Last day at the Tibetan settlement. Geshe-la invited Alan and I for a walk around camp 2. First, he led us to the monastery's kitchen, and I was pleased to have a second chance to see the kitchen.
They always tell this story about one disciple at the time of the Buddha. He was very, very dumb. He had one teacher, a non-Buddhist teacher who was trying to teach him two syllables, ‘Om Bum.’ When he remembered ‘Om,’ he forgot ‘Bum,’ and when he remembered ‘Bum,’ he forgot ‘Om.’ Eventually the teacher got fed up and kicked the student out. This guy was just completely overwhelmed. “I can’t learn anything. I am so dumb, my teacher kicked me out!” He was crying and crying and crying.
Somebody brought him to the Buddha. The Buddha, because he had so many skilful means, gave this guy a meditation practice suitable for him. He gave him a broom and had him sweep the courtyard in front of the temple where the monks and nuns were doing their prayers. He had to sweep one side of the courtyard and then he would do the other side. When he swept the other side, the side that was first swept became dirty so he had to go back and sweep that again, so he spent all his time going back and forth cleaning both sides of the courtyard. The Buddha told him as he was cleaning, to say, “Clean the dust, clean the stain.” This man went all day long with his broom saying, “Clean the dust, clean the stain,” as he was sweeping.
At some point, through the force of offering service with faith and devotion to the Buddha and to the Sangha, and through the force of continually thinking about what does “clean the dust, clean the stain” mean, he realized that it means to clean the two levels of obscurations. The first one being the afflicted obscurations – the ignorance, attachment, and anger – and the karma that cause rebirth? These are considered the dirt, so you clean that. “Clean the stain” refers to the dualistic appearance of phenomena. He began to understand exactly what the obstacles of the path were and he began to understand the value of the wisdom realizing emptiness….