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 Part 3: Discussing Steps Nine through Twelve
 
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P) Reading and Discussing Step Eleven
This discusses the "clear-cut directions" for working Step Eleven.
 
 


STEP ELEVEN

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God
as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

1. We are now going to go through the paragraphs devoted to Step Eleven in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. Once again, we suggest that you do this with an R.A. Sponsor. You are again going to read a paragraph and then pause. I will then comment about what you just read.

2. Please remember that the Steps are a whole. They do not stand separate from each other. The Tenth and Eleventh Steps are blended. There is no way of discussing Step Eleven without talking about Step Ten.

3. For the moment please turn, in the 12 & 12, to page 98 where, in the first full paragraph, it says:

"There is a direct linkage among self-examination, meditation, and prayer. Taken separately, these practices can bring much relief and benefit. But when they are logically related and interwoven, the result is an unshakable foundation for life."

4. That is exactly what Recoveries Anonymous does. It logically relates and interweaves self-examination, meditation and prayer. This is the essence of the Tenth and Eleventh Steps. Once again we see that these steps work together. They are not separate from each other.

5. The "clear-cut directions" for the Tenth Step inventory, from page 38 in the fifth paragraph, are worked as part of the Eleventh Step's period of prayer and meditation on page 39 in the fourth paragraph. This shows how these two steps are related and interwoven.

6. The following paragraphs contain a lot of important information. Therefore, once you read a full paragraph, we may share about one sentence or several sentences at a time. This is to make each point as clear as possible,

7. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 39, in the third paragraph, it says:

"Step eleven suggests prayer and meditation. Don't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if you have the proper attitude and work at it. It would be easy to be vague about this matter. Yet, we believe we can give you some definite and valuable suggestions."

8. This is the first mention of the Eleventh Step even though we've been reading about the Eleventh Step in the preceding paragraphs. Here in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book you can see that there's no clear separation between Steps Ten and Eleven.

9. As we go through the following paragraphs, please be aware of this book as an instruction manual that contains the pioneers' definite and valuable suggestions about prayer and meditation.

10. Those familiar with the history of the Twelve Step programs are aware that the pioneers suggested that everyone have a daily period of meditation. This daily quiet time was a cornerstone of their recovery. It was an essential part of their program.

11. A survey of early members who had slipped showed that all of them had stopped having their daily quiet time.

12. R.A.'s Multilith Big Book gives "clear-cut directions" for how to do the daily quiet time. When we follow them, we can have the same period of reflection, prayer and meditation that the pioneers found to be vital to their recovery.

13. While R.A.'s Multilith Big Book describes a morning quiet time, and while we in R.A. believe that this is the ideal, later editions of the Big Book did change this. Therefore, the daily period of prayer and meditation does not necessarily have to be done in the morning. It can be done at any convenient time, and can be fit into most schedules.

14. We will now read the "clear-cut directions" for the daily quiet time. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book starting on page 39, the fourth paragraph says:

"When you awake tomorrow morning, look back over the day before. Were you resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid? Do you owe an apology? Have you kept something to yourself which should be discussed with another person at once? Were you kind and loving toward all? What could you have done better? Were you thinking of yourself most of the time? Or were you thinking of what you could do for others, of what you could pack into the stream of life? After you have faced yesterday, ask God's forgiveness for any wrong. Ask to be shown what to do. Thus you keep clean as you live each day."

15. This paragraph contains the explicit instructions for how to do our daily inventory. Like the inventory in the Fourth Step, this Tenth Step inventory is not designed for us to look deeper into ourselves. It is designed to get us out of ourselves by seeing how our behavior has affected others.

16. Some of you may have seen written Tenth Step inventories from other fellowships that are quite involved and elaborate. These have nothing to do with the instructions that are written on these pages, and are not a part of our program.

17. R.A.'s Newcomer Guide has these "clear-cut directions" from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book broken down into outline form. This guide also has examples of how to use these instructions to have a daily quiet time. Read pages 6, 7, and 8 in R.A.'s Newcomer Guide to see how we do this.

18. The first sentence of this paragraph starts by telling us when to have the daily quiet time. It says, "When you awake tomorrow morning, look back over the day before."

19. The second sentence says, "Were you resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid?" The next sentence says, "Do you owe an apology?" This tells us to look at our character defects during the daily quiet time, and see if they affected other people, and if we need to make amends.

