This morning I taught Dhamma to novice monks and after lunch I prepared my robes to wash by machine. I went to the building with washing machines; it is a public place for monks and novices living here at Wat Doi Saket. The washing machines are about 500 meters from my room.
When I was walking to get there, I thought of a question about clean and dirty. “Why must I as a human wash robes every week like this?”. After I thought of the first question, I got more and more questions about this. When I got there, all of the washing machines where being used, so I decided to wash them by hand at my room.
I brought the robes back to my room and also brought those questions to contemplate. I started to think about the teachings and the beliefs that I have studied to support my doubts. First, I thought of the idea from Buddhism that we have two parts, body and mind, for each human being.
After I got to my room, I prepared the things for hand washing. I continued my thoughts:
“Body and mind are both able to be cleaned and get dirty but in different ways. The body gets clean by taking a shower or by washing and it gets dirty by sweat, dust, smoke or other things. How the body gets clean and how it gets dirty, is easy to see with your eyes. The mind, on the other hand, is not like that because how the mind gets clean and dirty are not easy to see with human eyes but we can see them by using ‘wisdom’ eyes”.
When I was washing the robes in the bath room, questions, ideas, doubts, and answers came up on the thoughts as a cycle:
“Now I’m washing the robes which are used for the body. Whatever they got dirty from, they have to be cleaned by water with a machine wash or hand washing. How about the mind? How does it get dirty and how can it be cleaned?”
I stopped washing and tried to remember about the teachings of Buddhism that I have studied. I remembered this:
“According to the teaching, the mind of human beings can be cleaned and can get dirty but it does not get dirty from the things like the body does. The mind gets dirty from the things coming through seeing, hearing, smelling, eating, tasting, and touching. How about my mind? How can I clean my mind at the same I am cleaning my robes? The teachings tell that we must clean it with Dhamma, but how?”
The doubts came more and more. Then I figured out how to stop these thoughts. “Thinking-norh..Thinking-norh..Thinking-norh” and “Doubting-norh..Doubting-norh..” ; this is one way to meditate. And then I finished washing.
After I brought the robes to hang out, I knew that all the times my thoughts came up meant I made my mind get dirty from the doubts, thoughts, and many questions created. However, everything can be both good and bad. So if we know the way to get the good and the bad from each thing, we can get it. It depends on what you want, how you get it, and where you get from. Considering the doubts, thoughts, and questions happening to me today, they seemed good but it also meant I was making my mind dirty until I was able to settle my mind. Usually, every day we get a lot of garbage that our mind has to process.
Today, my robes got dirty but I washed them with water and my hands. My mind got dirty and I washed it with the Dhamma and knowledge; a way of meditation.
By Phra Maha Ake
Read more from Phra Ake