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A Program of Action - Commentary

posted Jul 6, 2014, 8:40 AM by Archie AATOWG

Commentary By Archie T


AA does not recommend a passive wait and see approach. There's tons of supporting evidence in the historical record that members very actively approached others and not just alcoholics. Described as "zealously" by some doctors. This is one of the things that greatly impressed the Rockefeller's and other wealthy donors in NYC who helped fund our society and Big Book early on. To be blunt, these were Ass Kickers! There is emphatic call for Action in AA! Of course, they accepted a newcomers request when asked. But they intentionally, actively sought out someone to work with as well because it is in the Action of seeking and giving that we heal ourselves on many levels.


It's easy to stand around at a meeting with the answer for someone to come request. This is the egos preferred power position. Dr. Bob worked hard everyday, going out of his way for alcoholics, not just for them, but in seeking to deepen his own spiritual experience. He showed us it was ok to admit, "Yes. I'm sober yet still full of self will and thoughts of me. I need to follow this program of action to reduce my self centered thinking. I need this newcomer to work with, maybe more than he needs me!" This is a depth of spiritual action that cuts through self centered thought far greater than passively waiting for a newcomer to ask us for help. This spiritual action wears away at the self centered habit patterns of the mind. It's harder to ask for help than give it. Humbling.


"If we work it!" IF... we follow the outlined program of action...God's Will gains clarity as self falls away..."just to the extent that we humbly rely upon him." in this moment, self falls away and our HP becomes more accessible. Self will becomes less after a strong, sustained effort to work with others and give selflessly. In Action. Defects fall away when we aren't looking. We wear away at the glacier of self through selfless ACTIONS. Not through endlessly processing our thoughts about ourselves in meetings and with sponsors, which only compounds the problem. AA suggests we must place the welfare of others BEFORE ourselves for this reason. Self focused psychotherapy pales in comparison (though may be needed for problems other than alcohol). Deeper and deeper spiritual awakenings unfold as this program of action causes self surrender to deepen. We take the action. God handles the rest.


3 Degrees of Awakening in AA

posted Jul 6, 2014, 8:34 AM by Archie AATOWG   [ updated Jul 6, 2014, 9:07 AM ]

AA's Spiritual Program of Action Results in Spiritual Awakenings. This page offers a way to look at this from 3 Basic Degrees.

3 Degrees of Awakening in AA



1. No True Awakening
2. Gradual Awakening
3. Sudden Awakening


Writing about Awakening is about the most impossible thing I can think of to do. To express through words something that is inexpressible is clearly beyond me. At the same time, without the helpful words of those who came before me, I would still be laying in my own drunken shit! Maybe these little bread crumbs will help lead someone down the path. A most powerful and amazing Program of Action. So I find myself taking this action. This author is no authority and has little skill to offer. I apologize in advance for the boulders of self I leave tumbling down this page!

Here goes!

First, this page talks about action and awakening. There is a paradox to awakening. We can't do a certain "Action" that causes Sudden Awakening. We can't "will" it to happen. We can't "think" it into reality. Yet, all are based on a spiritual sort of Action. Do less get less. Do more get more. Awakening comes, "Like a thief in the night." unexpectedly, divinely. Wholehearted effort results in deeper awakenings. Half measures avail nothing. Awakening and Action are interrelated just as spirit and matter are one.

Every variety of spiritual experience is welcome and available in Alcoholics Anonymous. Ultimately, they are all proportionate to Action. Occasionally, a sudden awakening occurs divinely, seemingly without effort, but as William James profoundly noted, even this happens after self surrender at the deepest level, which is really the main Action AA is suggesting. The ultimate action of selfless action, of letting go of self completely, with complete abandon. THE jumping off point. Not just a spiritual intoxication, but awakening and then selfless action that makes a difference to others. With the main block (self) out of the way, God as we understand Him, comes to light. If it's a true awakening then it causes "an entire psychic change". This changes a persons life, spurring action.

