Episode 88

June 02, 2024


Dealing With Tragedies | Ajahn Brahm

Dealing With Tragedies | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
Dealing With Tragedies | Ajahn Brahm

Jun 02 2024 | 01:02:23


Show Notes

In the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami that impacted much of the Indian Ocean coastline and the many questions that followed on from that, Ajahn Brahm talks about the nature of tragedies and how we can deal with them with compassion and wisdom.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded using a low quality MP3 to save on file size on 31st December 2004. 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 under the Creative Commons licence. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.

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Episode Transcript

Dealing With Tragedies by Ajahn Brahm [Note: AI generated transcription – expect errors!] Can I? Could I just announce when I. First come in. Before the meditation, I had just been returned from a three week trip over to Southeast Asia, to Singapore and Malaysia, and including the island of Penang, which was affected by the tsunami, which many of you have heard. And even coming back from the airport this afternoon, only a couple of hours ago, they were asked to report to some people in the airport in case you were affected by the tsunamis. And so I dutifully went and said hello, and I said, any trauma, anything wrong with you? I said, no, come on. I just come from Penang and the people on the island, it's business as usual. It's not such a big thing. But many people have been asking me about what's the proper response to disasters like that in the world. And so this evening I'm going to talk some about Buddhism, about wisdom and compassion, and just what disasters are and how we deal with them in a wise and compassionate way. And one of the things is not to obviously overreact, but still be compassionate to get all the information become wise. And I am pretty privileged having just come back from there this afternoon. And also just last night that there was a big function. I've got many jobs which I allowed myself to get, uh, roped into. And one of them is here as a spiritual patron of the, uh, guild called the Buddhist Fellowship. And many of you know them because they came here to offer the katana or one of the gifts to offer the katana to a monks monastery. And we've got a very strong connection with them over there. Even our President Assad has gone over there. To give talks to them has done very well. And last night they had their dinner for the whole group because they were a couple of thousand people about who must be about 1000 people at the dinner last night, but also sitting between the, uh, the Singaporean Minister for environment and also the Thai ambassador to Singapore. And of course, now we're talking about some of the issues with the tsunamis. And these people were very well informed about what was going on. And so I have to find out what the appropriate response is. And of course, even though I was not in panic at the time it hit, I was there a couple of hours afterwards and the plane landed. It was only then that some of the people find out what was going on. Even as one of my disciples over there, they live on replacing Penang called Gurney Beach, which was one of the places which were hit. They didn't know anything about it. So they came to the temple and everyone else. Are you okay? Even my monks from serpentine. They rang out trying to find me where I was in Malaysia. So I said okay, alright. That was very sweet of them to think of me like that, but I am protected. I'm okay. The point of the matter is that people have asked me, why do we have these natural disasters and what should we do about them? And how can I support this? We relate to them with wisdom and compassion. So it's a very good story to actually to try and get some sense, try and get some peace. What I said to the other minister, uh, yesterday evening, I said to him, I must admit that it's my character just to wind people up a bit. And I said to him, I said, have you heard about the second tsunami? It's over. What? The second tsunami? He was the Minister for the water Affairs and Environment in Singapore, and he hadn't heard about the second tsunami. They said, what what's happening is very concerned. I said, there's another tidal wave. Have compassion, which has been flooding the world. People have actually started caring. And I can actually see that wherever I go, people trying to find ways to send things, to send her resources to look after the help. And I say, well, the wonderful thing is, whenever this tragedy is, it does tend to bring people together. And this is part of like being a Buddhist. Whatever happens in the world, sometimes people say, why does this happen? Why do we have these things? That's not the right question. The question is always the thing, what are we doing about it? How can we sort of grow, learn, and create some good things out of the bad things which happen to us? Because too often when people say, why do these things happen? Why do these things happen? I remember one of the teachers of our tradition that dancer Mateo was once asked this. I think it was the case so many years ago. This was there was an ordination ceremony in our monastery in England, one of the early ordination ceremonies. And what? Well, the ceremony was occurring. A couple of the disciples over there. They were listening to the ordination sermon. And actually, just by the way, it's an ordination ceremony upon union on Monday, just after lunch, if you want to come along. But this thing, what happened to you? I promise, because they left one of their children in the car. They had a little sheep, and the child was maybe only about 4 or 5 years of age. And no one to this day knows why. But the the the jeep burst into flames. And as soon as they they saw the frames, it was too late to save little boy. And he burned to death. And 4 or 5 years of age, right in the middle of an officer. They stopped the ceremony. But right in the middle of doing something wonderful that happened. And of course, people ask, why does that happen? Why is the 4 or 5 year old boy just died like that? No one knows. You know what the cause was? It was a very well maintained car just burst into flames. What I just said. He wasn't being flippant about this. He was being very, very wise. The first saying may seem that it's only superficial, but when you think about it and delve deeper, you think what a wise statement that was. He said. The reason why that boy died was because he was born. What you were saying that for everybody who is born that we have the. The future, the destiny. It comes with being born. Though we can die at any time, at any place, for whatever reasons. They reminded me of a story which I gently