Twelve Steps for non-believers, agnostics & atheists
There is a constant dialogue with God in the steps. A little bit of it is explicitly stated, and a lot of it is implicit. There is the sense of being watched by something higher than we are, and that is a source motivation, in the sense of both the carrot and the stick. It also gives a sense of where one fits in the universe, with God as a guarantor of stability and a moral compass, therefore the possibility of meaning and purpose.
In this fourth edition, I have been focusing on replacing that almost palpable connection with God with an experiential connection to something which I consider functionally similar: A connection with an inner sense of meaning and purpose.
I allude to this in the wording of the steps, for instance when I talk about the pause in step 3. I am trying to do more of that in the commentary on the steps, coming back, time and again, to paying attention to your felt sense.
My intention is to outline a functional definition of mindfulness that fulfills the function of communication with God as a motivator and a moral compass.
Another way in which God plays a big role in the traditional Twelve Steps is faith. I see step two as a leap of faith. We’re talking about giving up on the illusion of having control, as well as any character defenses. This is terrifying if there’s not faith in something that sustains you while we go through the dark night of the soul.