The Founders and Architects of AA (Bill Wilson, Sam Shoemaker, Carl Jung, William James, Dr. Bob, Dr. Silkworth...) all discussed the vital sequence. The horse of "hopelessness" goes before the cart of awakening. They discovered that from "hopelessness" the "ego" is crushed. In this crushing of "self" any variety of Awakenings can occur. Thus AA suggests a Program of Action for ego deflation at depth, or getting out of self, to replicate and accentuate this hopelessness. Thinking ourselves out of self is like trying to swim our way ou t of wetness. The Spiritual Program of Action is a tool to get out of self and thus deepen our spiritual experience. "I can't think my way into right action but I can act my way into right thinking." is an apt phrase one might hear at a meeting from someone who has experienced this.

While "Awakening" is the goal in AA, "the result" of the 12 Steps, there can be a great deal of confusion about what an "Awakening" is. Some people think they have had one when they haven't. Others think they'll never find it when they are standing in it. Fortunately, there are some clear definitions that the Founders and Architects of AA left for us to go by. Thus, some historical context is called for before we look at the 3 degrees.

A Few Definitions of Awakening from the Founders for Context.

Big Book - Spiritual Experience, 2nd Edition, pg 570

What often takes place in a few
months could seldom have been accomplished by
years of self discipline. With few exceptions our
members find that they have tapped an unsuspected
inner resource which they presently identify with their
own conception of a Power greater than themselves.
Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than
ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more
religious members call it “God-consciousness.”

Dr. Bob took Clarence S through the steps in 3-4 hours. Clarence S. was a pivotal sculptor of early AA Sponsorship.

“A spiritual awakening is THE RESULT of working, DOING, and LIVING, ALL of the 12 Steps! Then you have this message to carry to others. There is no message unless you have done the first 9 Steps and are living the last three. You can't give what you don't have. You must practice these principles in ALL your affairs.
Now it is your responsibility to give this message to others as you have received it. Not changed, watered down, or how others may want it in their lives. If they want what you have, they must do what you did. It is now your legacy to hand down, AS IT WAS GIVEN TO YOU -- NO OTHER WAY!!!! It is recommended that two people work with the newcomer through the steps whenever possible, so that both may learn as well as give.” – Clarence S.

Bill Wilson wrote in the 12 & 12 a fine definition of a Spiritual Awakening:

When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. Pg 106

William James' was considered a "Founder" of AA by Bill Wilson. His book Varieties of Religious Experience is the most recommended book in our basic text. It was critical to AA's development. Below we have William James' view of a "Religious" or Spiritual Experience.

Psychologist and Philosopher William James described four characteristics of religious / mystical experience in The Varieties of Religious Experience. According to James, such an experience is:
Transient — the experience is temporary; the individual soon returns to a "normal" frame of mind. It is outside our normal perception of space and time.
Ineffable — the experience cannot be adequately put into words.
Noetic — the individual feels that he or she has learned something valuable from the experience. Gives us knowledge that is normally hidden from human understanding.
Passive — the experience happens to the individual, largely without conscious control. Although there are activities, such as meditation (see below), that can make religious experience more likely, it is not something that can be turned on and off at will. wikipidia


1. No True Awakening

Entry Level Sobriety - Social Intercourse

Social intercourse is not the awakening promised in AA. Social Intercourse is great in the beginning. It's where we start in AA. It feels good. It leads newcomers to fellowship but lets reserve the term "fellowship" for those taking the actions. Social intercourse is different than fellowship. AA is open to anyone with a desire to stop drinking. It doesn't require you take any action. You don't really have to do anything to socialize. Just show up. We are not saints and not everyone wants a spiritual awakening. The door of AA is open to everyone. Unfortunately, social intercourse is often confused as Awakening. Camaraderie and laughter feel better than alcoholic isolation and this can produce a substitute for addiction but not necessarily "an entire psychic change".

