Saturday, October 1, 2011

With Much "Vigah"

For those of my age, perhaps you recall President John F. Kennedy with his New England accent speaking these words with much "vigah?" Invigorate ("to give life and energy to"), this is the word that's been missing from my description of what koan practice has done to my 12
Step practice.

Practicing with koans -- carrying them about in my day, meditating with them, being distracted then returning to the koan -- has evolved into me using these same techniques with the 12 Steps. This was not my plan. It seems to be just another way how koans work.

Koan practice at PZi looks very different today than what it was when I arrived some years ago. "After 20 years of teaching koans in a classical way, John Tarrant, the founder of PZi developed a new way of teaching koans in a setting that requires no experience with meditation or Zen. The emphasis is on taking one step into freedom. Everything we do is directed to that end." *

This more expansive and inclusive view of koan practice is reflected in the different experiments/projects happening at PZi: One member is exploring, via the internet, by giving koans to Moms to work with and discuss, another member has begun using koans with hospice training, a third member who happens to also be a Protestant minister is introducing koans at his church, and not only Zen koans but also Christian koans he's discovered, and here I have melded koans to the 12 Steps.

In my case it's become less "thinking" about the Steps or dissecting meaning from the Big Book and more about how koans have "given life and energy" to the Steps in my life.

Just as a small phrase or snippet of a koan can appear to me, transforming whatever I was thinking into an ah-ha moment of being; now small bits of a Step are appearing more often with their way of transforming awareness to the moment. This is good. It leads to less thinking of the small "me", and as we all know, "Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."

Bill K.

*From a PZi Announcement

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