Case 5 of the Mumonkan: "Hsiang-yen: Up a Tree"
|Everything here was once alive|
|What life do we lose by letting go?|
You are up in a tree, hanging from a branch with your teeth…from down below a person asks, “What is recovery? What are we doing here?”
If I don’t answer, I evade my responsibility, not only to others but also to myself. By not answering, I’m not responding to the situation at hand. We have this same dilemma with Step One. How will I respond to this Step?
If I do answer, I’m engaging in my life, even though it means whatever happens next is unknown to me. When I admit my powerlessness, I’m conceding that Step One is true or valid for me.
To fully engage in my life I recognize there is death all around me. My in-breath passes (dies) onto the out-breath. Each moment dies away and the next moment appears. To admit my powerlessness over people, places, and things is (can be) the passing away of my delusions; conceding this to myself produces a shift from self will to aligning to the will of the Universe.
Our lives pass away every minute, every hour, every day. To be fully engaged in my life, no matter what is happening around me, I must let go and fall into the next moment with awareness. This is what living is!
Life is about coming and going. Things come into our lives and then go. To be happy, it helps to make the best of what comes and the least of what goes...to die well.