Today’s Facebook feed included a post with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh.
If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert or a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert or my tea when I finally have them.
My initial reaction was to resist and argue with the concept as I approached it from my Egoic mind and emotion. I thought of the instant vs. delayed gratification argument and then went into personality typology thinking; “those SJ (Myers-Briggs) types would have no problem with this, so this means that SJ’s get a free pass when it comes to spirituality while the rest of us NP’s have to struggle to be good enough”. I recognized that my argumentativeness was my Ego’s way of resisting change, so I took another look at the quote from a different perspective.
After further consideration, I realized that what the author was saying was that “if I cannot find and surrender to the Joy in washing dishes prior to having dessert or tea, then I will not take the time to find and surrender to the Joy of the latter.” In other words, by looking forward to relaxing and enjoying dessert, I am deriving Joy from material comfort. I am operating from my Mind/Ego rather than from my Spirit. Joy is a Spiritual Principle and is not altered by the material. If I am operating in my Higher Self, Joy will remain constant rather than fluctuate.
The Ego/Mind is a master of deception. Not because it is evil or has bad intentions for us; rather, it strives to remain in control at all times, “protecting” us from perceived threats or even undesirable outcomes. This is more true when it comes to spiritual or religious matters. The mind can excel in sacrificial or disciplinary action in the name of spirituality, as long as it can remain active and in control. Thus it is easy to feel that one is being spiritual by completing an undesirable chore prior to rewarding oneself, or that it is OK to take a break as long as you are fulfilling your obligations. These are simply false religious beliefs. Self Love and Respect will motivate cleaning up as well as relaxation and Joy will be present in both.
The point of the above quotation is not the work which needs to be done, neither is it the discipline of handling more important matters first. The point is surrendering to Spirit in order to be present in the moment and abiding in Serenity, being mindful of that which is truly important and taking Joy in the moment. The author’s point in the above quote is that rushing through a chore to get to what the Ego wants to do is being led by the Ego and being spiritually unaware.
This reinforces the idea that Surrender is an exercise in our own best interest and not simply an act of obedience. Another lesson one may derive from this is that you cannot move from negative energy to positive via the Ego. No amount of “positive thinking” will convince you that doing the dishes is a delight. You must relinquish the control of your Mind and Surrender to your Higher Self.
Engaging in the activity is a start, but you must surrender to Joy and allow it to change your mind and heart. You cannot arrive at Joy through your Ego, you must bring Joy to it instead! Joy is within you, not outside of you. Remind yourself that you are Joy! you are Positive Energy, splash a little!