1. This is the fourth chapter in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It discusses the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working the Second Step.
2. We are going to read and discuss the contents of this chapter. This is part of the process of absorbing the pioneers' program and philosophy.
3. Later, in Part 2 of R.A.'s Step Presentation we will put what we learn here into practice, and formally go through Step Two.
4. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 20, starting with the first paragraph of Chapter Four, We Agnostics, it says:
"In the preceding chapters, you have learned something of alcoholism. We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if, when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer."
5. We need to take notice of several things. First of all, the title of this chapter says, "We Agnostics." It does not say "for the agnostic" or "to the agnostic." The pioneers are including themselves. They are saying that at least some of them are agnostic.
6. Second, we need to remember that the pioneers wrote the Multilith Big Book after they had years of experience determining what did, and what did not, work. The Big Book contains only what, in their experience, had worked for them.
7. Third, they start this chapter off by reminding us how, in the preceding chapters, they've made clear the distinction between the "real alcoholic" and the "non-alcoholic."
8. We now know that it is very hard for people to understand that there are some people in the meetings they attend who are not "real alcoholics." They may be a "moderate drinker," or they may be a "hard drinker." They may be able to stop or moderate without going through the Twelve Steps and having a spiritual experience.
9. The program in the Big Book was not designed for the "moderate drinker," or the "hard drinker." It was designed for those who have a spiritual malady that only a spiritual experience will conquer. They are beyond human aid.
10. Therefore, it does not matter how good a meeting is. It does not matter how knowledgeable a sponsor may be. It makes no difference how useful a self-help book is.
11. If the meeting, sponsor, or book, does not help someone follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working all Twelve Steps, they will not produce the spiritual experience working the Twelve Steps produces. They will not develop a conscious contact with a loving Creator who will restore them to sanity and remove their obsession.
12. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, the second paragraph says:
"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic hell or be "saved" — not easy alternatives to face."
13. Atheists, by definition, simply do not believe in God. Agnostics, as a rule, think there may be something there, but that it really isn't relevant to them, or personally interested in them, and has no practical application in their lives.
14. Telling somebody who starts off as an atheist or agnostic, that his or her only hope is a spiritual experience can be very daunting. However, if they are willing to experiment with this process the results that they get may change their beliefs.
15. For example, there is a story we use in R.A., of someone who is plucked from a South Seas island and transported to the middle of Manhattan. They are told that in order to get back home they have to go see someone on the top floor of the skyscraper they are in. This person asks, "How do I get to the top floor?"
16. They are told that they need to, "Use the elevator!" They ask, "What's that?" They are directed to a metal box that's set in the wall of this building. They're told that if they go into that metal box, and push the top button, they will wind up on the top floor. Now, for the purpose of this analogy, this person has never heard of, much less seen, an elevator before. When are they going to believe that an elevator works?
17. If they are willing to get into the elevator, press the top button, and end up on the top floor, they'll be convinced that an elevator works.
18. Their belief, or lack of belief does not effect if the elevator is going to work or not. They only have to be willing to get into the elevator and be willing to push the button. It's the result of pushing the button that is going to convince them that elevators work.
19. It is the same thing with the program. Someone doesn't have to believe in God, or even in the program, to go through the actions that are described in the Big Book. If they follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," they will get results. It's the results they get that will convince them that the program works.
20. The last sentence of the paragraph we have just read has been changed in the current Big Book. It says, "To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face."
21. That's the choice the pioneers give us. Somebody can be in hell, face death, or be saved by living on a spiritual basis.
22. For many people, if they don't believe in God, or are not willing to believe in God, that's a very difficult choice.
23. If someone still thinks their recovery is up to him or herself, that they can do it themselves, maybe with God helping a little now and then, they're going to be between a rock and a hard place.
24. However, if they're willing to experiment, if they're willing to give the program a try, if they're willing to go through the process, even as an experiment, it is the results they get that will convince them. It is their own experience that will convince them.
25. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, the third paragraph says:
"But it isn't so difficult. About half our fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life — or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like fifty of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted."
26. The pioneers again tell us something based on their experience. They say that experimenting with working a spiritual program, "isn't so difficult," even for atheists and agnostics.
27. They can say this because about half of the original one hundred pioneers started off as atheists or agnostics.
28. They again point out that this is a book of their experience. It does not contain their hopes, their dreams, or their wishes. Their experience shows that an atheist, or someone who is agnostic, does not have to be worried. Their experience shows that such people can still work the program and have a spiritual experience.
29. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, in the fourth paragraph it says:
"If a mere code of morals, or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly."
30. Here the pioneers are telling us that, "If a mere code of morals, or a better philosophy of life, were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago."
31. The pioneers are telling us that our powerlessness can't be reversed by our nonexistent will power. They are saying that no matter how much we might wish to be a better person, no matter how much we might wish to live a different kind of life, we do not have the power to do these things.
32. Being a nice person, having a hopeful philosophy isn't enough. Only working all Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" will restore us to sanity.
33. The pioneers continue by saying, "we could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact we could will these things with all our might."
34. So, not only is wishing not enough, even if somebody tried to will these things with all his or her might, they tell us, "the needed power wasn't there."
35. Again, powerlessness. Our humble resources, as marshaled by the will, are not sufficient. And again the pioneers love to do this. They weren't content to just say that our resources "were not sufficient."
36. They go on to say that our resources "failed utterly." This means completely, totally. Yet in other programs, people are often told that controlling their behavior is only a matter of willpower.
37. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, the fifth paragraph says:
"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be A Power Greater Than Ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?"
38. The pioneers are again restating that our "lack of power" was our problem. Therefore, we had to find "A Power Greater Than Ourselves" who will do for us what we don't have the power to do for ourselves.
39. Notice that in this paragraph, the pioneers use the phrase "A Power Greater Than Ourselves." Also notice that only the first letter of each word is capitalized. The phrase isn't in all capitals. Yet in the current Big Book, the entire phrase is italicized, with only the first letter of the word "Power" capitalized.
40. This makes it obvious that the pioneers are talking about God, a loving Creator—a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, a Power by which we could live.
41. The use of this phrase also makes it clear that this chapter of the Big Book is about the Second Step.
42. In the preceding chapter, "More About Alcoholism," in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 14, in the second paragraph, is the phrase, "this is the first step." This lets us know that chapter is about the First Step.
43. Here the phrase "A Power Greater Than Ourselves," which is also used in the Second Step, lets us know that this chapter is about the Second Step. To make this connection even clearer, in A.A.'s Big Book the phrase is italicized.
