Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Zero Mindfulness

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

May I Ask You a Few Questions?

Are you familiar with those trivial and boring tasks we call chores which, one might suspect, only some perverse creator could have burdened us with?

Too familiar, right?

Well… Why are you doing them? Because they have to be done? Because they're dirty? Because mother told you that’s the way it has to be?

Sounds like you’re doing them with a self-imposed reason… Why?

Why do something for a reason? After all, reason is founded in mental programming—not reality. Even worse is that this programming is at constant odds with your will.

So the whole time you’re washing the dishes (or whatever’s on your list of household banalities) you end up focusing your mind not on dishwashing, but on:
  1. Anything except dishwashing, and/or
  2. How much you loath dishwashing.
Would you believe me if I told you it’s possible to let go of the reason, the program, and in doing so could realize that chores are a gateway through which the miraculous may reveal itself to us?

Don’t believe me? No problem. I wouldn't have believed me just a few short years ago, either. But if you should change your mind, here’s some instruction:


The key, my friend, is mindfulness. Lose your mind and become mindful. ;-)

For it is our abidance within this mindfully mindless state that the miraculous becomes manifest. Or maybe not… Maybe the so-called “miraculous” is already manifest, always has been… we’ve just been too lost in our minds to perceive it…

So regardless of any overt motive, let’s try washing the dishes just for the sake of washing the dishes. Where there exists no thought: “These have to be cleaned because…” Only the experience of, should it be put into words: “The dishes are being washed.”

Mindfulness and Due Rewards

When my parents have others over for dinner, I am almost always the person who cleans the dishes once we are done eating. While this had originally been a hassle, over time I’ve come to be quite accepting of the task. It’s far from the inconvenience it had once seemed.

There are three main reasons I see dishwashing in this light:
  1. It’s a way of thanking my parents.
  2. It’s a way of stepping away from the relentless conversation.
  3. It’s a lesson in mindfulness.
While washing the dishes during one particular get-together, my grandfather came over and patted me on the shoulder while saying that I would be blessed in the future and duly rewarded for my labor. I knew something he didn’t, so I just smiled. I couldn’t tell him everything I am now telling you.

Well… I suppose I could have. But without great explanation on my part and experience and acceptance on his, what my grandfather (or most others) wouldn’t have understood is that, aside from any future that my present actions were creating, any reward I was due was being given to me during that current progression of now-moments.

The reason being is that while on the outside I appeared to be doing the dishes, on the inside I was also doing the dishes. As I washed, my conscious awareness was honed in exclusively on what was happening right in front of me. I was at the sink in the kitchen washing the dishes. Period.

In other words, while my physical body was washing dishes, my mind was not wandering in yesterday or tomorrow or in what the 11 people in the dining room might have been discussing. My internal world was one with my external world. There was not so much a doer or a “what” being done as there was a unified experience of non-differentiable parts. There was the whole experiencing the whole as the whole.

In this space, time, chatter from the other room, people walking through the kitchen, random thoughts—it’s like there was a shallow awareness of their being there, yet at the same time had no part in this existence.

What did exist was the way the silver cap of the water filter created a spectrum of colors depending upon the angle in which I looked at it. What did exist was the reflection in the pot lid of the snowflake which hangs over the sink. What did exist was the feeling of the texture of the dishes on my hands. What did exist was the way that bubbles were rapidly formed and destroyed when the water from the faucet hit the surface of the sink. What did exist was the way the rippling water ran down the plates, as if in wavy, overlapping layers, as I lifted them vertically from the sink to the drainer.

What did exist were the many nuances of life which I ‘d never noticed before because my mental awareness had been somewhere other than aligned to my physical, now-moment experience; because I’d thought my happiness could only be found elsewhere.

In reality, the blessings created by now-moment mindfulness of the “trivialities” of life are the due reward.

Funny as it may sound to some because we’re used to hearing about it happening to athletes and soldiers and the like, I was in the zone. Not “zoned out,” but “zoned in”—while washing the dishes.


We tend to get stressed out, angered, and/or annoyed with life, wishing we were on the beach or had a better job or had more money... or had a maid. We think that when and only when our vision of a “perfect life” comes into fulfillment will we then have peace and joy and all those qualities we spend whole lives dreaming of.

While some situations or places may be more conducive to finding these than others, the truth is that the majority of situations and places which the majority of people find themselves in throughout majority of their lives don’t really matter—including those “perfect life” scenarios.

For all these long sought after qualities come from within. When our minds are aligned to our present experience, they will be wherever we are; if not, they will forever elude us.

Zero Mindfulness

With the resultant silence of mindfulness (and meditation in general), we find that no aspect of life is fundamentally “good” or “bad.” Rather, the ego driving us must define things as “good” or “bad” because it cannot comprehend the true nature of life: that everything just is. That all things—whether judged as good, bad, right, wrong, short, tall, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty—are nothing more than facets of the same whole; that whole being centered in the silent neutrality of conscious awareness.

Our egos are like number lines, you see. If we imagine plotting our judgments on such a line from -100 through 100, -100 as “monstrously bad” and 100 as “radically awesome,” we find that not once, when living with the assumption that we are that ego, do we ever see the 0 in the middle of it all—the 0 of non-ego, the 0 having no opposites, the 0 with no positive or negative, the 0 that just exists.

With mindfulness during the tasks of daily life, we take great strides toward our realization of the 0—the 0 of presence and peace, of emptiness and clarity, where life is and the “miraculous” is the rule, not the exception.

Verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu,
as translated by J.H. McDonald

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that allows the wheel to function.

We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

We fashion wood for a house,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes it livable.

We work with the substantial,
but the emptiness is what we use.

Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 2/28/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated.
1.) Be kind.
2.) Be constructive.
3.) Be coherent.
4.) No self-promotion. (Use "Comment as: Name/URL" to include your personal link.)