AA GSO Watch
The Big Book Comes Alive --Charlie Big Book Study Transcript - Originally Taped in Mesa, Arizona, February 6-8, 1987
[Joe & Charlie Table of Contents] [Tape 4, Side B]
(Tape 4, Side A)
(p. 35, par. 4) 'His family was re-assembled, and he began to work as a salesman for the business he had lost through drinking. All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life.'
The only way you can enlarge on Step Three is Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, and this guy just stopped at Step Three and did no more.
(p. 35, par. 4) 'To his consternation, he found himself drunk half a dozen times in rapid succession.'
Jim got drunk sex times real quick.
(p. 35, par. 4) 'On each of these occasions we worked with him, reviewing carefully what had happened.'
These were good A.A. members in those days. Remember. Now days, I don't think you could get somebody to work with you if you got drunk six times. They wouldn't be bothered with you no more. But they went over and worked with him each time he got drunk.
(p. 35, par. 4) 'He agreed he was a real alcoholic and in a serious condition.'
He agreed to Step One.
(p. 35, par. 4 p. 36. par. 1) 'He knew he faced another trip to the asylum if he kept on. Moreover, he would lose his family for whom he had a deep affection.
(top of p. 36) 'Yet he got drunk again.'
Now, this is seven times. These were good A.A. members, but they were getting kind of tired of Jim.
JOE: You know, after seven times, they say, well, look Jim. Look, we've been over here seven times, now. How are you getting drunk? How is this happening, Jim?
(p. 36, par. 1) 'We asked him to tell us exactly how it happened. This is his story: "I came to work on Tuesday morning.'
Charlie and I studied the book many, many years before we saw this. I came to work on Tuesday morning. Where was this guy Monday?
JOE: It did say Tuesday, didn't it?
CHARLIE: Where was he all day Monday?
JOE: Bad about Mondays.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'I remember I felt irritated that I had to be a salesman for a concern I once owned.'
CHARLIE: I think this is absolutely normal thinking. I think any of us that had to be a salesman for a concern that we once owned would probably be a little bit irritated about that. So I think that's normal, sane thinking.
JOE: (p. 36) 'I had a few words with the boss, but nothing serious.'
CHARLIE: It's normal, sane thinking. The boss probably said, where were you yesterday, Jim? Audience: (laughter)
CHARLIE: Here it is Tuesday morning, you've been gone all day Monday. Nothing really serious, but he had a few words with the boss that morning.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'Then I decided to drive into the country and see one of my prospects for a car.'
CHARLIE: Normal, sane thinking. This guy is a car salesman. If you're a good car salesman, you're on (the) go all the time. You're looking for a prospect everywhere you go. He knows (about) this one out in the country. He going to go see if he can sell him a car. What's more normal than for a car salesman to do that?
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'On the way I felt hungry so I stopped at a roadside place where they have a bar.'
CHARLIE: This is normal, sane thinking. There's nothing wrong with being hungry. In that part of the country, in those days especially, you could hardly find a place that did not have a bar. So this is normal, sane thinking.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'I had no intention of drinking. I just thought I would get a sandwich.'
CHARLIE: Didn't go in the bar to drink. Had no intention of drinking. You're hungry, so what's more normal than to go in there so you can get yourself a sandwich. Normal, sane thinking.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'I also had the notion that I might find a customer for a car at this place, which was familiar for I had been going to it for years.'
CHARLIE: Been going in there for years. We're not going in there to drink. May even find another customer while we're in there. Normal, sane thinking.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'I had eaten there many times during the months I was sober.'
CHARLIE: Not going in there to drink. We're going in there to eat. We've been doing that iota of times since we were sober. Normal sane thinking.
JOE: All this guy's intention, his thinking, is to get a sandwich, and maybe see a prospect for a car. He didn't go in there to go back to the asylum.
JOE: Okay: (p. 36, par. 1) 'I sat down at a table and ordered a sandwich and a glass of milk.'
CHARLIE: Normal sane thinking. If you're hungry, what's more normal than to sit down at a table and order a sandwich and a glass of milk. Normal, sane thinking.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 1) 'Still no thought of drinking. I ordered another sandwich and decided to have another glass of milk.'
CHARLIE: Nothing wrong with this. If you're hungry, there's nothing wring with two sandwiches, and two glasses of milk. Normal, sane thinking. Now, look out though, the next statement
CHARLIE: …is in squiggly writing. Let's see what it says.
JOE: Look how his mind changed.
(p. 36, par. 2) Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn't hurt me on a full stomach.'
CHARLIE: He believed something that isn't true
JOE: He believed a lie.
CHARLIE: He believed that he could put a ounce of whiskey in milk and drink it, and he wouldn't get in any trouble, because he would be drinking it on a full stomach. He believed something that isn't true. He went insane. Now, based upon-his insanity, let's see what his decisions and his actions were that followed that.
JOE: (p. 36,,) 'I ordered a whiskey and poured it into the milk. I vaguely sensed I was not being any too smart, but felt reassured as I was taking the whiskey on a full stomach.
CHARLIE: Now he's got it inside of him. Now then, he's triggered the allergy, and the phenomenon of craving has developed. Let's see -what happens next.
JOE: (p. 36, par. 2-3; p. 37, par. 1-2) 'The experiment went so well that I ordered another whiskey and poured it into more milk. That didn't seem to bother me so I tried another."
Thus started one more journey to the asylum for Jim. Here was the threat of commitment, the loss of family and position, to say nothing of that intense mental and physical suffering which drinking always caused him. He had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet all reasons for not drinking were (top of p. 37) easily pushed aside in favor of the foolish idea that he could take whiskey if only he mixed it with milk'
Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else?'
And here we have a real definition, clear definition, for insanity. Insanity is the lack of the proportion, of the ability to think straight. Specifically for us, in the alcoholic we're talking about, the alcoholic has a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight about alcohol. That is our insanity. Not in any other area, but what we're talking about is the proportion, straight thinking about alcohol.
CHARLIE: You see, Jim, the fact that he's allergic to alcohol is beside the point. His real problem is that he became insane. His mind told him it would be okay to drink it, if he mixed it with milk. Based upon that belief, based upon that lie, he made a decision. He ordered the whiskey, and he took the action necessary to drink it. That triggered the allergy, and then he got drunk. So, his problem is not the fact that he's allergic. His problem is that just before he drank it he was absolutely insane. He believed a lie. It doesn't make any difference whether we call it an illusion, a delusion, or an obsession. All three of them mean the same thing, to believe something that isn't true.
