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"The Varieties of Religious Experience"

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Varieties of Religious Experience  by William James is the book that Bill read after his spiritual experience at Towns Hospital.  Bill was very intelligent if he "breezed" through this long PhD level book.

The below excerpts are from various talks and articles by and on Bill Wilson, and were compiled by Jim Burwell. They reveal a wealth of the thinking and insight of the co-founder of A.A. concerning the spiritual experience.

19Q - Could you describe your spiritual experience for us and your understanding of what happened?

19A - In December 1934 (12/11/1934), I appeared at Towns Hospital, New York. My oldfriend, Dr. William Silkworth shook his head.  Soon free of my sedation and alcohol I felt horribly depressed.  My friend Ebby turned up and although glad to see him, I shrank a little as I feared evangelism, but nothing of the sort happened.  After some small talk, I again asked him for his neat little formula for recovery.  Quietly and sanely and without the slightest pressure he told me and then he left. (12/14/1934)

Lying there in conflict, I dropped into the blackest depression I had ever known.  Momentarily my prideful depression was crushed.  I cried out, "Now I am ready to do anything - anything to receive what my friend Ebby has." Though I certainly didn't expect anything, I did make this frantic appeal,"If there be a God, will He show Himself!"  The result was instant, electric beyond description.  The place seemed to light up, blinding white. I knew only ecstasy and seemed on a mountain.  A great wind blew, enveloping and penetrating me.  To me, it was not of air but of Spirit.  Blazing, there came the tremendous thought, "You are a free man."  Then the ecstasy subsided.  Still on the bed, I now found myself in a new world of consciousness which was suffused by a Presence.  One with the Universe, a great peace came over me.  I thought, "So this is the God of the preachers, this is the great Reality."  But soon my so-called reason returned, my modern education took over and I thought I must be crazy and I became terribly frightened. (12/14/1934)

Dr. Silkworth, a medical saint if ever there was one, came in to hear my trembling account of this phenomenon.  After questioning me carefully, he assured me that I was not mad and that perhaps I had undergone a psychic experience which might solve my problem.  Skeptical man of science though he then was, this was most kind and astute.  If he had of said, "hallucination,"I might now be dead.  To him I shall ever be eternally grateful.

Good fortune pursued me.  Ebby brought me a book entitled "The Varieties of Religious Experience" and I devoured it. (12/15/1934)  Written by William James, the psychologist, it suggests that the conversion experience can have objective reality.  Conversion does alter motivation and it does semi-automatically enable a person to be and to do the formerly impossible.  Significant it was, that marked conversion experience came mostly to individuals who knew complete defeat in a controlling area of life.  The book certainly showed variety but whether these experiences were bright or dim, cataclysmic or gradual, theological or intellectual in bearing, such conversions did have a common denominator - they did change utterly defeated people.  So declared William James, the father of modern psychology.  The shoe fitted and I have tried to wear it ever since.

For drunks, the obvious answer was deflation at depth, and more of it.  That seemed plain as a pikestaff. I had been trained as an engineer, so the news of this authoritative psychologist meant everything to me.  This eminent scientist of the mind had confirmed everything that Dr. Jung had said, and had extensively documented all he claimed.  Thus William James firmed up the foundation on which I and many others had stood all these years.  I haven't had a drink of alcohol since 1934. (N.Y. Med. Soc. Alcsm., April 28,1958).

Here are two excerpts from the The Varieties of Religious Experience  by William James.

The first explains the Higher Power and truth.   For instance my Higher Power revealed the truth that I am an alcoholic after several people told me that I was an alcoholic.

The second excerpt stands out because it seems to contains the phrase  "Jails, Institutions and Death".


"For one thing, gods are conceived to be first things in the way of being and power. They overarch and envelop, and from them there is no escape. What relates to them is the first and last word in the way of truth. Whatever then were most primal and enveloping and deeply true might at this rate be treated as godlike, and a man's religion might thus be identified with his attitude, whatever it might be, toward what he felt to be the primal truth."  1


"The Christian also spurns the pinched and mumping sick-room attitude, and the lives of saints are full of a kind of callousness to diseased conditions of body which probably no other human records show. But whereas the merely moralistic spurning takes an effort of volition, the Christian spurning is the result of the excitement of a higher kind of emotion, in the presence of which no exertion of volition is required. The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well--morality suffices. But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down, and it inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind. To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe <47> recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is. Well, we are all such helpless failures in the last resort. The sanest and best of us are of one clay with lunatics and prison inmates, and death finally runs the robustest of us down. And whenever we feel this, such a sense of the vanity and provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us that all our morality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can never cure, and all our well-doing as the hollowest substitute for that well-BEING that our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are not.

And here religion comes to our rescue and takes our fate into her hands. There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the floods and waterspouts of God. In this state of mind, what we most dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday. The time for tension in our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be anxious about, has arrived. Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away."   2

Ready, Exercise..  Breath in one.. breath out... Breath in two.. breath out... Breath in three.. breath out...



lecture II  Circumscription of the Topic

1.   p. 35

2.   pp. 46-47

or at:  http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wjames/ch02.html

It's already better.

Whatever's Fair..

Posted on November 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Here are quotes of Paul to the Phillipians in 60 AD before AA.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:  and the God of peace shall be with you." KJV

"Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized."  MSG

Whatever books , versions of books, whatever your belief system, we can all make a firm decision to be happy about our sober life .

Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.  We then can understand, even though life is not always fair, God is fair.  I should do this.  Do what is asked of me, and not do what I want, when I want, because I'm me and "Whatevah, I do what I want !" 

Life must have been less complex in 60 AD before AA.  Be of good cheer.  Don't drink, don't think, go to meetings.