44. The Second Step says, "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Notice the repetition of the phrase, "a Power greater than ourselves."
45. It is the purpose of this chapter to let us know where and how we are to find this Power.
46. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, the sixth paragraph says:
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself, which will solve your problem. That means we have written a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral. And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God. Here difficulty arises with agnostics. Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship. But his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God, for we have re-opened a subject which our man thought he had neatly evaded or entirely ignored."
47. In case you didn't realize it, the first sentence of this paragraph, answers the question from the last paragraph, "But where and how were we to find this Power?" It says, "Well, that's exactly what this book is about."
48. To make it clearer, the pioneers are asking, "Where and how were we to find a Power greater than ourselves by which we could live?" They then answer their own question by telling us, "Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem."
49. Did you know the Big Book had a main object?
50. Do you remember that the Big Book also has a main purpose?
51. In the Forward to the First Edition, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, it says that, "To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER is the main purpose of this book."
52. Now, on page 20, they say that, "the main object of this book is to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem."
53. We can easily see that showing us how we can recover is the "main purpose" the Big Book was written.
54. The "main object" of the Big Book builds upon the "main purpose." The Big Book's main object is to let us know that we will recover by finding a Power greater than ourselves. However, they don't stop there. They say that we need to find a Power that will "solve our problems."
55. This is important because it gives us a very specific description of what the pioneers mean by a Power greater than ourselves.
56. Some people seem to think that the Power the Big Book refers to could be the proverbial light bulb, tree, or bus.
57. However, in the Big Book, the pioneers say, "a Power greater than ourselves, which will solve our problems." They then go on to say that this "means, of course, that we are going to talk about God."
58. In other words, the pioneers are being very specific that the Power greater than ourselves they are talking about, the Power which will solve our problems, is God.
59. The pioneers then go on to say that "Here difficulty arises with agnostics…his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God."
60. This is why a lot of people would prefer to settle for a power that might be a tree, or a light bulb, or a bus.
61. Certainly, someone has the right to start out with the concept of a tree, or a light bulb, or a bus as his or her Higher Power. However, at some point they have to understand that a tree, or a light bulb, or a bus is not going to be a power by which they can live.
62. A tree, a light bulb, or a bus doesn't have the ability or the desire to "solve our problems."
63. The Big Book doesn't say that if someone has a problem with God, they can substitute a tree, a light bulb, or a bus. The Big Book gives other ways we can move forward with our spiritual understanding and our recovery.
64. Continuing in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 20, the bottom paragraph says:
"We know how he feels. We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice. Some of us have been violently anti-religious. To others, the word 'God' brought up a particular idea of Him with which someone had tried to impress us during childhood. Perhaps we rejected this particular conception because it seemed inadequate. With that rejection we imagined we had abandoned the God idea entirely. We were bothered with the thought that faith and dependence upon a Power beyond ourselves was somewhat weak, even cowardly. We looked upon this world of warring individuals, warring theological systems, inexplicable calamity, with deep skepticism. We looked askance at many individuals who claimed to be godly. How could a Supreme Being have anything to do with it all? And who could comprehend a Supreme Being anyhow? Yet, in other moments, we found ourselves thinking, when enchanted by the starlit night, 'Who, then, made all this?' There was a feeling of awe and wonder, but it was fleeting and soon lost."
65. Remember, the name of this chapter is "We Agnostics." The pioneers have already let us know that many of them started off as agnostic or atheists when they came into the program. This is why they can say that they know how other agnostics feel.
66. However, even though they acknowledge that some people may have a problem with the "God idea," they do not give the option of substituting something else."
67. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the first paragraph says:
"Yes, we of agnostic temperament have had these thoughts and experiences. Let us make haste to reassure you. We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."
68. The pioneers are saying that if someone has a problem believing in God, no matter how good their reason may be; they need to go back to what Ebby told Bill. Everyone has the right to experiment with the concept of God the pioneers are presenting.
69. Once again, someone can start off with a tree, a light bulb, or a bus if that will get him or her moving on a spiritual path. However, they have to understand that using one of these concepts is only a temporary way to start spiritual growth.
70. At some point they will have to be willing to believe in a Power greater than themselves that will solve their problems. The pioneers make it clear that even if someone can't initially define, or understand, that Power, they are talking about God.
71. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the second paragraph says:
"Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding. It is open, we believe, to all men."
72. The pioneers, again sharing their experience, tell us that they did not need to consider other conceptions of God. Their own conception of God, even though it was not fully formed, and might be inadequate, was enough for them to begin developing their conscious contact with God.
73. Notice that they are talking about God. They do not recommend using an alternative.
74. Also notice that they are again defining the "conception of God" they are talking about as a "Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things."
75. They're saying that someone can start their spiritual journey, and begin to find God, by simply admitting the "possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things."
76. The pioneers go on to say that if someone can start with this basic concept of God, they might feel a new sense of power and direction. Notice that in this context, the word "power" has a lowercase "p."
77. Also notice that the pioneers are giving a very specific description of God.
78. The pioneers' description of God is important. This is because it makes it easy to see that a tree, a light bulb, or a bus cannot be a Creative Intelligence. A light bulb does not care if someone is restored to sanity. A bus has no interest in trying to direct and guide someone's life. A tree does not want to solve anyone's problems.
79. They sum up this paragraph by saying that "the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding. It is open, we believe, to all men."
80. The Realm of Spirit may be roomy. Using the concept of a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, might help someone get started working the Twelve Steps.
81. However, everyone needs to understand that this can only be temporary. If someone doesn't understand this, it's going to be that much more difficult for them to move on and find the Realm of Spirit, the recovery, that the program offers.
82. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the third paragraph says:
"When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this is all you will need to commence spiritual growth, to effect your first conscious relation with God, as you understand Him. Afterward, you will find yourself accepting many things which now seem entirely out of reach. That is growth, but if you are going to grow, you have to begin somewhere. So use your own conception, however limited it may be."
83. It's fine for someone to use the concept of a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, if that gets him or her started working the program.
84. However, it says very clearly that this is only a start. It's a point from which to begin—commence—spiritual growth.
85. As someone begins working the program and growing spiritually, they will find themselves accepting many things which now seem entirely out of reach.
86. Inherent in the concept of growing spiritually is the need for someone to know where they are "growing towards." It is very difficult for most people to get anywhere unless they know where they are going.
87. If someone doesn't understand that the pioneers describe God as a "Creative Intelligence," A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things," how can they grow toward that concept?
