November 26, 2022


Conflict Resolution | Ajahn Brahm

Conflict Resolution | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
Conflict Resolution | Ajahn Brahm

Nov 26 2022 | 01:00:35


Show Notes

Conflict can arises from memory being uncertain. Arguments can break up relationships, friendships and cause suffering. When we argue, we often forget that what’s important is living in harmony together. Chicken or duck? What’s important is the friendship and harmony and love and care and the working together. Arguments can be helpful to have in our lives in order to understand each other better, but when they turn into fights, they’re not constructive. Spiritual practice means pointing out that it’s more important to focus on loving kindness and peace.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 8th June 2001. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

These talks by Ajahn Brahm have been recorded and made available for free distribution by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.

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Episode Transcript

AB20010608_ConflictResolution Summary Conflict can arises from memory being uncertain. Arguments can break up relationships, friendships and cause suffering. When we argue, we often forget that what's important is living in harmony together. Chicken or duck? What's important is the friendship and harmony and love and care and the working together. Arguments can be helpful to have in our lives in order to understand each other better, but when they turn into fights, they're not constructive. Spiritual practice means pointing out that it's more important to focus on loving kindness and peace. Transcription U1 0:00 Although I always say those who want to have seats or want to have the spot by the wall where they can leave the heck, you have to get here early to get spots by the wall. OK, everybody's in now. Great. Okay, for this evening's talk, I'm going to talk about how to deal with conflict and arguments and all that sort of stuff. Because it's so unpleasant that when we live with our husband or wife, with our family, with our fellow monks or just people we meet. That's why we have so many arguments and conflicts in life and to see what Buddhism has to say about that, to try and help solve the differences of opinion which we have in our community. And perhaps the main reason why this is of my mind this evening, it's just a nice piece of news for you. It's that before coming here today, I went to the cathedral, St. George's Cathedral to have a photo opportunity with the dean. Because Sunday week I'm giving the sermon there. And so the newspapers were there because apparently this is the first time in 2000 years the Buddhist monk is given a sermon on a Sunday afternoon in church. That I'm very proud of the fact that I'm doing this. I'm very humbled and very praising of the dean. And I suppose the archbishop must be in on this as well. Actually letting a Buddhist monk it was sermon sort of in one of the main services of the week in the cathedral and just thinking what a wonderful thing it is actually to show that gestures of harmony and friendship towards each other. I've often said that if people of religion can't show the way to living in peace and harmony together, then what hope is there in the world? And what a bunch of hypocrites we are. But it's not easy to put aside once differences of opinions. And also why do we have such differences of opinions in the first place? Why is it that everyone in this room probably has a different idea about all sorts of things? We've we can never really agree on each other. Why is that human beings? Why can't everyone see the truth and be like me? That actually fascinated me for many years. And so when you hear from these great teachers of the forest tradition so often that they spend their time sitting here just dealing with people's arguments. And one of the stories which always senated me from the Buddhist repertoire of wise sayings was a story from the Zen tradition. And it was a story of these two monks who are arguing about whether reincarnation was an important part of Buddhism or not, or whether you can actually understand Buddhism in this very life right here, and that you have to really believe in reincarnation to be a Buddhist. One of them said, yes, you do, because it's in the text. The Buddhist said this and basically put us and doesn't make sense unless you believe in reincarnation. The other monk says, no, you don't need to believe in reincarnation, because how do you know what's happened? What's going to happen when you die? You haven't died yet. Who knows what's going to happen? The future is uncertain. So how do you know that such a thing as reincarnation or rebirth? It's not essential. All you need to do is just to be mindful, to be wise. That's peaceful mind. That's enough. Hello. So that is big argument. So one of the monks went to see the Abbott, wise old monk and he went into the Abbott's office and he said, venerable, sort of. Isn't it true? The Buddha taught reincarnation and it's a central part of Buddhism and you have to be a Buddhist. You have to believe in reincarnation to be a Buddhist. Listened to what this month was saying. I said, Actually, yeah, no, you're right. It's true. This month went out smoking to the other monk. The advert said, I was right and you're wrong. And the other monk said, he can't have said that. So he went into the abbot's office and said, look. So then the Buddha said that the dumb is in this moment. It's here and now, the present moment. Just like I was talking in the beginning, this meditation, just the present moment. That's all you have. So this rebirth, reincarnation is just going on for the future. It's not necessary. And yeah, police and said, you're right. Yeah, you're right. So the second mark went out to the first but see, he ever said I was right. He could have said that. He said I was right. No, he didn't. He said I was right. So they went in together. And then the first month said, you said I was right. And the second month said, but you said I was right. We can't both be right. Yeah, but thought about it and said, yeah, you're right. 