowledge, when in harmony, balance and compatible with life, on lifeís terms, does not conflict with reality (syn: "God" - see pg 18) However, in an infinite universe, every alcoholic must decide what portion is or is not acceptable to them. (pgs 53 & 68). Within a limited life-span, understanding everything is not an available option. Those who disagree or claim to have the last word on something are challenged with "Donít tell me, show me!".

Happiness, joy and freedom are reflected in how well any belief system works. Where it does not produce those desired results, (i.e.: "the answer to prayer"), the individual is making their own misery. (see pg 133). Unless the reader enjoys misery, improved new knowledge of reality is continually required. (Step 11). The search for new knowledge is then either restricted to the boundaries of old ideas, or else it is open to anything and everything. What is your choice to be? (pgs 53, 68 & 85).

It has been suggested alcohol is but a symptom of some deeper problem. (see pgs 23, 64 & Step 2). Presumably the alcoholic has interest in a solution. Many who had similar problems are able to demonstrate varying degrees of success. Their message is simple. It is:

"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path"

"Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (pg 58)

For the alcoholic reader who is honestly interested in making the most intelligent choice, there is a fundamental attitude no one else can provide.

ARE YOU OR ARE YOU NOT OPEN-MINDED TO NEW IDEAS?

This author believes, any spiritual progress requires maintaining an attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness to the acceptance of new knowledge from the source of all knowledge and all power. (see pgs 23, 27 59, 68 & Appendix II).

This mental action uses the inherent intelligence only found within the alcoholic. (pg 55). Because knowledge and ignorance are both infinite, any mental activity is limited to that which is known. Therefore, any understanding of reality is always incomplete, but can always be improved. (syn: "infinite God" - see pgs 53, 68 & Step ll).

Spiritual progress occurs as conscious understanding is improved. (Steps 3 & 11). Intelligence is required to understand what does and does not work to produce desired results.

Conscious acceptance of reality becomes a realistic answer to problems. With this approach, the principle of seeking infinite new knowledge takes precedence over any personal belief system which relies upon human authorities on the Great Reality (syn: "God"- pg 60(b)).

PRINCIPLES BEFORE PERSONALITIES

Once again, there is nothing else to accept which is beyond that infinite source of new knowledge which is "God". (Review in sequence Appendix II, pg 27, 55, 53, 68, 60(b), Step 3, Step 11, Step 10, pg 58 & Step 12).

Acceptance of new knowledge can be a power, greater than any human power including any of the traditional religious "god clubs". It provides a simple foundation upon which recovery from alcoholism can be assured.

"We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built. (pg 47)

The reader who rejects "new concepts of God" has wasted time reading this far. They are already happy, joyous and free with nothing to be gained by enlarging their understanding of "the Will of God". (review pg 14-15, 133 & Appendix II).

This author applauds any such success and has no desire to disrupt enjoyment of the results. However, recognize that other alcoholics may be less fortunate and not experience that same degree of personal satisfaction. It is worth noting that other approaches to personal happiness do exist. Many produce desirable results.

The primary reason for seeking new knowledge is to discover something better and "trade up". To determine how well a belief works requires examination in the light of intelligence. (syn: "the light of God"). This is something any alcoholic can find within themselves. It is mental activity which occurs within their own mind. (review pgs 23 & 55). Most alcoholics intuitively recognize it is their own mind, and they can do whatever they want with it.

It is suggested the alcoholic reader consider this personal relationship to an endless source of new knowledge when evaluating their fundamental idea of "God". Particularly when seeking to be more happy, joyous and free. (see pgs 60(c), Step 11, & pg 133). An AA slogan has particular significance in this process.

"THINK, THINK, THINK".

The personal viewpoint of one sober alcoholic may not necessarily be the only valid one. That is bad news when their ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding your major decisions are flawed. The good news is that any of those erroneous beliefs can be improved with sufficient new knowledge and an enlarged understanding of reality. (pgs 14-15, 164 & Step 11).

This is frequently a point where inherent intelligence and personal egos clash. When unchallenged, new knowledge and understanding will eventually turn into old ideas. They can then become blocks and barriers to further spiritual growth or to accepting further improvements and the best possible relationship to life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God").

THE GOOD IS OFTEN THE ENEMY OF THE BEST

 

Any such close-minded mental attitude can obstruct the fullest possible experience of happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís will for us"). However, improvement is available right now. It is always available to anyone who seeks it. (review Step 11 & pg 133). What is required is a desire (syn: prayer) for something more.

"What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition" (pg 85)

Acknowledging flaws in thought processes derived from old ideas reduces the emotional hold they have on choices made and current actions taken. Admitting the imperfection opens the mind to accepting improvement to a personal concept of an infinite Power greater than ourselves. (see pg 23).

The personal advantages of such mental action are self-evident. But what then is the value of sharing personal shortcomings with another human being? Some observations by this author are presented for your consideration.

Telling another person about fears accepts lack of knowledge and lack of power to control certain conditions which impact personal happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís Will" - see pg 133). Within the mind of the individual, personal fears are like "free-floating monsters" . They are there, but have no clear definition. (pg 23). Writing down fears, and verbalizing them to another human being assigns those fears some specific and definable qualities. That forces the fear into perspective where it can be intelligently evaluated. Inherent intelligence (syn: "God within") allows reevaluation of their significance.

By way of illustration that alcoholics frequently assign power where it does not belong:

A woman is troubled by "a fear of high places". After numerous expensive consultations, her psychiatrist inquires: "When was the last time a high place did something to frighten you?"

Improved conscious awareness and enlarged understanding allow for spiritual growth and a more intelligent mental approach to the Great Reality.

New and improved understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God" - pg 55 & Step 11) is required to correct erroneous ideas, emotions and attitudes. This becomes the vital spiritual experience in recovery from alcoholism. For this practical reason alone, discussing defects with another person has value.

The examination of personal fears, in the light of reality, does not necessarily involve other individuals. Nonetheless, any personal fears are "our own monsters". Be they real or imaginary, the place the fear exists, is within thought processes of the individual. (pg 23).

Enlarged understanding of reality is an intelligent power greater than any emotions or fantasy because intelligence is more stable. Eventually it will prevail over emotions. (syn: "Godís Intelligence vs.: emotional self-will run riot"). A frequently heard expression is "we know the truth, and the truth has set us free". Consider the implications of that observation when it is paraphrased to read:

AS WE KNOW THE TRUTH, OUR MINDS ARE FREED

FROM THE LIMITATIONS OF OLD IDEAS.

New knowledge and conscious awareness of reality (syn: "God" - see Step 11) is capable of producing a spiritual awakening. (review Step 12). Intelligent understanding is enhanced when another person shares successful results with the alcoholic seeking a solution to their problem. Mutual enrichment results. (see pg 89). One gains new knowledge, the other mentally reinforces what already works for them.

Because new knowledge is in endless supply, others may have awareness of some portion of "the Great Reality" which is unfamiliar. When what they know is valid knowledge, they have power to use it. How they use it may be intelligent or their own emotional dependence upon some erroneous belief system.

Therefore, consider your own belief system about personal access to the source of all knowledge and power. (syn: "God"- see pg 59).






For example:

    • WHERE DO ORIGINIAL IDEAS COME FROM?
    • CAN YOU TAP INTO THAT SAME SOURCE?
    • DO YOU HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO IT?

Your own answers to yourself may expose some personal and limiting beliefs which have become guiding forces. (pg 27). By way of illustration:

"A counselor commented on a clientís statement:

"That idea came from Freud"

The client responded:

"Iíve never read any of Freud"

The counselor then asked:

"Then where did you get the idea?"

The reply was:

"FROM THE SAME PLACE FREUD GOT IT!!"

This author suggests the alcoholic has equal access to new ideas and new knowledge as anyone else. This implies unlimited access to improved understanding of more truth, and more reality concerning life, on lifeís terms.

This observation is significant for any alcoholic seeking relief from the limitations of their old ideas. (pg 60(c)). While other alcoholics may be helpful, there is freedom from dependence upon them as the source of new knowledge and power. (see pgs 59 & 68).

AS conscious understanding of fears is improved, they get labeled and mentally placed into a more intelligent perspective with the Great Reality. (syn: "God"). This can be the beginning of a vital spiritual experience. (see pgs 23 & 27). This is no frothy emotional appeal, but a message which has depth and weight.. (review "The Doctorís Opinion", pg 12, & Appendix II).

New knowledge comes from the source of all knowledge. Acceptance requires intelligent choices. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are indispensable. (see Appendix II).

With the passage of time, new ideas eventually become old ideas. There shall always appear new and previously unknown conditions which require new knowledge. For this practical reason, constantly enlarging a spiritual life is a personal and individual responsibility (see pgs 14-15, 35 & 129). A daily reprieve from alcoholism appears to require maintaining a mental attitude of "willingness, honesty and open mindedness" (pg 23 & Appendix II).

This author believes that such mental action is the essence of "spiritual progress". Obviously, other views attempt to define the limits of a relationship to the source of infinite knowledge. (syn: "God"). However, relief from alcoholism is open to anyone who seeks it. (pg 58). The alcoholic reader, may wish to ask:

HOW SAFE DO I WANT TO BE?

An honest desire for personal improvement opens the mind to opportunities for spiritual progress. Willingness to intelligently consider new viewpoints, becomes an intelligent option, preferable to emotional and automatic resistance to change. Changes compatible with reality (syn: "God") enlarge a spiritual life by improving cooperation with reality. (syn: "God"). More happiness, joy and freedom is a natural consequence. (Step 11).

An open minded attitude allows the alcoholic to consider new methods. Inherent intelligence evaluates which methods produce desired results. New knowledge does not infringe upon valid old ideas when it is intelligently decided what is most desired. (syn: "a prayer"). When improvement is an option, many alcoholics become both willing and able to "trade up".

&#"Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us--sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them." (review pgs 83 & 84)

The main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind. (pg23). The ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in his life determine the vital spiritual experience required for recovery. (pg 27)

The reader knows if they are willingly, honestly and open mindedly seeking to expand the horizons of their own mind or, if they are trying to force AA principles into some preconceived old idea of God.

* * * * *

SECTION B06c:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

 

READ:

Chapter 6 - Into Action, from page 72, beginning with "This is perhaps difficult........" to page 73 ending with "........until they told someone else all their life story.:

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

By now the reader has given some thought to the proposition of equality, of each alcoholic, with other individuals in having personal access to the source of all new knowledge and all new power. (syn: "equality in the eyes of God"). It may also have been recognized, that no single individual has all knowledge. (syn: "Godís omniscience"). As equals, everyone knows something. No one knows everything. This points out a fundamental difference between AA and many religious concepts of the power necessary for a vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27).

This author believes the power of new knowledge is infinite. Accordingly, any understanding of that power by anyone, this author included, is always inadequate. (see pg 68). There is always more. The inherent intelligence of the reader will recognize that any attempt to define infinite power (syn: "God") is inherently incomplete without claiming to know all and everything about it..

Regardless of how practical some portions of their various definitions may be, most traditional religions specify precisely what they believe. Each belief system is different from all others in some way. Most omit the addition of new knowledge, and usually reject any other ideas which might displace their own beliefs. (see pgs 55 & 95).

A similar mental process occurs within the individual alcoholic concerning ideas, emotions, and attitudes guiding their personal life. Each alcoholic has their own unique, but nonetheless finite, fundamental idea about how they relate to life, on lifeís terms. Only those portions of their belief system which are valid avoid conflict with the Ultimate Reality of All Life. (syn: "God" - see pg 55).

Whenever there is conflict with life on lifeís terms, that conflict reduces personal happiness, joy and freedom. (see pg 133). There is always a potential for creating more turmoil by coming to believe something which is not so and manufacturing further conflicts with reality. (pg 164 & Step 11).

This perspective on Step Five has practical value for the alcoholic seeking relief from erroneous or inadequate conclusions about their relationship to life. (pg 60(c)). It allows them to reduce conflicts with reality produced by old ideas which are not valid nor part of the Great Reality (syn: "God" see pg 58 & Step 10). Each individual finds the power to recognize those mistakes within themselves (pg 55).

A vital spiritual experience is necessary for recovery, however religious conceptions of God are restricted by their own definitions. Most traditional definitions are inadequate because they are incomplete. (pg 27). They are limited by the finite range of their knowledge and beliefs.

Any precisely defined belief system, along with their accompanying moral codes, fail to accommodate new knowledge. Some new information about "the Great Reality" might be an improvement for the alcoholic as a guiding force in their life. (see pg 164 & Steps 10 & 11). Any such improvements are excluded from a precisely defined belief system.

This author suggests that any valid new knowledge, compatible with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God"), provides the alcoholic with more power than emotional and speculative wishful thinking. Many religious alcoholics will disagree. How will you seek access to "a power greater than yourself"?

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?" (pg 45)

Sharing errors in personal judgment with another human being has value. It requires conscious recognition of the limited scope of old ideas, emotions and attitudes which have guided decisions in life. This mental action exposes the shortcomings of some of the beliefs supporting a desire (i.e.: "prayer") for oblivion from reality. Drinking alcohol does provide that oblivion. (see pgs 23 & 27 & Step 10).

WHEN WE DRINK, REALITY DOES NOT CHANGE;

ONLY OUR PERSPECTIVE OF REALITY CHANGES

As an alcoholic improves their conscious understanding of reality, they automatically learn more about it. What gets learned may include what others have already learned. However, there is always more. There is more new knowledge available beyond the sum total of all human knowledge acquired thus far. This conscious awareness reinforces recognition and acceptance of personal equality, relative to the source of all knowledge (syn: "God").

What is required is a desire (syn: "a prayer") to know more than is now known. This desire gets fulfilled by seeking valid new knowledge, wherever it is to be found. With it comes improved and enlarged understanding of truth, good and reality. (all syn: "God" - see pg 47, Step 3 and pg 60(c)).

The natural consequence of this mental action produces improved ability of an alcoholic to claim more personal happiness, joy and freedom from life because they are equally entitled to it. (syn: "Godís Will for us" - see pg 133). This author suggests the alcoholic reader give serious consideration to the implications of being an equal in the eyes of God. Especially where it involves their personal recovery from a life-threatening condition.

Within the AA basic text for recovery is oft repeated a need for power, greater than the individual. Also, that there is a need for the alcoholic to abandon old ideas and seek improved understanding of that power. (pgs 27, 58, Steps 10 & 11). More specifically, the basic text includes a requirement to continually grow spiritually.

"For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead."

(pgs 14 & 15)

The claim made in the basic text for recovery is spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. (pg 60). Herein lies an inherent problem which impacts numerous limited concepts established by many religious belief systems. It concerns the fundamental idea of trusting God. The "concept of God", for any individual or collective religious group, is a finite concept. There is more to be known, and more to be understood.

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves"

(pg 68)

The problem is "a concept of a power", which is trapped within the closed loop of old ideas. (see pg 23). Without the capacity to be willing, honest and open minded about admitting mistakes and making improvements, little if any, spiritual progress is possible. (Steps 10 & 11)

Such a mental attitude restricts individual thinking within the confines of what they believe is possible. Any freedom of choice for spiritual growth is limited within the closed loop of beliefs about God. It reflects the finite limitations of their conscious awareness of the Great Reality and is the only range of thinking about reality presently available to their mind. In reality, there exists more than is now known or understood. (see pgs 12, 23, 28, 39, 42, 43, 45, 46, 53, 55, 58, 85, 89, 93, 94, 95, 98, 129, 133, 157, 158, 159, 161, 164).

This author strongly recommends the alcoholic reader seriously review, with an open mind, their fundamental idea of God. (Step 10). It is further recommended you do so by trusting an infinite rather than a restrictive concept of God. (pg 68).

The closed loop of old ideas can be a block, barrier or obstacle to making spiritual progress toward improving conscious understanding of an infinite God. (Step 11).

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)

Seeking to improve conscious contact with truth, good and reality, (all syn for "God" - see Step 11) requires recognition of some source of new knowledge which is "a power greater than ourselves".

As equals, it is not necessary to be dependent upon any finite human authority on "God". (pg 12). Nothing in the basic text for recovery requires or even implies a need for reliance upon any "second-hand concept of God". Each alcoholic is free to choose their own authorities on any subject. Alcoholics are equally free to develop and improve their own concept of an infinite source of power. (see pgs 12 & 95). For this, the use of intelligence is recommended.

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (pgs 83 & 84)

 

To experience these promises requires intelligent examination of old ideas, emotions and attitudes. (pg 27). The inherent intelligence of the alcoholic allows conscious recognition of truth, good and reality (syn: "God"). Seeking to improve recognition of reality (i.e.: "if you donít take the first drink you canít get drunk"), enlarges conscious contact with the Great Reality (i.e.: "God" pg 55) and improves the freedom of choice to cooperate with it.. The power to do so (syn: "God") is only available within each individual alcoholic. (pg 55).

Cooperation with what is true, good and real is part of becoming happy, joyous and free. For the still suffering alcoholic this requires that they enlarge their spiritual life to improve their personal understanding of what that is. (see pgs 14, 15, 23, 27, 35, 85, 129, 133 & 164).

DONíT BOTHER ME WITH FACTS,

IíVE ALREADY GOT MY MIND MADE UP.

Consciously seeking continued cooperation with the reality of life may be the best attitude any alcoholic can achieve. Many alcoholics would be making that choice if they knew how. Other alcoholics may prefer to remain within the closed-loop of their old ideas.

Regardless of the chosen mental approach, improved cooperation with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") is increasingly possible for anyone. Improved cooperation with reality occurs as the individual understands more about the infinite source of new knowledge. (Steps 3 & 11). In this respect, they are equals with any of their established authorities.

ENLARGING A SPIRITUAL LIFE IS AN UNENDING PROCESS

It should be recognized any new knowledge comes from the source of all knowledge and power. (syn: "God" - see pg 59). Some new knowledge may be obtained from others who already have it. However, you, the alcoholic reader, ("an equal in the eyes of God") are free to go to the same source if you want to.

Those alcoholics who are completely happy, joyous and free now, are experiencing their own version of what God wants for them. (see pg 133). It is obvious that other versions exist. For those who seek more, it is self-evident that more new knowledge will be required.

The reader who trusts "infinite God" as being "the Great Reality" (see pgs 53, 55 & 68) will then find seeking improved awareness of how to cooperate with reality is desirable. It becomes available by realistically seeking more happiness, more joy, and more freedom. (review Steps 3, 11, pg 133 & Appendix II).

This author suggests that what you want the most is your personal desire. (syn: "your prayer"). If there is a power which responds to answering any prayer that is what it responds to.

NO ONE ELSE DECIDES WHAT YOU WANT - DO THEY?

Your dominant desire constitutes your prayer for something you are unable to obtain without the power of new knowledge. (see Step 11).

It is suggested that when an alcoholic knows how to fulfill their own desire then they have that power in their personal life. By mentally recognizing the infinite power of new knowledge, more personal power is always available. (pg 23). However, it gets provided on "lifeís terms", not by a personal belief system.

Recognition of personal equality allows for other ideas to exist. Not with the expectation some equally imperfect individual will have all the answers. Rather, that they may possess some new or improved answers.

To discover what improvements are available requires intelligent open minded consideration of new ideas. However, an open minded attitude demands that the alcoholic set aside any self-centered egotistical belief they have the only valid idea of God possible. Anyone can be mistaken. Even persons who claim spiritual authority can be mistaken, unless the reader believes they possess all knowledge. (syn: "Godís Omniscience").

This author recommends that, whenever possible, the alcoholic reader expose the limitations of their old ideas, emotions and attitudes. Especially those which have become guiding forces in life. (see pg 27).

Starting from birth, personal survival involves some degree of interdependence with other individuals. To experience personal freedom, , requires individuals enlarge their conscious awareness of reality and then accept responsibility for their own choices. (see pgs 14, 15 & 35).

Improving personal understanding of the truth about life is an intelligent way to discover who does or does not accept you as you really are. Not everyone believes they are equal to others. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God"). This author suggests that, if "God is everything" (see pg 53) the reader "is something" and really is an equal to others in access to "infinite intelligence" (see pg 68). The reader may prefer to believe some other attitude is superior.

 

Telling someone else all of your life story reduces a false belief of being unacceptable to the intelligent source of all creation. (syn: "God").

While it is not essential to rashly expose oneís innermost self to everyone, it is crucial to do so with someone. (review pg 74). This is a major step toward constructing a life built upon a foundation of reality. (syn: "God"). Upon that stable foundation, anything that is true can be discovered by anyone without the collapse of a chosen way of life. Once more, the alcoholic is faced with the awesome power of their own personal attitudes in matters affecting their own life. This attitude is both important and desirable in reducing any fear of rejection.

From a strictly practical point of view, there is another important reason for taking the Fifth Step and "admitting to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs". That reason is simple:

"If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking". (pg 72)

Some individuals believe they are victims without any choice about events occurring in their life. Some others hold a conflicting belief that no power exists greater than themselves as an independent individual. Neither view appears to coincide with reality. (syn: "God" - see pgs 62 & 133).

The alcoholic reader is asked to consider that what they most desire fits a reasonable definition of "a prayer". Fulfillment of that desire (syn: "the answer to the prayer") occurs as the individual acquires new knowledge of how to claim what they desire from life. (see pg 23 & Steps 3 & 11).

Every alcoholic gets life dealt out to them on the basis of a daily reprieve. (pg 85). That "gift of life" (i.e.: "a gift of God") includes all and everything in the infinite universe which is part of their experience in this lifetime. "The gift of Life" includes access to all new knowledge and an equal opportunity to cooperate with it, on an individual basis.

