Friday, June 17, 2016

Are You Playing God And Don't Know It?

by daniel j schwarzhoff

Every time you become annoyed, irritated, cross, angry, mad, excited or upset in any way - that is “Playing God.” 

Let me explain.

Agitation, of any kind, is a profoundly metaphysical event where a dark self residing within, you mistakenly believe to be you (and isn’t), swells in pride over others errors - and judge’s them, ostensibly either casting them into an imagined hell or sending them to a "heaven," depending upon whether or not It deems them worthy or unworthy. 

Whether approval or contempt, It revels in either position, in God-like judgment. And just how does It decide?

Well, the person who displeases rouses anger and becomes It’s condemned unworthy “sinner”.  The person who pleases arouses self-worth and happiness to become It’s worthy “saved” one. That is the essence of playing God. It’s a metaphysical phenomenon separating every person engaging in it from the One, true God, for which reason we ever feel anxiety. 

The reason some people become so easily compelled toward drink, drug, yoga, religion, money and yes, even fellowshipping, or seek any excitement or pleasure is to generate artificial happiness and bliss, to anesthetize that discomfort – and to keep playing God-Judge. Some are guiltier of this than others – hence the varying degrees of their dissipation. 

Everything else that you “think” means “playing God” is just that dark self intellectually steering you away from believing what you just read.

Most people haven’t a clue what it means to “play God”. Not because they are stupid or incapable of understanding, but it just isn’t much discussed. 

No one would ever want to know or admit it about themselves. Not even those who you’d expect might tell them. Clerics, phycologist, spiritual pundits, are all in the same boat and incapable of bringing themselves to admitting the horrible truth within their own being, let alone become helpful harbingers of truth for others. 

The co-authors of “Alcoholics Anonymous” could not articulate the concept very well either. But they were keenly aware of it and inspired enough to realize that, “It didn’t work.” 

In that regard they sure were right. 

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[1] “Alcoholics Anonymous”, 4th edition, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 62:3

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Are Your Lights On?

by daniel j schwarzhoff sr

In the Big Book,on the 11th Step, what does it mean when it asks: “Were we thinking of what we could do for others, what we could pack into the stream of life?”

The stream of life is simply a metaphor for time containing the events in our lives that attach to each contiguous instant passing through each new now. Those events contain all the temptation to indulge in resentment and to become angry.

omparing selflessness with selfishness presents one measure of whether or not we are living in the awakened state, in that life-stream, meeting the emotional, crop ups as God-conscious individuals.

A person who has completed Step 9 owes no one amends, and experiences a sudden lift of conscience, freeing him up to live confidently, with courage and virtue going forward.
His attentions fall off a subconscious preoccupation with his own guilts from the past - the pains of which are now mitigating and falling away. The bees in his bonnet are let out and his head pops out of his butt, so to speak - the lights have come on. 

Now he feels a part of the world. He begins to notice he has a purpose; that life is no longer all about him but is also about becoming a contributor in a world of human experience along with other people.

He begins to find natural joy in being useful.

In the nightly review [1] proposed in  the magnificent how-to book,
Alcoholics Anonymous, this newly awakened, 12 step practitioner is asked to reflect for a moment on the day just passed.
He can briefly recollect those instances where selfishness had fallen away and he had experienced vital moments of self-sacrifice.
If he’s awake, aware and has improved his conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation regularly, the night and morning before, then those moments will be there to see. It can be a fruitful exercise in conscious introspection.
This moment of reflection is helpful because a person who is truly awakened doesn't notice these changes in attitude or behavior as he's experiencing them throughout the day. They're occurring organically, not calculatingly. 

There is no premeditation in truly virtuous living. His behavior is not deliberate or contrived. 

He's become a free, God-centered individual with no allegiance to people, places or things but to the wordless discipline from his Father within.

And so the Big Book co-authors saw that it would be a very encouraging experience if in a nightly review, they would take a moment to notice how thoughts and actions of the day just passed have modified. They can notice their own alteration of attitude in daily dealing with people and events.

This type of review allows him to notice, “Wow this watching and not struggling with negative emotions stuff really works.” In retrospect, he can see that “self” '
ishnsss' is slipping away day by day.

Once we're able to meet stress as awakened, God conscious people, the ego Self-creature is no longer fed the anger energy it craves. It loses control over us, shrinks and weakens. As It starves we become less Self-‘ish’.

Taking a moment at bedtime to see how this is so is a helpful reassurance. 
It’s notable that the co-authors of "Alcoholics Anonymous" do not suggest that 12 Steppers ought to start packing into the stream of life. That would be willful. They are saying review your day and see where you already have.

If you do this review and few times and get nothing constructive, if the day is wrought with harms and resentful filled thinking, behaviors - then something is wrong. You haven’t awakened and you aren’t growing.

However, once you are living God-consciously, spiritually awakened and with His “vision for you,” flowing through you, then you’ll easily see where you’ve indeed packed into the stream and been thinking less of yourself and more of others each day.
[1] In 1938, Review meant, "Going over anything again to study, consider or examine. A general consideration." ~ The Winston Simplified Dictionary Encyclopedic Edition (1938)
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Know Any Alcoholics or Addicts?

