Monday, 18 March 2019

Faith without Works and the Body without the Spirit


On the 12th Step. . .

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of those steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs."

The 12th Step is the climax of the other 11. Without the 12th Step, the conception formulated in the other 11 would be like faith without works and the body without the spirit.

Here is the plan put into action, and it is a two-way action. Through the 12th Step, one receives as he gives. He gives to another what he has learned and in so doing receives new strength for himself. And it is through this two-way action that A.A. grows not only larger but stronger, for it is through the 12th Step that new members are made and old members extend the length and the quality of their sobriety.

When the 12th Step operates as it is intended to it precludes the development of the stultifying results of the ordinary debtor-creditor relationship. Although the A.A. engaged on a 12th Step mission may appear to be the donor--donor of a priceless gift which has helped thousands of others--and though the distraught recipient may feel grateful either then or subsequently, there is a powerfully restraining factor in the transaction. The A.A. cannot feel smugly virtuous as bearer of this gift when he knows that by giving it he keeps it and that 12th Step work is the way he helps to preserve his own sobriety. He is not likely to get a fatally righteous and inflated estimation of himself when he remembers that in 12th Step work one receives at least as much and usually much more than he gives. He cannot well fancy himself becoming a saint when he remembers that through 12th Step work he helps to keep himself from becoming a drunk again.

Even for the newcomer who discovers A.A. by way of some member applying the 12th Step in his behalf, there is an equalizer. He may always feel grateful, but as he learns more about A.A. he realizes the necessity of the 12th Step work to the do-er as well as the receiver and thus is relieved of any sense of imposed obligation. And he in turn can embark on 12th Step work knowing that he is doing it for himself more even than for others and certainly without the duress of paying off a debt.

By virtue of these factors, 12th Step work is both inspirational and practical, often the spark that rekindles the fires of shining hope, and at the same time a completely realistic approach to a very tough problem. Few situations arise anywhere that offer a greater challenge to one's ingenuity, resourcefulness, perseverance and the best of his brains than those which arise commonly in 12th Step work. Nor, it should be added, are there many things which man does that require more hard work than is so often needed in the completion of a 12th Step task.

In 12th Step work, one is dealing with the most exasperating, stubborn, conniving, prevaricating, baffling, unpredictable, twisted and messed-up human being at large --the drunk. Successful 12th Step work calls for practically all of the virtues and talents given man, and often, even if any A.A. had all of the virtues and all of the talents, they would not be enough.

Yet, 12th Step work also offers more drama, more comedy, suspense, thrills and excitement than one will ever find on any movie screen. And it is real. It is life in the raw. It takes care of any idle time that may have been dragging heavily. And it has given to many an A.A. experiences that yield the greatest happiness of a lifetime.
Finally, of course, 12th Step work is certainly one of the surest, if not the surest, way of keeping sober. The reason it is so effective is that it almost compels one engaging in it to keep thinking in the direction that preserves sobriety. It is, at the same time, a reminder of what has been and a warning of what could be again.
But, more even than its value as both a reminder and a warning, 12th Step work is the practice of the basic principle of a way of life. The principle has been voiced in many different phrases --as "Do unto others. . ." and "My brother's keeper," or "Brotherhood of man," and simply, "Helping others." So, likewise, is 12th Step work helping others, keeping the brother, doing unto others as we have been done unto. And doing it without expectancy of repayment or bouquets.

The Grapevine October 1946
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Big Book - Alcoholics Anonymous - Chapter 6 - Into Action (pg 72 & top 73)

HAVING MADE our personal inventory, what shall we do about it? We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path. We have admitted certain defects; we have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; we have put our finger on the weak times in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which, when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects. This brings us to the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. This is perhaps difficult-especially discussing our defects with another person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with another person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.

Big Book - Alcoholics Anonymous - Chapter 6 - Into Action (pg 72 & top 73)

Edward Juergens, Death of a Salesman

Daily Reflections #essentialsorecovery


The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are.


I start with a little willingness to trust God and He causes that willingness to grow. The more willingness I have, the more trust I gain, and the more trust I gain, the more willingness I have. My dependence on God grows as my trust in Him grows. Before I became willing, I depended on myself for all my needs and I was restricted by my incompleteness. Through my willingness to depend upon my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, all my needs are provided for by Someone Who knows me better than I know myself – even the needs I may not realize, as well as the ones yet to come, bring me to be myself and to help me fill the need in someone else that only I am meant to fill. There never will be another exactly like me. And that is real independence.
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Just For Today #essentialsorecovery

The Full Message

“There is a special feeling for addicts when they discover that there are other people who share their difficulties, past and present.”