AA offers this entry level of "take what you like and leave the rest" basic "don't drink and go to meetings" sobriety. Social intercourse sometimes helps a person not drink but true awakening is seldom achieved this way. There is great value in not drinking but certainly this is not the depth that AA was founded upon. Alcoholics Anonymous grew fast and strong because of the depth of it's message, which is that you can overcome Alcohol addiction through a spiritual experience. A strong group can keep some people sober for a time, and that is miraculous, desirable, but we shouldn't sell AA short. There is more. Much more.

The problem with social intercourse sobriety is that it's got a horrendous success rate. Eventually, if one is stuck in this entry level, the joy of getting out of self is not realized. Self will remains in control. Thinking still centers on self causing selfish actions like seeking to get rather than give. Lacking insight, actions and speech are often misdirected by thoughts of self; self absorbed, anxiety, depression, isolation, controversy and intolerance are some of the telltale signs of this still suffering alcoholic. The most important thought on this persons mind is themselves. This can last decades or a lifetime if not addressed. We can cycle back into this stage even after awakening. Old timers stuck in this phase may offer their longtime abstinence up as proof they know what they are talking about. Yet, if they are stuck in their own heads, they only mislead.

Some groups tend to encourage social intercourse over the Program of Action, "go to meetings and talk about your feelings, your opinions and your problems" kind of "group therapy" approach. This can give the impression that we go to meetings to "get not give", and God knows the last thing the ego wants to do is stop talking about ourselves much less go out of our way for another! This is not the awakening promised by the founders.

At the same time we all need to learn to experience and share about our feelings honestly, especially newcomers. Social intercourse is often helpful in this early phase. The hopeless pain of addiction needs to break through, followed by waves of other latent impulses and feelings. This only becomes harmful when the self centered habit of the mind makes this process endless. Constantly revisiting thoughts of self; generating more and more negative feelings unconsciously. If we feel the feelings at the same time that we get out of self, things tend to open up faster, more naturally. We do this not with intellect but through the direct experience of the feeling and with the actions outlined in the 12 steps. This helps stop us from perpetuating more painful feelings. Painful feelings we often generate by habitual thoughts of self. A year long 4th step is a good example of a newcomer thinking about themselves TOO much, too long. (It's also a leading cause of relapse within the first year.)

After True Awakening, Fellowship replaces social intercourse and becomes about giving not getting. The difference is stark. Nobody does this perfectly and thoughts of self always resurface but the difference between a person at a meeting who is looking to give and one who is looking to take is stark. One speaks from the heart. The other speaks from intellect, mostly about themselves and their problems. One is getting stuck. The other is getting free. We can all fall back into this place at times. Even though we may experience "The Great Reality" directly and realize it's inherent perfection, Awakening isn't a permanent state of mind. Like William James noted, thoughts soon return and those thoughts are mostly about Self. Us. Our problems. Our little plans and designs.

When thoughts of self consume us, it clouds conscious contact with God as we understand Him. Because of this we can fluctuate quite frequently in our spiritual program. This is where the program of action becomes so very practical. Someone who has a gradual or sudden awakening can usually be found at beginner, step study, big book or speaker meetings offering to give not get. If they are at an open discussion meeting they are seeking others to work with. Deepening their insight through action and resolved to grow in understanding and effectiveness. Their lives change. Those who stay in the social intercourse level of sobriety usually do not demonstrate significant progress, no matter how long they are sober. So, it's a great place to start but you wouldn't want to live there. 

2. Gradual Awakenings 

A Program of Action

Social intercourse leads to the 12 Steps which results in a Spiritual Awakening. This is where social intercourse gives way to actual "Fellowship"; when we join in "brotherly and harmonious action" stemming from awakening. Gradual Awakenings are guaranteed to change anyone's life who makes an honest effort at the steps. If worked with zeal, as Dr. Bob, Bill W and Clarence S suggest, then spiritual action is constantly wearing away at the self centered mind. 

