Tuesday, October 15, 2013

So Foolish

"You are a fool," Matt wrote.

"You know nothing," he added for emphasis.

That's it, his entire comment to my last post was those two short sentences. I invited him to clarify his point, but he seems reluctant to do that as he hasn't answered. But, believe it or not, Matt, i appreciate your comment, even as short as it was. Why? Because it forced me to sit up straight and wonder — about my life right now, my practice, my attitude, my seriousness.

And what i come up with is... I agree with you. But that's why my blog name happens to be Lao Bendan, Stupid Old Man in Chinese.

One of the first things any serious traveler on this path finds is that the reality that the vast majority of people believe in is only a miniscule portion of reality as it really is. Before making much progress, we really know very little. Nothing, for all intents and purposes. But, i have been walking the path for quite a while now, so while i wouldn't say that i know nothing, i'd agree that i know very, very little, in comparison to what i should know.

I know i want the "rest of the story," i wish i could have made more progress on my walk along the path. But, over the years i've consistently chosen to keep one foot in the conventional, relative world, instead of making the jump to the absolute with both feet. That makes me a fool. You see the goal, you can see it, taste it, smell it, even touch it from time to time; you know you desperately want it, but you refuse to make the jump. That makes you a fool.

Matt, you're right. I'm a Stupid Old Man. I admit it.

This talk about losing your way, even though you want more, reminds me of a story in Jaganath Carrera's Inside The Yoga Sutras.

"There once was a young yogi who had lived at his guru's ashram for a number of years. He was a dedicated disciple who practiced with great fervor. One day, he noticed his master looking at him in a curious way.

" 'Master, is there something wrong? You are looking at me in the most peculiar way.'

" 'No, nothing is wrong. But as I was watching you, it occurred to me that it would be good for you to experience a period of seclusion to focus on deepening your meditation.'

" 'Fine, master. I'm happy to do as you say.'

" 'Good. A few miles from here there is a nice forest with a small village nearby where you can go and beg for your daily food. Stay there until I come for you.'

" 'It sounds perfect. I'll go at once.'

"Following his master's instructions, he took only a begging bowl and two loincloths. Arriving at the bank of a stream, he found an elevated spot where he built his hut.

"He then began a routine that was repeated faithfully for many weeks; after morning meditation, he would take one loincloth, wash it, drape it on the roof of his hut to dry, and then walk to the village to beg for food.

"Then one day, when he came back to the hut he noticed that a rat had eaten a hole in his loincloth. What to do? The next day, he begged for food and another loincloth. The villagers were only too happy to help him. Unfortunately, the rat would not go away and continued ruining one loincloth after another. One villager took pity on him.

" 'Son, look how much trouble that rat is causing you. Everyday you have to beg for food and also for a new loincloth. What you need is a cat to keep away the rat.'

"The young man was stunned at the simple logic of the answer. That very day he begged for food, a loincloth, and a cat. He obtained a nice kitten.

"But things did not go as he anticipated. Although the cat did keep away the rat, it, too, needed food. Now he had to beg for a bowl of milk for his cat as well as food for himself. This went on for several weeks, until...

" 'Young man, I noticed you begging for food for yourself and milk for your cat. Why don't you get a cow? Not only can you feed the cat, you'll even have milk left over for yourself.'

"He thought this was brilliant. It took a little time, but he was able to find a villager to give him a cow. By now, you may have guessed what happens next. While the milk from the cow fed his cat and provided some milk for him, it too needed to eat. Now, when he begged for food, he also had to ask for hay for the cow. After some time...

" 'Dear boy, what a burden it is to beg for food and hay for your cow, too! Just do one simple thing and all your problems will be over. You are living on very fertile soil. Beg for hayseed and plant hay to feed the cow. You will certainly have enough hay left over to sell in town. With the extra money you could buy whatever you need.'

" The young disciple wondered how he could have missed such a simple solution. He found hayseed to sow and soon harvested a rich crop of hay. But, one day a villager spotted him, looking haggard.

" 'Son, you are working too hard. You have a growing business to look after. What you need is a wife to share responsibilities with you. Later on, your children will also be able to help.'

" Of course, he thought. So simple. He did find a nice woman to marry. His business and family grew by leaps and bounds. In fact, his hut was soon replaced by a mansion staffed with servants.

"One day there was a knock at the door.

"The young man walked to the door and looked into the eyes of his master. A sudden rush of recognition brought back memories of long forgotten and neglected commitments. Looking heavenward, he raised his arms high and shouted...

" 'All for the want of a loincloth!' "

Ahhh, how easy it is to get distracted from the things we claim we so dearly want...

My sister just showed up.... i'll finish this post tomorrow...

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