Chapter 1 - Study of How It Works (p.13-15 Spiritual Infusion)
Here is a simple study approach to use. I learned it when attending an Inductive Bible Study course. It involves three basic skills: observation, interpretation, and application. (1) Observation answers the question: What does the text say? (2) Interpretation answers the question: What does the text mean? (3) Application answers the question: What does the text mean to me personally? What truths can I put into practice? What changes should I make in my life?
When you know what the text says, what the text means, and how to put the text’s truths into practice, you will be equipped for every circumstance of life. These tools helped me transform my life and gain a deep and abiding relationship with a power greater than myself, and I know they will help you to do the same.
This begins the study of Chapter 5 – HOW IT WORKS starting on pages 58, 59 and 60 of the Third Edition of Alcoholic’s Anonymous Big Book. Notice that the title and header of HOW IT WORKS are all capital letters. This is consistent throughout the book except for the forewords.
Study Excerpt: “RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”
Look closely at the first two words of the sentence. Both are capitalized. This is consistent for the beginning paragraphs throughout the chapters. More than one word is capitalized. Why is this? I believe they wanted (then and still want today) to drive the point home on the deeper meaning of those particular words. When writing an email, if you capitalize in your message, you are considered to be yelling. That is what I believe we need to consider here when reading this text.
The synonyms for RARELY are hardly ever, not often, on the odd occasion, infrequently, or seldom. The word HAVE is uniquely used because it is the present tense. So when you read this it means the same today as it did yesterday and it will mean the same tomorrow as it did today. Then RARELY HAVE surely intensifies and confirms the need to be seen in meetings. So, go to meetings, keep coming back and you will not fail!
This program is about life (recovery) or death (fail). Everyday I put my feet on the floor, get up and participate in being alive I will have to make choices. When I come to a fork in the road I will have to choose between life and death. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV). Choose life!
In the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, I found an understanding of the meaning of love that I could accept at an early time in my recovery on the path to “life”. M. Scott Peck simply revealed that love was the willingness to nurture my own and another human being’s spiritual growth. Wow! So, I accepted this program as life and death for me, and no matter what I felt about other people in this program I could love them as people on a journey with a common malady. I had begun my spiritual quest.
In the book People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck, I found an understanding of evil that I could also accept at that same early time in my recovery. The word evil means anything destructive to another human being’s spiritual growth. To do evil is on the path to death. I have recognized people who are under the influence of evil for they promote confusion rather than the facts (truth).
Now properly armed with facts (truth) about love and evil, I stepped onto the path of that road less traveled. Until this new understanding was reached, I feared that I could not be of use to another human being on this journey, let alone my family and myself. The words thoroughly followed our path convinced me that one of the most important things to do in preparing for a journey was to find the best roads leading to the ultimate destination. This was thoroughly following the roads suggested by others (old timers), who stepped onto that path less taken and trudged (marched, lumbered, struggled, toiled), this road to happy destiny (fortune, providence, divine intervention). If we are not sure of our road or direction, we take the chance of driving on an uncharted highway and may ultimately be in the same predicament over and over again, only to remain lost. Many people remain lost in the program because they are attempting to follow the wrong directions. They do not study the basic text! They work the program to their own destruction, not because they are not active in the program, but because they have acquired, willingly, the wrong viewpoint towards recovery. These people are known as retreads, relapsers, slippers, backsliders. They are working the program with the wrong attitudes and intentions, which will ultimately lead to death. Check your motives. Choose Life!
I have seen with my own eyes, the man made hell on earth that people live because of the in and out of the program programs. You meet them at various meetings then they are gone to treatment, then they are back, then they are gone to jail, then they are back, then they are gone to prison, then they are back, then they are gone. You do not have to go back out of the program. I give you permission to stay! Continuous sobriety is possible. Choose Life!
In the original manuscript of The Big Book, the word direction was the word originally suggested instead of the word path (passageway) that was finally chosen. What a revelation that was! The word direction is synonymous with orders and commands. Those who wrote the book knew that addicted people do not want to be told, ordered or commanded to do anything. So it definitely leaves the words followed our path to be the way out of addiction as suggested only.

Author's Bio: 

Member of AA, NA, CODA, ACOA. Sobriety Date 10-14-1987 Yuma, AZ.
Author of "Spiritual Infusion: Twelve Step Recovery and Revival Inside and Outside the Church. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Teacher book studies with "Spiritual Infusion" for recovery programs. Speaker when asked to testify.Continuous sobriety is possible when one chooses "life". It is here that I want to give you an invitation to transformation. I have written for you my personal commentary and study of the recovery tool of "How It Works" and more. Come join me now as we drink from the existing well of the Twelve Step recovery revival on our journey to another level of recovery and release the revival in you.