Step One:

Affirmed that I (as a creative center of Infinite Spirit) have power and dominion over the conditions of my life.

I affirm that I am a creative center (and an individualized expression) of Infinite Spirit.  As such, my essential nature is one with Spirit and embodies every quality of Spirit, such as love, joy, power, aliveness, creativity, fullness, freedom, and beauty—and those qualities are mine to experience (in this life).  I am able to experience my innate qualities to the extent that I allow them, to the extent that my consciousness is able to embrace them.  

As a creative center of Spirit I have complete freedom, in every moment, to change my consciousness, to set into motion a new cause, and to actuate a positive change in my life; nothing (no outer condition) has power over me unless I give it that power (consciously or subconsciously).

Although, in essence, I am one with Infinite Spirit, in my ordinary state—where I am wholly unaware of my true nature and fully identified with this limited sense of self—I encounter difficulties; I do not fully experience my essential self nor its qualities, such as love, joy, fullness, peace, and beauty.  Thus, I intend to move from my current state (of limitation) to a state of fullness, to a state where my true self, and all its qualities, are more and more present in my life.

Discussion 1:
Understanding our True Self as Infinite Spirit

  The first principle of Step One is that we, as human beings, are creative centers of Infinite Spirit; we are one with Spirit, and, fundamental to our being, is every quality inherent to Spirit, such as love, joy, aliveness, abundance, creative power, beauty, etc.  The first affirmation of Step One is: "I own and affirm that I am a creative center of Infinite Spirit."  Once we are able to “own and affirm” our oneness with Spirit we put ourselves in a position of true creative power.  Only by affirming and realizing ourselves as a creative center of Infinite Spirit—and, thus, the owner of every fundamental quality of Spirit—will we come to have power and dominion over the conditions of our life.  We will realize that our own creative consciousness is the cause and the outer conditions of our life is the effect.  Affirming our oneness with Spirit, and our true identity as a creative center of Infinite Spirit, puts us in a position of creative power, freedom, and joy.  We put ourselves in a relation to Life where we can become masters over conditions as opposed to having conditions be master over us.

  To understand our essential nature (and its qualities) we must understand the nature of Spirit—precisely because Spirit (the Infinite Creative Power) is our innermost nature.  Our innermost nature is Spirit (individualized) and, thus, it embodies every fundamental quality of Spirit—such as love, joy, aliveness, creativity, wholeness, truth, freedom, and beauty.  Our inherent nature is one, in all qualitative respects, with Spirit; the only difference is that Spirit exists in the Universal and we exist as an individual.  

  When we exclusively identify (and define) ourselves as being this individual we obscure our one-with-Spirit nature and its creative power. Therefore, the intention of this step is not to try and gain or acquire something but to realize (and become consciously aware of) what we already have and that which we already are. 

  The shift from powerless to true creative power involves a fundamental shift in one’s identity—the shift is from a primary identification with one’s limited, conditional self to one’s infinite, one-with-Spirit, self.  In this shift, our primary identity (or sense of self) comes to resides in, and as, our infinite, one-with-Spirit self, or “I Am.”  This does not obscure or dissolve our human identity—rather, when we come upon our true identity, when we know ourselves to be that essential self, the light of this truth illumines and makes whole our human identity. 

  When we are identified with our limited, mind-based image of self—which means that we live though this person (or self-image of this person) and believe ourselves to be this person—we do not have power and dominion over the conditions of our life.  In this identity, conditions have power over usthey determine our state of mind. In this me-based identity, we may be able to exert a lot of power (if we have certain human attributes, such as intelligence, confidence, skills, means, connections, etc.) or we may lack power (if we lack certain attributes).  So, in terms of human power, a person may have a lot of power or a little. But our true creative power—enabled by our conscious oneness with Infinite Spirit—is of a different order and magnitude than our ordinary human power.  To the extent that we identify with our human self, to that extent is our power limited to what we, as humans, can command.  To the extent that we identify with our true self, as a creative center of Infinite Spirit, to that extent do we have power and dominion over the conditions of our lives.  Thus, a major part of Step One is to understand the difference between our human and divine identity, and to actuate a shift in our identity—from our human self to our divine self, from our finite self to our one-with-Spirit self.   (Identity can generally be understood as what a person believes himself to be; where a person is positioned in life; what a person feels himself to be when he says, “I Am.")

