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Friday, September 30, 2011

Trusting Infinite God vs. Our Finite Selves

"Courage is the first requirement of spirituality. A coward can never be moral."

-- Mahatma Gandhi --
In the discussion on the Fourth Step in the 'Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, we read (at page 68) the following passage on self-reliance, self-confidence, fear and faith in God:
"Self-reliance was good as far as it went, but it didn't go far enough. Some of us once had great self-confidence, but it didn't fully solve the fear problem, or any other. When it made us cocky, it was worse."

"Perhaps there is a better way - we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would haves us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enables us to match calamity with serenity."
The ego, "self" in its many manifestations (such as self-reliance, self-confidence, self-centeredness, even self-esteem ), is the root of the alcoholic addict's problem. The raw fuel that feeds the ego are our fears that can never be allayed and our desires that can never be quenched. Thus, to move beyond the limited "self" of the ego, we must move toward the unlimited "Self" of God. It is essential, therefore, that we establish and maintain a conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves so that we may truly "trust infinite God rather than our finite selves."

"(D)eep down in every man, woman, and child," we read in the 'Big Book,' "is the fundamental idea of God. It may be obscured by calamity, by pomp, by worship of other things, but in some form or other it is there." In establishing a conscious contact with God, and learning to rely upon Him, God "enables us" to strip away all these coverings and to truly "match calamity with serenity."

Such serenity is the hallmark of our deeper God-consciousness that is utterly devoid of fear and desire. Thus, the simple prayer that has been widely adopted by A.A. (and its sister organizations) is a prayer for serenity, courage and wisdom - all of which are aspects of the higher Self but wholly unavailable to the smaller self of the ego.

In The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (at pages 40-41) we read: "(I)t is really easy to begin the practice of Step Three. In all times of emotional disturbance or indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done."

God is the "serenity" we seek. Asking for "courage" (from the French cour meaning 'heart') is to move from lower, egoic self-consciousnes' to the higher Self of God-consciousness. And "wisdom" is to know that there is within us both the lower self and the Higher Self of God. In affirming and invoking this Power that is greater than ourselves, we move from our reliance on, and our narrow identification with, the ego to a realization of, and a reliance upon, the God of our understanding.

In the end, we find and access this "Great Reality" deep down within our Being. "In the last analysis it is only there that He may be Found." ("Big Book,' page 55.)

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