Sunday, April 15, 2018
Step 4 and Making yourself beautiful.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Koan: For whom do you bathe and make yourself beautiful?
Dongshan and Linji lived around the same time during the latter part of the Tang Dynasty, a time when Chán flourished. Dongshan is considered the founder of the Caodong School (that became the Soto School in Japan) and Linji the founder of the Linji School (Rinzai School in Japan).
Buddhism in China had its rough times, too. The first large-scale purge of Buddhism took place in 446 “and major imperially sanctioned persecutions took place again in 574 and 842-845.” Dongshan had experienced the worst of times and the best of times for Chán when he gave us this koan.
My friend Dan Kaplan sent me one of his recent talks at the Rockridge Zendo that was on this koan. Then, with a little inquiry, I came across Sensei Megan Rundel’s blog piece on it, too. Megan writes, “For whom do you feel desire, and how do you make yourself desirable? There is a strong sense of eros here.” While Dan said, “I take it to be about what do you truly love, what gets you out of bed in the morning. In the end, for me, it’s about ME, and that vastness that IS me.”
“I think it’s both,” I wrote back.
In asking the question: “For whom do you bathe and make yourself beautiful?“, the desire comes in many layers. At one level it’s the bathing as a desire to please another. At another level, in the context of what we are doing here, the Third Tradition comes to mind, “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Step 4 is about coming clean, with ourselves and our past behavior; bathing in a tub of willingness; washing with a soap of honesty; and scrubbing where there’s the most dirt and grime.
· For whom are you taking this inventory?
· For whom are you coming clean?
· For whom do you wish to present yourself today?
· For whom are you getting sober for?
Jump into the tub! Step Four, a spiritual scrubbing, an awakening to our new self.
Others this evening:
It’s my soul enjoying the physical body – not only ego – but a process of freeing and connecting to eventually take that fearless and thorough moral inventory. Roger.
A light is shown when taking a fearless and thorough moral inventory; it’s a sacred act to make ourselves shiny and new; where a new life begins for us each day. Susan.
Such a simple sounding koan, I smiled. It provoked my ability to see myself in fleeting ways. After many years in the program, my favorite word in Step 4 has become “ourselves”. That’s what we end up with the more we work Step 4 – we end up with our self, in whatever way it presents itself in this moment. Elsie.
Our koan and Step 4 threw a larger loop around Kate’s experience tonight. She said she just returned to college and is taking a class in Privilege. “This Step and koan are taking me on a whole different level; where I’m asking myself not about my past behavior, but instead, where is my place in life today around privilege? What a fantastic question she asks?
Here is the full verse Dongshan wrote:
For whom do you bathe and make yourself beautiful?
The cry of the cuckoo is calling you home;
hundreds of flowers fall, yet her voice isn’t stilled;
even deep in jumbled mountains, it’s calling clearly.
Who is calling you to get sober? Who is calling you to stay sober?