Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Koan: It helps you cross the river when the bridge is broken. It’s your companion as you return to the village on a moonless night.
Misc. Koans page 168 Joan Sutherland’s Book, Acequias
Crossing a river, getting to the other side - - these phrases are used a lot in spiritual matters. After our Remembrance Sutra we sing:
Cross on over
Cross that river
Set us free
Getting to the other side seems to be a good thing on many levels, but what’s this river we wish to cross? Or maybe a better question, what do we want to avoid that resides in the river? The list is long. It could be the river of pain, of loss, of despair, of anxiety, of death, of anger, of resentment, of selfishness, of self-esteem, and on and on…
Another obstacle that pops up every-so-often is the river of reluctance -- a reluctance to have to do something or be somewhere. Have you ever told yourself, “I don’t want to participate in that event next week. Once it’s over though, then everything will be OK.” Back when I was drinking, I had a lot of wishing I was on the other side of whatever I didn’t want to do; angst that immediately sweeps me out of the present moment. Drinking would surely blow up any bridge to relief.
Do I really know what going to happen? No.
Will this be the end of the world? No.
Has anything like this happened to me before? Yes.
Did things play out OK then? Yes.
And I survived to live another day? Yes.
Then what’s the problem? It’s my alcoholic mind.
Then what’s the solution? Practicing Step 11.
There’s another bridge that may be broken, or too crowded, or forgotten, or lost, or even when my mind is closed; it’s the bridge between my higher power and me. Again, Step 11 to the rescue!
Experience has shown me that in general ways, I can make some contingency plans for the worst possibilities and have some expectations of better things happening, when I bring in my prayer and meditation practice.
I walk every day, 25 to 30 miles a week, in order to maintain physical fitness. This regular exercising is good for my muscles, breathing, circulation, heart, and all. By the time I reach the sidewalk, I begin my morning prayers. I set aside time for meditation every day. Step 11 is the way I maintain my spiritual fitness. It’s always available to me.
When I pray for others who are going through troubling times, it’s a simple prayer - - “May this other person feel the caring love of their higher power.” That covers it really, because I know what it’s like to feel and experience my higher power, as a companion of the Way who’s with me everywhere, all the time, it’s easy for me to strike up a conversation. The more conversations I have, the closer we become. My daily conscious contact and trust in the Universe, via prayer and meditation, helps guide me across any river I encounter or when things are dark.