Monday, 23 December 2013

Ajahn Brahm: good, bad, who knows?

I used to own this book: Ajahn Brahm's Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? I bought it at the end of 2008 when Ajahn Brahm came to Penang for a short series of Dhamma talks. It was the first time that I had met him in person. This book was on sale at the counter and I had it autographed as a keepsake. It was full of short stories and anecdotes. Like the book cover said, it contained inspiring stories for welcoming life's difficulties. I referred to the book often and I even wrote a blog entry here so that I could share one of the stories with other people who would otherwise not have heard of this Abbot of the Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine, southern Perth, Australia.

At the end of 2009 when my wife and I had the opportunity to drive around the south-western region of West Australia, we made a detour to the Bodhinyana Monastery, hoping to meet with Ajahn Brahm again. Sadly to us, he was on one of his many speaking jaunts around this part of the world. Such was his popularity then, and such is his popularity until today. So we missed meeting him in Perth.

However, he has been back to Malaysia and in particular, Penang, several times since 2008. Every year at the Sri Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Kampar Road, Penang, we would be sure to go listen to his Dhamma talks for at least two or three times.

Last year, though, visiting Penang wasn't in his plans. But he is here again today, and will be around for the nightly talks until 29 Dec 2013. All the talks will be at the temple in Kampar Road except for the final one which shall be held at the Triple Wisdom Hall in Pangkor Road, Penang. I've been told that that talk would be bilingual and someone will be translating Ajahn Brahm as the talk progresses.

Anyway, his Truckload of Dung book was a constant companion for both my wife and I. Earlier this year - or was it late last year? - we lent the book to a relative who was facing some really big challenges to her life then. Whether she did read it or not, I wouldn't know but what happened was that the book went missing subsequently. Even this relative could not remember what had happened to it. Did she pass it along to other people to read or worse, was it discarded somewhere to collect dust? I was devastated but I kept quiet. To whoever that owns this autographed copy of mine now, please be free to enjoy and learn from the stories. And after finishing the book, please pass it to other people for their enjoyment too. I would be very happy if they do.

However, I still pined for the missing book because I still needed his teachings to reinforce my own flagging self-belief from time to time. Last Saturday at the Sri Mahindarama temple, I had hoped to see the book on sale again as I had wished to get a replacement. But it wasn't.

Yesterday when I was out on the island, I decided to go buy a copy from the Sukhihotu bookshop in Gottlieb Road, Penang. Yes, the book was on the shelf and I gladly picked up a copy again. So now I have a replacement but obviously, this one will never be an exact copy of the first one, even though it may look the same.

There was also a second book of Ajahn Brahm's that I picked up. The follow-up sequel to the Truckload of Dung, called Good? Bad? Who Knows?, contained a further 108 stories that are guaranteed to lift the spirits of anyone who needs even more inspiration in their lives.

These two books are real treasures. I will recommend them heartily to anyone who claims that books about Buddhism are generally dry, long-winded and difficult to read and comprehend. Ajahn Brahm has shown that there is another side to Buddhist teachings. His method of teaching is contrary to this profiling about Buddhist monks who expound the Dhamma. His is capable of reaching out to the typical common man-in-the-street, like me. If I can pick up these two books willingly, so can you too. Just try it.


Anonymous said...

Hi, would you have any idea where to get this two books in Johor Bahru?


SS Quah said...

I bought my two books at the Sukhihotu branch in Penang, but I understand there is also a branch in Petaling Jaya. Please see the Sukhihotu website at for more details.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your experiences

Cally Alexandra said...

Hello there, I have been searching for AB book good or bad who knows in Indonesia for quiet some time but couldn't found it. I try to order from dhammaloka website, but always out of stock. Do you maybe know where I can find somewhere in Malaysia either kuala lumpur or johor? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I doubt popular bookshop will stock it. The closest you could find is in Singapore at your end. Try Kinokunya.

Anonymous said...

Kinokunya in klcc, kl . in Singapore takashimaya, orchard road.