March 26, 2023

Arguments | Ajahn Brahm

Arguments | Ajahn Brahm

Judging other people can get you into a cycle of depression and negativity. Insisting on rightness is delusional and can lead to violence. We can learn to cooperate in our family, workplace, or in our relationships instead of always competing or tryi...

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Judging other people can get you into a cycle of depression and negativity. Insisting on rightness is delusional and can lead to violence. We can learn to cooperate in our family, workplace, or in our relationships instead of always competing or trying to be right. Don't get stressed about arguments. Just investigate that stress and see if it's stemming from some depersonalization or dissatisfaction with our mind states. Arguments can be painful and can have consequences, usually bad, but understanding the anatomy of arguments can help lessen them. We always see the world the way we want to see it, based on our views. When we have a strong opinion, it's difficult to see things objectively. In the story, two monks argued about whether reincarnation is essential to Buddhism. One argued that it is, while the other said it can't be because the present moment is all there is. When they both argued their position to the master, they both realized that their arguments depended on their perspective and that there is no right or wrong answer.


You can find the text transcription and other related information on the Ajahn Brahm Podcast website.

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 January 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. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.


AI Generated Transcription (expect errors)

I think those of you who want seats you have to come very early these days to get a seat on a Friday evening. But if those of you need to sit down there's plenty of seats outside on the benches. It's nice and cool out there and you should be able to hear the talk quite well from the benches outside. This evening's talk I wanted to give on the subject of arguments because too many people have arguments not just with your family, but in your office. And also there's a big argument going on right now with Mr. Bush and Mr. Hussein. Sometimes arguments can be so painful in their consequences they can actually actually kill many people. And it's good to actually understand the anatomy of arguments, where they come from and why do people argue and how we can somehow understand from the causes of arguments how we can understand how to deal with them, lessen them, even transcend them, so we can have a peaceful world, so we can understand each other rather than always arguing with each other. And I'm sure that you've all probably had an argument during the week about who s right and who s wrong. And sometimes it's quite strange why it is that some people can't just see what's obvious. Like I can see how can people be so stupid in this world? And that was something which fascinated me for many, many years in my early monastic life. To me, that my views, which was obviously Buddhist forest tradition was so obvious, it was so clear, it was so common sense. Why can't everyone else become a Buddhist monk just like me? And it took a long time to figure out why it was that people have different ideas and different views. The causes behind arguments, the very fascinating to investigate and because doesn't matter how many people in this world, how many people in this room, how many people in this room is how many different views there are, how many different ideas there are. It's not just what we learn in this life in Buddhism. We come with baggage from the past lives as well, with tendencies, with inclinations of how we're going to view our world, how we're going to look at it from the very beginning. And we find that there's a teaching in Buddhism which I found so fascinating the anatomy of views called the distort of views, perceptions and thoughts. And it was a fascinating one description in Buddhism because not only did it explain to me why there are so many different views in the world it also showed how those arguments develop and also just how one can reconcile arguments and in the end, how one can actually see no real truth. And it's a fascinating psychology of the mind because it shows that we all start off with views and the views we start off with can be anything from the most crazy to the most refined to the most violent from the most violent to the most compassionate. And you see some people have these very violent views. About the only way to get peace in the world is to kill all my enemies. It probably means everyone has to die for you to have peace. Peace of people like that because there's no end of people we can disagree with. And other people have, like, views of great compassion, being pacifists. And people have views all in between. People are Christians, muslims. Buddhists. Terravada Buddhists. Mahayana Buddhists. Which one is the right one? And how can we really know? Where did all those views come from? A lot of times we come into this world with our inclinations of what we're really looking for in life and we tend to look at life through the prism of those view use. And I think that coming back to your personal experience, I think you can all understand what we mean here. Because if one is in has a very positive mood, if one is in a very good state, if one is happy, if one has just won the lotto this week or if one has just fallen in love see, no matter what you look at when you're in that sort of mood, everything is just so wonderful, so nice, so lovely. If you've just fallen in love this week that Saddam Hussein is not such a bad guy after all. He's probably very if you're feeling in a good mood, you can't get angry and hate anything. There are some times when you have a deep meditation in the monasteries, especially in Northeast, in Thailand, in Southeast Asia that sometimes you have such a wonderful meditation. You're so high that a mosquito comes to bite you. You say, Mosquito, please choose my arm. You know, just take as much as you like. You got so much happiness, you ve got so much love, you got so much kindness. It s such a