Did you know that Japanese children are trained to clean their schools every single day? From elementary school to high school, students take turns and clean their classrooms, restrooms and hallways. Sometimes, the teachers participate in the cleaning process too. While it may sound bizarre to the rest of us, this practice has an interesting reason behind it.
According to Shin Buddhism in Japan, the process of cleaning is a spiritual experience. In fact, the monks at these temples sweep the temple grounds, tend to the gardens and polish the halls spotless every day after reciting their prayers. It is a daily ritual for them. Writes Shoukei Matsumoto, a Shin-Buddhist monk in his book A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, “We don’t do this because it’s dirty or messy. We do it to eliminate the gloom in our hearts.” Whilst quietly going about their designated chores, the monks ground themselves in the present moment and contemplate the self, he adds. So, by scrubbing away dirt and grime in the temples, the monks also train themselves to be mindful.
“All you need is a will to sweep the dust off your heart. Your everyday domestic chores will become a way to clean your heart. This will improve the condition not just of your own mind, but of the minds of the people around you.”