Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

Step Two – Excerpts

Quotes in Brief

"To know that we are not God, to know that there is a God, and to know that God, these are the Steps in their essence." – p. 93

"Our powerlessness is of a spiritual nature. It is powerlessness not only over alcohol, people and circumstances, but over ourselves, over our very human nature." – p. 96

"The spiritual principle is plain: we come to know that God  is by what God does. Ultimately, in AA, by what he does in us as we become able to do what we cannot do for ourselves."     – p. 97

"The will to disbelieve is the will for control. We want to do our own thing, as those of a certain generation put it, and we are not going to let the truth about the consequences of atheism get in our way. So we lie to ourselves. Hence the psychology of denial." – p. 101

"Adam and Eve had first-hand empirical evidence of God’s existence. He walked in the Garden with them. Their problem was that God told them they could not eat of a certain tree." – p. 113

"The alcoholic who doesn’t want to believe won’t believe. No amount of evidence can change that. The willingness isn’t there." – p. 114

"The evidence for God is in the rooms, sitting next to us and across the table. To see it and accept it we need to surrender the pride that blinds us and be willing to listen honestly and with an open mind." – p. 115

"The truth is that we were so spiritually and morally bankrupt that we could not even see some of those lines: we stepped over them blindly. Other times we saw the lines alright, but we wanted to cross them. Alcohol gave us the false courage to do it and numbed our conscience as we did. Alcohol was the great enabler, and the great anesthetic. It wasn’t God who was dead. We were." – p. 116

"Religion became an end, rather than a means, a substitute for God. Until alcoholism intervened and forced the issue: God, or religion?" – p. 125

"Yet, Step 2 and AA spirituality is about nothing if it isn’t about faith in God. Many good reasons exist why AA makes a distinction between religion and spirituality, but a denial of God is not one of them." – p. 127

"One may repudiate organized or institutionalized religion, but one cannot dispense with religion altogether. God put in us the desire to seek him and to reconnect with him, and what we do when we respond to that desire, that is religion." – p. 128

"This is the message of Step 2. What makes us sober and restores us to sanity is not religion. It is God." – p. 131

– From Chapter D. The Will to Disbelieve


“The more we complicated things, the harder it became to live and the greater our failures and the emotional liabilities that followed in their wake.” – p. 134

“We arrive in the rooms tangled up in a web of complexity and confusion. Our lives are unmanageable because our minds are unmanageable.” – p. 134

“A secular view of open-mindedness, however, carries a built-in exception where the virtue doesn’t apply. That exception is God and the spiritual realm. For many of us being open-minded and believing in God were mutually exclusive.” – p. 134

“In asking us to open our minds to the spiritual experience of other alcoholics, Step 2 is asking us to admit to the possibility that we know less than we suppose, and that, perhaps, our ideas about God don’t necessarily correspond to reality.” – p. 135

“In AA a greater or higher power are not empty words or arbitrary language constructs. They go to the heart of the program.” – p. 138

“If we practice these principles, we will receive the gift of faith, and with faith, the gift of hope. Faith and hope not in a temporary substitute that sooner or later will wear thin and fall short, but in the God who, the Promises assure us, can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves in the long journey of recovery.” – p. 139

“The atheist and the skeptic in general will find no conflict between faith and reason in AA. Ours is a rational program. We come to believe on the evidence, first of others’ recovery, then of our own transformation. All we have to do is open our eyes to that evidence, and open ourselves to receive the Power that will change us.” – p. 139

“Irrationality is a mark of the active alcoholic, we are told in the 12&12, and we generally have no clue of the fact. Ironically, the more irrational we are rendered by alcohol, the more rational we claim to be, particularly in our denial of faith.” – p. 144

“Our insanity lies deep in our ego, in the self-centered core of our being. From that vantage point, we appear to be in control. Reality is what we want it to be. We live in a fantasy world where the laws of cause and effect don’t apply to us. Our insanity is the end product of our attempt to live as if there is no God.” – p. 145

“Our disease extends to the emotions, the intellect, the will, the imagination, our conscience, the moral and the aesthetic sense, and all the God-given faculties that make us specifically spiritual, distinctly human.” – p. 145

“But when we focus on mind and body to the exclusion of the spirit, we are practicing another program, not AA. Bring your body and your mind will follow, we like to say. But it won’t. Not if it is closed to God.” – p. 146

“To restore is to make possible the normal use of our mental and rational faculties, to recover our moral sense, our sense of beauty and wonder and the numinous, and to fully feel again, freed from the grip of obsession.” – p. 146

“To restore also means to revive, to revivify, to resuscitate. It means to bring back to life. For if we were physically and mentally impaired, we were also spiritually dead. As God restores us to sanity, our spiritual awakening begins. We are made whole in all three areas, mind, body and spirit.” – p. 146

– From Chapter E. Crossing the Threshold

(For fuller excerpts from Step Two, please click on subtabs.)