AA Appendix II - Spiritual Experience

From Page 569, "Big Book", aka Alcoholics Anonymous 3rd edition.

The terms "spiritual experience" and "spiritual awakening" are used many
times in this book which, upon careful reading, show that the personality
change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested
itself among us in many different forms.

Yet it is true that our frst printing gave many readers the impression that
these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature
of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion
is erroneous.

In the first few chapters a number of sudden revolutionary changes are
described. Though it was not our intention to create such an impression,
many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they
must acquire an immediate and overwhelming "God-consciousness" followed at
once by vast change in feeling and outlook.

Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands of alcoholics such
transformations, though frequent, are by no means the rule. Most of our
experiences are what the psychologist William James calls the "educational
variety" because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often
friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before hs is
himself. He finally reaiizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in
his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought
about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom
have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our
members and that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they
presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves.

Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the
essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it

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 finnd that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the
program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of
recover. But these are indepensible.

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep
a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior
to investigation."