Feb. 4, 2023

Freedom | Ajahn Brahm

Freedom | Ajahn Brahm

Keeping precepts gives you freedom from worry, anxiety and other negative qualities. In meditation, the more you try and control, the worse the meditation gets. The deeper you go in meditation, the more still and silent it becomes, until you find fre...

Keeping precepts gives you freedom from worry, anxiety and other negative qualities. In meditation, the more you try and control, the worse the meditation gets. The deeper you go in meditation, the more still and silent it becomes, until you find freedom from desires. Keep moral precepts in your life to feel freedom. Freedom is being where you want to be, not where someone else wants you to be.If you're not happy in your life, it's probably because you're following the wrong path. When you're sick, you're given the advantage or the opportunity to other people to care for you. That's why it's nice to be sick sometimes. So that if you want to be sick, then you're not imprisoned by your ill health. It doesn't feel confining to you. It's not a huge problem anymore. You can be sick and still feel free. When you have that feeling of freedom there with your sickness, you don't mind it being there.


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

This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 12th July 2002. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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


Robot Generated Transcription - expect errors!

This evening, I'm going to talk on the subject of freedom. So those who want to be free, stick around and listen. It's right if you want to sit down. First of all, one thing which I will announce, though, is that I know we've been having trouble with our microphone, and sometimes people can't hear what we're saying. So those in the back over there, if you can't hear clearly what's being said, wave at me or sort of point to your ears or let me know, because sitting here in this seat, I can't really know whether you're hearing the talk or not. So if it is that you can't hear the talk properly, please wave at me or do something so that I can something which is not rude to let me know. Okay? This evening's talk will be on the subject of freedom. This is a subject or a concept which is very important in our Western world. Many people have philosophies about freedom. It's something which our institutions try and quantify and protect for people. And it's something which is fundamental to the spiritual life and the inner happiness of people. However, it's something which many people just do not understand. And because they don't understand what freedom truly is, they will never find the path to freedom. When they don't know the path to freedom, they'll never achieve and experience freedom, nor will they know the bliss and the happiness which is generated by freedom. So this is a very powerful idea and concept called freedom. I'm going to talk at length about it this evening. It's a subject which is obviously very close to the heart of meditating monks, because it seems to be almost contradictory that people can go and live in a monastery, and in a monastery where a monk lives is called a cell. The only other time you live in a cell is when you're in prison and you've got no freedom at all. In fact, we have a prison just up the road from our monastery, carnot prison farm. We've got the wall. They've just got a wire fence. So sometimes, especially in the early days when we're building our monastery, that people would go past our monastery into the prison farm and ask, where are the monks thinking that was our monastery? It actually happened quite a couple of times, as embarrassed to say. And I was very pleased that the prison officer said, there's no monks here. And for many people, the idea of being a monk or a nun when you can't do this and you can't do that for them, would feel like you're making a prison for yourself in your life. And indeed, that the last time I gave a talk here two weeks ago. I was telling everyone about the six month silent retreat, which I did at my monastery in Circle and time, the time when I was separated from all contact with other human beings for six months. And I never spoke a word to any human being nor saw them. And I recall that in the history of Australia, they used to send the very worst criminals to the island of Tasmania to think, to Port Philip Bay or something. And the very worst of the worst criminals, I think there was one fellow who was so bad, all the terrible floggings which they gave him never seemed to do any good. And so, as the last resort, they sent him to an island off the coast alone, thinking that separation from human company was even worse than such terrible beatings. And there are such things as Geneva Conventions and human rights conventions. And I would think that, as I said two weeks ago, if anyone puts someone in solitary confinement for six months, you'll be breaking so many laws and conventions, you'll be in big trouble. However, please do not DOB in the Buddhist society of WA to the Human Rights Commission that they made me, but that I spent such a long time by myself. I've mentioned that to many people just what I've been doing, because I like to see people's reactions. And they say, how can you do that? Surely that would be self torture. Don't you get lonely? Don't you get bored? Don't you get frustrated? And the idea of being in silence for such a long time will be like a self imposed prison. But the reality of the experience is no idea of being in a prison. There's no idea or sensation of being confined or being tortured or punished. In that situation is a huge feeling of freedom. It's just like being in a monastery that I feel much freer than I ever felt in Laylife. Before I was a monk, I was a student and a school teacher. And I used to enjoy doing things which everyone did at that age. And I never felt freedom. The hippie movement of which I was apart, as I mentioned here to you before, i, too had my green velvet trousers, hippie beards, a beard and long hair was when my mother told me to get my hair cut and I dared and became a monk. She said, that's not what I meant by getting your hair cut. But even though that was a movement where you were supposed to have freedom, you know what they used to? Those of you old enough, you remember the catchphrase let it all hang out. Remember that one? But what actually hang out was a lot of suffering and confusion. There's no freedom there at all. And in our day and age that we try our governments try to give freedom to the