Sunday, October 1, 2023

12 & Zen October Koan and Step 10

Step 10:  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Koan:  A student asked Yunmen, "What does it mean to sit and contemplate reality?"

Yunmen answered, "The coin lost in the river is found in the river.


Bill K. 

Friday, September 15, 2023

The Hard and Easy of Steps 8 and 9


 

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: One day, while the Layman was meditating in his sitting hut, he suddenly cried out, “It’s hard, hard, hard! And I’ve put ten coats of linseed oil on this platform, too!”

 

His wife said, “Its easy, easy, easy! Just turn your eyes to the floor, lower your feet to it, and be on your way!”

 

Ling-chao said, “Its neither hard nor easy! The mind of the Patriarchs is in every blade of grass!” (1)  Case #51 - Three Views of Hard and Easy 

 

 

(1) The Laymans daughter, Ling-chao, is referring to a line from the Third Patriarch s work the “Treatise on Believing in Mind" (Chin.: Hsin-hsin ming; Jpn.: Shinjin~mei) that says, “Though the Great Way is expansive, treading upon it is neither hard nor easy." Very little has been passed down about the life details of the Third Patriarch, Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (Kanchi Sosan,  

(? - 606), who stood halfway between Bodhidharma and Hui-neng. 

 

 

It's hard, it’s hard’ it’s hard to make amends, especially to those who have harmed me (fingers pointing at them) because after all, they owe me an amends. What about me?

 

What about you? I’m glad you asked, “Who is in the process of working their steps?”

 

“I am.”

 

“Who seems to still be carrying a grudge toward another?”

 

“I guess I am.”

“Who wishes to be free from the bondage of self?”

 

“I do.”

 

“If this other person made amends to you, but you didn’t reciprocate making your amends, who do you think would be more at ease?”

 

“He probably would.”

 

See…it’s easy, easy, easy when we finish making an amends. Just turn your thoughts inward, address your past actions and behavior and how your goal, now, is to clean up your side of the street.

 

Easy, easy, when I go at Step 9 with “don’t know” mind and the backup of my higher power. I don’t know how each event will unfold; but I do know I will be better off for what I’ve done.

 

Not knowing is a space, empty of my manufactured thoughts, stories, and delusions; ready to embody what comes.

 

Life is made up of varying degrees of (real or imagined) friction. When things get rough for us (think hard), we invite our HP in to help smooth things out. More often than not, it is I who gets smoothed out, not the other people, places, or things.

 

We make Steps 8 and 9 out to be hard, until we do them, then we learn they are neither hard nor easy.

 

 

Bill K.

 

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Steps 8 and 9, Hard or Easy?

 

We're sitting with this for August and September...

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: One day, while the Layman was meditating in his sitting hut, he suddenly cried out, “It’s hard, hard, hard! And I’ve put ten coats of linseed oil on this platform, -too!” 

His wife said, “Its easy, easy, easy! Just turn your eyes to the floor, lower your feet to it, and be on your way!“ 

Ling-chao said, “Its neither hard nor easy! The mind of the Patriarchs is in every blade of grass!“ (1) 

 

Case #51 -  Three Views of Hard and Easy 

 

 

(1) The Laymans daughter, Ling-chao, is referring to a line from the Third Patriarch s work the “Treatise on Believing in Mind" (Chin.: Hsin-hsin ming; Jpn.: Shinjin~mei) that says, “Though the Great Way is expansive, treading upon it is neither hard nor easy." Very little has been passed down about the life details of the Third Patriarch, Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (Kanchi Sosan, ?—606), who stood halfway between Bodhidharma and Hui-neng. 


Bill K.

 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

A Step 6 and 7 Pick-me-up


 

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  

Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 

Koan: Once a monk made a request to Joshu. “I have just entered the monastery,” he said, “Please give me instructions, Master.” Joshu said, “Have you had your breakfast”? “Yes I have,” replied the monk. “Then,” said Joshu, “wash your bowls.” The monk had insight.  Case 7 of The Gateless Barrier by Zenkei Shibayama

Joshu isn’t telling the monk to anything profound…only to do the next right thing - - and look what happened!

Working these Steps is not for wimps – it takes courage and a willingness to change our ways.  We’ve gone through Steps 1 thru 5, an amazing feat for any alcoholic; and there’s more to do, especially when some of our old habits show up.