Happy begets Happy , Love begets Love.  Looking forward to the Happy International Tolerance Day on Sunday, November 16th, 2014.    


My counter-culture message of the week.

It's already better.

Experience with AA Online and Other Controversies

Posted on November 8, 2014 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)

These entries were found in the  online AA forum about online AA at http://www.aagrapevine.org/online-sobriety .

"The Traditions of AA also prevent us from enforcement of them. This works no hardship for those sincerely seeking recovery from Alcoholism however.  I personally was gifted with the necessary willingness to go to any lengths to Stop Drinking, and for those who aren't willing to do anything but offer excuses why they cannot attend real AA meetings -- the Internet serves them adequately, making it possible to connect with other habitual slippers to share their misery with. 'Co-miserating' seems to be the common thread in the online formats; 'my dog's grandmother died and I wanna use!' (USE??) I never needed , nor looked for any excuses to drink.  I simply drank. Of course, one needs seek no reason to recover either.  Anonymous


Does anyone else see any irony of this person’s monitoring online meetings and providing an assesment of what’s wrong online, ONLINE?


I do see the irony.... I do see the irony.... Keep getting drunk and you'll see all the ironies in the world.

RepIy 2

just took a look at this the first time and read your hateful post

it says in the forward of the 4th edition big book about on line AA

I was glad to see this

I am a member of an on line women's e mail group for several years

we are not a bunch of slippers that can  not find our rear ends

I have been sober 15 years and get to have friends from all over the country and around the world

we are every active in 12th step work

if I wewr a new comer and read your ramblings I would run out the door

and if you are so down on on line why the heck are you yammering all of your pitiful drible on line??

I have a suggestion

work the steps especially on your defects they are bleeding all over the place!!

AA online

The only requirement for membership in an AA Group is the desire to stop drinking. However this desire is useless unless it is qualified as being 'willing to go to ANY lengths' as far as Sobriety is concerned. 'Membership' alone is never enough. The AA Program involves Action and more action, an ongoing process of recovery. It is a way of life. One may have a pass to a theater seat, but no performance is seen unless they actually go to the Theater and use it.


I don't know how you can say that this desire is useless.

It is the only requirement for membership. It feels to me

like you are telling me that I will never be "good enough"

unless I follow your directions. At least allow me to

enjoy the movie. ANONYMOUS

AA online

I usually go to f2f meetings. But I checked out online and they have the right idea, if it helps one person it is worth it. My only problem is the hellos and goodbyes. After about 30 of each it gets old, especially during an official meeting someone shares and then there are 45 thank you's. They should make it a policy to keep those numbers down and then he said Thank you (kidding).


My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic. That is a statement,

and part of the first step. This custom was never meant

to be a greeting or salutation. This Hi Joe!, and Thanks

for sharing Joe, by the group is chanting. Chanting is a

cult or religious ritual and has no place in AA. The

chanter seems to be saying "look at me, I'm here, too".

But chanting is an automatic response by the group,

and will never stop without a lot of personal work. We

chant without understanding how much it harms A.A. as

a whole. Our public image is vital to our growth and


Chanting started in the Northeast around 1980. One

group member began responding Hi (name) to every member

during the meeting. Within eight years this ritual had

spread through the Northeast.

Whether f2f or at regular meetings, this ritual has

to be stopped. And it can be stopped, but not without

a lot of effort and courage. Future generations of

suffering alcoholics are depending on us. ANONYMOUS.

One disgruntled member has frequently posted diatribes critical of AA’s present form. In one particular rant he made reference to a court ruling which supposedly rule that AA was a religion. Even a casual observer would know that that is not true but our courts have made wackier rulings so I thought I should look it up. Read the ruling carefully: “Though AA itself was not deemed a religion”. stands out.

The rulling from the 9th circuit, pertained to forcing inmates, parolees, and probationers

into AA. This only proves that if you tell the same lie enought times many will begin to believe its true.


United States Court rulings

United States courts have ruled that inmates, parolees, and probationers cannot be ordered to attend AA. Though AA itself was not deemed a religion, it was ruled that it contained enough religious components (variously described in GRIFFIN v. COUGHLIN below as, inter alia, "religion", "religious activity", "religious exercise") to make coerced attendance at AA meetings a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the constitution.  In September 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that a parole office can be sued for ordering a parolee to attend AA."

It's already better.

From "Why It Works"

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Here are some more quotes from Ernest Kurtz who wrote "Why AA works"

Why is fellowship an important component in the A.A. formula?  It is because I can see you in me and you can see me in you.   Why I keep coming back.

"It is a necessary corollary of accepted personal essential limitation that each needs "other", that to be fully human is to need human others. Some existentialist thinkers have found in this realization only tragedy. Sartre lamented that, because one is essentially limited, " to be conscious of another means to be conscious of what one is not" (75, p. 318). But this insight of A.A. reminds that "the other" is also essentially limited, and therefore that to be conscious of that "other" also invites consciousness of what one is (69, p. 271; 70, p. 173). 1

It is a place where I can practice telling the truth , the whole truth and nothing but the truth without being in court.

Despairing of attaining the integrity he craves, the person turns to grasp at its illusion: since he cannot make public his private self, he commands his private self to conform to the public one. This choice beguiles to a loss of truth – not so much "telling" it, but knowing it. "There are some things it is both impossible to do and at the same time to impersonate oneself doing. Speaking truthfully is one of them" (106, pp. 197-198). 1

A.A. members learn deeply, then, the mutuality between honesty with self and honesty with others: the necessity of avoiding self-deception if they are to be honest with others, and at the same time the necessity of honesty with others if they are to avoid self-deception. Living this paradoxical insight, indeed, is one of the most profound yet also most clear messages of A.A. as both fellowship and program. (26, pp. 58, 73-74; 27, pp. 57-59).1

I can remember to humbly ask God to remove my alcoholic shame and gain a little dignity.