This daily reprieve from oblivion occurs on lifeís terms. (see pg 85). Lifeís terms are not necessarily the same as the belief systems offered by authorities of numerous religions. Individuals joyfully accept what they want to believe. Unfortunately, for many, the introduction of reality (syn: "God") disrupts false beliefs.

This author believes that a mental attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness to accept reality is an indispensable requirement to the maintenance of the spiritual condition essential for recovery from alcoholism. (review Appendix II).

If any one individual knows how to claim what is most desired from life, that same knowledge is equally available to others if it is sought. (see pg 60(c)). The reader may also recognize that more new knowledge exists beyond that which others may now know. There is an endless supply of new knowledge available to be discovered. This author believes there is more new knowledge to be learned about an infinite universe than the entire human race has discovered thus far. How much of it are you willing to seek to understand? (see pg 60(c) & Step 11).

Seeking new knowledge is the personal responsibility of the individual who wants more knowledge than they now possess. (i.e.: "the answer to their prayer"). Specifically, each individual is responsible for open mindedly seeking whatever new knowledge lies beyond the closed loop of their old ideas and erroneous beliefs. (see pg 60(c)).

Any fundamental idea of the power required for recovery from alcoholism exists within the individual. It is their concept of that power. (see pg 12 & 55) and is a guiding force within their mind. (pgs 23, 27 & 55). Erroneous or limited beliefs impact decisions about what is important. For example, as an equal human being, is your personal priority to:

    1. RECOVER FROM ALCOHOLISM?

      or do you prefer to
    2. HOLD ON TO OLD IDEAS?

Without adequate conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms, (i.e.: "God" - review pgs 30-32, 42, 53, & Step 11), it may not be possible to have it both ways within the closed loop of your limited present range of understanding all of reality. More new knowledge may need to be revealed. (pg 164).

Until an alcoholic has revealed all their life story to someone else, there are parts that remain hidden from view. Under that condition it is virtually impossible for them to expose those guiding forces to the light of any intelligent self-examination.

Someone without emotions might be able to do this. More likely, their emotional defenses, are protecting their personal egos (syn: "self-will") in a struggle to survive against reality. For many alcoholics this mental action reflects the exact nature of what is wrong in their life. (see pgs 23, 62 & Step 5). For some, it has stood in the way of their personal recovery.

No inventory process is complete until all mental flaws get identified. (see pg 23). Step Four was but a beginning. It needs to be continued as conditions change. (pg 84). The best approach in the beginning may no longer be the current best choice to apply after conditions have changed. (see Step #10).

MY BEST EFFORTS TODAY MAY NOT BE THE SAME

AS MY BEST EFFORTS FOR YESTERDAY OR TOMORROW

Up-dating a personal inventory requires that items in it be identified, and assigned value in terms of present time reality. (syn: "the will of God now"). The only reality an alcoholic can understand will be what they think at that point in time. (pg 23).

Any limited, finite present time belief does not rule out there being more to understand. No one, not even authorities of religions, fully understand what new awareness of the Great Reality. (see pg 55) may be discovered at any given moment. However any individual may acquire some additional valid new knowledge about reality at any time, merely by seeking it. (review pgs 60(c), 87 & 89)

This author submits that, as an equal, any one personal concept of an infinite power is either as valid or as incomplete as any other. As valid new knowledge is discovered, more improved understanding about reality will be revealed. (see pgs 68, 164 & Step 11). The only intelligent value of one belief system over another is found in how well it works. (i.e.: AA vs. "other approaches to recovery"). To produce any results, a belief system requires some agreement with reality and those principles which are applicable to all life. (syn: "God" - see pg 53).

Conditions in an infinite universe are constantly changing. The relative importance of any item in a personal inventory is only applicable to present time conditions. Their significance is assigned by individuals according to how well it fulfills present time goals and objectives. Present time versions of happiness, joy and freedom) (syn: "Godís will" - pg 133) are temporary and can change by improved awareness that something better is available. (Steps 10 & 11). The desire (i.e.: "the prayer") to "trade up to something better" must come from the individual seeking the improvement.

The reader will probably recognize their personal desires (syn: prayers) have continually changed. In addition, recognize that how well anything which provides personal happiness, joy and freedom now is also subject to change.

Any improved understanding of lifeís terms produces an enlarged spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35 & 164). This improved conscious understanding of reality (see Steps 10 & 11) allows for up-grading goals and objectives. The decision to "trade up" to something more desirable will displace and rearrange old ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in life. (see pg 27). This mental action enlarges a spiritual life

The alcoholic reader is now asked to intelligently consider the practical impossibility of enlarging their conscious understanding of "the Great Reality" (syn: "God") within the closed-loop of old ideas, emotions and attitudes.

Rigid thinking, as a mental condition, has become a guiding force for many alcoholics. (pg 23). Either those thought processes change or they stay the same. In this context, old ideas and values acquire deadly significance.

Some conscious understanding of the awesome power of new knowledge is required before it can be used effectively. Recognition of equal access to that power is part of the process. Denial that anything exists beyond a limited personal belief system is clearly "self-will run riot". This author suggests that constantly enlarging personal understanding of the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God") is a continuing requirement for continued experience of personal happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís will" see pgs 14-15, 35, 133, 164, Step 11 & Appendix II ).

For now, it may be enough for the alcoholic reader to recognize that breaking out of the closed-loop of old ideas is a crucial part of the recovery process. Step Five, provides that opportunity by giving definition to the problem. Step Ten provides the opportunity to continually up-grade a personal relationship with present time reality. (i.e.: "God" pg 53).

DO YOU WANT MORE HAPPINESS OR NOT?

The author suggests Step Five is an opportunity to identify and give definition to the exact nature of character defects blocking personal happiness. Those who already have all the happiness they desire will have no need to proceed. For those who want more, the freedom of choice to seek more new knowledge is their own.

WHAT YOU DO HAS SOMETHING TO DO

WITH WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU.

Fear of exposure and rejection can be a block, barrier or obstacle to admitting mistakes in personal judgment. Often, the fear stems from failure or unwillingness to accept life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God"). This occurs because some other restrictive idea is believed to be more valid.

ANYTHING WHICH CAUSES A PROBLEM IS A PROBLEM!

To maintain control of human beings often requires fear and intimidation. However, improved awareness of reality is available to anyone. Keeping others in a condition of gullible ignorance requires maintaining control of their access to new knowledge. This is difficult, if not impossible, to sustain without the willing cooperation of the ignorant.

On the premise that "God wants us to be happy, joyous and free" (pg 133), anything which stands in the way of acquiring that new knowledge is an obvious problem. Any belief system is directly related to understanding any problem with reality. (i.e.: "God" see pg 53). If ignoring valid new knowledge of reality produces desirable results, then choose to use "your own old idea of God" (pg 12).

"IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, ĎTIS FOLLY TO BE WISE"

Where there exists any fear of exposure to the truth, the alcoholic may choose to enlarge and improve their conscious understanding of how to cooperate with reality. (syn: "God" - see pgs 14-15, 35 & Step 11). The desired new knowledge may already have been discovered by other alcoholics, or they may need to seek it directly from the source of all knowledge. (pg 60 (a), (b) & (c)).

YOU CAN BE MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION OR DESPERATION.

Fear is frequently nothing more than an old idea with strong emotional overtones. (syn: "self-will run riot"). Sometimes that old idea is a belief which is in conflict with reality because it reflects a personal belief of being singled out for rejection. There is a seeming conflict between being both unique and equal. (pg 23).

Resolving that conflict is significant in terms of personal happiness. (syn: "Godís will" - pg 133). The alcoholic reader may wish to investigate where they acquired their belief system. Then, intelligently consider how and why that belief system is still a present time authority as a guiding force in life.

OTHERS MAY NOT BE AGAINST YOU,

THEY MAY JUST BE FOR THEMSELVES.

With a newborn infant some dominant adult is in control of their life. The child is both dependent and powerless. That infant remains controlled by decisions and choices of others, until they claim their human equality. ("in the eyes of God" see pg 23). Unless they claim that personal equality and freedom of choice, those dominant adults will continue to control their behavior.

IF NOTHING CHANGES - THEN NOTHING CHANGES!

When beliefs, from the dominant adult, get accepted by the child without thinking, those ideas, emotions and attitudes become habitual. Once they are habit patterns they become guiding forces for decisions and choices in life. (see pg 27).

For the adult alcoholic, those same concepts have determined what is their fundamental idea of what is the truth, good and reality (syn: "God" - see pg 55). This author assumes the reader has sufficient inherent intelligence ("the God within") to recognize that the beliefs of others do not always produce personal happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís Will - see pg 133).

"Think - Think - Think"

Parents, or the dominant adults who control the life of a child, do not know everything. They do have their own belief system but cannot transmit something they havenít got. (see pg 164). Some portions of what they believe may not be accurate. Without "all knowledge" (syn: "Godís Omniscience"), there is always more to be revealed. However, when trapped in the closed-loop of limited individual beliefs, there is no opportunity for the introduction of new knowledge (syn: "more God" as the source of all knowledge"). Because of this limitation, it is understandable that:

"In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient." (pg 72).

Alcoholics who are unwilling to intelligently confront the beliefs of their childhood have limited their own opportunities to choose changes and improvements. By their own choice, they remain within the closed-loop of old ideas, emotions and attitudes. (see pg 27). The result is they become like the man who stood on his left foot with his right foot while complaining he could not run.

Discussion of fears with another human being is an action which gives the fear some definition, form and personal value. That action brings the fear into reality and allows the intelligence, inherent within the individual, to recognize other options and make a choice to "trade up".

Whenever old ideas, fail to "answer prayers to be happy, joyous and free". (syn: "Godís Will for them" - see pg 133) it becomes understood that the belief system, obtained from dominate adults during childhood, does not always produce desired results. New knowledge, or different ideas may work better for that individual alcoholic.

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW!

At this point, many alcoholics discover, they are equally entitled to use "the power of God to be happy, joyous and free". This power they find deep down within themselves (pg 55) may conflict with the beliefs of others, but this is the same power they are seeking, to provide them with relief from alcoholism.

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IS

THE THING YOU ARE LOOKING WITH

NOTE OF CAUTION TO THE READER:

There is a significant difference between privately telling someone else all their life story, and in telling anyone and everyone. The author recommends using intelligence (syn: "God") when selecting another individual for this confidential step in personal recovery.

Participation in AA does not necessarily qualify someone to be "a close-mouthed friend". ( see pg 74). Not every AA member will continue their sobriety.

Your own intelligence will recognize that no one is barred from attending AA meetings. Nothing in the AA program requires "airing dirty linen" at that public a level. All manner of people may be in any AA meeting. You have no way of really knowing their true objectives for being there. Some may have personal agendas which are not compatible with the basic text or your own recovery from alcoholism.

Before choosing a person with whom to take this intimate step, this author recommends the reader be guided by intelligence (syn: "God") rather than any blind trust or emotional wishful thinking. (syn: "self-will run riot").

Exposing a belief system to reality includes the personal priority given to that belief over other ideas. Any alcoholic is always free to accept or reject new knowledge beyond the "closed-loop" of present knowledge (review Appendix II). Valid ideas can be recognized by the use of your own inherent intelligence (syn: "the God within") and ultimately will prevail over wishful thinking.

IF YOU LOSE ANYTHING TO THE TRUTH ,

YOU HAVENíT LOST ANYTHING!

Seeking to improve understanding of how to be happy, joyous and free in all relationships and affairs (syn: "Godís will" pg 133, & Steps 11 &12) is not a "one-time event". Instead, it is an "on-going activity" for which continuous action will be required.

"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." (pg 85).

By now, the choice for the alcoholic reader should be clear. Either you prefer to protect a belief system, which probably came from others, or else increase awareness of personal equality "in the eyes of God".

Either choice requires using your own inherent intelligence. Something which exists within each individual as their chosen "concept of God". (see pgs 12, 27 & 55). However, a "one time choice and decision" alone is not sufficient to produce permanent recovery from alcoholism. Once again:

"What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent
on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." (pg 85).

A story provides an illustration:

A Native American youth came to a wise elder for advice, telling him he wanted to be useful, but part of him was destructive. ĎGrandfatherí he asked, Ďwhat is wrong with me?í

The old man told him "you have two dogs fighting to dominate your spirit, - one is helpful, one is hurtful"

The young man then asked "which one is going to win?"

The old man smiled and said "the one you feed".

Human beings have been discovering these same truths about life (syn: "God") for so long as individuals have been thinking about life. In an infinite universe, any definition of reality based upon finite human awareness, is obviously incomplete. (pg 60(b)).

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg 164).

Accordingly, no human power has sufficient awareness to provide any alcoholic with complete understanding of their greatest good. (syn: "Godís will for them"- Step 11). To blindly accept the limited beliefs of others as being complete is a choice not to seek new knowledge greater than what they claim to understand. This author contends that more than that new knowledge is required to continually enlarge a spiritual life. (review pgs 14, 15, 35, 60(c), 164 & Appendix II).

"The gift of life" is provided on a daily basis (see pg 85) and is filled with unlimited opportunities for spiritual growth. An alcoholic is free to seek more new knowledge of whatever portion they most desire any time that is their dominate desire (syn: "their prayer").

Sadly for some alcoholics, what is desired gets provided on lifeís terms, not those of the alcoholic with the desire. Trying to force reality to suit a belief system can be considered self-will run riot. (review pgs 60 & 61).

Enlarging conscious understanding of lifeís terms is equivalent to "trading up" and "turning your will and your life over to the care of God, as you understand Him". (Steps 3 & 11). The success of "Alcoholics Anonymous" demonstrates this choice is possible. The alcoholic reader is free to use this as new knowledge of recovery and as a guiding force in their life.

".......we had to fearlessly face the proposition that God is either everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

The alcoholic who accepts that "God is everything" faces the inescapable responsibility of continually seeking to improved their conscious understanding of lifeís terms in order to assure their own survival. Some understanding of the Great Reality is required to use that power in an intelligent manner. Many alcoholics believe they have already found all the power they will ever need within their religion. Only those alcoholics who believe they understand all and everything about life, on lifeís terms, would claim to really be certain. This author suggests the alcoholic reader consider how safe they want to be.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, thatís exactly what this book is about. Its main objective is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem." (pg 45)

Enlarged awareness of reality occurs with Step Five. The basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous" provides a valid path for personal recovery from alcoholism. The results speak for themselves.

This author suggests the alcoholic reader will choose whatever path to recovery they most desire. (syn: "the answer to their personal prayer"). That choice will reflect a personal belief system and your own version of happiness, joy and freedom. That personal freedom already exists. The choice made will either be limited within the boundaries of old ideas or your thinking will be enlarged by accepting an enlarged awareness of the Great Reality. (see pgs, 23, 53, 55, 129, 164 & Appendix II).

WHAT YOU WANT IS WHAT YOU GET

* * * * *

SECTION B06d:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

 

READ:

Page 73 from "More than most people, ............." to bottom of page 73 ending with "........have a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery!"

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

By now the alcoholic reader should be aware of some reasons for revealing all of their life story to another person. Caution is recommended when selecting the person or persons with whom this vital step is taken.

Revealing ones innermost self to another human being requires identification and definition of some of the fears which have made oblivion by drinking alcohol desirable. Doing so requires mental action to identify some personal limitations in understanding the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" see pgs 23 & 55). For some alcoholics those shortcomings in awareness of reality, are blocks and barriers to personal recovery. Furthermore, if they are not dealt with, there is a chance that recovery will not occur.

This author proposes that seeking an enlarged understanding of life, on lifeís terms, is equivalent to seeking an improved understanding of God. (see pgs 12, 23, 45, 53, 68 & Step 11).

Any personal concept of "God" is found within each individual. (see pg 55). If the reader agrees, then being honest with oneís own self about any blocks or barriers to recovery becomes a matter of enlightened self-interest. (pg 58). One of the significant benefits from this mental action is the reduction of fear of rejection. That fear usually omits recognition or acceptance of any personal equality ("in the eyes of God").

Where an individual desires equal access to the power of all new knowledge they have the responsibility to seek it. (pg 60(c)). When an individual denies their own personal access, they cannot use new knowledge, and others become their personal concept of God.

FEAR OF REJECTION IS A BELIEF PERSONAL HAPPINESS

DEPENDS UPON THE GOOD OPINION OF OTHERS.

The natural consequence is that other equal human beings get assigned the role of being "a power greater than ourselves". In reality, they are not. But, within the mind of the alcoholic, those equal individuals are believed to be superior. Because of that belief, they place their trust in the messenger, rather than the message of improved new knowledge which the messenger presents.

Inherent intelligence intuitively recognizes that individual uniqueness is part of "the Great Reality". (syn: "God within"- pg 55) No one can be someone else. However, anyone can learn what anyone else now knows. Assignment of human superiority to another individual denies personal equality. ("in the eyes of God"). Recognition of greater wisdom and new knowledge does not. (see pg 23).

This author suggests that making other equal humans the sole source of new knowledge creates both dependency and limitation. Any awareness of an infinite reality then becomes limited to their personal concept of "a power greater than themselves". Any such belief system makes others the power required to be happy, joyous and free and limits personal freedom to their finite human knowledge as being the source of new knowledge. In reality, there is more. The source of all knowledge (syn: "God") provides for endless personal freedom for spiritual growth. (review pgs 12, 14-15, 42, 45, 53, 68, 129, 164 & Appendix II).

Assignment of superiority to another individual may utilize some new knowledge, and utilize some intelligence in the process. (syn: "the God within" - see pg 55). Often however, the assignment of such authority is the result of accepting, with blind faith, the fears and beliefs of dominant adults in childhood.

Regardless of how it occurred, making others an authority does establish dependency upon their ideas, emotions and attitudes. Without independent thinking, the result is a "second-hand concept of God" as a guiding force in life. When it produces desired results some portions may be worth retaining. If their belief system does not produce results, acceptable to you, then it may be necessary to displace and rearrange those ideas, emotions and attitudes. (see pg 27).

Recognizing how and why personal decisions get made is a significant factor in the recovery process. For some alcoholics this is extremely difficult because their belief system remains their childhood idea of God. (i.e.: "the source of happiness, joy and freedom"). It is restricted to the limits of the wisdom and knowledge of equal human authorities who are still allowed to dominate their lives. (see pg 164). Sometimes that belief system conflicts with reality. (syn: "God").

Some individuals may be authorities of medicine, science, religion, or any other area of knowledge about the Great Reality of life on lifeís terms (syn: "God"). However, all have limitations in their understanding an infinite reality. (pg 68). As an equal, anyone can learn what others have learned. In an infinite universe there is an endless supply of new knowledge still to be discovered by humanity.

No human intelligence possesses all knowledge. Knowing everything and the accompanying power of that knowledge (i.e.: omniscience & omnipotence) are mental qualities reserved to define a fundamental concept of God. (review pg 23).

This author contends, it is self evident, that there is always more to be understood by both science and religion. (see pg 68 & Step 11).

The reader who desires to understand more about life is responsible to seek new knowledge. Others are equally free to restrict their awareness of reality (syn: "God") to what someone else claims to understand. However, that attitude of "knowing enough" becomes increasingly difficult to defend with intelligence as new awareness of reality is forced upon them by life, on lifeís terms.

Every alcoholic has sufficient access to enough more intelligence that they are always free to improve their conscious awareness of the Great Reality. (see Step 11). Lack of understanding reality (syn: "God") is lack of power to cooperate with it. (see pg 45). Without awareness of reality, personal decisions will eventually conflict with life, on lifeís terms. Seeking new knowledge from the source (syn: "God") provides relief. (pg 60(c)).

. As a result of inadequate understanding of reality (syn: "God"), there occurs a personal conflict with reality which blocks available happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís will" - see pg 133). Relief from the consequences of errors made in ignorance, by the alcoholic, comes as a daily reprieve for those who become willing to let go of their old ideas. (syn: "Let Go and Let God"). By replacing those conflicts with new knowledge, the alcoholic reduces the obstacles to their own personal recovery. (review pgs 58 & 132).

This mental process emphasizes that, in recovery:

"..........the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body." (pg 23)

The mental activity of the alcoholic is guided by ideas, emotions and attitudes. At least some of them require displacement and rearrangement for recovery to occur. To accomplish this requires a vital spiritual experience which religious convictions do not sufficiently provide. (see pg 27).

The author of this Study Guide suggests the reader has the ability to change the ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding their decisions in life.

ITíS YOUR MIND, AND YOU CAN DO WITH IT

WHAT YOU WANT - CANíT YOU?

Those who believe they cannot change also believe they are victims and therefore, in their own mind, the AA program would be a waste of time. (pg 23) This is a difficult belief to maintain with any intelligence when faced with the facts that countless other alcoholics do recover. (see Frontispiece).

This author suggests such an erroneous belief has strong emotional and egotistical overtones of having been singled out for specialized personal attention by life. (syn: "God"). It adds additional support to a false belief of personal inequality, and creates conflict with any equal opportunity to recover from alcoholism. (pg 58).

The capacity to recognize reality is part of any alcoholics ability to seek and understand God. That intelligence is found deep within every man, woman and child. (see pgs 53, 55 & Step 11). The power of that inherent intelligence to recognize reality exists within each individual. The mind-altering effects of drinking alcohol diminishes the capacity.

If the alcoholic reader agrees, then they will recognize that, as equals, other alcoholics have that same capacity. Each alcoholic has the capacity to point out to others what new knowledge (i.e.: "the power of God") they have learned from life, on lifeís terms. Your own inherent intelligence will recognize that no individual is an authority on the source all new knowledge. (i.e.: "God" see pg 59). The author of this Study Guide is no exception and is specifically included.

