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The Weight Of The Mind

Submitted by Ajahn Brahm
Posted on 30 May, 2016

The Weight Of The Mind
People these days think too much. If they would only quiet down their thinking process a little, then their lives would flow much easier.

One night each week in our monastery in Thailand, the monks would forgo their sleep to meditate all night in the main hall. It was part of our forest monk's tradition. It wasn't too austere since we could always take a nap the following morning.

One morning after the all night meditation session, when we were about to go back to our huts to catch up on our sleep, the abbot beckoned a junior Australian born monk. To the monk's dismay, the abbot gave him a huge pile of robes to wash, ordering him to do it immediately. It was our tradition to look after the abbot by washing his robes and doing other little services for him.

This was an enormous pile of washing. Moreover, all washing had to be done in the traditional way of the forest monks. Water had to be hauled from a well, a big fire made and the water boiled. A log from a jackfruit tree would be pared into chips with the monastery's machete. The chips would be added to the boiling water to release their sap, which would act as the detergent. Then each robe would be placed singly in a long wooden trough, the brown boiling water poured over, and the robe would be pounded by hand until it was clean. The monk had then to dry the robes in the sun, turning them from time to time to ensure that the natural dye did not streak. To wash even one robe was a long and burdensome process. To wash such a large number of robes would take many hours. The young Brisbane born monk was tired from having not slept all night. I felt sorry for him.

I went over to the washing shed to give him a hand. When I got there, he was swearing and cursing more in Brisbane tradition than Buddhist tradition. He was complaining how unfair and cruel it was. "Couldn't that abbot have waited until tomorrow ? Didn't he realize that I haven't sleep all night ? I didn't become a monk for this!" that was not precisely what he said, but this is all that is printable.

When this occurred, I had been a monk for several years. I understood what he was experiencing and knew the way out of his problem. I told him, "Thinking about it is much harder than doing it."

He fell silent and stared at me. After a few moments of silence, he quietly went back to work and I went off for a sleep. Later that day, he came to see me to say thank you for helping with the washing. It was so true, he discovered, that thinking about it was the hardest part. When he stopped complaining and just did the washing, there was no problem at all..

The hardest part of anything in life is thinking about it.

~ Ajahn Brahm, From his book 'Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung?'

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