A good number of years ago, I found myself bewildered and uncertain about the meaning of spirituality and how one achieves it. After a rather frantic search, I fell upon an idea that presented a solution. I realized that by combining Step Twelve, Tradition Twelve, and the last sentence of the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, I had discovered my answer. Let me explain. Step Twelve says: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
To me, Step Twelve says that a thorough digestion of the previous eleven Steps constitutes a concept that could be considered “spiritual.” I reviewed each Step and, indeed, found that by embracing all of these Twelve Steps, I obtained a feeling which I call spiritual.
The last part of Step Twelve adds additional clout. It includes two very vital points which make spirituality ring loud and clear within me. By carrying the message to others and practicing the principles of the AA program in all our affairs, Step Twelve rounds itself out for me into a full concept of spirituality.
However, there still seemed to be something missing. Very shortly thereafter I reread Tradition Twelve, which was of enormous help to me in my search for spirituality. Tradition Twelve says: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
It became abundantly clear to me that anonymity was a spiritual foundation not only of Tradition Twelve, but of sobriety itself. When I grasped this concept, it became easy for me to place principles before personalities. As a matter of fact, once anonymity was embraced, the phrase “placing principles before personalities” became unnecessary–it had already happened.
One day, while I was reading the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, its last sentence jumped out at me and entered my awareness as I read: “We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have.”
It followed that humility, as expressed through anonymity, was the greatest safeguard that I could ever have. Thus, anonymity and humility were the core of spirituality–and of Step Twelve and Tradition Twelve. The AA program suggested that we carry this message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all of our affairs. That latter is a big order, but in the light of anonymity, humility, and spirituality, it became easy to work with others both inside and outside of AA. Now spirituality took on a real, true meaning for me.
Many ask “What is anonymity?” and “What is humility?” To me, they are almost the same thing. They are devoid of prestige; they demand nothing; they don’t ask to be “right”; they simply suggest that the icy egocentric elements in all of us retire into the background and that we wear the warm cloak of anonymity and humility and therefore, spirituality.