Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spiritual Awakening: Filling the "Vacuum of the Soul"

Re-reading the March 1971 "A.A. Grapevine" which commemorates the life and passing of Bill Wilson, the man who first formulated the Twelve Steps as we know them today, I am struck by the deep and moving language of the introduction to that volume. The language describes in scant lines the state of perpetual loneliness and suffering Bill and Dr.Bob survived and recovered from, as well as the "new state of consciousness and being" - to use Bill's description from his essay on Step 11 in the "Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions" - that they discovered within themselves and shared with the world.

Bill is described as having "found eternal peace" on January 24, 1971. I know, however, that he had witnessed such peace long before his passing. A man of the nineteenth-century whose life spanned the formative decades of the twentieth, Bill witnessed supposed scientific "miracles" from the Wright brothers' first flight to man's walking on the moon, events he famously wrote about and speculated upon in the most famous of his many writings.

"Full comprehension" of what Bill and Dr. Bob achieved, says the anonymous writer of this brief introduction, "is difficult to set down in black and white." "Both men," he writes, "filled the vacuums of their own souls with their 'language of the heart,'" which they then passed on to those of us who are willing to seek out the nuances of that most estranged of human dialects. (Emphasis added.) "Each of us," says the anonymous eulogist in this introduction, "in the lonely universe of individual consciousness" - emphasis added, once more - "must reckon what he or she has taken of the gift that the Higher Power gave to Bill and Bob, the gift they shared with us."

And that is the miracle of the Twelve Steps, the miracle of recovery from all addictions and suffering: that it is possible in this lifetime to forego one's egocentric consciousness and fill 'the vacuum of the soul' with the grace of unselfish love, thus emerging from that 'loneliness of individual consciousness' into a shared and unitive G_d-consciousness we each possess.

Bill was first and foremost a man of science before his conversion experience, and he remained a lifelong student of both physics and metaphysics, as well as the human psyche. He was once interviewed by Thomas Edison for a job at Edison's famous lab, and he writes of grappling with the intellectual problems of nuclear physics and "remote propositions" like Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Yet, he was a man of faith who had an experiential knowledge of G_d.

Einstein, who was always metaphysically enigmatic for a scientist (and a professed atheist who nonetheless sought only "the thoughts of God", dismissing all other thoughts as "mere details"), at one point noted that mankind's "greatest delusion" (delusions being concepts all of us in recovery should be eminently familiar with) is that there is "more than one of us". That is a delusion that Bill shattered over and over many times in his lifetime, always demonstrating and writing of the inherent unity of G_d and the "unsuspected inner resource" of G-d-consciousness he described as being "the Great Reality" existing deep down within every one of us.

The great Seiss psychologist, Carl Jung, in his letter to Bill in January of 1961 - a letter Lois Wilson described as her husband's "most treasured possession" - wrote that the alcoholic's "thirst for alcohol" was "on a low level", the thirst of mankind's being for "wholeness: in medieval terms - union with God." During their lives,Bill and Bob learned how to quench their own existential thirsts for wholeness with a unitive and unifying love that broke them out of the "vacuum of their own souls", demonstrating thereby to all of us that "the lonely universe of individual consciousness" is in fact delusionary, that Einstein was again correct, and that there exists a state of grace in which we all abide, irrespective if we are conscious or unconscious to that reality, in which God (and the universe) constitute a unitive, undivided and absolute Whole, devoid of all relativities.

"The measure of our debt," the anonymous eulogist concludes, "is, of course, drawn somewhere near the limits of gratitude itself, in the infinity of love."

No comments:

Post a Comment