Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Koan: A monk said to Chao-chou, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Chao-chou said, “Have you eaten your rice gruel?”
The monk said, “Yes I have.”
Chao-chou said, “Then wash your bowl.” The monk understood.
We all agreed. Day-night, up-down, Step 8-Step 9, eat a meal-wash the dishes; all of these are natural sequences.
One person stressed how inventory in Steps four through nine are the bedrock of his program. Taking various inventories have become a daily routine for him. This paying attention is a skill to be practiced in order to have a decent life. “I have to grind them out of my everyday experiences in order to free myself from the bondage of self. These inventories set me free.”
At sesshins of late (retreats), I’m usually the breakfast cook. Usually I’m in the kitchen before anyone else is awake. It helps that I’m a morning person.
The Tenzo (head cook) usually has a list of things for me to prepare – gathering and measuring ingredients, chopping fruit, heating the large pot of water for morning tea, and making sure the coffee is brewed before the first sitting period at 0500, all before there’s any actual “cooking”.
All this preparation is necessary for the breakfast experience to be a success. This is Step 8 – to be prepared.
Step 9 is utilizing the prepped work is the best ways possible. In other words, following the directions/suggestions in the Big Book and from my sponsor, doing so without harming others.
As breakfast cook I’m following the directions from the Tenzo, along with my own cooking experiences, to present a good breakfast for all, on time.
I know how it feels to present a successful breakfast; I know when I’ve sincerely made amends to another person.
The sponsee said to her sponsor, “Teach me about Steps 8 and 9.”
Her sponsor said, “By remembering your Steps 4 and 5, do you know who the people are that you’ve harmed? Are you ready to go beyond Step 8?
“Yes, I’m ready,” the sponsee said.
The sponsor said, “Then make amends to those people wherever possible. being sure not to harm them or others.”