True knowledge is gained through the experiment of living life. I have gained truth about myself and my life from the results of my experience, through the tools that I have acquired and been given, and through the actual consequences of my words, thoughts, and most importantly, my actions. I know what has failed me and what has brought me success. And I can reasonably assume that anyone who shares a similar experience may also experience similar results.
This is precisely why the Big Book prophetically states that you can rely on anything a [recovered] alcoholic may say about himself. A recovered addict who has gained clarity and success knows himself completely. The reason my experience makes so much sense to me is because I understand who I am, and the more we understand ourselves, the more we understand everything. As I’ve suggested before, I don’t think we are really that complicated. We are essentially just human creatures on earth, sometimes doing good stuff, sometimes doing bad stuff, and sometimes just hangin’ out. And given the existential law of cause and effect, you probably wanna try to do more good stuff than bad stuff.
In my book, I described the sort of behavior that saved my life as ‘spiritual action’. We can’t get too bent about word choice because the solution and the knowledge gained through experiential success is very practical, grounded, fact-based (in its purest sense) and time-tested. So when I say spiritual action, I’m not talking about fluff. Spiritual action means moral action, as well as many other practical actions such as prayer, meditation, exercise, work, art, music, creativity and outdoor activities that benefit ourselves, others, and the greater world around us.
So what is our core problem in simple, layman’s terms?
Human shame [and perhaps sadness] is a universal epidemic. Addicts and alcoholics have no monopoly on shame.
What are we ashamed of, you may ask?
Why being human, of course. We are ashamed of our human bodies, for one. We are ashamed of our minds, our thoughts and our feelings, especially our feelings of self-consciousness, insecurity, depression, anger, jealousy, envy, weakness and stupidity. We are ashamed of our feelings of powerlessness, meaninglessness and purposelessness. We are ashamed of our size, our mortality, our past, our future, our frailties, our failures and our insignificance. We are ashamed of our greed, our lust, our gluttony, our cowardice, and the list goes on and on. You get the picture, I’m sure. Being human by definition is a vulnerable condition both internally, externally, and most importantly, spiritually.
The Big Book says the knowledge of God is in our make-up as human beings. I believe we all know that God Is on some level, even the atheists and the silly agnostics out there. To deny God is really to deny your human being, your existence. And forget about addiction and alcoholism because that, my friends, may be the most precarious position of all.
God, teach me how to better love and accept myself that I may better love and accept others and do Your work well…