Down at the bottom of page thirty-seven, a second example. This one I love. This is my main man here.
Now I don't understand this guy at all. It's beyond my ability to understand how he can get a thrill out of skipping in front of these fast moving vehicles.
CHARLIE: But he gets out there and he gets in front of them. He sees how close they can come to hitting him. Somewhere, somehow, he gets some exciting feeling out of that. Now:
(p. 37, par. 5) 'He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings.'
You know, people see him doing that and they say, "Hey, Jack, I think you ought to stop doing that."
CHARLIE: Sooner or later you're going to get hurt. He doesn't pay any attention. He goes right ahead, and he gets this thrill and enjoyment out of it.
(p. 37, par. 5 p. 38, par 1) 'Up to this point you would label him as a foolish (top of p. 38) chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession.'
I imagine what's happened, he's getting older. He can't move as fast.
CHARLIE: They begin to hit him once in a while.
CHARLIE: Nothing real serious, Just kind of bouncing off of them.
(p. 38, par. 1) 'You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out.'
JOE: He ain't normal.
CHARLIE: (p. 38, par. 1) 'Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within ~ week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good'
He sings their national anthem. He said, I ain't never going to Jay-walk again as long as I live.
(p. 38, par. 1-2) '...but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
'On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jay-walking idea out of hi. head.'
Not his body, his head.
(p.38, par. 2-~; p. 39, par. 1-2) 'He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a men would be crazy, wouldn't he?
'You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay-walking, the illustration would fit us exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It's strong language--but isn't it true?
'That may be true of certain nonalcoholic people who. though drinking foolishly and heavily at the present time, are able to stop or moderate, because their brains and bodies have not been damaged as ours were.'
We talked about that fellow, the heavy drinker. (bottom of p. 20, par. 7 to p. 21, par. 1)
(p. 39, par. 2) 'But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers a. it ha. been revealed to us out of bitter experience. Let us take another illustration. '
Now we're going to look at one more. I think this illustration is designed to show us, that we don't have to go all the way to the bottom in order to be alcoholic. I think also it's designed to show us that we are just as apt to drink when we feel good as we are when we feel bad. Jim didn't feel too good when he got drunk. But Fred, the day he gets drunk, this guy is floating along, and living just right on top of the world, and everything's great. He gets drunk just exactly like old Jim got drunk. Let's look at Fred for a minute.
JOE: Now, Fred is in ~ lot of different circumstances than Jim.
(p. 39, par. 3) 'Fred is partner in a well known accounting firm. His income is good, he has a fine home, is happily married and the father of promising children of college age. He has so attractive a personality that he makes friends with everyone. If ever shore was a successful business man, it is Fred.'
Remember, Jim had lost his business. Fred is really rolling here. He's doing good.
(p. 39, par. 3) 'To all appearance he is a stable, well balanced individual. Yet, he is alcoholic. We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. It was his first experience of this kind, and he was much ashamed of it. Far from admitting he was an alcoholic...'
He wouldn't take the First Step.
(p. 39, port 3) '...he told himself he come to the hospital to rest his nerves. The doctor intimated strongly that he might be worse than he realized. For a few days he was depressed about his condition. He made up his mind to quit drinking altogether. It never occurred to him that perhaps he could not do so, in spite of his character and standing. Fred would not believe himself an alcoholic...'
(p. 39, par. 3) '...much less accept a spiritual remedy for his problem.'
Step Two. He wouldn't take One or Two.
(p. 39, par. 3 p. 40, par. 1) 'We told him what (top of p. 40) we knew about alcoholism.'
(p. 40, par. 1-4 p. 41, par. 1) 'He was interested and conceded that he had some of the symptoms, but he was a long way from admitting that he could do nothing about it himself. He was positive that this humiliating experience, plus the knowledge he had acquired, would keep him sober the rest of his life. Self-knowledge would fix it.
'We heard no more of Fred for a while. One day we were told that he was back in the hospital. This time he was quite shaky. He soon indicated he was anxious to see us. The story he told is most instructive, for here was a chap absolutely convinced he had to stop drinking, who had no excuse for drinking, who exhibited splendid judgment and determination in all his other concerns, yet was flat on his back nevertheless.
'"In this frame of mind, I went about my business and for a tine all was well. I had no trouble refusing drinks, and began to wonder if I had not been making too hard work of a simple matter. One day I went to Washington to present some accounting evidence to (top of p. 41) a government bureau. I had been out of town before during this particular dry spell, as there was nothing new about that.' ~
I just love this approach to the first drink.
(p. 41, par. 1) 'Physically, I felt fine.'
Now, remember Jim.
(p. 41, par. 1) 'Neither did I have any pressing problems or worries. My business came off well, I was pleased and knew my partners would be too. It was the end of a perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon.'
Boy, this guy is feeling good.
CHARLIE: He's floating along, isn't he?
JOE: (p. 41, par. 2) '"I went to my hotel and leisurely dressed for dinner.'
Here's the squiggly writing now.
(p. 41, par. 2) As I crossed the threshold of the dinning room, the thought came to mind that it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. That was all. Nothing more.
Here was a guy who had a great day, took his trip, went to Washington, presented this evidence, had a great day, knew his partners would be satisfied with the business deal, the things he had done that day. Perfect day, not a cloud on the horizon. He walks into the dinning room, and says, boy, I had a good day today. I believe I'll have a drink, and go back to the hospital.
JOE: That's the decision he made!
CHARLIE: You see, that's the truth.
JOE: That's the truth.
CHARLIE: He couldn't see the truth. He believed a lie. His mind said it would be nice to have a couple of cocktails with dinner. Nothing more. That was all. Based upon the insane belief, based upon the lie, he made a decision and took some action. He said:
(p. 41, par. 2) 'I ordered a cocktail and my meal. Then I ordered another cocktail.'
Now we've got it inside of our system. Now we've triggered the allergy and the craving has developed. We can't stop.
(p. 41, par. 2-3) 'After dinner I decided to take a walk. When I returned to the hotel it struck me a highball would be fine before going to bed, so I stepped into the bar and had one. I remember having several more that night and plenty next morning. I have a shadowy recollection of being in an airplane bound for New York, and of finding a friendly taxicab driver at the landing field instead of my wife. The driver escorted me about for several days. I know little of where I went or what I said and did. Then came the hospital with unbearable mental and physical suffering.
'"As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went carefully over that evening in Washington. Not only had I been off guard, I had made no fight whatever against the first drink . This time I had not thought of the consequences at all.'