20. The next sentence says, "Have you kept something to yourself which should be discussed with another person at once?"

21. This is part of what makes the program in the Big Book different. The moment we bring another person into the process, we're getting out of ourselves instead of deeper into ourselves.

22. The paragraph continues by giving us more questions we can ask ourselves. It says, "Were you kind and loving toward all? What could you have done better? Were you thinking of yourself most of the time? Or were you thinking of what you could do for others, of what you could pack into the stream of life?"

23. All this clearly shows that the focus of the daily quiet time is to get us out of ourselves. It also explicitly tells us what to do when we fall short of our ideals. It says that "After you have faced yesterday, ask God's forgiveness for any wrong. Ask to be shown what to do. Thus you keep clean as you live each day."

24. It doesn't say we should beat ourselves up. It doesn't say that we should punish ourselves. It doesn't say that we should try to change our own behavior. It doesn't say that we should try to remove our own character defects.

25. Remember the instructions we read from the fifth paragraph on page 38. It says that when character defects crop up, we should simply ask God at once to remove them, and resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help, using love and tolerance as our code.

26. We will now resume reading the "clear-cut directions" for the daily quiet time. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 39, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers continue to tell us what to do. They say:

"Next, think about the twenty-four hours ahead. Consider your plans for the day. Before you begin, ask God to guide your thinking. Especially ask that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Then go ahead and use your common sense. There is nothing hard or mysterious about this. God gave you brains to use. Clear your thinking of wrong motives. Your thought life will be placed on a much higher plane."

27. This paragraph helps us resolve one of the most frequently asked questions we get at this point. People want to know how to tell if a thought, a decision, or an action is God's will or their own. We believe we can help answer this question by pointing out how the pioneers understood God.

28. As we shared earlier, the pioneers ask us to experiment with the presumptions that God has all knowledge and all power. These are not the only presumptions we are asked to make. The pioneers also ask us to experiment with other presumptions.

29. For example, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 24, in the first full paragraph, it 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?"

30. This may not be God as you understand Him. However, the proposition that either God is everything, or nothing, that God has all knowledge, and all power, or none, is a basic presumption of this program.

31. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I made the presumption that God is everything, that God is all-powerful. I asked Him to direct my thinking and divorce it from self-pity, dishonest and self-seeking motives. I needed to presume that an all-powerful, all knowledgeable God could do this. I choose to trust that He will.

"I feel that this presumption gives me the freedom to use the brains God gave me. When I trust that God exists, when I trust that God is all-powerful, there's no longer a question as to whether something is my will, or God's will. I choose to believe that once I have asked that God's will, not mine, be done, it has to be His will being done, because if not, I believe that would mean God is not all powerful, and I would not be powerless, because I had the power to take my will back from Him."

32. Back in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 39, as we read earlier, it says, "Clear your thinking of wrong motives. Your thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane."

33. Let us consider this quote for a moment. In later editions of the Big Book, it was rewritten to read "Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives."

34. In R.A., we believe that this was changed because they did not want people to think that they should have to clear their own thinking of wrong motives. This paragraph tells us to ask God to direct our thinking. The reworded quote makes it clear that it is also up to Him to clear our thinking of wrong motives.

35. Asking is a vital part of the Tenth and Eleventh Step. The pioneers used the word "ask" and its variations twelve times on pages 38 and 39 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.

36. There are many different types of prayers and there are many varieties of meditation. However, in the context of the Eleventh Step, prayer has been described as asking, and meditation as listening.

37. The Eleventh Step says, in part, that the pioneers sought through prayer and meditation to improve their conscious contact with God, as they understood Him. In other words, they sought by asking and listening to improve their conscious contact with God.

38. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"When I came into the program, my understanding of spirituality had produced a relationship with God that was basically a monologue. I told God what I wanted, how I wanted it, and when I wanted it. This was how I sought to improve my conscious contact with God.

"As I progressed into my recovery, my focus changed. I read the Eleventh Step and saw that the second half says, 'praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.' "

"My relationship with God then changed. It was still a monologue, but now in the other direction, with God in charge. I threw back my arms and said, 'God, Thy will, not mine, be done.' "

"Then I read these pages from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. I saw that the basis of the Eleventh Step is not a monologue, but a dialogue, a dialogue between my Higher Power and me. I saw that the Eleventh Step consists of my asking God for guidance, then listening for the answer, then trying to act on that answer, and then throwing the responsibility for the result upon God."

