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Shovel and Spade of Selfless Service

“After the well is dug, some throw away the shovel and spade, but others keep the tools in order to help their neighbors.”

When enlightenment dawns on the aspiring human mind, the soul is through with embodiment in ignorance. There is no more need to reincarnate in the world of name and form again, at least not due to the weight of unresolved karma. The well of spiritual insight has been dug, the water of realization has been been struck, now the tools of practice and attainment can be discarded because the soul is free. This is the process and the consummation for the newly-liberated being. Ramprasad describes it as follows:

O my lazy mind
clearly you do not know how to farm.
You allow your own fertile expanse to lie fallow.
Under proper cultivation, the land of awareness
becomes golden with the harvest of illumination.
Sow seeds with every breath.
Protect the precious field of your soul
with the fiery fence of Mother Kali's name,
so the fruit of your dedicated effort
will not be stolen by the egocentric world.

Impenetrable is the fiery fence of Kali Kali Kali!
Even death dares not approach it.
Be utterly confident, O simpleminded poet.
Encircled by this powerful resonance,
your meditations in song will remain fruitful
for many hundred years.

The soul is the field of free decision.
Dedicate yourself to constant cultivation
for the sake of all conscious beings,
and the harvest will be without limit.
Your spiritual guide has given you
the mystic syllable of Mother essence
as potent seed to sow.
Water for irrigation flows abundantly through the heart
as pure love and tender devotion.

This dusty troubadour wandering through open fields
now pleads with everyone:
"If you find farming difficult,
please bring my poems with you."
Translation by Lex Hixon


There are other enlightened beings present on earth as well. The guru is one such, who has long ago achieved personal liberation and is now involved in returning to the world of name and form to rescue suffering souls from ignorance and delusion — a sort of metempsychosis for the melioration and manumission of mankind immured in the malaise of Maya. In the case of the guru, the “shovel and spade” of practice and attainment are retained and utilized in a masterful way to assist other beings desirous of acquiring non-dual knowledge leading to freedom. In addition, all the tricks of the trade are revealed as well, including the best place to dig, the best technique, how deep to go, when to rest, how to take care of the laboring human instrument, and other aids applicable to spiritual life. This means where to look for the essence of God, what teachings or practices benefit the seeker most efficiently, how to strike a balance between intense discipline and easy abidance, and what to do in order to facilitate optimum health for the limited body/mind mechanism. Indeed, the spade and shovel of spiritual life are well used by that one who is most concerned, and anxious to aid those who are thirsty for the water of Self-realization. To quote the Guru Stotram:

Eternal obeisances to the Wisdom Teacher
who graces us with the boon of holy communion,
who appears as all things movable and immovable
yet pervades them all as an immutable Presence.
Salutations to the Ultimate Guru

My Lord and Master is the Blessed Lord of the Universe
My undying Guru is the Supreme Teacher of the Universe.
My essential being is ever one with God Almighty
and is therefore the Self in all beings.
Reverent salutations to the Ultimate Guru.

Salutations to the Guru, who is the inherent Divinity in all.
Who creates the realm of being and becoming
but who is without beginning.
There is no one beyond or outside
of this all-encompassing Being.
Reverent salutations to the Ultimate Guru.

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