Abuses of the 4th Step Inventory is extensive in Twelve Step fellowships like AA.
Enhancing and complicating what would otherwise be a simple process for purposes beyond its original intentions (an initial spiritual awakening which inaugurates God consciousness and dissolves the drinking obsession) might give a cool shot of “feel good,” but eventually it reveals itself to be a hindrance to extended spiritual growth – the kind proposed by the co-authors of the magnificent spiritual text, story and how-to book, “Alcoholics Anonymous".
The inventory directions in their book, when thoroughly followed, results in finding, facing and recording intimate details about our lives. Yes, there is a “wealth of information” which may be garnered out of such data—analyzing and mulling them over is possible.
But that’s not what we are supposed to be doing with this fact-finding tool.
As The Result of These Steps
We are suppose to be following clear and concise directions that will bring about a spiritual awakening—one sufficient to remove the drinking obsession so we cease setting off the craving phenomena, a damaged we precipitate ourselves by relentless abuse our bodies through repeated use of the food product—alcohol. Nothing more than that.
The 4th step was not designed to engage an alcoholic in a full-scale, amateur psychoanalytic process so he can understand the vast working of his complicated mind. (Greater understanding is to come, revealed through conscious contact with God as we go on through a life of prayer and meditation, as directed in Step 11—seven steps later.)
Groups or sponsorship-cults within Groups that get protégées caught up in ramped-up inventory-gimmicks and perverse Step 4-worshiping approaches to some “program,” turning what once served as a simple, one-time "course of action" into some sort of recovery cottage industry, may draw some vulnerable types (And it does. Big time), but for those who thirst for true freedom, to be liberated from the bondage of self, instead of making even tighter bindings to a restyled-self, this is not attractive.
No Freedom From Anger
Ultimately failing to get free from the tyrant self stands in the way of spiritual progress, allowing anger, the killer emotion, to remain a problem.
Show me someone stuck in multiple and turbo-charged inventory endeavors, constantly seeking to enhance knowledge about himself through what he thinks are spiritual endeavors, and I will show you a walking coronary explosion—full of concealed anger, depression, obsessive vices but dripping with phony “goodness.”
It is a distraction, delaying a seeker from properly reaching the ultimate objective in Step 11 – improving conscious contact with God. Even once you have established conscious contact with God, you cannot improve it while you remain engaged in constant self-examination. That is self consciousness, not God consciousness. Like an inventory, conscious contact with God is a revealing find and face project, but it is through wordless revelation which replaces the rudimentary, self-effort of a Step 4 style, written "Self examination" inventory.
Step Four is Newcomer Action
When a newcomer, armed with his Step-apparatus, is first plowing through inventories, he finds and faces a lifetime of objectionable acts, thoughts and self-centered behaviors, uncovering the flaws in his makeup that caused his downfall as a human being. He is learning how he has descended from something human and spiritually connected when he was a child into a degraded adult - a Godless subhuman.
At the outset of the journey he is just beginning to experience the flow of God into him; a powerful Presence from which he has been running away his entire life.
When he is encouraged to remain in that elementary mode, writing and analyzing—never dedicating his energies toward improving that conscious contact . . .
remains stuck, doomed to repeat errors necessitating more inventories and amends . .. . . then and more inventories and more amends, over and over and over – perhaps even becoming convinced that this insane cycling represents some spiritually superior lifestyle - if only he keeps analyzing himself.
He has entered inventory hell—fallen for a diabolic trick intelligently designed to keep him stalled in the middle of a spiritual road that might otherwise usher him through a beautiful complete lifesaving process.
There is an initial race to get through a 4th Step, so that the drink obsession will be removed. After that there is a new urgency. It is a rush toward adopting a lifestyle keeping the awake and aware, conscious existence that continually improves God consciousness as time goes on. Progressive conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation saves an alcoholic from repeating the errors for which he would otherwise always need to have removed and find forgiveness—really just relief.
Sticking with the directions for the removal of defects, brings perfect peace and ease.
Heaven On Earth is Possible
This state of consciousness, free from anger, where resentment has been mastered and Gods will can finally be known and executed, on earth as it is in heaven. This is to where the Twelve Steps ought to lead. Not to addictions procedures and to step sponsors, workbooks and accounting to step gurus or recovery personalities. Not to playing musical sponsors, shifting from one obsessive behavior to another; trying to suck enlightenment out of books, study, spiritual “courses” in happiness and bliss from quirky self-help recipes.
Alter the original, simple proposals, even with good intentions, and you will unwittingly hinder and block spiritual progress.If you are an inventory freak, a workshop addict, a service or sponsor junkie, addicted to Big Book noisemaking or self-help books and processes, and instead would like be free to an open line of wordless, intuitive communication with your Creator, then I suggest you let go of the temptation to fix your ever-failing character through constant self examinations. Do the work delineated in your Big Book as is. Stop messing with the formula and calling it AA.
If you want a real wealth of information about yourself – I mean a treasure trove of it – become God conscious through meditation and let God reveal it to you. If you are a Twelve Stepper your “Program” calls for it.
So do it. If you haven't been shown how (and lets face it, you haven't) then get my free method right now and stop the spiritual masturbatory nonsense; the constant pleasuring of yourself with the search, and instead finally get on that path to the discovery of God and a peaceful life that is free from the bondage of self. Will you, please?
Peace and Love,
Danny S – RLRA
Real Live Recovered Alcoholic