ContactKimbal Anderson, Sensei Komyozan@gmail.com 208-407-7590 1922 N 21st St., Boise ID, 83702
May Peace Prevail on Earth
Category Archives: Dojo cleanig
– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei
Dojo cleaning is a profound thing.
And we are so lucky that we get such participation.
One of the things that, as a teacher, I look at is: who comes and takes care of this place. Because that shows me where the dojo fits in their life. Cleaning the toilet is not as glamorous as taking a high fall, and if someone does a really good job cleaning then I know they really care.
So it’s a chance to see makoto that is not showy, has little to do with the admiration of others, and everything to do with your own admiration for your own training, that is: with your own place.
And the fact is: when you perform any kind of Tantric magic, the first thing is always cleaning. So in Shinto you think of misogi: you purify the mind-body. Being an old-school magician, I tend to think along the lines of “as above, so below”… so purification of the dojo is important because your body is the dojo, your mind is the dojo, and when you’re lying in bed at night you are in your own dojo, training.
So purification is a very important thing.
And I totally value the people who come and are willing to help. I am sometimes bemused when someone doesn’t want to do this job or they don’t want to do that job or they have some kind of funny affectation about it all, because I think: “huh! I wonder what that reflects in their own practice? Where is the resistance in their own practice?”.
There is an old story about a Zen monastery, and this very, very dedicated person comes to the monastery. He’s going to practise. He meditates very hard. He’s totally onto the path.
So he comes, and the place is dirty. And he organizes the monks and they clean it perfectly, and now he’s happy – he can meditate because it’s now nice and clean. And he comes into the meditation hall and there’s a bucket sitting by the door with water in it and a mop… and he’s a little irritated. And all the time he’s trying to meditate he’s thinking: “Who left that bucket? Who didn’t take care of this?”
So the next day the bucket’s still there, and now he’s really pissed off. He can barely keep his shit together, trying to meditate, because someone disrespected the place so much.
And the fourth day he comes. It’s still there. And he won’t even go try to meditate… …”until I find out who disrespected this place so much I’m not going to try…”
And so he makes an announcement: “Who left this bucket there?”
And the abbot comes, and says, “it was I.” And he picks up the bucket, empties it… and proceeds on his way. And he looks back at the guy and he says: “so the empty bucket’s fine… how are you?”
Because here we have so many things to do… and for myself: I work all day, and having people help me: it’s like the best thing ever. And especially, trying to hold it all together through the different eras of the dojo… we have lots of people and then no people and then participants and non-participants… and it usually comes down to the same seven or eight people who show up…
I look at Barrish Guji’s situation at the Shrine in the mountains above Seattle: people come and help do the grounds and all that… and we’ve talked over the years both about volunteers, and then finally him hiring someone whose specific job is to do that. It’s like getting a gardener: you might find someone who’s really in love with gardening and can do a great job, but in his case he had to find someone who’s going to show up on Saturday and make sure it’s done by Sunday morning before Chouhai. Because they have a schedule to keep.
In my case I have the elegance and luxury of having you guys come. And we have a good time, and we go and have coffee afterwards and all that, so it’s quite nice.
I was trying to communicate to Alana-san that her cleaning abilities are the basis of our magic! That she’s the biggest magician amongst us!
I used to have a lady come, whom I knew, who was a yogi and a Buddhist practitioner, and she would help me clean the house. Because it’s really hard for me, particularly with kids and everything… that many people just eating creates quite an uproar… Well, she would come wearing white and clean. And my bathroom… I don’t know what she did exactly… but it was different than anything I could ever do. I would go in and it was like the Spring sunshine coming in through the windows, and it’s luminous in there… it’s like: wow!
And she would not have a speck…
She told me she did mantra the whole time…
How lucky am I? And it’s great to see people who are really good at things show and do what they do.
So thank you!
– – – by Peter John Still
One thing – in the theater – I always tell assistant stage managers: sweeping the stage is a sacred act. The old mummers, in English villages 200 years ago, used to sweep their playing area before they performed – and they understood this very clearly as sweeping away the bad spirits.
The standard Shinto word for “purify” actually means “to sweep clean”.
I remember volunteering at Tsubaki Shrine – in the mountains above Seattle – for New Year’s. And after a late night welcoming folks coming to the midnight O-harahi, we would all get up early, to sweep and tidy the Shrine grounds before opening up to the public on New Year’s Day. And I remember – and I so admire – Steve Dainard-san getting up super-early – every year, year after year – before any of us, so he could rake the gravel in front of the Shrine: there’s a special pattern for doing that… I’ve done it at Komyozan when we clean the dojo, and it makes the area out front feel great even though you can’t quite put your finger on why…
And I remember in the Fall, clearing leaves from the long, uphill drive at Tsubaki Shrine – with a broom, of course – and then scattering just a few, Sen no Rikyu style, to make it look both cared for a n d as nature intended.
And cleaning the shinden at our own dojo: I love how, wetting the wood, you get to smell that fresh smell of hinoki – the traditional sacred wood…
The act of cleaning is a purifying act.
– – – by Kimbal Anderson Sensei
Cleaning’s a very profound act.
I have to do it before I do any artwork.
I try to do it between each person I work on [in my healing practice of acupuncture and massage therapy…]… we change the sheets, we do other stuff… I have a thing in the morning when I go in – now, my office is not a sterile office environment at all, but it’s homey enough… and I’m working on painting this week, so it’s like… – well, I go in every morning, and I sweep it, and I light candles, and I change the water, and change all the sheets and all that… I put on music and I get ready to begin the day.
I tell you what struck me once was when I was building Sensei’s dojo in Everett… I had built a kamidana first thing in the building, and every day we’d bring food and we’d do that thing, and I’d got my co-workers to get into it with me, and we’d always do that before we started. And I remember that we were all done, and I came one morning early because I was going to fix some little detail, and Sensei was out sweeping the sidewalk in downtown Everett: because it was his place now, and he was cleaning it…
And I was just so impressed with his spirit… you know, he was just happily… like: “Here’s my place. I’m now the guardian, and I’ll sweep the sidewalk even though in two seconds it’s going to get dirty…” But the spirit he swept it with made it clean in ways that are unique.
So that’s my rant about dojo-cleaning….