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Twelve Steps to Spiritual Awakening

Enlightenment for Everyone

By Herb K.

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Capizon Publishing        ISBN13: 978-0-9659672-4-2        356 pages        $22.00

Excerpts from Foreword by James Finley Ph.D.

This book …is radical in that it goes to the very depths of all the Wisdom traditions of spiritual awakening, of realizing God's oneness with us in life itself.

At the same time, it is extremely practical. Instead of …philosophical, theological and abstract terms, it is always exploring this path to awakening experientially. With hands-on, actual experience it shows how each of us, in our own way and at our own pace, can keep opening ourselves and be taken ever deeper into this experience.

Alcoholism [is an] intense form of the universal dilemma of being addicted to our illusions and delusions about ourselves. Therefore, those reading this book who are in any of the Twelve Step fellowships will feel very comfortable with its …invitation to allow themselves to be taken … closer to the original intention of the Co-founders of the initial Twelve Step program and its spiritual foundation.

Those of you who are not alcoholics, drug addicts, and/or members of the various twelve-step programs will easily recognize in the talk about stuck places, points of confusion, fear and reactivity, that we are actually in the domain of all of us as human beings in our brokenness.

Therefore, this book…invites all of us, all humans dealing with the messiness of our lives, to discover and apply a specific process of healing. This book is eminently practical because it reveals a specific structure and methodology that guarantees healing through a spiritual awakening.

What's particularly at the heart of this book is a form of profound encouragement. The very thing we dread the most, the thing that hurts the most, that we're most ashamed of, that we're most afraid of, is that we don't have what it takes to rise above it. Yet, if deeply embraced with trust in God, this thing, this experience of powerlessness, ends up paradoxically being the pathway into this Oneness. That mystery, that surprising mystery, which we never suspected or expected, is the source of encouragement so badly needed today.

Excertps from the text:

History reveals many paths to spiritual awakening: an awareness or experience of the Divine that transforms an individual (instantly or over time).

Having personally tried many paths without much success, I am particularly grateful for being led to Twelve-Step spirituality. It is a unique distillation of history's many experiences, filtering out the jargon and dogma. It has no "shoulds" or "thou shalts"; but it does have definite suggestions, and even some "musts."

It differs from self-help programs by recognizing the futility of seeking and relying on human help. To effectively begin the Twelve-Step process a person must reach bottom-feel hopelessness and despair, while conceding personal powerlessness. The elevator moving down can stop at any floor. That becomes a person's "bottom."

The promise of completing all of the Twelve Steps is a spiritual awakening.

The evolution is not just to transform, but to transcend-not by the self but through the self. This is done by a series of decisions and actions. To be changed and to return to our Origin-union through communion.

We listen to the small voice inside and decide accordingly. We have an experience. We learn. We listen again and take an action that produces an experience … and once more we learn. Then we listen some more, respond some more, experience some more.

Then, as the result of circumstance, Grace, followed by my willingness and action, I began a journey that led to waking up. This was a slow process-but a powerful process.

I cannot change life as it unfolds around me, but I surely can change my perception of it, my attitude toward what is happening, and my reaction to it.

Today my life flourishes. I still encounter the speed bumps, but I have come to a place of self-knowledge, awareness, guided action, and service that allows me a meaningful experience of personal freedom, continuous excitement, and a real sense of value and authenticity. The purpose of this book is to be a guide that inspires others to transform-not to have my experience, but so to have their own experience.

From Chapter Two:

The first three times I did the steps, I approached Step Two with the beliefs I'd acquired over my life to date-Catholic schools through college including seven years in the seminary. I believed I believed. In 1994, the man who was going to take me through the steps asked me to pray a set-aside prayer. He knew I had lots of information and wonderful previous experiences with the step process. He also knew that as long as I held onto this information and these experiences I would be blocked from new information and a new experience.

He asked that I write out an answer to: "What is my real belief in God?" He made it clear that he didn't want what I thought, knew, had been told, or would like it to be. What did I really believe? He suggested that when asking myself this question, I look at my behavior because how I behave is what I believe. What I believe I believe may in fact be a delusion.