As time passes, the we find ourselves in a place of "neutrality" in regards to addiction. We don't struggle. The problem is removed. God as we understand Him, becomes a working part of the mind; an unsuspected inner resource. Giving rather than getting becomes a daily activity. Placing the welfare of others ahead of our own we begin to experience the "joy of living". This deep wellspring of joy comes as "freedom from the bondage of self" is experienced. Simple. Get out of self. Feel divine joy. Pass it on. Get out of self. Feel divine joy. Pass it on...repeat...

A person who has had a gradual awakening usually is the last person to know it. You see their once dull eyes light up with life. Isolation and fear of others give way to a person reaching out their hand to help others. It's a beautiful thing to see. The gradual awakening is without end and often is a spring board to a Sudden Awakening. These are not mutually exclusive. It's not one or the other. Sometimes a sudden awakening occurs first, such as Bill Wilson's. Even in his case there was still the program of action that he had to follow to "Gradually" deepen his awakening.

3. Sudden Awakenings

Ego Collapse at Depth

Bill Wilson recounts his Sudden Awakening below. This happened shortly after Ebby clobbered him with the "Hammer of Hopelessness!". Ebby went to work on Bills big fat ego and left it crushed in the hospital, they just vigorously worked what would become steps 1 thru 5. Bill was left alone in a state of ego collapse at depth, reflecting on what had just taken place he comes to the jumping off point, and suddenly!!! Like a man who realizes "This ship is sinking!" BILL LEAPS... taking step 6 and 7 below.

From AA Comes of Age, 1957, p.63:

“My depression deepened unbearably and finally it seemed to me as though I were at the bottom of the pit. I still gagged badly on the notion of a Power greater than myself, but finally, just for the moment, the last vestige of my proud obstinacy was crushed.

All at once I found myself crying out, ‘If there is a God, let Him show Himself! I am ready to do anything, anything!’

Suddenly the room lit up with a great white light. I was caught up into an ecstasy which there are no words to describe. It seemed to me, in my mind’s eye, that I was on a mountain and that a wind not of air but of spirit was blowing. And then it burst upon me that I was a free man."

Slowly the ecstasy subsided. I lay on the bed, but now for a time I was in another world, a new world of consciousness. All about me and through me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, ‘So this is the God of the preachers!’ A great peace stole over me and I thought, ‘No matter how wrong things seem to be, they are still all right. Things are all right with God and His world.’”

Bills Sudden Awakening Experience from Pg 14 Alcoholics Anonymous

"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."

Sudden Awakening of the "Ministers Son" from Pg 56 Alcoholics Anonymous

"Our friend was a minister’s son...

One night, when confined in a hospital, he was ap
proached by an alcoholic who had known a spiritual ex-
perience. Our friend’s gorge rose as he bitterly cried out:
“If there is a God, He certainly hasn’t done anything for
me!”
But later, alone in his room, he asked himself this
question: “Is it possible that all the religious people I
have known are wrong?”


While pondering the answer he felt as though he lived in hell.
Then, like a thunderbolt, a
great thought came. It crowded out all else:
“Who are you to say there is no God?”
This man recounts that he tumbled out of bed to his
knees. In a few seconds he was overwhelmed by a con-
viction of the Presence of God. It poured over and through
him with the certainty and majesty of a great tide at
flood. The barriers he had built through the years were
swept away. He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power
and Love. He had stepped from bridge to shore. For the
first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his
Creator.

Thus was our friend’s cornerstone fixed in place. No
later vicissitude has shaken it. His alcoholic problem
was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared..."

And so... AA also offers the highest level of sudden awakening for those who are willing to "thoroughly follow our path." with the "complete abandon". Notice in both these accounts the ego was utterly crushed just before they completely surrendered. Self was not a necessary thought and when it was abandoned, even for the briefest of moments, God's grace opened up. In both these cases there were life changing results. Both men went forth in Action. To experience such divine grace and not act would be selfish and contrary to the experience. It propels us forward, without thought of reward, to help others find the God of their understanding, which ironically, is the most rewarding thing we could possibly do.

