Sunday, October 11, 2015

Step 10: It's only for your benefit

Step 10:  Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Koan: One day when Dongshan and a monk were washing their bowls, they saw two crows fighting over a frog. The monk asked, “Why does it always have to be like that?”
Dongshan replied, “It’s only for your benefit, honored one.”


Crows, tearing apart the frog – it’s a picture we don’t want to look at.  But we have to.  We’ve all experienced that “tearing-my-guts-out” feeling.  When I realize what I said or did to someone else, knowing I was wrong in doing it, that now I need to make amends ASAP, it is only then where the pain begins to subside.  So actually, we do want to look at this picture in all its gore, the picture we have drawn.  My feelings of remorse in situations like this tear me up; I am the frog.

Eventually, one or both of these crows end up eating the frog.  The frog is nourishment, a natural process for survival.  Step 10 is also a natural process leading to our own well-being, a necessity for our very survival lest resentments develop and we return to drinking and our old behavior.

Knowing that a situation has developed where I need to do a Step 10, but not doing it, this is a form of self-inflicted violence. Hopefully more sooner than later, I choose to apologize to the person I’ve hurt – make amends – attempt to set things right.  For the most part, having done a Step 10, the feelings that were tearing me up usually subside and eventually die. Dale H. refers to Step 10 as a spiritual axiom, where “I always have to look at my role, my own defects no matter what has happened. Looking at self is absolutely to my benefit."

Page 84 in the Big Book: No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  It doesn’t say just good experiences, or successful experiences, or extraordinary experiences – just experiences – all of them. Who among us has not learned from the person who returns to drinking?

Dale emailed me today saying he wanted to share a few lines from his Pema Chodron reading for this morning:

"Instead of asking ourselves, 'How can I find security and happiness?' we could ask ourselves, 'Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away?  Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace --- disappointment in all its many forms --- and let it open me?' This is the trick.

This is the benefit as I understand it.  Can I allow the violence and suffering of life as I perceive it to "open" me?"

Step 10 and all it touches is absolutely for my benefit ... and for others, too.

And then at the end, Dongshan ends his sentence, addressing the monk as "honored one".   What's this about?  Oh yeah...what a privilege it is to be sober (alive), to be able to experience the benefits we receive from the universe.

Bill K.