10s Reading of that story, it's not just a joke. Reading that story. The reason why people laugh is because you can empathize with that. Because a lot of the times it's when we listen to one side of the story. Then of course we say, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That's right. Then when we listen to the other side of the stories, and yeah, that's right. Is it the case that our views, our ideas, our thoughts, our beliefs all comes from because we just listen to one side of the story? The trouble is that that one side of the story we say, that's right. And that's truth. This is where arguments come from. Not only is it just one side of the story, but a lot of the times, that side of the story, you're not really pretty accurate. You make lots of assumptions anyway about what happened. That's one of the problems with memory. A lot of arguments and conflicts happen about who did what and when and how or more like, who didn't do that. And this is another fascinating part of the mind, which is a monk. I've been contemplating for many years, actually what is memory and why is it that memory is uncertain? I've been having a running argument with my brother about which one of us had herman measles when we were young. I'm absolutely certain it was me. I can remember it taking the time off school and going back to school and being told by the teacher know that you can't come back yet because I think you have to stay away for one week or something. But I felt shit and I like school, I wanted to go back, I didn't like school. I like to play time, playing soccer with my mates but anyway, I want to get back to school. So the teacher actually sent me home again. No, you can't come here. I said, really? Remember that? But my brother is absolutely sure it was him who had Germal measles. So I remember some time ago asking my mother I said, I can't remember. I know the one you did, not the other. But I remember which one. But it really fascinated me why it was. One of us was absolutely only one of us had that German measles. We're absolutely sure. I was actually sure it was me. He was absolutely sure it was him. And none of us lie. My brother is a very honest man, and I'm pretty honest as a man. A long time ago, I started looking at what memory actually is and what most people's memory is. It's very similar to that game you may have played when you were kids called Chinese Whispers. When you stand in a line with all the other children and the teacher whispers something into the first child here, and the first child has to whisper into the second child, which goes to the third child, the fourth child, all the way down the line, maybe 30 children. And at the end of the line, the last child says what the message was. And it's always very different than the first message you've heard me say here before. That one of the classic cases of that which happened during the First World War, when the order came from the general to send reinforcements. We're going to advance. And by the time it got to the troops, the front line or the troops in the barrack somewhere, it got to send three and four points, the old British money. Three and four points. We're going to Adam. So this is actually what happens. But it's also you can see there's a bit of wishful thinking in there because they didn't really want to fight, they really wanted to go and play. That is how memory works. What we remember is not the event itself. We remember the last time we remembered it. So really we remember the memory of the memory of the memory of the memory of the memory of the memory and so on, many times, right to the event, and each time we can change it just a tiny bit. A lot of times through wishful thinking, really, we want to remember what we want it to have been like, not really what it was like. So little by little we actually changed memory. That's why I've seen that memory is not reliable. And so when we ask somebody who said what and how many arguments at home about that who did what and who said what? You promised you take me to the Buddhist society tonight. No, I didn't. Yes, you did. No, you didn't. Yes, you did. The point is, you can actually say we know. Memories uncertain. I'm not sure if I remember correctly. Maybe you don't remember correctly either. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we remembered that? Then there would be no arguments anymore. Because that story about those two monks and the third monk, the teacher. Yeah. Everyone was right. You can say different things, and both are right because it's right from your perspective. You're being truthful, being honest. That what you remember, what you've experienced. Because a lot of times when it's something close to our experience, when we really think it's right, that's when we get into an argument. How would you know it's right? Not right. How much of what we say is right is based on memory and so many assumptions? Even what a person said to you. Sometimes I've asked people after giving a talk now people come here every Friday night afterwards when we're back in the reception area. What did I talk about this evening? Don't really know what did you just talk about? Even what you just talked about. A lot of people don't remember. They only remember the jokes. But sometimes you remember the themes what's important to you? But you don't remember what's not important to you. And this is why when you have an argument or a disagreement with somebody, you look upon whether your idea and view is based upon facts. Facts? What are facts anyway? What can you actually base facts on? It's certainly not your memory. I think I mentioned to you before I went to Malaysia, there was a professor who was just retiring in the US. And in his clearance with some of his documents he found out that some 34 years earlier he done a statistical survey on this group of children's circumstances at home. Little things. Whether they love their mother or their father most or whether their parents understood them, or whether happy at home. Even little things whether your parents actually punished you physically. He had all this information from about 150 students. 