Doing Nothing: A Story from Ajahn Brahm

A friend was on retreat with Ajahn Brahm some months ago when he was in London. He shared a beautiful and funny story that Ajahn had shared during the retreat. I’ve only heard this story from my friend, so it will certainly be different to how Ajahn might have shared it. I also don’t know if I can convey the punchline as well through written text so I apologise if I ruin this story!

Ajahn is the abbot of a monastery, and as the abbot he receives a lot of requests to teach at different places. One day the telephone rings and the leader of a local community asks Ajahn whether he will be available this afternoon to give a dharma talk to a group of people. Ajahn pauses for a moment, then says,

“No sorry, I am busy this afternoon.”

“May I ask what you are doing? Are you teaching some place else this afternoon? Perhaps we could join.. ”

“I am busy doing nothing. Can you ring back tomorrow?”

Perplexed, the man says goodbye kindly and puts down the phone. The next day he rings Ajahn again.

“Hi Ajahn, are you able to offer a dharma talk to my local community today?”

“No sorry, I haven’t finished doing nothing.”



One response to “Doing Nothing: A Story from Ajahn Brahm”


    Hi Liam

    I am back after finishing my second vipassana course. It was fantastic. This time i was able to feel the sensation and learn how to develop samatha. It was really a great experience. I was not able to concentrate on by breathing for first 3 days, but the stage surprisingly changed on the 4th day when the determined sitting “Adhitthana” started at the end of 4th day. I managed to complete all the “Adhitthana” sitting successfully with one or two moves in 2-3 sittings. On the 7th day got caught in severe cough and cold which made sits/concentration very difficult. But soon got over and finished the course successfully. What i realized at the end of the course is consistency is the most important.

    Want to learn more about samatha, concentration, and types of sensations we get during meditation. Is our physical illness, weak will power in thoughts, weakness in consistency of practice is all because of our karma. How can one improve the consistency and improve the will power?


    Satish Kulkarni

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