used to say, because there was a man who came to see him. Who had been drafted into the Thai army and was wounded in a skirmish. He was shot. And he came along to see it and said, why me? Why did I get shot? Have I done some bad karma in the past? I might have luck. He should have given me some more chances. I've been shot and I don't show this, I said listen. What do you expect when you join an army? That's what happens to you. People shoot at you. That's what happens in an army. Let's par for the course. It comes with the job. Like a big amount. Sometimes you get stomachache and say, oh, why do I get stomachache? It's not because I've got a bad stomach. I eat the wrong thing. I've got no choice. You just put this food in front of me. Now, if you see the way we eat, and especially when you go overseas, because they'll bring you their favorite food and say, please eat this, please eat this, don't eat this, eat mine. And that's what I say to me. But this morning, this is true at Changi Airport. That all the disciples. I'm going away. They like to. Actually, it's become a custom now to take me to one of the little restaurants there for breakfast. When I got there this morning about was it 7:00? And so someone brought me a muffin and a cup of tea, which was wonderful. Just a muffin, a cup of tea. Ten minutes later, someone else came along and they brought me a bagel. And then someone else came along. That breakfast this morning. No joke. It lasted till 845. And now on a 45, I try to just eat a little bit. And they came on. The last person came about 830. They'd rushed there, they'd cook the noodles themselves. So please, please better these noodles. Now, I wonder. I had a stomach ache on the plane today, but what can you do about it? It comes with the job. If you want to eat what you want. When you eat, when you want to eat and how you eat it, never become a monk or a nun. And that show. I was very impressed when I started reading the original teachings of the Buddha in these sutures. You actually see it on there? Some of these monks say in their stories, 2500 years ago, they used to get stomachaches as well. This part of being a monk, it's part of being a soldier that you get shot at and wounded, maybe even killed. And it's part of being a human being in the world can die at any time. Well, it was actually saying there was a very, very profound we think that we shouldn't die. We shouldn't die this way. We should die that way. That's the first thing that is to please understand what life is all about. It's not a question of why does this happen? Is this if you are a human being? There are natural disasters, whether it's mudslides, whether it's floods, whether it's the natural disasters of dengue fever or malaria, whether it's cancers, whether it's heart attacks, whether it's road accidents. Even some one of the members here, he lost his son in the greatest town tragedy. Few people who are under the just camping under that rock face down south and just no warning at all. The rock face collapsed upon them. He lost his son. These things happen. So sometimes we say, why, why, why does that happen? It happens because we're born. So what it means is that can happen to each one of us. What does that mean? It means that we know from tragedies like this. It reminds us of our mortality. It reminds us even if we meditate, we eat brown rice or vegetarians, and we exercise and we do yoga. We can still die. I got this shot when I was a young monk before I became a monk. I was into all sorts of alternative things. I was a vegetarian. I was even a, uh, in a macrobiotic diet for a short while. Anything just to be weird. That was my motto in those days, into yoga, anything was just going. I was into it. And on a television in Britain at that time, they used to have a yoga program. I remember it's called yoga for health. It was made in the United States, and I used to watch it obsessively, like, you know, all these other things I used to watch. And I had this amazing was actually it was, you know, because of the postures. But there was this amazing, beautiful woman on this. I didn't watch it for her. It was for the purchasing. There's also this incredibly fit guy. And there was that young, handsome and could do all these amazing poses. And just after I became a monk, I was talking to a visitor from the US, and we just got on to the subject of yoga. And I said, ah, yeah, I used to watch that program from your country about this yoga for health. What it was about these amazing guys. Do you know what happened to that guy, this incredibly young, fit, healthy guy? He said he walked off the set one day and had a heart attack and died. Actually on the set itself. So he couldn't have done he did yoga. He said no. Even if you do yoga, you can die. Even if you are vegetarian, you can die. Even if you meditate, you can die even if you have health insurance. Have a medical checkup every week. You can die. So the point is that this has happened. This is par for the course. So please, let's not get it out of proportion. Instead of saying, why does this happen? We know that there will always be natural disasters. There will be tragedies. There'll be cancers which can't be cured. There'll be children who die in road accidents. I remember one of the saddest funeral services I ever did. I don't think it's been a sad one. This was of a. I think it was an invitation. A girl who'd come over here did her studies. Her parents. She was the only child. Her parents had sacrificed so much to give her an education. She'd really lived up to her parent's sacrifice. She'd done well at school. She got a scholarship to come and study in Perth. She did very well at university and not just partying. She just went in there and just really did her studies, got her degree, got a nice job. And then invited her parents over because her parents were over in Malaysia somewhere. They were quite poor and invited her parents over to come and stay with her. And the parents could only speak Mandarin, I think. And they could not say. Uh, they couldn't understand the English that had been here for 1 or 2 weeks. And a drunk driver just lost control of the car and this couple were just on the footpath in Paddington, there on the footpath, just being shopping, just being taken by their daughter. Sorry. No, sorry. The two couple were there with their daughter and they're doing shopping. And her daughter, just on the footpath, was hit by their car and killed instantly. And those two parents, a mother and a father. Those is inconsolable. Number one, they could not understand what was going on. He couldn't understand a word of English, say, just come from the country 1 or 2 weeks earlier and for no reason it seemed to them their daughter, the one they had given so much of their life for, so sacrificed so much, and she seemed to have done so well. They'd come