Topics & Questions for Discussion: Part 7 Sample Responses



After watching the 7th part of the God as we understand Him video, we suggest the following topics of discussion:


What do the following have in common: ‘letting go & letting God,’ ‘dying to myself,’ and Step 3?


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


Step 3 of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” How does the 3rd Step relate to the saying “Let Go and Let God?” The act of turning my will over to God means letting go -- letting go of my ego, letting go of whatever situation I may be attempting to control, accepting that certain things are beyond my control. The “as we understood Him” part is important, because each of us has to find a Power greater than ourselves, a Higher Power -- some would say “The Highest Power” -- that we are willing to allow to replace our ego, and that’s a pretty big something. Step 3 is a monumental decision in a person’s life - the decision to devote my life to something bigger than myself, my ego.


“Dying to myself” means just that. It means killing the ego. This sounds terrifying. One might interpret this as spiritual suicide, but it is a leap of faith because it is only in dying to myself that I can truly undergo a metamorphosis. Just as a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, so may we become something more. It is a paradox that our egos want us to become huge and grand, but I can only reach my fullest potential by killing my ego. Again, this sounds drastic, but I can begin by simply recognizing my ego and trying to manage it on a daily basis.


What does Step 3 have in common with the concept of ‘dharma,’ as described in the film?


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


In the Hindu faith, the term “dharma” is extremely important. Perhaps the simplest translation for English-speaking North Americans is the the term “duty.” Practicing dharma simply means recognizing and doing one’s duty. In our lives, we all have our duties - to our families, to our friends, to our co-workers and bosses, to our communities, and to society as a whole.


How does the concept of “dharma” or “duty” relate to the Third Step of AA, NA, OA, CA, GA, SAA, and all the other 12 Step programs? Because our one big decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understood Him in practice amounts to countless daily decisions, big and small, all of which affect the people in our lives. Each time I feed my addiction, I am being self-centered. Each time I attend to one of my duties, I am performing a selfless act. I am serving the people around me, rather than myself.


For those of us who don’t believe in God, let’s make a list of adjectives to describe that concept of God that we reject.


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


An atheist or an agnostic may have a lot of difficulty with Step 3. The term “God” is a very loaded term - load with a lifetime of experiences and associations. In Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12 Step fellowships, we are invited to explore the concept of God - to explore our own personal understanding of the God concept. We can begin by asking ourselves how we understand or conceive of God. In the case of atheists, what are the characteristics of the God they believe does not exist? For these purposes, let’s call Him the Fairy Tale God. Perhaps this Fairy Tale God has a long white beard and a flowing white robe. Perhaps He looks down on us from the clouds and judges our every decision and tallies our every action in a thick book. When we die, perhaps we imagine that this Fairy Tale God will decide our fate: Heaven or Hell. We in North America are all very familiar with this concept of God. We are all very familiar with the image and story of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we reject the idea that any intelligent being created the universe and continues to monitor the minutia of his creation to this day. Perhaps we reject the idea of Heaven and Hell, and we may even reject the idea that there is life after death at all. For the atheist, it may not be enough to seek out a God of one’s own understanding. Most definitions of God refer to some form of supreme being or supernatural being, creator and ruler of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient. These all may be concepts that the atheist rejects and that the agnostic believes to be unknowable.


For the atheist and agnostic, I suggest translating Step 3 in the following way:
Made a decision to devote my life to a Higher Purpose.


Fill in the blank: Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of _______________________.


Sample response by a facilitator or group mediator:


When talking about “God as we understood Him,” here is a list of words and phrases that can be used to replace God or Higher Power: Almighty, Creator, Cosmic Energy, Creative Power, Creative Energy, Creative Intelligence, Divine Intelligence, Divine Energy, Divine Love, Divine Power, Divine Mind, Divine Life, Divine Truth, Divine Mother, Father of Light, Force of Good, Great Spirit, Great Reality, Great Mystery, Heavenly Father, Holy Mother, Holy Spirit, Infinite Power, Inner Being, Life, Love, Light, Life Force, One, One Love, One Light, One Spirit, One Power, One Presence, Power, Power of Good, Presence of Peace, Presence of Love, Sacred Truth, Spirit, Spirit of the Universe, The Force, Truth, Universe, Universal Mind, Unlimited Power. There are infinite possibilities of terms for "God."