January 19, 2023


Mindfulness of the Body | Ajahn Brahm

Mindfulness of the Body | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
Mindfulness of the Body | Ajahn Brahm

Jan 19 2023 | 01:04:41


Show Notes

Boredom can be overcome with practice in understanding bodily sensations. People are always looking for things to do because they don’t know how to do nothing, but peace is more important than anything. The practice of mindfulness is focused on the body in order to free the mind, develop wisdom, and create peace in life. Focus on the body to overcome anger and frustration. The talk was on mindfulness of the body and the harm that negative emotions do to the body. In Buddhism, forgiveness is a very important response to any conflict. It stops revenge and helps to repair the damage that has been done. You can’t keep anger going because the feelings associated with anger are unpleasant and you can’t stay focused on those feelings for very long without noticing how harmful they are to your physical health. When we focus on the body, we come to a truth which we cannot deny. The best of these emotions, such as peace, can start to get us to value our present moment more, and to live in a way which is more fulfilling.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 7th December 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

AB20011207_MindfulnessOfTheBody Summary Boredom can be overcome with practice in understanding bodily sensations. People are always looking for things to do because they don't know how to do nothing, but peace is more important than anything. The practice of mindfulness is focused on the body in order to free the mind, develop wisdom, and create peace in life. Focus on the body to overcome anger and frustration. The talk was on mindfulness of the body and the harm that negative emotions do to the body. In Buddhism, forgiveness is a very important response to any conflict. It stops revenge and helps to repair the damage that has been done. You can't keep anger going because the feelings associated with anger are unpleasant and you can't stay focused on those feelings for very long without noticing how harmful they are to your physical health. When we focus on the body, we come to a truth which we cannot deny. The best of these emotions, such as peace, can start to get us to value our present moment more, and to live in a way which is more fulfilling. Transcription U1 0:00 I'll begin this evening's talk. Usually when we give talks on a Friday evening, we try to bring the theory of Buddhism to life by taking an aspect of the Buddhist path, especially the Meditative path, and show how it can be applied in, first of all, daily life. To bring a greater sense of ease and peace, having problems in your life, but also to take it deeper into finding out some of the religious truths of life, finding out what's really going on. And the subject I want to talk about this evening is the mindfulness, which is focused on the body. And this is a traditional practice of Buddhism, a meditative practice, focusing mindfulness on the body. And it's done in many different ways in order to solve problems, to get to understand what's going on, to free the mind, and also to develop huge amounts of wisdom and peace in life. I always say that the measure of wisdom is how much peace it produces. What's the use of wisdom, ideas, knowledge if it doesn't work to create these wonderful qualities in a person's lifestyle? So the measure of wisdom is peace. And so if these teachings are worthwhile, if they do really create wisdom, they should also create a sense of stillness and peace in the mind. So the mindfulness on the body is one of these ways to develop wisdom which creates peace, solves problems in life. When we talk about mindfulness, it's an alertness, but an alertness which one can be sustained and secondly, which can be focused in the right place. And thirdly, which is powerful because a lot of times that we talk about mindfulness is awareness, is clarity of the mind. Very often it's not sustained at all. The mind wanders from one thing to another and how can you expect it to really know what's going on? Knowing because of the mind always flitting from one thing to another, always becomes so superficial. Never stays long enough on one thing. It was experience, which I had many years ago when I was living at the monastery at Serpentine. And those of you who have been to that monastery know that it's on top of a hill, and from the bottom of the hill to the top is a two kilometer walk. It's traditional for holy people to live up on the hill. As I keep saying, you never hear of holy people living in swamps. It's just not the dumb thing. If you want to fight holy people, you always go up a hill somewhere. And for most of my early life as a monk living in that monastery, I'd always go up and down in vehicles. People were so kind that they drive me up, they drive me down. And it happened one day that I was coming back from a teaching trip in Bunbury on the bus, and I told the monks, look, it's a lovely day. When the bus drops me at the bottom of Kingsby Drive, I walk up. I had plenty of time. When I walked up that first morning, something struck me very deeply, which was that having gone up and down that road so many times, when I walked up, it was going up a different road. The scenery was completely different to anything I'd experienced before. And straight away, when these strange events happened, you reflect quite deeply. Why is it that I've been up that road many times in a vehicle, but when I walk it looks completely different? So I stopped, and when I stopped, the scenery changed once more. What was happening is that when you go up in a car, you're going so fast, all you see is flashes of scenery through the window. When you're walking, you're going much slower. So that every piece of scenery has a chance to imprint it itself on your consciousness with more faithfulness to the reality. And when you stop. You're not even going at all, then you can see so deeply into what's happening around you, you get the full picture. When you're going fast, you only get flashes of reality. When you slow down, reality starts to fill in the gaps. When you stop, you see the whole picture. That's what I found in walking up or riding in a car or standing still going up that road. And this similarly relates to what we call mindfulness. When the mind is flitting from one thing to another, going so fast, you never really understand what's going on. Just flashes, flashes of your consciousness. Never is lasting long enough to really get a full picture. The slower you go, the more powerful is mindfulness. And if you cannot all