Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Plain and simple

I have sometimes heard very elaborate interpretations of the programme.

People scour the book for definitions of 'unmanageability', for instance, as though the Big Book is like the da Vinci Code, and secret meanings are hidden for us to find.

'Unmanageability' is not defined, because its meaning is plain: if you're powerless over alcohol, in that you cannot consistently stay sober and when you get drunk you get really drunk and do terrible things, you're not in charge of your life, you cannot 'manage' it effectively.

It has nothing to do with emotions or the bedevilments or restlessness, irritability, and discontentment. If it did, the Book would say so. The authors weren't being cryptic, elusive, or evasive.

Similarly, 'meditation', in the sense it is used in the AA programme, has nothing to do with postures, breathing techniques, Buddhism, mindfulness, or other activities associated in the 21st century with the word 'meditation'.

The Step Eleven section of the Big Book describes simply and carefully how to practise Step Eleven, and it is self-evident that 'meditation', in line with the dictionary meaning of the word from 1939, is not Buddhism but concentrated, deliberate thinking about how we have failed to follow God's will and how we can better do God's will in the future (specifically: today).

I recently went to a meditation meeting where pages 86 to 88 (the Step Eleven section) were read out, and then it was suggested that anyone who wanted to know how to meditate read one of a number of laminated flyers that were scattered around the room, which set out pocket versions of Buddhist meditation techniques.

Here's the simplicity: follow pages 86 to 88 to the word, and you ARE praying and meditating. There's no secret; there's no gimmick; they didn't hide the instructions or expect you to make them up; you don't need to acquire a book on 'real meditation' for 'real alcoholics': what they did in 1939 worked; they wrote it down; let's do what they did.

And here's the crux: my job in Step Eleven is only to seek God's will for me and the power to carry that out. My meditation therefore consists chiefly of asking God: 'what shall I do?' and of writing down what then comes to me ... and doing it; provided, of course, it is in accordance with spiritual principles. That simple prayer can never be exhausted.

This programme really is as simple as people say it is.

No comments: