There is a solution
1. In R.A.'s Annotated Multilith Big Book, please turn to Chapter Two, There is A
Solution, on page 8.
2. Please read the first paragraph. It says:
"We, of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know one hundred men who
were once just as hopeless as Bill. All have recovered. They have solved the
paragraph says, "We of Alcoholics Anonymous know one hundred menů"
This was later changed to "thousands of men and women, who were once just
as hopeless as Bill."
other words, Bill's Story tells us how hopeless he was. Yet in the next line
they tell us that, "All have recovered." Years later this was changed
to "Nearly all have recovered."
then go on to tell us what they mean by recovered. They say that, "They
have solved the drink problem."
believe that this paragraph is a powerful way to start off this chapter!
continue reading in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 8, the second paragraph
"We are ordinary Americans. All sections of this
country and many of its occupations are represented, as well as many political,
economic, social and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would
not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, friendliness, and an
understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a
great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck, when camaraderie,
joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain's table.
Unlike the feelings of the ship's passengers, however, our joy in escape from
disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having
shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.
But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now
this paragraph, the pioneers are letting us know that, even though they have
"solved the drink problem," they are "ordinary" people.
end this paragraph by telling us how the "common peril" they shared
joins them together.
how they use the word "common" in this paragraph, because they are
going to use it again in the next paragraph.
11. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, the third paragraph says:
"The tremendous fact for every one of us [is] that we have
discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely
agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is
the great news this book carries to those who suffer alcoholism."
at this paragraph. It doesn't say we have a program from which you can
"take what you need and leave the rest." It doesn't say, "Well
you can take the high road, I will take the low road, and we'll all get to
where we're going." It doesn't say that.
that the pioneers were one hundred compulsive people. If they had disagreed
with the statements in this paragraph, Bill would not have been able to put
them in here.
often said that he was far more a referee than an author in regard to the
writing of the Big Book.
the first sentence, they start off by saying, "The Tremendous fact for
every one of us [is] that we have discovered a common solution." So one hundred
very compulsive men and women agreed to say that every one of them had
"discovered a common solution."
the pioneers had disagreed with this statement it wouldn't be here. As a matter
of fact it continues by saying, "We have a way out on which we can
absolutely agree and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious
could the pioneers join in brotherly and harmonious action if each person was
taking what they wanted and leaving the rest?
the pioneers' "common peril" led to them discovering a "common
solution" is an important concept.
is why the pioneers go on to say that discovering a "common solution"
is "the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism"
and other problems and other behaviors.
continue reading in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 8, the fourth paragraph
"An illness of this sort — and we have come to
believe it an illness — involves those about us in a way no other human
sickness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry
or hurt. But not so with the alcoholic illness, for with it
there goes annihilation of all the things worthwhile in life. It engulfs
all whose lives touch the sufferer's. It brings misunderstanding, fierce
resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives
of blameless children, sad wives and parents — anyone can increase the
frequently uses the analogy of cancer. It is a good analogy for us because it
accents our powerlessness. If we had cancer we wouldn't beat ourselves up for
not curing ourselves. We wouldn't think, "If I just read the right book or
go to the right meeting, I could cure my cancer."
recognize instantly that we were powerless over an illness of that sort. And we
are just as powerless over our illness as if we had cancer.
23. Therefore, at this point, beating ourselves up because we were powerless to do different than we did, is pointless.
fact that you can now see that your behavior was not the ideal is tremendous
growth. This shows that you are on the road to being restored to sanity.
25. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, the fifth paragraph says:
"This volume will inform, instruct and comfort those
who are, or who may be affected. They are many."
26. Once again the pioneers tell us why they wrote the Big Book. They want to "inform, instruct, and comfort" those who have this spiritual illness.
27. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, the sixth paragraph says:
"Highly competent psychiatrists who have dealt with us
(often fruitlessly, we are afraid) find it almost impossible to persuade an
alcoholic to discuss his situation without reserve. Strangely enough, wives,
parents and intimate friends usually find us even more unapproachable than do
the psychiatrist and the doctor."
just a symptom of our illness. In our delusion, we're not really affecting
other people. We are selfish and self-centered. We believe we are only doing
what we want to do and don't care about the other people in our lives.
important to note that when they put the next paragraph in the Big Book, they
italicized the entire paragraph.
30. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, the seventh paragraph says:
"But the ex-alcoholic who has found this solution, who
is properly armed with certain medical information, can generally win the
entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an
understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished."
a person can understand that they are sick, stop beating him or herself up, and
understand that they are powerless to change their own behavior, very little
can be done.
why we've been dwelling on this concept. We do it because the program tells us
that it is essential. We have to understand it.
33. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 8, the eighth paragraph says:
"That the man who is making the approach has had the
same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his
whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real
answer, that he has no attitude of holier than thou, nothing whatever except
the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to
grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured — these are the
conditions we have found necessary. After such an approach many take up their
beds and walk again."
desire is only to be helpful to you. We ask only one thing of you in return for
what we are doing for you. We ask that you, in turn, pass R.A.'s program on to
35. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the first paragraph says:
None of us makes a vocation of this work, nor do we think
its effectiveness would be increased if we did. We feel that elimination of the
liquor problem is but a beginning. A much more important demonstration of our
principles lies before us in our respective homes, occupations, and affairs.
All of us spend much of our spare time in the sort of effort which we are going
to describe. A few are fortunate enough to be so situated that they can give
nearly all of their time to the work."
36. Notice this important point. The "elimination of the liquor problem," the elimination of all your problems and
behaviors, is but a beginning. It is not the end.
end is when we begin to behave sanely and normally. It is when we start to
demonstrate our sane normal behavior in every area of our lives. It is when we
begin to behave sanely and normally in all parts of our lives, at our homes, in
our occupation, and in our affairs.
know that the pioneers did not mean love affairs. They mean generally, in all
of our day-to-day lives.
someone were having a love affair, of course they should also demonstrate
sanity in that. However, that's not what the pioneers are talking about.
way we demonstrate sanity is by maintaining a fit spiritual condition. We do
this through intensive work and self-sacrifice for others.
41. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the second paragraph says:
"If we keep on the way we are going there is little
doubt that much good will result, but the surface of the problem would hardly
be scratched. Those of us who live in large cities are overcome by the
reflection that close by hundreds are dropping into oblivion every day. Many
could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. How then shall we
present that which has been so freely given us?"
other words, now that they have found a "common solution" that has
worked for them, they had to find a way to carry their message to others. In
the next paragraph they tell us how they solved this dilemma.
43. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the third paragraph says:
"We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume
setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined
experience and knowledge. This ought to suggest a useful program for anyone
concerned with a drinking problem."
case the pioneers didn't make it clear enough, the book we are reading from,
the Big Book, is the anonymous volume setting forth the problem as they saw it.
remember, as we've accented before, and they repeat here, that this is a book
based on their experience. It is not a book based on their hopes or dreams or
wishes. It contains their combined experience and knowledge, which suggests a
useful program for anyone.
46. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the fourth paragraph says:
"Of necessity there will have to be discussion of
matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious. We are aware that these
matters are, from their very nature, controversial. Nothing would please us so
much as to write a book which would contain no basis for contention or
argument. We shall do our utmost to achieve that ideal. Most of us sense that
real tolerance of other people's shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for
their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others. Our very
lives, as ex alcoholics, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we
may help meet their needs."
see this theme throughout the book. We have already talked about maintaining a
fit spiritual condition through work and self-sacrifice for others. However,
here the pioneers make it even clearer that our very lives depend upon our
constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.
doesn't mean that you can't go to work or go out to dinner with your friends or
devote time to whatever else is going on in your life. However, even when you
are working, even when you are out with friends, you can devote some of the
time to thinking about others and how you may help meet their needs.
49. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the fifth paragraph says:
"You may already have asked yourself why it is that all
of us became so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover
how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered
from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants
to get over it, you may already be asking — 'What do I have to do?'
again, the pioneers describe what they have as a hopeless condition. So they
haven't finished accenting the hopelessness, the personal powerlessness that we
have to accept.
they also say they have recovered from that hopeless condition. Then, they
place us in the position of having to ask what we have to do, to find the
recovery they found.
52. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the sixth paragraph says:
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such
questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done. Before going into
a detailed discussion, it may be well to summarize some points as we see
tell us that the purpose of the Big Book is to specifically answer the question
of what needs to be done to find the recovery the pioneers found.
is the purpose of this book. Did you know that this book had a purpose? Most
people just think the Big Book is a storybook. They think that someone is
supposed to identify with the problems in it.
the purpose of the Big Book is to answer the question, "What do I have to
do to get well? " The Big Book answers this question specifically. The
pioneers tell us what they have done. They share their knowledge and
experience. They give us "clear-cut directions" to follow, so we can
duplicate their results, their recovery.
first, they want to summarize some of points that they think are important.
57. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, we are going to read the seventh, eighth, and
ninth paragraphs. They say:
"How many times people have said to us: 'I can take it
or leave it alone. Why can't he?' 'Why don't you drink like a gentleman or
quit?' 'That fellow can't handle his liquor.' 'Why don't you try beer and
wine?' 'Lay off the hard stuff.' 'His will power must be weak.' 'He could stop
if he wanted to.' 'She's such a sweet girl, I should think he'd stop for her.'
'The doctor told him that if he ever drank again it would kill him, but there
he is all lit up again.'
"Now, these are commonplace observations on drinkers
which we hear all the time. Back of them is a world of ignorance and
misunderstanding. We see that these expressions refer to people whose reactions
are very different from ours.
"Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up
liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it
can see this in your own life. Not only do so-called normal people ask these
questions about people with an obsessive personality, but also we ask these
questions of ourselves, and then beat ourselves up.
tell ourselves, "I can stop if I want to." We say, "I'm going to
eat a certain way and drink a certain way and I'll avoid certain foods because
that will give me the control." Of course, we fail to stop or control our
problems or behaviors.
only do people impose these misunderstood concepts on us, we often impose them
on ourselves. However, those reactions, which most people think would be
normal, are only normal for an entirely different type of person than we are.
is a very important section of the book. This is because when people first
start going to meetings, they don't realize that everybody in that meeting is
not the same.
think that everybody there has the same illness, to the same degree, and
therefore needs to work the same type of program.
may never realize that there were people at that meeting who had not yet lost
the power of choice. These people could work a very different program than the
people who have lost the power of choice.
example, the Big Book describes what it calls, "Moderate drinkers."
If someone is the equivalent of a moderate drinker, they may be able to stop
their problems and behaviors simply because they want to be accepted by the
group. The need to fit in is often a good enough reason for them to stop.
Big Book then goes on to describe other types of people who may attend
66. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 9, the tenth paragraph says:
"Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may
have the habit bad enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It
may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong
reason — ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the
warning of a doctor — becomes operative, this man can also stop or
moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need
"hard drinker" is worse off than the "moderate drinker."
However, they can still stop if the reason they have for stopping is strong
fact that there are some people in the program who are able to stop, without
working all Twelve Steps, without following the pioneers' "clear-cut
directions," often confuses the people described in the next paragraph.
69. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 10, the first paragraph says:
"But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as
a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at
some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor
consumption, once he starts to drink."
that the pioneers have now defined three different categories of people who may
be in the same program and attend the same meetings.
71. These three categories are the moderate drinker, the hard drinker, and a category that they call the "real alcoholic."
of these categories can work a very different program. This is often confusing.
example, somebody in a meeting may say that they have been in the program for a
while and that they've never worked the Twelve Steps. They go on to say that
they're doing just fine. This immediately makes it clear that they are not a
else may say, "Well I've struggled a while, but now I've got it together
and I'm doing okay. I'm going to 90 meetings in 90 days. I'm answering all
these questions and writing all these assignments. I'm doing all right now, so
I'm in no hurry to get around to working the Twelve Steps." Once again
this makes it clear that they're not the "real alcoholic" the
program in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book was designed for.
the next paragraph, the pioneers go on to describe the "real
76. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 10, the second paragraph says:
"Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you,
especially in his lack of control. He does absurd, incredible, tragic things
while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly
intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while
drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest
fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and
he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti social. He has a
positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly
when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often
perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but
in that respect is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special
abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He
uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless
series of sprees. He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to
sleep the clock around. Yet early next morning he searches madly for the bottle
he misplaced the night before. If he can afford it, he may have liquor
concealed all over his house to be certain no one gets his entire supply away
from him to throw down the wastepipe. As matters grow worse, he begins to use a
combination of high powered sedative and liquor to
quiet his nerves so he can go to work. Then comes the days when he simply
cannot make it and gets drunk all over again. Perhaps he goes to a doctor who
gives him a dose of morphine or some high voltage sedative with which to taper
off. Then he begins to appear at hospitals and sanitariums."
of the great paradoxes in other Twelve Step programs, aside from R.A., is that
if someone fits the pioneers' description of the "real alcoholic," if
they're still actively in their illness, they often are not allowed to fully
participate in that program.
meetings, in other fellowships, require someone, depending on the program, to
have 30, 60, 90, even 120 days of back-to-back sobriety or abstinence before
they are allowed to fully participate in that group.
means that people who do not meet these requirements are often not allowed to
sponsor, attend or vote at business meetings, or hold service positions. In
some meetings, they are not even allowed to share.