For those seeking the highest order of Spiritual Experience, (a sudden awakening, deepened over time, in understanding and effectiveness,) it may be that the most powerful action we have (in AA) is taking people through the steps in the original manner discovered by the founders. The AA The Original Way step guide on this website is one way to do just that. It lists the pages in the Big Book to follow, within historical context. A program of action. This guide attempts to hold specifically to the original way, with the sole intention of a Sudden or Gradual Spiritual Experience that can conquer alcoholism. It is quite amazing to experience the effects of the work that the Founders laid out.

Sudden Awakenings are as old as time itself. Often they happen divinely, without effort, like a gift freely given. They are available to any person who strives for one. No matter how long we are sober. The 12 Steps were designed to produce just such and awakening and can be worked over and over more and more intensely until the result is achieved. In complete and utter surrender the most unexpected can happen....

And as life changing an event as that can be there is still Action and more action! Having a tequila sunrise spiritual experience can become an ego inflating event if not followed at once by selfless action. In a sudden awakening we learn that we are not who we "thought" we were. In fact, that "thought" about who we are caused immense amounts of damage. Awakening is about waking up to the fact that there is great good we can do outside of ourselves, for others, under the care of God as we understand Him.

The Program of Action is about helping others to awaken to the God of their understanding. The value of this action is beyond compare. The rewards of helping another out of hell and into the infinite grace of their HP are beyond compare. Giving an addict a trillion dollars would be spit in the mud by comparison. In a short time it would be gone. Whereas, a spiritual awakening taps into the infinite. When we give this gift selflessly, without seeking reward, we tap into something truly amazing and unifying, that goes beyond material things. This is what it means to "give it away to keep it".


Further readings on Spiritual Awakening:

A Spiritual Awakening, as defined here, is based on the definitions established by those early members who directly experienced them. There are many theories and religions but a direct experience is not an intellectual event. There are some very distinct criteria to distinguish between types and depth of spiritual experience. A wide, introductory view could be started with the following 4 books. 

1.) William James

Varieties of Religious Experience.

This book had a profound effect on AA. It is one of the most pivotal books on awakening experiences to date and was given to Bill in the hospital a day following his Sudden Awakening experience. This book is a good place to read hundreds of examples of sudden and gradual awakening experiences of many "varieties".

2.) Dr. Emmet Fox

Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life. 

This book was popular among Bill and Bob early on. Dr. Fox ministered in NYC and was a prominent figure during AA's early years. He suggested prayer directs our actions and character development. This aligned well with the practice of AA's program of action. His writings are and excellent look at how the program of action results in Gradual Awakenings.

3.) Bernadette Roberts

The Experience of No-Self: A Contemplative Journey, Revised Edition

This book offers an intimate christian perspective of "self" and "no self" and it's relationship to sudden and gradual awakening. Her early monastic training is mostly about gradual awakening until she discovers something deeper. 

4.) Roshi Philip Kapleau

The Three Pillars of Zen

This book offers numerous accounts of Sudden Awakening Experiences achieved through Zen meditation. An excellent look at the kind of doubt, determination, and faith utilized by those seeking to put the highest way into action! 

The Akron Manual 1940

posted Aug 3, 2013, 9:39 PM by Archie AATOWG


The Akron Manual in 1940 was particularly blunt:

"A.A. is not interested in sobering up drunks who are not sincere in their desire to remain completely sober for all time. A.A. is not interested in alcoholics who want to sober up merely to go on another bender, sober up because of fear for their jobs, their wives, their social standing, or to clear up some trouble either real or imaginary. In other words, if a person is genuinely sincere in his desire for continued sobriety for his own good, is convinced in his heart that alcohol holds him in its power, and is willing to admit that he is an alcoholic, members of Alcoholics Anonymous will do all in their power, spend days of their time to guide him to a new, a happy, and a contented way of life.

