Saturday, July 10, 2021

Step 6 and 7 and Falling Into a Well

Step 6:  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Step 7:  Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  

Koan: What is the way?

The clearly awakened person falls into a well.

~ Baling’s Three Turning Phrases, The Blue Cliff Record, case 13 commentary.

Here in Northern California, reservoirs are at record low levels; rivers have become creeks; and wells are going dry.  It’s July and any chance for rain is 3-4 months away (if we’re lucky). They call this a mega drought. The city of Santa Rosa has a mandate to cut water use by 20%. Water, essential for our very lives, we’ve got to make due with what’s being offered.

Steps 6 and 7, too, are essential for our recovery; but at times I forget they are available. And unlike a dry well with nothing to give, Step 7 is always abundantly full of offerings, full of relief from my selfish characteristics.

“Who isn’t falling into a well, pretty much all the time?” writes Jon Joseph Roshi of San Mateo Zen Community. Taking back my will, returning to selfish actions, falling into the well of old alcoholic thinking, and hurting others and myself. My “program” starts to faulter – this could lead to my downfall or even death, as certain as going without water.

With Step 6 I become ready to have my Higher Power’s help. With our drought, am I willing to do my part to conserve water? With Step 7-like action, I believe that collectively we citizens of Santa Rosa can get through these water difficulties.

In this wonderful world of koans and how they can turn things upside down, Jon gives the example when a student once asked Yunmen: "When it’s not the things I can see, and it’s not what they’re doing, what is it?” Yunmen responded, “Say it backwards.” And Caoshan once asked Elder De: “How do you explain the principle of response?” De said, “It’s like a donkey looking into a well.” Caoshan replied. “You said a lot, but that is only eighty percent of it,” adding, “It is like the well looking at the donkey.”

Let’s turn our koan upside down.  When I fully embrace Steps 6 and 7, with no reservations, I’m giving myself permission to be human, to realize my mistakes and allow [the well of] 6 and 7 to fall into me.

As Jon said, we all fall into the well. When I forget about these Steps, I become accident prone. Willfully ignoring these Steps is certain guarantee to fall in. And at other times when practicing AA principles, my self-induced barriers dissolve, allowing the well to fall into me. How could this be?

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.” BB Page 417

Bill K.