May 8, 2023

Compassion | Ajahn Brahm

Compassion | Ajahn Brahm

Compassion is essential to overcoming loneliness. Compassion is a disposition towards life that can change whether it's enemies into friends. Compassion is wishing well for somebody or something. It can be an impersonal emotion. You can be at peace w...

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
iHeartRadio podcast player badge
PlayerFM podcast player badge

Compassion is essential to overcoming loneliness. Compassion is a disposition towards life that can change whether it's enemies into friends. Compassion is wishing well for somebody or something. It can be an impersonal emotion. You can be at peace with life by practicing compassion and kindness. Saying there's something wrong with me, being sick, makes you feel worse. But when you have compassion for why and what sickness is, it becomes less of a problem.


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 11th April 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans. If you like the Ajahn Brahm Podcast, you may also like the Treasure Mountain Podcast and / or the Forest Path Podcast which are also produced by the Everyday Dhamma Network.

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


Robot Generated Transcription

Just as usual. I don't know what I'm going to talk about today. When I say live in the present moment, I actually do that usually just think of something to say just before I say it. But some of which came up this evening and during the week, which maybe will give a nice subject for this evening's talk, is like compassion, because we're going to be teaching a meditation retreat on Thursday and somebody was thinking, it's going to be so strict, we have to get up really early in the morning. Usually on the retreats we get up 04:00 in the morning. But I always tell people on my meditation retreats, getting up at 04:00 in the morning is always voluntary. You can always get up much earlier if you want to. That's compassion. What we're really meaning there is that in all forms of Buddhism, actually in all forms of religion, really in all forms of life, just want you to always practice compassion and kindness. And you always find, I've always found in my life through compassion, you always get far more success in your life than if you have force and domineering and control. So today I'm going to talk about compassion and actually how it works and what it actually is, where it should go. Because also earlier on in the week, somebody came along to me and was talking about some problems. It was very much a case that they didn't understand what compassion was, its use and where it should be directed. So let's see what compassion is. First of all. Compassion is obviously well wishing for somebody or something. It can even be impersonal compassion. It's wishing well, it's embracing, it's letting go. Because letting go is always trying to get rid of something. I don't like you. You're horrible. You're a pest. There is much of our life in the Western world. It's pest extermination. We want to get rid of the turmoils, we want to get rid of the cockroaches. And it's not such a big jump from getting rid of the cockroaches in your house to getting rid of your husband in your house. If you do, just think he's a pest. And there's not much difference from trying to get rid of anything else we don't like, including parts of ourself. So too much of our life is like, all about pest extermination. And that's like the opposite of compassion. The opposite of compassion is even though it's a pest, even though it's an irritation, even though it's something which would be better if it wasn't there. But I can live with this. I can accept it, I can be with it. That's compassion. And it's a strange thing that as human beings, we think we have to get rid of things in order to be happy, that we have to get rid of the tyrants in our world, to have freedom. But you'll find an old saying I don't know if I said this last time, but I said this in Singapore at least. There's an old saying from William Blake's poem that vengeance to the tyrant fled and caught the tyrant in his bed and slew the wicked tyrant's head and became a tyrant in his stead. That was a 16th century English poet, william Blake. Isn't that of amazing? Just sometimes when we exterminate pests, then we become the pest. Have you ever seen that? So this is actually where compassion is really the ultimate pest exterminator, because it exterminates the pest of extermination, of trying to get rid of things. Otherwise we just replace one anger for another anger, one controller for another controller. There's another way of doing things which is compassion, embracing letting go, being at peace with things rather than always having to control things. Compassion is allowing things to be, not everything to be. But there's so much of our world which we try and control, and what does it really get us? That's why, for example, just because my mind's on the meditation retreat coming up next Thursday. I found so often, if I have a very strict schedule, everyone has to get up at a certain time and everyone has to meet at a certain time. If people sort of don't sort of sit straight, they get expelled or they get punished or they get given lines. I must meditate properly, write 100 times. What a stupid thing. I find from experience that if instead of actually being forceful. And being domineering and being a control freak. Instead of doing