We have a very full schedule here at the monastery over the coming days. That’s how it is. Sometimes there’s a lot happening. When this occurs, it’s helpful to have a perspective that doesn’t make things complicated or difficult.
I remember at Wat Nanachat, one of the things visitors were asked to do in the morning while the monks were out on alms round was to sweep the monastery grounds—and it’s a fairly large monastery. One morning, while an anagārika was sweeping, a new guest came out, looked at the grounds, and said, “Are we supposed to sweep all of this?” The anagārika replied, “No, just what’s in front of your broom.” It’s helpful to keep this sort of perspective.
But we can easily stray from that and tell ourselves, Oh, there’s this to do, and that to do; there’s this person, and then that person. It turns into something that sounds complicated and overwhelming. In the end, though, it’s just the person in front of us that we’re dealing with, the particular chore or task that needs to be done now, breathing in and breathing out, moment by moment.
Here in the monastery, once the morning work period is over and the meal is finished, then there’s the afternoon. Take the time in the afternoon for meditation, for reading Dhamma, for some quiet time. No need to think about the things that may need doing in the future.
Remember that it’s only what’s in front of us that needs to be done. As we maintain that perspective, we realize that things do get done. They may not get done as quickly as we wish, or in the way we think they ought to be done, but we can only do what we’re doing. It’s helpful if we don’t lose ourselves in a lot of thinking and complication.
That’s a big part of personal practice. Without that we might start thinking of all of the things we need to do to become a proficient meditator or practitioner: I’ve got to get my precepts down, learn the Vinaya, learn the chanting, get this meditation technique working and that other technique as well. There is this other technique I haven’t even tried yet. There is this reflection I don’t know and that aspect of Buddhist philosophy that I have to understand. Then we might think, Oh, this is hopeless. I’m just giving myself more suffering and more difficulty than I ever had before!
But if we drop all of that and attend to just one breath at a time, to one mental state at a time, and that’s all—if we can attend to things from that perspective—then everything is doable.
_This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from_ _[Beginning Our Day, Volume One.](/books/beginning-our-day-volume-one)_