Nov. 22, 2022

Contentment | Ajahn Brahm

Contentment | Ajahn Brahm

Meditation teaches you how to be still and to get more energy. Contentment is knowing that you've done all that you need to do and that you can now rest. Contentment is the highest wealth, and learning to be content every now and again is a way to re...

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

Meditation teaches you how to be still and to get more energy. Contentment is knowing that you've done all that you need to do and that you can now rest. Contentment is the highest wealth, and learning to be content every now and again is a way to reach peace in your life. When you get close to a beautiful breath, you can actually do nothing to it. It becomes effortless. You can relax and allow the beautiful breath to happen. If you're trying hard to meditate, you're not doing it right. All you need to do is be content, and the breath will come all by itself.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 20th October 2001. It has now been remastered 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.



Very quiet here. Sorry. Nice. Just saying when I came in here that I just switched over from three weeks of teaching in Malaysia and teaching every day early in the morning to late at night.  But whenever I do anything like that, very full on schedule, you always feel a lot of happiness because you do good works. And so even though that sometimes as a monk, you have to work so hard in fact, the last time I went to Singapore, I actually started a talk by just describing my schedule of how many talks I was giving during that a few days. And after I could finish my talk, this young boy came up to me and he said that I'd always been wanting to become a monk. But once he heard how I lived, he said he'd rather be on a stressful computer job  because I work very hard sometimes, but I'm very happy working that hard. As a Buddhist monk, I'm very content. And it's that contentment which brings me happiness. And it's a contentment which I wanted to talk about as a subject of the savings dumb at all contentment.  But it's something which very few people have in this world and it's so those people who don't have it, they don't even look for it, they don't know where it lies. And because sometimes we're scared of contentment, we always want to do things.  And sometimes we think that contentment is just copping out. And if we only would know what contentment truly is, we'd know the path into deep meditation and we'd know the path of balancing our life.  What contentment is. It's just like going to work Monday to Friday and the weekend is a time for contentment, the time to rest. It's always a time to do work. And as my teacher, Jan Charles used to say, if you're going to work, give everything you've got. There always comes a time when you've done all your work, you've tried your very hardest, you've done what needed to be done and now is the time to rest content  with the results of your labours. Because without that contentment, there will always be something more to do. We'll never be able to put down the burden and just relax and be at peace. The story of life is a story of always more things to be done. Doesn't matter how much you've already achieved of in your life, doesn't matter how many dishes you've already washed, it's always some dirty ones waiting in the sink.  That's a story of life. As soon as you finished all the dishes, they're nice and clean. Some full idiot just makes another one dirty.  So. How can I? We get some rest in life, some contentment in life and peace in life  made the joke that the only people who rest in peace in Western society,  the only people who have Rip written over them, are dead people. And isn't that just a great shame that we have to wait till we die before we can rest in peace? But then if we don't, if we do rest in peace, some of us feel so guilty, we should be doing something and indeed there is so much to be done.  So how can we actually find contentment in life? And how can we really enjoy contentment and really understand it and make use of it? So much of the problems in Western lifestyle is because we don't know contentment. We don't give contentment to share in our day.  You don't have to give it a total share in our day, don't have to be totally content. Otherwise you never do anything in life. I told everyone to be absolutely content and don't do anything. We won't get any presidents in our bodies, society, any secretaries. We won't get anyone being in Ghana to help them out, to do anything. So this is a time for desire, for doing something, an achievement. What I'm talking about is a time when we stand back  and just feel contentment. Remember some years ago that every time I go back to my monastery in Serpentine, after teaching here on the weekend, working very hard, sometimes you go back, and the first thing you do when you get back to certain times is to see all the things which needed to be done next. And so, for a while, I decided to spend every Monday morning at the monastery just having a little walk and not looking what needed to be done, but looking at what had already been done.  What that meant was instead of looking at the faults and what  all the work which lay in front of me, I look at all the work which lay behind me. It gave me a large sense of contentment.  Because if you stay in a monastery, you're an abbot, you always see the next project, the next job which needs to be done, the next path which needs to be swept, the next brick which needs to be laid, the next tile which has to be fixed on the wall. Just like in your house, you always see the next job which needs to be done. But containment only comes when you just take a few moments off, a few hours off and just to appreciate what's already been achieved. And then you can have this feeling of contentment, of happiness, of a sense of fullness in the day, fullness in the hour, fullness in the moment. One of the things which I used to notice  in Thailand when I was a young man, it's disappeared. Now, the last time I went back, you can't see any remnants of the old type of lifestyle of the Thai villages in the first couple of years when I was a monk in Thailand. Hello. When it got time to the monsoon season, first of all, the planting season, everybody in the village would be out working hard. And they would really work hard from the time you could just see until the late evening, when you can't see anymore, there wouldn't be any nine to, it will be from dark to dark. And many of the villages would actually sleep out in the fields, so they wouldn't waste time walking to the fields and walking back again. And I was amazed at how hard they worked until they planted all the rice and when it came to the harvest time, how hard they worked until all the harvest was in. But the rest of the time they were just so lazy.  