January 06, 2023


Pseudo Buddhism | Ajahn Brahm

Pseudo Buddhism | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
Pseudo Buddhism | Ajahn Brahm

Jan 06 2023 | 01:07:04


Show Notes

Ajahn Brahm gives a talk about what is real Buddhism, as opposed to what is just faddish, pseudo-Buddhism.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 9th 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

AB20011109_PseudoBuddhism Summary True Buddhism is based on doing things and practicing, not on beliefs. Teach kids what is in their best interest using marketing, motivation, and reality check. We need to learn more about living a simpler life. Simplicity has great inspiring beauty. Simple things like being a dustbin with a hole in the bottom are important to showing compassion and letting go of the past. Ethics helps us find out what's really good for us, and from that, we can work out what is genuine Buddhism. Buddhism doesn't require you to do anything you don't want to do. You can still be a Buddhist and enjoy drinking alcohol, for example. Transcription U1 0:01 Actually, I gave a talk on this topic in Singapore recently. The reason why I decided to give the same talk this evening was just about a week ago, I saw a video on the thing called Buddha Realms done by the ABC and that stirred up a few comments that I thought it was not giving a full picture of what Buddhism is in our world today. And also somebody talked to me about it just before I came in. And again, I always love to have some input on what's on people's minds. And I wanted to present today what is the real Buddhism rather than the pseudo Buddhism. Pseudo Buddhism is like false Buddhism. Um because Buddhism has become faddish that every person can very easily write a book about Buddhism. I was very scared of writing books about Buddhism because I still remember when I was lay Buddhism going to the Thai temple. It was in London. This was maybe 30, 30 something years ago. There was a Zen monk visiting England and he could hardly speak any English. But at the end of his tour of the different Buddhist societies and temples in England, somebody asked him in Question Time, what do you think about Buddhism in England? This was 30 years ago. And this Zen Japanese monk, even though he could speak very little English, he gave a very utter tickler and meaningful answer. His answer was books, books, books. Too many, too many, too many. Dustbin, dustbin dustin. Which I thought was very meaningful at the time because it was true at that time, 30 years ago, most Buddhists just would write books about Buddhism and they will be very articulate books, but they weren't based on experience or practice. They'll talk about nonattachment, but have these huge houses with lots of things in them. They talk about compassion, but argue in their committee meetings together. And so they weren't, as it were, no Buddhists in their hearts. And when I talk about real Buddhism and pseudo Buddhism, I don't not talking about the different traditions because I see real Buddhism and faith Buddhism with the normal traditions, even my own. Because any tradition which doesn't follow this basic ethos of Buddhism, which is basically about doing something practicing. I really think it's called Fate Buddhism and really should shouldn't be presented as something to do with this amazing path. Basically that to be true to Buddhism. It is not a set of beliefs as much as a set of practices which are put forward for people to investigate, for themselves to try out. And the beliefs are just saying that if you do these things, this is what will happen, this is how you will progress, this is how you will feel. And those are really just the explanations, the map of the journey which is Buddhism. And that journey now starts with ethical precepts. It includes meditation as its heart, and it has insight or wisdom as its goal. Traditionally, this has always been called the threefold practice, which defines Buddhism. It's called sela samadi panya. In the old language, sela means your precept, samadhi means a peace developed through meditation, and panya means of wisdom. And it's interesting that when I went to Singapore recently, that there was many Mahayana monks there who I got on with very well. And in my talks, which I gave in Singapore, there were Christians, there were Sikhs, there were even Muslims came to listen to my talks, and they came back again. I got one of my most wonderful compliments, which I will share with you this evening after Question Time, when a Sikh man in his turban came up and asked for the microphone and said, Ajan Brahm, he said, Why aren't you President of the United States? You do a much better job than President Bush. And I responded in good Buddhist fashion that I haven't got enough bad karma to be president of the Buddhist of the United States. But one of the reasons I hope that people of the different religions were coming to listen to my talks and what I was teaching was something which was real at the heart of Buddhism. We talk about that threefold practice. It's something which is common or should be common to all people who are seeking for the truth. Even when we start with the precepts, the morality, the ethics. And this is actually where you can actually distinguish a lot of pseudo Buddhism from real Buddhism or pseudo anything from real anything, because keeping a moral lifestyle and ethical lifestyle and I'll explain this in a little bit in more detail in a moment it's just basic common sense. Many years ago, I was invited to teach Buddhism at primary schools. And there's many different ways of teaching Buddhism at primary schools. Teaching like truth, so people can understand. But for about year five, so year sixes, I started teaching about basic Buddhist precepts. Many of you know the five precepts not to kill, not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to take alcohol or drugs. So that is is how the precepts evolve in practice. But in one of the famous Buddhist suitors, this is going back to the source. This is the Buddha's advice to his son Ananda. He said he put it to the heart. He said, don't do anything or say anything or even think anything which will harm yourself or which will harm another person. That's actually the source of what ethics is all about, what will harm yourself or what will harm another person. And I started my talk to the primary school with just saying, kids, this is what Buddhism teaches. Don't harm yourself or harm another person. OK, now what harms another people? What harms others? Within five minutes, I had all the five precepts just from that basic idea of non harming. This is actually the core, the principle of Buddhist ethics. And that's why it's common sense to have an ethical lifestyle. Who would want to harm themselves or who would really want to harm others? That's the