The Following is an excerpt from the chapter “The Spiritual Solution Workshop”
During this workshop, we will take all twelve steps as they are presented in The Big Book, the textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous. The method we are using is similar to the way our founders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, and other early members of AA took other alcoholics through the steps, most while they were still in hospital, a day or two sober, certainly very early in their recovery.
At that time, if you came to AA, you took the steps immediately, and a great majority of people stayed sober (not the small percentage that achieve sobriety today).
Notice the word ‘took’ – as opposed to worked, studied or analyzed. The steps are meant to be taken as presented in the Big Book .
The notion that in early sobriety we are too befuddled to take these steps belies the fact that we are seeking a spiritual solution to our drinking problem. We seek a higher power to provide our recovery. Our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual state has no bearing on when the spiritual solution will be effective. A higher power that can relieve our alcoholism can certainly transcend the physical effects of alcoholism. The method of taking the 12 steps is presented in The Big Book in a way that with the guidance of a qualified sponsor, any newcomer can effectively take all 12 steps immediately upon coming to AA. In fact, when an alcoholic first comes to AA is when the alcoholic is often most receptive to taking the 12 steps.
The following excerpt is from Bill’s story and we can clearly see that Bill, while still detoxing in the hospital, is taken through the steps as they were then, by his sponsor Ebby T.:
At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time. Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium tremens.
There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.
My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment. I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability.
I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure.
My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements.
Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn in all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.
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.
For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the doctor, to ask if I were still sane. He listened in wonder as I talked.
Finally he shook his head saying, “Something has happened to you I don’t understand. But you had better hang on to it. Anything is better than the way you were.” The good doctor now sees many men who have such experiences. He knows that they are real.
While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others.
My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs. Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.
In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous there were no excuses or apologies made for the spiritual nature of this program. It is after all a “spiritual solution to the drinking problem”. We are in AA to find and connect to a higher power that can relieve our alcoholism. No human power can relieve our alcoholism. Expecting fellowship alone to provide the recovery of the 12 steps is relying on human power and that’s a grave mistake.
The Spiritual Solution book is available in Kindle and Paperback editions here: Amazon.com