You see them in the dry season, just sleeping under their house. You'd ask them what they were doing, they said, Doing nothing. And the wonderful thing was they were doing nothing for many days and they never felt guilty.  Not like westerners. You ask what you're doing and you say nothing and people feel guilty about doing nothing. Do you feel guilty about doing nothing?  That's why that sometimes when I was first asked, when I was relaxing and resting so what you're doing? I was just to say I'm watching the trees grow. I wasn't really watching the trees grow. You can't watch trees grow. They just grow too slowly. But as a wonderful excuse, what I really meant was, I'm doing nothing. But I said that I was watching and the trees grow. Made the people who asked me she's a little bit better. This must have thought I was crazy, though. But never mind. But learning how to do nothing, not all the time, but every now and again is learning a little bit of contentment, a little bit of peace in your life.  Because those villages, because they had that contentment, they had that time, they had a sense of happiness. And you had to relax.  Know what the Buddha said? It's in a dharma pardon that contentment is the highest wealth.  Contentment is the highest wealth. I remember that because in Malaysia they put all these things in on the Tshirts. So he saw them on the tshirts. Contentment is the highest wealth.  I saw that. I remarked upon it. And I remarked on the Forbes 200, a list of the wealthiest people in the world.  Who's the wealthiest person in the world  I got to run up to mr. Forbes is all wrong. He says, I think the owner of walmart is the wealthiest person in the world. Number two is Bill gates, and number three is I don't know who sultan a boonai or something,  and then queen Elizabeth or whatever, but they got it wrong. They're not the wealthiest people in the world. The Buddhist said contentment is the highest wealth. So the people who are the most content should be on the top of the Forbes 200 list. Now that the monks. We should be up there somewhere  because we have a lot of contentment. So contentment is the high as well. Surely we should be up there with Bill gates. He's not very content.  So what we really mean here is that this is something which is important to our life contentment.  It's very interesting to learn contentment as a way to develop the peace in one's meditation. I was giving a simile in my meditation retreat, which I gave in penang a week or two ago. A two week retreat up there. I was giving a simile of meditation of the seven petal lotus.  I mentioned the seven petal lotus because in the method of meditation, which I teach you, I was teaching seven stages. And those seven stages, if you read my little book, with a basic method of meditation, is present moment awareness and silence is number two.  Being with the breath is number three. Three, the full awareness of the breath is number four. The beautiful breath is number five. And seeing the Nimita is number six. And the 7th is in the janus. The seven petal lotus, which I talk about when you are talking about the way of meditation, which most of you are doing earlier. One of the big mistakes in people's meditation is actually to try too hard.  They're not actually working for contentment. They want to get somewhere, especially on a meditation retreat, especially in places Malaysia or Singapore, where people are so highly motivated now, whatever they're doing, their life, they want to achieve something.  And that's why meditation sometimes difficult for them, why Buddhism is a bit strange for them, because it's going in the opposite direction. To achieve something, you got to go on to the next stage, on to the next level of the university degree, onto the the next level of the career structure, onto the next level of management in the business, on to the next level of richness in society, onto the next level of fame. Always going on and on and on. What's it called? Up the greasy pole, they used to say. And there's no end to that, because there's always one more stage higher. There's always one more person richer than you. There's always one more person more famous than you. There's always one more person more educated than you. That's why it's endless.  And I was teaching people the path of meditation is not sort of this into attainment, it's into letting go. It's intercontinent. And this is why I gave the symbol of the seven petal lotus, because a lotus is something which in the early morning is closed. All the petals are folded in on each other. Bye.  And the only way that you open up the outer petal is if the sun maintains its warmth on the outer petal long enough to open it up. If the sun is shining on the outer petal and the cloud comes along,  it cools down and the sun has got to start all over again. So maintaining the heat, the warmth on that petal, the petal finally opens up to reveal the second petal in the lotus. And then the sun can warm that one until it's warm enough to reveal the petal number three and then petal number four.  But if that sun is somehow moved to somewhere else, then the petals close up again. Is it the same way of developing these deep meditations? Whatever stage of these meditations you are on, remember this present moment. Awareness, silence, breath. Full attention on the breath, beautiful breath nimitis. And then into Jamaica. Whatever stage you are on, so often people want to go on to the next stage.  It's not contentment, but discontent. We're not happy with where we are, therefore we want to go somewhere else. You know, these limiters are very fascinating. This is actually the signs of the mind. Sometimes people get limiteds, can get psychic powers. You can see the future, you can see heavenly beings. And when I start talking like this to people, people want these things so much, which is why they can never get them. And when you talk about the next stage, the Jannas themselves, these are the greatest bliss you'll ever experience in your life. But just amazingly powerful experiences of happiness and so profound. And people said, that sounds good, I want it now. One of the reasons why people don't achieve these things is because they're forgetting contentment. It's as if you're this third or fourth petal of the lotus, and instead of just warming that leaf up with mindfulness, with sustained attention,  You go, moving that attention onto the next lotus, moving it to the left, moving it to the right, but not staying where you are.  