I came to AA and stayed because I wanted to recover from alcoholism, not to play word games. Untreated alcoholics will go to any lengths to keep from taking the steps, including nitpicking about definitions.
I hope you do not consider this forum to be an AA
meeting. This is more like a group conscience meeting,
where everyone has the opportunity and responsibility
to share feelings, thoughts and opinions.
"Follow our directions" was changed to "follow our
path", just before the Big Book went to print. Today's AA has reversed that decision. A path
is not the same as directions. There is no one on
that path. God may be there, but you probably won't
see Him. Who would you consider to be untreated
alcoholics, other those who do not take the steps?
The last time I looked, the steps were still suggestions,
not a requirement for membership or sobriety. ANONYMOUS
It is very difficult to regain sobriety after relapse.
I have heard that the first time is a gift. The second
time is hard. But it can be done. Of course the deadly
enemy is that next first drink. With four years around
AA, you probably know what you have to do. If your spouse
is an alcoholic who still drinks, get away from that.
Make whatever changes which need to be made.
I wish I could tell you to sit down with a sponsor
and work the steps and you will be well. Many will
tell you that is "How it Works". They will read that
message over and over. But that is not the path
written in the Big Book. A path is just that: a path.
There is no one there on the path to direct you. God
may be there, but you won't see Him. The path which
worked for Bill W. was trying to help other suffering
alcoholics. Dr. Silkworth told Bill the best way to
help others, by sharing his own story. Bill had to search
for alcoholics to help. You know where to find them;
at meetings. You can best help others by listening to
them. Listen to all who share, without distraction or
judgement. You can help other alcoholics by listening,
and also will help yourself by what Bill called self-forgetting. You may have to do a little research to
find an AA group where you fit. Some meetings are just
social gatherings and some are just "off the wall". It
should not be that way but it is what it is.
You may know that just before the Big Book went to
the printers, the word directions was changed to path.
Alcoholics like me do not respond positively to
directions or instructions. An attractive path is almost
always followed by an alcoholic sufferer. Be that path
for another sufferer. Avoid that first drink as if it
were the worst poison. It is! ANONYMOUS
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscience contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
This is my experience with step 11:
In the big book, on page 86 it says “When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid?(just like step 4) Do we owe an apology? (just like step 9) Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? (just like step 5) Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? ( self-centeredness like in step 3) or were we thinking of what we could do for others………( like step 12)……….
On awakening lets us think of about the 24 hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. (I take time to ponder may days plans) Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced form self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. ( I believe how I think is how I act, so if my thinking is good, my actions will be good)
If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation…………….there are many helpful books also……….be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger or excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decision. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves…………………
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. But this is not all. There is action and more action. “Faith without works is dead.” The next chapter is entirely devoted to step twelve.”
Step 11 gives me a precise plan of attack for each day. It tells me what to do at night, in the morning, and for what comes up in between. This is what I try to practice daily as my 11 step. It truly taught me how to live a day at a time.
Thanks for reading.
cheers for that! Your post has brightened my day and thus i can safely make a comment
I cant get enough of this blog. Sorry i have not commented til now, but im lazy. Just wanted to eventually say thank you.
This is my experience with step 10
Step 10: continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
I should start by talking a little about step 4, which is where I first learned to inventory. I have heard it said that 4 and 10 are not related because when you read them, 4 says moral inventory and 10 says personal inventory. I have come to believe that Bill, like most good authors uses different words or phrases to write about the same thing. The perfect example is on page 64 of the BB, Bill writes, “ Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This was Step Four.” After reading this I feel he is talking about the same format.
Now on page 84 he says, step 10 suggest we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past……….. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. To me this means I immediately begin to practice a daily inventory and continue that practice one day at a time for the duration of my life.
Then I think he describes steps 4 through 9 and 12. Bill writes, continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.(step 4) When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them(step 6 & 7). We discuss them with someone immediately (step 5) and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone(step 8 & 9). Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help(step 12). Love and tolerance of others is our code.
He then talks about how sanity has returned, we react sanely and normally. That’s great news to me! Then the not so good news. Bill talks about resting on our laurels and that what we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on our spiritual condition. To me that means I won’t stay sober today based on the work I did yesterday. I have to work daily. It’s like riding a bike uphill. When you stop peddling, you coast a very short distance, then you stop, then you roll backwards until you fall over.
Then Bill states what I call the tenth step prayer,” How can I best serve Thee-Thy will (not mine) be done.” Bill says these thought must go with us constantly. He then explains how to use our will.
Then he says,” If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of his spirit into us…………But we must go further and that means more action.
I am grateful that when I came to AA I was taken through the steps using the Big Book as a guide. I was taught to read pages 84-88 on a daily bases as my 10 and 11 step. I know there is a lot of ways to work our program, I found following the directions in the Big Book for me is the best way to work the program of AA.
This is my experience with step 10, thanks for reading.
Step 9 “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. “
First, a definition of amends is to change for the better and also to put right. To me an amend is much more than an apology. An amend is to repair damage.
On page 76 of the BB it says “Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past………….Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any length for victory over alcohol.
