Many Paths to Spirituality, P-84

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The long awaited pamphlet on Spirituality has finally hit the streets.
Approved by the 64th Conference, it was many years in the making.
Some brief excerpts are below. You can download the entire pamphlet at
http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-84_manypathstospirituality.pdf 
Or wait for your local purveyor to stock it.

A.A. — a kinship of common suffering

“Newcomers are approaching A.A. at the rate of tens of thousands yearly. They represent almost every belief and attitude imaginable. We have athe­ists and agnostics. We have people of nearly every race, culture and religion. In A.A. we are supposed to be bound together in the kinship of a common suffering. Consequently, the full individual liberty to practice any creed or principle or therapy what­ever should be a first consideration for us all. Let us not, therefore, pressure anyone with our individual or even our collective views. Let us instead accord each other the respect and love that is due to every human being as he tries to make his way toward the light. Let us always try to be inclusive rather than exclusive; let us remember that each alcoholic among us is a member of A.A., so long as he or she so declares.” —Bill W. (A.A. Grapevine, July 1965)

A misconception about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a religious organization. Since A.A. groups often rent space in churches, attending an A.A. meeting in a church basement can reinforce that impression, and the possibility of hearing a prayer at the end of a meeting can further cement the idea for some.

Yet A.A.’s pioneering members realized from the beginning that their sole purpose was to help people gain sobriety, and they went to great lengths to ensure the broadest membership among all who suffer from alcoholism. A.A. is a Fellowship, a community of like-minded sufferers who have found a way out of a hopeless condition.

………

But one thing was sure — whatever our backgrounds, our beliefs or our lack of belief — our drinking had gotten out of hand.

………

We found sobriety — and some obstacles

Having finally found something that worked in our struggle against alcohol, we clung to A.A. like a drowning person clutches onto a life raft. But some of us soon encountered some questions about spiri­tuality that seemed to present obstacles to our full acceptance of the A.A. program. Based on our prior beliefs — or the lack thereof — we felt at odds with what we perceived to be a religious approach to A.A. or pressure to adopt certain religious or spiri­tual concepts in order to remain in A.A.

………

Working the A.A. Program

Recognizing, first of all, that we needed to stay so­ber, many of us began to discover that we could utilize the A.A. program without conforming to reli­gious or spiritual concepts we either disagreed with or didn’t have. As we became more familiar with A.A., we began to realize the deep significance in the phrasing of A.A.’s Twelve Steps, which empha­size “a Power greater than ourselves,” and “God, as we understand him.”

These words and A.A.’s traditional commitment to inclusivity provided comfort to many of us, leaving the door to spirituality open for alcoholics of all faiths, beliefs and practices, and allowing each of us to deter­mine for himself or herself just what to believe.

Many paths to spirituality

Many of us came to rely on a “Higher Power,” whether it was the collective power of A.A., the A.A. group itself, or some other entity, concept or being that helped us to stay sober.

………

Many of us come from different belief systems and cultures, yet there has always been plenty of latitude in A.A. for members to practice whatever belief works best for them.

………

The spirit of tolerance is strong in A.A., and members of all faiths and traditions find common ground in our program of recovery.

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