Soji (掃除): A Meditation on Zen Cleaning by Shoukei Matsumoto
A Meditation on Zen Cleaning
In Japan, cleaning is called ‘Soji’ and valued as a way to cultivate our minds. In fact, Soji is beyond mere cleaning. Buddhist monks in a monastery put more time into practicing Soji than into practicing Zen meditation. Actually, Zen is not only about meditation but about your whole life.
A monk’s day begins with cleaning. We sweep the temple grounds and gardens and polish the temple building. We don’t do this because it’s dirty or messy. We sweep dust to remove our worldly desires. We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments.
One important thing Soji practice tells us is that we never complete cleaning. Just as leaves begin to fall right after you sweep, desires begin to accumulate right after you refresh your mind. We continue cleaning the gloom in our hearts, knowing that we will never end it.
How can you change your daily housework into an opportunity to contemplate yourself? I recommend that you have your own ritual when you start cleaning. In my case, I give prayer and chant a short mantra to a little Buddha statue before cleaning. Once you make it your daily routine, it protects you from evils. This is the power of routine.
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