It’s like when we realize it would be good if we could get some kind of a spiritual boost right now, something to lessen the effects of a battle going on inside our head. These periodic battles show me yet another example that I can’t be trying to run the show.

Tradition 3 states that the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. You have entered the Fellowship of AA. Have you gone through Steps 1-5? “Yes I have.” If I want to continue your recovery momentum, then continue on with Steps 6 and 7. The next right thing.

Back in the day of using and drinking, our goal was to seek anything that would change the way we feel. Today, having completed Steps 1-5, we’ve taken in all the spiritual nourishment we need for any moment – but at times, our energy sags, and we need a pick-me-up to get us back on track. The effects of Steps 6 and 7 are that pick-me-up, reminding me that my H.P. will take away my difficulties.

We’re in a heat wave right now.  Well actually, probably two-thirds of the nation is roasting. Hydration is imperative. Drink lots of water…first, remember to pre-hydrate, then continue to drink water throughout the day. Come to think of it, Steps 6 and 7 are how we stay spiritually hydrated throughout the day.

Hope your summer it going well. 

Bill K.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Socrates

Friday, June 2, 2023

Step 6 and 7, Wash your bowls...

 

June/July summertime 12 & Zen ...and ready for:

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

 Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 


Koan: Once a monk made a request to Joshu. “I have just entered the monastery,” he said, “Please give me instructions, Master.” Joshu said, “Haave you had your breakfast”? “Yes I have,” replied the monk. “Then,” said Joshu, “wash your bowls.” The monk had insight.  Case 7 of The Gateless Barrier by Zenkei Shibayama

Bill K.

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Getting things rolling with Steps 4 and 5

 Step 4:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  

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

Koan: Case 8 The Gateless Gate:  Master Gettan asked a monk, “Keichū made a hundred carts. If he took off both wheels and removed the axle, what would he make clear about the cart?” The Gateless Gate (GG)


No matter what the conditions, wherever I go, there I am, in bringing “me-ness” to the scene.  As babies, relying completely on others for our care and welfare, we were all perfect babies.  Crying, sleeping, nursing, spitting up, and of course pooping and all - - perfect babies.

I was Billy…a 3 ½ pound perfect preemie. It was touch and go in the beginning as Billy was eating but not pooping.   Eventually, my tiny colon expanded on its own - - the family story said an ecstatic nurse scurried down the hallway carrying a tiny diaper, showing the evidence to all interested parties. 

Baby Billy grew up into Bill, an introvert by nature, who began his drinking career early in his freshman year of college, going from a non-drinker to saying, “Let’s go get drunk” in a matter of a few months. I flunked out in June. Hmmm. My first consequence of drinking. I drank for 25 years. 

I remember one fella, I can picture his face but cannot recall his name, who would always begin his story saying, “When I got into the rooms of AA, all the wheels had fallen off.  We all come here in varying states of functioning. My wheels hadn’t come off; but a few lug nuts were missing and others loose, wheels still turning but wobbly. Gene H. always says “We don’t get here on the tail end of a winning streak.

When Keichū took off both wheels and removed the axle, there was still a cart there, albeit a cart that wasn’t capable of carting goods from here to there.

Notes: (GG) Page 45 – “Everything is the cart! What remains? The wheels and axle are our concepts and ideas.”

I was still Bill K. and my life was unmanageable.  I brought my unmanageability and my concepts and ideas into the rooms of AA.  It’s by working Steps 4 and 5 with my sponsor where I learned how my actions have hurt others. My concepts, based on my selfishness, brought about unhealthy ideas. 

By sharing Step 5 with my sponsor, my mental load felt lighter. My sponsor helped, my wheels were more stable - - I began moving forward, continuing the remaining Steps.

We dismantled ourselves via our past behaviors in our self-centered prideful drinking days. We thought our cart (self) was “hot shit” …until we realized it wasn’t. Our cart needed rebuilding...this is how we move on, learning our truth.

 

Bill K.





Sunday, April 2, 2023

Steps 4 and 5: April/May

 

Here is what we'll be sitting with next...

Step 4:  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  

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

 

Koan: Case 8 The Gateless Gate:  Master Gettan asked a monk, “Keichū made a hundred carts. If he took off both wheels and removed the axle, what would he make clear about the cart?”


Bill K.