Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Steps 2 and 3 Koan for FEB/MARCH

 Step 2:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

 

Step 3:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  

 

Koan: A monk, Seizei, asked Master Sôzan in all earnestness…

Seizei is alone and poor. I beg you, Master, please help me to become prosperous.

San said, Venerable Zei! 

Yes, Master! replied Zei.

San said…

You have already drunk three cups of fine Hakka wine and still you say that you have not yet moistened your lips.


Case 10, Seizei the Poor, The Gateless Gate, Koun Yamada

Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Bug Takes Step One


Step 1:  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol* -- that our lives had become unmanageable. 

 

Koan: 

A bug on a branch

Swept away down the river

Still singing her song

ISSA (1763-1826) Translated by Cliff Edwards

in a collection entitled Lovers Have So Little Time.

We don’t know anything about this bug, only that she’s on a branch, but how on the branch? Is it easy to hold onto, like a secure place in the fork of a branch? Or is she holding on for dear life because after all, she was being swept away down the river. I doesn’t sound like a serenely-flowing tranquil river.

I have heard it in all of our stories before we hit our ultimate bottom – we’re bugs holding on for deal life, rapids thrashing us about, maybe even dangling by one arm as we’re being swept down the river of alcoholism… singing our song, too…a song all about me and the troubles I’ve brought to myself and others…a song called My Selfish Alcoholic Blues…Let’s sing along: 

Ohhh my blues

NUTTEN but bad news

WHY I can’t refuse

DRINKING all this booze

 

My PAINS so bad

Even the DOGS’ are deserting

My PAINS so bad

ALL MY HURTS are hurting 

But wait, I see a fork in the river up ahead! Some of us, by circumstance, intervention, luck, or unexplained phenomena, find that our branch has somehow come aground in a protected pool by the shore, and even fewer of us make the choice to scurry ashore where there’s food and cover and other friendly bugs.

They tell me I must leave the river life; that the river will only take me to worse times, even death; that the river has too much power over me, that my life is unmanageable under these conditions.

On land with my new bug friends, they say I need to learn a new song - - a song of recovery, unity and service. I think I’ll give this song a chance. Would you care to join in and sing with me? (Sung to the tune of John Denver's Almost Heaven) 

Almost heaven

In these meetings

Hear the speaker

Cookies and strong coffee

Life is good here

Reaping all the perks

Reading in my Big Book

Seeing how it works

 

Take me home

Bill and Bob

To the place

Where my job

Is to-trust-God

Helping others

Take me home

In sobriety

 

Hey, sounds pretty good.  Let’s sing our song again, tomorrow.

Bill K.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

January Koan and Step One

Step 1:  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol* -- that our lives had become unmanageable. 

 

Koan: 

A bug on a branch

Swept away down the river

Still singing her song

 

ISSA (1763-1826) Translated by Cliff Edwards

in a collection entitled Lovers Have So Little Time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Work, work, work with Step 12


Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs. 

Honey Bee, worker bee



Koan:  Dongshan was sweeping one day when someone said to him, “Work, work, work  - - all you do is work.”

            Dongshan replied, “I do it for another.”

            “Why don’t you get that other to do it for himself?”

            “Because he has no hands.”



Work, work, work - - we use this word a lot in AA.  “PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics,” (P. 89) thus begins the chapter Working With Others and Step 12. Funny, I just noticed the letters w-o-r-k are used 12 times in this chapter. Could Bill W. have done this on purpose?