Here's how it happened. Brace Yourself

by daniel j schwarzhoff sr

For all human beings, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, resentful judging is always followed by guilt for “playing God." The pain of it is the chief influence in the life of every alcoholic. It’s part of the metaphysical system essential to every human relationship with the Creator.

Once triggered, it launches a self-centered attitude, even further advanced by ever-mounting pain in the psyche. No one can live this way for long. It requires reprieve. Somehow. From somewhere.

Until he finally reaches the horrible point of taking the relief found in the final solution, a depressed, anxious individual will cultivate a lifestyle that will soothe the daily discomfort he feels.

This is the single reason for all alcoholics, drug addicts, smokers, sex-fixated men and women, overeaters, gamblers, control freaks—the list of aberrational human behavior is long. 

A conscience-plagued human being who thinks he is God is capable of abusing a ham sandwich or a relationship.
Either will supply him the overriding pleasure he needs to continue to live as god. 
If you’ve ever wondered why so many “recovering” alcoholics get so obese, continue in nicotine addictions, develop masturbation-pornography fixations, cannot hold onto relationships and feel love-starved or "unlucky" all the time – now you know.

It’s a crappy, obsession-plagued life, justifying ones unwitting God-snubbing, and simultaneously believing you are recovering from spiritual disease, even though it isn’t true. 

You could detox and get counseled in 100 treatment facilities by 1,000 specialists. You could put decades of abstinence and knowledge into your back pocket. You could sit at the feet of giggling gurus in the Himalayas and twist your body and brain into knots muttering mantras on a yoga matt. You will still suffer unnecessarily as long as you use these or any pleasures to escape seeing the truth of what you need to see and experience the pain of it.

New relationships. Anxiety continues. New careers. Anxiety continues. Antidepressants.
Anxiety continues. Work with more people. Anxiety continues. Spiritual retreats. Anxiety continues. Not even all the prayers, reading, spiritual studies and good deeds in the world can jumpstart a stalled spirit once it has ceased all progress toward perfection. Anxiety continues.

If an alcoholic could reserve major drunken episodes and the negative consequences of a spree solely for major traumas like divorce, job losses, and other big disappointments, then life would be manageable.

Of course, for the alcoholic that would also mean managing alcohol consumption—something every real alcoholic must come to see he cannot do. Sprees would be a breeze. 
Counterbalancing pain with pleasure is the prime object of an alcoholic’s life, and under such conditions, he would be able to do it. 
The problem for the real alcoholic is that new pains only mount on top of the old, even after applying alcohol. Each new drunken episode solves nothing. New problems continue to build upon the ever-increasing load; the sum of an ever-growing negative inventory of resentments, fears, and harms.

Any means to abate discomfort never amounts to more than a temporary cover-up. The moment we let up on the booze-switch (stop drinking), the tenacity of God’s pursuing love is revealed and its very special agony resumes. It is only through continual refreshment of gratifications, like drinking again, that the alcoholic finds relief from the constant reminder of his inner conflict.

Please do not think for a second that this degradation of humanness need be a long, complicated process. It is not. It takes only a moment, but in that instant, hate has caused you to go from fit to fatty or drinker to drunk.

This is one reason why eating and sex disorders are more stubborn than alcohol or drug addictions. Unless you get to the original cause, which means dealing with your resentment problem, you will struggle for the rest of your life with food (or sex).

You cannot abstain from eating and so dieting, willfully controlling intake, will only further exasperate the battle of the bulge, inducing still more resentment as you get fatter and fatter. 
If you have ever wondered why diets do not work very well, now you know that too.
Unless he gets free from anger, gains mastery over resentment and loses his fear, then although he may be clean, sober and erudite in recovery matters, no alcoholic will evade the bedeviled life I've just described.

This is why we see so many “recovered,” seemingly enlightened alcoholics and addicts suddenly drop dead or develop autoimmune diseases while yet young. It’s unrecognized, improperly addressed anger and it is as deadly to alcoholics as any human being.[1]

The wonderful news is that once he does discover the means to remain free he’s automatically liberated from all of it and has a wonderful life. It’s a miracle.

It’s called God-consciousness and you can find the means to keeping it my book, Real Meditation for Real Alcoholics - and those who love them.
Click "Inside Look" for a sample: 

[1] This is what happened to Dr. Bob Smith, co-founder # 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s what happens to any recovered alcoholic or addict who continues in recovery, glorifying in "working with others," while glossing over unrecognized anger with a false veneer of spirituality or religion. If you learn more about Dr. Bob after the Big Book publication, beyond the "conference approved" stuff and the Bob-culty opinions posted on the Internet, you learn how he still harbored terrible anger under his own roof amidst his family. This leaves no wondering of how he died prematurely of colon cancer. If you want what he got - do as he did. Toss away the awakening and dive into spiritual books. Become erudite and busy, busy, busy in good deeds - leaving the God-conscious state behind.

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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