Saturday, May 17, 2014

Moving, Moving, Moving

My house is for sale; we listed it on Monday and the For Sale sign appeared on our lawn Wednesday afternoon. For the past six weeks, ever since Spring Break the week before Easter, my wife and I have been busy preparing to list our house on the market.

We did all of the usual: garages sales (two, in fact), cleaned, organized, painted, scrubbed, repaired, replaced, power washed, rearranged, and in the immortal words of Thoreau, simplified, simplified, simplified.

Preparing to move can be extremely revealing and liberating. As we sift through the piles of clutter that we have accumulated since our last spring cleaning or even our last move, we realize that we don't need any of this...stuff. Most of it is junk, and often other people's junk!

Have you ever noticed how much crap other people pawn off on you? Come on, take it. You always said you wanted a juicer/toaster/laser-disk and eight-track player in one. Just take it...

These weeks have been a blur. My reading and writing have slowed to a near standstill. It has gotten to the point where, when I'm done with one task, I am immediately ready for another--even where there's nothing more to do! When I sit down to read, I feel restless. Now, I'm not lazy, but I'm not the kind of person to volunteer for a cleaning marathon either.

What's most amazing about the past weeks is the sheer lightness of it all. At first, since we were confronted with so many tasks, my wife and I were just overwhelmed. But soon we developed a rhythm.

Much like the Chinese Ch'an monks who integrated work into practice, I feel like the past weeks have been amazing, like I'm soaring. After a while, the ego just gives up resisting and soon there's no one painting; there's just painting.

Time vanishes into just vacuuming, just mowing the lawn, just scraping or measuring or packing or planting flowers. Zen Master Dogen called this "dropping away of body and mind."

It's been amazing: despite the sheer volume of work, I feel lighter than ever, lost in the sheer physicality of the labor. At night, my back is sore and my hands raw, but it's rewarding.

One of the things I love so much about Zen is it's worldliness, the fact that it so practical and ordinary. Zen does not eschew work for some idealistic, navel-gazing state; Zen master are busy people! Baizhang puts it best when he says, "No work, no food."

Zen is far from lofty idealism. It is embodied in and through the body. Farming, harvesting, changing our car's oil, these are all expressions of life at this present moment. Zen is being so fully present that there is no 'I' to experience anything at all. This is when life, in the form of whatever appears before us, becomes the ultimate teacher.

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