Higher Power in AA


Whenever the topic of “higher power” comes up in a meeting, I can’t help but feel a twinge of discomfort. Although this concept forms the bedrock of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), its vagueness can often lead to self-centered discussions revolving around personal religious history. Unfortunately, these discussions often stray from the core idea presented in the AA Big Book.

The Big Book’s View on Higher Power

According to the Big Book, achieving sobriety requires everyone to tap into “a power greater than oneself!” However, the real innovation lies in the latitude of this concept. It can be anything. Over the years, I’ve found that the less we delve into anyone’s specific concept of a higher power, the better. More often than not, these concepts create divisions rather than connections.

Pragmatism in Belief

The renowned psychologist and philosopher, William James, proposed that the “truth” of a belief could be measured by its practicality or whether it works. He coined this principle as pragmatism. This line of thinking has led to an array of eclectic concepts, including the proverbial “door knob.”

My Struggle with Belief

For many years, I grappled with the concept of belief, often teetering on the brink of atheism. Despite these periods of intense disbelief, I managed to maintain my sobriety.

One day, I found myself pondering over what we really “know” about the universe. Science tells us that the universe is 46 billion light-years wide and approximately 13.72 billion years old. This led me to an interesting question: “What is harder to conceive of – a universe 46 billion light-years wide and 13.72 billion years old or the possibility of a creator?”

A Personal Revelation

That thought sparked a revelation and helped me carve my concept of a higher power. I realized that the idea of a higher power does not need to align with traditional religious beliefs but can simply be a force or energy greater than oneself.

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