Sunday, July 1, 2012

Part 1 - The World of Separateness, Death and of Being Right

When I drank I was in a world of separateness and it was a world of death. When I fall back into my ego thought-system of the “rightness” of my perceived sense of reality, I fall back into that same world of death. Now, I want to be happy and peaceful, not right.
Following an AA meeting this week a good friend and my personal co-sponsor asked me to stay a bit. He told me one of the people he was currently sponsoring just went back out and resumed his drinking. He went on to tell me how difficult it was to communicate with his sponsee.
“He says he’s very spiritual and quotes Bible verses to me all the time. He says he prays to Jesus a lot in addition to reading the Bible, and so he believes he’s very spiritual. I have tried to explain to him that if he’s developed a true spirituality in the AA Program, the desire to drink will be lifted. What do I do, Don?”
I told my friend there is a huge difference between being spiritual and being religious. Being religious is believing in the rituals, practices, cognitive beliefs, and the magical words of the Bible – or the Quran or the Tanakh. I went on to provide my friend with an analogy.
“It’s as if,” I commented, “we had a group of non-AA folks stand outside this room and observe our Big Book meeting. What would they see? They’d watch each of us read a paragraph of one of the stories of recovery in the Big Book  (Alcoholics Anonymous, AA World Service) and then go back around the table offering some comments. They’d go on, perhaps, and conclude: ‘Hey, we could do that. We could get some friends together and read a story and make comments on what the story talked about. That way we won’t become alcoholics.’ We both know that wouldn’t work, don’t we?”
“It’s not what we do.”
“That’s right. It’s not what we do. When we are commenting on the stories, we are not making observations about what the story-teller said. We are commenting about the similarities of our own experiences with the experiences of the writer. As each of us tell our very unique story, triggered by the story in the Big Book, we all understand that, as unique as each of our stories is, they are all the same story. We are not sharing our ideas about the words of the story-teller. We are simply sharing our unique version of the same story. All of our stories are unique, but all of our stories say the same thing.
“This is what I tried to deal with in my book. We read the Bible not to intellectually dissect the words of the author – as if they are something magical. We read the words of the author and find ourselves understanding the experience the author was writing about. We, too, have had that experience and, although we might express it uniquely and differently (because of our different culture, mores, values, and timeframe), it is the same story. We do not read from a letter written by the Apostle Paul to cogitate over his wording. We read one of his letters to understand the marvelous mystery that he had experienced and was now wrestling with how to express that reality in words. We would comment on the marvelous mysteries we’ve experienced, and usually we would find it equally difficult to express in words.
Continued in Part 2 

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