AS BILL SEES IT. 1. Personality Change. "It has often been said of A.A. that we are interested only on alcoholism. That is not true. We have to get over drinking in . As Bill sees it. (Click to Download). PDF. DOC · Home · AA Website · Skype · Contact Web Manager · To Participate. Schedule · Group Conscience. Downloads PDF As Bill Sees It, PDF Downloads As Bill Sees It, Downloads As Bill Sees It, PDF As Bill Sees It, Ebook As Bill Sees It, Epub As.
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B-5 - This collection of Bill's writings is a daily source of comfort and inspiration. As Bill sees it by, , Alcoholics Anonymous World Service edition, in English. As Bill Sees It - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online.
If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism. The Bronxville Group has 14 meetings a week. We encourage you all to attend on Wednesdays where we have AA literature available, a temporary sponsor list, and you may sign-up to join the group.
We celebrate anniversaries the first Wednesday of every month at 8pm at Christ Church. Everyone is welcome. Our business meeting is the last Wednesday of every month at 7pm, also at Christ Church.
We encourage you all to please attend, as your input is welcome and important. If you need to check messages, send a text, or answer calls, please do so outside of the meeting. Ask if anyone is new to the fellowship or the Bronxville Group. Ask if there are any AA-related announcements. If there are a lot of people, Chairperson announces the following: We have a lot of people here tonight so please be mindful of your share so everyone gets to share. Chairperson introduces the speaker.
Speaker goes to a round-robin for sharing. So when we commence to pay our own service bills, this is a healthy change. There remained a fine house -- with a budget three times his reduced earnings. But no! Henry said he knew that God wanted him to live there, and He would see that the costs were paid. So Henry went on running up bills and glowing with faith.
Not surprisingly, his creditors finally took over the place. Henry can laugh about it now, having learned that God more often helps those who are willing to help themselves. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered.
In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which he had hitherto denied himself. The more we practice them, the more we like them.
So there is little doubt that A. If our basis are so firmly fixed as all this, then what is there left to change or to improve?
The answer will immediately occur to us. While we need not alter our truths, we can surely improve their application to ourselves, to A. We can constantly step up the practice of "these principles in all our affairs.
In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It didn't work. We decided that hereafter, in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He would be the Principal; we, His agents. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphal arch through which we passed to freedom.
Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? We must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflections, for that would diminish our usefulness to ourselves and to others.
After making our review we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn't quite belong.
Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were noisy good fellows constantly craving attention and companionship, but rarely getting it.
There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand. That's one reason we loved alcohol too well. But even Bacchus betrayed us; we were finally struck down and left in terrified isolation. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends -- this is an experience not to be missed.
We began to see each adversity as a God-given opportunity to develop the kind of courage which is born of humility, rather than of bravado. Prudence in practice creates a definite climate, the only climate in which harmony, effectiveness, and consistent spiritual progress can be achieved. TALK, 92 Walking Toward Serenity "When I was tired and couldn't concentrate, I used to fall back on an affirmation toward life that took the form of simple walking and deep breathing. I sometimes told myself that I couldn't do even this -- that I was to weak.
But I learned that this was the point at which I could not give in without becoming still more depressed.
I would determine to walk a quarter of a mile. And I would concentrate by counting my breathing -- say, six steps to each slow inhalation and four to each exhalation.
Having done the quarter-mile, I found that I could go on, maybe a half-mile more. Then another half-mile, and maybe another. The false sense of physical weakness would leave me this feeling being so characteristic of depressions.
The walking and especially the breathing were powerful affirmations toward life and living and away from failure and death. The counting represented a minimum discipline in concentration, to get some rest from the wear and tear of fear and guilt.
And for the same reason. When we refuse air, light, or food, the body suffers. And when we turn away from meditation and prayer, we likewise deprive our minds, our emotions, and our intuitions of vitally needed support. As the body can fail its purpose for lack of nourishment, so can the soul. We all need the light of God's reality, the nourishment of His strength, and the atmosphere of His grace. To an amazing extent the facts of A.
