Preface I wish to have it understood at the outset that this writing is entirely the inter

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Preface I wish to have it understood at the outset that this writing is entirely the interpretation and viewpoint of the author, and not those of Alcoholics Anonymous. I owe my very life to A.A. and would not want to be the cause of any confusion among fellow members of A.A. as to the source of this writing. It is mine and mine alone. I hope that no one confuses the interpretations of one individual, myself, as representative of anyone other than that one person. We are all free as individuals to interpret the A.A. program in our own unique lights. I have done so in mine. I offer some of them to others, not to create controversy nor to cause harm or dissension. I offer them to help and heal those who need them, and to no others. After more than thirty years sobriety in A.A., including working through my own problems and watching the successes and failures of others, I have come to certain conclusions. One, that those who work less than the full twelve steps diminish their potential for attaining and maintaining sobriety. Two, if they attain sobriety they seldom attain any great degree of peace of mind, the fewer steps worked, the poorer the results. I hope to be able to show ways to work the steps without an orthodox God concept; without any God concept at all. This booklet is my thinking, my ideas, my working through problems similar to yours. I will try to share them with you, in order to shorten your journey through the wilderness. I have no hopes to sober up the whole world with my writing, nor to even sober up all those to whom this writing is directed. With Confucius, I feel it is better to light one candle, than damn the dark. Perhaps this writing can fan a few sparks. Part One This is one alcoholic's thoughts and speculations. It is written and offered for whatever help it might give. It is neither writ on stone, nor handed down from a mountain top. Argue with it. Argue with me, but if it makes you think, it is worth the effort. Before A.A., before I was more than a beginning alcoholic, I began to doubt, I began to question, first my denomination, then the bible, then Christianity totally. All denominations have errors, inconsistencies and either downright lies or mistakes, so glaring that most school children would catch them if they were not blinded by indoctrinated conditioned reverence. People put themselves through convolutions of thought and logic simply because they have been taught to revere a book so completely that they insist that it's right despite evidence to the contrary. I will recommend a few myself. I do not expect you to find total agreement with any of them. I do expect them to open your mind to different ideas and ways of looking at things. It cannot hurt; it could help. For starters, two books by psychologist Dr. Lawrence LeShan, "The Medium, The Mystic and The Physicist," and, "Alternate Realities," pointed out the correspondence between cosmic views of mediums, mystics, physicists, scientists, mystical scriptural writings and shamans. A.A., the "Big book" and the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions"; these are pragmatic, pragmatically arrived at in the crucible of having kept what worked and discarding what did not. Our lives, the lives of all alcoholics in A.A. were sick, very confused and headed towards disaster. By working this program, we turned our lives around. Working this program has brought millions of people to sobriety and sanity. So in our search for guidelines, we start with the A.A. program. Let us see what can be learned this way. To start with nowhere in A.A., is there anything about securing God/Higher Power's forgiveness. There is a lot about making amends, about trying to heal the ill will, resentments and hurt feelings of other human beings, about gaining their forgiveness where possible. Obviously guilt is unhealthy and that making amends is the best way to remove it. I have never found it necessary to secure, plea for, or request any forgiveness from anyone other than those whom I had injured. My recovery seems to be no different from nor inferior to those who did seek spiritual forgiveness. I must conclude that divine forgiveness or its necessity is one of the myths, not rooted in reality. When I was rather new in A.A. I took some college psychology courses. This was in the days when A.A. was not well recognized as the best resource for alcoholics. In many of the text books there would be a few paragraphs or a chapter explaining why A.A. did not work, because it did not fit into the particular theory the writer was putting forth. Even though the theorist had few if any sober alcoholics to demonstrate and A.A. had even then hundreds of thousands it did not stop them from theorizing. So at this point hoping that I have more evidence to work with, I will pass around a few of my own. With at least one difference, I hope. None of what I have written or will write is proposed as revelation of immutable truth. Some has been personal experience, some personal deduction, some pure speculation. Read it make your own speculations and deductions. That is the important thing I am trying to prove. We are free. We are free to reject what does not make sense. We are free to reject anything that is not logical, including what I have written. Study, learn, think, above all think. We do not have to accept something just because it has so and so