Page 77 “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and our fellows……….Under no condition to we criticize such a person or argue. Simply tell him that we will never get over our drinking until we have done our utmost to straighten out our past. We are there to sweep off our side of the street………his faults are not discussed. We stick to our own…………
Most alcoholics owe money. We do not dodge our creditors……arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry…….”
Page 83 “A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fit the bill at all…..so we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love……. The spiritual life is not a theory, we have to live it…….
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through……….
Are these extravagant promises? We think not………they will always materialize if we work for them.”
Obviously there is more to step nine than the few lines written here. I think the bottom line is I am repairing the damage I have caused in the past to put myself in a position to be helpful. When it comes to money, I feel if I am smart enough to steal a million dollars, now that I am sober, I am smart enough to start paying back a million dollars.
I have to consider other parties involved in my amends. I need to check that I am not saving myself at someone else’s expense. If they will be hurt, I should not make the amend.
Simple, but hard to do. I had to remember many times, that I agreed I would go to any length for sobriety.
This is a short post of my experience with step nine as taken out of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. This is my experience only.
Don’t like Big Book study? Try one of Dr. Bob’s spokes, any one you fancy. Then as you take the steps yourself, they’ll melt away those preconceived ideas and stubbornly adhered-to opinions. When this happens, you’ll be nice and relaxed and tolerant about all the other ways alcoholics find to take the steps; even the weird ones. This is of course, excellent news. (Well, it worked out that way for me)
"On Cultivating Tolerance” by Dr. Bob. AA Grapevine Editorial, July 1944:
“During nine years in A.A. I have observed that those who follow the Alcoholics Anonymous program with the greatest earnestness and zeal, not only maintain sobriety, but often acquire finer characteristics and attitudes as well. One of these is tolerance. Tolerance expresses itself in a variety of ways: in kindness and consideration toward the man or woman who is just beginning the march along the spiritual path; in the understanding of those who perhaps have been less fortunate in educational advantages, and in sympathy toward those whose religious ideas may seem to be at great variance with our own. I am reminded in this connection of the picture of a hub with its radiating spokes. We all start at the outer circumference and approach our destination by one of many routes.
To say that one spoke is much better than all the other spokes is true only in the sense of its being best suited to you as an individual. Human nature is such that without some degree of tolerance, each one of us might be inclined to believe that we have found the best or perhaps the shortest spoke. Without some tolerance we might tend to become a bit smug or superior--which of course is not helpful to the person we are trying to help, and may be quite painful or obnoxious to others. No one of us wishes to do anything which might act as a deterrent to the advancement of another--and a patronizing attitude can readily slow up this process.
Tolerance furnishes, as a by-product, a greater freedom from the tendency to cling to preconceived ideas and stubbornly adhered-to opinions. In other words it often promotes an open-mindedness which is vastly important--in fact a prerequisite to the successful termination of any line of search, whether it be scientific or spiritual.
These, then, are a few of the reasons why an attempt to acquire tolerance should be made by each one of us.”
Dr. Bob of Akron
Questions and answers on sponsorship: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
When dr bob wrote "program" what is he refering to?
I think method or technique would be better than
using the word "program". Rose
This is my experience with step 8. On page 76 of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous’, it states: “Now we need more action, without which we find that faith without works is dead. Let’s look at steps 8 & 9. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends, we made it when we took inventory.
In my experience, the BB is telling me to make my amends according to the people I listed in my 4th step inventory. It’s my understanding that I make amends for the “my part” column, or the 4th column in my 4th step inventory. That’s the part where I listed my mistakes as selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and afraid. Nothing more, nothing less.
At this point in the AA program as laid out in the Big Book, I am really starting to see how each step affects another. If I had never taken the 1st step and admitted I am an alcoholic, I would never have found the strength and willingness to take step 2 and so on up to step 8.
Laying aside all the talk of willingness, open-mindedness, and strength, if I had not taken step 4 as outlined in the BB I would be in a pickle right now. How could I use the list of names from my inventory, if I have not taken it? More importantly, I would not know that I was making amends for selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and fear based acts.
I know it sounds too simply to be true, but it is. I also have to remember that this is the way it was outlined in the BB for a reason. It is a simple guide to work through the steps.
I have to keep in mind that If I am doing these steps my own way, that I am doing these steps my own way! That’s how I wound up in AA to begin with. I had a living problem and used alcohol to solve my living problem.
This is only my experience with step 8, take it or leave it. That’s the great part of only sharing my own experience. It’s my experience, you choose anyway you like to work the steps.
Thanks for reading.
I think I will leave it. I believe "more has been revealed" since the Big Book was written in 1939 when Bill W. was only four years sober. (At four years sober I could
barely tie my own shoe laces). The 12&12 was written in
the late 1940's and was printed in 1953. I trust that in
another decade a lot more was revealed by additional
experience. I will go with the 12&12. ANONYMOUS
I think Bill & the early timers learned a lot in that decade & outlined a practical program for living in the "12&12".
That's for sure. The way of life offered by the 12&12 is clear,concise & has kept me sober & happy for more then 20 years. My first 10-12 years were spent doing just enough service to stay free from the desire to drink.
Step 8 doesn't even get a line in the BB,but in the 12&12 it says,this is a Step we can get better & better at,but never completely finish.
