Step 7

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
BPG
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Step 7

Post by BPG »

I know there are many atheists in AA. I'm interested to know how they work Step 7 (or Step 11).

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Blue Moon
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Re: Step 7

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Step 7:

Serenity prayer without the "God" bit. Prayer of St Francis. We can see where religious teachings are right - even those which don't seem to get practiced much by religious followers. Practice the character defects' opposite.

Step 11:

Conscious contact with a sense of right and wrong, with a moral compass, with empathy for our fellows, with balance, with enlightenment. It really depends on what your Higher Power is.
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Re: Step 7

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Blue Moon wrote:Step 7:

Serenity prayer without the "God" bit. Prayer of St Francis. We can see where religious teachings are right - even those which don't seem to get practiced much by religious followers. Practice the character defects' opposite.

Step 11:

Conscious contact with a sense of right and wrong, with a moral compass, with empathy for our fellows, with balance, with enlightenment. It really depends on what your Higher Power is.
Interesting...

I'm curious. When you as an atheist say the Serenity Prayer without the "God" bit, which is fine with me BTW, is there any expectation that something/anything beyond yourself is actually going to give you serenity, courage or wisdom?
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Step 7

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ezdzit247 wrote:...is there any expectation that something/anything beyond yourself is actually going to give you serenity, courage or wisdom?
Speaking as a nontheist I believe one thing strongly. I have, and never will have in this life, any idea of what lies beyond this life. I have absolutely no concrete undeniable evidence to either support or deny the existence of a personal god. But I have experienced enough to know that things -- heck even miracles -- happen that I can't explain. When I say the serenity prayer I do so with that attitude -- one of wonder, awe and humility at the unknowable vastness of the universe. I don't "expect" to be given serenity, courage or wisdom. But I've learned that, if I seek them, they are available. I don't need to label the source of that strength, nor do I need to understand or put words to it. For me, it is just there, to be "found" not to be "bestowed."

The same applies to steps 7/11 and all the other spiritual work of the steps. For years my problem with the spirituality of the steps was that I was trying to define the undefinable -- god, for example. Steps 4&5 showed my my defects and shortcomings. I learned to quit letting those rule my life, to let them go, as it were. And I, too, tried other always of living. That was really no different for me than turning my will and life over to the care of my higher power. It was just very much more specific.

I am not sure that makes any sense. Words often fail me on this subject as it relates to my recovery. God, or no god, turns out to be irelavent to my recovery and sobriety. Somebody here once said that their definition of their higher power was "not me." I've used those very words a lot in my spiritual path, and in ALL the steps.

Chip
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Re: Step 7

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chefchip wrote:
ezdzit247 wrote:...is there any expectation that something/anything beyond yourself is actually going to give you serenity, courage or wisdom?
Speaking as a nontheist I believe one thing strongly. I have, and never will have in this life, any idea of what lies beyond this life. I have absolutely no concrete undeniable evidence to either support or deny the existence of a personal god. But I have experienced enough to know that things -- heck even miracles -- happen that I can't explain. When I say the serenity prayer I do so with that attitude -- one of wonder, awe and humility at the unknowable vastness of the universe. I don't "expect" to be given serenity, courage or wisdom. But I've learned that, if I seek them, they are available. I don't need to label the source of that strength, nor do I need to understand or put words to it. For me, it is just there, to be "found" not to be "bestowed."

The same applies to steps 7/11 and all the other spiritual work of the steps. For years my problem with the spirituality of the steps was that I was trying to define the undefinable -- god, for example. Steps 4&5 showed my my defects and shortcomings. I learned to quit letting those rule my life, to let them go, as it were. And I, too, tried other always of living. That was really no different for me than turning my will and life over to the care of my higher power. It was just very much more specific.

I am not sure that makes any sense. Words often fail me on this subject as it relates to my recovery. God, or no god, turns out to be irelavent to my recovery and sobriety. Somebody here once said that their definition of their higher power was "not me." I've used those very words a lot in my spiritual path, and in ALL the steps.

Chip

I'm just curious why Blue Moon would recite any prayer.

Having been an atheist for several years, I can't imagine an atheist who would engage in prayer. Affirmations, yes. Prayer, no.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Step 7

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Hmm, no. Just keeping an open mind that something will grant it, as a philosophy. If you want something badly enough, you'll get it, so make it a burning desire to get that serenity, courage and wisdom.

But then, I would have to admit I am not an atheist, much more agnotically-inclined. I lack anything like enough faith to be atheist.
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Re: Step 7

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ezdzit247 wrote: I'm just curious why Blue Moon would recite any pra. r.