And when you don't stay where you are, when you don't have that contentment,  that petal hasn't got long enough, hasn't got a mindfulness on it long enough to fully open up and reveal what's inside.  Because when we go through these stages of meditation, the present moment awareness actually contains this thing we call silence.  The longer you are in the present moment and the deeper you get into present moment awareness, the closer you get into this natural  opening, into silence, as if you're so much into the present moment, so much into now,  that you notice that there's nothing being said anymore, there's no names anymore. Because when one really gets into being present, I mean really present, actually, I know a joke about presence. I always give a joke. Every talk I give. So this is a joke. It's got nothing to do with meditation. I heard in Penang kindergarten teacher was her birthday.  So her little children decided to give her a present each. And this one little girl came along and gave a present to the kindergarten teacher all wrapped up in newspaper. And the teacher said that's flowers, isn't it? And child were just so amazed. How did you know? Said the little child. And the kindergarten teacher laughed because she knew her parents owned a flower shop.  And the next little student who came and gave a little parcel and she knew that student's father owned a candy store. And so the teacher said it's candy, isn't it? And the little four year old said oh, you're so clever, teacher. Yes, it is candy. How did you know? And the kid had gone teacher just smiled. And the next child, this little boy gave her parcel. That's so cutely in paper.  But it was leaking.  It didn't matter because the teacher knew that that child's parents owned a liquor store and a bottle shop.  So she tasted the liquid. It's wine, isn't it? And the little boy said, no, miss, it's not wine. She tasted again. Ah, sorry. It's champagne. You must thank your parents for me. No, miss, it's not champagne.  He said, well, you know your parents own a liquor store. What is it then, miss? It's a puppy. 1 That's your funny story for the day. Now back to business on Dumb. 9s Some of these jokes are gross, aren't they?  But nevertheless, that's the present moment.  If you really watch the present moment and really content with it, it actually turns into silence, because in the present moment, there is nothing to say.  The old story of one of the students,  this founder of the Towers tradition, and he was going with a walk going for a walk in the evening with his students. But he had this rule, which he was a golden rule. Anyone who went for a walk with a Master had to be quiet.  And they came to Origami Mountains just in the evening time. It was sunset. They saw this amazing sunset, another beautiful sunset you sometimes see in Perth. But this was even more magnificent. And the student can help himself and say wow, what a wonderful sunset.  And the Master never let him go for a walk again with the Master.  And when the other student said Why, he said when the student said what a wonderful sunset, he wasn't watching the sunset anymore. He was watching the words.  We're not watching the sunset, watching words. That's all. That's where we give things a name. When we're thinking, we lose the present moment, we lose what's really there. And we go into that next stage of description called mind thinking. It's not reality. See, the thoughts are not the reality.  That's why we usually get a description. It's like the menu and the food.  The menu is not the food you can't eat sort of menus. They don't taste as nice as the food anyway, that's for sure. So actually, we never get menus for our dinner. We won't be able to fit them on a piece of paper. We get so much food every day.  But the thoughts are not the present moment. That's why when you really get into the present moment, when you really get into what's actually happening now, you actually give it a name, it becomes absolutely still. That's why if you're content just being in the present moment, you're not trying to go too fast. In your meditation, you find that the lotus opens up.  Into silence. You find that actually contentment is giving this marvelous peace. And you haven't gone seeking for that peace. You haven't gone wanting that peace. You haven't gone searching for it or craving for it. It comes as a result of contentment, of let him go. It's as if it's already been there. It's already present in you. It's part of the present moment. But you've never really been going deep enough in to find this truce. In Buddhism, before the Buddha became enlightened, he did test to see if he had what it takes to become enlightened. He put a bowl, his bowl in the river, and he said that if this bowl goes upstream against the current, then maybe I've got what it takes to become enlightened. And it did go upstream. Now, there's something very precious in that little story of the Buddha's life just before he became enlightened, because a lot of times the stream of the mind is always going on to the next thing.  Never going in to where we are now. It always goes on to craving, which is always one thing more, next thing, this isn't good enough. I want something else. Rather than just being with where we are and just seeing what we have,  instead of seeing what we have, we just see what we want.  Seeing what we want is going along the stream, seeing what we have. Being content is going upstream,  it's going in rather than on.  So the path of meditation is going inwards rather than onwards. So we go into the present moment and we find the silence. We go into the silence and we find things like the breath. I was telling people, like I remembered in my early life as a meditator, sometimes I was meditating on the breath the first or second year as a month. It's just so difficult to actually define the best. We're allowed to meditate for 1 hour.  That was usually the time. This span, we were meditating and I was trying to watch the breath, trying very hard for 45 minutes, and I couldn't find it. Sometimes you could find it for a few minutes and it will go and you're struggling. And I remember once I got so fed up trying to meditate on my breath after 45 minutes, I knew I only had another 15 minutes left. I thought, I'm not going to waste these last 15 minutes striking like this and getting myself even more tense. So I decided just to let go and just enjoy the last 15 minutes, no matter what happened. And as soon as I let go,  you know what came up into my mind straight away? My breath. It was there for the last 15 minutes with no trouble at all. And that happened quite a few times in that year as a monk meditating, until something clicked inside of me. I didn't have to try so hard. In fact, I was going down the stream rather than the other way. I was going onwards rather than inwards.  