Monday, March 17, 2014

Life After Your Barn Has Burned Down

The mere thought of thinking about making a decision requires attention – to in some way notice the process unfolding.  For God or our Higher Power to enter into this, the conversation only happens
in real time.

“Truth [God, awakening, koans, etc.] is only discovered in the moment and cannot be carried over to the next moment, the next day, or the next year …memory never contains truth.”  From an Adyashanti retreat ad.

“My barn having burned to the ground…” brought about a wide array of responses to our group last Friday.  What is the barn?  “It’s me... my ego... my past... protection from my fears,” they said.  The moon represented "light on my path...peace...and no matter what, God is always here."

Hearts Crack Open
When I was drinking, my life was full of burning barns, and burning bridges.  Hitting bottom was when I admitted I had a problem – admitting was noticing my life as it was.  My awakening (the Moon) began showing it’s face after I entered a rehab facility.  I was beginning to awaken to reality, hope, inspiration, beauty ... my heart began to crack open – my life began to change for the better.

In the Big Book on page 62 it reads “God was going to be the Director.”  And later on page 68 we ask God “to…direct our attention to what He would have us be.”  I think the Universe does this by providing us with each moment.  Direction, messages, signals, hints, clues, signs, warnings, all happen right here.  Now.  To turn my will and life (my actions and thoughts) “over to the care of God” is about paying attention to my life in this very moment -- just for the moment, casting aside my judgments and stories and all, to be open to what the Universe is presenting to me.  Isn’t this turning my life over?  Paying attention to my life is way different from paying attention to what my mind tries to tell me about life.  To shift from what I think is happening to actually notice what is really happening.  To awaken in the moment is all I need for a good life.

Being Attentive
On page 77 of the Big Book, “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.”   To fit ourselves compatibly with whatever is going on. Before recovery, we more often were square pegs trying to fit into round holes.  So how do we make ourselves fit into life now?  We pay attention and allow the Universe to guide us. Having a “glass half-full” attitude really helps, too.

Saving the best for last [I think], a koan appeared to me on the morning of our 12 & Zen gathering.  It goes like this:  “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” Page 84.  Sound familiar?

A good answer to this koan would be, “My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.”

Bill K. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Our Twelve AND Zen Culture

This article by John Tarrant (my teacher and founder of Pacific Zen Institute) comes to you from the Spring 2014 issue of Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly.  What John is telling us is exactly what Pacific Zen Institute (PZI) is doing and how it is doing it.  We are building a culture.

But I can't help but think about my 12 Step program and fellowship.  This, too, is a culture.  When I read his seven parameters,   I thought, "This is what we do in meetings!"  We look behind the "no trespassing" signs, we speak from the heart, we listen to all the voices in the room,  new people count, and we have very few rules.

When people ask me about my "program", I tell them about 12 & Zen...the Twelve Steps and Zen koans, this is my practice... This is the culture that we have here.

Lots to be grateful for,



Saturday, March 1, 2014

Step 3: Deciding to change

Some say it’s time for March Madness (college basketball).  I say it’s time for March Gladness!  Time for us to sit with Step 3 and a new koan.  Of course, begin sitting with this now...continue doing this
for the entire month;  what we are doing here is portable, accessible, and a good thing.

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


Hint:  In Zen koans, often the moon is a metaphor for "awakening"...

 - - -

Also I’d like to share an email I received.  It’s about what we are doing here together, this 12 & Zen project, and its affect (koans and the Steps) upon people.

“thank you bill for tugging at my sleeve....koans from last year visit me often. it is nice to be with them....and sometimes too, they are like a stone in my shoe.

i have not been meditating and don’t seem to care or worry about it. a seed has been planted in what seems right now a reluctant soil.  "how’s that workin for ya     an old sponser used to say of my    perhaps  poorly chosen  behaviors" she knew i was not a quitter...but more, just habituated to the comfort of my bad habits.

so it goes. However, koans are tucked in some hidden place in me     and/or emanate  from  seemingly random stimulus (usually the beauty of nature or art)....and then move with me and i with is really consoling  how much less lonely i feel when one of them arrives....i feel kinda like i did when i had imaginary friends  for whom i would make tea, save a space in my bed or pray when they were having trouble.... a little "ahhhh" happens. nice.

my mom is still battling cancer. it has been three tumultuous years now  living with a woman I don't like, yet somehow can find ways to admire......when teachers speak of the transitory and irrefutable beauty of life or the fact that a thing holds its opposites as well helps me to    see  the bigger picture of her and me.   i live so close to the intimate and  constant hard requirements of advocating for a delusional  stubborn and very angry 90-year-old woman  that i forget    we are  part of something   else…and even in our uglier moments  (which happen frequently when our wills collide or our feelings get hurt and egos race forward to protect their interests)   there is   something tender sweet    laughably human about our sad little treacheries.  It feels   living with her   like we are both on a rollercoaster ride. I want to puke, refuse my ticket, grip the rail, hunker down on the floor as low as i can get, evacuate my seat. I did not design the ride but i did chose to get onto I am learning a lot. It is rich, but feels at times   more demanding than I can meet.  We forge ahead.

so. i write  as i do    to say how it is here. Koans do a lot to help me. Unlike other many other dialogues they allow me the fullness of time and space to build with them a new way of seeing and being   or ignore them or fight with them   or....there is great relief  in having the possibility of relationship  with something  kind and open   not agendized  and very elastic and forgiving . i need courage and koans give me that.  so there it is.   i am not up for much more socially than helping my mom, taking care of what our days require and visiting with koans and other poetry i read. (check out mary oliver if you have not already...she is  both zen   and christian. and artist that one zen monk whose name i cannot spell)…so, once again, ONE has sent what I need      zen and poetry together to help me just be ok with it all. and sometimes  to also remember the possibility of joy.

hope you are well.

see you  on the second friday...thank you   for   patience  warmth   non-judgment and glee...

-wobbly zen  student of what if  and howsthatworkingforya?"  N.C.

Bill K.