wonderful thing, sort of donating blood to a mosquito because they don t have Red Cross in that part of Thailand. So you have to donate the mosquitoes instead. It s amazing when you have a positive mind just how you can t get upset and angry about anything. But if you re in a negative state of mind, you ve really had a hard day and things have gone wrong for you and you just don't like the heat and then you had a car crash and then somebody else's fault and just such a miserable day today. Then you find that whatever you look at in life, you're always grumpy, you're upset. You can see just how even our emotions, they change the way we look at life and view life. And anyone you know who's physically in pain, who is sick, usually are grumpy. It's the nature of most people that when they are in physical discomfort they tend to have a mind which follows suit, that the mind is also sees things in a negative way. And those people who are in good health, you know, fit and young, they usually see things in a positive way. So already you can see just the way we look at life is conditioned by external events. So which is a true story? You know? Is life just so wonderful or is this life just really awful? Is the person you live with so wonderful? Or are they truly just a monster from hell who ve got reborn into human life by some cosmic mistake? What actually is it when you actually understand that neither is true? We are bending reality because of some external conditions. These are examples of how reality can bend. That's why that when you're young and you're in love, the other person is the most wonderful person in the world. But anyone who has been married for more than two years knows that when it's time to get divorced, the other person is the monster from hell. Again, you don't know why you could have ever loved such a person. And what's really most strange, you wonder how such a person could have friends. Can't everyone else see just how rotten and terrible and selfish and mean and insensitive if they are? And the point is that those descriptions of the other person are not part of that person. They are part of us. It's how we look defines that person, how we look. We put on those descriptions of monsters, of selfish, of insensitive, of mean, of cruel. A lot of times we add those descriptions. They come from us. It's conditioned, it's judging, and it's judging an unfair way. And because that the reality of our life is seen through our hearts, through our minds. And those hearts and minds can be what we call in Buddhism, corrupted by defilements. They can be bent. It's not the real truth. And that's why we should be very, very careful of our judgments of others. Whether a person is good or bad, how can you really know? How can you really tell what they're doing? My goodness, that many times that people have seen monks, especially in the early days, and have called us evil, bad, bludger. I was really amazed at that. When we first came to Perth, people would call the monks bludgers. My goodness, I'd never worked so hard in my life. When I became a monk. You used to get up early in the morning, 04:00 in the morning, you sit, meditation. How many other people get up at 04:00 in the morning, do your meditation and do the chanting, and then just work all day from dawn until actually so late at night sometimes when you couldn't see anymore because we were building our monastery and then bathe in the cold waters of the dam when the Easterly wind or the sea breezes start to come and they blow and just make the water really cold and then just hardly sleep at night. You got to do your chanting and you're on court at any time when somebody dies or they got a problem and they go and phone you, and you have to give them counseling over the phone. And my goodness, it's not just five days a week you work like that five days in the monastery. And Friday night, you come and start your work in the city center all weekend, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, all day. And they call me a bludger. It's really hard to judge other people, isn't it? Because you're not in their shoes. You don't know why they're doing things. And so a lot of times that these are just examples of why. Sometimes when we judge other people, we can get it wrong and not judge other judge other people. We judge ourselves and we get it wrong just like you judge other people. You might call yourself a bludger or you might call yourself sort of, you know, very diligent. You might call yourself stupid. You might call yourself smart. Really? It just depends what mood you're in that day. And and it's not the truth. That's why many people, when they get depressed, it's just going in a bad mood. And you look at yourself and you think, I'm really awful. And because you're really awful, you get even more depressed. And the more depressed you get, the more awful you look. And you get into this terrible cycle of depression and negativity, and none of it is true. It's the mind bending reality because of its emotional coloring of the world. And what I was taught talking about this when he said just the way we perceive and know the world when we start off with one view, it actually bends our perceptions. And it's a powerful teaching because sometimes we believe our perceptions that we're feeling this, we know this, we're experiencing it, it must be right. But. And as a Buddhist monk who s meditated for many years, I start to not believe my perceptions, to sometimes doubt them, even what I see. How much am I seeing? How much what I m seeing is really there? And how much is it what I want to see? Or how much is it what I don't like to see? I'm just blocking out called, as we all know, denial. And this is one of the great problems of human beings. Because we don't see clearly, because we bend our reality with our likes and dislikes, what we want to see, what we don't want to see. That is why we have all these different ideas and views of the world, because we've got so many different likes and dislikes. We prejudge our, ourselves and others. We prejudge the world. And when you get into any of these cycles of judging, of wanting, then you'll find you get into a state of bending reality, bending the truth. I'm