Everyone recognizes that shame differs from guilt. The usual understanding of this difference runs as follows: guilt is primarily internal, shame primarily external. Guilt, or self-reproach, is rooted in the internalization of values, notably parental values; shame is based on disapproval coming from outside, from others. Guilt, a failure to live up to one's own picture of oneself (based on parental values), is contrasted with shame, a reaction to actual or feared criticism by other people. Guilt, then, derives from something that one does; shame, from something about oneself that is seen (60, p. 21).1

This understanding of the distinction between shame and guilt thus builds on the concept of boundaries, and specifically of the two kinds of boundaries familiar, for example, to aficionados of American football: side-lines and goal-lines. In this understanding guilt arises from the violation (transgression) of a limiting boundary or side-line; shame occurs when a goal is not reached, is fallen short of. Guilt, thus indicates an "infraction"; shame, a literal "shortcoming" (60, pp. 22, 51; 111, p. 11).1

Each, of course, has special relevance in the case of the alcoholic – one reason why A.A., if it is effective, must be understood as providing healing for shame (39).1

1.Ernest Kurtz, “Why A.A. Works: The Intellectual Significance of Alcoholics Anonymous,” pp. 177-228 of Ernest Kurtz, The Collected Ernie Kurtz, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Treatment and Recovery (New York: Authors Choice, 2008; orig. pub. 1999).

"Nothing" is Bothering Me. Do I Look Bothered?

Posted on November 1, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Nos, nots , nor nothings, in excerpts of Ernest Kurtz's "Why AA Works".

I cannot say what it is that bothers me in the case of dread. In fact, if one were to ask me what bothers me, I would probably say “Nothing.” In saying that I do not mean that I am not bothered at all, but that there is no thing that bothers me. What bothers me is my existence. . . . Heidegger asks quite seriously this question: What is this “nothingness” (Nichts) about which one has such a dreading anxiety? What is the existential meaning of “Nothingness”? (30, pp. 116-117).1

“Not-God” means first “You are not God,” the message of the A.A. program. . . . The fundamental and first message of Alcoholics Anonymous to its members is that they are not infinite, not absolute, not God. Every alcoholic's problem had first been, according to this insight, claiming God-like powers, especially that of control. But the alcoholic at least, the message insists, is not in control, even of himself; and the first step towards recovery from alcoholism must be the admission and acceptance of this fact that is so blatantly obvious to others but so tenaciously denied by the obsessive- compulsive drinker.1

But Alcoholics Anonymous is fellowship as well as program, and thus there is a second side to its message of not- God-ness. Because the alcoholic is not God, not absolute, not infinite, he or she is essentially limited. Yet from this limitation — from the alcoholic's acceptance of personal limitation — arises the beginning of healing and wholeness. . . To be an alcoholic within Alcoholics Anonymous is not only to accept oneself as not God; it implies also affirmation of one's connectedness with other alcoholics. . . . The invitation to make such a connection with others and the awareness of the necessity of doing so arise from the alcoholic's acceptance of limitation. Thus, this second message that affirms limitation is well conveyed by the hyphenated phrase, “not-God.”1

Although alcoholism is conceptualized by A.A. as by others as “disease” or “malady,” the alcoholic does not have alcoholism – he is an “alcoholic.” Therefore he cannot do what others, non- alcoholics, do with joyful impunity: non-obsessively-compulsively drink alcohol. Contained in the term “alcoholic,” then, are the implications of utterly hopeless helplessness and essential personal limitation 17, pp. 22-23, 194-196).1

Anonymity implies, first, others: one cannot be “anonymous” to oneself. Through its own experience, A.A. learned that the necessity of “deflation at depth” and of some experience of “conversion” — as its sources referred to the process — implied something about the alcoholic's human need for others.1

In the A.A. understanding, alcoholism is an obsessive-compulsive malady; the active alcoholic is one who must drink, who cannot not-drink (26, p. 24). Therefore the alcoholic who joins the A.A. fellowship and embraces its program does not thereby surrender her freedom to drink; rather, she gains the freedom to not-drink – no small liberation for one obsessively- compulsively addicted to alcohol. Within A.A., the passage from "mere dryness" to "true sobriety" consists precisely in the change of perception – perspective – by which the A.A. member moves from interpreting his situation as the prohibition, "I cannot drink," to understanding its deeper reality as the joyous affirmation, "I can not- drink."1

I can not-drink. :)

That is a joyous affirmation and "Nothing is bothering me" means: "I don't know what to say to you right now.  Give me a minute."

1.Ernest Kurtz, “Why A.A. Works: The Intellectual Significance of Alcoholics Anonymous,” pp. 177-228 of Ernest Kurtz, The Collected Ernie Kurtz, Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Treatment and Recovery (New York: Authors Choice, 2008; orig. pub. 1999).


Who Wrote TO WIVES?

Posted on October 25, 2014 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Photo: Anne Ripley Smith, Dr Bob’s beloved wife, (Anne Robinson Ripley Smith's 1933-1939 Journal is available.)

There is a chapter in the 1st edition Big Book entitled An Alcoholic's Wife, written by Marie B.

There is uncertainty about who wrote the Big Book chapter To Wives.  Either Bill W. wrote the chapter To Wives and apparently is ghost writing the thoughts of real wives of alcoholics or To Wives may have been written by Marie B. 

People in AA's History credits Marie B. 

"* Marie B. - husband Walter B. Cleveland A.A.; (Akron records state wrote chapter in Big Book To Wives) and story An Alcoholic's Wife, 1st edition Big Book story section."