88. This is important because the Creative Intelligence described by the pioneers, is going to care about them personally, is going to restore them to sanity, is going to solve their problems. A tree, a light bulb or a bus, simply can't do any of this.
89. So, it's fine for someone to start off with the concept of a tree, a light bulb or a bus. However, they need to know the point of it all. We need to develop a conscious contact with this "Creative Intelligence," this "loving Creator," God.
90. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the fourth paragraph says:
"You need ask yourself but one short question. 'Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?' As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built."
91. They don't say one "simple" question. They say one "short" question. They ask us to ask ourselves if we already believe, or if we are willing to experiment with believing in a Power greater than ourselves.
92. However, they did not go through all of this to get us to believe in a light bulb, tree, or bus as our Power.
93. They are asking if we are willing to believe, or at least willing to experiment with believing in God.
94. They made this clear in the first full paragraph on this page, where they say, "We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."
95. This leaves no doubt that that the Power greater than themselves that they're talking about is God.
96. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the fifth paragraph says:
"That was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith which seemed difficult to believe. When people presented us with spiritual approaches, how frequently did we all say: 'I wish I had what that man has. I'm sure it would work if I could only believe as he believes. But I cannot accept as surely true the many articles of faith which are so plain to him.' So it was comforting to learn that we could commence at a simpler level."
97. So, even if it is difficult for someone to accept what the pioneers are telling, they can still "commence," which means to begin at a simpler level.
98. Someone can begin working the program by believing in a "Creative Intelligence." They can start by experimenting with a "Spirit of the Universe" underlying the totality of things.
99. However, they need to understand that this is only a starting point. As the second step says, they will need to eventually come to believe that a Power greater than him or herself is going to restore them to sanity.
100. It is unlikely that anybody, no matter how insane they may be, will believe that a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, has any interest in restoring them to sanity.
101. As they work the Twelve Steps, someone may come to believe that a "Creative Intelligence," a "Spirit of the Universe" underlying the totality of things, can restore them to sanity.
102. It is okay to start at a simple level. However, experience has shown that this still has to involve a Power that is going to be able to restore us to sanity.
103. If someone wants to start by just believing that there is a "Creative Intelligence," or a "Spirit of the Universe, instead of believing in an all powerful, almighty God, that is okay.
104. However, if we encourage someone to start with a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, we may give him or her a handicap that they may later find difficult, if not impossible to overcome.
105. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the sixth paragraph says:
"Besides a seeming inability to accept much on faith, we often found ourselves handicapped by obstinacy, sensitiveness, and unreasoning prejudice. Many of us have been so touchy that even casual reference to spiritual things made us bristle with antagonism. This sort of thinking had to be abandoned. Though some of us resisted, we found no great difficulty in casting aside such feelings. Faced with alcoholic destruction, we soon became as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect alcohol was a great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness. Sometimes this was a tedious process; we hope no one will be prejudiced as long as some of us were."
106. No matter how prejudiced someone may be, regarding spiritual matters, based on their own experiences, the pioneers assure us, that people faced with "alcoholic destruction" will soon be willing to experiment with the concept of God as the pioneers understood Him.
107. Even if someone does not believe, as long as they're willing to experiment, as long as they are willing to try to go through this process, they will begin to get results.
108. Their own experiences will show them that the program not only works for the pioneers who wrote the Big Book, but that R.A. will also work for them.
109. On other occasions, we have talked about the three different kinds of faith.
110. There's blind faith, which is often all someone has whey they come into the program.
111. There's faith by example. We get this when we read the Big Book and see that the program worked for the pioneers, and for the other people in program.
112. Then, when the program works for us, we get the strongest faith of all. This is faith by experience. Our own experience with working the program will give us a faith that is stronger than anything else that we've ever had.
113. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, the seventh paragraph says:
"The reader may still ask why he should believe in a Power greater than himself. We think there are good reasons. Let us have a look at some of them."
114. Remember that from the very start, the pioneers define that Power as God. They do this in the first full paragraph on the page 21. The pioneers say, "We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."
115. We are repeating this just so there is no confusion that the Power greater than ourselves that the pioneers are talking about is God.
116. They say someone can begin at an easier level, a simpler level, by thinking of God as a "Creative intelligence" or a "Spirit of the Universe" underlying the totality of things. However, they say that the ultimate goal is for us to come to believe in a loving God, a Power greater than ourselves who will restore us to sanity, who will solve all of our problems.
117. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 21, starting in the bottom paragraph it says:
"The practical individual of today is a stickler for facts and results. Nevertheless, the twentieth century readily accepts theories of all kinds, provided they are firmly grounded in fact. We have numerous theories, for example, about electricity. Everybody believes them without a murmur of doubt. Why this ready acceptance? Simply because it is impossible to explain what we see, feel, direct, and use, without a reasonable assumption as a starting point."
118. It's amazing to realize that the scientists still aren't sure why electricity works. They know how to create it. They know how to use it. They're still not certain why it's created when they do what they do.
119. Yet look at what we do with electricity. Even though we don't fully understand it, we still make use of it. Sometimes spirituality can be like that too.
120. We may not understand God, or every aspect of God's world and universe. For example, we may not understand why there are floods, famine, earthquakes, or other kinds of disasters, etc.
121. However, we're not God. We don't necessarily have to understand why the world is the way it is, in order to make use of spiritual principles in our life, or develop a conscious contact with God.
122. Perhaps disasters happen so that we, as individuals, have an opportunity to get out of ourselves, and help other people. This is just a theory. Someone is welcome to use it or not, as they prefer.
123. As a matter of fact, in the Bible, in the book of Job, when Job questions why he is going through all the things he experienced, God questions why Job should expect to understand Him. God points out that Job was not there when He created the universe. God also notes that Job was not there when He created the world. Therefore, God questions why Job should expect to understand anything He does.
124. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the first and second paragraphs say:
"Everybody nowadays, believes in scores of assumptions for which there is good evidence, but no perfect visual proof. And does not science demonstrate that visual proof is the weakest proof? It is being constantly revealed, as mankind studies the material world, that outward appearances are not inward reality at all. To illustrate:
"The prosaic steel girder is a mass of electrons whirling around each other at incredible speed. These tiny bodies are governed by precise laws, and these laws hold true throughout the material world. Science tells us so. We have no reason to doubt it. When, however, the perfectly logical assumption is suggested that underneath the material world, and life as we see it, there is an All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence, right there our perverse streak comes to the surface and we laboriously set out to convince ourselves it isn't so. We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking we believe this universe needs no God to explain it. Were our contentions true, it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere."