Q: How does one come to make this shift from a human to a divine identity---and why is this shift important?

    It's not important, it's crucial.  Why is it important to find love, joy, aliveness, abundance and beauty in life?---because those are the very qualities of life itself.  Those are the qualities of our true nature.  So, it is important, or crucial, to become who we truly are, and not live in a false, limited---and rather painful and isolating---version of ourselves.

  Your question is one which all true paths of transformation seek to answer—not only in terms of what they teach but in terms of practices which might bring about this fundamental shift from the human to the divine.  (Again we must emphasize that this shift does not eradicate the human dimension but enables and fulfills it.)  Such traditional practices might include meditation, remembrance, and self-inquiry (and contemplation).  So, if we know this shift is somewhat crucial, and the very thing that will lead us to true happiness and joy, what continues to bind us to this limited (and painful) identity?  Why do we need to do all this spiritual practice to bring about a shift?  Discovering these subconscious anchors, these underlying concepts that keep us wedded to this 'false' identity—and then seeking to remove those binding concepts—is what may be called a psychological approach, as opposed to a purely 'spiritual' approach. In any complete path of transformation, both approaches are needed---the systematic removal (or dissolution) of the negative blocks of one's personhood and the expansion of one's divine presence.

In terms of problems, the fundamental understanding is that we don’t necessarily want to remove problems, as an approach, we want to remove ourselves from those problems; we want to shift out of, or “let go of,” the limited identity we are holding onto to---an identity which not only perpetuates our problems but attracts more of the same in our life.  The fundamental approach of “Identity Therapy” is not to fight against or seek to remove the problems—in order to bring some degree of manageability to one’s current identity—but to remove oneself from that problematic identity altogether.  Most psychological approaches are based upon supporting one’s present identity, establishing one’s center there, and then removing the various problems engendered by that identity (so as to make that identity more tolerable). With our approach, the intention is to shift a person out of an unhealthy identity, to stabilize and empower a true center of awareness and a healthy human identity, and then, from that position of health and relative power, to actuate a fundamental shift of identity from the human self (or "Me") to our infinite self, (or "I Am").
   Bear in mind that this shift in identity comes after a process of recognition and abidance; we must first become aware of our true self (through meditation), then establish that divine self as a presence in our lives (through continued awareness and abidance), and then (once the presence of our true self becomes an integral part of our awareness) there comes a shift in the fundamental center, or nexus, of our awareness---from our relative, human self, to our infinite, divine self.  As such, we come to live our human life from the presence of our divine self; we no longer live a flat, insipid, and "boxed in" existence, bereft of our true qualities, we live in the presence of who and what we truly are---which is love, joy, abundance, and beauty.  That is the shift we intend to bring about.

Q: If we don’t lose our human self with this shift of identity, what happens to it?  How is our human life different after this fundamental shift?

     We become who we are; no longer exist as an imagined or mind-made version of ourselves. Identified with our true self, we live our human life out of a sense of fullness, impelled by love (and all the qualities of our nature).  This human life becomes a vehicle through which to express our love, joy, abundance, beauty, etc.  This is different from normal human life, where we live our lives out of a sense of lack.  Our life is a constant seeking to find the love, joy, aliveness, fullness, etc. that seems to be missing.  The divine life can be seen as a true expression of life whereas the ordinary human life (at this stage of evolution) is the constant seeking for life.  It is the same life, one which is rooted in the truth of your own joy, love, and aliveness, the other based upon the mistaken assumption that these fundamental qualities are missing and must be found through various activities and pursuits.  It is the same life; one is full and one is flat.

