Number 3. The Spiritual World of Work

Work as Devotion

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Pay full attention to all action…

the Way Seeking Mind is actualized…

by rolling up your sleeves.

Any Act that Leads to Your Original Nature

 is Virtuous

Any Act That is Selfish, Self-Centered

is Not.

To pay full attention is to give from the position of kneeling down to whatever is in need right there, where we are. From the position of kneeling, we give in such a way that our giving is an offering of love from a docile and trained mind. The training here refers to giving to that which is the Source of our life.

To act unselfishly is to actualize the Way Seeking Mind.

These two quotes are often misunderstood when misused as goads to whip another or to whip oneself into shape. Goads and prods and whips are guilt-creating and shame-bashing by the unenlightened do-gooders of the world. These rich and powerful quotes are for you to contemplate and study and to examine your life actions, not the life actions of another.

What we must be willing to do is to discipline ourselves to be meek. We are to discipline ourselves in such a manner that we are able to keep our strength under control. In no way are we to use our inherent force to go after another being with a rod.

The origin of “meek” in English comes from the Old Norse mjukr, meaning “gentle,” though perhaps a fuller understanding comes from the Greek origin, praus, which is translated as “strength under control.” In ancient Greece, war horses were trained to be meek — strong and powerful yet under control and willing to submit …quote

In the most common rendition of the Cook’s Prayer (p.64) to pay full attention to all the work requires us to keep our strength under control. To concentrate and focus on what is at hand and not what another is doing.

We use our strength, which we have under control, to train in such a way that our selfishness dissipates and remains weakened to the point it no longer interferes with our actions. An image, useful to keep us contained, is to imagine ourselves giving from our knees.

Giving from our knees suggests a position of obedience and docility to the Source. The Source being that immutable, eternal, changeless beingness which is there from the very beginning. It is not some thing outside of us; it is our true original nature. If we pull all of this together, we begin to see that we need to train our wily, cunning, foxy, sly selfish nature to kneel down to that which is immutable, unchanging, eternal and get to work.

MOTIVATION

Now before we get a little deeper into this Buddhist prayer, when we hear the word work, we often associate it with some remuneration; in other words, we the selfish ego, tends to tally up some gain. We are motivated by that gain which is well-summarized in the sentiment: what is in it for me?

We need a motivation to pick up the training of meekness. An inspiration, incentive, a stimulus within ourselves to train the mind to be docile; to have our strength under control. No easy feat.

It requires our will. We use our will to make a choice. We need to use our will to turn inward towards our true original nature and to turn away from all the things that bog the mind down. In other words, those things that pull us into a swamp-mind.

There are three pointers in the prayer that help us train to be meek, like a war horse ever-trained and ready but exceptionally skilled at being able to control and focus our strength. Anyone who has ever ridden a horse knows the importance of meekness.

The three pointers here are:

  1. Give your full attention (devotion, care, responsive)
  2. The Way Seeking Mind is actualized  (strength under control, tamed)
  3. By Rolling Up Your Sleeves (performance, effort, enacting)

In short, it tells us when we give our full attention to any action, the Way Seeking Mind (Buddha Self Mind, the higher self) is present, involved, engaged and then is actualized by giving our mind and body to the action at hand. We turn and move as a well-trained war horse in battle.

This is a big deal. Simple. Clear. Giving full attention clicks us on to the path of the Way Seeking Mind, where the Higher Self is made real to us when we engage in the action at hand. The Higher Self is that which never dies; that which returns to the Source. Selfishness is the basis of our wanting something in it for ourselves.

What gets in the way, distracts us from rolling up our sleeves is an endless array of mental and physical hindrances. But here is a quote that gets to the bottom of our reluctance to roll up our sleeves and actualize the Way Seeking Mind.

A quote:

God does not give us what we want,

God does not cater to us in this way –

nor should we cater to ourselves or others in this way.

God wants us to stop being the center of desire –

making things just right for “me.”

When we drop this madness of seeking what we want,

 we have a chance to be devoted to God.

 We want our desires fulfilled, our likes and dislikes satisfied. We want to be catered to – we want to be the center of our desires; making things just right for “me.” All of this madness hinders our chances of being devoted to our spiritual path. Many of us use our spiritual path as another way to do, get, keep a just-right-comfort for “me.”

Study yourself as you meet what comes up in your day. We are all in this together. You are not being singled out.

Here is a small sample from earlier in the Covid 19 virus pandemic:

The day here began with a text message before 5 am, followed by a text message an hour later asking for help, followed by bags of groceries delivered to our front door, followed by two dogs going wild, barking and crying, followed by washing and cleaning all the food, sanitizing the packages and returning to silence after each event. Noticing the energy. Letting it pass. Washing all the food. Putting it a way. Hearing from MF’s brother in Australia, explaining to us the USA no longer is sending or delivering mail from Australia. Finding out the USA is no longer sending or delivering mail to 22 countries. Grateful for food and help. All this before 6:30 am.

These events are what asked us to give our full attention, to actualize the Way Seeking Mind by meeting what showed up – rolling up our sleeves is the way to forget the self, forget the I-ME-MINE likes and dislikes and find ourselves in reality.

To devote ourselves to what is at hand….

 Do not seek what you want,

Do not cater to yourself in this way –

nor should you cater to others in this way for gain.

Stop being the center of desire –

making things just right for “you.”

When you drop this madness of seeking what you want, you have a chance to be a devoted war horse in the Dharma.

 

To pay full attention is to give from the position of kneeling down to whatever is in need right there, where we are. From the position of kneeling, we give in such a way that our giving is an offering of love from a docile and trained mind. The training here refers to giving to that which is the Source of our life.

 

Don’t give up. Begin again and keep going. OM

Humming Bird

Author: Fashi Lao Yue

ZATMA is not a blog.

 If for some reason you need elucidation on the teaching,

please contact editor at: yao.xiang.editor@gmail.com

Image Credit: War Horse

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