KOANS: With Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3

Step 1:  We admitted we were powerless over __________ -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

Koan:  Case 5 of the Mumonkan, "Hsiang-yen: Up a Tree"

The priest Hsiang-yen said, "It is as though you were up a tree, hanging from a branch with your teeth.  Your hands and feet can't touch any branch.  Someone appears beneath the tree and asks,
'What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West?' [What is the meaning of Zen?].
If you do not answer,  you evade your responsibility [are terribly discourteous].  If you do answer, you lose your life.  What do you do?'

How was it for you when you were "out there?"  Hanging by your teeth is a desperate place to be.  Yes?  How did you get to this place?  Are you ready to let go and fall into the unknown?  Is dying really that bad?  A verse from the Saint Frances Prayer reads, "It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life." By dying one awakens!

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

Koan:  Little Jade

A woman calls out to her maidservant, "Little Jade,  Little Jade," not because she wants something, but just so her lover can hear her voice.

Who delights in calling out, "Little Jade?"  Who delights in calling out your name?  What is it like for you to hear your voice being called?  Would you say that a loving God speaks through other people?  What about the times you identify yourself at a meeting, then the group calls back your name?  Who is calling then?

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

Koan:  A student of the Way asked Yunmen, "How is it when the tree withers and the leaves fall?"

Yunmen said,  "The golden wind is revealing itself."

or ""Body exposed in the golden wind."  (27th Case from the Blue Cliff Record)

This is that sneaky koan that appeared on my morning walk.  The creators of the 12 Steps wisely included "as we understood Him" into their format.  One person's belief in God is another person's
belief in the Dharma, or the Tao, or the Universe, or Nature, or Ancestors, etc..  What happens when you completely turn yourself over to the abiding ways of Nature?  What happens when you welcome whatever comes next?  How do you experience God in your life? 

What is it like when you allow your body to be exposed?  To welcome what comes next?  An agreement of sorts to make a commitment?

 . . .

The Lesson Of The Falling Leaves 

the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is God
i agree with the leaves

          - Lucille Clifton