* Written in 1939, when there were few women in A.A., this chapter assumes that the alcoholic in the home is likely to be the husband. But many of the suggestions given here may be adapted to help the person who lives with a woman alcoholic—whether she is still drinking or is re­covering in A.A.  A further source of help is noted on page 121. 

from: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (The Big Book) The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism - Third Edition - New York, 1976. Chapter 8. Page 104.

*The fellowship of Al-Anon Family Groups was formed about thirteen years after this chapter was written. Though it is entirely separate from Alcoholics Anonymous, it uses the general principles of the A.A. program as a guide for husbands, wives, relatives, friends, and others close to alcoholics. The foregoing pages (though addressed only to wives) indicate the problems such people may face. Alateen, for teen-aged children of alcoholics, is a part of Al-Anon. If there is no Al-Anon listing in your local telephone book, you may obtain further information on Al-Anon/Alateen Family Groups by writing to its World Service Office: 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617.

from: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (The Big Book) The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism - Fourth Edition - New York, 2001. Chapter 8. Page 121.

 When reading this chapter, one would assume that women are represented in the writing:

"We women carry with us a picture of the ideal man, the sort of chap we would like our husbands to be.  It is the most natural thing in the world, once his liquor problem is solved, to feel that he will now measure up to that cherished vision.  The chances are he will not for, like yourself, he is just beginning his development.  Be patient."   p. 118  Big Book

However, reliable sources in AA approved literature credit Bill W. for To Wives.

Chapter Eleven/ PASS IT ON (p. 200)

"Bill wrote at least ten of the opening chapters of the book; there is some reason to believe that To Employers may have been written by Hank.  But there is no doubt about the authorship of To Wives.  Of that chapter, Lois said, "Bill wrote it, and I was mad." She added, "I wasn't so much mad as hurt.  I still don't know why Bill wrote it.  I've never really gotten into it -- why he insisted upon writing it.  I said to him, 'Well, do you want me to write it?' And he said no, he thought it should be in the same style as the rest of the book."

Lois Remembers (pg. 113-14)

"By then I had had my own awakening and realized how much the understanding and loving cooperation of the wife could help the alcoholic in his newfound sobriety.  Earlier Bill and I had been puzzled and disappointed that not all the families continued as happy as it seemed they should be, after the pink-cloud period experienced by many new members had waned.  We had begun to realize how distorted the relationships in families of alcoholics could often be, how important it was for families to understand about alcoholism and to rearrange their own thinking."

"Therefore I had expected Bill to ask me to write the chapter To Wives and perhaps the following one, The Family Afterward. When I shyly suggested this, he said no;  He thought the book, except for the stories, should all be written in the same style.  I have never known why he didn't want me to write about the wives, and it hurt me at first; but our lives were so full that I didn't have time to think about it much".

DR. BOB and The Good Oldtimers (pg. 152)

"In the same letter, [letter from Bill W. to Dr. Bob S., dated June, 1938] Bill suggested that Anne have a chapter in the book to herself.  "My feeling," said Bill, "is that Anne should do the one portraying the wife."  Her modesty--her inclination toward staying in the background--may have been the reason that she did not write it.

Lois did not write the chapter either; she wasn't asked.  When she suggested that she do so, Bill said, "Oh, no. It should be in the same style as the book."

Recently, Lois said, "I've always been hurt by it, and I still don't know why Bill didn't ask me, although I never brought it up again.""

We are not exactly sure who wrote the chapter that came to be called To Wives.  Perhaps it was a group project.

Marie B., the wife of a member from Cleveland did write this personal account for the story section of the first edition:

An Alcoholic's Wife

      I HAVE the misfortune, or I should say the good fortune of being an alcoholic's wife. I say misfortune because of the worry and grief that goes with drinking, and good fortune because we found a new way of living.

      My husband did not drink, to my knowledge, for several years after we were married. Then we started on an occasional Saturday night party. As I drank nothing except an occasional highball I soon became what was called a "wet blanket." The parties became more frequent and more often I was left at home.

      I would sit up and wait for him. As each car passed the house I would return to walking the floor and crying and feeling so sorry for myself, thinking, "Here I am left at home to take care of the baby and him out having a good time."

      When he did return sometimes on Sunday and sometimes a week later, it usually called for a scene. If he was still drunk I would put him to bed and cry some more. If he was sober it would mean I would say all the things I had been thinking and cry some more. He usually got drunk again.

      I finally went to work as the bills worried me. I thought if I worked and got the bills paid he would quit drinking. He had no money in the bank but would write checks as he knew I would pay them for the boy's sake and in the hopes that each time would be the last.    

      I thought I should have a lot of credit, as I was paying his bills, taking care of the house and baby, besides my work, making as much money as he was, doing without things I wanted so he could have a good time.

      I always went to church and thought I was living a Christian life. After my husband came in contact with Alcoholics Anonymous I thought our troubles were over as I was sure all our trouble was his drinking.

      I soon found out that there was a lot wrong with me. I was selfish with my money, time, and thoughts. I was selfish about my time because I was always tired and had no time left for my family's pleasure or to do God's work. All I did was go to Sunday School and Church on Sunday with the boy and thought that was all God wanted me to do. I would be irritable and lose my temper and say all manner of things which usually called for another drunk and me pitying myself all over again.

      Since giving my husband's problem to God I have found a peace and happiness. I know that when I try to take care of the problems of my husband I am a stumbling block as my husband has to take his problems to God the same as I do.

      My husband and I now talk over our problems and trust in a Divine Power. We have now started to live. When we live with God we want for nothing.

Marie B. -Cleveland, Ohio, An Alcoholic's Wife -1st edition Big Book.  p. 378

It's already better.