stop, then mindfulness has the time, has the space, has the power to really inform you of what's going on. So sustaining mindfulness is so important, the ability to point your attention on one thing and keep it there. In other words, the stillness of the mind. So that's one of the first things we practice in meditation be able to develop that degree of mindfulness so we can focus it, and it becomes still on the point of focus. And secondly, we empower the mindfulness. So often our mindfulness is very weak because we're tired, because we're negative, because we really want just to go into dullness. Because into dullness we're not feeling the pain, the difficulty, the problems of our life. Second thing with mindfulness, we need to empower it. And what really empowers mindfulness is the joy, the happiness. Putting energy into life means enjoying this moment, literally seeking out what is beautiful in this moment. When I call in my monastery and serpentine, developing the perception of the beautiful, whatever you look at, there's a whole range of possible perceptions in that object. You can look upon it as being ugly, distasteful, I don't want to look at it, I don't want to see it, I don't want to hear it. Or you can actually choose to look at the beauty in that object. And if you choose to look at the beauty of that object, you find that mindfulness gets brighter and brighter and brighter. You can see more and more and more. You're putting happiness into perception. That's the second thing with mindfulness, to be able to put this energy destroy into what you're doing. That's just the training of the mind, that's all. And the third thing with mindfulness, you have to know what to focus it on, what's really going to be an effective use of this power of the mind, of powerful knowing and sustaining that knowing on one thing. And so here we're talking about developing that mindfulness nice and strong and sustaining it on this body of ours. In other words, the experiences in the body, the feelings in the body, the aches, pains, the stresses, whatever else is happening inside your physical frame. And it becomes extremely important to be able to focus on the body, to get to have a good understanding of the emotional world. Because that emotional world, whether it's anger, fear, guilt. Or even love positive and negative emotions. They do have an effect upon your body. And a lot of times the best way of understanding those emotions and solving the problem which comes as a consequence of those emotions is by focusing on the body. This is one of the skillful means which we use to overcome these things, such as anger. Whenever a person does get angry, there is a corresponding feeling in the body. And if a person can only focus their mindfulness on the feeling in the body whenever they get angry or irritated you'll find that that anger will dissipate very quickly. And you'll find a sense of freedom from the anger. Because this is the way it works. Whenever you get angry, it's always angry at something out there. You get angry at your husband, angry at your wife, angry at your kids, angry at the monk, angry at anybody. You can get angry at anyone. You get angry at me sometimes. How many times does that your bum have to tell that same joke? It really depends what sort of mood you're in. That's another thing which I mentioned about anger. But anger is always about something out there. Many times when I've been riding in the vehicle coming up to this center, you get caught at a traffic light. And how often is it that you feel you see people in the cars next to you getting angry at the traffic lights? I've seen people shaking their fists at the traffic lights and I can read their minds. What they're saying is, Traffic lights? Why was it you let the car in front of me through? But you stopped just for me? You saw me coming, didn't you? You got it in for me. You realized I was late and in a hurry this time. People get very angry at traffic lights in there. But I use that simulation how you can get angry at traffic lights. So reading a story, one of the magazines, you got this thing these days called Road Rage. People get angry at you some way. You drive. You're probably driving just quite normally, but then something happens, and if they get angry and upset at you, one of this case I read about in the newspapers was in New York. And this one fellow got into road rage. And when the two cars drew up at a traffic light next to each other, one of the guys got out of his car and started banging on the window of the other man's car. He was just so upset and so angry. But as anyone should realize, if you get out of your car with your door open and engine running in New York, you can know what's going to happen next. A street kid was walking past and saw the car unoccupied, got into the empty door, closed it and drove off. This person in road rage was standing in the middle of the road watching his car being driven away. Serves him right. That's what happens when you get angry. Instant. Instant karma. So we can get angry at so many things. And why is that the case? Because we don't realize what's happening with anger. We don't realize its effects. And we get caught time and time again. We may not lose our car. We may lose all our friends and at least we'll probably lose our health and we get angry at these other things. Anger is always illogical, irrational because number one, it doesn't really help you or help the situation. You can be far more effective when you don't get crazy with anger. And number two, sort of you won't be able to really appreciate what the situation is. You get mad in anger, you're not really seeing the causes of it. So instead of focusing on the cause outside of your anger the traffic light outside, that driver, my husband, the weather, the government or whatever else, which is all things out there instead you can actually focus your mindfulness, all that energy, all that power, all that attention on inside of you. When you're really angry at someone else, how do you feel? Try and find a sensation in the body which corresponds to that anger. How do you feel when you get angry? You find there's a common feeling of sensation experience in your body given center on a particular area of your body body which occurs every time you get angry, upset, irritated at something else. Once you start focusing on that experience, on that feeling, things start to change. First of all, it's just a little skillful, means a little trick to take your attention from out there inside. What happens is as soon as you're focusing on how it feels inside, rather than that person or that person, or that traffic light or that outside, you're