I realized all I needed to do is just to be content and the breath would come all by itself. It was the nature of this meditation method. And so it's just like that second petal of a lotus. You don't need to move on to something else was just be content with silence. Stay with silence as long as you can. Just be with that silence. And when it's ready, it will open up into the breath.  All rape mystics from all traditions, they all praise that silence.  It's in the silence where you find the truth, if it's a silence where you find reality. Because when you're actually thinking, you have this inner conversation, this inner commentary, you're actually talking back at life  rather than this to. It  almost like you're arguing with truth rather than just allowing truth to come and talk to you.  You know what it's like sometimes with some people. They're always talking, talking, talking, and you can never get a word in. That's what truth is like. You're always talking, talking, talking, and truth can never get a word in. That's why we never know.  There's no space in the mind for it to manifest.  So by that silence, eventually the best just comes up by itself.  And as people go through these stages of meditation, they don't need to sort of rush and go to the next stage. It's not like going through the university course. It's not like going through these stages for learning how to play a piano or whatever. It's like just being content. Because the more content you are, the more you're warming that petal of the lotus and the closer you're getting into opening that lotus. And from the breath, you get the full awareness of the breath, which is not just washing a breath in, out, in, out. It becomes a full awareness of the breath in the very beginning of an in breath, right to the end of an in breath.  The very beginning of an outburst, right to the end of an outburst. It's a full awareness of what you're doing  rather than a partial awareness. This thing we call awareness and mindfulness is so important not only in meditation, but in life certainly is so important with finding wisdom. So often our mindfulness is just like a flashlight with dull batteries. And we think we know what's going on in life. We think we're seeing, but we're only  receiving a fraction of what's out there.  The mind is lazy. It only sees how much it wants to see.  That's why we always get things wrong. Somebody says something, we only pick up that part of the saying or that part of the words which interests us, the part we're looking for. That's why people always have arguments. Home, you said this. No, I didn't. Yes, you did. I was there at the time.  How many of you had an argument today?  So many people have arguments. Another reason why is because  when somebody says something, we only partially hear what they say. We get it wrong.  Some years ago, I was counseling this man who had AIDS,  and he was getting sicker and sicker. And one day his partner rang the center here on a Saturday.  And it was one of the  devoted people who usually help on a Saturday and was looking after the library. And they answered the phone. They said, is that John Brahm there? So, no, he's arresting the man says he's got to come quick. I need him, he says, so he may be back in an hour. And this man said, I will be dead by then.  That's what it says. You'll be dead by then. And this lady didn't hear what was being said. She thought that this man was coming to kill me when he said he would be dead by then.  Apparently, this poor lady was actually sitting on the coffee table over there. She went white. And some of the other people around here, I think Lynn and a few others, they sort of went up, what's wrong with you? And she couldn't speak, she was so scared. And then when she did come out after ten or 15 minutes so someone's coming to Kurdajanbar,  what they were talking about, they should call the police or whatever. I came out and said, what's going on? And I said, Someone just rang up, they're going to kill you.  Interesting. What do you mean? And then they said they just got a telephone call and somebody was calling for you. And they said, you'll be dead before now. And of course, I knew who was, oh, is that person? He's getting close to death. He might be dead before I could actually get to him. It was this age person who was dying, not me.  But sometimes we only hear half of what's being said.  And this is the problem with the lack of silence in our minds  and the lack of mindfulness in what's being, what's actually happening. Once a person develops more strength of that mindfulness, it's as if their mind has got charged up, and so they got much more alertness. They see, they hear, they feel so much more of what's going on, both inside of themselves and in the person they're talking with. And in life in general, you become more alive, more alert. And this is what happens quite naturally through contentment. You're building up the energies of the mind.  It's a strange thing that sometimes when I get very tired,  one of the best things to do is just sit down and meditate.  And make the mind very peaceful. When the mind gets very peaceful is if all the energies start to come back again and you feel bright and you feel alert. And I don't. Shy used to say that you exercise the body and you make it fit through pushing weight, through walking, through jogging, through doing something. That's the way you make the body energized. But the way you make the mind energized is not by doing things, not by thinking. You make the mind bright and energetic through stillness.  That's why sometimes I do. And the child would talk all night and then he would just sit meditation for a few minutes and then afterwards it would be bright as a button.  There's that meditation, that stillness, which gives you energy. I used to do that when I was doing my final examinations that came in. I just get a little bit of stillness and I got all my energy back. So all of you who are tired  and who can't have a cup of coffee, have a cup of meditation instead. John Brown special blue special blend  to get the mind going again.  Because what it's actually doing is a stillness, is focusing the mind and bringing up this thing, which we call mindfulness alertness, energy, which is one of the reasons why our lifestyles today, because we have to make sharp decisions. If we haven't got clarity, we just don't know what we do. How many mistakes do we make because we're not really there?  