In recent years I’ve been exploring the 12-Step Program as one of the most popular and effective paths to spiritual development in today’s world.
Although used almost exclusively by people trying to break the bonds of alcoholism and drugs and other addictive things, I’m convinced that the 12 steps could provide an excellent spiritual path for anyone, regardless of their religious or spiritual beliefs… regardless of whether they have any addictions.
Even a devout Christian or Muslim teetotaler could get tremendous spiritual gifts from the program.
The beauty of the program is that it provides spiritual development even to agnostics and atheists… people who don’t believe in our deep spiritual roots.
It does that—a seemingly impossible task!—simply by replacing the word “God” with “a power greater than ourselves”… and allowing flexible personal definitions of what that power is.
Step 2 – We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For most people, that power is God… but it could also be defined as nature or other people or the recovery group or conscience or group conscience or… whatever feels comfortable to the person taking the steps.
The use of “a power greater than ourselves” allows even the most contentious deniers of spirituality a way to develop spiritually… simply by following the 12 steps of the program.
I know from personal experience what it’s like to be an agnostic who’s trying desperately to make sense of the world while not just denying spirituality and God, but mocking the very concepts.
People believe in an afterlife out of naïve wishful thinking… out of an unwillingness to accept their eventual demise as a human being.
That’s what I believed until cancer knocked me onto a spiritual quest. Yes… I was a devout agnostic up to that point.
So I have a lot of empathy for agnostics and atheists. I remember what it was like to flounder without an anchor of light to keep me safe in the dark, stormy swells of this carnal world.
Before my immersion into spiritual matters, I wrote extensively (almost obsessively) about world affairs and peace.
I thought “spirituality” had to be a force that brought peace to people and groups… so I defined it as a commitment to be a healthy, reliable link to what’s inside us and what’s around us.
I viewed life as an endless chain of nested systems and subsystems: cells… within organs… within human bodies… within families and friendships and organizations… within cities and companies… within nations and transnational corporations… within the human species….
… and the “spiritual purpose” of any system in that chain was to act as a healthy, reliable link between the smaller subsystems within it and the larger systems of which it was a part.
That principle would bring cohesion and peace to all life… and to me that was the essence of “spirituality.”
I discovered that principles of peace that would work for individuals could also work for nations… and for any other living system in that chain.
While I no longer refer to ideas like that as “spiritual,” I still view them as valid principles that could bring peace and well-being to our lives on Earth.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, then you’re probably familiar with my more genuine understanding of spirituality.
On my other site (Noble Savage World) I try to integrate my newfound spiritual knowledge with the more grounded ideas that I’ve gathered over the years about principles of peace and well-being among humans and their societies.
This morning, for example, I posted a short, easy read on how nations like America can overcome their addictions to oil. If you’re interested, here’s a link: