Saturday, October 17, 2020

Step 10 -- Am I giving life or killing?

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

Koan: Freely we give life; and freely we kill.

(Possibly a capping phrase to koan, heard from a Monday night talk.)

How critical is Step 10 to our wellbeing?  This koan leaves no doubt. 

Step 10 is about choices. In any given situation, what shall I do? If I’ve been keeping up with my spiritual exercises, my decision will be for the greater good.

Choice #1: It’s being suggested that I continue. Continue to take personal inventory. This implies an ongoing practice. Am I aware of my behavior? Am I taking my personal inventory throughout the day?

Choice #2: “…and when we were wrong…” shows that I’m paying attention to my behavior, to my actions, and I probably need to make a decision.

Choice #3: Promptly admitting it, brings life to the situation and the possibility of growth.  When I delay Step 10 actions (or worse ignore), on several levels I’m killing myself, killing a relationship, feeding resentments, and killing any chance for peace.

The sum total of Choices 1, 2, and 3, are of course Step 10.  Step 10 was written because we are human and don’t always behave well.  This  reminds me of Purification, the first sutra we chant at every Monday night Zen gathering:


We’ve been given free will, still the Big Book states that we pray to our Higher Power for “Thy will not mine be done.” Running the show is not our strong suit.

My decision to follow Step 10 as written is a formula for right action.


The extent to which I practice Step 10 has a direct relationship with Steps 11 and 12, so the giving life and killing continues. Practicing Step 10 well gives life to Step 11; and practicing Step 11 well gives life to Step 12.

We often hear that Steps 10, 11, and 12 are the Maintenance Steps – the actions needed for living this day forward well, in service to others.

Bill K.

 P.S. I apologize for being a little late with this post. Sixty percent procrastination and forty percent writer's block. Hope you are all safe and well during these interesting times.

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And this comment from Christine S. -- 

The ground on which we stand... a truly important thought.

Once we thought we had to cover up our past. We wished to excise parts of it we didn’t like and only keep the “good” parts.

Now with a bit of spiritual growth we realize the complete folly of a that kind of thinking. What we missed was a simple truth: that an unexamined life is not worth living as Plato wrote, citing the words of his great teacher Socrates. The truth is that we stand on a complex foundation all of which made us who we are now. Our choice is to be who we are right now and to benefit ourselves and others by making the most creative use of that foundation.