this instance, the only people who do get to share may be successful because
they are moderate or hard drinkers. They have found a good enough reason to
stop their behavior even though they often have not yet worked the Twelve Steps
by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
we will soon read, the moderate drinker or the hard drinker has not yet lost the power of
choice. They can stop or moderate, often without working all Twelve Steps.
may confuse the "real alcoholic" who hears a moderate drinker or a hard drinker
share, without realizing that there are different kinds of people in the same
we will soon read, the only hope for a "real alcoholic" is a
spiritual experience. The Big Book makes it clear that the way to have a
spiritual experience is to fully work all Twelve Steps by following the
pioneers' "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book. This will produce a
conscious contact with a loving Creator who will restore them to sanity and
remove their obsession.
how the pioneers describe the "real alcoholic." They say, "Here
is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control. He
does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less
can see how they emphasize the "real alcoholic's" "lack of
go on to say, "His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature
as we will see, is the nature of his "spiritual malady." This is a
spiritual illness that causes us to behave differently than the way we want to
behave, or wish we could behave.
who is hurting others or themselves is not demonstrating their normal nature.
Their problems or behaviors are the symptoms of their spiritual illness.
example, let us think about the symptoms of other physical illnesses. If
someone has a cold or the flu, they may have symptoms such as a sore throat,
sniffles, runny nose, sneezing, etc.
with these symptoms cannot control them. They can try, but they can't wish them
away. They are powerless over these symptoms.
what if this person with these symptoms is talking to somebody, and sneezes so
quickly, so uncontrollably, that they can't cover their face or turn away, and
they sneeze on the person they are talking to? Are they going to be sorry for
doing that? Are they going to regret doing that? Of course they are!
they going to beat themselves up for doing something they were powerless to
stop themselves from doing. Of course not!
is because they are going to recognize that they were powerless to have done
otherwise. They could not control the symptom of their illness. They are sorry
and try to make amends by handing the person they sneezed on a napkin or a
tissue so they can clean themselves off.
can recognize their powerlessness, let it go, and stop worrying about it. They
understand that what they did was just a symptom of their illness.
of how someone would appear to others if they were forced to go out with the
symptoms of their flu at their worst. When we're sick we don't appear at our
best, we don't act our best.
think of how someone would appear on a day they felt well, were groomed to
perfection, were wearing their favorite attire, and feeling very positive about
their life. Most people would be able to easily see the difference in that
the pioneers have made clear the difference between the "moderate drinker,
the "hard drinker," and the "real alcoholic," or as they
call them in the next paragraph, the "true alcoholic."
is simply that someone who has not yet lost the power to choose if they will
stop or not, who is able to stop or moderate without following the pioneers'
"clear-cut directions" to have a spiritual experience, is not the
"real alcoholic" the program in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book was designed for.
99. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 10, in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth
paragraphs, the pioneers say:
"This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the
true alcoholic, as our behavior patterns vary. But this description should
identify him roughly.
"Why does he behave like this? If hundreds of
experiences have shown him that one drink means another debacle with all its
attendant suffering and humiliation, why is it he takes that one drink? Why
can't he stay on the water wagon? What has become of the common sense and will
power that he still sometimes displays with respect to other matters?
"Perhaps there never will be a full answer to these
questions. Psychiatrists and medical men vary considerably in their opinion as
to why the alcoholic reacts differently from normal people. No one is sure why,
once a certain point is reached, nothing can be done for him. We cannot answer
"We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink
as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally
positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something
happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually
impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic will abundantly
is a very important point. Many people think that the so-called allergy is the
primary problem. They think that if somebody drinks even a sip of alcohol,
they're going to get drunk. They think they are going to inevitably go on to
hurt themselves and others.
the next paragraph that we're going to read raises an interesting question. If
somebody knows that drinking is going to set him or her off, and they're sober,
why would they take the first drink?
102. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 10, the seventh paragraph says:
"These observations would be academic and pointless if
our friend never took the first drink thereby setting the terrible cycle in
motion. Therefore, the real problem of the alcoholic centers
in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on
that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred
alibis. Sometimes these excuses have a certain plausibility, but none of them really make sense in the light of the havoc an
alcoholic's drinking bout creates. They sound to you like the philosophy of the
man who, having a headache, beat himself on the head with a hammer so that he
couldn't feel the ache. If you draw this fallacious reasoning to the attention
of an alcoholic, he will laugh it off, or become irritated and refuse to
if someone is sober, the reason they take the first drink can't be the first
drink. There is something else going on in his or her mind that causes someone
who may be sober, abstinent, or clean from drugs, etc., for years, to suddenly start in
pioneers say, "Therefore, the real problem of the alcoholic centers in his
mind, rather than in his body." So, while it is true that some people have
a reaction when they drink, eat, or do some other things, the real problem is
not in their bodies, it is not an allergy.
real problem is in their mind, not their body. This is what causes someone who
is sober to take the first drink.
106. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, we are going to read the first, and second
paragraphs. They say:
"Once in a while he may tell you the truth. And the
truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that
first drink than you have. Some drinkers have excuses with which they are
satisfied part of the time. But in their hearts they really do not know why
they do it. Once this malady has a real hold, they are a baffled lot. There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game. But they often suspect they are
down for the count.
"How true this is, few realize. In a vague way their
families and friends sense that these drinkers are abnormal, but everybody
hopefully waits the day when the sufferer will rouse himself from his lethargy
and assert his power of will."
the Twelve Step program came along, it was common for
people to believe that all someone needed to control their problems or
behaviors was will power. Therefore, it was also common to think that if
somebody didn't exercise their will power, they were a bad person.
108. The program that is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book has helped people understand that the alcoholic, the overeater, the
gambler, the addict, etc. is sick. This program has helped people to understand
that one of the symptoms of our illness is that we have lost the ability to
choose to stop. We no longer have the needed power.
can't exercise our will power because we don't have any.
110. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, the third paragraph says:
"The tragic truth is that if the man be a real
alcoholic, the happy day will seldom arrive. He has lost control. At a certain
point in the drinking of every alcoholic, he passes into a state where the most
powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic
situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is
"real alcoholic," as opposed to the "moderate drinker," or
the "hard drinker," has lost the ability to control if they will
drink or not.
note that this next paragraph is underlined in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, and
italicized in the Big Book.
113. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, the fourth paragraph says:
"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet
obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so
called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable at
certain times, no matter how well we understand ourselves, to bring into our
consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation
of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first
the pioneers are describing what it means to be powerless. Now, if someone
understands that they no longer have the power of choice, if they understand
that they don't have willpower, if they realize that they can't raise a
defense, then what is the point of beating themselves up?
might as well beat him or herself up because they can't fly when they want to.
don't have the ability to fly. A "real alcoholic" doesn't have the
ability to control their problems or behaviors. They are powerless.
117. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, we are going to read the fifth, sixth, and
seventh paragraphs. They say:
"The almost certain consequences that follow taking
even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts
occur, they are hazy, and readily supplanted with the old threadbare idea that
this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a complete failure
of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot
"The alcoholic may say to himself in the most casual
way, 'It won't burn me this time, so here's how!' Or perhaps he
doesn't think at all. How often have some of us begun to drink in this
nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to
ourselves, 'For God's sake, how did I ever get started again?' Only
to have that thought supplanted by 'Well, I'll stop with the sixth drink.'
Or 'What's the use anyhow?'
"When this sort of thinking is fully established in an
individual with alcoholic tendencies, he has probably placed himself beyond all
human aid, and unless locked up, is certain to die, or go permanently insane.
These stark and ugly facts have been confirmed by legions of alcoholics
throughout history. But for the grace of God, there would have been one hundred
more convincing demonstrations. So many want to stop, but cannot."
"real alcoholic" is powerless. They have lost the power to choose.
When someone's spiritual malady has progressed to this point, they are
"beyond all human aid."
is the essence of powerlessness. Someone can want to stop, but does not have
the power to do so. They may even be so sick that along with a desire to stop,
there is an equally strong desire to continue.
means that a sponsor can't stop us, a group can't stop us, a book can't stop
us, and going to meetings can't stop us. All of these are various forms of
are also human. Therefore, we can't help ourselves any more than any other
person can help us.
122. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, the eighth paragraph says:
"There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of
shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we
saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the
hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved,
there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools
laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a
fourth dimension of existence, of which we had not even dreamed."
is a very important paragraph. Up to this point the pioneers have been
stressing the hopelessness of our situation. They've been stressing that we are
powerless. They have been stressing that we can't stop ourselves no matter how
much we might want to stop.
this paragraph says, "There is a solution." This statement is so
important that in the current Big Book they italicize it.
then go on to list a summary of things we need to do to work the program. They
tell us that doing these things is "required" for us to successfully
work the program that is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
tell us that by this time we should be convinced of "the hopelessness and
futility of life as we had been living it.
then tell us that we are now being "approached by those in whom the
problem had been solved." We can see this by reading the Big Book and the
pioneers' stories that are in it.
are telling us that we have no other options except to "pick up the simple
kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet." This simple kit of spiritual
tools is the Twelve Steps.
then end this paragraph by telling us the result they received by working the
Twelve Steps. They say they "have found much of heaven andůhave been
rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence, of which [they] had not even
other words, we can now see that it's unreasonable to expect that the program
will work for someone if they have not taken these required actions.
can look at the pioneers, people in whom the problem has been solved, and pick
up the simple kit of spiritual tools, the Twelve Steps, or we can do nothing.
the pioneers tell us that the result of working the Twelve Steps is that they
have found much of heaven and have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of
existence. We believe that the sane choice is to work all Twelve Steps.
133. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 11, the ninth paragraph says:
"The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we
have had deep and effective spiritual experiences, which have revolutionized
our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God's universe.
The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator
has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He
has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by
let's look at this paragraph. The pioneers are telling us that the "great
fact," not their great hope, not their great dream, not their great wish,
but their "great fact" is just this and nothing less. They say that they have had deep and effective spiritual experiences as the
result of working all Twelve Steps.
Twelfth Step tells us that having a spiritual experience is the result of this
course of action. This paragraph describes what they mean by a spiritual
say that their spiritual experiences have revolutionized their whole attitude
toward life, toward their fellows, and toward God's universe.
pioneers certainly love to emphasize things. Not only do they tell us there is
a "great fact," now they tell us there is also a "central
fact." They say, "The central fact of our lives today is the absolute
they certainly like emphasizing. They do not just say the
"certainty," they say the "absolute certainty."
that they say, our " Creator," with a capital "C", meaning
God, has entered into their heart and lives in a way
which is indeed miraculous.
they end this paragraph with their most important statement. Having convinced
us that we are hopeless, that we are powerless, they now tell us that God has
started to do those things for them, which they could never do by themselves.
That's why the title of this chapter proclaims, "There is a
141. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 12, the first paragraph says:
"If you are seriously alcoholic, we believe you have no
middle of the road solution. You are in a position where life is becoming
impossible, and if you have passed into the region from which there is no
return through human aid, you have but two alternatives: One is to go on to the
bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of your intolerable situation as
best you can; and the other, to find what we have found. This you can do if you
honestly want to, and are willing to make the effort."
the pioneers are again defining the kind of person their program and the Big
Book are for. They describe this person as, "seriously alcoholic."
This means the "true alcoholic," the "real alcoholic," they
described earlier, not the "moderate drinker," or "hard
drinker," they also described earlier.
go on to state that if someone is "seriously alcoholic," they have
"no middle-of-the-road solution." They continue by saying that
someone who is "seriously alcoholic" is beyond "human aid."
they make clear the two alternatives that are available to someone who is
"seriously alcoholic," who is a "real alcoholic."
first alternative is a negative one. They can "go on to the bitter end,
blotting out the consciousness of [their] intolerable situation as best [they]
they have a second alternative; they can "find what [the pioneers] have
this presentation, we don't usually emphasize the changes that were made when
the text was moved from the Multilith Big Book into the Big Book, but this
passage is an exception. It has an important change.
pioneers changed the phrase, "what we have found," to "accept
is important, because this change defines what they found, as "spiritual
end this paragraph by telling us that in order to find the spiritual help that
they found, someone has to "honestly want to, and [be] willing to make the
means doing what you are doing right now. This means going through this book
and following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," to work all
152. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 12, the second paragraph says:
"A certain American business man had ability, good
sense, and high character. For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to
another. He had consulted the best-known American psychiatrists. Then he had
gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician who
prescribed for him. Though bitter experience had made him skeptical, he
finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had
acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its
hidden springs, that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a
short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory
explanation for his fall."
programs often have newcomers to their meetings focus on self-knowledge.
they are told to write a history of their problems or behaviors. Other people
may be asked to answer a series of questions, so they can come to an
understanding of why, when, how, and where they behaved the way they did.
newcomers to other programs are told to go to 90 meetings in 90 days so they
can identify with other people and learn about him or herself."
here, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the pioneers are describing an "American
businessman." They say, he "is somebody who had a knowledge of the
inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs, who was confident that that
knowledge would protect him. And yet he was drunk in a short time and couldn't
other words, the knowledge that the businessman had about the "inner
workings of his mind and its hidden springs," did not stop him from
name of the businessman was Rowland H., and the doctor was the famous
psychiatrist Carl Jung.
are now going to read the next seven paragraphs containing the conversation
between Rowland H. and Dr. Jung.
160. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 12, the third through ninth paragraphs say:
"So he returned to this doctor, whom he admired, and
asked him point blank why he could not recover. He wished above all things to
regain self control. He seemed quite rational and well
balanced with respect to other problems. Yet he had no control whatever over
alcohol. Why was this?