Basic Text p. 53

The wealth of our recovery is too good to keep to ourselves. Some of us believe that when we talk in meetings, we should “remember the newcomer” and always try to carry a positive message. But sometimes the most positive message we can carry is that we are going through difficult times in our recovery and are staying clean in spite of them!

Yes, it’s gratifying to send out a strong message of hope to our newer members. After all, no one likes a whiner. But distressing things happen, and life on life’s terms can send shock waves even through the recovery of long-time members of Narcotics Anonymous. If we are equipped with the tools of the program, we can walk through such turmoil and stay clean to tell the tale.

Recovery doesn’t happen all at once; it is an ongoing process, sometimes a struggle. When we dilute the fullness of our message by neglecting to share about the tough times we may walk through on our journey, we fail to allow newcomers the chance to see that they, too, can stay clean, no matter what. If we share the full message of our recovery, we may not know who benefits, but we can be sure someone will.

Just for today: I will honestly share both the good times and the difficult times of my recovery. I will remember that my experience in walking through adversity may benefit another member.
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Twenty-Four Hours A Day #essentialsofrecovery

A.A. Thought For The Day

When alcoholics first come into A.A. and we face the fact that we must spend the rest of our life without liquor, it often seems like an impossibility for us. So A.A. tells us to forget about the future and take it one day at a time. All we really have is now. We have no past time and no future time. As the saying goes: “Yesterday is gone, forget it; tomorrow never comes, don’t worry; today is here, get busy.” All we have is the present. The past is gone forever and the future never comes. When tomorrow gets here, it will be today. Am I living one day at a time?

Meditation For The Day

Persistence is necessary if you are to advance in spiritual things. By persistent prayer, persistent firm and simple trust, you achieve the treasures of the spirit. By persistent practice, you can eventually obtain joy, peace, assurance, security, health, happiness and serenity. Nothing is too great, in the spiritual realm, for you to obtain, if you persistently prepare yourself for it.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may persistently carry out my spiritual exercises every day. I pray that I may strive for peace and serenity.
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As Bill Sees It #essentialsofrecovery

R.S.V.P.–Yes or No?, p. 77

Usually, we do not avoid a place where there is drinking–if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, night clubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary parties.

You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself, “Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere?” Then go or stay away, whichever seems better. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it.

If you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!

Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 101-102 
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Walk in Dry Places #essentialsofrecovery

Should everybody like me?
Personal Relations.

In AA discussions, the term “people pleaser's” doesn't fare very well. When people say they are people-pleaser's, they’re acknowledging that it’s also a problem

It’s a problem because it reflects a desire to have everybody’s acceptance and approval…… to be universally liked. But from what we know about human relationships, this is not possible. No matter how hard we work to be pleasant and likeable, some people may still detest us for reasons we cannot understand. When that happens, we should not blame ourselves or step up our efforts to them and to avoid giving offence in any way, while accepting the fact that they do not like us.

If our own behaviour is mature and reasonable, even the people who don’t like us will at least respect us. That may be the best we can hope for , and it is certainly far better than shameless people pleasing. In the end, people-pleaser's don’t please anybody and, as a famous comedian notes about himself, they “get no respect.”

I’ll try hard to be pleasant and cordial to everyone I meet today. If some people do not respond in the same way. I’ll accept this without feeling hurt or betrayed.
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Keep It Simple #essentialsofrecovery

Money cost too much.

—Ross MacDonald

Many people are poor and really need money to live better. But we’re in trouble if we think money will solve all our problems. If money solved all problems, all rich people would be happy.

Consider this: A man talks about his shortcomings in a Twelve Step meeting. He says his main shortcoming is to think being happy means having enough money. But then he says that he has over a million dollars! This man is lucky—not because he has money, but because he knows greed is a shortcoming. He knows he has a spiritual problem. He doesn’t need money; he needs faith in a Higher Power.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me to really believe I’ll be given what I need. This will free me to get on with life.

Action for the Day: Today, I’ll read over the promises of the program. They are found at the bottom of page 83 at the top of the page of page 84 in the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition.
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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation #essentialsofrecovery


“Humor may be defined as the kindly contemplation of the incongruities of life and the artistic impression thereof . . . The essence of humor is human kindliness.”

— Stephen Leacock

Humor for me is a key to balance. In the joke I am able to release some tension or frustration and cope with my disease of alcoholism. When I drank, I did not have a genuine sense of humor — rather it was sarcasm, cruel “put-downs” or insane expressions of my manic personality. My fun was created at the expense of others. It was a form of violence. It kept people away from me and created a loneliness in my life.

Today I seek to use humor as an expression of acceptance, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness. Humor is an aspect of my spiritual program. In humor I experience God.

