Sunday, March 12, 2023

The beginnings to prosperity - - Steps 2 and 3


Step 2:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  


So sad, alone, and poor...

Koan: A monk, Seizei, asked Master Sôzan in all earnestness…

Seizei is alone and poor. I beg you, Master, please help me to become prosperous.

San said, Venerable Zei! 

Yes, Master! replied Zei.

San said…

You have already received valuable gifts and still you say you are miserable and poor. *

Case 10, Seizei the Poor, The Gateless Gate, Koun Yamada

* The actual phrase as written said, “You have already drunk three cups of fine Hakka wine* and still you say that you have not yet moistened your lips.”

- - -

Our local Gene H. always begins his share with, “We don’t get here on the tail end of a winning streak.” Isn’t that the truth.  In many ways, in our early sobriety, we can identify with how Seizei is feeling - - poor and alone…and looking for some sense of prosperity. 

Then San says, “Veneraable Zie.” I’m sure Zie isn’t feeling that he deserves such respect. Maybe no one has ever addressed him as venerable. Or perhaps he wonders what San sees in poor me. After all, he is the Master, so he responds with due respect, “Yes, Master.”

“You have already received valuable gifts and still you say you are miserable and poor,” says San.

What if, instead of carrying the thought of how bad things are, he looked about, considering his surroundings?

Here I am, not only living as a monk in Master Sôzan’s monastery, but also have the opportunity to talk with him in person. I have a place to sleep, we all work in the garden, the food is well prepared, tasty. I have my daily work practice. We meditate. I’m learning from the practice leaders how to be a good monk. Master Sôzan gives us evening talks. These are my friends. We are all practicing the Way together.

We admitted in Step 1 that we’re powerless over alcohol and our lives are unmanageable. Steps 2 and 3, with the guidance of our sponsor, offer us infinite personal space for reflection in order to come to believe in and work with a higher power of our understanding. We, as sponsors, are like Master Sôzan. We don't talk down to others because we know how they feel. We were once newcomers. There's a respect for each other and the institution of AA.

For some, it’s about picking up their old religion and running with it - - for others it’s about rejecting their old religion and not knowing what to do next. Here’s the good news! By our mere existence there’s something we are already tapped into, but we’re not aware of it yet. My view, it’s not a thing - - going beyond words and thought, “self-nature that is no nature.” The Big Book offers all sorts of suggestions for all…and whatever you choose, you will discover a higher power or God that’s always been here for you.

The riches are waiting for us before we walked into that first meeting, beginning with the gratitude we have for Bill and Bob who started the AA movement 88 years ago. Meetings with coffee and cookies, all of us with the same affliction, finding a solution to our problem, finding our sponsor, helping one another, laughing and crying through it all, and establishing friends for life. By giving more and taking less, we become a part of what is good in the world. 

I didn’t feel immense gratitude at the time I was first doing Steps 2 and 3; but I did have the feeling that I was heading in the right direction.  It's by looking back that I realize the gifts began on my first day sober. Today I will say AA is the most valuable gift I have ever received. 

Bill K.