One day, while Layman P’ang was meditating in his sitting hut, he suddenly cried out, “”It’s hard, hard, hard! And I’ve put ten coats of linseed oil on this platform, too!”
His wife said, It’s easy, easy, easy! Just turn your eyes to the floor, lower your feet to it, and be on your way!”
Ling-chao said “It’s neither hard nor easy! The mind of the Ancestors* is in every blade of grass!”
* Referring to Hsin-hsin ming who wrote: “Though the Great Way is expansive, treading upon it is neither hard nor easy.”
Friday: We had a small but earnest group…of three. One-third of our group said this koan brought up Step 10 for her. “Continued to take a personal inventory,” E-V-E-R-Y day. Just deciding to do this can be a hard at times, a chore, easier for another day.
But over time and practice, the daily inventory becomes an ongoing process, going deeper and deeper, beyond just naming things. O.K., what if person X just grates on my nerves and I was snappy with her…I need to apologize. But really now, what was behind my behavior? The more I practice my self-inventory, it’s no longer something that has to be done, it’s something I want to be done, to bring harmony to both parties. It’s becoming second nature to do this, to look at my part, easy, just like getting out of bed.
In a way though, with all the Steps (1 thru 12), aren’t we taking a form of inventory when acknowledging and examining our thoughts and actions?
Two-thirds of us thought this koan engaged with all of the Steps. At times, the Steps can seem so hard and difficult for us; that’s usually when we resist something. Resist comes from the Latin resistere, re-sistere, which means: “to take a stand.”
Oh how we alcoholics can take stands – “I’m not going to do that!” Why? Because we think it’s too hard (or lame or stupid or scary, or fill-in-the-blank). It’s the resistance that’s the problem. When I say, “Boy is it hot today,” I can guarantee that I will feel hot.
Like we hear at meetings, AA is a simple program for complicated people. We complicate matters when we resist what is presented to us. What can be more simple than rolling out of bed with feet touching the floor? We don’t give this a thought. One moment we’re in bed, the next we find ourselves standing by the bed… then walking about. One moment we are working the Steps, at other moments we feel as if the Steps are working us. How could this be?
“It’s neither hard nor easy,” said Ling-chao, “The mind of the Ancestors is in every blade of grass.”
This is where our practice of the 12 Steps take us. By definition, a PATH means that others have tread upon this same route, and over time a PATH is created. In our case, a 12 Step “path”.
Part of my morning prayers goes like this: “I pray that I may hear my teachers and the 10,000 bodhisattvas who have gone before. I pray that my teachers, past present and future, hear their teachers and the 10,000 bodhisattvas who’ve gone before…”
The thousands upon thousands of men and women who have worked the 12 Steps before you and I came along have contributed to clearing the AA path for us.
“The mind of the Ancestors is in every blade of grass.” The mind of awakened alcoholics are in every one of the Steps. And those times where I feel the Steps are working me – I’d like to think it’s my AA Ancestors helping out. With their help, “It’s neither hard nor easy.”