The Marvelous One
The Marvelous One is the dweller in the bodies of all; that which you truly are…we are exhorted to cease from vain lamentations over the disappearance of what is transitory by nature and to stand up and fight; fulfilling the duties that lie before it.
The Battlefield of Duty
In order to fulfill our duty we need to know where and what it is. The battlefield is all of our sense doors: eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch and yes, mind. The senses make up the ground of the battlefield. The sense doors are both the where and what of our duty. And yes, it is a fight, a battle if you will. We are encouraged to stand up and fight against the takeover of the sense doors that react to everything encountered.
Yes, it is a big, big battlefield; your whole life wherever you go there right in front of you is your duty. It is to do what is next without seeking reward:
- Do what shows up right there where you are.
- Do it without wanting any particular result.
- Have no expectations for fighting the fight; do your very best with full attention.
In this battle with the senses our work is to withdraw the senses whether from pleasure or pain and all the myriad forms of pleasure and pain. What does this mean? It means making no-claim and no acquisition with the attitude for “me, my, mine.”
It is to do the work without clinging. What does it take to do the work without clinging or grasping or pushing and shoving? It requires a sincere and ever-present understanding of impermanence. There is nothing in the material realm that will withstand the law of change; everything comes, appears, declines and vanishes. There is nothing to gain or lose. In order to know this Truth, we must remind ourselves everyday that there is nothing to gain or lose. The Marvelous One is out beyond this field of change; when we know this to be true we stand up and do our very best to fulfill our duty of what is right in front of us.
To practice in this way requires small, diligent, attentive steps of taking care of what shows up, right there. It requires courage to do your very best to wash the dishes, make the bed, answer phone calls, organize clothes, cook food, or all the myriad tasks of daily life. Our expectations for more or less hinder our attention and strength to do our very best because it divides and distracts us.
Wishing for something else, somewhere else is a mighty distraction. It often conquers our ability to be content and makes us unreliable in our duties. A wish for or against leads to complaining and makes us unreliable students of the work at hand. It leads to vain lamentations and we often are taken captive by them.
No matter how precious something is, it will decay and vanish. Seeing the things of the world as precious often leads us to the trap of attachment. It is a pit of suffering.
Two monks were planning to do some work on one of the buildings on the grounds of where they lived. One of the buildings needed winterizing; since the winters were cold and the building in question needed insulation. After talking about what to do and where to have the insulation installed they decided to have insulation put on the back of the building. It would make the building warmer.
Yet, it also would cover up a beautiful, decorative part of the building which was constructed out of thinner material than the other three walls.
Before the work was done, they decided to take a stroll along the side that was soon to be covered in insulation as one last look at it.
Walking along in front of the beautiful carving on the wall, one monk said to the other, “It is really quite beautiful!”
While the other monk spontaneously replied, “Maybe it will be like Pompeii! Someday, someone will uncover it just like they uncovered Pompeii.”
The other monk, perplexed at first, realized the truth of comparing the beautiful wall was very much like Pompeii. “Maybe it will be uncovered or maybe it will be torn down. In either case, the law of change is at hand.”
Our Duty and Impermanence
When we fight the fight of our sense doors on every ground, we fulfill our duty. Our duty to do what is next. The insulation was next despite the fact that the insulation covered a beautiful artifact of earlier times. Ceasing from vain lamentations over that which is transitory (the beautiful carving) comes from knowing our true original nature; that which is the unborn, undying, immutable…Marvelous One.
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Author: Fashi Lao Yue
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