Mind's Traps

Posted on October 18, 2014 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The  metal trigger plate in the middle of a steel jaw animal trap is called the scandalon.

When I am offended or angered in some way,  am I taking the bait of the offense in the trap that has been set for me?

Let me think this through.

I have been angered or hurt by some situation in my life.  In my pain , I throw caution to the wind and reach for the bait of offense that is placed on the scandalon of the trap set for me.  The moment I touch that bait, the trap snaps shut.  I am caught.

I must be kind, not resentful so that everyone involved also has the sense to stay out of the trap of offense.  I have a choice in this.  I can avoid the negative thinking patterns described below and avoid the traps.

"When you have depression, anxiety or other disorders, you often have patterns of negative thinking. For example, you might automatically believe that you’re “never good enough” when one tiny part of a project doesn’t work out the way you planned. These thoughts can make you feel even more depressed or anxious. The negative thinking patterns listed below are common thinking patterns that can contribute to depression, anxiety and other troubling symptoms.

* All-or-nothing thinking:  You see things in black-or-white categories.  If a situation falls short of perfect you see it as a total failure.

* Overgeneralization:  You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never” when you think about it.

* Mental filter:  You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours a beaker of water.

* Discounting the positive:  You reject positive experiences by insisting that they “don’t count.”  If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn’t good enough or that anyone could have done as well.  Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

* Jumping to conclusions:  You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.

* Mind reading:  Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

* Fortune-telling:  You predict that things will turn out badly.

* Magnification:  You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.  This is also called the “binocular trick.”

* Emotional reasoning:  You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.

* “Should” statements:  You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be.

* Labelling:  Labelling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking.  Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you attach a negative label to yourself.

* Personalization and blame:  Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control."

 Source: BC Partners for Mental Health & Addictions Information, Anxiety Disorders Toolkit

Our A.A. literature tells us how we can avoid alcohol related pitfalls and traps.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions says on p22;  "The tyrant alcohol wielded a double-edged sword over us:  first we were smitten by an insane urge that condemned us to go ondrinking, and then by an allergy of the body that insured we would ultimately destroy ourselves in the process.  Few indeed were those who , so assailed, had ever won through in single handed combat.  It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources."

Our friends and family may be missing in action.  We need God and other alcoholics to survive the traps, the pitfalls and the double edged sword.

Where can we find another alcoholic?

Alcoholics Anonymouse pp. 152-153 says, "You are going to meet these new friends in your own community.  Near you, alcoholics are dying helplessly like people in a sinking ship.  If you live in a large place, there are hundreds. High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Among them you will make lifelong friends.  You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey.  Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life.  You will learn the full meaning of "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

It may seem incredible that these men are to become happy, respected, and useful once more.  How can they rise out of such misery, bad repute and hopelessness?  The practical answer is that since these things have happened among us, they can happen with you.  Should you wish them above all else, and be willing to make use of our experience, we are sure they will come.  The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that!"

Alcoholics Anonymouse p. 60 says, "We decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him.  Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?

The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success."

Let's take the high ground and be better able to see our enemy.

God knows where we are, all the time.  Other alcoholics help us learn to let God deal with that double-edged sword.  Acceptance with kindness are not on the scandalon or the pitfall.

It's already better.

Keep Going

Posted on October 11, 2014 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Never forget why you stopped.

Easy does it.

Don't watch the clock; do what it does.

Keep going.

Sam Levenson

Do the first thing first.

Do the last thing last.

In the middle, keep-a-going.

Ray Ray

Just keep going like crazy and look back when it's over.

Otherwise you just get confused.

Cliff Burton


I learned that life is a long and difficult road,

but you have to keep going, or you'll fall by the wayside.

Steve McQueen

Even if I don't finish, we need others to continue.

It's got to keep going without me.

Terry Fo


Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.

The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

C. S. Lewis

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Mark Twain

Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

You have to learn the rules of the game.

And then you have to play better than anyone else.

Albert Einstein


Well, if you strike a thorn or rose, Keep a-goin'!

And if it hails or if it snows, Keep a-goin'!

Ain't no use to sit an' whine 'Cause the fish ain't on your line

Bait your hook and keep a-tryin'-- Keep a-goin'!


When the weather kills your crop, Keep a-goin'!

Why, it takes work to reach the top, Keep a-goin'!

If the skys look dark and gray Tell the world you'll be OK

And don't forget to pray! Keep a-goin'!


If you're up against the wall, Keep a-goin'!

Swallow hard and just stand tall, Keep a-goin'!

S'pose you're out of any dime, Bein' broke ain't any crime!

It'll all work out in time, Keep a-goin'!

And if the doctor says you're through, Keep a-goin'!

Why he's a human just like you, Keep a-goin'!

Ain't no law says you must die,Wipe them tears from off your eye,

Give ol' life another try -- Keep a-goin'!

Ain't no law says you must die, Wipe them tears from off your eye,

Trust the Good Lord up on high -- He'll help! Keep a-goin'! Keep a-goin'!

Frank Stanton



We died of pneumonia in furnished rooms where they found us three days later when somebody complained about the smell.


We died against bridge abutments and nobody knew if it was suicide and we probably didn't know either except in the sense that it was always suicide.


We died in hospitals, our stomachs huge, distended and there was nothing they could do.


We died in cells, never knowing whether we were guilty or not.


We went to priests, they gave us pledges, they told us to pray, they told us to go and sin no more, but go. We tried and we died.


We died of overdoses, we died in bed (but usually not the Big Bed)


We died in straitjackets, in the DT's seeing God knows what, creeping skittering slithering shuffling things.


And you know what the worst thing was? The worst thing was that nobody ever believed how hard we tried.


We went to doctors and they gave us stuff to take that would make us sick when we drank on the principle of so crazy, it just might work, I guess, or maybe they just shook their heads and sent us to places like Dropkick Murphy's.