39. Please note the explicit instructions in the next paragraph. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 39, in the sixth paragraph, the pioneers continue by saying:

"In thinking through your day you may face indecision. You may not be able to determine which course to take. Here you ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. Relax and take it easy. Don't struggle. Ask God's help. You will be surprised how the right answers come after you have practiced a few days. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration becomes a working part of your mind. Being still inexperienced and just making your contact with God, it is not probable that you are going to be divinely inspired all the time. That would be a large piece of conceit, for which you might pay in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless you will find that your thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration and guidance. You will come to rely upon it. This is not weird or silly. Most psychologists pronounce these methods sound."

40. Note the sentence, "Ask God's help." It is at the end of the third line in this paragraph in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It is not in the current Big Book. Perhaps they took it out because of the following passage.

41. In the 12 & 12, on page 75, in the fourth line of the second paragraph, it says, "We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency. The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate. Many of us who had thought ourselves religious awoke to the limitations of this attitude. Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help. But now the words 'Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works' began to carry great promise and meaning."

42. Back in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 39, in the sixth paragraph that we just read, please note that the pioneers say, "You will be surprised how the right answers come after you have practiced a few days. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration becomes a working part of your mind."

43. They say, "...practiced a few days," not "weeks, months, or years."

44. In the sixth paragraph, the pioneers continue by saying, "Being still inexperienced and just making your contact with God, it is not probable that you are going to be divinely inspired all the time. That would be a large piece of conceit, for which you might pay in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless you will find that your thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration and guidance. You will come to rely upon it. This is not weird or silly. Most psychologists pronounce these methods sound."

45. One of the great, historical resources we use within Recoveries Anonymous is, "Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers." On page 54, it says that before they had the Twelve Steps, "At the core of the program were the 'four absolutes.' " Dr. Bob said, "Almost always, if I measure my decision carefully by the yardsticks of absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute purity, and absolute love, and it checks up pretty well with those four, then my answer can't be very far out of the way.'"

46. Today, many people find the Absolutes to be unrealistic. However, R.A. has a suggestion that works just as well for most of us. We ask a very simple question, "What would a sane-recovered person do?"

47. For example, when a situation comes up, and you do not see which course to take, consider the possibilities. Then, for each posibility you can simply ask: "Is this what a sane-recovered person would do in this situation?"

48. If the answer is yes, then we suggest that you do whatever is in question with a clear conscience. If the answer is no, then we suggest that you pray that you not do whatever is in question, and then that you try, by God's grace, to not do it.

49. We suggest that you continue to do this no matter how many times it may seem not to work. Experience shows that, as it says on page 39 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, "you will find that your thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration and guidance. You will come to rely upon it."

50. We are now going to read he next paragraph in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. On page 39, in the seventh paragraph, it says:

"You might conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that you be shown all through the day what your next step is to be, that He give you whatever you need to take care of every situation. Ask especially for freedom from self-will. Be careful to make no request for yourself only. You may ask for yourself, however, if others will be helped. Never pray for your own selfish ends. People waste a lot of time doing that, and it doesn't work. You can easily see why."

51. As we shared before, there are many different kinds of meditation. However, the pioneers have now defined what they mean by this term in the paragraphs we have been reading.

52. Now they give some definite and valuable suggestions that tell us what they mean by prayer.

53. They tell you to pray, "that you be shown all through the day what your next step is to be, that He give you whatever you need to take care of every situation."

54. This is saying to pray about every situation that might come up during the day. It says to ask God to give you whatever you need in every situation, not just in some situations.

55. This paragraph continues with a specific direction. It says, "Ask especially for freedom from self-will."

56. One of R.A.'s members shares:

"I choose to presume that God is all-powerful. Since I ask Him for freedom from my self-will, I also choose to presume that God, as I understand Him, will remove my self-will. A problem sometimes arises when God has me do things I wish I had not done. However, my energy then goes into accepting and trusting what I choose to presume is God's will. I believe that if something should be different, it would be different.

"I choose to presume that Dr. Bob did not lie in the last line of his story. Based on his years of experience he wrote, 'Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!' "

57. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 39 in the seventh paragraph, the next sentence is also a specific direction. It says, "Be careful to make no request for yourself only."

58. This sentence confuses many people. They think that they cannot make any request for themselves at all. However, that is not what it means. The rest of this paragraph says, "You may ask for yourself, however, if others will be helped. Never pray for your own selfish ends. People waste a lot of time doing that, and it doesn't work. You can easily see why."

