Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Ten Short Dharanis

The following ten dharanis are normally recited in the Morning Recitation of Chinese Buddhism. These mantras are recitable by anyone. Descriptions of the mantras are available online. Note: all mantras are mostly in Chinese pronunciation.

Namah Ratnatrayaya Namo Aryavalokitesvaraya Bodhisattvaya Mahasattvaya Mahakarunikaya Tadyatha: Om tso- jie- ra- fa di- Chintamani mo-ho bo-den mi. ru-ru-ru-ru. di- se tsa. re- ra- a-jie ri. sa-ya HONG! Om Padma Chintamani rera Hong! Om- ba-la-to-bo dan-mi HONG!
Namo saman do. mu-to-nan. a-bo-la-di. ho-do-se. so-lan-nan. Tadyatha: chie-chie. chie-shi chie-shi. Hong hong. ru-wa-la ru-wa-la bo-la-ru-wa-la bo-la-ru-wa-la. di-se-tsa di-se-tsa. se-tsi-li se-tsi-li. so-po-tsa so-po-tsa san-di ja. sriye. Svaha!
Namah Ratnatrayaya Om shi-di hu-ru-ru shi-du-ru. chi-li-po. ji-li-po. shi-da-li. bu-ru-li. Svaha!
Namo sa-do-nan. samyak sam buddha cundi nan. Tadyatha. Om jale jule cundi Svaha!
Om Namo Bhagavate Abharamita Ayuri a na. Supini. de-tsi-ta. de-tso-la-tsai-ye. tathagataya, arhate samyak sam budhaya. Tadyatha. Om saribha sanskri bali suta da-la-ma-di. ko-ko-nai. san-ma-wu-ko-di. so-ba-wa. bi-shu-di. ma-ho-na-ye bari-wari Svaha!
Namo Bhagavate Bhaisajya Guru Vaidurya. Prabha. Rajaya. Tathagataya. Arhate samyak sambuddhaya. Tadyatha. Om Bhaisajye bhaisajye. Bhaisya. Samudgate. Svaha!
Om Mani padme Hum! Ma-ge-ni-ya-na. ji-tu-te-ba-da. ji-tu-se-na. we-da-ri-ge. sarwarta- bu-ri-shi-ta-ge. na-bu-la-na. na-bu-li. dio-te-ban-na. na-ma-ru-ji. svaraya Svaha!
Li-po-li-po-di. cho-ho-cho-ho-di. do-lo-ni-di. ni-ho-la-di. pi-li-ni-di. maha-chie-di. jen-ling-chien-di. Svaha!
Namo Amitabhaya. Tathagataya. Tadyatha. Ami-ri-do-po-pi. ami-ri-do-shi-dan-po-pi. ami-ri-do. pi-ja-lan-di. ami-ri-do. pi-ja-lando. chie-mi-ni. chie-chie na. ji-do-ja-li. Svaha!
Namah ratnatrayaya. Namo shri maha bi-ti ye. Tadyatha. bo-li-fu-lo-na. je-li-san-man-do. da-se-ni. mo-ho-pi-ho-lo-chie-di. san-man-do.. pi-ni-chie-di. mo-ho ja-li-yeh. bo-mi. bo-la. bo-mi. sa-li-wa-li-ta. san-man-do. sho-bo-li-di. fu-li-na. a-li-na. da-mo-di. mo-ho-pi-gu-bi-di. mo-ho-mi-le-di. lo-bo-sen-chi-di. shi-di-shi. sen-chi-shi-di. san-man-to. a-ta-a-no. po-lo-ni.

The Short Dharani of Great Compassion

Dharani are longer mantras, for increasing levels of concentration and for other reasons, that are intoned by buddhists daily:

Namo Ratna trayaya. Namah Arya Jnana Sagara. Vairochana, Vyuha Rajaya. Tathagataya Arhate samyaksam buddhaya. Namah Sarva Tathagatebhyah, Arhadbhyah, Samyak sam buddhebhyah.
Namah Arya Avalokitesvaraya Bodhisattvaya Mahasattvaya Mahakarunikaya
Dhara dhara, dhiri dhiri, dhuru dhuru, itti vatte, Chale Chale, Prachale prachale, Kusume kusume vare, ili mili citi Jvalam,
Apanaye svaha.

Step Three. Willingness, Faith, and

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him

Practicing Step Three is like the opening of a door which to all appearances
is still closed and locked. All we need is a key, and the decision to swing the
door open. There is only one key, and it is called willingness. Once unlocked
by willingness, the door opens almost of itself, and looking through it, we
shall see a pathway beside which is an inscription. It reads: "This is the way
to a faith that works." In the first two Steps we were engaged in reflection.
We saw that we were powerless over alcohol, but we also perceived that faith of
some kind, if only in A.A. itself, is possible to anyone. These conclusions did
not require action; they required only acceptance.
Like all the remaining Steps, Step Three calls for affirmative action, for it
is only by action that we can cut away the self-will which has always blocked
the entry of God--or, if you like, a Higher Power--into our lives. Faith, to be
sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail nothing. We can have faith, yet
keep God out of our lives. Therefore our problem now becomes just how and by
what specific means shall we be able to let Him in? Step Three represents our
first attempt to do this. In fact, the effectiveness of the whole A.A. program
will rest upon how well and earnestly we have tried to come to "a decision to
turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
To every worldly and practical-minded beginner, this Step looks hard, even
impossible. No matter how much one wishes to try, exactly how can he turn his
own will and his own life over to the care of whatever God he thinks there is?
Fortunately, we who have tried it, and with equal misgivings, can testify that
anyone, anyone at all, can begin to do it. We can further add that a beginning,
even the smallest, is all that is needed. Once we have placed the key of
willingness in the lock and have the door ever so slightly open, we find that
we can always open it some more. Though self-will may slam it shut again, as it
frequently does, it will always respond the moment we again pick up the key of
Maybe this all sounds mysterious and remote, something like Einstein's theory
of relativity or a proposition in nuclear physics. It isn't at all. Let's look
at how practical it actually is. Every man and woman who has joined A.A. and
intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three.
Isn't it true that in all matters touching upon alcohol, each of them has
decided to turn his or her life over to the care, protection, and guidance of
Alcoholics Anonymous? Already a willingness has been achieved to cast out one's
own will and one's own ideas about the alcohol problem in favor of those
suggested by A.A. Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor
for the foundering vessel he has become. Now if this is not turning one's will
and life over to a newfound Providence, then what is it?
But suppose that instinct still cries out, as it certainly will, "Yes,
respecting alcohol, I guess I have to be dependent upon A.A., but in all other
matters I must still maintain my independence. Nothing is going to turn me into
a nonentity. If I keep on turning my life and my will over to the care of
Something or Somebody else, what will become of me? I'll look like the hole in
the doughnut." This, of course, is the process by which instinct and logic
always seek to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual development. The
trouble is that this kind of thinking takes no real account of the facts. And
the facts seem to be these: The more we become willing to depend upon a Higher
Power, the more independent we actually are. Therefore dependence, as A.A.
practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.
Let's examine for a moment this idea of dependence at the level of everyday
living. In this area it is startling to discover how dependent we really are,
and how unconscious of that dependence. Every modern house has electric wiring
carrying power and light to its interior. We are delighted with this
dependence; our main hope is that nothing will ever cut off the supply of
current. By so accepting our dependence upon this marvel of science, we find
ourselves more independent personally. Not only are we more independent, we are
even more comfortable and secure. Power flows just where it is needed. Silently
and surely, electricity, that strange energy so few people understand, meets
our simplest daily needs, and our most desperate ones, too. Ask the polio
sufferer confined to an iron lung who depends with complete trust upon a motor
to keep the breath of life in him.
But the moment our mental or emotional independence is in question, how
differently we behave. How persistently we claim the right to decide all by
ourselves just what we shall think and just how we shall act. Oh yes, we'll
weigh the pros and cons of every problem. We'll listen politely to those who
would advise us, but all the decisions are to be ours alone. Nobody is going to
meddle with our personal independence in such matters. Besides, we think, there
is no one we can surely trust. We are certain that our intelligence, backed by
willpower, can rightly control our inner lives and guarantee us success in the
world we live in. This brave philosophy, wherein each man plays God, sounds
good in the speaking, but it still has to meet the acid test: how well does it
actually work? One good look in the mirror ought to be answer enough for any
Should his own image in the mirror be too awful to contemplate (and it usually
is), he might first take a look at the results normal people are getting from
self-sufficiency. Everywhere he sees people filled with anger and fear, society