And when we got out we were hooked on paraldehyde or maybe we lied to the doctors and they told us not to drink so much, just drink like me. And we tried, and we died.


We drowned in our own vomit or choked on it, our broken jaws wired shut. We died playing Russian roulette and people thought we'd lost, but we knew better.


We died under the hoofs of horses, under the wheels of vehicles, under the knives and boot heels of our brother drunks.


We died in shame.


And you know what was even worse, was that we couldn't believe it ourselves, that we had tried.


We figured we just thought we tried and we died believing that we hadn't tried, believing that we didn't know what it meant to try.


When we were desperate enough or hopeful or deluded or embattled enough to go for help we went to people with letters after their names and prayed that they might have read the right books that had the right words in them, never suspecting the terrifying truth, that the right words, as simple as they were, had not been written yet.


We died falling off girders on high buildings, because of course ironworkers drink, of course they do.


We died with a shotgun in our mouth, or jumping off a bridge, and everybody knew it was suicide.


We died under the Southeast Expressway, with our hands tied behind us and a bullet in the back of our head, because this time the people that we disappointed were the wrong people.


We died in convulsions, or of "insult to the brain", we died incontinent, and in disgrace, abandoned .


If we were women, we died degraded, because women have so much more to live up to.


We tried and we died and nobody cried. And the very worst thing was that for every one of us that died, there were another hundred of us, or another thousand, who wished that we could die, who went to sleep praying we would not have to wake up because what we were enduring was intolerable and we knew in our hearts it wasn't ever gonna change.


One day in a hospital room in New York City, one of us had what the books call a transforming spiritual experience, and he said to himself "I've got it ." (no, you haven't you've only got part of it) " and I have to share it." (now you've ALMOST got it) and he kept trying to give it away, but we couldn't hear it. We tried and we died.


We died of one last cigarette, the comfort of its glowing in the dark. We passed out and the bed caught fire. They said we suffocated before our body burned, they said we never felt a thing , that was the best way maybe that we died, except sometimes we took our family with us.


And the man in New York was so sure he had it, he tried to love us into sobriety, but that didn't work either, love confuses drunks and he tried and we still died.


One after another we got his hopes up and we broke his heart,

Because that's what we do.


And the worst thing was that every time we thought we knew what the worst thing was something happened that was worse.


Until a day came in a hotel lobby and it wasn't in Rome, or Jerusalem, Or Mecca or even Dublin, or South Boston, it was in Akron, Ohio, for Christ's sake.


A day came when the man said I have to find a drunk because I need him As much as he needs me (NOW you've got it).


And the transmission line, after all those years, was open, the transmission line was open. And now we don't go to priests, and we don't go to doctors and people with letters after their names.


We come to people who have been there, we come to each other. We come to try and we don't have to die.

Jack McCarthy


Most of the time, when I encountered people

in my drunken state,

they would keep going.

Hey! It's me!

They would go. 

Not everyone.

In the end, it was just me and I was used to that.

That was fine with me.

I was damaged.

It's already better.


Posted on October 4, 2014 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most well known and widely available group for alcoholics in recovery.  The  AA  fellowship uses the set of guiding principle, the 12 steps, to help members achieve and maintain sobriety.  The goal is total abstinence from drinking.


A key part of a 12-step program is choosing a sponsor, a former alcoholic who has time and experience remaining sober.  A sponsor helps you understand and work the steps to alcohol recovery and provides support when you are feeling the urge to drink.


AA members attend group meetings facilitated by other members i.e. recovering alcoholics.  Meetings take place on a regular basis, at various times, and in many different locations around the world.  Members are free to attend any of the many meetings held each week.

An initial 90 day Trudging on the Road of (it is of not to) Happy Destiny from one meeting to the next meeting with naps in between is a proven way to begin a sober life with a positive outlook despite the trudging.



Our book is meant to be suggestive only.  We realize we know only a little.  God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.  Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.  The answers will come, if your own house is in order.  But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.  See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others.  This is the Great Fact for us.


Abandon yourself to God as you understand God.  Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows.  Clear away the wreckage of your past.  Give freely of what you find and join us.  We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.


May God bless you and keep you — until then.  Alcoholics Anonymous p. 164

It can be very tempting to substitute online meetings for all of the real live meetings.  However online meetings are not the same as going to real live meetings where you can see and be seen by people in recovery.  We alcoholics need the real live fellowship with each other.

Most sober alcoholics that return to drinking, stop going to real live meetings before they take the real live drinks that could take their real live lives.

We are here in the AA Fellowship to help each other.  The Online Fellowship, for many is a good and convenient outlet if used properly and positively.  Typing away in real time online and hitting the send button helps me learn to be more positive about trusting the "Trudging the Road of Happy Destiny" process  in a different high-tech, non-personal way. .

I still need face-to-face, in-person contact with other sober alcoholics, who are staying sober!  The tried and true, time tested, old fashioned, low tech ,"Go to Meetings" way of establishing a foundation on which to construct a sober lifestyle worked during a few times of my utter desperation.  Sitting around with and interacting with sober AA people was fundamental for my "not-drinking" process.  

During  the "Going to Meetings" process we alcoholics eventually learn what alcoholism is about and we learn eventually that alcohol is destructive to us.  Alcohol will kill us if we continue to keep on drinking alcohol.  We make friends in the AA meetings.  We are keeping the reallity of alcoholism in the forefront of our minds and helping newcomers in a social situation.  It is a fun time.

Luddites, visit the anti-technology website ludditelink.org.uk:):)

It's already better.

