Flinging dirt on the eight worldly concerns


I recently related this story to someone in private who is dear, but I thought it might be of benefit to others as well.

There is a famous story that my teacher related to me involving a common practice amongst monks in Tibet. Often they would live in isolation and their teacher would make rounds to come and visit them. One particular monk was living by himself and was generally not a tidy person. He neglected taking care to clean his house or his altar day after day. On one particular day that his teacher was scheduled to visit, he went about cleaning his house and cleaning his altar and tidying everything up. He was meticulous in cleaning and making his altar look as well cared for as possible that day.

When he was nearly finished the thought arose to the monk, “My teacher is going to be so pleased with me to see that I’ve cleaned my house and altar so thoroughly. He’ll surely think that I am practicing well and praise me!” The thought arose and passed and the monk, due to his practice of mindfulness, noticed the thought and understood quite quickly this was a non-virtuous thought. His intention with this thought was to be showered by praise from his teacher and he knew it was a deception because he hardly ever cleaned his house or his altar. Full of shame and regret he gathered dirt in his two fists and flung dirt all over his house and furnishings; flung dirt all over his altar. He waited for his teacher with tears in his eyes.

When his teacher arrived he saw his student in tears and the hut in shambles. Dirt all over the furnishings and the altar and fear and sorrow filled his heart; things must be going very badly indeed for his student. :cry:

The teacher inquired compassionately what had been going on? Why was this student crying? Why did the hut look like this? Why did the altar look like this?

The student recounted with shame, regret and honesty what had transpired. Telling the teacher of how he had been living and how he had cleaned everything and how the non-virtuous thought arose and the subsequent flinging of dirt.

The teacher listened quietly and when the student was done recounting, a broad smile began to spread across the teacher’s face. He lifted his shamed student’s head and smiled at him with love telling him that this single action of flinging dirt was the greatest gift that any of his students had given him that day, that month, that year. Why? He explained to the student that he should not see things like this; he should not see that he had flung dirt on his furnishings and altar; rather he should see that in actuality he had flung dirt in the face of Mara and the eight worldly concerns that day, and in so doing had upheld the practice and given his teacher a great gift.

Hope you enjoy the story :slight_smile: :pray: