Tonight's work

From: A Trackless Path 9

Ken: There's a section in which he's [Uchiyama] commenting on Dögen's instructions: 
"When all of these matters are taken care of then the officers meet and can set the menu for the next day and prepare tomorrow's gruel." 
Uchiyama's commentary goes something like this: 
When you are preparing tomorrow's oatmeal, you're not setting up a goal for tomorrow. Because you have no idea what is going to happen. In the night there could be an earthquake, fire, riots, whatever. So you actually have no idea whether that gruel is actually going to be served or not or anybody is going to eat it.

But you prepare tomorrow's gruel as tonight's work. You do what needs to be done, not with any aim for the future, but because it is tonight's work.

Because the human condition is: there's an order to life, there's structure and so forth, and it is subject to disruption at any time because of impermanence. The order you can view as the karma element, the disruption as the impermanence element.

And we live in this absolute paradox, which in traditional terms is, we're definitely going to die and we have no idea when.

Or in more everyday things, "Yes, I need to plan to do this, and yet I have no idea whether I will experience the results of my efforts."

This is quite different from clinging to an aim and the result and being aimless and having no result. You follow?

So, whether it's in family, or in our work, we think about what is necessary to take care, wife, family and so forth, or our responsibilities at work, but we do so, without any expectation of experiencing those results.

And that becomes quite powerful. Because when we're not attached to the experience of those results, which most people, that's the direction most people go,
then we find we are much freer to see, what really needs to be done. If you see what I mean?!

OK, did this help? OK, Gary, could you have the mic?

Student: Not to be contrary, Ken, but one of your four points last night was about every action has a consequence?

Ken: Yes exactly, and that's why we have to plan and do things. Because if we don't, then, you know, you don't put money in your 401k, then, that has a consequence.

Student: But you are saying at the same time let go of your expectation and any results.

Ken: Yes, you put money in your 401k and you may never got to use it!

Student: So why worry about one's actions?

Ken: Because not doing an action is an action and it has its consequences.

If we don't care of the body, we get sick. If we are mean to people, we end up isolated and alone. If we steal from people, nobody will trust us.

Now, actions have consequences.