150, like 14 year olds, I think they were. This was about 34 years ago. So he decided to see how many of those students he could trace and ask them the very same questions and see if their memory of their childhood corresponded to what they'd actually written 34 years previously. And the wonderful thing about that study was just how much lack of correspondence there were. There was I think he managed to find about 90 of those 150 children, ask them the same questions, were you happy at home? So many of the children who said yes, they were happy at home now, 34 years, anna said they had a terrible childhood. Many of the children who said at the time the pairs used corporal punishment now said, no, they didn't. Simple facts were actually changed in the space of 34 years. It just showed how much we cannot rely on our memory. And please know that whenever they investigate, say, a traffic accident, and they take witness statements, they're amazed that people actually saw the accident. And they have different accounts of what happened even just a few minutes ago, the memory is unreliable. So when we understand that, at least we won't argue on memory of who did what, when we could accept the fact that even though I'm absolutely sure it was me, and I said that and I did that. But that purity is uncertain. So basically, I don't know what I did. I don't even know what I talked about last week. What did I talk about last week? My memory of it. And your memory of it. Maybe something quite different. So that way we can tolerate those differences in memory. We don't need to make it a conflict and an argument. It's the first example. It's not factual, what we remember. Also what we see is that really factual. And I saw him coming there today. I always got into trouble a few years ago as a monk. I have very strict rules I have to keep. For example, as a monk, as I'm celibate and got to be proved to be celebrated. I can't be alone with a woman. The same with the nuns. They cannot be alone with a man because people might talk and they say, you've going around with that woman all the time. My father used to. This was years ago. Even before I had any idea I was going to be a monk. He used to tell this joke, what fun does a monk have monday. Answer none. So even then you've been very careful because this is what people expect, so you got to be very careful being very strict. So one day we had a visiting nun here, one of the first who actually came to visit Perth. And she wore dark brown like Sister January army. She wears a darker brown, but still got the ball hit. So this one day, this nun was visiting and after she finished the meal on a Saturday, she went in a car with one of the other ladies to be shown around Perth. One of the Thai ladies who had been bringing the donor, she came outside and she short saw this brown robe, bald headed person sitting in a car next to a woman going out for a drive. And straight away she said, Bomb, he's going out with the lady. And I would have been in big trouble if I hadn't come out of the hall that moment. Because it would have been so difficult for me to actually have said it wasn't me, because she said, I saw you. And she would be absolutely convinced I was at home. But I saw with my own eyes, I'm not blind. I saw him in a car. It shows you just fortunate that time. It shows you how it is so easy to get into arguments, even for what you see, even for what you hear, if you can't take that to be fact. Not only that, but whatever we experience, we always give a spin on, because we see what we're looking for and we hear what we want to hear. So sometimes some of the monks come up to me and they keep asking me for special things so that they want to go overseas, go want to visit Thailand. They come up to me and say, Can I visit? Go to Thailand? Say, no, you can't go to town. Go to Thailand. No, you can't go to Thailand. Can I go? No, you can't go to Thailand. Many, many times I say no. But once I say well, I don't really care. Thank you. And then they say I can go to Thailand. Just once is all they're looking for. And they keep on asking, sure enough, somebody is going to say yes then or later if you keep battering them. And this is what happens. We're asking questions because we want to hear something we want to hear and that's all we hear. Everything else which is said, we don't hear. There's a filtering mechanism which goes on in the mind that's a lot of times where arguments come from. Because we see what we want to see, we hear what we want to hear and the other person hears what they want to hear and see what they want to see, feel what they want to feel. And because our wants are different, our realities are different and there is a seed of conflict. So to overcome that conflict, when we understand that what I'm thinking, what I'm saying isn't factual and I'm not right just because I've seen that, because I know that, because I remember that, does not mean it is right. It doesn't mean you're wrong either. There's something between being right and wrong. It's just as I've conceived it, as I view it. It doesn't mean that because I conceive it this way, because I view it this way, it must be absolutely right and everyone else is wrong. That's why the Buddhist said again and again that anybody who says that all this is right and everything else is wrong is asking for conflict and trouble. It is wonderful. It's an act of humility and great wisdom to not hold for your ideas. Like a fundamentalist terrorist in the world. You know, that from fundamentalism we have terrorism, and that's in the family, isn't it? We've got terrorist husbands, we got terrorist wife. Because fundamentally, they hold onto an idea, they hold on to you. This is truth and everything else is wrong. Now, that happened to me some