core of it. So you can see that why would you want to kill other beings? It hurts other people when you kill them, or hurts animals when you kill them. And you don't need need to most of the time you can live at peace with the different animals, even those animals who are quite irritating, the mosquitoes or the cockroaches. There's always another way of living at peace with these beings. And we all know that ecologically, these are all important to the balance of our environment. If we go around killing everything which irritates imitates us, we start with the mosquitoes and the cockroaches, and then we go to the cat or the dog, who barks during the meditation period, and then we go to the neighbor next door. There's a stereo too late. And then we go to our husband and wife, maybe our kids as well, because they imitate us. Where will we stop? And obviously, we know that in this world we have to learn how to live with each other. Somehow or other, we have to learn how to live with ourselves. And you can see the progress from wanting to kill other people because they irritate us. Kill animals because they irritate us. That is really going in the wrong direction. It will eventually harm us. The Buddhist said the law of karma. But we can see how that actually works. Even I don't know if she's here this evening. Somebody told me that the Vietnamese lady who's married a Vietnamese man that went when she was young, she always used to kill mosquitoes in Vietnam. Her husband would never do that. Now every time they go back to visit Vietnam, the husband husband doesn't need a net. The mosquitoes don't bite him. But they really go for her every time. It's like karma. I've heard that many times. If you hurt animals, animals tend to pick up on your vibes. They smell, they sense. And it comes back to you. That's why harming others would eventually harm yourself. Harming yourself is harming others. When I started to talk to kids about taking drugs what's wrong with taking drugs? I said to the kids, It's your body, it's your life. You can do what you want, can't you? But straight away, even the kids said, look, if I take drugs, my mummy will be upset. My daddy would freak out, my teachers would not be nice to me anymore. They could actually see the connection between what they do and how it affects other people. That's why when the Buddhist said to harm yourself is to harm others, to harm others is to harm yourself, you can actually see something very basic to ethics in society. Everyone has somebody who loves them. There's not one being in this planet. I'm not talking about human beings. I'm talking even about little ants. It doesn't have other people who care. That's why, if you look at the nature, especially, this is where forest monks, monks actually live in nature get very smart. Because you observe the animals in nature so often and so well, and actually see the sense of community. Even in an ant's nest. I was telling someone recently that one of our members who is doing some work in our monastery, they came to our monastery up in Serpentine, they turned into Kingsby Drive. They noticed there was a parrot who had been hit by a car, who was dead on the side of the road. They also noticed on a branch of a tree just overhanging where that parrot lay dead, with another parrot staring down straight away, because you know that parrots mate for life. Straight away he thought, that must have been the dead parrots mate, the partner. What really surprised him when he went home after working in a monastery all day, that parrot on the tree was still there, the same position, looking down. And the following morning and the following evening, and the next morning and the next evening, for three days, that parrot up on the tree did not move. Just staring down for three days at a dead parrot on the side of the road. If that's not grief, I don't know what is. Animals have beings who love them, who get absolutely distraught when their partner dies. I'm sure you must have seen that with your dogs, with your cats. I've seen it in Parrots Cook about so when we know that, we know that harming other beings, not just harming one person, it harms many, many people. If you harm yourself, you harm every person who loves you. In this world, if you don't think you have anyone who loves you, I put my hand up. I do. I care if I say anyone is hurting, I hurt as well. And of course, I'm not alone in that talking. That way, it becomes ethically imperative that we don't do anything which harms ourselves because we harm all the other people who see us hurting. And this becomes at the core of ethics in Buddhism, not harming others or harming ourselves. That's why I heard recently that there was I think our state government are just changing laws on the age of consent for homosexuals homosexuality. And there was a lot of Christians apparently were protesting at the parliament. And this is actually a good case of what is Buddhist view on homosexuality in the age of consent. And as far as Buddhist is concerned, you go back to the core harming others or harming yourself. Now, is that really harmful? You go to the core of all of this. And if it's like consensual, I personally can't see anything which is more harmful than consensual heterosexual relationships. Basically, that the Buddhist would not be so judgmental because in Buddhist ethics, the Buddha laid down principles rather than dogmas. Because if if you lay down dogmas, those documents may make sense in that particular time, in that culture, in that place. But when you got a principle of not harming yourself or others, that is something which can be applied in all cultures, and it makes much more sense. The other thing which an example of Buddhist ethics was when the Buddha was alive, they had this terrible car system in India when people were defined from their birth know what their social status was. This was a terrible limitation of people's basic rights. Doesn't matter if you were smart, if you were hard working, if you're a really virtuous person, if you were born a lower caste, that was it. You were treated like dirt at. So the Buddha came wrong. He rebelled again. So he didn't care what people said. He said, that's wrong, that you cannot judge a person by their birth, by their race, by their gender, by who their parents were, not even by their education. What you can judge a person by is by their virtuous qualities. Maybe they're in intelligence, their usefulness. Basically, if a person is a good chariot driver, doesn't matter where they were born. If they're a good chariot driver, they're a good person to drive chariots. It's just basic common sense. So that there was that sense of complete non racism, non genderism, non discretionary discrimination about where a person was born, not judging them because of that. You can see sort of the power of such sensible