What another person is able to point out is not all knowledge (syn: "God") but what they believe about all knowledge. There is a significant difference because there either is or is not some intelligence involved in the belief.

The only intelligent measure of validity in any belief is in how well it conforms to reality.

It is suggested, each alcoholic has some intelligence able to recognize what does or does not conform to reality. That inherent intelligence is their personal capacity to recognize the truth (syn: "God"). This can be demonstrated with the proposition "If you donít take the first drink, you canít get drunk". Any alcoholic can recognize this as a valid observation of reality.

Using inherent intelligence is a valid concept for developing a different or new "fundamental idea of God". It is an approach which the reader is free to choose as their own. With that new concept they become free to seek. and find more new knowledge. (pgs 12, 55, 60(c) & Step 11). Many traditional religious ideas will not provide the alcoholic that same freedom by claiming their ideas are the last word on some subjects. Regardless of any claims made by their spokesmen, the alcoholic reader may choose not to believe that religious experts know enough for all the new changes which may arise in this lifetime. (review pgs 14-15, 35, 129 & 164).

As "the Great Reality is better understood, there is conscious awareness that more new knowledge is available. This spiritual growth has value when dealing with life, on lifeís terms. Furthermore, as an individual enlarges their conscious awareness of reality they have more power to make intelligent choices. Not all choices will be intelligent, but more of them will be. This improvement is equivalent to having "more God" in the life of the alcoholic concerned. (Steps 3, 10 & 11)

Acquiring a more intelligent understanding of reality, beyond the existing limits of self-knowledge, is crucial to recovery. (see pgs 14-15, 35, & 135). This author believes it is the essence of a vital spiritual experience. (see pg 27). Without some enlarged spiritual awareness of reality (syn: "God"), there is little successful recovery for the alcoholic who insists upon holding onto old ideas. (pgs 35, 58 & 68).

"......the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge." (pg 39).

The power of existing self knowledge, is limited and restricted by the old ideas, emotions and attitudes, which are inadequate for continued recovery. However, other alcoholics, who are equals ("in the eyes of God"), have recovered. What alcoholics who have already recovered now know can be understood by others.(See Frontispiece to the AA Big Book). The new knowledge they learned can be learned and equally understood by all who seek awareness of reality. That valid new knowledge is demonstrably a power greater than their old ideas.

Those who have demonstrated successful recovery from alcoholism have provided their new knowledge to others. They made it available in the basic text "Alcoholics Anonymous". The reader is at liberty to accept or reject the contents of that book, or prefer the results produced by some other approach. Those early members of AA did not claim any monopoly on God only an approach that worked for them. (see pg 95).

The author of this Study Guide suggests that:

    • Existing self-knowledge is not enough for continued recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & 129)
    • More new knowledge of self can be acquired from the source of all knowledge. (see pgs 53, 55, & 164)
    • Enlarged awareness of reality provides relief from restrictive limitations of old ideas. (see pg 60 (a-c), pgs. 68 & 164).

This educational approach to recovery (see Appendix II) specifically involves the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God"). Other ideas exist.

The reader is being offered one of many different mental approaches to recovery from alcoholism. It is recommended that any ideas about recovery be evaluated in the light of your own intelligence before making a choice of which to use for your own personal recovery. This mental action requires consciously improving your own inherent intelligence rather than blindly accepting the "second-hand beliefs" developed by other and equal human beings. (See Step 11).

"Pie man, Pie man - let me taste your wares"

"MAY I CHECK A SAMPLE OF RESULTS BEFORE I BUY?"

 

The result of Step Five is to increase self-knowledge by detecting mistakes in moral values which guide personal decisions in life. Any errors in moral judgment produce conflict with reality (syn: "God" - see Step 10).

With enlarged self-knowledge of reality (syn: "awareness of reality equals conscious contact with God" - see pgs 85 & Step 11) comes increased power to cooperate with "the Great Reality". (syn: "God" see pgs 55 & 85). Any such spiritual growth enlarges the spiritual life for the individual. This author believes the opportunity to align self-will with "the vision of Godís will" is without limitation. (see pgs 85 & 133).

As conscious understanding of reality occurs, alcoholics acquire more power to align their will with "a vision of Godís will". This improvement is contingent upon the maintenance of their spiritual condition. (see pg 85 & Step 11). Seeking more new knowledge from the source (syn: "God") reduces conflict with reality. As a by-product there is more happiness, joy and freedom. The writers of the AA text were sure that was "what God wants for alcoholics". (pg 133). They may be right, therefore ask of yourself:

    • Is that what you want for yourself?
    • Are you willing to go to any lengths to get it?

This author maintains that spiritual progress enlarges happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís will for us" - pg 133). Improved understanding of life, on lifeís terms, makes spiritual progress possible. (see Step 11). As personal awareness is enlarged, so is the power of personal freedom of choice to cooperate with life on lifeís terms. (see pgs 53 & 68).

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development ÖÖÖwe will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (pgs 83 & 84)

An examination of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding the life of an alcoholic is an essential ingredient in the recovery process. (review pg 27). This idea is the basis for the authorís beliefs about seeking more new knowledge (syn: "more God") from the source. The reader may prefer a different approach.

Regardless of the approach, any personal success requires some knowledge of the principles used by others to accomplish their recovery from alcoholism. The capacity to intelligently choose cooperation with the Great Reality (syn: "God") is denied to no one. Once acquired, any valid new knowledge improves conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" see pg 53, 55 & Step 11). This educational process effectively produces an enlarged spiritual life. (see pgs 14, 15, 35, 129 & Appendix II).

Several observations about ideas, emotions and attitudes of alcoholics can be found in the basic text for recovery. One of them is:

More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see." (pg 73)

What the alcoholic wants others to see is a desire (syn: "a prayer") based upon a personal belief system concerning "a power greater than himself". It includes the belief that the favorable opinion of others is the source of personal happiness, joy and freedom. If there is some power which responds to a prayer, that is what it will respond to. The entire action occurs within the mind of the alcoholic. (see pg 23).

WHAT YOU SEEK IS WHAT YOU FIND

BECAUSE IT HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVIDED

This author believes an alcoholic, seeking the favorable opinion of others as their source of happiness, will find it within the limits of what is possible on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "Godís will" - see pgs 85, & 133). Happily for most, there is more.

There also appears to be intuitive recognition of personal equality of the alcoholic with other human beings. Not because someone else said so, but because the alcoholic has the capacity to recognize the truth (syn: "God") if they are able to be honest with themselves. (see pg 58).

Battle lines get drawn between a desire for equality, and a desire to control reality. The battlefield is the mind of the alcoholic. Until it is resolved, the battle goes on.(pg. 23). Which desire (syn: "prayer") will be the dominant desire? That is "the prayer" to be answered. Will it be "unity and oneness with others", or "self-will run riot"? Here, the concept of "surrender" has particular relevance.

Therefore, in all honesty, ask yourself:

    • Which one do you want the most?
    • Is your desire based upon intelligence? - or-
    • Do you just want what you want when you want it?

The choice made will support a desire for personal fulfillment. The desire includes a belief about what produces the most happiness, joy and freedom. For the alcoholic, it is that belief which establishes their personal concept of Godís will. (see pgs 12, 55 and 133). Other ideas on the same subject exist.

From this approach, what needs to be examined is the belief system of the alcoholic and what they believe has power. Personal beliefs about the power may require change to agree with reality (syn: "God" see Step 10) depending upon how well the old idea produces desired results.

Only the individual alcoholic can determine if improvements are desired. The choice will either be from intelligently accepting principles (syn: "Godís will) or emotionally demanding agreement with personal preferences. (syn: "self-will run riot" - see Tradition 12).

PRINCIPLES ALWAYS WORK, PERSONAL DEMANDS MAY NOT.

This observation may help some alcoholics reconcile what they really desire with the beliefs of traditional religions when they honestly ask themselves:

    • Do I want results now? - or-
    • Do I prefer to wait for results in some next life? - and
    • Can I afford to wait?

This author suggests that self-honesty by the alcoholic will help clarify the lengths they are willing to go to achieve sobriety by accepting help from their present concept of "a power greater than themselves". Some alcoholics really do believe they have no choice in their own life. Others disagree.

Only the reader can determine their primary purpose now. Some alcoholics seek improvements and benefits to be provided in a subsequent life. This author recommends consulting experts who have an intelligent understanding of what that is.

Due to lack of experience, with any other life than this one, this author is not qualified to provide that information.

However, if the primary purpose of the alcoholic is to stay sober in this lifetime, then observations in this Study Guide may be useful. Drinking alcohol produces mental oblivion from reality. (syn: "God"). Excessive drinking provides an extreme method for resolving problems. When combined with a phenomenon of craving. (see "The Doctorís Opinion") it takes the alcoholic even more out of agreement with reality. That phenomenon of craving separates some individuals from others, as alcoholics.

Because alcoholics often go to extremes when dealing with life on lifeís terms, it has been humorously observed that:

ALCOHOLICS ARE JUST LIKE OTHER PEOPLE - ONLY MORE SO!

 

Distorted minds have a distorted perception of reality. The only reality anyone can know or understand, exists within the confines of their own mind. Anything which distorts that mind has questionable value when seeking to intelligently cooperate with life, on lifeís terms. (pg. 23). Mental clarity is required to seek any intelligent understanding of "a power greater than ourselves". Mental confusion is created by individuals in many different ways.

Unless you are a mind-reader, there is speculation involved in anything you believe that others are thinking. You leave reality and enter fantasy-land when making decisions based upon what you think they think. It may be insanity to take actions on the basis of what you think they think you think. Nonetheless, this state of mental confusion occurs with disturbing frequency.

There is no restriction of this observation to alcoholics who have acknowledged a need to be restored to sanity. (Step Two). This irrational behavior is also part of the human society we all live in. Those claiming we live in a sane society are invited to make their case in an intelligent manner. They may find some strong evidence for disagreement.

Seeking the most intelligent choice available at the time (pg 164, & Appendix II) is a desire to cooperate with reality (syn: "prayer"-see Step 11). That desire expresses a personal choice to make spiritual progress and relates to a belief system about the power required. The abdication of personal responsibility for desires, (syn: "personal prayers"), and blindly accepting "a second-hand concept of God" as "a packaged deal", does not seem to produce comparable results for recovery from alcoholism.

Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness are ingredients for:

    • a desire to seek improved understanding of reality.
    • a choice to surrender old ideas in order to "trade-up".
    • acceptance that some power produces results.
    • a desire to cooperate with whatever produces results.

If this is what the reader desires, it is the experience of this author that their desire (syn: "prayer") is sufficient to access the power required for recovery.

"The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking" (Tradition 3)

The alcoholic reader who is mentally confused about differences between AA and "their personal concept of God" will note that:

THERE IS NO "SECOND REQUIREMENT" FOR MEMBERSHIP IN AA

If something else is believed to be indispensable then no alcoholic could recover without it. This is troublesome to many alcoholics involved with traditional religions because they are unable to intelligently explain recoveries outside of their personal belief system.

Attitudes about the power for recovery in this lifetime exist within the mind of the individual alcoholic. Results or rewards in some future life have little or no relevance to the AA program now.

While the beliefs of others may offer unrealistic comfort, many of those belief systems cannot be intelligently confirmed as being valid. Promises made frequently contain fear, due to speculation and uncertainty. Alcoholics who question religious experts often find their explanations to be either unintelligent or else unacceptable. If so, they are always free to follow the AA suggestion:

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

With this approach the individual alcoholic is freed to displace and rearrange the ideas, emotions and attitudes which have been guiding their life. (pg 27). This is accomplished by developing "a personal concept of a power" to fulfill their dominant desire. (syn: "answer their prayer"). However, the individual must also assume responsibility for what they want the most. (see pgs 31, 32 & 58).

In this manner, devout adherents to traditional religious ideas also retain their personal freedom of choice. In AA, those with a different concept of the power have an equal opportunity.

IN AA IT DOES NOT MATTER WHO IS RIGHT

IT ONLY MATTERS WHO IS LEFT!

To begin spiritual progress requires some intelligent understanding of where you are at in the Great Reality as a starting point. (syn: "God" - see pg 55 & Step 4). Spiritual progress occurs by seeking and enlarging new knowledge of how to relate to life, as it really is. (see pg 53). Improving awareness of reality is a vital spiritual experience. (pg27). This improved awareness provides more freedom and more power to use it. (review Step 11).

From this perspective, any intelligent inquiry into the fundamental nature of their belief system has immense personal value in the recovery process for an alcoholic. Is it not self-evident that what they observe, evaluate and act upon is determined by the "closed-loop of their own thought"? These thoughts make up their belief system about the nature of life. Any observations about life in an infinite universe are limited to what they understand. There is nothing else available to do this with except their own mind. (see pg 23).

Other minds function in a similar manner- as equals. They too have the closed-loop of their own thinking. Your ideas are part of "their outer world". Inherent intelligence indicates differences are possible between what you think and what others think. Anyone can believe that their limited knowledge is the last word on any subject. (review Step 10). If that is their belief, then they also believe when others do not agree with them that they should. (i.e.: "self-will run riot").

In a society, of questionable sanity, where the favorable opinion of others determines personal happiness, joy and freedom, it becomes clear that others are similarly presenting their stage character while seeking your approval. In AA such behavior has the humorous pathos of "a flasher in a raincoat exposing himself in a nudist colony". It can be a surprise to discover the response is not what was anticipated. (review Tradition 3 - "The Long Form"). A belief about being personally unacceptable to life is not consistent with equality. ("in the eyes of God") and does not stand up to the light of intelligent examination.

Herein lies a key to understanding "the exact nature of our wrongs". (review pgs 23, 27 & Step 5), Any belief in personal inequality with life, on lifeís terms is a "second-hand concept of God". This concept usually gets provided by unquestioned authorities on the subject. This author makes no such claims. By contrast, this author suggests that alcoholics are not "inferior to others". Undeniably, what they have done with their individuality has not always been particularly intelligent. Few real alcoholics attempt to defend their drinking behavior as examples of intelligent living of life, on lifeís terms.

Lack of power (syn: "lack of valid new knowledge") is the dilemma which produces individual conflicts with life on lifeís terms. (see pg 45). This concept is not necessarily the same one offered by many religious authorities. Each self-proclaimed moral expert has their own unique moral sin list and is prepared to define spiritual perfection for you. (see pgs 60 & 133).

This author contends that improved understanding of lifeís terms is available to anyone who seeks it. (see pg 60(c)). The alcoholic either is capable of knowing when they are happy, joyous and free, or else require a "second-hand-belief system" from others to understand what that is for them. This observation includes both the alcoholic reader and any of those authorities who claim special knowledge about the power that produces happiness, joy and freedom in this lifetime.

Many alcoholics have already discovered that accepting the belief system of someone else has produced conflict with the Ultimate Reality of Life (syn: "God"). This can be upsetting. Not because of a mistake in believing a power was available. The conflict with reality occurs as a result of insisting that what they believed had to be correct and that others must agree. Such an attitude can be viewed as self-delusion or self-seeking.

".....we invariably find that at some point in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." (pg 62)

Many alcoholics reduce their conflicts in life by seeking improved understanding and cooperation with reality. (see Step 11). In the process, the experience, strength and hope of other individuals may be useful. While the limited awareness of others may be valid for them, it may not necessarily be valid for everyone. Intelligent evaluation of the results produced is required.

Only principles, applicable to all life apply to anyone and everyone. No one could recover from alcoholism without utilizing some portion of universal principles of recovery which apply to all alcoholics. Those principles exclude no one who is an alcoholic. There is no second requirement for recovery in AA. (review Traditions 3 & 12 - The Long Form).

The principles of recovery found in AA will accommodate any belief system, regardless of how unintelligent some of those beliefs may be. Many traditional religions have difficulty reconciling this self-evident fact with their own limited ethnocentric understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God" see pg 55).

Their usual tendency is to try to "force fit" the AA program into the "closed-loop" of their "old ideas".

An infinite supply of new knowledge is available to anyone seeking to improve conscious understanding of universal principles. (Step 11). However, most of the various religious belief systems include an insupportable belief that theirs is the only correct approach to life. A question for the alcoholic reader to resolve, in their own mind, is:

    • do you believe their understanding is valid for you?

      if so
    • what do you utilize when those authorities are not available?

For the alcoholic seeking recovery, telling another human being all their life story has value. It helps improve conscious awareness of ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding their life (see pg 27). Telling someone else what they believe allows recognition that other equally valid belief systems exist. (review Appendix II). Furthermore, that anyone, including religious experts, the reader, and the author of this Study Guide all can be mistaken. (Step 10)..

IT IS A VITAL SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

TO RECOGNIZE HUMAN EQUALITY AND IMPERFECTION

Discarding old ideas in order to "trade up" to an enlarged belief system and an improved understanding of reality is spiritual progress. (see pgs 14-15 & Step 11) The benefits of any spiritual progress made during this lifetime will be experienced during this lifetime. Therefore, on the basis of "First Things First", this author recommends the alcoholic reader seek their own personal spiritual progress:

ONE LIFE AT A TIME !

* * * * *

SECTION B06e:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

 

READ AGAIN:

Page 73 from "More than most people, ............." to bottom of page 73 ending with "........have a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery!"

* * * * *

MORE COMMENTS:

Whatever produces personal conflict is resisting happiness, joy and freedom. (i.e.: "Godís will" pg 133). In order to obtain relief, an alcoholic needs to seek more new knowledge, and improve their conscious understanding of life on lifeís terms. (pg 60(c) & Step 11).

There is more to reality than religious explanations of it. Religious convictions alone are not sufficient for the vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism. (pg 27). Erroneous ideas, emotions and attitudes guiding the life of an alcoholic need to be displaced and rearranged.

By itís very nature, alcohol distorts reality in the mind of the person who drinks it. Nothing real gets changed, only their individual perception of reality. That effect appears to have universal application to all human beings. What is important to recognize is that there are individual variations in the degree of distortion. This has particular significance for someone with a phenomenon of craving for more because any evaluation of the effect of drinking alcohol gets increasingly distorted as more is consumed.

WHEN YOU DRINK, THE THING THAT LETS YOU KNOW

YOU ARE MESSING UP, - IS WHAT GETS MESSED UP

This phenomenon of craving differentiates alcoholics from others. (see "The Doctorís Opinion"). Those who are alcoholic cannot change their basic physical nature. However, they can change what they do with it. That choice is individual.

The very action essential for recovery is hampered by mental distortion. (pg 23 & Appendix II). Understanding the validity of that observation is one thing. Making a decision to want to do something different is another.

 

SOME ARE MOTIVATED BY INSPIRATION

OTHERS BY DESPERATION

Self-knowledge without any power of new knowledge to change results has little practical value. Seeking the power of new knowledge allows for changes and provides additional choices in how to cooperate with reality. The author believes this to be at the core of enlarging a spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15, 35 & 129).

Complete understanding of reality in an infinite universe (syn: "God") is beyond the finite limits of any human intelligence during a single lifetime. (pg 68). There are also finite limits to how much total new knowledge has been acquired by humanity to date. There are no limits upon how much more new knowledge can be acquired by anyone at anytime. (see pg 68).

Similarly, there is no limit to how much new knowledge any individual alcoholic can seek from the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God"). Seeking new knowledge serves no useful purpose at that time unless it fulfills a desire.(syn: "answers a prayer"). Understanding the value of new knowledge may occur later when it provides answers to problems which are then beyond the limits of existing self-knowledge. (see pgs 42, 45, & Step 11).

An endless supply of new knowledge is always available to anyone who seeks to improve their understanding of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 55 & Step 11). What both science and religion discover is life, on lifeís terms. (see pg 53).

This author suggests a desire to distort reality reflects a belief that mental oblivion will enrich personal happiness. What actually occurs is that reality remains what it is. However, conscious awareness of reality in the individual shifts toward unconsciousness and oblivion. The most significant impact upon the alcoholic lies in their ability to be intelligently involved with what is occurring in their life.

That inability to care about consequences invites decisions, choices and actions which might otherwise be rejected. This often violates personal concepts of right and wrong, or religious beliefs of good and evil. That creates fear, anger, guilt, shame and remorse within their own mind. (see pgs 23, 27 45, 62, 64, & 133). When those conditions exist, consuming more alcohol once again provides temporary relief.

For the alcoholic, with a phenomenon of craving, this temporary relief produces more of the same results. Hence, the "merry-go-round" continues with less caring, more fear, anger, guilt, shame and remorse, and an increased desire (syn: "prayer") for more temporary relief.

In many cases, restrictive religious belief systems intensify emotional disturbances which occur as the outgrowth of drinking. This further aggravates the desire for escape, and the alcoholic seeks relief from that emotional pain because their chosen moral code is being violated. Often, what they require is "a new sin list".

Telling all their life story to someone with that same restrictive belief system will further intensify that same emotional disturbance. Instead of questioning their belief system, many of those alcoholics intensify futile efforts to comply with it and adhere to an "impossibly good" moral code of right and wrong. The result of their failure can feed a false belief that they are not equally acceptable in life. ("in the eyes of God").

With tragic results, some of those alcoholics attempt to be "good enough" to be non-alcoholic. (see pgs 30-32). Others may believe they are being punished because they are not able to be something they probably cannot be. (see pg 60(b)). Deep spiritual disappointment can occur when their best efforts to be good fail to produce results acceptable to those who made the rules.

