Aa history Lovers 2006 moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut page



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_____________________________________________________________

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++++Message 3613. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: The Traditions/cross talk

From: John Lee . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/29/2006 2:51:00 PM


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It's interesting to note that, as set forth in 12and12, most of the

Traditions

developed as the result of "cross-talk", whether it was taking a

job at Towns

Hospital or considering a position as an "AA" spokesman for the

liquor industry.

Cross- talk has a rich history in the Fellowship. It's been given an

undeserved

bad name by therapy-based practicioners in the treatment industry.

john lee


where the Allegheny meets the Monongahela, to form the Ohio
johncseibert wrote:

I was recently asked about the text of tradition two in the 12x12.

Specifically I was asked if I knew who it was Bill was referring to

when he wrote: "Almost timidly, one of my friends began to speak."

pg

137 Also they were curious as to why Bill mentions this story about



being offered a position at Townes Hospital in the text of tradition 2

instead of either tradition 6 (Never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A.

name to any related facility or outside enterprise etc.) or tradition 8

(Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional etc.)

unless it's to emphasize the point of a "Loving God as he may express

himself through our group conscience" being the guiding forcxe of A.A.

Can any of you learned folks answer these two questions?
Service is Love
John S.
---------------------------------

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++++Message 3614. . . . . . . . . . . . How do we meditate according to the

11th Step?

From: jsmaranatha . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/20/2006 8:37:00 PM
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Hi everyone,
Is there anybody who could tell me what's the B.B. say about

meditation? And I don't talk about thinking or the prayer of

St. Francis which, incidentally is not really from St. Francis.
At the beginning of this marvelous fellowship: have our founders

known anything about meditation? Not prayer or thinking but real

meditation. I asked this question many many times, here in Montreal

and all around Canada and nobody could answer with real conviction

about that.
What's up? Not the "think think think" stuff but real, profound

and


deepful meditation? I will really appreciate your help.
Regards,
And excuse my written English, sorry - in advance thank you for your

understanding.


John S.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

jeanst_onge@cgocable.ca


________________________________
A NOTE FROM THE MODERATOR
People sometimes tend to forget, and start assuming that there has only been

one


early AA author.
There were four great AA authors from the early AA period: Bill W., Richmond

Walker, Ralph Pfau (Father John Doe), and Ed Webster.

________________________________
ENTERING THE DIVINE SILENCE
Richmond Walker, a New Englander who got sober in Boston in 1942 (see

http://hindsfoot.org/RWchrn.html ), later moved to Daytona Beach, Florida,

and

wrote some meditations for himself on little cards which he carried around



in

this pocket. The Florida AA people persuaded him to publish these in 1948 in

a

little black book, called "Twenty Four Hours a Day." It was



sponsored by the

Daytona Beach AA group, printed at the county courthouse, and distributed

from

Rich's basement. Its use quickly spread over the U.S. and Canada, and there



were periods when there were more AA members who owned a copy of this book

than


owned a copy of the Big Book. Rich is still the second most published AA

author


(only Bill W. has beat him in total sales).
The eleventh step says "Sought through prayer and meditation [a] to

improve our

conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for [b]

knowledge

of His will for us and [c] the power to carry that out.
The majority of early AA members during the 1950's and 60's found that

Rich's


little book told them exactly how to do all three of those things.
The fine print section at the bottom of each page is based on one of the old

Oxford Group books, "God Calling by Two Listeners," which is still

the sixth

most popular book sold at Christian book stores. As we all know, AA

spirituality was based heavily on Oxford Group spirituality.
Rich refers to the kind of meditation that you are talking about as

"entering

into the Divine Silence." In addition to the influence of the Oxford

Group, he

seems to have been influenced by Hindu meditational techniques, perhaps as

mediated through the New England Transcendentalists (notice the quote from a

Hindu author at the beginning of his book) and by nineteenth century German

idealism (notice all the references to the philosopher Kant's concept of our

normal consciousness being boxed up in the box of space and time).
His concept of the divine spark within the soul, with which we need to get

into


contact when we are meditating, may indicate some knowledge of the medieval

Catholic concept of the scintilla or divine spark within the soul, although

some

of the spiritual writers whom the Oxford Group read and were influenced by,



also

spoke that way on certain occasions.