teachings, because they were doing away with dogma and these hard views and going to principles. It meant that they were adaptable to time and place. So the Buddhist ethics would always go in any of these situations, is it going to harm somebody? Is it going to harm others? For example, people asking me in Singapore, what about cloning? I said nothing wrong with Cloning. I can't see anything wrong with Cloning. I'd love someone to clone me. Then I could actually one of me could rest at the monastery while the other one came to Nullamar on a Friday night. And I could send another the one to Melbourne, because someone was on the phone to me this evening saying, please, you must come to Melbourne. So it wouldn't be wonderful to have clones. Imagine you could clone a dozen John Howards and a dozen Kim Beasley, so wouldn't that be wonderful? That's only a joke. I'm not serious. That actually might break my precepts of harming other people. What about the no stem cell research. As a Buddhist, you say, what is wrong with that? You go to the heart of it. Is it going to harm anybody or is it going to help somebody? And when you don't have these hard and fast rules about the sacredness of life, why is life so sacred anyway? Life is important, but the idea of sacred means don't even think about sort of euthanasia. Don't even think about stem cell research. You can't touch life and that's it. That's God's preserve. But in Buddhism, we don't have that sort of taboos. Instead, we look, what is stem cell research? Does it really harm people? How many people does it help? And if you find out that it doesn't harm but it helps, then basically go for it. That's your standard. It's the same with euthanasia. Is it harming or is it helping? As a monk, I don't say ex cathedral. Yes, this is good. Yes, this is bad, because that's just boughting into the same trap of dogmatism again, as a monk becomes a pope or becomes a little god sitting on his big cushion up here, telling people what to do, that was never the way of Buddhism. The way of Buddhism was not telling people what to do, but empowering people, helping them make their own decisions. And this is one thing which really turns me off, I must admit, with either pseudo Buddhists or pseudo anything, who's always wants to tell people what's right and what's wrong, rather than helping people make up their own minds, which is really what a religion should do. They should lead. The Buddha said, the Buddha's point in the way, but you're the one who has to do the walking. But the advice should be helping you make a decision. One of the worst things which I find is when people know what they're doing is right, but the priest comes along and says they're wrong and they get all guilty and they just decide out of fear, fear they may go to hell. Are you actually sure whether it's going to be hell afterwards? Be careful. You better keep coming to the Buddhist society every week, every Friday night. If you miss one, you're going to go to hell. I'm taking notes. If I act like that, wouldn't it be a terrible place to come to? So fear has no part of Buddhism, and the same as, like, taking your power away has no part of Buddhism. So if you find any Buddhist or other teacher comes along and says, believe me, do what I say, whatever I say, just go and follow it, you can know that that really cannot be real Buddhism, and that is dangerous. That becomes cults. So ethics becomes not harming another person, not harming yourself. And from that nice piece of advice, you have the intelligence to work out yourself what is good, and you have the intelligence to work out whether five precepts are really worthwhile or not. Even alcohol. Does that really help you or does it harm you? I'm not going to tell you. It's up to you. If someone comes here and they keep going to the pub, they do terrible things. They're still welcome here. One of the first experiences I had as a monk in Thailand, which really impressed me, was I heard that once a year, the monks of monks from one of the monasteries would go to the red light district of Bangkok, pat Pong Road. The ladies there, they were prostitutes, they lived. That's their livelihood. For whatever reason, they were there by their own will or whatever. One morning a year, they clean up their place. They'd invite the monks to go there so they could make merit, do some good karma, follow their religion, and they'd go there for that day. They'd keep the five precepts and they'd make some food for the monks. And the monks would never be so proud to say, we can't go to such low living women. The monks were more than happy to go there and help out. Not being so judgmental about their lifestyle. I was very impressed with that. That the nonjudgmental attitude of the monks. They would go to teach anywhere they were to go to help anywhere they wouldn't be so snobbish to say, I can't be seen in such a place, I'm not going to go and help them. So this is actually the lovely nonjudgmental is not harming yourself, not harming others. Go for it. And from the ethics we get a very wonderful form of progress on the path. We can work out what's really good for us. And from the ethic of not harming others and not harming ourselves, we can find out what is real and what is pseudo Buddhism, for example. We all know that we're one of the things which harms us and harms others just is our craving and our attachments. Now, we know that that when we want so much, we have to work so hard and the more we want, sort of it doesn't end, it just keeps on growing more and more like a snowball. With all that craving, it becomes all that stress, all that worry about the economy, about our shares, about our job, about our girlfriend, our boyfriend, our exams, our wife, our kids. Crave, crave, crave. Worry, worry, worry. I'm sure that most people have seen the connection between the two. As I say with attachments, what's connected to attachment is always fear. Fear. What are you afraid of when fear comes up in your life? Why? Where does it come from? You find that fear always arises from when something you're attached to is threatened. This is what fear actually is in a nutshell. Once we have a little bit more common sense and the Buddha just points out the problems and said, look at craving, look at attachments. Is it really helping you? Is it really helping others? When you look deeper into this, you find, actually, it's not really helping me. It's creating so much stress, so much suffering for me. So it almost becomes an ethical imperative to let go of all this stuff, at least to lessen it, to ease it off. And we ease it off by living a more simple lifestyle. That simplicity of lifestyle has been at the heart of the Buddhist tradition. And that's why I say if you go to any temple, any Buddhist center, and it's extravagant, it has the architecture, architecture of