This author disagrees with that frequently tried religious approach to recovery. While the reader is free to stake their own life on such a belief system, there is an alternative option. It is for the alcoholic to change their belief system to one where they recognize they are already an acceptable part of the Great Reality (syn: "God" - see pgs 33 & 55). Furthermore, that by acquiring additional new knowledge it will allow them to better cooperate with life, on lifeís terms.

Obviously any drinking alcoholic has a need for improved awareness of reality (Steps 10 & 11) in order to more intelligently cooperate with it. The ability to cooperate gets restricted within the closed-loop of old ideas, emotions and attitudes which guide choices and decisions. (see pg 27). Difficulties with that limited awareness of reality are further aggravated by unquestioned acceptance of a "second-hand concept" of the power required for recovery. Usually it is a concept provided by some chosen authority on religion. This assignment of spiritual superiority denies human equality. ("in the eyes of God"). Such a belief system blocks direct personal access to the endless source of new knowledge. (syn: "God").

Many religious specialists have valuable information which can be intelligently utilized in the recovery process. (see pg 87). However, many of them have mistaken beliefs about life, on lifeís terms. Asking for examples of recoveries produced by utilizing those various belief systems will clarify how well they understand alcoholism or the phenomenon of craving. (see pg 30 & "The Doctorís Opinion"). Obviously, they cannot transmit something they havenít got. (pg 164). The inherent intelligence of the reader will recognize desired results.

Within "the closed-loop of their own belief system", most alcoholics have "a fundamental idea of some power guiding their life". (pg 55). Many pursue an illusion that the favorable opinion of others is the source of their happiness, joy and freedom. This amounts to direct denial of equality with others ("in the eyes of God")and the principle of equality with life on lifeís terms. The laws of life do not play favorites, but human beings do. However,

 

WHAT WE WANT THE MOST IS WHAT WE SEEK THE MOST!

Most alcoholics want to be happy, joyous and free. The authors of the basic text for recovery were "sure" this was what God wanted for them.(pg. 133). No other assumptions about "the Will of God" are made. The principles of life, on lifeís terms (i.e.: "Godís will") are reliable. The belief systems, created by human personalities, are not necessarily valid as principles. What is your choice to be? (pgs 12, 23, 27, 42. 45, 47, 52-53, 55, 68, 164, & Appendix II).

Within AAís basic text for recovery is unrestricted freedom to seek a vital spiritual experience in whatever manner works best for the individual. (see pgs 12, 27, 28 & 95). Frothy emotional appeals seldom produce results. (see "The Doctorís Opinion"). Seeking an intelligent concept of the power required for recovery seems to work best. (see pg 45). This author suggests that seeking power from an infinite supply of new knowledge is an available choice. It is one which allows for intelligent improvement in understanding of a "a power greater than ourselves". (see Step 11).

Some religious alcoholics may prefer a different approach. Many traditional religions will attempt to define the Great Reality (syn: "God"), within the finite limits of their own belief system. The mental quality of open mindedness frequently gets overlooked or omitted in the process. (see Appendix II). This can become unintelligent and awkward after more reality is revealed. It produces an enlarged and improved understanding of reality after the belief system has already been firmly established. (pgs 14-15, 42, 164, & Step 11). As a result, what they believe does not include new knowledge of reality. Any efforts to hold onto old ideas can be an obstacle in recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 58 & 164).

By now the alcoholic reader may recognize they have an inescapable responsibility to be honest with themselves about what they believe concerning new knowledge which produces recovery from alcoholism. If "God is everything", there is nothing to accept beyond "that Great Reality". (pgs 53 & 55).

THERE IS NOTHING TO ACCEPT OR REJECT EXCEPT INFINITE GOD.

(pg 53)

New awareness of reality may come from "religious specialists" without accepting all of their "second-hand concept of God". What is required is a belief in personal equality regarding access to the power. (Appendix II). Personal responsibility to cooperate with reality exists, regardless of unique individual physical or mental differences. (see pg 30).

Every human being possesses some degree of personal uniqueness which identifies them as an individual. Differences which are understood by others get more readily accepted than those which are not. Nonetheless, all individuals share the same basic qualities which define all human beings. The importance assigned to differences becomes personal and reflects the moral value system of the individual rendering judgment. (see pg 23, Steps 4 & 10).

There is personal choice involved in what gets labeled as important or desirable. Those choices reflect ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding the life of the person doing the judging. (see pg 27). Many of those beliefs have never ever been evaluated or challenged in the light of intelligence. (syn: "the light of God within"). Some labels are nothing more than a mental habit of allowing others to think for us. The result is unthinking acceptance of a "second-hand value system" provided to you by others who are only your equal.

Each individual has different fingerprints and DNA structure. Similarly, no two individuals have identical experiences in life nor identical ideas about their relationship to life on lifeís terms. Accordingly, everyone has their own unique concept of "a power greater than themselves". (syn: "God" - see pg 55). Different value systems are part of individual uniqueness. No two individuals have identical beliefs or the same set of moral values. Making a personal moral inventory helps identify beliefs and discovering where they came from. Telling all of ones life story helps to recognize that other value systems exist. Some work better than others.

The newcomer to AA will do well to use intelligence when choosing "a close-mouthed understanding friend", (review pg 74) and avoid emotional decisions which could later produce tragic mistakes. Remember that other alcoholics have equal certainty about the rightness of their own values which may differ significantly from many others, including your own belief system.

Whatever characteristics define a human being, those same characteristics are possessed by each and every other human being. However, some qualities may be more developed on an individual basis. The significance of differences is a cultural matter, with infinite variations.

From this viewpoint, there is opportunity for improved understanding of the observation that:

"........the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body." (pg 23)

First, however it is important to recognize and accept the physical uniqueness in individuals who are alcoholic. Self-evident individual differences exist such as fingerprints and DNA structure. Some physiological uniqueness is characteristic of all humans. It is part of their human sameness. In AA is the belief that a unique physiological phenomenon of craving arises whenever an individual who is alcoholic takes the first drink. (see "The Doctorís Opinion").

"We do not like to pronounce any individual as alcoholic, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking. Try to drink and stop abruptly. Try it more than once. It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a bad case of jitters if you get a full knowledge of your condition." (pgs 31 & 32)

There are theories galore on why alcoholics are different from their fellows. (review pgs 30-32). Medical science has not yet come up with a definitive explanation. The author of this Study Guide is not proposing yet another theory. The emphasis here is not upon why, but rather upon what can be done about it.

Most people know that mixing the colors blue and yellow creates the color green. That physical reality can be understood and we can use that knowledge. However, no one knows why it occurs that way. Neither does anyone know why some individuals have a craving for more alcohol, once they take the first drink. Similarly, no one understands why some alcoholics desire to stop drinking rather than pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. (pg 30). This author is no exception. Whatever explanation given is as valid as any other until there is understanding of the principles involved. Principles, (i.e.: "The Laws of Life/Godís Law") apply equally to anyone, anyplace, and at any time.

There is, however, general awareness that some individuals drink alcohol differently than others. Science has not yet provided a definitive explanation as to why this is so. (pg 31). More new knowledge continues to be available which may one day provide for more spiritual progress and understanding. What the AA program provides is some improved understanding of what can successfully be done about that condition. (see pg 60 & Step 11).

When the desire to stay alive and carry their own keys (i.e.: "prayer") equals the desire for another drink, most alcoholics become sufficiently open minded to consider new knowledge about recovery. What is significant about the AA program is that intelligently chosen actions produce success in recovery. (review pg 58). The desire (syn: "prayer") for that corrective action to a life-threatening problem comes from something deep down within the alcoholic. (see pg 55). This author suggests it is their own ability to establish a conscious contact with the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see Steps 1, 3, 10 & 11).

When an alcoholic is consciously aware that they cannot both control and enjoy drinking alcohol, their main problem is not in understanding why this is so. Their real problem is in acceptance that this is the way it is.

"No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows." (pg 30).

Acceptance of reality (syn: "acceptance of God") is a mental action. For the alcoholic, it is an individual choice based upon understanding the true nature of their unique personal relationship to life. (see pages 31-32).

The author suggests that once the physical craving is dealt with, the alcoholic then has a mental problem. (pg 23) They want to be happy, joyous and free (syn: "Godís will" - see pg 133) but lack sufficient new knowledge of how to get what they want.

"Lack of power, that was our dilemma." (pg 45)

Alcohol does what it does very well, on lifeís terms. It is an unrealistic desire (syn: "prayer") to want liquor to do something it is incapable of doing. Particularly when the desire comes from an alcoholic with an abnormal craving for more. This is akin to the insanity of demanding "fat-free chicken fat". It is a contradiction of terms and not part of "the Great Reality". It appears that some body processes, unique to alcoholics, fail to provide the same mental defenses normally enjoyed by those who can regulate how they dim the functions of their mind. The alcoholic is recognizably not one of those.

"IF I WERENíT AN ALCOHOLIC, IíD DRINK ALL THE TIME"

It is imperative individual alcoholics understand they are in a limited class. (see "The Doctorís Opinion"). Accepting this difference in mind and body is critical to recovery because the consequences of consuming alcohol will always be on lifeís terms, not those of the individual. (syn: "Godís will" vs. "self-will run riot").

This author submits that craving alcohol is a desire. (syn: "a prayer"). When drinking more is the dominant desire (syn: "dominant prayer"), the alcoholic will accept that "gift of God" when it becomes available. Life (syn: "God" - see pg 85) provides the alcoholic what he wants most, when he is physically free to accept it. In this regard, "his prayers get answered". (see pg 101). However, that "gift from God" will always be provided on lifeís terms, rather than his own.

"The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death." (pg 30)

Any alcoholic is free to want (syn: "pray for") whatever they choose. They simultaneously believe some sort of "power greater than themselves" (syn: "a fundamental idea of God" - see pg 55) is capable of providing what they want. This leads to an inescapable conclusion that:

WE CAN PIT INFINITE POWER AGAINST INFINITE POWER

WITH OUR PERSONAL LIVES AS THE BATTLEGROUND

Many alcoholics eventually understand they have been using "a power greater than themselves" to overcome "a power greater than themselves". (see pgs 62 & 133). As they improve their understanding of life, on lifeís terms, they can then choose to cooperate with the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - review Step 11).

Individual alcoholics may have "lost the power of choice in drink" because of their unique physiological difference. (see "The Doctorís Opinion" & pg 30). What perhaps they never had, is the dubious luxury of regulating how they can turn off their own inherent intelligence. (syn: "the God within").

It appears that those who are non-alcoholic have been endowed with a "dimmer switch" to turn down the light of reality. (i.e.: "the light of God"). By contrast, the alcoholic appears to be physiologically wired with an old-fashioned "ON/OFF switch". Those endowed with the phenomenon of craving are restricted to being either a drinking alcoholic or a sober alcoholic. Like it or not, they do not have that middle-range of oblivion which is highly prized by so many.

Nonetheless, as equal human beings ("in the eyes of God"), the alcoholic always retains the choice of pitting their personal desires (syn: "prayers for self-will run riot") against their own physical nature. They also retain the option to accept and cooperate with that reality. (syn: "God" &/or "Godís will"). New knowledge can provide improved understanding of what best produces happiness, joy and freedom. For many drinking alcoholics it is sufficient just to change what they are experiencing at the time. (see pgs 31 & 32).

Any alcoholic who believes a power runs their life also knows that they have the personal choice to go get drunk if they really want to.

Their personal freedom of choice is part of the Great Reality.(pg 55). Regardless of how intensely they may want to hold onto their old idea about God, they eventually reach the inescapable conclusion that:

REALITY PREVAILS OVER FALSE BELIEFS

Some alcoholics want to believe some power controls their life, thereby relieving them of having any responsibility for what happens to them. At the same time, they recognize their personal power to get drunk if they want to. (review Step 2). If those conflicting ideas were both valid, then alcoholics who are capable of getting drunk would be more powerful than "that God of their understanding".

By being unwilling to accept the responsibility for a lack of intelligence when making decisions, they cannot understand why they got drunk. Of course, they are always free to blame their chosen concept of "God". However, if they accept the premise in AA that "God wants them to be happy, joyous and free". (see pg 133) they then create a massive conflict within their own mind. (see pg 23).

One option is to continue believing they are hopeless, helpless victims of a capricious power which plays favorites in some obscure and unintelligent manner. The other is to discard the old ideas found in that belief system by choosing a more intelligent concept of the power. (see pg 12). This anyone can do, if they want to.

Access to new knowledge and "a power greater than ourselves" is available to anyone during their lifetime. It further appears that each individual gives some direction to that power. They become inescapably responsible for the consequences of their choice to give that power direction in their own lives. That personal power of choice appears to be a fundamental principle in life which has equal application to all.

Without equal access to the power, one person could change the desires of another without their permission. For the alcoholic, this concept has particular significance in terms of personal survival. (review pg 101). Their inherent intelligence knows that no one else can make them get sober when they are free to get drunk. It is equally valid that, short of physical force, no one else makes them get drunk, if their dominate desire (i.e.: "prayer") is to stay sober. Therefore:

GUARD AGAINST THE POWER THAT FORCES A DRINK

DOWN YOUR THROAT WHILE YOU SCREAM "RAPE".

Physical compliance to get drunk or stay sober can occur as the result of using force, fear and intimidation. However, once left to their own devices, the alcoholic will do whatever they believe will give them what they want the most. What they want will be their own desire, (syn: "their own prayer") not that of some other equal human ("in the eyes of God") which may or may not be intelligent.

Fortunately, the only requirement for recovery from alcoholism in AA is a desire to stop drinking. That desire is personal power that no one else can either provide nor take away. The alcoholic, capable of being honest with themselves, already knows what they want the most. (syn: "knows their dominant desire" - see pg 58). Any alcoholic is free to desire mental oblivion from drinking in preference to staying sober to survive in reality. Each individual does their own wanting. What is your choice to be? (see pg 53).

This author believes that instead of being a victim of "a power", the alcoholic is really a willing participant in their own life.(see pgs 62, 67, 68, & 133). They are free to cooperate or oppose reality, as they understand what they are doing. If anyone knew better then they would do better. Life, on lifeís terms tends to support this concept of human equality, ("in the eyes of God"), and that knowledge is power.

The concept of an alcoholic having direct personal access to the power of new knowledge conflicts with many religious belief systems. There are those who want religious beliefs to prevail, without ever being subjected to intelligent investigation. (see Appendix II). That attitude can be a block to personal happiness, joy and freedom, (pg 23), because the only thing that counts are the results obtained. The alcoholic either is or is not experiencing their greatest good and highest happiness with life on lifeís terms, during this lifetime.

Those who already are happy will probably want to continue with their chosen method, and this author encourages them to do so. It is difficult to argue with success. Only the individual alcoholic can decide what that is for themselves.

Once the physical phenomenon of craving has been dealt with, the main problem of the alcoholic is dealt with at the mental level. (pg 23). The alcoholic can become freed from an erroneous belief they are the victim of some cosmic deity which whimsically plays favorites. Some intensely religious alcoholics will choose to hold onto that old idea as their preferred belief system for being happy, joyous and free. (review pgs 59, 62 & 133).

With improved understanding of reality, (Step 11), the alcoholic has new freedom to choose whatever approach to recovery produces desired results. Those results, of necessity will occur within the confines of:

    1. Their unique individual physical characteristics.
      and
    2. Their conscious understanding of reality.

Ideas, emotions and attitudes will guide choices of each individual and determine how to cooperate with or resist reality. (see pg 27). This author believes any choices will be rooted in a personal belief structure which includes a concept of some power capable of producing results. (syn: "the answer to their prayers" - see pg 55). Intelligent acceptance of "the Great Reality" appears to produce more practical results than any unrealistic or emotional wishful thinking. Some of the more religious members of AA may disagree.

When seeking sobriety, the alcoholic is seeking a concept of God by asking (syn: "praying") for some power to do for them what they do not know how to do for themselves. This can be an admirable quality, but it will not be an intelligent choice if it does not produce desired results. (syn: "the answer to their prayers").

Repeatedly making choices which do not produce what is desired becomes difficult to defend as being sane behavior. Especially when that same alcoholic rejects as unacceptable the demonstrated success of others.

 

"However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. Itís strong language - but isnít it true?" (pg 38)

Questions of intelligent choice and sane behavior seem to resolve themselves around the direction given the power of choice. This is the way an alcoholic uses any available power to produce changes in their life. Like it or not, whatever physiological uniqueness they have is an inescapable reality.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR A HUMAN TO DO

ANYTHING WHICH IS INHUMAN.

Successful recovery from alcoholism does not require changing basic human nature. (i.e.: "God given"). It does require changing what the alcoholic does with what they have to work with.

Understanding human equality is equivalent to claiming the right to exist and be happy, joyous and free in the process. One alcoholic observed, after having spent 40 years in penal institutions:

"It took me all those years locked up to figure out that it wasnít that people didnít like ME, - they just didnít like WHAT I DID"

Some past choices obviously were not intelligent, (syn "Godís will "- see pgs 62 & 133), unless being locked up was a dominant desire. (syn: "prayer"). Improved options were available once new knowledge of reality was understood. (see Step 11). By giving the power of new knowledge a new direction, that same individual tapped an ability to change their own life, and the entire universe - by the count of one (pg 163).

Different choices produce different results. Wanting what the AA program has to offer recognizes that choice is available as part of the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. Early members of AA promised some changes would always occur if the alcoholic was willing to work for them. All they had to do was to thoroughly following their path. (see pgs 58 & 83-84). This author agrees and believes the reader has the power to cooperate with the Great Reality and produce similar results. But, first it is necessary for the alcoholic to want those results.

The early members of Alcoholics Anonymous offered their experience with reality to other alcoholics who wanted what they had. What they had then is available to any alcoholic during this life experience. The frontispiece of their book claims it to be:

 

The Story of

How Many Thousands of Men and Women

Have Recovered from Alcoholism

The reader is always free to disregard or reject their demonstrated success. However, they will lack an intelligent basis for making that choice. With an attitude of contempt, prior to investigation (see pg 27 & Appendix II) many alcoholics will never understand just how well the AA program really does work. By default, such an attitude is a conscious choice of not wanting the successful recovery which AA is able to produce. (see pgs 58, 83-84). This decision is usually based upon an old belief system about what will make them happy. Many alcoholics discover their old belief system is flawed, and let go of those old ideas in favor of a different concept which produces better results.

Most results get determined by what we do. (see pg 62). When a belief system is intelligent, it will include some conscious understanding of the Great Reality. (See Step 11). Any concept that incorporates all knowledge (syn: "omniscience") and all power (syn: "omnipotence") qualifies as "a power greater than ourselves" (syn; "God").

The ONLY place that Great Reality is to be found, is deep down within ourselves. (review pg 55). Seeking it there, or by blindly accepting a "second-hand belief system" becomes a matter of personal choice. This author suggests any alcoholic may utilize, but does not require a "second-hand concept of God". Few individuals need another person to let them know if they are happy, joyous and free. (syn: "the answer to their prayers" - pg 133). In addition, without already having a direct connection to the Great Reality (syn: "God"), there would be no way for an alcoholic to recognize successful results when they occurred.

Individual alcoholics can change what they want. They also have the ability to change their "fundamental idea of the power" which produces results. For some alcoholics, this is a new freedom and a new happiness. (see pgs 55 & 83).

It is assumed the reader wants to be happy, joyous and free. Some alcoholics may want to believe they are victims. For those who do not seek change, no action is required. Others, may want to seek additional new knowledge to enlarge and improve their spiritual life. (review pgs 14-15 & Step 11). For them, there exists an endless supply of better options and more intelligent choices which improve their cooperation with reality.

When taken in that context, for the alcoholic who wants to recover, there is a need to intelligently seek new knowledge which is capable of producing desired results. (syn: "the answer to a prayer"). Those desired results are a vision of things to come. (pg 85). Without sufficient understanding, that vision of the unknown may or may not be compatible with the Great Reality.

YOU DONíT KNOW UNLESS YOU KNOW

This author suggests that what we believe has something to do with what happens to us. An intelligent belief system produces improved spiritual progress over any emotional fantasies or wishful thinking.

"Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of Godís will into all of our activities. .....These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will." (pg 85)

A belief that any bit of finite human knowledge is the last word on any subject creates conflict with reality. (syn: "God"). It is nothing more than an incomplete belief based upon an ethnocentric old idea of reality which has become a guiding force in life. (see pgs 23, 27, & 55).

Individual understanding of reality is limited to total personal experience. This obviously has the limitations of how much new knowledge can be acquired during a single lifetime. All human knowledge, acquired since the dawn of time, is unquestionably extensive. Nonetheless, it too has its limits. There is more.

Regardless of how much humanity believes they understand about an infinite universe, there remains an endless supply of more new knowledge still to be revealed.(see pgs 68 & 164). For any alcoholic there is always more to be understood at a conscious level. (Step 11).

By telling all of their limited life story to another individual, an enlarged understanding of human equality ("in the eyes of God") becomes revealed. The conscious mind of the alcoholic gains improved understanding of reality. (Steps 10 & 11). The result is a spiritual life which is enlarged. (see pgs 14, 15 & 35). This allows the alcoholic who is willing, honest and open minded to experience spiritual progress. (see Appendix II and pg 60).

This author maintains that their human equality ("in the eyes of God") is revealed to the alcoholic when they consciously understand that:

IF KNOWLEDGE IS INFINITE, SO IS IGNORANCE

* * * * *

SECTION B06f:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

 

READ:

Page 73 beginning with "We must be entirely honest with somebody........." to page 75, ending with ".......they will be honored by our confidence."

* * * * *

COMMENTS:

In the previous section some of the reasons why Step Five is important for recovery from alcoholism were offered as motivation for taking this vital step. There now follow some specific suggestions as to how to do this in a manner which agrees with the book "Alcoholics Anonymous".

