Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You.
My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater, and leader of this workshop.
Those of you who have missed my previous shares and assignments can read them on the website: http://www.therecoverygroup.org/wts/2006/2006-01q1.html
In this share we are going to deal with the solution. Part of the fourth assignment dealt with the solution and prepared us for this discussion.
Let me begin by a quote.
"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to have 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? Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself who will solve your problem..."
I don't have the power to recover from my three fold addiction illness and other people also don't have the power to make me recover. What the Big Book says here is quite simple. I can't make myself recover. And neither can the fellowship or my sponsor or the meetings or TRG. No human power of any kind can make me recover. So why do I need them? I need them to remind me and show me that I have to find a Power greater than myself and that it is not human power.
This means that the Power is incorporeal or spiritual. The Big Book has all kinds of different names for this power:
A Power greater than myself, Spirit of the universe, God, Higher Power (H.P), Creative Intelligence, God as we understand Him, (GOMU-God Of My Understanding), Great Reality, Creator. This means that it does not matter what name we use. They all actually mean the same thing. 'A Power greater than ourselves by which we can live', and that this Power is not human power.
I will use the names God and H.P interchangeably.
Does it matter what kind of concept I have of this power if at all? The Big Book says that it does not. I can choose any concept that I want as long as it is not a human Power and as long as I can live by this Power.
This means that essentially all concepts are acceptable in this program. This ability to choose my own concept of God makes it a spiritual program rather than a religious one. Every religion is based on spiritual principles, therefore every religious person of any religion can benefit from this program, and persons who are not religious can benefit from this program.
Anyone can, since what our program does is connect us consciously to God if we are not connected, and improve our conscious contact if we are connected.
Conscious contact is not something that can be explained by our logic or our mind. Conscious contact is something we experience individually in our innermost being. And that is what the program does for us. When we experience it we change and recover from our illness. But it is more than just recovery from our illness. It is a sense of inner Power that makes us happy joyous and free of our enslavement to our obsessions and negative feelings and actions.
Do we become perfect? NO. This is a program of progress not perfection and becoming joyous happy and free is a process not an event. It is a process that needs to be worked on all our life. There is no standing still on the spiritual path.
This conscious contact needs constant care.
Our disease is also progressive on all three aspects so if we stop progressing our recovery is eventually destroyed.
It is like a child on the beach digging a hole in the sand where the waves are filling it with water and sand. He has to keep on digging to keep the hole from filling up with sand. When it is a physical endeavor for a lifetime it is very frustrating and discouraging.
When it is a spiritual endeavor it is satisfying and fulfilling with peace and serenity and with the presence of God.
My concept of God may be anything that fits me. It can be a religious one and it can be a personal one. All relations I have in the physical world can be turned to God:
God the father, God the mother, God the friend, God the teacher, God the lover, God the Guide etc. It can also be general concepts like God is Love, God is Truth, and God is Beauty.
I can also have a number of concepts or change from one to another. It does not matter in a spiritual program. It also does not matter if my concept seems ridicules or inadequate to others. To tell you the truth I think that any concept I have of God is in a way inadequate since God is beyond my mind's concepts. God is infinite Power therefore every concept I have is not a description of God or an understanding of God. It is just a way to get me to realize and experience this God in am intimate way that affects my life. That is what is important here.
This is similar to the story about the five blind men and the elephant. Each of them got a concept of the elephant by touching a part of him. One touched the tail and said that the elephant was like a small string. Another touched the trunk and said that the elephant was a big flexible hose. Another touched a leg and said that the elephant was a pillar. Another touched the belly and said that the elephant was a big barrel. I don't dare tell you what the fifth man touched.
Anyway, everyone was sure that his concept of the elephant was the right one and they started to quarrel because of their different concepts.
The situation is similar with our concepts of God. As humans we cannot really grasp God. But the beauty of it is that it does not matter. Any concept will work for us as long as it is our concept, and it will open us up to experiencing God in a way we never did before. There is no need or use in debating over it.
The Big Book also calls this Power, 'God as we understand him'. This does not mean that we really understand God. It just means that any understanding that we have is sufficient to open us by way of the steps to experience God. So how do we find this Power? It is enough to begin by being willing to believe in a Power greater than ourselves. This opens us up to do the work, and get results, and begin to experience this Power.
We begin by believing in this Power which means that we are ready to accept the possibility that this powers exists.
We do not have to begin with faith, which is confidence reliance and trust. In this program faith is something that is developed in us when we work the steps and begin to experience the conscious contact with God.
Here is an illustration.
My refrigerator stopped working I didn't know how to repair it myself. So I found someone who advertises in the yellow pages. I asked him to come over and repair my refrigerator. I believed that he could do it. That was why I called him.
Did I have faith in him or his work? No, since I didn't know him and was not really sure that he could do the job. But I was willing to give it a try. This is belief.
The repair man came and found out what was wrong. He repaired the refrigerator to my satisfaction.