It is utterly essential for the newcomer to say to himself sincerely and without any reservation, "I am doing this for myself and myself alone." Experience has proved in hundreds of cases that unless an alcoholic is sobering up for a purely personal and selfish motive, he will not remain sober for any great length of time. He may remain sober for a few weeks or a few months, but the moment the motivating element, usually fear of some sort, disappears, so disappears sobriety."

Clarence S. Step Work

posted Jul 26, 2013, 9:28 PM by Archie AATOWG   [ updated Jul 28, 2013, 8:08 PM ]

THE STEPS OF A.A. - AN INTERPRETATION

Written by Clarence H. Snyder, January 1972

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a booze cure or a psychological means of controlling one's excessive or obsessive drinking. A.A. is a program, a life changing program, and, in a great part, we owe our inception as a fellowship to our origin in the Oxford Group movement during the mid 1930's.

The Oxford Group was designed as a Life Changing program- and we in A.A. have for our own uses and affiliation, modified their program, chiefly by designing our twelve step program in a manner that the alcoholic who feels he needs and wants a change from what they are experiencing, can comfortably accept and apply the program and thereby change their life.

To do so, requires certain attitudes, willingness, and acts on our parts.

We have simplified the program, in the feeling that any alcoholic with an alcohol problem, can live a life free of the obsession to drink.

Our program of the twelve steps is really accepted in four distinct phases, as follows:

1) Need (admission)

2) Surrender (submission)

3) Restitution

4) Construction and Maintenance

Phase #1 - Is covered in Step 1- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable - this step points out phase 1- or our own need - there is a need for a change!

Phase #2 - Includes the 2nd through the 7th steps which constitutes the phase of submission.

Step#2 - We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Since we could not manage our own lives, of ourselves, we found ourselves to be powerless over alcohol, we were encouraged by the power of example of someone or some others to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. In this step, we have the proof of the pudding before we are asked to eat it!! Others tell us of their experiences and share their deepest feelings with us and those members are alcoholics such as we are, and there they stand, sober, clean-eyed, useful, confident and with a certain radiance we envy and really want for ourselves. So, we WANT to believe it! Of course, some persons could conceivably be a bit more startled at first by the reference to being restored to sanity, but most of us finally conclude that in hearing of some of the experiences our new friends had during their drinking careers were anything but the actions of a rational person, and when we reflect upon our own actions and deeds prior to our own introduction to A.A., it is not difficult to recognize that we too, were pretty well out in left field also! In fact, most of us are happy in the feeling that we were not really responsible for many of our past unpleasant and embarrassing situations and frankly, this step does much to relieve our feelings of guilt and self-condemnation.

Step #3 - We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God...

Now here is the step which separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls) - this is the step which tells the story as to whether we are going to be in A.A., or around A.A. Yes, we can attend meetings, visit the clubs, attend the social functions, but, unless we really take step #3, we are continuing to make up our own program. Since our entire program is based upon dependence upon God and our lives are to be directed by Him! So, here we are, making a decision, which in itself is quite an accomplishment for the alcoholic, since they are one of the most indecisive creatures in society, due to their incapacity to manage their own life due to their obsession- But- to make a decision to turn our life and our will over to the care of God- this creature in the far blue yonder, whom we have little acquaintance with and probably much fear of, this is really asking very, very much of an alcoholic! Rest assured, that if they are not ready, if they have not reached their bottom or extremity, and if they are not really hurting more than they ever have, they are not about to take step #3. So - they go pretty much on their own as usual, except that they do have the advantage of better company than they had been associating with and this in time, could really foul up any type of drinking life they may have in the future! Another important feature enters here, in that they know now that there is a way out of their dilemma and this is bound to work on them as time goes on, if they have any pride at all in themselves! At this point - their biggest problem is to overcome FEAR and Let go and let God. Step #4 - Made a searching and fearless Moral inventory of ourselves. This is a step which should be taken with the assistance of a sponsor, or counselor who is well experienced in this changed life - due to the capacity of the alcoholic to find justification for about anything - a sponsor can bring up through sharing - many various moral weaknesses which need attention in their life and can smooth the way for the alcoholic to examine them in a frank fashion. The next step suggests that someone is helping with step #4 - since it reads as follows:

Step #5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact NATURE of our wrongs.

