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Monday, August 15, 2011

Forgiving Yourself

Sometimes we are so drowned in guilt that we cannot let go, forgive ourselves and move on.  Here is a story that I heard from Ajahn Brahm which I found very touching.
As a young, poor student, he found a part-time job selling children's encyclopedia from door-to-door.  He described that job as the worst job in the world, because it entails "cheating" on the customers.  The training he got was about psychologically making the parents feel guilty that they didn't care about their children if they didn't buy his encyclopedias.  Then one day, he actually sold one to a young couple who had a baby of about 1 year old.  He felt so guilty about it, the poor young couple who probably didn't have enough money to get by, and they spent their money on a worthless encyclopedia.  He quit the job the next day, and felt guilty about it, until he became a monk when he learnt to let go.
Then one day, while giving a talk about forgiveness in Perth, he told this story.  After the talk, a young woman walked up to him and said that she was from England, and as a young child she had this encyclopedia that her parents bought for her from a student who was a door-to-door salesman.  And she wondered if it was Ajahn Brahm who actually sold that book to her parents, but it really might have been him, because the world is a strange place where what goes around, comes around.
She said: "I loved that book. It was my constant companion as I was growing up, and I had so many fun hours reading it!"


  1. hm... my mom used to buy a series of english learning book and cassette. i think it is so expensive. same case, she bought form door to door salesman. even though it does not make me so powerful in english as my friends from town or from boarding schools, but i still managed to get compliments from my english school teachers because i read english essay in a very interesting intonation, which i learnt it from the cassettes.

  2. I think every parent's weakness is buying something educational for the child. My father also bought this expensive (I think it was RM200-300) set of English learning books with cassettes, he said it's ok because both my brother and I could use them ;-) The thing about the story above is you could feel so guilty all your life about something you've done, but it turned to be ok or useful to that person after all.