In All Our Affairs is sobriety. We all realize that without "However, it is possible to expand this simple aim into a great deal of nonsense, so far as the individual member is concerned. After all, I'm a pretty fine chap, expect for my drinking. Give me sobriety, and I've got it made! This is why A. Each man's theology has to be his own quest, his own affair.
Others had no objection to the use of the word "God", but wanted to avoid doctrinal issues. Spirituality, yes. Religion, no. Still others wanted a psychological book, to lure the alcoholic in. Once in, he could take God or leave Him alone as he wished. To the rest of us this was shocking, but happily we listened. Our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible. Every voice was playing its appointed part. Our atheists and agnostics widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.
No one wants to be so proud that he is scorned as a braggart, nor so greedy that he is labeled a thief. No one wants to be angry enough to murder, lustful enough to rape, gluttonous enough to ruin his health. No one wants to be agonized by chronic envy or paralyzed by sloth. Of course, most human beings don't suffer these defects at these rockbottom levels, and we who have escaped such extremes are apt to congratulate ourselves.
Yet can we? Not much spiritual effort is involved in avoiding excesses which will bring us punishment anyway. But when we face up to the less violent aspects of these very same defects, where do we stand then? We had to, or it would have killed us. But we couldn't get rid of alcohol unless we made other sacrifices. We had to toss self-justification, self-pity, and anger right out the window.
We had to quit the crazy contest for personal prestige and big bank balances. We had to take personal responsibility for our sorry slate and quit blaming others for it. Were these sacrifices? Yes, they were. To gain enough humility and selfrespect to stay alive at all, we had to give up what had really been our dearest possessions -- our ambition and our illegitimate pride. It is a primary cause of relapses into drinking. How well we of A. Given enough anger, both unity and purpose are lost.
This is why we avoid controversy. This is why we prescribe no punishments for any misbehavior, no matter how grievous.
Indeed, no alcoholic can be deprived of his membership for any reason whatever. Only love can heal.
Slips can also be charged to carelessness and complacency. Many of us fail to ride out these periods sober. Things go fine for two or three years -- then the member is seen no more. Some of us suffer extreme guilt because of vices or practices that we can't or won't let go of. Too little self-forgiveness and too little prayer -- well, this combination adds up to slips. Still others encounter a series of calamities and cannot seem to find the spiritual resources to meet them.
There are those of us who are physically ill. Others are subject to more or less continuous exhaustion, anxiety, and depression. I was brought up in a little town in Vermont, under the shadow of Mount Aeolus. An early recollection is that of looking up at this vast and mysterious mountain, wondering what it meant and whether I could ever climb that high. But I was presently distracted by my aunt who, as a fourth-birthday present, made me a plate of fudge. For the next thirty-five years I pursued the fudge of life and quite forgot about the mountain.
We call it "taking our comfort. It is apparent to everyone else present that he has received a great gift, and that this gift is all out of proportion to anything that may be expected from simple A. So we in the audience smile and say to ourselves, "Well, that guy is just reeking with the spiritual angle -- except that he doesn't seem to know it yet! Intimate communication is normally so free and easy among us that an A.
The protective sanctity of this most healing of human relations ought never be violated. Such privileged communications have priceless advantages. We find in them the perfect opportunity to be as honest as we know how to be. We do not have to think of the possibility of damage to other people, nor need we fear ridicule or condemnation. Here, too, we have the best possible chance of spotting self-deception. Obviously, good character was something one needed to get on with the business of being selfsatisfied.
With a proper display of honesty and morality, we'd stand a better chance of getting what we really wanted. But whenever we had to choose between character and comfort, character-building was lost in the dust of our chase after what we thought was happiness.
Seldom did we look at character-building as something desirable in itself. We never thought of making honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily basis of living. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well.
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. One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half-dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance.
If he does nothing or argues, we do nothing but maintain our own sobriety. If he starts to move ahead, even a little, with an open mind, we then break our necks to help in every way we can. This will not be the perfect definition, because I shall always be imperfect. At this writing, I would choose one like this: Perfect humility would be a full willingness, in all times and places, to find and to do the will of God. I only need to dwell on the vision itself, letting it grow and ever more fill my heart.