________________________________
THE GOLDEN BOOKS
Ralph Pfau (Father John Doe) was a Roman Catholic priest, and of course

talks


about meditation in his Golden Books and in his tape recordings, all of

which


are still available. One of his definitions is that "meditation is

thinking


about something that is true." And that is one of the standard things

that the


word meditation meant in traditional Catholic spirituality.
So reading a short section from one of his Golden Books every morning, and

then


thinking quietly about one of the profound spiritual truths which it talks

about, would be a form of meditation.


I know that you are rejecting this idea, but if you are asking what most

people


in the U.S. and Canada meant by the word "meditation" in 1938 and

1939, when the

Big Book was being written, it did in fact mean "thinking about some

spiritual

statement that is true." Look for example at how the Oxford Dictionary

of the


Christian Church explains the traditional meanings of the words

"meditation" and

"contemplation."
CONTEMPLATION
The kind of practices that you seem to be interested in were referred to as

"contemplation" (not meditation) in traditional Catholic

spirituality. If you

are not thinking about words and ideas and thoughts, but merely

contemplating

something wordlessly (and trying to still all of your thoughts) then this

was

usually referred to as "contemplation."


HINDU MEDITATION (AND THE BEATLES)
The word meditation did not start to be used in the way that you are using

it

until a popular music group called the Beatles (during the 1960's) started



telling everyone about a guru in India whom they had met who had a system

which


the Beatles called "Transcendental Meditation," which they

believed was a safer

way of getting into some of the altered states which they had been

attempting to

get into by taking drugs (and writing songs about it like "Lucy in the

Sky with


Diamonds," "We All Live in a Yellow Submarine," and "I

Get High with a Little

Help from My Friends"). But none of the AA people who helped write the

Big Book


back in 1938 and 1939 knew anything about the Beatles and Transcendental

Meditation.


In my own observation, I have known a lot of AA people who played around

with


Transcendental Meditation or something like that when they first came in,

but I


do not know any good old timers who continued to practice that kind of

meditation on a daily basis after they had been in for a while. They all

told

me that they eventually discovered better ways of carrying out the eleventh



step.
But it never did anybody any harm, so if you would like to try it, there is

a

bunch of stuff on that kind of meditation (or contemplation) on the



internet,

from all sorts of religious traditions: Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic, Eastern

Orthodox, the methods of the Jewish Kabbalah, and so on, and they all use

pretty


much the same techniques.
In the Roman Catholic tradition, some of the people and works to look at

would


be St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, St. John of the Cross, St.

Bonaventure's The Mind's Path to God, Meister Eckhart, The Cloud of

Unknowing,

and Julian of Norwich.


However, Father Ralph Pfau thinks that most AA people would be a whole lot

better off turning to St. Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower) and

learning

about the Little Way, the path to simple sancitity where we learn how to

actually practice love in little ways in our relationships with all the

people


around us in our everyday lives. You don't need elaborate meditative

techniques

to learn the Little Way. What you do need to learn is a simple and

unquestioning trust in God, and a willingness to call on God for help in all

the

little details of our everyday lives. And then just go around being GOOD to



the

other people around you.

________________________________
THE LITTLE RED BOOK
Ed Webster talks briefly about meditation in the chapter of The Little Red

Book


which deals with the eleventh step. Since Dr. Bob was actively involved in

helping Ed write and revise that book, and pushed its use strongly until Dr.

Bob's death in November 1950 (sending copies all over the U.S. and Canada,

and


insisting that the New York GSO make the book available for sale), I think

we

can say that The Little Red book gets us as close as we can to understanding



how

Dr. Bob thought the AA program ought to be taught to newcomers.

________________________________
QUIET TIME
And Ed's treatment of the issue reminds us that what the earliest AA people

certainly primarily understood by the term "meditation" was what

the Oxford

Group called taking a morning "Quiet Time." So if you want to know

more about

the AA understanding, it would be very useful to read some of the Oxford

Group

literature. The Oxford Group author A. J. Russell talks about this Quiet



Time

in "For Sinners Only" and the Oxford Group author V. C. Kitchen

talks about it

in "I Was a Pagan."


