Sunday, September 30, 2012

Laundry lesson

Photo credit: flickr user Chiew Pang.
We can learn a lot about ourselves from how we do the laundry. For me, the challenge is in folding the clothes and putting them away, not the actual loading and unloading the washing machine. As I'm sifting through--or wading, as it more often feels like--the pile of tangled clothing, I often catch myself wanting to rush.

Come on, I tell myself, I have more important things to do! But like what? More chores?

Why can't I simply concentrate on the task at hand, be satisfied with the underwear and socks and pillow cases? Why this near instinctive urge to rush to the next task?

In life, as in laundry, most often we don't get to choose what comes next. If it's a lone sock or a towel, that's what we take. Life comes at us all at once, and seldom in the manner or order that we want it. We don't choose to lose our jobs or step in puddles, but it happens. So Zen practice is about accepting whatever arises without discrimination.

A sock? Great. A flat tire? Sure.

The greatest spiritual freedom, I'm beginning to think, opens us up to to the continuously unfolding mystery of existence, infusing us with wonder and curiosity. Sunrises, rainbows, a blister on our foot, a broken plate--it's all the magnificent Dharma of the universe.

If only we can stop picking and choosing, saying yes to the things we like and no to those we don't. If only we can do the laundry one tangled article of clothing at a time.

That would be wonderful.