You know, Jim vaguely sensed he wasn't being any too smart. Fred didn't even sense that. Fred didn't think of the consequences at all. He said:
(p. 41, par. 3 p. 42, par. 1) 'I had commenced to drink as carelessly as though the cocktails were ginger ale. I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come--I would drink (top of p. 42) again. They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink. Well, just that did happen and more, for what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots. I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow.'
So we see through example after example, that Bill is reinforcing the idea, that we've got to have this spiritual experience in order to recover from the disease: That we are insane. We can only be restored to sanity, restored to believing the truth, with the aid of a Power greater than we are, through having this spiritual experience.
Bottom of page forty-three.
Now then, I'm convinced, absolutely. By going back and showing me the insanity, I am convinced that if I don't find this Power greater than I am, that I'm probably going to die from the disease of alcoholism.
That doesn't mean I like the idea. That doesn't mean that I'm just going to accept this spirituality into my life and just be as happy as I can be about it. Because I still have certain aversions to this term at this stage of the game. I still have certain aversions to anything that sounds like religion or spirituality. Still don't like the idea of being so weak that I've got to have a Power greater than I am. Still don't really understand where I stand spiritually or in my relationship with God that I do not understand.
Thank God for "Alcoholics Anonymous," the book "Alcoholics Anonymous." Because within this book, not only is it going to give me the opportunity to have a God of my own understanding, but it's also going to give me a new understanding of God.
When I came to A.A., as I said before, my understanding of God was hellfire and brimstone e; going to hell for lying, cheating, stealing, and drinking whiskey, and all those other things. With that understanding it would be impassible for me to go any further with this program, simply because I didn't believe that God would do for me what I should be able to do for myself. I didn't understand whether I was an atheist or an agnostic. I didn't understand whether I was a true believer or not. With the confusion in my mind, even though I recognized that I'm going to have to have that Power, at this stage of the game, I still believed that it could simply not take place in my life. That it would be an impossibility.
JOE: This brings us, as Charlie said, to We Agnostics. We see the beauty of this chapter, and what it really does. It helps anyone to evaluate, or gives us ~ place to begin to develope. Wherever we are, we can begin using this chapter to develop ~ spiritual life.
(p. 44, par. 1) 'In the preceding chapters you have learned something of alcoholism. We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the nonalcoholic. If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic.'
I love this. There's two questions in here, to determine if you're a alcoholic. You see the simplicity of the Big Book. In 1939 when it was written, they had two questions to determine as if you were alcoholic. Now, we got forty-four I believe. We've improved on it.
CHARLIE: You see, the fellowship changes.
JOE: We don't need but two questions.
CHARLIE: Thank God, Ebby didn't have the forty-four questions when he walked in Bill's kitchen. He'd have confused the hell out of Bill. He'd have said, Bill, has your reputation been suffering from your drinking? He hadn't had a reputation in years. Then he would have said, is your sex life been suffering from your drinking, and he hadn't had any of that in years either. He would have confused the hell out of Bill.
Two simple questions. Can you quit entirely when you want to quit? Do you have little control over the amount you take, after you once start drinking?
If you ask yourself those two questions, you can find out very rapidly whether you're alcoholic or not. If you can't do those things, then you are probably alcoholic. Now:
(p. 44p par. 1) 'If that be the case, then you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.'
You see, Bill repeats himself over and over and over, driving home certain points.
JOE: Steps One and Two
CHARLIE: (p. 44, par. 2) 'To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is mean. disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death'
JOE: Step One.
CHARLIE: (p. 44, par. 2) 'or to live on a spiritual basis...'
JOE: Step Two.
CHARLIE: (p. 44, par. 2-3) 'are not always easy alternatives to face.
'But it isn't so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of lifer--or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up. something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted.'
Now, to be an atheist is to say that God does not exist. The true atheist believes that there's no power greater than human power, no power greater than the human mind. Now, if that be the case, then the true atheist has no other power to turn to. He must stand on his own two feet, make his own decisions, run his own show, because there's no power greater than his mind. I don't think most of us were atheist.
I think probably most of us were agnostic. Because you see an agnostic is one who believes that God exists, but then he acts as if he doesn't. He acts exactly like the atheist. He runs his own show, stands on his own two feet, runs his own destiny and turns to no other power for help. He gets the same results, nothing. Even though he believes that God exists, he acts as if he doesn't. (See Transcriber's note on "agnostics.")
The only other way you can believe in God is to be a true believer. A true believer, believes that God exists, and acts as if he does. He doesn't try to run his own show. He doesn't try to make his decisions. He doesn't try to rule his own destiny. He turns to this God, as he understands Him, for help and direction in his life, receives it end he knows that God exists.
And that's the only way you can believe. You got to be an atheist, agnostic, or a true believer, one of the three. Most of us found ourselves, I believe, to be agnostics. I've never had any quarrel all my life whether God existed or not. I've always known that there was some Power greeter than human power. But my understanding of that Power was false. I believed that Power was a punishing Power. And he wouldn't help people who had been like I am.
This book has allowed me to change my understanding. It's allowed me to move from being an agnostic to being one who now has become a true believer. Not only does it give me God as I understand Him, but it gives me a new understanding of God. Now, if we be an atheist or we be an agnostic, the question becomes, how do we get from that state to the state of being a true believer? One who can use that Power, and then will know that God exists for sure. The book's going to tell me exactly how to do it in a very simple manner. It said:
I believe that there's a difference between an alcoholic and a drunken bum. A drunken bum usually is about where (he) wants to be. They're satisfied with where they are, what they're doing and they don't particularly want to change. But an alcoholic is a different breed of cat. An alcoholic usually has a code of morals. An alcoholic usually has a good philosophy for life. An alcoholic knows that you need to work. You need to make a living. You need to pay your bills. You need to take care of your family.
We have a good philosophy of life, but if those would have saved us, we would have recovered long ago. But they didn't save us. Things kept getting worse and worse and worse. Even though we had morals, even though we had a philosophy of life, we found we couldn't live up to those because of our alcoholism. And my book says:
(p. 45 par. 1) 'But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human recourses, as marshaled by the will, were not sufficient they failed utterly.'
I believe that to be true. If you and I could have done it through our own will, through our own morale, through our own philosophies, we never would have become members of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't know anybody who set out at eighteen, fifteen, sixteen, fourteen, and took a drink and said I, can't wait for the day to come when I can be a member of A.A.
