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  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week of 9/17 09/17/2017 19:01 PM

    Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement. Other thousands came to a few A.A. meetings and at first decided they didn't want the program. But great numbers of these---about two out of three---began to return as time passed.

    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Foreword To Second Edition, pg. xx, with permission from AAWS

    TOPIC:  What % do you fit in?
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week of 9/11 09/17/2017 18:50 PM

    And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone---even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality---safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react as long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, pgs 84-85, with permission for AAWS, Inc.

    TOPIC:  How is your spiritual condition working for you?
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic A New Life 09/15/2017 08:07 AM

    Daily Reflections



    A NEW LIFE



    Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a

    fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous . . . . Life will mean something

    at last.



    ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 152



    Life is better without alcohol. A. A. and the presence of a Higher

    Power keeps me sober, but the grace of God does even better; it

    brings service into my life. Contact with the A. A. program teaches

    me a new and greater understanding of what Alcoholics Anonymous is

    and what it does, but most importantly, it helps to show me who I

    am: an alcoholic who needs the constant experience of the

    Alcoholics Anonymous program so that I may live a life given to

    me by my Higher Power.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Key to Sobriety 09/14/2017 07:00 AM

    As Bill Sees It

    Key to Sobriety

    The unique ability of each A.A. to identify himself with, and bring 
    recovery to, the newcomer in no way depends upon his learning, his 
    eloquence, or any special individual skills. The only thing that matters
    is that he is an alcoholic who has found a key to sobriety.



    In my first conversation with Dr. Bob, I bore down heavily on the 
    medical hopelessness of his case, freely using Dr. Silkworth's words 
    describing the alcoholic's dilemma, the "obsession plus allergy" theme. 
    Though Bob was a doctor, this was news to him, bad news. And the fact 
    that I was an alcoholic and knew what I was talking about from personal 
    experience made the blow a shattering one. You see, our talk was a 
    completely mutual thing. I had quit preaching. I knew that I needed this
    alcoholic as much as he needed me.

    1. TWELVE AND TWELVE, pp. 150-151 - 2. A.A. COMES OF AGE, pp. 69-70
    Reprinted from As Bill Sees It, pg. 257, with permission from A.A. World Services Inc., New York, N.Y.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Repairing The Damage 09/13/2017 06:59 AM

    Daily Reflections



    REPAIRING THE DAMAGE



    Good judgment, careful sense of timing, courage and prudence -

    these are the qualities we shall need when we take Step Nine.



    TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 83



    To make amends can be viewed two ways: first, that of repairing

    damage, for if I have damaged my neighbor's fence, I "make a mend,"

    and that is a direct amend; the second way is by modifying my

    behavior, for if my actions have harmed someone. I make a daily

    effort to cause no further harm. I "mend my ways," and that is an

    indirect amend. Which is the best approach? The only right approach,

    provided that I am causing no further harm in so doing, is to do

    both. If harm is done, then I simply "mend my ways." To take action

    in this manner assures me of making honest amends.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Wider Understanding 09/12/2017 07:11 AM

    As Bill Sees It



    Wider Understanding



    To reach more alcoholics, understanding of A.A. and public good will 
    towards A.A. must go on growing everywhere. We need to be on still 
    better terms with medicine, religion, employers, governments, courts, 
    prisons, mental hospitals, and all enterprises in the alcoholism field. 
    We need the increasing good will of editors, writers, television and 
    radio channels. These publicity outlets need to be opened ever wider.







    Nothing matters more to A.A.'s future welfare than the manner in which 
    we use the colossus of modern communication. Used unselfishly and well, 
    it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.

    Should we handle this great instrument badly, we shall be shattered by 
    the ego manifestations of our own people? Against this peril, A.A. 
    members' anonymity before the general public is our shield and our 
    buckler.



    1. TWELVE CONCEPTS, p. 52 - 2. GRAPEVINE, NOVEMBER 1960
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Making Amends 09/11/2017 08:02 AM

    Daily Reflections



    MAKING AMENDS



    Above all, we should try to be absolutely sure that we are not delaying because we are afraid.



    TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 87



    To have courage, to be unafraid, are gifts of my recovery. They empower
    me to ask for help and to go forth in making my amends with a sense of 
    dignity and humility. Making amends may require a certain amount of 
    honesty that I feel I lack, yet with the help of God and the wisdom of 
    others, I can reach within and find the strength to act. My amends may 
    be accepted, or they may not, but after they are completed I can walk 
    with a sense of freedom and know that, for today, I am responsible.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous 09/08/2017 09:06 AM

    Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol---that our lives had become unmanageable.

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

    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    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 theses principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

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

    (a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

    (b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

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

    Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, How It Works, pgs. 59-60

    The following threads are a Big Book Study guide.  I made a few mistakes and got some Parts out of order I am sorry for that.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 09/08/2017 09:03 AM

    Let's start this session by turning to Roman numeral page 13 (xiii). At the top of the page xiii, in the Foreword to the First Edition, we find:

    "We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED is the MAIN purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all."

    With all the many different Fellowships in the world today that use the 12-Step format, that last line certainly has come true. Also in the paragraph we just read, the "Big Book" authors immediately tell us that the purpose of this book is to show us how to recover from alcoholism. This is a revolutionary statement, because until this book was written, there was no hope for alcoholics. Now, anyone who is willing to follow the directions they have provided, CAN RECOVER.

    We know that the words "recover" or "recovered" are not necessarily popular words in A.A. today. However, these words ARE used throughout our literature. For a new person in A.A. (and perhaps for those who do not know), what does the word "recovered" mean? Medically speaking, the word "recovered" means that the SYMPTOMS of the disease has been removed, and the word "cured" means that the DISEASE has been removed. So Bill Wilson is using the correct word here; we are not CURED of the disease of alcoholism but we CAN be recovered from all of its symptoms. The Big Book also gives what can be considered as our definition for the word "recovered" beginning at the bottom of page 84. What I am about to read are the results of working the first ten Steps, otherwise known as the Tenth Step Promises. The bottom of page 84 gives a description of "recovered" as: 

    "And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time sanity (which means seeing the truth about alcohol) will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. (Now here's a warning.) That is how we react so long as (or IF) we keep in FIT spiritual condition." 

    Please now turn back to the beginning of the book, Roman numeral page 20 or xx. This is from the Foreward to the Second Edition and was written in 1955, 16 years AFTER the Big Book was published. Five lines down from the top of page xx it says: 

    "Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way, 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement." 

    Remember that this was written 20 years after AA began. This is saying that all those who came to AA and went through this process, 75% eventually got sober. And let us remember that this is long before there were a lot of meetings so it was IMPOSSIBLE for people to get sober on the fellowship, they needed to get sober on the Program. They applied these Steps to their life, they had a spiritual awakening or a spiritual experience, and they didn't find it necessary to drink from that point on. Maybe after these next few weeks, we can apply these principles to OUR life, get the same results, and carry this simple little message into our fellowship, and then maybe AA as a WHOLE will again have a 75% rate of recovery like they did back then. 

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 2 09/08/2017 09:02 AM

    Step 1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

    Surrender is ESSENTIAL in order to recover from alcoholism. The "Big Book" devotes 51 pages to the first part of the surrender process; which is to admit we have a problem that we cannot help ourselves with.

    The authors begin by describing the physical, mental and spiritual symptoms of alcoholism. Later they ask us to acknowledge that we are alcoholics. Before we can do this, we need to know what the difference is between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic.

    Much of the section called "The Doctor's Opinion" is based on two letters written by Dr. William D. Silkworth, a physician at Towns Hospital in New York City. In the late 1930's, very little was known about alcoholism, but what Dr. Silkworth wrote THEN is STILL relevant today.

    Please turn to Roman Numeral page 5 (or "v"). You will need to know what edition of the Big Book you have, and this is where the Table of Contents at the beginning of the book can be found. On Roman Numeral page 5 (or "v"), you will find the beginning of the book's chapter names. It begins with the Preface and the first few Forewords, followed by The Doctor's Opinion. If your book contains a Foreword to the Fourth Edition, then you have a FOURTH Edition Big Book. If your book does NOT have a Foreword to the Fourth Edition, then you have a THIRD Edition Big Book. This is important to know as we go through tonight's session.

    Now please turn to Roman numeral page 23 (xxiii) in the Third Edition of the Big Book or page 25 (xxv) in the Fourth Edition. Dr. Silkworth describes how Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of A.A., recovered from alcoholism. Bill had once been a well-respected Wall Street Stock Analyst, but he had lost everything due to his drinking. Page xxiii in the Third Edition or xxv in the Fourth Edition, middle of the page: 

    "In late 1934 I attended a patient who, though he had been a competent businessman of good earning capacity, was an alcoholic of a type I had come to regard as hopeless. 
    In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of HIS rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them they MUST do likewise with still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered. 
    I personally know scores of cases who were of the type with whom other methods had failed completely."

    For several years prior to 1934, Dr. Silkworth had been treating alcoholics at Towns Hospital with very little success. Then, during his third trip to the hospital, Bill Wilson discovered the spiritual solution to alcoholism, which he helped develop into the A.A. program.

