Friday, August 5, 2011

Zen-ful Acts

      The Zen of Anything? What do I know of Zen?  I've read Pirsig's The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Zen of Writing by Ray Bradbury. During a doubtful time in my life, I read The Zen Teachings of Jesus by Kenneth Leong which helped me re-accept my Supreme Power.
     Query: What does a Zen Buddhist monk carrying a yolk of water pails do when he becomes enlightened?
     Answer: He puts the yolk down for a minute and feels the full import of the moment, then picks up his yolk and continues on his journey.
     So there you have it.. Just about all I know about Zen in less than 100 words.  Intrinsically, I want to be more Zen-like. It seems so peaceful, unencumbered.  As I have aged, it is becoming more evident in my thinking, but not necessarily in my actions. Or is it?
     How about my Zen of Housekeeping?   I think I've been living this zen-ful act for ages.  Nothing has to be in perfect order, because I have already imagined it in my mind. Life goes on, and I don't have to obsess over the dirty dishes in the sink or the third or fourth layer of dust.  The obvious mess is really in my mind.  Whatever is on the kitchen counter is not as important as my outlook. So now I am enlightened by this new Zen of Housekeeping, and will ponder, as I fill the sink with opalescent sudsy water. Ah, Tranquility abides.


  1. It's funny you should mention the housework and in particular, the dish washing. It was in household chores that I first found an ability to be in the moment. It was a feeling of focusing only on one thing when I usually tried to frantically clean everything at once. There are times when all I can do is clean one drawer in a room and that's progress for the day. I like more to have time with people - didn't always. Over the years, as I get older (60's) I like the analogy that my mind is like a bad neighborhood, so don't go there alone! I am making my best friends at this time in life. It's a time when we no longer seem to look at each others' outsides but our insides. Perhaps, we are more compassionate and accepting. For me, I spent many years looking for things outside of myself to make me happy. Like you, it has taken much seeking and much reading - and being open-minded - sometimes even desperate to feel peaceful, even if doesn't look like it at all to others! I'll bet you've also read The Tao of Pooh?

  2. Living in a very hot part of the country right now, I was having a popsicle and thought of this piece - putting the "zen" into froZen! I still don't want to clean the house but who cares. I'll just live in the moment and be grateful I have a house...

  3. Being reminded to live in the present and pause, like the monk is something I often - most often - don't do. A friend whose two sons are Buddhist said she has learned a lot from them - she, a great Fundamentalist and soft-hearted Southern Baptist girl. So, lately I too use the time doing dishes to reflect and enjoy the process. Personally, I like the new lavender dish soaps that smell so lovely.

    Thinking back on one of your posts where you mentioned quilting, I always like to pass on the use of Shout Color Catcher when pre-washing fabric.

    Looking forward to more on your blog. Being a mother, a person of faith and having a relationship I want to work at even when times are tough is pretty great. Nice to know it means the world to others too.

    Very Zen to me.

  4. Suzanne - How skillful you continue to be at packing so much into a few words. "Less is Better" and I am learning from you. I do enjoy though so much when you write in length about your children. Your blog has been a God-send and has been the impetus for some personal growth, as a mother and a wife and a person seeking spiritual growth. As I've mentioned, my trip plans fell through with my daughter who lives out of state. I didn't realize how run down I had become and she reacted in some harsh ways - telling me I was too much of a caretaker and didn't take down time, hobbies, etc. I was humbled by visiting a doctor who said I was depressed recuperating but also my DNA. Me? Isn't it the problem of all the other relatives? So what does my daughter do? Comes here. Now and planning twice during the holidays. I gave into the process and got out of the way. Is this where we're going with Zen? To get out of the way? Take it easy? I continue to see invitations in magazines for submitting essays, fiction and non-fiction. I truly hope you'll look into some of these things. You have so much to share. Take care. Elise

  5. This is lovely - like a short form of Nadine Stair's If I Had My Life to Live Over... The only things in my house that need to be in perfect order are: private papers, bathrooms, clean beds and the cat boxes. I don't cook like I once did - kids gone and no business entertaining. Otherwise, it's a little bit of controlled clutter. Taking more to read, be outdoors when it's not over 100 degrees and the freedom not to wear make up if I don't want to is divine! My most important Zen is continuing to seek a God of my understanding. I, too, do some of my best thinking when I'm cleaning the kitchen. A great treat is fragrant dish soap.

  6. Oh, Nadine had it so right! I'm working on never wishing for do-overs and trying to savor the times I have now. Thank you for such a lovely comparison. I so relate to your divine choice to not have to wear make-up. Such a luxury!
    Blessings to you!


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