Give me the gift of humor that reflects the dignity and hope for us all.
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A Day At A Time #essentialsofrec

Reflection For The Day

In the old days, we often had such devastating experiences that we fervently swore, “never again.” We were absolutely sincere in those moments of desperation. Yet, despite our intentions, the outcome was inevitably the same. Eventually, the memory of our suffering faded, as did the memory of our “pledge.” so we did it again, ending up in even worse shape than when we had last “sworn off it” Forever turned out to be only a week, or a day or less. In The Program, we learn that we need only be concerned about today, this particular 24-hour period. Do I live my life just 24 hours at a time?

Today I Pray

May the long-term requirements of such phrases as “never again, ” “not on your life,” “forever,” “I’ll never take another..” not weaken my resolve. “Forever,” when it is broken down into single days — or even just parts of days — does not seem to impossible long. May I awake each day with my goal set realistically at just 24 hours.

Today I Will Remember

Twenty -four hours at a time.
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One Day At A Time #essentialsofrec


“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.”

–Albert Einstein

Program’s philosophy dictates that we gain new members by attraction rather than promotion. We should be striving to become living embodiments of Program principles in order that we might attract and inspire those in need whom we may encounter in our daily lives – just as we were fortunate enough to find our way here because of the amazing effort, inspiration and example of the Program founders. Because of their blood, sweat and tears, Program has grown in leaps and bounds over the years . Now – its future growth rests with us. Are you prepared for this responsibility?

One Day at a Time . . .

I will diligently work the tools of my program and be a shining example of recovery to others.

~ Rob R.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day #essentialsorecovery

“The sacred fire used to heat the rocks represents the eternal fire that burns at the center of the universe.”

–Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA

Our Sweat Lodge represents the womb of Mother Earth. This is the place of forgiveness. The altar is the place where the Grandfathers are heated. The Sweat Lodge and the altar represent the whole story of the universe. The Sweat Lodge and the ceremonies are sacred. The Great Spirit gave these things to us to help us. He taught us to do the ceremonies in harmony with Mother Earth. We need to know and understand these things.

Great Spirit, let me understand harmony.
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Today's Gift #essentialsofrecovery

I can stand what I know. It’s what I don’t know that frightens me.

— Frances Newton

Fear of the unknown, often referred to as free-floating anxiety, catches up to us on occasion. But it needn’t. The program offers us strength whenever we need it, and faith diminishes all fear. It is said that fear cannot exist where there is faith.

We have many days when we feel strong, in touch with our higher power, able to meet all situations. On those days, we are seldom conscious of how our faith is guiding us. But the hours of fear that we experience on other days make us aware of faith’s absence. There is a simple solution: We can reach out to a friend. We can be attentive to our friend’s needs and the connection to God will be made.

Shifting our focus, from self-centered fears to another person’s needs, offers us a perspective on our own life. It also offers us a chance to let God work through us. Our own faith is strengthened each time we offer our services to God and to a friend in need. What may frighten us seems less important the closer we are to the people in our lives.

When I touch someone else, God touches me in return.

From the book:

                                                      Each Day a New Beginning by Karen Casey
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The Eye Opener #essentialsofrecovery

Nothing in life is obtained except by pain and toil. This is sad news to us alcoholics who have shunned both like smallpox most of our lives.

Let the famous musician tell you of his hours of dreary practice, the inventor of his hundred failures for each success, the boxing champ of his endless days of absorbing punishment in empty gymnasiums. Toil and suffering are a necessary prelude to success, and we should bear our crosses not as burdens but as preparations for our ultimate victory.

Copyright Hazelden Foundation  
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Daily Tao / 077 - FATE #essentialsofrecovery

Dispel time
And you will 
Dispel fate.

Fate is the force that interferes with our lives, wrecking things at the worst moments. Yet what we call fate is nothing more than the consequence of our own actions. Each time we act, we generate a chain of events that is tied to us completely. The faster we run from these links, the faster they follow us. They cannot be severed; our every act binds us further.
The operative element here is time. The events of the past are the curse. Beginning followers of Tao learn to manipulate past, present, and future. They learn how circumstances operate and seek to take advantage of that. More advanced followers of Tao eschew this process of manipulation. They obliterate all regard to past, present, and future as definitions in order to negate the concept of fate.

In order to attain a state of being where there is no past to weigh upon the present and no future to be determined, followers of Tao must reach a profound merging with Tao. The follower then acts no differently than Tao would. There is no fate to oppose them, for they are existence, they are causality,  
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DAILY ZEN #essentialsofrecovery

You should know that so far as Buddha-nature is concerned, there is no difference between an enlightened man and an ignorant one.
What makes the difference is that one realizes it, while the other is ignorant of it.

-The Sutra of Hui Neng
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