We put ourselves on record and leave no options nor reservations! Note that it states, NATURE of our wrongs- not the wrongs themselves! We are not required to narrate details of our many indiscretions. Many of them we don't even remember, nor are conscious of. This is not a laundry for dirty linen, this is recognition of character defects which need elimination or adjustments!

Step #6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove ALL these defects of character.

This step allows for no reservations. The alcoholic, being an extremist must go the whole route. We are not a bit ready, or about to be ready, but entirely ready to have God, not us, remove ALL these defects of character, (the interesting ones as well as the more damnable ones!).

Step #7 - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

We tried to make no deal, as we did in the past when situations would overwhelm us. It was common to say- Dear God, get me out of this mess and I will be a good boy (or girl), I will not do thus and such, etc., etc., etc.,... NONE OF THAT! We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. The Good Book assures us that anything we ask believing, we shall receive!

Step #8 - Begins our phase #3- that of restitution. So now we have admission in Step #1, Submission, Steps #2 through #7. Now for the Restitution in Steps #8 and #9.

Step #8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing t o make amends to them all Steps 8 and 9 should also be taken with the assistance of a knowledgeable sponsor or a counselor, since in our present state of impatience with almost complete lack of judgment, we could conceivably cause much harm in executing this phase of the program.

Most of us probably have persons on that list whom we just do not want to have any contact with. The step states plainly - ALL persons we had harmed! Obviously some of these persons are not available, having passed on, or disappeared etc., so we must ask God to handle those details. But step #9 states - Made direct amends Whenever Possible except when to do so would injure them or others. We cannot and should not try to clear our slate or conscience at the expense of any others. This phase is very important and it eliminates the possibility of carrying over some details into our new life that could consciously come back to haunt or harm us in our new life. We are going into a new life, and we should Let the dead bury the dead.

Now that we have taken 9 steps !!! We have concluded 3 phases of our program. These 9 steps we have accomplished - so - FORGET THEM!!! They have required action and you have taken the action, so there is no need of repeating it! There are only two occasions when one must refer back to the first nine steps, #1- is in the event that the person resigns and resumes, obviously they must start all over again! The other occasion when we may refer to the first nine steps is when we are trying to explain them to a new member and helping them with them. So, now we have our last phase, that of Construction - Steps 10-11- and 12. With these steps, we construct our life, these are our living steps. We no longer must be concerned with 12 steps- ONLY 3 STEPS!! How simple, how wonderful!!

Step #10 - Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

This step has absolutely no connection with step #4. Note, in step #4, it calls for a searching and fearless Moral inventory. This step calls for a personal inventory. This step is our daily check on ourselves. This is our check on the small and large and otherwise details of my life TODAY. My simple way of handling step 10 may help someone, since I find that it is most adequate for me, and I prefer to keep things simple and uncomplicated. At night, after I am in bed, my day is over; I find this is one of my most important prayer times. I think about my day, what have I done, whom I have been with, what has transpired. Sometimes I find that I am not proud of something I have done today, and I owe someone an apology, I do not permit these things to go unattended. I have found that it is not the so-called big things which seriously affect the alcoholic in their new life, but the little things. They can go on and on and add up and become a real burden and eventually have drastic effects upon our new life. This is the reason for step 10, keep things cleaned up, keep the walk swept! Maintain a good healthy attitude.

Step #11 - Sought through Prayer and Meditation, to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. This is a great step, first, because it brings us into a prayer life. Back in step #3, we made a decision to turn our life and will over to the care of God. In step #11, we receive our orders!!