The alcoholic reader will be interested in a review of what the basic text has to offer concerning recovery from alcoholism. Many will recognize and choose to accept what the early members of AA had to offer. Comments by the author of this Study Guide are not intended to replace any part of that information. It is hoped these additional personal comments may provide some improved understanding of what the basic text contains.

It is recommended that the reader evaluate these, and any other comments about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, in the light of their own intelligence. Take full advantage of what is useful and set aside any portions where you disagree. Just remember that they may have value at some later point "as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny." (pg 164).

Recognize that some comments, with which you disagree, may have value and usefulness to another alcoholic seeking recovery. While those other alcoholics are equal as human beings, ("in the eyes of God"), they are also unique individuals. They may have an equal desire (syn: "equal prayer") for recovery from alcoholism, but require different bits of new knowledge to enlarge their spiritual life. Unless you are a mind-reader, or claim the last word on some subject, you have no way of really knowing.

To escape the closed-loop of old ideas guiding our lives, it has been stated that "we must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world". (pgs 73-74). This implies identifying and giving definition to the thinking which is guiding our lives. Any effective changes will require some new ideas beyond those thought patterns which are now operative when making decisions. (see pgs 27 & 42).

There are valid reasons for doing this. The free-floating nature of fear is found in our mental attitude. It runs through the very fabric of our existence and our relationship with the Great Reality of life. (syn: "God"). These "thoughts" seem to creep into mental activities as if they somehow had a will of their own. The good news is that they do not.

ITíS YOUR MIND, AND YOU CAN THINK OF

ANYTHING YOU WANT TO - CANíT YOU?

The bad news is that those fears are like loose cattle which need to be corralled and branded. The only direction they will ever receive will come from your own mind. (pg 23). That direction will be determined by your beliefs. It is your "thinking" which needs to be disciplined.

This observation may be equated with the idea of having a "committee in the mind". It is necessary to remember who is "Chairman of the Board and wields the power of the gavel to establish order and set the agenda". What gets your present time attention is determined by your thought and your belief system.

WHATEVER HAS YOUR ATTENTION - HAS YOU!

By "being entirely honest with somebody", it is necessary to verbalize thoughts. By defining thoughts to someone else they acquire specific and finite dimensions. The fears that accompany them stop being free-floating monsters in the mind, and get precise definition. (see pg 23 & 62). Fears which are identified can then be corralled and branded by their rightful owner.

YOUR FEARS DO NOT BELONG TO ANYONE ELSE

Once claimed by their rightful owner, those same fears no longer need to be nebulous "stray ideas, emotions and attitudes" which are allowed to appear at inopportune moments and disrupt other activities. When situations occur in life which require all available intelligence be focused on priority concerns, any of those fears can be a distraction which results in choices which are not intelligent. (syn: "not Godís will"). For a solution, the problem requires new knowledge.

Until they are disciplined, fears are like "little gods" disrupting the most intelligent choices. (i.e.: "Godís will"). When a fear has limits which are defined, it is more easily recognized and better understood. When claimed by the individual to whom it belongs, it no longer has undirected power. That same fear may continue to disrupt some activities, but it no longer is "a power greater than yourself". Responsibility for the activities of your own mind has been consciously restored to itís rightful owner. (review Steps 2, 10 & 11).

Once personal responsibility for consciously dealing with fears is accepted, there is freedom of choice about what to do with them. This permits the alcoholic, to whom the fear belongs, to assign it whatever role of importance it will play in their life. This will then be done according to their own values, and not as a victim of something outside of their own mind. (see pg 23). Until that is done, those same fears are free to roam around without any direction from the only mind that can provide them with direction. The alcoholic reader has a choice to face their own fears or try to ignore them. Direction for any mental activity is provided either by decision or default. (see pg 23).

THE MIND WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY

HAS THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE

Discussing your thought processes with another person is a recognized successful way to improve understanding of what is going on within your own mind. It is assumed the reader has the capacity to think honestly and use their own inherent intelligence in the process. (see pg 58). This is of particular importance when considering the admonition in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous".

"Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step." (pg 74).

The author of this Study Guide has observed newcomers make tragic blunders by thoughtlessly and indiscriminately choosing an individual who is not equipped to keep personal information confidential. Accordingly, the reader is cautioned to consider their choice of action carefully. Avoid letting the strong emotions of fear crowd out your own inherent intelligence. Improved conscious understanding will occur as new knowledge is revealed and spiritual progress is made. (pgs 60 & 68). Obviously you cannot use new knowledge you do not yet possess. (see pg 164). Happily, there is an infinite supply of new knowledge available from the source. (syn: "God")

There are intelligent reasons for the recommendation:

"Though we have no religious connection, we may still do well to talk with someone ordained by an established religion." (pg 74).

Specialists in an established religion, have probably encountered your specific problem before. Though they may not have an acceptable solution, they are probably already aware of similar problems with other individuals. This reduces their thought about your uniqueness and allows them to be more understanding and open-minded about a solution which is acceptable to you.

One immediate benefit may be their commitment to confidentiality as a matter of professional ethics. Their ethical standards usually cover how, when and where they will share your personal information with others. Understanding that commitment will be helpful in making an intelligent choice which could have a significant impact upon your life.

The alcoholic reader should also be aware that undesirable exceptions can exist concerning professional ethics. Some religious experts, specifically including military chaplains, are often expected "to keep the commander informed" and report "anything unusual" to their superiors. If no intelligent thought has been provided, an "unthinking personal confession" can have far reaching implications.

This author suggests the alcoholic use extreme caution and their best intelligence when selecting the person with whom to share all their life story.

In addition, the reader may also wish to consider how a "properly appointed authority became an authority in their own mind". Without some certificate from "the God of your understanding ", it is only "your personal belief" which gives them that special status in your mind. You may find it beneficial to evaluate how and why that occurred. Did they become an authority to you because of:

    1. Your own intelligent choice and decision?


      or by the

    2. Blind acceptance of the beliefs of someone else?

For some alcoholics, confidentiality may be important to their personal recovery. Most doctors, psychologists, professionals and religious authorities are legally restricted from engaging in damaging gossip. Within certain limits, their professional code of ethics is often protected from having to reveal privileged information to others. The alcoholic, who is new to AA, may overlook this when selecting someone as "a close-mouthed, understanding friend". (pg 74).

By contrast, public disclosures are not bound by those same constraints, and have few legal protections. This potential for error is particularly acute with the newcomer. In their eagerness to proceed, some alcoholics make tragic mistakes about keeping personal information confidential. Frequently they fail to make an intelligent choice when selecting someone with whom to take their "Fifth Step". (see pg 45). Later on, those errors get explained with:

    • I didnít know.
    • I had know idea.
    • If I knew then what I know now...... etc.

Be aware that an AA meeting is open to anyone. This author wishes to point out that nothing in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous", suggests "airing dirty linen in public". Nothing requires taking Step Five with "a sponsor", or another AA member. Although a "sponsor" may be useful, you will not even find the word "sponsor" mentioned in the basic text for recovery. This often surprises established members who have read their own beliefs into the basic text.

For successful recovery from alcoholism, this author suggests that "the answers are in the book". ("Alcoholics Anonymous" - see the Frontispiece).

When taking Step Five, a careful review of the basic text is advised. (review pg 74). It can be your best guide to a prudent and intelligent course of action. It should be self-evident some AA members return to drinking. Even long-time established members may get drunk again. During that time they can be expected to behave accordingly. Some even believe it was "Godís will" that they do so.

After establishing the admonition to use caution, this author wishes to point out a contrasting personal perspective. Namely that no greater serenity is possible than to live a life built upon the acceptance of all life, on lifeís terms. (syn: "God" pgs 53 & 68). There is serenity and peace of mind when anything that is true can be exposed at a public level without the collapse of happiness, joy and freedom. (see pg 133).

For a newly sober alcoholic, this is not likely to occur simply by stopping drinking. It requires constant work and attention. (See pgs 83 & 84).

IF YOU LOSE SOMETHING TO THE TRUTH

YOU HAVENíT REALLY LOST ANYTHING

The mental work involved in recovery requires continually displacing and rearranging ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces to accommodate new conditions which require new knowledge. (see pgs 14-15, 27, Step 11 & Appendix II) This is a never ending process during this lifetime. (see pg 129). It is one way any alcoholic can acquire the vital spiritual experience necessary to enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 14-15). Sudden and spectacular upheavals, which are experienced by some, are not necessarily a requirement for recovery. Most alcoholics experience the "educational variety". (see Appendix II). As far as AA is concerned, it is the results during this lifetime which matter the most. Some alcoholics have other priorities.

Many newcomers to AA expect instantaneous serenity just because they are no longer distorting their minds by drinking. Some believe they are entitled to rewards because they have stopped destroying their own lives. Any benefits they do experience are the consequences of their own actions. Many are surprised to learn that the benefits of serenity and a quiet mind require effort, thought and concentration.

The alcoholic needs to develop an honest, open-minded and willing attitude to put forth an effort to acquire what they want the most. (syn: "pray for"). Otherwise, they are expecting something for nothing. By maintaining that childish attitude, little if anything will get done to produce fulfillment. Especially if they continue with an unrealistic belief some "power greater than themselves" is going to do it for them. Whenever a frustrated alcoholic overlooks personal responsibility for seeking new knowledge from the source, (syn: "God") any such expectation is a down-payment on a resentment. (see pgs 59. 60(c) & 64).

The process by which an alcoholic builds a life that allows them total openness is not something done quickly nor easily. A continual choice of intelligent action produces increased benefits. There is always room for more personal improvement. When maximum improvement is most desired (syn: "the dominant prayer"), then the AA program of recovery can become a chosen way of life. The opposite choice is equally available.

The personal serenity that comes with total openness in all relations and all affairs (review Step 12) either is or is not desired. Seeking that goal does not require elimination of all personal privacy nor preclude expressing unique individuality. However, eliminating the mind-altering effects of alcohol from thought processes is an essential element for personal recovery.

Eventually, every alcoholic is accountable to reality, (syn: "their idea of God" - see pg 55), and for the results of their decisions. Except for their own belief system which exists within their own mind, (see pgs 23 & 27), nothing else is "keeping score". If what you believe is not intelligent then you have a conflict within your own mind about "your own conception of God". (see pgs 23 & 27) You could decide to choose another concept. (see pg 12).

Fear of rejection by others ("equal in the eyes of God") can be a block and barrier to personal peace of mind. No individual is totally independent from relationships with others. As children, personal survival gets translated into a need for approval and acceptance by others. Accordingly, any rejection by others is closely allied with a death threat because that child intuitively knows they lack sufficient knowledge to survive in life, on their own. Coping with such threats to survival demands maximum use of whatever intelligence is available. Many alcoholics choose to remain within the closed-loop of those old ideas, and never will seek a belief system that is really their own intelligent choice.

Many of those alcoholics, require new knowledge which was not provided when they were children. As a result, old ideas, emotions and attitudes acquired from others, are still guiding their life. (see pg 27). To experience a vital spiritual experience necessary for recovery, they need the power of more new knowledge which is available from the source.("God"). To acquire that new knowledge, an attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness is indispensable. (see Appendix II).

From infancy, each alcoholic is taught various behaviors to gain approval from the adults in control of their life. Cooperation appears to be a form of self-preservation. Very possibly it may be a "God-given instinct" for survival.

Some other behaviors are often intentionally trained into an infant. They usually reflect the beliefs of the adults, including their version of right and wrong. Other behaviors get taught indirectly by example. If a child never develops their own inherent intelligence, (syn: "the God within"), they may retain the ideas, emotions and attitudes of their childhood. That unchallenged belief system easily gets translated into a personal belief that some human power is "a power greater than themselves". ("in the eyes of God").

When this occurs it should be no surprise that some alcoholics will only look to other human beings for the answers to their problems. (See Step 11, pg 55, & pg 60 "(b)"). While others may have some answers, what gets overlooked is that there is always more available from the source. (syn; "God"). This author suggests this "erroneous fundamental idea of God" (see pg 23) can later produce difficulties and conflicts with life, on lifeís terms. Often such a childish belief about life is accompanied by a childish reaction to life with the adult alcoholic demanding:

"I want what I want, when I want it, the way I want it".

Such extreme examples of self-will run riot are commonplace. They reflect an unrealistic but nonetheless fundamental idea of power required for personal fulfillment. (review pgs 55, 60 & 61). The entire "script" for the childish behavior got written by equal humans. ("in the eyes of God"). While there are some recognizably strong emotions involved, there is little evidence of using inherent intelligence. (syn: "the God within").

"Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way." (pg 60).

"Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate." (pg 62).

For the reader who has difficulty with traditional religious concepts of power, nowhere does personal decision have more significance than when choosing "your own conception of God". (pg 12). Will your choice be to:

    1. Retain the ideas, emotions and attitudes imposed by human authorities during childhood? - or to -
    2. Improve conscious contact with some greater source of new knowledge by using your own inherent intelligence? (Step 11)

Most children recognize their actions have some measure of control over the adults in their life. They often know precisely just how far they can go with their demands. Anyone exposed to 4 or 5 year old children is aware of the influence they have. Their influence is usually based upon their emotions rather than the use of intelligence.

By contrast, universal principles provide evidence of some intelligence (syn: "God") which is indifferent to demands for change. Principles work equally well for anyone, anyplace and at any time. In that regard, principles (i.e.: "the laws of life" &/or "God") are truly loving because they do not play favorites. Furthermore, they do not change because of human behavior nor are they influenced by emotional demands for special privileges.

THE PRINCIPLES OF LIFE TREAT EVERYONE EQUALLY

Alcoholics who recognize this fact of life often discover their old idea of God is threatened. (review pg 42). Especially when their ability to exercise control over others with their emotional desires (syn: "emotional prayers") is a large part of that old idea. As a belief in God, it does not stand up well to examination in the light of intelligence.(syn: "the light of God").

Being able to get special results, not equally provided to others, is an important element of many traditional religious belief systems. That old idea of God frequently includes a requirement for some human power to intervene and do the manipulation for them.

The real power functions according to universal principles which are not subject to change by human manipulation. Fortunately, the direction power is applied can be changed by the individual in their own life. This is accomplished by changing what they want the most from life. (syn: "the power of their dominant prayer")

This is where many individual alcoholics stand at a turning point in their recovery. (pg 59). They are torn between old ideas which require the belief system of an equal human ("in the eyes of God") to produce rewards in some next lifetime, or else abandon those old ideas of God in order to seek new knowledge acquired by other alcoholics who are able to demonstrate results now. Often, it becomes a choice between accepting results now or continuing to believe promises about some subsequent life experience.

One path relies upon a "second hand concept of a power". (pg 58). The other upon learning how to improve cooperation with reality now. Each individual alcoholic will use their own power of intelligent choice (syn: "the God within" see pgs 31, 32 & 55) to create their own relationship to the Great Reality. (syn: "God"). Often it is a choice between holding on to insupportable old ideas and beliefs, or accepting recognizable access to an infinite source of new knowledge and power.

This author suggests the choice will be based upon what the individual believes will produce what they most desire. Some religious alcoholics will disagree they have any choice, and prefer to believe they are unfortunate victims in life.

There is no way for anyone to tell another equal human which path to follow without allowing them an equal turn to do the same in reverse. Inherent, intelligence recognizes that reality simply is what it is. Continually seeking new knowledge and improved understanding of reality enlarges a spiritual life. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & Step 11). To achieve that spiritual progress, it is often necessary "to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window". (see pgs 27 & 42).

Many traditional religions claim special privileges for believing their special version of the power. Often their belief system includes rewards for following pre-established rules of mental and physical behavior. While much of that belief system may have admirable qualities, some portion of reality usually gets excluded in their concept. (review pg 53 & Tradition 3 "The Long Form"). The religious experts get their power and authority over equal human beings because they are believed to have special access to power not enjoyed by others on an equal basis. (see pg 23 & Step 2). This just is not so with a universal principle of life. (i.e.: "Godís laws).

Any response to a desire (syn: "prayer") in this lifetime occurs on lifeís terms. (syn: "Godís Will"). It is not subject to the ethnocentric beliefs of any special group of individuals. (syn: "collective self-will run riot").

Any belief system based upon changing equal human beings, without their cooperation, is an illusion of questionable sanity or intelligence. At a minimum, any results will require the use of physical restraints, or the application of fear, guilt or intimidation. The choice of the alcoholic is either to yield to those pressures, or else seek new knowledge of how to cooperate with life, on lifeís terms. One approach accepts superior power of others which includes a belief in personal inferiority. The other accepts equality along with an incomplete understanding of reality. This belief system in equality (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") also allows for an individual path of spiritual progress which is not controlled by others.

It is the experience of this author that reality eventually prevails over illusions. Universal principles are not subject to controls. (Step 1). With new knowledge it is possible to give those principles new direction in the life of the individual alcoholic. (see pg 133).

Any mental conflict is between two opposing desires. (syn: "two opposing prayers"). It is akin to a charioteer driving two horses toward a fork in the road where one horse takes one direction, and the other takes the opposite path. The choice is to get ripped apart by the conflict, or else shoot one of the horses. Any indecision becomes critical.

Such a mental conflict is commonplace among many alcoholics when they first come to the AA program. Much of their life has been guided by old ideas, emotions and attitudes which were never their own. (pg 27). New knowledge is a threat to a familiar way of life. Some prefer to close their minds in fear and try to avoid changes. (pg 58). Others willingly seek spiritual progress and find it.

Atheists and agnostics are not the only ones with problems concerning power. It has a broader application in AA with religious members who insist they have the last word on God. This usually includes a belief there is no valid view other than their own.

"Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of Godís ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasnít it?" (pg 49).

No human power has all the answers in life. (pg 60(b)). Any spiritual progress requires seeking more new knowledge from the source. (see pgs 14, 15, 53, & 68).

"Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power -that One is God. May you find Him now!" (pgs 58-59)

One primary objective for telling all our life story to another human being in Step Five is to reduce fear. Fear of rejection is based upon an erroneous belief that some other human power controls our personal happiness, joy and freedom. (see pgs 60 (a), (b), (c) & 133). That specific fear is reduced by revealing our innermost self to another person. Verbalizing the fear provides for improved understanding of reality. (Step 11). This is part of enlarging a personal spiritual life.

The application of some knowledge and intelligence (i.e.: "the God within") is required in the process. Without giving realistic direction to a desire (syn: "prayer") for spiritual progress, it is possible to pit the desire for happiness against itself. Two opposing desires (syn: "prayers") are being fulfilled simultaneously. One desire is to conform with and hold onto an old idea. The other desire is to grow spiritually by acquiring new knowledge and awareness of the Great Reality.

To resolve any conflict between two desires (syn: "two conflicting prayers"), more new knowledge is required. That new knowledge comes from the source of all knowledge. (See Step 11) The battle can continue indefinitely until the alcoholic surrenders by accepting one desire as being their dominant desire. ("their dominant prayer").

The process of seeking more new knowledge is not a one-time event.

"We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." (pg 85)

Seeking more new knowledge provides an opportunity for progress in building a life which allows for total openness. Spiritual progress comes from aligning personal desires with life on lifeís terms. As progress is made there is an accompanying degree of serenity and a quiet mind which follows. Many recovered alcoholics have found they are willing to go to any lengths to get and maintain this freedom from a fear of reality. (see pgs 58, 84 & 85).

After Step Five, the remainder of the AA program involves actions required to maintain that spiritual condition. Continued enlargement of a spiritual life is necessary to maintain a daily reprieve from alcoholism. (see pgs 14, 15, 35 & 85).

This author suggests a daily reprieve is the relief experienced from the consequences of personal ignorance about how to cooperate with life, in an ever changing universe. (syn: "God" - see pgs 53, 60(c) & 85).

If maximum benefits are desired, the AA program offers an intelligent choice capable of producing excellent results. (pg 58). Anyone can claim those same results on an equal basis. The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. There is no second requirement. (review Tradition 3 "the Long Form").

The path of action called for by the AA program requires seeking more new knowledge and understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God"- see Step 11). Many alcoholics have become increasingly happy, joyous and free by thoroughly following that path. It has become a chosen way of life which continually provides desirable benefits. Those benefits will always be provided on lifeís terms and are there to be claimed by any alcoholic with a desire to stop drinking. (see pg 58 & Tradition 3). There is always room for more personal improvement, if you want it..

WE LEARNED THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SET US FREE.

* * * * *

SECTION B06g:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP FIVE:

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

 

READ:

Page 75 beginning with "We pocket our pride........ī and ending with "Have we tried to make mortar without sand?".

 

COMMENTS:

To avoid wasting time, anyone seriously considering becoming involved with the AA program needs to answer to themselves:

    1. Do I believe I have a problem with alcohol?
    2. If so, do I want to do something about it?
    3. If I do, then WHEN?

By now the author of this Study Guide assumes the reader has answered the first two questions, with a "Yes!" response. If so, then the final question of "When?" becomes the next matter for consideration. Only the individual can determine when they are willing to go to any length to recover.

THE POWER OF DECISION IS AN INNER RESOURCE

Once the decision has been made to proceed with the AA program of recovery, it includes a willingness to reveal their innermost self to another person. This creates the need for another decision as to whom that person shall be.

The previous section recommended intelligence be used in the selection process. The reader may now wish to think about how they gain access to any intelligence used in the decision process. (review pg 55).

The following section deals with some specific mental attitudes, once the reader has decided to take this intimate and confidential step. While many alcoholics choose someone ordained by an established religion, there are many others who would rather not do this. Therefore, they search out a close-mouthed, understanding friend. (pg 74).

