Wednesday, January 30, 2013



It’s been a few days now, back from our 7-Day “Bare Bones” Sesshin (retreat).  As usual, I came home with more than I left with.   Besides sitting with my ongoing PZi curriculum koans, Teacher John Tarrant offered three other koans to be worked with as a triptych.  I shall be using two of these here later on.  It’s always  a special feeling to have a koan reveal one of the Steps to me and even more fun to share this with others on our Friday evening discussions.

Hakuin Ekaku:  Praise Song For Meditation

If this way moves you

the first time you hear it,

and you simply follow it,

endless blessings come to you.

There’s always a table present with the donation box, various books for sale, notices, sign-up lists and free handouts.  It was at this table where I noticed one of the other participants reading the handout I made for 12 & Zen.  Since we are supposed to hold a quiet setting, I didn’t say anything at the time…and maybe he was just casually perusing.

Early in the retreat in the interview room, David told me that there was a person here who noticed the hand-out who seemed very interested in what we are offering... and this person might be getting in touch with me.  It was not until the very last day, after the closing ceremony that we finally met.   His enthusiasm for the 12 Steps was apparent.  And the idea of mixing in koans with his practice brightened the smile on his face. 

He’s from Canada and already I’m having fantasies of how 12 & Zen is spreading globally.  Then again, he could begin a 12 & Zen project in his home town, any of you could do the same.  I have to remember that all I’m doing is laying down a concept and a loose framework.  Sure, I can put things out on the internet and advertise on a local bulletin board;  but I’ve got to remember that the koans are doing the work here.

The 12 Steps
and Zen koans
are what sustain me.

Sustain:  give support, nourish, buoy up, sustenance…

We are doing good work here.

Bill K 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Something Better Happen Or I'm Cooked!

The responses to the goose in the bottle koan and Step One (see prior post) were quite varied and well received last Friday in our small group discussion.  During the time we were meditating with both Step 1 and the koan, I threw out several questions:

This koan is about you.
At any time, are you the woman?
Are you the goose?
Are you the bottle?

Here is a response from Sheila F. I'd like to share with you.

"i had my own awakening around the koan that i wanted to share with you:

at first, i didn't identify with any parts of the koan, not the woman, not the goose, not the bottle.
however, the word "want" struck me very strongly, and i did identify with that.  it occurred to me that it is the "wanting" that creates the hardship and suffering in my life.  wanting the impossible, like a goose to get out of a bottle.  it is my ceasing wanting that i am free.

then as i sat with the koan longer, it came to me that the it represented the stages of my drinking:
at first, drinking was "fun" and kind of okay, like a small goose in a bottle i suppose.  sort of manageable.

then my drinking became "fun with trouble" and i see that like feeding the goose that is getting bigger in a bottle.  at some point if i had been able to stop, perhaps i still could have gotten the goose out of the bottle before it got too big.

then, for the most of my drinking career, it was not fun, it was just "trouble."  i was cooked.  there was no getting the goose out of the bottle.  end of game. story over.  i had to accept that fact, that i could no longer drink ever again at all in any way shape or form.  and my wanting to drinking like a normal person was like wanting to get a goose out of a bottle.  would never happen.  so i had to give up wanting the impossible and come to the truth of my experience. accept it in my innermost self.

what a great lesson to work with! thank you so much."

I had a different response to this koan.  It was the day after we sat that this came to me...What if God is the woman?  Certainly God or the Universe has given me everything I need to be raised well and  to live well.  I am the goose, happily thriving in a bottle that at one time was oblivious to me.  The bottle became my disease.  It was when in my life I knew I had a problem that, as Sheila writes, "I was cooked."  My disease was what was restricting me from my true self and from really living my life, and being aware of my surroundings.

But when I really admitted I had a problem and proceeded with the Steps, low and behold, the bottle disappeared! Just another example of how koans work.  As Sensei Deb Saint said, "Koans shine a light in the places that need it."  And from the Grapevine Quote of the Day, January 9, 2013, "The Steps will speak to my condition wherever I am in sobriety."  (Riverside, Ill., August 1977, From "Turning On the Power" Spiritual Awakenings).  Our Steps work on us very much the same way koans do.

What a great day it is to carry my koans with me.

Bill K.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Step 1: A Goose In a Bottle

In spite of fiscal cliffs, global warning, faulty fracking, GMOs, and my wife retiring in three days, we have our koans and Steps to keep us company in these changing times.

Welcome to 2013!

With my eBook now available as a 12 Step/Koan primer of sorts, I hope it will attract more people to our 12 & Zen practice.  With more people practicing, there is a good chance more people will write to me about their experiences.  The more people write, the more sharing will be going on here.

We know the more we share, the more we learn about ourselves and others --  and this leads to helping the person who is suffering.

Rather than using the koans in the eBook, I'd like to begin this year with a new koan for Step One.  This will be my goal.  Along the Way, other koans will appear in my life, and in your life, too.  Let me know how any koan is changing your 12 Step practice.

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

Koan:  A woman raised a goose in a bottle.  When the goose was grown, she wanted to get it out.  How can you get it out without breaking the bottle?

 Bill K.