many adherents. Look for logic and proof, perhaps the two most important ingredients. Part Two I am at this point going to put forth some of my own speculations. I feel that they are logical. Perhaps you will agree, perhaps not. But the important thing is that it will hopefully start you to thinking along your own track. Remember above all that A.A. has vast amounts of proof that it has a method of sobering up alcoholics. The proof is the millions of sober recovered and recovering alcoholics. So any theories that contradict A.A. are questionable. So for whatever it might be worth here are a few more of my speculations. We who were outside orthodoxy, felt pity for those people trapped in religious thought that we felt stunted their lives. Those of us who were argumentative often tried to save them from themselves. Actually, in truth, I must say that we were members of a cult before we came to A.A.. By my definition, a cult is an organization, sometimes religious in nature, that shuts down your mind, takes all your money and assets, controls your every waking moment. It usually puts you into new and/or demeaning work for the benefit of the cult. The drinking world we inhabited was the cult and the bottle of alcohol was our God. A.A. acted as a deprogrammer to set us free. A.A.'s buzzwords and slogans were very good and very necessary in the first crucial months, to still, to quiet the tremors, the jitters, the terrible fears that sat on our shoulders. Through the power of repetition, the force of the group, the words soon triggered positive responses in our subconscious wherein lay the emotions and the obsessions. A.A. started triggering positive responses and healing emotions in place of the negative. We all, those of us who have been in A.A. any length of time, have attempted to bypass the working of some if not all the steps. We have used many rationalizations. One of my favorites was that because I could understand the psychological reasons behind the step or steps, there was no need of me actually working it. This, of course, was the attempt of the conscious (the will) to take back the leading role from the subconscious (the emotions) and be like other people, the non-alcoholics. But if an intellectual answer could have won the day, I would never have been brought so low, never been an alcoholic; or at the very least, I should have been able to intellectualize my way to sobriety. The problem is that tools of the intellect are inappropriate for the job. It is on a par with trying to use a computer to break broncos. We know that we are the result of millions of years of evolution. There were the simian packs that evolved into human tribes. It is merely a few thousand years since we became feudal, then citified. The pack/tribal time is so great against the time of civilization as to make it insignificant. The evolution that went on during the pack/tribal time is still within our genes, our nervous systems, the ROM of our brain system and biology. ROM is a computer term that seems apt in this context. It means, read only memory. Read only memory can be read, but not written or rewritten. It can be utilized, but not changed. It must be worked with or worked around. Two examples are; our need for ritual, as in funerals and weddings and in a need to realistically deal with our guilts and guilt feelings. Computers can be programmed in many ways, but certain biases are built in; ways of conceptualizing, ways to operate and limitations on ways to operate. Categories in which certain data will be placed, including in some instances stimuli, e.g., (a) will result in operation, (b) to be followed by either (c) and/or in some cases (d). The concept in some ways matches the operation of the human brain. There is a reality to the concept of the subconscious as a fact, whether called the emotional side or whatever terminology. The conscious mind concept is real also, sometimes called intellect or will. These things have there own reality in the ROM of the brain, nervous system and biology of every human being. This is the system in which, due to some biological difference, alcoholism takes root and grows. We can be as intellectual as we like, but our subconscious will reach for a drink and baffle us when we least expect it. Negative emotional patterns and patterning do not cause alcoholism, but they do complicate it. They do stand in the way of recovery, they do cause relapses. This system is what must be dealt with in any program that tries to bring sobriety. This reality system is the one A.A. deals with. A.A. touches the most bases within this system. This is the reason for A.A.'s high rate of success. A.A. is a moral/spiritual program. In dealing with the subconscious; moral concepts work, emotional concepts work, spiritual concepts work. Driven as I was by the immediacy of the pain and misery in working the Program, I began to have an open mind. I started to think that perhaps I could get help from these members of A.A. Let us look at ourselves and others in A.A.. After years of denial we finally are willing to change one thing or die. We become willing to stop drinking, but that is about all. Even when it is obvious that change is necessary for sanity, peace of mind and sobriety, we balk and rationalize so as not to change. Perhaps this would be an appropriate time to discuss rationalization. Rationalization vies with resentments as the prime enemy of an alcoholics sobriety. Any discussion of rationalization could start with a simple definition. Rationalization