CHARLIE: We were driven here, under the lash of alcoholism.
(p. 45 par. 2) 'Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find 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 which will solve your problem.'
It doesn't say which will help you solve it. It doesn't say which will enable you to solve it. It says, which will solve your problem. Up until this point, I'd been looking at sobriety, sobriety, sobriety, and not drinking as the major thing. This page says, that isn't what it's about. It said, the main object of this book is to enable me to find a Power greater than myself which will solve my problem.
Interestingly enough we're through talking about alcohol. The book doesn't talk about alcohol anymore. (the problem) From this page on it concentrates on one thing and one thing only. How do you find that Power? (the solution) It's going to show me a very simple procedure to follow in the finding of that Power. (the practical program of action) Over on page forty-seven, it tells me where to begin the finding of the Power.
JOE: Okay, how do we find this Power? Begins with--this is such a natural process of human success or failure, like everything begins. This is like anything else in our lives begins. It begins with the same process.
(p. 47, par. 2) 'We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. "Do I now believe...'
If you're an agnostic, you already believe. If you're an atheist, you have to become willing to believe. That's the story.
(p. 47, par. 2) "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?"
That's all we've got to do, is to believe.
(p. 47, par. 2) 'As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.'
Here we see Bill going end painting his pictures. Remember, he said willingness was the foundation of what we're going to do. (p. 12, par. 5) On this foundation of willingness, we're going to put a cornerstone. We're building a spiritual structure.
Now, the cornerstone is believing. (p. 47, par. 2) Believing is the cornerstone of anything that we do. Getting up out of the chair you're setting in begins when you believe you can get up. Anything you do is initiated with believing. This is the limitation, or the success or failure of our lives. What we believe, we're going to become. So this is the beginning. If we're not willing to believe, we can't begin. If we're atheist, we can't begin. But if we can get to the point of believing, then we're on our way. This is all we have to do. We don't have to have faith in this program.
CHARLIE: If you'll notice at the end of that statement, there is a little asterisk. It takes me to the bottom of the page. It says:
(p. 47, at the bottom) ''Please be sure to read Appendix II on "Spiritual Experience."
JOE: Third time.
CHARLIE: They want to be absolutely sure that we don't misunderstand what they're trying to tell us. We're going to build this wonderfully effective spiritual structure. It's evident that by referring, with the asterisk, to the spiritual experience, what he's referring to is the personality change sufficient to recover (from alcoholism). (p. 569, par. 1)
The structure we're going to build is that personality change. Willingness is the foundation upon which we lay that structure. The cornerstone of the structure is to believe, or to be willing to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves. And I have no difficulty with that whatsoever, because I have already admitted in Step One that I'm powerless over alcohol. If I'm powerless over alcohol, then that means that alcohol is a power greater than I am. So I have no trouble in seeing that there's a power greater than human power. Hopefully, this Power will not do to me what alcohol did to me. It said:
(p. 47, par. 3) 'That was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith which seemed difficult to believe.'
You see, in my church, my minister said, son, all you got to do is have faith and everything will be alright. Well, how could I have faith in God when I just barely was able to believe. Faith is knowledge after the fact. Belief is suspicion, before the fact. The only thing I can do right now is just to believe that there is a Power greater than myself. Then if I follow a certain procedure, perhaps I can change that belief into faith. Let's go over for a moment to page fifty-one, and we'll look at an example or two at what can be accomplished through belief. In the middle paragraph it says
(p. 51, par. 2) 'This world of ours has made more material progress in the last century than in all the millenniums which went before.'
And that's absolutely true. In the realm of the material within the last one hundred years, we've seen practically everything we use today developed. Our automobiles, our television sets, our hair dryers, this projector, electric coffeepots, space ships, airplanes, Christ, nearly everything we've got today has been developed within the last one hundred years. The book says:
(p. 51, par. 2) 'Almost everyone knows the reason.'
Well, I don't really think we do. It says:
(p. 51, par. 2) 'Students of ancient history tell us that the intellect of men in those days was equal to the best of today.'
I thought the reason we developed within the last one hundred years is because we're smarter than those people used to be. That isn't what the book says. It says, they were just as smart then as we are today.
(p. 51, par. 2) 'Yet in ancient times material progress was painfully along.'
Even though they were smart, they didn't develop very much.
Four or five hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, you were not allowed to believe different. Because of superstition, because of tradition, and because of fixed ideas, people could not believe differently. If you dared to believe differently usually you got in bad trouble. It wasn't too long ago we were burning people at the stake here in our own country because they dared to believe differently. We burned them at the stake as witches. If you believed differently they would crucify you, hang you from a tree, put you in jail. You were not allowed to believe different. So therefore, since the beliefs could not be changed, then the state of their living could not be changed either. It's only within the last one hundred years that men and women s minds have been opened up, the superstitions, tradition, and fixed ideas have disappeared, and we've been allowed to believe differently.
You know, can you just imagine five hundred years ago somebody walked down through the street singing, humming, happy, looking straight ahead. They say what's the matter? You said, I am inventing a television set. Why Christ, they would have thrown him in jail right then. But today people believe they could, and sure enough they do bring out television sets and everything else. Now an example of how those beliefs, and superstitions, and traditions fettered men's. minds is in the next statement.
About five hundred years ago, people that lived in Europe were trying to find some fast route to get from Europe to what they called the East Indies. In the East Indies they had found gold, silk, spices, tea and many other things, and they really wanted it bad. But the only way you could get there was by land. Only way you had to go was on foot, horseback, camelback, elephantback, or something. It took literally years to make the trip. They wanted to get there faster and bring that stuff back more. They were trying to find a new fast route to get there but they didn't know of any way to go except by land. Because they knew that if you tried to sail there that you would snail out to the edge of the earth, and you would sail right off edge of this sucker, because the world was flat. Everybody believed that the world was flat. They believed that if you sailed out there so far, you'd go down and that would be the end of it.
I don't really know why they believed that, I assume that people would sail out there and not come back so they assumed they sailed off of the edge of it. Everybody believed that you couldn't go there by sea. They couldn't find a faster route to go. (See Transcriber's note on "Columbus.")
Here comes a guy named Columbus. Joe and I believe Columbus ought to be our man. We believe he's alcoholic. (laughter) We believe he ought to be A.A.'s main man. Because Columbus had all the traits. Columbus said, well, I believe the world is round. You got to be a strong, bullheaded, stubborn guy to believe in the face of everything else, against all the rest of the world, to believe differently. He said, I believe the world is round. Another reason we think he's alcoholic is because he said, I believe I could get East by sailing West.
