October 01, 2023


Responsibility | Ajahn Brahm

Responsibility | Ajahn Brahm
Ajahn Brahm Podcast
Responsibility | Ajahn Brahm

Oct 01 2023 | 00:53:56


Show Notes

Ajahn Brahm gives a talk about responsibility and how to respond wisely.

This dhamma talk was originally recorded using a low quality MP3 to save on file size (because internet connections were slow back then – remember dialup?) on 10th October 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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


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Episode Transcript

Responsibility | Ajahn Brahm [ AI Generated Transcription – expect errors! ] Okay, so the title for this evening's talk again, don't know what I'm going to talk about when I get up here, but just before I came in here was talking with someone about responsibility. So tonight's talk is going to be about responsibility and irresponsibility. And the Buddhist ideas about these things because this is applying the Buddhist teachings to some of the problems we have in our life. Many of us have responsibilities. We have positions of authorities in companies, in offices, in homes, or in multinational corporations like my monastery. You know, approaches all over the world. Oh, well, whatever your your position is that sometimes it because we don't know the Buddhist attitude to responsibility. We get stressed out, we get angry, we get ill, and eventually we die. And that's not a nice thing to do, especially when you're very young. So this place talk is how what responsibility really means, how to deal with it, and also just how to get have some fun with it. So what actually really responsibility means is actually able to respond. That's what the English word means. They were to respond to the duties which are yours to deal with. Unfortunately, most people respond inadequately. That's why we're given responsibility. But we really haven't got the ability to respond wisely. And that is much of the problem which we have. Sometimes people think, well, it's all right for him to talk. He has no responsibility. But that's not true. Every now and again, when somebody asks for a reference for their job or whatever they're asking for. I sign all of my titles, all of the jobs and the things which I have to do. I remember when I signed these letters all my responsibilities as the of Indiana monastery, 30 people there. Not to mention the cats and the kangaroos. How to look after your spiritual director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia and the spiritual advisor of the Buddha Society, Victoria, spiritual Director of the Temple and a hermitage in just outside of Sydney, and the spiritual patron of the body Kusama Centre in Sydney. Spiritual patron, the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore, social patron of the Block Foundation, that monastery which looks after drug addicts. All these things are supposed to be doing. Never do very much. Because I know about responsibility. Because you can only do one thing at a time. So I tell people, this is actually how I take on all these so-called responsibilities because I resigned as being the apple of writing on a monastery. When I left this evening and when I get back there, I'll be up at again. So I never take my duties of the monastery here. When I come into our city center here on the spiritual director, the Buddhist Society of West Australia. And when I go to Victoria, I'm neither the apple of the monastery nor the director of the Buddhist society, Western Australia. I'm the spiritual advisor, the Buddhist side of it all when I go over there. So what I do is I never take my responsibilities with me when I go. I dump them here. Well, I mean, there is a lot of times our responsibilities, we carry them around all the time when we don't really need to. And at the Times we just had a retreat at our monastery for two weeks. I had time by myself. When I go on retreats. I'm not spiritual director or spiritual advisor for anything. When I go in retreat, I'm just a simple monk. In fact, when I close my eyes, I'm not even a monk anymore. I close my eyes. I'm just a person. When I go into deep meditation, I'm not even a person anymore. I'm just a mind. When I go even deeper, I'm not even a mind. Nothing left at all. That's what I mean about really being irresponsible. Which means getting rid of all your responsibilities. That's what we mean by being irresponsible. The point is that many of us, we carry around our responsibilities when we don't really need to. Are you the boss at work? Only when you're at work, you're the boss. Are you the husband and wife? Only when you are at home with your partner. Are you the man or the woman? Only in this life. When you sort of go into deep meditation or you die, you're not those things. So this is the first reason about our first way of how to deal with responsibilities. Remember, all responsibilities are impermanent. They're temporary. Never think that these are permanent things which you have to worry about, concern yourself about all of the time. Because if you do, you will never be able to find any peace, any rest. You'll always be the husband. You'll always be the wife. You'll always be the spiritual rector. You'll always be the abbot. You'll always be the prime minister for whatever else you happen to be. Isn't it wonderful not to be those things from time to time? Because when you put down your responsibilities, then, number one, you have some rest. Number two, you get perspective. When you're too close to things, you never be able to see them clearly. So first thing with responsibility is