Let us break this step down and discover how it is both simple and profound. We are seeking something, seeking to improve our conscious contact with God. What does that mean? To me it means He is not in the far blue yonder, beyond reach, but right here, close where I can talk to Him and listen to Him (the Bible states that He is closer than hands and feet, and that is most close!). So, I am seeking to make this contact through Prayer and Meditation. What does this mean? To me, Prayer is talking to God, and Meditation is listening to Him! The good Lord endowed us with one mouth and two ears, which should suggest something to us!! We are enjoined- Be Still - and that is how we should be while listening! The answers surely will come if we but listen. Now, the step tells us what to pray for. Only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Since we submitted ourselves and turned our will and life over to the care of God in phase #2- now we ask for His orders and strength to carry them out. We are promised that He will never expect anything from us that He won't give us the power to execute. Now then, do you see any place in the step thus far to suggest we pray for sobriety? Of course not, and it is absolutely unnecessary - you HAVE sobriety. Thank Him for it - but it is pointless to pray for what you already have The 11th step states very plainly how to pray and what to pray for!!

Step #12 - We have experienced 11 steps and something has happened to us. In fact, something happened at the end of step 9! Step 12 states very plainly - Having had a Spiritual Experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other Alcoholics and to practice these principles in ALL of our affairs.

What is a Spiritual Experience? That is the changed life we have been referring to. That is the change that comes to a person who has turned their will over to the care of God and continues to try and improve themselves, mentally, morally and spiritually. It states that we try to carry this message (not the alcoholic) to alcoholics. We practice these principles of love and service in all our affairs. Not just in A.A. meetings and associations, at home, at business, everywhere! What a blessing this fellowship is. What a great opportunity to love and be loved. Why cheat yourself? We have the prescription, the means of getting well, staying well, growing and best of all, SERVING. Come on in, the water's fine!! Friends are wonderful, the fellowship is distinct and GOD IS GREAT!!


Earl T - Starts AA in Chicago

posted Jul 25, 2013, 7:39 PM by Archie AATOWG

Armed with a simple list of character defects and a spiritual experience that conquered his alcoholism, Earl T founded Alcoholics Anonymous in Chicago!

Dr Bob showed him something so powerful that it was able to grow and expand into the multimillion membership we know today.

Earl says in the Big Book story He Sold Himself Short that he and Bob took the steps together in one afternoon.

They had 6 official steps at the time but Bill expanded these into the 12 steps.

Dr. Bob later stated that since the steps are so essential to maintaining sobriety, and they were maintaining sobriety, that they must have had all twelve of them working in these early days.

AA The Original Way - Finally Gets Started!

posted Feb 17, 2010, 8:31 PM by Archie AATOWG   [ updated Jul 31, 2013, 6:11 PM ]

Hey Yall!

We have been talking about getting this group started for a long time. AA here in Asheville is strong. But we really wanted to get a Big Book group started that focused on the strong original message of the pioneers. Especially sponsorship and the steps in the Big Book.

The magic AA pioneers passed on has kept some of us sober a good long time. Bill used to say that the program was passed on through "word-of-mouth". Sponsor to sponsee. Over time some of this message was lost. It isn't uncommon today to hear people misunderstand the urgency written in the Big Book. Some newcomers have even gotten the impression that the steps as laid out in the Big Book take over a year to do! Some newcomers sit in their shit for about a year doing a fourth step! Ouch. As the founders discovered, so many of us can't make it a year without all of our medicine. They gave it quick. Every story in the Big Book confirms this. But for the grace of God we would have perished.  They got us to step 12, helping others, ASAP!

We believe that the original program is still a miracle. Nothing to date surpasses it's strength.
We believe that every newcomer to AA deserves a chance to hear the original message of our founders as they intended. Obviously, we must humbly attempt this and pray for guidance. Nobody adhered to one single method and not everyone made it.
Nobody is alive today who started AA but some of us have known some pioneers. These were people you wanted to be around. Excited. Enthusiastic. Faithful. Sincere. Loving and Strong.

The steps as laid out in the Big Book are simple, dynamic and life changing.

Pass it on!

Archie
For
The Original Way Group

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