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Sponsor’s Edition Tutorial: Work, Energy, Power

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Preface: When passing on the AA Power Paradigm teaching,  a Sponsor must be cautious from the outset about how they use terms such as “Power” outside their normal scientific context. “Personal Power,” “spiritual Energy,” and “inner Work” are all common phrases used by brokers in the personal transformation business. These terms create an emotional climate that many Self-appointed experts find useful, but what do they really mean? Do they represent anything real? We are certainly being fair in taking umbrage with the annoying looseness of a declaration that claims that someone who is “Working at a lower vibrational Energy” should seek “higher vibrational levels.” ** At the very least such statements have no practical meaning and qualify as a perverse and seductive misuse of the language for effect. We should, of course, understand and appreciate metaphor, but we should also be offended with conceptual laziness. We are not being pedantic in objecting to slothful misuse of the language; in fact, an appreciation for what such co-opted scientific terminology means in its technical context may help us create metaphors with even greater transformational and pedagogical clout.

** Note: We have actually heard this phraseology from more than one “Sponsor” who was trying the apply the Abraham-Hicks subterfuge to the Twelve Steps. We will be more rigorous.

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MVC: The Language of Power.

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“Nothing happens until something moves.”

Marcus Aurelius

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WORK, ENERGY, POWER

In this advanced tutorial we begin by re-introducing three simple, well-worn terms for clarification: Work, Energy, and Power. Work means the application of force such that something will move; Energy is the capacity to do Work; Power indicates how much Work is done or how quickly Energy is transferred. Take, for example, a tall, heavy box resting on the floor. As I begin to push it, no Work is done on the box until it actually moves. The farther I move it the more Work is done; the faster I move it the quicker Energy is being transferred and the more Power I am exerting on the box.

The common denominator between these intuitive notions about Work, Energy, and Power is movement, and as such, their consideration forces us to visualize, to think spatially. Consequently, if we are to transplant such a conceptual package into the “spiritual” realm of Alcoholics Anonymous, then we should be very careful about any physical preconceptions that we may unknowingly bring along. For example, when most people raised in modern “Western” Culture think of “Power,” they imagine Power as emanating from a Source, such as an electric plug or a generator. Theists who transplant this mindset to the spiritual world consistently imagine their “Higher Power” as emanating from a transcendent Source that they usually identify as God. Non-theists with such a view often visualize their Personal Power” located in a “Higher Self” that must somehow be tapped into in order to use. In either case, when we see Power as emanating from a location or Source, we must either see ourselves as having to Work to acquire it, or see our Source as having to Work to transmit it to us.

We are not engaging in semantic horseplay, but laying down the foundation for understanding one of Bill’s Biggest Big Book Blunders…

transcription to be continued…MVC

© 2005 Michael V. Cossette

Transplanting physical terms into the spiritual arena

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