    One of the things Bill learned while in Towns Hospital was that he HAD to work with other alcoholics in order to stay sober HIMSELF. He also learned that alcoholism was a physical AND a mental illness which ONLY a spiritual experience would conquer.

    On Roman numeral page 24 (xxiv) in the Third Edition or 26 (xxvi) in the Fourth Edition, the authors confirm that Dr. Silkworth was well aware of the physical aspects of alcoholism. Page xxiv or xxvi in the Fourth Edition, about a quarter of the way down the page, it says the following: 

    "The physician who, at our request, gave us this letter, has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another statement which follows. In this statement he confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture MUST believe - that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are SURE that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, ANY picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is INCOMPLETE. 
    The doctor's theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account." 

    Please notice the word "allergy" at the beginning of this last paragraph we just read. This word can be misunderstood since the only experience most of us have with allergies is that some substance brings about watery eyes, a rash, sneezing, swelling, or some other physical reaction. For almost all of us, these kinds of reactions to drinking alcohol did not happen, so what is Dr. Silkworth talking about?

    The definition for the word "allergy" is, "an abnormal reaction to any food, liquid, or substance." So let's look at a normal reaction to alcohol.

    Alcohol is a poison. The NORMAL reaction to alcohol is to have one or two drinks and not go any further. But, OUR reaction is MUCH different. We have one or two drinks just to get STARTED. Once an alcoholic starts drinking, because of the unique way it's processed in their body, we set off a craving where we want more alcohol. This is an allergy or abnormal reaction to alcohol because about nine out of ten people don't get that, once they start drinking. So an alcoholic CANNOT always predict how much they are going to drink, and a NON-alcoholic CAN always predict how much they are going to drink.

    Please turn to the first full paragraph on page xxvi or xxviii in the Fourth Edition, where the Big Book mentions the allergy again: 

    "We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to THIS class (they are talking about alcoholics here) and NEVER occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can NEVER safely use alcohol in ANY FORM AT ALL; and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve. 
    Frothy (which means "long winded") emotional appeal seldom suffices (or rarely is enough). The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight. In nearly ALL cases, their ideals MUST be grounded in a power GREATER than themselves, if they are to re-create their lives." 

    Toward the bottom of Roman numeral page 28 (xxviii) in the Third Edition or Roman numeral page 30 (xxx) in the Fourth Edition, Dr. Silkworth tells us that, because of this abnormal reaction, we MUST refrain from drinking. Page xxviii in the Third or xxx in the Fourth Edition, last full paragraph:

    "All these (they're talking about different types of alcoholics), and many others, have ONE symptom in common: they CANNOT start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has NEVER been, by ANY treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated (which means "removed"). The ONLY relief we have to suggest is ENTIRE abstinence."

    So much for alcoholics ever becoming moderate drinkers again.

    Abstinence might work if alcoholism was ONLY a PHYSICAL illness, but Dr. Silkworth found that alcoholism has a MENTAL component as well. In addition to an abnormal PHYSICAL reaction, we also have a mental obsession. Our mind does not tell us that what we are about to do is harmful, even as alcohol is bringing us closer and closer to death. No matter how much we may want to stop, if we do not seek a spiritual solution, sooner or later we will return to drinking.

    Dr. Silkworth describes this mental obsession in his letter on Roman numeral page 26 (xxvi) or xxviii in the Fourth Edition. Please keep in mind that Dr. Silkworth is talking about ALCOHOLICS here when he writes at the bottom of the page xxvi or xxviii in the Fourth Edition: 

    "Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is SO elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes AT ONCE by taking a few drinks - drinks which they see OTHERS taking with impunity (which means freedom from problems). After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over (and over and over and over), and unless this person can experience an ENTIRE psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery." 

    In case you didn't know, the word "psychic" means, "of or pertaining to the human mind, soul or spirit." So, a prominent doctor in the field of alcoholism, with NINE YEARS of experience with alcoholics at the time this was written, tells us that the medical community CAN'T help us. Our ONLY hope is what Dr. Silkworth calls "an ENTIRE psychic change", otherwise known as "a spiritual awakening". 

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 3 09/08/2017 09:00 AM

    The OTHER part of the physical difference between an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic is that alcohol DOES something for the alcoholic that it DOESN'T do for the NON-alcoholic. If you were to ask a non-alcoholic what happens when they drink alcohol, they would tell you that they get something like an "out of control, beginning of a nauseating, slightly tipsy, I don't like this so I don't want any more" kind of a feeling. That's why they stop after a few. But when the ALCOHOLIC puts alcohol into their body, they get an "IN control, ease and inner comfort, let's get up and go into town, I like this so I'm going to get more" kind of a feeling. So that's why the non-alcoholic will say things like, "I don't want another drink because I'm starting to feel that first one." Then we look at them funny because we LIKE what it's doing for us, and that's why we're going for more. THEY are having a COMPLETELY different experience than WE are having. Then because of the way we alcoholics deal with others, with our emotions, and with life; we have a lot of inner turmoil and anxiety going on. Since we can't seem to bring about this relief, ease, and inner comfort on our own, we turn to alcohol again and again, because alcohol does for us what we can't do for ourselves.

    So it's important to see that if you're an alcoholic, alcohol is NOT your problem. It's your SOLUTION to your problem. We don't see the truth about the problems that alcohol causes us because we're ONLY thinking about the RELIEF that comes when we drink. That's why the AA program of working the Steps are more than just not drinking. They're about finding a comfortable way of life that doesn't include needing alcohol. There's a big difference between just not drinking, and not drinking and being happy about it.

    So if you cannot handle drinking AND you cannot handle NOT drinking, THEN AA's for you.

    Also included in that last paragraph at the bottom of page xxvi or xxviii in the Fourth Edition is the mention of another aspect of alcoholism. It is the unmanageability mentioned in Step One. It is sometimes called the spiritual malady, or untreated alcoholism, or the mental state that precedes the first drink, or the root of our problem. The spiritual malady (or spiritual illness), which is the result of being spiritually blocked off by self-centered fear, exists for us as long as we are not seeking and growing toward a spiritual solution, WHETHER WE ARE DRINKING OR NOT. The Big Book gives us many descriptions of the inner condition that occurs if an alcoholic does NOT deal with this spiritual malady. Dr. Silkworth just described their inner state as being, "restless (which means having anxiety, and a sense that "something is missing"), irritable (which means easily annoyed) and discontented (which means never satisfied)." Here are a few more references in the Big Book that describe how this spiritual malady looks and how it feels: 
    In Chapter 3 called "More About Alcoholism" the Big Book describes it as: "Nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like." 
    The next chapter "We Agnostics" also describes the inner unmanageability as: "having trouble with personal relationships, not being able to control their emotional natures, being a prey to misery and depression, not being able to make a living (which includes not being able to make a successful life), having a feeling of uselessness, being full of fear, being unhappy, and not seeming to be of real help to other people." 
    The Sixth Chapter "Into Action" refers to the spiritual malady in this way: "More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character. This is the one he likes his fellows to see. He wants to enjoy a certain reputation, but knows in his heart he DOESN'T deserve it. The inconsistency is made worse by the things he does on his sprees. Coming to his senses, he is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As far as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension, that makes for (or leads to) more drinking. 
    Later in this same chapter it says: "The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil."

    There are OTHER statements in the Big Book that refer to the spiritual malady or the unmanageability mentioned in Step One, but those we just read are some of the betters ones. Please keep in mind that this happens even if we are NOT currently drinking. If these conditions generally describe your CURRENT inner experience, please consider the fact that you may be suffering from untreated alcoholism (whether you are drinking or not), you may be headed toward your next drink, and you may be closer to a relapse than you think you are. It doesn't matter so much how long it's been since my LAST drink. What matters more is how close I am to my NEXT one. It's something to think about.

    The book continues with the first full paragraph on page xxvii or xxix in the Fourth Edition. This paragraph offers us some hope:

    "On the other hand - and strange as this may seem to those who do not understand - once a psychic change (otherwise known as a spiritual awakening) has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules (and the few simple are the Twelve Steps)." 

    Let's move on to Chapter One, "Bill's Story", and in this part of the book the page numbers are the same in both the Third and Fourth Editions. In this chapter we learn more about the physical and mental aspects of alcoholism, and also more about the spiritual solution. As we mentioned earlier, Bill is the New York Stock Analyst who is one of our co-founders.

    Some people have difficulty identifying with Bill's story because he was such a low bottom, hopeless alcoholic. Here, as elsewhere in the book, we ask that you look for similarities rather than differences. Just like when we are at an AA speaker meeting, we should see where we can relate to the way he thought, the way he felt, and the way he drank, long after alcohol has become a problem. In this way, you will be able to "identify, and not compare".

    "Bill's Story" is 16 pages, broken up into two halves. In the first eight pages, Bill writes about what it was like and describes the progressive nature of his drinking. In a few short years he loses everything. He becomes an unemployed, hopeless drunk. Then in the second eight pages of Bill's Story, he talks about what happened and what it's like now.

    Please turn to regular page 8, where Bill has a moment of clarity. He realizes alcohol is his master. He is licked - defeated. Page 8, paragraph 1. This is where Bill reaches the conclusion of Step One:

    "No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in the bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master."