No Axe to Grind

Posted on September 27, 2014 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Turning The Grindstone:

When I was a little boy I remember one cold winter's morning I was accosted by a smiling man with an ax on his shoulder.  "My pretty boy, said he, "has your father a grindstone?" " Yes sir ", said I.  "You are a fine little fellow." said he.  "Will you let me grind my ax on it?"  Pleased with the compliment of "fine little fellow," "Oh yes, sir," I answered.  "It is down in the shop." "And will you my man," said he, patting me on the head, "get me a little hot water?"  How could I refuse?   I ran and soon brought a kettle full. "How old are you and what's your name?" continued he, without waiting for a reply; "I am sure you are one of the finest lads that ever I have seen." "Will you just turn a few minutes for me?" Tickled with flattery like a little fool, I went to work and bitterly did I rue the day.  It was a new ax and I toiled and tugged till I was almost tired to death.  The school bell rang and I could not get away.  My hands were blistered and the ax was not half ground.  At length, however, it was sharpened and the man turned to me with, "Now you little rascal you've played truant; scud to the school or you'll rue it."  Alas, thought I, it was hard enough to turn a grindstone this cold day but now to be called a little rascal is too much.   Benjamin Franklin

That story is probably the source of the idiomatic expression "axe to grind" i.e. using flattery or some other manipulation in serving one's own private ends while hindering, delaying, or gaining an advantage over another.  According to the Big Book, selfish demonstrations of "axes to grind" are not examples of understanding and effectiveness.

"But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours.  Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.


That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured - these are the conditions we have found most effective.  After such an approach many take up their beds and walk again." pp.18-19  Alcoholics Anonymous.


Poems of Henry Gibson on Retro or Classic TV

Posted on September 21, 2014 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

"Keep a' Goin'"!


Well, if you strike a thorn or rose, Keep a-goin'!

And if it hails or if it snows, Keep a-goin'!

Ain't no use to sit an' whine 'Cause the fish ain't on your line.  Bait your hook and keep a-tryin'-- Keep a-goin'!


When the weather kills your crop, Keep a-goin'!

Why, it takes work to reach the top, Keep a-goin'!

If the skys look dark and gray, Tell the world you'll be OK and don't forget to pray! Keep a-goin'!


If you're up against the wall, Keep a-goin'!

Swallow hard and just stand tall, Keep a-goin'!

S'pose you're out of any dime, Bein' broke ain't any crime! It'll all work out in time, Keep a-goin'!


And if the doctor says you're through, Keep a-goin'!

Why he's a human just like you, Keep a-goin'!

Ain't no law says you must die, Wipe them tears from off your eye, Give ol' life another try -- Keep a-goin'!


Ain't no law says you must die, Wipe them tears from off your eye, Trust the Good Lord up on high -- He'll help! Keep a-goin'!

Keep a-goin'!

Is the Frog the Farmers Friend?

Is the frog the farmers friend?

I don't know.

Is the frog the farmers friend?

I don't know.

Is the frog the farmers friend?

I'll tell you in the end.

Is the frog the farmers friend?

I don't know.

The Frog

Why does the farmer hate the frog?

I don't know why the farmer hates the frog.

Thank you.

The Rhino

Some people say that the Rhino is a drunk.

Other people say he turns on with junk.

But me I think that's alot of bunk.

The rhino is a wino!

Oh Rhino Oh Rhino

Don't take much to turn you on.

Oh Rhino Oh Rhino

Just some Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Bull Moose

The Bull Moose is my pal true blue.

He don't smoke or drink or chew.

His only hang-up is he sniffs glue.

If I was a bull moose I would too.

The Smells of Summer

The smells of summer ain't all so sweet,

Heck there's mildew in showers and hot tired feet...

There's smells in the household from cellar to attic-

Sure gets dramatic!"

Spirit Time

Posted on September 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

There is an infinite variety of higher powers in this program.  I had never even heard of any higher power until I entered AA. 

I knew of God in the Bible and He is what I use as my higher power and the God of my own limited understanding.

It is interesting that the fourth chapter in the big book is titled "We agnostics" and not "To Agnostics".  Is it the same "we" that is on p. 59 in the big book, " Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."?  It would have been shorter and more to the point for step 2 to say "Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity" and step 3 to say "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God".  Bill Wilson seems to be referring back to "We Agnostics" and the choice of one's own concept of a higher power when making a spiritual beginning. 

Because alcoholism blocks peoples spiritual awareness and physical awareness for that matter, when we get sober, we have the opportunity to connect to a "Presence of Infinite Powers and Love", our Creator, our Guardian Angel, the Magnus Opus of the philosopher's stone, a tree, a Goddess, to Gifts of Desperation, Good Orderly Directions, to Groups of Drunks or to any spiritual entity or gate more powerful than ourselves.

Because of the infinite pantheon of higher powers, AA is not a religion, thus the program is spiritual (i.e. not physical).  We use AA to deal with our insides.  "No one needs to have difficulty with the spitituality of the program." (AA Big Book, 3rd edition, p. 570)

To stay in the moment's spiritual serenity, it is appropriate for AA groups to avoid the sticky topics of sex, drugs, religion and politics, keeping these topics out of the AA meeting discussions thus following the twelve traditions.  It is also appropriate to be accepting of other and various faiths and views.

ESH (sharing experience, strength and hope) keeps us in unity despite all of these different higher powers as do the principles of willingness, open mindedness and honesty.

"We forget that life can only be defined in the present tense.  It is is is.  And it is now only…That nowness becomes so vivid to me that in a perverse sort of way I’m serene.  I can celebrate life…The nowness of everything is absolutely wonderful…The fact is that if you see, in the present tense – boy, can you see it; boy, can you celebrate it. " (Dennis Potter, English playwrite)

I am currently a recovered alcoholic.  I knelt down several times and handed it over. I would class recovery as a miracle of neccessity. (not a gift of desperation)

The program outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous with the twelve steps works by a miraculous power and we are miraculously able to actually recover from a seemingly hopeless state and become transformed.  The power we have been able to use to our benefit is from some unknown source. 