breaking up into warring fragments. Each fragment says to the others, "We are
right and you are wrong." Every such pressure group, if it is strong enough,
self-righteously imposes its will upon the rest. And everywhere the same thing
is being done on an individual basis. The sum of all this mighty effort is less
peace and less brotherhood than before. The philosophy of self-sufficiency is
not paying off. Plainly enough, it is a bone-crushing juggernaut whose final
achievement is ruin.
Therefore, we who are alcoholics can consider ourselves fortunate indeed. Each
of us has had his own near-fatal encounter with the juggernaut of self-will,
and has suffered enough under its weight to be willing to look for something
better. So it is by circumstance rather than by any virtue that we have been
driven to A.A., have admitted defeat, have acquired the rudiments of faith, and
now want to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a Higher
We realize that the word "dependence" is as distasteful to many psychiatrists
and psychologists as it is to alcoholics. Like our professional friends, we,
too, are aware that there are wrong forms of dependence. We have experienced
many of them. No adult man or woman, for example, should be in too much
emotional dependence upon a parent. They should have been weaned long before,
and if they have not been, they should wake up to the fact. This very form of
faulty dependence has caused many a rebellious alcoholic to conclude that
dependence of any sort must be intolerably damaging. But dependence upon an
A.A. group or upon a Higher Power hasn't produced any baleful results.
When World War II broke out, this spiritual principle had its first major
test. A.A.'s entered the services and were scattered all over the world. Would
they be able to take discipline, stand up under fire, and endure the monotony
and misery of war? Would the kind of dependence they had learned in A.A. carry
them through? Well, it did. They had even fewer alcoholic lapses or emotional
binges than A.A.'s safe at home did. They were just as capable of endurance and
valor as any other soldiers. Whether in Alaska or on the Salerno beachhead,
their dependence upon a Higher Power worked. And far from being a weakness,
this dependence was their chief source of strength.
So how, exactly, can the willing person continue to turn his will and his life
over to the Higher Power? He made a beginning, we have seen, when he commenced
to rely upon A.A. for the solution of his alcohol problem. By now, though, the
chances are that he has become convinced that he has more problems than
alcohol, and that some of these refuse to be solved by all the sheer personal
determination and courage he can muster. They simply will not budge; they make
him desperately unhappy and threaten his newfound sobriety. Our friend is still
victimized by remorse and guilt when he thinks of yesterday. Bitterness still
overpowers him when he broods upon those he still envies or hates. His
financial insecurity worries him sick, and panic takes over when he thinks of
all the bridges to safety that alcohol burned behind him. And how shall he ever
straighten out that awful jam that cost him the affection of his family and
separated him from them? His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely
he must now depend upon Somebody or Something else.
At first that "somebody" is likely to be his closest A.A. friend. He relies
upon the assurance that his many troubles, now made more acute because he
cannot use alcohol to kill the pain, can be solved, too. Of course the sponsor
points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is
sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made. More
sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a
few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from
permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life. That is just where the
remaining Steps of the A.A. program come in. Nothing short of continuous action
upon these as a way of life can bring the much-desired result.
Then it is explained that other Steps of the A.A. program can be practiced
with success only when Step Three is given a determined and persistent trial.
This statement may surprise newcomers who have experienced nothing but constant
deflation and a growing conviction that human will is of no value whatever.
They have become persuaded, and rightly so, that many problems besides alcohol
will not yield to a headlong assault powered by the individual alone. But now
it appears that there are certain things which only the individual can do. A11
by himself, and in the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop the
quality of willingness. When he acquires willingness, he is the only one who
can make the decision to exert himself. Trying to do this is an act of his own
will. All of the Twelve Steps require sustained and personal exertion to
conform to their principles and so, we trust, to God's will.
It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin to use it
rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole
trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems
with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God's intention
for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of A.A.'s Twelve
Steps, and Step Three opens the door.
Once we have come into agreement with these ideas, it is really easy to begin
the practice of Step Three. In all times of emotional disturbance or
indecision, we can pause, ask for quiet, and in the stillness simply say: "God
grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change
the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be