125. Think about this. You're sitting on a seat, and at a desk, that in reality are made of billions of whirling atoms, that in turn are composed of electrons, and protons. Most people today accept this without a moment's hesitation because science tells us this is true.
126. However, many people, when they're told that there's an "All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence," "underneath the material world, and life as we see it," try to convince themselves this is not so.
127. This takes on added importance when we note that in the Twelve Steps, the pioneers say, "God as we understood Him." They don't say, "God as you understand Him."
128. Once again notice that the pioneers, here in the Big Book, tell us that they define God, they understand God, as an "All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence."
129. So how does someone become willing to experiment with God, as the pioneers understood Him?
130. One of R.A.'s members shares how she came to believe. She says:
"I saw an eclipse. I saw that from the earth, the sun and the moon visually seem to be the same size.
"As a matter of fact when the moon is in the right position, it so neatly covers the circle of the sun that you get what's sometimes called a crown of jewels, circling the dark moon.
"This is because some of the sun's light shines through the valleys between the mountains on the moon's surface. These little bursts of light circle the moon.
"At the time I saw the eclipse, I thought that God was busy keeping the earth in its orbit, and not doing too good a job of stopping World War III, but didn't care about me personally.
"Then I began to think about the odds that two objects of such different sizes, the sun and the moon, would randomly end up in a position where they appeared to be the identical size. I think the odds, pun intended, are astronomical.
"Its like taking a grape, and a giant beach ball, and standing in the middle of a football stadium, closing your eyes, and randomly throwing each of them as far as you can. It is unlikely that just by luck, they would wind up so that the grape looked to be the same size as the beach ball.
"I began to think it was more logical for there to be a Creative Intelligence behind the sun and the moon visually appearing to be the same size.
"It now makes far more sense to me that a Creative Intelligence placed the sun and the moon at exactly the right distance so that they appear to be the same size.
"I now think that that this is more likely than out of all the billions of miles of empty space, where the moon could appear to be a quarter the size of the sun, or twice the size of the sun, the moon just randomly happens to be in a position where it looks like it is exactly the same size as the sun."
131. This is an example of how one of R.A.'s members saw an indication of a Creative Intelligence underlying the totality of things. Other people may find their own examples.
132. What's important is that this particular paragraph demonstrates that we don't always see the reality of things. You can't see the whirling atoms that make up your desk. You can't see God. Yet we know there's a desk that you can touch, and feel.
133. We also know that if we look closely enough, we can find examples that prove there has to be a creative intelligence underlying the totality of things.
134. There are too many things that happen in this world, to believe that they could all just happen by pure coincidence.
135. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the third paragraph says:
"Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of all. Rather vain of us, wasn't it?"
136. In this paragraph the pioneers move from defining God, to defining our relationship with God. They suggest that instead of thinking that our "human intelligence was the last word," we should regard "ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever-advancing Creation."
137. We believe that this is a far better self-image to have than someone thinking they are God. It is also better than someone thinking they are totally insignificant in the scheme of things, as sometimes happens when someone has low self-esteem.
138. As someone recovers, they can begin to see themselves as God's intelligent agent. They can make the choice to carry God's message, R.A.'s message of hope, sanity, and recovery to those who still suffer.
139. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the fourth paragraph says:
"We, who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that whatever the human frailties of various faiths may be, those faiths have given purpose and direction to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is all about. Actually, we used to have no reasonable conception whatever. We used to amuse ourselves as we cynically dissected spiritual beliefs and practices we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves."
140. The pioneers are again reminding us that this is a book of their experiences; they have traveled this path.
141. The pioneers point out that people who have a spiritual basis for their lives always seemed far happier than most people who don't have a spiritual basis. They seem calmer, have a degree of serenity, and certainly don't seem to be hurting themselves or others.
142. That's what often attracts people to the program. If we help newcomers feel unconditional love and acceptance from us, we will keep them coming back.
143. History shows that if something doesn't work, it usually stops existing. All the major religions have been around for quite awhile. Maybe they know something after all.
144. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the fifth paragraph says:
"Instead, we looked at the human defects of these people, and sometimes used their shortcomings as a basis of wholesale condemnation. We talked of intolerance, while we were intolerant ourselves. We missed the reality and the beauty of the forest because we were diverted by the ugliness of some of its trees. We never gave the spiritual side of life a fair hearing."
145. Remember, in the Twelve Step rooms, there are people with different degrees of spiritual illness. For example, the moderate drinker, the hard drinker, the real alcoholic, and of course, the recovered alcoholic.
146. The same is true of any group anywhere. So, for example, in a congregation there may be people who are still selfish, self-centered, intolerant, and perhaps even bigoted. They may be right alongside people who are loving, tolerant, generous, and kind.
147. We suggest that it may be wise to never paint everybody with the same brush. It may be better take each person as the individual they are.
148. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the sixth paragraph says:
"In the stories which follow you will find wide variation in the way each teller approaches and conceives of the Power which is greater than himself. Whether you agree with a particular approach or conception seems to make little difference. Experience has taught that these are matters about which, for our purpose, we need not be worried. They are questions for each individual to settle for himself."
149. The pioneers, again sharing their experience, tell us that the way someone finds God, the way someone develops a conscious contact with God, is irrelevant.
150. One of R.A.'s members shares how he developed his conscious contact with God:
"I started praying for something very simple where I could see an immediate result.
"I started praying for parking places, and for some strange reason God started giving me parking spaces.
"At first I stubbornly tried to hold on to idea that getting these parking spaces was just a coincidence.
"However, eventually the consistency with which I was able to find a parking space convinced me that there was a Power, a Creative Intelligence, that was giving me parking spaces.
"I began to think that if that Power was concerned enough with something as ridiculous as parking spaces, then there was a pretty good chance that He was more concerned with the really important parts of my life."
151. That is how this one R.A. member began to develop a conscious contact with God. Other people do it in other ways.
152. However, someone's ultimate goal has to be the knowledge that they are working toward a relationship, a conscious contact, with a loving Creator, who is God.
153. No matter how else we understand the concept of a Power greater than ourselves, our understanding still has to include the ability to restore us to sanity, and solve all of our problems.
154. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 22, the seventh paragraph says:
"On one proposition, however, these men and women are strikingly agreed. Every one of them has gained access to, and believes in a Power greater than himself. This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. As a celebrated American statesman puts it, 'Let's look at the record.' "
155. Obviously a tree, a light bulb, and a bus can accomplish things that are humanly impossible. However, those things are not what the pioneers are talking about.