    But Bill can't stop drinking on this admission alone. In late November 1934, he is visited by an old school chum, Ebby T. Bill is drunk. Ebby has been sober for several months. When Bill asks Ebby how he stopped drinking, Ebby tells him in the middle of page 9, "I've got religion." Bill is shocked but he lets Ebby continue because, as he writes, "my gin would last longer than his preaching."

    Ebby explains to Bill that he has found a group of people who rely upon a Power greater than themselves and who try to live their lives based on spiritual principles. In 1934, this organization was called "The Oxford Group". In 1938, it became "Moral Re-armament" or "M.R.A.", and a few years ago they changed their name to "Initiatives for Change". This organization still exists today.

    The Oxford Group is a life-changing fellowship, which utilizes six spiritual tenets or principles. These tenets can be found on page 292 in the Third Edition or 263 in the Fourth Edition so please turn there now. The six tenets of the Oxford Group as found on page 292 or 263 in the Fourth Edition are:

    1 - Complete deflation (which became our First Step.) 
    2 - Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power (which became our Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eleventh Steps.) 
    3 - Moral inventory (which became our Fourth and Tenth Steps.) 
    4 - Confession (which became our Fifth Step.) 
    5 - Restitution (which became our Eighth and Ninth Steps.) 
    6 - Continued work with others (which became our Twelfth Step.)

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 4 09/08/2017 08:59 AM

    Please turn back to page 12. Ebby provides Bill with the Oxford Group solution. For the first time, Bill learns about how he can move toward having what Dr. Silkworth called "an ENTIRE psychic change" by turning his will and life over to a God of his own understanding.

    In the middle of the page, Bill takes Step Two. Page 12, paragraph 4: 

    "It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of COMPLETE willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I have it? Of course I would!"

    Soon after Ebby's visit, Bill checks into Towns Hospital. There, under the direction of Dr. Silkworth, Bill is physically withdrawn from alcohol for the third time that year. While in the hospital, Bill applies the Oxford Group's Six Tenets or Spiritual Activities (which later became the Twelve Steps) and never drinks again.

    On page 13 in the second paragraph, Bill experiences the Oxford Group Tenet of "Dependence on a Higher Power". In other words, here is where Bill takes what later became Steps 2 and 3. Page 13, paragraph 2: 

    "There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost."

    The next line mentions the Oxford Tenet of "Moral Inventory", which is Bill's Step Four. It's followed by what later became Steps Six and Seven: 

    "…I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new found Friend (he is using a capital "F" here so he is talking here about God) take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since." 

    When Bill wrote, "I ruthlessly faced my sins…," he is using an Oxford Group term. According to the Oxford Group, the definition for the word "sin" is anything that blocks us off from God and others.

    Bill then works the Tenet of "Confession" and becomes willing to go through with the Tenet of "Restitution". These actions later became Steps Five, Eight and Nine: 

    "My schoolmate visited me (so Ebby returns), and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment. I expressed my ENTIRE willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. NEVER was I to be critical of them. I was to right ALL such matters, to the UTMOST of my ability." 

    In the next paragraph, Bill practices the Oxford Group Tenet of "Dependence and Guidance from a Higher Power". Bill begins doing Steps 10 & 11: 

    "I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking ONLY for direction and strength to meet my problems as HE would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. THEN ONLY might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure."

    The book continues by partially describing Step 12 when it says at the bottom of page 13: 

    "My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a new way of living which answered ALL my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the NEW order of things, were the ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS." (Not suggestions but requirements.) 
    "Simple, but not easy; a price HAD to be paid. It meant DESTRUCTION of self-centeredness. I MUST turn in ALL things to the Father of Light who presides over us all. 

    At the bottom of page 14, Ebby explains the necessity of the last Tenet, which is "Continued work with others". This part of Step 12 begins in the last paragraph when Bill writes:

    "My friend had emphasized the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of demonstrating these principles in ALL my affairs. Particularly was it IMPERATIVE to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! (Now this next line might be one of the MOST important lines in this whole book, so please notice what it says.) For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could NOT survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would SURELY drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that." 

    Bill takes the actions prescribed by the Oxford Group and has a sudden transforming experience. He has the "entire psychic change" that Dr. Silkworth talks about in "The Doctor's Opinion." In the second paragraph on page 14, Bill describes his spiritual awakening: 

    "These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the moment I FULLY accepted them, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never known. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through. God comes to most men gradually, but His impact on me was sudden and profound." 

    Bill's life is drastically changed. He never drinks alcohol again, as THE result of taking certain actions.

    Please turn to page 17. This is the beginning of the next chapter called "There Is A Solution". At the bottom of the second paragraph on page 17 it says the following: 

    "The feeling of having shared in a common peril is ONE element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would NEVER have held us together as we are now joined. 
    The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism." 

    Where we get the feeling of having shared in the common peril is in the fellowship of AA, but the book is warning us that getting involved in JUST the fellowship is NOT enough. There are TWO parts to AA's solution to alcoholism, the fellowship AND the program (which are the Twelve Steps), and we need to be involved in BOTH parts.

    Please turn to the next page. On page 18 in the fourth paragraph it says the following: 

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

    The next paragraph gives a pretty good description of what to look for in a sponsor when it says: 

    "That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment (which means his behavior and attitude) shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured these are the conditions we have found most effective. After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again."

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 5 09/08/2017 08:57 AM

    Please turn to page 22 where the authors make an important point about the mental aspect of alcoholism. The last paragraph on page 22 says the following: 

    "We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes ANY alcohol WHATEVER into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly confirm this. 
    These observations would be academic and pointless if our friend never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the MAIN problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body."

    So, it's important to identify by asking yourself if you can relate to the physical feature of alcoholism by seeing if your drinking career reflects the inability to predict how much you are going to drink once you start. BUT, you don't have to worry about THAT part of alcoholism if you NEVER put alcohol in your body in the FIRST place. So the MAIN problem of the alcoholic centers in their mind and in their spiritual condition, because their spiritual condition controls their mind.

    Please turn to page 24. Starting at the top of page the authors say the following:
    "At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely NO avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected. 
    The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times (not ALL the time but at CERTAIN times), to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago (and in some cases of even a day or a few hours ago). We are without defense against the first drink. 
    The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter (or prevent) us. If these thoughts occur, they are hazy (which means vague) and readily supplanted (or replaced) with the old threadbare (which means worn out) idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove."

    You may have noticed that the first line on this page said that, "the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely NO avail". Although a desire to stop drinking is the only requirement for AA membership, which means simply that you are allowed to sit at a closed meeting, this desire alone is NOT enough to bring about permanent recovery.

    The last paragraph on this page says that:
    "When this sort of thinking is fully established in an individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond human aid, and unless locked up, may die or go permanently insane." 

    So again, we are beyond human aid. It also says this in the ABC's at the end of "How It Works" - "That probably NO human power could have relieved our alcoholism." Although a sponsor and the fellowship IS very important, they are STILL forms of human aid, and are NOT enough to bring about permanent recovery from alcoholism.

    Please turn to page 30. The Big Book authors give us more about how the mental obsession kills so many of us. Starting at the top of page 30, it says:

    "Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession (or lie) of EVERY abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion (or lie) is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death."

    It's almost humorous that the "Big Book" says, "The idea that someday he will control AND enjoy his drinking is the great obsession…". If I am an alcoholic, there were times when I could do one or the other, but never both. There were times when I was controlling my drinking, but I was NOT enjoying it. And there were times when I was enjoying my drinking, but these times could not be described as having control. So, if I am an alcoholic, the times of controlling AND enjoying my drinking are long gone.


    They further emphasize the mental obsession starting on page 34 and continuing through to the end of the chapter, by stating again and again that, no matter HOW strong our willpower or our conviction, at CERTAIN times we are UNABLE to stay away from the first drink. Page 34, paragraph 2: 

    "For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a non-spiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. Many of us felt that we had plenty of character. There was a tremendous urge to cease forever. Yet we found it impossible. This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it - this utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish." (That's a great description of powerlessness. The book continues)

