Dec. 27, 2022

Buddhist Approach to World Conflict | Ajahn Brahm

Buddhist Approach to World Conflict | Ajahn Brahm

Conflicts come from a sense of injustice and injustice comes from a sense of karma. Start learning to accept life as it is and not what we want it to be. The law of karma tells us that we always get what we deserve, which often results in feelings of...

Conflicts come from a sense of injustice and injustice comes from a sense of karma. Start learning to accept life as it is and not what we want it to be. The law of karma tells us that we always get what we deserve, which often results in feelings of injustice. When we take control of our destiny, these feelings of injustice dissipate. There is karmic rebound in the form of regret and guilt, which can lead to even more disharmony and anger. We learn from our mistakes and try not to punish ourselves. Focusing on the faults of others can lead to conflict, but focusing on our own faults can also lead to conflict. We should try to focus on the good in others and ourselves to create a more peaceful world.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 5th October 2001. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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

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.




Again. I'm very glad to see so many people here for the first talk of the season. These days, our talk is on the Internet, so a lot of people are encouraging laziness, I think, because people don't need to come to the Buddhist Center they can just click on at home. So thank you for coming to see Ajan Braham live. Well, there's evening talk. As many of you have known from past experience that when I sit up here and give a talk on Buddhism, I try not to give a talk on the theory of Buddhism, because you can read all about that in the books. And if we talk on meditation or karma or Four Noble Truths, there's many recorded tapes on that. So I prefer on a Friday evening to talk about what's bothering people. That's why I invite anybody to come up to me before the Friday evening talk and request the subject for the Friday evening talk. And a couple of people have made the same suggestion this evening. And so this evening, instead of having a talk, which I planned weeks ago or days ago or hours ago, I'm having a talk which I planned only a minute ago. And again, it concerns a Buddhist response to what happened in New York, but widening that to the Buddhist approach to conflict in general. And a few weeks ago, I did break my retreat for one evening to go to UWA to be on a panel talking about conflict in the world and the religious approach to conflict. And it was an invitation from Amnesty International and respect that organization enough to spend one evening away from the monastery to give some input. So this evening's talk will be on the Buddhist approach to conflict. And conflict is not just between nations and terrorism. That conflict occurs again and again at all levels of society, between the conflicts that we within a country, the conflict within a community, and the conflict within a family, and, of course, deepest of all, the conflict within an individual, the inner conflict inside. And I think I should be able to draw these together and to show they have a common cause and also a common solution as well. And what is actually the buddhist response to this? Because I'm sure that in the previous weeks that people come up to you and say, you're a buddhist. What do you think we should do? When I was giving Some reflections on the panel about conflict, It came down to a suggestion which only occurred at the end and didn't really have enough time for development. But a lot of conflict comes from a sense of injustice. This shouldn't happen, this is wrong. It shouldn't be this way. Somebody should do something about it. This sense of injustice again happens in the world. It's not right. Therefore we should do something about it. It happens again in the community. Jam Braham has got no right to tell me what to do in the monastery where it can come inside yourself. I've made a mistake. This isn't right. But when we look at justice, fairness in more detail, then as a Buddhist, we come across this cosmic sense of justice called karma. And when you start to reduce things to the law of karma, it tends to clarify not only what justice means, but also the role of conflict in society and in ourselves. Because a lot of times conflict comes to misunderstanding this fundamental framework called karma. Whenever we don't understand karma, very often we're in conflict. It's a conflict between what's happening and what we think should be happening. The way things are and the way they should be. There's always a should involved in conflict. I'm not saying that the shirts are wrong. Please don't jump too far. It's just the diagnosis here. One of my favorite stories about the law of karma came from a time when I was teaching in prisons, when one of the prisoners I've been teaching meditation for a long time, he came up to me and he said brahm, he said, I want to tell you something. The crime for which I've been put in jail for, I did not commit. And before I could say, everyone says that, he said, I'm being honest this time. So maybe I tell other people lots of lies all the time this is prison, after all but for you, he said out of respect you've been coming here a long time, I respect you. Put a smile I'm not lying, he said. It's absolutely true. The crime which I've been put in jail for, I did not commit that's a sense of injustice there should be conflict there, he should be very angry, he should be upset at the system but he wasn't. He smiled and said but I've committed so many other crimes I wasn't caught for. It's fair you've heard that story before, many of you. But I want to draw out more meaning from that story at least. He understood a very deep aspect of karma. As many crimes he committed, he wasn't caught for he didn't do. He was caught for it somehow. Times there's like a sense of fairness in our life, isn't it? If we