When we decide who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about to do and why we have to do it. He should realize that we are engaged upon a life-and-death errand. Most people approached in this way will be glad to help; they will be honored by our confidence." (pg 75)

At this point the alcoholic has decided to get into action on this life-and-death errand. The decision is a conscious choice regardless of the path taken

DECIDING NOT TO DECIDE IS ALSO

FREEDOM OF CHOICE BY DEFAULT

Many reach the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous prematurely. Being only mildly inconvenienced by drinking, they fail to recognize their alcoholism as a life-threatening condition. Those who are alcoholics, when left to their own devices, will eventually drink themselves into the gates of insanity or death. (pg 30). Because they are presently only mildly inconvenienced by drinking, many make choices out of ignorance of their real condition. (i.e.: "ignorance of the truth" = "ignorance of God").

Many of those alcoholics will attempt to hold onto old ideas, emotions and attitudes which remain as guiding forces in their lives. (see pg 27). In doing so, they are ignoring reality, and due to their personal ignorance of the truth they make decisions which later have undesirable consequences. (see pg 62). One choice is to protect the belief there is something of value in distorting their mind with alcohol. That erroneous idea often includes a firm belief their condition really is not critical.

BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING

DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE

This erroneous old idea is so commonplace with alcoholics that the writers of the basic text for recovery offered a fool-proof suggestion for self-diagnosis to those who are not convinced they are in the grip of a progressive illness. It is simply:

"Step over to the nearest barroom and try some controlled drinking." (pg 31)

"Old-timers" sometimes made a recommendation to simply: "Give them plenty of bourbon and kindness!!" as a method of dealing with the defiant individualist who denies having a problem. Alcoholics who are unable to be motivated by inspiration, then become motivated by desperation. The physical consequences of continued drinking at all costs eventually will force them to seek recovery if they desire to survive.

"FIRST THINGS FIRST"

There is little likelihood an alcoholic will understand this until they have exploited all of their known methods to control and enjoy their drinking. (pg 30). This new awareness of reality (syn: "God") produces improved understanding. They recognize there is some power in new knowledge, which is required for recovery. (See pg 60(a), (b), (c) & Step 11). No matter how much self-knowledge they have acquired, that new knowledge is a power they cannot manipulate

A PRINCIPLE DOES NOT PLAY FAVORITES WITH INDIVIDUALS

When an alcoholic knows the truth, they recognize personal powerlessness over alcohol. Probably no human power can change this condition for them. (pg 60(b)). However, the Great Reality of life, (syn: "God"), has provided some new knowledge which does produce recovery from alcoholism if it is sought. (pg 60(c)). That new knowledge had already been revealed (i.e.: "from the source") to other alcoholics who were desperate enough to seek it without any mental reservations. The power of that new knowledge enabled them to demonstrate that recovery is possible.

A MIRACLE IS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS

YOU DIDNíT BELIEVE COULD HAPPEN

Those alcoholics who miraculously recovered shared their new-found knowledge of reality (syn: "enlarged spiritual life" see pgs 14-15, 35 & Step 11) in AAís basic text for recovery from alcoholism. It is available to anyone who wants what they have.

This new knowledge of reality (syn: "God") enables the alcoholic, interested in recovery, to make informed and more intelligent decisions based upon the experience of other recovered alcoholics. Armed with the power of this new knowledge, their mind may then be in a better condition to honestly face their own problem with intelligence. (see pg 23 & Appendix II).

It is not necessary to immediately abandon all of an old belief system in order to recover. (Appendix II) However, the necessary vital spiritual experience does require changes to the old set of guiding forces in order to be effective.

"Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them." (pg 27)

&#Self-reliance, even including reliance upon a second-hand concept of God, has a useful place in the life of any alcoholic. Without the ability to make choices, alcoholics would be mere automatons with no personal responsibility for any of the events in their lives.

Happily this is not the case, and such a belief system would not be consistent with a concept of a God that wants the alcoholic to be happy, joyous and free. (pg 133). However, placing complete and total self-reliance upon the finite limits of accumulated human intelligence is also unrealistic. (syn: "not God").

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves." (pg 68)

Everyone has some awareness of reality. No one has it all. By placing personal reliance upon the source of all new knowledge, spiritual progress is possible. An enlarged spiritual life becomes available to any alcoholic who seeks it, on an individual basis.

Regardless of how any improved conscious understanding of reality is acquired, (see Step 11), it is essential to recognize that personal and collective human knowledge are both finite and limited. Continued recovery requires continued access to new knowledge of reality. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 60 (a-c), 129, 164, & Appendix II).

Most traditional religions settle upon a belief system which places focus upon old ideas, emotions and attitudes. This may explain their inability to produce recoveries from alcoholism comparable to AA.

For the individual alcoholic with a dominant desire to recover, (syn: "prayer"), that desire involves either holding on to those old ideas of God, or else choosing their own conception. One which allows them to further enlarge their spiritual life. (see pgs 12, 14-15, 35, 95, 129 & 164). Such a decision requires them to use their own inherent intelligence, (syn: "the God within" - see pg 55), or else place their reliance upon those second-hand concepts developed by others.

It is the belief of this author that alcoholics have some responsibility for the consequences of their own choices.

YOU ARE NOT THE POWER, - BUT

YOU GIVE DIRECTION TO THE POWER

For those alcoholics seeking a vital spiritual experience, perhaps the most fundamental change required is one of mental attitude. Specifically, an attitude concerning personal ability to change reality. Often, this process is hampered by old beliefs acquired during childhood which have never been examined in the light of intelligence. (syn: "the light of God"). Often that belief system came from some other equal human whose credentials to be an authority have never been questioned. Many alcoholics are surprised to discover they have the power to change the entire universe, but only by the count of ONE.

".....we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

Any alcoholic who is part of life is also part of the Great Reality. (syn: "God"). If "God" really is all and everything, then the alcoholic is also part of that power. Not all of the power, just some of it. (see pg 45). The place they find the power to understand the Great Reality is deep down within themselves. (see pg 55 & Step 11). The alcoholic enlarges their spiritual life by seeking to improve their conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God" pgs 60(c)). This requires that they rearrange or displace some of the old ideas, emotions and attitudes which have been the guiding forces in their life. (see pg 27).

"With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you." (pg 55)

Many alcoholics are surprised to discover a difference between "their idea of God" and "the Great Reality which is God".

The selfishness and self-centeredness which is at the root of troubles (pg 62) can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The author suggests one of those problem areas is in how a concept of God got chosen. (pg 12). Choices as to what to believe seem to revolve around two conflicting attitudes. (pgs 23 & 27).

    1. Moral Superiority: "My God is better than your God!"

      OR
    2. Does It Work?: "Donít tell me, show me"

Certainly any inner conflict of such massive proportions will significantly impact personal happiness, joy and freedom. (syn: "Godís will" see pg 133).

Whenever an alcoholic attempts to reconcile differences between two conflicting concepts of God it calls for a decision. Without making a choice, the individual is being pulled apart by two conflicting desires. (syn: "prayers").

On the premise there is some power which responds to something called "a prayer", the question for the individual alcoholic then becomes:

    1. Do I abdicate responsibility for all my actions?

      OR
    2. Do I use my own best intelligence when choosing a concept of a power greater than myself?

One approach completely relinquishes the power of any choice. The other accepts it, along with responsibility for the consequences of errors in personal judgment. Because the inner conflict is so pervasive, reconciling this idea of God is essential to being happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133).

With both desires being answered at the same time the inner conflict continues. (see pg 59). The indecisive alcoholic will continue being torn apart by two conflicting desires (syn: "prayers"). Eventually, reality will demand action. Recognized lack of knowledge and understanding produces fear. (see pg 67). Strong emotional reaction to fear blocks the ability to make the elegant choice of using the best intelligence available at the time. There is no time left to think.

INDECISION IS HELL!!

On one side is an old idea of God and the unwillingness to challenge it out of fear of possible rejection by chosen human authorities. This is often accompanied by a belief that those other humans control personal happiness, joy and freedom. (i.e.: "Godís will" see pg 133).

On the other side is a growing conscious awareness that continued drinking leads to jails, insanity and death. This often includes awareness of the need for more new knowledge in order to stay alive and "carry your own keys" in this lifetime. That mental conflict is pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization! (see pgs 23, 30).

One intelligent basis for making a decision would be to consider letting go of the old idea of God, and admit the possibility of a mistake. (see Step 10). This would allow the alcoholic freedom to consider a concept of God that allows for personal choice. It is fascinating to watch the thought processes of "close-minded" alcoholics shut down or slam shut when they encounter any new idea which is different from their established fundamental idea of God. (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 45, 53, 55, 85-86, 93-95, 129, 164 & Appendix II). Try it and see for yourself.

This exposure to reality may not be acceptable to those alcoholics who are determined to retain their traditional religious views at all costs. (syn: "self-will run riot" ). Any such reader may want to avoid open-mindedly considering this section. (review Appendix II for a potential conflict of interest).

This author believes that self-preservation is so basic it could rightly be considered "A Law of Life" - or "Godís Law". The desire (syn: "prayer") to survive is so basically intelligent that it will instinctively over-rule any learned behavior -unless there is some even greater emotional demand. Wars could not be fought without strong emotions and fear to override that basic intelligent demand for self-preservation. (review pg 68).

Traditional religious beliefs are fundamental ideas of God which have been learned from some human source. (pg 55). For those with a rigorously honest desire to stay alive, a choice to abandon that training to accept self-preservation may be the most sane option.

Most alcoholics will make that choice instinctively unless instilled with an overwhelming fear of God which is sufficient to produce blind obedience. Such a fear is required to wage any war, be it religious or otherwise. Both require blind unthinking obedience to the edicts of other equal human beings designated as superior.

Arguments in support of religious and military objectives often bear great emotional similarities. In both cases, established authorities make unchallenged pronouncements about the obedience they desire. Equality is not an issue. Furthermore, intelligently choosing a power greater than themselves is not possible without some conscious mental cooperation. (pgs. 23, 62 & Step 11).

All alcoholics are subject to the "Laws of Life". (syn: "Godís Laws"). This condition applies regardless of how well or poorly they understand them. Before one human being can control or manipulate another, it is first necessary to eliminate any belief in personal equality (i.e.: "in the eyes of God"). Cooperation is required to retain any "superiority". Continued control requires maintaining ignorance of the truth by "those inferiors" who have equal access to the same source of new knowledge and all the power that goes with it.

WHAT ONE CAN LEARN ANOTHER CAN ALSO LEARN

 

To obtain personal freedom from limitations imposed by others requires a decision to break loose from those bonds of ignorance. With a concept of "God" as the intelligent source of all knowledge and power: (pgs 12, 45, 53, & 68):

IGNORING THE TRUTH IS IGNORING GOD

 

To reduce personal ignorance first requires recognition that many choices are made according to values established by others. Those values may be intelligent and agree with the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "Godís will"). They also may be merely the continuation of emotional attitudes and old ideas which do not stand up to the light of intelligent examination. (i.e.: "the light of God"). The only way to find out is to use your own inherent intelligence to decide.

Whenever an alcoholic acquires a conscious understanding of their equality (syn: "in the eyes of God") they gain new freedom and a new happiness. (see pgs 12, 83 & Step 11)

YOU DONíT KNOW UNTIL YOU KNOW

A decision to choose a concept of God which includes equality and freedom of choice, allows any alcoholic to change direction. (see pgs 59 & 164). This allows them, to accomplish what other alcoholics have done as equals. Other alcoholics have demonstrated what can be done because they have tapped the source of power of that new knowledge and they use it. (pg 163). The problem of the still suffering alcoholic is ignorance of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 55).

IGNORANCE OF REALITY IS IGNORING GOD

Personal ignorance is both real and endless. Every alcoholic has some, but fortunately it can be reduced although never eliminated completely. (pg 68). Improved understanding is possible. When it is sought, the alcoholic will "know a new freedom and a new happiness". (pg 60(c)). It will always materialize if the alcoholic will work for it. (see pgs 83- 84). What others have learned can also be learned by those who look beyond the horizons of their old ideas. (pgs 23 & 58).

A decision to confront ignorance of reality (syn: "God") opens up a pathway to infinite learning and an endless opportunity for self-improvement. Tapping that unsuspected inner resource is not a reward granted to selected individuals by some outside intelligence. (see pg 163 & Appendix II).

"We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe to all men." (pg 46)

This author believes that when the dominant desire (syn: "dominant prayer") of an alcoholic is to seek the source of all knowledge to survive (syn: "God") then some intelligence responds with the gift of life on a daily basis. (see pg 85). What the alcoholic gets as a daily gift from God is an infinite universe. Included is the equal opportunity to seek new knowledge and all the power contained in any enlarged or improved understanding of life, on lifeís terms. Some alcoholics daily trudge through a "diamond field of life" emerging with nothing but "mud on their shoes".

Some greater intelligence (i.e.: "greater than finite understanding") provides for fulfillment of a dominate desire. The direction comes from the dominant desire. (syn: "prayer"). For recovery from alcoholism, the AA program suggests that the alcoholic pray only to improve conscious contact with the source of all knowledge and the power to carry it out. (review pg 68 & Step 11).

The power of new knowledge and improved understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God") is always available. It is always available right here and right now. (see pgs 23, 55, 60(c), Step 11 & Appendix II).

No individual is blocked from seeking and acquiring more new knowledge. Because knowledge is infinite, no person can ever acquire all knowledge. By either decision or default, the alcoholic must choose what portion of infinite new knowledge they most desire. (syn: "pray for").

This author suggests a desire (syn: "prayer") for more knowledge of Godís will (see Step 11) is an intelligent choice of direction. For those who believe that Godís will for them is to be happy, joyous and free (review pg 133) then seeking more knowledge of that would be an intelligent place to begin.

A life which is happy, joyous and free (i.e.: "Godís will" pg 133) will be more worth living than one of blind conformance to the second-hand values of others.

A new desire (syn: "new prayer") for personal equality and freedom can replace old ideas, emotions and attitudes which previously had been guiding forces. (pg 27 and Step 11). The more religious alcoholic may prefer to retain a different belief system to avoid making changes to their old ideas.

What are the consequences of making such a drastic change in mental direction? (see pg 23). First, it involves changing the fundamental idea of power required for recovery. (pgs 55 & 60(c)). It also disrupts old ideas about how "God wants us to be happy, joyous and free". (see pg 133). The personal value of any new knowledge acquired from telling someone else all their life story is clearly stated.

"We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our Creator. We may have had certain spiritual beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience." (pg 75).

A previously indecisive alcoholic never needs to again experience those old conflicts. (i.e.: "based upon old ideas"). They are no longer able to intelligently believe their problems have been imposed upon them by some whimsical tyrant that unequally plays favorites with some but not others. Instead, there is conscious awareness of personal equality accompanied by an inescapable responsibility for personal choices. Those decisions, made with or without adequate knowledge, provide direction to the power - on lifeís terms. The alcoholic then consciously understands and accepts that they are free to drink, anytime they want to. Their only problem with alcohol becomes one of deciding intelligently what it is they want the most. (i.e.: "their prayer").

"The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly." (pg 75).

That new awareness (i.e.: "a revelation from God" - see pg 164) does not mean other problems will not exist. The power of more new knowledge is required whenever other new problems arise. Hence, there exists a requirement to constantly enlarge a spiritual life in order to maintain recovery from alcoholism. (see pgs 14-15, 23, 35, 85, 87 & 164).

From this approach, the "God problem" gets a new perspective. With awareness that knowledge is infinite, there is an accompanying awareness that personal ignorance is also infinite.

The author readily acknowledges the superior power of different knowledge about some things which others may have already acquired from the source. That personal awareness of part of reality is their superior power. With that knowledge, they then have the freedom and power to make choices which are more intelligent than those who donít know. Their choices are more intelligent when they do not conflict with life on lifeís terms. (syn: "God").

For anyone with a dominant desire (syn: "prayer") to reduce personal conflict with reality, developing the power of intelligent choice is obviously desirable. It will become their fundamental idea of what is "good" (syn: "God") for them. This tends to simplify matters for alcoholics having difficulty blindly accepting pronouncements by traditional "religious specialists" about what is "good for everyone".

Within the AA program, a change in attitude is required. (pg 27). There is a need to let go of old ideas of fear, shame and guilt about telling all their story to another person and accept their equality as a human being in the eyes of their creator. ("Let Go and Let God). Most alcoholics find it is hard to argue with success.

"Here are thousands of men and women, worldly indeed. They flatly declare that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking......after they whole-heartedly met a few simple requirements."

(pg 50)

"When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. The God idea did." (pg 52)

"Hence we are at pains to tell why we think our present faith is reasonable, why we think it more sane and logical to believe, why we say our former thinking was soft and mushy when we threw up our hands in doubt and said, "We did not know." (pg 53)

The "Spirit of the Universe" is a concept of a power compatible with an "Infinite Source of New Knowledge". (see pg 12). The reader may choose some other limited and finite second-hand idea of that power developed by other equal human beings. This author believes that reliance upon an infinitely greater concept is a more intelligent choice. (see pg 68). It is a matter of either knowing or of believing. At this point it may be worthwhile to ask yourself:

"Who are you to say there is no God" (pg 56)

which can be followed by a companion question.

"Who are you to say that your concept of God

is superior to any other concept of God?"

Those questions may be extended to include anyone claiming to be an expert on what is "good" (syn: "God") for you. Do you know, or do you just believe you know? Do they really know, or do you just believe they know?

The answers demand the use of your own inherent intelligence unless you prefer to be a victim of your own ignorance and deny your own equality as a human being. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God").

There are significant differences between what you know and what you believe. Your own inherent intelligence is capable of recognizing the difference. You may choose not to use your own intelligence, and rely upon a second-hand concept of what is "good" (syn: "God") for you as the guide for your life. (see pg 27). This does not imply that the spokesmen for traditional religions are necessarily wrong. Their beliefs might be accurate, or they may be incorrect because they are incomplete. Only a person with all knowledge could be certain. Do you really believe you know enough to bet your life on them?

For the individual who believes they already have all they need to know about God, no intelligent basis for self-examination exists, in their mind. (see pg 23). Seeking more new knowledge would not produce anything of value which they desire. (i.e.: "pray for"). However, those who desire recovery from alcoholism, by using the AA program will recognize it is based upon seeking the power of new knowledge from the source of all knowledge. (i.e.: "God" - review pgs 58-60 & Appendix II).

Anyone who already has all the power they desire is wasting time here which could be applied more beneficially to other pursuits.

This will not be so for the alcoholic whose inherent intelligence has recognized they do not know everything about being happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133). If their primary purpose (syn: "dominant prayer") is to stay sober, and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety in this lifetime, then careful consideration of how thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism merits their attention. (Refer to AA Preamble and Frontispiece of the basic AA text). As alcoholics and as equals, their stories may have value to you. Similarly, your story may have value to others.

"Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." (pg. 77)

Those alcoholics who cannot or will not share all their life story with another human being, may only experience partial freedom and equality. The necessary vital spiritual experience suggested by the AA program calls for constant maintenance to enlarge a spiritual life. (see pg. 14-15, 35, 85 & 129). The prerequisite new knowledge is never withheld by the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God") to those who seek it. (see pg 46 & 60(c)).

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us." (pg 164)

Step Three becomes intelligently understandable with this relationship to the source of all new knowledge, (syn: "God").

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (pg 59).

Alcoholics who choose to seek a new relationship to the source of all new knowledge now have the option to develop some new ideas, emotions and attitudes. (review pg 27). This enlarged spiritual life can become a new guiding force in their lives as truth, good and reality (all synonyms for "God") are consciously understood. (Step 11). For those who choose it, Step Three can become a personal attitude of:

    1. I would rather be told the truth than something I would like to hear.
    2. I would rather get what is good for me than have my own way if there is a difference.
    3. I would rather live in reality than in the fantasy land and illusions of my own wishful thinking.

This author believes that as there is improved understanding of truth, good and reality, there is improved conscious contact with God. (Step 11). When this is sought, as a dominant desire (syn: "dominant prayer"), it becomes equally available to anyone in life, on lifeís terms.

For many alcoholics, it is sufficient for them to place their personal trust upon truth, good and reality (syn: "God" - see pg 68) when honestly telling all their story to another person. Once completed, some specific suggestions have already been made about what to do next.

"Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what we have done."
(pg 75)

This author suggests this will include reviewing any personal beliefs about limitations to the power of new knowledge in the recovery process. Exclusive reliance upon finite boundaries of "old ideas from any traditional religion" may be skimping on an infinite source of power. (see pg 68). Any truth, good or reality outside of that religious definition would not be available without first acknowledging an error or oversight in that belief system. (Step 10).

Until human knowledge and understanding reaches the boundaries of a seemingly infinite universe, this author believes there shall always be more to be revealed. (pg 164). What it is the reader believes will define the horizons of their own mind. (see pg 23). This will establish the limits of how far they believe they are free to apply the power of new knowledge in their personal life.

Hopefully that very personal choice of a belief system will produce the fulfillment you, the reader, most desire (i.e.: "the answer to your prayers") as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. (see pgs 77 & 164).

This completes the sections devoted to Step Five.

* * * * *

SECTION B06h:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP SIX:

"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."

 

READ:

Page 76, the first paragraph, beginning with "If we can answer to our satisfaction,....." and ending with ".....we ask God to help us be willing".

 

COMMENTS:

By now the serious reader will have gained improved understanding of some intelligent reasons for taking Step Five. The "admission to God" is recognition that a concept of God exists in the mind of the individual. (pg 55) Many different concepts exist. The degree of intelligence involved with any one concept is resolved within the mind of the person who claims it as their own. The only valid test of any concept is in how well it works.