is the language we use to justify what we want to do. And it would cover the thought to a certain extent, but it would not cover it entirely, nor well. To truly understand rationalization we must understand that Freud did not either invent or discover the subconscious. He merely painted with a broad brush of sexuality. While sex is fun and a reasonable portion of our psychological makeup, it is not the overriding drive behind everything that he said it was. Others studied it and discussed it in a more rational manner. William James was one. I cannot quote the original statement exactly, but it went like this, "Whenever there is a contest between the emotions and the will, the emotions will win every time." If we recognize the correlation between the will and conscious mind and the one between emotions and subconscious we begin to see some daylight. Because we are biochemically and genetically alcoholics, alcohol does strange and magic things for us (and sooner or later to us). The social drinker who sometimes looks down on the suffering alcoholic would be just as addicted if he or she received the same effects from alcohol as we do. The subconscious mind comes into the picture at this point. Everyone tries to cope with stress and other negative emotions. We all find coping mechanisms. We all repeat successful coping mechanisms, alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The seductive power is in the powerful effect of alcohol and other drugs on those of us who have the body-brain biochemical predisposition towards addiction. It is almost as if the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic were drinking a different liquid. It will get both of them drunk if they drink enough of it. It will not addict the person who is not triggered physically to become addicted. The one cannot become addicted; the other can do nothing else but become addicted. Responding to the almost magical ability of this beverage to make the world right our subconscious minds begin building a pattern, a methodology of coping through the to us unsocial social beverage. It makes a deep rooted, emotional decision about alcohol. It is reenforced every time we drink. It soon becomes an obsession. I will give you an example of an obsession from a college textbook I read years ago, but it is still valid. A psychology professor was demonstrating hypnosis to a class. He had found an excellent subject in a female student. While she was under he told her, "When I awaken you, you will not remember anything, even that I succeeded in hypnotizing you. But during the lecture, when you see me tug on my left earlobe you will immediately get up and go to the coat room. You will get my white lab coat. You must put it on me before you can sit down again." He awakened her and apologized for wasting her time trying to hypnotize her when it was obvious that she could not be hypnotized. She resumed her seat and he continued his lecturing. During the lecture the professor tugged the earlobe. The subject went immediately to the coat room and brought back the lab coat. "Here Professor put on your lab coat." "Why should I put on my lab coat?" "So you won't catch a chill." "Catch a chill? Look at the thermostat. It's seventy degrees in here. Besides, I already have on a sport jacket." "That's why you should put on your lab coat. So you won't get chalk dust on your jacket." He put on the lab coat and she returned to her seat. What does this all prove? The hypnotist induced an obsession that she had to get him to don his lab coat. The obsession was in her subconscious mind, the seat of the emotions. The rationalizations were sent up by the subconscious mind to the conscious to fulfill the obsession. It didn't matter that the rationalizations were irrational. They were powerful and demanding. She was at their mercy until her obsession was fulfilled. When we start drinking alcohol reacts differently in our physical and emotional being. It is powerful and it begins to set up a physical compulsion and an emotional obsession. Our alcoholic drinking gets worse because the alcohol is doing things to and for us that it doesn't do for the social drinker. No matter what we do emotionally and mentally, because of the physical basis of our disease it will always rehook us if we ingest it again. It is never safe for us to attempt to become social drinkers. The subconscious starts sending up rationalizations to fulfill its obsession. "One drink won't hurt. Just one to relax. It's a hot day, it will cool me off. After all this time sober, surely I can drink safely now. These A.A.s are a bunch of religious fanatics. They don't know what they are talking about. AA is trying to control my mind." This one is especially good because alcohol has controlled his or her mind on a subconscious level for years. It still does or it would not be sending up these rationalizations. Our attempts to control our drinking or go on the wagon are all the actions of the conscious and the subconscious in conflict. The subconscious is the emotional part of the mind, among other things that it does. The conscious is the intellect, the reasoning part, it should be in charge, or at the least the senior partner. In a healthy person they work in harmony. In an alcoholic the subconscious is trying to be the whole person, and accomplishes it albeit poorly, for years. When they speak in the literature about deflation in depth they are talking about the deflation of the subconscious. It is willing for once in a long