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."
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!
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.
I am quite new to buddhism...but have gone through some teacher's teachings through their published books. I felt Ajahn Chah's teaching to be quite direct. He doesnt waste time in entertaining you, but feels like directly points out, this is where you are wrong and see yourself by meditation. Somewhere he mentioned: Meditation is like sitting in a huge hall with many windows and your job is to see who is coming who is going. Thats it! He probably explains buddhism in a very straightforward ways. I wish I would have gotten a chance to meet such great person. He is great.