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Lions Roar : March 2014
not what is really there. What is there is complete immer- sion: self and broom and sweeping; self and child and play; self and computer and problem solving. The trick is discerning the difference both in others and in ourselves. Sometimes looking out the window is active engagement and typing madly is not; sometimes the reverse is true. How can we tell the difference? Yunyan says, “Oh, come on now, you’re saying that there are two moons.” He thinks he’s caught Daowu: “Aha! You’re saying there are two realities: the reality of your being busy and the reality of your being not-busy.” In the Zen tradition, the moon in the sky stands for true reality, and the second moon—the one we see reflected in the water—is our idea of reality. Here, Yunyan is implying that when Daowu says there is one who is not busy, he is actually separating his sweeping activity from the concept of being one with the wholeness of life. Daowu holds up the broom and says, “Which moon is this?” He brings it back to no-separation: even in our most involved, focused activity, right there is the balanced one, the leisurely one. It is in our actual activity, in our intimacy with all aspects of this moment, that we are whole. Who has not felt, in a moment of great activity such as creating, serving, giving, or holding, both the energy and the aliveness of the activity and at the same time the lei- sure, the ease, the simple movement? It is not poky and not frenetic; it is the smooth and unhurried quality of doing each thing at exactly the right moment—not too fast, not too slow, but at just the right moment. It actually has nothing to do with fast or slow; it has to do with the whole body connecting to reality itself. We heal, we listen, we hold a hand, we find a solution or a way around a difficult problem, we draw a line, we make a sound, we make a meal, we clean a space, we give an honest answer or a steady hand up. Sometimes just the presence of our body sitting with someone when they are down, blocked, upset, locked up, or dying (or even dead) is the full-on activity that is needed. This is true intimacy with our work of the moment, an intimacy with who we are and what we do, whether we are cleaning toilets or waiting tables or designing software or making art or playing music or teaching or whatever. Just the other day I was watching a young man working the back of a garbage truck, swinging up and down from the truck, picking up sacks of garbage, and manipulating the controls of the compressor. His whole body was synchro- nized, like a dance—utter involvement, aliveness. Of course, not all work is like this. There will always be How to Make All Your Work Meaningful Whether you’re waiting tables or washing laundry, meditating or making art, the key is always to savor the task at hand. IND A CALM SPACE and sit comfortably. Try to view what you experience as neither bad nor good. Sit at ease and let the sounds in. Feel your body; allow the sensations in your body to be present and not blocked off. Include everything in your experience (annoying or not); allow all of it to arise. Without the veneer of opinion, preconception, and explanation, find the place of intimacy within yourself. Once you do, you’re like a tuning fork. Everything is fresh. Now you are ready for the exercises. Exercise for Working Alone or with a Group Set a timer for ten minutes. Try to write continuously for the whole time without stopping to look back or edit what you’ve written. Write about effort in terms of the kind of effort you exert at home, at work, and in your community. Consider how your life and the quality of your effort affects those with whom you are connected. Set the time for another ten minutes. Write about being intimate and wholehearted in your work. Under what conditions do you enjoy your work? Again, try to write continuously for the whole time, without stopping to look back or edit what you’ve written. If you are working alone, look at what you’ve written and notice how it makes you feel. Did you learn anything about yourself? Did anything surprise you? If you are working in a group, invite people to share what they have written or understood. Exercise for Working with a Partner or in a Group Working in Pairs Sit facing each other. Take a moment to quiet your body and breath. Set a timer for five minutes. The questioner asks, “What stops you from being intimate with your work?” After each answer, the questioner says, “Thank you,” and repeats the question. The questioner’s role is just to be a witness. It’s best not to coach with facial expressions; very calmly, with a relaxed face, take in the oth- er’s continuum of awareness. The dialogue might sound something like this: Q: What stops you from being intimate with your work? A: There are so many interesting distractions. Q: Thank you. What stops you from being intimate with your work? A: I’m impatient for results. Q: Thank you. What stops you from being intimate with your work? When the timer rings, reset it for another five minutes and switch roles. When the time is up, open a discussion of impressions and discoveries. ♦ From Most Intimate, by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2014 56