So to understand what most of the earliest AA people meant by meditation,

read


up on the Oxford Group and see what they meant by having a morning Quiet

Time,


and then read the fine print sections at the bottom of each page in Twenty

Four


Hours a Day and see what Richmond Walker calls entering the Divine Silence,

which was his term for the same thing. (Rich had been a member of the Oxford

Group before he joined AA.)

________________________________


VARIETIES OF A.A. SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE
But also remember that William James, in his book "The Varieties of

Religious

Experience," stated that different people needed different spiritual

approaches,

because different people had different personalities.
That is why the Big Book states "God as we understood Him," trying

to make it

clear that we have to work out of own concept of God. So the Big Book does

not


lay out a detailed theological system defining "what God is."
For the same reason, the Big Book deliberately does not lay out a detailed

system for meditating. Different AA members will have to use different ways.


The majority of early AA people found that Richmond Walker's Twenty Four

Hours a


Day did a far better job of helping them learn to meditate successfully than

any


other book they had ever read, but that did not mean ALL the early AA

people,


and it is possible that you too might find some other book more useful. But

just for myself, I would put the 24 hour book on my short list of the ten

greatest books on spirituality and meditation ever written (including Asia

as

well as the western world). I see more people making more spiritual progress



more quickly, when they start reading that book every day, than any other

spiritual book I have ever seen. But again, that still doesn't mean that it

would be the right approach for you.

________________________________


EMMET FOX and JAMES ALLEN
One of the principal goals of meditation is to bring our minds and feelings

and


attitudes back into peace and harmony with God. So to help you better

understand what this goal is, and to better understand what it is that we

are

trying to do when we are meditating, it might also be useful to read Emmet



Fox's

"Sermon on the Mount" and James Allen's "As a Man

Thinketh" (

http://hindsfoot.org/kML3rc1.html ).


Both of those books were on the list of ten books which early Akron AA

advised


every new AA member to read. And Emmet Fox's "Golden Key" explains

how to


recite mantras to bring our souls back into harmony with God. They aren't

quite


the same as the kind of mantras which are used in Transcendental Meditation,

but


in my own experience they actually work better.
(I wrote about Richmond Walker's system of meditation in The Higher Power of

the


Twelve Step Program, in Chapter 5, "Two Classical Authors of A.A.

Spirituality,"

see http://hindsfoot.org/kHP1.html , and about Emmet Fox's Golden Key at the

end


of Chapter 3 in that book.)

________________________________


OTHER KINDS OF MEDITATION
And it is also useful to remember that meditation is a pretty broad concept.

We

are not necessarily trying to "meditate till you levitate" and get



into the

vision of the Divine Abyss and the Uncreated Light, and all that kind of

thing,

although that is certainly all right. We have people in the AA program whom



I

would describe as spiritual adepts, who have experienced all of the

extraordinary things that we find talked about in ancient and medieval

spiritual

literature. I know a woman in the program, for example, who actually

experienced the vision of the Holy Grail.

But don't fall into the trap of thinking that meditation HAS to be spooky

stuff


and "altered states of consciousness" in order for it to qualify

as real


meditation.
Making a gratitude list, and reading through it every morning, and putting

our


minds into an attitude of gratitude, is also a form of meditation. In fact,

it

is a VERY important form of meditation.


Asking God for guidance in morning, and then LISTENING to hear what God

wants us


to do, is also a form of meditation. And likewise, this is a VERY important

form of meditation. It was a vital part of what the Oxford Group called

having

a morning Quiet Time.


Looking out at the trees and flowers, and becoming aware of the enormous

beauty


of the world (and simultaneously aware of the divine power which lies behind

it)


is certainly a form of meditation. Remember the Song of the Seraphim in

Isaiah


6, which is repeated in so many Christian and Jewish liturgies: "Holy,

holy,


holy, Lord of hosts, all the world is filled with your glory."
If all the world is filled with God's glory and holiness, then start

becoming


aware of it, and appreciating it, and developing an attitude of gratitude

towards it, and you are "meditating." Enjoy the flowers and then

say "thank

you." Marvel at the sunset and then say "thank you."