156. The "miraculous, the humanly impossible" things we want a Power greater than ourselves to accomplish, are to restore us to sanity, and to stop us from hurting other people or ourselves.
157. While a tree, a light bulb, and a bus can certainly do things that we can't, they don't have the ability to restore us to sanity or solve all our problems.
158. We need to keep stressing this because the pioneers keep repeating it right here in the Big Book.
159. People frequently misunderstand what it means to use a Higher Power of their own understanding. They distort this concept in ways it was never intended.
160. Not understanding this concept can inhibit someone's ability to recover. It is very difficult for someone to get someplace if they don't know where they are supposed to go.
161. As we will read when we get to page 42, the pioneers tell us that someone "can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him."
162. So, while someone is welcome to start with any concept of a Higher Power he wants, the pioneers add an important qualification. They say the concept has to make sense to them.
163. It does not make sense to work a program to find a Power that does not have the interest or ability to restore us to sanity and solve our problems.
164. This limits the number of concepts that can possibly make sense.
165. A tree, a light bulb, and a bus may be very good concepts for somebody to use when they start thinking of some kind of Power greater than themselves. However, at some point they will have to face the reality that a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, is not going to restore them to sanity, or solve their problems.
166. They need to understand that at some point they will need to look for a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, which has the ability to restore them to sanity, and solve all their problems.
167. The reason this needs to be stressed is that this part of the Big Book makes this clear, but is often ignored. This may be why some people in some programs have such a difficult time working the program and finding recovery.
168. How many people are really going to believe that a tree, a light bulb, or a bus is going to restore them to sanity? How many people are actually going to be willing to turn their life and their will over to a tree, a light bulb, or a bus? Who, when they get to the Seventh Step, is going to expect a tree, a light bulb, or a bus to remove their defects of character?
169. Sometimes it is suggested that someone use their group as their Higher Power.
170. This also presents problems. Most members in a group will readily admit that they are in that group, because they could not manage their own lives. They will freely share that the reason they are in that group is because they could not solve their own problems or behaviors.
171. How reasonable is it to expect these same people, who can't manage their lives or solve their problem or behavior, to be able to manage someone else's life? How likely is it that they will be able to solve someone else's problems and behaviors?
172. We think that anyone who realizes this will have a very difficult time surrendering their lives and their wills to people who admit they can't manage their own lives.
173. We hope you can now see how important these concepts are, not just for you, but for all of the people you are eventually going to work with.
174. Please continue reading in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 22. The bottom paragraph says:
"Here are one hundred men and women, worldly and sophisticated indeed. They flatly declare to you that since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, to take a certain attitude toward that Power, and to do certain simple things, there has been a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking. They tell you that in the face of collapse and despair, in the face of the total failure of their human resources, that a new Power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction has flowed into them. This happened soon after they whole-heartedly met a few simple requirements. Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they will show you the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life. Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They will show you how the change came over them. When one hundred people, much like you, are able to say that consciousness of The Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why you too should have faith."
175. The "one hundred men and women," are the pioneers.
176. As we have stressed from the very beginning, this is a book of the pioneers' experiences. The people who were there when this book was written, and who gave their approval to the content of this book, had the experiences described in this paragraph.
177. The pioneers "flatly declare" that they came to believe in a Power greater than themselves. They repeatedly define that power as an All-powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence, as God.
178. They say that they took a "certain attitude toward that Power." That attitude is that the Power they came to believe in could restore them to sanity and solve their problems.
179. The pioneers go on to say that they needed "to do certain simple things." These "simple things" are now called the Twelve Steps.
180. In other words, we need to come to believe the pioneers when they assure us that God can restore us to sanity, and solve our problems and behaviors. Then we need to work all Twelve Steps so we can develop a conscious contact with God, as we now understand Him. When we do this, He can enter our lives, restore us to sanity, and solve our problems and behaviors.
181. Now we are right back to the beginning where Ebby told Bill, in their first meeting, of "a simple religious idea and a practical program of action."
182. The "simple religious idea" is that there is "a God personal to me, who was love, superhuman strength and direction," a God who will restore someone to sanity and solve all of his or her problems and behaviors.
183. Of course, the "practical program of action" is the Twelve Steps.
184. The pioneers go on to say that once they "whole-heartedly met a few simple requirements," in other words, once they whole-heartedly, completely worked the Twelve Steps, they felt "a new Power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction [flow] into them.
185. The pioneers are using the Big Book to "show you how the change came over them." These "one hundred people, much like you," are saying "that consciousness of The Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives."
186. The pioneers are using the Big Book to "present a powerful reason why you too should have faith."
187. They use the Big Book to tell us that this is what happened to them, how they went from being atheist or agnostic, or the person they were before, to the person that now believes that God is doing for them what they could not do for themselves.
188. They are talking about faith. They're sharing their experience. They present a powerful reason why we should also have faith. If this process worked for them, it will work for us too!
189. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, the first paragraph says:
"This world of ours has made more material progress in the last century than in all the millenniums which went before. Almost everyone knows the reason. Students of ancient history tell us that the intellect of men in those days was equal to the best of today. Yet in ancient times material progress was painfully slow. The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research and invention was almost unknown. In the realm of the material, men's minds were fettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas. The contemporaries of Columbus thought a round earth preposterous. Others like them came near putting Galileo to death for his astronomical heresies."
190. In the Middle Ages, most people thought the world was flat. People held these beliefs because that's what they were told. They could only accept as true, the ideas they had been given. When their ideas were challenged, they became hostile.
191. It's the same way with the program. If someone has spent years in other Twelve Step programs being told that they should have the power to control their problems or behaviors, that they're responsible for controlling their problems or behaviors, that it's up to them to exercise their will power, they believe what they are told.
192. Then we come along in R.A., and tell them that they have proven that they're powerless. We then tell them that their only hope is a spiritual experience. Sometimes the people we tell this become hostile.
193. The concepts, which are the basis of the program that is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, are frequently not the basis of the programs that are practiced in many other Twelve Step meetings today.
194. So, now we are forced to address the "superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas" that people might have learned in other programs.
195. We do this by going through R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, page-by-page, and paragraph-by-paragraph. We do this to validate the simplicity of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" that are written in this book.
196. We do this to help people understand the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," accept them, and thoroughly follow them.
197. We do this to counter the distortions that someone may have learned when he or she was in another program.
198. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, the second paragraph says:
"But ask yourself this: are not some of us just as biased and unreasonable about the realm of the spirit as were the ancients about the realm of the material? Even in the present century, American newspapers were afraid to print an account of the Wright Brothers' first successful flight at Kitty Hawk. Had not all efforts at flight failed before? Did not Professor Langley's absurd flying machine go to the bottom of the Potomac River? Was it not true that the best mathematical minds had proved man could never fly? Had not people said God had reserved this privilege to the birds? Only thirty years later the conquest of the air was almost an old story and airplane travel was in full swing."
199. After the Wright Brothers' flew at Kitty Hawk, some people were so sure flight was impossible that they refused to believe the flight had actually happened. People were so committed to holding on to their beliefs that they couldn't believe someone had actually flown, even though there were pictures.
200. The same thing sometimes happens when we talk about being recovered. Some people don't believe that the Big Book says that our only hope is to have a spiritual experience. They just can't accept that the Big Book says that we can have a permanent recovery.
201. These terms and concepts are very different from the things they were told in other programs. Therefore, they have a very hard time believing they can be recovered; have a spiritual experience, or a permanent recovery.
202. Sometimes, even a term as simple as the title of the second chapter, "There is a Solution," can be controversial. This is because the Big Book says there is a spiritual solution, while some other meetings in some other programs rely on a physical solution, such as going to ninety meetings in ninety days.
203. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, the third paragraph says:
"But in most fields our generation has witnessed complete liberation of our thinking. Show any longshoreman a Sunday supplement describing a proposal to explore the moon by means of a rocket and he will say, "I bet they do it — maybe not so long either." Is not our age characterized by the ease with which we discard old ideas for new, by the complete readiness with which we throw away the theory or gadget which does not work for something new which does?"
204. Scientific advances make old technology obsolete with amazing speed. Most people seem to easily accept this. For example, the cell phone someone has today is a fraction of the size of the first cell phone, and has countless more features.
205. Most people don't insist on trying to hold on to old, obsolete technology. They don't hesitate to move on to the latest and greatest technological marvel. However, this is often not true with the spiritual realm.
206. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, please continue with the fourth and fifth paragraphs. They say:
"We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn't apply to our human problems this same readiness to change the point of view. We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people — was not a basic solution of this bedevilment more important than whether we should see newsreels of lunar flight? Of course it was.
"When we saw others solve their problems by simple reliance upon the Spirit of this universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did."
207. If we are usually easily willing to embrace new technology, why can't we apply this same willingness to our "human problems"?
208. The point is that it is unlikely that anyone is going to solve their problem with a simple reliance upon a tree, a light bulb, or a bus, unless their problems are limited to shade, illumination, or public transportation. Then, a tree, a light bulb, or a bus might be able to solve these problems.
209. However, the pioneers are telling us that all the problems and behaviors listed here in the Big Book can be solved by a "simple reliance upon the Spirit of this universe."
210. It is often hard for people to "stop doubting the power of God." It is often difficult for people to see that their, "ideas did not work. But the God idea did."
211. The hundred pioneers who wrote the Big Book share their experiences with us. They do this so we can see that God solved their problems. Therefore, they want us to understand that since our ideas, up to this point, have not worked for us, perhaps the "common solution" they found, "the God idea," will work for us too.
212. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, the sixth paragraph says:
"The Wright brothers' almost childish faith that they could build a machine which would fly was the mainspring of their accomplishment. Without that, nothing could have happened. We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems. When others showed us that 'God-sufficiency' worked with them, we began to feel like those who had insisted the Wrights would never fly."
213. We know, from our own experience, that relying on ourselves does not work. If relying on ourselves had worked, we never would have looked for help, we never would have come to the program.
214. We should, at this point, have enough proof based on the testimony of the pioneers, that "God-sufficiency" does work, that we can rely on Him. We should be able to learn from the vast experience of the people who have gone before us.
215. Eventually, when we begin to be willing to experiment with the pioneers' spiritual solution, we will begin to trust this process based on our own experiences.
216. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 23, starting in the bottom paragraph, it says:
"Logic is great stuff. We liked it. We still like it. It is not by chance we were given the power to reason, to examine the evidence of our senses, and to draw conclusions. That is one of man's magnificent attributes. We agnostically inclined would not feel satisfied with a proposal which does not lend itself to reasonable approach and interpretation. Hence we are at pains to tell why we think our present faith is reasonable, why we think it more sane and logical to believe than not to believe, why we say our former thinking was soft and mushy when we threw up our hands in doubt and said, 'We don't know.' "
217. We do not think that it is logical to believe that the pioneers spent so much time and energy lying to us. It does not make sense that the experiences they share did not actually happen to them.
218. Therefore, it is logical to believe that if we become willing to experiment with the pioneers' spiritual approach, the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" that are in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, we will begin to get similar results.
219. In most cases, it is our own experiences that will finally convince us that it is "more sane and logical to believe than not to believe."
220. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the first paragraph says:
"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?"
221. This is an important concept that is often ignored in other programs! For many of us it simplifies the program. We no longer have to debate if something is God's will or our will. We no longer question if God is only taking care of some problems, but leaving others for us to handle.
222. The pioneers tell us that we have to, "Fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't." Then they tell us that we have to make a choice.
223. We need to decide if God is all-powerful, or not. We need to decide that if God is all-powerful, then there is obviously no power left for us.
224. We are supposed to admit that we are powerless in the First Step. When we can fearlessly choose to accept that God is everything, we can stop trying to play God ourselves. We can stop trying to control all those things that we have repeatedly proven are impossible for us to control. We can move on with the program.
225. So, we have to make a choice: God is either everything or God is nothing.
226. Bill Wilson, in A.A.'s Twelve and Twelve, on page 75, in the second paragraph, says that we stopped thinking that we could only call on God in a crisis. He says that we no longer thought that we were in control of our own life, with God giving us a little help "now and then." He says that we began to see how this attitude had limited our recovery.
227. God is either everything or else He is nothing. What is our choice to be? Within R.A. we choose to believe that God is everything.
228. It should be pointed out that Bill readily admitted he adapted ideas from other books into the Big Book as he was writing it. He especially gave credit to "The Sermon on the Mount" by Emmet Fox. It was one of the main books read by the pioneers at their early meetings. He says that many concepts used in the Big Book came from it.
229. In R.A., we suggest reading "The Sermon on the Mount," and the other books that have concepts that were adapted into the Big Book, from a purely historical perspective. R.A.'s experience is that reading these concepts in their original context can help us to better understand the Twelve Step program of recovery. R.A. does not endorse or oppose the contents of these books. Reading these books is not a requirement. It is only a suggestion.