actually cutting off the fuel which powers anger. When you look upon inside, sort of the source, the cause, the fuel is completely cut off. Because to really sustain anger, to really keep it going, you have to keep on having an object which can fuel hate, which can fuel irritation. You have to have a personal thing out there to keep it going. Once you start focusing inside, how it feels inside you, you find you can't sustain anger very much, very long at all. That's why Ajan Cha full of skillful means and very original skillful means at that. When someone many years ago asked him about how they can cure their own problem of anger, he just told them to get one of their little traveling clocks, the traveling alarm clocks, which people have, and carry it around with them. And the next time they get angry, ajan Shah said it down. Put the clock in front of you and see if you could beat your record of how long you can be angry for. Just see how long you can be angry. Just put the clock in front of you and time it straight away. The person found that when they sat, they were angry at somebody. They put the clock in front of them. They watched the clock. They weren't watching the source of anger anymore. They couldn't stay angry very long at all, because to keep anger going, you have to keep focusing on the trigger and what you take to be the cause. As soon as that person, that thing disappears, anger cannot sustain itself in the same way. When you start watching the feelings in the body. You can't keep anger going. The second reason why you can't keep anger going because when you start to experience the feelings in the body, you'll always notice that those feelings which are associated with anger extremely unpleasant. It's like a tightness in the body, like a fire in the body. And it's incredibly unpleasant to be angry at somebody else. Most people don't notice the feelings of anger anger. They only notice the object of anger. Him, her, my husband, my wife, my kids, the traffic light. If you notice how it feels inside of you, if you're not watching the object of anger but the subject of anger, you straight away you feel just how painful it is. It's something can shock you very quickly, think, wow, I'm actually really hurting here. And if you notice that feeling of anger inside of you long enough, you can really see how if you don't let go of that feeling pretty quickly, that tension, that tightness, that hard knot inside your body will very soon lead to all sorts of sicknesses and ailments in the body. Actually feeling the body rather than feeling out there. So often sicknesses which occur in the world, they start off as small things. And if you could only be aware of your body, you notice them as they're growing and you could stop them before it's too late. The body is always telling you to slow down, always telling you to relax, always telling you that something's wrong sometimes. But because we're always somewhere else, never with our body, never having mindfulness on our body, we never notice these things until sometimes it's too late. So when you start to develop the mindfulness on the body, even just watching the feelings associated with anger, you can actually do something about this. You feel, yeah, there's a whole problem here. And you realize that because that person or that thing, you think that they've sort of hurt you. Okay, they may have said something wrong, they may have done something wrong, but now you're hurting yourself. You feel to see the experience in the body, the sensations in the body, my goodness, they're painful, they're hurting. Why are you allowing someone else to control your happiness? Or rather, to control your lack of happiness? When you come to grips or come to see those feelings in the body which were associated, whenever you get angry, straight away you understand what the problem is. You see that it's a problem. And from that point you'll start to let go, you start to relax. And those feelings in the body will disappear, and so will they. Anger towards that person. It's coming to the center, coming to you. How these things appear on the body. And that is the same with other experiences in the body. The opposite of anger. Loving kindness. If you can feel what it's like inside of you when you're kind to someone else, when you're generous, when you do an act of selflessness. See if you can associate that action with feelings in your body and you just notice how pleasurable that feels, just how the body tends to open up rather than close, how things start to flow in the body rather, and things get stuck and stopped and congested in the body. Whenever you have a moment of love and forgiveness, kindness you can actually feel if you're mindful of the body, things start to flow. There's a sense of openness, a softness and lightness in this body. Straight away you can see just without being a doctor, how conducive that is to physical health. But love is good for you, a kindness softness that keeps the body healthy. You can feel that. You don't need to actually examine it, know that as your own sensation. So it starts to show you why these things are called wholesome, good, helpful for your health and well being. And other sort of emotions which come up also have those sensations. Even things like guilt and fear. Guilt and fear are emotions which go together because they're just a negativity to the the future that's fear and a negativity to the past which is guilt. And it's all selective. By selective, I mean we look at all the possible things which can go wrong and that's called fear. We never look at the things which can go right. And we always look at the things which have gone wrong, which is called guilt, without looking at the things which have gone right. It's the same action of the mind, only sort of one is pointed to the future, the other one is pointed to the past. But whichever one it is, guilt or fear, each one of those, they have an associated sensation in the body. So next time you feel a few afraid, how does it feel in your body when you're really afraid or when you feel guilty? How does that feel? Because when you're feeling guilty, say, a lot of the time, again, you're focusing on the objects of that guilt, what you've done now, what you didn't do. You're looking again out there at the world of the objects, rather on the subjects. You're not really coming in, coming home to find out what's really going on. When you actually come to the center, come in to what's going on, then you actually feel the sensations in the body. And the object that obsession with what you've done wrong or the obsession which might go wrong in the future is taken away. The fuel is turned off and again