One of the things that makes the Monastery the "Mother Ship" of Practice is how Conscious Compassionate Awareness is embodied in day-to-day life. There are countless ways things are done here that make a person (who is paying attention) stop and say, "Oh, that makes such perfect sense," or "Wow, what a kind way to treat one's tools/towels/plants/people." The utter practicality coupled with deep care in daily living that is exemplified at the Monastery is, for me, a powerful draw to this Practice. Through the years of attending retreats at the Monastery, I wanted to embody that care as I raised a family and lived my daily life out in the world.
Now that I live at the Monastery, I find I am still impressed by the conscious compassionate actions that go into daily living and would like to share a few of these with you. In my perspective, they flow from a deep understanding of "Everything is the Buddha," that is, that everything counts, everything matters.
The Garden Chalet houses many useful gardening tools and supplies. It also is the nighttime home of Francis, our cat-monk. Pieces of plywood were clamped over the screen part of the door so that Francis would not slip out at night, potentially putting himself in danger. Because the boards put added stress on the door's frame, a reminder is posted for us to take care when opening and closing the door. A kindness for all.
One summer, we found birds nesting in the eaves outside the dorm. It was a perfect place to live from the birds' perspective, but their droppings made a terrible mess on the air conditioning unit directly underneath. For the sake of the a/c and the sensitivities of the humans, we covered the unit with newspaper that year, and the next season put in place a deterrent in the form of these aluminum foil streamers that send a gentle message to the birds, "Not here, please." Being the intelligent, cooperative creatures they are, the birds built their nests elsewhere, leaving the cooler clean and the humans happy.
To keep bacteria from growing in our kitchen towels and dish-washing implements, we use clothespins to hang them outside to dry on a towel rack. This procedure is fine for towels but was hard on our Scrubbies, whose mesh cover could not withstand all that pinning and unpinning. A simple solution was found by hanging a little Scrubbie basket on the towel rack, giving it a nice gentle way to dry in the sun.
From a content perspective, everything is the Buddha. Francis is the Buddha. The door frame is the Buddha. The birds and the a/c unit are the Buddha. A Scrubbie is the Buddha. The people are the Buddha.
From a process perspective, everything is the Buddha. The Intelligence that inspired the sign, the streamers, the basket, and the ways and means to manifest them in this little corner of the world IS the Buddha – the enlightenment that is the Source-of-All.
What a joy to participate in life as a cell in the body of the Buddha!