This done, I can compare it with my last-taken personal inventory. Then I get a sane and healthy idea of where I stand on the highway to humility. I see that my journey toward God has scarce begun.
As I thus get down to my right size and stature, my self-concern and importance become amusing. This all meant, of course, that we had substituted negative for positive thinking. After we came to A.
In belaboring the sins of some religious people, we could feel superior to all of them. Moreover, we could avoid looking at some of our own shortcomings. Self-righteousness, the very thing that we had contemptuously condemned in others, was our own besetting evil. This phony form of respectability was our undoing, so far as faith was concerned. But finally, driven to A. In an obituary notice from a local paper, there appeared these words: With amazing speed the Serenity Prayer came into general use.
We rest quietly with the thoughts or prayers of spiritually centered people who understand, so that we may experience and learn. This is the state of being that so often discovers and deepens a conscious contact with God. The moment we were able to accept these facts fully, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun. For most of us, this pair of acceptances had required a lot of exertion to achieve. Our whole treasured philosophy of self-sufficiency had to be cast aside. We neither ran nor fought.
But accept we did. And then we began to be free. Constructive or Destructive? Or, in fear and in depression, we ran from it, but found it was still with us. Often, full of unreason, bitterness, and blame, we fought back. These mistaken attitudes, powered by alcohol, guaranteed our destruction, unless they were altered. Here we learned that trouble was really a fact of life for everybody -- a fact that had to be understood and dealt with.
Surprisingly, we found that our troubles could, under God's grace, be converted into unimagined blessings. This was the A. Such demonstration became our stock in trade for the next sufferer. In many instances we shall find that, though the harm done to others has not been great, we have nevertheless done ourselves considerable injury. Then, too, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness, very deep, sometimes quite forgotten.
Therefore, we should try hard to recall and review those past events which originally induced these conflicts and which continue to give our emotions violent twists, thus discoloring our personalities and altering our lives for the worse. By reliving these episodes and discussing them in strict confidence with somebody else, we can reduce their size and therefore their potency in the unconscious.
Upon entering A. Even when we re-established in our business, terrible fears often continued to haunt us. This made us misers and penny-pinchers all over again. Complete financial security we must have -- or else.
We forgot that most alcoholics in A. And, worst of all, we forgot God. In money matters we had faith only in ourselves, and not too much of that. We should very seriously ask ourselves how many alcoholics have gone on drinking simply because we have failed to cooperate in good spirit with these many agencies -- whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. No alcoholic should go mad or die merely because he did not come straight to A.
This carries a top-priority rating. When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot. Believing so firmly that Christ can do anything, I had the unconscious conceit to suppose that He would do everything through me -- right then and in the manner I chose.
After six long months, I had to admit that not a soul had surely laid hold of the Master -- not excepting myself. I would have to be still and know that He, not I, was God. Certainly we have to discriminate between changes for worse and changes for better.
But once a need becomes clearly apparent in an individual, in a group, or in A. The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.
We can never become a religion in that sense, lest we kill our usefulness by getting bogged down in theological contention. For example, Catholic theologians declare our Twelfth Step to be in exact accord with their Ignatian Exercises for Retreat, and, though our book reeks of sin, sickness, and death, the Christian Science Monitor has often praised it editorially.
What happy circumstances, these! We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God's will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs.
We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter. The average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect -- unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.
Because we are drunks who understand him, we can use at depth the nutcracker of the-obsession-plus-the-allergy as a tool of such power that it can shatter his ego.
Only thus can he be convinced that on his own unaided resources he has little or no chance. They have kept alive through the centuries a faith which might have been extinguished entirely. They pointed out the road to me, but I did not even look up, I was so full of prejudice and self-concern. And the man who showed me the truth was a fellow sufferer and a layman.
Through him, I saw at last, and I stepped from the abyss to solid ground, knowing at once that my feet were on the broad highway if I chose to walk. That is their business, and this is a very natural reaction.
Once one is fairly sober, and sure of this, there seems no reason for failing to talk about A. This has a tendency to bring in other people. Word of mouth is one of our most important communications.
For by this time sanity has returned. We can now react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically.
