Dōshin came and bowed to Sōsan,
and said, "I ask you for your merciful teaching.
Please show me how to be released."
Sōsan replied, "Who has bound you?"
"No one," he replied.
Sōsan said, "Why then do you ask to be released?"
Dōshin immediately came to a profound realization.
一Denkoroku | Passing on of the Lamp
I've known my sponsor for 34 years. I know the day, the time, and place that I met him. I also know the mental and emotional state I was in. It was a combination of doubt, depression, discomfort, producing reactive rebellion. And yet somehow there I was, in Pennsylvania, on a Saturday at 8:00pm, far from where I lived, and a man came to a podium and said... "I am and I'm Mason. Hi family. This is one of those things that has been like the times worth waiting for that is beyond our wildest dreams. This is what it's been for me. My recovery has been like that, and all that I've had to do was hold on at certain times to the Love, empathy, and belief... and the care and concern... and the vibration of this Fellowship. I had to hold onto that spirit... to keep stable both emotionally and spiritually... To keep some semblance of balance in my life, so that I didn't get too far out there; because I know that if I get too far out on the limb or something I can be alone (which is where the disease of addiction would prefer us to be). And those are the types of things that this disease does to me still... and I am the one that allows that to happen.
I found out that I was an addict by coming to Narcotics Anonymous. I hand no idea that the name of this disease was addiction. It was drugs that got me here, and when I say drugs, I include alcohol as a drug. I'm not going to stand up here and be redundant, saying both of these things that mean the same thing. I've had to try to get the program as simple as I can get it for me, so that it's applicable to me; so that I can plug into what my needs are."
But when we're caught in the grip of a mind that's in self-obsession... addiction-mind... poverty-mind... I'm not enough-mind... rebellion against Reality-mind trying to bend life to our will not caring about how we're impacting ourselves or others... a disease wherein we're powerless over self and other rejecting thoughts... biting down on those thoughts... reacting on those thoughts... influencing our life and that of others to suffer on a spectrum... knowing how to get out of our own way can be the same thing as being trapped in a hall of mirrors. It's difficult, difficult, difficult, difficult, when we keep running into pseudo images of ourself, rather than authentic Self.
Simplified, a distorted sense of self cannot get out of the way of a distorted sense of self. This is one of the reasons that not just recovery from addiction, but life Itself is a team sport. And despite dealing with addiction, and the 10,000 ways that it can express itself... drugs only being the most obvious... control... relationships... food... sex... money... achievement... success... work... diplomas... gambling... shopping... the screen pushing algorithms flipping virtual-life into what we falsely see as real life and on and on and on, where the mind can endlessly attach to things bending, and turning them into what they're not we are in need of mentors, friends, and allies who are truly on our Team, holding us with unconditional positive regard, and not just pretending to be. For me, call it luck, karma, or dharma... I discovered those people... Mason being one of them.
In the process of being around Mason, I noticed he has certain "Mantra's..." repetitive phrases... prayers... Meditations... to cut through the natural negativity of addiction mind that have been very consistent over the years. The first has been... "When are you going to surrender?" In other words... when are we going to let go of believing everything the mind thinks it knows about us and everybody else (despite the fact it's inaccurate so much of the time, whereas upon reflection I realized my intuitive nature is far more accurate than my thinking ever was). In my direct experience, until I surrendered, my methods of accepting help was more dysfunctional that functional; thanks to my "Feral cat," nature I acquired; buying into marketing campaigns of thought that had me wrapped around the axel of self; in an unhealthy way.
Another of Mason's is, "I'm only going to be as free as I allow myself to be." Though Recovery... Zen... Life... are Team activities... Team sports... There's a such thing as I'm responsible for my happiness... not others. Others tend to be influencing factors on a spectrum. When I stopped shifting responsibility into the hands of others, I was 70% happier on the spot, because I cut out the middle-man. And it's this particular mantra of Mason's that syncs perfectly with Sōsan asking his student... You believe lock, stock, and barrel that you're not free... "Who has bound you?" Dōshin responds, "No one." And in Dōshin's response, here's where the inner Jedi of Zen comes in, many commonly miss. There are two ways of understanding so-called "No one." The surface what of understanding this is literal. No one; period and the end. More deeply it's "Nooo Oneee..." as in "Neti neti... not this, and not that... non-self, representative-self; posing as authentic Self..." ego... addiction-mind... the very temporary wave of self... that's riding on top of deep and profound oceanic presence... projecting and telling stories, If we're waiting around for that aspect of self to free us... danger! We're going to be serving a life sentence, being whipsawed by its arbitrary nature, offering zero stability or consistency AKA suffering [CUBED].
Next, Sōsan presses Dōshin... "Why then do you ask to be released?" Personally I cannot tell you how many times I've asked people whether it's recovery from addiction world or Zen world... which kinda like saying drugs and alcohol is redundant... "How long does it take for you to get out of a place that you've never been..." thought is a hallucination of being someplace that doesn't exist... even when it's a memory... As Marcus Aurelius said… "We cannot step on the same piece of water twice."
The encounter concludes with "Dōshin immediately came to a profound realization." If we think and assume that one day Dōshin randomly walked up to Sōsan, and came to completeness... Danger Will Robinson! Error! Dōshin had years of training and practice, that were far more difficult and trying that many of us will encounter. He intently practiced Zazen. He sat more than once a day. He sat longer than most could imagine, he was so intent to coming to completeness... not just for himself... but for all beings, great and small... animate and inanimate... and so when he approached Sōsan, he was given what's called "Turning words..." words that with the volume level of thought turned down so low, the ego could not disrupt the divine current of the heart to heart, spirit to spirit, universal loving presence to universal loving presence connection. Such can be the relationship between a sponsor and a sponsoree... or a mentor to a mentee. In this is referred to as "Transmission," though nothing is actually transmitted. It's really... "Ahhhhh I GET IT! THERE IS NO MORE DOUBT!"
Seiho came and bowed toMason,
and said, "Would you please sponsor me?
Please show me how to be released from addiction-mind."
Mason replied, "Show me your addiction-mind?"
"I cannot," he replied.
Mason said, "Why then do you ask to be released?
Can't you see that you're already fully whole and wholly free?"
Seiho "Not yet," having no idea what that could mean.
Mason replied, "I sponsor way too many guy right now, here's the number of someone I sponsor. His name is Bly. He'll help you to be as free as you want to be. Call him... if your serious."
Things were different for me after that. May We and All Beings Together Be as Free, as We are Capable of Being... Just For Today.
―Dignity and Grace