years ago when I was the second Monk and Ajan Jacob was the abbot. We were building our main hall in Bolton Iana Monastery. Many of you have seen that hall. That was Jacqueline's idea, wasn't my idea. I wanted to build something much more simple, much more different. And I got angry at Jam Jacob and I said, this is a stupid idea. You shouldn't build it this way. We had an argument. Even monks argue now and again. But I think we are having an argument of about a week. But then I came to my senses, my mistake. I went to his heart and I asked forgiveness from him. This is what we do as much. It's very beautiful to have this ceremony of asking forgiveness, especially after you've had an argument. Don't just say sorry, because sorry is not enough. You've got to make a ceremony out of it. So as monks, we get a tray of flowers, candles and incense these days, because I suffer from hay fever. And the monastery, they've got these plastic flowers which they keep it special for me. This one is really is going to New Zealand. And you go up there and you say, for whatever I've done by body, speech in mind. Intentional, unintentional, if I even didn't mean it, that I really ask for forgiveness for this. It's one of the most beautiful ceremonies of Buddhism. This is actually what I did at this occasion, because I realized I had an argument and didn't matter who was right and who was wrong. I realized from what I still think I was right. But that started coming from me, doesn't mean I'm ultimately right. And he thought he was right, and that's his right as well, to feel he's right. But I thought the best thing to do and the one thing I was very proud of, I went and asked forgiveness of him and said, look, I'm very sorry to have an argument with you, but please, I ask a favor from you. And I asked his favor from him. I said, Look, I want to have the hall built your way, but please let me be the builder. I want to actually build this hall, which I don't agree with. And you know how those of you know me for a while know how hard I work as a builder. That main hall in Bonjana Monastery, if you go to the show that's got my name on as a builder, And I did a lot of work on that, and I put my heart into that. That's a wonderful way of actually learning about harmony. Not just to say, I don't agree with that, but if you want to do it, you just go and do it. Go on. I'm not going to get involved in this at all. I'm not going to sulk. I actually built that, and I put all my effort into that. I'm very proud of that. So it's a marvelous thing to do, because it was understanding just how to overcome conflict. So if you have an argument with somebody, instead of just saying, I'm right, you're wrong? How about saying, I disagree with you, but I'm going to go your way? Not only am I going to go your way, but I'm going to give my heart and all my energy into helping your way succeed. There's a certain amount of nobility in there. It certainly made us grow friends. The same as one of the early stories when I was a young monk and these first monks went to the west, they went to England, first of all. Long time before they came to Australia. And this one time that is very difficult in those days because the monks it's almost like a culture shock. You weren't getting the same support you got in Asia. It was very difficult being the first few years as a monk in the west and because of one thing or another, these two bugs were having an argument in the grounds of this monastery in Cheer tourist in England. And it was a very fierce argument. And both of these characters were very tough guys. One was an ex Vietnam, a war veteran. He was a marine. He volunteered to go into the US marines so he could go and fight and kill people and got shot in the back of the head while he was in Vietnam. Managed to survive. And we say that knocked a lot of sense into him. And he eventually became a Buddhist monk. But he was tough. And the other guy was born as a Jew. He became a Buddhist monk. He was a millionaire real estate from Chicago. He was the second monk. Now having an argument, nose to nose, shouting at each other, cursing each other, even though they were monks. And the other monks were just too afraid actually to intervene. I'm just wondering what would happen. They thought it would be a fight or a fist fight, even monks. But eventually what happened was it was the Vietnam veteran, the Marine, the guy got shot in the back of the head in Vietnam suddenly came to his senses. He was inspired by dumbbell what he'd heard before and now he put into practice. He got down on the ground in the middle of the argument and bowed to the other monk, the Chicago real estate millionaire, and said, I'm sorry that the other monk dispersed. His two of them afterwards walked away arm in arm. Friends brilliant. In the middle of an argument about how to fight, someone says they really mean it. Doing a gesture, bowing down and says, Sorry. Because it came from his heart. It reached the other person and went far beyond the pettiness of the argument. And what are we arguing about anyway? Is it really important what we argue about and why it is that those arguments I'm absolutely, absolutely right. Why they caused so much suffering in our lives. In the time of the Buddha, there was this famous occasion when two of these kingdoms were going to go to war over the irrigation waters from a river which divided their lands. Because there was a drought, both parties needed that water for their crops. So the Buddha came to them and said, what's more important? What's more valuable, blood or water? I said, blood is obviously much more valuable than water. And why are you going to waste so much blood by killing each other over this water? They came to their senses. Blood is much more important than water. So they stopped their fighting. What's more important? Being right and being wrong or living in harmony together at peace? What is it like when you have arguments? You lose your friends, you break up your marriages, your relationships and you fear afterwards. Most