to a new country to be with. The only family was suddenly taken out by a drunkard. Why does that happen? You want the footpath? You've done nothing wrong yourself. I think the drunk driver never died. Why do these things happen? We say it's not fair. Why should it happen? Why should so many people going about their business suddenly die in these tragedies of life? Number one tragedies happen. Number two, if it's a tragedy in our family or in our part of the woods, in our country, in our region, sometimes we focus upon that to the exclusion of the rest of our rest of life. The strange thing, the way our perception strain changes the world. Sometimes we amplify things at all proportions for many, many reasons. I'm going to stop. Why? The reason is that sometimes if it's your village or it's your country, or it's it's your region, or if it's your family and it's a huge thing and you wonder why no one else cares. It's the same. It was somebody else's family. Sometimes we don't care. Not the same degree anyway. And the last 12 months has been huge tragedies in the Sudan. In the southern part of Sudan, the great floods in Bangladesh, which claimed, I think probably, I'm not quite sure, probably more lives than in the tsunami. Just one year ago, there was a big earthquake in in northern Iran in bomb. There's been tragedies has been wars. But sometimes. Why is that? We focus on one thing and not another. I always reflect upon that because as a as a Buddhist, we don't just react. We think about things. We contemplate things. Why do these things happen? And I noticed in my own case, in my own experience, it is how that sometimes we react. Attachment, fear. This is my place, my village, or my body, or my parents, or my child or whatever. Why is it we don't cry over the death of all children? Why is there any prior art in our child's death? Why is it? It's only our people, our village. I don't know if that's because I've been a monk for too many years now, and I travel around the world so much, but sometimes I this is not a joke when it's funny sometimes, but it's not really. I really don't know what nationality I am. Because I was born in England. And I was nine years in Thailand and now I'm about 21 years in Australia. Some of my disciples over here say you spend more time in Singapore than you do in Perth. And it's true. The Singaporeans I say, are welcome home improvement. I shouldn't tell you that, but that's what they said when I got there this time. And they live in Malaysia as well. And it's true. Whenever that plane lands in Changi and I see all those people outside waiting for me, I think, ah, these are my friends, my family. I'm coming home. And then you go after Kayo. And people have these banners actually Embraer welcome at the airport. And I think, oh, isn't this nice? I come in to all my friends in Kayo. And then you go out to Penang and all these people away. The people I've known for years, there's this little car after me, they feed me. And then my friends, almost like brothers and sisters in the Dharma, I think, oh, it's no wonderful getting to Penang. As soon as you get into that airport, you come across and see this beautiful hills. Oh, isn't this wonderful? And then you go to Thailand. And as soon as a plane starts to land into the Bangkok airport, you see all these monasteries, all their roofs and the these, uh, they're kind of shady as these stupas poking out, I think. Oh, is this wonderful? All that time I spent in this country, I'm coming home. Then you go to England and see your family and this thing. As soon as you go past this, it is all small pubs. You think, oh, I don't go in them. I just look on the outside, I think, oh, I'm coming home again. And then finally the plane lands at Perth Airport like it did this afternoon. And you see all of these people on the tarmac hanging around, chatting, doing nothing at all. And I think, oh, I'm coming home again because I thought they'd like the lazy. I shouldn't say that. They'll probably get in trouble next time I fly. But it's true, isn't it? That's what you see in all these other countries. They really work very hard on the tarmac. You always see them standing around and doing nothing. Now, whether it takes so long for your baggage to come out. Well, isn't it great to be home again? So I got all these homes all over the world, and I get very confused about where I'm supposed to belong. Isn't that wonderful? You know I belong anywhere. You're a citizen of the world. Look at how many different nationalities there are in this. This whole. This evening. Our world is changing. It's very hard to have boundaries on what country you belong to. So because of that, there's sometimes that you have a wider view of things. It's not just my child or my group or my country. Actually, just one of the events which we had last night in Singapore was actually had a dialogue with a prominent Muslim. The Buddhist and the Muslim were talking to each other. And people said, actually, the minister said he said the thing we should, like most of all of the dialogue was after the dialogue that the, uh, the I think his name was Imran, him. And we had a nice hug. And that's why so should we supposed to do that in sort of, um, input is about Islam, but we did anyway, so who cares? Isn't it nice just the image of, like, the Buddhist and the Muslims coming together and sorting out some of the problems which we have in the world? And so the point was that sometimes, sometimes I really wonder, am I really just a Buddhist? Well, is there much more to it than that? Are you a human being? A person with a heart? A person with wisdom. Are you more than just being isolated? The point of this actual train of thought is to show that when you're just a Buddhist, when you're just an Australian, when you're just a Malaysian, when you're just a woman, when you're just a Perth, I sometimes that's all we think about. Ah, this will tribe, our little area. Which means that when our area or our sort of family, our tribe gets harmed or hurt. Yeah, then we really care. Other people get harmed or hurt and it's not the same. I don't think that's really wise or fair. I think we should be a global community, even like a global religion. There's already just people, including any atheists, agnostics, anybody can all come in. The spiritual sort of global versus the meditated locally sort of, uh, spiritual universally. What I'm trying to make up a new slogan that's very hard to make up, new slogans on the spot, but actually one used slogan, which I found out was actually on the Nike's got a new slogan, apparently, which is the there is no finishing line. Because I've seen it on some shirts over in, uh, in Southeast Asia. There is no finishing line, says Nike. And I disagree with that. I say the finishing line is now. I quite like that. The finishing line is now. Do you