We see that this new attitude toward liquor is really a gift of God. That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. 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 how we react -- so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition. A beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed. Once we have placed the key of willingness in the lock and have placed the key of willingness in the lock and have the door ever so slightly open, we find we can always open it some more. Though self-will may slam it shut again, as it frequently does, it will always respond the moment we again pick up the key of willingness. If the man is affected, the wife must become the head of the house, often the breadwinner.
As matters get worse, the husband becomes a sick and irresponsible child who needs to be looked after and extricated from endless scrapes and impasses. Very gradually, usually without any realization of the fact, the wife is forced to become the mother of an erring boy, and the alcoholic alternately loves and hates her maternal care. Under the influence of A.
The others must be convinced of his new status beyond the shadow of a doubt. Seeing is believing to most families who have lived with a drinker. When we chose because we "must", this was not a free choice, either.
But it got us started in the right direction. When we chose because we "ought to", we were really doing better. This time we were earning some freedom, making ourselves ready for more. But when, now and then, we could gladly make right choices without rebellion, hold-out, or conflict, then we had our first view of what perfect freedom under God's will could be like.
Looking over the valley, I see the village community house where our local group meets. Beyond the circle of my horizon lies the whole world of A.
Our lives, the lives of all to come, depend squarely upon it. Without unity, the heart of A. The dammed-up emotions of years break out of their confinement, and miraculously vanish as soon as they are exposed. As the pain subsides, a healing tranquility takes its place.
And when humility and serenity are so combined, something else of great moment is apt to occur. Many an A. And even those who already had faith often become conscious of God as they never were before. To be sure, we feel it is something that might help us to meet an occasional emergency, but at first many of us are apt to regard it as a somewhat mysterious skill of clergymen, from which we may hope to get a secondhand benefit.
They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond their usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.
Once, some prejudiced friends exhorted me never to go back to Wall Street. They were sure that the rampant materialism and double-dealing down there would stunt my spiritual growth. Because this sounded so high-minded, I continued to stay away from the only business that I knew. When, finally, my household went broke, I realized I hadn't been able to face the prospect of going back to work. I needed to rediscover that there are many fine people in New York's financial district.
Then, too, I needed the experience of staying sober in the very surroundings where alcohol had cut me down. So the birth of A. We have good reason to disbelieve those who think spirituality is the way of weakness. For us, it is the way of strength.
The verdict of the ages is that men of faith seldom lack courage. They trust their God. So we never apologize for our belief in Him. Instead, we try to let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do.
We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, in both 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. To a greater or lesser degree, everybody is infected with it.
From this defect we must surely get a warped yet definite satisfaction. We would like to be assured that the grace of God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
We have seen that character defects based upon shortsighted or unworthy desires are the obstacles that block our path toward these objectives. We now clearly see that we have been making unreasonable demands upon ourselves, upon others, and upon God. Today's spot check finds its chief application to situations which arise in each day's march. The consideration of long-standing difficulties had better be postponed, when possible, to times deliberately set aside for that purpose.
The quick inventory is aimed at our daily ups and downs, especially those where people or new events throw us off balance and tempt us to make mistakes.
Instead of seeing myself as a bearing the message of experience, I had thought of myself as A. How much better it would have been had I felt gratitude rather than selfsatisfaction -- gratitude that I had once suffered the pains of alcoholism, gratitude that a miracle of recovery had been worked upon me from above, gratitude for the privilege of serving my fellow alcoholics, and gratitude for those fraternal ties which bound me ever closer to them in a comradeship such as few societies of men have ever known.
Truly did a clergyman say to me, "Your misfortune has become your good fortune. You A. As this attractive formula for the good life began to succeed, according to my then specifications of success, I became deliriously happy. But when an undertaking occasionally did fail, I was filled with resentment and depression that could be cured only by the next triumph. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.
Perhaps in some cases we shall say, "This I cannot give up yet Such rebellion my be fatal. Instead, we should abandon limited objectives and begin to move towards God's will for us. Hearing this, I feel that I still prefer to cling to the so-called illusion of religion, which in my own experience has meaningfully told me something very different. His judgment, fortified by considerable experience, is sound; he is willing to sit quietly on the side lines patiently awaiting developments.