people, when this happens to you, they say, what a mistake that was. What stupid person I was to stop this happiness, this friendship, this love over stupid little argument. The thing is, it usually goes too far. We can't stop it anymore. We should have at least some mindfulness to stop it earlier. Stop thinking. You're right. You know the old story which I think many of you here, but Fitz in here for those who haven't, about Adjun Shah story about the chicken and the duck. The brilliant story which he used to tell all the time because a lot of times people come and see him because they have marital problems. That's why people come and see me as well, to try and solve their marriage problems. And I'm a monk. What do I know about marriage? But still they call it I must be doing something like they still keep coming. And he told this story which those of you are married? No, this is what married life is about. A couple, man and woman, just known as married. A short time walking in a forest in the afternoon and the evening just for some recreation, having a nice time together. And they heard this sound quack, quack, quack, quack. Straight away the man said dear, listen to that chicken. You know what men are like. Darling, that's not a chicken that said duck. And then very firmly said no, wife, that is a chicken. And it went quack, quack again. There is a the chicken. And with great patience. So I said, Listen, husband dear, chickens go cocka doodle doo. Ducks go quack, quack. That went quack, quack, therefore that must be a duck. And the husband said, no, it's not, it's a chicken. Raising his voice voice. And the wife raised her voice. It's not, it's a DA. He went again there, it's a DA. And he said, no, it's a chicken. Raising his voice even louder and looking very angry at his wife. And his wife, who was the wise one, thought for a few moments and said, oh, I'm sorry, I think you're right, it is a chicken. It went quack, quack again. What a wise woman that was. Isn't it true that so many of the arguments you have with your loved ones are all about chicken and duck stuff? Stupid things which aren't really important anyway, but just because you have to be right, you say it's a chicken, now it's a duck. How many divorces happen? I've with tickets and duck. And as I say to people afterwards, who knows? Anyway, it could have been a chicken impersonating a duck. The point is that we always think we are right. It's true. We always think the chickens go chickens go quack, quack. There might be some sort of genetically modified chicken. I don't know. But you don't know these days, do you? So because of that, we always think we're right. How many times you've been wrong when you really thought you were absolutely right and you found out you were wrong? How many times I've done that? Many times I put my hand up? So why is it that we're willing to have an argument with our loved ones? We're willing to have all that stuff, suffering and all that pain of conflict, just to prove we like. And one of the things is because in our life, we got this conditioning that we have to be right. You know, you don't have to be right. It's okay to be wrong. It's okay to make mistakes in life. You don't always have to be an expert and get ten out of ten. You can make mistakes, and you can be wrong. It's marvelous when you see that and you ask a teacher and then you prove a teacher wrong because you say, the Buddha didn't say that. You get the text out. He says, oh, yeah, you're right. I was wrong. It shows a great deal of wisdom and humility and a great deal of what you might say, understanding of truth. It's okay to be wrong in life because what that means is you don't always have to defend your rightness. The point of upsetting all the people you like and live with and love and care for the part of that woman's wisdom in that Ticking and duck story was a woman realized what was more valuable. Was the harmony between the two of them. They had to live together, their husband and wife. They had to make it work. At least that evening it was much better. It was much better to have the two of them having a nice walk in the evening together. Together and going home and not having this argument together. And you know what it's like. We have arguments together. You don't know what to do next, and you feel really rotten. And you've got to live with that person, at least for a few days until you can see a lawyer anyway, having arguments, and basically this world is getting too small to have arguments and to have conflicts and to have fights. One of the reasons I was inspired by that dean was it John Roberts? I think of St. George's Cathedral. It was a wonderful gesture of, like, harmony. Okay. No, I disagree with many things with the Christians, especially all chickens and ducks. So that's so important. Whether God created a universe or someone else or that's not important, is that what really is important is the friendship and harmony and the love and the care and the working together, which we can do in our society anyway. When it gets a sort of ultimate the truth just I was meditating just before here. When you get to real argument, is that silence real truth is silence. When there's no words. It's the emptiness of a commentary. That's the closest you can ever get to truth. It's in the emptiness of the mind, the silence of the mind. It's only when that silence breaks into words then we get the conflict and we get a jan Shai used to say this. He said that when you you take a cup of tea, doesn't matter whether you're a Thai person or Sri Lankan or an English or Australian, the taste of the tea is the same. But we give it different names, call it that's why this comes from the Chinese name for tea. That's why I always knew that before that's when I heard about this, a monk called Agaha and I like tea so much, I thought this must be a great type of monk. The ties called it char. Someone else calls it Tae and Tea or whatever else is called in this world. Doesn't matter what name you call it, it tastes the