When u get time, crack open ur BB and take a look at step 8. it says something along the lines of we have a list. We made it when we took inventory.
It doesn't get a line....
I found that when I tried to do things my own way I made a mess of my life. Once I committed my will to God and let him take over I found change was possible. I am not able to live life through his power. This is the only way it is possible to live the twelve steps. This is the way to positive change in my life. I need to change my fundamental thinking and way of doing things to stay sober.
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”
I found my shortcomings during my personal inventory in step 4. The 4th column (my part). My shortcomings are selfish, self-seeking, dishonesty, and fear.
(Big Book page 76) When ready, I said something like this: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad…………………………………………We have then completed step 7.
Meister Eckhart said it this way,” nature abhors a vacuum. So empty yourself of self and you automatically fill with God. This is called “spirituality by subtraction”. Out with the old, in with the new.
Very simple. This is my experience with step 7. I knew I had completed it, because I was willing to take the action required in step 8.
Thanks for reading, and again, this is only my experience with step 7, take it or leave it.
Bet you missed some.
When dealing with other members of my homegroup, I tend to be angry and misunderstand what they are trying to tell me. Sometimes, what I think are my beliefs are just a form of delusion that I can get my own way. Fighting other people in the program isn't the answer.
When conflicts arise in my homegroup right before a meeting lately, I run away and say to my husband, who is the GSR, to immediately fulfill my wishes and take me home. Then when my sponsor gets wind of it I feel like she is attacking me. I put the problems on msyelf no one else.
I am finding it much easier right now to just suit up and keep my mouth shut and hear from others what they have to say. This shows maturity and respect in a loving caring way that i feel is demostrating to others through my actions that I am no better or worse than them.
I am then saying through my actions when I can zip my lip when in times of doubt hey, I am letting go and letting god and practicing these steps to the best of my ability.
Is is through hard knocks and gratitude tonight that I can sit here and say that i am slowly learning the little things that my higher power teaches me through my homegroup. I wished that I wouldn't have been so closed minded six years ago. But hey, at least I can say that my higher power does love me through my homegroup and at any other meeting i might attend.
Don’t like Big Book study? Try the Norman Y. way:
‘I never read a word in A.A.’ he said. ‘You don’t have to read. You don’t have to have all these pamphlets they put out. You can learn to live this program by learning to think. A.A. is a wonderful thing to know and apply’ he said, ‘- but in your life. You’ve got to live it out in the street. You see somebody having a little problem, help them, no matter who they are. That’s A.A.” (Norman Y.) (Extract from Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers p 250)
Not all sponsors are teacher/preacher sponsors. So you don’t have to have one of those if you don’t want to. If you like, you can just have some good AA friends instead. (AA sponsors). You don’t have to carry the message of the Big Book by spouting quotes. You can communicate the AA message of sobriety instead. In your own language of the heart, like “Good Old Timer” Norman. Norman joined AA in 1939.
Questions and answers on sponsorship: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-15_Q&AonSpon.pdf
You seem to like reading and quoting the old oldtimers to back up your arguments. Are you willing to read "How It Worked" the story of Clarence S.? (free download, just 'Google' the title) Especially read Appendix E on page 244.
Clarence got sober in February, 1938.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. No, I don’t particularly like quoting old timers, but with all this myth and misrepresentation about AA history in outside published literature and on the internet, I feel that quoting Conference approved AA literature has now become a necessary aspect to writing in the Grapevine magazine and forum; in order to provide some balance to such misrepresentation. Otherwise AA is in danger of loosing sight of its program and therefore in turn, its good public relations and members. Quoting from Conference approved AA literature shows up the many individual opinions that were around in A.A. in the 1940s, and none is more special than any other. I think it is important to distinguish what were individual opinions or local group practices and what was and is now overall AA policy. Quoting Conference approved AA literature might inspire people to read it. It also sparks a healthy, lively debate and keeps AA Tradition alive.
Here’s another old timer quote; his remembering of 1942:
“…Most of us in Akron didn’t like all this praying” said Oscar, “We had enough of it in the Oxford Group. I still don’t like praying in A.A. I don’t like the Serenity Prayer. New York brought it in, and we resented it. We thought they were bringing back the Oxford Group…” Oscar W. (Extract from Dr. Bob and the Good Old timers, p 271)
I read what you asked, including appendix E, an interpretation of the steps written by Clarence S, January 1972. Afterward, I thought of what Dr. Bob said of such interpretations:
“As finally expressed and offered, they [The Twelve Steps] are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary.” (Extract from Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 227)
The “How it worked” book is for me, a classic example of deviation from Tradition Six, where problems of money property and prestige are diverting us from our primary purpose. Too many alcoholics are seeking personal distinction or are making money out of A.A. and in so doing turning it into a cult-like religion. The adulation of personalities before principles is a process corroding the fellowship’s spiritual foundation of humility in Tradition Twelve. Tradition Four (long form) tells me that if ever I wanted to write a book which might affect AA as a whole, then I would consult with the General Service Board before publication. Tradition One would tell me to swallow my pride and throw my book in the trash if the trustees weren’t too keen on my glorious idea. Our common welfare should come first. Me second. (The Twelve Traditions (Long form) are in the Big Book appendix 1)
After digesting the appendix of this outside enterprise, I only got to chapter 9, the chapter where Clarence S is described as a prophet in his home town, followed by the biblical quote explaining a prophet is not without honor except in his own country. I had to stop. I couldn’t take it seriously after that. I laughed so much that I couldn’t even compose myself to write you this reply until now. The “Prophet” Clarence S!!! How high his pedestal, his disciples doeth build? For a moment, I had this wonderful vision of what AA could become in a couple of thousand years time, a bunch of alcoholics hanging around a shrine in Ohio, singing the psalms of Clarence, bright eyes skyward, eagerly waiting for their beloved prophet’s return.