So that’s what we do in Step 12 - - we do it for another. The suffering alcoholic “will be curious to learn why his own convictions have not worked and why yours seem to work so well.” P.93

“…any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.” P.60 And also, “RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” P 58

“Why don’t you get that other to do it for himself?” We could change this to, “Why don’t you get this alcoholic to do it for himself?” What? Like work the Steps by himself? This alcoholic is also not equipped, because he has not learned the AA principles.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps” - - I would venture to say there are wisdom gates with every step along the way … whatever you call them, realizations, enlightenments, awakenings, they are all pointing in the same direction, and that’s “to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” P 77

Service to others takes many forms. Sometimes we don’t even realize our service until someone comes up and tells us.  I like to sit in the same chair at every meeting I attend…a view seat.  On several occasions, people have come up to me and thanked me for this…that when they come into the meeting and see me sitting in the same place, it brings them a sense of continuity and support…all is well…

For most of the year, I bring a small bouquet of flowers to every meeting, except for a few months in the winter when cold and rains put a damper (pun intended) on blooming.  The water bottle “vase” is plopped down next to the secretary to give away later, sometimes to the speaker but preferably to a newcomer.  Thank  you for the flowers, they will tell me, they lasted a week, a reminder of this meeting. Our service work can be subtle.

Responsibility Statement: "I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible." 

We could call this our AA Bodhisattva Vow.

Bill K.


  



Thursday, December 1, 2022

December Koan and Step 12

 December 1, 2022 -  Step 12 Koan

 

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.  

 

Koan:  Dongshan was sweeping one day when someone said to him, “Work, work, work  - - all you do is work.”

            Dongshan replied, “I do it for another.”

            “Why don’t you get that other to do it for himself?”

            “Because he has no hands.”


Bill K.

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

When the bridge is broken? Step 11

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.  

Koan: It helps you cross the river when the bridge is broken. It’s your companion as you return to the village on a moonless night.

Misc. Koans page 168 Joan Sutherland’s Book, Acequias

Crossing a river, getting to the other side - - these phrases are used a lot in spiritual matters. After our Remembrance Sutra we sing: 

Cross on over

Cross that river

Set us free

Getting to the other side seems to be a good thing on many levels, but what’s this river we wish to cross? Or maybe a better question, what do we want to avoid that resides in the river? The list is long. It could be the river of pain, of loss, of despair, of anxiety, of death, of anger, of resentment, of selfishness, of self-esteem, and on and on…

Another obstacle that pops up every-so-often is the river of reluctance -- a reluctance to have to do something or be somewhere. Have you ever told yourself, “I don’t want to participate in that event next week. Once it’s over though, then everything will be OK.”   Back when I was drinking, I had a lot of wishing I was on the other side of whatever I didn’t want to do; angst that immediately sweeps me out of the present moment.  Drinking would surely blow up any bridge to relief. 


Do I really know what going to happen? No.

Will this be the end of the world? No.

Has anything like this happened to me before? Yes.

Did things play out OK then? Yes.

And I survived to live another day? Yes.

Then what’s the problem? It’s my alcoholic mind.

Then what’s the solution? Practicing Step 11.


There’s another bridge that may be broken, or too crowded, or forgotten, or lost, or even when my mind is closed; it’s the bridge between my higher power and me. Again, Step 11 to the rescue!

Experience has shown me that in general ways, I can make some contingency plans for the worst possibilities and have some expectations of better things happening, when I bring in my prayer and meditation practice.

I walk every day, 25 to 30 miles a week, in order to maintain physical fitness.  This regular exercising is good for my muscles, breathing, circulation, heart, and all.  By the time I reach the sidewalk, I begin my morning prayers. I set aside time for meditation every day. Step 11 is the way I maintain my spiritual fitness. It’s always available to me.

When I pray for others who are going through troubling times, it’s a simple prayer - - “May this other person feel the caring love of their higher power.” That covers it really, because I know what it’s like to feel and experience my higher power, as a companion of the Way who’s with me everywhere, all the time, it’s easy for me to strike up a conversation. The more conversations I have, the closer we become. My daily conscious contact and trust in the Universe, via prayer and meditation, helps guide me across any river I encounter or when things are dark.

Bill K.



Wednesday, November 2, 2022

November 2022, 12 & Zen


 


November Greetings,

Oops...it seems that a couple of World Series games distracted me. Here is what we'll be sitting with:


Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.  

Koan: It helps you cross the river when the bridge is broken. It’s your companion as you return to the village on a moonless night.

Misc. Koans page 168 Joan Sutherland’s Book, Acequias


Bill K.