I was having sushi with an acquaintance in San Francisco.
Very cool guy - Google engineer, very cultured, very smart on lots of topics.
One thing came up that was fascinating to me - he did an almost-silent Zen retreat for quite a while, like a month or two. I don't remember the exact details, but I think they only spoke for 10 minutes per day, or if the Zen master spoke to them? Something like that.
Anyways, he told me that it was all surprisingly mundane at first. No huge breakthroughs, just sitting meditating, and doing lots of chores. The first thing they did every morning was to clean the temple, including the bathrooms.
Every morning, they'd clean the bathrooms. Finally, during the 10 minutes of speaking, one student asked the monk, "I understand discipline, but why do we clean the toilets every day? They don't get very dirty..."
The monk replies, "How hard is to clean a clean toilet?"
That's just it - it's not hard to clean a clean toilet. A dirty toilet is incredibly hard to clean and incredibly unpleasant. But in life, if you get into the habit of doing mildly unpleasant things early, they don't become massively unpleasant things later.
I think about that expression a lot. "How hard is it to clean a clean toilet?"
Not very hard. I try to keep in this mind with my cleaning and maintenance of things.
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