always really surprised one day when you read in the newspapers all these different cults and theories and ideas of the world was created by aliens so many years ago. Do you think that's crazy? How do you know? Because we always prejudge things, don t we? Appears crazy to me and it probably is crazy. But how do you know what is truth in the world and who's got it right? Because whatever you start off with any sort of view, you tend to bend perceptions to fit that view. And and this is a problem even our bare perceptions, what we take as evidence of the truth of things is unreliable. I remember many examples in my own life. I remember once just the way that I made a fool of myself several times because I misperceived reality. It was several years ago when I was visiting my mother in England and she was taking me to Ealing Broadway station to put me on a train to go to some ceremony elsewhere. And it was a Saturday afternoon when everybody was out there with their shopping trolleys and it was just crowded streets and they're walking in London with my rose, with my mother alongside me, this hooligan, this young scally wag shouted out at me hey Harry Krishna. Harry Krishna. They do that sometimes because they don't know any better. They look at a Buddhist monk and they think we're Harry Krishna. As you all know that Harry Krishna is a completely different religion. But just because we look strange, we've got a bit of a bald head and wear brown robes sometimes, like kids actually shout that out from cars when they're passing by you hey Harry Krishna. I usually sort of shout back, Get your haircut. I said, Give as good as I get, you know. By this occasion, my mother was with me, so I didn't shout out, Get your haircut. When this young man was he was by himself. So I decided to go and sort of tell him to educate the silly guy and say, look went up to him, I said, Look, I'm not a Harry Krishna, I-M-A Buddhist monk. It and it was at that time, but he was wearing a beanie and just ordinary clothes, but he took off his beanie and he had a bald head with his ponytail and he said, yeah, I know you're a Buddhist monk, I'm a Harry Krishna. That's why I'm saying Harry Krishna for Harry Krishna. Harry Krishna. I felt so stupid, I felt so embarrassed because my mother was with me. It always happens, doesn't it, when your mother's with you. So what was actually happening there was I completely misperceived what was happening there. You know, because of having been abused before and feeling proud, and because you're with your mother and because I d misperceived. And I judged that person. I judged that he was abusing me and what was actually happening. He wasn t abusing me at all, he was just praising his own religion. And I didn t sort of see that. And it happened many, many times. That because we have some sort of view, an idea, that we completely perceive the situation to our great suffering and peril. There's another story, I reread in a book recently, I heard this many, many years ago about this was actually maybe ten years ago. This happened apparently in Sydney, in New South Wales, when these doctors, these specialists, were making a heap of money. A lot of them didn't know what to do with all that money. But this one particular guy got one of these really expensive sports cars, one of these Porsches, which can go 200 km an hour. You know what it's like in the cities, there's too much traffic to go really fast. And if you've got a fast car like that, what's the purpose of getting a fast car if you can't put your foot down now and again and sort of see how fast it can go? So according to this story, it's supposed to be a true story, this doctor got in his Porsche, got outside the Metro, followed an area because there wouldn't be so many police there, and pulled his foot down and went as fast as he possibly could. Now, he was a doctor, he could afford the Fines if they caught him. What happened. He was just roaring down these silent, tranquil roads in the country and as a farmer was actually by one of the country gates and just shouted out at this fellow, hey, you pig. He just shouted out pig. Pig. And of course, the fellow some of you heard this story before, you know what's going to happen next. He shouted out pig. Pig. And of course, the doctor knew he was destroying the tranquility of the countryside. He knew he was acting willfully. He knew he was misbehaving. So when the guy shouted out Pig. Pig. He turned around and to tell this farmer, who are you calling pig? It's a free country. I can do whatever I like. I bought this car. That's what he was thinking. But as he actually turned round to sort of complain to this farmer for calling him a pig, he ran into a pig in the middle of the road, because all the farmer was doing was trying to warn him, there's a pig in the road. That's why I was calling out Pig. Pig. Again, he completely misperceived the situation and drove into a pig rectus sports car and was in hospital for a few weeks and. That's what happened to the pig. And you can see that sometimes, because of our views, because of the way we look at the world, we completely misjudge the situation. And that comes from the theories of the world as well. Why some people are Muslims, why some people are Christians, why some people are Buddhists, why some people are agnostics, why some people are atheists or whatever. How much is it that once we get a view what we want to believe in, then because of the desire to be right, the fear of being wrong, that we will defend subconsciously our views, to bend our perceptions? So we only see, we only hear, we only feel what we want to feel, what we want to see. And that proves that our views are right. That is how Christians are Christians. Why Buddhists are Buddhists. Why? You are. Whatever your views are, whatever your philosophy of life is, however you think the truth is, can you be sure what you know is absolute truth? Or is it just from your views? It just changes the way you perceive life and those perceptions just justify your views. So you always think, yes, I am right. It is true, it's obvious. Can't anyone else see it? You must all be stupid not to see what I see. I'm sure that you can understand what I'm saying here