give it the wider picture maybe for this particular instance we think we didn't deserve it maybe now we think, why me? We've got away with so much in the past, haven't we? So sometimes what happens to us, we have to look a bit further afield for the course to find out the why. A lot of times people have conflict. A sense of unease, a sense of unfinished business. Something which they have to do because of the sense of unfairness injustice. For example, when there's a death. Why did that happen? Why did it happen to my son, my daughter, my wife, my husband, my friend? We want to find that question. To answer the question why? Because otherwise it's unfair, it's unjust. This shouldn't happen now, of course, for those of you who haven't lost a son, a daughter, a parent, husband or wife recently, you think, well, people have got to die. Someone's got to die. If it's not your relation or close one, it's obviously fair. It's just when it's somebody else's child, when it's my child, the different paradigm, there this is unfair. It shouldn't happen to me, to my child. I was reading in a book, there was one person who said in 92 years of age she had been healthy all her life. She went to have a medical examination in the hospital and they diagnosed cancer. Her first comment was, Why me? Now, you may think that's funny, but for her that was real injustice. Why me? In the same way that if something happens to you unjust, why? In one sense, we can say this fairness because as soon as you are born, it's par for the course that we have to die. It's one of the Buddhist teachings is that to die is certain at the time of death is uncertain. It's fair in the sense that someone's got to die. We all take our turns. If you look at karma in the sense of a wider perspective of rebirth, of many, many lives, and then it makes it even more fair in the sense that sometimes you get a long lifestyle, sometimes you get a short life. Most of the times you get a middle life. Sometimes you are rich, sometimes you are poor, sometimes you're in between, sometimes you're clever, sometimes you're stupid. Which life is at this time? So if we have a sense of evenness of fairness, then people can have less conflict. The sense of understanding. OK. It seems just so. A lot of sense of injustice, which causes conflict, is having too narrow a view of things, of me. This is my child, this is my one life, this is my country, this is my money, my religion always comes from that sense of identification with me and mine, rather than looking at the wider perspective, both with people and also with time. So if we understand come a bit more deeply, we can understand some of the causes which give rise to apparent injustices. And I say apparent because those things we call injustices are actually quite just and quite fair. The law of karma, in a nutshell, tells us we always get what we deserve. It's a hard one to accept, isn't it? We always get what we deserve. That's what the law of karma is. If you're happy, you deserve that happiness. You've worked for it. If there's some suffering, some unhappiness there, you've worked for that as well. In our modern culture, especially in the last 20, 30, 40 years, we developed a victim culture. Where if we are unhappy, you want to blame someone else. If you don't, enjoy the talk this evening that I'm brown for let's get someone else next week if you don't actually, I read this in the newspaper. There was a young boy in the United States. He failed all his examinations. He hadn't studied at all when he was at school. He was a delinquent. Getting into drugs, into crime, into all sorts of things. And after sort of the 1718 year old child having got nowhere in school because he'd flunk school, he'd spent time on the streets, never really studied. He sued the school. It's your fault. You should have made me study. Used to be more strict with me a lot of times that's a culture which there was an extremely culture of the victim culture blaming someone else. But how often is that we do that? You blame someone else for what we're feeling now? One of the beautiful things about that teaching of calm we get what we deserve is that we are now taking control of our destiny. But it's not in the hands of other people. It's not in the hands of your parents whether you're happy or whether you're miserable. Whether you're successful or whether you're a failure. It's not in the hands of your education. It's not in the hands of even your intelligence that every person, according to the law of commerce has got their happiness and their suffering in their own hands. It is up to you, not up to other people. So we stop blaming and criticizing others for how we you feel. So often you said you made me angry. No one makes you angry. You choose to follow that path of thinking which creates anger inside of you. No one makes you upset. You allow yourself to be upset. You follow that mental process. Being a monk this is 27 years now I've been a monk. I spent almost 27 years just looking at my mind. Not looking at books, but looking at how I work. I found so often that no one can make me angry if I don't want to. No one can upset me. Give it a try. Maybe angry. What happens is that I take control. I decide not to be angry, whatever people say. And people have done all sorts of things to try and upset me there's. Once I remember being on Bunbury Beach. The time when those of you remember Bhagawan Rajnish, when he was around and he sent one of his offsiders, Sheila, to Perth. And she went on the television and the radio and she was swearing and saying terrible things. And only two or three monks around in those days. So when I went to Bunbury and wearing these clothes, people thought I was an orange person and I was one of them when a bug once followers. So I was quietly sitting meditation on the beach and this stone flew past my ear. Then another one. I thought, let go. But then when one came pretty close, I said, this is not the time for letting go. I took responsibility and I came out of my meditation, turned around, there's a bunch of kids, especially