Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Round up (2 May 2016)
Page 60 says that, prior to taking Step Three, we must be convinced that living life run on self-will can hardly be a success. Later on in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, it talks about 'giving not getting' being the guiding principle.
This is true also, therefore, of decisions: what to do for a living, who to spend time with, who to spend one's life with. The question is not what to get but what to give: is this a worthy object of my talents, my time, my effort?
Making a decision on this basis takes guts, because it involves setting aside what we think we will get out of a possible decision, trusting that God will give us everything we need to be OK and will ensure we can have health, happiness, harmony, love, joy, peace, and connection, even though we can't see how a particular decision could bring those to us.
The truth is this, however: those commodities arise from within us; they do not come from the outside; they come from giving, not getting.
When you realise that you have been driven and consumed by desires for material or career success, approval, or superior appearance, and that such desires are empty and ultimately cause only frustration, anxiety, and disappointment, there is nothing to do other than recognise that they are illusions. When you have been dreaming and wake up and realise that the dream was a dream, you do not need to process the dream further. All you need to do is recognise you are back in reality and get on with your day.
A summary of the Twelve Steps is set out on page 59 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. This is not really the Twelve Step programme; the programme is the set of actions described up to page 164. The list is like a menu; it's not the set of recipes. Sometimes buildings are ripped down and their facades are kept, with a new building being erected behind the facade. If you are taking the Steps other than in accordance with those pages up to 164, you are doing something similar: you will be following instructions erected behind the facade of what is written on page 59, and there is no guarantee that those instructions are consistent with the actual instructions up to page 164 or that those instructions will produce the same effect. Other programmes cannot by definition be anything other than based on the Twelve Steps. They may resemble the Twelve Steps and may indeed be very good or even superior, but the Twelve Steps they are categorically not.
We do ask for character defects to be removed. However, in the realm of the spirit, what is going on is not removal but substitution. Virtues are substituted for defects. Thinking about God and how we can serve Him is substituted for thinking about ourselves.
If you feel bad because someone does not like you or approve of you, you are being foolish. If someone says that the earth is flat or that climate change is a fiction, that does not change the truth: the earth is spherical and climate change is indeed happening. If everyone disapproves of you, the same is true: you are of infinite worth because you exist, full stop. What is really going on is that, for some reason, you have decided you are worthless, and you then seek corroboration in others' responses to you, for which they are then duly blamed, for making you feel bad. We are the source of the problem, but fortunately we are also the source of the solution. God has placed the truth of what we are inside us. Our job is to uncover, discover, and discard the dross, thus revealing the innate truth.