Most Venerable Senior Bhikkhuni
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
There are many ways to help unravel the confusion of the mind. A basic quality which is extremely useful for us all to develop in this lifetime is what is traditionally called mindfulness. Normally, whenever we do something, we are thinking of many other things at the same time. I will give an example. There is a Vietnamese monk called Thich N hat Hanh who talks about washing dishes in order to wash dishes. Normally when we have a sink full of dishes, our thought is that we will wash these dishes, then we’ll get clean dishes and they will be out of the way and then we can do something else. And so, when we wash the dishes, we are trying to get it over with as quickly as possible. While we’re washing the dishes we are thinking of something we did in our childhood, or something somebody said yesterday, what we’re going to do later in the day, or what our spouse said to us yesterday and what we should have said back, or we worry about the children or the financial situation in Singapore, whatever. What we are not thinking about is the dishes. Now this would not be so important a point, except that the next thing we do, which might even be something nice like having a cup of coffee and biscuit, gets the same treatment. We sit down to drink the coffee, but after the first sip we are thinking about something else again. “Oh god, now I’ve got to go upstairs, then I’ve got to do this, then I’ve got to go shopping, what should I buy…” And so, it goes on and on, right? We are never present with what we are doing in this moment, and life just goes by.