that, you encourage people. And by telling people on, say, retreats, meditation retreats, you can get up whatever you want. You can go to bed whenever you want, you can sleep whenever you like, you can meditate whenever you like. People get so relaxed, they feel so free. They get all this energy of year gets taken away, and they have so much energy. They get up much earlier than if we had a regulated retreat, and they stay up later. All the retreats, which I've given. When you're compassionate and kind, people try harder, they meditate longer, they do better. It's just an example that compassion works. You get more out of other people, you get more out of life, and more importantly, you get more out of yourself with kindness. If you force yourself, what happens? You get dull, you get angry, you get grumpy, and you can't perform to a high level. This is why compassion not only goes to the people you live with, compassion also goes to yourself as well. This is one of the big things with compassion in the world. Too many people always give compassion to others want to make somebody else happy, want to serve the world. There's also this time to serve yourself, to have kindness, compassion towards yourself. Because without that you will find that ah you'll get grumpy and you won't be able to give any compassion to the world. You won't be able to give give anger and ill will. There is an old story which I tell based on the scriptures the seven monks in the cave many of you have heard that before. Those who heard it, you have to be quiet. Because there's a test which I'm going to ask you afterwards. So listen carefully. All you people coming here for the first time, seven monks meditating the cave. Listen to who they were. There was the head monk himself. There was his best friend, number two. The third monk was his brother. The fourth monk was his enemy. Even though there were monks together, even sometimes monks don't get on together. Personality clashes, that's all it is. So the fourth monk was the enemy. The fifth monk was the old monk. He was so old and advanced in years he could die at any time. He could die even that night. He was so old, just like some of you here. The next monk was a very sick monk. He was so sickly that no one knew who would die first, the old monk or the sick monk. And the last of the seven monks was the useless monk. He was hopeless. He couldn't give a talk for his life. He couldn't do any chanting. He couldn't keep his robe on properly. He was that useless. But he was there anywhere out of compassion, the monks allowed him to be there. Now one day some bandits found that cave in the jungle. They wanted to use it as their hideout. But they wanted to kill all the monks because they were afraid if one monk escaped, he would tell the authorities where the cave was and it would be no use as a hideout for bandits. So. They wanted to kill all the monks. But the strange thing with head monks are always good talkers. And this one was especially good. He managed don't ask me how to convince the bandits to let all of the monks go except one. They wanted to kill one as a warning to all the other monks not to tell. And that was the best the head monk do. So imagine you were that headmunk. You had to decide who would die to save the rest. And who was in that cave? Because I'm going to ask you who do you think he chose? And if you know the answer, shut up. That's boring because I enjoy this. So remember who was in the cave there's a head monk. Second monk was the brother. The third monk, the best friend. The fourth monk the enemy. He didn't like him anyway. The fifth monk was the old monk. He would die anytime. So what did it care? Same with the sick monk. He could die anytime. And lastly was the useless monk who was hopeless for anything anyway. So who was chosen to die? Any ideas for those who haven't heard the way before? It himself. Thank you. Because you're wrong. I'm glad somebody said that out of compassion for me. That's the wrong answer. It wasn't himself, but all of those that you are thinking that answer. It's interesting. Why were you thinking that answer? Why is it we always want to sacrifice ourselves? Because that was the wrong answer. And when I ask this question in public, some people the next most popular answer is the useless monk. Because so many people have got any compassion for useless people. And that was the wrong answer as well. Because the answer was, and this is an important part of the idea of compassion the answer was there was no way he could choose, because his compassion, his love and kindness towards his brother was exactly the same, no more, no less than his compassion towards his best friend, which was exactly the same, no more than the compassion towards his enemy. The same to the old monk, the sick monk, even the useless monk. His compassion was even towards all beings, including himself. He was unable to choose between himself and all others. That's why we call real compassion unconditional lovingkindness without distinction between oneself and others. And that was the answer to the riddle. He couldn't choose because his love was even. I mention that again and again in my talks. Because for most of us, our love isn't even. A lot of us actually would sacrifice ourselves for others. We haven't got our compassion balanced. And I also mentioned even Christianity, the Golden Rule to love your neighbor as yourself means to love yourself as your neighbor. No more, no