Friday, May 13, 2016

AA Rooms Now Occupied by (Anonymous) Weirdos

And they're dying

By daniel j schwarzhoff sr

Recovery is possible. Once someone recovers there is a lifelong progression of development. It is spiritual growth. 

No one has to go through life limping along in some imagined “RecoverING” mode. (Although many will try just that.)

Once recovered, we experience the ongoing improvement of consciousness and a subsequent movement in the direction of perfection. Toward God.

But that growth only begins once we awaken. Not a second before. This awakening is characterized in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” as a foundational spiritual episode. It’s a state of existence they called, “recoverED.”
It can happen over a stretch of time. Not a lifetime, but days - or even weeks. There are usually strings of ‘aha’ experiences involved.
But a lifelong sentence, suffering in spiritual malady, continuing to be subject to anger and resentment, hating and harming others, living with mental and physical breakdown, performing endless multiple inventories and written reviews is not the 12 step awakening experience depicted by the co-authors. The weeks or months, culminating in awakening are frequent enough to call common.

Once we experience this awakening, we can either continue to grow in it or else regress back into spiritual slumber. Whichever depends on upon whether or not we have dedicated our lives to God-consciousness.

Prayer and meditation will help keep us poised at the threshold of heaven within. There we stand, each moment of each day, either accepting God’s will and vision or not, through the trials of daily living in the stream of life.

Alcoholics do not lose the obsession with drinking EtOH until they first recover. And they recover once they have first had the spiritual awakening experience. 

It can be in a flash like lightning, or it can happen over a few weeks. If the individual is going to experience it, either are typical.

In AA, awakening is induced by the 12 step method. It’s a wonderful jump-start toward God and His realm for alcoholics and addicts who haven’t got the luxury of continuing in their obsession for a lifetime until they one day wake up and recover. 

For him, recovery is race! He has got to find God now!

Sex and eating obsessives (99.9% of all alkie are) have a bit more time, but drug addicts and alcoholics can die tonight from their condition. This miracle of quickness in the 12 step awakening method is a gift to them.
Many believe this gift is from God, given through the awakening experience of Bill Wilson who passed forward his experience encountering God, once he had it. 
It’s been religified, vilified, nullified by people in AA as well as out. But in its original unadulterated form, it leads to the magical condition that many of have come to see is the 4th dimension of existence written about by the co-founders.

There is a certain narrative that erupts out of the minds of some people in AA who have not actually had the spiritual awakening experience – or who have lost their original awakening, that if their character defects have resurfaced or never been removed then it must be because the “recovery” spoken of in “Alcoholics Anonymous” has to “take a lifetime.” That is a lie. Bald-faced.

That’s just not the experience depicted in the Book.
But it is a handy justification for the lack of God-consciousness and ensures that AAs become trapped in human-aided, step-programming, instead of being liberated by the step program, metaphysically reprogramed by infilling God—consciousness.

They are dry, clean and sober, but mesmerized into false security through mottos and workbooks and meetings and speaker-tapes and sponsor worship and AA legacy-clubbing, all of it avoidance.

These are individuals still running away from the God-consciousness experience demonstrated in 1938 by the co-founders. It is ashunning God and a stubborn resistance to spiritual growth toward Him, sometimes done in the name of the co-founders. Worse, in the name of God. 

Some are hoodwinked unfortunates. Others, just plain weirdos. Either way, they are dying. They don’t know it.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Emmett Fox in Alcoholic Anonymous - A Union of Spiritual Principles

But is it a Marriage Made In Heaven?

By daniel j schwarzhoff sr

Emmett Fox was a New Thought promoter, although not the force in the growth AA that many speculate, his role is still a pivotal point in AA history.

He famously used “Christian” sounding words to convert his readers over to New Thought spirituality. Much the same way works like “A Course in Miracles” and other syncretic, pseudo-spiritual philosophies ("Law of Attraction") do today.

By pilfering familiar sounding Christian themes, proposed by Jesus Christ, to bait those already familiar with and attracted to His teachings, cult leaders such as Fox, are often able to subtly introduce New Thought doctrines—anti-Christian canon that totally negate the original principles, leaving followers high, dry and sadly, Godless.

Not unlike today, back in the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous some of the old-time Big Book people with Christian leanings were initially attracted because Fox’s Christian sounding hook caught the yearning attention of some doubt-plagued folks who were not, “practicing these principles in all their affairs,” and as a consequence were suffering for it. 

Depression, fear, anxiety, restlessness, over discontentment with life, all return to anyone whose spiritual growth has ceased,  even after once having experienced an awakening. It was a classic bait and switch however and those who continued with it fared very poorly. You can follow the trails of many of the "personal stories " to verify this. Truly tragic.