    "How then shall we help our readers determine, to their own satisfaction, whether they are one of us?
     The experiment of quitting for a period of time will be helpful, but we think we can render an even greater service to alcoholic sufferers, and perhaps to the medical fraternity. So we shall describe some of the mental states that precede a relapse into drinking, for obviously this is the crux (or the most important point) of the problem." (Please keep this statement in mind as we go through the rest of this chapter. The examples given in the next few pages are there to show the MENTAL STATE prior to drinking. The book continues.) 
    "What sort of thinking dominates an alcoholic who repeats time after time the desperate experiment of the first drink? Friends, who have reasoned with him after a spree which has brought him to the point of divorce or bankruptcy, are mystified when he walks directly into a saloon. Why does he? Of what is he thinking? 
    Our first example is a friend we shall call Jim. This man has a charming wife and family. He inherited a lucrative automobile agency. He had a commendable world war record. He is a good salesman. Everybody likes him. He is an intelligent man, normal so far as we can see, except for a nervous disposition. He did no drinking until he was thirty-five. In a few years he became so violent when intoxicated that he had to be committed. On leaving the asylum, he came into contact with us. 
    We told him what we know of alcoholism (they told him about Step 1, the physical allergy or craving for more once we take a drink, and the mental obsession that ensures that we'll return to drinking even when we stop) and the answer we had found (they told him about Steps 2 through 12). He made a beginning (so he started working only SOME of the Steps). His family was re-assembled, and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had lost through drinking. All went well for a time, but he FAILED TO ENLARGE HIS SPIRITUAL LIFE (the way we enlarge our spiritual lives is by continued work with ALL the Steps on a daily basis, going to meetings and helping others. The Big Book says that the Third Step is only a beginning, so the gentleman in this story probably did the first three Steps but then did NOT go on with the REST of the program. Also, it has been said that EVERY member of AA who has EVER relapsed, did so because of that last sentence - they failed to enlarge their spiritual life. So please stay aware of this as time passes in your OWN recovery. The book continues). To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession. On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened. He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in serious condition. He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family, for whom he had deep affection. 
    Yet he got drunk again. We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened. This is his story: "I came to work on Tuesday morning. I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned. I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious. Then I decided to drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car. On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar. I had no intention of drinking. I just thought I would get a sandwich. I also had the notion that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which was familiar, for I had been going to it for years. I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober. I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk. Still no thought of drinking. I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk." 
    (Now please pay attention here because curly writing means it must be important.)

    "SUDDENLY the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk, it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach. I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured, as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach. The experiment went SO well that I ordered ANOTHER whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another. 
    Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet ALL reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea (or the lie) he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk!"


  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 6 09/08/2017 08:55 AM

    Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else? 
    You may think this an extreme case. To us it is not far-fetched, for this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of us. We have sometimes reflected more than Jim did, upon the consequences. But there was always the curious mental phenomenon, that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened. 
    In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like. But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. We now see that when we began to drink deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation, of what the terrific consequences might be."

    Let's go back to the top of the page and notice some of the way's the book describes the mental obsession. In the first line they call it "the foolish idea", the fourth line down it's called "plain insanity", then a few words later "lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight", six lines later "the curious mental phenomenon", two lines after that "some insanely trivial excuse", two line later "the insane idea", seven lines after that "our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient", and then two lines later "there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation of what the terrific consequences might be". This is another example of how Bill Wilson likes using different words that all mean the same thing. The Book continues at the bottom of page 37: 

    "Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs. 
    "On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he? 
    "You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay-walking, the illustration would fit exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been STRANGELY insane. (This is kinda funny because it's saying that even for INSANE people we are strange.) It's strong language - but isn't it true? 
    "Some of you are thinking: "Yes, what you tell us is true, but it doesn't fully apply. We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves SO well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again. We have not lost everything in life through drinking and we certainly do not intend to. Thanks for the information." (So what these people are saying is that they are only a LITTLE alcoholic, but their lives are manageable.) 
    "That may be true of certain NON-alcoholic people who, though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop (because they don't have the mental obsession) or moderate (because they don't have the allergy or craving for more when they drink), because their brains and bodies have not been damaged as ours were. But the actual or potential alcoholic, with HARDLY an exception, will be ABSOLUTELY unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience. "

    Let us take a look at another illustration.

    "Fred is partner in a well known accounting firm. His income is good, he has a fine home, is happily married and the father of promising children of college age. He is so attractive a personality that he makes friends with everyone. If ever there was a successful business man, it is Fred. To all appearances he is a stable, well balanced individual. Yet, he is alcoholic. We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. It was his first experience of this kind, and he was much ashamed of it. Far from admitting he was an alcoholic, he told himself he came to the hospital to rest his nerves. (You know how it is, detoxes and rehabs are FILLED with "nerve-resters".) The doctor intimated (or suggested) strongly that he might be worse than he realized. For a few days he was depressed about his condition. He made up his mind (so he's using will power) to quit drinking altogether. It NEVER occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so, in spite of his character and standing. Fred would not believe himself an alcoholic (he never took Step 1), much less accept a spiritual remedy for his problem (if you don't take Step 1, there's no need for Steps 2 through 12). We told him about alcoholism (notice the Twelfth Step work they did back then. Again, they told him about the mental obsession and they told him about the allergy). He was interested and conceded that he had SOME of the symptoms, but he was a long way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself. He was positive that this humiliating experience, plus the knowledge he had acquired, would keep him sober the rest of his life. Self-knowledge would fix it. 
    We heard no more of Fred for a while. One day we were told that he was back in the hospital. This time he was quite shaky. He soon indicated he was anxious to see us. The story he told is most instructive for here was a chap ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED he had to stop drinking, who had NO excuse for drinking, who exhibited splendid judgment and determination in all his OTHER concerns, yet was flat on his back nevertheless." 
    "Let him tell you about it: "I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism, but I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again. I somewhat appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could NOT happen to me after what I had learned. I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my OTHER personal problems, that I would therefore be successful where you men failed. I felt I had every right to be self-confident, that it would be ONLY a matter of exercising my will power and keeping on guard." (Again, self-will & self-knowledge is NOT enough if you're an alcoholic.) 
    "In this frame of mind, I went about my business and for a time all was well. I had no trouble refusing drinks, and began to wonder if I had not been making too hard work of a simple matter. One day I went to Washington to present some accounting evidence to a government bureau. I had been out of town before during this particular dry spell, so there was nothing new about that. Physically, I felt fine. Neither did I have any pressing problems or worries. My business came off well, I was pleased and knew my partners would be too. It was the end of a perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon." (The interesting thing about what leads up to Fred's relapse is that he was neither hungry, angry, lonely, nor tired. What the fellowship calls H.A.L.T. does not apply here. If you remember, in the Jim story earlier, Jim was not having an "up" day. But Fred here is having a REALLY good day.) 
    "I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner. (Now here's the curly writing again.) As I crossed the threshold of the dining room, the thought came to mind it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. That was all. Nothing more. I ordered a cocktail and my meal. Then I ordered another cocktail. After dinner I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one. I remember having several more that night and PLENTY next morning. I have a SHADOWY recollection of being in an airplane bound for New York, of finding a friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of my wife. The driver escorted me about for several days. I know little of where I went, or what I said and did. (Sounds like he had a blackout!) Then came the hospital with its unbearable mental AND physical suffering." 
    (I love these next few words!) "As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went carefully over that evening in Washington. Not only had I been off guard, I had made NO FIGHT WHATEVER against that first drink. THIS time I had NOT thought of the consequences AT ALL. I had commenced to drink as carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale. I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they prophesied that IF I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come - I would drink again. They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some TRIVIAL reason for having a drink. Well, just that did happen and more, for what I had learned of alcoholism did NOT occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would NOT help in those STRANGE MENTAL BLANK SPOTS (AGAIN they're describing the mental obsession). I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow."


  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Step 1 Part 7 09/08/2017 08:54 AM

    Notice the Twelfth Step work here again.) "Two of the members of Alcoholics Anonymous came to see me. They grinned, which I didn't like so much, and then asked me if I thought myself alcoholic and if I were really licked this time. I had to concede both propositions (so he finally takes Step 1). They piled on me HEAPS of medical evidence to the effect that an alcoholic mentality, such as I had exhibited in Washington, was a HOPELESS condition. They cited cases out of their own experience by the dozen. This process snuffed out the last flicker of conviction that I could do the job myself." (That's his description of his taking Step 2.) 
    "Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several LIFELONG conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process (otherwise known as Step 3), I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved, as in fact it proved to be." 
    "Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve ALL my problems. I have since been brought into a way of living INFINITELY more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I lived before. My old manner of life was by NO MEANS a bad one, but I would NOT exchange its best moments for the worst I have now. I would not go back to it even if I could." (And the only way he could have experienced all that is by working Steps 4 through 12.) 
    "Fred's story speaks for itself. We hope it strikes home to thousands like him. He had felt only the first nip of the wringer. Most alcoholics have to be pretty badly mangled before they really commence to solve their problems."

    Many doctors and psychiatrists agree with our conclusions. One of these men, staff member of a world-renowned hospital, recently made this statement to some of us: 
    "What you say about the general hopelessness of the average alcoholic's plight is, in my opinion, correct. As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from DIVINE help. Had you offered yourselves as patients at this hospital, I would NOT have taken you, if I had been able to avoid it. People like you are too heartbreaking. Though not a religious person, I have profound respect for the spiritual approach in such cases as yours. For most cases, there is virtually NO other solution." 
    "Once more (so here's ANOTHER review): the alcoholic AT CERTAN TIMES (not ALL the time but at CERTAIN times) has NO effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few RARE cases, neither he nor ANY other human being can provide such a defense. His defense MUST come from a Higher Power."

    So now you've been given a few examples of the fact that because of the way we selfishly perceive and live our life, we create a spiritually blocked off condition for ourselves where we need to seek relief or escape from the inner turmoil, discomfort, or unmanageability. Our mind then remembers that drinking alcohol brings about the ease and comfort we seek, but conveniently FORGETS about the trouble alcohol has caused us. When we take the first drink we then trigger the physical craving for more and more alcohol. We have a spiritual malady, an obsession of the mind, and an abnormal reaction of the body (or an allergy) to alcohol. This dooms us to an alcoholic death - spiritually, mentally, and even sometimes physically.

    There is additional material within these 51 pages from "The Doctor's Opinion" through to the end of Chapter 3 called "More About Alcoholism" that further explains the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of alcoholism and how our lives can become unmanageable whether we are drinking or not. If you need more proof, please read on. All we've done is provide you with some of the highlights. However, we hope we've shown you enough for you to proceed.

    By way of a review, let me describe what the Big Book says about Step One and what differentiates an alcoholic physically, mentally, and spiritually, from a non-alcoholic. Physically, the alcoholic has an allergy, or an abnormal reaction, to alcohol. This abnormal reaction to alcohol is a craving for more alcohol once we take a few drinks. This craving NEVER happens to a non-alcoholic. Because of this, a non-alcoholic can ALWAYS predict how much they are going to drink, but an alcoholic CANNOT. Besides the craving, alcohol DOES something for an alcoholic that it does NOT do for a non-alcoholic. When an alcoholic drinks, they get a feeling of ease and comfort; an "IN control, get up and go into town, I like this" kind of a feeling. When a NON-alcoholic drinks, they get an "OUT of control, beginning of a nauseating, slightly tipsy, I don't like this so I don't want any more" kind of a feeling. That's why they stop after one or two, and make statements like, "I don't want another drink because I am feeling that first one." Spiritually, because of the selfish and self-centered way the alcoholic views and deals with other people, their emotions, and life; they are filled with inner turmoil, discomfort, and anxiety. Since alcohol is the ONLY thing that we have experienced, which brings relief from this inner unmanageability, we turn to alcohol again and again, even though it has caused problems for us in the past. We don't see what alcohol is doing TO us, we ONLY think about what it is going to do FOR us, which describes the alcoholic's mental obsession. A NON-alcoholic's relationship with alcohol is a "take it or leave it" kind of relationship, but an ALCOHOLIC'S relationship with alcohol is a "I need it to deal with life" kind of relationship. Please ask yourself if you can relate to the experience of an alcoholic.

    Also, in the middle of the first paragraph on page 44, the Big Book makes a few statements that can be used to review the information about Step One and the direction we need to move in. In the middle of the first paragraph on page 44, it says the following:

    "If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely (which describes the mental and spiritual part of alcoholism), or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take (which describes the physical part of alcoholism), you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which ONLY a spiritual experience will conquer."

    Now it's time for each of us to start our personal journey toward that spiritual experience which WILL change our lives. Let's see who is ready to take the First Step. 

    Step 1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

    The "Big Book" authors tell us exactly what we have to do by providing us with two statements that can be turned into questions. The first one can be found in the middle of page 30: 

    "We learned that we had to fully concede (or admit) to our INNERMOST selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion (or lie) that we are like other people, OR PRESENTLY MAY BE, has to be SMASHED."

    In order to smash the delusion (or lie) that we're not alcoholics, we are going to ask each of you to answer a simple question, "Are you ready to concede (or admit) to your INNERMOST self you are powerless over alcohol?" In other words, "Are you an alcoholic?" All that is required is a yes or no answer.

    If you're NOT convinced you are alcoholic or that your life is unmanageable, please let us know later at the end of this session. You may not be an alcoholic. We want to give you EVERY opportunity to comprehend the devastating consequences of this terrible affliction and help you identify if you are an alcoholic.

    There is another question associated with taking Step 1. On page 33 at the end of paragraph 1 it says:

    "If we are planning to stop drinking, there MUST be NO reservation of ANY kind, nor ANY lurking notion that someday we will be immune to (or not affected by) alcohol."

    After hearing the review we just did and asking yourself if you can relate to the experience of the alcoholic, here are the two questions related to taking Step One:

    1-Do you have NO reservations or lingering ideas that one day you will be UNAFFECTED by drinking alcohol? 
    2-And do you concede (or admit) to your innermost self that you are alcoholic? Please answer yes or no.

    For those of you who answered "yes", you have now reached the conclusion of Step One.


  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Steps 2,3 and 4 Part 1 09/08/2017 08:52 AM

    By way of a review of the last meeting, let me describe what the Big Book says about Step One and what the differences are between the experience of an alcoholic and that of a NON-alcoholic. The book says that these differences are physical, mental, and spiritual. If you have not did Meeting One , please pay close attention to this review and ask yourself what more closely describes your experience with alcohol, that of an alcoholic or that or a NON-alcoholic.

    Physically, the difference is that the alcoholic has an allergy, or an abnormal reaction, to alcohol. This abnormal reaction to alcohol is a craving for more alcohol once we take a few drinks. This craving NEVER happens to a non-alcoholic. 
    Because of this, a non-alcoholic can ALWAYS predict how much they are going to drink, but an alcoholic CANNOT. Besides the craving, alcohol DOES something for an alcoholic that it does NOT do for a non-alcoholic. When an alcoholic drinks, they get a feeling of ease and comfort; an "IN control, get up and go into town, I like this" kind of a feeling. When a NON-alcoholic drinks, they get an "OUT of control, beginning of a nauseating, slightly tipsy, I don't like this so I don't want any more" kind of a feeling. That's why they stop after one or two drinks, and make statements like, "I don't want another drink because I am feeling that first one."

    Spiritually, the difference is that because of the selfish and self-centered way the alcoholic views and deals with other people, their emotions, and life; they are filled with inner turmoil, discomfort, and anxiety. This spiritual malady (or spiritual illness), which is the result of being spiritually blocked off by self-centered fear, exists for us as long as we are not seeking and growing toward a spiritual solution, WHETHER WE ARE DRINKING OR NOT. One of the best references to this condition can be found in the chapter "We Agnostics" where it describes the inner unmanageability as, "having trouble with personal relationships, not being able to control their emotional natures, being a prey to misery and depression, not being able to make a living (which includes not being able to make a successful life), having a feeling of uselessness, being full of fear, being unhappy, and not seeming to be of real help to other people." The Big Book gives us other descriptions of the inner condition that occurs if an alcoholic does NOT deal with this spiritual malady, but page 52 probably covers it best. Since alcohol is the ONLY thing that the alcoholic has experienced, which brings relief from this inner unmanageability, we turn to alcohol again and again, even though it has caused problems for us in the past. We don't see what alcohol is doing TO us, we ONLY think about what it is going to do FOR us, which describes the difference mentally and is called the alcoholic's mental obsession. The NON-alcoholic's relationship with alcohol is a "take it or leave it" kind of relationship, but an ALCOHOLIC'S relationship with alcohol is a "I need it to deal with life" kind of relationship. Again, please ask yourself if you can relate to the experience of an alcoholic.

    As was explained last meeting, the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous contains step-by-step directions on how to recover from alcoholism, by finding a Power greater than ourselves. This Power will eliminate our obsession to drink, and lead us to a "new freedom and a new happiness, and a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes."

    Last meeting we completed the First Step in the AA program of recovery: we conceded (or admitted) to our innermost selves that we are alcoholics, AND we stated that we have NO reservations or lingering ideas that one day we will be UNAFFECTED by drinking alcohol.

    Please turn in your Big Book to page 44 and let's now look at Step Two.

    Step 2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    The chapter "We Agnostics", which begins on page 44, starts with a good review of Step 1: 

    "In the preceding chapters you have learned something of alcoholism. We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer." Let me repeat that last part: "If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which ONLY a spiritual experience will conquer."

    Now we know what we have to do in order to recover from alcoholism. We must undergo a life changing, spiritual transformation.

    We realize this is not the answer many of you expected to find in Alcoholics Anonymous. But, please keep in mind that alcoholism IS a fatal, progressive illness. Prior to A.A., most alcoholics either died drunk or were locked up in jails or insane asylums. 

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Steps 2,3 and 4 Part 5 09/08/2017 08:50 AM

    Step 4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    What are these "causes and conditions" mentioned at the end of the Third Step? Well, the "Big Book" authors use a lot of different words meaning the same thing: "damaged or unsalable goods", "flaws in our make-up", "defects of character", shortcomings, and even wrongs. All these have the same meaning and the same effect: they block us off from God and others.

    The authors start by comparing a personal inventory to a business inventory. In the first full paragraph of page 64, they write:

    "Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. 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. It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he CANNOT fool himself about values."

    So, we are going to conduct the equivalent of a commercial inventory on our lives. We are going to discover what had blocked us off from the Sunlight of the Spirit. 
    In the next paragraph, the authors tell us exactly what we have to do to conduct a Fourth Step inventory: 

    "We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self (not alcohol but self), manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations."

