RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
 Part 1: Absorbing the program and philosophy
E) Reading and Discussing There Is A Solution
This chapter gives us a foundation for all that is to come later in the Big Book.
Even the title of this chapter gives us hope!

Chapter Two

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 drink problem."

3. This 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."

4. In 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."

5. They then go on to tell us what they mean by recovered. They say that, "They have solved the drink problem."

6. We believe that this paragraph is a powerful way to start off this chapter!

7. Please continue reading in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 8, the second paragraph says:

"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 joined."

8. In this paragraph, the pioneers are letting us know that, even though they have "solved the drink problem," they are "ordinary" people.

9. They end this paragraph by telling us how the "common peril" they shared joins them together.

10. Notice 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."

12. Look 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.

13. Remember 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.

14. Bill often said that he was far more a referee than an author in regard to the writing of the Big Book.

15. In 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."

16. If 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 action."

17. How could the pioneers join in brotherly and harmonious action if each person was taking what they wanted and leaving the rest?

18. That the pioneers' "common peril" led to them discovering a "common solution" is an important concept.

19. That 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.

20. Please continue reading in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 8, the fourth paragraph says:

"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 list."

21. Bill 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."

22. We'd 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.

24. The 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."

28. That's 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.

29. It's 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."

31. Until 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.

32. That's 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."

34. Our 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 others.

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.

37. The 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.

38. You know that the pioneers did not mean love affairs. They mean generally, in all of our day-to-day lives.

39. If 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.

40. The 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?"

42. In 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."

44. In 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.

45. Please 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."

47. You'll 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.

48. This 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?' "

50. Once 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.

51. However, 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 them."

53. They 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.

54. This 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.

55. However, 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.

56. But 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 alone."

58. You 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.

59. We 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.

60. Not 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.

61. This 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.

62. They think that everybody there has the same illness, to the same degree, and therefore needs to work the same type of program.

63. They 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.

64. For 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.

65. The Big Book then goes on to describe other types of people who may attend meetings.

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 medical attention."

67. The "hard drinker" is worse off than the "moderate drinker." However, they can still stop if the reason they have for stopping is strong enough.

68. The 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."

70. Notice 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."

72. Each of these categories can work a very different program. This is often confusing.

73. For 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 "real alcoholic."

74. Someone 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.

75. In the next paragraph, the pioneers go on to describe the "real alcoholic."

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."

77. One 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.

78. Some 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.

79. This 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.

80. In 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."

81. As 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.

82. This 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 meeting.

83. As 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.

84. Notice 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 insanely drunk."

85. You can see how they emphasize the "real alcoholic's" "lack of control."

86. They go on to say, "His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little."

87. This, 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.

88. Someone who is hurting others or themselves is not demonstrating their normal nature. Their problems or behaviors are the symptoms of their spiritual illness.

89. For 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.

90. Someone with these symptoms cannot control them. They can try, but they can't wish them away. They are powerless over these symptoms.

91. So 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!

92. Are they going to beat themselves up for doing something they were powerless to stop themselves from doing. Of course not!

93. This 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.

94. They 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.

95. Think 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.

96. Then 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 person.

97. Now, 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."

98. This 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 the riddle.

"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 confirm that."

100. This 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.

101. However, 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 talk."

103. Obviously, 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 again.

104. The 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.

105. The 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."

107. Before 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.

109. We 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 suspected."

111. The "real alcoholic," as opposed to the "moderate drinker," or the "hard drinker," has lost the ability to control if they will drink or not.

112. Please 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 drink."

114. Here 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?

115. Someone might as well beat him or herself up because they can't fly when they want to.

116. We 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 stove.

"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."

118. A "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."

119. This 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.

120. This 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 "human aid."

121. We 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."

123. This 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.

124. But this paragraph says, "There is a solution." This statement is so important that in the current Big Book they italicize it.

125. They 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.

126. They tell us that by this time we should be convinced of "the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.

127. They 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.

128. They 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.

129. They 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 dreamed."

130. In 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.

131. We 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.

132. When 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 ourselves."

134. Now 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.

135. The 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 experience.

136. They say that their spiritual experiences have revolutionized their whole attitude toward life, toward their fellows, and toward God's universe.

137. The 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 certainty..."

138. Again they certainly like emphasizing. They do not just say the "certainty," they say the "absolute certainty."

139. Notice 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.

140. Finally, 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 solution."

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."

142. Here 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.

143. They 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."

144. Then, they make clear the two alternatives that are available to someone who is "seriously alcoholic," who is a "real alcoholic."

145. The 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] can."

146. Or, they have a second alternative; they can "find what [the pioneers] have found."

147. In 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. 

148. The pioneers changed the phrase, "what we have found," to "accept spiritual help."

149. This is important, because this change defines what they found, as "spiritual help."

150. They 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 effort."

151. That means doing what you are doing right now. This means going through this book and following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," to work all Twelve Steps.

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."

153. Other programs often have newcomers to their meetings focus on self-knowledge.

154. Sometimes 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.

155. Sometimes 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."

156. Yet 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 understand why."

157. In other words, the knowledge that the businessman had about the "inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs," did not stop him from getting drunk.

158. The name of the businessman was Rowland H., and the doctor was the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung.

159. We 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 physician's opinion.

"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 description.' "

161. This passage ends up by describing the goal of working the Twelve Step program.

162. This goal was clearly defined in the Twelfth Step. It says, "Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of actionů"

163. Here Dr. Jung is defining what is meant by a "vital spiritual experience."

164. Dr. Jung says, "To me these occurrences are phenomena." In other words, Dr. Jung has learned that "spiritual experiences" actually exist. They really happen.

165. Dr. 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."

166. So 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 to sanity.

167. When 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."

170. R.A.'s 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 or temple.

171. However, 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.

172. The "spiritual experience" described in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book as being the goal of the program works at a far deeper level.

173. Simply believing in God, or attending services, does not indicate that someone has had a "vital spiritual experience."

174. The "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.

175. The "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.

176. When this happens, we are willing to place the welfare of others ahead of our own. We no longer hurt others or ourselves.

177. We 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

178. This is not something that is usually brought about by simply believing in God or by simply going to church or to temple.

179. Fully 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."

181. The "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."

183. The pioneers wanted what Rowland H. had found. They wanted the freedom from their problems and behaviors that Rowland's spiritual experience had given him.

184. They 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.

185. Many 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 dramatic change.

186. The 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."

188. This 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 practices.

189. They 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."

191. The 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 experience."

193. The 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."

194. That is a powerful statement.

195. Agnostics 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.

196. The 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."

198. This 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."

199. This 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.

200. The 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 recovered."

201. The 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.

202. The 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.

203. The 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.

204. The 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.

205. Next, this paragraph says that their "clear-cut directions" "are followed by more than a score of personal experiences."

206. The 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.

207. The 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.

208. They 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."

210. This 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 produced.

211. Many 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 solution."

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."

213. The 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.

214. To 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.

215. Many 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.

216. That 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."


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