less. As means equal. And that makes compassion a very, very deep and profound teaching and practice. Because you'll find it easy, relatively easy, to have compassion towards others. But why is it we have so much of a hard time having compassion towards ourselves? Because we don't understand what compassion really is. We don't realize that we count as well. And unless our compassion is even in the world, it never really bears great results. Why is it we can't be compassionate towards others? One of the reasons is because we haven't got enough compassion and kindness towards ourselves. That's all. When we have got enough kindness and compassion towards ourselves. How can you meditate? A lot of the time you beat yourself over the head when you're meditating. I can't meditate today. This is really awful. I'm terrible. How about a little bit of forgiveness and kindness? It's just so wonderful you're trying. It's so marvelous you come here. Just to be able to sit is a wonderful thing to do. Who cares what you do? Even when people fall asleep during meditation, I think, our poor thing, they must be tired. Isn't that compassion? Because otherwise you feel so tense. You are not allowed to sleep in here. You're not allowed to snore. You're not allowed to put your feet at the Buddha, you're not allowed to make noises, you're not allowed to do this. Isn't that like the world outside? You're not allowed to do this, you're not allowed to do that. You're not allowed to do anything. That's why that sometimes that people come to our monastery in Serpentine and they have to sit on the floor, and we say, there's chairs in the back. They sit on a chair, said, no, no, because they're proud. They're not compassionate to themselves. They'd rather sit on the floor and almost cripple themselves and go in great pain, rather sit on these chairs. That's what the chairs are there for. They're called compassion chairs. Compassion for your body. So look after them. But it's interesting. Why is it that we don't like to do this sometimes? That we get taught and conditioned? We've got to be tough on ourselves. If we're not tough on ourselves, everything gets wrong. How long have you been tough on yourself in this life so far? If you're tough on yourself, you end up being tough on others. This. Is there any way to live a life? All that happens is you get very lonely. People don't like to live with you because you know you're tough and you can't live with yourself either. Which is why one of the reasons why people can't live with themselves is why they in meditation. They go and get distracted. Going on all over the place, thinking about this, planning about that, fantasizing dreaming anything other than be with themselves. US. Why can't you be with yourself? Because there's no compassion. There have been times in my monastic life when I've been alone, but I've never, ever been lonely. It's a fascinating thing. There was three months when I was a young monk, and just recently, about a year ago, six months, I was on a retreat. Never saw anybody. Never spoke to anybody. Six months. Not a word to any human being. I did talk to the kangaroos, but that was a waste of time because they would just look at you and. It. But I never, ever felt lonely. And remember the first time I had a lot of solitude. Three months range retreat in a very isolated monastery in the mountains in the north of Thailand. It was fascinating that I never felt lonely. And I investigated afterwards why, when you got no one to speak to, no one to share your day with I was alone for 23 and a half hours every day. The other half half hour went for arms, found to the village, got my food, gave a quick blessing and came back again. The rest of the time I was by myself. I never felt lonely. And the reason was because I was always with my best friend, which was me. I had compassion towards myself, had acceptance towards myself even though my meditation was sometimes good and not so good. Other times I said I disposed sick. Like acceptance, compassion and kindness. The gentleness which nurtured me which didn't sort of attack me with too much criticism. One of the biggest problems of human beings in our age is we've got so much self criticism and we're so down upon ourselves, so unforgiving. And this lovingkindness is the compassion which is the antidote for that basic feeling of lays inside of ourselves which creates loneliness. It's marvelous when you're at peace with yourself because being at peace with yourself means you're kind to yourself, you accept yourself, you're compassionate to yourself. Sometimes people think the only way you can be at peace with yourself is to be good, to be successful, to be able to achieve all your goals. I don't know about you, but I've given up trying to achieve my goals. Just too many of them. And people keep setting me more goals. A lot of the goals aren't even mine. As other people set them for me, I think, okay, so what? I'll just be a jambo. I'll just be myself. People keep on asking me to tell better jokes, but I can't do that. It's just me, that's all. I don't set myself better goals anymore. And that way actually, the latest joke. This is about the evils of dream drink. Because this is a good joke for Monk to tell. Because you know how we try and keep the five precepts and the fifth precept is not to take alcohol. This is the evils of drink. Because drink is so evil that it makes you get irritated. Drink is so evil it makes you get angry. Drink is