remember, all responsibility, which you have is always only temporary, so it gives you the right perspective. The other thing is, very often we take responsibility for things which. We have no business taking responsibility for. We take responsibility sometimes for other people's actions, what they say or what they do. What do I mean by taking responsibility for other people's actions, by saying you shouldn't do that, you shouldn't do that. You should know better. You know, when people coughed. I never took any responsibility for that. Stop my cough. Is your cough? Sure. Responsibility? By that, I mean, I never got angry and upset. Now, how many of you maybe you sitting next to somebody who was coughing and you were just about to get enlightened and they coughed. And Spotify. Oh. They're really mad and upset. Now, the point is. You two responsibility For what? Well, they coughed. There they go again. Well, that was your mistake. Because it's not your business. It's the other people's business. That's just a cough. What about if somebody says something mean and nasty to you? They call you a dog or they call you camel face or he call these other things which. Now, what happens when when I say things like that to you? Do you take responsibility for that? And so you should not be calling me camel face. You should know better than to call a man camel face or whatever. You're taking responsibility for that. And that's why you get upset. A lot of the times we take responsibility for things when really they're not ours. What happens when we take responsibility? Most people start to own those things. Remember the difference between responsibility and taking ownership. Taking ownership means they said something and we own it. We receive it as if it was ours. And then it is our problem. When we don't take any ownership in cause whatever they like. And I know that. So I'm not going to receive it. Just like they give you a gift, you don't receive it. It's like when you open your email, you just choose which humor you want to read and which we want to delete. So anyone says something nasty to you. Delete. You know you could do that. We need to do, as you say, are not listening or just say, well, so you can say whatever you like. But I would never allow anyone to control my happiness. My happiness is my concern. Not your concern, sir. You are not allowed to make me unhappy. Whenever you get unhappy because someone says to me, to you, or because they mistreat you or they abuse you or do something they shouldn't do. And you got happy you are allowing someone else to control your happiness. You allow them to make you unhappy? How many of you allow your husband to make you unhappy? How many of you allow your wife to be quite happy? Take control of your happiness. Possess your happiness? Why? We can do whatever you like. But I'm going to be happy. Husband. You can be lazy. Whatever you got to do. But I'm going to be happy. I'm not going to. I don't like. Can he? Can he also I was going to say, I'm not going to let you trouble my happiness. But we do allow other people to take ownership of our happiness. To control us, and that is not being responsible. We should be responsible for our own happiness. The Buddha said. Each one of us is responsible for our own karma. You're not responsible for other people's karma. What that means is we can share our lives, but we don't try and own other people and own other people's actions. We try our best, but there's a limit. When we know that life becomes far more simple for us. We're not owning things which don't belong to us. We don't own other people's actions or other people's words. We're not really responsible for them in that sense. By responsible means we can influence, but we don't own it. We don't try and control it. It's not ours that way. What other people do and say, that's our business, but our business. What we should really be responsible for is how we behave. How what we say and also how we think. Because too often, because our responsibilities go in the wrong areas, we responsible too much for others are not enough for ourselves. Everyone else tries to help others, but very few people try and help themselves. Which is why the when people take responsibility, the biggest problem is they get burnt out, they get burnt, how they work so hard. And when they start work hard and they get burnt out, they get grumpy. When they get grumpy, there's only one things and do one things in the office, in the home and they carry even more problems. So many the problems of life will be solved. If you just stop taking responsibility for others and take responsibility for ourselves for a few moments. The rest to be still. Sometimes people think that's being irresponsible. What it means is you're not doing anything. You're not doing your work. You're not solving the problems. You're just. Hanging out in your heart, in your room, not doing anything, but you will find that that is being responsible. I don't. Cha once said, one of the kindest things you can do for others. Is to be calm and still. Don't just do something. Sit there, he said. That's the other way of putting that is don't just usually what people say is don't just sit there do something. They put it out the other way. Don't just do something to sit there. Would it be wonderful if it hit more people? Did that did that one of be wonderful? If our politicians did that more often, just don't do things, sit there, don't get as much problems. Would it be better if you did that as well? Instead of always, always doing things. Because too often, whenever there's a problem, we always want to own the problem. We want to control it. We want to fix the problem. Too much of life we tend to take ownership of. When you look at it, duty is really valid to take ownership of those problems. The solution always was if there's something you can do. Everything you've got, there's nothing you can do. Then leave it alone. That famous little story which of Harold Macmillan, which I've said here many times before, was a beautiful story. 