time to surrender the reins. It is ready because the pain and anguish that have resulted from the alcoholic drinking have forced it to surrender. The rationalization process is one of the sneaky ways it has to try to regain them. We know intellectually that we cannot drink safely, yet the rationalizations still come. The subconscious has great resiliency, great emotional power, great sneakiness. All we can do is attempt to defuse the obsessional-emotional demands in the subconscious. This is where we call upon something more powerful to help in this unequal contest. This too is the reason we have so many rationalizations why the steps don't apply to us. Why this or that step is unnecessary for us. Why this characteristic is not really a character defect. Rationalization is not limited to Alcoholics. We find it whenever and wherever reason and intellect are in conflict with obsessions and compulsions that are rooted in emotion, the subconscious mind. I could cite examples going into a hundred pages but it all comes back to subconscious and obsessions arrived at by certain paths. Of course I can cite the rationalizations of others, but it is difficult to see our own obsessions and so easy to recognize them in others. There are certain things that must be remembered in dealing with the subconscious, sheer brute determination rarely works. Anger at the subconscious is self anger and self hatred, and is self defeating. Many things work, hypnosis sometimes works. Reeducation of the subconscious is another avenue used in A.A. the steps are reeducation and removal of negative emotion through concrete action. While we are seeking direction if your mind works in the same manner mine does you are possibly floundering around in search of a moral code you are able to live with. When we were drinking we veered back and forth between a code of dog eat dog, rationalizing anything and everything and an attempt to be perfect in every way. Our old ways did not work. We need something that works and that we can live with. Let me suggest you try my expedient. Concurrently, with my search for reality on a real world basis was my need for a code or set of rules of ethics or morals. During my drinking days my ethics and morals had deteriorated to an alarming degree, even though I had felt great guilt at the same time. I needed something to live by, something I could understand. The various religious systems had so many contradictions that I could not pick or choose between them. But I found that all religions in one way or another said one thing, one way or another. Either they said, "Do unto other as you would have others do unto you," or, "Do not do unto others as you would not have others do unto you." Almost without exception I found this to be true. I elected to live by this code to the best of my ability. Whenever I have a question or a problem about what to do in any given situation, I hold it up to the question, "Would I want this done to me?" I have found that almost invariably that this test yields the right answer. I would not be stolen from, so I do not steal. I would not be lied to, so I do not lie. I would not be cheated, so I do not cheat. This started out as a temporary expedient; it is still my code for living. I have found none better. Perhaps you will, perhaps eventually I will also. In the mean time I would suggest you try it as a temporary code of morals to live by. In our short sojourn here in this existence, we change radically from birth to death. We are promised by religion that we will be frozen as is. Deep down we know that change is death, death is change, death of the old, birth of the new. When I change, the old I dies, a new I is born. That is why we fight change so desperately. Even when the change is for the better. We fear death. We fear change. I admit that I fear change. I fear the death of the I that I am, as I evolve through life and death and the growth and change that is inevitable. Nonetheless, the next section is devoted entirely to examining the Twelve Steps of A.A. totally on the basis of reason, rationality and pragmatically without reference to a Higher Power. Those that use such statements as, "No one is too dumb for A.A. but there are many who are too smart," are dead wrong. No matter how smart or dumb we might be we can and do use rationalization. It is just that we who are intelligent often spin much more intellectual and seductive webs to justify returning to alcohol that it tends to give intelligence a bad name. Intelligence can be used to understand ourselves, alcohol, drugs, alcoholism and addiction. Used in that manner it can only lead to sobriety and sanity. For Those Who Cannot Accept A God Concept So you cannot accept a God concept. It's not the end of the world. You are not condemned to inevitably getting drunk, contrary to what some people might think or say. With the right attitude, an atheist (whether you like that word or not) can stay sober. When we want to stay sober, we will do those things and take those options which lead to sobriety. There are many in A.A. who cannot accept a God concept, But can accept another prime concept: that they are not God! You of course object that, not believing in a God, you of course, cannot be guilty of such an idea as believing that you are God. Believing you are God is not peculiar to atheist alcoholics. All practicing alcoholics operate and think as if they are the center of the universe, the most important, the arbitrator of what everyone else should do, think and