Category Archives: Basic Text Self-References

References within “We Agnostics”


“In the preceding chapters you have learned something of alcoholism…an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” (page 44)

Many people might disagree with the thought of a spiritual experience being the only way to recover from alcoholism, but we are only saying that is the only thing that has ever worked for any of us.

“We had to find a power by which we could live…a Power greater than ourselves…where and how were we to find this Power?
“Well, that’s exactly what this book is about…to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem…a book which we believe to be spiritual as well as moral.” (page 45)

With spiritual fellowship today being our “sufficient substitute” (page 152) for alcohol, our Basic Text shows the steps each of us has taken to grow into it. We have not turned to our Maker to help us stay sober or to show us how to not drink, but to remove our problem for us by transforming us into “the Fellowship of the Spirit”. (page 164)

“…(the idea of) your own conception…applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book.” (page 47)

Perception might be a better word to use here, but the bottom line is that we are each free to believe, to perceive or “conceive” as we wish while humbly giving “God as you understand God” (page 164) an opportunity to reveal Himself by doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves along the line of an “effective mental defense against the first drink“. (page 43)

“In this book you will read the experience of a man who thought he was an atheist…a minister’s son…rebellious at what he thought an overdose of religious education…dogged by trouble and frustration…to the point of self-destruction.
“…’Is it possible that all the religious people I have known are wrong?'” (page 55-56)

A.A. is not about trying to change anyone’s belief or lack of belief. Our experience simply shows that anyone at all who is willing to to take the Steps can ultimately discover “that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” (page 28)


References within “How It Works”


“Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
“(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
“(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
“(c) That God could and would if He were sought.” (page 60)

Much criticism of A.A. as if it were some kind of brainwashing cult stems from people twisting or at least misunderstanding the above “combined experience and knowledge” (page 19) into something other or more than what is actually being shared. Our combined experience has to do with “effective spiritual experiences” (page 25) having brought us into spiritual fellowship with others as a “sufficient substitute” for alcohol (page 152), and our combined knowledge has to do with our having come to understand ourselves as alcoholics in need of that. We do hope others like ourselves will become “sold” on these truths about ourselves while considering their own troubles, of course, yet we never try to tell others about themselves or to brainwash them into believing things they cannot prove to themselves and for themselves through their very own personal experience. So rather than ever brow-beating anyone with anything, a careful reading of our book will show we only say things like this:

“In this book you read again and again that faith did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him.” (pages 70-71)

We are not telling other people they need to have anyone do anything in their lives, we are only saying we hope our combined experience can help others come to believe and to truly know for themselves that the Heavenly Throne Room is just as approachable and can be just as effective for them as it has already proved to be for us.


References within “Into Action”


“…we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects. This brings us to the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter.” (page 72)

Each of the Twelve Steps is also mentioned in “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions“, of course, but our suggested directions for taking them can only be found within our Basic Text. You might also hear people speak of “working” the Steps, but that is something different even though there is work to be done as we take them. To “work” something is to practice one’s craft upon it, but we do not approach the Steps as craftsmen and they are not in need of any work being done to them unless someone is wishing to alter them to lead to a different experience or destination than what is shared in our Basic Text.

“Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything…” (page 75)

Kind of like having a sponsor in print!

“The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve.” (page 88)

Sharing “our combined experience and knowledge” (page 19) with a still-suffering alcoholic is not the entirety of Step Twelve, but “Working With Others” offers some crucial insights and details as to how we might best do that.


References within “Working With Others”


“…never force yourself upon [a recovery prospect]…wait for the end of his (or her) next drinking bout. You might place this book where s/he can see it in the interval…” (page 90)

In principle, the overall idea here is to not present our solution (Step Two and beyond) until after Step One has been taken.

“When [your prospect] sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic…how baffled you were, how you finally learned that you were sick…an account of the struggles you made to stop…the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.” (pages 91-92)

Our problem is alcoholism, not alcohol, and our duty here is to try to help the next alcoholic see his or her own powerlessness and hopelessness just as surely as we have already seen our own.

“If you are satisfied that [your recovery prospect] is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady… Don’t, at this stage, refer to this book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it.” (page 92)

Objections will arise at Step Two, and it is best to not arouse them while still dealing with Step One.

“If [your candidate] shows interest, lend him (or her) your copy of this book.” (page 94)

If you wish, keep an extra copy on hand for lending to others.

“If [your prospect] is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him (or her) to read this book in the interval…
“If s/he thinks s/he can do the job in some other way (than through spiritual means), or prefers some other spiritual approach (than the one suggested in our book)…be friendly. Let it go at that.” (page 95)

A.A. is not a compilation of “Whatever works for you”, and our book is intended “to (help) keep our message from becoming garbled and twisted beyond recognition.” (as mentioned by Dr. Bob and in “A.A. Comes of Age“, page 144)

“[Your prospect] has read this volume and says s/he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery. Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice.” (page 96)

Rather than ever telling anyone what to do, we simply share what we have done.