30 years ago. 40 years ago, whenever it was when there was a first, I think, war between Israel and Syria and Lebanon and Egypt called the Six-Day War. And during that war, I think Harold Macmillan was the prime minister of Britain and Apollo and a reporter. Some interviewed him. And the question was, what do you think about the problem in the Middle East without missing a beat? This prime minister said there is no problem in the Middle East. What do you mean is no problem in the Middle East. There's a war going on as we speak. People are being killed as tank battles, bonus of flying everywhere, people being wounded and killed. What do you mean there's no problem there? And very calmly the Prime Minister said, Sir, a problem is something with a solution. There is no solution in the Middle East, therefore is not a problem. Brilliant Buddhist wisdom. Now, wouldn't that be wonderful? He was right. It wasn't a solution. So why waste time on something which you can't really make her? A contribution to us. The problem is only that which has a solution. How much of your life have you wasted? On what you thought was a problem, but which was somebody should have a solution, which wasn't really a problem at all. Is your husband a problem? It's not installation faces. It's because it's a problem facing those solutions. So they go, If there is a solution, then give it everything you've got. But when it's no solution, let go. This is being responsible. Being responsible but able to respond appropriately. To the situation which you are in. Too often we think we have to respond. We have to do something. And so often the best thing is to sit still and be quiet. I tried that very often in my monastery. All that busyness, which I have, all the responsibilities and duties I have. I found it many times. You may have found this as well. Sometimes you just can't do anything because, you know other things take your time, or sometimes because you go on a retreat or whatever. And sometimes when you finish, you retreat. The problem solved itself. So often in math that happens. Leave things alone. And almost like life tends to sort of balance itself. And you realize you didn't need to get involved after all. So much of life, we always think we have to get involved when we don't. The reason is, again, this is because of our sense of ego and self are always been the great controllers. We all want to control our happiness. We want to control our family. We want to control our office, want to control our life or to control our world. Always taking responsibility for things which. We don't own. How often do we take responsibility for things which we don't own and how silly that is because we don't own them. It means we haven't got any possibility of actually putting an input into it. That's why most of our responsibility is to let go of things which don't concern us. I've seen this so often in people's lives. They just become control freaks, become control freaks of their family, control, freaks of their office control freaks of their monastery, and you find it never works. The no simile, which I've given very often of like having a bird. And you put that bird in a cage and you keep that cage in your house. But one day that door is gonna be open. And as soon as that door is opened, that bird flies away and they never come back. That's example number one. That's the controller. Or afraid to let go of their responsibility. Number two, a person has a bird in the cage. They leave the door open every now and again. But they made of cage so wonderful. Such beautiful bird seed and lovely little bath. Nice little toys to play. Nice and big. Just a very, very wonderful comfy bird cage. They can leave the cage door open. The bird can fly away, but will always come back again. Why? Because it's a nice cage. They like being there. That's a person who's not a control freak. Thus a person who is compassionate and kind. People are always around because you've got a nice little cage. Your house is a wonderful place to be in. It's not this sort of controlling place and people will work harder for you if you're kind to them. They're work harder for you because they respect you. They want things. They want to help you. They want to care for you. They want to sort of do the right thing by you. Kindness. Compassion goes a long way. I think everyone would probably agree with this. The people you work for, your bosses or whatever, if they give you just a little bit of kindness. How far that goes, how much you really want to help them look after them. But. If they are cruel to you, call in a sense of call with their words, not being appreciative or controlling you and forcing you. Do you really want to work that hard for them? Do you really want to do that bit extra? I think you should know from your own experience in life when people are kind to you. You work harder for them. You try to live up to their kindness in the same way that in a family, if you are kind to your family. Compassionate. Have a nice house, which people love to be there. Then of course, now they would always live up to what you say. I always mention the story about my father. He gave me almost carte blanche. When he said to me, The