Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The cup is clean.

There is a popular Zen saying:

Have you eaten your rice porridge? Then you had better wash your bowl.

I am not a Zen practitioner, never have been.  There are many layers of meaning that you could overlay on that advice and maybe there is a right interpretation, but here is one to think about:

The bowl is already clean.  

We don't wash away the bowl, we wash away the dirt and remnants of food.  We wash away that which is adventitious.  It is because the dirt and filth of our activity is not permanent that we can even wash it away.  

Our life is messy.  We are a mess most of the time, but our nature is pure.  Our buddhanature has never been contaminated.  The nature of our mind is already perfect, just as it is.  

So we practice.  We don't practice to improve our nature, our nature is already perfectly manifest.  Our nature is a perfect vessel.  We practice to remove that which is adventitious and recognize our original condition.  We remove the filth and the extraneous.  The result of our practice is that we are left with our originally pure condition.  

We can learn to rest in our genuinely pure nature, our clean vessel, our fundamental condition.  Then as we go through our days collecting dirt, we don't get too hung up on the filth because we know it is momentary.  

Start each day with a clean vessel.  We can do our work, go about our activity, fulfill our function.  We can get dirty.  We can make mistakes, poor choices and even feel nourished by what we share.  

Then, wash your bowl.  Rest in your originally pure condition.    

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