out of school. When I turn around, come out my meditation, they say, hey, orange person, get off our beach. And so you had to take affirmative action. And affirmative action was actually walking towards the problem rather than walking way. So when you walk towards the problem, the problem dissolved. They all ran away so often it happens that's when you face up to problems squarely. But one kid stayed, and I went out to talk to him and said, look, I'm not an Irish'person. I'm a Buddhist monk. And I don't think it's a good thing to go and say bad words about people on the television or radio or anywhere. They also think it's a bad thing to throw stones at people. You can't say that. That's just you're just being as bad as Marsheila. When I started talking about this, they all calmed down and they came along, they said, sorry, and I said a little bit about what Buddhist monk is, and they went away happy. And that was like one way of dissolving a conflict, because I refused to be scared. They were throwing those stones up there to make me frightened, and I refused to be so. Sometimes people say things at you to try and make you angry. When they say those things, I just burst out laughing because they're so funny. Some years ago this is many years ago on Leech Highway. Those of you who live south of, you know, Leech Highway, this is a three lane highway on either side going east west. And we were going off to some appointments in our monastery vehicle. And there was a bunch of kids, school holidays, had a cast, must be 17. And they were out for a good time, having fun. They saw a van load of monks. Great, they thought. And so they drove alongside me, and I was in the passenger seat. And these kids, 17 year olds, they drove right next to me. So they were just only a few feet away. And I looked round at them and they got out a copy of Playboy magazine, say, hey, look. Look. Hi. Now, before you ask the question, how did I know it was Playboy? Because someone else told me. What are they doing that for? They're trying to make you upset and angry. Because I know that month's a seller. But I'm not supposed to look at such things. But what would you do? You could either get angry and upset or you can enjoy the joke and laugh. That's what I did. I laughed. I refuse to be angry and upset. The same with other times. Sometimes people can come up to you and they get very angry and upset at you because they think you've done something wrong. When they start shouting at you and abusing you and calling you names. What are they doing that for? They're trying to make you upset. They're trying to get a response out of you. They are trying to control you. As a monk, I rebel against that. Someone's trying to control me. I say no way. I'm going to choose when I get angry, if I get angry, how I get angry, or if I don't get angry. I prefer not to get angry. When people try and upset me, say no. Sorry, I'm not playing. I don't want to get angry, to get upset. So you understand, by the law of karma, that no one can make you angry. You can allow yourself to be angry. No one can make you upset. You can allow yourself to be upset. No one can make you suffer. You allow yourself to suffer. When we talk about justice, this is where you blame others for our problems. It's your fault. Even like that bombing in New York. Isn't it always when something like that happens, we want to blame somebody. Whose fault was it? Even I found myself doing that the first thing who did it? That it wasn't the Buddhist Liberation Front. Otherwise I'd be in trouble. Who did it? It we always looking for someone to blame. Who did it? I think we all did it in one sense. A lot of times, the interactions which we have, the codependency, the fact that everything is linked together, that one action creates other actions which create other actions. Is there anyone here who is absolutely innocent of what happened there? There have been times when we've been intolerant and we created intolerance, when we've been unfair, when we've been wealthy, while other people have been poor, but we've been intolerant. Sometimes, instead of blaming others, I sometimes look at myself, what could I have done? When you look at what I could do, there's always something you can do which is more than you have been doing. I've been a little more tolerant. Maybe instead of like her last year going to India, maybe I could have gone to Afghanistan and converted to tango. I'd have been silly, but surely could we have done a little bit more? And sometimes when I look at what I'm doing, then that's something which is much more practical. I can actually do something to lessen conflict in the world. But the Buddha said that this is actually in the Buddhist suitors. All conflict comes from craving desire. Where conflict comes from, the more we want, the more confident we will have in the world. Look at the relationship. Man and woman. The more you want from that relationship, the more conflict you're going to have. The more you can give, the less conflict in our society we become too. Wanting, wanting, wanting less. Giving, giving. I think that's one of the root causes of conflict in our society and conflict in our world. Very selfish society when we can actually give more. Give more is making good karma. Making good karma creates greater sense of friendship, greater sense of love, greater sense of understanding. It was a marvelous scene just before the range retreat to have the privilege I say it's a privilege and honor of giving. The sermons in Georgia's Cathedral, I was very inspired by that. I was very high about that because that was something I could do. And all of you who went as well to support me was something you could do as well to create harmony between the different peoples and religions of the world with something very positive. We did something there. Any more people could actually do something like that and I don't a thing. There would be so many problems in the world. Isn't it the case? It's so much of that conflict, the very fact of fundamentalist Muslims bombing so many people