enjoy. We judge others, we demand perfection from them that we cannot find in ourselves. We know what is best and right for others. We are extremely intolerant of other's weaknesses when we cannot control our own. The first point in recovery is to realize that we are sick, in many ways. That a high percentage of our life is not sane, that it is not working. It must be changed. The question is what we must change and how much of our lives must we change. That is the purpose of the fourth and fifth steps. We must inventory on our own. Then we must inventory with another farther along the road to recovery. We must be willing to reconsider our entire life, and perhaps most important, our life's philosophy, our world view. Not being able to accept a God concept; where do you go from here? The A.A. program can be worked as a straight psychological, ethical program. Morals and ethics really are interchangeable, but pure psychology, without morals or ethics will seldom, if ever, sober up alcoholics. Contrary to what some Christians would have you believe, most atheists are every bit as ethical as any Christian. So we must start considering the program as an ethical psychological exercise. Now of course, all we have to do is figure out what ethics are. To find out what they are it would help to ponder where they started. A pack animal must interact with others in the pack. Methods and means of interaction are necessary to preserve the pack. Preservation of the pack preserves the individuals and consequently the genetic material, genetic material that keeps the pack successful will be passed on. Behavior that preserves the individual will usually preserve the pack/tribe, but not always. Behavior that preserves the pack/tribe usually but not always preserves the individual. Consequently, there are compromises. The behaviors and compromises equal the mores, the morals and ethics. This encompasses some, but not all, of the concept of sin. The elaborations and embellishments on these basics cause some, but not all, of the problems and confusion. The rest of the difficulty comes mainly from two directions. One is when the individual's survival behavior interferes with pack/tribal survival. Two, when pack/tribal survival behaviors interfere with individual survival. By survival, I am not only speaking about living but also about heritage, the passing on of genes. A few examples are that the nurturing of both parents permits the long childhood of man, which in turn permits learning and ultimately civilization. Some methods by which a man assures survival of his genes; ownership of the female and all forms of male domination societies. In societies that permit female promiscuity, the male nurtures his sister's children. He knows they share a portion of his genes. Morals/ethics equal genetic descent. To a large extent, if the ethics and morals are not built into the genetic structure, at the very least the hunger and absolute need for mores, morals and ethics are built in. So we accept that we have an absolute need for an ethical moral life. We can go into a long philosophical discussion of what kind of morals and ethics we should live by. But it would be well at this point to reconsider the A.A. twelve steps from the viewpoint of ethics, totally without a God concept. The next section deals with the twelve steps without a God concept. Perhaps some of you think it still too spiritual, but we who claim a thirst for reality at any price must face certain facts. Pragmatically, the A.A. twelve step program works! It works because it deals with the reality of homo sapiens as it is, not as we or someone else think it should be constructed. The moral/ethical aspect of man must be dealt with, it cannot be ignored. We have tried our own way, it did not work. Now we try the twelve steps. With the wide-open spiritual/ethical views of A.A., we can start from wherever we stand. John Donne said, "No man is an island." We must deal with other people on a moral/ethical level. The level we all live on, wherein we interact with one another. We can do it. We must do it or die. We will do it. This is not intended as a re-write of the twelve steps but as a look from a different viewpoint. The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe, that a power greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our will over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. 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. Reprinted with the permission of A.A. World Services Inc. Twelve Steps For Those Who Cannot Accept A God Concept 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. Read all the literature about alcoholism, preferably the newer things. The more the physiologists and neurologists investigate, the more the evidence is piling up that the cause of alcoholism is physical and genetic. The Swedish study of biological children of alcoholic parents adopted by nonalcoholic parents is one case in point. The children developed alcoholism at the same rate as children raised by their alcoholic biological parents, a rate much higher than the national average, higher than the rate for natural children of nonalcoholic parents. The studies at Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, by Dr. Henry Begleiter show that there is a brain abnormality in the P-3 component which deals with the memory and emotions common to alcoholics, that causes an unusual brain wave, shared by their children at the same percentage rate as other studies have shown alcoholism to