CHARLIE: If that ain't a drunk statement, I never heard one before. He said, I believe if I sail straight West, I could come to the East Indies. They said, Columbus, you crazy as hell.
CHARLIE: They said if you sail out there West you're going to sail off the edge of this sucker and you're not ever going to come back. He dared to believe differently. Columbus did a few things that resulted in changing the belief of all the rest of the world. There are other reasons we think he's alcoholic. Joe?
JOE: I think we really have to look at this and see why Bill used these illustrations, it's probably one of the greatest illustrations in our time to really see what Columbus did. He changed the world. He changed the geography of the world, the economics of the world. He changed the lives of every body on the face of this earth, probably since that time.
The way he did it. He was big enough to believe different. See, whatever you believe you're going to become. Whatever you believe you're going to become. So, the only way you can change is to believe different. If you believe different, you'll become something different.
JOE: When he got there he didn't know where he was.
JOE: And when he got back, he didn't know where he had been.
JOE: But what really makes him an alcoholic was a woman financed the whole trip.
(End of Side A of Tape 4)
-(Transcriber's note: The strict agnostic believes that he can't know if God exists or not. In practice, few people can maintain the relentlessly rigorous and disciplined skepticism this requires. Joe and Charlie describe what most of us were really like.)
-(Transcriber's note: Educated people of Columbus' time knew it was round. Eratosthenes, the ancient Greek, had even determined its circumference to within a few miles. They objected to his voyage, because they knew the earth was so big. They calculated, rightly as it turned out, that his trip to the far east would take too long for his supplies to last. They didn't imagine that North and South America might be there. This is just another example of fixed ideas. )
(End of Side A of Tape 4) [Joe & Charlie Table of Contents] [Top]
(Tape 4, Side B)
JOE: And he did die in jail.
JOE: But he was big enough to believe different. He said, I believe the world is round. So he believed this, and not only did that, he made a decision. He took the actions. When he came back--we can use this as a principle of success, or failure, which we've been using it all our lives. We can use it either way, you can use it for yourself or against yourself. The first thing you've got to do is believe. That belief is not in itself going to change anything. Belief is before.
Once you believe, believing is like a domino theory. Believing has to bring about a decision, bring on a decision. A decision won't change anything, really. The decision, whatever we decide on is based on what we believe. Once we believe, we decide. Once we decide, we have to take action to carry out the decision. Once we take the action to carry out the decision, we get results from our actions. And once we get results from our actions, we stop believing and we begin to know.
Then we have faith. From then on, we can travel on faith, but we have to begin by believing. We can see that is the simplicity of our Steps, of our program. It's based on the basic--it's the simple way we do everything. This is our Second Step is believing, come to believe. Second Step is where we get started, is to believe.
CHARLIE: I don't have any chalk. You stole the chalk. Anybody got any chalk in this outfit? Oh well, we didn't want to write that on the board anyhow.
JOE: Once we believe, which is the Second Step, then we make a decision, which is the Third Step. Once we make a decision, then Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine are the Steps of action that carry out the decision. Once we take these Steps, then we get results, which are: the promises start coming out of the book. Once the promises are fulfilled, the Twelfth Steps says, then we know. We have faith. The man who has the Twelfth Step that knows--what I know is--today is from the results of actions that I've taken and applied to my life. Now that I know, what I know is faith.
My faith cannot be transferred to the next person. What I know can only help the new person come to believe. He has to take the journey himself. Once he believes, and he makes a decision, and he takes the action, and he gets results, one day he will know. So believing is the beginning.
You got chalk now.
This is the way I go to the store and buy something. When I want to buy something at the store and I haven't bought it before, I go to the grocery store. I look at all these different things, and at all these different kinds they've got. I just don't know which one is good. I really don't know which one is the best product. Maybe I listen to a commercial, or something I hear on TV and I believe that's a good product. First time I buy it I don't know that it is. I believe it's good. I decide to buy it, and I take it home and use it. Once I use it and it works good, I get good results, then I've got faith in it. When I go back there next time, I don't buy it on what I believe. From then on, I buy on faith, but the first time, I've got to start off, on believing. You can't start out with faith. You can just start out with simple believing.
CHARLIE: When Columbus took his little trip, he didn't go on faith. Nobody had ever taken this trip before. He just strictly went on belief. We believe that he hired a special sailor. He put him on the front of the ship at night with a lantern. He said, I believe this world is round. But if you see the edge of this damn thing, you holler.
CHARLIE: Now, when he came back, he went right back to the Queen of Spain, the lady who financed him in the first place. She said, Columbus, where's the gold, and the silk, and the spices that you promised me. He said, I didn't find any. But he said, if you'll finance me again, I'll go back and this time I'll find them. She did finance him again, and he did go back. But the only difference is, this time when he went back, he now went on knowledge. He went on faith. He didn't have go on belief, because now he knew. They didn't have to hire that extra sailor, and put him on the front of the ship.
CHARLIE: Because now he knew that the world was round.
But you see he followed the same pattern that mankind has always followed in order to be successful. First, if you want to change, you've got to believe you can. If you don't believe, you'll never change. If you believe you can't then you'll stay right where you are for the rest of your life.
Now, he believed that the world was round, but that didn't do him a bit of good. Because he was still standing on the shore of the ocean when he believed that. It was several, severa1 months, and maybe, two or three years, before he made a decision to go find out. But after he made the decision, that didn't do him any good either, because he's still standing on the shore of the ocean. It was some months or years later, before he took action on that decision. He finally went to the King of Portugal. The king turned him down. Then he went to the Queen of Spain to get the money. He got the money. He got the ships. He put the provisions in them. He hired the crews. They began to sail across the ocean. They took action. Then the results from that action is knowledge and faith.
Now, this is nothing new. We don't have the only corner on the market. People have used this for centuries in order to change the way they are. They believe they can change. They decide to try. Then they make decisions. Then they take action.
Now, if the results they get are not what they want, then it's evident that their belief was wrong. All they've got to do is go back and change the belief, and then decide, and then act, and try again. Eventually we get the right results, and then we know. That's all we're doing with the Twelve Steps of "Alcoholics Anonymous." That's all we've got to do in anything to be successful.