230. In R.A., we have also found that we can learn a lot by looking at what was not adapted into the Big Book. For example, the pioneers left out the need to be Christian to work the program. The quote we just read from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book is a perfect example of this fact.
231. The concept in this quote clearly comes from "The Sermon on the Mount." On page 27 (page 25), starting in the bottom paragraph, referring to Jesus, Emmet Fox, says that he either meant what he said, or he did not; he knew what he was talking about or he did not; he is to be taken seriously, or he is not; he is a reliable guide, or he is not.
232. The pioneers used this concept in the Big Book. However, they changed the wording so that it refers to God. This is an example of why there is no conflict between the spiritual principles of R.A.'s program as detailed by the pioneers in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, and most people's religious beliefs.
233. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the second paragraph says:
"Arrived at this point, we were squarely confronted with the question of faith. We couldn't duck the issue. Some of us had already walked far over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith. The outlines and the promise of the New Land had brought lustre to tired eyes and fresh courage to flagging spirits. Friendly hands had stretched out in welcome. We were grateful that Reason had brought us so far. But somehow, we couldn't quite step ashore. Perhaps we had been leaning too heavily on Reason that last mile and we did not like to lose our support."
234. Now the pioneers knew that some of us would make great progress in our journey "over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith." However, they also knew, based on their experience, that some of us would still have trouble taking the final steps to shore.
235. R.A.'s experience is that this is often because people have been programed to believe that they must only rely upon themselves. Yet, they have repeatedly proven that they can't successfully rely upon themselves. They are between a rock and a hard place.
236. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the third paragraph says:
"That was natural, but let us think a little more closely. Without knowing it, had we not been brought to where we stood by a certain kind of faith? For did we not believe in our own reasoning? Did we not have confidence in our ability to think? What was that but a sort of faith? Yes, we had been faithful, abjectly faithful to the God of Reason. So, in one way or another, we discovered that faith had been involved all the time!"
237. Even the people who believed that the earth was flat had faith in that belief.
238. Isn't someone's belief that they must rely upon themselves, "a certain kind of faith?"
239. The people, who believe that they should have the power to control their lives, have faith in that belief. Their lack of success should have proven that they don't have the ability to control their lives. They should know that their faith might be misplaced.
240. However, if they didn't have some sort of faith in their belief, they wouldn't bother beating themselves up each time they failed to demonstrate their control.
241. So, almost everyone has some sort of faith in something. If at some point they can transfer their faith to the "Creative Intelligence" underlying the totality of things, they can move on.
242. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the fourth paragraph says:
"We found too, that we had been worshippers. What a state of mental gooseflesh that used to bring on! Had we not variously worshipped people, sentiment, things, money, and ourselves? And then, with a better motive, had we not worshipfully beheld the sunset, the sea, or a flower? Who of us had not loved something or somebody? How much did these feelings, these loves, these worships have to do with pure reason? Little or nothing, we saw at last. Were not these things the tissue out of which our lives were constructed? Did not these feelings, after all, determine the course of our existence? It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, or love, or worship. In one form or another we had been living by faith and little else."
243. Usually, someone has faith in themselves, their own ideas, and their own abilities. The strange thing is how long they continue to hold on this faith in themselves, in spite of all the years their faith in themselves has failed to produce the results they are looking for.
244. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the fifth paragraph says:
"Imagine life without faith! Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn't be life. But we believed in life — of course we did. We could not prove life in the sense that you can prove a straight line is the shortest distance between two points: yet, there it was. Could we still say the whole thing was nothing but a mass of electrons, created out of nothing, meaning nothing, whirling on to a destiny of nothingness? Of course we couldn't. The electrons themselves seemed more intelligent than that. At least, so the chemist said."
245. We need to ask if it is reasonable to think that the entire world came to be as it is just by coincidence?
246. If someone were to walk into a room, and see coins scattered all over the floor, it would be reasonable to think that they were there accidently. However, if someone walks into that room and sees the same coins stacked neatly, one on top of another, it is logical to think that some sort of "Creative Intelligence" deliberately placed them that way.
247. It is certainly possible for this world, and all the life on it, to have developed from one coincidence, after another, after another, continuously happening for millions of years.
248. However, we think it is more logical that there was a "Creative Intelligence" guiding and directing this world's creation.
249. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the sixth paragraph says:
"Hence, we saw that reason isn't everything. Neither is reason, as most of us used it, entirely dependable, though it emanate from our best minds. What about people who proved that man could never fly?
250. There are many people, in other programs, who do not believe in the spiritual program that the pioneers detail in the Big Book.
251. They try to ignore the spirituality of the program and simply work a physical program. Instead of working the Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," they use the meetings for companionship, as therapy, or just a place to vent about what is going on in their lives.
252. When this physical program does not produce the recovery promised by the pioneers to those who thoroughly follow their "clear-cut directions," they drift away.
253. However, the pioneers offer us another option.
254. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the seventh paragraph says:
"Yet we had been seeing another kind of flight, a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems. They said God made these things possible, and we only smiled. We had seen spiritual release, but liked to tell ourselves it wasn't true."
255. The pioneers offer us "a spiritual liberation from this world." They share their experiences. They share how they "rose above their problems." They tell us "God made these things possible.
256. Notice that the pioneers are not saying that a Higher Power made the "spiritual liberation" or "spiritual release" possible. The pioneers specifically say that, "God made these things possible."
257. Now, someone still may not believe in God or even be willing to experiment with the pioneers understanding of God. They may smile and just shrug their shoulders. They may continue trying to do what they have repeatedly proven is impossible for them to do.
258. They may fit the classic definition of insanity that we want to share with you now. This definition says that insanity is doing the same thing, in exactly the same way, over and over again, while expecting a different result.
259. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, the eighth paragraph says:
"Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as man himself."
260. Once again, please remember that the pioneers are sharing their experiences.
261. They tell us that they were fooling themselves when they said that they did not believe in God.
262. Their experience is that "deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God."
263. Their experience is that this belief might be "obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there."
264. They are sharing that if they can come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, a God who can restore them to sanity, we can also come to this belief.
265. They are sharing, that in spite of all their doubts, in spite of all the logical reasons they had to not believe, their own experiences, God's "miraculous demonstrations" of His Power in their lives, were facts that convinced them. They found that they did have faith.
266. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 25, the first paragraph says:
"We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. And we are sure you will find the Great Reality deep down within you. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us; why not with you?"
