Big Book Discussion
Please share your thoughts on various chapters and stories from the Big Book.
“Notice the word fear…….it was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances (like the ripple effect of throwing a stone in a still pond) which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? “
“We reviewed our fears thoroughly. We put them on paper, even though we had no resentment in connection with them. We asked ourselves why we had them( when Bill mentions resentment and asked us to list our fears and why we had them, I take that as directions to use the resentment inventory format for my fears as well…..name, cause, effects, my part. I found as in step 3 that I basically have self-centered fears. I was afraid I would lose what I had and afraid I wouldn’t get my way now or in the future. As long as I am self-consumed I will have fear.) Wasn’t it because self-reliance failed us? Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn’t go far enough……..when it made us cocky, it was worse” (if I could overcome my fears on my own, I wouldn’t be in AA now.)
Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes (my 1938 dictionary defines resolutely as boldly or firmly with purpose). Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened (these words are very important. All my manifestations of self stem from one of these 4 words They are repeated on page 84 in step 10 where we begin to work steps 1-9 on a daily basis)? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. when we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white.( black and white mean written on paper. this is what may be referred to as the 4th column in the 4th step inventory) We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.( we are looking for our part. I think because this is the only part of a resentment we can take any posittive action on.
I’ll write an example of a resentment form my first inventory 22 years ago and one from my last 4th step earlier this year. The columns will be more linear to fit with this format. Keep in mind I write column 1 from top to bottom, then 2, then 3 as on page 65.
Column 1- I’m resentful at - people, institutions, or principles: my brother
Column 2- the cause: stole my clothes and ruined them when we were kids
Column 3 – affects my- $, self-esteem, security, ambitions, personal or sex relations, pride, or fear : $ because we were poor and I had to buy my own clothes, self-esteem because I was a teenager and wanted to fit in with other kids, security because he was 4 years older and could overpower me and take what he wanted, ambitions because this isn’t what I wanted to happen, personal relations with my brother and my friends because I didn’t fit in, sex relations because I was sure girls would like me if I have nicer clothes, pride because I really wanted to be like the other kids, and finally fear because I knew if I bought anything nice he would take it.
Column 4- my part- selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened: my brother was 4 years older than me. I set the ball rolling because there was a time when I was too small for him to fit in my clothes, but I could fit in his bigger clothes. I stole his clothes first. I started it! I was selfish and self-seeking for stealing his things, dishonest because I started it, and frightened because I knew he would do it again.
When I finally looked at my part, my resentment towards my brother vanished in a heart beat along with most of my other resentments.
Here is a more recent example.
Column 1 – my wife
Column 2- used my car and didn’t put gas in it
Column 3- $ because I had to buy gas, self-esteem because she doesn’t love me enough to take care of my car, security- if she doesn’t love me why would she stay, ambitions because the last thing I want to do is put gas in my car, personal and sex relations because if there is tension we are gonna fight and not make love, pride because aren’t I important enough for her to gas up my car, fear because like security she doesn’t care.
Column 4- I borrowed her car that evening and she didn’t even drive my car that night. I ran my car low on gas! I was selfish because I thought she should gas up my car and dishonest because it was really my that ran my car low on gas and I was the one who needed to borrow her vehicle in the first place.
This last instance is an example of how if I had never taken inventory, I would have continued to believe my problem was my wife’s fault even though she had no part in it whatsoever! I would continue to stay sick in my resentment and possible risk blocking myself off from the sunlight of the spirit that keeps me safe and sober. Over the years I have experienced this thousands of times. You would think I’d learn before getting resentful. Sometimes I see it right away in my 10thstep, sometimes it comes out in a biannual 4th step.
This is just the resentment portion of the 4th step, the fear and sex inventory remain in the following pages.
dont no how to use forum ?
This was our course: we realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they like ourselves, were sick too (All I have to do is honestly look at how my alcoholism disturbed everyone associated with me. If I had half the tolerance of those around me, I would be doing great.). We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.( this is the 1st of 6 4th step prayers. I added this prayer to my daily 11th step) When a person offended we said to ourselves, “this is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”(this is the 2nd of 6 4th step prayers. This is my new attitude that Carl Jung told Roland H about on page 26 of the big book. My old ideas, attitudes and emotions are now being cast to one side and a new set is beginning to dominate me) when offended, I now look to where I can be helpful…..amazing!)
