I always considered myself an agnostic and didn’t want anything to do with the ritualistic mumbo-jumbo. Looking at the atrocities happening in the Middle East right now, I strongly believe that organized religion is bad for society as a whole.
Look at religious fanatics for instance. If they want something to be true, then it must be so. Blind faith takes them on a dangerous lane, teaching them that faith trumps reality. Perhaps this is why I was so reluctant to enter the 12-steps AA program.
It’s in the eyes of the beholder
I won’t deny the fact that since it promotes the idea of a higher power that helps you get control over your life and because it encourages you to adopt a certain behavioral code, AA can be easily mistaken for a deeply religious organization.
Even though it’s not anti-religious in nature, Alcoholics Anonymous is a cherished and impartial institution that has helped millions overcome their alcohol addiction. AA is open to people of all religions and backgrounds, many of whom will remain fiercely devoted to the organization and the principles it teaches.
Then where does AA’s religious nimbus come from? Actually, it stems from individual members who have a very strong affiliation to a particular belief system. In other words, AA members with religious training will find their ‘raison d’etre’ and the motivation to kick the habit through the program.
For the rest of us God is a secondary variable in this equation and no, you won’t discover your maker by following AA’s 12 step program. As I see it, the confusion comes from the emotional impulse that you feel after successfully completing one of the numerous baby steps on the road to recovery. People with no religious affiliations simply view it as a spiritual experience.
Is there a difference between religion and spirituality?
While many tend to use the two terms synonymously, there’s a fine line between spirituality. In order to understand where the borderline stands, you need to leave the endless debates on their definitions between devoted Christians and atheists aside. Objectively, while religion comes from an exterior force, spirituality is something that awakens inside the individual.
What I learned from my AA experience is that spirituality is the inner path I have to follow to find my own higher power. Even though for me this was a personal journey, for others the road will be influenced by the religious teachings they grew up with. During your personal ‘rite of passage’, it is perfectly OK to combine your own ideas with those you borrow from other belief systems.
AA lends a helping hand to anyone seeking spiritual awakening
When I decided to undergo the AA program, I expected the worst. In fact, I perceived the organization as a group of devout Christians who traded the bottle for Jesus Christ. To my surprise, the spiritual experience they teach in AA doesn’t involve anything mystical or paranormal.
Even though some groups will have a more religious sense than others, you can choose to adhere to the one you feel the most comfortable with. There are even agnostic and atheist groups, if you want to avoid religion altogether.
Get over your misconceptions about AA and see this program as one of the tools on your path to sobriety.