understand? Yeah. So finish with things now. You can pick them up again later. If you don't have a finishing line now, you will never rest if there's no finishing line, my goodness, you're going to be striving working racing is good news for Nike. Shoes are always racing. They don't want you to stop. They want to keep on wearing out your shoes so you can buy new ones as soon as possible. But as Buddhism, we say, you know, the finishing line is now, so you can finish at any time. You can rest and take it easy. But anyway, going back to about, um, the idea of like, uh, the global spirituality is a means that we don't focus on one thing, we don't focus on one thing. We actually even it all out. And then we get the big picture. So I thought to be a big picture. Monk, when you get the big picture again, you see. Yeah, this is life. It's not just one life, many lies. When you have like rebirth, reincarnation that then you find out, well, some people die young, some people die middle age. Some people die when they're old. If you die. After many, many years in this life, maybe you have a short life. The next one, maybe a short life, maybe the last one. You have a longer one next time. Three depends upon your karma. But if we think, oh, it's so tragic, why did this young person die? If it's only one life, a small picture, then it is tragic. You've only got one go and you didn't get much of a go at that. But imagine a big picture of like Buddhist spirituality. This is not your first life. It won't be your last life. You get the big picture yet? It's a tragedy. But as many times when there wasn't tragedies, you've had tragedies. We've all been drowned in floods, taken away by tsunamis, crushed in mudslides so many times, said the Buddha. So you get the big picture and we can actually keep it in perspective. But what is that perspective? Once we stop saying why, why, why does this happen? Why me? Who's gonna answer that question first of all, then we're free to ask us the next question, which is far more important. And so, so often people don't go to that next question. Next question is what are we doing about it? And there's no need to sort of get too sad. Because when we're sad, when we get depressed, it means we're incapable of actually responding in an adequate, wise, effective way. So often when things go wrong in our life, we spend too much time crying and moaning, oh, why does this happen? And not enough time as she reacting and helping. And this is why that one of the Buddhist attitudes to all things in life doesn't matter if anything goes wrong. It's always something you can do about it. And sometimes you can turn those tragedies into beautiful opportunities of compassion and care and coming together in life. Now there was a who's always stressing very frequently these earthquakes in the east of Turkey. And I think it was a couple of years ago, there was a big earthquake in Turkey. And at that particular time, I think the Greek government and the Turkish government had terrible diplomatic relations. I think those of, you know, because of the invasion of Cyprus, that was the biggest sticking point. And the Cyprus was. So they've divided into the Turkish part and the, the Greek part. And there was a big, um, uh, wall or fence in between. I know one of my friends, but he actually, I think his father, uh, grew up there or worked there for a long time, and he landed in one part of the island. They just want to go to the other part of the island to see some old friends. He just couldn't go over the wall. He had to leave the island, go back to Greece from Greece, go back to Turkey, from Turkey, go back to the island. A journey of like two miles. Had to be like an international flight with two destinations via Greece and then via Turkey to get the Turkish off. That's how stupid these things are. But at that particular time, there was a big earthquake and the Greek governments were very quick because they were one of the closest countries and they had lots of resources to send their army helicopters, ship everything over there with heaps and heaps of supplies. And of course, when it comes to a disaster, you don't care if that's the person you've just had an argument with. You don't worry if that's sort of, you know, they're Greek Orthodox Christians and you're Turkish Muslims. You don't care. You dig in the rubble side by side. You cry together, and you also smile with joy when you find somebody under the rubble who you can keep alive. And the effect of that, as I heard and as I would understand, was that those two governments. They buried the hatchet for a time. They sort of forgot their differences. They were friends, at least in the public level. Something good came out of that tragedy. And I think that, as you would all know, that tragedies in life. Sometimes they do give us the opportunity to get something good, something wonderful, something spiritual, out of the pain of life. Which is why I've often just brought this down to earth and say, when you step in the dark pool of life, and maybe not in a dog pool, you have a whole truck of dog poo just dumped right on top of you, right up to your ears. That there is always the opportunity to take it onto your mango tree, dig it under the mango. But you should always remember that once you've dug in that dog poo or the cow poo, whatever else you want to call it, why don't you take it in as fertilizer? Remember when that mango tree has its fruit and you eat that mango? Its sweet because of the poo. If you didn't have any, done any proof that the manga wouldn't be so tasty. So what we're saying is this. Tragedies of life, the difficulties of life are the big tragedies of your own personal tragedies. The importers and we call it growing pain. The opportunity for you to become far more spiritual, far more compassionate, far more wise. So much as if those tragedies, that's what they're there for as opportunities for us to really learn and get to know real life. When we do these things, it's amazing just what happens to communities. However, while they do come together, how for a while we realize there isn't any difference between whether you're a Buddhist or a muslim, or a Christian or evangelical or whatever you are. There is no difference between whether you're an Indonesian or Lankan or a Thai or a nani. Or is it called like an animal? That's the word I learned. You know what that means. That it's only for the Malaysians and the. So Singaporeans here that I mean, it's like a white monk. If this means red haired guy. Even though it's not red hair, you got no hair. But that's still what they call you in Singapore. Malaysia. That you know that I've been over there, I listen. That doesn't matter who you are, because when you were together, you are friends, your brothers, your sisters. And that's a wonderful experience to have. The tragedies and difficulties