In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, members often refer to steps ten, eleven, and twelve as the growth steps. Many in the program believe if one falters in this area of the twelve steps, they will slide down the slippery slope back into the “bondage of self”. This entry will examine step ten and the importance of the daily appraisal recommended in the Big Book, there are some specifics. On page 84 of the Big book we find the following suggestions,
“We continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commence this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.”
This plan for living, as presented in the Big Book, when used daily, in earnest, keeps us on track. We live intuitively guided by the Spirit of the Universe, knowing the next right thing to do, most of the time. We practice being awake and aware of people and the world around us. We consider how we may be helpful to others and we are prepared to admit when we drift toward being reactionary, judgmental or unforgiving. Although we are now aware of our shortcomings, we may still drift to self pity and emotionalism when we fall out of practice with steps ten, eleven and twelve.
Step Ten reduces the risk of building resentment and falling prey to the “bondage of self” as identified in the Third Step Prayer. With an honest effort, Step Ten can prevent us falling into the ego mind, by at once admitting our wrong-doing. The unexpected gift of the twelve steps of recovery is simply knowing the “truth” and the truth we now know is “I am my own problem.” When this revelation is on board, it does not mean we are always at fault however it does mean we are not to blame others for our problems. We now begin to recognize we must live from our heart/spirit and move out of the ego/thinking. When we lose our way, which we will do, we can at once ask God to remove that which blocks us and proceed to right our wrongdoing. We now have a plan for living which really works!
Please note, Inward Grace maintains a clear distinction between spirituality and religion. The Inward Grace disclaimer:
“The word ‘spiritual’ does not refer to religious matters. All activity which drives the human being towards some form of development-physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social–if it is in advance of her/his present state, is essentially spiritual in nature and is indicative of the livingness of an inner divine entity.”
Richard RohrFrom Breathing Under Water writes:
We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
I come from a religious-life practice where we learned from the Jesuits about a daily and personal “examination of conscience.” But I found that people with a mature conscience did this naturally anyway, and some way too much. Now of many of the Jesuits recommend instead an “examination of consciousness” which to me feels much more fruitful. That is what I would recommend if I were teaching Step Ten.
You must step back from your compulsive identification and unquestioned attachment to yourself in order to be truly conscious. Pure consciousness cannot be “just me” but instead is able to watch “me” from a distance. It is where of me seeing, knowing, and feeling. Most people do not understand this awareness, because they are totally identified with their own thoughts, feelings, and compulsive patterns of perception. They have no proper distance from themselves, which is what we mean be egocentricity.
You see why so many of our mystics and saints emphasize detachment. Without it, people could not move to any deep level of consciousness, much less to the level of soul. Meister Eckhart said detachment was almost the whole spiritual path, and the early Franciscans seemed to talk about nothing else, although they called it “poverty.”
We do not live in a culture that much appreciates detachment or such poverty. We are consumers and capitalists by training and habit, which is exactly why we have such problems with addiction to begin with. We always think more is better, for some sad reason. For properly attached (that is, “non-addicted”) persons, deeper consciousness comes rather naturally. They discover their own soul, which is their deepest self, and thus have access to a Larger Knowing beyond themselves.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.