Zen and Daily Life

by cheri block

Rice must be washed before it can be cooked. We here in the US buy our rice already washed and ready to be steamed.

Washing rice is laborious and mundane.

Joko, a Zen master,  makes the point that we must honor instead of resent the banal tasks that animate life. Washing rice can be an honored ritual. It is all in the way we approach our daily obligations.

For those of us with too much to do, this advice is tough to take.

How can we enjoy emptying the dishwasher?

Folding laundry? Commuting? Balancing accounts?

We each have our own list.

Finding meaning and maybe even a little joy in the obligatory tasks of life creates order and purpose.

Washing rice.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Zen and Daily Life

  1. I wouldn’t say this is the secret to happiness but I don’t think you can be truly happy until you understand this simple concept. Thanks, Cheri!

  2. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    Aho. May you walk in balance.

  3. Cyberquill says:

    I always wash my rice. I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do. Now you’re telling me it’s already been washed. WTF?

  4. Cheri,

    I am trying to be more accepting of the mundane parts of my life through my yoga practice. I succeed about half the time. My husband likes the routine so there you go. Now I say, “I think you do a much better job with this or that.” I think he’s on to me.

    Is it hard for you to do the daily routines?

  5. sledpress says:

    When I went into my full-time massage business, several people –meaning well — badgered me to get a linen or laundering service to wash and fold sheets for me. At other times, people have suggested that since I work out of my home I should hire maids. These would all be chargeable against tax, supposedly making sense.

    But I hated the idea of treating an intrinsic part of my work — the provision of fresh sheets for my clients to lie on — as a menial chore to be farmed out to someone whose time was, theoretically, “worth less than mine.” I had seen what becomes of doctors, to pick one glaring example in the “caring” professions, whose time is considered so valuable that they rapidly lose any sense of belonging even to the same race as the rest of us.

    And I would never put the broom that sweeps my house in someone else’s hand, when some of the songs (I used to perform in coffeehouses) and poems that mean the most to me have risen up in my mind when I was doing the rhythmic motions of sweeping, or cleaning glass, or drying dishes.

    I had not encountered Zen, to speak of, when I originally came to these attitudes. It might be something that goes with being susceptible to physical rhythms.

    • Cheri says:

      Oh my, what a poetic comment. Lovely and true, especially the words about the broom.
      I will consider the broom when sweeping my porch this Thanksgiving morning.
      Thank you for taking your time to add these thoughts to my post.

  6. There are so many small things to be done that can become quite irritating unless you accept their necessity that not washing rice has been largely compensated.
    As my grandson teenage would say, let’s be cool.

  7. Cheri says:

    Yes, Douglas. Thanks for reminding me about Waldo’s quotation.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  8. Geraldine says:

    An Asian friend advised my family once to wash rice even though it comes pre-washed because doing so makes it fluffier.

    And this ‘fluff’ makes all the difference…..

    • Cheri says:

      Well, I shall try that, Geraldine. I’m surprised that no one has ever told me this before (probably because I didn’t ask…).
      Most of my business is comprised of Chinese and Indian families; you’d think that conversation might have come up in the last 14 years.

      Thank you!

      Fluffy and sticky…great rice combination.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you…

  9. zeusiswatching says:

    I gave this post an “excellent”, and I “liked” the post. This post is making me think, and even feel unsatisfied with the choice it seems to require I make. Of course, that isn’t what you intended to do with this post, but the good news is that you have disturbed my perfect view of life.

    I have been thinking about this post, and I have mixed, troubled feelings about the washing rice, mundane tasks business. I’m still thinking about this too. I’ll get back to you with my thoughts.

  10. jenny says:

    Just checking in from Sankt-Peterburg (a very un-Zen place) to say Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

  11. Cheri says:

    Will you and your daughter be having turkey and stuffing?

    I’m trying my best to enjoy chopping the celery, onions, garlic..adding the sage, apples, and hot sausage…

    Thanks for the good wishes. I just know you are having a blast of something.

  12. Man of Roma says:

    Wondering how was the turkey and how strong the Bloody Marys. And our Philippine acquaintances always say to wash rice at least 2-3 times even if it is pre-washed, which seems to confirm Geraldine’s experience. But I still have to learn a bit how to honour the trite tasks of life, I’ll admit.

  13. Cheri says:

    Hello G,
    The meal–with help from family–turned out scrumptious. The turkey was moist, the stuffing crispy, and the apple pie tangy.
    Bloody Mary’s were spicy. By the end of the night, I crashed and my feet thanked me for putting them in bed.

    Hope all is well across the seas…

  14. wkkortas says:

    While her epitaph may not have been Masters’ strongest effort, the good Ms. Matlock was correct when she asserted that it takes life to love Life.

  15. Cheri says:

    Lucinda’s epitaph was recited five times yearly for 26 years in my public school service.

    Thank you for reminding me of lines I had neglected to think about.

    Now what would she have said about procrastination?

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