door of my heart is always open to you no matter what you ever do in your life. Because he said that and because he trusted me. Because he never tried to control me. I tried really, really hard to live up to his trust. Is it? While it lifted my game as a son to my father. I'll ask my own experience. And that's the way which I've taught my monks in a monastery. Never forcing them, but encouraging them. Trying to make the monastery a lovely place. We have a wall. But no one ever climbs over it. It's very steep. They were always trying to get into the place rather than so trying to escape was a waiting list, I think, for ladies want to spend the rains of my monastery. This is true. 2004, next year's all booked up 2005 booked 2006 booked a long time ago, 2007 and 2008, the next vacancy. So if you want to spend the reigns as a woman in my monastery, 2009. Then they bright because you just you don't try and control him and you just make it a nice place and people want to stay there. This is actually what we mean about responsibility. We don't need to control and own to get prosperity in our lives. All we really need to do to be responsible and have our company, have our family and have ourself grow. Is to know where we should be responsible and where to let go. Where we can give an input and where we can't. But the great Prime Minister, when is nothing you can do? What should you do? Do nothing. Very simple wisdom. But if you just follow that much, you have a very, very successful life. But it's nothing to do and do nothing and much less being responsible. Irresponsibility is when it's nothing to do. You run about doing this, doing that, trying to make things different. That is being irresponsible. And too many people are irresponsible. Always trying to change things which are quite beyond them. That's the first thing about sort of irresponsibility or responsibility. The other thing about responsibility is that, again, a major factor of responsibility is with ourselves. If we can make ourselves a really good person, then that's the best thing we can do for other people. Very often people come and tell me about their kids. They ask advice about bringing up kids. That's why they always ask amongst these questions about marriage problems and bringing up kids. You know, I never been married and never had any kids. Why are you asking me? I became about to get out of all that stuff. But nevertheless, nevertheless, they still get some good advice now and again, because really, you're my kids, aren't you? You're my friends. No, there's some things that sort of we get again, that too controlling. And when they're people say that, you know, we should. Why can't I kids do this? Why can't our kids do that? Of course, the usual answer which I give is say, stop looking at your kids. Look at you. What are you doing? Because kids are very often Xerox copies of their parents. Well, your parents do. Very often you follow their lead. So the best way you can teach your kids is to teach yourself. If you are a kind, good, soft spoken person, your children are likely to do the same. But if you say really rotten things, you shout at them and you curse them. Then what do you think your children are going to turn out like? This is so often we see a kid or we see in her daughter or manager. It's just like a chip off the old block, just like their father, just like their mum. You see where they got it from? So the best way to get you to bring up your kids is to be a good person yourself, to be kind, to be generous, to be warm, to be loving. Because you're teaching by example, which is by far the most powerful way of influencing others by example. As is the best way of influencing other people at work by example. If you're kind, if you're wise, if you work hard and other people are going to do the same. So this is actually how we help others by, first of all, training ourselves. And if we can train ourselves, that's the best way we can help others. So a lot of times by our responsibility for others how we can help others, how we can be compassionate and care for others is. To help be compassionate and care for ourselves, first of all. Just too often people go out into the world trying to help the world, trying to be compassionate and kind. What do they do? It creates too much problems and mischief in the world. They're kind to others, but never been kind to themselves. This is our problem. Too many people want to solve save the world, but too few people have ever bothered to save themselves because you can't save yourself. You don't know what you know. The goal of life is. You never know what peace, what happiness, what freedom is. Too often we go out into the world and we try and develop the world. Howdy. Howdy. My users. About 29 years ago when I started being a monk. This was in this village in northeast Thailand. It was a happy village, though. Very poor. No electricity, but. They had their family. They had their time. And I always remember about the first couple of weeks after being a monk walking into this village at night time, going to a Buddhist ceremony. And as we walked through this village without electricity in the remote northeast of Thailand. You saw in the upper veranda an open veranda of every house. Usually a family of maybe 12, 15, even more people with their faces illuminated by a small kerosene lamp. And they were all telling stories to each other. It be the old grandparents, few uncles and aunts, the parents, kids, brothers and sisters, a whole family living together in one house. And every night. There was spent the evening in the same way, sitting in a semi-circle around