I May Be Wrong: Lessons from a Forest Monk

Recent thoughts on Björn Natthiko Lindeblad's moving book 'I May Be Wrong'.

I May Be Wrong: Lessons from a Forest Monk

I listened to a podcast recently interviewing a Buddhist Monk on his time living in Thailand for 17 years. Björn Natthiko Lindeblad swiftly rose on the corporate ladder, then gave up his success as an economist in his mid-20’s. He decided to give it all up to pursue a life of purpose. Something deeper. No doubt many experience this feeling at some point in their lives. Captured by his unique mix of compassion, humor and humility, I knew that picking up his book was a no-brainer. With the english translation of his book published in 2022, I May Be Wrong: And Other Wisdoms From Life as a Forest Monk, I bathed in the wisdom he had to offer in 237 pages. This book was an easy, yet moving read as Björn's voice speaks to you in his writing. The light-hearted humor made it all the more enjoyable to digest, yet the profound lessons he shares make it a wonderful experience.

Here are 3 takeaways that inspired me most.

  1. There is goodness in and across the depths humanity. Even though we see a barrage of trauma, violence and disaster on the news each day, not all hope is lost. Known by his Buddhist name, Natthiko Bhikku, he would frequently visit nearby villages near the monastery with his alms bowl, ready to receive what others may give him. This taught monks not to have a preference for food or supplies, but rather, to be grateful for what they are given. Natthiko’s teachers reminded him that ‘you won’t always have what you want, but you’ll always have what you need’. This lesson is powerful because society often increases our desires, telling us that we need more to be happy. However, when we relax our hold on our desires and let them go, we can find fulfilment with ease.
  2. Things don’t always turn out how we want them to, but exactly as they are meant to. Read that again. Life may not unfold in the ways we want it to, but the cosmos brings everything together in it’s intricate ways so that each moment is exactly as it should be. It’s up to us to reframe this in ways that allow us to dig deeply and understand why life might happen this way and how we can use different opportunities to grow. Natthiko shares that he had many ideas of what a Buddhist monastery would be like. However, these ideas needed to quickly be unlearned to grow spiritually. Even though his first few months were nothing like he imagined, Natthiko was able to accept how the waves of life rolled in, smoothing over one’s rough edges.
  3. We may (and most often will) be wrong. And that is okay. Oh how we love to win arguments, prove others that we are correct and satisfy our ego with endless justification. Being able to stop and quieten our minds, open our hearts and move forward in a more humble manner is no easy feat. Admitting that there are other perspectives and ways of knowing or being is a key lesson that Natthiko shares throughout the book. At times, our stubborness will lead us to believe that we know better, that there is only one definitive way to solve problems and to be judgemental of others. Socrates’ famous saying...‘I know that I know nothing’...serves as a poignant reminder of the infinite amount of wisdom in this universe, and who are we to conclude that we are always right? Rather, let’s move gently and humbly, guided with curiosity and a willingness to listen to others.

My reflections do not do justice to his original interviews and stories. So, if there is something stirring inside of you after reading these takeaways, gently listen to that and go dive into his story more. Natthiko’s story is truly wonderful and evident of the beauty that can be found within us.