on May 29, 2005
I agree wholeheartedly with the Hawaii reviewer's statement that Mr. Breiter has once again brought forth the crystalline Dhamma from the late Ajahn Chah. Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away is another brilliant compilation of insights from this great teacher, but Breiter doesn't stop there.
No, in this new book, there are also stories about life with Ajahn Chah from this former monk who knew him as well as any Westerner, living and working with him and also translating for him in Thailand and when Ajahn Chah visited the U.S. These stories are just as enlightening as the Ajahn's direct teachings, but for those of us who like a little story here and there -- which was, after all, how the Buddha himself taught -- these little sprinklings of what it was like to be around this tough, enlightened being are a wonderful balm after the hard work of trying to internalize the Dhamma.
In short, this book is absolutely vital for anyone who loves the Dhamma as taught in the Thai forest tradition, or for anyone who loves to hear stories about enlightened masters of any tradition. Another simply brilliant job of bringing Ajahn Chah's words to the West by Paul Breiter.
Ajahn Chah was not a writer. He was born in a fishing village in northeast Thailand in 1918 and spent many years there speaking to farmers and fishermen. Many of these talks were recorded, transcribed and later translated and compiled by one of his western students, Paul Breiter.
Ajahn Chah spoke simply for a simple audience. To illustrate his points, he spoke of fields, ponds, rivers, fish, frogs, dogs, plowing, planting, and harvesting. He used folk tales and parables. Here he speaks of how we are responsible for our own suffering:
"Really, someone who suffers when living alone is foolish. Someone who suffers when living with others is foolish. It's like chicken turds: if you carry them around by yourself, they stink. If you keep them when you're among others, they stink. You carry the rotten things with you."
On the futility of becoming overly preoccupied in affairs of the world, he reminds his audience of the beetle, scratching in the earth:
"It can scratch up a pile that's a lot bigger than itself, but it's still only a pile of dirt. If it works hard, it makes a deep hole in the ground, but it's only a hole in dirt. If a buffalo drops a load of dung there, it will be bigger than the beetle's pile of earth, but it still isn't anything that reaches to the sky. It's all dirt. Worldly accomplishments are like this. No matter how hard the beetles work, they're just involved in dirt, making holes and piles"
Translating the colloquialisms must have been challenging, but, as you can see from the above, Paul Breiter has done a magnificent job capturing Ajahn Chah's voice, making "Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away" a wonderful volume for even those who may have been practicing the dharma for many years.
For those new to Buddhism, this would be an amusing and enlightening introduction, not only because of the colorful language but also for the way in which Ajahn Chah reduces the message of Buddhism to a few easy-to-grasp concepts. He seemed to like reminding his audience that Buddhism was not all that difficult to understand, and he did this through the message of impermanence. As he remarks in a teaching on meditation:
"The way I practice medication is not very complicated - just this. This is what it all comes down to: `It's uncertain'. Everything meets at this point."
Sometimes Buddhist teachings can seem inaccessable to Westerners, but this book is an exception. It contains tremendous insights into uncertainty and impermanence and solid teachings on dealing with the unsatisfactory aspects of life. It is not, however, just a book of dry teachings. There are lively stories and snapshots of monastery life that add an extra dimension to the book. I also enjoyed the softly humorous aspects of many of Ajahn Chah's teachings. This book is well-written and hard to put down. While perhaps not appropriate as an introductory text, I give it my unreserved recommendation for people with any background knowledge of Buddhism.
on April 29, 2005
Everything Arises, Everything Falls Away is the perfect title for this work. This is truly a deep and important Dharma book. Paul Breiter has done it again , bringing the reader to the very feet of the great great master meditation teacher Luang Por Chah Subatto.
Ajahn Chah's being and character ring clear from every word , sometimes bringing a smile , sometimes a conviction . This is good Theravada wisdom , the Wisdom of the Buddha 100% , set forth an a very easy to read style. I will have to read this book at least a
half dozen times to absorb all that is richly contained therein .
My hat is off to this author who profoundly honors his late teacher with such an excellent presentation.
on July 21, 2013
I've never reviewed anything on Amazon before - this is my first, and most likely my last review here. This book has touched me so deeply - I can't describe it enough - I would've felt guilty if I didn't post anything here. If there's one book from my entire bookshelf that I can take along with me, I'll choose this one, no doubt. Stellar job in talking about Ajahn Chah, giving so much practical advice in worldly problems and issues, and best of all, this book is motivational. It's beyond inspiring - feel Ajahn Chah speaking with you and personally motivate you to practice and see the Dhamma for yourself.
on September 13, 2006
Although I actually practice Soto Zen Buddhism, the teachings on this book are invaluable. Ajahn Chah's honest, direct and bold approach in teaching the truth to his students is a great source of inspiration. His teachings will remain timeless and are a good addition to anyone's library.
on January 23, 2008
An excellent book, clearly worded and phrased to bring us the wisdom of Ajahn Chah.
An excellent collection of short teachings, useful for a beginner, as an introduction to Buddhism, or as a refreshing reminder of the simple truths Ajahn Chah expounded.
on March 27, 2008
I am a beginning Buddhism practitioner who started not too long ago. This is also the first Ajahn Chah book I have read.
I agree with most of the reviews already on Amazon. You will not find intellectual challenging philosophy of Buddhism on this book. Instead, you will find profound teachings lay out in the simplest form full of allegories to be easily comprehended by you.
I particularly enjoy the briefness of each teaching. Each teaching is no more than few pages long and can usually be read in few minutes. However, it usually takes me a few moments to contemplate after reading one whether I agree or disagree with the teaching. Even though I wholeheartedly enjoy the book, there are teachings which are hard to accept. The most memorable one is the analogy of the worldly activity to insects digging dirt on earth. Maybe one day when I am fully enlightened, I will see things as such.
There are also other teachings I find insightful. For example, his emphasis on practice in the midst of distractions and the fact that the state of tranquility is not permanent.
In short, this is a great book to read if you are looking for books that are simple to read but yet contains profound wisdoms.
on March 13, 2007
Reading Ajahn Chah is one of the best ways to experience Dhamma talks at home. He is simple, direct, and profound. No written speeches. No convoluted exercises in Buddhist rhetoric. Just the facts, ma'am.
on February 11, 2009
These teachings of Ajahn Chah are about anicca, dukkha, and anatta, the contemplation of which are essential for knowing Dharma.
According to Ajahn Chah, the true and correct words of the sages will not lack mention of anicca (dukkha, and anatta). If there is no mention of such, it is not the speech of the wise. It is not the speech of the enlightened ones; it's called speech that does not accept the truth of existence.
The statement is supported by Veneral Ajahn Mun, the most renowned monk and teacher of many great meditation masters including Ajahn Chah, who once said, "The speech of arahants is Dharma, others' is worldly opinion."
Ajahn Chah also mentioned, "I've been teaching and training people almost thirty years now. If at least you can enter the stream to enlightenment and ensure there won't be an eighth rebirth, that would be pretty good."
Thus,for those who want to enter the stream and experience eternal peace - the end of suffering, this book is priceless!