this, not really an oil lamp. It was just a simple dinner in a bowl. And just as a wick coming out of the bowl, as simple as you could possibly think. And all just telling stories to each other. Night after night after night. When I saw that, I realised what I'd missed. Growing up in a place like London with actresses and television. And you saw that those simple ways of living. Sure. They didn't have many of the conveniences of the Western world. But they had their family. They had their. Time together. They had two mutual supports. And sometimes I thought, why did the West come and develop those places? Even the hospitals which claim this was true. One of the old men who I knew very, very well, he died now one of the old men of that village. Just before he died, I went to see him. I was visiting Thailand. I went to his house. He couldn't come to the monastery and I chatted to him in Thai. One of the things he said always remained with me. He said, You know, over the years I've lived in this village some 80 years. He said, I remember when they first built the hospital before they built filled the hospital. Everyone was quite healthy, but when they built the hospital, people started getting sick. That's what he personally said to me. But sometimes you wonder about these things. Now, what are we really helping? And sometimes that if you really want to be responsible, you have to know how to help. Sometimes we have the right motives, but we're irresponsible because we don't know how to do it. Our heart's in the right place, but our wisdom isn't really firm yet. So to be responsible, we have to train ourself. First of all, we have to learn ourselves really what is worthwhile in the world. What is the goal of life? We got to learn that for ourselves, first of all, before we can help others. One of the stories I remember I read in a magazine of this young man who had a disease of his ears. He was he was born. Beth. And his family would take him to the doctors every year or so for a checkup. And one occasion he was about 15 or 16 at this time. The doctor had just read in one of the medical journals that there was a new procedure which was developed somewhere which had been very successful. And about 10% of the children or something who'd been born death. After this procedure, they could hear again. So they asked the parents, Do you want to give it a try? I said, Yeah, of course. You know, nothing to lose. Maybe he might be lucky. One of the 10%. So they gave him this quite simple little operation. And he was one of those 10%. He got his hearing back. And as soon as he got his hearing back, he was very angry at his parents. He said, Why did you ask me, first of all, if I wanted my hearing back? And he said, Now I have to deal with this terrible noise all the time. He said, I can't make much sense out of it. Before, when I was death, I was having a great time. I could communicate so well with sign language. He said, If you want to give me anything, he said, I'll give you my ears back. You two give me another hand so I could feel the world rather than hear this terrible sound. And he was very, very angry and upset and his parents and his doctors. When I read that, I was shocked as well, because I too, assumed that if he could give someone their hearing, what a wonderful gift it would be for this person didn't want it. Too often we give people things they don't want. We think we're being compassionate by our standard, but we're not really being sensitive to what the other person really needs. We're being irresponsible. Responsibility is not just being compassionate, it's also being wise sometimes is being sensitive to the needs of other people. It's being sensitive to our needs as well. Sensitivity is part of responsibility. How on earth can you be so sensitive? How you become sensitive is, first of all, putting aside all of the rules. Putting aside all the preconceptions within the aside all you've ever been taught. Because when you just follow what you've just been taught. You follow the theories. You never very sensitive to what's actually happening. That's why real sensitivity is something which we develop. We develop by listening. By feeling. Not by thinking. Thinking is always old stuff. Thinking is what we've learned. Thinking is what we've been taught. Being sensitive is putting all that aside. Putting it all aside. Feeling the moment and responding accordingly. That's what I mean by being responsible. Able to respond. In my life as a monk, I've been put in situations where I've got no training at all. I've never been trained to counsel people. I never been trained. To answer questions about marriage and if being trained to do any of this. But I have been trained to be sensitive. And that is a training which makes me able to respond. Remember many years ago a member of our Buddhist societies in the very early days, some of the people here might remember him. He used to come in our old center in Magnolia Street when we first came to Perth 20 years or more, 20 years ago or something. And he used to. This story was a very interesting story. He knocked on the door of this house in North Perth where the first Buddha society was before moving here. He was a pest exterminator and he knocked to say, Do you want any pest exterminating? And the monk said, No, no, we don't do that. Here were Buddhists, so why not? They're going to a conversation. And he was so interested about why we don't exterminate pests that he became a Buddhist. But. So we exterminated the pest exterminator. Anyway. You always used to ask his amazing questions. He was a very, very intelligent man and it was always