Friday, September 15, 2023

The Hard and Easy of Steps 8 and 9


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: One day, while the Layman was meditating in his sitting hut, he suddenly cried out, “It’s hard, hard, hard! And I’ve put ten coats of linseed oil on this platform, too!”


His wife said, “Its easy, easy, easy! Just turn your eyes to the floor, lower your feet to it, and be on your way!”


Ling-chao said, “Its neither hard nor easy! The mind of the Patriarchs is in every blade of grass!” (1)  Case #51 - Three Views of Hard and Easy 



(1) The Laymans daughter, Ling-chao, is referring to a line from the Third Patriarch s work the “Treatise on Believing in Mind" (Chin.: Hsin-hsin ming; Jpn.: Shinjin~mei) that says, “Though the Great Way is expansive, treading upon it is neither hard nor easy." Very little has been passed down about the life details of the Third Patriarch, Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (Kanchi Sosan,  

(? - 606), who stood halfway between Bodhidharma and Hui-neng. 



It's hard, it’s hard’ it’s hard to make amends, especially to those who have harmed me (fingers pointing at them) because after all, they owe me an amends. What about me?


What about you? I’m glad you asked, “Who is in the process of working their steps?”


“I am.”


“Who seems to still be carrying a grudge toward another?”


“I guess I am.”

“Who wishes to be free from the bondage of self?”


“I do.”


“If this other person made amends to you, but you didn’t reciprocate making your amends, who do you think would be more at ease?”


“He probably would.”


See…it’s easy, easy, easy when we finish making an amends. Just turn your thoughts inward, address your past actions and behavior and how your goal, now, is to clean up your side of the street.


Easy, easy, when I go at Step 9 with “don’t know” mind and the backup of my higher power. I don’t know how each event will unfold; but I do know I will be better off for what I’ve done.


Not knowing is a space, empty of my manufactured thoughts, stories, and delusions; ready to embody what comes.


Life is made up of varying degrees of (real or imagined) friction. When things get rough for us (think hard), we invite our HP in to help smooth things out. More often than not, it is I who gets smoothed out, not the other people, places, or things.


We make Steps 8 and 9 out to be hard, until we do them, then we learn they are neither hard nor easy.



Bill K.