Sunday, May 24, 2009


Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness. It is truly awful to admit that we have warped our minds into such an obsession for destruction that only an act of Providence can remove that destruction from us.
No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. One this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete.
But upon entering this lifestyle we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.
We know that little good can come to any of us unless he has first accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until he so humbles himself, his life-if any-will be precarious. Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyone doubt by an imense experience, this is one of the facts of life. The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our lifes can spring and flower.
When we first challenged to admit defeat, most of us revolted. We had approached life expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as life is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability. Our friends declared that we were the victims of an idea or concept so subtly powerful that no amout of human willpower could break it. There was, they said, no such thing as the personal conquest of this compulsion by the unaided will. Relentlessly deepening our dilemma.
Since pioneering time, none but the most desperate cases could swallow and digest this unpalatable trueth. Even these "last-gaspers" often had difficulty in realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did, and when these laid hold of spiritual principles with all the fervor with which the drowning sieze life preservers, they almost invariably got well.
Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have become unmanageable, how could poeple take this Step?
It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the point where it would hit them. By going back in our lives, we could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our lives even then were were no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression. The the doubters we could say, "Perhaps you don't have a problem after all. Why don't you try some more self-control, bearing in mind meanwhile what we have told you about life?" This attitude brought immediate and practical results. It was then discovered that when one had planted in the mind of another the true nature of his malady, that person could never be the same again. Following each time, "Maybe they were right..." After a few such experiences, often years before the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return, convinced. He had hit bottom as truly as any of us. Pain had become our best advocate.
Why all this insistence that everyone must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice these principles unless they have hit bottom. For practicing these principles means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost noone who is still suffering can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and enerty in trying to carry this message to the next sufferer? No, the average person, self-centered in teh extreme, doesn't care for this prospect--unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive and happy himself.
Under the lash of life, we are driving to these principles and there we discover the true nature of our situation. Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be. We stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless pain from us.
--Adapted from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions pages 21-24

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