Saturday, July 9, 2016

The World of Separateness, Death and of Being Right

Following an AA meeting several months ago, a good friend in the Program 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?”
I told my friend there is a huge difference between being spiritual and being religious. Being religious is all about believing in the rituals, practices, cognitive beliefs, and the magical words of the Bible – or the Quran or the Tanakh. Because my friend regularly attends a Big Book meeting, I went on to provide my friend with an analogy.
“You’ve been to Big Book meetings before, haven’t you?”
“It’s as if,” I commented, “we had a group of non-AA folks stand outside the 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. These watchers might 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, How the Bible became the Bible. We read the Bible not to intellectually dissect the words of the author – as if the words are something super-natural. 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 as to 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.
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states that to communicate these kinds of experiences is simply beyond words. That’s why I love the introduction to the Course:
This is a course in miracles. It is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time. The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks [my egoic perceptions] to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance. The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.
This course can therefore be summed up very simply in this way: Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.
ACIM is a course in “undoing” and removing my ego thought-system of duality. It’s a course in mind training. Collectively, we are the Son of God, and when the Holy Spirit changes our perception, we can live in a community of love and acceptance. To live in the womb of an accepting community will transform each of us. This is what AA has done for me. A place, wherever I find a meeting, that allows me to be just as I am – honestly. It is a place where I am accepted. [Being accepted is a more meaningful synonym for love for me.]  AA’s Program is not about memorizing the words or stories of the Big Book. It is to work the Twelve Steps in absolute honesty. It is to turn my life and will over to the care of God, as I understand God, by working Steps 4-12 for the rest of my life.  Doing this, I underwent a spiritual transformation. To quote the Big Book – or to memorize and quote the Bible – is to remain in my ego thought-system of duality, sin and separateness, both from others and from God.
When I drank I was in that 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. I want, now, to be happy and peaceful, not right. Perhaps that’s why so many fundamentalist Christians (or Moslems or Jews) seem always to be so angry, resentful, irritated and frustrated.

#2 Jul 2016

Copyright 2016

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