59. In a God-centered program, self-centered prayer is not going to work. But it does say that we can ask for ourselves if others will also be helped.

60. Many people will testify that praying, "God, I don't want to drink today, because I don't want to get drunk, and it's not good for me—give me the power to not get drunk today," doesn't work.

61. On the other hand, praying, "God, if it be Thy will, I'd like to not get drunk today, so that I can bear witness to those I would help, of Thy power, Thy love, and Thy way of life," when done in concert with working the rest of the program, does produce results.

62. At this point, some people raise a question of motive. They are afraid of being a hypocrite. They say, "I'm praying not to drink because I don't want to get drunk." And in many cases this is true. But the reality is that in most cases other people will benefit, and thus there's no hypocrisy involved. They're being factual.

63. As long as we're willing to accept that His answer may be "no," we can ask God for anything. We can always ask Him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves as long as others will be helped. This is true even if we will also benefit.

64. We can ask God for a solution to a specific problem. We cannot, however, ask for a specific solution to a specific problem.

65. In the first instance, we are saying "Thy will, not mine, be done." We are willing to accept whatever solution God provides to that problem. We are not putting a limitation on how God could resolve that problem. Frequently we find that He resolves these problems in ways we would never have thought of.

66. On the other hand, if we demand that God resolve a problem in a specific way, our way, we're placing a limit on God. And should God choose to not resolve the problem just the way we want, we frequently say that God's not there. We forget that God does not have to follow our good orderly directions.

67. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 39, continuing with the bottom paragraph, it says:

"If circumstances warrant, ask your wife or a friend to join you in morning meditation. If you belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, be sure to attend to that also. If you are not a member of a religious body, you might select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. If you do not know of any, ask your priest, minister, or rabbi, for suggestions. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer."

68. Again, notice the connection, how the period of meditation is all tied up in a neat package.

69. Yet many people in other programs were confused about when and how to do the daily quiet time.

70. We believe that this was caused by the last minute changes that were made to the text of the Big Book.

71. Let's look at the first sentences of the paragraphs we have just read from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, "When you awake tomorrow morning, look back over the day before." The next paragraph begins, "Next, think about the twenty-four hours ahead." The next paragraph begins, "In thinking through your day you may face indecision." Then, the next paragraph begins, "You might conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that you be shown all through the day what your next step is to be, that He give you whatever you need to take care of every situation."

72. This makes it clear that the pioneers originally worked a daily quiet time that started when they awoke in the morning, and went on for a relatively brief period of time.

73. However, let us look at the first sentence from each of these same paragraphs in the current Big Book.

74. On page 86, in the first full paragraph, the first sentence says that, "When we retire at night, we constructively review our day." The next paragraph begins, "On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead." The next paragraph says, "In thinking about our day we may face indecision." On page 87, the next paragraph starts out by saying, "We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be,"

75. The current version of the Big Book makes it sound as though the period of meditation starts when we retired at night, and then continues through the middle of the next day. Most people would find having such a period of meditation to be an impossible task. No wonder many people were confused.

76. Please notice the "clear-cut directions" in this next paragraph that tell us what to do as we go through the day. They are followed by the "Eleventh Step Promises."

77. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 40, in the first paragraph it says:

"As you go through the day, pause when agitated or doubtful. Be still and ask for the right thought or action. It will come. Remind yourself you are no longer running the show. Humbly say to yourself many times each day 'Thy will be done.' You will be in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. You will become much more efficient. You will not tire easily, for you will not be burning up energy foolishly as you did when trying to arrange life to suit yourself."

78. Once again, please note that these are explicit directions for living a spiritual life. We recommend that you read these pages from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, or from R.A.'s Newcomer Guide, on a daily basis until you become familiar with them. We also recommend that you recognize these are "clear-cut directions" and that you try to use them as you are reading them. That is how to work the Tenth and Eleventh Steps.

79. It's really that simple. These are the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." These are the "definite and valuable suggestions" that they make for working these steps.

80. R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 40, continues by saying:

"It works—it really does. Try it.

"We alcoholics are undisciplined. So let God discipline you in the simple way we have just outlined."

81. It does not say that we should discipline ourselves—it tells us to let God discipline us by following the directions we have read on the preceding pages.

82. Finally it says:

"But this is not all. There is action and more action. 'Faith without works is dead.' What works? We shall treat them in the next chapter which is entirely devoted to step twelve."

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