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Lions Roar : November 2018
an ordinary nature, including washing dishes, cleaning toilets, mopping floors, cooking, and doing laundry. The teacher is also ordinary. There is nothing for the teacher to be or show other than the ordinariness of life and how to embrace it. If there is any status thinking and being, that is an inevitable tangling of our worldly views and the path of enlightenment. For me, a dark-skinned person of African descent, cleaning the temple ZEN PRACTICE IS A RETURN to the ordinary. It is only in the secular world that Zen is perceived by some as a high and holy practice. The robes are seen as holy, but there is no holiness in Zen. Every- thing that is done in the temple is of FROM WHERE I SIT Sweeping My Heart When ZENJU EARTHLYN MANUEL was assigned to clean the Zen temple, she felt generations of oppression rise in her. Conversing with her ancestors about what this work really meant helped her see how it could be healing. as Zen practice felt inappropriate and uncomfortable when I was at the begin- ning of my training. When you are an older black woman and a young white man tells you how to mop the floor during work period, the experience is akin to being a maid or a reminder of slavery. Ordinary temple work is the kind of labor often relegated in this country to folks of color and poor peo- ple. It is work that can ensure a lower rank in society. CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE ZENJU EARTHLYN MANUEL is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and the author of Sanctuary: A Meditation on Home, Homelessness, and Belonging. ARAKIKOMAN LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2018 11