Saturday, October 14, 2023

Step 10, Swimming in Reality

 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."



You and I have packed a lot into our respective rivers of life, haven’t we?

We’ve experienced our placid river, roily river, meandering river, gushing river, muddy river, clear river, cold river, polluted rive, and even dry river. We’ve experienced them all because that’s the way life rivers flow.


What do we lose?  Our temper, connection to the steps, the sense of right and wrong, patience, fairness, the ability to put others first. What do we find? Peace of mind, the power of the steps, fairness, kindness, empathy, God, self-worth and happiness.  


What do we learn from our river?  We learn how to pay attention to her moods and activities, to her extremes and preferences, and to her strengths and vulnerabilities. In rough waters we learn how to hold on tightly or call for help; in tranquil waters we learn how to relax and let go; in muddy waters we learn to stop stirring things up; in polluted waters we learn how to locate the sources and clean up the causes.


In search of balance, we learn that looking outside our river doesn’t work - - no sitting on the shore. Comparing our river to others’ rivers isn’t helpful either. Balance comes when we go with our river’s flow.


Upstream? Lucky for us, we’ve already done this when we were examining our past in Steps 4 and 5. We swam well upstream then, beginning when we sensed memories in the water, sometimes vague, other times intense. We’ve got to find their hiding places among the rocks and crannies. Depending upon the current, at times it was difficult, but necessary; we must swim upstream and dislodge these memories, retrieve them. Once found, our struggle against the current ceases. We know what to do with these memories. The current is our guide now, taking us to where we need to be. This same process takes place with Step 10; but usually to a lesser degree. We only have to swim upstream for a couple of days or so when we’ve been balking - - or a few minutes when we’re paying attention to our actions.

In contemplating our reality, we have the good the bad, the beautiful the ugly. Total immersion is the way. That’s where we find things and where we lose things. We need the wetness of our river. If we’re not wet, we’re not living.


We had substantial rains last year, but in the years prior, severe drought toasted the landscape. After talking with others when light rains appeared, instead of saying “good-bye”, I would say, “Stay wet my friend, stay wet.”


Bill K.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

12 & Zen October Koan and Step 10

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.

Bill K.