We avoid retaliation or argument. (no more retaliating or trying to convince others they are wrong. At least not repeating myself over and over) We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people,(reminds me of our singleness of purpose, even before Bill wrote it) but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one.(this is a 4th step promise, that if I follow the 4th step as outlined in the big book, God will show me how to view those I once resented with kindness and tolerance. Each and every one!)
We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future. We were prepared to look at it from an entirely different angle ( remember from page 64 that this is a fact finding and fact facing inventory…..to me this means I should find some things I didn’t already know. A paragraph form story of your life is something I already know, why inventory something I already know?) We began to see that the world and its people really dominated us (you could play me like a fiddle. Want me to do something, tell me I can’t, want to upset me, interfere with something I want… .) In that state, the wrong doing of others, fancied or real, had power to actually kill.(fancied or real…..alcoholics like me make up resentments when we don’t have a real one to nurture and grow) How could we escape? We say that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.(master our resentments? Oh, more directions to follow……you can call them as suggestions, for me I take them as directions. I wanted to master my resentments!
This was our course……
It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience( this is what we are doing in AA, maintaining and growing a spiritual experience!), this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal.(alcoholics cannot live long with resentments, hard drinkers can stay sober a lifetime with resentments. Hard drinkers don’t need the 12 steps, alcoholics rarely stay sober without them from my experience) For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit.(In AA, our spirituality is what keeps the insanity of alcohol away) The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again.(left to our own devices, the insanity of alcohol returns) And with us, to drink is to die.(if you can stay sober and happy without the spirituality of the AA program, you may be a certain type hard drinker as described on the second to last sentence on big book page 20)
If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm where not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison.(the natural state of a dry alcoholic is restless, irritable, and discontented until they drink again. The recovered alcoholic in AA is happy, joyous, and free!)
“we went back through our lives.( to me the only difference between the 4th step and 10th step is the time. The 4th is from today back and the 10th is of today. I think that’s why step 10 says “continued to take personal inventory” it doesn’t say start taking inventory) Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty(I was told to not worry about making the 4th perfect. Any mistakes can be taken care of with a daily 10th step). When we were finished we considered it carefully.(this is the 4th step meditation) The first thing apparent was that this world and its people were often quite wrong. To conclude that others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got. The usual outcome was that people continued to wrong us and we stayed sore.(this was the first time I went beyond “I am mad and here is why” also, as long as you are the problem, I will always have a problem. Through inventory, I begin to see where I am the problem and God willing, I can do something about me.) Sometimes it was remorse and then we were sore at ourselves( I have to be careful with remorse. Selfish, self-centered alcoholics will always try to put themselves at the top of the 4th step list. Notice Bill started with Mr. Brown and never did put himself on the list. That would be self-centered to the extreme). But the more we fought and tried to have our own way, the worse matters got. As in war, the victor only seemed to win. Our moments of triumph were short lived.”
“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 the “affects my” column on page 65, minus pride and fear. Remember a list runs top to bottom, not side to side. I believe Bill wrote the list of names. When that list was finished, he wrote the causes. When that list was finished, I think he wrote the “affects my” column. If we look at Mr. Brown, Mrs Jones, ect, it is fact finding and fact facing process and extremely unemotional. Look at Mr. Brown- he is hitting on bill’s wife, told bill’s wife of his mistress and he is after Bill’s job! Bill used 19 words to describe the causes, short, effective, and definitely not paragraph form. If your looking for a loophole, he did write “we were USUALLY as definite as this example”
“Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease (to me resentment means to re-feel. When I re-feel and my heart gets beating faster and faster, and my mind starts spinning, I can be sure I have a resentment), 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( we have a 3 fold disease, mental, physical, and spiritual. If I focus on working the 12 steps also known as a spiritual program of action, my spiritual malady will be healed and I will straighten out mentally and physically meaning I will have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. My priority has to be spiritual). In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry.( this is where we watch periods and commas. Remember Bill W was a lawyer so every ounce of ink has meaning. A list runs from top to bottom, not side to side. This is the 1st column, you can see what Bill did on page 65. the “I’m resentful at:” column is the people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry. The reason I think we list the names first is to keep it fact finding. If I start thinking about the cause I get derailed and miss the next resentment.) We asked ourselves why we were angry (this is the cause column or column 2. Note how short Bill’s causes are, especially Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown is hitting on his wife, told Louis of Bill’s mistress, and is after his job and he only wrote 18 words!!!!! This is an inventory, not a novel. Keep it short and concise.). In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened. So we were sore. We were “burned up.”(this is part of the “affects my:’’ column or 3rd column minus pride and fear. I think the affects column is in line with what Bill later wrote in the 12x12 about the primary instincts for sex, security, and society. if anyone threatens one or all of the list of self-esteem, security, ambitions, personal or sex relations, pride and fear we will be resentful. To tie resentment into selfish self-centeredness being the root of our troubles, think about this- a resentment is when I didn’t get my way in the past, anger is when I’m not getting my way right now, and fear is when I think I won’t get my way in the future. This again, is just a beginning. We have yet to look at our part which is the only thing I can do anything about, and make a fears and sex inventory.)
