Saturday, December 12, 2015

Step 12: Finding "your self" in Step Twelve

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

‘What is your self?’
     ~ Yunmen, fragment from Case 87, Blue Cliff Record

     “This fragment comes from a famous koan, one of my favorite: ‘Medicine and sickness heal each other; ‘The whole world is medicine; What are you?’ Indeed, what and who are we? There probably is no more important question in our lives.”
-- Jon Joseph Roshi

I began by sitting with Step 12 and this koan fragment, just as Jon Joseph did.  Little did I know that the others in the room were drawn to the entire koan of “The whole world is medicine; what are you?” 

Do you remember the board game CLUE? “It was Col. Mustard in the library with a knife…”
This is where I found my self.  As in solving a mystery, I had to ask questions… Who? What? When? Where? How? And Why? With each question, a little more of my self was revealed. How would you answer these?

·      Who is working Step 12? 
·      What am I doing here?
·      When am I ready to do Step 12?
·      Where does this take me?
·      How thoroughly am I doing this Step?
·      Why (reason for) am I doing this?

December 8  [Grapevine Quote of the Day]

"The reason we try to carry the message is so that we stay sober. If the person we are helping stays sober, that's an extra bonus."

Austin, TX, May 2003 
    "What I Learned From My Sponsor"  
                                                                                          I Am Responsible: The Hand of AA 

Dale’s usual approach to 12 and Zen is to move from the Step to the koan.  This week it was turned around -- he started with the koan. This wasn’t planned.  It was simply how it happened.

So, medicine and sickness heal each other.  The whole world is medicine. What is your self?  As I sat with the koan it seemed it was channeling me toward identifying my self as sickness.  Identifying my self as "sickness" was really uncomfortable for me.  It was being in a state of dis-ease.  But I stayed with this and gradually I moved to focusing on healing.  And I realized that medicine and sickness represent two aspects of the healing process.  So my focus shifted to "healing."  Then I saw my "self" as being that which heals.  Both the object of healing and the subject that takes healing out into the world. At that point I was able to move to Step 12: We become sober through the 12 steps.  In other words we heal.  We then try to share that healing with others.  As it says in A Vision for You, ask in your morning meditation "what you can do each day for the man who is still sick."

Elsie, found herself taking a different approach, and a different Step, too.  When she thought about “the self”, she went to Step 4.  “That’s where I really discovered who I had become,” she said, "In order to get sober I had to begin with the self I had discovered in Step Four. 

What a journey we’re on!.  In our own way we find ourselves climbing onto the caboose of a 12-Step train (Step 1); and eventually, with the help of a sponsor, make our way to the engine (Step 12). How we’ve changed by working the Steps, and awakened to what it means to be who we are …who we have become.

Bill K.