"When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade," we read in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous (at page 53), "we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?""Be the captive of Love in order that you may be truly free - free from coldness and the worship of self. Thousands have passed who were wise and learned but who were strangers to Love. No name is left of them, nothing to proclaim their fame and dignity or to relate their history in the march of time. Although you may attempt to do a hundred things in this world, only Love will give you release from the bondage of yourself."
-- Jami --
("Essential Sufism," p. 115.)
If we truly wish to be relieved of the "bondage of self," we must humbly take the position that God is, indeed, everything - that everything we perceive proceeds from, is, and is of, God. This position of non-duality allows us to truly embrace Step Three. We can be assured that our lives (and the world) are all part of a Unitive Whole that mystics, teachers and sages from all the world's great wisdom traditions have identified with a Power greater than themselves.
The great teacher of mystical Islam, the Sufi poet Jami, (above), like the Scriptures, equates this Higher Power with 'Love.' Thus, it is no mere coincidence that in our Eleventh Step Prayer (i.e., the Prayer of Saint Francis, a man profoundly influenced by Sufi teachings) we pray: "Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted - to understand, than to be understood - to love, than to be loved."
Simple on its face, this aspiration is profound in its implications. It is an appeal to have our narrow self-consciousness lifted to an entire new plane - that of a transcendental Love, without conditions or even objects. "For," we affirm, "it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by dying (to self, or the ego) that one awakens to Eternal Life."
To love, in the sense meant by Jami, St. Francis, and so many other saints, sages and spiritual teachers, is to truly turn one's will and one's life over to the power of God as we understand Him, to die to self and awaken to the Eternal Self that is the core of our inner existence, to die before dying.
Am I truly ready to take this greatest leap of faith, to truly put aside once and for all reliance on my own narrow self-will? This, it seems, is the central question of recovery, recovery from all of our addictions and from our obsessive, self-centered, lower consciousness.