267. When the pioneers began to look within themselves, when they began to experiment with the program's, "simple religious idea," they "finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend."
268. Their experience was that God, "was as much a fact as we were."
269. They assert that they are sure that if we look, we "will find the Great Reality deep down within" us.
270. They end this paragraph by proclaiming that, "It was so with us; why not with you?"
271. If we look at the pioneers and their experience, if we look at the people who have come after them, and then look at all those who have successfully worked the program before us, how can we not believe that the program works? How can we doubt that R.A. will work for us?
272. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 25, the second paragraph says:
"We can only clear the ground a bit for you. If our testimony helps sweep away prejudice, enables you to think honestly, encourages you to search diligently within yourself, then you will have joined us on the Broad Highway. With this attitude you cannot fail. The consciousness that you do believe is sure to come to you."
273. This entire chapter is talking about the Second Step. The pioneers have been trying to help us come to believe in the existence of a Power greater than ourselves.
274. However, they have also been very specific about defining this Power as God. They have also been specific in their description of God as a "Creative Intelligence" underlying the totality of things. More specifically they have defined God as a Power who can and will "restore us to sanity."
275. Next is another one of the personal narratives the pioneers told us to expect.
276. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 25, the third paragraph says:
"In this book you will read the experience of a man who thought he was an atheist. His story is so interesting that some of it should be told now. His change of heart was dramatic, convincing, and moving."
277. This is the story about the person who wrote the Big Book story, "Our Southern Friend." We highly recommend that you read the version of that story that is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
278. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, this story is far easier to understand. It was originally written with sub-chapters. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book there's a blank line, a line with five dashes, and another blank line between each of these little sub-chapters.
279. For some reason, when they put this story into the Big Book, they took out the extra spaces and dashes. This makes it confusing because the story goes from one scene to another scene, and there is nothing to indicate that it's a different scene.
280. For some reason, they also left out the last few paragraphs that are in the original Multilith Big Book version of the story. Many people think that these paragraphs are beautifully written.
281. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 25, please read from the fourth paragraph all the way through the seventh paragraph. This personal narrative says:
"Our friend was a minister's son. He attended church school, where he became rebellious at what he thought an overdose of religious education. For years thereafter he was dogged by trouble and frustration. Business failure, insanity, fatal illness, suicide — these calamities in his immediate family embittered and depressed him. Post-war disillusionment, ever more serious alcoholism, impending mental and physical collapse, brought him to the point of self-destruction.
"One night when confined in a hospital, he was approached by an alcoholic who had known a spiritual experience. Our friend's gorge rose as he bitterly cried out: 'If there is a God, He certainly hasn't done anything for me.' But later, alone in his room, he asked himself this question: 'Is it possible that all the religious people I have known are wrong?' While pondering the answer, he felt as though he lived in hell. Then, like a thunderbolt, a great thought came. It crowded out all else:
'WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THERE IS NO GOD?'
"This man recounts that he tumbled out of bed to his knees. In a few seconds he was overwhelmed by a conviction of the Presence of God. It poured over and through him with the certainty and majesty of a great tide at flood. The barriers he had built through the years were swept away. He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love. He had stepped from bridge to shore. For the first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator."
"Thus was our friend's cornerstone fixed in place. No later vicissitude has shaken it. His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night three years ago it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation, the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity."
282. Notice the way God is described in this story. The author says he, "stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love." It goes on to say that for the, "first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator."
283. It does not say he was standing in the shade of a tree, lit by a light bulb, while waiting at a bus stop.
284. Remember the purpose of this chapter is to help someone understand and work the Second Step. We are supposed to read this chapter, work the program, and come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves, God, can restore us to sanity.
285. So here, in this story, they give us an example of the author of this story, developing a conscious contact with "his Creator" who restored him to sanity.
286. If the story wasn't clear enough, they end it by saying, "God had restored his sanity."
287. In this story they give us the example of someone who did not believe, and yet God restored their sanity. They want us to understand that if this miracle could happen for him, it can also happen for us.
288. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 25, please read the last three paragraphs. They say:
"What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker — then he knew.
"Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. To this man, the Revelation was sudden. Some of us grow into it more slowly. But He has come to all who have honestly sought Him.
"Draw near to Him and He will disclose Himself to you!"
289. Now the pioneers describe being restored to sanity as a "miracle of healing." We all know that God performs miracles.
290. The pioneers tell us that, "Circumstances made him willing to believe." In other words, his own life had given him the proof of his personal powerlessness. He needed to become willing to believe that God could restore him to sanity.
291. The pioneers then go on to tell us that, "God had restored them all to their right minds." So, the pioneers are sharing that they had the same experience as the author to the story.
292. They also go on to share, based on their experience, that while the author of this story had a sudden "Revelation," some of them grew into it more slowly.
293. While there is no way to prove it, we suspect that the reason this man had a sudden "Revelation," was that he went through the program quickly.
294. In the early days of the program they used to encourage everyone to go through the program quickly. They encouraged a newcomer to get to the Ninth Step by their second or third week in the program. This is when most people would start to get results.
295. The pioneers know that if someone did not start to get results, they probably would not stick around.
296. R.A.'s experience is that the quicker someone goes through the Twelve Steps, by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," the more likely they are to have a dramatic spiritual experience.
297. Look at the pioneers. Bill Wilson had a dramatic wind on the mountaintop, blinding light, spiritual experience. He had gone through the process in a matter of weeks.
298. On the other hand, Dr. Bob took two and a half years to get to the same point. He had what is called the gradual or educational variety of spiritual awakening.
299. Time has shown that the end result was identical for both of them. Bill and Dr. Bob both remained sane for the rest of their lives.
300. Most people would probably prefer the wind on the mountaintop, blinding light, spiritual experience. However, most of the people coming to R.A. have been around program for a long time. Therefore, it is more likely that they will have a gradual spiritual awakening. But again it doesn't matter. The end result is identical. The recovery, the restoration of sanity, is identical.
301. Finally, we read earlier in the Big Book, that the way we draw near to God, is through work and self-sacrifice for others.
302. If we work the Twelve Steps, if we intensively work with others, if we live a life of self-sacrifice for others, we will develop a conscious contact with our loving Creator, God.
303. He will disclose Himself to us as we begin to behave sanely and normally in the same situations that used to baffle us. He will disclose Himself to us as we begin to see the restoration of sanity in the people we are working with.
304. By God's grace we will have recovered. Our loving Creator will have restored us to sanity.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.