develop in children of alcoholics. There will need to be more follow up studies of course, but more and more evidence indicates the physical basis of alcoholism. Various psychological studies have shown that alcoholics have no more psychological problems before pathological drinking sets in than the population as a whole. The psychological problems that are present in alcoholics are caused by the alcoholism, not the cause of alcoholism. There are alcoholics that suffer from schizophrenia, but we would never say that only schizophrenics can become alcoholics. If an alcoholic can be also a diabetic, then we must accept the fact that an alcoholic could have been a neurotic before he became an alcoholic. The one did not necessarily cause the other. We alcoholics must accept the fact that we are alcoholic, that we are powerless over alcohol, that it is rooted in our physiology and we cannot trade in our bodies. Whether we believe in God or not, we are powerless over alcohol and will remain powerless. According to James R. Milam Ph.D. ("The Emergent Comprehensive Concept of Alcoholism"), Research shows that sober alcoholics are already as mature as social drinkers. That isn't good enough because social drinkers freely drink to relieve psychological tension. Because of residual physiological damage, alcoholics have lower tolerance for psychological stress. They must transcend normal maturity to be able endure greater tension and never resort to chemical relief. A.A. provides a program of character building to this end. I recommend his entire monograph if you can secure it. With or without a God concept, our lives are unmanageable. We need help. A.A. provides it in the next eleven steps. 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity. The program and its accumulated wisdom of how to live sanely and soberly is a greater power. The peer pressure of the group can act as a power greater than one sick alcoholic. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the program and the people in it. The people of the program have lived through most or all of the problems we are experiencing, or will experience. Admitting that we are sick, that we do not have all the answers and that others do, is the beginning of humility. Realizing that we are not all-wise, all-knowing, not God, that others know more in certain areas than we do, is humility. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Made a searching and fearless moral and ethical inventory of ourselves. The term ethical is added to illuminate the fact that moral is not a "God" term. Nowhere in the A.A. Big Book does the term "sin" enter in. There are only two categories of wrong; wrong done to other human beings and wrong emotions that harm ourselves. These wrongs are those things which are dysfunctional to our own physical and emotional health, also dysfunctional to our healthy interactions to others in human society. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Healers of the mind and psyche down through time have found again and again that confessing, sharing things, feelings and emotions hidden in the deep recesses of our subconscious minds, is healing and freeing. It opens the door to sharing, and in sharing, learning that we are not unspeakably evil, weird or insane, but merely ill as other alcoholics have been ill before us. When we alcoholics, especially in early recovery, operate in total isolation, our thinking can become extremely confused. We need the interaction, sharing and cross checking of someone who is on the same path - the path of recovery from alcoholism. Without the sharing of the Fifth step, we cannot hope to participate in the sharing in depth so necessary to recovery. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Were entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed. It might seem the height of simplicity to state that first we must be ready to be willing before we can change, but many people know they should change, but are not really ready nor really willing. Perhaps the closest they can come is wanting to be willing. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Humbly sought guidance and help in removing our shortcomings. We do need the help of someone or something. In this case it must and can be someone, probably in A.A.. Unaided, alone, and on our own, we have descended deeper and deeper into the morass of alcoholism. We cannot continue on the hermit's path. We seek and obtain the help available in A.A.. Around any A.A. table we can find a plentitude of experience of recovery from alcoholism. A pig will automatically go back into the mud and slop because it is a pig. Without the program, without the steps, particularly this one, we do not change. Without change, we will still be the persons who crawled out of the slop and the mud. We will, like the pig, automatically go back into what we crawled out of, because this is all we know and the only place we feel we belong. To attain recovery and serenity, we must change. All of the steps in the A.A. program are designed to bring about this change and this is one of the key ones. Remember, there are books, pamphlets and people in the program that can help us if we are open minded in our search. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Sins against Gods or churches are never mentioned in A.A., only harm to others. Guilt is something we alcoholics cannot live with. Real guilt for harming real people must be dealt with. Forgiveness of others, the removal of our resentments is necessary to our health and freedom from alcohol. All of this is inherent in becoming willing. 