[the image - a kitty litter, of course]
I haven't felt very inspirational lately. But this morning as I was scraping Sheba's box, I thought, I am being very Zen. Why? Because working with shit is inherently unpleasant, but avoiding it leads to worse, to smells and maybe bad cat behavior. In scraping the box every day I am in touch with the reality of cause and effect. And I am doing a fundamental (sorry about the pun) job, just doing the work without making a big deal of my preference, which is for far different fragrances.
After that I washed my hands (more karmic thoughts) and went about putting on my minimalist eye makeup. I thought to leave off the strokes of blush I like to use, so the doctor could see my honest coloring. How Zen, I thought. I am fully present here, not running on automatic.
Then again, I know people who would think wearing any makeup was very not-Zen. They might be outside Zen, or might be meditators or lapsed meditators. They have ideas about the severity for which Zen is famous. They show up a lot in sanghas, I suspect, the same way there was a good number of Ideational Christians in Youth for Christ when I was a youthful Christian. A conversion experience, and a good one for me, in the end. I'd like to write about it some day. But for now I'll stick to the bathroom mirror.
Giving myself a last check I caught myself smiling, and thought, I like myself. Well. That should go down in the annals of psychology, as well as meditation. It was a long way there from the way I learned to see myself in childhood. Liking Wunself - some would think that's not proper Zen. They would confuse it with ego, with self-absorption.
What was it we thought Zen was, before we got deeply involved? Form, robes, silence, all that lovely bowing and chanting. Wearing a mala around your wrist. Having the neatest, cleanest damn house you ever saw. But in fact, a real meditation practice gradually slowly reveals to you that you are just like everyone else, that we are all alright.
It is the easiest thing to be attached to ideas, zillions of them, about how we and others ought to be. So many of those ideas have nothing to do with an ethical life, but are just there, just conditioned assumptions learned some time long ago. Subtle little ideas like, really religious people don't wear lipstick. Like, enlightened people always answer their e-mail or wear black or don't eat and watch television at the same time. Don't watch television at all. Ah, it sounds like a nice quiet life, but it is not my life. I have my own life. That's the essence of Zen.