You know, I looked for this Power all my life. I've always looked for God. I always envisioned God as a tall elderly gentleman standing upon a cloud. He had on a long flowing white robes, long white hair, golden halo around his head, and sun ray. shooting out of it. And I looked, and I looked, and I looked, and I looked, and I never did see him. I looked for Him in the birds, and I looked for Him in the bees. I could never find Him. I think the reason I never found God is because I really didn't know where to look. I didn't know where God is, or where he dwelled. On page fifty five, it's going to tell me exactly where to find God.
(p. 55, par. 2-4) 'Yet we had been seeing another kind of flight, a spiritual liberation from this world, people who rose above their problems. They said God made these things possible, and we only smiled. We had seen spiritual release. But liked to tell ourselves it wasn't true.
'Actually we were fooling ourselves, for deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there. For faith in a Power greater than ourselves, and miraculous demonstrations of that power in human lives, are facts as old as men himself.
'We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we had to search fearlessly, but He we. there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us.'
You see, my book is telling me that God dwells within me. If God dwells within me, then that gives me a completely different concept, or idea about God. Now, I really don't think God is lost. People say, you got to find Him, you got to find Him. I don't think he's lost. If you've been here since the beginning of time, it's rather difficult to get lost. I think God dwells within every human being. It seems as though deep down in every man, woman, and child is the fundamental idea of God.
I don't know what we call that idea. Some people might call it innate knowledge. Some people might went to refer to it as common sense. Some may want to call it the conscience. Others may want to call it the soul. I don't really think it makes any difference what we call it. But it seems though, for each of us deep down inside, we have certain basic fundamental ideas on how to live.
And if this be true, and I think it is. Then that means I've got my own personal God. If he dwells within me then I don't have to worry about whether He's the God of the Baptist church. I don't have to worry whether He's the God of the Catholic religion, the Jewish religion, or anything else. He's my own personal God. If I can get that knowledge to the surface, then I'm going to be able to live peaceful, happy, and fret for the first time in my life. Always before I never could find Him, because I kept looking for Him in the wrong places. Now, if He dwells within me then most certainly He dwells within you too. If we can believe that, then that's the starting point. From there we can begin to recover from the disease of alcoholism.
You know, I've found in the process of working this program; I didn't have to go find out anything spiritually. I didn't have to read any more books. I already knew what needed to be done. I just could never bring it to the surface. We've experienced that knowledge before. How many times have I set out to do something, and that knowledge inside said, Charlie, I really don't think you ought to be doing this. I wouldn't pay any attention to it. I'd go ahead and do it. I'd get in one hell of a shape, and that knowledge would say, I told you better not do that.
CHARLIE: It seems to have always been there. If I could have lived by it in the beginning, then I wouldn't have had the problems that I had.
You see, this is a very simple concept, of this God as I understand Him, a basic beginning point. And if we can just believe that God is there, if we can believe that He dwells within us, then we've got the starting point to go by. Remember spiritual experience? We will become aware of the fact, when we know that we have tapped an unsuspected inner resource of strength that we presently identify as God as we understand Him.
('...which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.' Appendix II, p. 570, par. 1)
'Our more religious member call it "God-consciousness-."'(p. 570, par. 2) Joe.
If you go to the doctor and the doctor diagnoses your problem, and he tells you what's wrong with you. You know, just telling you what's wrong with you doesn't improve your (condition.) You still feel bad. He says, you got the flu. Well, hell, so what? You don't feel any better, but you know what's wrong with you. Then he writes you out a prescription. You're still standing there in the office. You know what's wrong with you, and you got your answer in your hand. You've got the problem and the solution, but no improvement has taken place yet. All the improvement will take place through the treatment plan. Going and start getting the medicine, and start taking the action, then you start improving. But these two things are essential to bring us to the recovery program.
This is where we are, and the main purpose of the book is the planned program of action. They are based on the first two Steps. This is why we said, the fallacy of starting off in Chapter Five (is that), when you don't have the first two Steps, it's impossible. But now we can go into the planned program of action which begins in How It Works. As Charlie--we talk about this--read How It Works. Bill knew that he had laid the preparations for the program of recovery, he had talked about in these first four chapters and The Doctor's Opinion. He felt like it was time to now to really tell these people.
He was faced with the task of writing the foundation of the book, the recovery program.
(See A.A. Comes of Age p. 160) He felt very inadequate that night as he began this. He said, as the story goes, he laid in his bed with a pad and a pencil. He knew that he had to really get into this now. He just couldn't get the job done. He laid down his pad and his pencil for a while, and he paused. He had a period of prayer and meditation, and asked God for strength and (to) give him some directions in writing how It works. What we read, and we read it a lot in all our meetings, after a short period of time of prayer he picked up his pad and his pencil. In thirty minutes he wrote...the portion of How It Works which we read in our meetings including the Twelve Steps.
And Charlie--we usually read that original version of the manuscript as Bill (wrote) it. We'll talk a little bit about how we got our version, that came from that. So we'll--Charlie's going to read from the original manuscript the way Bill wrote it the first night. CHARLIE: Now, Bill in his own word. said that after this period of prayer and meditation that night, that he picked up the pencil. He said it seemed as though the pencil had a mind of its own. He began to write. In approximately twenty to thirty minutes, he wrote this How It Works. It's going to be a little bit different than what's in your book. This is the How It Works, the original manuscript, before the other members got hold of it.
CHARLIE: And before any changes were made in it. (See "Pass It On, "pp. 198-199) I think if we see Bill's original How It Works, we're going to be able to see some very important key things that ties this whole thing together in our minds. I'm going to try by changing the tone of my voice to indicate the differences here. (That difference will be indicated by all capitals in print.)
We'll read it and then we'll take a little break. He said:
'Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our DIRECTIONS. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a WAY OF LIFE which demands rigorous honestly. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
'Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it--then you are ready to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. At some of these YOU MAY BALK. YOU MAY THINK YOU CAN find an easier, softer way. But WE DOUBT IF YOU CAN. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
'Remember that YOU ARE DEALING with alcohol--cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for YOU. But there is One who has all power--that One is God. YOU MUST find Him now.
'Half measures WILL AVAIL YOU nothing. YOU STAND at the turning point. THROW YOURSELF UNDER his protection and care with complete abandon. NOW WE THINK YOU CAN TAKE IT.
'Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as YOUR program of recovery:
'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 AND DIRECTION 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 WILLING THAT God remove all these defects of character.
'7. Humbly ON OUR KNEES asked Him to remove our shortcomings- HOLDING NOTHING BACK.'