Discussion 2:
Two Centers of Consciousness: ‘I Am’ and ‘Me’

  A fundamental understanding, related to Step One, and the spiritual path in general, is that we, as human beings, have two selves, two dimensions of existence, two centers of consciousness, which are simultaneously present in the complete experience of our being  One self may be called our divine self, our infinite self, or “I Am.”  This is our true nature; this is the creative center of Infinite Spirit which we truly are.  It is this dimension of self which has infinite creative power; it is this dimension of self which—once we identify with it, and realize it to be our true self—affords us power and dominion over the conditions of our lives; and, moreover, makes our lives joyous, alive, and complete.  The other self is our human self, our limited and conditioned self, or “Me.”  This is the dimension of self which most human beings exclusively identify with, believing this to be the whole of who they are—and it is this exclusive identification with our human dimension which obscures our true “I Amness.”  (In actuality, what most people identify with is not their true human self, but a mental-image of self.  This mentally-constructed version of oneself, when identified with, is called “ego consciousness”; this mentally-constructed reality imprisons a person in a flat and lifeless reality, and obfuscates his divine nature and its qualities. Any version of self which deprives a person of the joyful experience of his own divine qualities, and obscures his true, one-with-Spirit self, can be viewed as “ego.’)

  As part of this journey of self-discovery we must not only gain a clear understanding of these two dimensions of our total self, but moreover, we must endeavor to directly experience the difference between these two centers of identity—and then to shift our fundamental identity from our conditioned self, or “Me” (and our self-image) to our infinite, ever-present, self, or “I Am.”  At present, our identity (and the nexus of our awareness) is misplaced: we wholly identify with our limited sense of Me (and our mentally-created self-image) and have little or no awareness of our true self.  In this life we have been conditioned to dismiss and ignore that which we truly are.  And this is the source of all our problems: we, our true self—the very source of our love, joy, aliveness, abundance, and beauty—are missing from our own lives.  So, of course, we want to recover the fullness of our being and be the love, joy, aliveness, and beauty that we truly are.

 The process of transformation put forth in the New Twelve Steps (and the Twelve Foundations) is not so much about gaining or obtaining something (which we now believe ourselves to lack) but about shifting our fundamental sense of identity from our limited sense of Me to our pure, infinite, one-with-Spirit self, or "I Am."  We do not want to “get rid” of our human nature, nor try to obscure it—rather we want to recognize our human nature and personality (and self-image) as legitimate and necessary expressions of our divine self.  In essence, we want to shift the nexus of our identity (and our awareness) from a human-centered consciousness (or “Me”) to a divine-centered consciousness (or “I Am”).  We want our Me to be a realized expression of ‘I Am’ rather than have ‘I Am’ lost and obscured in the limiting sense of Me.

I Am

  One’s deepest sense of self, or identity—who we truly are—is that Infinite, Spirit-based self, or “I Am.”  The relative sense of self—which is the mind-created image you have of yourself—is one’s relative, human-based self, or “me.”  It is the “me” whom most people identify with; in a state of crisis, or in most improvement programs, it is the “me” who is seen as being powerless.  The traditional Twelve Step model is based upon a total identification with the “me,” and that is why a person affirms his or her powerlessness in the first step.  What is being affirmed is the powerless of me, the powerless of a person who is totally identified with the “me” aspect of himself (and completely cut off from the power and joy of his true self).The general understanding is that this affirmation of one’s human powerless may lead a person to disidentify with the Me (or egoic) aspect of self, and lead him toward the discovery of his true self.  The problem is that most people continue to identify with that powerless aspect of self and never make a true and lasting shift to their higher identity or “I Am.”  They may overcome outer addictions but they remain wedded to a weak identity and an impoverished existence. 

A person’s truest identity is the “I Am.” The true path of transformation must be based upon the affirmation and actuation of this identity (as well as on the relative improvement of one’s human identity).  Many self-improvement programs are founded upon an identification with the “me” aspect of self and then, based on that identity, they strive to help a person overcome his problems (most of which are associated with that limited identity).  These programs are often helpful but of limited success—and that is because the program intended to improve the me-based identity, must also support and strengthen that identity.  The Twelve Foundations is based upon one’s true identity, or “I Am,” and the steps are founded upon enhancing our human qualities through their affinity with our true divine self.  While the first step of the traditional Twelve Steps is based upon total identification with the “me,” and then the acceptance of the powerlessness of that “me”—with the hope that some ‘higher power’ will come in and “restore us to sanity”—the Twelve Foundations is based upon the expansion of one true identity, one’s sense of “I Am” and allowing that very power inherent to one’s self to bring about wholeness.

