1. The earliest description of the original spiritual program of recovery that we have is in A.A. Comes of Age. On page 58, starting in the bottom paragraph, Bill Wilson's friend Ebby describes the program to Bill. He says:
" 'I learned that I had to admit I was licked; I learned that I ought to take stock of myself and confess my defects to another person in confidence; I learned that I needed to make restitution for the harm I had done others. I was told that I ought to practice the kind of giving that has no price tag on it, the giving of yourself to somebody. Now,' he added, 'I know you are going to gag on this, but they taught me that I should try to pray to whatever God I thought there was for the power to carry out these simple precepts. And if I did not believe there was any God, then I had better try the experiment of praying to whatever God there MIGHT be.' "
2. It is important to understand that each of these spiritual principles was to be used continuously and simultaneously with all the rest of these spiritual principles.
3. It was intended for someone to continuously affirm their admission that they were licked. It was expected that someone would continuously take stock of themselves and confess their defects. Each person needed to continuously make amends for any harm they had done.
4. Everyone was to continuously practice giving themselves to help others. Most importantly, everyone was expected to continuously pray to God, even if only as an experiment, for the willingness and ability to carry out all of these simple spiritual principles.
5. These spiritual principles were not followed in any particular order. They were all used at the same time.
6. After a few years, these spiritual principles were summarized in six steps. Bill describes them in A.A. Comes of Age on page 160:
1. We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.
2. We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.
3. We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.
4. We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.
5. We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.
6. We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts.
7. Even though these spiritual principles were now listed in a numerical order, it was still expected that they would all be used simultaneously and continuously. This is clear when we read the sixth of these steps.
8. It is important to understand the history of the program so we can have a deeper understanding of the current Twelve Step Program of Recovery.
9. Today, it is common for people to think that the Twelve Steps must be worked in order, Step One, followed by Step Two, followed by Step Three, etc.
10. However, it is clear that there are exceptions. For example, anyone familiar with the program would never consider telling a newcomer not to work the Eleventh Step, and not pray or meditate, until after they have completed the first Ten Steps. It is clear that a newcomer should start praying, even if it is only as an experiment, as soon as they decide to start working the program. It is also clear that praying and meditating should continue for their lifetime.
11. In addition, no one familiar with the program would ever consider telling a newcomer that they will only need to admit that they are powerless once. It is clear that as someone works the program, they will have to repeatedly affirm their powerlessness.
12. The same is also true with a newcomer's decision to turn their will and their lives over to God's care. They need to know that this is not a one-time decision. They will affirm this decision every day, perhaps many times each day, as they continue living a spiritual life.
13. The same can be said for each of the spiritual principles that make up today's Twelve Steps.
14. This is important to understand because, even today, each of the spiritual principles in the Twelve Steps is to be used continuously and simultaneously with all of the rest of the spiritual principles in the Twelve Steps.
15. In R.A., we need to understand this because sometimes, in other programs, people are told they cannot work a step until the preceding one has been completed. In some programs, they go even further and tell people that each step must be worked perfectly before the next step can be worked. People are sometimes even told that they must go back and redo some of the steps until they get them right. Sometimes people in other programs are told they can only work one step a year.
16. R.A.'s experience is that all of the Twelve Steps have to be taken if someone expects to get all of the results that the program promises. We do not need to keep going back and redoing any of the steps.
17. In R.A., as we follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working the program, we will continue practicing the spiritual principles in each step. We will keep moving forward, broadening and deepening our understanding of the program.
18. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 27, in the first paragraph after the Twelve Steps are listed, the pioneers make it clear that the steps do not necessarily need to be taken perfectly. They say:
"You may exclaim, 'What an order! I can't go through with it.' Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."
19. If the pioneers could recover while imperfectly working these principles, the Twelve Steps, so can we.
20. After all, the Big Book originally got its name because the pioneers used the thickest paper the printer had for its pages. They also used a very large typeface for the size of the text. The pioneers felt that an active alcoholic would not be able to handle thin pages or read small print.
21. In R.A., we are going to continue practicing these spiritual principles for the rest of our lives. Therefore, people sometimes do not take the steps in order. For example, while most people work the first three steps one after the other, some do not. They work Step Three, then Step Two, and then Step One.
22. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"I took the Third Step first. I decided to try the program, and turned my life over to the process of the program. This was the closest I could come to a Power greater than myself at the time.
"As I began to get results, I felt better about myself, and began to behave differently, even if it was still compulsively. I began to believe that the program could work for me. This was the best I could do with the Second Step at the time.
"Then, as I began to believe in a Power Greater than myself that was interested in me personally, I could finally admit that I had been powerless to do any of this on my own, and could not manage my life."
23. Other people may work Step Two, then Step Three, and then Step One. Bill Wilson is an example of this. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, Bill tells us about the conversation he had with his old friend Ebby. Then, on page 6, in the second paragraph, Bill describes the first step he took. Today, it could arguably be equated to the Second Step. Bill writes:
"Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans, when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view."
24. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 6, in the fifth paragraph, after going to the hospital, Bill describes the second step he took. Today, it would be equated to the Third Step. Bill writes:
"There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction."
25. In the same paragraph, Bill then goes on to tell how he then took what today would equate to the First Step. He writes:
"I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost."
26. So Bill describes taking Step two, then Step three, and finally Step One. Therefore, while the ideal is to take the steps in order, one after the other, in the real world things often do not happen in an ideal way.
27. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for their inventory makes it clear that the full inventory consists of Steps Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine. In R.A., when we follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," all of these steps are worked as a single unit. They are all related and interwoven.
28. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, we can see that the instructions for doing the Third Step are also the introduction to the Fourth Step inventory. If you look at pages 28 and 29, it is easy to see that these pages explain the importance of searching for, finding, and being rid of our character defects.
29. Step Three explains why we need to look for our defects of character.
30. Step Four is where we search for our defects of character, and make a list of the people our defects caused us to hurt.
31. Step Five is where we admit the exact nature of our defects of character.
32. Step Six is where we become willing to have God remove our defects of character.
33. Step Seven is where we actually ask God to remove our defects of character.
34. Step Eight is where we take the list of people our defects of character caused us to hurt that we made in the Fourth Step, and become willing to make amends to them.
35. Step Nine is where we make amends to the people our defects of character caused us to hurt
36. In the early days of the program, the pioneers would insist that people get through the Ninth Step by their second or third week in program. If you read "He Sold Himself Short," you have an example of this.
37. The pioneers insisted on this because they knew that few people would stick with the program unless they began to get results, and they knew that few people would get results before they were at least half way through the Ninth Step.
38. Doing the inventory is not as difficult or as time consuming as someone might think. This is because when someone follows the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for doing the Fourth Step inventory, almost all of the work needed for the Fifth Step, Sixth Step, Seventh Step, and the Eighth Step is also done.
39. If you look in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book it is easy to see this because the entire discussion of Step Six is in one paragraph, the next to last paragraph on page 34. The entire discussion of Step Seven is also in one paragraph, the last paragraph on page 34. The entire discussion of Step Eight is in three sentences in the top paragraph on page 35.
40. While the discussion of how to make amends takes up several pages in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, much of the groundwork for the Ninth Step is done as we follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for doing their inventory.
41. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 38, is the fifth paragraph, which describes the Tenth Step. It says:
"This thought brings us to step ten, which suggests you continue to take personal inventory [Steps Four and Eight] and continue to set any new mistakes right as you go along [Step Nine]. You vigorously commenced this way of life as you cleaned up your past. You have entered the world of Spirit. Your next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for your life time. Continue to watch yourself for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear [Step Four]. When these crop up [Step Six], ask God at once to remove them [Step Seven]. Discuss them with someone immediately [Step Five]. Make amends quickly if you have harmed anyone [Step Nine]. Then resolutely turn your thoughts to someone you can help [Step Twelve]. Love and tolerance of others is your code."
42. This paragraph shows us that the Tenth Step is a daily updating of Steps Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Twelve. To help you see this, we have placed each step in brackets, as it is referred to.
43. Step Eleven, which R.A.'s Multilith Big Book starts discussing on the bottom of page 38, and continues through page 40, is a daily updating of Steps 1, 2, and 3.
44. Step Twelve is like the Eleventh Step in that the pioneers suggest that someone immediately begin working it. They suggest that a newcomer do this by trying to help others as a vital part of their own recovery.
45. In A.A.'s Twelve and Twelve, on page 109, they wrote:
"Even the newest of newcomers finds undreamed rewards as he tries to help his brother alcoholic, the one who is even blinder than he. This is indeed the kind of giving that actually demands nothing."
46. Obviously the "newest of newcomers" does not have much to offer beyond the information that the Big Book contains the "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelve Steps.
47. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 41, it says:
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure your own immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other spiritual activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are fatally ill."
48. It does not say that someone has to first recover before they can begin to work with others. It says that intensive work with others insures our own immunity.
49. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 43, in the second full paragraph, the pioneers give us "clear-cut directions" for what we are to tell a newcomer on our first visit with them. They tell us:
"Outline our program of action, telling how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past, and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. Make it plain he is under no obligation to you, that you hope only that he will try to help other alcoholics when he escapes his own difficulties. Show how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own."
50. Within R.A. we can, and do, suggest that people go through R.A.'s Multilith Big Book discussing the Twelve Steps in order. In fact, during R.A.'s Step Presentation this is exactly what we do. In R.A., we also encourage people to work all Twelve Steps so they can get all the results the program promises.
51. However, in R.A., we recognize that taking the Twelve Steps in numerical order is not always possible. In R.A.'s experience, so long as someone ends up fully working all Twelve Steps by thoroughly following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," even if they take some of them out of order, they will recover.
52. In R.A., we encourage "spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.