Sunday, March 17, 2013
"Poor me, lucky them" - Another story from Ajahn Brahm
"Life as a very junior monk in Thailand seemed so unfair. The senior monks received the best food, sat on the softest cushions and never had to push wheelbarrows. Whereas my one meal of the day was disgusting; I had to sit for long hours in ceremonies on the hard concrete floor (which was lumpy as well, because the villagers were hopeless at laying concrete); and sometimes I had to labor very hard. Poor me, lucky them.
I spent long, unpleasant hours justifying my complaints to myself. The senior monks were probably so enlightened that delicious food would be wasted on them, therefore I should get the best food. The senior monks had been sitting cross-legged on hard floors for years and were used to it, therefore I should get the big soft cushions. Moreover, the senior monks were all fat anyway, from eating the best food, so had "natural upholstery" to their butts. The senior monks just told us junior monks to do the work, never laboring themselves, so how could they appreciate how hot and tiring pushing wheelbarrows was? The projects were all their ideas anyway, so they should do the work! Poor me, lucky them.
When I became a senior monk, then I ate the best food, sat on a soft cushion and did little physical work. However, I caught myself envying the junior monks. They didn't have to give all the public talks, didn't listen to people's problems all day, and didn't spend hours on administration. They had no responsibilities and so much time for themselves. I heard myself saying, "Poor me, lucky them!"
I soon figured out what was going on. Junior monks have "junior-monk suffering."Senior monks have "senior-monk suffering." When I became a senior monk, I was just exchanging one form of suffering for another form of suffering.
It is precisely the same for single people who envy those who are married, and the married people who envy those who are single. As we all should know by now, when we get married, we are only exchanging "single-person's suffering" for "married-person's suffering."Then when we get divorced, we are only exchanging "married-person's suffering" for "single-person's suffering." Poor me, lucky them.
When we are poor, we envy those who are rich. However, may who are rich envy the sincere friendships and freedom from responsibilities of those who are poor. Becoming rich is only exchanging "poor-person's suffering" for "rich-person's suffering." Retiring and taking a cut in your income is only exchanging "rich-person's suffering" for "poor-person's suffering." And so it goes on. Poor me, lucky them.
To think that you will be happy by becoming something else is delusion. Becoming something else just exchanges one form of suffering for another form of suffering. But when you are content with who you are now, junior or senior, married or single, rich or poor, then you are free of suffering. Lucky me, poor them!"
I choose the story above, just to remind ourselves to be content with what we have, who we are, what we do, and so on. Because life is all about suffering. It exists all the time, even since we were born to this world. Like Ajahn Brahm said, it is only exchanging its form. We need to realize this and be content is the key to happiness. So, which one are you? Poor me, lucky them? Or Lucky me, poor them? You decide!
Posted by Rima Reyka