The bleeding deacon is just as surely convinced that the group cannot get along without him. Nearly every oldtimer in our Society has gone through this process in some degree.
Happily, most of them survive and live to become elder statesmen. They become the real and permanent leadership of A. This was true even when we believed that God existed.
We could actually have earnest religious beliefs which remained barren because we were still trying to play God ourselves. As long as we placed self-reliance first, a genuine reliance upon a Higher Power was out of the question. That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God's will, was missing.
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.
Guilt aims at selfdestruction, and pride aims at the destruction of others. LETTER, "Restore Us to Sanity" Few indeed are the practicing alcoholics who have they are, or, seeing their irrationality, can example, some will be willing to term themselves cannot endure the suggestion that they are in fact any idea how irrational bear to face it. For "problem drinkers," but mentally ill.
They are abetted in this blindness by a world which does not understand the difference between sane drinking and alcoholism. Yet no alcoholic, soberly analyzing his destructive behavior, whether the destruction fell on the dining-room furniture or his own moral fiber, can claim "soundness of mind" for himself.
Without them we wouldn't be complete human beings. If men and women didn't exert themselves to be secure in their persons, made no effort to harvest food or construct shelter, there would be no survival.
If they didn't reproduce, the earth wouldn't be populated. If there were no social instinct, there would be no society. Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper functions. Powerfully, blindly, many times subtly, they drive us, dominate us, and insist upon ruling our lives. We subjected each relation to this test: Was it selfish or not?
We asked God to mold our ideals and help us to live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed. Mostly, I think, about how to do the greatest good for the greatest number of drunks. We shall have our childish spats and snits over small questions of money management and who is going to run our groups for the next six months.
Any bunch of growing children and that is what we are would hardly be in character if they did less. These are the growing pains of infancy, and we actually thrive on them. Surmounting such problems, in A. Not at all; this would be folly. Most certainly, we should assess the capacity for harm as well as the capability for good in every person that we would trust.
Nothing can so much bias our judgment as the negative emotions of suspicion, jealousy, or anger. Because of this, more often than not he will respond magnificently, and far beyond our first expectations. But every A. I'm sure this is something we too often forget.
God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging -- perhaps fatally so -- to numbers of nonbelievers. Of course this sort of thing isn't confined to Twelfth Step work. It is very apt to leak out into our relations with everybody. Even now, I catch myself chanting that same old barrier-building refrain: We can be open-minded toward all such efforts and we can be sympathetic when the ill-advised ones fail.
We can remember that A. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. But we saw that the program really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness of life as we had been living it.
When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We admit that we have character defects as a society and that these defects threaten us continually.
Our Traditions are a guide to better ways of working and living, and they are to group survival and harmony what A. It has no boundaries, of width or height or depth. Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, it is essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in his own way. But its object is always the same: And let's always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of its first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand Him.
To escape looking at the wrongs we have done another, we resentfully focus on the wrong he has done us. Triumphantly we seize upon his slightest misbehavior as the perfect excuse for minimizing or forgetting our own. Right here we need to fetch ourselves up sharply. Let's remember that alcoholics are not only ones bedeviled by sick emotions.
In many instances we are really dealing with fellow sufferers, people whose woes we have increased. If we are about to ask forgiveness for ourselves, why shouldn't we start out by forgiving them, one and all? It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there.
For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that Power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself. It may sometimes be had through reason. For instance, many clergymen believe that St. Thomas Auinas actually proved God's existence by sheer logic. But what can one do when all these channels fail?
This was my own grievous dilemma. This freedom-giving experience came first, and then faith followed afterward -- a gift indeed! Our best defense in these situations would be no defense whatever -- namely, complete silence at the public level. If in good humor we let unreasonable critics alone, they are apt to subside the more quickly. If their attacks persist and it is plain that they are misinformed, it may be wise to communicate with them privately in a temperate and informative way.
If, however, a given criticism of A. But under no conditions should we exhibit anger or any punitive intent. Selfrighteous anger can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us; it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority. At first nearly every alcoholic we approached began to slip, if indeed he sobered up at all.