Step Two: Coming to believe, Open-mindedness, and Restoration of Sanity.

Step Two
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

The moment they read Step Two, most A.A. newcomers are confronted with a
dilemma, sometimes a serious one. How often have we heard them cry out, "Look
what you people have done to us! You have convinced us that we are alcoholics
and that our lives are unmanageable. Having reduced us to a state of absolute
helplessness, you now declare that none but a Higher Power can remove our
obsession. Some of us won't believe in God, others can't, and still others who
do believe that God exists have no faith whatever He will perform this miracle.
Yes, you've got us over the barrel, all right--but where do we go from here?"
Let's look first at the case of the one who says he won't believe--the
belligerent one. He is in a state of mind which can be described only as
savage. His whole philosophy of life, in which he so gloried, is threatened.
It's bad enough, he thinks, to admit alcohol has him down for keeps. But now,
still smarting from that admission, he is faced with something really
impossible. How he does cherish the thought that man, risen so majestically
from a single cell in the primordial ooze, is the spearhead of evolution and
therefore the only god that his universe knows! Must he renounce all this to
save himself?
At this juncture, his A.A, sponsor usually laughs. This, the newcomer thinks,
is just about the last straw. This is the beginning of the end. And so it is:
the beginning of the end of his old life, and the beginning of his emergence
into a new one. His sponsor probably says, "Take it easy. The hoop you have to
jump through is a lot wider than you think. At least I've found it so. So did a
friend of mine who was a one-time vice-president of the American Atheist
Society, but he got through with room to spare."
"Well," says the newcomer, "I know you're telling me the truth. It's no doubt
a fact that A.A, is full of people who once believed as I do. But just how, in
these circumstances, does a fellow `take it easy'? That's what I want to
"That," agrees the sponsor, "is a very good question indeed. I think I can
tell you exactly how to relax. You won't have to work at it very hard, either.
Listen, if you will, to these three statements. First, Alcoholics Anonymous
does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but
suggestions. Second, to get sober and to stay sober, you don't have to swallow
all of Step Two right now. Looking back, I find that I took it piecemeal
myself. Third, all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the
debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as
whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is
the open mind."
The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case. I had a scientific
schooling. Naturally I respected, venerated, even worshipped science. As a
matter of fact, I still do--all except the worship part. Time after time, my
instructors held up to me the basic principle of all scientific progress:
search and research, again and again, always with the open mind. When I first
looked at A.A, my reaction was just like yours. This A.A, business, I thought,
is totally unscientific. This I can't swallow. I simply won't consider such
"Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A, showed results, prodigious results.
I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It
wasn't A.A, that had the closed mind, it was me. The minute I stopped arguing,
I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually
began to infiltrate my life. I can't say upon what occasion or upon what day I
came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that
belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of
A.A.'s program as enthusiastically as I could.
"This is only one man's opinion based on his own experience, of course. I must
quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for
faith. If you don't care for the one I've suggested, you'll be sure to discover
one that suits if only you look and listen. Many a man like you has begun to
solve the problem by the method of substitution. You can, if you wish, make
A.A., itself your `higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have
solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power
greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can
have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find
many members who have crossed the threshold just this way. All of them will
tell you that, once across, their faith broadened and deepened. Relieved of the
alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe
in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God."
Consider next the plight of those who once had faith, but have lost it. There
will be those who have drifted into indifference, those filled with
self-sufficiency who have cut themselves off, those who have become prejudiced
against religion, and those who are downright defiant because God has failed to
fulfill their demands. Can A.A, experience tell all these they may still find a
faith that works?
Sometimes A.A, comes harder to those who have lost or rejected faith than to
those who never had any faith at all, for they think they have tried faith and
found it wanting. They have tried the way of faith and the way of no faith.
Since both ways have proved bitterly disappointing, they have concluded there
is no place whatever for them to go. The roadblocks of indifference, fancied
self-sufficiency, prejudice, and defiance often prove more solid and formidable
for these people than any erected by the unconvinced agnostic or even the
militant atheist. Religion says the existence of God can be proved; the
agnostic says it can't be proved; and the atheist claims proof of the
nonexistence of God. Obviously, the dilemma of the wanderer from faith is that
of profound confusion. He thinks himself lost to the comfort of any conviction
at all. He cannot attain in even a small degree the assurance of the believer,
the agnostic, or the atheist. He is the bewildered one.
Any number of A.A.'s can say to the drifter, "Yes, we were diverted from our
childhood faith, too. The overconfidence of youth was too much for us. Of
course, we were glad that good home and religious training had given us certain
values. We were still sure that we ought to be fairly honest, tolerant, and
just, that we ought to be ambitious and hardworking. We became convinced that
such simple rules of fair play and decency would be enough.
"As material success founded upon no more than these ordinary attributes began
to come to us, we felt we were winning at the game of life. This was
exhilarating, and it made us happy. Why should we be bothered with theological
abstractions and religious duties, or with the state of our souls here or
hereafter? The here and now was good enough for us. The will to win would carry
us through. But then alcohol began to have its way with us. Finally, when all
our score cards read `zero,' and we saw that one more strike would put us out
of the game forever, we had to look for our lost faith. It was in A.A, that we
rediscovered it. And so can you."
Now we come to another kind of problem: the intellectually self-sufficient man
or woman. To these, many A.A.'s can say, "Yes, we were like you--far too smart
for our own good. We loved to have people call us precocious. We used our
education to blow ourselves up into prideful balloons, though we were careful
to hide this from others. Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of
the folks on our brainpower alone. Scientific progress told us there was
nothing man couldn't do. Knowledge was all-powerful. Intellect could conquer
nature. Since we were brighter than most folks (so we thought), the spoils of
victory would be ours for the thinking. The god of intellect displaced the God
of our fathers. But again John Barleycorn had other ideas. We who had won so
handsomely in a walk turned into all-time losers. We saw that we had to
reconsider or die. We found many in A.A, who once thought as we did. They
helped us to get down to our right size. By their example they showed us that
humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we placed humility first.
When we began to do that, we received the gift of faith, a faith which works.
This faith is for you, too."
Another crowd of A.A.'s says: "We were plumb disgusted with religion and all
its works. The Bible, we said, was full of nonsense; we could cite it chapter
and verse, and we couldn't see the Beatitudes for the `begats.' In spots its
morality was impossibly good; in others it seemed impossibly bad. But it was
the morality of the religionists themselves that really got us down. We gloated
over the hypocrisy, bigotry, and crushing self-righteousness that clung to so
many `believers' even in their Sunday best. How we loved to shout the damaging
fact that millions of the `good men of religion' were still killing one another
off in the name of God. This all meant, of course, that we had substituted
negative for positive thinking. After we came to A.A,, we had to recognize that
this trait had been an ego feeding proposition. In belaboring the sins of some
religious people, we could feel superior to all of them. Moreover, we could
avoid looking at some of our own shortcomings. Self-righteousness, the very
thing that we had contemptuously condemned in others, was our own besetting
evil. This phony form of respectability was our undoing, so far as faith was
concerned. But finally, driven to A.A,, we learned better.
"As psychiatrists have often observed, defiance is the outstanding
characteristic of many an alcoholic. So it's not strange that lots of us have
had our day at defying God Himself. Sometimes it's because God has not
delivered us the good things of life which we specified, as a greedy child
makes an impossible list for Santa Claus. More often, though, we had met up
with some major calamity, and to our way of thinking lost out because God
deserted us. The girl we wanted to marry had other notions; we prayed God that
she'd change her mind, but she didn't. We prayed for healthy children, and were
presented with sick ones, or none at all. We prayed for promotions at business,
and none came. Loved ones, upon whom we heartily depended, were taken from us
by so-called acts of God. Then we became drunkards, and asked God to stop that.
But nothing happened. This was the unkindest cut of all. `Damn this faith
business!' we said.
"When we encountered A.A,, the fallacy of our defiance was revealed. At no
time had we asked what God's will was for us; instead we had been telling Him
what it ought to be. No man, we saw, could believe in God and defy Him, too.
Belief meant reliance, not; defiance. In A.A, we saw the fruits of this belief:
men and women spared from alcohol's final catastrophe. We saw them meet and
transcend their other pains and trials. We saw them calmly accept impossible
situations, seeking neither to run nor to recriminate. This was not only faith;
it was faith that worked under all conditions. We soon concluded that whatever
price in humility we must pay, we would pay." Now let's take the guy full of
faith, but still reeking of alcohol. He believes he is devout. His religious
observance is scrupulous. He's sure he still believes in God, but suspects that
God doesn't believe in him. He takes pledges and more pledges. Following each,
he not only drinks again, but acts worse than the last time. Valiantly he tries
to fight alcohol, imploring God's help, but the help doesn't come. What, then,
can be the matter?
To clergymen, doctors, friends, and families, the alcoholic who means well and
tries hard is a heartbreaking riddle. To most A.A.'s, he is not. There are too
many of us who have been just like him, and have found the riddle's answer.
This answer has to do with the quality of faith rather than its quantity. This
has been our blind spot. We supposed we had humility when really we hadn't. We
supposed we had been serious about religious practices when, upon honest
appraisal, we found we had been only superficial. Or, going to the other
extreme, we had wallowed in emotionalism and had mistaken it for true religious
feeling. In both cases, we had been asking something for nothing. The fact was
we really hadn't cleaned house so that the grace of God could enter us and
expel the obsession. In no deep or meaningful sense had we ever taken stock of
ourselves, made amends to those we had harmed, or freely given to any other
human being without any demand for reward. We had not even prayed rightly. We
had always said, "Grant me my wishes" instead of "Thy will be done." The love
of God and man we understood not at all. Therefore we remained self-deceived,
and so incapable of receiving enough grace to restore us to sanity.
Few indeed are the practicing alcoholics who have any idea how irrational they
are, or seeing their irrationality, can bear to face it. Some will be willing
to term themselves "problem drinkers," but cannot endure the suggestion that
they are in fact mentally ill. They are abetted in this blindness by a world
which does not understand the difference between sane drinking and alcoholism.
"Sanity" is defined as "soundness of mind." Yet no alcoholic, soberly analyzing
his destructive behavior, whether the destruction fell on the dining-room
furniture or his own moral fiber, can claim "soundness of mind" for himself.
Therefore, Step Two is the rallying point for all of us. Whether agnostic,
atheist, or former believer, we can stand together on this Step. True humility
and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every A.A, meeting is an assurance
that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate ourselves to Him.