I wouldn’t pay too much attention to what “the prophet” Clarence says or any other old timer for that matter, they were all just ex drunks with huge egos like me. Together though, I say they did make a fine group conscience with AA policy and Traditions; with a little help from something else, of course. Not to mention those oft’ forgotten non-alcoholic humans who manned the backup higher power generators in the Depts. of Psychiatry; Dr. Silkworth M.D., his accomplice “power-house” nurse Teddy, Dr. Harry Tiebut M.D. and others; standing by whenever the patients thought they were well enough to switch off the higher power and light up the fellowship with the emotional dynamite instead. Dangerous thing emotional dynamite, you need to put your charge in its right place, otherwise it can blow the whole thing. That’s why we’ve each been given a fire proof metal box called AA Traditions in which to keep our very own stick. You can read about “the prophet” Clarence S. in “Pass it On” and “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” if you like, (Though note his title “prophet” is not used in these books). Apparently, “the prophet” was on a bit of a short fuse at times, clashed a lot with Bill W. I gather. No surprise there for me.
“..By 1942, Bill was not in such favour with Clarence and his faction in Cleveland as in earlier days. In the years to come, there were further clashes, over finances, policy, the start of the A.A. General Service Conference, and other matters. The criticism was directed more at Bill than Dr. Bob...” (Extract Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 270)
“..I don’t know why we had that built-in animosity. Clarence didn’t like Bill and would cuss him out, so you can see my animosity came secondhand,..” (Oscar W.) (Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers p 271)
In his book Mitchell K states that Clancy S was his sponsor. Neither Bill W. nor Dr. Bob were fans of sponsor worship and I was wondering where all this religious sponsor worship stuff and Bill W. denigration was coming from. Bill passed away in 1971, His old adversary Clancy writes his own interpretation in 1972. You might like to read appendix E:b, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age pp 309-319. Knowing about my typical alcoholic “narcissistic ego-centric core” helps me understand the nature of ego deflation in depth in Step One, I know my ego comes back soon enough, once I stop applying the steps. Were all nuts aren’t we? We believe our own egos and just keep on denying it to ourselves, then delude ourselves that we’re being honest when we’re not.
All this diversion from principles to personalities reminds me of “Mad Mitch” a now deceased Lieutenant-colonel in the British army. (Don’t ask why, my head constantly pops full of random thoughts, sometimes sane, often quite bizarre). If you like, you can find out more about “Mad Mitch” by using the search terms “Mad Mitch Mitchell.” (Not to be confused with the author Mitchell K) You can also find out more about AA prophets in a minority report to conference, using the search terms: “AA minority report (GB) 2012” (AA prophets p 32) I suggest you read it, the AAs who compiled it did a good job, a well researched and compelling document. That’s just my opinion, though I wouldn’t take my self seriously.
Now I’m stuck with this crazy vision of “The Prophet” Clarence and Lt. Col. “Mad Mitch” Mitchell racing round and around the desert in a heavily armed 4x4, bagpipers-a-blowing and loudspeakers-a-preaching the book, as they go amidst their hot air with lots of explosions and incoming fire. (Not unlike the scene in my intergroup at the mo.) It’s going to cause me much mirth for the rest of life. And today, well, I haven’t laughed so much since yesterday, so thanks for giving me these thoughts!
For “power-house” nurse Teddy, see The Language of the Heart pp 156,176
Keep it Simple- Keep it Conference Approved
I always thought that mirth meant sadness. But I looked it
up and it means just the opposite. Again with the 24hr
book. This book was rejected by Bill W. and his friends
in 1953. I think the conference refused to accept it.
There were enough members interested in 1972 to again
bring it to the conference for approval or disapproval.
This was after Bill died in 1971. It was rejected again.
I am not a gambling person and never heard of
"I'll Have Another" since I left the barroom, but I would
wager that if this decision were brought to the conference
today, it would be accepted as conference approved literature, and by a significant majority. Alcoholics
Anonymous has changed at the core. We have changed from
a fellowship to a Fellowship. Today's AA is a TWELVE
STEP PROGRAM, only one among hundreds of such programs.
The suggested steps have become instructions.
