Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Problem solving for problem people

One job as AAs is to identify problems and ask God for help in solving them. Our job is also to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and others (page 77 of the book 'Alcoholics Anonymous'). When I have a problem in any area, page 69 suggests how to solve it.

In Step Twelve, every area of my life must be looked at. 'All my affairs' means precisely that. To work Step Twelve involves periodically reviewing each area to identify problems. A problem is any block to my being happy, joyous, and free, and of maximum service.

Here is a template to help with this, based on pages 69–70.

(1) Ask God to mould sane and sound ideals.
(2) Ask, 'am I being selfish?'
(3) Ask God to help me live up to them.
(4) Remember my abilities, attributes, and faculties are God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly not to be despised and loathed.
(5) Be willing to grow towards the ideal (recognising this will not be an overnight matter).
(6) Be willing to make amends except where to do so would injure them or others.
(7) Ask God what to do about each specific matter.
(8) Counsel with others.
(9) Let God be the judge, not others.
(10) Avoid hysterical thinking or advice.
(11) Earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing.
(12) If the problem is very troublesome, I throw myself the harder into helping others. I think of their needs and work for them.

Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? … If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. (70:1)

There is an important teaching here: it is not the degree of attainment that determines whether we will get drunk but our willingness and action to take us towards the ideal, wherever we are on the path.

Does relinquishing anger mean I do not care?

When I am angry, does it mean I care?
To stop being angry, do I have to stop caring?

Actions are good things we do to make the world a better place in the future. Caring about the world, if genuine and untarnished by anger, will produce action automatically.

Anger, by contrast, is the response to a perception of reality that says this:

"What is see is not what I planned. How dare the world defy me! How dare the world fail to recognise my Godly supremacy over all I touch?"

Anger, really, is the rage of the impoverished emperor, dethroned and ragged, with no one recognising who he really is. It is not a sign of caring, although we may care, too.

You can take good action and be a raging God-pretender.
You can take no action and be a raging God-pretender.
You can take good action and accept the world as it is right now without relinquishing the ideal towards which you are willing to help the world grow.
You can accept the world but take no action (although this may be a sign more of anger turned to depression and indifference than genuine equanimity).

To care means to act; to be angry means not to care but to rage against a recalcitrant world.

Self or self?

"Self / self" can mean different things.

"self" (note the small "s") could denote the ego: the mind-made images of oneself as a separate entity adrift in a hostile universe from which scraps of excitement or bloated satisfaction can occasionally be snatched.

"Self" (note the capital "S") could denote the spirit that is who I really am (I am not a body; I am not my thoughts; I am not everywhere I have been or everyone I have been play-acting: I am the observer thereof), which is part of an endless continuum of consciousness through the universe.

In my alcoholism, I lost Self to self. Now I need to have self gotten rid of so I can find mySelf, and, in so doing, the "I" disappears and becomes "We".

Monday, 6 August 2012

'Going to AA' and meeting reliance

The phrase 'going to AA' implies that AA is a place you can physically go to.

For me, AA is not a location, a time and a place in a church hall.

It is the me I have become, so I take it wherever I go.

When I was new, I was dependent on meetings, I thought. This was not strictly true. I can be truly dependent only on God. 'Depend on God' is not an instruction but really a description of the truth of reality phrased in the imperative. The self that I relied on and foolishly return to, to rely on, does not exist. 'Man-made images of self'. The sex, money, power, prestige, comfort, thrills, and appearance that are the treasures of the ego all stem from the picture of myself my ego would like to build. So the only real reliance is on God. Anything else is leaning against a wall that turns out to be air, causing me to tumble to the floor.

So, does that mean I cannot rely on the people in AA? What would that mean? Relying on their cells, muscles, cerebral cortices, livers? What is the 'them' I would be relying on? What they say? Well, sometimes silent people can be strength. And I tried and failed to rely on people before AA to disastrous effect, so 'people' are hardly a reliable resource in general.

The truth is this: I have relied on the God in others, working through them, as them.

AA is the God I connect to within me and channel out to you. That is why I take it wherever I go.

If this is not a living truth, I have one or both of these problems: (1) internal blocks (2) service outage.

The internal blocks consist in resentment and guilt / shame over unforgiven 'harms' of others and non-amended harms of my own. Fear is the product of these.

Service outage occurs when I am acting based on self; it is no good having a beautifully functioning delivery van if you are not delivering anything.

I need to unblock the tubes, and release the valve at the bottom.

Then the love of God flows, and I never need drink again.

When I'm feeling 'dry' and sensing a need for meetings in particular (as opposed to service in the narrow sense in AA and the broadest sense in the rest of my life), I can sometimes be hoping to siphon off some of your God-consciousness for me as an alternative to actually doing the work to become unblocked and be of service myself.

Of course meetings are important and highly effective as a vehicle for the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps and also provide opportunities for Unity and Service, thus ensuring the internal scaffolding of the AA triangle that keeps the AA circle of health reliably in place.

However, they are not a substitute for the programme: they are the expression of it.

A first sign of a weak or faltering programme is meeting reliance, and the inability to cope or face life without the daily meeting.

Obviously, when I was new and was not yet recovered, meetings were the only source of God.

Today my chief responsibility is to make sure I am the best embodiment of AA I can be.

And then, and only then, is my reliance truly on God.