same. A lot of times that we're arguing over the names, not the meaning nor what's behind it. That's why it's wonderful actually, to actually know sort of where all these arguments come from. All these different ideas come from. It's just being because of our different conditioning that we give things different names because of different names. We argue over these things. We don't need to argue over these things. You don't need to have conflict. Different cultures, different conditionings, different views, and from those views, different perceptions and thoughts where we think it's absolute truth. And that's where we go wrong. One of the stories which I read a long time ago, which was really open my eyes to how all this works and just how much we can interpret the world because of our world views and how even our disparate experience is already bent was actually coming from this book written by Dr. Moody, who was researching out of the body experiences in this hospital in the US. Somewhere. It was a multicultural hospital in the sense that people from all sorts of different races and religions and genders were going into this hospital for the surgery and some of them actually died on the operating table. They were dead when they came in there, but we revived. He gave everybody who had actually died in the hospital but were revived a questionnaire to see whether they had one or more of the out of body experiences. And most of people did. Obviously, the question there was done in confidence because he wanted to make sure they weren't going to be afraid because a lot of people have these experiences but don't like telling anybody because they think they'll be called crazy. And so it was given in confidence and the publisher results afterwards that most people had one or more of the classic experiences of floating out of the body, of going off to a light, going through the light, seeing someone at the other end, being told, it's not your time, and then going back again into the body. It is classic out of the body experiences which go across all cultures and all religions which actually give it a sense of being quite truthful to reality. But one of the differences which he noticed, which when I read it, I laughed because I understood what was going on, he said, when a Christian said when a Catholic goes through the lights, the person they meet at the other end is usually like the Virgin Mary or somebody. It was a Jew, it was Moses they met. If it was a Chinese Buddhist, it was the goddess of mercy, Guan Yin. If it was a Hindu, it was a Lord Krishna. If it was an atheist, it was Uncle George. And the fascinating thing about this was that when interviewing these people, they were absolutely be sure they've met Jesus or they've met Quan Yin, or they've met it's interesting, actually. Quan Yin is goddess of mercy. You know, the goddess of mercy, which many Chinese Buddhists have in their houses. That started off as a man. It started off as a Katy Farah in early Mahayana Buddhist in India, and the early statues were male. But when it sort of got to China over the centuries, it changed into being a female. One of the first places that they it only changed like that, really, because people wanted it to, because they interpreted compassion as being more feminine than male. It's interesting just to see how things change like that. But this particular case that whatever people see is very much what they expected to see, it was very clear that they added on to the experience much of what they expected to see when they died. And really, as far as I know, everyone saw the same thing when they died. But we added on those names, whether it's Jesus, Virgin Mary, Uncle George, or whatever. And I noticed that this is what we do with our experience. We add on so much to life that even our bare experience, what we see, what we hear, what we feel, so much has been added on. But we really think this is real. And we argue over that. It's because we each add on so much that our experiences of the world, of life are so different. Who is the person you love the most in the world? Why did you love them? There's such a nice person. Such a lovely person. They're such a nice, lovely person. Why does everyone else love them? Who's the person you hate the most? The rottenest, meanest, nastiest person in the whole world. It's amazing, actually, to find the nastiest, meanest, rottenest person in the world. The one you hate the most. It's got a husband and a wife and kids who adore them. Sometimes it's a great shock. How can anybody like that guy? But what it is, is it shows that we are adding so much on to reality. Because really, if they were really such a lovable person that everyone would love them. If it's the mean and nasty rotten person, then wouldn't it be the case that everyone should hate them? So when you have your enemy, remember your enemy, there's lots of people who love them and the person you love the most has lots of people who hate them. Fascinating to look at things like that. It shows you that all this love and hate we add on to the world, we add on to reality where we understand that our likes and dislikes are added on, conditioned. It's quite easy to understand why we have arguments, even like arguments over food. What food is nice and what food is rotten. When you go to a restaurant, don't eat that. That's no good. As I noted, lot of the things which are supposed to taste nice. So much of it is expectation and what's supposed to taste nice. When I went to Thailand, some of the food which I ate in Thailand was absolutely disgusting. One day we had fog soup. When I talk about fog soup oop. It was literally just hot water with about a dozen frogs floating in there. You could see right to the bottom of the pot and there was a little bit of salt in there, but nothing else. And the frogs were just big enough to put in your spoon and put in your mouth and go crunch. What did you say? Yucks for all of those who were ur. Put your hands up if you've ever none of you have. So why did you say it was