Maintaining a fit spiritual condition

I love the AA Big Book. I loved it so much I kept one on my bookshelf for 25 years. It was in pristine condition but my life was not.

I was very fortunate to be given a sponsor who had read the Big Book and worked the 12 Step programme as outlined in the first 164 pages. He shared his experience with me.

One day, when we were dining together, I asked him when would I be finished working the Steps. He grinned this huge grin, buttered himself another roll and had me turn to page 84-85, where I read:

"We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime."


"It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition."

In The Solution our White Book says "Encouraged to continue..." My sponsor gently showed me that, just for today, I have entered a "world of the Spirit" that "should continue for our lifetime". He likes to remind me that we work this programme one day at a time - in a row.

I have never reworked the steps - yet. Since experiencing "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization" (rock bottom) I have never stopped working the Steps. The Steps are not a formula. The Steps are not something to be completed, like a workbook or a manual for living. In my opinion the steps point me to spiritual principles that guide me on my life journey, provided I am willing to follow. The Steps are not the moon - the Steps are a finger that points towards the moon. The Steps are not the shore they are a raft that gets me to shore.

I tell my friends, either I work the Steps or the Steps work me. The spiritual principles that I am learning to practice as a way of life are true, and regardless of whether I accept them as true. I am powerless over lust - that is a truth in my life, irrespective of my acceptance or lack thereof. Forty years of active and painful sexaholism have proved that truth. I either work on letting go of resentment or resentment gets me drunk. Another fact of life for me. I either practice humility or I experience humiliation.

But what about "reworking the Steps"?  My sponsor led me back to this very familiar statement on page 58, "some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." He explained that willingness to let go of old ideas did not end when I began working the Steps - it was another principle that was to continue for a lifetime. He told me that everything I had learned yesterday was an "old idea" and that I had to be willing to let all of it go today. He said if I hold on to yesterday's ideas too tightly I would not be open to the new and deeper level of spiritual truth that was being revealed to me today. The way I "rework the steps" is I let go of everything I thought I knew was true about them yesterday. That keeps me open to what the Spirit of the Universe wants to teach me today.

Dr Silkworth said the program must have "depth and weight". Bill W said it is a "design for living that works in rough going". For decades I thought more, better and different lust was my solution - now I am discovering that more and deeper spiritual awakening one day at a time is the Real Solution.