washing dishes


Depend on the Tao


Thich Nhat Hanh:

Washing Dishes

To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands.

I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!

If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and the flavor of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.

Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. I must confess it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end—that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them.

source PDF p. 43 – 44

My Comment:

It seems so simple to stay  in the “sunlight of awareness” with one dish while washing up and then all becomes sacred, but it is true. We have been conditioned to see something as sacred in the context of religion or spirituality, but actually it is truly simple: BE HERE NOW. This moment is where my power lies. Only here can I BE fully. When my thoughts are elsewhere but my body is at the kitchen sink I am not really here. We have never been trained to appreciate the dimension we call NOW. Mostly we think of now as the ungraspable sliver of time between what has happened (past) and what will happen (future). the NOW dimension has nothing to do with time – you exit the mind-frame of past, future and time altogether when you enter into the NOW dimension. Our mind feels apprehensive when we attempt this, because it derives its security from keeping track of the past and projecting the “known” into the future, with some minor modifications. This shows us that surrender to the inner sense that something immense and intelligent, but not quite in our waking consciousness, is actually “keeping track” and prompting us in our actions to do what is suitable and appropriate in every situation. We are free to live in the moment free of incessant cogitation when we embody this trust in the Tao.


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