Yes, I agree with this. In our practice we should make no distinction between "small matters" and "large matters", and we should try to recognize the possible outcomes.
Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
But it is also time for some "simultaneously true perspective(s)", many seemingly contradictory but ... in our Zen eyes ... often ways to look at things at the same time. Some are like tools on the toolbelt that we can take or put back when needed ...
So, we might say that there are no "small" vs. "large" matters - such that every matter is a "large matter" ... everything vital and sacred in its way, and deserving our full attention. Dogen wrote in the "Instructions for the Cook"
As well, know that perspective of dropping all thought of "large and small" by which there is neither "high" nor "low", "small or large" ...
When soaking the rice for the midday meal, the cook should not leave the vicinity of the sink. Keep a sharp eye on everything, so as not to waste even a single grain, and properly rinse out any foreign objects. Put the rice in the pots, light the fires, and steam it. Of old it was said, "When steaming rice, treat the pot as one's own head; when rinsing the rice, know that the water is one's own lifeblood."
However, let's face it ... sometimes "small" matters are just small ... "large" matters large and more important ... and we should treat them as such. Don't people sometimes say "don't sweat the small stuff"? This is just common sense. Caring for kids is more important than caring for cats, which is more important than caring for furniture. Sometimes we can't pay as much attention to the cats as we do to our kids. Try as we might, human beings cannot stay alert for every possibility, each moment of the day ... and to do so would lead to madness.
What is regarded as the preparation of superb delicacies is not necessarily superior, nor is the preparation of a soup of the crudest greens necessarily inferior. When you select and serve up crude greens, if you do so with a true mind, a sincere mind, and a pure mind, then they will be comparable to superb delicacies. Why is that so? Because when one enters into the pure and vast oceanic assembly of the buddha dharma, superb delicacies are never seen and the flavor of crude greens does not exist: there is only the one taste of the great sea, and that is all.
And sometimes "large" is "small" ... and "small" is larger than "large"! So, for example, sometimes we may have to divert our attention from our "important" activities in our "important jobs" or to bring "peace" in a terrible war on the other side of the world ... because we must take the time to play ball with a 3 year old child.
These are all True in their way ... all at once (or in various non-dual pairings)!
You wrote that we should act "from a place of clarity ...that recognizes the possible outcomes of the situation." Dogen seemed to say much the same thing ...
But, ya know ... Dogen often spoke and wrote like a football coach giving a pep talk to his team. Dogen knew how to "talk big" ... and he wasn't much for "small talk". In reality ... we cannot always know or pay attention to everything (even from a "position of clarity"), foresee everything, make the right choice in every situation. Our best intentions will go wrong (it is thus that the intention and the attention counts more than the result). And some situations have no choice but the frying pan or the fire (maybe there would have been much worse harmful results to leave the cat in the house).
When you return to your quarters, right away you should close your eyes and clearly envision the number of individual places in the [sangha] hall ...
Now carefully calculate: for every grain of rice to be eaten, one grain must be supplied. If a single grain of rice is divided, then you will have two half-grains of rice. Three tenths, four tenths; one half, two halves. If you supply two half-grains of rice, you will make a single whole grain. Or, supply nine tenths and see how many tenths you still have; now take back nine tenths and see how many tenths are still there.
[Ask yourself] Is my measurement complete or not? Is your calculation complete or not? If you carefully inspect and exhaustively check [these matters], your understanding will dawn and become clear. ...
Did anyone ask the cat?
Our cat seems much happier and more at ease now that we do not try to keep him imprisoned in the house all day. Maybe his life will be shorter ... but I don't think that cats think in terms of "long" or "short" in the same way we do ... and do not share the same sense of importance. Perhaps your cat very much thrived and truly lived a cat's life during his short time of freedom.
Dogen closed his "Instructions for the Cook" with a comment on what it means to be "large" and "great" ...
Dogen talked a good game.
So-called "great mind" is, in its spirit, like a great mountain or a great sea: it has no partiality and no factionalism. Lifting an ounce, it does not consider it light; hefting a stone, it does not consider it heavy. ... [The great heart] does not get hypnotized by spring; it does not darken with the colours of autumn. See the changes of the seasons as all one movement, understand light and heavy in relation to each other within a view which includes both. It views [pennies] and [half dollars] within the context of a single system of measurement. As an emblem of this sameness, we can write the character "great". You should know the character "great". You should study the character "great". ... You should know that the great teachers of old were alike in their study of the character "great" in connection with the diverse phenomena of this world.
Just do your best ... and realize that we all get distracted sometimes, let the mind wander, can't watch every grain of rice, can't pick up every signal, can't act on our every instinct, have to make hard choices sometimes, "give in" sometimes, compromise sometimes ... can't have acted upon every clue or premonition or gut feeling seen in hindsight ... and that, in life, the soup doesn't always come out as we wish and ... try as we might ... sometimes the rice gets burnt. Just do you best, cut yourself some slack for the rest.
PS - I would like to add a thought for your cat, and all the other little animals, to our Heart Sutra recitation this week.