To promote one of the university’s mottos, “Cultivating one’s inner uprightness through the emulation of the ancient and modern saints”, Soochow University teamed up with Golden Friends Corporation and Pxmart Company Ltd. in organizing toilet-cleaning activities as a learning experience for the university’s faculty and student body on December 27, 2014. Under the guidance of Taiwan Souji Association, the Office of Students Affairs headed the activities as a way for faculty and students alike to practice this spirit and to improve one’s moral character and temperament through dreary chores.
Soochow University President Professor Pan Wei-Ta believes that such an activity enables a person to interact with the world by being humble and to experience the meaning of life by bending down one’s knees in labor. Prof. Pan intends to continue promoting this activity as a way to teach the students the spirit of humility.
Honorary chair of the Soochow Alumni and President of Golden Friends Corporation, 85-year-old Mr. Tang Song-Chang expressed that cleaning toilets can be a way to clearing one’s mind. As one calms down for a moment to take a fresh perspective on the seemingly trivial and dreary chores such as cleaning toilet, one’s mind is then ready to release the stresses and mundane concerns in daily life. Taiwan Souji Association Secretary General Lee Chia-Chung indicated that this might sound trivial but it can be achieved by every individual; the power of collective individuality can further free one from loneliness and helplessness. This is what “cleaning together, clearing together” has tried to achieve: freeing one’s mind from mundane concerns through mundane chores.
A total of 126 people participated in the two-hour activity, which commenced at 9:30 am, including faculty and students at Soochow University and employees at Golden Friends Corporation and Pxmart Company Ltd. Many participants praised at the effects of how detailed and painstaking physical work such as paying attention to brushing and cleaning something in a confined space can benefit one’s mind and deepen our perspective on humility. Participating members took a bow at the spotless toilets at the end to show their appreciation of this valuable lesson.
What we have learned from this activity further echoes an ancient Chinese saying, “Commit no evil because of its trivialness; ignore no kindness because of its anonymity.” A simple idea as trivial as cleaning a toilet can become as powerful as the flow of a river when we realize that it helps us initiate an act/idea that benefits not only one’s own mind but also helps out many others who can act/think likewise.