Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Koans Appearing

 It's not uncommon for me to hear someone at a meeting say, "I hear my Higher Power through other people."  The same could be said how the mere mention of a koan by a person is exactly the koan I need to hear.  Just another example of how koans appear to me.  In these moments, the koan seems to be a mirror image of what I'm dealing with. 

Here's a recent example of how I really screwed up.  On Saturday the contractor came by to install four additional solar panels atop my roof.  Another item he pointed out to me was that our circuit breaker box was out-of-compliance,  but that he would fix this, too.  As we were looking at the box, I pointed out that "this" wire/conduit could be disconnected because it went to a now defunct hot tub.  Then he went to work.  An hour or so later he asked again about the wire/conduit in question and again I assured him that it went to nowhere, the hot tub was long gone.  The installation went  smoothly and quickly, he completed the job by early afternoon. 

It was an unseasonably warm April day, hitting 90 degrees by late afternoon.  I was getting quite warm inside so checked on the thermostat.  It showed the A/C on but the temperature read 79 degrees.  I checked a vent and no cold air.  Uh oh.  I went outside and there it was -- the air conditioner fan was motionless.  You guessed it.  The wires I was so sure went to the hot tub actually went to the AC.  I had no air conditioning. 

"You stupid turkey," voices began.  How *unobservant* of me!  Not paying *attention*.  Later on hearing my wife say, "How could you have done this?" didn't help matters.  Before I had found recovery, something like this would have been a perfect reason to tie one on.  But instead, sooner rather than later I came to realize the Universe had giving me reasons to laugh at myself instead of  judge myself. 

The first message came from Jesse,  where in our PZi Group he had emailed, "I suppose I'm more interested in being happy than figuring things out.  Life doesn't make sense, so go with what you get."

I soon realized that yes, I am more interested in being happy.  To go over and over again in my mind on what a stupid mistake I had made was not making me happy.  Things began to loosen up for me.  I even slept pretty well that night, knowing that this was not the end of the world, that the matter would eventually get fixed.  It just needed to be re-connected.

The second message came via an announcement that John Tarrant sent out to us.  "Hi everyone," he said,  "I'm working on the Zenosaurus course again and this time I've done the earliest, first koan of the course, Sickness & Medicine."


We've all heard that laughter is the best medicine, yes?  And now the "Sickness & Medicine" koan has been brought to my attention.

“Sickness and medicine correspond to each other.  The whole world is medicine.  What am I?”  This koan comes from Yunmen, one of the great Chinese masters.

What am I?  I'm going to stop beating myself up.  I'm going to find happiness again.  Hahahahaha.

Bill K.

P.S.  Sunday was almost 20 degrees cooler.  On Monday the contractor came by and put everything back into working order in about an hour.  Hahahahaha.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Passing A Koan ...

... a Big Book Koan at that!

Part of me once wondered if there were any koans in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Over time, rather than trying to search for them, they appeared to me. "Hey, this sounds like it might be a good koan," I told myself. So I took my ideas to one of my teachers, David Weinstein Roshi. He gave me some rewriting suggestions and then he asked me for the answers! Gulp. No hiding here...this was just like dokusan (we call it Work In The Room), the exchanges between teacher and student...except this time it was via emails.

The following shows how the questioning took place. Hopefully this may take a little mystery out of the way one "passes" a koan with a teacher. The end result is not like receiving a good grade from the teacher, it's more about "actualizing" the koan...finding one's place with the koan and discovering one's place right now.

Here's an example of a Big Book koan:

“Deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God.” (Page 55 in Alcoholics Anonymous). Show me the fundamental idea of God.

Before reading on, I suggest you turn your computer off for a while and sit with this koan alone. See where it takes you. And then, after you feel at ease with it all, come back and continue reading how this went for me...

These are a series of emails over several days, beginning with David.

David: So show me the fundamental idea of God.

Bill: "In today's local newspaper!

There is an article about the birthing center's 3000th baby (two of my grand children were born there).

There is an article about a 12 Step friend who has a local recording studio.

There is the obit of another 12 Step friend who took his life last Wednesday, the
same day I had my heart procedure.

David: Show about something more intimate?

Bill: Maybe it's the way I described it.

1) Last Wednesday when I learned that my friend had taken his life (BTW, he didn't go out...but was experiencing a deep, dark, depression) I wrote this:

the voices got their way
convincing my friend
to pull the trigger
the voices got their way
on this very day
as the doctor was mending my heart
others' were breaking

2) When I read the article about the birthing center I was reliving the times we saw our grand kids only hours old.

3) When I read about my 12 Step friend and his recording studio, I felt good thoughts about his success and our friendship in the fellowship.

When I wrote you, while reading the local paper, I found myself holding all three of these examples together and felt really alive and grateful.

David: Ah...feeling alive & grateful...that's it. What else?

Bill: More than feeling alive and grateful...

The examples I have given are the fundamental idea of God.

These are examples of my life.

I am the fundamental idea of God.

David: So...if that's true, then what else?

Bill: God is the fundamental idea of me. Like we say we are all Buddhas.

David: Forget about ideas, show me the fact, in a different way than you have.

Bill: Mmmmmmm, sip (good tasting coffee) is the idea of God.

David: What about bad tasting coffee?

Bill: Sip (who made this coffee anyway?) is the idea of God, too.

David: Alright!

- - -

It was right there in front of me all the time. That's what we have. Our life is right here.