This is actually what happens the more you stay with contentment, just like those farmers. The more they actually rest doing nothing, the more energy they have afterwards  resting the mind. And this is what happens once that petal starts to open. You ever notice in a lotus,  any flower, the petals which are closer, closest to the inner part of the most beautiful and the most fragrant?  The ones on the outside of the flowers, I lotus, they're the ones which are a bit dull and dirty and hard.  So when you go deeper into the mind with this meditation, when you go into like the full awareness of the breath, just the mindfulness, it starts to increase,  more alertness, more sharpness, more energy  is available to you. You're actually turning on on the energy of the mind.  Sometimes we want to be energetic in our mind. When we're not energetic in our minds, we get we get sleep. We even get depressed and angry. You know what depression is? It's just lack of mental energy, lack of brightness  of mindfulness is dark. Our batteries are dark. But when you start doing things like this contentment, meditation, you get stronger and stronger power of the mind. You're going to be a power in your mind.  Don't force a mind.  Make it more content  by going in and in and in. It's like this symbol of a magnifying glass bringing the energies in and in and in. Energy upon energy upon energy. Power upon power upon power.  If you want to go on to another stage, if you want to go to the left and the right, it's just like moving that magnifying glass that was in forwards. It never has time to build up heat, power, flame.  So by focusing the energies of the mind, by contentment no wanting to go anywhere when you're on the full awareness of the breath, just staying just from the very beginning of an in breath, the end of an in breath, the beginning of an outburst, the end of an outbath. It starts to become very beautiful,  very enjoyable,  until the people actually find that doing this method, it's just so easy to meditate. And it's just so much fun to meditate.  I love meditating. I always tell if it's been a good meditation retreat or not by just looking at people people's faces afterwards. And if they're miserable, if they're greeting their teeth, if they just got horizontal mouths on them, I know they're not getting anywhere.  But once people really get into the meditation retreats, they do the meditation properly. Those ones who really know how to meditate. How can I tell that meditation is going good just by the curvature of their mouths?  If the curvature is very great with the ends going upwards, then I know they've got their meditation in line especially. Gets the beautiful breath.  Deep breath. Just breathing in. Just so nice and breathing out. So lovely.  That's what it's like. It doesn't cost anything. It's not bad for your health. Most of the places in the world are bad for your health. I used to like fish and chips until they discovered cholesterol. These people everything, don't they?  Anyway, but actually, now I discovered, because there was an article in the newspapers not so long ago, that they found out in England, actually, that people who change their diets to lower cholesterol.  They found they had the same death rates  that had no change on their sort of the longevity at all, because they found out that if you give up eating the odd foods, it actually helps the body's healthier food, but you get so depressed on not eating the food, you but that actually kills you.  That's a good argument, isn't it? But anyway, so that's the beautiful place. It gets us so nice and so loving. It's a pleasure which hasn't got any bad side effects,  and it shows you it's a pleasure of containment. The main thing about what these stages of the meditation teaches you is you don't have to do anything.  And the less you do, the deeper you go and the happier you are. And this is one of the great teachings of Buddhism, of actually all mysticism, because we do so much, that's why we suffer so much.  There is a time when we just don't do anything, when we really relax and rest. That's why I said this here some years ago.  The only people who can really meditate well are those people who know how to be late lazy.  And all of you say, well, that's me, I'm the lazy one. But you aren't lazy. You haven't got a clue about being lazy. Lazy is a great skill which maybe only monks know.  You sit there and actually do nothing without feeling guilty about it, without planning what you're going to do next, without writing a book about being still. You actually are still. You're not doing anything. Isn't that really how you can be absolutely lazy?  Lot of people think they're lazy just go lying in bed there's, sleeping, that's still doing something. Or they go there just thinking or just listening to the TV and just lounging around or cooking or eating or something. That's not being lazy, that's doing something again.  I challenge you. Go back home, maybe tomorrow and actually sit on your chair and actually do nothing. See how hard it is to do nothing, even for half an hour. Don't even think.  Can you do that? Do you know how? How to be lazy.  It's very hard to be lazy. That's why you have to train for many years with great teachers like Ajan Charter, know how to be lazy when it's time to be lazy, and how to work when it's time to work. So what? Being lazy is actually doing nothing. And you find that when you really know how to do nothing,  to leave things alone and be still. The meditation starts to work really powerfully and it's teaching a beautiful lesson. When you get close to this beautiful breath, you're actually doing nothing. It becomes effortless. You ever heard of those dancers, those gymnasts, those musicians who get into the zone?  That's what they call it when they've been practicing all there for months, for years,  about practicing this dance or practicing this routine on the bars or practicing how to play a piano. When they go to perform, they just disappear.  And just a dance happens. Just they watch their hands as it's playing some amazing music.  They can only achieve such a great height of ability when they stop doing  the routine. They stop doing playing the piano. Because one of the monks I grew up with, he married an Indian dancer. And sometimes they come here every now and again. And years ago, because she was actually a top Indian dancer, actually, they bought one of these glossy magazines from India where her pictures on the front cover. She was actually really famous in India.  And I asked her, how do you dance to such a high standard? And this is what she said. She trains and trains and trains and trains. When it's time to do something, she does it. When she actually performs, she forgets everything she ever learned. She completely lets go. She just allows her dance to happen. She gets out of the way.  