Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steps 8 and 9 -- "Then wash your bowls."

Have you eaten?
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: A monk made a request of Joshu:  “I have just entered the monastery.  Please teach me.”
Joshu asked, “Have you eaten?” 

Then wash your bowls.
The monk replied, “Yes, I have eaten.”
“Then,” said Joshu, “wash your bowls.”  At that moment, the monk had an insight.

(Case #7, Gateless Barrier)

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten?” He’s already begun to teach the monk how to be a good host.

The group came together quickly with this koan, with similar insights.  Step 8 is like filling our sink full of dirty dishes.  The longer they sit, the worse off it will be, the harder to clean off dried food, and taken to the extreme, a yuck factor develops. The longer we avoid going to Step 9, the worse off it becomes, especially if we long for relief from our condition.

After cooking and eating a meal, the most natural thing to do is to clean things up. “Then wash your bowls,” said Joshu.  This is exactly the same dynamic Steps 8 and Step 9.  Instead of bowls, I’m cleaning up after myself; I’m attempting to clean up my past deeds.  This is the next best action.

Most of our Step 8 list comes from our Step 4 and 5 experiences.  And more often than not, when compiling the Step 8 list, we remember new items to add.  All of this is like a sink full of dirty dishes.  Relief only comes from washing one dish at a time. 

This is being a good host, too; treating myself well, and doing the things I need to stay sober.  In time, I'm rewarded with a cupboard full of clean, usable dishes; ready for serving others.

Bill K.