Discussion 3:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”

Q:  In some spiritual groups people say "I am God."  Is that true?  How can I be God if I am an individual?

The primary understanding of Step One is that you, as a human being, are a creative center of Infinite Consciousness.  This means that your essence, who you truly are, is one with Infinite Spirit is all respects---every quality of Spirit is found in you, in its fullness, just as every quality of the ocean is found in every drop of water.   However, this does not mean that you, as an individualized expression of Infinite Spirit are Infinite Spirit.  You are one with Spirit is all respects, and Spirit has become you, but you (as an individualized expression of Spirit) are not Spirit in its totality.  Thus the saying, “I am God” does not mean that you, as an individual, are synonymous with God (since there is only one God), but that you, your “I Am,” is God, individually expressed.  Likewise, we cannot say that a drop of water is the ocean (since there are many drops and only one ocean) but that the drop is the ocean in every respect.  Thus, as a general definition, we say, “I am an individualized expression of Infinite Spirit,” rather than “I am God” since the later is, as stated, not true.  As Jesus said, “I and the Father are one, yet my Father is greater than I.”  In other words, I and the Father are one in all respects, and share every quality, except one—my Father is the One Totality, and I, as a human being, am but one expression of that Totality.

  Another expression that we need to be clear about is, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” or what is stated in various spiritual circles as “God dwells within you, as you.”  The general understanding of the later phrase is that Infinite Spirit does not merely dwell inside your human form, somewhere, but that your essential nature is an individualized expression of God.  Spirit is expressing all its qualities, not only through you but as you.  In other words, there is no difference between God and you in terms of qualities and creative power, only in terms of quantity. The saying “God dwells within you” does not fully convey this essential understanding of a human being's total oneness with every one of God’s qualities, without any quality lacking.  Thus, the saying, "God dwells within you, as you" is more telling and complete.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” can be understood in many ways.  A simplistic understanding, again, is that heaven, or the key to heaven, is somewhere within you.  A more expanded notion would be that you, in essence are everything, and so heaven (as well as everything else) is contained within your consciousness.  Perhaps a more precise understanding is that within you, inherent to you own nature, are all the divine qualities you are seeking, all your heavenly and divine qualities such as love, joy, fullness, aliveness, peace, beauty, etc.  Thus, everything you seek is within you, and exists as your own nature; you, through the power of your own consciousness, are able to manifest and experience your own inherent qualities to the extent that you ---through your human consciousness---are able to own and affirm the infinite creative power which is inherent to your own nature.

The Sufi master, Rumi, writes:

From the moment you came into this world
A ladder was placed in front of you
that you might escape.
From earth you became plant,
From plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
    endowed with knowledge, intellect, and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust,
    how perfect it has become.
Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form
    you will surely become an angel
    and soar through the heavens.

But don’t stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.
Pass again from the heavenly realm
    and plunge into the vast ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
    become a hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
    becomes the Ocean—
    the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!
               (Rumi, A Garden Beyond Paradise)


  If we clearly realize that the creative power in ourselves is unlimited, then there is no reason for limiting the extent to which we may enjoy what we can create by means of it. Where we are drawing from the Infinite we need never be afraid of taking more than our share. That is not where the danger lies. The danger is in not sufficiently realizing our own richness, and in looking upon the externalized products of our creative power as being the true riches instead of the creative power of Spirit Itself.   
  (Thomas Troward, The Hidden Power, p.118)

  There is a God Power at the center of everyone’s being, a Presence that knows neither lack, limitation, fear, sickness, disquiet, nor imperfection. This Presence and Power is at the center of all people and all things [i.e., it is one’s essential nature or self]. But, because everyone is an individual [and has the creative power afforded to every individual], he can build a wall of negative thoughts [and resistance] between himself and this perfection.  This makes it difficult for the true center to come to the surface [and be consciously experienced in one’s life]. . .  Now you are to tear down this wall, to completely destroy it.  
  (Holmes, This Thing Called You, p. 117)