In the Navajo language, there is a word yo'zho' which means beauty, peace,

harmony, and serenity. There is an oft repeated phrase in Navajo chants

which

speaks of "beauty (etc.) in front of me, beauty behind me, beauty



beside me."

If I can FEEL the sacred beauty, peace, harmony, and serenity all around me,

that is meditation.
GOD CONSCIOUSNESS and PRACTICING THE PRESENCE OF GOD
In one sense, you see, meditation simply means working out some way that I

can


become AWARE of God's presence at the feeling level. That is what the early

AA

people called developing "God consciousness," or "practicing



the presence of

God," terms which they borrowed from the early twentieth century

Protestant

liberals (like the ones who published The Upper Room).


From 1935 down to 1948, The Upper Room (which is still published today) was

the


standard AA meditational book. It has Bible verses on every page, and is

heavily Christian (naturally), but it is still a very good meditational book

for

people from Christian backgrounds, both Protestants and Catholics alike. If



you

read that quietly and prayerfully every morning when you first get up, you

are

"meditating" in the sense in which Dr. Bob and Anne Smith started



off their

mornings in early Akron AA, because they used that book every morning (or

simply

read straight from the Bible). There would usually be a group of AA members



present in their home, quietly drinking their morning coffee together, while

they all meditated in this fashion on what Anne had read to them.

________________________________
But the most important thing to remember is that something that would work

for


me wouldn't necessarily work for you. Meditation means "meditation in

some way


that works for you," just like AA refers to "God as you understand

Him," because

nobody can lay out a concept of God or a method of meditation that will work

for


everybody. That's why the Big Book doesn't go into more detail on that

subject.


So I would suggest that you read some of the things I have mentioned, all of

which come from good old time AA, and then start experimenting to see what

works

for you, and what doesn't work for you.



______________________________
THE BIG BOOK and THE ELEVENTH STEP
And remember that the Big Book always gives us our basic framework for

understanding what we are trying to do when we work the twelve step program,

and

our basic criteria for figuring out whether we are working the steps in the



right kind of way.
The eleventh step says "Sought through prayer and meditation [a] to

improve our

conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for [b]

knowledge

of His will for us and [c] the power to carry that out.
That is very short, but it nevertheless says it all. [a] We are trying to

increase our God consciousness and our sense of the presence of God all

around

us at all times, [b] we are trying to gain a better understanding of how God



wants us to live our lives (including all the little decisions we make

throughout the course of the day), and [c] we are turning to God in order to

get

the spiritual power to stay away from the first drink, and help in



overcoming

the power of our character defects so that they no longer dominate our

lives.
If the methods of prayer and meditation which we are using are effectively

helping us in all three of those areas, then we are using the right methods

for

us.
Glenn Chesnut, Moderator



AAHistoryLovers
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++++Message 3615. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Herbert Wallace

From: Doug Hart . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/29/2006 11:53:00 PM


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The History Detectives episode described is on at 9 p.m. Monday night in

Tampa


also, repeating on Aug 1 and 3, so the 9 p.m. time on Monday may be fairly

universal, at least for the Eastern time zone. Doug


----- Original Message -----

From: Mel Barger

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Sent: Thursday, July 27, 2006 5:19 AM

Subject: Re: [AAHistoryLovers] Herbert Wallace
Hi Mitch,

Herb Wallace was an export lawyer in New York. The letter in question was

actually a letter of condolence to Herb's wife, as Herb had just passed on.

He appears to have been an Oxford Grouper who remained on good terms with

Bill and the other alcoholics who had left that fellowship. I believe

Herb's grandson found the letter and must have submitted it to History

Detectives.

The show is scheduled to appear here in Toledo at 9 p.m. Monday, July

31st. It may be on different times in other places. I was interviewed for

the program, though not as an AA member. (I checked with GSO prior to

accepting the assignment.) The interviewer was Gwen Wright, who appears

regularly on this show. Much of the interview is in front of Bill's former

home at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn. It will probably be obvious to AA

members that I'm in the fellowship, but I was told that this was okay if I

wasn't identified as a member.

I didn't know anything about History Detectives until this came up and

I've seen only two programs. But it is an interesting show and brings in a




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