Category Archives: Big Book Musings

Big Book Musings: The God Issue

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So onto the chapter that gives most addicts and alcoholics fits:  We Agnostics, chapter 4 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Maybe I am going to be in for a rude awakening when I finally do enter the “real world,” because this recovery business is fairly straightforward to me.  The following paragraph is CRITICAL in understanding how I remain sober, especially the “came to believe…”

Don’t drink, “came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity,” and “made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as we understood Him.  The rest of the Steps of A.A. are elementary to me.  That’s the Higher Power component for me.  Replace “me” with “our” for the Big Book wording.

higherpower on justruminating men's blogPeople are like “Omg, this A.A. business is so religious.”  “I don’t believe in God.”  “I don’t know what a Higher Power looks like.”  Well, good thing you have me, right?  LOL, I’m going to spell this out very plainly and simply for you–and, of course, these are just my opinionsThis is what works for me:  A Higher Power can be anything that is greater than yourself that will help keep you sober.  Period.

As Chapter 4 points out:

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.”

So, we can’t do it alone!  The cornerstone of any 12 Step Program is this concept of a Higher Power.  Without a spiritual awakening, in whatever form you choose it to be, we will continue to relapse and be lost.  The Big Book goes on to say:

spiritual awakening on justruminating men's blog

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?

Yes, in the Big Book it walks about a “Supreme Being.”  It talks about a “Creative Intelligence.”  It talks about a “Spirit of the Universe.”  I would argue that we are all from the same spirit.  What keeps me alive–exclusive of physical anatomy–is what keeps you alive.

Do you honestly believe that when you die that’s the end of the show?  People who believe in God believe they are going to heaven.  People who believe in Buddhism believe that

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death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.”  (source).

I believe that spirit does not die.  I believe spirit is remade in some higher form or another.  We cannot possibly have all this commonality, only to end up as worm food.  My point is that this is some of my Higher Power.  This belief that we are all connected.  This belief that there is this awesome force controlling us; therefore, I rely on this wellspring to give me strength when I am weak.  There is an awesome power that connects us folks, “they ain’t no de-ni-in dat.”

Chapter 4 suggests:

Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.

frog on justruminating men's blogThere is much more to cover from Chapter 4.  We will surely be covering more down the road.  Contemplate your beliefs and contemplate what the Highest possible Power is that you can imagine controlling the universe.  I don’t care if you think that it is a frog that lives in the Rain Forest.  Then, simply tap into that power for your strength.  Voila, Higher Power.

There are those that say anything can be your Higher Power until you can tap into one that is greatest–God, Buddha, Allah, whatever.  Your Higher Power could be your children.  It could be, like me, a combination of things:  The Great Oneness, Writing, Nature Contemplations.  Some have suggested that A.A. (or any 12 Step Program) can be your Higher Power.

It doesn’t have to be this gigantic gorilla you have to wrestle down and kill.  Simplify it to the highest force possible.  Then, hang on for dear life until you have your legs under you.  YOU CAN DO THIS!!

Signs of A Spiritual Awakening

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Big Book Musings: Not So Smart

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Chapter 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous, titled “More About Alcoholism,” talks more about the power of booze over the individual.  It is a powerful testament to those who are still convinced that they can either control their drinking, or put it down for a while to return to it just fine at a later date.

There are many intelligent alcoholics.  None of those people ever got up one day and said “Today I think I’ll be an alcoholic.”  Alcoholism is a disease.  Alcoholism has an effect on those predisposed to it that does not otherwise effect the normal drinker.

In the Big Book, Chapter 3 it says:

To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have.  This is particularly true of women.  Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.

No matter how smart you are, how much you think you can control your drinking, how much you can quit then start back up again, in the end alcohol will possess the alcoholic.

alcoholismAnd the thing is, no matter how intelligent you think you are, no matter how much you think you’ll be able to inflict your will power on it and resume it later, the worse your condition becomes:

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

recover on justruminating men's blogUltimately, you must (Step 1) admit you are powerless over alcohol (Step 2) come to believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and (Step 3) make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him.

Then you are really ready to do the work that is suggested in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Big Book Musings: “Hopelessness and Futility…”

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In the There Is A Solution chapter of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the solution is clearly laid.  It says:

Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation.  But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.

In essence this is the 4th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The solutions, up this point were admitting we were powerless, came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, finally decided to give ourselves up to God as we understood Him, and now some deep soul searching and inventory of ourselves.  It’s no wonder some can’t stay on the path, this sobriety stuff is serious business!

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In recovery, as There Is A Solution points out, there is no “middle-of-the-road” solution.  As alcoholics we had to stop playing mind tricks with ourselves.  We had to stop thinking we could control our drinking, that we could somehow manage to slow it down or do controlled drinking.

No, once we accepted we were powerless and gave ourselves over to our Higher Power, it was time to have what a doctor tells Bill are “vital spiritual experiences.”  He tells Bill:

To me these occurrences are phenomena.  They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional dsiplacements and rearrangements.  Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.

So, nothing short of a complete reversal in behavior and thinking, is going to keep us sober.  With the help of a Higher Power, true sobriety can be had, and kept.

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Big Book Musings: “Faith without works…”

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In Bill’s Story of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous there are many of the essential precepts to remaining sober.

Once Bill has his epiphany in his kitchen, he says “My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs.”

And this is where he explains one of the greatest principles–in my humble opinion–of all the 12 Steps of AA, the 12th Step:

It was 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! 

For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not service the certain trials and low spots ahead

faith on justruminating men's blogI love that phrase “Faith without works was dead.”  It’s all well and good that you find your Higher Power.  Now what are you going to do with it?

Simply having this newfound faith is not enough.  Bill suggests that the cornerstone to living a spiritual life is to be in the service of others.

Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous states

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.

It’s one of the most difficult principles that I have yet to embrace.  Because of my personal history, and the fact that I am extremely introverted, I am having difficulty with this concept.faith2

I do realize, however, that this step is essential for me to step outside myself.  It is essential for me to “get out of my head” and be of service to others in one capacity or another.

Big Book Musings: “…humbly offered myself to God…”

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One of the most dramatic parts of Bill W’s story, in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, is when he actually takes part in Step 3:

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

While sitting in his kitchen with his newly sober friend, he says:

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.

courage in higher power on justruminating men's blogAnd that is the key for my own understanding of my Higher Power:  it’s as I understand him.  Many folks take issue with the religious undertones of AA.  However, they are completely missing the boat:  AA is not a religious organization, nor does it preach any religious dogma whatsoever.

It is, however, a well known fact that many in AA suggest that lifelong recovery is not possible without  serious spiritual awakening.  I am still trying to discover what, exactly, my Higher Power is or represents.

But I do know this:  if I am to maintain my sobriety, I need to change myself.  Some days I cannot do this alone.  Some days I rely on something akin to a Higher Power.  I do believe in what Bill–before he takes up Step 3–says earlier when he says:

I had always believed in a Power greater than myself…I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and thythm underlay all.  How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence?

hp1I wholeheartedly share that belief.  I believe in the oneness of the universe and, if pressed, I would say that I am more into Taoism, Zen, and Buddhism, than anything.

Bill W. came to a spiritual awakening in his kitchen that day.  After countless attempts to quit a serious drinking problem he had failed.  However, once he made that decision to turn his life over to a God of his understanding, he never again took a drink.

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