I was part of a “higher power” discussion last night with a young man who is hesitant to do the steps because he is an atheist. As he talked about the difficulty with finding a higher power as an atheist, he mentioned yoga, which I understand is a mental, physical, and spiritual practice, much like AA is a mental, physical, and spiritual recovery from active alcoholism and alcoholic drinking. I don’t know much about yoga, but I wonder if it can “restore me to sanity.” Do I need some semblance of sanity to practice it to begin with? Do I need that to practice AA?
I’m in danger of twirling in a complicated mental circle. Like I said last night and like I’ve said here, I don’t know if there is a supernatural or supreme being. I don’t need to know to be successful in AA. Our books suggest making AA or the group our higher power at first. Here is a group of people who have solved the drinking problem, certainly a power greater than me. That worked for me at first, and it works for me now. I don’t mean the specific people who gathered at the group with me last night, although the same young man had a question about how to treat his sister. All of the people within earshot voiced their opinion and agreed that he should not give her money. I mean all of the people of AA from the beginning until now, and the program as it is written in the books and practiced by the people I come in contact with. It is a power greater than me. It is a plan for how to live and it is concrete, immediate, free and sane help with the specific details of my specific existence, here and now.
I don’t believe our young man should make a sponsor or a person his higher power. Individuals are famously and sometimes tragically fallible. But the program, its history, its present and its people are a higher enough power for me. Personally, I can’t completely identify with someone who claims to be 100% atheist because I’m just never that sure of anything. I can’t understand how those people don’t have a tiny doubt, but that doesn’t matter. A power greater than them can restore them to sanity, and it can save them from an alcoholic existence and an alcoholic death.