and now. Can you understand how we have arguments in this world? And how who can say that I'm right? And who can say that you're wrong? One of my favorite stories from Zen Buddhism them, which is a wonderful way to understand arguments and how they're solved, was two Buddhists two Buddhist monks were arguing about reincarnation. And the story goes that these two monks were arguing reincarnation, is it part of Buddhism? Is it essential part of Buddhism? Or is it not a central part of Buddhism? And the first monk said, look, to actually understand Buddhism, we've lived many times. The Buddha taught that you can experience it in your meditation is absolutely true. He said, it's obvious. It's true. It's part of Buddhism. You can't say it's just added by Asian cult. Sure, it's right there in the heart of things. And the other monk said, Ha. But listen, sort of you can only know what's in the present moment. You can only know what's now, just the past and the future. Who knows whether that's right or wrong? How often is the past been changed, our memories uncertain? The only thing you can really know, the only place where this truth is the present moment now. So rebirth, reincarnation, that's a long time ago. So who can know for sure? It can't be part of truth. It can't be part of Buddhism's. Had this big argument, and so they couldn't actually settle the argument themselves. So they went to their master, their teacher, and they went into the one of them went into the teacher's room, first of all, and laid that argument on the table about reincarnation is an essential part of Buddhism, just as I said. And the Abbott listened to him and said, yeah, actually, yes, what you say is right. Yes, you're right. And. And he went out he had been approved by the great teacher. So he went out to his friend and said see I'm right. The teacher said I'm right. And a guy who said no, reincarnation can t be part of Buddhism, it s only the present moment. He went into the abbot and laid his case on the table and the Abbott listened to him actually, you know, you're right. And so he went out feeling sort of approved by the great master and said see the teacher said I'm right and you're wrong. And the other monk said no, he couldn't have said that. He said I was right and you're wrong. So they both had to go and see the master together. So these two monks went together to see the teacher and one said about reincarnation being essential part of Buddhism and said it's obvious as central part of Buddhism. And the other one said well it can't be because of the present moment is all there is. And one said you said I was right. And the other one said but then you said I was right. And they both said together you can't say we're both right. And the teacher said yeah, that's right. I love that story. Because what it s actually teaching us, when you analyze that story, it just really depends on the evidence which you ve got. It just depends on the perspective. When one guy goes along and says the argument for reincarnation, he said, yeah, that's right. When some other guy comes along and says the evidence for no, they said, oh yeah, that's right. When someone else says, you can't be both. Right? Yeah, of course that's right. So as human beings, we think there's something wrong there. How can you actually reconcile all of that? And the point is, you don't need to reconcile all of that. It just depends upon the perspective we're coming from and so how many arguments come because we're just coming from different perspectives, from different viewpoints, from different angles, and we don't need to go and argue with each other and say I'm right and you are wrong, because we have our perspective and someone else has got their perspective. There's an old Buddhist story, which many of you know before, but it needs to be brought in at this point of the elephant and the blind men, where these people were arguing in the kingdom about what was right, what was wrong, and no one could ever agree with each other. And so what they did was the king brought this elephant into the stadium and got seven men who'd been blind since the day they were born. And took the first blind man and made him feel the trunk of the elephant. And another blind man. The tusks of the elephant. And the other blind man, the ears. Another blind man, the head of the elephant. Another blind man. The body. Another blind man. The feet of the elephant. And the last blind man, the tail of the elephant. And asked each blind man in turn, please explain what an elephant is. Remember, each man had been blind since the day they were born. So they'd heard the word elephant. And they didn't know what an elephant was. They'd only heard the word. And a guy who felt the trunk thought it was a snake. In my opinion, it is a python. An Asiatic. Python. Big, benign. It's obviously been well trained because it hasn't sort of squashed me yet. He said, that's what I think this elephant is. And the guy who felt the task says, no way, mate. Can it be a python? It's too hard. It's the wrong shape. It's a plow which the farmers use to dig the earth. You're all fools and idiots, said the guy who felt the ears. How can it be a python? How can it be a plow? An elephant is a fan which people use in the hot weather. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have elephant ears this afternoon? Or this evening? It's so hot in here. And the guy who felt the head said, no, it s a water pot. The guy who felt the body said, no, it s a rock. The guy who felt the leg said, It s tree trunks. The guy who felt the tail said, It s a flywhisk. We should keep the flies and the mosquitoes off with it s obvious because I can feel it. I know because it's my own experience. Believe me, an elephant is a flywhisk risk. You can understand there's a law of truth there. An elephant is a fly risk to someone who feels a tail, who is blind. And according to the Buddhist story, they all got into an argument and led into a fight. How they actually got into a fight when they're all blind, I don't know. But never mind. That's what's supposed to happen. And the moral of that story was, when we come from our own perspective, how do we know that we're right, even though it's our own experience? We may only have a partial experience of truth. That's how the story ended in the suitors. But of course, I always usually give things my own ending. Would it have been wonderful if those blind men, instead of arguing who's right and who's wrong, have actually sat down and compared notes? And then when they d grouped all the information together, then they'd have come up with this description of an elephant. An elephant is a big rock on four tree trunks with a flywhisk on its backside. It s got a water pot somewhere at the front, up a bit, with two fans on either side, two ploughs a little bit lower down and a big snake in the middle. And that would, I'm sure you'd agree, would be a pretty good description of an elephant for someone who could never see one. And so a lot of times when we argue about who's right and who's wrong, wouldn't it be better actually to say, well, what do you think of this? And you say, what I think of this. And instead of actually contrasting our knowledge, put it together and combine it, and then make be we could get a fuller description of the truth. So we're going beyond arguments and who's right and who's wrong, and we're going into cooperation. So that we can get a fuller picture of things, a fuller knowledge of things. And my word, I think we can do with a lot more cooperation in this world instead of competition. Unfortunately, our society seems to run on competition, on beating the other person, on somebody, like being the best. Recently, when I was in Malaysia and Singapore, I was also putting my few pennyworths in into education theory because I was noticing that just in all of our societies, we turn out people who compete, who try and be the best. And anybody knows if you're in a monastery or in a family or in a business or whatever, that competition is important, but so is cooperation, the ability to work together. Imagine what it would be like in education system if instead of in the te examination at the end of the year, instead of actually getting people being tested on their personal scores, just know the exams they do, the work they do. If we had 20 or 30% of the marks. Averaged out over the whole class. So the top kids would have to help the bottom kids because it was in their interest. Their marks would go up if the average level of the class went up, if somehow we could reward cooperation, helping each other, working with each other. So not just the individual get surprised, but the whole class, as it were, get surprise, because that reflects our real life, our world. When we have to live together, we have to work together in so many areas where there's a family, it's not about competing, about who's the best in the family, that who wears the trousers, but actually how we can work together. It's not just who can get to the top position in the company. That who can be the Abbott in the monastery. It's actually learning how to work together and actually combine our resources rather than compete. Unfortunately, I think too much of our world is in competition with each other, and too many religions are also competing. Who knows the most, who's the best, who's right and who's wrong. And wouldn't it be wonderful, instead of like competing, we learn how to cooperate in a family, husband and wife. Instead of competing, learn how to cooperate. Races, religions, philosophies learn how to cooperate, work together, combine our resources to combine our knowledge. Rather noise fighting each other be wonderful thing if we can do that. And so this is understanding where the arguments come from and how they can maybe be overcome. It's also understanding just how we can actually find a sense of truthfulness in our life. A lot of times the reason why we won't do these things again is this like desire and ill will, these two forces which actually bend our reality, where do those desire and ill will come from? They always come from the sense of ego and self. And me and mine, because we are trained from the time we're very young that if you are wrong, if you make a mistake, that's something very very bad and it's a weakness of the human being. It s one of the rules which I ve said here before, which so be a wonderful thing. If you have this rule this is a rule of my monastery if you have this rule also in your family, that it's all right to make a mistake. The mistakes are allowed. Mistakes are permitted because isn't it terrible that we think we re not allowed to be wrong? And so a lot of times that that is hammered into us as a kid in school. Because when you're wrong, you get sort of no punished in the sense that you don't get the prizes, you don't get the praise, you don't get the accolades. When you're wrong, you feel like you're stupid. There's something wrong with you that you're missing something in your brain, somewhere between your ears. It's not really all there, whatever it is, when we make a mistake, we feel terrible about it. And because of that, because we are trained, conditioned into thinking we always have to be right. That when we get into whether it's married life or in the company. That we don t allow ourselves to be wrong. A lot of times you will understand that learning has to learning from making mistakes, learning from being wrong. It's like when I first used to learn how to ride a bicycle. Because you were so afraid of making mistakes and falling off, you tensed up. When you re tensed up, you're grabbing those handle buzz so tightly. That because you weren't relaxing. That's why you kept falling off. And soon you learned when you relaxed and you didn't mind falling off so much. When you relaxed, you weren't so afraid. That's when you stayed on. It's very easy psychology. If you allow another person to make mistakes, they don't make so many. So when there's no fear of making mistakes in a monastery where they don't realize they're not going to get harangued and blasted by Ajam Brahm, then they tend not to make so many in your office in your life. Do you ever have that fear of making mistakes and being found out? Do you have that fear in your life, in your, say, your family life, that I better not make a mistake because I'll get sort of told off? That's actually why people make mistakes. It gives