  There is a Universal Wholeness seeking expression through everything.  We are simply calling it Life.  The religionists call it God.  The philosophers call it Reality.  Life is infinite energy coupled with limitless creative imagination.  It is the invisible essence and substance of every visible form.  Its nature is goodness, truth, wisdom, and beauty, and well as energy and [creative] imagination.  Our highest satisfaction comes from a sense of conscious union with this invisible Life. All human endeavor is an attempt to get back to first principles [based upon the oneness of our own life with Life Itself], and to find such inward wholeness that all sense of fear, doubt, and uncertainty vanishes.   
  (Holmes, The Essential, p. 15)

  The most difficult thing for a person to really grasp is this: That the “I am-ness” in himself is God. It is his true being or “father state”—and this is the only state he can be sure of.  The son, a person’s conception of himself is an illusion [whereas, the Son, the conception of oneself as an individual expression of the Father, sharing all the same qualities as the Father, is true].  A person always knows that he is, but that which he is [that which he takes himself to be, his present concept of himself or identity] is an illusion created by himself [by a misuse of his own creative power] in an attempt at self-definition. . .           
  Now that you have discovered your I Am, your consciousness, to be God [i.e., to be one with God in all respects, to be God as an individual expression] do not claim anything to be true of yourself [your nature] that you would not claim to be true of God [or of God’s nature]—for in defining yourself, you are defining God.   That which you are conscious of being [your own sense of “I Am”] is that which have named God.   
  (Neville, Freedom for All, p. 4-5)

Completing the Steps (in three phases)

  Each Step is to be worked through, or completed, in three phases: the first phase involves gaining a clear understanding of the step, and the foundational teachings and principles upon which the step is based.  One might also gain a certainty about the truth of the step, and fully believe that the step, as stated, is truth.  The second phase or completion of the step is to gain some actual experience of the step, gain some first-hand experience of the step, and its true or efficacy, and to have the step become a presence in one’s life, such that one’s life is guided by the knowledge and application of the step.  The second completion does not represent a total embodiment of the step, but a presence of the step such that one’s thought as actions are guided by the principle of the step, and one’s thoughts and actions are inclined in the direction of the step.  There is still an exertion of the will, and some effort required to “live” the step.  In the third completion, the principle and truth of the step becomes a living truth in one’s life; the step and its principles are fully embodied (and fully embraced by one’s subconscious mind) such that it becomes second nature, effortless, and simply an expression of who you are.  There is no exertion to put the step into practice as become a natural expression of who you are and how you live your life. 

Another way to work with the steps—and go through the round of twelve steps—would be to simply assign a given time frame per step, and not set some kind of goal to be reached.  For instance, a Twelve Foundations group could be set up where the group is devoted to one step per month, and completes a cycle in one year.  Then, having completed the first cycle, they begin again.

Completing Step One:

  The “first” completion, or Phase 1 of this step, is to gain a certainty that you are one with that Infinite Power of Spirit, and that the creative power is fully active in you (and can be perfectly directed by your consciousness)—even if you are not yet fully aware of its living presence in your life.  (It is also gaining a clear understanding of the two different identities within the experience of oneself, the identity of “I Am” and that of “Me.”)   The second phase of completion is where a person feels his own creative power; having it be real enough so as to base his thoughts and actions upon the possession of this power.  There is a certainty that one has this power, and one may have some direct experience of the beneficial action of this power.  The completion of Phase 2 also involves having a direct experience of one’s true self (or “I Am”) and being able to locate it in one’s experience (and clearly know the difference between “I Am” and ‘Me.”)  The dénouement (or final completion) of this step is reached when one is fully identified with, and knows oneself to be, an individual expression of Infinite Spirit (or “I Am”)—and where one is able to express the Infinite Power of Spirit in, and as, his/her own life.  One’s human life becomes a pure embodiment of one’s divine self and a living expression of all the qualities of Spirit—such as love, joy, abundance, fullness, peace, and beauty.

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