“I LEARNED THE PRICELESS LESSON that “the hardest part of anything in life is thinking about it” in my early years as a monk in northeast Thailand.

Ajahn Chah was constructing his monastery’s new ceremonial hall and many of us monks were helping with the work. Ajahn Chah used to test us out by saying that a monk would work hard all day for just one or two Pepsis, which was much cheaper for the monastery than hiring laborers from town. Often I thought of starting a trade union for junior monks.

The ceremonial hall was constructed on a monk-made hill. There was much earth remaining from the mound. So Ajahn Chah called us together and told us that he wanted the remaining earth moved around to the back. For the next three days, working from 10:00 A.M. until well past dark, we shoveled and wheelbarrowed that great amount of earth to the very place that Ajahn Chah wanted. I was happy to see it finished.

The following day, Ajahn Chah left to visit another monastery for a few days. After he left, the deputy abbot called us monks together and told us that the earth was in the wrong place and had to be moved. I was annoyed, yet I managed to subdue my complaining mind as we all labored hard for another three days in the tropical heat.

Just after we had finished moving the heap of earth for the second time, Ajahn Chah returned. He called us monks together and said, “Why did you move the earth there? I told you it was to go in that other spot. Move it back there!”

I was angry. I was livid. I was apoplectic. “Can’t those senior monks decide among themselves first? Buddhism is supposed to be an organized religion, but this monastery is so disorganized it can’t even organize where to put some dirt! They can’t do this to me!”

Three more long, tiring days loomed ahead of me. I was cursing in English, so the Thai monks wouldn’t understand me, as I pushed the leaden wheelbarrows. This was beyond the pale. When would this stop?

I began to notice that the angrier I was, the heavier the wheelbarrow felt. One of my fellow monks saw me grumbling, came over and told me, “Your trouble is that you think too much!”

He was right of course. As soon as I stopped whinging and whining, the wheelbarrow felt much lighter to push. I learned my lesson. Thinking about moving the earth was the hardest part; moving it was easy.

To this day, I suspect that Ajahn Chah and his deputy abbot* planned it as it happened from the very start.”

Excerpt From: Brahm, Ajahn. “Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?”. 

*Abbot is a senior monk who head the Monastery

Ponder and Think

We fail to accept somethings which we like and this causes us enormous stress. It makes the task which we don’t like to be extra tough and difficult. Many times we need to do things which we dont like and if we chose to do them without thinking then it will be easy. This is somewhat closely related to the Amazon leadership principle of “Disagree and Commit“.


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