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Thursday, May 07, 2009

A Swept Floor Never Stays Clean.

By Arnie Kozak

If you sweep the patio in November after leaves have fallen, you wouldn’t expect it to stay clean forever. The patio is like the mind. Mindfulness meditation practice can feel like sweeping the mind and clearing away the thoughts strewn about making a big mess.

It’s easy to get caught up in resistance and resentment toward these leaves: “Damn it, I just swept that floor!” Despite our protests, nature has another idea. Nature doesn’t care if we’ve swept the patio or how long it took us to do it. In the same way, the mind has its nature and it doesn’t really care about your agenda. The mind will continue to do what it does: give rise to thoughts. If we expect the mind to stay “swept,” we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Meditation will not “fix you”; it will not change things once and for all. Nothing can do this. Our job is to keep sweeping. Thoughts will continue to come and blow onto your clean-swept patio. Just sweep. No need to ask questions. No need to complain. Keep sweeping. We don’t need to analyze, interpret, or fix the leaves; time after time, we just need to sweep, returning to this moment just as it is, again, again, again.

With continued practice, we can start to recognize the wisdom in not reacting, or if reactions arise (as they sometimes will) of not amplifying them and feeding them. We can learn to enjoy the coming and going of the leaves—and even of the endless sweeping as well!

–Arnie Kozak, from Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants (Wisdom Publications).

~Peace to all beings~

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18 comments:

Spiv said...

Wonderful sentiment, and a good reminder that I have some "sweeping" to do.

Linda-Sama said...

love this!

mikethepikey said...

I am having real difficultly 'sweeping the path of the mind' currently. Sometimes one can get to the stage when times and hard and one thinks, 'I really can't bothered trying.' At the moment I feel like I have too much going on in my life to make time for mindfulness. I know this goes against all the theory in the many books on the topic I have read, but this is truly and honestly how I feel at the moment.

Hoe can you sweep when you barely have the energy to stand?

Mike

http://canyouwalkonthericepaper.blogspot.com/

Tallis Grayson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallis Grayson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tallis Grayson said...

Sorry James I keep on screwing up my comment. What I wanted to say is:

Blowing leaves. Very nice.

I am reminded of a zen story of a boy who rakes a lawn getting every last leaf. The Master says to the boy, "Something is not quite right." The boy puts a few of the leaves back. The Master smiles.

They call him James Ure said...

Spiv: Me too

Mike: I'm in a similar place right now but I keep trying to remind myself of something Lama Surya Das said on Twitter the other day:

"When you don't know what to do, try doing nothing. Something will come up."

Tallis:

No problem. I like your Zen story as well. What a great reminder that nothing is "perfect" or fits perfectly our visions of "how things should be."

Thanks for adding that story to the post.

TheSewerrat said...

bit like witchcraft using the broom?.

i think they use the broom for that as well?.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Sewerrat, bizarre comment. What does sweeping leaves or Buddhism have to do with your fairytale concept of witchcraft?

Rebecca :) said...

I really liked this. I shared it with my two sisters and mother. I think it will be a useful reminder to have handy as we continue to grieve the loss of my father. Thanks.

Mark said...

Like others here, I really like this post. It reminds us (as Dory does from FINDING NEMO) to maintain perseverance. Whether it's sweeping or swimming, we must always remember to never give up our practice no matter how much progress we feel we've made.

Mark said...

Like others here, I really like this post. It reminds us (as Dory does from FINDING NEMO) to maintain perseverance. Whether it's sweeping or swimming, we must always remember to never give up our practice no matter how much progress we feel we've made.

Reymiland said...

sewerrat..I get it!

The broom for Wicca is but a tool to obtain a result as the broom for the mind of Zen is a tool to obtain a result.

A sidethought: My kitty jumped on my lap just as I was writing this comment and demanded attention.

"Some things are more important than others!" I told him..



..and proceeded to give him a tummy rub and loving kiss until he was satisfied. Then I finished this comment. He helps me sweep my mind of the leaves once in awhile.

Blessed Be!
Nameste!

bob knab said...

Greetings __________________

* cleaningthefloor

By learning
to clean the floor
we learn
to clean the body *

By learning
to clean the body
we learn
to clean the mind *

By learning
to clean mind
we learn
to become mindful *

By becoming
mindful
we realize
enlightenment *

All
by learning
to clean
the floor *

Blessings _ http://bobknab.blogspot.com/

Tao1776 said...

A friend of mine recently dug up some flagstone that was left over from a neglected flower garden. When the garden was well tended the flowers would look like a picture in surrounded by a well crafted frame. Now the stones were covered with weed and the flowers have long since perished.
It is true that we must continue to tend the mind. Continue/practice; to keep on keeping on. Neglect will produce weeds!

Kiwi said...

for me it's like a washing machine. Thoughts are the clothes - the machine is the mind or the sixth sense. The machine stays on day in day out - and meditation is akin to a power off button.

www.freedomforchina.co.uk said...

I think the trick to meditation is giving up attachments, because we're normally thinking about some interpersonal friction or bill payment, etc. but when we take things lightly less stuff pops up in the mind - the root issue i reckon. A mind that's holding onto alot of stuff will think of lots of stuff too. Dats my pennies worth added to the discussion. respect for this buddhist blog i went to HH's monastery in france, it was so peaceful and good there i didn't wanna leave chillin out wid da monks over there! honest! :)

miracle_tke said...

I have had a recurring problem with hate, due to my loss in a family business situation.

Some times it is difficult to get the hate gone.

3. If I relive loss, I live in hate.

Focusing on now, not talking about the past or others, has helped with not thinking of the past or others.

What suffering am I feeling now, and how do I end it.

What cultivating can be done now for contentment.

There is no tomorrow, their is only today, make nirvana today.

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