that extra tension, that fear, and that actually produces the big sense of self protecting being afraid. It's interesting. Just from fear, we get bigger states of ego. It's as if we have to make ourselves strong, solid, fierce to protect ourselves. But when we get courage, when we get the ability just to admit our mistakes, we're not so afraid of making mistakes. Our ego, our sense of this identity, which we want to protect, gets less and less and less and starts to dissipate. We find it's all right to be wrong. It's all right to admit we're wrong. It's all right to make those mistakes. And what that means is that where we have any idea or view, it's all right. We can't admit we're wrong if we made a mistake and. When we get new information, we can change our views rather than always persisting with the old ways. Too often we re afraid to admit we were wrong. And what's really important is it so important in life to always be right. Isn't it wonderful when we can go up to somebody, especially someone we care for, we like, we love, say, look, I'm very, very sorry. I got it wrong. I made a mistake. I misunderstood. Please forgive me. We make a lot of forgiveness in Buddhist practice. What forgiveness is, is saying that we can make mistakes. We do make mistakes. And this is how we deal with mistakes. Not to hide them and say, I haven't made any mistakes. I'm perfect. Because when we have perfect affection, when we think we're perfect, that's when we have arguments, because we're not soft enough. We always think that we know the truth. We're right. Everyone else is wrong. I was there. I know I felt that elephant. And you must be stupid. You don't agree with me. So here we re realizing that we can be wrong, that we can make mistakes and if you do make mistakes, we just can't say I m sorry I got it wrong, please forgive me. It s important to do that otherwise you never have be able to live with anybody else in this world. When you can admit mistakes, when you can admit you're wrong, when you can ask forgiveness if something actually happens to the other person, when they realize hey, that guy makes mistakes, that guy is human, I'm human too. You don't feel so protective. So instead of having arguments and so protecting those arguments even though that sometimes you know you're wrong, you know you've made a mistake but you're just too proud to admit you've made a mistake. You're too proud to admit you're wrong and what a stupid thing it is to protect your ego rather than to protect your happiness. So by asking forgiveness now, you're lessening your ego but you're protecting your happiness, you're protecting your family, you're protecting the community, you're protecting. Now the ability to live together in peace and harmony and to listen to others, not just to listen to yourself. It takes a lot of courage to do that. But it's a courage based on wisdom which creates happiness in this world. Which creates harmony in this world. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Mr. Bush says, I'm sorry, Saddam, I made a mistake. It's almost impossible to actually conceive that. Wouldn't be wonder if he just rang up one day and said hey, let's go and have a beer together or something. Whatever, I don't know. They can't do that in Muslim world. Whatever. Would it be wonderful if you can actually say sorry to each other? What we're actually saying there is that we aren't so sure that we are right. We understand just that. Our views, our ideas, our condition, from our background, from our views, from the way we look at life. But sometimes that begs a question that is there such a thing as truth? Is there such a thing as something which is really right? Now? Or is it all just sort of uncertain condition, one view, one idea, one religion, one truth? Is that just equal to all the other truths? And there's one thing which in Buddhism which we make a lot of, is that when we can stop bending the truth because of our ego and our sense of self and the desires and aversions which come from that, sense of self because all the desires come from the sense of me and what I need. What I want. What I want to protect myself. All the ill will. The inversion comes from what I don't like, what I find disagreeable. It's all come from this sense of being self inside. But when we don't act from that sense of self, when we act from selflessness, we're looking at, say, the family rather than me. And looking at my monastery, all the monks and people who live there, including the cats and the kangaroos and the parrots and the cuckoo bows, everybody, not just me. We would look at our community, not just me. Our world, not just me. When we act from selflessness, you find that all those negative desires and ill wills, they tend to disappear and we start to see things far closer to truth. So when we act in a sense of with what we call in religion, compassion, selflessness, looking at the bigger picture, not just me and Mike and Earns and ego, the whole big picture, then we're coming far closer to truth and in especially that where we act without any desires or ill wills. When we just see the world as it truly is, not as we want it to be, not as we don't want it to be, when we're not bending reality to suit ourselves, we're sinners to suit the whole big picture, then we can start to see truth. Which is why that in Buddhism we do do such practices as developing compassion, selflessness, not just thinking of ourselves. We do develop the practice of meditation, where we calm down our sense of self and what we want and what we need and what we don't like. Pleasure to start seeing the truth of things as they really are. And this is why that there is that I could notice seeing clearly a path to truthfulness, a path to wisdom, a path to now, that sort of wisdom and truth which transcends all religions and beliefs and ideas and views is that when we start to see things as they truly are beyond our ourselves, beyond our needs, beyond our wants, beyond what we don't like to see things as they truly are, not as we want them to be. And this is actually quite a challenge to us as human beings because we do have our wants and our likes, our attachments, our sense of self, our sense of my family, not your