Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? The title of Ajahn Brahm’s most famous book isn’t something you’d expect a Buddhist monk to say, but like all Buddhists, Brahm understands that life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Poignant and humorous, this collection of inspiring tales will leave you feeling hopeful and ready to embrace life’s many truckloads of dung.
Published in 2005, this book contains 108 stories divided into thematic categories, such as: fear and pain, perfection and guilt, love and commitment, creating happiness, anger and forgiveness, wisdom and inner silence, suffering and letting go, the mind and reality, values and the spiritual life.
Some tales will make you laugh out loud, while others offer a more subtle level of inspiration. Brahm shares each of his tales in his usual off-the-wall fashion, with funny (sometimes corny) quips, but nuggets of deep, powerful wisdom can be found at the heart of each story.
So, Who Ordered the Truckload of Dung?
The premise of this collection of stories is that life doesn’t always give you what you want, and you will go through hard times. It’s what you do with those hard times that really counts.
Ajahn Brahm uses the mango tree metaphor to explain this deep, complex wisdom.
You wake up one morning to find that someone, you don’t know who, delivered a truckload of dung to your house. What do you do with that dung? Do you bring it inside your house? No. You bury the dung under the mango tree in your backyard. The dung fertilizes the tree, helping it grow delicious mangoes that you can share with friends.
Simply put, Brahm is saying that it’s important to take all of life’s difficulties, and use them to better your life; to grow as a person. It’s impossible to be “kindful” and compassionate if you never experience any heartache, difficulties or pain in your life. And when you can use those negative experiences to grow and learn, you can share your wisdom, your compassion with others.
Letting Go and Being Mindful
Throughout the book, the theme of letting go and being mindful is largely present. Brahm tells the story of when the abbot of a monastery closed down construction of a new hall in time for the Rains Retreat, a quiet time for the monastery.
A visitor came and asked the abbot when the hall would be finished. The abbott replied that the hall was finished. Taken aback by his response, the visitor pointed out all of unfinished hall’s flaws – it had no roof, no windows and construction materials were scattered about.
The abbott’s response: “What’s done is finished.”
If you don’t take this attitude towards life, your work will never be complete. When it’s time to take a break or go on a retreat, remind yourself that the task is finished – even if others would disagree.
Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? is an enjoyable read that people of all faiths can appreciate. It share tales of wisdom and humor to help you take a different perspective on the difficulties of life.