That's what we call laziness  talk. In this context,  you learn how to not do and allow it to happen. It's called contentment. You're just focusing your mindfulness on the lotus and it opens up all by itself.  You get beautiful breaths. You don't do anything. You just get out of the way and allow the process of meditation to happen. Every person who's come up to me and said they've got into deep meditation, they all say the same thing. And it's fascinating to hear them again. Here we go again. They said, for the first time, I really let go.  First time they were really lazy. The first time they really stopped doing. They allowed this Lotus to open up all by itself.  I was teaching this at the retreat and someone said, Look, I did this. I was not doing anything. I was just watching. Watching washing. You're watching. But the lotus never opened. I was waiting a long time. Come on, Lotus. I'm not doing anything. Come on, Lotus, open up. I'm not doing anything.  Of course, you know what's going on that's not doing. That's sort of like not doing with the fingers cross behind your back. It's sort of expecting something to happen with great patience,  getting out the way. Everything starts to work just so beautifully. So because you're focusing on the beautiful breath, what happens next is really fascinating because the beautiful breath disappears and you get these wonderful lights in the mind called an imitators.  This is really fascinating. When people actually get this, when I talk about it, it's dangerous to talk about these things because as soon as you talk about them, how amazing they are, people actually want them so much, they can't just stay with singing like the best. They want to go on into the real meditations.  It's fascinating when you get to this stage of meditation, when a light appears in the mind and the breath completely disappears,  because that's actually a reflection of your mind.  That which we call mind  is actually you start to see it for the very first time. You know, in our world of science, we always talk about mind, and people talk about the mind brain connection, and they talk about what the mind is. Oh, it's not the mind. Whether mind is a soul is actually where does the mind live?  Where is the mind?  You know how I tell people about where the mind is? Did this little exercise. I don't know if I did this a few weeks ago, but I tell people, are you feeling happy now? Hands up if you're feeling sort of  up. If you're feeling peaceful, be hands up feeling peaceful. Okay, now, can you please point to that piece?  In your body. Point to it. Is it your nose fitting peaceful or your legs feeling peaceful?  The reason I do this exercise you can do this to other people who say the mind doesn't exist. They say, Are you happy? Are you sad? Point to the happiness. Point to the sadness. They know they are happy. They know they are sad. They know they are peaceful. They're not imagining this. Sadness, happiness, peace, anger is real.  You can't point to it. You know why you can't point to it? Because these are things which live in the mind. And the mind doesn't occupy space. The body occupies space. It's one of the reasons why things which have mind made bodies like ghosts can appear at the other end of the world instantaneously. Because they are made of mind and mind as an occupy space no more than happiness occupied space. You cannot point to it. You cannot give it coordinates. You cannot say it's in the upper half of my body or the lower half of my body.  It's a mental thing.  When you get to this Nimita  can't say it appears at the end of the nose, or it appears in the third eye of the head, or it appears in your belly button or on your left toe because the body and space disappear.  You're looking straight at the mind. And this is fascinating because at last you find out at least the reflection of the mind what this might actually is, and you start to see it. But be very careful because when these numerators come up, as I was telling someone this morning as they're driving me to the airport in KL, they said they got a newer come up once, only once in a meditation. It was like dark and dingy.  And I said, that's what your mind was like.  I said, oh, no,  because actually you're seeing what your mind is like. I've noticed that if you've misbehaved that day, if you've had bad thoughts, or not being pure in your precepts or kind, or if you've been selfish, when you actually come across a nimmer in your meditation, it's dull. It's not bright and shiny, it's dark and dingy.  It's actually reflecting sort of the impurity of your mind because of the unskill for actions which you've been doing that day.  It's fascinating when actually, you have to be honest, actually seeing what this mind truly is. And it's qualities that's why that if you really want to get into meditation, you have to live a good lifestyle, especially if you want to get to these deeper stages of meditation. If you're not having purity of conduct. And listen, you know what a pure heart is? Just the kindness, the generosity, just wanting to help other people, not getting angry at others, but just seeing what you can do for them. Not seeing the faults, but having a very positive mind. That's the purity of the mind, that's energy of the mind. All negativity, all criticism, sort of all ill will that sort of stops the energy that drains the mind.  As you see this, when you get to these stages of meditation, because you're seeing your mind, you can't sort of neglect to see what gives it energy and brightness and what doesn't. You seeing the Lord of Karma there, there directly.  I would encourage you because it's much nicer having a bright limit than a dull, dingy, dark one.  But of course, I can only stay when it's contentment at this beautiful simile, the still forest pool for the practice of meditation at these sorts of stages. He said it was like that as a monk, a wandering monk. Every evening he would always try and end up at a lake or a river  so he could wash, get some water to drink and maybe wash a few clothes.  Then, after washing, he would actually set up his mosquito net a few meters away from the river or the lake, sit in it, and sometimes he would meditate. Sometimes he would just sit there, just watching the animals come out to play. Because the animals will come out and drink and play in the waters in the evening. They'd only come out when it was absolutely still. If they knew there was an as a human being there, they wouldn't come near.  