The reasons to stay bare
It was the time when I was the only person living in the temple, except, of course, Oshosama. Some people would come by to help with cleaning and maintenance every day, but I still had a full on my plate. Grass to be plucked, meals to be cooked, floors to be dusted and wiped. The task was endless and I was laser-focused on how to finish the task of the day with the limited time while handling some expectedly unexpected requests from Oshosama and visitors.
Oshosama called me one morning and asked “Did you clean this corridor?” It was the corridor in front of his room which we used to clean every day, but I resolved the daily chore to once every other day since I became the only person.
“No,” I said. No point in faking. He knows.
He started walking, through the corridor, into the kitchen, then to the hearth room. Then he asked, “You see?” I didn’t understand what I was supposed to “see.” So I remained silent.
He pressed on the question, while making a gesture of sweeping the floor with his bare feet. “If you paid enough attention, you’d feel it.” The kitchen and the hearth room were still within the capacity of my daily chore. With my feet, I could feel the slick surface of the wooden floor, which I had just wiped a moment ago. As we went back to his corridor, I sensed a tiny bit of dustiness.
In the temple, we were supposed to stay barefeet even in winter, which at first was petrifying. Later I found out it was not a must and I started wearing socks and thick woolen slippers. But for cleaning the floor, I still prefer bare feet. I grab old towels to wipe the floor, taking a good grip of the floor with my bare feet, almost like the facing-down-dog yoga pose. It’s just hard to do with socks on.
But now I saw there was another reason why bare feet work. To stay acutely tuned with my senses. As with many things in the temple, no one will take your hand to navigate through everyday life: little to nothing will be told to you to help understand. It’s by being attuned with my own senses and Oshosama’s action that we find our ways.