Taking care of the temple

Amida Mandala hallwayRemember that at any given moment there are a thousand things you can love.  ~ David Levithan

This morning I lugged plant pots up and down two flights of stairs, washed slippers, tidied out some drawers and cleaned away drifts of incense dust, and it made me very happy.

It’s been too long since Kaspa & I have been available to ask the sangha to join us in a ‘taking care of the temple’ morning. These are the times when we look at the long list of jobs to do around the house and in the garden, and we tick things off one by one.

There is a great satisfaction in seeing a shiny desk and a swept porch, and it is lovely to work alongside other community members. But this is what really made me happy this morning: I was cleaning the Buddha’s house.

It is easier to remember the sacred nature of the objects around us when they are close to something we care deeply about. I take extra pleasure in setting a vase of fresh flowers on my office shrine next to the golden Buddha who watches me as I type, and I love knowing that the cleaning we do in the temple hallway will be seen and appreciated by all who use this space.

Once we get the hang of seeing things in this way, though, we can extend the ‘shrine space’ to infinity. We can replace the candles on the Buddha’s main shrine, hoover the Buddha’s carpet, clean the Buddha’s porch, weed the Buddha’s car-park, pick up litter from the Buddha’s pavement, make an offering to the homeless man sitting in the Buddha’s alleyway, send money to those who need food in the Buddha’s far-away city…

For me, the Buddha reminds me to love things – to clean and tidy as an offering, and to feel it a privilege to do so. What reminds you to take care of things? Your children? Your beautiful garden? How can you increase the size of the pool of love around these objects? How can you find a thousand, a million things to love?