Others would stay dry six months or maybe a year and then take a skid. This was always a genuine catastrophe. We would all look at each other and say, "Who next? Fear has evaporated. Alcohol always threatens the individual, but we know that it cannot destroy the common welfare. After all, why should people who are drinking tell people who are dry how it should be done? If they are too noisy or troublesome, amiably keep out of their way.
On its great floor we have inscribed our Twelve Steps of recovery. On the side walls, the buttresses of the A. Traditions have been set in place to contain us in unity for as long as God may will it so. Eager hearts and hands have lifted the spire of our cathedral into its place.
That spire bears the name of Service. May it ever point straight upward toward God. It is to the many; indeed, it is to the labors of all of us that we owe these prime blessings. TALK, Perception of Humility An improved perception of humility starts a revolutionary change in our outlook. Our eyes begin to open to the immense values which have come straight out of painful ego-puncturing. Until now, our lives have been largely devoted to running from pain and problems.
Escape via the bottle was always our solution. Then, in A. Everywhere we saw failure and misery transformed by humility into priceless assets. Yes, we reveled in that sort thinking, didn't we? And, though sober nowadays, don't we often try to much the same thing? Perhaps our trouble was not that we used our imagination. Perhaps the real trouble was our almost total inability to point imagination toward the right objectives. There's nothing the matter with truly constructive imagination; all sound achievements rests upon it.
After all, no man can build a house until he first visions a plan for it. We can never say or insinuate to anyone that he must agree to our formula or be excommunicated.
The atheist may stand up in an A. Much experience tells us he will presently change his mind about God, but nobody tells him he must do so.
All people having an alcoholic problem who wish to get rid of it and so make a happy adjustment with the circumstances of their lives, become A. Nothing but sincerity is needed. But we do not demand even this. An opportunity for spiritual growth is open to all. And we will be equally penalized if we presume in ourselves a perfection that simply is not there. In our slow progress away from rebellion, true perfection is doubtless several millennia away. Fortified with the excuse that we are doing great things for A.
Bob was essentially a far more humble person than I, and anonymity came rather easily to him. When it was sure that he was mortally afflicted, some of his friends suggested that there should be a monument erected in honor of him and his wife, Anne -- befitting a founder and his lady.
Telling me about this, Dr. Bob grinned broadly and said, "God bless 'em. They mean well. But let's you and me get buried just like other folks. Bob and Anne lie, the simple stone says not a word about A. We do not relate intimate experiences of another member unless we are sure he would approve.
We find it better, when possible, to stick to our own stories. A man may criticize or laugh at himself and it will affect others favorably, but criticism or ridicule aimed at someone else often produces the contrary effect. We alcoholics have learned this the hard way.
More experienced people, of course, in all times and places have practiced unsparing self-survey and criticism.
And chaos is not simplicity. When it comes to survival for A. Who can possibly tell the vast consequences of what God's work through A. And who can penetrate the deeper mystery of our wholesale deliverance from slavery, a bondage to a most hopeless and fatal obsession which for centuries possessed the minds and bodies of men and women like ourselves? Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh?
We have recovered, and have helped others to recover. What greater cause could there be for rejoicing than this? It has been validated in every century, and it characterizes the lives of all spiritually centered and truly religious people. But today religion is by no means the sole advocate principle. Psychiatrists and psychologists point out the human being has for practical insight and knowledge of his flaws and for a discussion of them with an understanding person.
Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission of our defects to another human being, we could not stay sober. It seems plain that the grace of God will not enter to expel our destructive obsessions until we are willing to try this. Some people start out working with others and have immediate success.
They are likely to get cocky. Those of us who are not so successful at first get depressed.
He simply hits newcomers who are ready and able to stop at once. Given the same prospects, the seemingly unsuccessful person would have produced almost the same results. You have to work on a lot of newcomers before the law of averages commences to assert itself. We saw that each sponsor would have to admit humbly his own needs as clearly as those of his prospect. Yet no prophet can presume to say whether the world outcome will be blazing destruction or the beginning, under God's intention, of the brightest era yet known to mankind.
I am sure we A.
