Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ready and willing

Here is a different translation of the Gateless Gate case #10, a Chinese version -- and comments by my friend, D.T..  He has practiced in the koan tradition for a long time.  At a retreat and in conversation with the teacher he relates how Steps 6 and 7 became entangled with this koan.

Qinshui, Solitary and Destitute

A monk said to Qinshui, "I am solitary and destitute. Please give me alms."
Caoshan said, "Venerable Shui!"
Qinshui said, "Yes, sir!"
Caoshan said, "You have already drank three cups of the finest wine in the land, and still you say you have not moistened your lips."

Step # 6:

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

We cannot give away what is not ours.  The only way to loosen and maybe get rid of our habitual patterns of behaviour is through a recognition of these,  a deep knowing of them that only comes through seeing them over and over again with a certain openness of attention and a realization of having arrived to the bottom of our situation and having no room to run away any more. A surrendering.

Our problem is often that we feel guilty, and shameful and we naturally want to run away from this so we make promises, pray to a Santa Claus god to give us what we want, which I see is the running away, once we sometimes obtain some relief from our shame and guilt we are back again to our deep habitual patterns of behaviour and we start the whole process again. And so on the familiar process continues....

It is unsaid in the koan above of what happened to this monk but it is assumed that he had a certain opening that allowed him to see something very deep and elemental about his living, his life, right there at that moment!  He saw deeply and acknowledge his condition, he owned it. Quinshi's words became the catalyst for this to happen.  We have to own our habitual patterns and see them clearly, free of wishful thinking and just as they are and then maybe we can begin to be free from them.

This monk has arrived at that place that many of us know, the bottom of our conditioning and the suffering it brings, there is no place to go –the Dark Night of the Soul as John of the Cross calls it– but the breaking open in this experience is exactly what the Universe provides when we get there, it is always there, it has always been there.    We find ourselves entirely ready....

Step #7:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

So our practice with these steps continues, our practice with this life of ours continues, we attend to it wholeheartedly, mindfully."


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After hearing D.T.'s experience with these two Steps AND a koan, it provided a spark, an incentive for me to delve deeper into Step/Koan relationships.  I had a Step/Koan relationship.  Now I was convinced that it can happen to others.

And so, 12 & Zen became a reality;  we began this PZi small groups project.

Bill K.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the post and the insight. I appreciate your interpretation of the story and the step. I got sober with the help of a sober living called New Life House. Check out their site if you are looking for help. New Life House