The ideas and belief systems of others are just that. They have their ideas guiding their lives, you have yours. (see pg 27). The reader may consider the extent any of those differing concepts are intelligently compatible with the Great Reality which you discover by using your own mind. (syn: "God" - see pgs 23 & 55). There are many differing views of an infinite reality. (see pg 68).

There are always some ideas, emotions and attitudes, in the mind of any alcoholic, which could benefit from improvement. The "admission to ourselves of the exact nature of our wrongs" mentally acknowledges personal imperfections in a personal understanding of reality. (see pg 23 & Step 11). By contrast, the Ultimate Reality of life, on lifeís terms presumably expresses "the will of God". The early members of AA were sure this included that the alcoholic is supposed to be "happy, joyous and free". (pg 133).

This author believes if any alcoholic already knew how to produce that condition on a continuing basis, they would utilize the knowledge. Therefore, the alcoholic is either experiencing their own best version of happiness now, or else more new knowledge is required. Many alcoholics seek to "trade-up". (see pgs 14-15, 35 42, 55, 60(c), 68, 129, 163-164 & Appendix II).

New knowledge is available to any human being from the source of all knowledge (syn: God). Humanity has already acquired some of it from an infinite source. (pg 68). There is more to be revealed. (pg 164 & Appendix II). Before an alcoholic starts seeking more understanding, it is a good idea to identify what portion of self-knowledge needs to be improved. (Steps 10 & 11). It is intelligent to evaluate if some portion conflicts with the Ultimate Reality. (i.e.: "God").

For the most part, traditional religions have established moral concepts for application to all of humanity. They then attempt to have those values be adopted by each individual. Sometimes by attraction, but more often by promotion.

Spokesmen for traditional religious belief systems may or may not be correct. If their claims are accurate, they would be principles of life (i.e." Laws of Life = Godís will"). As such, those principles would be essential for the personal happiness, joy and freedom of anyone. (see pg 133). Without ability to demonstrate results, no one can be certain if they have universal application. Where recovery from alcoholism is concerned, no one could get sober and stay sober without them.

Within that framework, Steps Four and Five of the AA program do not attempt to address moral shortcomings of the human race. Rather, they allow the individual alcoholic to examine their own values. Those values either do or do not produce personal happiness, joy and freedom. (pg 58). They include a fundamental idea of some power that produces fulfillment. (see pg 55). The alcoholic decides what concept of power produces their own personal fulfillment.

"Why donít you choose your own conception of God?"

(pg 12)

"We represent no particular faith or denomination. We are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations." (pgs 93-94)

"We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us." (pg 95)

"Admitting to another human being" the exact nature of what is wrong allows for improved understanding of what does not produce happiness, joy and freedom. (review Steps 10 & 11). Errors in judgment and mistakes in decisions may be the result of erroneous beliefs about "Godís will".

I NEVER MADE A MISTAKE BEFORE, BUT

THIS LOOKS LIKE IT MIGHT BE ONE

There have been observations made that an alcoholic is sensitive, childish and grandiose. At the same time they often insist upon being "right" at all costs. This author suggests those mental characteristics may be the exact nature of their wrongs. (see pgs 23, 60-62). If this is valid, then any improved awareness of that mistaken approach to life would allow an alcoholic to improve a conscious contact with what is good for them (syn: "God for them"). With that enlarged spiritual life they would then have a capacity to make more intelligent choices. (see pgs 14-15, & 35).

An alcoholic knows if they are giving their best effort to their present understanding what is good for them, and recognizes when they have satisfied their own intelligence. (i.e.: "the God within" - pg 55). With that "vision of Godís will", they are ready to approach Step Six. (see pg 85). This is where they will decide if they want to keep repeating the same mistakes or not.

An acknowledged defect of character is something the alcoholic believes would be a good idea (syn: "a God idea") to either remove or improve. There is value in understanding what is being eliminated or changed, (Step 11), and the intelligence of the individual (syn: "the God within") has practical application. The alcoholic has the choice to use their own intelligence, or else blindly rely upon second-hand thinking of others which has a different price-tag. It forces a mental confrontation with beliefs of others and poses questions which need to be answered..

.

    1. Have those values of others ever been challenged with intelligence?. (syn: "God").
    2. Are their ideas, emotions and attitudes really my own?

 

Those questions are directly related to any fundamental idea of God for the alcoholic, and unavoidably include a belief system about "what God wants for them". (see pgs 55 & 133). Readers adhering to traditional religious concepts of God are involved with a "second-hand belief system" and already know what they believe. Alcoholics honestly seeking recovery are now obliged to answer, to their innermost self, "is that what I really believe ?"

THE PRICE OF SELF-DECEPTION IS PAID

WITH LOSS OF SELF-RESPECT

Those experiencing difficulty reconciling the results of what they believe with their own inherent intelligence (syn: "the God within") will find the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" is a practical guide to recovery from alcoholism. It contains the practical experience of thousands of man and women who have recovered. This includes observations which may not agree with theoretical concepts that were part of their religious training. Decisions involving personal values may be required.

"We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us." (pg 133).

The primary purpose in AA is to stay sober, and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. (see AA preamble).

This is something which occurs as a "daily reprieve" during this lifetime. (pg 85). Most traditional religions have different objectives pertaining to some different primary purpose and some other lifetime. It is not an uncommon mistake for an alcoholic to believe the objectives of AA and those of various religious belief systems are one and the same.

Any unintelligent mixing of goals and objectives for this life will produce mental confusion and emotional turmoil. In AA, the primary objective relies upon a fundamental idea of God as a guide for living this life, on lifeís terms. With confusion about that, any conflict of interest about the power required for the recovery process in this lifetime needs to be resolved.

Resolving any conflict in the primary objective of an alcoholic will include their own concept of what is wrong in their life. (Step 5). This author believes any religion will fit into AAís concept of an infinite God. (pg 68). However, problems arise when trying to fit AA into the finite limits of any religious definition of God. Particularly any religious belief system which identifies itself as being different from other belief systems.

The author suggests that whatever a religious alcoholic decides is wrong will reflect their belief it is "the will of God" to eliminate or change it. Hence the personal choice of a belief system plays a significant role in their recovery process. That belief system may be intelligent and the result of their own thinking. It may also be an emotional or second-hand idea which has been blindly accepted from others. If the expectations of their belief system is not producing happiness, joy and freedom, (i.e.: "Godís will for them" - pg 133) it would be well to take a fresh look at the primary objective. Is it:

    1. To stay alive and carry their own keys while seeking to be happy, joyous & free during this lifetime? (see pg 133).
      OR
    2. To be rewarded with preferential treatment and/or other insupportable promises to be provided in some next lifetime?

The truly open minded alcoholic will consider Step 10 when attempting to resolve any conflict between the AA program and their fundamental belief system concerning God. (pg 55).

Any belief system which stands in the way of being happy, joyous and free now, (pgs 85 & 133), can be improved by seeking more new knowledge of reality now. (syn: "God" see Step 11). There is more happiness, joy and freedom available to be revealed now, if it is sought now. (pgs 60(c) &164).

Undeniably, there is mental action required when choosing a primary purpose in this life. (see pg 23). Effort, thought and concentration are required to establish what will satisfy inherent intelligence now. (i.e.: "the God within").

WHAT IS IT YOU WANT THE MOST?

(syn: "what is your dominant prayer?")

If others have achieved what you want the most during this life, they have also acquired the knowledge of how to claim it. The promises of traditional religions concerning any "next life" at their best, are speculative ideas of God. (pg 55). You may choose to believe them or not. Eventually, everyone will depart "this life" and become an equal authority on what comes next.

 

As an alcoholic, when establishing your primary purpose during this lifetime, consider what it is you want the most now. Is it:

    • To get well? If so, who knows how?
    • To be good? If so, whose version?

Both desires (syn: "prayers") require the use of some intelligence by the alcoholic for their fulfillment. What else, but personal intelligence allows an alcoholic to recognize when they are getting what they want? You, the reader, either do or do not believe you have that ability to recognize what you desire.

WHY BOTHER TO "PRAY" FOR SOMETHING

IF YOU CANNOT RECOGNIZE AND ACCEPT IT

WHEN IT IS GIVEN TO YOU?

If what you want is a second-hand idea of what someone else wants you to want, then you have chosen their version for your own personal happiness, joy and freedom.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE YOU NEED SOMEONE ELSE

TO TELL YOU WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY?

The author of this Study Guide believes every individual does their own wanting. The desires (syn: "prayers") of each individual are their own. It is also the belief of this author, that some intelligent power allows for fulfillment on lifeís terms of that which is most desired. Accordingly, this author suggests the alcoholic apply "First Things First" by directing their attention to living

"ONE LIFE AT A TIME"

The reader may find this perspective useful when evaluating the statement about Step Six:

"We have emphasized willingness as being indispensable. Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all - every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing." (pg 76).

Firstly, "willingness" is a mental attitude. In Step Six, it is willingness to let go of old ideas, and let what is good replace them. (i.e.: "Let Go and Let God"). Improved understanding of what really is good may be required. (syn: "God" - see Step 11)

When continual improvement during this lifetime is their dominant desire (syn: "dominant prayer") then the alcoholic has a primary purpose consistent with the AA program. (pg 77 & AA Preamble). As a natural consequence of any self-improvement during this lifetime, other people will benefit indirectly.

The spiritual improvements prescribed by many religions may have unquestioned value applicable to some next lifetime. Unfortunately, many of them have no direct application to recovery from alcoholism now.

"FIRST THINGS FIRST"

The AA program provides recognizable personal benefits in this lifetime. Many alcoholics prefer that over some promise of a later reward.

Next comes the mental readiness to willingly allow some greater power to produce those changes which are desired now. (Step 3 - see pgs 47-48). Once again, this reflects a chosen belief about when and how the power works. That belief was chosen either by intelligent conscious decision or by blindly and unthinkingly accepting the "second-hand beliefs" of others. Because what an alcoholic believes about God defines their capacity to make intelligent choices, it is significant that:

"Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of Godís will into all our activities. "How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done." These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is the proper use of the will. (pg 85)

"The vision of Godís will" for the alcoholic seeking recovery will be determined by their beliefs about God. That "fundamental idea" (pg 55) may be intelligent. It can also be an emotional unthinking second-hand concept with little or no relationship to reality. Only the alcoholic concerned can make that determination within their own mind. (pg 23).

To make a beginning toward improved understanding of reality (syn: "God" - see pgs 12, 59-60 & Step 11) only requires adopting an attitude of willingness, honesty and open mindedness. (see pgs 23, 27, 42, 47, & Appendix II). This attitude enlarges a spiritual life. Others may militantly attempt to convince you that their way is the only right way. If they are correct, the intelligence of the reader will recognize that no alcoholic could or would ever recover without doing it that way.

In recovery from alcoholism, it doesnít matter "who is right". The only thing that matters for the alcoholic in AA, is "who is left".

Those aspects of self-will which are in agreement with "Godís will" are rarely objectionable. (pgs 85 & 133). Some inherent intelligence within the alcoholic recognizes if and why they are disturbed.

It is on that point many finite traditional religious ideas part company with all-inclusive concepts of "a power" found in the AA program. The alcoholic will only find "the Great Reality" deep down within themselves (pg 55).

Any disturbances the alcoholic does experience are likely to revolve around:

    1. Conflict with what someone else believes they should want?

      OR ELSE SOME PORTION OF REALITY WHICH

    2. Blocks their own version of being happy, joyous and free? (syn: Godís will - pg 133).

Most religions have a creed or statement defining their belief system about God. It invariably differentiates itself from other belief systems. This may also include the ethnocentric idea of "being specially chosen for superior status in the eyes of their Creator". Their members have chosen to live within the limits of a belief about God which "disallows equality". According to their own belief, that is what they claim from life. To the surprise of many, what they get is provided on lifeís terms, rather than complying with their limited belief system.

Alcoholics who are not in agreement are not really honest members and get excluded from the benefits of an ethnocentric idea of God. (pg 55). The promised rewards of membership to be provided in some next lifetime are usually offered by some group spokesmen who claims direct knowledge, which the other members do not possess. Some of those "religious experts" may even seek to reap benefits during this lifetime for dispensing those rewards which will be provided in some future experience. Only the inherent intelligence of the individual alcoholic can determine if they are being gullible or not.

Such religious belief systems may or may not be correct. However, almost invariably they claim to be correct. This may be a harmless egocentric or ethnocentric attitude, when in contrast to AA. (pg 164). It is undeniable that impressive benefits may be gained by some alcoholics who adhere to some traditional religious belief systems. However:

Most religious belief systems provide benefits which do not apply to alcoholics outside of their specific definition of God and "Godís will". By significant contrast, the AA program has universal application for any alcoholic, anyplace, anytime regardless of their beliefs.

AA principles do not require conformity to any particular idea of God.

THE ONLY REQUIREMENT FOR MEMBERSHIP IS

A DESIRE TO STOP DRINKING.

This is the point where the AA program is separately identifiable and parts company with most finite traditional religious beliefs.

With most religions, use of the three-letter word "God" is restricted to what they believe. In the AA program, use of that same word is not limited. (review Appendix II). The limits of religion are set by the spokesmen and authorities who establish what you should believe. In AA, the alcoholic is restricted only by their own conscious understanding of reality. (see pgs 12, 23, 42, 53, 55, 68, 95, 129, 163-164 & Step 11).

This author believes that willingness to go to any lengths to stay sober is not compatible with establishing limits to the power required for recovery.

When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isnít. What was our choice to be?" (pg 53)

Anytime traditional religious beliefs produce desired results they have recognizable value. Until proven differently, those beliefs may be intelligently trusted to continue producing the same benefits. However, whenever those old ideas conflict with personal happiness then a new direction may be required.

Intelligence would suggest placing trust in a different fundamental idea of God that produces results. (see pgs 55, 62, 68 & 133) Here is where experience of thousands of men and women who have recovered from alcoholism has value. (see Frontispiece) Those alcoholics have tapped a limitless load of new knowledge which produces an endless supply of spiritual growth. (see pgs 42, 60, 129, & 163-164). Any alcoholic who wants it can have it. (see pg 46).

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."
(pg 68).

The alcoholic reader should recognize their mind is restricted only by the finite limits of learning possible during a single lifetime. During that lifetime, they also have the capacity to believe something which is not true, therefore "not God". (see pgs 23 & 27)

Small children believe stories of a fat Santa Claus coming down a small chimney to provide gifts to good and obedient children. The similarities between that childish belief and some traditional religious concepts about God is not lost.

What is important to recognize is that the human mind can believe almost anything. What is believed usually comes from someone else (see pg 23 & Step 2) and it may not always be true. (syn: "God").

Many alcoholics believe something simply because they want to believe it. That desire (syn: "prayer") can determine if intelligence is getting applied to improving any conscious understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God" - pg 55, Steps 10 & 11).

For a non-alcoholic, this may be harmless. For an alcoholic with a physical malady that jeopardizes their life and freedom, the "frothy emotional appeals" of most traditional religious belief systems have seldom produced lasting recoveries. (see "The Doctorís Opinion"), Nonetheless, noteworthy changes occur when those same alcoholics have "a vital spiritual experience". That vital spiritual experience produces miraculous recoveries from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. (see pg 27 & Appendix II).

"Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them."

"Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctorís telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience." (pg 27).

The author of this Study Guide believes strict adherence to any limited concept of God, as the power sought for recovery from alcoholism, also limits conscious contact with that infinite power. (See pg 68 & Step 11).

Any belief system claiming to be the only answer for happiness, joy and freedom (syn: "Godís will), is a closed-minded attitude about other concepts. The vanity of such an ethnocentric attitude blocks spiritual progress. (pg 60).

The alcoholic reader should recognize that this Study Guide, like the basic text of "Alcoholics Anonymous", is meant to be suggestive only. (pg 164). It is recommended the reader use their own inherent intelligence (i.e.: "the God within" - pg 55) to choose their own primary purpose in this life, and decide what it is that they most desire. (i.e.: "their dominant prayer").

The early members of AA were sure that Godís will for the alcoholic was to be happy, joyous and free. (pg 133). If an alcoholic is not, then as far as any AA version of "Godís will" is concerned, they are defective.

The finite beliefs of an alcoholic about life give each one their unique character and personality as an equal individual. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God"). Each has equal access to an infinite source of new knowledge and power. (syn: "God"). On the basis of placing principles before personalities, this author has concluded that closed-mindedness is a defect of character. (review Step 6).

The more religious reader may prefer other ideas which they are able to intelligently reconcile with their fundamental belief system about the Great Reality. (syn: God - pg 55):

"Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of Godís ever advancing creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasnít it? (pg 49).

It is interesting to note that there is a common thread connecting atheists and agnostics with theists of traditional religions. They all claim to know and understand "everything worth knowing about an infinite God" (pg 68).

The agnostic claims to know human intelligence cannot understand anything called "God". The atheist claims to know there is no such thing as "God" to be understood. The theologian claims to know there is "a God" and then defines the infinite. Meanwhile, science seeks to understand anything beyond present limits of human knowledge. (review pgs 52-53) By contrast, the basic text of AA demonstrates that some alcoholics have already discovered:

"THERE IS A POWER FOR GOOD AND

YOU CAN USE IT IN YOUR LIFE NOW!"

The power of that new knowledge fits a fundamental idea of God. (see pg 55 & Step 11). It is infinite and available to any alcoholic who seeks it. (see pgs 46, 56, 59-60, & 68). More power produces more spiritual growth, if sought. (pg 60(c)).

The AA basic text for recovery from alcoholism suggests unlimited spiritual progress is possible without establishing any boundaries or making any claims of spiritual superiority restricted to some specifically defined belief system. In sharp contrast to other ideas, the validity of AA the approach is demonstrated by both experience and results. This author believes that closed-mindedness is a principle defect of character blocking acceptance of that recovery process.

"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 (Appendix II)

* * * * *

SECTION B06i:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP SEVEN:

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

 

READ:

Page 76, the second paragraph beginning with "When ready, we say....." and ending with "We have then completed Step Seven".

 

COMMENTS:


The preceding section on Step Six encourages the reader to become teachable about what they believe concerning a power greater than themselves . This is a power required for recovery from alcoholism. Whatever that belief system is, it contains the limitations inherent in finite self-knowledge. Those short-comings need to be recognized and conscious awareness and understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "infinite God") needs to be enlarged. (see pgs 14-15, & 55).

This mental action is an ingredient essential to improving personal judgment and correcting errors when dealing with life on lifeís terms. (see pgs 23, 27, 133 & Step 11). In Step Six, there is acceptance that some intelligence, greater than the individual, can provide whatever new knowledge is required. That new knowledge comes from the infinite source of all knowledge. (syn: "God" - see pgs 53 & 68). Some of that new knowledge may already be understood by some other individuals, (i.e.: "those who have recovered"). There is always more.

An attitude of open mindedness to new ideas, emotions and attitudes

is an indispensable element of a vital spiritual experience required for recovery from alcoholism. (see pg 27 & Appendix II). This has particular application to whatever fundamental idea of God is a guiding force in the life of the alcoholic. Correcting an error in a false belief is essential for any spiritual progress. (pg 60).

For the alcoholic who wants to recover, a new and different personal relationship to some "power greater than ourselves" is required. It occurs if they are willing to consider an "idea of God" which extends beyond the finite limitations of many traditional religious ideas. More new knowledge cannot be revealed to produce a vital spiritual experience without first accepting that more is available.

IF NOTHING CHANGES, THEN NOTHING CHANGES

When the alcoholic accepts an "idea of God" which extends beyond traditional religions, there is a new and different approach. This enlarged spiritual life occurs regardless of what may have already been included within the "old idea". While a belief system may contain some elements of truth (syn: "some understanding of God"), none is complete. Personal beliefs about the source of new knowledge have significant influence upon recovery from alcoholism.

A separately identifiable definition of "God" is incomplete, including any observations provided in this Study Guide. To be complete, an idea of God requires interpretation by someone who understands all and everything about life and is in possession of "all knowledge". The sum total of all human knowledge is finite, and is limited. The expertise of any individual in any field of knowledge is similarly limited to a single lifetime of learning.

The principle of limited knowledge applies equally well to those who are professionals in psychiatry, psychology, and medicine. Each has some degree of expertise, but all have limitations to their understanding of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" pg 55).

An alcoholic cannot intelligently place complete reliance upon any human power to relieve their alcoholism. (pg 60(b)). Each alcoholic is part of the Great Reality which is infinite. (review pgs 53 & 68). There shall always be new knowledge required to enlarge a spiritual life and accommodate new conditions. (see pgs 14-15, 35, 129 & 164). Regardless of how much any professionals may know, it will never be sufficient to anticipate all new requirements which demand more new knowledge. (see Appendix II). Therefore, successful recovery depends upon "a power greater than ourselves". (Step 2 & pg 60(a-c)).

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."

(pg 68)

Step Six also includes an attitude of willingness to have some power respond to a personal desire (syn: "prayer") for removal of defects of character because they stand in the way of maximum usefulness to God and the people about us. (see pgs 77 & 133). This requires doing some intelligent thinking unless "blind acceptance of a second-hand belief system" is the preferred choice. (see pg 86).

Obviously some concept of power (syn: "God") exists within the mind of the alcoholic. (see pgs 23, 27 & 55). Other views exist about the same power in other minds. Because alcoholism impacts every mental, physical and spiritual aspect in the life of the alcoholic, any help from professionals is limited to their fields of expertise. None has all the answers to all problems.