make us work together. That's where the best diplomacy happens. That's the best aid. That's the best inter-faith conferences. Sometimes we do these things and we go to all these interfaith conferences. We all talk about this, we talk about that, and then we go home and just forget about it. But when you actually have to work together in disasters or building up good things, helping with orphanages, building temples, giving charity, working together, looking after each other, that's when you have interfaith dialogue with interfaith living. That's when you have the village boundaries come down. And it's not your village. It's our world. The boundaries between men and women, old and young. This religion, that religion, this country and that country, they can all just come down. You travel from one place to another, you get up in the aircraft, you look out the window. Now you find you're travelling over Indonesia. It looks the same in Australia as far as I can see. Now I can't see it's a different color, like on the maps. I can't see like a line drawn over there. When you, you go from, uh, Indonesia to Singapore. Singapore to Malaysia. I can see those maps, those lines on the maps, but they're not there on the ground. And sometimes people living on the borders. I'm going to clue because they just go over the border. They're just in their village, in their region or this country business. Now it's okay for the cricket matches and for the football matches, but we shouldn't take it more than that with one World, for goodness sake. We move around. But sometimes we can focus overmuch. It's just an artful area, and I think we really should focus on the big picture of our world. And that way, actually we can see where we can be active. Certainly, as far as the, uh, the Minister of Environment and Water Resources in Singapore was telling me last night, he said there's enough resources to help also not be victims, even in Indonesia. So the major problem for all governments is actually getting it out there. His logistics because as many of you know that those places which you seen on the TV, the places where you've seen pictures, they're the places which are easy to get to. Eight. Resources will be coming there very quickly. It's the prices you haven't seen on a TV. The places where no newspaper has ever gone. Yet they are the places. Which the governments know exists. And that's the places which are very, very hard. I know the Singapore government told me that they've already sent two helicopters over to the far west of Indonesia. To the isolated communities because that's the only way to get there with helicopters. What did they say in LA? Because he's a minister for water to big tanks of water. And this is actually what we mean by helping. Finding out what's really going on and not just being compassionate. But being compassionate and being wise, we need to have both of those things. It's not just saying, oh, it's a terrible thing. What should we do about it? How to do something about it. Don't just feel guilty and get into this guilt trip. I should be happy. I'm okay. I've got a nice house. Isn't it terrible? I should go and do something. Give a donation just out of guilt. But something to do is actually to say how one can really, really help. And this is actually how one can really, really help, is actually seeing the heart of the problem and understanding what's going on. And also learning that these are opportunities to grow spiritually. Compassion doesn't come from listening to a talk, yet wisdom doesn't come from reading the books and getting a degree from a university. Wisdom is learned from the experiences of life, and compassion comes from the hard times of suffering. And you should know that from your life. Every time you've really experienced something, it's an opportunity to grow in compassion. Your wisdom you learned from life. The books are given like a guidelines, a hand, books. You could actually to put that into practice in your life or experience, to really understand why those words are there in the first place. And this is how one learns great opportunities. And so what is the opportunity for people here? It's not just a big compassion and kindness. Please think that that's you swept out to see. The person out there who was. And I remember we had one girl who was clinging to an old door and got washed back again in Indonesia. She survived the many people who didn't. That's you out there. Imagine what it's like. Can you imagine what these things are like? There's certain things in your life have more meaning. Other things have far less meaning. For example, all those arguments you have in your family. His little sayings, which you think about so much. He said that and she did that, and my kids didn't do the right thing to me this evening. And they're not doing their homework. They're not getting doing well in their exams. They should be studying more instead of just watching the video game so much. And they're both at work. So asked me to do so much. My finances aren't well enough. If only win the lotto this weekend then everything will be alright. So where stupid things we tend to think about all the time. And I must get home early enough tonight to see this TV program or that movie or whatever else it is, or anything like that. Sometimes tragedy is really being focused to our lives, what life is all about and how short it is. They don't know when that's going to happen to you. I'm not trying to make you afraid. I'm trying to make you more vigilant, more caring, more wise. To make sure you make use of this life in a much better way. Life is not just having parties and getting drunk and watching the cricket and just sharing your team on because they're winning or just cheering somebody else. Life is all about this life. What about this and bringing up your children and make sure they all get doctors and and engineers and make sure they're all wealthy. His life is getting all your relationships in order. So you find your soul mate in life and live happily ever after. They didn't last happily ever after. As soon one of you dies, we leave each other. It's not just getting a big house when you want a big house for big houses made big mortgages, or these big cleaning means big headaches. Big gardens mean no time to come to the Buddhist center in the weekend. You want a big garden, go walk in Kings Park. You want a swimming pool down by the beach? It's much cheaper. So I'm sorry for all the real estate agents here this evening. I'm not trying to sort of kill your business. Well, let's just get some priorities right. And anybody who's been in those areas actually see what the priorities work. And I was in Penang and there's something about 60 people died there. And this again just arrives a couple of hours after the, the, uh, the tidal wave here are just getting back to normal. I