so evil it makes you get upset at your wife. Drink is so evil it sometimes makes you want to shoot your wife. Drink is so evil it makes you miss. That's an Australian joke. And you could change that to your husband if you wish. This is not gender specific. But this is anger anger is also comes from the lack of compassion and kindness how much anger we got in our lives it's not yours just towards people it's towards life itself. Some years ago had this this phrase in Australia to love life and often actually contemplated loving life having compassion are you compassionate to life? Do you love life? Pull your hands up if you love life only one or two in other words, you're all depressed but do you really love life? Or is it you only love the nice part of life? Do you love old age, sickness and death? That's life, isn't it? It's part of life so how many of you really love life? Or do you really like the nice part you'd rather get rid of with being like a pest exterminator again? But do you think it's possible to love life the whole of it together with old age and even sickness and even death? To be able to love arguments with your family members do to be able to love disappointments in life. To be able to love things when they all go wrong. You can do it. This is the whole purpose of Buddhism, of compassion. Not towards not just towards yourself and to other people, but compassion towards life. Because look at it. When you get sick, can you really get rid of sickness? Only temporary. All doctors are eventual failures. They aren't. They because people die no matter what the doctors do. One person once described life. Life is a sexually transmitted terminal disease. Think about it. It's so true, isn't it? A sexually transmitted terminal disease. Mugs have this really weird sense of humor. But we can actually be compassionate, which doesn't mean we like it. When we're compassionate towards things, there's a sense of acceptance and embracing of kindness towards it, rather than this anger and rejection of things we can actually embrace. Even things we don't like. Strange thing when you start having compassion towards illness and you don't get Illinois, it doesn't last so long. We can actually know the anatomy of illness. As soon as you start to get sick, you get afraid, you get upset because sickness is just really humiliating for a start. It's humiliating because we think we're in control of our body. I remember some years ago, I spent a little while being very sick for about three months. I went to a hospital for seven days. Couldn't find anything. Just went by itself eventually. But I remember going to see the doctor in Byford, which is close to our monastery. And I go and I was waiting in the waiting room, just feeling really awful. And then a prison officer came in. I used to go and teach meditation in the local prison. And this prison officer from this prison came in. He took one look at me and said, brahm, I didn't expect you to be in here. And I felt so guilty being sick as a monk. Here am I teaching other people to be healthy. And there was sick. It was so embarrassing. I felt like a big hypocrite because people never expected monks meditating all day, living a nice lifestyle, no stress and all that. They didn't expect monks to be sick. There I was. That made me feel even worse. I realized that feeling guilty of being humiliated about being sick makes you feel even worse. And why are you humiliated? What's wrong with being sick? You know what I always say when I this is my little trick to actually to see how many people really understand Buddhism. When I say how many people in this room have never been sick? Put your hands up. If you've never been sick. Here you go again. Everyone in this room has been sick. So there's nothing wrong with being sick, is there? It's natural to be sick. It's usual to be sick in life. So why is it that so many people, even Buddhists, they go to their doctor when they're sick and what do they say? There's something wrong with with me, Doctor. I'm sick. That's not Buddhist. That's not wise. You should say to the doctor, Doctor, there's something right with me. I'm sick again. Because it'd be very weird. It'd be very strange if you weren't ever sick. So why not? Next time you go and see the doctor, go and say, Doctor, there's something right with me. I'm sick again. He probably said you're to gray lads, but never he'd tell you decipher that your Bobby said, oh, one of those again. But look at the psychology behind that. When we say, there's something wrong with me, I'm sick, it means straight away we're not having kindness towards the world. We're rejecting reality. We think there's been something wrong and we're responsible for it. We feel humiliated, we feel guilty about being sick. And it just makes this whole psychological problem around. Sickness is one of the reasons why it lasts much longer than it should. It. Instead we say there's something right with me. I'm sick again. This is my sick time. And accept it, allow it, relax with it. When you're relaxing with sickness, when you have compassion towards sickness, compassion towards your body, of course it doesn't last that long. When you have compassion towards these things because of the lack of negativity, your immune system gets stronger. It has an opportunity to fight. Let the immune system fight it, not you. Your job is just to relax, lay down in your bed and allow your partner to practice their Buddhist compassion. Say, partner, I'm