Friday, April 25, 2008
...25, 26, 27.
My spiritual practice (and my life, for that matter), though esoteric, is relatively classic in style. I do things in pretty tried and true ways, although some of those ways are more familiar in the far east or in ancient traditions than they are in the modern west.
What this means, for the most part, is that almost all of my beliefs and practices can be found in well-established, legacy wisdom traditions--Buddhism, Hinduim, Taoism, Christianity. Very little falls under the “new age” umbrella; in fact, I tend to find astrology and other such practices a bit distasteful.
But there is one exception. Several years ago, a friend who was savvy in feng shui practice told me that experts in this art give special importance to the number 27. If redecorating a room, for example, it’s thought that changing exactly 27 elements has spiritual significance.
Recreationally, at first, I started incorporating 27 into my own routines. Admittedly, this is probably an outlet for the little bit of compulsive-obsessiveness I do own. If I’m doing dishes, for example, I find that the dish-drying rack in the second sink bowl comfortably holds no more than 27 dishes. In my garden, planting beds with 27 specimens are somehow most pleasing to me. When cleaning my office, putting away 27 items gives the place a comfortably neat look, without making it seem sterile. Reading 27 pages of a novel each night is ridiculously satisfying. A small flower bed that has been thinned of 27 weeds looks very nice.
Most significantly, I often try to count 27 tasks or accomplishments in a given day, for which I maintain full mindfulness. So it’s kind of a feng shui Buddhism, in a way.
On most days, I keep track of those activities for which I’m fully present, and I consider it a good day at the point I reach 27. There are of course lots of things done on autopilot; the only thing I count are those activities for which I’m fully present, mentally.
At the end of the day, the list is an odd hodgepodge. Some things wouldn’t really be called accomplishments by most workcoholic standards, while others would strike you as a fulfilling day’s worth of work all by themselves. On a recent day, for example, one item in the litany of 27 was “take shower,” while another was “pour concrete aprons around basement windows.” The point is that I was fully engaged and present for each of the activities.
Surprisingly, 27 items turns out to create an extremely fulfilling day, if you’ve been mindful for each of them. And I think it’s important not to insist that all 27 items be acts of supremely meaningful work. I make sure that a few items on the list are purely recreational. “Eat lunch” is usually one out of 27. “Take bike ride” might be one, as well. "Meditate" always makes the list. Sometimes, even watching a movie will make the list, provided I’m engaged and present while doing so. Such things, which we often do without really paying attention, turn out to be quite meaningful and worthwhile if you're closely aware during the doing of them.
I’m not sure what exactly makes 27 meaningful, though it may have to do with the number 3 factored into itself 3 times. Recently, I did learn that in one branch of Tibetan Buddhism, the strings of mala beads include 27 small beads as well as one mother bead, so perhaps there is some karmic legacy to the number 27 for me.
Time to go. Been writing for 27 minutes.
Posted by The Geezers at 11:37 AM