really he would never just listen without sort of paying attention, listen. And he pick up things which other people wouldn't say. You can ask these great questions afterwards, but after 2 or 3 years, actually, what happened? He was working on the roof of his house. He fell off and hit his head and he became crazy. And remember from that time he started dressing up as Elvis Presley. And he came to that center. Once I was on duty, I looked like the Elvis Presley the king, because he was sort of dressed up and he was absolutely crazy, violently so. He had a walking stick because he still couldn't walk properly. And every now and again he'd hit me just above the head. Never actually strike me. How do you deal with a person like that whose violent. Who's dangerous, who's out of their mind. I never been trained in that. But I've been trained in. Loving kindness in fearlessness. That's how you've been trained as a monk. So I just did. That was loving. I did. Loving kindness towards him. Was quiet, peaceful, no fear. It took you about half an hour, 45 minutes to calm down. But he did calm down at the end. No one else would come and help me because they were afraid, because this guy was violent. But I realized from the very first time he swung that walking stick and miss me, I realized it was on purpose, that he miss me. He wanted to hit me, to hit me the first time. After that point, I knew I was safe. This is actually how you deal with such things as a monk. You've got that training to be really sensitive. If I'd have had a moment of fear, then he'd probably would have hit me and done me damage. But this is how we said that if we're not trying to make a really peaceful, calm and quiet and then we can always do the right thing. It was actually very unfortunate what happened to him because eventually did commit suicide. And remember when he was going really weirded out. His wife rang me at the monastery because after that time I was like his monk and I was to talk to him and try and calm him down. His wife rang up saying, Is really going off the rails. Can you come and talk to him? But I had the flu at the time. I was in Serpentine Monastery in bed. The call came through and said, I just can't come. I was just really sick. The next day he killed himself. Very, very sad. But, you know, you've only got a limit to what you can do. I never felt sad afterwards because I don't own that person's actions. I tried my best, and that's all I can do. There you let go. This is what being responsible is. If I really feel that responsibility of attachment and involvement and owned him, then I would have got very upset. That would be irresponsible for me to do that. So sensitivity is part of responsibility. And that sensitivity connects is amazing just how much wisdom comes up. We see things in different ways. Just see different ways of doing things. Sometimes it is shouting at someone, sometimes it's being still with them. Sometimes it's doing what they don't expect. When you do things which they don't expect it almost like. Shocks them out of the way they're doing things. So you in that sense, you've got more power over them when you don't act in the way they usually expect. That takes a sensitivity. Some years ago, a doctor came here and he again was in a bit of a problem because he was a young doctor, an intern. And while he was on duty in one of the main hospitals in Perth, his pager went off. One of his patients had a cardiac arrest. He rushed to the bedside. He gave them the pulmonary resuscitation saved their life. I started to breathe again. But. The hardest part for that long. It was permanent brain damage. He got there not quick enough and not late enough in the middle. And he felt so guilty afterwards and so confused because of his actions, compassionate actions, doing his duty. He'd actually confined their person to this vegetative state for probably many, many, many years. He wouldn't die for. He would never actually be able to speak and contribute and be a normal person ever again. And so it came to this question about next time that happens, what should I do? Because I'm afraid. But if I resuscitate someone again, it would just be in that period when brain damage is already occurred and I just keep them alive for no real worse. Should I just not even try? Or what should I do? And this is actually what we mean about responsibility, about sensitivity, whether you're a doctor or whether you're just a secretary or driving a bus or whatever, a monk. There are always areas where you come across where you've never been trained. Areas of real life where you just don't know what to do and you've got no one to ask. So what do you do? You ask yourself? You asked the moment. Asking. The moment goes like this. You make your mind so peaceful and quiet. Put aside all the rules, what you're supposed to do and what you're not supposed to do. Put that aside. Put aside worry. Put aside fear. And listen. Listen. With everything you've got to the moment. This is what we mean by being sensitive. Life is always there to teach you. The signals are always present, but too often we're thinking of something else. Or we're worried. We're too afraid to listen. That's why. Irresponsible. We make wrong decisions. If you really listen. But I will tell you what to do. When you're quiet and still almost intuitively, you know the correct response. I've used that throughout my life and it's always seemed to work. Never got into trouble yet. Maybe there's always a first time, but I don't think so, because the Buddhists said this is a Buddhist teaching. If you're ever in any position of responsibility, you