sick. Now's the time for you to do your compassion bit. And if you don't, I'm going to tell that jump rum. It's actually wonderful to be sick because it gives so many other people the chance to be kind to you. It's true, isn't it? Sometimes I just come back from Singapore sometimes people keep asking me whether I ever take travel insurance. I never take travel insurance because if I get sick so if I get sick in Singapore, many of my disciples in Singapore will be so happy that they can look after me. They'll probably be fighting to see who will be my doctor. It's true, because whenever I get sick, I get all these medicines because people give me so many medicines. If I get a slight cough or a slight sneeze just I guarantee in a couple of hours there'll be all these medicines next to me. That's actually what makes me sick, having to take all your medicines. All they're actually saying here is that when you actually show compassion towards some of the negative things which happen in life, you're taking off the sting of things like sickness. It's not such a big thing anymore. You can be at peace with it, you can be accepted. And that way it doesn't last so long. The same with other things which happen in life, even like old age. To grow old gracefully, to enjoy old age as a monk. Actually, it's great being old. The older you are, the more venerable you are. Only trouble is that monks don't retire. The older you get, the harder you have to work. Have you ever heard of a monk retiring at 65 and going playing bowls down at Mandurah? No monk has to keep on going 70, 80. The older you get, the harder you have to work. Because the more venerable and saintly you're supposed to be there's no retirement for me anyway. But you can enjoy old age. It's the same as even death. What's wrong with dying? This dying just needs a PR job, that's all. Because every point sometimes that we've all been good people. I hope so. What you'd be afraid of when you die? Either you're just going to snuff out and that's going to be the end of it. So big deal if you believe that way or if you believe in rebirth or heaven realms. It means that you're going to go to a nice place afterwards. So most people can't wait to die. What is it about these things? Which means that we can't have compassion towards the different stages of life. The different seasons of our body. That's all they are. The seasons of our body health and sickness. When we have compassion towards these things. What the Buddha said there are two thorns which torture the mind end. There's a mental and a physical thorn. The physical thorn is things like old age, sickness and death, things which we can't really control, just the nature of the body. That's what this body is. What do you expect when you get born in this body? But at least we have the mental thorn. We can do something about this. I don't want to be sick, I don't want to get old, I don't want to feel like this. I want to feel like something else. I want to be fit again, I want to be young again, I want to do this. When we think like that, that negativity, that lack of compassion, that's actually anger at life, anger at the world, and that makes things doubly bad. We have this word in Buddhism called Duca suffering. We also have the word called double duker, double suffering, and this is double suffering. And isn't that the case so often when things go wrong in our life, which we can't change, we give it double duker, double suffering. And it's not just having compassion towards our body and allowing our body to relax and be at peace with old age and sickness and death. That way, actually, we last much longer. Sickness doesn't last much longer, much fitter, because we got a good mental attitude, it but also we have that same compassion towards other things which happen in life. And that sort of compassion. If we have a bad injury or we have sort of a cancer or we have a child gets lost, we can have it by a death or whatever. We can have compassion towards that as well. Compassion doesn't mean we like it. Compassion means we can embrace it as part of life. We can take it in rather than rejecting it. We don't get the pest exterminator out to sort of try and somehow get rid and nullify these unpleasant things which happen in life. We can accept it because we can always learn from it. We can grow from it. It's all tests of our compassion and kindness. You don't grow in compassion and kindness with people you like. They're easy. It's the other ones which are the difficult ones. But compassion and kindness can actually change whether it's sickness or an enemy into a friend. One of the stories which I tell was of compassion in action in one of the prisons which I used to visit, because one of the prisoners, after I started talking about compassion, said, it doesn't work. He tried it, especially in prisons. It's a very hard place being in jail. Some very, very tough criminals are in those jails, and even the prison officers are also tough. So this prisoner said, I don't believe you. I jumped around. You just talking might work in a monastery, doesn't work in the jail. When people talk like that, I get challenged and I challenge back. I said, okay, let's have a test. Let's prove whether compassion works at all. And I asked this prisoner in this jail, who is a person you hate the most? And. Straight away. He said my biggest enemy is this prison officer and one of the chief prison officers. He said this guy is what they