'8. Made a(COMPLETE)list of all persona we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.'YOU MAY EXCLAIM, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that were are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
'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 though prayer and meditation to improve our CONTACT WITH GOD, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
'12. Having had a spiritual EXPERIENCE as the result of this COURSE OF ACTION, we tried to carry this message to OTHERS, ESPECIALLY alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Our description of the alcoholic'
JOE: That's The Doctor's Opinion,
CHARLIE: '...the chapter to the agnostic'
JOE: Chapter Four.
CHARLIE: '...and our personal adventures before and after'
JOE: This is Bill's Story, and More About Alcoholism.
CHARLIE: '...HAVE BEEN DESIGNED TO SELL YOU three pertinent ideas:'
CHARLIE: That YOU ARE alcoholic and CAN NOT manage YOUR own LIFE.'
JOE: Step One.
CHARLIE: '(b) That probably no human power CAN RELIEVE YOUR alcoholism.'
JOE: Step Two.
CHARLIE: '(c) That God CAN AND WILL.'
JOE: That's still Step Two.
CHARLIE: 'IF YOU ARE NOT CONVINCED ON THESE VITAL ISSUES, YOU OUGHT TO REREAD THE BOOK TO THIS POINT, OR ELSE THROW IT AWAY.'
JOE: Now, we can easily see in this...this is before it was edited, Charlie and I did a lot of study, and you might want to, too. You can see the clarity of the Big Book in the manuscript versus our book. He's saying that in the first four chapters and The Doctor's Opinion, the chapter to the agnostic, our adventures before and after, Bill's story, (that) these earlier chapters have been designed to sell you the ABC's which are the first two Steps. If you have the first two Steps, then he says, the very (next) thing, we are convinced that we are at Step Three. But if you don't have the first two Steps, he says, reread the book and get them or else throw the book away. Because you can't start off at Step Three. This is why we can't start at Chapter Five.
The only Steps that are in our Big Book--the Big Book only contains Steps Three through Twelve. The Big Book does not tell us how to work Steps One and Two. The only action Steps, the only working Steps are Three through Twelve. Step Three is the first Step in the book. It's based on the conclusions of the first two Steps. So you have to have those two conclusions. They are not working Steps. You just--you read the first few chapters and you come to two conclusions.
One: that you're powerless.
And Two: that there is a Power.
Then you can begin the program of "Alcoholics Anonymous," which begins at Step Three.
Now our book--they were not going to see us. So the front of our book had to do Steps One and Two. The front of the first four chapters and The Doctor's Opinion had to carry the information for the reader to come to those two conclusions. If you have that, then you are now at Step Three. This is the first step of recovery, this Step Three.
When...the manuscript was first written...Bill wrote it that night. Imagine how he must have felt, seeing the Twelve Steps for the first time. He said he kind of associated this with the Twelve Apostles for some reason. He just finished and he--I know how he was by seeing this. Just about that time one of the members. *Oxford Group members, whatever they called them in those days, he came by with one of his prospects, coming from a meeting. Bill felt--oh man, he was enthused, you know how he must have felt, what he had just written. He had his first time to show this to one of the other members. I remember, this guy came by and he showed it to him, and boy, this guy didn't like it. He said, what in the hell is that? You know how you would feel.
Audience: (laughter) (See Transcriber's note on "Oxford Groups.")
JOE: This guy said, what in the hell is all this? We don't need all that. And really, most of the first people--there was a lot of controversy--most of them didn't like the Twelve Steps. Most of them did not like it. There was a greater argument, a great confusion over the Big Book, which almost destroyed the book project amongst Bill (and the other members). There was a great fight over the Twelve Steps, what he had written that night. So this is where the fight...really ended up in changing to the version that we do have in our book.
CHARLIE: The guy that sat here in Arizona, he was never going to see those people up there in Akron, New York City and Cleveland. He was never going to have the opportunity to have a classic Twelve Step call made on him in person. So the Big Book had to do it. The Doctor's Opinion and the first four chapters make the Twelve Step call. They show us all the information we need for Steps One and Two.
Before I saw the original manuscript, I would read How It Works. At the end of that statement it would say, we're now at Step Three. I'd say, where in the hell did One and Two go? Every Step from Three on, the book tells you, first: why you need to take it. It tells you how to take it, and tells you what the results will be. But there's no explanation of One and Two. It's only when we got the original manuscript that we saw what Bill had done in the writing of the book. He gave us all that information to recognize that we're powerless over alcohol and that our lives are unmanageable. He's given us all this information to recognize that there is a Power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity. We're going to be called upon to make a decision in Three. There's no way that we could make that decision without first seeing Steps One and Two.
You see, they didn't have a Step One and Two then. They started with Step Three when they brought you to an A.A. meeting, when they sponsored you into the group. They said, I've been talking to this joker. I believe he recognizes that he's powerless, and I believe he believes in a Power greater than himself therefore I'm going to sponsor him into this group. That's where sponsorship came from in the beginning. But now, the book had to be complete in that detail. So now we recognize that there's really no work involved in Steps One and Two. They are conclusions of the mind. They are facts that we picked up from the information in The Doctor's Opinion and the first four chapters.
He took this thing and he went to the rest of the A.A. members, and about that time the crap really hit the fan.
CHARLIE: One group of them said, my God what do you mean trying to direct alcoholics. You can't tell them what they've got to do. They said, they won't do anything if you tell them. Another faction said, Bill, you didn't tell them hard enough. Turn the crank harder. They fought, and they fought, and they fought over that word directions. Another word they fought over was God. This was a religious thing in the beginning, but there had begun to be some people come in there who professed to be atheists. There was one fellow that they call, Jimmy the atheist, Jimmy B, you ought to see his picture. He's sitting there, and he's smoking an old long stemmed straight pipe. He is the coldest eyed sucker I ever saw.
CHARLIE: He looks exactly like what you think an atheist ought to look like.
CHARLIE: He said, get all that God stuff out of there. We don't want none of that in there. But one side of the group was very religious. They said, oh, let's talk more about God, put more in there. They fought and they fought, up and down, back and fourth, round and around.
They tried to make Bill change. Bill said, I'm not going to change.* I wrote this after prayer and meditation. These aren't my words, they're God's words. They said, you are going to change. He said, I'm not. They said, you are.
CHARLIE: And they just damn near blew the whole thing right there. Finally Bill recognized that he would have to compromise, if they were to go any further.
