Monday, December 12, 2011
Step 12, Saving All Beings
We have the Four Boundless Vows, the first being "to save all beings." Appearing in different translations, "Beings are numberless" I vow to save them, I vow to liberate them, I vow to be one of them, I vow to wake them. Really now? It's easy to save all puppies; but for one person to save all beings? Impossible. But we do.
Step 12: "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs."
To carry our message, our truth, our principles, isn't this how we save others? It's not about rescuing or propping them up in a codependent sort of way, it's about attraction rather than promotion. An attraction of how we live our lives. By practicing the 12 Steps the best I can, is to save all beings. By practicing my Zen the best I can, is to save all beings. It's not to be thought of in a quantitative way either, as in "I saved so-and-so 10% today. The operative words of Step 12 are to carry and practice. If we are carrying, if we are practicing -- we are saving.
We just had our monthly 12 & Zen gathering a few days ago. This being December, we were doing a koan with Step 12.
Chao Chou, teaching the assembly, said, “The Ultimate Path is without difficulty; just avoid picking and choosing.”
Merrily along I went throughout the week carrying this koan with Step 12, only to eventually realize that I had copied the koan we use for Step 2 instead of the one for Step 12. But it was working for me! The breadth of a koan's workability never ceases to amaze me. Our evening went well using this koan.
It's probably not a surprise to you that "awakening" arrives from within. It's available to us any time, any place, still we think it's elsewhere and attempt to grasp for it outside ourselves. Just try to pick your next awakening experience. There's no way we can pick and choose our awakenings; but we try nonetheless.
Step 12 is about our own awakening having worked the Steps with our sponsor. Of course we aren't done with it all ... it's the beginning of our journey of helping (saving) others. We've become givers instead of takers, giving of ourselves, by practicing " ...these principles in all our affairs." When our words and thoughts and actions reflect the 12 Steps, we save all beings, including ourself.