Karma Yoga: A Practice of Humility at the Kitchen Altar Called the Sink by Fashi Lao Yue

Posted by on October 8, 2017

Every time we act, we practice and we cannot help but act which means we are always practicing. This realization is priceless for the spiritual adept. Everything becomes worship and we become devotees adoring the Divine morning, noon, and night. Let me offer an example.

In our household we wash the dishes by hand in the kitchen sinks, one side for washing, the other for rinsing and stacking. Recently we switched to a new eco-friendly dish detergent which lacks both the aromatic scents of fruits and flowers and does not suds up. There are no foamy bubbles. After many days of noticing my inner longing for the missing scents and the foamy bubbles I decided to read the instructions on the back of the dish soap. Here they are.

TO USE: A little goes along way. Squirt a quarter-size drop of formula on sponge and wash dishes. Increase amount for heavy grease. Works beautifully as a hand soap, too.

The instructions are delightfully clear and precise. An instruction of how to use beginning with an axiom for life, a little goes along way. Much of the time, much wants more. Remember I came to read the instructions from a place of wanting the missing scents and foamy bubbles.

The direction on the dish soap went on to offer me a common image of how much is really needed to wash the dishes, a squirt the size of a quarter. And under certain conditions, i.e., heavy grease, I was directed to increase the amount. These instructions indicated that the squirt the size of a quarter was to be put on a sponge and was not to go into a sink full of water. How about that? Don’t dump the dish soap in the water put a squirt on a sponge. Remarkable! It makes sense. I need less soap on a sponge than in a sink full of water especially if I want those soapy bubbles. I’ll need to dump in a lot more soap than a squirt to get what I want in my mind’s eye. But when I am not attached to what shows up in my mind I am able to let it go and learn to follow instruction.

Reading and following the instructions on the soap bottle gave life to the axiom; a little goes a long way. This example is an act of humility and devotion at the altar in the kitchen called the sink. Learning and an open willingness to learn and change is a mark of humility. It requires a capacity to attend to what is at hand which includes attending to the instructions.

Everything, the simple daily acts of life and the more difficult, extraordinary arduous acts are the stuff of our worship. There is no special work that is better than or less than another. The hierarchy of the material world does not apply to the heavenly realms. Everything we do is our spiritual work. There is never a time when we veer off the path of spiritual awakening and take a rest from it. There are no hideouts because even in a vain attempt to hideout the requirements are the same: attention and the need for instruction; an open willingness to learn; humility.

To learn watch this 3 minute video on Everything Comes to Awaken Us by Lao di Zhi

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