the guilt and the fear disappear. It's again coming to a present moment, awareness coming home, coming inside and getting in touch with the feelings in the body, the sensations there. And that also works with the sensations of depression as well, because our modern society has a huge problem with depression. And again, why are we depressed? Again, it's a mixture of guilt and fear and negativity towards the world. Again, it's focusing out there rather than focusing inside. How you feel when you're depressed. There's a sensation in the body. One of the focuses which I used to do is whenever you get bored in some of the forest monasteries in Thailand, it was very easy to get bored. Nothing went on there. You see one tree, you see in them all. One mosquito was just like the next. The food was just pretty much the same. All the day, every day. Just really awful. Was on the menu today. Was on the menu tomorrow. Slop today, slop tomorrow. Very boring. He didn't have any newspapers, he didn't have any TV. It was very boring. And so it was very easy to get stuck in boredom as a monk in Thailand. The place where we were always practicing was the most uninteresting place in the whole of Thailand. It was flat. There wasn't any mountains or valleys. There wasn't any any caves in that part of Thailand. And even the forest, the soil was so bad that even the forests were sort of second rate forests. It's a really boring place to be. But so you had a lot of trouble with border. Even the chanting we used to do, so it was always supposed to be in a monotone. I love the old Gregorian chanting, which are here on the records these days, then that was really interesting. But just the china we do was really boring all the time. Just monotone, because and the clothes everyone used to wear, all the monks, the same brown robes, bald heads. They're supposed to be that way, not stimulating at all, because when you have no stimulation. Then you may eat again into boredom. But I found a very wonderful way to overcome boredom because when you had boredom again, it was a negativity to what was out there, your lifestyle. And so I started to focus on my body. What does boredom feel like in the body now, once I started focusing on the bodily feelings associated with boredom, you feel this whole body drooped down. Feel to no energy in the body. It became incredibly interesting and fascinating to know how the body reacts to boredom. In fact, it became so interesting and so fascinating to investigate the body when you're bored. I wasn't bored at all. It was interesting what I was actually doing. Again, it's taking the focus from outside there, inside here. And so this was a practice which you can do at any time for any emotion, both positive and negative, to actually to see what these things do to you as a bodily sensation. Now, because human beings in our society are always seeking pleasure and always running away from pain, always seeking just a sense of comfort in their lives, that this is showing you what discomfort in your body is and what comfort and pleasure is. And straight away you will move away. Of the negative emotions simply because they're incredibly irritating and uncomfortable for your body. So when the stimulus comes up in the world, which should make you bored, which should make you depressed, which should make you upset and angry, you feel the feelings in the body. I don't want to go on that trip anymore because it hurts. Why would you hurt yourself? The Buddha once taught to his son Rahula, and he gave this beautiful explanation of basic you might call it basic Buddhist, I might call it basic common sense. You could actually see it written on the statue outside, a summary of the whole of the Buddhist teachings do what is good, refrain from doing is bad, and purify the mind. Morality, practice. This is what Buddhism is all about. But it's basic common sense that in his teaching to his son, the Buddha told him, he said, look. Don't do anything which harms yourself or harms another and do anything which helps you which brings you happiness or brings happiness to others he said that's your precepts. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if people could do that? If they could live their life according to those two principles not doing anything which harms yourself or harms another never, always doing things which help you, which bring you happiness or being happiness to another. Because if you are practicing in that way, not only would you keep all the precepts, because what are those precepts anyway? They're just doing things which give you happiness and being happiness to others they stop doing things which harm you and harm you others is why would you want to harm yourself? You know why people harm themselves? Because they don't realize what they're doing. They've been told it's fun, they've been told it's a good thing to do and instead of coming to truth experience for themselves they go and believe what other people say. If you notice the feelings in the body, you find that anger hurts you. It harms you and it harms others. It's our cultural response. But if you look deeply and you figure these things out for yourself not through theory, but through experience, you will see inside of you. It hurts, it harms, it makes me sick, it makes me ill. It takes away my happiness, it takes away my freedom. Why should I have this happen? It's the same with all these other emotions. Once you start to come to the feelings in the body you realize what harms you and others, what brings you happiness and what brings others happiness. And this is where all the positive emotions which come up they're not just love, but inspiration. Sometimes we don't have moments of inspiration in our world anymore. Things which really uplift us, things which when we see we feel so good about, when we see someone else do something tremendously wonderful in the world. We see a great act of kindness, an act of generosity, an act of goodness in the world. We see things like that. People forgiving somebody sent me a cutting from a newspaper some time ago of an event which happened in South Africa in the Truth and Reconciliation Committees which, after the end of apartheid in South Africa, there was this panel which was investigating some of the terrible crimes which were done under that regime on both sides. I think in this one particular case, there was a woman whose son had been tortured and killed by one of the security officers in South Africa. And this fellow who was guilty of this terrible crime was forced to confess to what he'd done. And the mother of this child went over to him and hugged him and forgave him. Wanted to be his friend. I cannot