I find that if I have a resentment that I think I have resolved but only buried....it comes back to me in my sleep and then I wonder why my dreams or sleep are disturbed with thoughts of people in my past.
Doing a fourth step, maybe needed more than once and I have learned that things come back but you don't have to relive them for long if you deal right away.
“we did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First (just in case there is any confusion, this is the 1st part of the 4th step because it says 1st!), we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations.” (There is a list of various manifestations of self in another AA conferenced approved book titled “12 steps and 12 traditions” the list is on page 48 of the 12x12. Pride heads the list, followed by greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. First, I list where pride ( a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements) has caused my failure, then greed (intense and selfish desire for something), lust (very strong sexual desire), anger (a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility), gluttony (habitual greed or excess), envy (a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck), sloth (reluctance to work or make effort; laziness)
Again, am I convinced that self, manifested in various ways, is what had defeated me? Did I consider self’s common manifestations?
“Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory (again, personal and moral inventory is the same thing). This was step four. A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process(sounds very non-emotional)……….One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret……..We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly “( steps 5-12 are directly related to step 4. We inventory in 4, read our inventory to another human and God in step 5, in step 6 we ask God to remove the defects we found in step 4, in step 7 we humbly ask God to remove the shortcomings we found in step 4, our 8th step list is our 4th column from step 4, our amends in step 9 is from the “my part” column in step 4, in step 10 we continue to take personal inventory we learned in step 4. Read page 84- continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear, just like the my part column from step 4. On page 86 in the “when we retire at night” section of step 11 we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid, just like the my part column from step 4 found on page 67. Then in step 12 we had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps- 1-11, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics- how to work steps 1-11, and to practice these principles in all our affairs- steps 1-12 where steps 4-12 are directly related. As we can see, if you skip step 4, you have skipped 5-12 as well and are at best working a 3 step program, which of course no real alcoholic could stay sober and happy doing.)
It's difficult to imagine an alcoholic wading through all of your discourse but thanks for the effort. I skipped to your conclusion quickly and disagree wholeheartedly. Those who skip step four are on a zero step program. If I "Make a decision.." in step Three and follow up with doing nothing, I haven't really made any decision at all. If I have made that decision then the Big Book spells out exactly how to carry that out (4-12).
I really haven't "Came to believe a Higher Power can restore me to sanity" if I don't decide to let Him do it. Can anyone really say "I really believe that this will solve my problem so I'm not doing it"? I don't think so.
If I haven't done Two or Three them how about One? If I really admit my powerlessness over alcohol, if I really believe that the absolute tsunami of unspeakable horrors that is alcoholism is in store for me, am I really unwilling to try anything to arrest it? No. If I really have a clue to what alcoholism offers, I'll go to any lengths to stop it.
