Saturday, March 14, 2015

Step 3: Only the vine sustains you, only Step Three sustains you.

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

Koan: You are being chased by a tiger.  Coming to a cliff, you grab the root of a wild vine and swing yourself over the edge. The tiger you were fleeing from is sniffing at you from above; at the bottom of the cliff is another tiger waiting to eat you.  Only the vine sustains you.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little start to gnaw away the vine.  Nearby you see a luscious-looking strawberry.  Holding tightly to the vine with one hand, you pluck the strawberry with your other hand and pop it in your mouth.  How sweet it tastes.

My sponsor once said to me, “I’m not in charge of what you say; but I am in charge of what I hear.”  So went our evening on Friday with people hearing this story in different ways.  I love it how koans do this.

Beginning with our experiences with Step One, we found ourselves being chased by a tiger of a different form:  By our disease.  Our conscience. Or by something we made up…the stories we tell ourselves, or being stalked by "a hundred kinds of" fear.

Having to make a decision has, in the past, brought on fear in me.  If I make this decision this will happen.  If I make that decision that will happen.  This is where the koan took me, a tiger of fear of making a decision was in the chase.  With sobriety comes the ability to make Step Three decisions more promptly – it can almost become a default mode: grab the nearest vine and jump; grab Step Three and jump.  It’s in the jumping where we are totally at the whim of the Universe.  “Only the vine sustains you.”  Only Step Three sustains you. It’s in Step Three where we learn to trust our Higher Power; that when our decision is aligned with what is right living (God’s will), we can be at ease.

And the tiger down below, “waiting to eat me?”  Can we be sure about that?  If the chasing tiger can take on many forms, so can the tiger below.  Maybe it’s Tony the Tiger.  We really don’t know since that part of the story has not unfolded yet.  As another person said, the chasing tiger is our past, the tiger down below is the future.

The two mice – black or white, good or bad, the way we usually see things (duality)…and then, of course, carry these thoughts into the future, usually to bad outcomes.  But it says one white mouse and one black mouse.  Either one or both could play a part in my future; but right now, they’re just gnawing. Lots of things in our life are being gnawed on, aren’t they?  Another person solved her anxiety of gnawing mice and decided her “vine” was really thick and no need to be concerned right now.

Strawberry… only this is what’s noticed.  No tigers, no mice, no cliff, no past, no future…just a luscious, ruby-red strawberry…in this moment the strawberry is what the Universe has given to us to partake in.  Taking Step Three has a way of changing our mind’s default mode for the better…no matter what the “strawberry” in life looks like today. Actually, the whole world is strawberry. "How sweet it tastes."

Bill K.