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Book recommendation time!

Yes, there is actually a book entitled Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?. It’s by Ajahn Brahm, who is a Buddhist monk in the Thai Forest Tradition. (Ajahn Brahm was born in the United Kingdom, and now leads a monastery in Australia.) You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the book.

The book is composed of 108 stories, proverbs, experiences, and what have you. The title piece involves a story about someone who has a truckload of dung dumped on their front yard, and the choices it presents. Do they get angry, moan, wail, and do nothing about the pile of dung? Do they go through some of that and then move on? Do they go, “Well, dung makes great fertilizer for the garden…” (I won’t spoil it any further, as you really should check it out yourself.)

There’s also quite a good section on sickness, grief, and death. One story that I particularly liked was entitled, “Visiting the Sick.” Ajahn Brahm shares some useful advice:

“[The nun] explained that when all her other friends and relations came to visit her, they became so sad and miserable seeing her dying that it made her feel much worse. ‘It’s bad enough dying from cancer,’ she said, ‘that it’s too much to deal with my visitors’ emotional problems as well.’

She went on to say that I was the only friend who treated her as a person, not as someone dying; who didn’t get upset at seeing her gaunt and wasted, but instead told her jokes and made her laugh. So I told her jokes for the next hour, while she taught me how to help a friend with their death. I learned from her that when you visit someone in hospital, talk to the person and leave the doctors and nurses to talk to the sickness.”

I remember when I was dealing with some pretty serious depression. People would ask me how I was feeling, and I’d just want to scream. I was fighting nightly with thoughts of suicide, and someone wanted to know how my day went? I know that these feelings come from a good place. I just couldn’t hear that at the time.

I would add to Ajahn Brahm’s story slightly. My folks have been incredibly supportive, both emotionally and in terms of dealing with the myriad of phone calls to doctors, insurance companies, pharmacies, and all the other rigamorole that comes from being ill. If someone asks you – and they’ll probably be close enough to you that you know who you are – being an advocate/ally for a sick person is an incredibly valuable thing. Someone to research treatment options, ask your doctor about them, that sort of thing. (Caveat: Do this only if asked. Unsolicited advice probably falls in the “not helpful” category.)

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Ajahn Chah

For the visually impaired: the above image shows a series of four pictures of Ajahn Chah, a Thai monk.He is sitting on the floor, probably preparing for a talk. He is wearing orange robes and has a shaved head. In the first three pictures, he appears to be stretching his hands. He does not appear to be looking anywhere in particular. He has a contemplative look. In the last picture, he smiles to someone behind the camera.

Every time I look at these pictures, I smile. The monk in the photos, Ajahn Chah, just seems to be radiating loving kindness, or metta.

This post is mainly about giving you a picture to smile about. It’s amazing how some people, animals, events, moons, scenery, can just make you smile. For me, it feels like my heart just opens up. Like I’m suddenly somehow connected to the world in a new way.

It’s a great feeling.

In case you want some extra bonus cool information, Ajahn Chah was a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism. There’s a website about the Thai Forest tradition, including some free teaching materials, here.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted Ajahn Chah as my teacher. He certainly did the whole “confront-your-suffering-head-on” approach when teaching monks. I do that intermittently, mainly when I’m having a pain flare up. I haven’t chosen to follow some of his more stringent teachings on Buddhist practice.

There’s a really interesting story (followed by stringent teachings on Buddhist practice) written by Ajahn Chah on the Forest Sangha website. It’s about some time he spent meditating in a graveyard, alone, at night. He describes feeling as though there is a being sniffing around him at night, which he fears is the spirit of the dead corpse that had been cremated that night.

I sat as if I wasn’t even touching the ground and simply noted what was going on. The fear was so great that it filled me, like a jar completely filled with water. If you pour water until the jar is completely full, and then pour some more, the jar will overflow. Likewise, the fear built up so much within me that it reached its peak and began to overflow.

”What am I so afraid of anyway?” a voice inside me asked.

”I’m afraid of death,” another voice answered.

It’s a really good read, I don’t want to spoil it any further. If you like ghost stories, insight, Buddhism, or experience a fear of death yourself, you should check it out.

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A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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