Is Belief Enough?
A comment left on a post on the Facebook page, "Recover," a page paired with this site, is the sole inspiration for this blog post.
The original post on social media is:
"My mind tried to kill me but it needed my body to get around.
This is why we need to be restored to sanity. The pioneers found that the mind, the state of mind that preceded the first drink, is the crux of our problem. It’s the center. Restore the mind. Recover.
Is it simple? Yes. Yes it is. Follow the directions as they are laid out in the Big Book. Is the solution drastic. Yes. Yes it is.
Does the hopeless and desperate alcoholic have another alternative? Sure, the asylums are always looking to make some more dough. And the undertaker? He’s always got space for one more.
Is the effort to restore the mind our first priority? No. The restoration of the mind will be the natural consequence of being reconnected to a Power greater than yourself.
That long period of reconstruction is not only limited to damages (to relationships) we try to right through the amends. The greatest reconstruction will be to the relationship with God. Repair that....recover.
Now that’s a message worth carrying to another alcoholic."
The comment was as follows:
"I don't know if I agree with this, I lost my Son to alcohol and for many years he was SO closed to God, he never stop reading the bible and he was an amazing human being, but it didn't help, he couldn't stop, and it took his life."
There is so much to unpack here and my initial thought was "Man, I hope his legacy and the price he paid really benefits another who finds themself in his position." The same position many of us nearly fell to as we pursued an illusion into the gates of insanity or death.
My next thought and my own musing reminded me of what the pioneers of Alcoholics Anonymous found as they reached for a solution. They identified the problem that we have and came to see that no amount of self-knowledge would fix us nevermind keep us from falling back to the drink. We just didn't have a defense (though for the longest time we believed we did).
And herein lies the other problem that they uncovered, a problem that even Dr. Carl Jung easily recognized while treating Rowland Hazard and other drunks during his life dedicated to helping others.
The simple fact that our beliefs, and efforts to educate ourselves about things spiritual, was still not enough to remedy our problem(s). The insanity that precedes the first drink, the divide, or disconnect, from a Power greater than ourselves.
Look to the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is your answer. The original text read "Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps...." Eventually, in 1941, the word "experience" was dropped in favor of "awakening."
The beliefs, no matter how deep they are, are not enough to keep the real alcoholic in check...sober, sane, recovered.
The alcoholic who has lost all power of choice needs to have a spiritual experience. This is different than belief. Belief is a set of ideas held within, or in mind. Experience is the result of action (leading to a new set of conceptions and motives - beliefs).
Dr. Carl Jung admitted, and even instructed his patient Rowland about this, or should I rather say, warned.
"Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. (He was already a believer.) This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience."
Please notice he used the word "vital."
Once an alcoholic has recovered and has had a spiritual experience it is hoped they will go pass it on. The chapter "Working With Others" not only clearly instructs us on how to do this but it also addresses this exact warning.
"Your prospect may belong to a religious denomination. His religious education and training may be far superior to yours. In that case he is going to wonder how you can add anything to what he already knows. But he will be curious to learn why his own convictions have not worked and why yours seem to work so well. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. Let him see that you are not there to instruct him in religion. Admit that he probably knows more about it than you do, but call to his attention the fact that however deep his faith and knowledge, he could not drink. Perhaps your story will help him see where he has failed to practice the very precepts he knows so well."
Notice the word "vital" is used again (as it is many times throughout the Big Book).
Don't let this mans passing go unnoticed. Use it, and the passing of so many others who don't gain freedom from alcohol, to learn. To study. To grow in effectiveness. And most certainly to pass on the message of the spiritual awakening. Not the mess, and certainly not the diluted and dangerous false messages that work in the opposite direction of these "general principles to most denominations."