Breathing Under Water, Chapter 12

“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Step 12 of AA

Until people’s basic egocentricity is radically exposed, revealed for what it is, and foundationally redirected, much religion becomes occupied with rearranging deck chairs on a titanic cruise ship, cruising with isolated passengers, each maintaining his or her personal program for  happiness.

…much of organized religion says, “Come join our group, and maybe we will get to some actual healing some day.”

most of church history has done loads of preaching and very little healing. Seminaries are set up to train preachers and teachers, not healers.

We must learn to distinguish what looks like loving and what is actually loving for such codependent members of our churches.

Passive membership creates not just passive dependency but also far too often passive-aggressive behavior–when such stalwart members do not get what they have become accustomed to.

God loves and respects freedom–to the final and full riskiest degree. God lets evil take its course, and does not even stop Hitler or people who torture children.

Good religion keeps God free for people and keeps people free for God.

Addiction is a spiritual disease, a disease of the soul, and illness resulting from longing, frustrated desire, and deep dissatisfaction–which ironically the necessary beginning of any spiritual path.

You need more and more of anything that does not work.  If something is really working for you, then less and less will satisfy you.


Breathing Under Water, Chapter 11

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” Step 11 of AA

The word prayer, which Bill Wilson rightly juxtaposed with the word meditation, is a code word for an entirely different way of processing life.

“the calculating mind” vs “the contemplative mind”:  these are two entirely different types of software, and since the first one is almost totally and always in control, and has become your only operative hardware, you have to be carefully taught how to pray, which is exactly what the disciples asked of Jesus…”

One has to go through some initial withdrawal pains to switch processors, and this is why prayer takes some initial “work” to learn how to do that.

prayer, at its truest…was always an alternative processing system

Prayer is:

  • a positive widening of your lens for a better picture
  • emptying the mind and filling the heart
  • prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change us

If you are able to switch minds to the mind of Christ, your prayer has already been answered.

Jesus goes into silence, into nature, and usually alone when he prays.

Since the thirteenth century, no one has been teaching us what to do with our minds when we are alone, at least in any systematic way.

It is the prayer of quiet and self-surrender that will best allow us to follow Step 11.

only contemplative prayer or meditation invades, touches, and heals the unconscious!

There is such a thing as addicted to religion…Religion can also be its own kind of demon.

Social prayer can hold the group together, but it does not necessarily heal the heart or soul of the group

Jesus tried to move history toward interiority whenever possible, and it has been a long slog.

Breathing Under Water, Chapter 10 , (Rohr)

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”  AA Step 10

I do believe our religious history has been too guilt-based and shame-based, and not enough of what some would call “vision logic,” which is broader, positive, and out-in-front kind of motivation. Jesus’ metaphor and draw was a positive vision he called “the Kingdom of God,” which he seemed to be constantly talking about.  For Bill W it was a “vital spiritual experience.” Neither of these were a negative threat, but a positive allure, promise, and invitation. For me, this is crucial and necessary or the spiritual journey largely becomes fear-based problem-solving.

You must step back from your compulsiveness, and your attachment to yourself, to be truly conscious.

Consciousness is aware of my feelings so it cannot be purely and simply my feelings themselves.

We do not live in a culture that much appreciates detachment or such poverty. We are consumers by training and habit, which is exactly why we have such problems with addiction to begin with!

Consciousness, our soul, the Holy Spirit, on both the individual and the shared levels, has sadly become unconscious! No wonder we call the Holy Spirit the “missing person of the Blessed Trinity.” No wonder we try to fill this radical disconnectedness by various addictions.

Religion’s main job is to reconnect us (re-ligio) to the Whole, to ourselves, and to one another–and thus heal us. We have not been doing our job very well.

Once we see our inherent dignity clearly, the game of evil and addiction begins to collapse. Evil always relies upon camouflage to have its way.

Whenever we do anything stupid, cruel, evil, or destructive to ourselves and others, we are at that moment unconscious, and unconscious of our identity. If we were fully conscious, we would never do it. Loving people are always highly conscious people. To rely on any drug or substance is to become unconscious.

Breathing Under Water, Chapter 9 , (Rohr)

“Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”  Step 9 of the 12 Steps

Remember, Jesus said “Follow me” and never once said, “worship me.” The sad result is that we have many “spiritual” beings when the much  more needed task is to learn how to be true human beings.

Full humanness leads to spirituality by the truckload.

It takes seven to ten years, they say, for a married couple to begin to learn how to fight fairly.

Just because it is factually true, does not mean everyone can handle it or even needs to handle it.  (DISCERNMENT!!! brian)

Gossip is not a right but a major obstacle to human love and spiritual wisdom.

Truth is not just factual truth (the great mistake of fundamentalists), but a combination of both text and context, style and intent. (this may sound postmodern wishy-washy, but he continues to cite the falsely accused and imprisoned. “truth” is not always truth.)

Even sincere people can do a lot of damage with information that they are not prepared to handle, and often make rash judgments that are not true or helpful.

(not from this book but a verse I have always liked:

“a truth that’s told with bad intent,beats all the lies you can invent”)

Breathing Under Water: Chapter 8

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” Step 8 of A.A

“amazing grace” is not a way to avoid honest human relationships, but to redo them–but now gracefully–for the liberation of both sides.

All healers are wounded healers. (Nouwen)

Knowing that we were not taught nonviolent communication at the personal level, is it any surprise that we did not have the skills at the national, cultural, or church levels?

A.A. is the only group I know that is willing and honest enough to just tell people up front, “You are damn selfish!” Or, “Until you get beyond your massive narcissism you are never going to grow up.”

It is a self-serving concern to alleviate just your own guilt; it is a loving question to say, “How can I free others from theirs?”

Until religion becomes flesh, it is merely Platonic idealism instead of Jesus radicalism.

To offer an apology in a way that can actually heal the other takes wisdom and respect for the other.