Junk breeds junk goes the saying. It is apt. I never realized the amount of junk we had accumulated over the last 4 years in our 1050 sqft apartment, until we moved yesterday. It took the packers – 5 of them – 8 hours to pack the stuff and it took us another 4 to unpack it all today morning. So imagine my surprise when I open the latest issue of the quarterly journal from Blue Mountain today afternoon, there choice of topic: Clutter!
Junk has a way of multiplying…you may have only a few things in your closet, but when you open the door after a year or two, you find that there has been a population explosion.
It starts so innocently. We get one thing, which leads to another. That leas to another, leads to another, leads to another, and we get entangled. And once we get entangled, we don’t know how to free ourselves. Clutter grows like an insidious vine, a bit at a time, untill finally the house doesn’t belong to people any more; it belongs to the Clutter family. The things we owned end up owning us.
Similarly, I would say, the mind – everybody’s mind – has a tendency to ﬁll with junk, old thoughts and attitudes and impressions that have lost any value and just lie around getting in the way of thinking, acting, and loving in freedom. Malice, jealousy, hostility, resentment, all multiply quietly until sometimes they take over our lives. When you leave a pot in the rain, the Buddha says, the rain does not pour down in a stream and ﬁll the pot in two seconds. The pot ﬁlls drop by drop. This is how we succumb to junk thinking: little by little, by dwelling on
innumerable negative thoughts.
When the mind is full of clutter, we can’t ﬁnd our virtues. All of us have virtues, but often they are so covered by personal urges that we have to stop and search all over to ﬁnd the one we need. We know we have a little compassion somewhere, but we can’t lay hands on it in that pile of resentments. We know we have put away some tenderness, but when we open the closet only hostilities tumble out. This is why the Buddha says we should keep the mind free from clutter, with the artistic simplicity of the Japanese home. The mind needs lots of room, plenty of walking space, with just one or two little closets for the few great qualities we need. The rest should be wide open, so that we can move about freely and feel at home. An uncluttered mind is a very comfortable mind to live in.