The true method of attraction has been lost. We fail
most suffering alcoholics approaching us today. We must
return to the method of sharing what we do, and what
has happened to us, without implying that anyone
else do the same. And I keep beating that dead horse
hoping against hope that it will come alive again. We
could restore the effectiveness of the fellowship of
the 1970's. My saddest fear is that we will stumble
along spinning our wheels for several more decades
failing millions of suffering alcoholics and their
families, picking up a few, which will make it
appear that A.A. is alive and well. We ARE responsible
for the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. Let it begin
with us. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for your reply. If you are the “Caterwaller”, I gave you a belated reply to your Moment of Clarity Thank you post 2012- 04-15. (My reply: re: Thank you Submitted by anonymous on Tue, 2012-05-01 11:50.) I hope you read it, I agree with all you say. Underneath my mirth there is a great deal of sadness as to what has been happening in my intergroup. I agree we shall have to return to the simplicity of the program and this will need leadership of the type to withstand power-drivers otherwise there can be no authority in Tradition Two. Without this, the fellowship will go the same way as the Washingtonian movement. An apathetic or uniformed majority can be mistaken especially if a decision is based on popular demand, rather than on Traditions and Concepts. It ought to be remembered that without Traditions upon which to guide their decisions the popular demand of the Washingtonian movement’s group conscience led to its collapse. Relating to Tradition Two and Concepts V and IX, if AA is to continue without descending into anarchy, then more people need to speak up, because the power behind the expression of the group conscience needs always to be greater than an individual alcoholic’s power driven ego; and greater than power driven egos combining to form a tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power. People need to take their responsibility in knowing how to apply the Traditions and Concepts as part of their growth in recovery.
“…the greatest danger to democracy would always be the “tyranny of apathetic, self seeking, uniformed, or angry majorities….” (Concept V)
“ ..The well-heard minority, therefore, is our chief protection against an uninformed, misinformed, hasty or angry majority…” (Concept V)
Therefore a well heard minority, such as your self, is our chief protection against:
“…the even worse tyranny of very small minorities invested with absolute power.” (Concept V)
Concept V and IX pages 20 and 34: http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
The reason I keep harping on the 24 hour a day book,
is that my opinions changed dramatically when I finally
understood why this book is not considered appropriate
for Alcoholics Anonymous. For 35 years I insisted that
this book was appropriate and Bill had refused it
because it was not his own work. I felt that it was
just Bill's EGO wanting things his own way. I often
criticized Bill for not accepting that book when it
was offered to A.A. As of yet I don't know whether Richmond
Walker wanted money for the book or if he was going to give it to A.A. From what I have read about Richmond Walker, I
suspect that it was offered free of charge. It is a
wonderful book and has benefited many of us. But today I understand fully that the book is just too religious for
A.A. as a whole.
It beings me again to the advice given to Bill W.
in the spring of 1935 by Dr Silkworth. Dr. Silkworth had
worked for some forty years with very little success. But
the little doctor always held hope that someday, somehow
a solution to the alcoholics dilemma would be found. That
solution came through Bill W. A method was discovered through which most suffering alcoholics can be reached.
Due to the strange nature of the alcoholic, normal usual
methods just did not work. The alcoholic cannot be pushed
or prodded into sobriety, but he can be led. I believe
that God gave us that IDEA through his mercy. (but that is
really just my own opinion). The idea is to share with
other alcoholics exactly what I was like, and what happened
to me, my own story. If my own house is in order, hopefully
it will be attractive enough so that others will want what
I have. I must lose that patronizing attitude. No alcoholic
is going to listen to someone with a pious approach: Well,
if you want what I have you will have to do what I did, or
even worse, do as I say.
Alcoholics Anonymous needs to do a thorough inventory
of itself. We must admit our mistakes and correct them. It
will not be easy, but there are generations of alcoholics
who will need what A.A. can offer. It was effective for
over fifty years and can still be restored. If we don't
do it now It may become too late. I fear that it may
already be too late. Religion has really taken hold of
A.A. in the past thirty years. Bill warned us against
turning A.A. into a religion, but we have ignored that
warning. I keep thinking of the saying "you can't have
your cake and eat it, too". But in A.A. it seems that the
more we sacrifice, the more we will have. Everybody wins and
nobody has to lose. We can be all inclusive without
excluding a single alcoholic who is still suffering.
Pray in your own house of worship. Don't turn an A.A.
meeting into a prayer group. Stop the cult ritual of
chanting. Most of us seem to agree that chanting is, for
lack of a better word, stupid. It needs to be understood
that all alcoholics come into an AA meeting as absolute
equals. Oldtimers are not any better than newcomers. We
just got here sooner. We need the newcomer as much as he
may need us. No, he/she is not the most important person
in the room and it is harmful for us to tell her/him
they are most important. If you have read this far, thank
you. I just came from a disturbing meeting and couldn't
On page 249 of DR Bob and the Good Oldtimers, it says that norman was blind! of course he never read the book. It also says that in 1940, Norman had the book done in braille and sent out from Cleveland to other blind members.
For Norman, a man who never read the book himself, He sure did a lot of work to get it translated to Braille.
This is why I enjoy the BB so much. It's right there in black and white. If I am willing to do what it suggest, i will be happy, joyous, and free. Not restless, irritable, and discontent.