How or where can I purchase a copy of The Big Book? I'd also like to purchase a copy of the Thoughts for Today, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ,etc (guidance books)
How or where can I purchase a copy of The Big Book? I'd also like to purchase a copy of the Thoughts for Today, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ,etc (guidance books)
“next (if you are wondering what to do after your 3rd step, next is the keyword) we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning (I’ve heard people say the 4th and 10th step are unrelated because on the wall it says moral for the 4th and personal for the 10th. As you can see here and in the upcoming 5th step, personal and moral are used interchangeably. This is one of the reasons they say if you work your program off the wall, you will have an off the wall program), 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 (if next didn’t give you an idea of when to start the 4th, at once means right now!) 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” (think of alcohol as a symptom, not the cause of our problem. Much like a runny nose is the symptom of a sinus infection. You can take over the counter medications to relieve some of the symptoms, but if you don’t go to the doctor and get some antibiotics to treat the cause you may be sick for a long time-I’m not a doctor, but you get the idea)
“We were now at Step Three. Many of us said ( I think Bill uses many here because some of the more agnostic members were not talking to their maker, it was God as they understood Him) to our Maker, as we understood Him: God, I offer myself to thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. 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. May I do thy will always!”( on page 87 Bill says we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers….. this 3rd step prayers is one I incorporate into my morning meditation) We thought well before taking this step ( I have been to some groups that open their meeting with the third step prayer. Obviously any newcomers have not “thought well” about taking this step.) making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him. (I knew I had taken this step because it was only a decision. I carried out the decision by continuing on with step 4 at the bottom of 63 where it says “next…..”
We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person……..But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand. (having a spiritual awakening is the purpose of these steps. We are working towards a personal relationship with the Higher Power of our understanding) The wording was, of course quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation. This was only a beginning (to me this is the 3rd step warning, this is only a beginning), though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once. (one definition of effect is a change as a result of an action. The 3rd step promise is if we take this step honestly and humbly, a change comes, sometimes a great one. But again, this is only a beginning, there is a reason we have 9 more steps. Many of us work 1,2,3, feel the great effect then return to active alcoholism or dry drunkenness by not continuing on with the last 9 steps. If real alcoholics could consistently stay sober with 1,2,3, AA would be a 3 step program instead of 12.
“When we sincerely took such a position (described on last paragraph of 62- quit playing God, He is the director……), all sorts of remarkable things followed (these remarkable things are the 3rd step promises). We had a new employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well (this is the 3rd step condition, performing His work well not ours). Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs (this is how I can tell if I’m on the right footing, how interested I am in my plans and designs). More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn”( what a promise! The warning comes on page 64- though our decision was vital and crucial, it could have no permanent effect unless followed by the 4th step)
“This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work.( the fellowship only has one requirement, a desire to stop drinking. The program of AA has many requirements and musts. I need to pay close attention to where the book says first, next, ect and simply do what it says. So FIRST, I have to quit playing God. To me that means stop telling God what to do and stop directing others. Also keep in mind I am lying every time I feel there is no God, because even in those moments what I am really saying is I am God) Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal (person in charge of an organization): we are his agents( a representative of an organization). He is the Father, and we are His children. (again, I pay close attention to NEXT. The book is giving me directions for carrying out step 3. This is exactly why this chapter is titled “How It Works” and why the language changed dramatically on page 58. Pages 58 to 103 give clear cut directions for working steps 3-12 as apposed to the 12x12 where Bill wrote essays about the steps, not directions for working them. If the 12x12 was meant for directions, Bill would have described them as directions instead of essays) Most ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.” ( a keystone is the wedge shaped stone between the two pieces of an arch. Without the keystone, the structure will not stand on it’s own. In meditation, I pondered the relationship between a director and those directed, a Principal and his agents, a Father and His children. I then started our relationship accordingly.)
Having children has helped me put my relationship with my HP in perspective and to understand what my HP wants for me. I want my children to be productive members of society and to be happy, successful and fulfilled. I do almost anything to help them achieve their dreams and take great satisfaction in seeing them grow and become who they were meant to be. I think of my HP having the same sort of love for me.
“so our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.( in 100% of all my problems I have ever had, the common denominator is me!) They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.( I had no idea how selfish I really was. Every time I drank, I was only thinking of myself and how I felt.) Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible.(selfishness will kill me because when I am selfish, I only think of myself. I put myself first and when I do that, I usually eventually think it’s ok to drink just before I drink.) And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to.(I had ideals that YOU had to live up to, not me. I was a bankrupt idealist. I set the bar so high that I didn’t even bother) Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much my wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.”(self-will doesn’t overcome self-will. If I could will myself to be less selfish, I would have done that long ago and I wouldn’t need any of these embarrassing steps. I need to always remember that selfish-self-centeredness is the root of my troubles and my troubles are basically of my own making. Then I have a chance to do something about my problems with God’s help through the 12 steps. As long as my problems are your fault, I am helpless to overcome my problems.)
I am just listening/reading. Thanks!
I read from the chapter A Vision for You last night and remembered my initial feeling and belief I had when I read it the first time many years ago. I belong among many members of sober alcoholics.
“Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles” (all my problems boil down to selfish-self-centeredness. When I’m resentful, it’s because I didn’t get my way in the past. When I’m angry it’s because I’m not getting my way right now. When I’m fearful, it’s because I’m afraid I’m not going to get my way in the future. In regards to selfishness and drinking, I have never taken a drink thinking it would make me a better husband, father, friend or coworker. I have always taken a drink thinking only of myself and the relief a drink temporarily brings. Every single drink I have ever took was based on selfish motives. Then later after consuming enough alcohol to developing alcoholism, it was based on alcoholism.) “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……..we invariably ( invariably means always) 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.” ( I can look at almost every instance in my life and see how my selfishness put me in a position to be hurt. When a family member died, was hurt, or lost a job, I was so selfish that I felt it happened to me! My life was instantly made lighter when I realized how selfish I am and how life happens to everyone. )
god has no room in my recovery
BB We Agnostics, p.47 WE AGNOSTICS chapter
When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God.
it is a shame more people don't put emphasis on what god is to you, that is the individual. what I do see & hear is people pushing jesus christ & christianity. I do understand that AA's concepts, principles, steps come from religious bodies & even the bible. after saying all that I would like to point out no where in the 1st 164 pages (where the program of action that is AA is outlined) how you need to believe or what you need to believe. what it does say,
"BB Into Action, p.87 INTO ACTION chapter
Be quick to see where religious people are right."
it is suggesting to keep an open mind which there are plenty of people at AA meetings who are as closed minded as can be, on occasion I myself will be intolerant of the truth or others with new ideas. thanks to learning how to apply the steps I can do my best to make amends and claim progress, not perfection. reminding me to be more tolerant of others, no matter how ignorant I think they are.
what I would like to here more of is the people who are atheist speak up. I know there are plenty of atheists with long term recovery. I also understand why they don't speak up, as being chastised & preached to by people who seem to think its they're job to convert the world. like most religions that act like they own god.
excuse me while I climb of my soap box now
"Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they have to offer." Bill does not tell us that
religious people are always right. If a religious practice is helping an alcoholic to stay sober, you might want to
try it. Alcoholics Anonymous is based on religion, but
Bill tells us that becoming a Religion would be a big
mistake for us. We are almost there. ANONYMOUS
No God? No problem.
Sure you can get sober praying but there are so many HJF atheists in AA with 30 and 40 years of sobriety. Some are articulate and candid about their natural (vs. supernatural) worldview. I don't know that we "come to believe" so much as we come to understand and define our own worldview. While I write left handed, my right hand is slightly dominant in sports. I had to test throwing a ball or which foot to put forward when water-skiing until I found what was normal for me. It would be obvious for others. It's the same with favorite colors; some people would answer without thinking when asked, "What's your favorite color?" Others would have to think about it for a while. The belief-de-jour in AA is a world (and recovery program) governed by a prayer answering, sobriety granting, interfering/intervening creative force.
But that's just not true for some of us and rigorous honesty - while allowing for open-mindedness - doesn't make room for adopting someone else's belief or denying our own.
"To thine one self be true" may not be in the Big Book but while talking about Step Three we are guided in this way: "The wording was, of course quite optional, so long as we voiced the ideas without reservation."
Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) pg. 63
Would you believe the answer to your statement was made 75 years ago on page 34 of the big book? Read the third sentence of the 2nd full paragraph. It says “whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not”
Can you choose whether you will drink or not? I couldn’t. I needed the help of living on a spiritual basis.
I am glad you are here and I am grateful for your recovery!
I have come to believe that is the reason A.A. works so
well. We do not require that any alcoholic believe in God.
It is only a suggestion and is offered to the member, new
or early timer, in a suggestive manner. We only offer what
worked, or works for us, as individuals. We do not push our
beliefs on anyone. You can choose your own higher or no
God at all. If the group is staying sober and you cannot
stop drinking, or stay stopped, just become a part of the
group. I think that you will agree that the group is
a power greater than yourself. Hopefully, they are sober.
If not, look for another group.
Of course this is only wishful thinking on my part. In
today's A.A. we try to cram God down everyone's throat.
my guess is you are over sensitive to any talk of God in AA. that's too bad since AA is based on spiritual priciples. If there were no talk of a higher power in AA it would be like not talking about the wet part of the ocean. also it seems you are butting heads with tradtiion 1 and 4. every time you complain about aa, you are upsetting our unity. every time you complain about a group you are forgetting group autonomy. each AA member and group can believe as they see fit.