Having been an atheist for several years, I can't imagine an atheist who would engage in prayer. Affirmations, yes. Prayer, no.
I treat Serenity as philosophy, or a mantra, it affirms what we need to get. I treat the writing attributed to St Francis as something we would all do well to practice, regardless of religion.
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Re: Step 7

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Blue Moon wrote:Hmm, no. Just keeping an open mind that something will grant it, as a philosophy. If you want something badly enough, you'll get it, so make it a burning desire to get that serenity, courage and wisdom.

But then, I would have to admit I am not an atheist, much more agnotically-inclined. I lack anything like enough faith to be atheist.
Ah....

I prefer "burning desire" to "faith". Sounds more pro-active....
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Step 7

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I'm interested to know how they work Step 7 (or Step 11).
From my experience, it is not difficult to figure out who in the room is pro-religious or non-religious... And a simple matter to pull them aside and ask them.

But I have learned it's really none of my business (or anyone else's) except possibly the person I ask to sponsor me through the Steps, or the ones who ask me, to inquire what Higher Power they are using to work the Steps... 'a strictly personal matter' is what the Big Book calls it.

And even when sponsoring guys, I don't give a crap who they pray to, what they believe in... Just whether or Not they are taking the Action AA requires

The Big Book states the founders found it impossible to fully comprehend or define this power... so it is perfectly OK with me NOT to know what I pray to :)

But it sure is tempting to talk about others, as that cheap feeling of superiority I have gotten from it can be an easy way to feel 'good' fast. But "Relief never came from confessing other defects. Everyone had to confess their own" (12 x 12, Step 5)

Thanks... Tommy
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Re: Step 7

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In my experience, a humble request to be relieved of whatever fear plagues me requires no particular belief in a diety.

Also , many find that seeking that sense of serenity and release through quiet contemplation of positive thoughts and ideas is improving conscious contact with a better mental and spiritual place regardless of what we choose to identify as the source of that place.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa

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Re: Step 7

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Blue Moon wrote:
ezdzit247 wrote: I'm just curious why Blue Moon would recite any pra. r.

Having been an atheist for several years, I can't imagine an atheist who would engage in prayer. Affirmations, yes. Prayer, no.
I treat Serenity as philosophy, or a mantra, it affirms what we need to get. I treat the writing attributed to St Francis as something we would all do well to practice, regardless of religion.
The Serenity Prayer is a petition, not a mantra or an affirmation, which is why I asked if you recited this prayer with an expectation that something/anything beyond yourself is actually going to give you serenity, courage or wisdom. Logically, you could only give these things to yourself if you already had them, and if you already had them, you wouldn't have any need to ask yourself for them. Whatever works for you is fine with me. Just curious...

BTW the author of the Serenity Prayer was a protestant minister named Reinhold Niebuhr who wrote it in 1937.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Step 7

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BPG wrote:I know there are many atheists in AA. I'm interested to know how they work Step 7 (or Step 11).
Hmmmm. Step 7:
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
If we've just done our Step 5, and reflected for an hour following the instructions in the Big Book, we will already be humbled. So we just become willing as per the 6th Step and then say the 7th Step prayer and then get on with Step 8.

There really is nothing to 'work' even if we believe in a traditional concept of God. Any work to be done is for God to do. I'm sure God doesn't care if we believe in him (if God is a 'Him') or not; I think willingness (as in the willingness to want to change is the point).

In reality, shortcomings will be decreased - or removed - through the practise of Steps 10, 11, and 12. I think Steps 6 and 7 are purely mental positions, strategically placed after Step 5, for us to really want to change.

Just my thoughts.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: Step 7

Post by BPG »

Thanks everyone. I posted this question not to be provocative --- my interest was simply in seeing how self-described atheists make sense of things in the matters of higher powers, prayer and spirituality in general. I do NOT consider myself an atheist, but I suspect that I look at these things in ways very similar to those who DO consider themselves atheists. The question in my mind, then, is whether belief & non-belief --- in AA at least --- isn't largely a matter of semantics.

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Re: Step 7

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BPG wrote:The question in my mind, then, is whether belief & non-belief --- in AA at least --- isn't largely a matter of semantics.
Every once in a while someone says something that I am compelled to use in the future. BPG, that quote above is one of those things. For me, at least, the answer is yes. I believe that the authors of the Big Book would have agreed, mostly. Thanks!
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Re: Step 7

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Truly.
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