yucky? That's what we call condition thing. You see, you don't even tasted it yet and you already know it's rotten. You're adding on to the reality, aren't you? That's what I was telling people in Amado recently. Years and years ago, I had to go and teach Buddhism to a school, a primary school. And I didn't realize that the years were year one and year two when I went to the school. How on earth am I going to teach Buddhism? Like four noble truths or dependent origination or emptiness to a group of six and seven year olds? But I always like a challenge. And so how I dealt with teaching Buddhism and meditation to a group of year one and year twos. I said, okay, kids, hands up if you don't like rice pudding. About three or four kids put their hands up. They didn't like rice pudding. And then after one or 2 seconds, all the other kids were looking around and a few kids put their hands up as well. Then a few other kids, and then in about 5 seconds, a whole two classes had their hands put up. Yes, we don't like rice pudding. Rice pudding is yucky. Very good. Very good. Now put your hands down. Of course, the second question was now please put your hands up if you've ever eaten rice pudding. And only those three kids put their hands up and all the other kids laughed. They understood a very deep part of Buddhism there how much of our likes and dislikes are conditioned because other people say frogs are yucky and you think they are yucky, and you never actually tasted wild soup in Northeast Thailand. Actually, the strange thing was all that really yucky food was yucky at first. After about six months, I started to enjoy it. That's what happens after about six months of marriage to your husband. Actually, you quite like him. You sort of get used to people, don't you? Because that's the thing with that. It's called conditioning. A lot of my likes and dislikes, my views of the world are very much conditioned. That's why, even now, because I know this and realize that even I'm a Buddhist monk, I spend most of my time with Buddhists. I make a point of keeping up correspondence with people who aren't Buddhists, even going to great. Going to Christian churches and talking with somebody else. I know just how dangerous it would be to hang out with sort of psychopaths Buddhists, because I just hear what I want to hear. I wouldn't have nothing to challenge me at all, nothing to widen my wisdom. That was great. So I have other people around who challenge you or ask you tough questions or even aren't Buddhists at all. That's why I still keep up my friendship with my people I went to college with and school with, especially because they're not Buddhists. Because I want to make sure that I'm not just conditioned into being a narrow minded, fundamentalist, sort of one pointed Buddhist monk. Neither should you be. That's why that when we widen our conditioning, we don't just stick to one thing, we're going to more likely have less arguments in the world. Because just like those two monks, instead of, like, arguing over one of you, you can see a wide range of possibilities. You might actually be able to go to a farm and see chickens, which actually do go quack, quack. And then you realize you don't need to argue about it anymore. You realize you can be wrong. You realize that you don't need to argue about these things. So many of the conflicts in the world just come from misunderstandings when both people are right. There's this old story already years ago about conflict resolution, about the two sisters who argued over an orange. There's only one orange in the kitchen, and both of them wanted it. They were arguing about who deserved it most. In the end, they could only come to a compromise, so they cut the orange in half. The first sister peeled the orange and threw the peel away and ate the orange. She wanted to eat an orange. The second sister peeled the orange and threw the orange away. She needed to peel for a cake. If only they talked to each other beforehand, I could have eaten the whole orange and one could have had twice as much peel for a cake. Isn't it the case that so often our arguments if we can only realize what we both want, we should both be satisfied? The conflicts we have in the world, we should actually really look at more deeply. Why are we arguing? Can we really trust that we are right? Can we really know that our ideas, our views are Absolute Truth? And actually there is absolute truth. What is absolute truth? Absolute Truth is silence, peace, harmony, kindness. If anything is absolute true, surely that's absolute truth harmony, peace the sort of love which way I describe the door, my heart is open to. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter what you think, even if you think totally different than me, even if your ideas and my ideas are on the opposite end of the spectrum, you can still be my friend. That's what lovingkindness is. Isn't there a sense of truthfulness in that? Something which transcends the mundane of my idea, of my view? It's not that views are wrong. Everyone has to have a viewpoint. But when we realize where that viewpoint is coming from, from all our conditioning, from our training, from our schooling, from my upbringing, from our friends, from our peers we realize where it's coming from. We never trust that as being absolutely never that strong, that it's worthwhile having an argument and. Sacrificing our kindness. Why do you throw away love just to be right? We do that. Our family, our friends, our parents said, no, that shows that we're wrong. This monk in Thailand once, he's been here a couple of times there's two nuns in his monastery were arguing who is right and who is wrong. He said, if you're arguing, you're both wrong, get out. You'd feel about because both were wrong. When there's an argument, there's a lot of truth behind that because we're missing the point. When we have arguments, we can have a debate. We can have a good discussion and argument, but not sort of an argument for the sake of proving who's right, who's wrong. There's