“Moral scrutiny is not to discover how good or bad I am and regain some moral high ground, but it is to begin some honest ‘shadow boxing’ which is at the heart of all spiritual awakening.” –Breathing Underwater, pg. 30
Have there been times when reflection and self-examination have been important to your spiritual growth? What did you discover in that process? How did it change your view of yourself? Of God? Of the world around you?
“[We] made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” -Step 4 of the Twelve Steps
What is your first reaction to this notion of a “searching and fearless moral inventory”? What thoughts, ideas or images does it stir in you?
“We wasted years of history arguing over whose God was best or true, instead of actually meeting the always best and true God of love, forgiveness, and mercy. A.A. was smart enough to avoid this unnecessary obstacle by simply saying ‘God as we understood Him,’ trusting that anyone in need of mercy as much as addicts are would surely need and meet a merciful God. If they fail to encounter this Higher healing Power, the whole process grinds to a bitter halt, since we can only show mercy if mercy has been shown to us (Luke 6:36–38). We can only live inside the flow of forgiveness if we have stood under the constant waterfall of needed forgiveness ourselves. Only hour by hour gratitude is strong enough to overcome all temptations to resentment.” –Breathing Underwater, pg. 26
Why do you suppose we are so prone to arguing over “whose God [is] best or true”? In what ways do such arguments get in the way of “actually meeting the always best and true God of love, forgiveness and mercy”?
Forgiveness and gratitude have been identified for centuries as key spiritual practices. Are these practices important in your life? Do they come easily to you, or with difficulty? Why do you think that is?
“With Gospel brilliance and insight, A.A. says that the starting point and, in fact, the continuing point, is not any kind of worthiness at all but in fact unworthiness!” –Breathing Underwater, p. 24
How does the assertion that “the starting point is unworthiness” compare to most religious messaging you hear? How does it compare to most cultural messaging you hear? What reasons do you see for the similarities or differences?
“False sacrifice is an actual avoidance of any real ‘renouncing’ of the self, while looking generous or dedicated.” -Richard Rohr
Why do you think false sacrifice is so problematic? What is it at the root of such false sacrifice that makes it, to use Rohr’s term, the ground of “most bogus religion”?
“Something has to break our primary addiction, which is to our own power and our false programs for happiness. Here is the incestuous cycle of the ego: “I want to have power” > “I will take control” >“I will always be right” >“See, I am indeed powerful!” This is the vicious circle of the will to power. It does not create happy people, nor happy people around them.” -Richard Rohr
In Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. writes that “Our liquor was but a symptom,” a means of both dealing with and masking our primary addiction to self-will. What other symptoms of this “primary addiction to our own power and our own false programs for happiness” do you see in the world? In yourself?
“Our inner blockage to ‘turning our will over’ is only overcome by a decision. It will not usually happen with a feeling, or a mere idea, or a religious Scripture like the ones above. It is the will itself, our stubborn and self-defeating willfulness that must be first converted and handed over.” -Richard Rohr
Step 3 states that we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” Do you think this is easy, or difficult? Why?