Some did escape. Thank God. Some managed to stick with the ancient, effective spiritual principals behind the 12-steps, written in the Big Book. Bill Wilson was one of those fortunate ones. He saw Foxes "Scientific" religious cult. Felt the seduction. He tried it. Didn't like it. And Bill left Fox's "scientific" cult.

We can be grateful for that. We might have lost him to the Fox's New Thought alternative to the spiritual principles he originally discovered and along with 100 other co-authors and founders, discussed in  the spiritual how-to volume, “Alcoholics Anonymous”.

Once someone experiences God consciousness they can never take stuff like New Thought theory or Law of Attraction philosophy seriously again. They can see right through most flimflam, without anyone telling them what to believe and what to disbelieve. Not even this article.

Their own unadulterated Scripture suddenly has meaning they never saw before all its own, and even the spiritual principles of their own Big Book become more clear and alive as never before. They can let go of the limited words and begin to experiences the limitless principles at work in their life – because now it is.

 Emmett Fox’s Scientific-Spiritual religious cocktail surreptitiously mixed into AA practice makes about as much sense as having Ouija Board meetings – just because Bill explored any of these things doesn’t mean he decided it was to become part of his life or that anyone ought to imitate them. 

I once went to an AMWAY meeting in the late 70s. I mulled it over a few weeks and concluded that Multilevel Marketing was not proper and I would never get involved in any such scheme. 

Now, I am a role model for my kids. They depend on my example. I cannot imagine my son becoming motivated by my original investigation forty years ago enough to curtail his studies at Princeton and begin selling foam cleaners and dandruff shampoo to family and friends. 

It reminds me of the scene in the 1980’s movie Life of Brian when the main character  is chased by his adoring fans through the sand dunes. He loses one of his sandals in the run. When his followers come across the misplaced footwear, they then remove one of their sandals believe that Brian has given them a sign and a holy directive. 

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Prayer and Meditation - Bill Wilson's Last Word on Step Eleven

One Man's View*

WHEN IT COMES TO THE PRACTICE of AA's Step Eleven--"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"--I'm sure I am still very much in the beginner's class; I'm almost a case of arrested development.

Around me I see many people who make a far better job of relating themselves to God than I do. Certainly it mustn't be said I haven't made any progress at all over the years; I simply confess that I haven't made the progress that I might have made, my opportunities being what they have been, and still are.

My twenty-fourth AA anniversary is just ahead; I haven't had a drink in all this time. In fact, I've scarcely been tempted at all. This is some evidence that I must have taken and ever since maintained Step One: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." Step One was easy for me.

Then, at the very beginning, I was fortunate enough to receive a tremendous spiritual awakening and was instantly "made conscious of the presence of God" and "restored to sanity"--at least so far as alcohol is concerned. Therefore, I've had no difficulty with AA's Step Two because, in my case, its content was an outright gift. Step Four and Step Five, dealing with self-survey and confession of one's defects, have not been overly difficult, either.

Of course, my self-analysis has frequently been faulty. Sometimes I've failed to share my defects with the right people; at other times, I've confessed their defects, rather than my own; and at still other times, my confession of defects has been more in the nature of loud complaints about my circumstances and my problems.

Nevertheless, I think I've usually been able to make a fairly thorough and searching job of finding and admitting my personal defects. So far as I know, there isn't at this moment a single defect or current problem of mine which hasn't been discussed with my close advisers. Yet this pretty well-ventilated condition is nothing for self-congratulation. Long ago I was lucky enough to see that I'd have to keep up my self-analysis or else blow my top completely. Though driven by stark necessity, this continuous self-revelation--to myself and to others--was rough medicine to take. But years of repetition has made this job far easier. Step Nine, making restitution for harms done, has fallen into much the same bracket.
In Step Twelve--carrying the AA message to others--I've found little else than great joy. We alkies are folks of action and I'm no exception. When action pays off as it does in AA, it's small wonder that Step Twelve is the most popular and, for most of us, the easiest one of all.

This little sketch of my own "pilgrim's progress" is offered to illustrate where I, and maybe lots of other AAs, have still been missing something of top importance. Through lack of disciplined attention and sometimes through lack of the right kind of faith, many of us keep ourselves year after year in rather easy a spiritual kindergarten I've just described. But almost inevitably we become dissatisfied; we have to admit we have hit an uncomfortable and maybe a very painful sticking point.

Twelfth-Stepping, talking at meetings, recitals of drinking histories, confession of our defects and what progress we have made with them no longer provide us with the released and the abundant life. Our lack of growth is often revealed by an unexpected calamity or a big emotional upset. Perhaps we hit the financial jackpot and are surprised that this solves almost nothing; that we are still bored and miserable, notwithstanding.

