|"Some of us have tried to hold onto our |
old ideas and the result was nil until
we let go absolutely." ('Big Book' p. 58)
We are told in the 'Big Book' of Alcoholics Anonymous (at page 84) that we have "ceased fighting everyone and everything - even alcohol." But is that true for us? The "fight or flight" response is perhaps a human's deepest instinctive drive, and is far more basic than even his or her sexual instincts. It represents survival or 'being' itself.
In the "How it Works" passage that is used to open so many meetings, we hear time and again that "some of us . . . tried to hold onto our old ideas," in fact, "and the result was nil until we let go (of those old ideas) absolutely." Nil, nada, nothing! Nothing changes until we become willing to try and let go of old ideas - all of them - without reservation, and that is a tall order.
Our "ambition," which is discussed in the closing paragraphs of Step 12 in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, is to attain and maintain a conscious contact with the God of our own understanding in order that the "(i)deas, emotions and attitudes" which were once the "guiding forces" of our lives can be "cast aside" in favour of "new motivations and conceptions." ('Big Book,' page 27.) To establish such a 'conscious' contact we must clear our mind of that which already fills our 'consciousness,' i.e., our "old ideas."
But just how do we surrender our old ideas? In order to "practice" Step Three, as it is set out in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, we are told that in all times of emotional disturbance and indecision, we can simply "pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness" recite and contemplate the words of the Serenity Prayer. Yet, while this is critical for times of great turmoil and challenges, how do we practice letting go of old ideas in the mundane moment-to-moment affairs of our daily lives? This is a more subtle question, yet the answer may, in fact, be more crucial for our attaining true peace of mind and the sanity necessary to establish and maintain permanent sobriety and a contented, purposeful life.
self-examination, meditation and prayer") to refrain from all actions, at least for a moment, in order to realize that the thoughts coursing through our minds are not 'who' we really are, and that they are definitely not our allies in trying to bend life to how we think we want it to go.
We need to surrender to the facts (i) that life is inherently unmanageable by any one individual, (ii) that it evolves quite well enough without our grasping for control over it, and (iii) that we are not our thoughts themselves, but rather the quiet, simple observer of those thoughts. If one is able to surrender one's thoughts and his or her identification with them, one then becomes capable of making peace with both the world, and with one's true 'Self' which lies beyond the false duality which is mentally manufactured by the small 'self' of the human ego.
REMEMBER: We are not here to bend the world to our own narrow will. Rather we must demonstrate a deep and abiding faith in the infallible rightness of the course of events.