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No Axe to Grind







Many a year ago, while residing at an ashram (monastery), I had just finished attending an evening program replete with spiritual practices. It was summertime and lots of folks had come to the program; which had taken place in a beautiful and spacious outdoor pavilion. Evening was falling, and my teacher had already left. At this juncture, folks were milling around collecting their items - pillows, meditation asanas (mats), etc. (Many of us sat on the marble floor during the program, though some chairs were available.)


I found myself just sitting there quietly on the cool marble floor, in no particular hurry to depart. I believe my eyes were closed and I was simply biding my time. Suddenly I heard very distinctly a voice say, “A saint is someone who has no axe to grind.”


Now, you have to understand that I knew immediately that this piece of wisdom had not come from a human in the area. Of this there was no doubt. I knew immediately that it was on the part of a being who was sharing my space, but not of this material world.


Also, you have to know that in a million years, I would not have come up with that particular phrasing. It was so down to earth, but also so clear and profound in its meaning.


This sentence has yielded its wisdom increasingly over the years…I have come to understand more and more that this “no axe to grind” reveals the purity and power that informs a transcendent yet entirely immanent being, a saint. And, not only informs but IS this same being…Such a one has utterly surrendered to that light that has no opposite. Such a one moves informed by pure consciousness.


I proceeded out of the pavilion filled with the blessedness of this message, into the evening.

I am thankful for this completely down-to-earth in its expression, yet transcendent, communication.


May it serve others as it has served this one…



Addendum: As I left the pavilion, I had this certainty I would see my teacher that very evening, again. It was just a knowing. And, not long after, this happened; just the two of us…It was brief but beautiful.



Annie Kiyonaga


July 22, 2021





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