Imagine you have just had a wonderful afternoon at the beach with friends. When you return home, you find a hufe truck-load of dung has been dumped right in front of your door. There are three things to know about this truck-load of dung:
- you did not order it, it is not your fault
- you are stuck with it. No one saw who dumped it, so you cannot call anyone to take it away
- it is filthy and offensive, and its stench fills your whole house. It is almost impossible to endure
In this metaphor, the truck-load of dung in front of us stands for the traumatic experiences that are dumped on us in life. As with the dung, there are three things to know about tragedy in life:
- We did not order it. We say "Why me?"
- We're stuck with it. No one, not even our best friends, can take it away
- It is so awful, such a destroyer of our happiness, and its pain fills our whole life. It is almost impossible to endure
There are two ways of responding to being stuck with the dung. The first way is to carry the dung around with us. We put some in our pockets, some in our bags, and some up our shirts. We even put some down our pants. We find when we carry dung around, we lose a lot of friends! Even best friends don't seem to be around so often.
'Carrying around the dung’ is a metaphor for sinking into depression, negativity or anger. It is a natural and understandable response to adversity. But we lose a lot of friends, because it is also natural and understandable that our friends don’t like being around us when we are too depressed. Moreover, the pile of dung gets no less, but the smell gets worse as it ripens.
Fortunately, there is a second way. When we are dumped with the dung, we heave a sigh, and then got down to work. We fork the dung into the barrow, wheel it around the back and dig in into the garden. This is the tiring and difficult work, but we know there’s no other option. Sometimes all we can manage is half a barrow a day. We’re doing something about the problem, rather than complaining our way into depression. Day after day we dig in the dung. Day after day, the pile gets smaller.
One day, we will see that the dung in front of the house is all gone.
Article taken from "Opening The Door of Your Heart, Ajahn Brahm"