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Only the first step has to do with abstinence. The next eleven are much more difficult, and the hardest one so far was the 7th- to turn my character defects over to a higher power for removal.

Defects? Removal? I already posted about this.

Leaving the Roshi out of it, I asked the Shuso if I could have the Zendo for Saturday morning. I filled him in on my "confession/refuge" ceremony, one I'd learned at Green Gulch, and he said it was fine, as long as I wasn't chanting in Pali or English or anything else that was hippy-yoga Zen or what he called "fluffy." This was fine. I didn't see it coming, but it didn't surprise me.

My sponsor came over at 7am. The Shuso offered to help out, but I figured he just wanted to make sure the chants were correct, and this wasn't Zen business, but A.A business, and my relationship with my sponsor, who is a very sentimental, affectionate ,older man, would make him uncomfortable, so I said I was fine.

I placed a zafu off to the side for my sponsor. He'd only need to witness this whole thing. I struck the gong in an accelerando, which seemed appropriate to get started. We do a lot of accelerando work with our Zen pieces of wood and metal, and it's a good way to settle things down. I offered shoko, and did prostrations. In front of the altar, I went on my knees, just like when I took Jukai, and I did a short dedication to the first ten Buddhas. Then the confession sutra, three times, followed by taking refuge in the three treasures. I finished up with our general dedication, you know, the one to the ten directions, and did three more prostrations. I closed with an accelerando.

I did this a couple times by myself as homework after the 6th step, which entails discussing all the defects with my sponsor. Without a witness, it didn't really feel like much. Having my sponsor there brought a little energy. It wasn't like I was performing, but it did feel a little like a Buddhist mitzvah, with the solo chanting and all. I invited him to chant, but he wasn't into it.

Afterward, I went to a meeting. People were talking, telling my story. Whenever I'm in a meeting, I don't think of alcoholics, but I think of Gaki, the hungry ghosts. This insatiable urge to fill a perceived void seems so ubiquitous, I fear the term alcoholic deters many from a 12 step program that would probably help them. I think humans anonymous would be nice. Everyone needs fellowship. Everyone has hungry ghosts haunting them.

Not drinking is a great idea for me, as well as not doing anything too much, too quickly, and that's what A.A has done for me. But alcohol was just one substance, with the most visible effects. Being a dry drunk isn't being sober. I used to think that living in the moment meant doing whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I don't know what I think now, but I think more slowly, for sure.


  1. So you have disappeared without saying goodbye.

  2. This is a bit too "Mu", Man.

    Let us know.



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