Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giving and Receiving

It's probably not too much of a stretch to say that gratitude has an easier way of being noticed by those in recovery, especially when going over what it took (hitting bottom) to eventually get to where we are today.

Not only was gratitude arising from the  koan given a few Mondays ago but it  came via the relationship of giving and receiving and how they correspond to each other.  This also includes not giving, not receiving, taking, pushing away and the most amazing way we realize that we've received something good but not recognizing it at the time.  I was feeling a general sense of gratitude for what the Universe has given to me throughout my life -- grateful for life itself -- grateful for things that, at the time, seemed negative and foreboding.

Daito (1282-1334) is revered as one of Japan's most famous Zen teachers.  As the story goes, he practiced for 20 years living with beggars under a bridge in Kyoto.  The emperor heard about this accomplished teacher and in disguise, went searching for him.  He also heard that Daito was fond of melons.  Coming across a beggar under the bridge whose eyes were full of life, the emperor said to Daito, "Take this [melon] without using your hands."  The immediate response was, "Give it to me without using your hands."

At first I thought this koan would be well suited for Step 12 … at the time where we have finished this Step and are ready to help others find what we have found.  Twelve Step programs are given freely to all who are open to them -- to those who are willing to stop the pushing away in whatever form.

But it's not about finishing Step 12 or any Step for that matter;  it's more about my daily life and what is given to me and what I can give to others.   Take this koan when you feel gratitude; take this koan when you're not feeling gratitude.  Giving and receiving take many forms, including when doing nothing.

Bill K.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Step 5: How Did I Get Into This Mess? How Do I Get Out?

Step 5:  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Koan:  From a very young age, you raised a goose in a bottle.  Now it is fully grown.  How do you get the goose safely out without breaking bottle?

Sit with this koan and Step for a spell, then read on.

 - - -

No one would readily choose to admit one's faults to another person, especially to the degree of honesty asked here, without a significant pay back.  I've heard at many a meeting that the chances of going out (relapse) are dramatically increased if Step 5 is not completed, not perfectly;  but to the best of our ability at the time.  It is very well a life and death situation.   Step 4 is where we realize the significance of the situation we're in, Step 5 is doing something positive about it.

This koan came to me via one of our other group leaders.  It was the koan his group had been sitting with. "Feeding" was the word that got my attention.  Presently I am taking a couple of men through the Steps and both were working on Step 4 and 5.  My oh my how we can feed our resentments…and we know the devastating affect they play in our lives (mostly in our own minds, yes?), still we feed them more, hoping for some kind of relief;  but it never comes.  Our resentments have an insatiable appetite to the bursting point.

Our 12 @ Zen group last week offered up a number of different possibilities and questions.  "How did I get into this bottle?" one asked. "What or who is the goose, anyway?" "Who is doing the feeding?" "What does it mean to be safely out of the bottle?"

Before my recovery, the usual response would be to smash the bottle (self will) … to force the issue to suit my needs.  This never brought about the results I wanted -- like trying to push a rope uphill. At the Sunday meeting a person brought up the notion that "we pause."  Take a step back.  Somehow, in the pausing, great things can come to be.  Pausing in prayer.  Pausing in meditation.  "No, No, No, I'll never tell anyone what I did!  But this is what we do in Step 5.  "Outwardly it is sharing our deep dark secrets with another person.  "Once we have taken this step … we can be alone at perfect peace and ease." (Big Book, P. 75).  The bottle has disappeared.

Now if you'd like, sit with what I posted here.  When have you been trapped in a bottle, then given up the struggle, to eventually find freedom in realizing that the bottle has disappeared?

Bill K.