One potato

Getting ready to go to practice and I flashed on something Soen Sa Nim used to talk about. He drew an analogy between washing potatoes and the search for enlightenment.

You can wash potatoes one at a time. But it’s more effective to put a whole bunch of potatoes in a big pot of water and agitate them. Then the potatoes help wash each other.

He thought this was very funny. He could see that westerners all like to be special snowflakes. But one of the most important tenets of Mahayana Buddhism is that no one’s free until everyone is free. So going off and contemplating your individual navel may be all well and good, but the party doesn’t start until every creature is accounted for. So might as well join the fray and help other beings as best you can.

With an influx of new year practitioners, the Shala is an enormous potato pot. Lots of dirty potatoes and lots of agitation. Glug, glug, glug.

May we all be happy and free. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “One potato

  1. I think it was Michelle over at Florence Yoga who said something about this recently. Something along the lines of coming to the Shala to help in forming, the Shala, the space, basically a sangha. Ahhh, here it is…

    “From the newest Ashtanga practitioner, to the most seasoned veteran, showing up consistently is big yoga. I believe joining a yoga community and consistently showing up can be an act of metta – a strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others, or lovingkindness to all. If you’ve ever had to practice alone, you’ve probably found out that it’s a bit harder, especially if you are new to the practice. It’s much easier with even just one other person in the room. Although you might not exchange a word with anyone but the teacher, your presence and energy is felt by everyone within the room. We are social creatures – most humans love community. Help create it with your presence. As well as the benefits you give yourself by doing yoga practice regularly and consistently, your presence helps to sustain and support the like-minded people you practice with. They are your yoga community. Whatever your effort, whether it be mild, moderate or intense, you are welcome and necessary. If you’re new, roll your mat out next to a seasoned practitioner and breathe with them. And if you’re seasoned, your practice and commitment helps to provide inspiration and guidance to all the others who have come through the door after you. When in doubt, don’t hesitate. Come and do your practice with us”!

    That struck a chord, I’d always thought along the lines of ‘I’m fine practicing at home, I don’t need a Shala’. I hadn’t considered the idea that the Shala needs not so much me personally but other dedicated practitioners, not perhaps to give advice directly but just to be practicing with commitment a few mats away from somebody who is still new to the practice. In this sense, practicing at home might be considered a little selfish rather than ‘independent’ as I’ve always tended to think. And if course it reflects back, somebody new to the practice, with their fresh energy, enthusiasm, that openness to the practice can reawaken a beginner’s mind in somebody who has been practicing for years.
    Washing potatoes together, I like that.

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