There are some unusual links and coincidences looking back through time.  There are similarities in name: George Ripley and Anne Ripley.  It is also unusual that the Smiths, George Ripley, Emanuel Swedenborg, Lois Burnham and William Wilson were all practicing spirituality with twelve steps. 

For instance:

1.  In the 15th Century, an alchemist monk named George Ripley wrote:

You are now within the first gate,

Of the Castle where the Philosophers dwell.

Proceed wisely that you may win,

And go through more gates of that Castle.

This Castle is round as any bell,

And gates it has yet eleven more,

One is conquered, now to the second go.

The end of the First Gate.

from  http://www.levity.com/alchemy/ripgates.html " Ripley's twelve gates"  in The Alchemy Web Site.  George Ripley died in 1490. 

George was an alchemist and wrote about the twelve gates leading to the making of the philosopher's stone, a material that turns cheap metals to gold (transmutation) and gives it's maker eternal youth.  He is credited with making gold by transmutation.  No one knows how he did it.

2.  Emanuel Swedenborg wrote Divine Providence in 1764.

"Wisdom that comes to perception is perception of truth from being affected by it, especially perception of spiritual truth.  For there is civil, moral, and spiritual truth.  Those who have some perception of spiritual truth from affection by it also have perceptions of moral and civil truth, for the affection of spiritual truth is the soul of those perceptions.  I have spoken with angels at times about wisdom who said that wisdom is conjunction with the Lord because He is wisdom itself, and that the man who rejects hell comes into this conjunction and comes into it so far as he rejects hell.  They said that they picture wisdom to themselves as a magnificent and highly ornate palace into which one mounts by twelve steps.  No one arrives at even the first step, they said, except from the Lord by conjunction with Him; and according to the measure of conjunction one ascends; also as one ascends, one perceives that no man is wise from himself but from the Lord.  Furthermore, they said that the things in which one is wise are to those in which one is not wise like a few drops of water to a large lake.  By the twelve steps into the palace of wisdom are meant goods united to truths and truths united to goods."

from  http://www.sacred-texts.com/swd/dpr/dpr04.htm , Divine Providence, chapter 36, by Emanuel Swedenborg, 1764, founder of The New Church (Swedenborgians).

3.  In 1858 Ethan Allen Hitchcock wrote a book about Emanuel Swedenborg.

Emanuel Swedenborg, founder of the New Church religion, read about twelve steps the philosopher's stone prior to writing Divine Providence in 1764. 


"But to what did he refer in this allusion to angels, to a Palace and to twelve steps leading to it? (referring to Divine Providence)


I answer without the slightest suspicion of error that the angel who spoke to him of a Palace was no other than the alchemist Cosmopolita who left a work behind him entitled, "An open entrance to the shut Palace of the King;" or in other words to a knowledge of the wisdom of God. He spoke to Swedenborg through his book and the twelve steps is an allusion to one or both of two of the most noted Alchemic or Hermetic books extant, one by the Monk George Ripley and the other by a monk also Basil Valentine. Ripley's work is entitled The compound of Alchemy or the ancient hidden "Art of Alchemy containing the right and most perfect means to make the Philosopher's Stone and Aurum Potabile with other excellent experiments. Divided into Twelve Gates." This work was written in the reign of King Edward the Fourth and was dedicated to him." (1461-1483)


Swedenborg, Hermetic Philosopher: Being a Sequel to Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists... By Ethan Allen Hitchcock, New York, D. Appleton and Company1858, available on Google Books. http [:/] /books.google.com/books?id=QNBpiENXwj4C&vq=twelve%20gates&pg [=P] A108#v=snippet&q=twelve%20gates&f=false pp. 108-110

4.  Dr. Robert H. Smith met Anne Robinson Ripley .  They met in her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois while Dr.Smith was refraining from drinking and was a hospital intern in Chicago.  They were married on January 25th 1915.  They moved to Akron Ohio where Dr.Bob started a practice specializing in colorectal surgery.  A.A. started in Akron on June 10th, 1935.

Anne Robinson Ripley Smith's 1933-1939 Spiritual Journal is available.

5.  Bill Wilson characterized himself as a "conservative atheist" and married Lois Burnham a Swedenborgian before co-founding Alcoholics Anonymous.

"AA was co-founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith.  Bill Wilson first came into contact with Swedenborg's writings in the summer of 1915 while falling in love with Lois Burnham.  Lois was the granddaughter of the Rev. N.C. Burnham, a Swedenborgian scholar and one of the founders of the Swedenborgian Academy of the New Church in Pennsylvania.  Her family was very active in the New Church, and in 1918 Bill and Lois were married in the Swedenborgian church in Brooklyn, New York.  After the worst part of Bill's battle with alcoholism and his founding of AA, Lois founded the companion group Al-Anon for support to family and close friends of those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism.  Her activities with Al-Anon and her references to her Swedenborgian background are detailed in her autobiography, Lois Remembers."

http://www.oakarbor.org/why_oakarbor/wilsons.html , A New Church website.

New Light on Alcoholism; God, Sam Shoemaker, and AA. 2d ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, 1999]. p. 91.)

More about the Bill Wilson- Emanuel Swedenborg spiritualism connection:



Those are the links along the spiritual alchemy lines...

May our hearts be transmuted from stone into flesh...

May our spirits be transmuted from lead into gold...

May our souls be transmuted from hell to a better place... 

Thy will, not mine, be done.  Amen ✝


Thanks, It's already better.