Picking up Trash

I visited a Chan Meditation Center and picked up a little pamphlet, card, type thing that had 108 quotes from Venerable Master Sheng Yen. One of the quotes on it says, “By just picking up litter and refraining from littering, we are doing meritorious deeds.” I found this quote to be inspiring and empowering, and like all wise sayings or quotes that move me, I write it down on my list of quotes and tape the paper on my wall to see every day. As I was walking on the subway platform to get the 7 train, I noticed a piece of paper on floor. As I walked closer to it staring at the piece of paper, I thought about the quote and wanted to pick it up. I was thinking, “pick it up, now, now, now!” but i ended up walking right past it. In the train, there was a man claiming to be part of a homeless shelter program and to donate. I like everyone else knew it was a lie but I also knew whatever change I could spare would help him. So as he stook his plastic bag out and walked down the isle i though, I want to give him some change, and i was saying “give him the change…” but again I didn’t.Any litter that I have, I usually put in my bag until i get home, and throw out the garbage or recycle the paper bag. I clean up my mess, take care of what I do, and keep to myself. And sometimes not lend a helping hand or extend when i should because i feel the outside world is hostile and i want to keep myself safe. It seems that way with the man asking for change, and i would sit in the train seat with the bag in front of my as a barrier from the rest of the people in the train.I was being responsible for myself, but i wasn’t helping the world around me, even if its picking up a piece of litter. And i felt guilty every time i saw a piece of trash i could easily pick up but chose not to or a homeless man i just ignored.This morning while waiting for the bus, I saw a whole pizza box lying on the floor. And right next to me was a trash can. I was waiting for the bus while contemplating the pizza box and why i couldn’t just pick it up and throw it out. I tried to be mindful and tried to understand what i was thinking, “I dont want people look at me. Who dose that? pick up someone elses litter and throws it out” I thought, “if nobody was watching me i would absolutely throw out the pizza box. The trash can is right next to me.” I guess having about 15 minutes or so to wait for the bus and being mindful made me think, this is silly. I visualized picking up the box, and throwing it out, then i picked it up for real and threw it out.This isnt a huge act of kindness I guess, but I guess this brook will lead to a stream and eventually a river.

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