It can be tempting to look at an established temple and want to donate your time to help clean it. Many zen centers even schedule specific soji, or temple cleaning, periods. Students and visitors commit to patient, relaxed scrubbing, sweeping, wiping, sanitizing in the same spirit they should approach all actions, meditation included.
If you are like me, you might even prefer cleaning a beautiful Buddhist-themed hallway or incense-scented meditation room to cleaning your own home. Intentionally-placed statues and rock gardens complement the symmetric elegance of the paths and floors. A gentle but piercing bell rings to announce various events and it, too, might need a little dusting.
This is quite the contrast to a weedy back yard full of dog shit baking under a blistering sun.
By now you may be wondering: How does this tie into veganism?
Liberating animals from their suffering begins at home. It begins with us and our plates. It is not outside, protesting Red Lobster, then going home and eating cheese. It is not scorning fur and buying leather. It is certainly not boiling our blood over Whale Wars while we scarf down broiled salmon.
Let us clean our own homes before scrubbing temples. Let us fill our plates with caring food before yelling at others to do likewise. Let us create peace by simply participating in it.