should always keep in mind what he called the four things and never act from those four things. And those four things you should never act from in any position of responsibility. His greed. Ill will, stupidity and fear. Too often is that last one which people act out of when in any position of responsibility when they're making a decision. The act out of fear. What will people think of me afterwards if this goes wrong? How are other people Look at me. So often people act out of fear. We want to please other people. Rather than just doing what we know is right. We have to be fearless when we make my decisions. The story I told before the retreat started that there was a television program which someone told me about just six, nine months ago. It was something like the 25th or 30th anniversary. Must be the 20th, 30th anniversary of a great massacre which took place in Vietnam during that war, the My Lai massacre, where a group of American soldiers went into a village with the orders to literally kill every man, woman and child in that village. It was these days what could be called a war crime. And the commanding officer was a man called Lieutenant Calley. Then these soldiers went in there, followed orders, and the whole village was machine gunned, killed every man, woman and child. The media found out about it. There was a big ruckus about it. And I think Lieutenant County got court martial put in jail and then reprieved by the president's pardon, rather. But what was interesting was 25 years on, while 30 years on, this television company decided to try and trace as many of those soldiers as they possibly could find to see what the comic effects. Of having done such a thing was on their lives. And whether you believe in karma or not. The point was, it was very clear that all of those soldiers were having huge amounts of social problems, psychological problems, relationship problems. There were not happy people. Except there was one which stood out was a happy person. He was an Afro American soldier. Who had joined the military just to get out of some ghetto. To get a life, as I say, these days. He had very little education. But when the order came from his commanding officer to go to that village and kill every man, woman and child, he refused to go. Even though such a refusal would mean he knew what it would mean 2 or 3 years in a military prison. Which is much, much worse than any civilian prison. He knew what he was up for, but he said he just couldn't do that. When they asked him. Why did you do this? Why couldn't you go and shoot and kill people? And it was an order. He said, I just knew it was wrong. Didn't could say why it is his guts told him I just cannot do this. He despair knows 2 or 3 years in military jail for the rest of his life he was at peace with himself. Sometimes we have to act so fearlessly. Does. Doesn't matter what we're told. Doesn't matter what other people say. There's something inside of us, knows what's true and what needs to be done. Responsible people have to do that. We have to take responsibility for ourselves. Our life. But our happiness. That's why the Buddha said we are the owners of our karma. When you do things like that. When I heard that story told to me, I was really inspired. 2 or 3 years in the military, jail is nothing compared to the rest of the life. Having to have therapy, not having any relationship, always hating yourself, having to have all these drugs into inside of you. Taking responsibility, being sensitive. So the moral of this talk this evening was that responsibility has to go to oneself as well as to others. That has to be sensitive. I very often that sensitivity means just resting, doing nothing, doing nothing is a valid option in life. We don't always need to react. There's a much great difference between reacting and being responsible. Sometimes we just leave it alone. So problem is, it's best solved by doing nothing when it's nothing to do. We do nothing, Sir Paul without a solution. So we leave it alone. We just focus on that which we can really be effective. Doing one thing at a time where we can really make. Something out of the situation. Otherwise, we do nothing. Our problem is we think we own things which don't belong to us. We think we own other people. We own our wife. We own a husband. We own our children. We own our workers. Whatever you think you own is what you will control. He should know after coming places like this long enough. You don't own any of that. You do not own your partner in life. They are with you for a while. You enjoy their company, but if you own them, it's like putting them in that cage. One day they'll fly away forever. You don't own them. You don't own the people who work for you. You don't own my monks. You don't own what other people say. You don't own what other people do. Leave them alone. One thing which you do is your actions of bodies. Peace of mind. You don't even own your body. You look after it. But at the end, the nature owns this body of yours. Why did those people who coughed today. Did you decide to cough to disturb everybody in a meditation class? No. You had no choice. It wasn't very dark and see no choice you had to do. Well, we do. If you really owned your body, you could shut up and be quiet. You can't do it. This is just showing you does who owns this? So your responsibility for your body only goes so far. The carefree and look after it. But just that much. And sometimes you just leave it alone when it's time to die. Bye bye, buddy. Nice knowing you. That's where your responsibility finishes. If you try too hard, if you own too much. She's called attachment. And