The Power Problem: We Agnostics and The Spiritual Experience

Once I accept that I am powerless over my compulsion to stop the mental obsession and trigger the physical cravings that start active addiction, I must decide if I want to continue in the cycle of white knuckle “control” and relapse OR seek a power outside myself to solve the whole mess for me.

As the Big Books states, “Lack of power, that was our dilemma […..] Obviously.”

Obviously, indeed.

Happily, the Big Book takes all mystery out of the Higher Power search process. As Lawrie C. adeptly points out in his workbook, “We Agnostics” lays out arguments for the agnostic or atheist to be willing to try and find HP. The chapter is NOT about proving the existence of God. I will not summarize the arguments here as I want to focus on the point of the arguments: willingness.

The Big Book states, “Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery.” (page 567)

Furthermore, willingness itself is the “simple cornerstone [upon which] a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built” (page 47).

In the very next paragraph, willingness is again referred to as simple in that we don’t have to accept myriad religious or spiritual “articles of faith. [Instead,] we could commence at a simpler level.” (page 47)

So willingness is the only key ingredient to step 2. And just like step one, step two is a conclusion of the mind. I am not taking any overt action.

Step one? I am honest and conclude I am powerless over the mental obsession and physical cravings.

Step two? I conclude I am willing to seek the Higher Power to solve the problem I discovered I couldn’t solve in step one. I have to be open minded in order to access this willingness.

We don’t expect to have that Higher Power relationship fully online after step two or even three. 2 & 3 are just the willingness and the decision to seek HP. The text says, “The main object [of the book] is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself that will solve your problem.” (page 45)

So, I become willing in step 2, make the decision in step 3 then WORK THE REST OF THE STEPS to have the spiritual awakening which is essentially recovery, one day at a time, by living a Higher Power centered life.

Lawrie has a beautiful image as HP as the true North on a compass which comes through living a value (principle) driven life. The other 359 degrees of the compass are the ego driven life in which I seek only what I want and how I want it.

So step 2 in this image is the willingness to say that true North exists and that it can be found through the steps. True North (HP) is different for each of us which is the gift of the twelve steps. We each define our own HP and we do not have to have it defined before we move through the steps. It is the process of the steps that will define it for us through experience.

My history in OA tells me that willingness, honesty and open mindedness are all that is required. I believe I have them on a deeper level now that I have given up artificial sweeteners and caffeine. The surrender of my addictive chemicals has been slow but the journey is what it is. I am grateful for the willingness to live just for today free of their influence, so I can instead seek the influence of HP.

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