terms "spiritual experience" and "spiritual awakening"
are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading,
shows that the personality change sufficient to bring
about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among
us in many different forms.
it is true that our first printing gave many readers the
impression that these personality changes, or religious
experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular
upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous.
the first few chapters a number of sudden revolutionary
changes are described. Though it was not our intention
to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless
concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an
immediate and overwhelming "God-consciousness" followed
at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.
our rapidly growing membership of thousands of alcoholics
such transformations, though frequent, are by no means
the rule. Most of our experiences are what psychologist
William James calls the "educational variety" because
they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often
friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long
before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has
undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life;
that such a change could hardly have been brought about
by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months
could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline.
With few exceptions our members find they have tapped
an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify
with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.
of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves
is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious
members call it "God-consciousness."
emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable
of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience
can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all
spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude
of intolerance or belligerent denial.
find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality
of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness
are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.