I recently stumbled upon this Zen story:
A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”
Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?
The monk replied, “I have eaten.”
Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”
At that moment the monk was enlightened.
For some reason, this story really resonated with me. I, like the monk, was enlightened. But why? It seems so simple, after you eat, wash your bowl. Focus on the task in front of you and carry it on to completion. Its what Grandma would tell you if she wasn’t holed up in her room surfing the web on her smart phone, and trolling random blogs (Hi Grandma!).
But in today’s always-moving-on-to-the-next-thing society, this is not a truth you can take for granted. And its not just dishes. I have so many incomplete tasks floating around out there, I have not only filled my mental sink with dishes, but they have spilled out to cover the counter, and I have started stacking them on the floor. Honestly, I hardly even cook anymore, I just go out to eat. Spending my time on tasks that just give the illusion of completeness, like social media, checking my blog’s stats, watching movies, et cetera.
So, from this point forward, until I get tired of it, and decide to quit mid-stream, I am going to finish what I start, and I am going to start less. I will take it one task at a time, and wash my dish slowly. Not only that, I’ll do you one better, and dry it. No. I will go all out, and put it away.
So, if you are asking yourself, what should I be doing? How do I find enlightenment? What is my purpose in life? Wash your bowl, son. Wash your bowl.
(If this sounds familiar, it may be because it is a post from my blogger blog, which is no longer active. If you followed me on blogger, you may have read it there)