Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Koan: A student asked Yunmen, "What does it mean to sit and contemplate reality?"
Yunmen answered, "The coin lost in the river is found in the river."
In driving about the city, my wife’s anxiety peaks when she thinks she’s lost. When I’m driving and she asks, “Are we lost?”, my usual response is something like, “I don’t know where we are, but I’m not lost.” As long as we keep moving, we end up finding ourselves on the right road. But I can certainly lose myself in other situations.
I’m a blurter, where most of the time my blurts bring about laughter, as I intended – but not so last week. We were bantering around before a ZOOM meeting and I engaged my mouth without thinking it through. Laughter was not my intention, I wanted to make a point. I knew immediately that my words, directed to a specific person, might have been hurtful – that I’d have no peace of mind until I made amends. I suppose I could say, “I lost it.”
“What does it mean to sit and contemplate reality?”
Could it be “…to practice these principles in all our affairs?” Thanks to my 12-Step practice, I knew what I must do in those times when I find my thoughts lost in the river of my self-centered alcoholic thinking.
My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
The Five Remembrances Sutra
The way for me to examine the symptoms of my diseased self, I jumped back into that old river, thinking about what I had said; and how I had, for a moment, become lost in one of my old character shortcomings. Within minutes after the meeting ended, I knew I’d be taking the appropriate action soon (promptly admitted it). I contacted my friend and apologized. She said, “I took no offense in what you said.” I felt relieved with her response, and by finding my way out of the river.
What this practice has given me is much like it is when I’m driving with Beth. No longer do I feel lost in the consequences of my behavior. I may not know where I am for the moment but I know there’s a way out – by pivoting to the wisdom of Step 10.