family. A sense of my community, not your community. A sense of my country and not somebody else's country. Sense of my world, my species, not other people's species. And when we come from that selfishness. That sense of only sort of looking at the half of the world or a fraction of the world, then how can we actually see the full picture, the full truth? So when we start coming from compassion, from a sense of peace, that peace being like the peace from what we want, what we don t want, that's when we start to see things as they truly are. And so you can imagine that when I met that Harry Krishna fellow in London, if I had been so concerned about myself and my ego and my pride then I'd have probably seen that the guy was a Harry Krishna. He wasn't actually abusing me. If that guy driving the motor car had stopped thinking about just what he wanted out of life and actually saw the bigger picture, he probably picked up that the Kind Farm was actually pointing out a danger on the road. If you can only see what's in the interest of your family, not just in you, maybe you can look upon your partner in a different light. Maybe if all the religions in the world could just not look at my religion. But the bigger picture, perhaps there wouldn't be any arguments. And if our world, especially our leaders, can stop thinking about my country, my constituency, and can have some compassion and see the bigger picture, maybe then we can see that maybe the way I look at the world, maybe that my ideas, that my views. Maybe that's not the whole picture. Maybe we can then learn from each other. We're doing that in a small way in our current world. That's why there is such a thing called progress. In the sense that I know already that somebody's told me that many Christians come on a Friday night to listen to these talks. That's wonderful that people of other religions actually can come and share some of the Buddhist wisdom and some of the Buddhists can go to Christian churches and share some of the Christian wisdom and the Muslim wisdom as well. So we can actually join together. Whenever you find a good story, a good sort of piece of wisdom from any place, why not use it? And we're doing that now. We're eating each other's foods. We're going to each other's countries. We're marrying interracial marriages. Interreligious marriages. I think it's a marvelous thing we're doing in our world today. Is a sign that we are actually learning from each other, combining rather than fighting each other. And if we could only do that also in the way of our views and ideas and our philosophies of life so we can actually join together so that there's not those arguments anymore. You're wrong and I'm right and all of those sorts of arguments because we've had too much of that already. You know what happens when you have arguments with others? Now, you don't start off wanting an argument, but you get into this little discussion and in the end, you sort of get all this anger and ill will of frustration at people you love and you live with. And it creates so much pain inside of our hearts because, you know, these are good people. These are kind people. Why do we have these arguments together? Do you want arguments? Do you want these arguments you have with your husbands, with your wives, with your kids, with your parents to keep going on? Isn't it wonderful to be if we can actually both say we're arguing with our kids that's the way that you see things. This is the way I see things. See things. Instead of trying to find out which one is right, which one is wrong, can't we combine these things? And that's like a teenager's view. This is the adult view. This is different ways of looking at life. Let's combine them together and see what we can make out of this. Such is to combine our wisdoms to have this cooperation rather than competition in our life and also to have this cooperation with ourselves as well rather than the competition with ourselves. Even the views about ourselves, the ideas about ourselves sometimes those arguments are internal the internal arguments which we have with ourselves so often I think you understand what what I mean there those discussions which always not always, but sometimes end with self negativity which eventually come to lack of self esteem. This discussion about your worth, why you did these things and having an argument with yourself. Wouldn't it be wonderful if instead of having those arguments with ourselves we can have cooperation with ourselves? We're not having competition with ourselves trying to live up to something, trying to be number one, trying to be the best, trying to have this great ego which always needs to be better than the person sitting next to you. We don't have that competition, the monastery who's the best meditator? Who gives the best talk? Who can do the chanting fastest? Who knows the most dumber? We don't have these competitions like quiz nights at our monastery, but who knows most what the Buddha taught and who doesn't? Maybe we should do that. Might be interesting for one evening. We don't have these things because there's no that sense of competition there. Because if you start having competition with others, you start having competition with yourself. And there's this sense the inner self are always striving to beat some sort of goal, to reach something, which is what we have in life. We re not actually cooperating with ourselves. We re not co operating even with our body. Sometimes we're trying to compete with it and beat it and conquer it instead of actually being with it. How often are you tired but you can't make a have a rest now because you got to go and do something. How many people get sick because they don't cooperate with their body? They always try to compete with it. How often do we get sick in the head because we don't cooperate with our mind? Mind? We tend to compete with it. I've been talking about this in meditation for so many years now. If you try and compete with your mind in meditation to try and beat it down, to try and control it, you'll just get more and more restless. There's more and more pain, more and more distant from the peaceful states of meditation. So often in meditation? Not just so often, always. If