    If you remember, this is a reference back to what was discussed in Step Three that self-will (or "my life run on my will") is the root of our troubles. We are now going to inventory or, "take stock" if you will, of three manifestations of self-will: our resentments, our fears, and our sex conduct and harms toward others. The Fourth Step commentary in the 12 & 12 goes into much greater detail about this, but we humans have three basic instincts of life which create self: the social instinct, the security instinct, and the sex instinct. These are needed in order for the human race to survive. All humans have them and they are God-given so they are good, but when we use them selfishly or incorrectly, they cause problems for others and ourselves. When the social instinct is used incorrectly, it brings about resentments. When the security instinct is used incorrectly, it brings about fears. And when the sex instinct is used incorrectly, it brings about harms to others. Left to our own resources, we will invariably overdo in these areas. In our selfish attempt to fulfill these desires, we are in constant conflict with others. That is why, coincidentally, the Big Book's Fourth Step process focuses directly on resentments, fears, and harms; so it gets down to our misdirected instincts and the root of our problems. Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct. All self-centered people have difficulties in these three areas whether they are alcoholics or not.

    We have provided inventory sheets for you to do this, and we will read the "clear-cut", simple directions that the "Big Book" authors have documented for us. Let us reassure you, the Fourth Step is not difficult nor should it be a tedious process. Within seven pages of text, the "Big Book" authors give us precise instructions on how to make a good beginning on facing and getting rid of the obstacles in our path to the Power greater than ourselves.

    The first manifestation of "self" we're going to look at is our resentments.

    Since Bill Wilson liked using different words that mean the same thing, the book uses a few different expressions when describing who and what to write down. People, institutions or principles with whom we have resentment, with whom we were angry, with whom we were hurt or threatened or interfered with, with whom we felt had wronged us, with whom we stayed sore at, with whom we felt "burned up" toward, and with whom we held a grudge. Also included in this list should be people, institutions or principles with whom we were annoyed with, agitated by, or let down by; and also include your regrets because regret is resentment toward yourself. Needless to say, this is usually a long list.

    The word resentment comes from the Latin word "sentire" which means "to feel", and when you put "re" in front of any word, it means "again", so the word resent means "to feel again". After we experience what we perceive as being wronged by someone, the first response usually is anger or frustration. But then after a while, after we have reviewed in our mind what happened, and have felt the anger or anxiety again and again, we move to the next stage, which is resentment. Over a short period of time, as I playback the suspected harm in my head, I become less and less involved in what happened and the other person becomes more and more to blame. Sometimes we are able to let the incident go without moving past anger, but if you are a self-centered alcoholic, that is usually a difficult thing to do since we tend to keep score of these things so we can at some point get back at them. I'm sure no one here can relate.

    Since the Big Book says that Step Four "AT ONCE" follows Step Three, we would like to briefly describe the first three columns of the Resentment Inventory so that you can start writing your Fourth Step when you leave here today. Next week we will cover Step Four in its entirety.

    Please turn to the sheet entitled "Resentment Inventory" on page 10 in the *-file-* provided for you. You can clearly see that the first three columns of this sheet resemble the example found on page 65, with the exception of an added fourth column. Don't worry! The directions for the fourth column are found on page 67 and we'll be getting to that next week.

    Let's first look at the simple step-by-step, column-by-column procedure the "Big Book" authors give us for writing the resentment inventory. Six lines from the bottom of page 64, the authors tell us:

    "In dealing with resentments, we set them on paper."

    So in the first column, "I'm resentful at", it says to put the following:

    "We listed people, institutions or principle with whom we were angry."

    We continue writing the names in the first column until we are finished. How do you know when you are finished? Well, when you think you are finished and no more names come to mind, stop. Ask God for Guidance. If more names come, write them down. If not, you are finished with the first column unless you think of something later. Please note that there is a Resentment Inventory Prompt Sheet just before the Resentment Inventory(in the *-file-*) that will give you some other ideas as well.

    Second column, second instruction - 3 lines up from the bottom of page 64:

    "We asked ourselves why we were angry."

    In our example on page 65 and on our sheets, the second column is entitled, "The cause".

    Why am I resentful, "burned up" or sore at whatever is written in each of the boxes in the first column? What did they do to make me angry? List all the resentments you have for each name. Keep in mind that you may have more than one resentment toward any one person, place or thing.

    In the third column, third instruction - page 64, last three lines and page 65, first two lines:

    "In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships, (including sex) were hurt or threatened."

    In the first paragraph on page 65, the "Big Book" authors repeat themselves and add a few more ways self can be affected:

    "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?"

    Remember: our self-esteem is how we view ourselves. Our pocketbook is money or material possessions. Our ambitions are our plans for the future or what we wanted. And our security is our general sense of personal well being, and has two possible viewpoints - financial security or emotional security.

    Then, at the bottom right of the example given on page 65, the "Big Book" includes the word "pride". Pride can be defined as an exaggerated opinion of ourselves. That makes up the seven ways that self can be affected in column three. Also provided for you in the *-file-* is a list of definitions for words used in the Fourth Step and these definitions should be handy as you are writing this.


    Please pay attention to what I am about to read. For those of you who are working the Steps with us, this is what is expected over the next few days: 
    Homework Time 
    1)Please start saying the Third Step Prayer each morning and when needed throughout the day. 
    2)Please make copies of each of the three inventories provided in your packet so that you will have blank forms to write on. What is suggested is to make 10 copies of the Resentment Inventory, five copies of the Fear Inventory, and 10 copies of the Sex And Harms Inventory. 
    3)Finish ONLY the first three columns of your Resentment Inventory, one column at a time, top to bottom, before going on to the next column, please make this a priority and try to do some writing EVERY day. 
    4)Please begin to pray for the people, institutions or principles that you wrote down in the first column of your Resentment Inventory, and also pray for yourself to have a better attitude toward them.

    We wish you the very best as you complete the first three columns of your Resentment Inventory. I am responsible for my own recovery,and so are you for your recovery.I must do the work if I am to recover.

    I have attached a *-file-* with the "stuff" needed to get started on the 4th step 
    click on the link below -it is in a microsoft word format.

    if you have questions please let us know,you can email me if you need too

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Steps 2,3 and 4 Part 2 09/08/2017 08:48 AM

    In the middle of page 44, the authors once again tell us our options:

    "To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face."

    So again, they are giving the only two alternatives you have if you are an alcoholic - either a lot of booze or a lot of God.

    Not only is a spiritual experience possible, it is a guarantee, provided you keep an open mind and take the Steps as described in the "Big Book".

    It continues to tell us in the next paragraph on page 44, that no matter what our present beliefs are, there IS hope for us. The book continues:

    "But it isn't so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we MUST find a spiritual basis of life - OR ELSE. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted (which means troubled)."

    We find it amazing that the newcomer can start the A.A. program without any specific beliefs or, for that matter, without any beliefs whatsoever. All a person needs is the open-mindedness and the willingness to believe that WE BELIEVE this program works.

    And let us assure you, WE DO believe. The Twelve Steps have changed our lives and the lives of millions of other alcoholics. This program WILL change your life too, IF you honestly want to recover from this deadly affliction AND are willing to go to any lengths.

    Now that we have admitted we are alcoholics and that we can never safely drink alcohol, let's look at what we have to do in order to recover. At the bottom of page 44, we learn:
    "If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how hard we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could wish these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshaled (or directed) by the will, were NOT sufficient; they failed utterly."

    So that last line is saying that our human resources (which is the ONLY thing that we have going for us), as directed by our self-will, has not worked in the past, is not enough, and will continue to fail us when it comes to combating our alcoholism.

    The book continues: 

    "Lack of power, THAT was our dilemma. We HAD to find a power by which we could live, and it HAD to be a POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this 
    Power? 
    Well, that's EXACTLY what this book is about. Its MAIN OBJECT is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which WILL solve your problem. (Notice that it does NOT say that this Power is going to help US solve our problem, but that this POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES will solve our problem. The book continues.) That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God."

    Please turn to page 570 in the Third Edition Big Book, or to page 568 in the Fourth Edition. This is the second page of the Spiritual Experience Appendix in the back of the book. What is it going to take for us to find this Higher Power? The answer is mentioned in Appendix II. In paragraph 3 on page 570 in the Third Edition or 568 in the Fourth Edition, we find these words: 

    "Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience CAN recover, provided (or if) he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can ONLY be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial." 
    "We find that NO ONE need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness are the ESSENTIALS of recovery. But these are INDISPENSABLE."

    The "Big Book" authors tell us it is our arrogance and our shortsightedness that keeps us in the darkness and block us from the "sunlight of the Spirit," which is the ONLY thing that can help us.

    Please turn back to page 46. The Big Book authors ask us to develop OUR OWN concept of God. In other words, they want us to find a God of OUR OWN understanding. In the second paragraph on page 46 it says the following: 

    "Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider ANOTHER'S conception of God. OUR OWN conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, PROVIDED (or IF) we took other simple steps. We found that God does NOT make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, ALL inclusive; NEVER exclusive or forbidding to those who EARNESTLY seek. It is open, we believe, to all…"

    They inform us that we are going to take some actions which WILL lead us to our Creator, and this Higher Power WILL guide us in the Realm of the Spirit. Our personalities will change from self-centered to God-centered; our lives will change from the material to the Spiritual.