wealth, and it's not really symbolizing the Buddhist tradition that is pseudo Buddhism. You go to a temple with lots and lots of marble and chandeliers, and it looks really expensive, and it costs a lot of money. Where does that money come from? It comes from all the people who put money in donation box. Is that a good use of the money? Do you really need marble? Actually, this carpet is much more comfortable than marble. You don't need sort of elaborate fittings, do you? That's why I'm very proud of, say, the meditation hall in the monastery at Serpentine. For those of you who have been in there, you go in there, there's no marble there. It is very simple. There's hardly any embellishments there. And that's done on purpose, because that is reflecting in bricks and wood what Buddhism is standing for. Simplicity. Frugality. And that simplicity. That frugality has a great inspiring beauty because it points people in a direction. Direction of harmlessness. Because the more you have, where does it all come from? The more wood you use that comes from the trees, the more bricks comes from all of the clay. I know how harmful claim mining is in a monastery. And so you can see just the more you have to, the more it costs. And I don't mean just money. The more simple you can keep your life, just the more happiness, the less harm you have the less harm you have on your day. How much do we harm our day? By filling it with our jobs and our duties? Cleaning and going to work and having to do this and having to do that. Isn't that harmful? Why is it that these days that people are just so poor in time, this great commodity called time? If time is money, you haven't got any time, so you must be very poor. If you look at it that way, that wasn't it. Remember when you were a kid? Maybe you didn't have much pocket money, but you had lots of time to go playing soccer with your mates, to go down the beach. Didn't you feel wealthy then? Happy? Free? What's gone wrong with our society? We work so hard, we rush around all the time and we think that we've got somewhere, that we've become more advanced, more civilized. I mentioned this story in Singapore. I mentioned this about two or three years ago because I remember remember reading this in the Guardian newspaper, the London School of Economics at a very famous business school in London. They did a survey not measuring the country's GNP gross natural product. They decided to have other indicators of a country's happiness. Things like the divorce rate would be the higher divorce rate, the more negative the society's happiness would be. When there was lots of orphans and homeless people or whatever, that was a sign that the country hadn't got no social structure together. But all indicators like this, they worked out the indicators, the happiness indicators. Bye. Not really concerned with wealth, but happiness. And they applied these to many, many different countries. And to their surprise, they find the country which came out top in the happiness stakes organized by the London School of Economics, surprised me. Bangladesh. The LSE in London decided that Bangladesh was the happiest country in the world. Poorest country in the world. Maybe because they had lots of time for each other, time for their family. I love little statements like that, because they really make you think, don't they? They challenge assumed assumptions, what they're actually saying. There is time. It's wonderful quality. We have time. How much do we sacrifice that? What are we sacrificing it for? We want to make a lot of money so we can retire and have lots of time. We want to make a lot of money so we can go on a nice holiday overseas. You don't need to go on a nice holiday overseas. Come to Bodanyana Monastery holiday camp all the time in the world there. Don't have to do anything hour after hour. It doesn't cost you anything. Just have to wash the dishes after a light, that's all. So what we're actually saying there is this even going for that basic Buddhist principle, not harming others, not arming yourself, it actually creates that greater simplicity in your life where you realize that time is your most valuable resource. So you don't clutter up your house with so many possessions, which takes so much cleaning. You know that Women's Institute came to our monastery a couple of years ago. They went past one of my hut. The woman sort of turned around and said, wow, is this where you live? If my house was this simple, I could get my housework done in half an hour. This poor lady had to work hours doing her housework. Monks only do it for half an hour a week, that's all. I haven't got much to clean. Wouldn't it be lovely? Imagine eating only one meal a day. You would only have to cook once or your wife's just cook once for your husband and that's it. The rest of the day free. I get to create lots of divorces that I put in society. I know. What we're actually saying there is that simplicity is an ethical imperative. That simplicity is not just the simplicity in your house or the simplicity in your monastery. You can tell a good monastery by its simplicity and its cleanliness. If my monastery gets too elaborate, please tell me off. There you can see pseudo versus will. That's not just Buddhism, that's all religions as well. Something inside me gets a bit upset when I see, like, a cathedral, which is a big church or even a big Buddhist temple, which cost millions and millions of dollars. What do you want to spend all that money for on a temple? It's good to have a hall where people can sit and meditate. It's good to have a place where people have a cup of tea and go to the toilet, where they can offer food to the mugs. That's all you need. Do you really need to have a gold roof and a sort of spancy chandelier? That's actually an insult to the Buddha, as far as I'm concerned. The Buddha's lifestyle, if you actually looked in the original sources, he just walked from place to place just with his bowl and his robe. Let's say. He never carried suitcases. He never had an entourage of bearings, was taking his belongings with him. He would live into simple places under trees, under huts. That was our example of Buddhist monks simplicity, someone who owed nothing. That's the role of a Buddhist monk. The idea of a Buddhist monk, wherever you go, just your bolden robe, just like a bird whenever it flies, only carries the weight of its two wings. That's one of the marvelous symbols of Buddhism, of the bird who never carries suitcases, just flies. Freedom. Few attachments, few things are weighing you down. So that starts to bring us to the somadi part, the meditation, because when you can simplify your life. It's easy to simplify your mind. Isn't your mind a reflection of the way you live your life? Isn't your life a reflection of the way you have your mind? People who think a lot tend to have