"Without help it is too much for us." (pg 59).

The problems of alcoholism have already proven to be too much for an alcoholic to resolve alone. (review pgs 30-32). There is a need for more new knowledge of what works. If it were not so, most would have already recovered if they wanted to. It is also too much for any professional human resource, religious or otherwise, to provide all the answers. (see pg 164).

AT THE PRESENT TIME, THERE IS NO "CURE" FOR ALCOHOLISM.

"Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasnít done so yet." (pg 31).

If the reader agrees with this observation, an unavoidable conclusion will be reached. It is one of the pertinent ideas presented in the AAís basic text for recovery.

"That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism." (pg 60(b))

It follows that the answers must come from some power greater than human power. The three-letter word "God" expresses that idea.

Omniscience and omnipotence are both terms with broad application to any concept of that word "God". They suggest the existence of intelligence possessing knowledge and power which lies beyond the finite and limited range of all human understanding. (see pg 68).

The lack of the power of all knowledge by professionals does not detract from the value of some knowledge they have acquired concerning the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pg 45). What they now understand once was new knowledge for them. The first person to understand it got the knowledge from the source of all knowledge. (syn: "God"). Nonetheless, what they know now still remains finite and limited. Accordingly, there are always some limits as to how far that conscious understanding by anyone can be trusted. (pg 68). In a word, "they are not God".

From this perspective, the word "God" becomes a reasonable definition of a power required to relieve alcoholism. (review pg 53). As the source of all new knowledge and power, it allows for universal acceptance without injecting the controversial elements connected with most traditional religions.

Disputes over which concept is "the only true belief system" do not belong in the fellowship of AA. Arguments over which definition of God is superior are meaningless for the AA recovery process. Those conflicts belong with the religions which dispute what is meant and which definition is superior when they use that three letter word "God".

Religions attempt to explain "the Infinite Unknown" to those who have chosen their particular belief system. AA merely recognizes that "the Great Reality" exists. Then, suggests accepting it by seeking to improve conscious understanding of reality as individual alcoholics. (see pgs 53, 60, 68, 164 Steps 10 & 11). This non-controversial use of the word "God" by AA has intelligent application. It recognizes that alcoholism cuts across all of the barriers which otherwise separate and divide human beings from each other.

By notable contrast, religious belief systems separate themselves from "those others" who have chosen a different concept. With continued emphasis upon "the differences" alcoholics eventually become increasingly isolated. However, the non-controversial AA approach, allows for a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism which has manifested itself in many different forms. (see Appendix II)

"We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired."

"Those having religious affiliations will find nothing disturbing to their beliefs or ceremonies".
(pg 28)

The fundamental idea of God is uniquely individual. (pg 55). No two alcoholics possess the exact same set of ideas, emotions and attitudes which are guiding forces in their lives. (see pg 27). If they are intelligent concepts, there is no conflict with reality, nor with any intelligent religious beliefs or ceremonies.

If those beliefs are not intelligent, then any conflict which does exist is within the mind of the alcoholic. (see pg 23). The conflict is not with faith in a religious belief system, but rather with the inherent intelligence which exists within the mind of the individual alcoholic. The intelligence within the alcoholic (syn: "the God within" - see pg 55) is unable to reconcile a conscious understanding of the Great Reality with their chosen "second-hand religious belief system". (syn: "God" - see pg 62, Steps 10 & 11)

The battle is between reality and some old ideas about how life is supposed to be. To the extent the alcoholic lacks a conscious understanding of life, on lifeís terms, those conflicting "concepts of God" are not in agreement. (see pgs 12, 23, 27, 45 & review Step 11).

In AA, the resolution of the conflict concerning "a power greater than ourselves" is determined by how well the differing approaches produce relief from alcoholism and fulfills a dominant desire to recover. (syn: "dominant prayer"). Any other desire is a personal priority choice made by the alcoholic. A closed-minded attitude about the power blocks enlarging the spiritual life in those alcoholics who are not teachable. (see pgs 14-15, 35 & Appendix II).

As the infinite power of more new knowledge is understood, there is relief from a once seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

RELIEF IS NOT "A CURE"

Relief from alcoholism is an on-going action constantly dealing with an endless flow of new conditions. A cure is the final resolution presumed to be "the last word" on the subject. To date, no one has that conscious understanding of alcoholism or "the Great Reality". (i.e.: "God" see pg 55).

The author of this Study Guide believes there is no conflict between the AA program and any religious belief system an alcoholic may choose as a guiding force in their life. (pg 27). However, if the alcoholic has chosen a belief system which claims to be "the only true belief system" then they have created a conflict with reality and their own intelligence. (syn: "the God within" see pg 55). That internal conflict becomes consciously apparent when they observe "those others" getting successful results by using a different approach.

To deny that others have recovered is self-will run riot. It is a conscious choice to refuse accepting the Great Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (i.e.: "God"). This occurs only because reality does not agree with some limited old idea about God which exists within their own mind of how reality is supposed to be. (see pgs 12, 14-15, 23, 27, 42, 62, 86, 164 & Appendix II).

No conflict with any religious belief system can exist until the mind of the alcoholic has recognized reality. (see pg 23).

An admission of a character defect involves a belief about the nature of the power required for correction. The inherent intelligence of the alcoholic (i.e.: "the God within") is obliged to accommodate any improved awareness of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" see pg 68 & Step 11). For some alcoholics this can produce disturbing revelations about the inadequacy of their old ideas about God. (see pg 164 & review Step 10).

"IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, ĎTIS FOLLY TO BE WISE"

Because the Great Reality is infinite (syn: "God" - see pgs 53, 55, 68) any conscious understanding of it involves spiritual growth which must continue during an entire lifetime. No individual will ever understand it all. There is always improvement available to enlarge any spiritual life and produce more spiritual progress. (review pgs 14-15, 60 and Step 11).

In Step Six, the reader has chosen to be entirely ready to have some concept of a power remove any defects in their character. (see pg 23). These are defects the alcoholic believes are objectionable to their chosen concept of God.

In Step Seven that same alcoholic requests (syn: "prays") for that idea of a power to remove something they have decided is objectionable. Some alcoholics experience mental confusion and emotional turmoil when someone suggests that:

"GOD" MAY BE DIFFERENT THAN "YOUR IDEA OF GOD"

A belief is not the same as knowing. (see pg 53). Wishful thinking makes it easy to confuse one with the other. Personal ignorance often becomes a problem for the alcoholic who does not consciously understand enough about reality to recognize this significant difference. (i.e.: "the wisdom to know the difference")

Understanding universal principles, is a power greater than any ethnocentric emotional desire to fit infinite reality fit into a limited religious definition of "God". (see pgs 42, 53 & 68). Any spiritual progress requires some understanding of what needs to be improved. (see pgs 23, 27 & Step 11)

Therefore, it is important to place principles of life before any personal belief system. (review Tradition 12). Those alcoholics who have already been successful acknowledge:

 

"Many of us exclaimed Ď"What an order! I canít go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." (pg 60).

The author of this Study Guide readily acknowledges that the above "fundamental idea of God" may be flawed, inadequate, and subject to change as more new knowledge is revealed. There is no intent here to offer the last word on anything. The inherent intelligence of the reader will determine what they do or do not choose to believe can produce the results they want. (see Step 10).

"Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you havenít got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us." (pg 164)

Seeking the power of new knowledge from the source of all knowledge (syn: "God") is an intelligent approach to correcting defects of character which stand in the way of being happy, joyous and free. (syn: "Godís will" - see pg 133). The frothy emotional appeals" presented by many traditional religions seldom produce significant results with alcoholism. (see "The Doctorís Opinion").

It will become self-evident that when human awareness is limited or flawed, then any request made by that same mind (syn: "prayer") has a potential to be similarly limited or flawed. (see pgs 23, 27, 38, 41, 44-45, 49, 54, 62, 68, 85-87, 133. 157, & 164).

EMOTIONALLY WANTING SOMETHING

TO BE TRUE DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE.

At itís core, Step Seven is personal acceptance of the Great Reality. (syn: "God"). It is seeking recognition and acceptance of limitations or flaws to any beliefs about the Ultimate Reality of life, on lifeís terms. (syn: God).

Step Seven reflects a desire (syn: prayer) to shed ignorance and seek "spiritual progress".

The fulfillment of that desire (syn: "prayer") occurs by continually improving conscious contact with reality. (syn: "seeking God" - see Step #11). This action requires the alcoholic to push back the horizons of their own mind. (see pgs 23 & 27). It is mental action to enlarge awareness of reality, (syn: "God"), and extends beyond defined limits for thinking of those belief systems offered by most traditional religions.

The author of this Study Guide suggests that such enlarged awareness of reality is available to any alcoholic. Their own intelligence either is or is not able to recognize that seeking new knowledge (i.e.: "seeking Godís wisdom") produces results. (pg 60(c)).

Any enlarged awareness of reality constitutes spiritual growth for the individual alcoholic. There is a potential for enlarged awareness of reality that goes beyond all that humanity has ever known or understood. In life, on lifeís terms, there is still more to be revealed. (pg 164).

When a problem with alcohol becomes life-threatening, the desire for self-preservation demands answers from any and all available resources. This dominant desire for survival becomes an intense prayer which utilizes all resources available to the threatened alcoholic. This author believes a demand of that magnitude amplifies and strengthens whatever connects the alcoholic with the source of their answer. (i.e.: "God" - "the source of all power" - see pg 59). New knowledge which is available on lifeís terms, is revealed because it is being desperately sought without any reservations. (see pgs 60(c), 85 & 164).

What is sought is new knowledge, which has always been available from the source. (syn: "God"). Any alcoholic can tap that source of power which they find deep down within themselves. (pgs 55, 86-87, 163 & Appendix II). The power gets itís direction from the desire (syn: "prayer") of the alcoholic desperately seeking recovery. This author believes that power for "self-preservation" is equally available, on lifeís terms, to any alcoholic who consciously seeks it.

"We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe to all men." (pg 46)

For the alcoholic unable to honestly recognize a threat to their survival, their situation may truly be hopeless. However, with open-mindedness to accepting new knowledge for continued survival, there is an accompanying attitude of willingness to investigate it. (see Appendix II).

"Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable."
(Appendix II).

These are ideas, emotions and attitudes, related to a vital spiritual experience.

    • Willingness to "trade-up" to something that produces desired results.
    • Honesty in accepting that "old ideas" are ineffective.
    • Open-mindedness to understanding "new knowledge" about what does work. (Appendix II)

This author believes such a mental approach to conflicting ideas about the power required for recovery from alcoholism is both intelligent and sane. Other opinions obviously exist. It is only the results which really matter.

This is where the choice by the alcoholic of their concept of God becomes critical. Wishful thinking that the solution offered in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" will somehow fit into their old idea or a defined belief system is not unusual. The reader may recognize such a mental approach places boundaries on any concept of God. (see pg 23)

Difficulty in understanding a concept which extends beyond the limits of the familiar is not unusual.

"To you, some of the ideas which it contains are novel. Perhaps you are not quite in sympathy with the approach we suggest. By no means do we offer it as the last word on this subject, but so far as we are concerned, it has worked for us. After all, are you not looking for results rather than methods?" (pg 144).

This may be an overly simplistic approach to the source of all creation. (see pgs 25, 42, 46, 52 & 62). However, any concept of God that works is more intelligent and sane than one which does not. (see Step 2). Before asking any "fundamental idea of God" to produce significant changes in life, it is recommended to first acquire a concept that does work. (see pgs 12 & 55).

Obviously, an alcoholic is free to complicate their own fundamental idea of God with calamity, by pomp, or by worship of other things. (see pg 55). That choice is always available, and belongs to the belief system of the alcoholic who has chosen it. In AA, it is not necessarily a requirement for recovery from alcoholism.

An honest attitude of willingness to be open-minded is essential. It implies being teachable, which is one of the qualities of being "humble". That concept of "humility" can be used to advantage when approaching Step Seven.

Taking Step Seven reflects willingness to abandon old ideas which have been guiding forces in the life of the alcoholic. ("Let Go and Let God"). This requires honesty in accepting personal inability to understand all of what produces happiness, joy and freedom on a continuing basis. As such, Step Seven calls for open-mindedness to learn more of how to be "happy, joyous and free" now, in this lifetime. (syn: "Godís will - pg 133).

Where the alcoholic is seeking something else, for this or some other lifetime, many other and different belief systems are available. Each has their own special set of values offered by those who will interpret them for you. Any interest in those available belief systems is best directed to those "religious experts" who claim to know what produces results. If you choose to use it, your own inherent intelligence will recognize if that is what you want. (see pg 85).

The alcoholic is always free to accept any religious belief system as a guiding force in their life, (see pg 27), and there are many from which to choose. The relative value of any one particular belief system is found in how well it produces recovery from alcoholism when those results are desired. (i.e.: "prayed for"). Any other concerns of religious belief systems are outside issues which are not addressed by AA. (See Traditions 3, 5, 6, & 10).

The fellowship of AA takes an open-minded approach to the word "God" which the reader may wish to consider when approaching Step Seven. This author suggests that open-mindedness will be useful when the reader is ready to intelligently say something like this:

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me, every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen" (pg 76)

* * * * *

SECTION B06j:

Chapter 6

INTO ACTION

STEP SEVEN:

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."

 

RE-READ:

Page 76, the second paragraph beginning with "When ready, we say....." and ending with "We have then completed Step Seven".

 

COMMENTS:

The next consideration is to examine the meaning of Step Seven to your own mind. Observe that "the prayer" presented in the basic text is not restricted to any specific "religious concept of God". It simply reflects an attitude about a personal relationship to a creative and guiding force. (review pgs 27, 42, 46 & 55) The significant element is the fundamental idea of the words when saying something like:

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." (pg 76)

Contemplate, in your own mind any differences between an approach to the Great Reality as "a creative force found deep within yourself", (see pgs 46 & 55), and any old ideas you may have about "a power greater than yourself".

Many old ideas of God, have portrayed "the Creator"" as a stern male father figure. One with an emotional personality of a whimsically sadistic Santa Claus who rewards blind obedience and punishes transgressions. The rules for behavior get presented to you by someone who claims to know, and then tells you what they are.

The rule-maker is usually some other human being ("equal in the eyes of God") who tells you what is naughty and nice. Compliance is expected, but any personal voice about what the rules will be is denied. The "official spokesman for the power" already has "all the answers". Any of your own individual intelligence is neither required nor desired. You get presented "a complete and packaged deal". Take it, and be acceptable, or reject it and be rejected.

With many traditional religions, independent thinking is not allowed to challenge their second-hand belief system. Blind unthinking acceptance on faith is usually expected. Any suggestion of personal equality with their religious authorities (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") is frequently unwelcomed.

Human equality (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") is denied by many religious belief systems on the basis of personal unworthiness and human imperfections. Any shortcomings are measured by departure from whatever behavioral standards have been provided as a requirement for their approval.

Authorities and spokesmen make rules, set standards, and then measure your shortcomings for you. As an additional service, they may also provide instruction in what you need to do to be forgiven. This is a very convenient arrangement for alcoholics who cannot or will not think for themselves.

"THINK, THINK, THINK"

Human imperfections of "Godís will" are readily recognizable. Alcoholics who are capable of being rigorously honest with themselves already understand their inability to be happy, joyous and free by adhering to standards set by others. (pg 133). There is a natural tendency to search out how to correct what they believe to be imperfections. In essence, they are "seeking God". (pg 60(c)).

When someone claims with assurance that they have "the answer", any gullible unthinking alcoholic may easily believe they do. By contrast, a thinking alcoholic may recognize it as being only "a answer". Just one of many from which to choose.

When seeking answers, any answer becomes one of many possible "answers to a prayer". Intelligence is required to choose well from all the available options. When answers come from a person who is accepted as an authority because they claim to know, then that person automatically become "a higher power". The unthinking alcoholic may never question their credentials. By contrast, a thinking alcoholic will ask for results.

DONíT TELL ME, - SHOW ME

 

Spokesmen for traditional religions are human beings with human imperfections. What they know and what they believe can be quite different from the reality of life, on lifeís terms. (pg 23). This will produce mental confusion and emotional turmoil within an alcoholic who lacks sufficient knowledge to determine what is real and what is fantasy. (see pgs 23, 45, 164, Steps 2, 10, & 11). More new knowledge is required to make an intelligent determination.

The alcoholic already knows drinking alcohol provides temporary relief from emotional turmoil. What they may not know is that the AA program can provide something better during this lifetime. It can and will if they are willing to go to any length to get it. (see pgs 83-84). Without that new knowledge, they continue to suffer the consequences of their ignorance of reality. (i.e.: "ignoring God" - see pg 45).

What is believed (i.e.: "the old idea of God") and what is known from practical experience (i.e.: "conscious understanding of the Great Reality" - see pg 55 & Step 11) may have differences. A conflict between those two guiding forces appears when AA suggests "that no human power could have relieved our alcoholism". (pg 60(b)).

At that point, inherent intelligence in the thinking alcoholic recognizes reality. (syn: "God").

Dependency is the inevitable consequence for any alcoholic who allows others to interpret reality (syn: "God") for them. By their own permission they have abdicated their own intelligence and designated an equal human being (i.e.: "in the eyes of God") as a superior power. Any superiority which exists is only within their own mind and is not part of the Great Reality. (see pgs 23 & 55).

When exercising control over a gullible alcoholic is a primary objective for the one "with the answers", then that alcoholic has simplified and facilitated their opportunity to run their life for them. This is not recommended as being intelligently consistent with "Godís will" to be happy, joyous and free. (see pg 133).

When such a belief system is firmly established as a guiding force, that "old idea of God" becomes difficult to reconcile with life, on lifeís terms. Any concept of personal defects will be based upon what another human being ("equal in the eyes of God") has decided constitutes a defect. The inherent intelligence of the alcoholic being judged, ("the God within"), was not part of the process. (see pg 86).

When intelligence confronts a belief both mental confusion and emotional turmoil are the consequences. There is strong emotional resistance to anything which challenges an established belief system. Because the alcoholic knows they lack answers, (see pg 45), the foundation of their relationship to life (syn: "God") is threatened. This produces fear of the unknown. There is then a natural tendency to return to whatever authority the alcoholic believes is qualified to provide answers. This, can start the entire cycle of control over again, with endless implications. Their mind then becomes trapped within the "closed-loop of their old belief system". (see pg 23).

Alcoholics who believe everything they are told by others have already accepted some human power as the guiding force in their life. (see pg 60(b)). Those who only believe some things others tell them, have, within their own mind, a system for sorting what they will or will not believe. (pg 23). That belief system is used to make the choices guiding their lives. (pg 27).

Whenever someone else has been designated an authority on right and wrong, the alcoholic usually knows if significant transgressions from those rules are occurring. That belief system may also include some sort of punishment which has also been designated by the authority which exists in their own mind.

If so, the alcoholic has chosen a concept of God based upon rewards and punishment. Their chosen authority also establishes relative merits and demerits, and then interprets whatever the appropriate punishment is for the alcoholic. When that happens, the alcoholic has just handed over considerable power to someone who is really their equal. (i.e.: "in the eyes of God").

The reader will note that whenever someone establishes acceptable rules of behavior for an alcoholic, they invariably place themselves in the favored and desirable group. Those claiming authority surprisingly are always part of that ethnocentric group which claims "their way is the right way".

Whenever conscious understanding of reality (i.e.: "with God" - see Step 11) has been delegated to others, there is a decision to place dependence upon the authority of others. The alcoholic has denied themselves any equal opportunity to be acceptable to God without first gaining the approval of whomever that authority may be in their own mind. When this is done on blind faith, the alcoholic has mentally rejected their own capacity for intelligent awareness of the Great Reality. (syn: "God" - see pgs 23 & 55).

Attempting the impossible and failing does not produce personal happiness, joy and freedom. (i.e.: "Godís will" - see pg 133). Any "punishment" occurring in this lifetime, is the natural consequence of trying to "force-fit" human nature into an unrealistic restrictive belief system. That "one size fits all belief system" was created by others. It may fit "some others", but not fit them. This demands a decision to continue being guided by the belief or not.

Any discomfort is the result of attempting to live up to impossibly good standards for human behavior. Those standards were created by others (i.e.: "equals in the eyes of God"), and were part of a package deal when the alcoholic accepted "a second-hand concept of God" without using their own "God-given intelligence". (pg 86). In so doing, the alcoholic is abandoning their own equality. (i.e.: "in the eyes of their Creator"). Any belief in punishment is part of an old idea which is being allowed to direct their own mind. (pgs 12, 23, 27, 42, 58, 62, 86-89).

Continued failure to be impossibly good destroys motivation to seek improved understanding of the Great Reality (syn: "God" -see Step 11). The AA program provides a way for the alcoholic to mentally reclaim their personal access to a power greater than themselves. (see pgs 10-13, 23-28, 35, 40, 42-49, 55, 68, 77, 85-87, 93-95, 100, 129, 133, 158, 164 & Appendix II).

This author believes an alcoholic is a failure whenever they allow someone else to be a spokesman and their authority for God in their life.

DO YOU REALLY NEED SOMEONE TO TELL YOU

WHEN YOU ARE HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREE?

(see pg 133)

Instead of speculative promises and wishful thinking, what those early members of AA had to offer the still suffering alcoholic was their practical experience along with some practical results.

"The practical answer is that since these things have happened among us, they can happen with you. Should you wish them above all else, and be willing to make use of our experience, we are sure they will come. The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that!" (pg 153)

Any conflict between established beliefs and inherent intelligence is brought to a head by demonstrations of recovery in alcoholics who do not claim superior moral values. They have demonstrated th