Wash Clean Dishes

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In Zen, there's this idea that Zen has no goal. When you practice Zen, you should not try to achieve anything. What you are trying to achieve is in the future, your practice is now. The classic example of this is washing dishes as a meditative practice: you don't wash dishes to get clean dishes. You wash dishes to wash dishes.

This is true, but like many things in Zen, it is also false. If your Zen practice didn't have a goal, you would never practice Zen. And the Buddha explicitly set forth a goal: to relieve suffering. So I believe that Zen has a goal, and Zen does not have a goal.

So I decided the next time a know-it-all Zen type told me "You don't wash dishes to get clean dishes, you wash dishes to wash dishes," that I would respond with "Yes, but when have you washed clean dishes?"

Then I decided I needed to wash clean dishes.