"He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and
he got it. In the doctor's judgment he was utterly hopeless; he could never
regain his position in society and he would have to place himself under lock
and key, or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long. That was a great
"But this man still lives, and is a free man. He does
not need a bodyguard, nor is he confined. He can go anywhere on this earth
where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain
a certain simple attitude.
"Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do
without spiritual help. Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend
had with his doctor.
"The doctor said: 'You have the mind of a chronic
alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind
existed to the extent that it does in you.' Our friend felt as though the
gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.
"He said to the doctor, 'Is there no exception?'
" 'Yes,' replied the doctor, 'there is. Exceptions to
cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once
in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To
me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge
emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes
which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast
to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to
dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional
rearrangement within you. With many individuals the methods which I employed
are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your
passage ends up by describing the goal of working the Twelve Step program.
goal was clearly defined in the Twelfth Step. It says, "Having had a
spiritual experience as the result of this course of actionů"
Dr. Jung is defining what is meant by a "vital spiritual experience."
Jung says, "To me these occurrences are phenomena." In other words,
Dr. Jung has learned that "spiritual experiences" actually exist.
They really happen.
Jung then goes on to describe what happens when someone has a spiritual
experience. He says, "ideas, emotions and attitudes which were once the
guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side and a
completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them."
now we know the goal we are working for. As the result of this course of
action, working all Twelve Steps, God can enter into our lives and restore us
this happens, the ideas, the emotions, and the attitudes, which once caused us
to hurt others, and ourselves, are replaced by an
entirely different set of ideas, emotions, and attitudes.
168. These new concepts and motives allow us to function sanely and normally in the
same situations that used to baffle us.
169. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 12, the tenth paragraph says:
"Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved,
for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. This hope,
however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that his religious
convictions were very good, but that in his case they did not spell the
necessary vital spiritual experience."
experience is that many people think that a spiritual experience simply means
believing in God, or having a relationship with God. Others may believe that a
spiritual experience simply means going to a place of worship, perhaps a church
the "spiritual experience" described by the pioneers in the Big Book,
has nothing to do with religion. Although once someone has a spiritual
experience, they may become more religious, go to church or temple, etc.
"spiritual experience" described in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book as being the goal of the program works at a far deeper level.
believing in God, or attending services, does not indicate that someone has had
a "vital spiritual experience."
"spiritual experience" described in the Big Book works at a far
deeper level. It is the counterpoint to the powerlessness that we have
repeatedly demonstrated in our lives up to this point.
"spiritual experience" described in the Big Book is the miracle of
God changing our basic nature, "the ideas, the emotions, and the
attitudes, which were once the guiding forces," of our lives.
this happens, we are willing to place the welfare of others ahead of our own.
We no longer hurt others or ourselves.
are willing to look at the harm that we have done, and make amends for it. We
are willing to work all the rest of this Twelve Step process
is not something that is usually brought about by simply believing in God or by
simply going to church or to temple.
working all Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut
directions" that are written in this book brings about this
"spiritual experience. In other words what the pioneers discovered is a
way of producing wholesale miracles.
180. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 12, please read the bottom paragraph. It says,
"Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend
found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have
already told you, made him a free man."
"extraordinary experience" was the "spiritual experience."
This "spiritual experience" gave him "a completely new set of
conceptions and motives," which "made him a free man."
182. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the first paragraph says:
"We, in our turn, sought the same escape, will all the
desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed has proved to
be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you
prefer, 'a design for living' that really works."
pioneers wanted what Rowland H. had found. They wanted the freedom from their
problems and behaviors that Rowland's spiritual experience had
developed the Twelve Step program and found "the loving and powerful hand
of God." They found "a new life." They discovered "a design
for living" that really worked for them.
people have a hard time believing that the pioneers' very simple set of
"clear-cut directions," in a relatively small book, when followed as
closely as humanly possible, not perfectly but completely, can produce such a
pioneers' "clear-cut directions" are so simple and straightforward
that over the decades people have remarkably complicated them.
187. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the second paragraph says:
"The distinguished American psychologist, William
James, in his book, 'Varieties of Religious Experience,' indicates a
multitude of ways in which men have found God. As a group, we have no desire to
convince anyone that there is only one way by which God can be discovered. If
what we have learned, and felt, and seen, means anything at all, it means that
all of us, whatever our race, creed or color, are the children of a living
Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable
terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try. Those having
religious affiliations will find here nothing disturbing to their beliefs or
ceremonies. There is no friction among us over such matters."
was written in 1939. They had the amazing foresight to widen the program's
application to any race, creed or color. They also let people know that the program is not in competition with any religion, or anyone's religious
could do this because this program has nothing to do with religion. It has
nothing to do with the ceremonies and theology that most religions embrace. The program that's in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book deals with basic spiritual concepts.
