C'mon Inner Peace… I Don't Have All Damn Day
Years ago while living in Manhattan I attempted to learn Buddhism, Zen Buddhism to be exact.
I was gifted a book written by one of those Zen dudes whose name I can’t pronounce; That Niche Han… no.
Umm? Thich Nhat Hanh
The book said when you wash the dishes you must “WASH THE DISHES”.
So I did.
I washed those filthy, dirty, dishes, and waited for the magic.
I was even more disappointed when I took them out of the dishwasher; only to find there was still no magic coming from that silly machine as if I was waiting for a Buddha genie to pop out of the steam and grant me the gift of instant clarity.
Then I washed the laundry… but there was no inner peace jumping out at me from those fresh smelling sheets either.
This was the end of my attempt at becoming enlightened, and decided to call the cleaning lady.
My second attempt came a decade later while attending college in Florida. I was forced to fulfill a world religions class requirement.
For an Agnostic like myself, this seemed to be a curious theme to require our educated youth to partake in, but I was open minded enough to learn what in the world people fight wars over… at the very least.
I had looked forward to the Buddhism section of this course but its explanation of it was bleak, and dark. It was a complete turn off to anyone seeking a place in the world of spirituality.
So, again, I left the idea of Buddhism behind me.
Two years ago though, while surfing online for something new to do; I found this amazing brunch spot with rave reviews in Tampa.
The Buddhist temple (don’t even ask me to pronounce the name, something like… Wat Mongolian) sits along the beautiful Palm River and has an outdoor buffet style Thai brunch each Sunday.
Thai food… and brunch?
Hello, these are two of my favorite things on the planet.
So I headed over to my new cultural chic brunch destination, with little regard to the spirituality of the temple itself. Kick ass, authentic Thai food was the only thing on my mind.
I got much more than Thai food though. A shallow endeavor such as brunch changed my world forever.
On that day, I did the obligatory yoga pose for “tree” as a photo-op in front of the temple for Facebook. I took off my shoes, went inside the temple, kneeled down… and felt like I was home.
I vowed to give this “peace” business one last try.
Since Buddhists (thankfully) don’t have any real opinion of “GOD”, and their main goal in life is to simply end suffering, I thought “well, I guess I will be washing a lot of dishes”.
I could try to follow the path laid out by Siddhartha, and maybe I too could be as happy as the guy waiting for his belly to be rubbed at the door of Chinese restaurants with an elated grin.
Little by little, the readings started to make sense.
“Holy crap!” you have to WASH THE DISHES!!!
Why? Because when you put all your intention into feeling the water and washing each dish, you don’t have other thoughts about your bills, or what that jackass said at the grocery store on your way home from work.
You are focused on “WASHING THE DISHES”.
There is a Zen saying, “If you are depressed you are thinking about the past, and if you have anxiety, you are thinking about the future”, but the goal is to stay living in the NOW.
Here you are, reading these words. NOW.
You are safe, you are alive, and nothing can be done about the past or the future.
You are… NOW.
That is all that matters, and with that comes PEACE.
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