Chicken ShitFebruary 13, 2008
Some of my favourite analogies i heard from Ajahn Brahm comes from his own teacher, Ajahn Chah. One is the analogy of the donkey and the carrot. Another analogy is the chicken shit analogy.
Which one do you wanna hear about? (Think about it and scroll down)
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Ajahn Chah used to say: “You go through the chicken fields and instead of picking up the eggs, you just pick up chicken shit.”
Quite crude, yes. But it makes a good point. Here’s my understanding and extra thoughts to it:
We go through life stupidly picking up chicken shit instead of eggs. We spend so much of our time gathering the bad memories and holding onto all the negative criticism of ourselves (not to mention how many times we replay them). We have habitual tendencies to see the worse in other people or our situation. We really need to struggle to see the best in others or what’s happening sometimes. We spend so much time and energy pursuing things that are not sustainable and contributory to our happiness. Just grasping onto fleeting and short-term pleasures, without realising the harmful long-term consequences. In summary, we pick up chicken shit all our lives and think that’s the right – and only – way.
We do all this while neglecting the real purpose to our lives, just like we forget the real reason why we went to the chicken fields in the first place – to pick up chicken eggs. We forget the real meaning of our lives – to be happy and to be a source of happiness for others. We get caught up in what we are doing and our obligations, and forget the real obligation in life. We spend so much time working to make money and build a career. Now this is fine, but don’t forget why you’re doing it for. It maybe to sustain yourself and others materially and comfortably, or to provide the conditions for further spiritual growth. Just don’t confuse the means as your end.
Another egg we keep forgetting to pick up is all the positive things in our lives. Some people are so used to a mind that criticises and is never unsatisfied they find it so difficult to be accepting and contented. They think that this will make them give up on improving their life. I personally find that acceptance and progress aren’t oppositional but complementary. We can only progress by accepting that we and others are imperfect. We can only really improve by holding a mind that is loving, patient and understanding to ourselves, others and our situation. The greatest teachers teach with compassion, not by putting their students down. The greatest advisers are those who can turn a seemingly disadvantaged situation into one that is favourable. And to do that, one must believe in one’s ability and the possibility that there are chicken eggs out there amongst all the chicken shit.