The next time I call him to repair something I will have faith in him, since now that I know the man and experienced the results of his work, I have confidence in him and trust him to do a good job.
Working step two begins with willingness to believe and ends with internalizing the idea that God can and will solve my problem if I seek him via the working of the steps.
The steps are the answer to how to find this Power.
The Big Book also answers as to where to find this Power.
"We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He can be found."
So we make contact with this Power deep down within us. We don't have to join any organization or rely on others, or travel to far lands. We find the connection deep down inside us in our inner being.
This tells us where to focus our efforts. Our understanding and faith comes with the developing experience of God as we work the steps.
The most difficult part in working step two is the willingness to believe, which is the way we have to begin working step two. This is because of prejudice and preconceived ideas that we take with us when we come into the program.
This is also why we practice saying the Set Aside prayer, to open our mind to new ideas and beliefs.
Some of us are agnostics. We may accept the idea of God but we live our life as if God does not exist. Not on a personal level.
We are not personally directed by God or experience his presence within us. We turn to Him to blame Him for our misfortunes, and by praying give God directions. And tell him what to do as if we are God and He is our servant. God do this for me, God do that for me and so on. Sounds familiar?
Prayers in this program are entirely different. We don't tell God what to do. We ask him what he wants us to do. And by working the program we are directed and guided.
I want to explain here the sentence "thine will not mine be done". Our will is important. We cannot live in this world without a will, But our will especially as addicts can also destroy us. We don't see the whole picture of reality around us. Furthermore, what we see is usually a twisted delusional picture of reality. So if we act out on our will without guidance we usually harm ourselves. This harm does not necessarily have to manifest in the outside world. We may have a good job and a nice family etc... But in our inside world we suffer and have a lot of pain, fears, depression, self pity, and resentments etc. When we are guided by the Power that is infinite and not limited like us, a Power that sees the whole picture and not just a small part of it, and we align our will with God's will, then our actions bring us peace and serenity in our inner world and drive us on the path of recovery.
Some of us are atheists and say that there is no such thing as God. That there is no such Power.
To those I say. Even if what you say is true and we believe in something that does not exist, and try therefore to be guided by blind chance. It is still better than to be guided by our self will alone. Our self will drives us to destroy ourselves with our addiction. Most of our decisions and actions lead us into trouble, be it internal or external. Stepping aside and letting blind chance guide us gives us a 50% chance of making the right decisions, and taking the right actions, which is a lot better than we do by our self will. And what if as an atheist I am wrong and there is such a Power?
If I follow His guidance, am I not 100% better off than before. So why not give it a chance?
That is all that is asked by asking to be willing to believe.
The real convincers are two:
One is that we don't have any other solution. Since human power does not solve our problem.
So if we don't try this solution there is no hope for us and we are doomed.
The second convincer is found in the fellowship and that is one of the reasons for going to meetings and participating in loops. We meet and see people who have the same problem we do and we see those of us who embrace the God solution. We see the evidence of what it does to them and how their life has changed. We can identify with their problem, and the change in them is a great convincer to embrace the God solution.
What recovered people say to us is written in the Big Book. They say that:
"The consciousness of the presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives."
When we internalize step two we come to believe that God can and will solve our problem if we seek him via the twelve steps.
Now let us write step two.
"CAME TO BELIEVE THAT A POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES COULD RESTORE US TO SANITY"
The insanity is the insanity of our obsession for food, and it is the insanity of not being able to see the truth of the reality around us, because of our twisted perceptions of it that make us lives in a world of delusion.
In step two we have to come to believe that such a Power exists and that it can restore us to sanity. Which means making our mind whole again on a daily basis, and removing our obsession. And making us see the truth and act on it.
Truth is one of the concepts of God. Therefore it also means restoring our conscious contact with God.
I believe that every one is born with this conscious contact, that internal guidance, whether he is aware of it or not. We addicts blocked this contact by our twisted reaction to the world around us. Working the program removes those blocks and keeps our conscious contact open and growing one day at a time.
There are a lot of religious people in this program. This program is based on spiritual principles that are also part of the basis of all religions. Therefore everyone can participate in our program, and benefit from this program no matter what religion he belongs to or if he belongs to none.
The religious people who join the programs found out that being religious does not make them recover from their addiction, but working the steps does. And it enhances their religion and faith in God. So what is the magic here?
The magic comes in two parts:
Identification with the common problem, and applying a common solution that actively removes on a daily basis the things that block our conscious contact with God.
Action through the work of the steps is the key.
The Big Book writes many times "faith without works is dead"
Words don't do it. Action does. This is an action program.
. Why is the chapter that is devoted to the solution called "We Agnostics" and not "We who were Agnostics?
I think the answer is simple. We are not perfect and we are not saints. That is why we need the daily steps 10-12. Any area of our life in which we have fears or resentments or any other character defects is an area in which we are still agnostics and rely on self will and not on God's will. Those are the areas we have to deal with every day of our life.