really do justice to what I read. I'm just remembering it. It was a wonderful occasion. It inspired so many people to see that a mother who had her son tortured and killed could rise to such degree of forgiveness. It inspired so many people because it gave them hope that in other conflicts in the world, there was another way out other than revenge and punishment. It was an inspirational thing which I read. And when you read moments, things of inspiration, I also focus on what that does to my body, how it feels inside me when I'm inspired by some wonderful thing I read in the newspapers or something, which somebody tells me about how people rise above the average. Because those moments of inspiration, I feel them in my body and it's a sense of pleasure in that body, a sense of openness and happiness. Again, I'm realizing that focus on the body is telling me that what is going to help other people and help myself? What is going to harm others and harm myself? So by focusing on that body, we're coming to a truth which we don't need to read about in books because we can feel it in our present moment right now as a truth which we cannot deny. It shows us why we do have morality. Anyone who drinks alcohol, if you really see what that does to your body, not just when you're drinking alcohol, because that takes away a lot of mindfulness, what it feels like the following day, soon know that it gives rise to a harmful feeling in the body. So this is actually the way that mindfulness of the body that can protect you from so many difficult things that it generates the reason to be good people because it feels good. I mean feels good inside the body. So the positive emotions like inspiration, they can start to get you, Howard, to actually to go deeper into this body investigation that's one focuses on this body more and more. One finds that the best of these emotions which you can get into this body is this emotion of, like, peace. And peace is not something which is a negative. It's a positive emotion in the world. Which is why at the end of every meditation which I teach these days, I always ask people, how do you feel at the end? Can you understand what that piece is? Is it experience in the body? What's it like when the mind is at peace? How does it feel inside on the body? There's a lot of times that we're still just focused on that body. When you experience just how powerful peace is, just what it feels like, it's just one of the greatest pleasures of the world. When we know that peace is the greatest pleasure, this is what the Buddha said there's no greater happiness than peace, then that will inform our lives what we really want to aim for in life. Why is it that people get so distracted and want to do so much? Why is it that people want to get excited all the time and go to movies and get scared out of their wits or go and see sort of romances where they feel and they're so sad and they cry their eyes out? One of the Thai ladies she told me that her mother, when they were growing up in Bangkok would always go every week to see the Chinese movies and every week she'd come back with red eyes. Every week she would cry. So this tiger asked her mother said what are you doing this for? You're torturing yourself every week you get so depressed and sad. It but I like to cry. Isn't that crazy? Why do people like those emotions of fear or sadness again? Because they don't know the better emotions of peace. Why is it that people run around in the world so much? Because they don't know anything else. They don't know how to be peaceful. What is peaceful? They don't value that peace inside the heart, inside the moment. Why do we always work so hard? Do you really need to work that hard? A lot of the times it's because we don't know peace. We have moments of peace. We always try and throw them away and fill them up with something else. What you're doing this weekend? Would it be wonderful to do nothing this weekend? You got to do all these other things. Why? Because you think those other things are more valuable. That's why. You got to get all these other things out of the way before you can have moment of peace. Please get your moments of peace out of the way first of all, before you do other things. Try that. Get your meditation out of the way first of all. Your hours, meditation or whatever, and then go do the dishes afterwards. Or is it always the case we do these other things first of all? Whenever are you going to find peace in your life? You'll find peace in your life when you know what peace is and you start to value it as important. Just after our retreat period in October, I went to a loss and grief conference. And I was especially focusing on how to let go of grief when you've lost someone. And there was one lady came to me afterwards, and she said she'd lost her son or daughter, I can't remember which, about a year ago. And she said that she was angry at me, upset at me. Are you saying that grief is wrong? You make me feel even worse because I still grieve terribly for my child. I feel even worse now because you make me feel guilty that I'm grieving. And then when I was looking at her you can understand that she does not want to let go of her grief, that she's celebrating it. She's into. That painful feeling has become so close to her for so long. She doesn't know anything else. It's just so hard for her to even contemplate peace. For such a person. It'd be marvelous if you can get them to come and do a little bit of meditation so they can have a moment of peace, sneak up on it and it comes to you. And you know what it's like once a person experiences that peace, even if it's only a feeling in the body. And they realize that for the whole of that year they'd be living in a prison cell and the door has been open. They could have escaped any time. It's just like many prisoners who've been there too long even though their sentence is over, they feel so ill at ease out there in the free world, they just want to go back into jail and stay there. They've been institutionalized, as we say. They've become used to the pain, saying way that it's too easy to get used to the grief and be afraid of going outside into freedom. Which is why the feelings of peace in the body. Which come up from time to time. When they're recognized, then they can be valued. When they're valued, they are given worth. And when they're given worth, you accept them much more into your life. They become more important. The nature of the mind is always to be with things which we see to to be important. In your day have you spend your day you spend your day doing those things which you really believe are important to you. If it's really important, you'll