Thank you for your reply and for pointing out that Norman was Blind. I was wondering if anyone would notice. On page 250, "Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers" it reads: “The odd thing is, Norman never read the Book himself.” I take this “odd thing” to mean that he never read the Big Book in Braille, despite him having arranged this to be done. It wouldn’t be the “odd thing” for a blind man not to read the standard Big Book, because he was in fact blind. But it would be the “odd thing” if he had it converted into Braille and then never read it himself; because then he could have read the Big Book in Braille if he wanted to. (That’s assuming he could read in Braille, but there again this would only be the “odd thing” if he could).
When reading a book, if I also try reading the meaning between the lines of black and white, and the meaning of the text as a whole, then I have a better chance to catch the deeper meaning of things in the text that I might otherwise make hasty assumptions and conclusions about, or miss altogether, such as paradox. I gradually came to understand that though I read, sometimes I do not apprehend nor understand. I only think I understand. I also came to understand that the apparently opposing opinions which disagree when expressed in words can sometimes both be right because they are describing the same thing from different perspectives. This helps me to keep a sense of humor and not to get into so many heated arguments as I used to. What’s important to me in Norman’s story was his perception and attitude.
Anyway you put it as long as we can remember our Primary purpose which is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers, we are showing through our own actions every day how to work the steps. I have seen people put demand on others that they need to get the steps in a certain amount of time, I have seen people leave groups because through not being open-minded they have driven not only themselves but newcomers away as well.
Lately, I have been trying to practice the Steps and the Tradtions in every aspect of my life. It isn't easy but I think that we shouldn't judge others on how to work the steps unless we are willing to accept criticsm back. This is not a dictatorship, this is the Fellowship of AA and it stops beating when we show ignorance or intolerance towards anyone no matter who they are. It is everyone's responsiblity to carry the message through their own personal interpretations of the program. But at meetings we are united under one loving higher power who, shows us the way. Let's continue to remember that.
Patty B Literature Rep Beeville Texas
Perhaps there is a reason Norman Y. never read a word in AA. He was blind. and though he never read the Big Book, "Norman Y., the blind A.A., had the Big Book done in Braille in 1940 and sent out from the Cleveland Library to other blind members. "There were 19 of us corresponding back then," he said."
It seems some AAs, like some religious folks and politicians, like to take a sentence or two out of context to get a point across.
Thank you for your reply. Selecting a quote to support a point of view is common practice and can be constructive when careful thought is given to the meaning of the surrounding text from which it is taken. This is not the same thing as quoting out of context, whereby a quote is removed from its surrounding text in such a way as to distort its intended meaning. I don’t think my quote was out of context with its intended meaning; but this seems to be implied in your post. The fact Norman was blind does not devalue what he said, nor does it make what he said an exception to other AA members who are not blind. There are other alcoholics who have great disadvantages; educational or emotional, which limits their ability to read or study. In my early days of sobriety I was one of these. I was so emotionally mixed up at the time that I could barely read anything at all in the first few years. I was unable to hear much either, because I was so busy thought-talking to myself inside my head. I couldn’t listen to much of what the people outside were saying. My mind needed time to unravel its confusion.
You quoted two sentences in your post, which you then used to support a possible reason why Norman never read the Big Book, implying this was because he was blind. It appears to me that your use of these quotes is doing the very same thing as you think some AAs, religious folks and politicians do. Not included in your quotes is the sentence which reads “The odd thing is, Norman never read the Book himself.” (“Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers” p 250) I take this “odd thing” to mean that Norman never read the Big Book after he had it converted into Braille; otherwise this wouldn’t be the “odd thing.” “You can learn to live this program by learning to think.” Norman said. From my experience I know this to be true. I had to learn to think before I could read. Remembering back to when I eventually did start reading, although I could see, hear and read, I often could only perceive what I wanted to perceive according my own personal beliefs and prejudices. I was blind to the rest, so I missed huge chunks of information. I then acted accordingly in ignorance without thinking. This faulty perception was one of the things I became aware of and needed to change in order for me to develop an open mind and learn.
I like to keep Appendix II of the Big Book to the forefront of my mind as this helps to remind me that there are many ways to interpret the concepts of a "spiritual experience", "spiritual awakening" and a "Power greater than ourselves" and for alcoholics to interpret the steps accordingly, to their own understanding. It also reminds me that I can also subconsciously close my mind and slip back into the arrogance of denial at any time without realizing it, no matter how long I have been sober.
“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
(Extract from Appendix II, Big Book)
Ha, ha, ha! Good one! I am gratefull for the belly laugh! You didn't mention that on page 249 of Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, That Norman was handicaped.
Norman was Blind!!! Of course Norman didn't read the big book. He couldn't! He did however get the ball rolling in having the BB made into brail so blind members could read it. I guess Norman heard enough about the BB that he thought it was important enough to have it translated to brail.
Thanks again for the good laugh!
Thanks for saving me from having to look him up.
Step 6:Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
After reading the first 5 steps and feeling confident that I haven’t missed anything, I move on to step 6
Am I now ready to have God remove all the things I have found objectionable? To me, the things I found objectionable were listed in the 4th column of my 4th step. Selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and frightened.
If I am not willing to give up selfishness, I have to remember in step 3 that the first requirement for this program is I had to be convinced that any life run on selfwill can hardly be a success. If I can’t give it up I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up self-seeking(taking actions for my selfish gain), I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up dishonesty(lying to others or myself), I have to pray for the willingness.
