Zen Koan for Recovery

Zen Koan for Recovery

Filled to the Rim

Zen Coffee

In Addiction Recovery it is said that you only need to change one thing, but that thing is everything. And everything is included in everything. Carl Jung stated that this recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body must be a “complete ego deflation, followed by a profound personality change”. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Yep, very simple, but not very easy. How do you precisely, go about changing everything?

I’m going to answer that question in a famous little Zen Koan, but this little Zen Koan has itself undergone an unprofound personality change of its own. What I mean by that is, that I have adapted some of my favorite Koans, removing hard to pronounce ancient Japanese names, places and customs, substituting with modern Recovery circumstances.

This is but one of many tools utilized in holistic addiction treatment and spiritual exploration at Serenity Vista.


Empty Your Cup

Sarah had almost finished her college diploma in Addiction Studies.

For her practicum, she needed to talk to an ‘old timer’ in a 12 Step Program, so she arranged to visit with Old Moe at the local Alano club.

While Old Moe was pouring coffee, Sarah talked about the 12 Step Program. Old Moe filled Sarah’s cup to the brim, and kept pouring. Sarah watched her overflowing cup until she could no longer restrain herself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” she blurted.

“You are like this cup,” Old Moe replied, “How can I tell you how AA works unless you first empty your cup?”

I don’t think that Zen should really be explained, so I’ll leave it at that.

Oh, one more thing, since we are talking about filling cups:

  • The pessimist sees the glass filled half- way, and says, “that glass is half empty”.
  • The optimist sees the glass filled half- way, and says, “that glass is half full”.
  • The alcoholic sees the glass filled half- way, and says, “are you going to finish that?”


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