The Slayer with a Drawn Sword

The Path of Enlightenment is not for everyone. For one thing, it takes dedication, almost an obsession. The thought of enlightenment needs to always present in mind.

This is what Zen monks are doing with their Koans – they are ways to balance the mind in openness. Enlightenment, or Satori as it is known in Zen, reveals itself in a flash when one keeps the mind in equipoise.

But as many sages have pointed out, it is few who really fill their being with the necessary emptiness, and readiness. Even for ardent meditators.

As with most good teachings, this idea has its source in the Suttas:

Amid all phenomena, the thought of Nibbana shall be present with me, as a slayer with a drawn sword

AIIIĀ 309 (PTS Trans)

The mindfulness training we do is directed to this end. Mindfulness can be brought to every activity. After a while, you are not mindful of what you are doing … you remain mindful despite what you are doing.

2 replies on “The Slayer with a Drawn Sword”

  1. To me, this was the single most important, most actionable and useful learning from Theravada tradition, that the real point of this practice is not some distant, abstract state of being. But rather that we have the capacity to bring mindfulness and lovingkindness to our everyday activities.

    I find it very hard to set aside time in my busy layman’s life to sit and meditate. But I can, at any time, bring mindfulness to whatever I happen to be doing. Just slowing down, paying attention to my breath… I’m not yet developed to the point where I’m “automatically” mindful. I still must make effort. But hey, it’s right effort!

  2. Lots of teachers talk about the ‘effortless’ concentration/mindfulness. Ajahn Pramote, who is high a being as they come, told me ‘No no, you should never ‘try’.
    Yet in the suttas, the Buddha talks about effort as a man whose hair or turban was on fire – they whould put forth ardent effort to extinguish it.
    My current favourite teacher, David Hawkins, talks about seeing most people in the street lost in the world of what they want. He says it is very rare someone walks down the street with an eye to liberation.
    And this is one problem; most of us would rather just a little less suffering, and a little more happiness, than enlightenment itself.

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