“Honesty, open-mindedness, & willingness is the HOW of the Program.”
This slogan is often used in meetings to inform newcomers that THIS is how the program works.
What does the Big Book/AA Program tell us?
The phrase doesn’t show up in the textbook as part of our suggested program. It shows up in the “Spiritual Experience” pages IN THE APPENDIX to further explain what spiritual experience means!
“The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences* which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe.”
* Fully explained—Appendix II. (footnote)
BB p.568(570), Appendix II, Spiritual Experience
“Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of (our spiritual) recovery. But these are indispensable.”
H.O.W. helps us get started on our own, personal spiritual journey; it is what we need to be able to grasp onto that flimsy reed—to climb onto that broad, roomy highway (where all spiritual beliefs are accepted):
–To honestly face our problems and deal with any touchiness (p 48) or intolerance we may have on the subject of spiritual things;
–To open our minds to the possibility that there IS one who has all power and cares about us;
–To be willing to investigate and explore spiritual options, so that we may begin the journey toward daily conscious contact with the Higher Power (as you understand God—today).
The actual HOW of the Program is the chapter, “HOW IT WORKS.”
The AA pioneers suggested THE TWELVE STEPS as our PROGRAM OF RECOVERY: These are HOW we become recovered — IF we voluntarily and completely follow THEIR path. Chapter Five describes the real ‘HOW’ of The Program.
BB Chapter 5, HOW IT WORKS
“RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
…If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps. At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.
Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:”
ETC, a recovered (but not cured) alcoholic in Oregon