As we go trough life there will always be some area in which our character defects arise, since we return to rely on self will. Which means that we return to agnosticism.
Those agnostic areas which are also a manifestation of our spiritual disease have to be treated by working the steps on a daily basis. Otherwise we will return to our obsession and then relapse into eating our triggers and bingeing.
So we can see now our current connection to step one via step two. Even when we are clean and abstinent and in recovery.
There is a sentence in chapter 'We Agnostics' that is called the second step proposition:
"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?"
To me this means that I can't say I want to by guided and directed with my food problems but the rest I can manage myself, thank you very much. We cannot separate ourselves into different non interactive parts. This is a package deal.
If we don't let God into all areas and aspects of our life, our recovery is not complete and we are in danger of returning to be slaves of our illness.
But we are not perfect therefore our recovery is never a finished process. We have to be aware of it and work all twelve steps on a daily basis in order to continue to stay in recovery and progress on the recovery path.
Enough for now
1. Read again the chapter WE AGNOSTICS.
Repeat part 1 of assignment four that deals with the bedevilments. Now examine every aspect of your life in search for the manifestations of agnosticism.
Which is essentially the same as the manifestations of the spiritual illness.
We are in danger of losing our connection with step two since we can say. 'Of course I believe that God can restore me to sanity'. We have to remember that not words but the evidence of our life and our actions is what really counts. We have to look at step two from the point of view of where am I still agnostic? And do I really believe that God can and will advance me from my current agnosticism to a different place, or do I rely on myself to do that.
The manifestations of the agnosticism are our current connection to step one, since they connect us to the second part of step one which may bring us back to the return of the obsession and to eating our triggers and bingeing.
Discuss your current agnosticism with your sponsor and decide with him on the actions you have to take to remedy the situation. Share with us.
Understand that the areas where we are agnostic are the areas we will have to deal with in this program. And we have to come to believe that God can restore our sanity. Discuss your areas of agnosticism with your sponsor and share with us. Commit again to work all twelve steps in order to recover.
2. What does the second step proposition "either God is everything or else He is nothing" mean to you?
Are you willing to apply it? and how?
3. What concept of God did you bring with you when you joined program and what is it now?
4. Try the following. Write what kind of God you would like to have? Are you aware that you can have it? Since any concept of God that you accept as your own is enough to begin working this program and getting results.
Share with us.
5. Have you internalized and are you convinced of the following idea (page 60)?
(c) That God could (solve my problem) and would if He were sought. Have you also internalized step two: "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity?" What does the word sanity in this step mean to you? Share with us
If you are convinced of ideas (a) (b) and (c) on page 60 you are ready for step three. Share with us.
If you are not convinced, then read the Big Book again up to page 62. Read all my shares, do all the assignments again, and discuss matters with your sponsor. Share with us.
We cannot continue to step three before we are convinced of those three ideas.
IS THIS A CONVINCER?
Share with us.
6. What are the sentences in WE AGNOSTICS that gave you new information? What are the sentences, if any, that convinced you to embrace the solution?
Share with us.
7. Do you have a sponsor if not, then tell us why. AND GET A SPONSOR IMMEDIATELY FROM THE WTS SPONSOR LIST. Share with us.
8. Developing our conscious contact with God leads us to have a "Spiritual Awakening' that is the change that makes us recover. This change is also a process
We are promised in step twelve that THE (THE ONLY) result of working the steps is having a spiritual awakening.
Read the following pages and copy the sentences that describe this Spiritual Awakening. Share with us.
Page 27, and 569-570 (Third edition), 567-568 (Fourth edition).
If as an OLD-TIMER you experienced and are experiencing it please share with us.
NEWCOMERS share with us what effect does the description of Spiritual Awakening have on you.
Again I invite you to ask me questions. Anything that is not clear to you about my explanations, about the assignments, maybe you would like me to enlarge on some point, or to mention points that I have not dealt with. Anything at all that is connected to our 12 step workshop. There are no stupid or trivial questions. Every question is important to our understanding of what we do, in order to do it properly. I am aware that not everything I write is clear or sufficient, and the questions will enhance our understanding and therefore are very important. When you ask questions write them in a separate e-mail to the loop. In the subject space write QUESTIONS TO THE LEADER.
Wishing us all a life full of recovery
Food addict and compulsive overeater
Questions To The Workshop Leader
I need an answer to the assignment "Now examine every aspect of your life in search for the manifestations of agnosticism. Which is? essentially the same as the manifestations of the spiritual illness."
I do not understand ...how do I find manifestations of agnosticism Does this mean...places in my life where I do not rely on God
When you go over the bedevilments you search for all the areas in your life that are troublesome; relations, negative feelings, and character defects. All those are manifestations of the spiritual illness. At the same time they are also manifestations of agnosticism, since our problems build up when we rely on our self will, and disappear when we rely on God and act under his care and direction. So all our troubles are of our own making. They are the result of our agnosticism. The agnosticism gives rise to the spiritual illness.
The Twelve Steps
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