Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Zen in Recovery - Ego by Jane Derry

Zen Koans have been used for a couple of thousand years or so to help people reach enlightenment. They are little stories or situations that were designed to make people pause, scratch their heads, and say, "what?"

I love using Zen Koans with the guests at our addiction recovery retreat, and they generally loved to be baffled by them. Sometimes though, I think (which is not condoned in Zen) that the ancient and hard to pronounce Japanese names and foreign customs serve to distract. A parable or teaching story works best by meeting people exactly where they are and with what they are familiar with. Jesus told stories about shepherds and sheep, while Lao Tzu spoke of Oxen and rice paddies. I've just brought some of our favorite Zen stories into Canadian culture in the 21st Century. Here is some Zen of Recovery, I hope you are scratching your head.


Bruce was fairly new to AA and sobriety, but he had been very successful in his business and active in his church. Bruce considered himself to be a humble and dedicated member of his new 12 Step Fellowship. Bruce scheduled regular meetings with his carefully chosen sponsor, Frank.

One day during their weekly visit, Bruce asked his sponsor, "What is 'ego', according to AA's spiritual principles?" Frank's face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, "What kind of stupid question is that!?"

This unexpected response so shocked Bruce, that he became sullen and angry. His sponsor then smiled and said, "That Bruce, is ego."

Jane Derry

Rethinking Rehab. Addiction recovery, it is not what you think. A Home Away Retreat is a unique opportunity for people in early sobriety to heal, and learn the tools to live the life they desire and deserve, sober.