Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

phosphate-free dishwashing detergent and post-holiday clarity ~

We don’t use phosphates in our dishwasher. They cause algae bloom, and lower the oxygen in water, suffocating fish if the bloom is excessive. But their replacements — phosphate-free detergents —  transform your originally clear and/or white dishes into cloudy, powder-covered trophies of environmentalism.


I’m making peace with that. But I had this epiphany today, as I made a blueberry smoothie in the new blender. Trust me, it has to do w/ beginner’s heart :).

Pre-holiday, my husband bought me a new blender — breast-cancer pink, in honour of my sister’s survivorship. (We were still using the blender from our wedding!)  The new  blender jar  is a lovely clear polycarbonate — so clear it’s like looking through mountain air. It almost disappears between the pink lid and the pink base.


I’m washing it in the sink, right after emptying the dishwasher of the phosphate-deprived glassware, each piece clouded and fogged w/ powdery residue. And I stop, as the whole Buddha-in-the-dishes realisation hits me. I know, it’s obvious. But somehow, seeing the crystal clear blender makes it real, tangible: with the accretions of life in the fast lane, too much work, and not enough outside breathing, I’ve become clouded.  The holidays, w/ their Amazon wish lists and lengthy to-do notes and laundry and dishes and cooking and wrapping and mindlessness have only exacerbated it all. Like the glasses given to me — once transparent, now pitted and fogged with salts — I’m dimmer and far less clear.

So I’m trying to figure out what the environmentally correct spiritual equivalent of phosphates is. There’s a Tibetan parable, about a stone picked up by a monk. He shows it to his student, then dips it in water. For a moment the stone’s colours bloom: mica and garnet in the metamorphosed schist. But as the water evaporates, the stone dulls, and returns to dull grey. Maybe all I need is something as ordinary as water. As gentle, as powerful. Something to bring me back to my original nature. Like the breath, followed to its resting place :). Or the contemporary koan of a blender jar, phosphates, and our inner Buddha nature…



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jack

    Why not wash the dishes by hand? Simple and Zen clear.

    • brittongildersleeve

      Jack, that’s very funny. It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing lately! At least the glasses…:)

  • Phyllis

    I tried to find peace with the new “phosphate free” dishwasher detergents but gave up on them because they don’t work. Luckily I discovered Bubble Bandit with phosphate online and now my clean dishes are back!

    • brittongildersleeve

      I’m so glad for you! Clear glasses :)

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