"This morning when we were bowing in the zendo, we heard a big noise overhead because upstairs in the dining room people were pushing chairs across the tile floor without picking them up. This is not the way to treat chairs, not only because it may disturb the people who are bowing in the zendo underneath, but also because fundamentally this is not a respectful way to treat things.

"To push the chairs across the floor is very convenient, but it gives us a lazy feeling. Of course this kind of laziness is part of our culture, and it eventually causes us to fight with each other. Instead of respecting things, we want to use them for ourselves, and if it is difficult to use them, we want to conquer them. This kind of idea does not accord with the spirit of practice. . . .

"When we pick up the chairs one by one carefully, without making much noise, then we will have the feeling of practice in the dining room. We will not make much noise of course, but also the feeling is quite different. When we practice this way we ourselves are Buddha, and we respect ourselves. To care for the chairs means our practice goes beyond the zendo."

To Practice This Thought: Choose a time of day when you ordinarily sit -- for instance, at breakfast or when you arrive at your desk to work -- and use this as your opportunity to remember to lift your chair respectfully to move it when you wish to sit. Once you have established this habit, begin to lift chairs throughout your day with the same mindfulness.