I had a brief but illuminating chat with Myoki the other day. Apart from working hard in her new role as Myogen's assistant, which meant she had a lot to do for the AZTA, she told me she had just been asked to take over as the third floor women's bathroom co-ordinator. She was not happy that residents had already come up to her to let her know exactly which jobs they were not willing to do...
I thought it was just the guys. I am used to cleaning up after one or two of my fellow bathroom users who seem to me not to pay attention to this kind of thing, and we all notice when the toilets or the floor do not get cleaned regularly. This is the kind of place where my compassion meets my you-must-try-harder streak, though I try to restrict my comments to occasional encouragement of our bathroom co-ordinator to lean on the less industrious among us.
This kind of matter probably strikes a chord with anyone who shares a household, and though it might seem like a trifling matter in the overall operation of Zen Center, really I feel that you can't make those kind of distinctions. We are practising paying attention to every detail and making our best effort on each moment, as Blanche is fond of quoting Suzuki Roshi as saying. I was tempted during sesshin to put up a sign in one of the toilet stalls along the lines of 'leaving the toilet roll holder empty because you cannot be bothered to change the roll or pick it up off the floor fails to be bodhisattva activity'.
I am also reminded of the phrase used by Shundo Aoyama, which I have quoted before: 'When the abbot or any of the teachers is away from a temple for a week or so, the novices think nothing of it. But if there were no toilet paper, they would quickly feel its absence'. The devil, as they say, is in the details.