Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege. Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences. Being unappreciative might mean we are simply not paying attention. ~David Whyte
when we resist the urge to be cynical and guarded, we get real and are better able to envision our lives as humble warriors…..
inquiry for today~ create your holiday from the inside out…….make it an offering that elevates kindness as a necessity……all the while, you remain steady to what is true for you ……
Intoku is a Japanese word that translates to ‘Good done in secret’.
In Zen Buddhism, it’s often used to describe the act of doing unpopular jobs without expecting praise or reward. For example, the guy who cleans the Zen center’s toilets every day without being asked is practicing Intoku. By performing acts such as this, it’s believed that the practitioner will gain merit and realize enlightenment more quickly.
That being said, Intoku is a very strange practice on the surface. In the face of layoffs, rowdy neighbors, and political unrest, it seems like the Zen equivalent of standing around a campfire and singing kumbaya. It sounds good on paper, but does it really fix anything?
As social creatures, it’s only natural that we enjoy receiving praise from others. This is especially true when we go out of our way to do a good deed. But if we’re being honest, most kind acts go unrewarded. People don’t always say ‘Thank you’ when we hold the door for them, children aren’t always respectful to their parents, and sometimes bosses don’t appreciate our hard work.
But that’s where we find the true marrow of Intoku, because once we learn to do good works without desiring praise, we liberate ourselves. We stop looking to others for validation, and our acts of kindness become their own reward.
When toilets are dirty, we clean them. When people are hungry, we feed them. And we go to bed at night happy in the knowledge that in a world filled with suffering, we made things a little better.
This is something all of us can do. Each of us has a role to play in the world, and we make life better for everyone when we fulfill that role in a kind and loving way. Intoku provides a method for doing that. We just need to be willing to try.
~Alex Chong do Thompson