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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 13 WHY I LOVE CLEANING TOILETS If you want to generate some real merit, says Guo Gu, get up from the cushion and go scrub some toilets. I can count on one hand how many Chan masters got enlightened during sitting. Fewer than five! But in daily life, working? All the rest of them. If you think that working and your daily life is not practice, then you are gravely mis- taken. During retreats some people just want to get their work done as quickly as possible so they can “do their practice.” I can’t fathom why people would skip work so they can sit! What kind of mentality is that? How could you not want to do work that actually sup- ports everyone who uses the space? Can you see the selfishness in that? I used to love cleaning toilets. You know why? Because other people didn’t want to do it, so I did it. When people go to the toilet and see it’s clean, they feel at ease. I helped reduce one little vexation. My teacher once said to me, “What is the mind of the Way? Use your body like a rag; let your mind be a mirror.” What does a rag do? A rag doesn’t touch the Buddha statue. It cleans the toilet! Every time we had job assignments, some people would clamor, “I want to clean the Buddha statue!” I felt, “I am not worthy. Let me clean the toilet.” Places that everyone uses, public spaces like water stations, toilets—they need to be cleaned. So we clean. We clean so that every- one can practice in peace. Let me tell you a secret: all the merit they gain from practicing, from going here and there and happily using the clean bathroom and public space and feel- ing at peace, you get a percentage. THAT’S A LOT OF MERIT! You’re investing in the best possible things. When you invest, you have to invest in things that everyone uses, that everyone needs. Things that support practice. You see? There’s only one Buddha statue to clean, but there are many toilets for prac- titioners. Now, don’t you want to rush to the bathroom and start cleaning? FROM CHAN MAGAZINE, SUMMER 2013 NO ROOM TO MOVE In Buddhism, submission to authority teaches us how to face what we cannot change. Roshi Bodhin Kjolhelde on why we might choose to surrender. The virtue of hierarchical authority is its clar- ity. Though in ancient China it served generally to enforce social and political stability (as well as the subjugation of women and the under- class), Asian Buddhists found that hierarchical authority could also be used in spiritual train- ing to help undermine the self and its prefer- ences. The monk or trainee receiving the order is denied the chance to complain, argue, or negotiate, and left with no room to maneuver. With ego-resistance futile, he is all but forced to surrender to the Great Way that is beyond self and other, beyond right and wrong. As a governing basis of spiritual training, hierarchical authority is only as legitimate as the goodwill of those in command. If the supervisor or monitor is dedicated to the lib- eration of those under him, then his order will be like an offering and the trainee receiving it can use it as the opportunity that it is. But even ILLUSTRATIONS ERIC HANSON FIRST THOUGHTS