Yes, we are indeed at war, and the Buddha has amassed an army of millions that spans the globe.
And the way that I see it, like any army, there is a need for leaders. The monks and nuns are like the Generals, Sergeants and Lieutenants for us. The rest of us are like the foot soldiers. We are the ones on the ground that actually fight the battles and take the hills. And while everyone knows that great leaders are vital to the success of any campaign, it is truly the lowest ranking soldiers that do the work of actually making it happen.
The difference between this army and all others, is that Buddha’s army has a mission of peace. A mission of loving kindness, friendship, compassion, giving, acceptance and equanimity. And the enemy that we face is not in some foreign land, but within ourselves and our own nature. Mara is the temptress that separates us from seeing clearly and without delusion. Bolstering our own ego and selfishness, creating stories and dogmas that separate us from other living beings.
And while our commanding officers may be the best of the best, it is the grunt work that each of us do that will determine the outcome.
I think that many of us may feel that a monastic is superior to us in our practice. But this is very far from the truth. These loving individuals are simply soldiers like us that have chosen to dedicate their lives toward understanding the battle and assisting us as best they can. The robes are not a gift of enlightenment or privilege, but quite the opposite. They are a symbol of renunciation and egolessness. No hair, no clothes, no home, no self. They serve as our examples, our teachers, but never our boss. We our each on our own in how we choose to live our lives and develop our practice. We are all bound by the same Four Noble Truths, and succeed by way of the same Eightfold Path.
Today is the great opportunity for each of us to “be all you can be”, an “army of one”. Don’t wait to be drafted. Freedom and victory are in your capable hands.