Sometimes I read or hear, that it is better not to engage into too many activities, but focus on Zen practice alone. I believe, that the basis of all our practice is a regular, strong and joyful Zazen! Without sitting regularly, day by day, everything I do becomes weaker and weaker, like a flower lacking of water.
But as human beings we have to eat, which involves chores, preparing food and chores again. We must maintain our living environment, which means chores and manual work. As lay-persons we often have a job and family … there are so many things to do in our life, and we should not consider them as something unpleasant, distracting us from Zen-practice!
In the beginning, when our Zazen is still weak and our practice lacks depth and experience, there is sitting Zazen on the one hand side, and daily life on the other. This is o.k. for beginners, you need some time to adjust your body and mind to a new routine!
But for sure, if we do not force our Zen practice to be restricted upon the time we spend on our pillow, our Zazen experience will more and more pervade our daily life. Gradually, the way we prepare food or do chores will change, and with surprise and joy we will realise, how much Zazen and preparing food or cleaning the toilet have in common.
But this is not adding Zen to our daily life! It is not something, we put on top of our day-by-day routines!
Our Zen-experience takes something away! It takes away the non-focused, over-concerned, lost-in-thoughts and anger-about-good-and-bad way, in which we often perform our tasks. And with all these disturbing thoughts gone, we just do what we do, realising daily life is more pleasure and demanding less physical and emotional energy than before.