a lot of possessions. They have a lot of possessions in their mind. Thought, thought, idea. Idea does have a lot of possessions in there house or whatever. Isn't it nice to have simple possessions and simple mind? What I mean by simple mind is something which is empty. When the mind is empty, it has space. It's easy to clean out. You have space to stretch out. A lot of people go psychotic. You know why? Because their mind gets so full. Just one more thing and it can't take anymore. It's got no space. One of the reasons why I can do so much in my role as a Buddhist monk and teacher is because I can empty my mind so easily in meditation. Telling someone just beforehand. The basic advice to anyone who's a counselor or a friend is the advice of being a dustbin. Ajan Charles Simile beautiful, wise similes of what to do if you're a counselor. If you're listening to someone with their problems, be like a dustbin. Allow them to dump all their rubbish inside you. But make sure you're a dustbin with hole in the bottom so it goes right through, so you don't keep any of it. This is how I was taught to be a counselor by Eden Char. People come and tell you all the problems. Sometimes a terrible problem is what people have to go through. And they tell me all of them. But as soon as they told me, I don't remember any of it, it's all gone through. Otherwise. I mean, those of you have told me your problems now, I'd be crazy by now if I kept any of your even a tiny bit of your problems. Those are being a dustbin. That's nonattachment, isn't it? That's what that means. So what we're actually saying here is like even. Being compassionate is all about nonattachment and non craving, about emptying out, about simplicity. And that becomes the heart of meditation. This is why that threefold practice about ethics, no virtue, and meditation and wisdom. They all go together. There's one thing I'm sorry to say sticks. If you take one away, the other two fall down. What we're saying over here is that meditation is the heart of those three sticks. The most ethical thing to do, to harm yourself and harm others, is stupid. How about doing something which helps you and helps others? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have more peaceful people in the world? To have people who are so soft, whose mind loans were vast because they'd emptied out all of their storehouse of past, all of their guilt from the past, all of the old business emptying it out so they could be free to enjoy the present? Are you free to enjoy the present moment? Are you free just to enjoy this talk today? Are you just thinking about what happened earlier on and what you're going to do afterwards? Do you understand what I mean by freedom? Sometimes sorry, sometimes the past can burden the person so much, can fill up their present. So they can't even live in the present moment. Always carrying around found something which happened a couple of years ago or five minutes ago or when they were small. The Buddha was saying look, you don't have to do that. In fact, it's not wise to do that. It doesn't help you, it doesn't help others. It actually hurts you and that hurts others. Even the serial killer and Gully Marlow in the time of the Buddha killed so many people. He could let go of all of that guilt and become a saint. But just that she was an extreme of showing what can be done. He never had to go to a therapist for the rest of his life. Once he saw the dumb and became alight and that was it. He was absolutely free. Amazing just what can happen. Patar charma, the great nun, lost her husband, her two children, her brother, and her parents all in the same day. That should be really busted up by grief. She did go mad for a few days, but as soon as she found the Buddha, the Buddha taught her about these wise teachings. She became a saint as well, fully enlightened, which actually shows you what can be done if you can learn how to let go of the past. Once you can have that courage and that wisdom to let go of that past, you're free in the present moment. This is what we mean by the simplicity. And that freedom of the present moment is the start of this meditation. Samati. All that samadi means is actually freeing yourself even further, feeding yourself of the past, freeing yourself of all these descriptions and thoughts. Look at the way you think. You think in the language of your past. You think in the culture you came from, different cultures actually think differently. We often say this because I was nine years in Thailand. To actually be able to speak Thai, you have to think Thai. You have to actually put yourself in a different conceptual framework. So that's why it's sometimes different cultures really mean different cultures because Thailand was never conquered by any of the great empires. They played the French against the English against the other lot there, but they played one empire against another and maintained their freedom for many years. So culturally, they were pure. So when I went up to Thailand, it was basically such a different foot way of looking at things that was really culture shock. Many of the young monks at that time actually really they couldn't stand it because it was just so different. They couldn't make any sense of what was happening around them. But staying there for a long time, you could see things in that different light. And one of the things that taught you was not just your language, but your whole paradigms. The way you thought was so culturally unconditioned. And that's your language, your thoughts. It came to the point where I didn't believe my thoughts. My thoughts were the very best approximations to truth. And very often they were very harmful. Harmful to my relationships, to others. You start to get angry. She shouldn't have said that. She's really an idiot. What did he mean by doing that? He should know better. Anger. Anger. Anger. A lot of times I was making assumptions which weren't justified. I got it wrong. Basically. How many times have you got it wrong? I've got it wrong so many times that these days that it's just too hard to judge another person. So I don't judge anymore those thoughts which go through my mind. I prefer the silence than the thoughts, the emptiness of the mind rather than the words. I prefer peace rather than dogma. That's what dogma is, isn't it? Your views about your husband, your views about your kids, the views about the neighbor next door. Where do they all come from? We thought them up, okay, they're pretty accurate, but they're not absolutely right. That's why one of those my favorite stories saying this last week in the monastery about the two monks arguing they're arguing about whether reincarnation is part of Buddhism or not. Two monks arguing. One of them said, the Buddha taught reincarnation. The other one said, no, he couldn't have done. He's talked