Sunday Sermon

Nothing Special

A man went to Guanyin monastery to become a monk. When he met with the abbot, Zhaozhou, he said, "This is my first time here - I'd appreciate it if the master would teach me about self-cultivation."
Zhaozhou responded, "Have you eaten breakfast?"
The monk replied, "Yes, I have."
Zhaozhou then said, "Go wash your bowl."

Zhaozhou knew that enlightenment was nothing special. Esoteric practices and ascetic self-denial may seem like what a monk should be doing, but getting your chores done is an equal part of the path. Enlightenment and doing the dishes are essentially the same thing. We shouldn't be trying to do anything extraordinary - we should instead, simply try to be good at the ordinary.

I have other thoughts on this subject, but I am more interested in hearing what you think - please, feel free to comment.

Go in Peace.


Levi said...

Isn't the "ordinary" chore a form of meditation? it's a way that, at least as far as i'm concerned, one can divide themselves from an overwrought mind and work at peace. i mean, that's what comes from a focus on breathing--it becomes a chore, a repetitive movement isolating experience and sensory input.

His Sinfulness said...

Levi, you point at the core of the Buddhist teaching on mindfulness. Ideally, we do everything with full concentration - when we wash the dishes, we JUST wash the dishes. To approach every daily activity with complete midfulness is, according to some, enlightenment itself.

inkandpen said...

Dear Linus,
My sink is full of dishes. Please meditate at my house.


born again flocker said...

Many definitions of enlightenment exist, I dare to describe it as detaching yourself from the ego and corrupt intentions while turning towards compassion and love through dying to the self, (or go with the dictionary

One manner in which this can be achieved is to strive to practice and obtain any divine virtue, (from God – if you think there is one or any other source, ie- a napkin), which helps to attain this path. Seeing as how there are a number of virtues
(, it is meaningful that the action isn't as important as the intention. When doing extraordinary or menial actions, being mindful compels one to be aware of the intention and whether or not it is leading to enlightenment. Go Zhaozhou.

Modig_Bjorn said...

Somehow I think this is Linus' way of suggesting that certain members of the Flock could do a better job of washing dishes. Hmmmm... *strokes beard*

Clayton said...

Heh. I washed, vacumed, and swept today, then I meditated under a cold waterfall, known otherwise as my Japanese-style shower.

anyways this post reminded me of one of the four agreements: Always do your best no matter what you are doing. I wish someone was around to remind me of that.

His Sinfulness said...

No subtle subtext here; it's Zahozhou's parable, not mine.

I'm doing guitar meditation a lot lately...

Sirus Kane said...

I will be doing a bit of chore meditation today, seems like our place is going to need that in the days ahead.

Mark Travis said...

i used to love to mow the lawn. It was time away from the house and the tv and there was a perfection to be obtained as well.... straight lines and better mulched grass and paths of mowing. I like gardening for the same reasons.

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