One day, a young mother of four young children visited a spiritual teacher who lived in her city. She had heard about this teacher from her friends who were taking her classes. They were amazed at the information and meditations she was teaching and a few of them had reached their enlightenment.
The mother of four, however, was raising the children on her own after her husband had died and did not have any time or money to take the classes. She really wanted to reach her enlightenment, however, so she asked the teacher what she would suggest for someone in her situation.
She was surprised when she was told that all she needed to do to reach her enlightenment was to go home and wash the dishes.
The young woman was shocked! How could that be possible? Wouldn’t she have to learn how to meditate, attend classes and develop a spiritual practice?
With that, the teacher asked her what she thought about and how she felt when she was washing the dishes for her children. The young mother shared that her emotions and thoughts included feeling sorry for herself, irritation at the children, feelings of overwhelm, anger at being left alone to raise her children and more.
The teacher asked the young mother if she ever thought about how the thoughts and emotions she felt while washing the dishes was affecting her family. She was asked to become aware of what she was feeling and thinking as she performed this task and then watch how her children behaved during and after a meal. Did she realize the energy she put into washing the dishes was having a negative impact on the children?
The young mother left somewhat disappointed and feeling doubtful that she could change how she felt about things right now.
After just a few days, however, she became more aware of her thoughts and feelings while she washed the dishes. She realized they were not very uplifting and positive. And to think her children were eating this energy when they were eating their meals.
She then decided to start thinking positive thoughts for her children and instilling the dishes with feelings of love, joy and gratitude.
It didn’t stop at the dishes, however. She then began to be aware of the energy she was putting into the food as she was making the meals and the clothes as she was folding laundry.
After a little while, she began to see changes in her family. There was more joy and more love and she felt more hopeful than she had in a long time.
The young mother knew that because she changed her own thoughts and feelings as she cared for her family, that she had changed both herself and all of her children.
Four years after visiting the spiritual teacher, they happened to meet again. This time, the young mother did not ask the teacher how she could reach her enlightenment; rather the teacher looked at her and congratulated her for pursuing the work she was given. The teacher then confirmed for her that she had reached her enlightenment.