Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Koan: Te-shan visited Lung-t’an and questioned him sincerely far into the night. It grew late and Lung-t’an said, ”Why don’t you retire?” Te-shan made his bows and lifted the blinds to withdraw, but was met by darkness. Turning back he said, “It is dark outside.”
Lung-t’an lit a paper candle and handed it to Te-shan. Te-shan was about to take it when Lung-t’an blew it out. At this, Te-shan had sudden realization and made bows.
[Case 28 The Gateless Barrier by Robert Aitken]
First Te-shan spoke that it was dark outside, words describing what he was seeing. This is like Step 8 when we think about the people we have harmed and write down our list. Thoughts about our past behavior also have a darkness to them. In doing our Step 4 and 5, we sat with this darkness.
When Lung-tan blew out the candle, all that was left was darkness. Te-san could never have predicted what would come next. He became the darkness, no words about the darkness. This is like Step 9. With our actions, we become Step 9, a darkness of sorts, where our perceptions are unreliable and we find ourselves not knowing. We don’t know what will happen, but we do it anyway, trusting the process and continuing on with the amends. As or Step 9 progresses, holy smokes! Light begins to pour in. Without the dark, there cannot be light.