call imprisoned slark jargon a dog. He said this guy is so cool and so heartless and so unfair. He told me just the last week a prisoner had a visit from his wife. His wife had had a hard time getting a car to actually to visit this prison just down the road from our monastery. Now she managed to get there after several months and a man had a visit from his wife. First time in months. Prison officer saw the wife coming in and starting to register her name go through the formalities. So he got hold of this prisoner and sent him on an errand to the other side of Carnet prison farm way away from the PA systems. So when the woman had registered in the PA system called his prisoner to the visitor area. Your wife has come. Please come to the visitor area. After a quarter of an hour no response. Half an hour no response. They put on the PA system again. They sent the other prison officers to go looking for him. They found him of eventually. But the prison visiting hours were over. Oh, sorry. Bad luck. Maybe next time. So he missed out on a visit from his wife, and the prison officer just did this out of spite, just to give the prisoner a harder time. He was in prison slang a dog, and every prisoner hated this guy. So I said, Great. Now is a chance to see if compassion works. And I asked all the guys in my meditation group, does anyone have any contact with this prison officer? And one of the prison prisoners had his job of serving tea and coffee to this prison officer and all the other people in the administration block. I said great. You've got the chance to prove her compassion really works or not. Every time you make a cup of tea for this guy, make it the most delicious cup of tea you possibly can. Put lots and lots of love in it and kindness. When you serve it to this dog, give him a nice smile. Say kind words to him, see if it works. And to this prisoner's credit, still remember his name. It was Nick. To his prisoner's credit, he did this every week. I would go there and say, how's it going? He said absolutely awful. I really try hard. And this prison officer doesn't even acknowledge I exist. I put a cup of tea in front of him, or cup of coffee, and I say nice, kind words to him. And he doesn't even move. He doesn't even just wink an eyelid. He doesn't know I'm there. I said keep on going. And he kept on going. It was three months he kept on going, trying to be kind to this prison officer until we got our breakthrough. This is what happened. He told me that one day he found some cream from the coffee. He made this delicious cup of coffee for the prison officer. He found out this cup of coffee he liked and he gave it to this prison officer one morning and said, here you are, sir. I made a beautiful cup of coffee for you with cream. I hope you like it. And the prison officer said he grunted, he acknowledged he actually said something. And that grunt made the prisoner so excited. That was a breakthrough. That was a crack in the war, a grunt. There was only a couple of weeks now when you get the first crack in the wall, only a couple of weeks. When the second breakthrough came on my challenge, he managed to find some biscuits or something awesome sandwiches, I forget which. And he gave it to the prison officer and said, sir, I found you some nice sandwiches today. I hope you enjoy them. It is a nice cup of coffee, just as you like. And a prison officer. This dog turned round, looked at the prisoner and said thank you. And the prisoner and all the other prisoners told me that I won. They said that thank you. Went through that the whole prison system in Western Australia on their grapefire. That that dog could actually say thank you to even speak to a prisoner, let alone say thank you, was unprecedented, UN heard of it. Just actually showed the power. Showed the power of compassion and kindness. It actually changes an enemy into a friend. Now, I'm not talking about a human enemy, as always. I'm also talking about compassion towards life. It changes life when it's an enemy into being a friend. This an enemy for you at the moment? Is life going difficult? Not the way you want it to go. Got diseases getting kicked out of your job made redundant. Economy is going down, you're losing all your shares. Your monks are all running away overseas. Goodness knows what else happened. Is life going terribly for you? Do. How can you change that? Are you going to try and change life? Are you going to try and change your wife? Or change your husband? Or change your kids? Or change your parents? Or change the economy? Or change the world? Or change Mr. Bush or change Mr? If you want to regime change, how about changing the regime inside of you right now and be able to say to life to be compassionate towards life instead of hating life, be compassionate towards it kindness. And with that compassion and kindness towards life instead of hating it, you'll find that life, this very terrible demon will come and turn around to you and say thank you for being kind to me. And life will then be your friend. And don't mean life as you would like it to be. I'm talking about life as it is being your friend. Life with all its disappointments, with all its tragedies, with all its joys and lovely times, the whole of it. Allowing it to be compassion, kindness. When we have that compassion and kindness towards life, it's so easy just to live life with a smile because we're not trying to get rid of things. We're not trying to be tyrants. We're not trying