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We Were Like
Fox and Alcoholics Anonymous
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., February 1996
of the very early recovering alcoholics who worked with
co-founder Bill W. was a man named Al, whose mother was
secretary to Emmet Fox, a popular lecturer on New Thought
philosophy. When the early groups were meeting in New York,
members would frequently adjourn after a meeting and go
to Steinway Hall to listen to Foxs lecture. To this
day there are AA groups that distribute Foxs pamphlets
along with Conference-approved AA literature.
An account sets forth in Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers
tells of the influence of Emmet Fox and his classic work,
Sermon on the Mount. An AA old-timer recollected:
The first thing he (Dr. Bob) did was to get Emmet
Foxs Sermon on the Mount
I was working on a woman in Cleveland, I called and asked
him what to do for someone who is going into DTs.
He told me to give her the medication and he said, When
she comes out of it and she decides she wants to be a different
woman, get her Drummonds The Greatest Thing
in the World. Tell her to read it through every day
for thirty days and shell be a different woman.
Those were the three main books at the time; that and The
Upper Room and The Sermon on the Mount.
Perhaps the fundamental contribution of Emmet Fox to Alcoholics
Anonymous was the simplicity and power of The Sermon
on the Mount. This book sets forth the basic principles
of the New Thought philosophy that God is the only
power, and that evil is insubstantial; that we form our
own destiny by our thoughts and our beliefs; that conditions
do not matter when we pray; that time and space and matter
are human illusions; that there is a solution to every problem;
that man is the child of God, and God is perfect good.
Central to New Thought philosophy was the perspective which
saw that love and personal forgiveness were the keys to
fundamental transformation: Love is by far the most
important thing of all. It is the Golden Gate of Paradise.
Pray for the understanding of love, and meditate upon it
daily. It casts out fear. It is the fulfilling of the Law.
It covers a multitude of sins. Love is absolutely invincible.
Fox went on to say that forgiveness was an integral part
of the Pathway of Love, which is open to everyone
in all circumstances, and upon which you may step at any
moment - at this moment if you like - requires no formal
introduction, has no conditions whatever. It calls for no
expensive laboratory in which to work, because your own
daily life, and your ordinary daily surroundings are your
laboratory. It needs no reference library, no professional
training, no external apparatus of any kind. All it does
need is that you should begin steadfastly to expel from
your mentality every thought of personal condemnation (you
must condemn a wrong action, but not the actor), of resentment
for old injuries, and of everything which is contrary to
the law of Love. You must not allow yourself to hate either
person, or group, or nation, or anything whatever.
must build-up by faithful daily exercise the true Love-consciousness,
and then all the rest of spiritual development will follow
upon that. Love will heal you. Love will illumine you.
One of the cornerstones of Foxs philosophy was to
live but one day at a time, to be responsible for ones
own thoughts and to clear up resentments, just as AA was
to teach that resentments are our number one cause
of slips. For Fox, one of the most important rules
for growth was to live in the present: Live in today,
and do not allow yourself to live in the past under any
pretense. Living the past means thinking about the past,
rehearsing past events, especially if you do this with feeling
yourself to be a man or woman who lives one day at a time.
Youll be surprised how rapidly conditions will change
for the better when you approach this ideal.
Emmet Fox emphasized the idea that thoughts are real things,
and that one cannot have one kind of mind and another kind
of life. According to Fox, if we want to change our lives,
then we must change our thoughts first. Many of his simply
stated profundities have contributed to an AA philosophy
that has transformed the lives of literally two million
S., Hartford, Conn.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., February 1996
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