He said that sometimes he was so still,  not moving at all. And not only the ordinary animals came out, but some animals who he had never seen before, animals his parents and his teachers had never eaten, even described to him,  animals he never knew existed. Strange and wonderful these animals were, they were so sensitive and scared of human beings, they would hardly ever let any human being see them. You said this is what happens in the deep stages of meditation, only when you're absolutely content  and still these beautiful limiters actually stay.  The more you want, the more you move, the more you're content, the more you're still.  That's how one develops the last stage of the meditation. You're on the 6th petal of the lotus. Instead of wanting to open it quickly, you have to be so still, just like watching the animals play by the lake. Not moving, not wanting, just keeping your mindfulness warming the last petal. And then it opens out into the deep joy. All stages of contentment. What it actually shows you just how powerful is this thing, which we call contentment, because it opens up all the petals of the lotus, all the stages of meditation, and every stage gets brighter and more powerful and more energetic. Contentment doesn't lead to dullness.  Doing leads to dullness contentment, leads to more and more energy in the mind. It gets brighter and brighter, more powerful. And when you get into these deep drainage, you just amazing energy,  especially afterwards.  So the way of Contempt, when the Buddha said containment is the highest wealth, this is almost like the jewel in the heart of the lotus. When you get to these powerful stages of meditation, then you can do all sorts of things.  You can only sort of see what the Buddha was teaching when he was talking about the Four Noble Truths. You can actually remember your past lives as well. This is what I've really been encouraging some of the meditators and the retreats to do. Get deep meditation. Ask yourself, what's your earliest memory?  And because of the power of the mind, the mind goes off and searches and finds those memories. And it really amazes you that the mind can actually do these things. You can actually find out what it was like when you were a young baby or in your mother's womb, or even before.  It's all cause of contentment. This comes up. And so you actually find out these truths of religion, of Buddhism or whatever for yourself. Sometimes people say, what's the point of remembering your past life?  This is what I asked one question. I said, look, wouldn't it be wonderful to know once and for all whether it's rebirth was actually true or not? Whether it was just a myth, something which was part of old fashioned India and just a cultural anomaly? And nowadays, science knows much better. And we're only born once. It's important to know whether you're born once so many times.  If you're born many, many times, you better watch out for what's going to happen next.  All you people who think you're finished with school, you're going to have to go back to primary school again. You don't get it right again. All that learning again, all those exams. Never think you finished your exams. There's always another one in your next life. Quite a few left.  I don't think you've got rid of your children. They've all grown up. You can have some more as well. Do we go through that again? Childbirth and having kids and having some of them teenage years again and just getting angry and upset at you?  Nappies.  You're not out of nappies yet until you're enlightened your life.  So, Sanitizer, it's important to know this, isn't it? So if you actually know it what rebirth actually is, and you can remember the next, actually, the knowledge which the Buddha had after getting his deep meditations under the Bodhi tree. This is the story of the Buddha's enlightenment. He actually reflected on his past lives. And there's a good reason for that, because he really wanted to find out for sure whether past lives were true. And also karma, or the law of karma, which Buddhists teach.  It's okay to sort where it sort of makes sense. But, you know, who knows? It's only another theory.  Okay, I might sort of know, put my money on that horse, but I don't know whether it's going to win or not. You can never actually really know until you experience these things. If you experience like a few of your past lives and know the connections, you should be able to see the connections. Why is know you're born like this? So you do this, your inclinations.  That's actually what goes from life to life. Inclinations. You know that story of that man in Sydney, that Buddhist in Sydney?  When his wife gave birth to his first daughter  after a while he realized it was his aunt who died a few years earlier. He had an aunt who was a very successful businesswoman in Sydney  and she was a multi millionaire. And just before she died, she made out her will,  I think. She was married to her nieces and nephews and he was one of them. However, he was the only niece and nephew in the family who was a tall religious and this business lady hated religion and hated charity. That's bad karma. You know what the result of that bad karma was? Listen, I had an instant result for this aunt.  Because this particular nephew was a Buddhist, she hardly gave him any inheritance because she was convinced that if she gave him some money, he just gave it to the Buddhist temples. And she didn't want that to happen. So she only gave him just a tiny amount of her inheritance. The other nieces and nephews got a lot, but not him. And then she was reborn as his daughter. So she had to live in poverty because she never gave him any money.  Instant karma.  But anyway, actually, he told me that when the daughter was born, that she bought an uncanny lightness to the auntie died a few months before and all the family started to notice. This looks like Auntie. But this baby it might be just imagination. When the baby started to speak, that's when all the memories came out.  He told me there's so many of them. The ones he told me I remember he said one of the things he did inherit was the old crockery, the mugs. Not the ones he used to keep for the best occasions when business clients were coming in, but just the old mugs, which used to sort of drink out of the ones he used to use. Worthless ones. He inherited those when he was coming into the room one day, he told me with a cup of coffee, a mic of coffee. This little baby went ballistic. Daddy. Daddy. My cup. Give me my cup. That's my cup. Not your cup. Give me my cup.  When they went close to her old mansion. Daddy, daddy. My house. Take me to my house. That's my house.  The most interesting thing about the inclinations when she was a businesswoman,  she would do anything to avoid paying taxes to the government.  Anything. She'd hire accountants. She'd put off the tax invoices to the very last moment, the tax return. So she'd do anything to avoid paying taxes.  