when his attachment is being irresponsible, you create problems and difficulties in the world. So often this is what happens. So real responsibility is realizing all of this stuff is temporary. I don't own the Buddha Society of Dove Away, even though he said I'm the boss. It's only temporary to see every now and again. I don't know. The monastery down a serpentine. I don't know what those monks are doing this evening when I'm up here. And now they're all very well behaved. I don't know the Buddhist fellowship in Singapore. I don't know these things. So that way you can be at peace with your life. You can contribute, you can give. Without owning. Isn't that a wonderful thing in life to give to the world without owning it? When you can do that, you know how to be responsible. You be sensitive to the needs of the moment? Without any preparation, without any. Any training. It is training in knowing and feeling. It's amazing just how you respond appropriately. That is how to be responsible in life. Be responsible for yourself as he responsible for others. As at all this evening about responsibility. Okay, so any questions, anything which has been said today I am not responsible for. What is society? What is responsible? So please sue them. Don't sue me. Any questions about today's talk? Yes. Could I thank you? Yes, please. Okay. Yes, very good question and kind of gets the point of the talk today that sometimes things happen in our life and sometimes it's none of our not our fault, but we feel responsible for it. We feel guilty about if you feel upset about it. And actually, we are taking responsibility for things which really we should not take responsibility at all for. And one of the reasons is just our conditioning. It is sometimes that the way our Western society always was looking for victims, looking for someone to blame. When something goes wrong, we want to blame somebody. If we don't blame our husband, we blame the government. If we don't blame the government, we blame the place or we blame somebody. We all want to blame someone, don't we? And if we can't find anyone to blame, then this is where the buck stops. You blame yourself. It's not his fault. It's not her fault. It's not the government's thought. It must be my fault. You know, sometimes in life it's nobody's fault. We should actually accept that as one of the possibilities. It's nobody's fault at all. It's just life. This is what life is like. There was a case, one about entire stories. But one of his later disciples was drafted into the army in Thailand and got wounded. When he came to see I don't choice said I'm just so unlucky I got wounded. This is really awful. What do you mean unlucky? You join the army. You, a soldier would expect being a soldier, you get Buddhist. That's par for the course. Should expect that. And some of you are going to get wounded. Hmm. That's obvious, isn't it? So all of those people have been through relationships which haven't worked out. What do you expect? The part of the courses that get wounded as a soldier. That's why they say summer time is a long time ago. You know the word marriage. The word marriage. Somebody said it comes from this Latin word, which is the same root, the same original word as to gamble. It is true because when you get married, you never know really, you know, are you going to marry into. So if you know you've been married a few years. So it's a gamble. Any relationship is a gamble. Sometimes you win, but sometimes you lose. So you could accept both. And it's not your fault. And sometimes it's not his fault as well. Listen, that's what people like. So you don't take responsibility for what you don't own. A lot of life you don't own. You don't own the. The bullet which you got shot by. Which is what happens sometimes. What happens in any relationship in life you don't own. This is what happens sometimes. So you learn we have this. But I said last week the AFL code. Hopefully you remember that the AFL code, just like in footy, acknowledge what happened. Forgive. Which means we don't blame anybody and learn. Acknowledge means we don't try and hide it. We're not going into denial, not saying this didn't happen. It happened. Okay. Acknowledge it. They give it. Don't lay the blame on this person or that person so like yourself and learn from it. And then all of the the things which happened to you in life that are in this are unpleasant, noticed growing pains. That's all. You'll only become a better person as a result. The feeling guilty never makes you a better person. Blaming yourself and feeling responsible for it doesn't make it any better. Sometimes we think if honey, I did this, I finally did that. Really couldn't have done anything else. So leave it alone. Don't take responsibility for the past. Take responsibility for the future instead. Learn from the past, but don't own it. If you own it, you can never let it go. If you let it go, then you're free. So you're going to be free. This is a way to be free. Well, I said I would answer the question, sort of. Okay. If it doesn't, please. Sort of complaint. Now, I say that because I remember once when I was a lay person, I went to a talk and I asked a question of the speaker. The speaker gave a stupid answer. He wasn't really answering the question at all. He was just saying something else, just getting off the hook. And I hated that I must have men. So these days, if I don't answer the question properly, then I try to squirm out of it. Please come back again. But I think it's fair. Any other questions before we go? Going, going, Gone. Okay.

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