I knew I didn't have any intellectual doubt. I could sit and discuss the history of religion, comparative religions, the theology of the Trinity, etc. But when I looked at how I was living my life, I was startled to discover my agnosticism-I doubted the Power of God in my life. That became obvious when I reviewed my approach to unmanageability through looking at the bedevilments and the material on self-will (Big Book pages 60-62). I also had real resistance to a phrase in Bill's story "… I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost." (Big Book page 13)

I lived my life as if God were irrelevant. It was all about getting information and technique and trying really hard. It was all about my power.

Obviously the set-aside prayer was beginning to have its way with me. My mind and heart were being opened to a new truth. I saw the lie I lived: "I have the power; I can rely on my efforts, my knowledge, my gifts, my books, my retreats, my classes, my intention, my intelligence, and my willpower to achieve what I want-even to be spiritual and to transform myself."

Looking over my shoulder, at my actual experience, I saw the lie and the truth.

I had not really been touched by all my study of formal religion, formal psychology, the variety of self-help programs of the 60s, 70s, 80s, or even my first four years in AA. I had not changed. I had been relying on my own power. And I saw, at a new level, that I am powerless without the intervention of Grace-the power of God that creates and flows as the Universe.

Bill W. was put at ease by Ebby Thacher in their first encounter when Ebby said "Bill, choose your own concept of a power greater than yourself." He realized it didn't matter what you call It, just that you do call upon It!

The names given to God over the centuries derive from a particular time, need, and culture. Unfortunately, humans get attached to a certain name- as if their truth is the truth and the only truth.

The secret to AA is that it's a spirituality where God remains anonymous-without any specific/required name (paraphrase from Father Webber's "Steps of Transformation"). The BB's perspective is that "the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek." (BB page 46)

From Chapter Six


We sit in Loving Presence. Let It wash over and embrace us.


Spirit, please wash away the blindness of our eyes, our hearts, and our minds so we can see ourselves as You see us.

Please reveal and transform blind spots that prevent us from facing the truth. Wash away the darkness and reveal the light of the truth.

Spirit of truth, enlighten our minds and hearts. Help us see that Your primary truth is that of overflowing love-that Your abundant love embraces both darkness and light, pain and joy, fear and courage, weakness and strength, defect and virtue, life and death.

Give us a heart like Yours-a heart that embraces brokenness and vulnerability, as You embrace them.

Thank You, Spirit of Light, for opening up our minds and hearts so we can be detached from the lie and be attached to the truth of who You are and who we are.

Thank You, Healing Spirit, for giving us the courage to embrace all aspects of ourselves and to want to receive Your healing.

From Chapter Seven

Forgiveness is a decision to not:

  • Retaliate
  • Seek compensation
  • Resent
  • Exact revenge
  • Judge
  • Fear
Forgiveness is a decision to:
  • Release them
  • Release ourselves
  • Be released.

Forgiveness is not a decision made in isolation, but a process that begins way back with Column Three of the resentment inventory, where we identify our delusional beliefs about who we are and are not, who others are, and how the world works. It continues with Column Four where we see clearly to what extent we are, or are not, responsible for the event itself but are 100% responsible for our perception and reaction to it as well as our behavior around it. As part of this responsibility we see and accept that we are, or have been, spiritually sick, blind to our role, powerless to fix ourselves, but capable of prayer for our own healing.

In Step Five we went public (with at least one person); in Steps Six and Seven we once again accepted our powerlessness and continued our prayer for healing. Now in Step Eight we take responsibility for our part in hurting them and also in remaining sick ourselves by not taking the necessary healing action. We acknowledge and accept our powerlessness to have done any differently and release them and/or ourselves from this hurt. So once again we pray for Power-to see, to accept, and especially to heal and be healed through forgiveness.

Reflection Questions
1. Am I willing to address/repair the harms that I've done to others?
2. Have I reviewed my list with my sponsor/guide, been rigorously honest, and taken direction?
3. If I find myself unwilling in any area, am I at least willing to pray for the willingness and hold myself accountable about this unwillingness?
4. Am I willing to forgive all those who harmed me … to release every single one of them?
5. Am I willing to pray for the healing of all those I've harmed?
6. Am I really ready and willing to be released, to be healed?

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