    As we said earlier, A.A. is not a religious program. We're free to call this Power anything we wish, as long as WE are not it and it's a Power GREATER than ourselves. The "Big Book" authors use many different names for this Power including Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind, Spirit of the Universe, Creator, the Great Reality, and an unsuspected inner resource, among others. Quite a few times they call this Power, "God", but they use the word God merely for convenience rather than for any religious purpose. Please refer to this Power by any name you believe in or feel comfortable with.

    Bill Wilson, our New York City co-founder, had a great deal of difficulty accepting this spiritual solution to alcoholism. In "Bill's Story" he describes how he "came to believe".

    In late November 1934, Ebby T. visits Bill at his Brooklyn, New York home. It is during this visit that Bill first learns about a God of his own understanding. Let's pick up the story at the top of page 12.

    As we mentioned earlier, Ebby is one of Bill's school friends. Ebby has been sober in the Oxford Group for several months. He tells Bill his life has changed as the result of practicing the Oxford Group's Six Spiritual Activities that we discussed earlier. Please keep in mind that Bill always considered Ebby to be a worse drunk than he was, so the fact that Ebby was now not drinking carried a strong message.

    Bill becomes quite distressed when Ebby starts talking about God. However, he DOES listen because he realizes Ebby's life has changed and Ebby is sober for the first time in many years. Page 12, paragraph 1:

    "Despite the living example of my friend there remained in me vestiges (or traces) of my old prejudice. The word God still aroused a certain antipathy (which means a strong dislike). When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was intensified. I didn't like the idea. I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens, however loving His sway might be. I have since talked with scores of men who felt that same way."

    Then, Ebby presents Bill with a revolutionary concept:

    "My friend suggested what then seemed a novel (or new) idea. He said, 'Why don't you choose YOUR OWN conception of God?'" 
    "That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last." 
    "It was only a matter of being WILLING to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of COMPLETE willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I have it? Of course I would!"

    This is how Bill started on his journey to a God of his understanding and lasting sobriety. It all began with Bill's willingness to believe in a God of his own understanding.


  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Steps 2,3 and 4 Part 3 09/08/2017 08:46 AM

    Now, let's look at how the "Big Book" authors describe God. In the middle of page 46, they ask us to set aside our contempt for spiritual principles and consider OUR OWN concept of God. If we do, we will begin to realize there just might be some validity to the A.A. spiritual solution for alcoholism. Starting with line three in the first paragraph of page 46, they write:Now, let's look at how the "Big Book" authors describe God. In the middle of page 46, they ask us to set aside our contempt for spiritual principles and consider OUR OWN concept of God. If we do, we will begin to realize there just might be some validity to the A.A. spiritual solution for alcoholism. Starting with line three in the first paragraph of page 46, they write:

    "…We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commence to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."

    Basically, the "Big Book" authors tell us it is impossible to define God. We have to stop trying to comprehend God with our mind and start accepting God with our heart. The book continues at the top of page 47: 

    "When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean YOUR OWN conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter (or prevent) you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth, to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him. Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So, we used OUR OWN conception, however limited it was."

    On the next page, the "Big Book" authors state that most of us eventually become "teachable". Sometimes we have to take our lives right to the brink of disaster and look death squarely in the eye before we are willing to acknowledge the presence of a Higher Power. But there is hope even for the most stubborn of us. Starting with the seventh line down from the top of page 48, it says: 

    "…Faced with alcoholic destruction, we soon become as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness. Sometimes this was a tedious process; we hope no one else will be prejudiced for as long as some of us were."

    In the third paragraph on page 52, the authors make a powerful case for the existence of God. Page 52, paragraph 3: 

    "When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did."

    So, in order to recover from alcoholism, we have to find a Power greater than ourselves. But where are we going to find this Power? Please turn to page 55, and starting with the second paragraph, the authors provide us with the answer to that question. On page 55, paragraph 2, it says:

    "Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in EVERY man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured (or made unclear) by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of the power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself. 
    We saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He WAS there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is ONLY there that He may be found. It was so with us. 
    We can only clear the ground a bit. If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently WITHIN yourself, then, if you wish, you can join us on the Broad Highway. With THIS attitude you CANNOT fail. The consciousness of your belief is SURE to come to you."

    These are dramatic, and for some of us, revolutionary concepts. Let us summarize them for you. First, the authors of the "Big Book" tell us they have found a way to free us from the bondage of alcoholism and misery. Next, they describe the solution as a Power greater than ourselves. Finally, they tell us where to find this Power - right inside each and every one of us.

    Now we know WHERE to find this Power. Most of the rest of the "Big Book" is devoted to the question of HOW to find and connect with this Power.

    Once again we need to make a decision. We have to decide whether or not we believe in a Higher Power - a Spirit of the Universe - a God of OUR understanding.

    Just like Step One, the Big Book on page 47 provides a question associated with taking Step Two. In the middle of 47, the Big Book authors write:

    "We need to ask ourselves but one short question. 'Do I NOW believe, or am I even WILLING to believe, that there IS a Power greater than myself?' As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically (or strongly) assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built."

    Now, it's time to choose. Are we willing to admit that there is a Higher Power? If we are, we're ready to take Step Two.

    If you are hesitant to commit right now, that's fine. It just means you're not ready to proceed with the rest of the program. Please take time during the next day or two to discuss the concept of a "God of YOUR understanding" with your "sponsor" or spiritual advisor. If after that you are then ready to proceed, have that person take you through the Second Step and ask you to answer the Second Step question found in the middle of page 47, where we find the directions.

    Let's see who is ready to proceed.

    This is the Second Step question:

    "Do you NOW believe, or are you even WILLING to believe, that there IS a Power greater than yourself?" 
    Thats all that is nesscaery now. 
    I have found step 2 means more to me after I have taken the first nine steps. 
    Those of you who have answered "yes" to this Step 2 question have completed the Second Step for now


    when I was working on step two I came across a stumbling block-my old ideas about God.I didn`t want anything much to do with those old ideas. 
    I was told to throw them away and start fresh with nothing.I gave it a try and it worked fine for me.

    Since then a friend showed me how to identify old ideas and see how they keep me seperated from life. 
    It`s simple and it may help you-first I get a sheet of blank paper or notebook paper. 
    I turn it sideways and draw 3 lines from top to bottom.That makes 4 columns.

    In column one I write "God" at the top 
    In column two I write my old ideas about God in this column.They come from from impressions,thoughts,experiences,childhood,teen yrs,church experience,etc 
    some examples are: 
    mean,don`t like me,won`t help me,likes you,helps you, 
    judgemental,tightwad,won`t listen to me,etc

    in column three I write the results of those old ideas: 
    seperation from God and all God had to offer me,life lived on self will,negative thinking,etc

    no wonder I felt "set apart"

    in column four I wrote down a few new ideas about God i came up with myself and was willing to believe or work toward believing.

    good,loves me,helps me,forgiving,wants good for me,etc

    and that helps me find and turn loose of those old ideas that keep me seperated from my fellowmen and God 
    Maybe you can find something here to help you also.

    if you do,please pass it on someday to someone else! 

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Steps 2,3 and 4 Part 4 09/08/2017 08:45 AM

    Let's now look at Step Three. Please turn in your "Big Book" to page 60. 
    Step 3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives our to the care of God as we understood Him.

    If the writer of a textbook has an understanding of a word, but the reader of the book has a DIFFERENT understanding of the SAME word, then the information that comes through will be garbled and incomplete. There are three words in the "lampshade on the wall" version of Step Three that are important to understand.

    Most people think that the Third Step says that we turn our will and our life over to the care of God. But it doesn't say that. What it says is that we MAKE A DECISION to turn my will and life over to the care of God. So the first word that needs to be understood is the word DECISION, which is defined as "making up one's own mind." Let's say my car breaks down. Although the DECISION to get my car fixed is a vital and crucial step, that decision alone does not get the car fixed. I will ALSO need to take the actions necessary to get it fixed. For any decision to mean ANYTHING, it ALWAYS requires further action.

    If we decide, or make up our own mind, to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understand God, that decision ALONE will not turn it over. We will have to take the actions necessary to turn it over. The first three Steps are designed to bring us to the point where we become WILLING to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power, Steps Four through Nine are HOW we turn our will and our life over, by removing the blocks that prevent us from actually doing so; and the last three Steps are how we KEEP our will and our lives turned over to God indefinitely. After a period of time though, our ego (or self-will) begins to reassert itself again; and because of our "human-ness", we fall short in maintaining perfect spiritual focus in all of our thoughts and activities. That is why , even if we have worked the first nine Steps to the best of our ability once and are living in Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve, we will still need to eventually go back to Step One and begin the Steps cycle again and again for deeper awakenings and further growth in other areas where we have God blocked off that we may not be currently aware of.

    The other two words that are important to understand are the words WILL and LIVES. The words "will" and "lives" are concepts way over our head and are way too large to relate to or comprehend. But these words can be better understood by explaining that our will is our thinking and what motivates us, and that our life is all the actions that we've taken up to this moment. That explanation makes the words a little more down to earth and easier to comprehend. So the Third Step can then be reworded as saying that I decide to take the actions necessary to turn my motivations, my thinking, and my actions over to the care of God as I understand Him. Also, what motivates me drives my thinking and my thinking directs my actions, so I need to go deeper than just acting my way into right thinking. If my motivation and thinking is GOD-directed, I will make the right decisions (whether it seems that way at the time or not), then the actions taken will also be right. But if my motivation and thinking is SELF-directed, I will usually make the wrong decisions (even though I may not realize it at the time), then the actions taken will probably also be wrong.

