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Dec 05
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Stages of Realization…

photo credit: Locator via photopin cc

photo credit: Locator via photopin cc

…on the Path of Cleaning

COLUMN: Kitchen Wisdom
by Julia Persch, Karme Choling

Cleaning, dish shifts and other regular rota assignments are just a part of living at a retreat center. In this missive from Karme Choling, Julia Persch shares stages of realization for the path of cleaning.

The Infant of the Setting Sun
We only clean because otherwise there will be dire consequences: locked kitchens, no access to pantries and fridges, fear, blame, shame and conflict.

The Infant of the Rising Sun
We clean up after ourselves as a personal discipline and practice, given by our elders and teachers. We don’t quite know why we do it, but we trust that there might be some wisdom in it.

The Young Adult on the Path of Virtue
We clean from a position of self-respect and positive pride, taking adult responsibilities for our lives and our environment and to be a virtuous example for infants.

The Warrior
We clean out of joy and the wish to make others happy. When we clean we envision how others will enjoy using the space afterwards, how a sad or angry person might feel better by entering the room, how satisfying and inspiring it is to find things clean and in order. We know that cleaning is a kindness and an offering to others.

The Drala of Interconnectedness
The Sakyong says that the stove is the heart of the house and that it is wise to keep it clean at all times. The Sakyong and Sakyong Wangmo propagate cleaning as a vital practice in retreat and in our daily lives in order to invite the enlightened energy of drala in our surroundings, in ourselves and in our society.

In the light of drala energy, cleaning the stove means purifying our own heart. Because we are interconnected, all cleaning activities enhance the life force of our community, bringing harmony to the environment and auspiciousness to the present moment.

As Thrangu Rinpoche describes in Vivid Awareness: The Mind Instructions of Khenpo Gangshar:

“The Tibetan word for prostration is chhaktsal. The first syllable, chhak, means to sweep or clean – to clean up all the dust. Meditating is a bit like cleaning: we want to find the nature of our mind, but it is hidden by all our coarse afflictions and bad thoughts. The meaning of the syllable chhak is that we are sweeping away those obscurations. The second syllable, tsal, means to request something. It is like saying, ‘I am going to meditate, and through doing the practice I would like to realize the nature of the mind.’ This is a prayer to realize the nature of the mind.”

In an effort to share the wisdom that many of us experience in our daily lives, meals, and our own kitchens, this column will be including voices from around the sangha, Please continue to join us as we expand our view and hear the many voices of Kitchen Wisdom.

To read other entries in this column, please see: Kitchen Wisdom.

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3 responses to “ Stages of Realization… ”
  1. Evan Silverman
    Dec 13, 2014

    Thank you for this article, Julia!

  2. Susie Cook
    Dec 12, 2014

    Love it! Thank you

  3. I believe the late Shibata Sensei always told his students that the blessings go to the people who clean up. Though that might sound like a treat for a dog type of psychology one can never take the risk of abandoning the possibility. There will be more on this topic in my forthcoming ebook intro to: Simmer Gently: the contemplatives cookbook. Thanks for this article as in a kitchen there is always something to clean.

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