I hope some day you begin to practice AA's suggested 12 steps and 12 traditions. maybe then you can get over your resentments and focus on yourself.
What exactly are the spiritual priciples you insist
that AA is based upon? Are they spiritual or are they
religious? I understand the Four Absolutes to be our
guide to improving spiritually. Absolute Honesty, Absolute
Purity, Absolute Purity and Absolute Love are to be our
objectives. We need always to strive for improvement,
although absolute perfection is out of our reach.
It does seem strange that I would consider all the
God Talk in AA to be detrimental. That sounds like having
a girl too pretty or a car too fast.
It is really a case of balance. We must offer the
Truth with an equal amount of Grace. Offer the newcomer
Chapters one thru four, before revealing the truth in
Chapter five. Let him/her read Chapter Five without any
Tradition Four has two storm signals. You
ought to know what they are. ANONYMOUS
Read big book pages 59&60, especially the second paragraph on of 60. It explains the spiritual principles. Also I think the foreword to the 12x12 describes the 12 steps as a group of principles, spiritual in nature that if practiced as a way of life can expel the compulsion to drink and make u happily whole,
"Of course this is only wishful thinking on my part. In
today's A.A. we try to cram God down everyone's throat."
As a newcomer, considering AA, you have certainly helped me make my decision.
If you have decided not to consider AA, that is a
tragic decision. AA worked for me and has worked for
millions of alcoholics. My message was not directed at
you. It was directed toward those AA members and groups
who overdo the God Talk. I believe that most alcoholics
approaching us have already tried religion. When they
hear HIW read, it may sound like another attempt at
proselytizing. Maybe someday all groups will stop
reading chapter five to newcomers. That is a major
part of the problem. Try Alcoholics Anonymous. Give us a
chance. Just keep an open mind. Try several different
meetings. AA offered me a way out of the misery of
drinking many years ago. At least investigate. ANONYMOUS
you can read in AA comes of age that mort began reading hiw in california meetings in 1939 or 1940. If reading hiw is so detrimental to AA, surely AA would have colapsed on the west coast, midwest, and east coast by now.
maybe reading hiw is just being honest with everyone about what AA really is about. honesty, open mindedness, and willingness are the essentials to recovery. If a newcomer won't get over their oversensitiveness to a higer power that just shows they are still closed minded and unwilling to go to any lengths for sobriety. that mean we can turn our attention to those newcomers who are ready and willing to give AA a try.
“Being convinced, we were at step 3 (the first 60 pages of the big book helped me do steps 1 and 2), which is we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood him. Just what do we mean by that( to me my will is how I think and my life if how I act) and just what do we do (before the requirement, the only way I have found to begin this process is to continue on this the remaining 9 steps. I have to remember that this is a decision. Have you heard the story of 3 frogs on a log? 2 frogs decide to jump, how many are left?-3, they only decided to jump, they didn’t take the action necessary to carry out their decision.)
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success……”( now we have all heard there are no musts or requirements in AA. There are however requirements in the big book. Let’s remember that the big book dealt with low bottom alcoholics at the time it was written. What are requirements for me as a low bottom chronic alcoholic are simply suggestions to those who haven’t sunk that low “yet.” I had to ask myself, am I convinced that living my life based on self-will only leads to more failure? Yes, for me I am convinced. I usually put myself first and came out last. I never realized if I put your needs first, I would become happy, joyous, and free! Have you noticed that the language in the book changed at page 58?
“our description of the alcoholic (the chapters- Dr.’s Opinion and more about alcoholism), the chapter to the agnostic (the chapter We Agnostics), and our personal adventures before and after ( I think this is Bill’s story and the stories in the back of the book), make clear 3 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.”
( I think A,B, & C equals steps 1 & 2. Especially since the next paragraph starts with “Being convinced we were at Step Three.” If you are having trouble with steps 1 and 2, I suggest rereading the first 60 pages of the big book including the Dr’s Opinion along with the stories in the back of the book. My hope is that while reading one of the stories you will be able to identify with the alcoholic the way I identified with Bill’s story.)