like that. It's a terrible thing to do. So much of that due to this crass, ignorance, misunderstanding, what's going on, basic stupidity as far as Buddhism is concerned. Anyone who does that, that's really bad karma. Those guys are going to go to hell, no doubt about that. You don't need to get angry about it. It's going to happen. Whatever people are owners of their karma. That sort of mind states will be terrible. They might have thought they were right at the time. But when you've done something wrong, even small things, you said an unkind word to someone else. Do you feel guilty afterwards? This is another little thing which I found when visiting prisons. There wasn't one prison. Know who I got to know who did not feel guilty of what they did? Not one. They wouldn't admit it to others. But because you got to know these guys after a long time, because they trusted you, they opened up. They would never open up to even a counselor who went to see them. And they always told you just how terrible they felt, the crimes they committed. And some of those crimes were quite minor. What those bombers would feel afterwards, they don't just disappear when you die. You're there afterwards. What those bombers would have felt, it's a huge guilt. Someone asked me some time ago, is it that some person sends you down to hell? Or it's like hell someplace with boiling cauldrons? No. Hell is made of your mind. You punish yourself because of those feelings of guilt and remorse. You've done something, something wrong. You know it's wrong. That is hell. Those guys would be suffering for a long time because of that. The feelings of remorse, guilt which will be there. That's part of human nature. And if people say that that's not true, that some people can block out their guilt, they can block it out to others, but you can't block it out to yourself. You live with yourself. Someone was talking just as I came in here. There was between loneliness and being alone. Most of the time in your life, you're alone. When you go to bed at night, even though you may be sleeping with a wife you've known for 2030 years of a husband. When you close your eyes, who are you with? Most of the day you're with you as a monk, even more so, even a human being, an ordinary human being in the world is terribly alone most of the time. Was saying that the difference between aloneness and loneliness is whether you're at peace with yourself, whether you are your own best friend. As a monk, I spent a long time just being by myself in solitude, not speaking to anybody for months, not even seeing anybody. I have a great time, you know? I have a great time when I'm alone because I'm with a great monk, at least a friendly monk. I'm friendly towards myself. I'm ease in my own company, a lot of people, because for 27 years I've done nothing really bad. I lived a pretty good lifestyle last week, even before then, of keeping five presets, not sort of creating mischief in the world. That means that when I'm by myself, I'm with a friend, I don't have feelings of guilt or remorse about things I've done wrong. This is what happens if you lived a good life. You don't have feelings of guilt. You're at peace with yourself, you're at ease. So if this person has done something wrong, it's a huge amount of guilt. And those people will be extremely tortured by their own minds, by what they've done. Karma works like that. So a lot of times when a person does that, excuse me, but my heart goes out and says, those guys are going to suffer enormously. What's happening here is the idea of revenge just doesn't come up in my mind. When someone creates an atrocity, does something so called wrong create so much suffering and pain in the world? I realize that revenge is not necessary. I don't need to be the agent to cause more suffering than to them, to teach them a lesson. Suffering will come back to those people because of karma. Even if people don't believe in karma, if they're Christians, if they're Muslims, surely I could just god would punish such people if they've done something wrong. So you don't need to be the punisher the executioner. That's why in such a case of conflict, we have to separate out revenge from deterrence. We want to make sure that such things do not happen again. We want to try and protect life, protect people's happiness and health and enjoyment of whatever they want to do in their life. So when you actually separate out revenge from deterrence, it becomes a completely different ballgame. If there is a conflict there, you want to make sure it doesn't happen again. You're not going out to punish. I don't know about you, but so often in my life growing up, it was always punishment, punishment, punishment. You do something wrong, so at school you get punished. All that taught me was not to get caught next time. It taught me to be more clever, but I did something wrong to make sure the teacher wasn't watching. That's what punishment teaches you. It doesn't teach you to do the right thing. It teaches you not to get caught. When it comes to law of karma, there's no escape. You're always going to get caught. So that is something we're teaches you a much deeper aspect of justice and fairness. That whatever you do, what everyone else does, it's going to come back to them. So it's not just looking for punishment for bad things, realizing that punishment will come up. It's also the reward as well. If someone does something good, noble, wonderful, they're going to get amazing reward afterwards. Those firemen police who went up those towers to rescue other people who got killed, they're not going to lose out. That sort of sacrifice is inspiring. So for my paradigm as a Buddhist monk, when I see someone, like, giving their life to try and save others, I never feel sad that they died. I feel actually inspired that they used their life in a wonderful way. That's really amazingly good karma. I'm inspired by such people, you know, that whether Christians or whether they're Buddhists or whatever, that they're going to get a huge reward for such a sacrifice. I feel glad that they've lived their life in such a marvelous, wonderful way. So looking at things that way, I'm trying to sort of change the paradigm around to have a Buddhist paradigm. Actually, I gave a talk this morning at a grief conference, and a lot of my life as a Buddhist monk teaching here is just putting things in a different way so there's a different result. So instead of acting in the old ways, especially of the Western world, we can act in different ways. The example of that such a paradigm is first year as a monk in Thailand, I was being driven from one monastery to another monastery in the back of a ute, and the ute had a metal frame over it with a piece of canvas stretched in case it rained. To give you some covering, all the roads in that part of Thailand at that time, 27 years ago, were all dirt roads full of potholes. When the car went into a pothole and went down, I went up and monks have got bald heads with no cushion like you guys have. So when I hit my head, it really hurt. You cracked it against this hard metal. And every time that happened on this journey, because I was a newly ordained monk, because the other monks were Time, they couldn't understand what I was saying. I swore we're a driver, but I noticed the Time monks, when they hit their head, would laugh. I thought they're absolutely crazy that they became monks because they were mentally disabled or something. They couldn't get a proper job, perhaps because they hit their head too many times. After a while of seeing this, this was absolutely crazy. How can you laugh when you hurt so much? I decided because I'd been a scientist before I decided I'd try to laugh next time I hit my head I made a decision to do an experiment that I said to you before here if you hit your head and you laugh, it hurts less it does. Isn't it the case in Western society when something goes wrong we swear and get angry? That's why it hurts more in our monastery. Because the Twin Towers bombing happened during our Range retreat. Many monks didn't know anything about it. We were just happily meditating there. We couldn't do much about it anyway. And even when we did hear about it, we got no television. We weren't bombarded with all those images. We weren't manipulated by the media. We actually saw things and continue to see things in a completely different way instead of us because of that perspective of being outside of society, being a monk so you can get a much better perspective on what's going on. It's not so close to, you know, the problem. The metaphor which I often tell people when they got problems the metaphor of how big is a hand? How big is my hand when it's right in front of my eyes? It's so big that I can't see anybody. I can't see the world. I can't see anything other than my hand because it's too close. When I put my hand out there, sure, the hand is the same size. It hasn't changed. It's still my hand. But I can see my hand and I can see all you lovely people here today. And I can see the clock at the back to see how long I've got to speak. I can see everything. Same hand, different perspective. So often, problems in our life become huge problems and our responses become just out of proportion because you're holding it too close. I think that's one of the problems with the world trade power bombing. It was too close to us, and our response was a bit too much. 60 people died. That's a lot. One person dying is too much. How many more people have died since then? Why is it we focus on one thing and not another? Sometimes? Because our hands are up here. It's my child who's died. When you put it out there, it's a child who has died. I have cancer. Cancer. So another person has got cancer. Me. We're putting the problems in a proper perspective. When we put them in a proper perspective, the wider perspective of time and also place. And then that understanding of law, of karma. It's not so unfair, it's not so unjust. It's part of our life. And instead of giving a response of revenge, we can have a response of deterrent. And that deterrent is not to hurt other people. You punish people. I don't think it really goes away. The prisons really worked, or you just put more people in jails. I don't know. What I do know is that there's something else we should keep on trying and trying and trying and trying to do is that teach people to take more responsibility for their own karma and stop blaming others. Stop the. Afghanis or the Arab should stop blaming the Americans for their problems. They should take responsibility and don't blame others, as I should not blame somebody else if I make a mistake. Trouble is, with mistakes no one ever made makes mistakes. We're always right. Whatever you do is always right, isn't it? At the time, it is. It's only afterwards we realize we were wrong. At the time, whatever person does, they always think is right. Whatever you say, you always think is right. Only afterwards you realize you were wrong. That's why I say everyone is always right. But they were very often wrong. Do you understand the difference there? Because of that? You understand why it is people make so many mistakes in life. Just delusion and not admitting we are imperfect. We can make mistakes whole life. What this planet is here for, what we're doing here is to learn. Not here to have a perfect life and have happiness, happiness, happiness. People who try to make a utopia out of this world. So there was never any crime or killing, never any terrorists or never any conflict. They're asking for something which can never be. We can lessen conflict. We will never be able to eliminate it. In the same way living with your husband or your wife you can't lessen the arguments, but you'll never eliminate them, will you? Hands up those people been married who never had an argument. It's true, is that you have arguments in marriage. You have conflict in the world. This imperfection of our life, of our world. It's called Duka suffering of Buddha's first noble truth. He said, this world is not perfect. This old age is sickness and death. And sometimes that because we can't