you cooperate with your mind, if you walk together with your mind, if you've developed contentment with your mind a sense of like working with rather than working against. So if you're tired, be tired, if you're depressed, be depressed. What's wrong with being depressed? You know, if you actually, actually allow yourself to be depressed and so I'm going to really be depressed, then you're not being depressed about being depressed. And so instead of actually getting right deeper and deeper into depression, you're saying, oh, it's really nice being depressed, you're actually content with being depressed and it's not depressing anymore, is it? It becomes this interesting thing. I used to do this with tiredness or with boredom rather. I really sort of made a study of boredom because in a monastery there's nothing much to do sometimes if you get bored, what is this boredom? He started to investigate what does it feel like in the body when you're bored and what does it feel like in the mind? Is there different types of boredom? Like some extreme boredom, middle boredom or not so boredom, does it actually change from moment to moment now, one moment you're more bored and next moment you're a little bit more bored or less bored and does it sort of go up and down like a sine wave or what? You know, boredom got so interesting I think you got the point there, it got so interesting oh, I thought I wasn't bored anymore. So you actually can cooperate. You can work with things actually to get out of them. And so often the case is we only compete against our mind states when we re tired. Sometimes tiredness is because our body is tired. It's got its conditions. You ve been working so hard. When I teach my retreats, weekend retreats, nine day retreats, so often you see people like coming on those retreats and going, sit for now, 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day. They're competing again. And they get into these very tight states of mind. They get really frustrated. They get really tense in a meditation. That's why I usually tell people the old story about the I don't know when I told this story. I told this story at Armadale the other night, and I'm going to tell it again. I don't care. Telling the jokes again and again, because I enjoy them. Don't care if anyone else does it. You get depressed about these things. Just investigate that depression about the guy who went into the psychiatrist and couldn't figure out whether it was a marquee or a TP. I tell this story in meditation retreats. Very often. A guy went into a psychiatrist and said, Doctor, I've got a problem. I think I'm a TP, but sometimes I think I'm a marquee. And of course, the doctor said, I know your problem. You are two tents. There s an old joke, but it's a good joke, isn't it? And those of you heard it before and get angry, just investigate that. So cooperate with your anger. It's all right to be angry hearing the so what we're actually doing here, instead of like competing with ourselves, we're actually cooperating with our mind states flowing with rather than the gates. We're not arguing with ourselves. It we tend to get a lot of freedom that way. A lot of sense of like being ourselves and being with ourselves. And we can combine our experiences of life, the negative experiences, the positive experience, the happy times, the unhappy times. Not saying one is right and the other is wrong. If you're saying one is wrong, aren't you denying a part of your life? That's why recently when I last Monday, when I gave a talk at a cancer association, a cancer group in Karen yup. I was going along saying that being sick is okay. What's wrong with being sick? The doctor got really started glaring with me. Look, I'm spending all this time trying to cure these guys and you're going to say it's okay to be sick? Isn t it wonderful that you can actually say it s all right to be sick? Actually, you're cooperating with sickness. You re including it as part of your life. You're actually, instead of saying it s something evil, something bad, something terrible, you're not competing with it. It s part of our life. It has a place in the scheme of things somehow. It's there to teach us something. We re learning from it. It's part of things. It and when we're cooperating with it, you find it goes more quickly when you compete with it. Get out of here, then. You're getting so stressed out about being sick, so guilty about being sick, so afraid of sickness. That's one of the reasons why it lasts so long. That may be one of the reasons why there's so much sickness in our modern Western world for us compete. King said, when you're sick, marvelous opportunities to take time off work. Don't have to go to work on a Monday morning. When you're sick, you just lie back there and enjoy yourself. Isn't it wonderful to being sick when actually you feel wonderful about being sick? It takes away the mental part of being sick. I don't want this. I don't like you're cooperating with life. Rather than always competing with it. Obviously there are times when you should compete in a family, but how about competing together, cooperating as well as competing? So instead of arguing, which is competing, we also learn how to work together, to combine and not always say that I'm right and this is wrong. Not saying that health is right and sickness is wrong. Not so. Not arguing with life, but accepting life, being life. Not arguing with death when it comes, but accepting life cooperating with death. Death is not that bad. I know many people who have died and they never complain. Retro funeral today they were fine or just laying there smiling, enjoying themselves. But this is a little talk today. Off the cuff again about like arguments and just ways of understanding where they come from. Never think that you're right and the other person's wrong. And if actually the only thing which is actually right is that last monk, that monk who said, can I be right? Can you be right? That's right. The argument is right. So cooperate, don't compete. So that's a little talk today. I hope it was useful for you and interesting for you. It wasn't actually what I intended to talk about tonight, but that's how things come out. So I'm cooperating. But.