always find time for men. If there's a soccer match or a cricket match on, doesn't matter what time of the night it's on, they will stay up to watch that. But if there's a dummy talk on at the Buddhist center of an evening? No, it is too busy. If there is, I would notice that when there was a Michael Jackson concert on, people would go even they'd go from country to country to see Michael Jackson. But if there's a monk visiting the center, if it's not within sort of ten minutes drive no, it's just too far to go. We always do what's important to us. And the thing is that we don't do peace. We don't allow tranquility to come up inside of us because we don't think it's important. We don't know it's important. We think our grief is most important. Our anger is most important. Even our guilt is most important. That is called attachment. The only way to break that attachment is to see that there is something more important. Something more important than the grief for a child who's died. Something more important than the anger of someone who's hurt you. Something more important than the guilt which you feel is something you've done wrong many years ago. There's something more important than that. And how can I convince you it's more important is actually to bring that up as an experience inside your consciousness by focusing mindfulness on your body. See what guilt does to you. See what grief does to you. See what anger does to you. See what a pain it is if ever you stop to look again. Too often we're just not looking. So we don't see how much it hurts until the time comes when we go to the doctors and we die. It's a bit late then look at it now. There's a feeling in the body. Once you have that mindfulness there you'd also notice that the times when this peace, those moments, moments of emptiness, those moments of freedom which do come up from time to time, when you stop thinking about your problems, when those moments of peace do come up. When you're not thinking about those problems, when you're distracted by a joke, when you're just taken out of your world because of someone's experience somewhere. Then when you're taken out of that prison and you see outside, you see how free it is, how wonderful it is, how much pleasure it is to be free and to be peaceful, then peace becomes more important and more valuable. If only this world would value peace, then it would be much more inclined to forgive. Because we don't know peace. Because we think it's worthless. That's why we have so much problems in the world, so much doing. Sometimes I look at modern civilization. Why is it that we've got these great cities and all these cars and these transport systems? Is it really progress? No, really. Or is it the fact that we just become so complicated that surely we got so much so many things in our house, but no space in our house left? We got so many responsibilities, but no time. What really is a measure of wealth? I think a measure of wealth and prosperity is the space we have and the time we have. How often do you feel that you're just really hemmed in, hemmed in by things? How often is you feel hemmed in by time? You just haven't got enough minutes, enough hours, enough space. Everything is crowded in on you. This is our civilization. We get less and less room in our hearts and our minds and our lives these days because we don't value that, which is really important, space time. That's why I say in a person's house, if you have one empty room, you'll soon start to fill it. If you have one wall which has got no pictures on it, you'll find something at the shop to hang there. The nature of our society, our culture is to aboard emptiness. We're so afraid of space that whenever we climb a mountain, what do we do on it? Top? Put a flag on there. And after the flag, what comes next? Sort of a tea house selling souvenirs we can't leave anything alone in our house. We always have to put things in there. Why can't we empty our house? Why can't we empty our time instead of things to do, to fill in our moments? When you have a holiday, what do you do? Fill it in with things to do? Why can't we learn how to do nothing? To have that peace? What I'm talking about here is society abores peace. When people go on holidays, some people are wise enough, they take their holidays in the monastery up at Serpentine. Number one, it doesn't cost anything. Number two, you don't have any stress going overseas, going through airports and being checked and carrying all this luggage. Number three you don't have any activities over there. It's not like the Club Meds you have we always surfing or skiing or having discoes in the evening there's no disco or no monastery at all in the evening. It's free. Some people think, well, there's nothing to do there. That's the point of a holiday, isn't it? Having nothing to do. And people actually do those or do those at nothing. They really have a good time when they get back from the monastery after their holidays they really feel rested instead of what's the old joke after my holidays, I'm so tired, I need another holiday. Does that ever happen to you? So the reason is that we just don't know how to do nothing. People always look for things to do. If it's a holiday, time to just look at the movies, see what movies are on, see what events are on, see what plays are on, see where they can go to spend the day just restlessness. Why people restlessness? Because they don't know peace and so the mindfulness of the body. Is actually knowing what peace is in your body. And that will reinforce the value of peace, the value of relaxing, the value of letting go, the value of being kind to the moment. So check out how you feel in your body whenever you have these emotions. It's coming up in the world. Check out which of the positive emotions are. The positive emotions? I mean, the ones which are going to create happiness and well being for you in your life. Your life is in your command, as it were. There's a law of karma. Any of the problems in the body, most of them happen because of you. That's why the anger. You don't have to blame someone else for making you angry. You can try and make me angry. That's actually what somebody mentioned the other day when I was teaching in Sydney. They say, just how do you know when somebody is enlightened or not? Just try and make them angry. Really sort of wind them up, stir them up. That's how you can find if someone's really angry or not. That's what all the great monks used to do, used to really wind people up. The story I told about that was about this monk is a Japanese monk. And he had the opportunity to go on a tree in this island not far from the monastery for about four or five