Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy: Inspiring Stories for Making the Most of Each Moment

Ajahn Brahm. Wisdom, $15.95 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-61429-167-1
In 108 light-hearted, and very short, stories, Ajahn Brahm (Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?) illustrates the “monk method” of “separating the mind from the difficulties that surround it.” The British-born abbot of the Bodhinyana Monastery in Western Australia offers eclectic tales that illuminate key Buddhist values, particularly kindness and compassion. Some are adapted from traditional parables, often feature animals, but Ajahn Brahm also draws widely from his experiences as a student of the Venerable Ajahn Chah in Thailand, as a spiritual counselor for local Buddhists, and as a collector of oddball anecdotes. Kind ghosts, chicken farmers, disappearing motorcycles, bullies, and lucky lottery shops all make appearances. His quirky sensibility is not for all tastes: the tales can be a trifle morbid, off-kilter, or perplexing, and the author is more effective at finding humor in life’s absurdities than he is at addressing such topics as rape and the loss of a child. Acute insight (“Happiness is the ‘must have’ commodity of the modern age”) and wise advice (“Put the work down when it feels too heavy to bear, and rest for a little while”) mingle with cheerful self-promotion and stereotypes (“Boys want good-looking girlfriends. Girls often want rich husbands”). Ajahn Brahm has a gift for deriving comedy—and an easily digested Buddhist lesson—from much of what his restless mind encounters. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
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