Step One. Surrender and Getting Honest.

Step One

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become

Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one, of course. Every
natural instinct cries out against the idea of personal powerlessness. It is
truly awful to admit that, glass in hand, we have warped our minds into such an
obsession for destructive drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it
from us.
No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the
rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist
its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human
concerns is complete.
But upon entering A.A. we soon take quite another view of this absolute
humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our
first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal
powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and
purposeful lives may be built.
We know that little good can come to any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he
has first accepted his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until he
so humbles himself, his sobriety--if any--will be precarious. Of real happiness
he will find none at all. Proved beyond doubt by an immense experience, this is
one of the facts of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring
strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which
our whole Society has sprung and flowered.
When first challenged to admit defeat, most of us revolted. We had approached
A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far
as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was
a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental
obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.
There was, they said, no such thing as the personal conquest of this compulsion
by the unaided will. Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed
out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol--an allergy, they called it. The
tyrant alcohol wielded a double-edged sword over us: first we were smitten by
an insane urge that condemned us to go on drinking, and then by an allergy of
the body that insured we would ultimately destroy ourselves in the process. Few
indeed were those who, so assailed, had ever won through in single-handed
combat. It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on
their own resources. And this had been true, apparently, ever since man had
first crushed grapes.
In A.A.'s pioneering time, none but the most desperate cases could swallow and
digest this unpalatable truth. Even these "last-gaspers" often had difficulty
in realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did, and when these
laid hold of A.A. principles with all the fervor with which the drowning seize
life preservers, they almost invariably got well. That is why the first edition
of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," published when our membership was small,
dealt with low-bottom cases only. Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A.,
but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of
It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this
changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and
even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. As this trend
grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential
alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the
rest of us had gone through. Since Step One requires an admission that our
lives have become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this
It was obviously necessary to raise the bottom the rest of us had hit to the
point where it would hit them. By going back in our own drinking histories, we
could show that years before we realized it we were out of control, that our
drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was indeed the beginning of a
fatal progression. To the doubters we could say, "Perhaps you're not an
alcoholic after all. Why don't you try some more controlled drinking, bearing
in mind meanwhile what we have told you about alcoholism?" This attitude
brought immediate and practical results. It was then discovered that when one
alcoholic had planted in the mind of another the true nature of his malady,
that person could never be the same again. Following every spree, he would say
to himself, "Maybe those A.A.'s were right..." After a few such experiences,
often years before the onset of extreme difficulties, he would return to us
convinced. He had hit bottom as truly as any of us. John Barleycorn himself had
become our best advocate.
Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first? The answer is
that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they
have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.'s remaining eleven Steps means the
adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still
drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant?
Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done?
Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who
wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the
next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't
care for this prospect--unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive
Under the lash of alcoholism, we are driven to A.A., and there we discover the
fatal nature of our situation. Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded
to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be. We stand ready to
do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us.

