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.”
Certainly, mindful living is a much-needed practice for every one of us in today’s times. We, after all, live in a fast-paced world and are more prone to leading a mindless life. Matsumoto explains that the more carelessly we live, the more we soil our minds. He further says that. “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,” writes Matsumoto.
Whereas the act of cleaning teaches us mindfulness, facilitates our spiritual development. Writes yogi and mystic Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in his blog titled The Significance of Cleanliness, ‘shaucha’ (meaning cleanliness in Sanskrit) is important to lead a spiritual life. According to him, every structure and every form that we hold around us vibrate at specific energies. And these energies that emanate from various objects have an immense impact on our inner self. So, by cleaning and decluttering the space around us, we can create surroundings that are conducive for inward looking.
The more we take care of our environment and keep it clean, the easier we would find to look inward and grow spiritually. By simply meditating upon the self while cleaning, we can learn to calm our wavering minds. We can cultivate our minds and thereby lead a mindful life.