If I am not willing to give up fear(worrying I will not get something or lose something I have). I need to pray for the willingness.
I now remember when I first wanted what you in AA had. I stated that I would go to any length to get what I saw you had. I also remember the requirement in step 3. How I was convinced that any life run on self-will could hardly be a success.
I am now willing to give my selfishness, self-seeking, dishonest, and fear to GOD. I complete this step when I take the action in step 7.
This is just my experience with step 6. Thanks for reading.
In the bb pg 72 it says,” We have put our finger on the weak items in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. This brings us to the fifth step.
I’ll list a few lines from page 72 &73: “in actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient.
The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.
Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning.
They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.
Then on the end of 73 and beginning of 74,”We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long in this world.
The bb goes on to talk about finding the right person to hear our 5th step. Then on page 75 it says,” When we have decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk…….
Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted…………
Returning home we find a place where we can be quiet for an hour, carefully reviewing what have done. We thank God from the bottom of our hart that we know him better. Taking this book we turn to the page which contains the 12 steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything,……..If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at step 6.
To me this is step 5 in a nutshell. The directions are listed in full on pages 72-75, this is meant to be just a snippet.
I think if we practice what it says in chapter 7 about asking the new person to read this volume, they have a beginning of understanding what the AA program is about. Then when they get to this point, there are no surprises.
I personally had to be reminded that I told my sponsor when we began the steps that I was willing to go to any length for sobriety. That got me over the hump. I chose to do my 5th step with my sponsor. It was great, I finally felt I was part of the human race!
Remember, the Big Book doesn’t tell YOU what to do. It tells ME exactly what to do.
This is my experinece with step 5. Thanks for reading.
Something I seldom hear about step 5, are these quotes from the “Big Book,” p74:
“…Rightly and naturally, we think well before we choose the person or persons with whom to take this intimate and confidential step. Those of us belonging to a religious denomination which requires confession must, and of course will want to go to the properly appointed authority, whose duty it is to receive it….”
“…If we cannot or would rather not do this, we search for our acquaintance with a closed – mouthed, understanding friend. Perhaps our doctor or psychologist will be the friend. It may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or parents which will hurt them or make them unhappy…”
“The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” also says:
“..This person may be one’s sponsor, but not necessarily so…”
“…It may turn out, however, that you’ll choose someone else for the more difficult and deeper revelations. This individual may be entirely outside of A.A. – for example, your clergyman or your doctor. For some of us, a complete stranger may prove the best bet…”
A lot of people seem to take step five with their sponsor. This may not necessarily be a good thing. Perhaps they don’t realize that AA sponsorship does not imply this, nor should a sponsor insinuate this or coerce a newcomer to do this. A newcomer is not required to reveal any intimate details about themselves to their amateur sponsor, unless of course, they wish to do so. The fellowship might be healthier if more alcoholics took step five as suggested in the “Big Book”; not with their sponsor, but with a properly trained professional outside the fellowship (someone who is not an alcoholic) such as a psychologist, or a cleric in a religion of their choice.
The book clearly gives an individual a choice in selecting the person to hear their 5th step. I did mine with my sponsor for two main reasons, 1. I wanted someone who knew something about the 12 steps, knew what I was doing and why, 2. If an issue came up in the future that related to my 5th step I wanted the person I did the 5th step with to be easily accessible to me.
What would you do if your sponsor got drunk? Would you
follow him off the cliff? Many professionals have knowledge
of the value of confession. This is not the responsibility of a "sponsor". I certainly would not want the person
sitting next to me at an AA meeting to know all about my
sins. I prefer to follow the Big Book and the 12 & 12. Joe
I personally prefer my sponsor to know all my mistakes. I believe if the person sitting next to me knows all about me, I am more likely not to repeat those mistakes.
I certainly would not want to reveal the mistakes of my
past to someone in the meeting who has a hand up to be my
sponsor. Or with someone assigned to me at my first meeting.
These are what makes today's A.A. a cult, combined with
the chanting. This is one reason for our lack of growth in
the past two decades. A strange religious cult, as described
in the video made for public television A&E "Inside Alcoholics Anonymous" 1999. Thanks for finding these quotes
and posting them. ANONYMOUS
Step 4: made a searching a fearless moral inventory
On page 64 of the bb it says, “Though our decision was a vital and crucial step”(step 3) “ It could have little or 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”.
FIRST, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self ( from step 3), manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations. ( I consider the 7 deadly sins at this point. Anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, gluttony, and envy)
When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally (how I think) and physically ( how I act). In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions, or principals with whom we are angry. (This is the first column. Just like the example on page 65, I list the names. Sometimes only one per page if I now there will be several causes.)
We asked ourselves why we were angry. ( this is the cause column or column 2 on page 65. I then make the list of causes from top to bottom).
On our grudge list we set opposite each name our injuries. Was it our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal, or sex relations, which had been interfered with? ( This is column 3. The 5 instincts just listed are what make me tick. If someone interferes with them or I am afraid they will I get resentful.)
On page 66 there are some great words of wisdom. I will list a few sentences: To conclude that others were wrong was a fear a most of us ever got. It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. This business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.
This was our course: we realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick.