really respect that. Mostly the Buddhists in the Penang Island. Like going there. Somebody lost this person. Somebody lost their beach house. It's all gone. Swept away. Yeah. Okay. We will rebuild. It will rebuild our lives. Life goes on. Obviously other places were more devastated, but you find the resilience of wise and compassionate communities. They go on. I certainly realized that from the tales which my parents told me. And my grandparents because they lived in London during the Blitz. This is a time when it was like a twin towers every evening. Literally. You know, the hundreds, thousands of bombers were coming over dropping bombs, which could go anywhere, any time. You didn't know where it was going to hit. And I remember my mother telling me that those in you see these little terraced houses in England. Everything is so small and compact in Europe. In one of these small terraced houses, which maybe about, oh, maybe ten meters, not ten meters. That's a long, maybe eight meters wide from wall to wall. And then you get the next house. So one night the bomb fell on the next house. And it killed everybody in the next house. And of course, now having a bomb go off about ten meters away from you. Just my mother. Her whole arm was cut by the glass. My grandmother was terrified. Just ran out of the house before it just collapsed. But that was happened to everybody. Living. There are memories of my grandmother who lived through that time. Every time there was a thunderstorm. She'd have to stop whatever she was doing. She may be cooking or watching the TV or just talk to us. She had to stop and she go to the stairs leading down the house, and she sit on them until the thunderstorm finished. She could do no more or no less, because during that time she was taught to the safest place in your house was on the stairs, which were made out of either concrete or stone. While the rest of the house was made out of bricks and was not as firm. And sometimes you saw that many buildings had collapsed, but the stairs were still there because they were the strongest part. And she learned that during the, the, the Blitz, the Second World War. And it was so ingrained in her that even when those thunderstorms passed by or the flashbacks at that time came back to her. She's such a wonderful lady. She and others that I see everywhere. You. Wonderful, nice. A very caring and loving granny. So the thing was, we incorporate tragedies in our life and it's not just our tragedy. Not just my family. It's all of us. Tragedy. We understand that we get to learn to live with that. We can accept these things. We accept them. Yes. Tragedies happen soon. Armies happen. Floods happen. Plagues happen. All sorts of things happen in life. When you're born, you're gonna die. At any time. So what are you doing about that? They say that the human life is very precious. This is actually part of Buddhism. Selected to be reborn as a human being is a very, very rare experience. And so understanding that we don't waste time, we make use of this life to learn, make good karma, be good people, to become wiser, more compassionate. And these are our lessons which keep prompting us again and again. They'll wake up cause. And we need to wake up more and more. Soon it will be the time of some tragedy happens over here. I know that some years ago we were almost wiped out in a bushfire. I was right in the middle of it. And this was in 1991, I think it was a huge explosion. So if you've ever been in a wildfire in Australia, this was a big one. Still to this day, that was the second hottest year. So the second hottest day recorded in Western Australia at the actual at the time when the bushfire came for us it was the hottest day. So a couple of weeks later that the temperature went a little bit higher. The second hottest day in the history of Western Australia, there was a bushfire came through our monastery in serpentine. Who's on top of that, 46 or 47 degrees that day. And that was before the fire came. So obviously, after the fire came, there's much hotter. And it was there at the time. But I saw these trees exploding. It was like bombs going off. Because you should know that in the eucalypt forests, when it gets that hot or the matter, the eucalyptus evaporates. And it forms this explosive mixture around the trees, oil and air, just waiting for a spark. It's an explosive mix and when it goes off, it's like a bomb going up. I remember my predecessor as he because he was away at the time, but he came just when the fire had already hit and we'd been evacuated, and he went to argue with the policeman at the roadblock. Let me up there, let me up there! He kept on asking. And just as the place looks too dangerous. That's my monastery. I demand to go up. And the policeman said, no, you can't. And then there was a big explosion in one of the trees. He said, you really want to go up there? He said, okay, no. But if you see what's happening over there and that's frightening. There's a natural disasters. Sometimes you die. But I always remember afterwards that we had, uh, because we were in the heart of it. We got quite a bit of media coverage. Interesting things happened. I was obviously that evening was interviewed for the other channel seven or channel nine news. And later on, the lady interviewed me. She rang up later on. She said she now works for those of you who've been around a while. She now works for the Hinch program. Remember Hinch, The Hinch report. And she said we want to do a segment on you for the Hinch Report. And apparently that's really sort of a very dodgy program. So. So I said no. So now we want to do a good thing because she said that we interviewed you after I was the interviewer. Interviewer. Just after you've been evacuated. They said you guys weren't scared. You were traumatized. So everybody else had been doing this stuff for a long time, so they haven't been able to get you out of my head because you were afraid you weren't blaming anybody. And she wanted to know why. And a few weeks later, we had a team of psychology students from Curtin University. Who came to interview us. And because I was at the time, they gave us a big questionnaire, sort of, you know, can you sleep at nights? Do you have dreams of fires? You know. And I said, no, no, no no no no no. And when you get the psychology students were really disappointed. Because we weren't traumatized, so they just have nothing to do. So why is that with. It's incredible just how like Buddhists can actually take things in their stride. Why is that? Because we got the wide picture, the big picture. When we do have some poo in our lives, we don't start complaining about it and overreact. And so yeah, okay. This happens if you live in the eucalypt forest here in Australia you are going to get fires. So we're prepared for it. We understand it's going to happen to