to tell life to do something it can't do. You know what it's like in your office or in your home when people tell you to do what you just cannot do? You try, but it's just hopeless. You just get more stuffed up. You just get more angry, more tense, more grumpy. You get a worse person. You know what it's like when people tell you what to do, force you to do what you just can't do? If they leave you alone, you try your very best because that's the nature of human beings to try and live up to kindness. If we give people half a chance, they will do their very best because people do care and. If you can get rid of all this outer stuff, which stops people caring. So if we can actually get all that out of the way, leave people alone, they will grow and they will become fine people. But when we try and tell people what to do all the time, it's like when you're told what to do all the time, what's it like in your relationships, your partner, you're trying your best, but when people actually keep on this is not good enough. Do this, do that, eventually you just give up trying, that's all. So we're compassionate to each other, we're giving each other freedom. It's the same when you're compassionate towards yourself. You're giving yourself freedom. Have you got that person aside? You're always telling your self what to do, telling yourself you're not good enough. You should to be better. You should be a better man, a better woman, a better monk, a better this and a better that. I've thrown that person out a long time ago. And you feel so much more freedom. And you can actually live up to a much higher standard when you haven't got this tyrant of guilt and self criticism going on all the time. You can only grow in freedom. When you try and force feed a plant, does it really grow? Well, if you try and sort of make it grow according to what you want it to grow, you want it sort of to blossom. Today you want the fruit, tomorrow you're just harming the plant. Any gardener knows a job of a gardener is just to protect the plant, to feed it enough moisture, enough fertilizer, make sure the sun gets at it. The main thing a gardener has to do is to protect the plant from pests, from bugs, from people eating it, locking it down. All people need is just protection from harm. They don't need to be forced at all. That's all we need, just protection from harm. Not to be told what to do all the time, not to be forced against our nature. My first meditation teacher told me this story. He said that as a young man in Thailand, he was given some seeds by his father to plant. The first time he'd ever planted anything in the garden, he put those seeds in the dug them in the soil. He watered them every day. After a week, he couldn't see any results. He was only a young boy. His father had to tell him, look, those seeds are germinating, but they're under the ground, under the soil. You can't see them yet. Just wait for a few more days and then you see little green sprouts coming up. And that just gave him enough patience, enough trust to keep on watering, not to give up. And sure enough, after a couple more days, little green sprouts appeared above the soil. And that made him so happy, he started watering twice a day. And soon after another few days, the little green sprouts were two or three inches above the ground. It was at that point where he lost his patience and. Being only a young boy, he decided to try and stretch the plants to make them grow taller. And he killed everyone. You can't stretch plants, can you? No more than you can stretch husbands to make them better. Or stretch wives, or stretch the people you work with. No more than you can stretch yourselves. Isn't that what we've been doing most of our lives? Stretching ourselves to try and make ourselves better, grow faster, be more intelligent, be more this, be more that. With all that stretching, don't you just kill yourselves, kill your happiness, kill your spirituality, kill your growth. Become frustrated, become grumpy, become depressed. And there's another way of life. A gardener just protects and allows people to grow in their own way. Allow yourself to grow in your own way according to your karma. That's the fastest way letting go. Allow the sickness to grow, to do its thing. See what happens. Let go. So often it just goes so quickly because we aren't giving it anger or ill will. We re not giving it tension and stress. How much do we feed sicknesses with our negativity, with our fear, with our stress? Get out of here. This is one of the problems of human beings. How often do we feed our, even our mental sicknesses? I don't want to feel that this way. I don't want to do this. We're getting angry at being angry. You get guilty about being guilty. It's all double duker again. We're afraid of fear. We're sick of being sick. It just gets worse and worse. At least we can take out that mental thorn and by being compassionate and kind. And then we find that even when we want to have a bit of stillness, we're kind enough, compassionate enough to give ourselves a rest. To give ourselves a moment of peace. How little compassion we have that we keep running ourselves worse than we'd run our car, we'd run ourselves worse than we'd run any other person. Why can't we give ourselves a moment of peace? And how can we have peace without compassion, without saying, this is good enough at the moment? Doesn't matter. Sort of all the things wrong in your life, all the things which need doing, all the things which need fixing, just be compassionate enough to forgive. Allow this moment to be allow you to be allow life to be just as always saying that there's nothing wrong with being sick. Next time you go see the doctor. Something right with me, Doctor. I'm sick. It there's nothing wrong with having dirty dishes in the kitchen. There's nothing wrong with having things outstanding in your life. There's nothing wrong with failing examinations at school. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes. Hands up if you never made a mistake in your life. It. So it's not wrong to make mistakes and be very weird if people never made mistakes. So it's right to make mistakes. It's allowed to make mistakes. So let go and be compassionate towards life. Making mistakes is part of life. Allow your partner to make mistakes, then you know what love is and compassion is and what friendship is. I don't expect all my monks in the monastery to always be perfect monks, because if I do, they would be so stressed out. Growth happens when you give people freedom to grow kindness, to grow encouragement, it's not controlling. So when we have compassion, there's a sense of letting go, a sense of liberality, a sense of freedom. Do you want to feel free? Compassion is part of it. Compassion is what sort of lets go and embraces a moment. So even when we learn a bit of meditation, we have to have so much compassion and kindness to this moment to allow it to be. When you try and change it, you want it to be different. You want to be that way. And this way you're just getting into more control and more doing. Just being a control freak, not a letting go freak. And that's why so many people misunderstand what meditation is. Think it's another thing to get, another thing to control your mind, to do this. You find that the more you try and control the mind, just the more restless it becomes. But the more you try and let go, the more peaceful it becomes. Remember remember once during one year at the monastery, I was staying by myself sometimes. My meditation was so restless thinking about all sorts of things and so hard to control that I decided I went up to the Buddhist statue. There I made a resolution. I say, look, for most of the day I want to try and meditate on my breath, to stay focused mindful. But I said, I'll give myself an hour every day from 03:00 p.m. To 04:00 p.m.. I remember the time when I could think whatever I want to think. Think about the past, the future, anything, even sexual fantasies. Go for it, I said. My mind, but only from three to four other times you behave yourself. So I thought I'd try this and see what happens. So you know what happened. Just the whole day was just always a struggle to watch the breath. And mine wanted to do other things. Struggle. Struggle can never really watch the breath properly. But I was trying, trying to restrain my mind. When it came to 03:00, I sat down. Okay, you can think whatever you want to think. No holes barred. Go for it, mind. You know what I thought about from three till four every day? The breath easy. There was no struggle at all to be with my breath. Once I stopped trying and controlling it taught me a very valuable lesson about the power of compassion, the power of letting go. People think that being compassionate, letting go is copying out. They think if I'm compassionate, the whole world will fall apart. That's the controller which is so afraid, if it doesn't control that, everything will go wrong. Have a bit of courage. Try it out for a change. Let go and see what happens. Be kind, be compassionate, which means accepting love life. You'll find that love will turn around and love you. In other words, you become at peace with life. You come at peace with your partner. You come at peace with yourself at least for a few hours every day. Try that. Maybe the rest of the time you can go to war and do what you're thinking you need to do, but try at least an hour a day being at peace with yourself. How do you ever think you can be at peace with yourself unless you let go? Do you think you really have to change yourself in order to be kind? Do you really think you have to change the world to be at peace? Do you really think you have to give up your sickness and overcome it to feel freedom? You don't. This is a marvelous teaching of people like the Buddha. You can be free at any time, no matter what's happening, if you understand the power, the deep power of compassion. Just like I said, as soon as I stopped trying to watch the breath. The breath was there so often in my meditation. As soon as I stopped trying to get peaceful, then peacefulness comes all by itself. Just great gift of the universe to human beings. When you let go, then you stop. When you stop, you're still. When you still, then you've got peace. When you've got peace, you got contentment. With contentment, there's happiness. When there's happiness, you don't want anything else in the world. You're at rest. So this is very easy to understand, but too many people miss it. So please have a bit more compassion towards life and towards yourself and towards other people. Give them a little bit more kindness and they'll be kinder to you. Not just people, yourself. Be kind to yourself, and you will be kind to yourself. Those of yourself will live up to that. And please be kind to life, and life will be kind to you. And that's a nice way to end this talk this evening. Oh, and compassion and kindness to all things.