years. He was just meditating all day, all night. And then an attendant would row over from the main monastery to this isolated, perfect, secluded island where this monk had a hut, would take his food over to him and see if he needed anything for that day. And the attendant would then row back to the main monastery. And after about four or five years, this hermit monk decided that he was fully enlightened, and he wanted to tell his Abbott about his attainment. So he asked the attendant to bring over some parchment, some ink and a pen so he could write in mindful calligraphy, an expression of the enlightened state. Once the attendant brought this paper, this parchment and the pen and the ink to this hermit monk. The hermit monk wrote into this amazingly beautiful liquid the hermit monk meditating in the island is not moved by the four worldly winds. You haven't come to the punchline yet. I think some of you know this. And so you rolled up that parchment and he sent it to the abbot. And when the abbot later opened it up, he read it. The hermit monk meditating on the island does not move by the four worldly winds. The Abbott just got an old buyer and scrolled on each line, fart, fart. Third line, fart. And the fourth line, fart. And he rolled it up and he sent it back to this mic on the island. And the attendant sort of presented the scroll to the mic and said, here's the Abbott's sort of answer to your poem. And of course, the Mike expected that the apple will be wise enough to recognize his attainment and all he read on his beautiful parts. But he spent such a long time writing, which is almost like it was like graffiti written on it, just far, far, far. And this hermit got so upset and angry that how can he say this to me now? Mike is not supposed to be so crude and thoughtless and mess up my beautiful career. I'm going to sort this abbot out. So he got into the boat, he rode himself over to the other side, and he confronted the Abbott. Who do you think you are to just say these rude words to me? And of course, you know what the average said. He said you said, the four worldly wings don't move. You and four little farts have blown you all over the lake into this monastery. 8s That's how actually, your tetris first enlightened or not about making him angry. So you have to go back to the yard for another five years. 8s Why allow people to make you angry? What's the point of it? If you understand what's going on, you can still maintain the feelings of peace and quietness. Because when they're more valuable, it's like I don't want things of value to be stolen. So I pretend those things in the same way that if you have a wallet with lots of money inside of it, you'd always be checking on it to make sure that no one steals it. You'd never leave it where it can be lost. In the same way, if you value peace. If you value kindness, then you'll never leave it in a place where it will get stolen. You'd always be protecting it because it's a thing of great value. If it's a thing of great value and you really look after it, then it's impossible to lose it. So again, to sum up by doing mindfulness of your body, knowing the value of these positive emotions like love, like peace, like inspiration, like kindness and you're also knowing the harm the negative emotions do to you how? Anger. Guilt, fear, depression, border. How that creates so much discomfort to the body that once you see that you have beyond the path to overcoming those things, be a person who values that which is truly worth something. And when you value what's truly worth something, you'll always be preserving it and it will always grow and grow and grow and you'll become much better, much more wonderful, more compassionate, more peaceful human beings. So what I'm saying is, how does your body feel now? That's the end of the talk. Thank you. Okay. Any questions about this evening's damage? Talk on mindfulness of the body. Any questions going? Yes. Another one over there? Yes. 91s Okay. You're asking a question if somebody is like a murderer or a rapist, or rather actually, they never say a person is a murderer or a rapist because it's not the person. They've done those things. They've done an act of rape, they've done an act of murder, which doesn't mean they're a murderer. That's one of the first things which we should always remember, that does one act doesn't make a person. It's the old story in psychology. This woman is taking her son into the supermarket. He drops the jar of honey. She says she's stupid child. The other mother takes her son to the supermarket. She's been to the Buddhist society before. So when her son drops a jar of honey, you say, that's a stupid thing you did. And there's such a world of difference between saying you're a stupid child and that's a stupid thing you did. There's a world of difference between calling a person a murderer and say you've murdered somebody. Because by saying you're a murderer, you're actually making this of the person a murderer rather than you've done a murderer. That's one of the first things on that there's second thing is to remember that even if a person says, yes, I'm never going to do this again, they don't know they're never going to do that again. Sometimes they can't even trust themselves. They may say that sincerely, but who knows? In the same situation, the same circumstances, will they do it again? But the point is that when a person has done something which has hurt someone else, you have to always separate two important responses. One is to protect other people, and the other is revenge. So often that those two, protection and revenge, get mixed up. We say we want to execute them just to protect, so they never murder anybody again. Really. It's not really protection. They just want revenge. You've hurt me, so I'm going to hurt you back. And certainly we should notice and filter out this terrible thing we call revenge. And I think that many people would know that revenge you hurt me, so I have to hurt you back, is never going to create anything except the continuation of conflict. You're you have to look at Israel and Palestine to know just what happens when revenge is paramount. So if somebody is raped or killed or stolen, please don't go for revenge. Because that will just create more hurt, more harm. The whole motive behind whatever you do should be to protect that person, to have some sort of rehabilitation so they don't do it again to help them, but also to protect society as well. So that if a person has murdered once, it's actually much easier to murder the second time. They rape once, it's easier to do at another time. It becomes like a habit, habitual response. Even talking with somebody