see clearly enough, widely enough. Sometimes we wonder, Why did this happen? It all has a cause and a meaning behind it. It's all fair. Our job is not to try and make it more fair. Our job is to learn from it, understand it, be able to develop its beautiful compassion. To ourselves and others. One of the problems is we want this world to be something it can never be. We want all the politicians to be honest. For centuries they've never been honest. Why should they start now? We want our husband always to be just always to entertain us. Always to be. What would they say? To be quiet when you want to be? Be quiet. To be entertaining when they want to be entertaining. Always to be full of good humor. To be sensitive to us. Someone said, if that's the sort of husband you want, it's better to get a television. They'll always entertain you when you want to entertain, you can turn them off when you want to be peaceful. You get much more fun to have a TV than a husband. Say, with a wife. Really like husbands and wives, if we want them to be perfect. This ideal of perfection. It's just all in your head. It will never be that way. What real love is in a relationship, the way relationships can actually last, is then when we somehow learn to accept person as they are with their faults and realize that, yeah, they've got faults, but they've got some beautiful qualities as well. The way we can understand to accept life is to realize that life has its faults. We can also accept the beautiful parts of life as well. Sure, there's World Trade bombings, world Trade Center bombings, and many people die. Many people have a lot of happiness on the very same day. Why does the media keep on focusing on the bad things which happen before and skew our whole understanding of life? Why is it that we keep on focusing on the faults of our wife or husband? Focusing on the faults of our government or focusing on the faults of ourselves? We focus on the fault of yourself. You get depressed, then suicidal, you want to destroy. The same way, when you focus on the mistakes which people make in the world, you want to go to war and destroy. Can you see where conflict comes from? Wider picture means conflict starts to disappear. I'll finish off with a story which I told at Amnesty International which continues to inspire me because sometimes when I talk like this, people say, well, that sounds very good. But in real life it doesn't work. And that's a good question. Because whatever I say up here in Buddhism, you are allowed to disagree. There's no wonderful thing actually to say. Well, it was a nice top bomb, but it was a lot of baloney. And I encourage people to say it. They could at least have the key for themselves. But it also keeps me sort of sharpens me up because I can't just get away with this theory. But in that presentation at Amnesty International, I gave a story about the Buddhist response to injustice. There was a case, which I knew about because I was there at the time in Thailand 22 years ago. It's was Vietnam War. Had just finished with the. Communists taking Saigon, Penumpin and Weentian in Laos within days of each other. And the Thai government was very afraid that the Communists would go further and take the northeast provinces of Thailand, which were much closer to Hanoi than they were to bang Bangkok. Ethnically, there were power to Laos, which the ties had taken over 500 years before. There were plans to evacuate Me and all the other Western monks in that area. The Embassies in Bangkok thought it was a foregone conclusion that those provinces would fall to the Communists. Moreover, there were many disaffected students who were Thai citizens who fled to the jungles in the northeast and become Communist. They had not only killed villagers and soldiers, but also murdered monks as well. Wandering monks like myself who go into the forest and jungles and meet up with the Communists and be killed and tortured. However, at that time, I was impressed by the policy, the government at the time. It was one occasion when they put Buddhist principles into practice. And, my God, it worked. What happened was three things. There was no violence. The soldiers because I was wandering in the area and the soldiers would tell me, don't go up into that hill over there. The communists are up there. That hill over there is free. It's a nice caves. You can meditate up there, but don't go in that hill. All the soldiers knew exactly where the Communist menace camps were. They had their helicopter gunships. They had their artillery. They had their weapons, they could storm those places with ease. But they didn't. There was nonviolence. There was also forgiveness. An amnesty which lasted for many years. Thai government said whenever any of those communist soldiers want to give up their weapons, doesn't matter what they've done, who they've killed, they give up those weapons, they can go back to the village with no questions asked. Forgiveness. Third, they were looking for the reason why those Thai citizens, why they were fighting the government. What was their beef? What was that upsetting them? It was a poverty of those provinces. So they address the underlying problem. They put inroads to get provinces from the villages into the towns to sell. They put in irrigation projects. Especially the king. Put in all these dams all over the place. So villages could put in a second crop of rice. So this is three things they were doing. Nonviolence, not revenge. Secondly, forgiveness with an amnesty. And third, addressing the root problem by developing those poor provinces. Soldiers would tell me I could speak perfect. Tired then. And they would actually, when I was meditating these hills, the patrols would come with their machine guns. It was very sweet because when I saw a monk, they put their machine guns down about 10 meters away. Then they'd come up to you because it wasn't a darn thing to sort of bow to a mug with your machine gun on. And they'd ask you about Buddhism and meditation and you talk to them. And then afterwards they walk back to the machine