about the present moment. How can you know until you died at his argument? And so they said, right. The only way to settle this, go and see the master. The Abbott. The head. Monk. First one went in to see the Abbott and said, the Buddha taught reincarnation, didn't he? Many lies. He remembered his past lives. The Abbott said, yeah, you're right. So the monk went out so happy with himself. Yes. The Abbott said, I'm right. The second monk said no. He couldn't say, you're right. I'm going to go and see the Abbott. They went and see the Abbott. He told the Abbott, buddha talked about present moment. Buddha taught about not so speculating about things you don't know yet. The Abbott said that's right. Yeah, you're right. So the second monk went out, said, T the Abbott said, I was right. The first monk said, he couldn't have said that. He said, I was right. So they both went to see the Abbott together and they explained what had happened. And the first monk said, you said I was right. And then you said, the second monk was right. You can't say things like that. The Abbott said, yeah, that's right. Now, the role of that story is it depends on how you're looking at things, isn't it? What the question is, what the evidence is. And that's where a lot of arguments come from because we only see part of the story. All of your thoughts are just seeing part of the story. How about shutting up, looking deeper? Part of the story about life, which religion is right? Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam? Just shut up and look. Stop thinking, stop judging, stop speculating. I was saying just before I came in here, truth, real Buddhism is like the air. No one owns it, no one can patent it and say the air belongs to us. The air is free for everybody to breathe in. No one can franchise the air. No one has a franchise on truth. It's there for you to see in the silence of your mind. Real Buddhism is where a person practices those ethics because it shows that at least they know what's harmful and what isn't harmful, what really helps others, what helps themselves. They know that peace helps themselves. The meditation, the calm. Stillness is the most wonderful thing to have a moment of stillness. To have two moments, to have ten moments, to sit still for half an hour. All of those, you've redundant. Why do you keep coming back to meditate? Why is meditation so popular? Because it is so profoundly peaceful and happy. The first time I meditated only for five minutes. As a young student, I didn't know anything about meditation, but something resonated inside of me. I knew that this was peace, thought this was good, this was going to leave me somewhere. My goodness, it did leave me somewhere. You could taste it, you could feel it. This was something really wonderful and worthwhile, even though I didn't really know quite what at the time. Everyone who comes here to meditate, you can feel and understand that. That's why if a Buddhist doesn't meditate, I don't think they really sort got to the heart of this. You do need to get to that meditation, and when you really start getting into it, my goodness, does it open out into huge spaces of bliss? It's a huge amount of wisdom. One of the reasons why that monk at the beginning of this talk said books, books, books. Too many, too many, too many dustbin dustin dustbin because so many books make you think too much. Just give you more ideas and more things to argue about. Somebody writes a book, then people write reviews about the books and people write compilations of reviews of the best reviewers. And you keep going on and on like this. It doesn't really stop, does it? Do you really get wisdom out of books by asking? Do you get a full stomach out of reading a menu? The point is that the books can have use as long as they're pointing to something. All those words. How many Buddhist books do you really need to read before they actually say, shut up, sit down, be quiet and look inside. You see all the books. This is one of the great sayings of the Buddha. 25 centuries ago. The dumma. The truth lies in this fascinating long body inside here. What the Buddha said quotes directly from the scriptures. The truth lies in you. Not like the ex files. It doesn't live out there. The truth is not out there. The truth is in here. Don't believe the ex files wrong. That's why they're called X wrong. The wrong files. These are the right files. So it lies in here. And this is what meditation does if you really want to get in here. Have you ever noticed in the meditation, it's all centering, centering, centering? The more you go into the middle of things, you get to the middle of that's called now into right into the middle of time is silence. Right into the middle of all this is breath. In the middle of the breath, you get these beautiful Nimitas, these lights and the mind. In the middle of that, you find the Janas, the great blisters just going in. What do people in the world do? They go on on. This is why people never find the truth. It's on, on. That's what life a lot is for most people. Always going on to the next thing, on to the next thing. Restlessness, disturbance, never being still either in their bodies or in their minds. What meditation is going in centering, centering, centering until you come to this beautiful bliss. Not only is it just bliss for the sake of being, that's actually enough for most people to get blissed out in the meditation. If you do that much in life, that's pretty neat. But more than that, it gives you the profound wisdom that's really helping yourself and helping others. That's where wisdom arises from. The Buddha became in line because he meditated, not because he thought a lot or went to university. Some of the great monks I knew were just academically, just hopeless. Caitlins. But wisdom wise, they were just so wise. That was, again, one of the things I learned going to Thailand. I had a great degree from a great university, but compared to someone like Ajan Char, I was an ignorance. I was really stupid. For the first time in my life, I felt just so stupid. And I felt like I was bottom of the class. When it went to Thailand, it was great for me, being humbled that way. When I'd passed on my exams throughout the whole of my life, realizing just what a waste of time that had been. So all of you people having kids, doing the tea, it's not important. Tell your kids, don't worry about it. If you fail your tee, that might be that you're going to become a great monk or a great nun. You might have talent because your mind is just so simple and so quiet and so still. I can use you. Come to me and I'll give you a job. So what we're actually saying there is that is a wonderful thing. To have that peace, to have that clarity, to have that joy inside the mind. And any wisdom which I have had has not come from books, has come from my