"Understanding the god idea..."The suggestion in step seven is to ask god to remove our shortcomings. Shortcomings, character defects, old ideas, negative aspects in ones nature: they're all different names for the same thing. These aspects form the most notorious traits in what we refer to here as our nature. These negative aspects are the causes to actions by which we develop unwanted consequences and conditions. How does asking a higher power, or a power greater than oneself, work as a remedy for this?
Does it work at all? I did it because it was the next suggested step. I had, after all, made a decision to give the program of alcoholics anonymous a chance. Step two says that we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Notice that it doesn't say would? It says could. I've never personally seen anyone go into a room, ask to have their resentments, pain and sexual troubles removed from their lives and come out cured. I have witnessed no magical "poofing". No instantaneous long lasting transformations.
I have seen people not drink. Some are still sober which allows them every opportunity to live and grow. Most of the people I know still get resentments. They may not be as acute or last as long but they still get them. Most of the people I know still suffer fear of financial insecurity and get involved in frustrating sexual escapades. So what happens? We go through our resentment list. We look at our list of fears. We see that what we are looking at, is our product.
If we were a manufacturing company, this list would be our list of products. I was told that it was because of my nature that I was producing these things. This nature dictates that I see the world through my individual filters. What does that mean? Let's say I have a fear of financial loss, I have reacted to the lack of money in accord with my natures ideas about safety and security. Maybe I'm driven to work like a fiend to ward off a perceived state of destitution. I might horde paper money as if it were a protective shield. In accord with my resentments I look at everyone as potential givers of pain or happiness. They can make me suffer, and probably will, but I need them.
You might think that you don't look at people like that and that you know money isn't everything. If it's reflected on the list we're living in accord with the list. That list is the result of our character defects. At this step in the process we're attempting to be rid of that which may interfere with our recovery. To know what needs to go, it's only necessary to go by the list. Whatever the list says, that's what we deal with. We are ask to decide if we want to hang on to this stuff. Yes? No?
If No, we are urged to become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. So now we're back to the god thing. According to the basic text, or the Big Book, we're on Step six until we become entirely ready? What if I never become entirely ready. How would I know if and when I was? Is that it? It's over? I can only tell you how I did it. I went back and reviewed Step Two. Did I believe that god could restore me to sanity? Let's put it this way: if there was a God then he probably could. That didn't mean, he would, but he probably could. The problem I foresaw with this was even if there was a God, there was also a me. But in the end I was faced with a choice. To try and do what the steps suggested, or to sit and spin. The deal was I was entirely ready for these things to be gone. So I was pretty much over that hump. Didn't matter if I believed in God. Nobody asked me.
The Twelve Steps (Listen Now)
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. 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.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
So what happens when people ask a higher power to remove these things? One thing happens for sure: a degree of honesty, open mindedness and willingness is exercised. In admitting the need for help a person has practiced some degree of honest appraisal. Then the honest admission that if he could do it on his own it would have been done already. We have practiced open mindedness to a new idea. That followed by the willingness to do something has a profound effect on people. It may not last but the window of opportunity is extended and progress can be made. So is it god or is it principles? Personally I don't think there is a difference.
I don't have a god from any religious doctrine. I don't have a doctrine. To me god is a name for something. I don't have a description of that something so I can't tell you anything about it. The best I can do is say that I don't agree with the most popularized concepts. How that plays out, in my relationships with people, like between me and you, is that I can't tell you, "god wants to help you". I can say that all the help you'll ever need is available. I also think that if there was one topic that needs an influx of data it's this one. No matter what you believe it's extremely hard to miss the fact that religion and religious people have done too much damage to the psychology of our planet. If wee adopt this method: learning as much as we can about life, we'll have to get comfortable not knowing - a lot. I find not knowing anything possibly the most productive force at hand. Getting stuck, on any belief, is non productive whether it's politics, religion or science.
So I defined my best idea of God, as of that moment, on a piece of paper and asked it to remove my character defects.
A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Max PlanckThat line in the book about trudging the road to happy destiny is very important. Trudging is defined as walking with purpose. The key is the road: being happy on the road. Its like the pursuit of happiness, we're not insured happiness as a right, just the right to pursue happiness. Lots of folks in recovery bemoan, from time to time, that they don't seem to be getting anywhere. Where should they be? When the idea that we should be somewhere or be something causes problems its time to examine those ideas. I could also say it's time to get to know life and what's going on. I can tie up the, I don't seem to be getting "what I want". (because that's really what's being said), complaint by asking them how they got there. This is one of the least mysterious things about the world in which we live but it seems to have a lot of people completely baffled. This is another reason why it's so important to have good data. If a person has a fair amount of accurate data they will never have to ask that question again.
"The only requirement for a power greater than yourself is that its not you". That is a very familiar quote from a multitude of AA know-it-alls. Problem is it's not factual. It might sound good but its not true. Do we want to be poofed into okay-ness? Is it possible that some being is going to reach down and snatch our defects out of us? Is there any evidence now or ever in history that a magic pill or spell exists that will transform a person? Do you suppose that the reason that AA and all of its off shoots have a low success rate is because most of the people who come in hold fantasies about life that make things unworkable? Can I get to the top of a hill by rolling myself in a ball and hurling myself...up? That is a down hill method isn't it? So it won't work on up hills. What if I ask god to help me and do the same thing again? Will I roll up? Is it going to be the same with those things on my list that I want gone?
If you have an idea of a god that makes you uncomfortable just remember what you now know about ideas. When I got to this step I wrote a paragraph that I used as a higher power. It just said what I thought an acceptable higher power would be and that 'idea' is what I ask for help. I can't remember what I wrote and it doesn't matter. I was practicing a universal cause and the effect/outcome was positive in nature. I can't tell anyone anything about god because I don't know anything. I have gathered a lot of information about religions and mythology and ancient peoples and I have some ideas and I leave it at that. I have a faith in the power of life and its principles. I ask that I be directed to what is best and then I meditate. That is my spiritual practice. I have noticed that people like to describe god to me. Tell me how god works. What is a description? Do we assign descriptions to things that are named? Or do we describe things and then name them? Is it god that's being described or is it the description that's being given a name? We all have a connection to everything in the universe. This is the accepted rule of the hour. No matter what peoples god ideas are they can share common ethical attributes. Love, kindness, gratitude, honesty, hostility, greed....Dependent on a belief? Hardly. So what is cause in these cases? Is it a belief in some description or a belief in our own inner voice? We're all personally responsible for answering that question. When we accept this we truly accept responsibility for ourselves and our lives. Then we are solely in control of our present and future conditions. We are free to do anything and everything we want. It's true that good habits serve us well, while bad habits make servants of us. For me fundamentalism is a bad habit. A bad idea. In our relationship with ideas and thought: it is up to each of us to decide whether we will be served or be servants. You will see everything for yourself.
(something I was looking at) In every corner of the world, there's one question that can never be definitively answered, yet stirs up equal parts passion, curiosity, self-reflection, and often wild imagination: "What is God?"
Filmmaker Peter Rodger explores this profound, age old query in the provocative nonfiction feature film OH MY GOD. Frustrated with religious turmoil, fanaticism, and fundamentalism, he set out on a global quest to understand why the concept of God has become politicized. The result is a stunningly beautiful film featuring inviting faces and personalities who are a touching reminder of the melting pot that we call humanity . . . and the mystery that we have given many names.