On the top of pg 67 we have the 4th step prayer. Then We avoid retaliation or argument. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful.
Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs other had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? ( this is column 4). When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.
Next, we inventory fear and sex. There are several prayers listed up to page 71 dealing with fear and sex. I inventory with the same format as resentments.
I would like to write more, but I have written too much already. I would like to say this inventory out of the bb taught me how to get over resentments, fear, and sex problems. When they crop up again, I use this method of inventory in my daily 10th step.
This is my experience. This is the way I was taught to work the 4th step out of the bb. Over the years I will do an annual or semi-annual 4th step if I haven’t kept up with my daily 10th. It is very simple. If I am not willing to do this, I have not done step 3. If I have not done step 3, I did not do step 2. If I didn’t do step to, It boils down to I haven’t admitted complete defeat in step 1.
Again, this is my experience with step 4.
This is the step that i am approaching now. Thanks for the hints at how to do it.
Bill W. gives us a specific means of doing step 4. These
are found beginning on page 50 in the 12&12. There are
about thirty questions to be answered. ANONYMOUS
Before I get into step 3, I have to look at pg 60 in the bb. It starts with – “our description of the alcoholic (chapter 2&3), the chapter to the agnostic (chapter 4), and our personal adventures before and after (chapter 1 & from Dr. Bobs Nightmare on) make clear 3 pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. ( step 1)
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism (step 1&2)
(c) That God could and would if he were sought. (step 2)”
Then continuing on page 60 it says “Being convinced we were at step 3……Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self will can hardly be a success.
Page 62 it says “Selfishness-self-centeredness! That we think is the root of our troubles……..
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making……..Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us! God makes that possible……Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power…….This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God…..Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director…….We were now at step 3…(prayer)
This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one was felt at once.
You can read the full step in the bb. This is where the language in the bb changes dramatically. I have to remember, that this was only a decision. Before I can take action, I have to make a decision to do so. I believe my will and life is how I think and act.
Now that I have asked God to direct how I think and act, I have to take the action necessary to carry out that decision. To me that action is to continue on with the remaining 9 steps. But first things first, I start with step 4.
If I am working with a newcomer that is not willing, it says in chapter 7 to reread the chapter on alcoholism. If they still are not willing, let them try it there own way. before long alcohol will either make them willing or kill them. the choice is theirs.
Thanks for reading.
Could you tell me where it says in chapter 7 to reread
the chapter on alcoholism. Do we reread it for ourselves?
Do we read it to the newcomer or for the benefit of the newcomer? Or do we "suggest" to the newcomer that she/he
reread chapter 7 or the chapter on alcoholism.
If an alcoholic has agreed to listen to me for a few
minutes, and says that he/she is not interested, I think
I am supposed to thank that person for listening to me.
That person has helped me to maintain my own sobriety.
We are not to try to pressure A.A. or any of our
beliefs on anyone. Attraction, not promotion is the key.
I believe that here on I-SAY we ought to be as
accurate as possible. This may be the only A.A.
material that some alcoholics read. ANONYMOUS
Sorry, misquote. I was thinking of the original manuscript of the big book. On page 60, just before it says being convinced we were at step 3, it says something along the lines of “if you are not convinced of a,b, and c, reread it up to this point or throw it away!
I had that mixed up with chapter 7, at the bottom of page 91, It says, “Show him the mental twists which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.
I apologize. I should have said what I do is ask them to reread the chapter on alcoholism again, or if they want, I will read it to them. If I have ask him before we start, if he wants to quit for good and will go to any extreme to do so (pg 90) I also refer to that. Also on page 95 it says to ask them to read this book in the interval. After that he must decide if he wants to go on. If he has read this book, there should be no surprises.
I also like to refer to Page 94,” Outline the program of action…….” At the bottom of page 94,”If he shows interest lend him your copy of this book”. Also on page 96,” Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the 12 steps of the program of recovery.
Again, sorry for the misleading information.
Too many of today's members have returned to the
origional manuscript. We have a local group who read the
manuscript version of How It Works. They read "on your knees" and "throw the book away". The worst mistake is
following our directions instead of following our path.
I am curious if you teach the steps and the big
book as an elder. I think it is the responsibility of
the group to teach, not one on one as a tutor or
Personally when I approach a newcomer, I offer a
copy of the third edition of the Big Book and suggest
reading some of the stories. If they want to read
further, I suggest that they begin at the front of
the book with the Doctor's opinion.
I would never tell a newcomer to open to chapter
five to start reading. Bill W. placed How It Works
in chapter five for a special timed effect. I believe
that reading this material to the newcomer is a
terrible mistake. Yet we do it all the time. Even
Overeaters anonymous has followed our lead and it
has become a part of their format.
My concern is A.A.'s loss of half a million members
since 1992, and our current stagnation. Our mistakes
have caused our loss of effectiveness. We must admit
our blunders and correct them if A.A. is going to
survive. If the newcomer says he is prepared
to "go through with the steps", give her/him a copy of our
12&12. Bill W. tells us how to do the steps. Just be
there to answer any questions the newcomer may ask. I
usually suggest a weekly step meeting where the group
can teach the steps. This is a lifetime practice. I don't
believe they are meant to be taught in a workshop setting.