recently, if you've committed suicide once in a previous life, it's very easy to commit it again. In this life, it becomes this habitual response. It's work once, so you do it again. So it does make it easier, as it were. More likely you do it once, you do it again. So protection needs to be done, needs to be considered, and also just rehabilitation. And when you have those two responses there, you understand that forgiveness means, okay, no revenge. Is not sold with more hurt. Because if I hurt you back, then if you punch me and then some of my mates and he will come and punch you back, and then you go back and get your mates and, you know, torch the Buddhist society and then we'll go back and talk to your house and it goes on like that. Do you remember years ago there were a Lowell and Hardy movie? And I always remember this, we should actually get this for the Buddhist society. This is marvelous dumber. I think that Loren and Hardy just came out of their house and they had this new car. They just backed their car into their neighbor's car, just dented it slightly. So their neighbor were washing their car, they kicked low and Hardy's car. Then Lowell and Hardy said, we're not going to allow this. And they sort of punched the windows out of their car and alongside to a tip for tap. But it was done so well in the end, not only were there two cars completely wrecked, but so were the houses as well. What if not finished the car? Let's start with the houses. A beautiful story about just how tip for Tap revenge just destroyed both people's property and no one had any happiness left. This is what happens with revenge. It's one of our cultural stupid responses. Forgiveness stops revenge. Say, look, now I'm not going to hurt you back. But you can't stop it just forgiveness. Now you got to find out what the real problem is. Why did you do that? How can we prevent that happening in the future? It's just punishing people. Just like when you were at school. Okay, you get punished if you did things wrong. But as a schoolboy, I became very smart to do those things without getting caught. I did. It wasn't I stopped doing those things. You're just more smart. You knew where the teachers were and when they were coming, and you made sure that they ever caught you. And that's the trouble with rules. Okay, speeding is sort of dangerous. But now we figure out where all the speed cameras are. So still speed, but not where the cameras are. This is the trouble with rules when they don't really realize the purpose behind them. No reward and punishment, it never works that way. I would say that in that situation, that forgiveness means that I'm not going to punish you because of that. No, revenge isn't necessary. But look, how can we stop that happening again? Why did a person murder? Why did they rape? What was going through their mind at the time? A lot of times it's that there might be some pain, some difficulty inside. Find out what the cause is. Get that cause. Whether it was some sort of psychosis inside, some sort of hate to the world. Talk it through. Find out why. It's the way you can heal. So that's what I call the Buddhist response. In the time of the Buddha, there was a serial killer. Tried even to kill the Buddha. He became a great saint, fully enlightened. Otherwise, it's always revenge. We just never get anywhere in our world. That's what I would always do. Varda says forgive, but don't stop at forgiveness. Forgiveness isn't a slow revenge. Hard. Why is this happening? Why are the Israelis just giving the Palestinians such a hard time? Why are the Palestinians blowing themselves up in front of the Israelis? There's a solution there. But first of all, we have to get rid of the idea of revenge. This is very small country, israel and Palestine. There's plenty of room there for everybody. As long as we don't hate. Now, I grew up in a bedroom with my brother. There's plenty of room in that bedroom. It's only a small room. When we loved each other, but when we were upsetting each other in hatred, the whole house wasn't big enough for both of us. You get the point. Okay, I think that's enough for this evening. Thank you again for your question. I'm not sure if I answered it well, but if I didn't, please come up and tell me off afterwards. So you got announcements this evening. Maybe the first announcement I make that it's getting close to Christmas time or Buddham's time, and usually that this is a time when every year that we remind people that one of the institutions which the Buddhist society sponsors every year is an orphanage in Bangladesh for girls who are Buddhists. So this is actually the lowest of the low in the pecking order. No, Bangladesh is extremely poor country. It's a Muslim country, so the Buddhists don't get much help there at all, if any. And these are orphans, and they are girls who are, again, at the lowest of the pecking order. And we have a little poster at the back there about the center there. We have sent one of our members over there to check it out to make sure it's a bona fide organization really in need. All the money which we collect here at this time of the year all gets sent there. And they buy things like rice or mattresses or pencils for the kids, so nothing is used in administration. And they actually give a list of all the things which they purchase with the money here. So it's all there on the board over there. So if you look up to do something good for the Christmas, that's a nice thing to actually to donate towards. We do this every year. We're doing it for quite a few years now. And also that this will be the last Friday night talk which I'll give here for a while, because as many of you know that on December 17, I'm going to find my little island to do my little retreat. But I'm not going to write any calligraphy after my six months retreat. So I'll be disappearing for six months on a sided retreat. This is a monks holiday. It's what monks are really supposed to do, to take time out, to do a lot of meditation. So I'll be in silence. I will be incommunicado. You won't be able to get to me. So please look after yourselves, because if you die, I won't be able to go to your funeral. Adjanyana Dama will be taking over. He's a great teacher, and he'll be looking after the monastery. And I have great gratitude to him for actually giving me this opportunity to spend six months just meditating in silence all by myself. And hopefully when I come out, all of my halo will be more shiny, and maybe my thoughts will be more deep. So look forward to in the end of June, when I'll be coming off my retreat to give some more sparkling diamond talks.

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