meditation. So if you've come here, listen to something from me which has helped you in your life, which you say is wise, where has that come from? The training of a monk is not sitting down and being told all the stories by somebody else. It's not being lectured on how to be a counselor. It's not reading this book and writing exams. As a monk, I haven't done any exams whatsoever. All the wisdom which a monk has, which Ajan char had, all came from inside centering. This is what happens once you become calm, you become clear. Once you become clear, you start to see things deeply. You start to notice things. The reason why most people are stupid because they're not paying attention. Isn't that the story of most people's lives? No. They say that time has flown. Why is it that time seems to have disappeared? Because you haven't been here when it's been happening. Look, in one day, how much of that day, how many seconds have you really been there? How often have you been planning something else? Or dreaming, or remembering fantasizing? This is why time seems to disappear so quickly. Because people aren't there. It's also why wisdom never arises. Because we're never there to be mindful, to look, to listen, to know. So the more we actually are mindful present, silently present, not adding to the world, but listening to the world. To listen, you have to be silent. So the more we practice that silence, that mindful silence, that attentiveness whether you're living in a forest watching parrots or ants or watching monks or watching yourself, that is where wisdom comes and that becomes real Buddhism, real Christianity, real Islam, real anything. The path of Silas Amadi panya ethics. Virtue is based on wisdom. It's wise not to harm another or harm yourself. Based on meditation, letting go, simplicity because that too is wise thing to do. Be peaceful, let go. It's in your interest and in other people's interests. There comes the wisdom, the understanding where you see for yourself. What is truth and what isn't truth? For those of you who keep asking the questions about is there a god or is there not a god? Is there rebirth or not rebirth? Is anata no self, or is there a self beginning of the world or the end of the world? Is there a beginning? Who created all of this? You will never find that answer outside. The only place you'll be able to find that answer is inside of yourself. In deep meditation, in silence, in peace. That's why we keep on telling people. Just put those questions aside, make your mind still, truly still, blissfully still, and then ask those questions. And then you'll find the answers you know for yourself rather than believing it from some other source. You can look at scriptures. You can see what it says in scriptures, but who knows what scriptures are, correct? So, real Buddhism. Has this path of discovery. Discovery for yourself. And the role of a teacher that I kept saying here is to get rid of disciples, to teach you to be independent, to see for yourself. Any teacher who wants to get more disciples has to be crazy. I've got too many already. I'm trying to get rid of them frantically, okay? People keep bringing me up with their problems. Dial among it's true. You've got dialogue service people ringing you up and want to get the answers to their questions straight away. So what we're doing here is a basic Buddhism. If anyone wants to know the difference between, say, Terravada and Mahayana, the different types of Buddhism, all of those buddha, Mahayana Buddhism is based on what's called the six parameters spiritual practices. You know what those six parameters are? Dana, which is generosity, canti, which is like endurance, patience, wearya energy. And seela samadhi panya. It's what Terravada does. Seela samadhi panya. On the outside, you might say, yeah. The monks, they look like they're practicing something differently, but really inside, if they're really good Mahayana monks, you find they're exactly the same as good terravada monks. They're good. Any monks or any practitioners or any nuns seem to be, because the heart of this is selat samadi panya. The threefold practice of ethics, virtue, meditation, the stillness of the mind and the wisdom which comes from it. That is real Buddhism. To finish off, just before the Buddha died, somebody came across to him and asked him a curly question. They asked in other religions, in other parts, can you become enlightened? You know what? The Buddha always wise, right to the end, know his answer to that. The same as if someone asks you, can you become enlightened in Christianity, in Islam or something else? His answer was in any religion or philosophy where you find the Eightfold Path which is just that practice of Sira Samadhi Panya. In any religion where you find that sirius Amadi Pananya. There you will find enlightened beings. It's not the name which is important. It's what you do is important. Anyone who practiced that, those anyone who meditates, anyone who develops wisdom. He said if there's that Eight Fold Path seed as a Madi Panya then it will lead to that freedom. So that's real Buddhism. If you like that's against pseudo. Pseudo means fake. So please know for yourself what is real Buddhism. What is fake Buddhism. Once you understand that for yourself, please put it into practice. For the sake of your happiness and all other people's happiness is you can let go of all of your problems. You can get close to enlightenment even be enlightened. Why not? Why not let go of cravings and attachments? How long have they been causing you problems and trouble? Buddhism shows a beautiful way to do so. A monk won't do it for you. A nun won't do it for you. All they can do is encourage, encourage clear the path and say, go for it. That's a nice way to end this talk. Go for it. So let's suit up. Okay? How about some nice questions? Any courtney questions? Yeah. How to let go. How do I put down this glass? First of all, to notice it's heavy when you keep holding on to it. Notice the pain of not letting go. Also know that you can let it go just for a few seconds. You can always pick it up again. No one is going to take it away. So you don't have to worry that you're losing something terribly, terribly important. You're just putting it down for learn to let go temporarily, first of all, just for a few seconds. And pick it up afterwards, just because you feel secure. Then after a while, you can let it go a little bit more, a little bit longer. And after, we can let it go as you can. It's right in the bin. Then you don't need to go and pick it up. Again, let go little by little. But again, you don't let go by thinking about it. If you say let go, let go, let go, let go, let go, let go, let go. I don't know how to let go. Letting go is a doing or rather a not doing. Rather than a doing. That's why the heart part of that and go there's two