This line seems so important to me. I am sober 27 years and am still seeking. When I hear people say they have trouble with the "God" part of AA or they don't believe in God. That's fine. They have the Honesty part down. The open minded and willing part involves seeking. This attitude opens the door to a lifetime opportunity to read, discuss, debate, learn and grow. We know not where this journey will take us. One of my best buds in AA received a Masters in Theology, became a Baptist Minister and presided at the wedding of me (Catholic-raised "seeker") and my recovering wife (Mormon-raised Buddhist). We had a wonderful time.
I love seeking. I did my 5th step with a recovering Jesuit priest who asked me if I was willing to read 3 minutes of New Testament each morning and then contemplate for 2 min. I said yes and borrowed my recovering Aunt's bible that I still have. I later took my morning studies further and purchased a 20 book set of commentaries on the new testament by William Barclay that puts it all in historical perspective.
That said, I am not a "Christian". I have studied the Koran and have many Muslim friends. I lived in the Middle East, learned Arabic and developed a great fondness for customs and traditions of the desert.
At home, I am surrounded by my wife's Buddhist tinged literature. I read or listen to podcasts of many of the authors she likes.
Lately, I have become more interested in studying the universe. It is so vast and mysterious that I have trouble getting my head around it.
I also act as if there is a Higher Power in my life. I regularly have conversations with my HP on a human level. I ask for help and guidance regularly and say thanks a lot. I am always surprised that this works. Some might say the proof is in the pudding. I don't understand why or how but when I turn to my HP in despair or gratitude, everything just seems to align. Thanks AA.
“Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t 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 principles are referring to the 12 steps. None of us maintain anything like working the steps perfectly. I am reminded of Clarence S. who was sponsored by Dr. Bob and started the 3rd AA group . He said when they held the first meeting separate from the Akron group, a bunch of them showed up at the meeting in Cleveland and one of the members from Akron was going to “whip me” as Clarence said it. None of those early members where saints, and none of us are either.) “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.” (to me the point of all the steps and AA is to grow spiritually. To grow enough to have a Higher Power that will relieve my obsession with alcohol. The oxford groups preached spiritual perfection. They gave Bill W a hard time because he wasn’t what they called “maximum.” Bill wanted to focus on helping alcoholics while the oxford groups wanted to save everyone. 80 years later, AA is still here 2 million strong and the oxford group is gone. Again, we claim spiritual progress not perfection. I want to see spiritual growth in myself. I was warned by my sponsor. He said at 1 year sober, you don’t want to be 3 months sober 4 times. At 10 years sober, you don’t want to be 1 year sober 10 times, ect. He wanted me to keep growing through continually working the steps. I will never be perfect at working the steps, at the same time It’s impossible to outgrow them.)
“Here are the steps we took (past tense meaning this is what they did), which are suggested as a program of recovery: steps 1-12” (to me this is the program of AA. If you have not been able to find permanent recovery from drinking, try these 12 spiritual principles. If you have found another way, I am happy for you. Clarence S, the founder of AA in Cleveland said there are exactly 200 words in the 12 steps. I remember thinking he must have had time on his hands to count them. I had to see for sure and yes, Clarence was right, exactly 200 words. I personally believe the list of the 12 steps are the short form. I have seen many follow them to the best of their ability and do well, however I remember my sponsor saying “if you work the steps off the wall, you will have an off the wall program.” I also believe that the first 164 pages of the big book are the long form of the steps. I continually study and practice what I interpret in the first 164 pages to the best of my ability. As a result, I have gotten more and more happy and serene over the years. I almost always feel well regardless of what anyone says or does. I think this is the essence of the first 1/3 of step 12- having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the first 11 steps. Then the 2/3- we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, you know, how we worked those first 11 steps and found recovery from alcoholism. Then the last 1/3 of step 12- practicing these principles in all our affairs. I think that is trusting God, Cleaning house, and helping others in our day to day lives.
Of course this is my limited interpretation. If what I have experienced so far continues, my interpretation will change and evolve as I grow in effectiveness and understanding.
Sorry, but I am finding the long apologetics or exegeses on the big book boring. I am curious to know what those who suggest the big book was divinely inspired mean by that. Does that elevate the big book to the status of the Christian Bible, which some believe is the literal "word of God" and therefore doctrinally inerrant? Does it suggest that later writings by Bill W were not "divinely inspired" and therefore are not as worthy of study? If so, was Bill being falsely humble when he suggested "we know only a little - more will be revealed?"
