QUESTION: It is said that if we strive to perfectly perform even small daily tasks, we will meditate better. Why? What’s the relationship between the two?
ANSWER: Meditation is the most intense concentration of mind. But it must fulfill two conditions. When the mind along with the senses is withdrawn from outside and concentrated internally on a mental object that’s holy, then only it is called meditation, otherwise not.
When you do things externally, you have to concentrate on them. For example, if you want to enjoy music you have to concentrate on the music using your organ of hearing. But often the mind may be restless and hard to concentrate. In such a state of mind it is not possible for you to enjoy music, because you are then unable to concentrate your mind on it. The same is true for anything else that you may like to do.
Aside from this, habits die-hard. If you develop the habit of doing things without due concentration of mind, you won’t be able to perform any work perfectly. With such a mind you won’t be able to meditate properly either. This being the case, no matter what tasks you do, big or small, you should practice concentrating your mind on that. Such practice will create the habit of doing everything with due concentration. Then it will be possible for you to meditate properly.
People often like to do big and spectacular things with the subtle desire to have appreciation from others or to gain self-confidence. Doing insignificant things like peeling potatoes doesn’t necessarily draw the attention of others or their praise. You may also think that doing such insignificants thing is not a great accomplishment. Therefore, there may be a natural reluctance on your part to do such small tasks with the greatest concentration. And such reluctance surely won’t help you to prepare your mind for perfect meditation.
The chicken and egg analogy does not apply to the relationship between the practice of concentration on external objects and the internal process of meditation. Unless you practice doing the first, the second one cannot be done properly.