Friday, March 13, 2009

Two Bad Bricks

Here's an abstract of one of the short stories from "Opening The Door of Your Heart" by Ajahn Brahm. Shi Xiong brought this book for me way back, when i first attend an Ajahn Brahm talk.

It's about Ajahn Brahm's days when he was building his monastery back in 1983. Ajahn Brahm and his fellowmonks were poor monks that needed buildings, and they couldn't afford to hire builders, so they had to learn how to build.

The following story is about Ajahan Brahm constructing a brick wall:

"Being a monk, i had patience and as much time as i needed. I make sure every single brick was perfect, no matter how long it took. Eventually, i completed my first brick wall and stood back to admire it.It was only then that i noticed --OH NO!-- I'd missed two bricks. All the other bricks were nicely in line, but these two were inclined at an angle. They look terrible.they spoiled the whole wall. They ruined it.

By then, the cement mortar was too hard for the bricks to be taken out, so i asked the abbot if i could knock down the wall down and start over again, or even better, blow it up. I'd made a mess out of it, and i was very embarrassed. The abbot said no, the wall had to stay.

When i first showed our first visitors around our fledgling monastery, i always tried to avoid taking them past my brick wall. i hated anyone seeing it. Then one day, some three or four months after i finished it, i was walking with a visitor and he saw the wall.

"That's a nice wall" he casually remarked.

"Sir," i replied in surprise, " have you left your glasses in your car? Are you visually impaired? can't you see those two bad bricks which spoiled the whole wall?"

What he said next changed my whole view of that wall, of myself and of many other aspects of life.
He said. "Yes, I can see those two bad bricks. But i can also see the 998 good bricks as well."
I was stunned. For the first time in over three months, i could see other bricks in that wall apart from the two mistakes. Above, and below, to the left and to the right of the bad bricks were good bricks,perfect bricks. Moreover, the perfect bricks were many, many more than the two bad bricks.
Before, my eyes would focus exclusively on my two mistakes; i was blind to everything else.That was why i couldn't bear looking at the wall, or having others see it.

That was why i wanted to destroy it. Now that i could see the good bricks, the wall didn't look so bad after all. It was, as the visitor had said, "a nice brick wall"

How many people end a relationship or get divorced because all they can see in their partners are "two bad bricks"? How much of us become depressed or even contemplate suicide, because all we can see in ourselves are "two bad bricks".

In truth, there are many many more good bricks, perfect bricks, above below, to the left and right of the faults--but at times we just can't see them. Instead, every time we look, our eyes focus exclusively on the mistakes. The mistakes are all we see, and they're all we think are there, so we want to destroy them. And sometimes,sadly,we do destroy a "very nice wall"

We've all got our two bad bricks, but the perfect bricks in each one of us are much much more than the mistakes.Once we see this, things aren't so bad. Not only can we live at peace with ourselve, inclusive of our faults, but we can also enjoy living with a partner. This is bad news for divorce lawyers, but good news for you."

Made a lot of sense to me, hope it does for everyone out there. Anyone interested to read the book, do feel free to come find me!

[provided if you can guess who am i]

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