Foreword. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.


ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred
thousand* alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their
common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old,
baffling malady, alcoholism.
This book deals with the “Twelve Steps” and the “Twelve Traditions” of
Alcoholics Anonymous. It presents an explicit view of the principles by which
A.A. members recover and by which their Society functions.
A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature,
which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and
enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.
A.A.'s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the Fellowship itself. They
outline the means by which A.A. maintains its unity and relates itself to the
world about it, the way it lives and grows.
Though the essays which follow were written mainly for members, it is thought
by many of A.A.'s friends that thse pieces might arouse interest and find
application outside A.A. itself.
Many people, nonalcoholics, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.'s
Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They
think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers.
They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or
There is, too, a rising interest in the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics
Anonymous. Students of human relations are beginning to wonder how and why
A.A. functions as a society. Why is it, they ask, that in A.A. no member can
be set in personal authority over another, that nothing like a central
government can anywhere be seen? How can a set of traditional principles,
having no legal force at all, hold the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in
unity and effectiveness? The second section of this volume, though designed
for A.A.'s memberships, will give such inquirers an inside view of A.A. never
before possible.
Alcoholics Anonymous began in 1935 at Akron, Ohio, as the outcome of a
meetijng between a well-known surgeon and a New York broker. Both were severe
cases of alcoholism and were destined to become co-founders of the A.A.
The basic principles of A.A., as they are known today, were borrowed mainly
from the fields of religion and medicine, though some ideas upon which success
finally depended were the result of noting the behavior and needs of the
Fellowship itself.
After three years of trial and error in selecting the most workable tenets
upon which the Society could be based, and after a large amount of failure in
getting alcoholics to recover, three successful groups emerged-the first at
Akron, the second at New York, and the third at Cleveland. Even then it was
hard to find twoscore of sure recoveries in all three groups.
Nevertheless, the infant Society determined to set dwn its experience in a
book which finally reached the public in April 1939. At this time the
recoveries numbered about one hundred. The book was called “Alcoholics
Anonymous,” and from it the Fellowship took its name. In it alcoholism was
described from the alcoholic's point of view, the spiritual ideas of the
Society were codified for the first time in Twelve Steps, and the application
of these Steps to the alcoholic's dilemma was made clear. The remainder of the
book was devoted to thirty stories or case histories in which the alcoholics
described their drinking experiences and recoveries. This established
identification with alcoholic readers and proved to them that the virtually
impossible had now become possible. The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” became the
basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is. This present volume proposes to
broaden and deepen the understanding of the Twelve Steps as first written in
the earlier work.
With the publication of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” in 1939, the
pioneering period ended and a prodigious chain reaction set in as the recovered
alcoholics carried their message to still others. In the next years alcoholics
flocked to A.A. by tens of thousands, largely as the result of excellent and
continuous publicity freely given by magazines and newspapers throughout the
world. Clergymen and docctors alike rallied to the new movement, giving it
unstinted support and endorsement.
This startling expansion brought with it very severe growing pains. Proof
that alcoholics could recover had been made. But it was by no means sure that
such great numbers of yet erratic people could live and work together with
harmony and good effect.
Everywhere there arose threatening questions of membership, money, personal
relations, public relations, management of groups, clubs, and scores of other
perplexitiesf. It was out of this vast welter of explosive experience that
A.A.'s Twelve Traditions form and were first published in 1946 and later
confirmed at A.A.'s First International Convention, held at Cleveland in 1950.
The Tradition section of this volume portrays in some detail the experience
which finally produced the Twelve Traditions and so gave A.A. its present form,
substance, and unity.
As A.A. now enters maturity, it has begun to reach into forty foreign
lands.* In the view of its friends, this is but the beginning of its
unique and valuable service.
It is hoped that this volume will afford all who read it a close-up view of
the principles and forces which have mad Alcoholics Anonymous what it is.

(A.A.'s General Service Office may be reached by writing: Alcoholics
Anonymous, P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163, U.S.A.)

*In 1989, A.A. is established in 134 countries.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Here is a site on practical spirituality and unconditional love

A Course In Miracles online
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