us. We don't say, oh why did the fire to come to our monastery, who can we blame? Let's go and sue this person or sue this person. Who can we see today? We don't try and blame anybody. We say, okay, yeah, this happened. It's par for the course. You get born, you'll die. So that's what we're doing about it. So eventually we straight away so started rebuilding. Actually didn't need to rebuild much. Only a little bit was damaged enough. We just get on with it. Get on with life. That's being effective. Sometimes people think, oh, you put this a really cold, you're heartless. Now you've got a big heart, but a wise heart, which really just works so hard, works your butt off, basically for other people, caring for them, looking after them, but in a wise way and an effective way. So with these tragedies of life. How many tragedies was just the way we look at these things. The word we give to them sometimes, in other words, has such a lot of power. Sometimes when something happens, we can get caught up in it. And I just mentioned about my predecessor, actually, and Jack is a very wise man, a very wise man. I remember one occasion how he just I was so impressed with him. Just his psychological skill. This particular occasion I was still in. I was at McIntyre, and at this time he was the abbot of the monastery and tired of whatnot, I chat. One of our disciples had a cancer, a very bad cancer. She was actually the wife of one of the one of the chief disciples of our monastery in Thailand. Would always come once a week to give Diana. She got a very bad cancer. The husband tried everything. All these Chinese pills and everything else to try and heal her. And then one morning, her best friend came to the monastery while we're having lunch. And that ties are usually so respectful of monks. If they're eating, they just go outside and wait for us to finish. But he burst in to the hole. She did even better. And she said, this lady, 13, 13, shot herself. She's committed suicide. And she was so upset, waving her arms around, screaming while all the monks were having their meal. And because again, Jacko at the time was a bossy abbot. We are all looking to see what he's going to do. He just looked at once and then looked out his barn and carried on eating. Now, it's not that the food is so important for me. It's because this is what happened next. He carried on eating. He said. She's killed herself. She shot herself. He didn't move. He carried on eating. And then she started ours went up less. Her voice started modulating and not being so loud. And after five minutes she was just sitting down. Soutine's. Closer. Well, Suz, can I just put his spoon down a bit of his meal, looked up and said what's happened? I was brilliant. The emotional intelligence of that monk at that time. He calmed her down. Because she was overreacting. It was a suicide of her best friend. Yeah, but. The emotional turmoil in her mind was not really at all useful. Understandable, yes, but not really useful. Not the right time to explain what was going on and why, and what you should do next. Just to overreacting and creating all sorts of problems. Actually adding to the problems, not solving them so very beautifully. He calmed them down. Calm calm, calm. In 2 or 3 minutes she was calm and then he said, oh, what's happened? And then this is what we can do next. I think that day only at half his meal. But he waited. He carried on eating just to calm her. That's a beautiful thing to do. Sometimes when a tragedy happens, we just need that peace of calm. We just need that focus ability to see things deeply instead of when we get emotionally overreacting. Are. We never can see anything clearly. We try and help. We just add to problems. We try and do something and we say, why isn't anybody doing anything about this? Why? Why? Let's find out what needs to be done first. Because with that calmness. With that wisdom, then compassion can be just so powerful, so effective. It may not look as caring and kind as people just run into that straight away. I'm going to help you. I'm going to hug you. Don't hug me. I've got disease are adding to the problem. Whatever it is that sometimes our responses are inappropriate. We've got too much compassion, but not enough wisdom. So in all tragedies in life, the opportunities for us to learn, opportunities to grow in wisdom and opportunities to learn, to grow in compassion where it really counts. So whether it's a tragedy of tsunamis, whether it's a tragedy of earthquakes, whether it's the tragedy of cancers, whether the tragedy of accidents, or as the tragedy of whatever happens in life. Learn from it. Stand back. Don't just focus on your own. Focus on the big picture. See the whole world. These tragedies happen every day. And help where you can, but help evenly. Wisely and compassionately. And it's not just for others. It becomes also for you. And you help so you get help as you cool down. So you get wise and you are preparing yourself for the next one. Preparing yourself your own tragedy. Old age, sickness and death, said the Buddha of suffering. But anywhere we have craving, does that create the suffering? We have the wisdom and the compassion. What once should be seen as intolerable. Now we can tolerate it. But once we thought it was incomprehensible. How can that happen? How can hundreds of thousands of people just die like that? What was once incomprehensible? Now we can actually comprehend. We can understand it. We can even see its purpose. And also we can grow from it. And early the great explosion of Krakatoa. The last time there's a huge because there was an article by some author in this in the Straits Times. This is the Singapore paper about a person who wrote a book of research. This huge explosion in Java, or just off the coast of Java sun was about 100 years ago, I think. He said that several people died. But then all that ash which came from that volcano which covered Chava. That was one of the reasons it became so fertile. It's as if the destruction. Hallways gave way to life as well. I know that in Thailand when there were monsoon floods. Some people died. Many crops were washed away. But the farmers told me at the time, it doesn't matter. Next year we don't have to pay for fertilizer. The fertilizer came with those flats. The silts and the mud which was left enriched their fields. Is that natural? People have been around for a long time. Understood nature, worked with nature and understood the nature takes away, but also gives back as well. Though in tune. With the cycles of life. Fascinating, but I really respect such people. So we learn. We understand. We accept. We give. We're kind and we grow as life. So that's just a few reflections this evening around the scenario because everyone's been talking about them. And again, we'll talk about them probably for another week. And then we forget