These concepts are common to most religions.
190. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the third paragraph says:
"We think it no concern of ours, as a group, what
religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals. This
should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the
light of past association, or his present choice. Not all of us have joined
religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships."
spirituality of the Twelve Step program does not conflict with religion.
Therefore, the pioneers tell us that it does not matter what religion someone
may join. The pioneers even tell us that it is okay if someone does not
affiliate him or herself with a religion.
192. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the fourth paragraph says:
"In the following chapter, there appears an explanation
of alcoholism as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic.
Many who once were in this class are now among our members; surprisingly
enough, we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual
pioneers even tell us that, in their experience, even being agnostic does not
stop someone, who thoroughly follows their "clear-cut directions," from
having a "spiritual experience."
is a powerful statement.
and atheists who follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" can also
have a spiritual experience. Believing in God is not a prerequisite for
successfully working the program. The program in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book is not limited to those who
believe in God when they start working it.
following paragraph is one of the most important paragraphs in this book.
197. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the fifth paragraph says:
"There is a group of personal narratives. Then clear-cut directions are given showing how an alcoholic may
recover. These are followed by more than a score of personal experiences."
paragraph describes the contents of the Big Book. It starts off by saying there
are "a group of personal narratives. These include "The Doctor's
Opinion," and "Bill's Story."
also includes all of the short stories included in the text, for example,
Roland's story of his visit with Dr. Jung. There are other stories we will be
reading as we move forward.
Big Book also contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for
working the Twelve Steps. These instructions show us how to recover. In the
current Big Book, the pioneers changed this wording. They say, that further on
in the Big Book, "clear-cut directions are given showing how we
next chapter in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, "MORE ABOUT ALCOHOLISM,"
contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for the First Step. The
chapter after that, "WE AGNOSTICS," contains the pioneers'
"clear-cut directions" for the Second Step.
chapter "HOW IT WORKS," contains the pioneers' "clear-cut
directions" for the Third and Fourth Steps. The chapter "INTO
ACTION," contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for the
Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Steps.
remaining chapters, starting with "WORKING WITH OTHERS," contain the
pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelfth Step, and
the results we can expect from working the Twelfth Step.
pioneers' "clear-cut directions" are not complicated. They do not
need to be interpreted or examined for hidden meanings. They are very simple,
straightforward, "clear-cut directions," that are designed to produce
a miracle for those who follow them.
this paragraph says that their "clear-cut directions" "are
followed by more than a score of personal experiences."
original stories, in the Multilith and First Edition of the Big Book, describe
the pioneers' experience with the "clear-cut directions" that are in
the book. These stories were not designed for us to identify with the problems
of the people in them. They were designed to validate the pioneers' "clear-cut
directions." They were designed to convince us that the program in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book could work for us too.
original stories were designed to let us know about the spiritual recovery the
pioneers had found. They were designed to make us want what the pioneers had,
and become willing to go to any length to get it.
wanted us to identify with the solution in this book. All of the original
stories validate the solution that's in this book.
209. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the sixth paragraph says:
"Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in
his own language and from his own point of view the way he found or
rediscovered God. These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear
cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives."
paragraph tells us the structure of the original stories. Each story describes
how the pioneer who wrote it, found or rediscovered God, and the recovery this
of the stories added later, many of the stories in the current Big Book don't
even mention God. They are there simply so a newcomer can identify with the
problem. They do not discuss the spiritual solution, the pioneers' "common
212. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 13, the seventh paragraph says:
"We hope no one will consider these self revealing
accounts in bad taste. Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women,
desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by
fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say,
"Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing."
pioneers wrote the Big Book, told their stories, described their
"clear-cut directions," to convince those still suffering from their
problems and behaviors, that they can recover, just as they did.
sum up, the purpose of the chapter we have just read is to help us admit that
if we are the "real alcoholic" they wrote this book for, we are
powerless, and we are beyond human aid. They want to convince us that the only
solution for someone in our condition is to find and accept spiritual help.
people who come to R.A. from other Twelve Step programs object to reading the
Big Book again. R.A.'s experience is that most of them did not get all of the
information we just covered from their previous reading.
is why it is important to go through the Multilith Big Book,
paragraph-by-paragraph, sometimes line-by-line, so we can see, and understand
that this book contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.