At the suggestion of a nonalcoholic psychiatrists,** they made some changes. He said, why don't you change it from directions to suggestions. He said, more people would probably accept this thing as something suggested to them, than they would if you told them they had to do it. He said, where you keep saying, "you, you, you" in there, why don't you tell them what you had to do. Use the words "we." Instead of saying you've got to do this, say we had to do this. Where you keep saying "must, must, (moat)," let's change that to "ought, ought, ought." I believe it would be more successful.
Today, nobody has any idea, if we hadn't made those changes, instead of a million and a half world wide today, we might have ten million. But also if we hadn't made those changes, instead of a million and a half world wide, we might have ten thousand. Who knows? None of us are that smart. We simply know that this is the history behind the book. When you read the original manuscript, then this thing makes more sense.
[* AA Comes of Age p 166. **AA Comes of Age p 167 *** AA Comes of Age p 163-164]
CHARLIE: And he talks about directions all the rest of the way through the book.
CHARLIE: When they took it out in How It Works, they ruined the continuity of the book. I think we'll be able to see that as we progress through the book. But it's evident that he meant them to be a set of directions.
I'd say one more thing before we break. This is the only set of directions in A.A. on how to work the Steps. The "Twelve and Twelve" is a fine book. There is some information in there that I think is absolutely brilliant. But it more or less explains why these Steps work. It does not explain how these Steps work. They call this How It Works. They didn't call this Why It Works.
CHARLIE: The reason it works is because they gave us a set of directions to follow, and it tells us exactly how to work each Step, Three through Twelve. And it's the only directions we have. I might say also this is the only program we have. The program is mentioned in the Big Book. It's the only program in A.A. So if we want to work it the way the original (one hundred) did, we're going to have a complete set of directions from here on, on how to work their program in our Lives to recover from the disease of alcoholism. Let's take about a ten minute break. We're going to jump right into Steps Three and Four.
CHARLIE: ...get as far as we can go this afternoon. I'll think we'll find that things will move a little faster now, now that we're all convinced of Steps One and Two. I do think we ought to have one more little joke though, just to get everybody in the right mood.
Again the story is about a drunk. This particular fellow is a drunken burglar. He broke into a house one night, no lights on, nobody home. He had a little pencil flashlight, and he found the wall safe. He was working on that safe trying to get it open. After a while, he heard a little voice say, Jesus sees you. He jumped, and he shined that light around. He didn't see anybody at all, so he goes back and starts working on the safe. In a few minutes the little voice said, Jesus is watching you. He jumped and he shined that light around again. He still didn't see anybody. He goes back to the safe and starts working again. After a while the little voice said, Jesus is going to get you. He jumped and he flashed that light. This time it went in a corner where it hadn't gone before. Sure enough, there was a bird cage with a parrot in it. He said, oh you damn bird. You don't know what you're talking about. He turned to go back to the safe, and as he did, his light went across the doorway. There stood a large German shepherd dog with his Lips snarled back, and his fangs showing. The little voice said, sick him Jesus.
CHARLIE: I don't know why Joe don't like those stories. On page sixty. -
(p. 60, par. 3-4) 'Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that 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. On that bests we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good.'
This thing called self-will. Before we turn loose of self-will, Bill told us back in his story, he said: 'Simple but not easy...It meant the destruction of self-centeredness.'(p. 14, par. 2) In order for us to be willing to turn loose of this self-will, we're probably going to have to really understand why we need to turn loose of self-will. Nearly everybody operates on self-will. Most of us did practically all of our lives. We are very reluctant to turn it loose unless we really understand why we have to do that. It's kind of hard to do anything about a problem unless you really understand what the problem is. I think in order for us to turn loose of self-will, we're going to have to talk a little bit first about: what is self-will? Where does it come from, and how does it fit into these things?
I think one of the beat examples of that is my wife Barbara and I, we decided to go to California every Fall for about eight years in a row. But we never did get _ .. to California, because we never took any action to carry out that decision. Now, here about three years ago, we made that same decision to go to California. This time I took the car down and I had it serviced. Barbara packed the clothes, and we put them in the car. Then we drove from my house to Tulsa, Oklahoma, then to Oklahoma City, then to Amarillo, then to Albuquerque, then to Flagstaff. You know, by Golly, we ended up in Los Angles, California. We had made the decision repeatedly over and over and over and had never taken any action until that year. Therefore, we had never gotten to California until that year.
I was scared to death when I came to A.A. about turning this thing over to this God as I understand Him, because I didn't know what God would have me be. I went to my sponsor and I said, man, I don't believe I can take Step Three. He said, how come? I said, if I turn my thinking, my will, my mind over to the care of God as I understand Him, I don't know what God would want me to be, what He would want me to do. He may want me to be a missionary in Africa, or China, and I sure as hell don't want to be that. And he just laughed. He said, Charlie, at least it wouldn't be at the hands of an idiot, would it?
CHARLIE: He said, let's look back in your life. He said you've always been a self-willed person. You've always done exactly what you've wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it, regardless of what it did to anybody else. He said, the great result, the great reward you get for living that kind of life, is that you got to become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I look back in my life today, and I realize what my problem has always been. My thinking, my will, my mind has always been rather faulty. Not just in regards to alcohol, but a lot of other things as well. Always before I would do something, I had to think about it first. The body cannot take action without the mind telling it, it's okay to do that. My thinking has always been rather faulty. Based upon faulty thinking, I made some very, very bad decisions. Based upon bad decisions, I took some very, very bad actions. Those actions resulted in a living hell for me.
My sponsor said to me, he said, just think, if God could direct your thinking, then maybe it would become better-. And he said, if it became better, then maybe your decisions would become better. Then maybe your actions would become better. Then maybe you would have a better life, and you wouldn't be in trouble all the time. I made a decision to turn my will, my thinking apparatus, and my life, over to the care of God as I understood Him.
Now, what is my life? Well, my life is nothing more than my actions. My life today is the cumulative total of all of the actions that I've taken throughout my lifetime. They have determined what my life is right now. Now with faulty thinking and bad decisions and bad actions, my life has always been screwed up. But if God directs my thinking, and if my decisions become better, and my actions become better, then my life is going to become better. I think that's all I'm really trying to recall do in Step Three, is to turn this thinking apparatus over to God in the hopes that my...'
(End of Side B or Tape 4)
© 1987, 1988 Joe McQ. and Carlie P. All Rights Reserved
[Joe & Charlie Table of Contents] [Tape 5, Side A Contents] [Top]
(Transcriber's note: "Pass It On,'. p. 197.
"There is no evidence that the Oxford Group had such a specific
program: yet the Oxford Group ideas prevail in these original six steps, as
listed by Bill: