Friday, October 1, 2010

Sweeping at the Guest House

With only two residents still, and plenty of staff to attend to their needs, my days volunteering at the newly renovated Zen Hospice Guest House have been quite an adjustment from  the earlier busyness on the Laguna Honda ward. Yesterday was no exception. No sitting at the bedside of the residents. I was asked to sweep the back porch instead. Of course, expecting mind had ideas of its own, about what I should be doing as a hospice volunteer. Bedrock of wisdom acknowledged the thought, and dismissed it quickly, before it had a chance to turn into irritation. Different conditions were calling for sweeping, and that's all.

Sweeping meditation . . . breathing in, breathing out with each back and forth of the broom. Eyes engaged with the tiny leaves and twigs to be brushed away. And the joy of oh! so soft breeze in this very special place. 
Whatever we do, whether we write a book or chop carrots, it only matters how we do it. Most people believe writing a book is much more important than chopping vegetables. But whenever we act with total mindfulness and let go of our desire for results - which is easier when chopping carrots than when writing a book - we are observing the Buddha's guidelines. It's not 'I' who am doing it, it's just something that needs to be done. That's a useful criteria for any activity. The 'I' that enters the scene is the old troublemaker, creating all sorts of waves of emotions, which do not bring a happy and tranquil mind.
~ Ayya Khema, Be an Island ~
What needs to get done in your life, at this moment?


  1. "The real work in life is doing what needs to be done, no more and no less." Lama Surya Das

    Good day, Marguerite :-) It feels good to read your blogpost. Added this quote I like a lot.

    What needs to get done in my life, at this moment?

    Hmm, just now it´s easy to enjoy the gift of internet communication! But your post also fits to a practice Im into. Every time I think "should" "must" or "have to" I remind myself to look within whether there is an - Inner Willingness - or not. If there is, then it needs to get done at this moment. If not, then not.

    with Patience & Trust,

  2. I remember as I kid I was required to sweep, and I usually would sweep the floor thrice, each morning and evening ... taking care of little details. Looking back I see that was the best time of the day, the absorption.

    I worked on, got a degree and some material success later, but I liked the honesty in the work, it used to shine forth

  3. Yes, Doris, 'What needs to be done' - such a powerful line to hang on to in times of doubt!

    Thank you for your gift of your sustained spiritual friendship.

    With loving kindness,


  4. Pooja, thank you for sharing those sweet images from your childhood. For me, it was time spent on my grandparents' farm . . .

    The head gets too much air time in our lives . . .

    So much honesty in simple tasks, as you point out.

    In the end, it's all the same, isn't it?

  5. You are so welcome, TY,

    sincerely, doris