All You Need is an Open Mind

by Rick R.

When we are born, we come into the world perfectly innocent and untainted. From that time on, we are influenced by everything we experience in life, good and bad. If we are loved and nurtured, we may develop feelings of trust and safety. Or if, as it sometimes happens, we get our hand slapped when we pick up something from the coffee table, it may trigger an attitude of defiance and resistance. These two opposites are just examples of the conflicts we encounter in a lifetime. We are conditioned to think and react in a certain way as a result of the influences we are exposed to. 

The biggest hurdle we must face in our search

Newcomers in Alcoholics Anonymous, and even some seasoned veterans, often find it hard to grasp a concept of “a power greater than ourselves.” This is probably the biggest hurdle we must face in our search for a happy and meaningful life. Once we come to terms with the concept of a higher power, it becomes much easier to proceed with the rest of the program. The word God means something different to just about everyone having difficulty with it, and if God alone was the answer, why do priests and ministers come to A.A .for solutions? Why not just go to church? 

A.A. is here for all alcoholics that want to get sober regardless of their approach to faith. Anyone that thinks that we are trying to convert someone into a religion or out of a religion is simply mistaken. The Big Book and the 12 and 12 have many comments about this, but unfortunately old conditioning, bolstered by the ego can block some from breaking down the resistance. Some members may fake it to appear to be going along with the program, but never getting results. If we denied the possibility of a God of the different religious groups, they could not have A.A. available to them. And if we made it a requirement that we picked one of those beliefs, atheists would be left out. 

photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

Everyone finds their own brand of enlightenment

If a person believes that s/he doesn’t have a higher power, I might remind him/her that alcohol was more powerful, or else why did they need A.A? With this in mind, I might suggest they may only need to find a power greater than alcohol to begin with. Then, as it says in the 12 and 12, “To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.’s program as enthusiastically as I could.” As I look back on it now, I realize that was exactly the way I found my way through the dilemma. I find absolutely no conflict in any approach that others discover on their own. I only hope they practice the rest of the program with enthusiasm. What it seems to imply is: if we trust the process and follow the suggestions, we will find a suitable understanding of a power greater than ourselves we can do business with. I’m still not sure what or who (if you like) I am asking for guidance, but I’m open minded about these things.

I must let everyone find their own brand of enlightenment, without prejudging anyone else’s approach. I believe that changing my perception was what put me firmly on the road to recovery. The only thing that I must resist is my ego, and I do that by following sound and unselfish principles. Many of these are discussed in A.A. meetings. It’s not that complicated. If I don’t get caught up in debate and just follow the simplest suggestions, it all works out just fine. Therefore, Step Two is the rallying point for all of us. “Whether agnostic, atheist of former believers, we can stand together on this Step” (12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p..33).

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