As we usually don't get drunk on these occasions, our bright-eyed friends tell us how well we are doing.
But inside, we know better. We know we aren't doing well enough. We still can't handle life, as life is. There must be a serious flaw somewhere in our spiritual practice and development.

What then, is it?

The chances are better than even that we shall locate our trouble in our misunderstanding or neglect of AA's Step Eleven--prayer, meditation and the guidance of God. The other Steps can keep most of us sober and somehow functioning. But Step Eleven can keep us growing, if we try hard and work at it continually. If we expend even five percent of the time on Step Eleven that we habitually (and rightly) lavish on Step Twelve, the results can be wonderfully far-reaching. That is an almost uniform experience of those who constantly practice Step Eleven.

In this article, I'd like to develop Step Eleven further--for the benefit of the complete doubter, the unlucky one who can't believe it has any real merit at all.

In lots of instances, I think that people find their first great obstacle in the phrase "God as we understand Him." The doubter is apt to say, "On the face of it, nobody can understand God. I half believe that there is a First Cause, a Something, and maybe a Somebody. But I can't get any further than this. I think people are kidding themselves when they say they can. Even if there were a Somebody, why should he bother with little me, when, in making the Cosmos run, he already has plenty to do? As for those folks who claim that God tells them where to drill for oil, or when to brush their teeth--well, they just make me tired."

Our friend is clearly one who believes in some kind of God--"God as he understands Him." But he doesn't believe any bigger concept or better feeling about God to be possible. So he looks upon meditation, prayer and guidance as the means of a self-delusion. Now, what can our hard-pressed friend do about this?

Well, he can strenuously try meditation, prayer and guidance, just as an experiment. He can address himself to whatever God he thinks there is. Or, if he thinks there is none, he can admit--just for experimental purposes--that he might be wrong. This is all-important. As soon as he is able to take this attitude, it means that he has stopped playing God himself; his mind has opened. Like any good scientist in his laboratory, our friend can assume a theory and can make an experiment. He can pray to a "higher power" that may exist and may be willing to help and guide him. He keeps on experimenting--in this case, praying--for a long time. Again he tries to behave like the scientist, an experimenter who is never supposed to give up so long as there is a vestige of any chance of success.

As he goes along with his process of prayer, he begins to add up the results. If he persists, he will almost surely find more serenity, more tolerance, less fear and less anger. He will acquire a quiet courage, the kind that doesn't strain him. He can look at so-called failure and success for what they really are. Problems and calamity will begin to mean instruction, instead of destruction. He will feel freer and saner. The idea that he may have been hypnotizing himself by auto-suggestion will become laughable. His sense of purpose and of direction will increase. His tensions and anxieties will commence to fade. His physical health is likely to improve. Wonderful and unaccountable things will start to happen. Twisted relations in his family and on the outside will unaccountably improve.

Even if few of these things happen, he will still find himself in possession of great gifts. When he has to deal with hard circumstances he can face them and accept them. He can now accept himself and the world around him. He can do this because he now accepts a God who is All--and who loves all. When he now says, "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name," our friend deeply and humbly means it. When in good meditation and thus freed from the clamors of the world, he knows that he is in God's hands; that his own destiny is really secure, here and hereafter.

A great theologian once declared, "The chief critics of prayer are those who have never really tried it enough." That's good advice; good advice I'm trying to take ever more seriously for myself. Many AAs have long been striving for a better conscious contact with God and I trust that many more of us will presently join with that wise company.

I've just finished re-reading the chapter on Step Eleven in our book, "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions." This was written almost five years ago. I was astonished when I realized how little time I had actually been giving to my own elementary advice on meditation, prayer and guidance--practices that I had so earnestly recommended to everybody else!

In this lack of attention I probably have plenty of company. But I do know that this is a neglect that can cause us to miss the finest experiences of life, a neglect that can seriously slacken the growth that God hopes we may achieve right here on earth; here in this great day at school, this very first of our Father's Many Mansions.

Bill W.

*June 1958 Grapevine

Monday, February 29, 2016

Problems Resolve Effortlessly Once We Let Go

"We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while." [1]

by daniel j schwarzhoff sr
There is a paper novelty toy you may remember from childhood called the “Chinese Finger Trap.” Essentially it is a paper helix braided into a hollow tube.

Once both fingers are inserted, the harder you pull to extricate out of the trap the more the circumference of the tube shrinks, the tighter the hold. The only way to forcefully get free is to rip and destroy the entire apparatus.

Meanwhile, letting go of will, patiently allowing the fingers to slip easily through would take only another instant. These Chinese “handcuffs” as they are also known have become a common metaphor representing triumph over impatience.

Accessing the power of self-will to extricate out of one’s problems is like struggling to get free from the finger trap. Our problems seem to resolve by themselves once we stand back and surrender willfulness. 

[1] “Alcoholics Anonymous”, 4th edition, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 86:3