guns and they carry on their patrol. It was quite lovely. But the idea of, like, coming with a gun in front of a mind just wasn't done. It was usually about 10 meters. They'd leave the guns they'd tell me about. I'd also ask them what was going on and they always say in their patrols, every now and again, they'd meet one of the communists going back to the village for supplies. They knew who they were. Arrest them or shoot them, they said. They show them their new watch. They show them the new radio. And the villagers were getting more and more prosperous because even the communist soldiers weren't being incited because their friends had been killed by the time because there was no they didn't need to seek revenge. Thai government killed my mate. They have to go and go and fight to the death to kill the Thai soldiers. Violence breeds more violence because the Thai stopped that. The soldiers didn't have the communists didn't have anything to fight for. They said we're trying to develop the poor parts of the country. The government was doing a good job. One by one, those communist soldiers gave themselves up gave in their guns to the military. They thank you very much. They went back to their villages, carried on with their education or got jobs. One by one, the communist soldiers melted back into society. Complete forgiveness. Eventually the generals gave themselves up. And this is the best part of the story. These were the ringleaders of the insurgency. What other government would actually do this? This was brilliant. They were not just given amnesty and forgiveness. They weren't just interrogated and killed because of their crimes. Thai government gave them amnesty and immediately appointed them in good positions in the civil service. These people were committed to doing something for their country. These people people were great organizers. Why waste such a talent? So those leaders of the insurgents were put into work for their people in the government. It was a brilliant solution to a problem. And it meant that the Communist insurgency so disintegrated. If there was revenge, they'd gone and shot some of those Communists. They would have had brothers, parents. They'd have got so upset, they would have joined the war, would have gone on and on and on. If it hadn't been forgiveness, they'd have been scared to give themselves up. This is how the Thai government solved the problem of an insurgency. It was inspired, it was Buddhist and it worked. I've seen conflicts in marriages end that way. Inspired forgiveness. But not just forgiveness. What's the underlying problem there? Address that as well. You can't say, oh, sorry, dear, and then keep sort of coming back late at night, doing the same old things. You address the underlying problems, have forgiveness. No harming with those three things. Think conflicts in a marriage, in a community, even between countries can be solved. What was the underlying reason why those people slammed their planes into that World Trade Organization? Why you won't address that problem? If you're going to stop terrorism in the same way, you've got to address why is my wife angry at me? Why, if you want to sleep, really solve the problem. Why am I angry at myself? Why I'm not at peace with myself? Address the problem, but always give forgiveness, never harm. That's the way I think anyway, to solve conflicts in the world, that is real justice. So those are some reflections, because the time is up 09:00 on conflict in the world. So it's a lot of things there to think about, not to believe in, to argue with, because all of those things are different ways of looking at problems. And who knows, they may address some of the root causes and may give healing. I think the whole world needs healing now. Any questions or comments? 22s It's not as bad, but it's still bad karma to kill for almost whatever reason. But again, there's karma is never black and white. You can't say it's good karma, it's bad karma. Sometimes it's small good karma, small bad karma, medium good karma, medium bad karma, huge bad karma. Megabad karma. Gigabad, for example, like a nurse who turns off the respirator because they want to put a person out of their suffering. That's much different than slamming a plane full of people into a big office block. Killing. It's the same, but hugely different karma. And if one is a soldier going to war and one really thinks one is following orders and doing the right thing, that's much different. But it's still killing. Because soldiers, when they start to kill, there's a few of the monks were in the Vietnam War and they actually told me what it was like to be a soldier, especially on the helicopter gunships. When you've killed the first person, your mind changes and it's strange. It's like the power of being beside that machine gun. You want to kill a second and a third. It becomes an addiction, like heroin. This happens to soldiers. They start off being ordinary people, your brother, and they become monsters. And sometimes when they're demobbed, they can't really go back into a life without killing. It's a very difficult situation. It creates so many problems. Going to war, it seems like that might happen, but hopefully it doesn't happen. There are other ways. I think it'd be wonderful if we can actually find other ways. How many times we've had wars? The First World war. I read in my history books, all the politicians in the whole of Europe, the United States said, it's a war to end all wars once and for all. We're going to settle this once and for all. We're going to stamp out terrorism. Really? Do you think they're going to stamp out terrorism? Only when the causes of terrorism are stamped out. Then terrorism will be stamped out. It's not people. Something underlying why people feel upset enough. Here in Perth a few years ago, there was a person who was so upset, I think was an ex soldier. They stole an armored vehicle and they went to the police headquarters in East Perth and shot it up. That was a terrorist, an Australian, some grievance, which he didn't know how to deal