I always think of the example of the apostle Paul, who after his "white light - burning bush" experience did not sit down and hammer out the epistles, rather he spent several years working and apparently in study before starting his public ministry. It was only later, in light of his experiences in dealing with life on life's terms and helping others to do the same, that he wrote the epistles.
I’ve googled lists of the most spiritual books of the 20th Century, and the book titled “Alcoholics Anonymous” is on all the lists I’ve found. You can take the Big Book at whatever status level you choose, that is your business. And you don’t really need to believe in a god for this thing to work and for you to stay sober. Nor do I think Bill W. was attempting to imitate the apostle Paul. The first draft was not published, thank goodness. He had some excellent help. Humility not withstanding, our founders were simply attempting to get the message out the best way they had available at the time. And not a one of them was a saint. That is according to a talk in Ft. Worth, TX, Bill W. gave in the early 50’s. I have a cd of that talk. We are lucky to have the book and not the other stuff they had in mind.
"The first draft was not published, thank goodness". Very
few A.A. members have any idea what you mean by that statement. The manuscript was changed drastically. It was
originally written as a book of directions. It was written
to tell other alcoholics how they could recover. It was
revised to be a story book, a book of suggestions. They
changed "directions" to "path". They altered the method
(technique) of carrying the message to others. Sad to say,
but today's A.A. has returned to the first draft. Some
prospects respond favorably. Most are doomed. ANONYMOUS
Your constant haranguing on this subject reminds one of the Jaywalker story in the Big Book except yours is self pity because hundreds of thousands of AA members won’t succumb to your will. I don’t think you have picked up a single convert since you started. Everyone in AA is wrong but you? One difference between you and the jaywalker is that you are pushing newcomers instead of yourself under a bus with your twisted view. For their sake, please just stop.
Given the thousands of years that alcoholism tortured drinkers and their families without any end other than jail institutions or most often death, the 12 Steps that can take an alcoholic to lifelong sobriety are indeed a miracle.
The third step is especially precious in that it casts aside the religious prejudices that might have been expressed.
I am living my 25th year of sobriety one day at a time.
Something much larger, kinder and more loving than any man keeps me sober and gives meaning and usefulness to the hell I went through before I got sober.
There are spiritual experiences in the step work and especially the step prayers. And the beauty of it just increases with repetition.
"Given the thousands of years that alcoholism tortured drinkers and their families without any end other than jail institutions or most often death, the 12 Steps that can take an alcoholic to lifelong sobriety are indeed a miracle."
Not at all. You might as well say that any modern discovery is a miracle because we have gone without it before.
The 12 steps are a guide for living. Maybe Bill could have formulated them better, maybe worse.
A miracle is something that has no earthly explanation and can only be supernatural. The 12 steps grew out of the Oxford Group, Carl Jung and Bill Wilson's experiences, all quite earthly in nature, (even the flash of white light episode happened while under the influence of quite earthly, hallucinogenic drugs).
"(even the white light episode happened while under the influence of quite earthly, hallucinogenic drugs)". You have
every right to your own beliefs. Even Bill W. questioned his
own sanity when he had the spiritual awakening. Bill called
the doctor to his bedside, to get the doctors evaluation. I
don't have the doctor's exact words, but I believe the doctor told Bill that this was the real thing, the miracle
that Bill, Lois and the doctor had been hoping for.
To dismiss the spiritual awakening experienced by Bill
voids the whole message of recovery. A miracle did occur.
The second miracle occurred when a technique was developed
to pass this message on to another suffering alcoholic.
"This was it!" Bill wrote on Page 70 in AA Comes of Age.
I believe this to be one of the most important landmarks
in A.A. History. Read it sometime. Read page 2 in As Bill
Sees It. Bill describes his Spiritual awakening in detail.
I take his word for it. I believe, because the same gift
was given to me in the spring of 1970. ANONYMOUS
Bill asked Dr. Silkworth if he was going insane. The Dr. said "no, whatever has happened to you, you better hang on to it. Anything is better than the way you were"
Also bill was not on hallucinagenic drugs. He was given Belladona, a sedative. from what I understand it was somewhat like vallume.
I think the whole AA fellowship and program is nothing short of miraculous. If you read our history, there is no earthly reason why AA should have even started, much less lasted since 1935!
My personal story is nothing short of miraculous. I should have died drunk many years before I found the AA program and fellowship.