In microcosm, we have experienced this identical state of terrifying uncertainty, each in his own life. In no sense pridefully, we can say that we do not fear the world outcome, whichever course it may take. This is because we have been enabled to deeply feel and say, "We shall fear no evil -- Thy will, not ours, be done. I can't go through with it. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles.
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. LETTER, Accepting God's Gifts "Though many theologians hold the sudden spiritual experiences amount to a special distinction, if not a divine appointment of some sort, I question this view. Every human being, no matter what his attributes for good or evil, is a part of the divine spiritual economy. Therefore, each of us has his place, and I cannot see that God intends to exalt one over another.
Your own alcoholism and the immense deflation that finally resulted are indeed the foundation upon which your spiritual experiences rests. We all find that the time comes when we are not allowed to manage and conduct the functional affairs of groups, areas, or, in my case, A. In the end we can only be worth as much as our spiritual example has justified. To that extent, we become useful symbols -- and that's just about it. We have seen A. A man who tries to run his life rigidly by this kind of prayer, by this self-serving demand of God for replies, is a particularly disconcerting individual.
To any questioning or criticism of his actions, he instantly proffers his reliance upon prayer for guidance in all matters great or small. He may have forgotten the possibility that his own wishful thinking and the human tendency to rationalize have distorted his so-called guidance. With the best of intentions, he tends to force his will into all sorts of situations and problems with the comfortable assurance that he is acting under God's specific direction.
To some, this single virtue appears to be the sole dividend of our Fellowship. We are thought to be dried-up drunks who otherwise have changed little, or not at all, for the better. Such a surmise widely misses the truth. We know that permanent sobriety can be attained only by a most revolutionary change in the life and outlook of the individual -- by a spiritual awakening that can banish the desire to drink.
But, in the end, our seeking always brings a finding. These great mysteries are, after all, enshrined in complete simplicity. The willingness to grow is the essence of all spiritual development.
Therefore, each of us has to conceive what this great ideal may be -- to the best of our ability. The best way we can do is to strive for a better quality of honesty.
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.
We did exactly honestly. Roots of reality, supplanting the hold fast despite the high winds of the forces which we would use to destroy ourselves. Their will to disbelieve is so powerful that apparently they prefer a date with the undertaker to an open-minded and experimental quest for God. Happily for me, and for most of my kind who have since come along in A. Beaten into complete defeat by alcohol, confronted by the living proof of release, and surrounded by those who can speak to us from the heart, we have finally surrendered.
And then, paradoxically, we have found ourselves in a new dimension, the real world of spirit and faith. Enough willingness, enough open-mindedness -- and there it is! Not too long ago, I sat talking in my office with a member who bears the title Countess. That same night, I went to an A. It was winter, and there was a mildlooking little gent taking the coats. I said, "Who's that? Everybody likes him. He used to be one of Al Capone's mob. All of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator, with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.
Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. If we lean too heavily on people, they will sooner or later fail us, for they are human, too, and cannot possibly meet our insecurity grows and festers. When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. Without realizing it, we were just accumulating funds for the next spree.
Money was the symbol of pleasure and self-importance. As our drinking became worse, money was only an urgent requirement which could supply us with the next drink and the temporary comfort of oblivion it brought.
For us, material well-being always follows spiritual progress; it never precedes. This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power of God in our lives. We have come to believe He would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth.
That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. These are the realities for us. We have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual experience and a life of sane and happy usefulness. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably ineffective.
Nor were we ever skillful in separating justified from unjustified anger. As we saw it, our wrath was always justified. Anger, that occasional luxury of more balanced people, could keep us on an emotional jag indefinitely.
These "dry benders" often led straight to the bottle. We must avoid quicktempered criticism, furious power-driven argument, sulking, and silent scorn.
These are emotional booby traps baited with pride and vengefulness. When we are tempted by the bait, we should train ourselves to step back and think. We can neither think nor act to good purpose until the habit of self-restraint has become automatic. From cradle to grave, the drunk and the potential alcoholic will have to be completely surrounded by a true and deep understanding and by a continuous barrage of information. This means factual education, properly presented.
Heretofore, much of this education has attacked the immorality of drinking rather than the illness of alcoholism. Now who is going to do all this education? Obviously, it is both a community job and a job for specialists. Individually, we A.