He told me that one day his little daughter was riding in the back of the car and one of his ABCs.  And they passed one of these billboards, one of the advertising signs by the side of the freeway which said something about tax outside of Sydney. Little baby  said, Daddy, what does the word tax mean? And Daddy explained to us his little daughter tax means that when you get any money you have to give some of it to the government. And this little baby said, Daddy, when I get any money, I'm giving nothing to the government.  Why, a little two or three year old baby would actually say this is actually beyond comprehension. Unless she realized that was the rebirth of his aunts who, from a past life had spent her whole life avoiding taxes and now, as a little baby has still got the same inclinations.  And that's actually just what happens when we get reborn. If you actually see your past life, you can actually see those inclinations. That's why some people ask me because they were very strong Buddhists in that part of Malaysia. They say, well, how can I ensure my next life I'll find sort of a good Buddhist teacher. I'd become a Buddhist. So you don't need to worry about that. Your inclinations.  Will make you a Buddhist. And I said, look at me. I was born in London. I became a Buddhist. Just show some inclinations there. So this is actually what happens and this is how we find out the root of this law of karma, the way we live our life. It gives us inclinations to goodness or inclinations to badness or inclinations to being kind. We practice a lot of kindness in this life. That's the sort of karma showing kindness to kindness in our next life.  We get into a lot of fights in this life. Incline us get into a lot of fights and our next fight as well. Instant karma. Karma comes back again.  Sometimes you used to wonder when I was growing up in London used to go to some pubs or some like dancers and some of these places you knew there would always be a fight  and people actually go these places because they would like a fight.  They're inclined towards violence and getting beaten up.  I never inclined towards icard to go into temples. Instead, you never get beaten up in the Buddhist center. So much nicer place to go on a Friday night. So why do people incline to go to places where they know there's danger and violence? Because you see that karma from the past sort of pulls them in that direction. And so you can see this pattern of contentment. You can actually see where all this is coming from. You can see it for yourself and get this marvelous insights.  And it also shows you just how you can really rest in life.  Because one of the most biggest problems of human beings at our time, especially times when we have to work so hard, we don't know how to let things go.  A way to let things go. Instead us is contentment.  Contentment is a way for freedom.  When you talk about freedom. Freedom from like being in a jail. As I mentioned this few weeks ago, the difference between a jail and a monastery  not much difference, is there? Actually, in a jail, you get three meals a day. You get to watch the television. You get a nice soft bed. In fact, the conditions in jail are much better than the podium. Yarn monitor where I live. If Amnesty International found out how I treat my monks, I'll be in big trouble. 7s But, of course, there's a lot of difference between a monastery and a jail. And the main difference is monks in a monastery want to be there. Prisoners in a jail don't want to be there. That is the only difference. The difference between being in prison and being free is whether you want to be there or whether you don't want to be there. Which is why if you're in a relationship you hate, you don't want to be in that relationship. It's a prison for you.  If you're in a job you hate, you don't want to be in that job. That's a prison for you. If you're a body you hate,  that's a prison.  You don't need to move anywhere else. If you change means that I don't want to be there to contentment immediately you're freed from prison.  So contentment is the opposite of I don't want to be there. That's where freedom comes from. That's why if it's in meditation, I don't want to be here. I want to be into dijonas. I want to be into a nimitz. I don't want to be with this breath. I want this to wind. I don't want to be listening here. I want to go home.  Can't I jump? Finish now? It's gone past 09:00. I want my cup of coffee. You're in jail. You're not allowed to go  if you're you're free.  So this is a difference between prison.  And freedom, contentment. And eventually you might want to sort of change your job. You might change your partner. You want to change the place you go to a Friday night. But it will always be the same until you learn how to be content.  There's nothing to do with what's out there. It's what you make of it.  Four walls don't make a jail. It's just not wanting to be there.  So whatever is happening to you, especially whatever is happening to you in your body, if you've got pain and sickness in the body, it's only a prison if you don't learn how to be content with his body.  So that way, as you can see, the way to freedom, the way to freedom is through contentment.  And you have to try sometimes. You have to work. But please understand that when I'm talking about contentment, letting go, it's not what you do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but have that ability to do it whenever you want.  So when you work hard, you can take some time off just for contentment.  What's done has been well done, good enough. I'm content with it right now. Only then can I rest. Only then can I be free. Only then can I get into deep meditation and realize the bliss and the joy of just doing nothing for a change. When you've rested, when you've appreciated, when you're free long enough and you've got your energies back, then you can go working again. So even though we are in prison because of all of the things we have to do in life, at least give yourself parole at least once a week. So that's why the Buddha said that contentment is the highest wealth. The contentment leads to the deep meditations that similar the lotus. The deepest stages open up only when you let go and you're at peace and you don't move through contentment. And also contentment is a way to be released from prison.  So whenever you are in a jail, in a prison and you can't get out, try contentment and the walls disappear.  This is a talk this evening on contentment and I hope you like it, because that's what you're getting. So you better be content or else.  So thank you very much for listening today. Are there any questions on contentment? And I hope you like the joke about the puppy.