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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

every day, the laundry: a tale of Buddha nature ~

I hate laundry. Really — I mean it. I once told my sons, in a fit of I’ve had it! that I would remember their childhood years as great mountains of laundry. And while I also remember games and hugs and shared confidences and the smell of baby hair, I still remember laundry, too.

It’s just that laundry NEVER GOES AWAY. It’s always there, multiplying in secret corners — a closet, a bathroom, a floor, the top of a washer… And as soon as you do it, you find stuff you missed. What can we say about that except ARGH!?

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So it’s kind of like Sisyphus, rolling the rock upwards eternally. Which even Camus casts as a kind of  Buddhist meditation: as Sisyphus accepts the inevitability of his fate, he ultimately achieves contentment, Camus says.

And that’s what happened this morning. Not that I had some moment of happiness doing the laundry, but that these past months of working consciously, in an ongoing fashion, at accepting what I can’t change, led me to see laundry as a gift. Obviously if you have a lot of laundry, you have a lot of stuff. Not so good, on one level. But on another? We’re not hurting for clothes.

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Or hot water. :) Having lived in places where hot water — or any water! — may run only 2-3 times weekly, I never take it for granted. And clean sheets — what transient bliss is better than sinking into a bed made w/ freshly laundered sheets?

If I take time, laundry becomes a meditation. Not a joy, ever — I’m not trying to change my nature! But I can rest in the actions of folding, filling washer compartments, burying my face in a warm sheet. If I work at it, I can see laundry as a fight against entropy, even. Creating order from the chaos that seems to be just one day away at our house. I remember that the Buddha said everything has Buddha nature — including actions. So the laundry has… Buddha nature?

Once I read that happiness is making peace with (even learning to enjoy) the necessary tasks of life. Laundry’s that for me. And I’m making my peace with it. At least today.

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