Monday, September 15, 2014

Steps 8 and 9: One Leads to the Other

STEP 8:  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.


STEP 9:  Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Koan:  "Just as surely as the tick bird follows the rhino." *

*Julius Nyerere, The first president of Tanganyika (now Tanzania)

Here’s a koan from outside our Zen tradition that came to me via NPR (National Public Radio).  I was just driving about town, heard this quotation, and it wouldn’t leave me.  This is what koans do.  As I was sitting with tick bird and rhino, Steps 8 and 9 joined in.

Do Steps 8 and 9 really deliver as advertised? Deliver freedom?  “Just as surely as the tick bird follows the rhino.”

 ·      The story begins when the rhinos bed down at night in the thick brush.  This is a safe place for them while they sleep.  But this is also the place where ticks hang out, waiting patiently for their free meal ticket.  They climb aboard the sleeping rhinos.  In Step 8 we begin by making our list of the people we have harmed.

·      Clinging to the rhino, the ticks begin to feed on the rhino’s blood.  Even though rhinos have a thick skin, there are many tiny capillaries near the surface.  Their blood sucking is irritating to the rhino.  The list we have made is not comfortable for us to sit with either –the things we did, and the people we have hurt eats at us.

·      Along come the tick birds who specialize in eating ticks, one-by-one, upon the rhino’s back.  Because we have become willing, each amend we make relieves us from our pain.  We begin to heal.  Making amends benefits us all. It brings about our freedom.

Bill K.