One needs to get creative during a shutdown. I decided to hand wash my copper water carafe. I used tamarind as the acidic agent and salt as an abrasive. While the results are fantastic, the process behind this is what I am here to talk about .
Washing vessels is certainly not something we look forward to. This is tedious work to many and looked down upon. However, we can bring in a zen approach to something as banal as vesel scrubbing. Zen says, “When you are sweeping the floor, you are sweeping the mind”. The idea is to bring yourself so completely to the action, that you enter a state of ‘flow’. Flow is a state that many people (most famously athletes) achieve when they are totally absorbed in their work, that the perception of time is lost and one’s focus is brought completely to the present. People in this flow state report an enhanced performance. This same idea is encouraged by Krishna in the Gita where he famously says, “Let your right (focus) be towards the work only, not to the results. Let not there be attachment to the fruits of the action nor inaction”. Eckhart Tolle calls it the Power of Now due to its inherent ability to uplift you to a higher plane of consciousness.
Zen says, “When you are sweeping the floor, you are sweeping the mind”
So what has this state got to do with washing my vessel? Simple – if one leaves aside the like or dislike of the action (in this case the dislike for washing the vessel) and acts (in this case washing the vessel), one finds the one slips easily into “being in the moment”. The action recedes into the background and the actor or better still the awareness of the action remains. This is a beautiful state – unblemished, total, and lacking nothing.
So pick a boring task and see if you can bring yourself to it totally. Anticipate that your inner voice in your mind will rebel. It will tell you how stupid you are to do this. Ignore it for a while and act. Again don’t expect to get into the flow state by doing it – this would defeat the purpose. Its like scheduling a fixed time to relax – it doesn’t work. Knowing this, act, and see if you can experience the joy is removing stains from your vessels.