    The Third Step in the "Big Book" begins just below the middle of page 60. How do we know that? Well, in this case, the "Big Book" authors tell us:

    "Being convinced, we were at Step Three,..."

    Convinced of what? If we've taken Steps One and Two, we are convinced that we are alcoholics and that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. Sometimes the word "sanity" is misunderstood. Other words that capture the essence of what is being said here are restore us to reality, or restore us to honesty, or restore us to peace of mind, or restore us to balance; whichever you prefer. Now we need to get out of the way and let God direct our lives.

    On pages 60 through 63, the 'Big Book" authors discuss self-will and God's Will in great detail. At the bottom of page 60, paragraph 4, they explain we are like actors trying to control every detail of a play:

    "The first requirement (please notice that it says "requirement" not "suggestion") is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion (not just alcoholics but MOST people). Each person is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits."

    "What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be SOMEWHAT at fault, he is SURE that OTHER people are MORE to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when TRYING to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest (which means "take away by force") wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages (or manipulates) well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his BEST moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?"

    Does anyone here NOT relate to this page?

    We seem to be always trying to prove to everyone else that they would be better off if they just did things OUR way. I'm sure you'll agree that that's a bit of self-centeredness and a form of playing God. I think the word that comes to mind is "manipulation", but you can call it whatever you want.

    In the first paragraph on page 62, the authors declare that it is this selfish and self-centeredness that has gotten us into trouble. We need to take responsibility for our selfishness and ask God to remove this shortcoming from our lives. Page 62, paragraph 1: 

    "Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the ROOT of our troubles. (And I always thought that ALCOHOL or other people was my problem.) Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably (which means "constantly") 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." 
    "So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. (This brings a message of hope because it is neither necessary nor possible to change others. But if we, with God's help, can change ourselves, we will find that no other changes are needed. If other people or life were to blame for our troubles, there is absolutely nothing we can do about that. But if I am to blame for almost all of my troubles, there is something I can do about that because I am the only person that I can change. Like a wise man once said, "It is easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world." The book continues.) They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. (It's important to know that this includes before we started drinking, while we were drinking, and even prior to taking Step Three since we've STOPPED drinking.) ABOVE EVERYTHING, we alcoholics MUST be rid of this selfishness. (Please notice that it says, "above everything" and "must.") We MUST, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We HAD to have God's help."

    So it's saying that the ONLY thing that we have going for us, which is self-will and self-knowledge, or MY life run on MY will, is the VERY THING that will lead us back to drinking (at best) or progressive misery as time passes (at worst). Let me repeat that. So it's saying that the ONLY thing that we have going for us, which is self-will, or MY life run on MY will, is the VERY THING that leads us back to drinking and/or progressive misery. If we are trying to make ourselves "un-self-centered", we are STILL being self-centered. A self-will problem cannot be overcome by self-will, a sick mind cannot heal a sick mind, we cannot USE the problem to SOLVE the problem. That gets rid of any hope we have of not pursuing this Higher Power stuff. Now what? Since Step One says that we are powerless over alcohol, what we need is the Power with a capital "P". And since our lives are unmanageable (especially our mental/emotional/spiritual life, whether we are drinking or not), what we need is a new Manager with a capital "M". Because ANYTHING at all that God has in mind for me is better than anything at all that I will EVER have in mind for me!

    So the AA program ultimately asks us to make TWO surrenders, not just one. We need to surrender to our drinking alcohol (we do this in Step One), but we also need to surrender to our self-will (or "my life run on my will", and we do THIS in Step Three). Unfortunately, many members of AA only make the first surrender and inevitably do not experience all the freedom, joy and serenity that the AA way of life promises. Because of not surrendering their self-will, they are often miserable and/or go back to drinking.

    Then at the bottom of page 62, the authors tell us what we have to do in order to rid ourselves of selfishness: 

    "This is the how and why of it. First of all, we HAD to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His Children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom." 

    For those who do not know, the keystone is the supporting stone for the ENTIRE structure, so the Third Step decision is the supporting Step for the rest of the Steps. Now this decision is starting to sound important. The Big Book just stated that we need to let God become our Director, so we need to be doing what we think our Higher Power would have us do. In other words, we need to be staying in the moment, being directed by unselfishness and love, and doing the next right thing. It also says that we need to move in the direction of being God's agent, and since an agent is given the power to represent the Principal, we are deciding to start acting in a way that would represent our Highest Power. It then mentions being God's children, and if we are all God's children, we need to start acting as if we are ALL equal brothers and sisters. So you can see that this paragraph says a lot, and actually contains the essence of what the Third Step decision is all about. The book continues and this next paragraph contains the Third Step Promises. 

    "When we SINCERELY took such a position (the position of God being our Director, our Principle and our Father), all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, IF we kept close to Him AND performed His work well." 

    So, now we know our place in God's Universe. Contrary to what we may have thought in the past, the whole world does not revolve around US. Once we step aside and put GOD in the center, we are amazed at how much better our lives become.

    In the Second Step, we are told that we need to come up with some sort of "God of our understanding" or "Power greater than ourselves." A.A. gives us a lot of respect by allowing us to believe whatever we wanted to believe about this Power. But there is a little unseen footnote next to Step 2 that states, "So long as WE are not it!" The Big Book says again and again that my belief that the universe revolves around ME is a BIG part of my problem, so this "center of my universe" needs to be replaced with some belief in a Power greater than human power. Then in Step 3, it introduces us to an important attribute that this Power needs to have when it says, "…the CARE of God as we understood Him." So our concept of the Power now needs to include the fact that this "God" cares and is caring. This may be difficult for many of us because our original concept of our Creator may have been more along the line of a "judgmental, harsh, He's going to get me, something to be feared" kind of God. We may need to completely scrap these old ideas and start over because this isn't the kind of Higher Power that one turns to for help.

    By now, we have moved toward becoming more aware of the presence of God. Starting with line five on page 63, the authors explain this awareness. These are also more Third Step Promises: 

    "Established on such a footing, we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little 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." 

    We have been delivered from the gates of hell, and we have come back to tell what it was like. It isn't a pretty picture. But, now we realize we never have to go back there again, as long as we don't forget to allow God to be our Director.

    It is decision time once again. "The Big Book" authors tell us we are now ready to take Step Three. The middle paragraph on page 63 contains the Third Step Prayer. This prayer is an affirmation of the decision we are making at the bottom of page 62. Before we say this prayer together as a group, there are some considerations we need to look at first. About 2/3 of the way down page 63, beginning with the last line of paragraph 2, they provide us with the directions and a warning:

    "We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly (or completely) to Him. 
    We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser. But it is better to meet God alone than with one who might misunderstand. The wording was, of course, quite optional so long as we expressed the idea, voicing it without reservation. This was only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, was felt at once."

    We are so fortunate that, in the years since the Big Book was written, the fellowship has grown to where very few, if any, newcomers have to take the Third Step alone. We're here tonight to take this monumental Step with you.

    Because it says, "We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready, that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly (or completely) to God";


    we would like to take a moment for personal reflection for those of you taking the Steps with us. Could we please have a moment of silence to think about whether or not you are ready to decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of the God of your own understanding.

    At the bottom of page 63, we can find the last point made about Step Three. The Big Book authors tell us what we need to do after we've made our Third Step decision. It is perhaps the MOST important point made about the Third Step, yet it is rarely discussed at meetings and usually overlooked. It states, "NEXT we launch out on a course of VIGOROUS action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had NEVER attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have LITTLE PERMANENT EFFECT unless AT ONCE followed by a STRENUOUS EFFORT to face, AND to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."

    Please note the authors say AT ONCE. It's telling us that this Third Step decision will have LITTLE permanent effect unless we IMMEDIATELY follow it up with a strenuous effort to face (and where we face these things is in Steps Four, Five and Six), and to be rid of (and where we get rid of these things is in Steps Seven, Eight and Nine), the things in ourselves which had been blocking us (and what we're being blocked off from is the ability to turn our will and lives over to BEGIN with). So after working the six middle Steps, then and ONLY then, will we be able to turn our will and our lives over to God with any kind of consistency, or else our initial contact with our Creator won't last.

    Let's see who is ready to proceed.


    Please keep in mind that, like we just said, the actions necessary to bring about the Step Three decision are Steps Four through Nine, because Steps Four through Nine are how we remove the blocks from turning our will and life over to God. This is the Third Step question: 

    "Do you now decide to take the actions necessary to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him?"

    if your answer is "yes" then lets pray the Big Book 3rd step prayer together now 

    "...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!"

    well done,take it to heart ! 
    Please begin to include saying this Third Step Prayer as part of your daily time with God, and when needed throughout the day.


    Even though we have taken a considerable amount of time on the first three Steps, all we have done is make decisions. Now we are going to begin to take some specific actions that will carry us the rest of the way to the God of our understanding.


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