Do Your Duty
It has been said that we should not focus on the duties of others, but instead we should take responsibility and focus on our own duty. In meditation, the great meditation master, Ajahn Chah said to his meditators, “Do your duty, observe your mind. Don’t observe others’ mind.” If we neglect our own duty and instead focus on what others do, we will be in trouble as the story below illustrates:
Once upon a time, there was a Brahman who had many sheep. Along with his sheep he also kept one sheep-dog and one donkey. Near his farm, there lived a cunning old fox which often killed his sheep. One night, the fox came for the sheep and at that time the donkey woke and saw it. It then woke the sheep-dog up, saying, “Wake up friend, the fox is coming to eat our boss’s sheep. We should do something, wake up!! This is your duty.” The sheep-dog said, “Shut up, it is not your business”, and went back to sleep. When the donkey saw the sheep-dog disinterest in the situation it made a loud noise to wake up its boss.
At that time, the Brahman was sleeping soundly but as soon as he heard the noise he woke up with a start. After realizing that it was the braying of the donkey which had woken him up, he came down with the piece of wood from the house and hit the donkey. The donkey then fell quiet and knew that it should not have brayed. It was not its business so it did not get rewarded but punished instead. Since then it never did anything else other than its own duty.
The moral of this story is that we should not try to do something which is not beneficial to our lives or others. To do this, we have to learn what our duty is in life. In Buddhism, there are two duties in life, they are; study and practice. The question is; what should we study? It was said, “We should study something beneficial to our lives and to help others.” This does not mean that we are selfish because if we can help ourselves or take responsibility for ourselves, it means we help others as well. This is because we don’t cause any trouble to anyone. Then our life and our community is peaceful.