with. Those of you have been violent relationships with a man or with a woman, that's a terrorist. In your family, that's a terrorist. They create terror to battered women, you got sort of rapists. They terrorize. These are the terrorists. They're in our midst. They're not in Afghanistan. In Perth. This is what we need to sort of stamp out. But not with violence, with dumb. It can be done. And if that answers your question or if you asks more questions yeah, 21s okay. You're asking if he's driving to be a good person and you've hurt someone else and you experience unpleasant feelings inside of yourself, is that the result of time or is it because of your delusional and making things worse? It's when we have done something wrong with someone else. The remorse which we feel I've done something really wrong, that's just a result of karma. Wanting to punish oneself. The guilt that's actually making more come, that's adding to what's going on. For example, today I was talking about the difference between grief and loss. So loss is natural, but grief is what we add on to loss. It's our addition because of delusion. So we make a mistake. You're always feeling more so I shouldn't have done that. I should have said that because I speak so much. I always make mistakes. Sometimes you're talking with one of the monks in serpentine and you say the wrong thing. You never mean to say the wrong thing. Sometimes you say a joke. It's the wrong time. No one I'm liking my jokes. It's the wrong time to say a joke and they take it the wrong way. And now I feel remorse. I should be more careful. But I never go about punishing myself. So we learned from our mistakes rather than punishing our mistakes. I don't seek revenge for my mistakes. I try and understand them and make sure I do better next time. The same within School sometimes when I was a schoolteacher, if a kid did something wrong, shouted to that kid fortunately, when I was a school teacher, we weren't allowed to beat the children. But you know what it's like if you've ever been beaten or told off you just get scared. You don't want to try anymore and you just lose all will to do good or to work. It's a punishment. If so many people has a negative effect, this makes people worse. Unfortunately, I had some good teachers. If I'd made a mistake, that would point it out to me. Why? I'd try and learn from it. But punishment wasn't part of the rehabilitation program, so I never got afraid. Why is it that people don't admit their faults? Because we're afraid to be punished. You don't make a mistake with your wife or with your husband. You don't want to tell them because think, wow, they're going to really give it to me this time. You're afraid and that's not good for a relationship to have a relationship built on fear, hopefully that if you made a mistake, you can actually go up to your husband, I shouldn't have done this is a terrible thing out of love. Terrible thing you've done. Are you able to stop and learn from this and not do it again? And if they truly say yes and you've got that beautiful trust, okay, I can still be your wife, your husband. Not punishment, but forgiveness as a way of deterring. That thing happening again, it's only happened with me, with my father. It was great that way. When I did something wrong, he wouldn't punish to me. He just explained it to me. I never wanted to hurt that guy again. I trusted him so much. That's what sort of made me into a good person. Not punishment, but just out of love for a person who wouldn't punish me. It was another question somewhere. One more yeah, 28s it was a marvelous no side effect. Whenever there's anything bad, there's always something good happens at the same time. It's like the tariffs. Yin and yang always sort of intermingled, and it doesn't mitigate because you don't wipe out bad karma with good karma. They're on different accounts. But it was the intention of those bombers not to create happiness in New York or harmony, but to create mayhem. It was marvelous that such people with views that have mayhem caused because that's obviously the goal of the terrorists to upset people, to create it may have to destroy not just the economy of the United States, but the moral fiber of the west. The biggest attack was on the morality of the west. It's still being tested. Hopefully the west can take the high moral ground. I don't know if it will happen, but let's wait and see. But it is true that in Adversity, in times of trouble, if you've lost, say, a deer relation, a loved one, it's amazing, really. Find some wonderful friends you never thought you'd had, or if you gave it a terrible tragedy in your life or in your career, or in your body with a bad disease, it sometimes does bring out some beautiful. Occasions with other people. That's why I say it's a learning experience. There's always some way of making something wonderful out of the worst of situations. No matter what happens, you can always use it in your life. It to them to grow. Okay, absolutely. Last question. Life gets better after death? Not always, no, because those poor guys who bombed that we were passing those planes and I think it got better for them. But sometimes it does, sometimes it don't. It really depends upon karma. No pain. There is, absolutely. For some, this is actually, for example, why suicide is never a good idea. Because whatever pain you have in your mind, in your heart before a person kills themselves, it's their affluence as well. That's where we get Buddhism. We call them hungry ghosts. Beings who have killed themselves, who have died, who are far from happy. And they're the ones who create sort of many of the unpleasant ghostly experiences which are recorded in the world. They're unhappy beings. Imagine what it's like that you just can't stand it any longer. You kill yourself. All you do is just kill your body. You are there afterwards. That really makes you depressed. You can't do anything right. You always got to be a shot of joke. But that's enough this evening. So thank you again for coming and hopefully I'll see you next week.