I have always loved Ajahn Brahmavamso’s talks. You can find his talks on the Internet. Not only are they inspiring but the way he delivers his talks is unique. He interlaces his talks with jokes, puns and takes a jab at not only at the monks, but also himself.
I had the opportunity to attend his talks in Wat Chetawan, the Thai temple in Petaling Jaya. He was invited by the Buddhist Fellowship of the temple to conduct a meditation retreat and to give talks to the public. Some of his talks can really hit home.
The 2 bad bricks
Ajahn Bram recounted the time when he first set foot in the Serpetine Monastery in Perth, Australia. Being low in funds, he had to help in the construction of the monastery and his was building a brick wall. With no prior experience in masonry, Ajahn Bram painstakingly mixed mortar and laid all the 1,000 bricks. Upon completion – he stepped back to admire his handiwork and to his horror, there were two ‘bad’ bricks that stood out like two sore thumbs.
He was horrified and even thought of blowing up the wall just to begin all over again. He did did that, fortunately. Visitors to the monastery were purposely directed away from the brick wall so they won’t notice the defects. Until a visitor chanced upon it and remarked that it was a beautiful wall.
Ajahn Bram thought the visitor was bonkers. “Can’t you see the two bad bricks?” Ajahn Bram exclaimed. The visitor replied, “yes I can. And I can also see the other 998 good bricks that made up the wall.”
This made Ajahn Bram contemplate and agree that very often in life we only see the bad things that has happened – in ourselves especially. We criticize, complain and overlook the good things in ourselves, and others too. No one is perfect. Life isn’t perfect. There are good and the bad in every single one of us. The point is to look at the good virtues of a person before considering their faults.
Desires, cravings and endless wantings are the attachments that hamper us. Very often too, we have this “idea” that if we “have” a certain possession or a “person”, we would be happy. That according to Ajahn Bram, is like looking for a tortoise with a moustache. Believe me, I have experienced that numerous times and sometimes getting what you want will turn out to getting something you DON’T want.
Being with myself
I have started on the road to self discovery of getting acquainted with the person I admire and love the most – Myself. I have to love myself first before I even begin to try to love others. It’s getting back to the basics. To the roots of oneself and there are oftentimes I spend walking alone, enjoying the moment.
I am writing this to commemorate my “self-exile” of nearly 3 years. Before that I only looked at the bad bricks in myself and in others. Loving myself is quintessential before attempting to love others. Self discovery – it may be lonely but you’ll figure out that you will never be alone when you have yourself.
If you are interested, you can download some of his talks from here: http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-talks.htm