("Acceptance Was the Answer," Alcoholics Anonymous, page 417)
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Why this is so, seems to be (a) that courage is almost wholly an internal matter, (b) that sometimes exercising courage goes against our most basic instincts, and (c) courage often calls for us to do or say (or not do or say) something that flies in the face of the life lessons we have learned.
The Japanese have a saying which seems to have universal application: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down." Oftentimes it is much easier to go along with the crowd, or do what "other people" would do in the same circumstances, but for the alcoholic anonymous trying to live his or her life on a different spiritual plane, such actions may prove fatal.
How many alcoholics have started their last binge because they did not want to stand out as the only person not having a drink at a wedding or a cocktail party? Being "convinced" we are alcoholic addicts requires that we give up the "ideas. emotions and attitudes that were the guiding forces" of our lives, and to adopt wholly new "conceptions and motives" for living our lives.
[Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 27.]
"From somewhere back in high school I remembered a poem that says something like, 'Cowards die a thousand deaths, a brave man only once,' and I wanted to do what had to be done. I was terrified of walking into prison but told my children that I could not come out the back door until I walked through the front. I remembered that courage was not the absence of fear; it was the ability to continue in spite of it.""Courage" - from "cour," the Old French word for 'heart' - means that we have to shift our thinking and identification from our ordinary level of self-consciousness (or "ego" consciousness) to a deeper and higher level of our consciousness and being, and then to base our actions (or refrain from taking action) upon what that higher, God-consciousness dictates.
In such cases, it is perhaps helpful to re-examine what our Serenity Prayer means, and what it is we are asking for, or seeking, in the most challenging situations we face in our lives.
To me, God, or the deeper level of God-consciousness we are all capable of attaining, is the "serenity" we ask for. The "wisdom" I seek is a recognition that there are at least two distinct levels of human consciousness: the "ego" or "Self," and the higher "Self" or "soul" of a man or woman. And the "courage" I need is to let go of the thoughts and thinking patterns of ego-consciousness in order that the thoughts of God-consciousness may emerge from where they have been obscured.
(Remember that " deep down within every man, woman and child is the fundamental idea of God," although "(i)t maybe obscured by calamity, pomp and worship of other things, but in some forth or other it is there.")
[Alcoholics Anonymous, page 55.]
"God is either everything or else He is nothing," we read at page 53 of the 'Big Book.' "God either is, or He isn't. What (is) our choice to be?"
Yet we are challenged - throughout our recovery - to practice attaining to this higher God-consciousness by disciplining our smaller "selves" through the interwoven practices of "self-examination meditation and prayer." Without such discipline and practice, we may not be able to summon the "courage" to face, and face down, the things we will surely have to.
[Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 98.]