9. Made direct amends to such persons wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Many people think they know how to rid themselves of guilt and resentments, but God or no God, these emotions can only be removed through person to person action. Many try to intellectualize this step in order avoid the initial emotional pain, but we cannot have the emotional freedom without the action. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. The other steps are designed to remove the debris of the past, this one to assure that we do not accumulate new guilts, new resentments. Because if we feel guilty for wrongs we have done others, we soon resent those we have wronged. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Sought through study and meditation to improve our depth of understanding of this program, seeking knowledge of how to implement this program in our lives. Seeking humbly means to acknowledge other people's expertise in working and living this program with some measure of serenity, peace and sobriety. Being willing to ask, to study, to learn from any source. Meditation does not necessarily need a God or a God-concept. Lawrence LeShan has written a book, "How to Meditate," that deals with this and is one of the best I have read. It touts no religious viewpoint, but discusses extensively all aspects of meditation from a psychologist's viewpoint. Meditation can help to create the psychic unity with nature and reality that can aid the flow of recovery. I beg of you to at least study the subject and consider it. Try this experiment: Pick a comfortable position, sitting, reclining or lying down - one you can stay in without discomfort or paying attention to your body. Close your eyes and start a pattern of deep breathing and pay as little attention to it as possible. Remember and go back in your mind to a place that was outdoors. Return to nature, a pond, a valley, a forest, somewhere that gave you a feeling of peace. Sink into this place. Feel yourself in unity with this place, with nature itself. Bask in the union and the peace. Let the peace flow through you. Feel it and enjoy it as long as it lasts. Rest a few moments. Reflect on the peace, the unity with the world and everyone and everything in it, along with your recovery and peace with the world. This was one form of meditation, without the need for a divinity or a God concept. Give it a try. 12. 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. Having had an emotional, psychological awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs. The awakening is when we alcoholics, who spent most of our lives in a state of emotional immaturity, grow up. Growing up is genuine concern and regard for others and the removal of negative emotions. Carrying this message to alcoholics is genuine regard and it strengthens our own sobriety. Anyone who is sober and working this program has a message to carry. Practicing these principles in all our affairs maintains and strengthens our maturity, our sobriety. The cosmos, the galaxies, the suns and the worlds are governed by principles and dynamics. All species of the animal kingdom are so governed. We humans are governed by principles and dynamics in our interactions with one another and within the forces within our own psyche, the interplay between the intellectual and the emotional. These are the principles of this program, the optimum usage of these dynamics for health and sobriety. Conclusion In conclusion, in this thesis I purposely limited my own personal experiences, to avert the appearance of trying to convert you to my own personal beliefs, my own conclusions. The totality of my experiences led me to certain conclusions and conjectures. I have tried as much as possible to give you the bare bones; no more than a mere foundation for you to build your own system on. To do more would seem, to me, to be grossly unfair. I want to say that this thesis is not to change A.A., nor to rewrite the Twelve Steps. It is to give a new outlook, a new viewpoint. My own personal experiences and ideas were stated to give you a springboard to launch your own thinking on the subject. I hope that I have been able to show that no matter how unorthodox or different we might be, there is a way to approach the program that will work for each of us. It can work for you. There are five steps to getting well. (1) Knowing something is wrong with you. (2) Admitting it. (3) Knowing you need help. (4) Asking for it. (5) Following instructions. You know where you stand in the above steps. Do something about it. The A.A. Program is open, available and operable for anyone with any type of spiritual belief and to those with none. Those who are either unorthodox or doubters or unbelievers have to work at it a little harder and think it out a little more thoroughly. But we can make it work for us. We can stay sober if we want to badly enough. I have. Others have. Now I would like to suggest that you take your new viewpoint and go back to the writings of A.A.. Look at it with the knowledge that they have worked for alcoholics as unorthodox as you and they can work for you also. Give it a chance. Give yourself a chance. Get into the program. All you have to lose is your drunkenness, your misery, your unhappiness and your insanity. You have sobriety, happiness, sanity and life itself to gain. Claim it all! Pass it on!

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