about them and then until another disaster happens. Hopefully will become wiser, kinder and grow more. At each time we have the opportunity to learn. So that's the talk this evening about the tidal wave of wisdom and compassion which is sweeping our communities. I hope. So any comments about this evening's talk? Comments or complaints or questions? Okay if so many die all at once, where do they go? Is there a traffic jam up in heaven? There's a big queue that sometimes when the last time I came back to Perth Airport three. You know, not me. It was actually waiting for one of the monks actually in prison, who was here a few days ago was attempting. Yeah, I think it was that three planes arrived at the same time, and it is was the last. And being about he didn't really rush out. So he was the last one out. Waited for a couple of hours, three hours, I think, for him to come out of the aircraft. So be queue. And immigration and customs is their immigration and customs. When you go to heaven after you die. Did I check what you're carrying? Have you got permission to come into heaven? Is your visa all stabbed yet to go to heaven or I haven't done enough? Calm. I'm sorry. You haven't got a visa yet to come in. I see what usually happens when a lot of people die. Some people who die who are wise. They know what's going on. They prepared for death. Then look at what's going on. They can let go and just go on to the next rebirth. No problem at all. But some people is amazing. Just they get confused by the sudden death. I think confusion is a big word sometimes. I don't know if they're dead, why they died. So very often this goes around after a major tragedies like that. And it's unknown places in time where there's been floods, where there's been major tragedies. And I have to keep going back there because sometimes the ghosts, because they're not ready to die or they think they're not ready, they should be. My goodness. We should always be ready to die. So sometimes they linger around there for a while. That's why you always get priests or monks going around, whether it's to the places in Bali where the bombings went off or into the beaches in Phuket and Thailand would be monks there pretty soon doing ceremonies. And probably in Indonesia, the Muslims will be going to those places to do, uh, ceremonies in Sri Lanka will happen as well in India. Because all that is, is actually when a person dies, you know exactly what's going on leaving their body. Sometimes they just need to be given a bit of a nudge into their new life. Come on, come on, come on, come on. Let go of this world. You dead now. Come on. Remember all the goodness you've done. Let go of your family and your possessions. Now's the time to go on releasing the God's releasing so they they goes from their attachment to this world. Sometimes you have to do that when so many people die at the same time. And the other question is people ask this, but is this is it when people die all at the same time in one big event? Is that like group karma? And then sometimes I know that, uh, according to the the books is there's no such thing as good karma or each individual of our karma. What you do doesn't affect me. What I do doesn't affect you. But again, there is, in a sense, a group karma, like all of you have come to listen to the Dharma this evening. You all come together to do something which is really good. So isn't the case that sometimes we receive the fruits of that goodness together? Sometimes they have like armies, they go into battle. But not just a battle. They go and destroy a whole village. Together they do like a great war cry. We call it these days together. Sometimes they receive the fruit of that bad action together. Sometimes you have gangs who go right for steal or even kill. They do it together. Sometimes I receive the fruit of that bad action together. So yeah, in that sense, there is such a thing as group karma. Sometimes that's what happens. So thank you for that. Any other questions or comments? Yeah. 7s Oh, yes. Sometimes it's in accepting. Is it sucking the juice of the orange? Therefore, in other words, doing. As I understand your question, doing as much as you possibly can while you've got the time. Because are you saying that I know this is one point which comes out very often. Does it mean accepting you just sit there and do nothing, or just accept people are going to die anyway? What's the point? We're not going to be proactive. Is that the question you meant? Okay. Again, it's because that sometimes that we overreact. They say just we have to be more accepting. We. But accepting does not mean you're inactive and you don't respond appropriately. The point I was trying to make is sometimes when we don't accept. We spent too much time crying trying to find reason why, why why, why, why and getting depressed. That way, it incapacitates us to actually respond appropriately. But perhaps the best answer to that common complaint about Buddhism, the Buddhist, such as to inactive. There's a little story I've got in my book. Open the Door of Your Heart, which comes from an anecdote from the time of the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. And you know that story, many of you. But I'll say it again here. During the Six-Day War between Israel and it was Jordan, Egypt, Syria, I forget who else. Lebanon, probably as well at the time. That, um, Harold Macmillan was asked who's next? Prime Minister was asked, what do you think about the problem in the Middle East? And is, he? Answered the journalist. Sir, there is no problem in the Middle East. The journalist responded. How can you say that there's a war on as we're speaking? And the Prime Minister, ex-Prime minister said, sir, a problem is something with a solution. There is no solution in the Middle East, therefore it can't be a problem. Now that was such a great saying. You realize the meaning behind it was, if there's something to do, then it's a problem. Do something. But if there's nothing to do. That's why we have to have the acceptance. And a lot of times the life and death tragedies. How can we stop sort of earthquakes and tsunamis? Tsunamis will happen. And even with warning systems, sometimes the warning systems will never be perfect. You know, we can have, uh, scans of women's breasts and, uh, people's prostates. But still, there will be cancers coming on. We try and do our best, but we have to also have acceptance. And just from what I've heard over the last few days, what I've read in the newspapers, there isn't sufficient acceptance of the tragedies of the tsunamis, and I think that is hindering the relief effort. Too much hand-wringing. Not enough. Using your hands for other purposes. I thought, if that answers your question, but does that sort of answer it? I could get towards it. Okay.

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