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Mendoh 面倒 as a Way of Heartfulness

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deep in the present moment and feeling fully alive.

Thich Nhat Hanh 

We all know the simple truth that how we deal with things in our lives depends on how we view them. The word Mendoh in Japanese is commonly used when we are faced with something troubling that must be dealt with. The kanji characters show a facade collapsing to reveal the trouble that exists beneath the mask.

When we face the reality of our troubles we have choices of how we deal with them. One way of dealing with troubles is captured in the expression, Mendohkusai (面倒臭い). Kusai means smelly, showing the negativity in this way of responding. This expression is uttered constantly to express a person's displeasure at having to do certain things that are boring, tedious, or simply unworthy of attention.

Another way of dealing with troubles is seen in the expression, Mendoh o miru (面倒を見る). This means giving attention and caring for someone or something.

We constantly have a choice of seeing things in our lives as a something we don't want to bother with (mendohkusai), or to respond by giving it attention and caring (mendoh o miru).

I was reminded of this truth when I stayed at a Zen temple in Kamakura, Japan recently. In the morning we cleaned the temple. While we might think of this as a bother and even as below us, since we were engaged in the lofty practice of Zazen, instead it appeared to be an act of mindfulness. We gave our attention to what we were doing, even this small act of daily maintenance.

Similarly, anything in life can be appreciated in this manner. Sometimes it may be the very things that we consider mendohkusai that are the things that we most need to attend to. Doing these things can be grounding, bringing us out of our heads and moods, to walk on the earth. Mindfully engaging in mundane activities can be an act of mindfulnesss, living as fully as possible now, in the present moment.

When the act clearly involves others, we can see how compassion and responsibility are expressed. There is beauty in mendoh wo miru, giving oneself with care and attention to the needs of others. This is heartfulness.

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