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Reading with video and background music:
Words and reading by Ajahn Kalyano.
Background music and editing by Gordon Oaks.
"The Plough of the Mortal God" was inspired by a section in the Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta. (Sutta Nipata 1.4):
[The Buddha said:]
"Faith is the seed, practice the rain,
And wisdom is my yoke and plow.
Modesty's the pole, mind the strap,
Mindfulness my plowshare and goad.
Body and speech are guarded well,
And food and drink have been restrained.
Truthfulness I use for weeding,
And gentleness urges me on.
Effort is my beast of burden,
Pulling me onward to safety.
On it goes without returning,
Where, having gone, one does not grieve.
This is how I plow my plowing --
The crop it yields is deathlessness!
And when one has plowed this plowing,
One is released from all suffering."
(Translated by Andrew Olendzki)
One day I shall lay down these bones,
look up at the sky
and be neither here nor there.
One day I shall be in between
a whispering nowhere.
In between the lines of life I will gently, humbly care.
I will serve the truth until the end of time,
so I swear.
One way of talking about mindfulness is as developing a mind that is continually referencing both inner and outer reality. In order to do this we place our minds in a particular place at the junction between the inner and outer worlds. One of the functions of meditation is to find this place and learn to hold the mind there. Traditionally we use a point of focus at the tip of the nose. We gently focus our eyes there, gathering our attention. From here we can learn to be aware of both inner and outer, keeping in touch with our feelings as we move our point of focus around. We can tend to over react to things, so clarity also comes from calming the mind, passing the cooling breath through this point.
When the mind is calm we can imagine and place our thoughts at this point and clearly feel them out as we meditate. Then, when the meditation is over, we can reach forward into the outer world with this focus, keeping in touch with the heart and seeing very clearly the heart's response to the world. We can be consciously comparing our inner image or memory of something with the outer reality. This is the function of perception which usually happens outside of our awareness and yet is the most influential function of the mind. If we can gain control over our perceptions we have control over our minds.
I offer this for your reflection
It is a sad fact that I feel the need to caution people on the spiritual path against abuse. I will need to be honest, I think, even if it is uninspiring.
Caring for others in any walk of life can be a thankless task. If people read you as a caring person they will quickly come to you with all their problems. Then when they start feeling better they don't want to know you any more because they associate you with the problems. They will often accuse you of being negative even if you have always tried to encourage them. So if we are going to be carers we have to love it for its own sake or sell our services.
This is perhaps even more so these days. There is no doubt in my mind that mankind is becoming more selfish. As a monk I was largely withdrawn from society for many years. Returning to a more engaged life as an Abbot I really notice the difference. It is only in recent years that I have found myself badly used by others. It is a sad fact that the modern 'spiritual shopper' is capable of taking without even thinking of offering anything in return. Even members of a spiritual community can be like this, wanting more and more and wanting to give less and less.
I find this very sad but I have to survive. I find myself more and more cautious in what I offer before I see some sign of return and advise others to do the same. It seems to me that selfishness progresses naturally when someone cannot afford to be generous, knowing that they will receive nothing back for all their efforts, so I keep myself ready and eager to respond to anyone who appears to be an exception to this unfortunate trend.
I offer this for your reflection
sacred are the clean teeth
sacred the cleaning and the cleaner
sacred are the wiped lips
sacred the wiping and the wiped
for sacred is the given
the toothpaste and the toothbrushes
the tissues and the trifles
sacred, here and now
is the given
sacred the giver
for humble lips
and humble teeth
shall utter sacred words
and of wisdom