ends to attachment. This is important to understand the two ends of attachment. What you attach to and what's doing the attaching it's what you're attaching to. A lot of times I thought the only thing which people see an attachment I'm attached to my kids, I'm attached to my DVD, I'm attached to my car, I'm attached to my money. They can let go of those things, but they go and pick up something else. What's actually doing that attaching? Why do you attach to those things? And that's actually what you have to pay attention to. What's doing the attaching. Don't you see? That's like an illusion of self where we measure ourselves? A lot of people still measure themselves by their property. That's why they invite their friends to their new house. See what a nice new house I have? People want to drive their cars around, especially got new ones. It's the worst thing to do. If you have a new car, especially expensive one, to keep it in a locked garage and no one can see it, then what's the point? Isn't it true people want to die the car because they want to show off this is that they actually measure themselves by their possessions, even if they measure themselves by their intelligence. I've got this degree. I've got that degree. Young people measure themselves by their fitness or by their beauty. Whether they want to show off their bodies and show off just how strong they are and fit they are. We hide ugly people away from society. We hide sick people in hospitals or institutions. So what we measure ourselves by is what we attach to. And if you can let go of all of that, you can be anybody. We can be nobody. So it all comes in a sense of self. When you get more confidence, you can don't have to be anybody at all. You can let go of the whole lot. Success, failure, who cares? That's a letting go. Any other questions there? Yeah. You have to be a vegetarian. It's good to be a vegetarian, but you don't have to be a vegetarian to be a Buddhist. You can still drink alcohol, but it's not good for you. I would say that it's not what I seem to do, but you can still come here and I'll still be your friend. This is important because otherwise if I say you have to be a vegetarian, so no alcohol and anyone who drinks alcohol, they can't come in here ever again, they're excommunicated. No gays, no one who votes for liberal party, no one who votes for the labor party. No one who votes for this party. Only green party candidates can come in here. If I did that, would it be rotten? Because this is not the way of Buddhism. This is why the Buddha would never do that at all. This is because you want to sort of to be a Buddhist is someone who's aspiring to follow a path of no harm. So sometimes one of the lovely stories I heard was in our monastery in northeast Thailand, there was a man who was an alcoholic, and he had lots of faith in the western monks. So he came in there, and he would not be rejected. And eventually, because he had faith and his monks were very kind to him, he decided during the three month rainy season that he would not drink from sunrise to sunset. Which meant he got up very early in the morning before sunrise, and he drink, you know, maybe a bottle of whiskey. But then once sunrise came, he stopped and he hung out just by the skin of his teeth until the sun went down and he got the whiskey out again. And he did that for three months for him. That was just so hard to do. So no, the monks praised him. Well done. You don't so judge a person just because they're alcoholic for one reason or another. They're so terrible. He was trying his putting forth effort by encouraging him. That way maybe he could do a little bit better next year and then a bit next year and then maybe give up alcohol altogether. It's when we sort of judge people and reject people and say, you're a meat eater, you can't come in here. So you don't have to be a vegetarian to be a Buddhist. It's encouraged, but it's not absolutely necessary. So ask yourself, is it harming yourself or harming others? Follow that principle. That way we're not so judgmental to other people in the world. We have tolerance, but it's not a tolerance which just goes along and says, I approve of that, and say, well, this is what a person is. That's if we can encourage them to be better, it's that encouragement which is important. You can't force people you can encourage point out the reason why they should be more kind and more responsible. Just be more socially minded. Keep on encouraging. Encouraging. It's in your interest to do so if you want to sort of get your kids. Sometimes parents complain about their kids just really messing around and being very hard to sort of discipline. Now, the root cause of discipline is actually letting the kids know why this is actually in their interest to clean up their room or do whatever. This is remember I read from The Chinese Art of War that the general who had the best discipline in the Imperial Army was summoned to the Emperor. And the Emperor asked him, how come you got the best discipline better than all of the other regiments? The general said, Because I only tell my soldiers to do what they want to do. That's why they always follow orders. I only tell them to do what they want to do. That's why they always do it. Now, of course, that seems to be a bit sort of obvious and a bit superficial, but if you look deeper into that what that general meant was he spent a lot of time motivating his troops. He told him why I encourage them that it's a good thing to get up early in the morning and to train and to get themselves strong and fit and to go into the water to support their country. He'd actually encouraged them the reason why they should do these things, and that's why they had perfect discipline. That's why I have good discipline amongst my monks in Serpentine Monastery. They get up in the morning because they want to. They meditate. Why not? Because they have to. Because it's all about marketing, isn't it? You want to get people to buy your product. You got to advertise it so that people realize that's why it's so important for them to buy their product. So you should do marketing with your kids. So as a parent, you tell them only things that they want to do. Then you have perfect discipline in your home. You got to explain to them why they should keep the room clean, why they should be respectful to their parents. If you can motivate them, explain why and do a good setting job, then you have perfect discipline. Simple wisdom. And advertising executives know that. Abbots know that. Spiritual directors know that. This is how it works. Okay, I think that's enough questions for this evening. So thank you for those two questions this evening. And again, I hope you enjoyed the talk. We have our present here to make some announcements before we go.

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