a difference between debating and arguing that you do serve in your household. Sometimes arguing in the household is argument to death. Sometimes I'm not going to give in and the other person is not going to give in. That is fundamentalism. To jihad in your house. Where's that ever going to end? Because we have to live together. Finish off with one of these stories. One of the people who was one of the few first people who came to our monastery still remember her because she came and stayed in a steel shed for a little while. She was married to a Canadian man and asked he was here on some sort of contract. Once his contract had finished they had to go back to Canada. They had a marvelous idea. Instead of just selling their house and putting the money in the bank and getting a plane back to onto something they decided to sell their house and buy a yacht and sail the yacht back to Vancouver. And sell the yacht in Vancouver. And with the money they got from their yacht they could have a mortgage for the next house. Though a young couple is a lovely adventure. They're going sailing over the South Pacific. Somewhere in the North Pacific. So they needed some help. They got another couple to help them, another Canadian man and wife. So there are four of them, two husbands and wives set off sale from Perth all the way to Vancouver. And they wrote back later on about one of the experiences they had on Voyage which is pertinent to this story or this talk this evening. She wrote that in the middle of the ocean, somewhere in the South Pacific, the yacht had engine trouble. They would be calmed. They are miles from anywhere, just in the middle of the ocean. And the two men, the only people who knew about the engine, had to go into a very small engine room to try and fix up the problem. The two women were on the deck just reading newspapers, enjoying the sunshine. No magazine. So not newspapers. Don't have newspapers. Deliveries in the middle of the ocean. Magazines. That's right. And it was hot. And it was difficult trying to fix this engine which didn't want to be fixed in cramped quarters. And because it was hard and difficult and cramped, both of these men started getting irritated. And the irritation soon turned into an argument. And the argument soon turned into almost like a fight. They were shouting at each other. And one of the men got so mad with anger he threw down his wrench and said right, that's it. I'm leaving. And this is actually true. What you did is write that to them. Evening. He went to his cabin, he washed, he changed from his work clothes into his good clothes, his nice suit, he patches suitcases and he actually appeared on deck carrying his two suitcases. It's only when the women started laughing hysterically that he realized his predicament. There's ocean all around. There was nowhere to go. It's a wonderful story because he went red in the face, apparently, and turned around, went back to the cabin, unpacked the suitcases, changed back into his work clothes and went back into the engine room to help out. A beautiful story. He did that because there was nowhere to go. Isn't it a wonderful story that even just how much we argue with each other, how much we have differences of opinion, how much we fight look, there's nowhere to go, is there? You run away from your present partner. Where are you going to run to? Do you're really going to get some happiness somewhere else? We sort of fight wars with different religions and different and races. This planet is just like that little yacht in the middle of the ocean. Where can we go to? Where can we run to? Look, there's nowhere to go. So why don't we just get back into the engine room and just work it out when we realize there's something more important than being right and being wrong? So more important than that. This is what spiritual powers are supposed to be pointing out. That which is more important, more sacred, more lofty than just all these differences of opinion. Different memories, different ideas, different likes and dislikes. I like fog soup. My preferred pizza. Who cares? Let's go out and enjoy a nice meal together. Come to my monastery and have fog soup. Sometimes people say, thought your mom's a vegetarian. I said, I would have given anything to be a vegetarian when I was eating folk soup. But the point is that here we have the reason why we argue. If you've had that argument, if you've had that problem, please reflect upon it. What have you wasted? What have you sacrificed? Just because you wanted to be right? Was it really worth it? What have you gained and what have you lost? We may win the point. We may lose our marriage. We may win the argument about being the best religion. But we destroy the world in the process. Why do we do that? We may prove to our friend that they were wrong and we were right. We have no friends anymore. What do you want in this world? What's really important? Really? It's just a matter of pride, priorities and values. Being right and being wrong is low in the priorities and the values. Having loving kindness, being able to say to everyone that all of my heart's open to you, no matter whether you're a Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim or non believer and atheist or whatever, you can come in here and I'll be your friend if you enjoy. The difference should bring to my experience. Thank you for being different, not the same. You can learn how to live together. So, please, may we focus on the causes of conflict, where we understand why we have different ideas and views, where we understand what's more important in life focus on what's more important in life and stop having all these separations, all of these conflicts, all of these wars, all of this suffering which it entails so you can live more happy, more at peace, more in harmony. So that's one of the reasons why I'm going to give a servant at the cathedral in a week's time. And you're all welcome. Thank you this evening for listening to this talk.

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