people in their countries and their lands. But do you really feel that in all the years that you've been alive in a country like Australia, whatever other country you've been in, do you really feel that you've gained freedom? Or do you really feel that life is containing you, pressuring you, putting enormous burdens on your back, pushing and pulling you, as if there is some tyrant, some slave master who you haven't really seen yet, who's always giving you so many things which so many tasks and chores which you have to do. That's what a slave master is telling you come here, go there, do this, clean that there is a tyrant which stops us being free. And even though we live in a country where those tyrants are not our politicians, they are not sort of secret police, still there is still a tyrant in a country like Australia, in Perth, which stops us feeling free. There may have been times of your life when you felt freedom. Do you remember a time maybe when you were very young when you felt so free, as if there was nothing pressing you, nothing pulling you, nothing containing you? I remember such times as a young child and they were times of deep feelings of contentment. It took a while to really understand why it was I felt free in such situations. And eventually the answer came. To me from one of my most one of the favorite stories and tales which I like to tell on a Friday evening. I tell this tale because it's a real occurrence in the life of our monastery and it's a story which the more I tell, the more I get information or understanding about what freedom really means. It was a time when one of our monks went to teach meditation in one of the jails. It was in the new jail of Casualina. I was already too busy with doing other things so I gave up all the jail teaching to one of our monks. And he used to go there regularly, I think once a week. And after about six or seven weeks of teaching in this jail the prisoners in his meditation group became so familiar with him and so friendly with him that one afternoon after the teaching there was a few minutes left. They started just to talk about what it's like living in a monastery. Then he told the lifestyle of a monk in my monastery down at Serpentine to the prisoners. He told them there was no television down there, no videos, there was no weekly movies. There was not even a radio. There was no music or CDs. The monks weren't allowed to sing, nor were they allowed to play guitars or pianos. Moreover, you had to usually sleep on the floor or a low bed. And it was only one meal a day. You didn't even get anything to eat in the afternoon. And if it was a cup of tea sometimes they just had to take what you were given and sometimes there was nothing else to have. And even the food which you had, sometimes you had to put it all in the same bowl. You couldn't have a plate for your sweets. And it got all mixed up. And when they started to tell when this monk started to tell the prisoners what it was like in a monastery the prisoners were so surprised and then shocked. And then they felt sympathy for the monk so much. They said, that's terrible. Why don't you come in here and stay with us? They'd forgotten what they were saying and where they were. They were in a prison. They were inviting the mic to come. Because in a prison, he gets females a day. You get very soft base. You get sort of televisions, computers, music. There's so many things which you can do in a prison, and compared to our monastery, that a prison is just luxurious. That's why I'll be never afraid, if ever go to jail, to be so comfortable in there. Not that ever go to dad except to teach. But the result of that story was a very deep understanding of the meaning of freedom and its opposite being in a prison. Because if you want to understand any concept in the world, such as freedom, sometimes the best way of investigating it is from its opposite. In the same way, if you want to understand what peace is, look what disturbances. Want us to understand what happiness is, look at suffering. Because by looking at its opposite, you can get great insights. You want to know what light is? Look at dark. Know what dark is? Look at light. You want to know what freedom is? Look at out being in prison. What makes a prison? In the jails of Western Australia, it's very comfortable, but no one wants to be there. If they get a parole or a release or the appeal is upheld, they don't. So stick around for another few days to stay with their friends. They get out as soon as they can. They don't want to be there. In a monastery, every year we tend to be full up. Our Lady's Guest House this year was booked out a couple of years ago. 2003 is already booked and so is 2004. So people are just queuing up and booking two years in advance to stay in voting yarn a prison. Why? Well, they just eat one meal a day and they got no television and they have to do what they're told and they've got to be quiet. Why is it? It is because, first of all, what freedom means is you want to be there if a person is in a jail, in casual in a prison, or in Canning Vale or no Alcatraz, that's not there anymore. But any other top security jail, if you want to be there, if you're happy there, if you're content there, then it is not a jail. If you're at home with all of your DVDs and queen size beds and rodden kitchens so you can actually ring out. You don't even have to cook a pizza these days. You can pick up the phone and order one with all of those comforts, do you feel free? If you don't want to be there if you're not content and happy where you are, then you are in prison. Wherever you don't want to be, that is prison. Wherever you want to be, that is freedom. And that is the difference between freedom and being in prison. Many people who come here who are very concerned about relationships in the world out there it's a huge thing about having company, learning to live with somebody else. One of the comments I've got from people is six months by yourself. Then you got fed up with yourself. Then you get bored. And I'm very happy. Being by myself or being with people is because of contentment by wanting to be alone. If you're alone, wanting to be with someone else. If you're with someone else, any relationship becomes a prison for you. If you don't want to be there, if you want to be somewhere else then the relationship becomes sort of confining. It's not the person you're with. It's just a feeling in your heart. Sickness the relationship with yourself. If you're happy with your sickness and that's a radical thing to say but you can be happy with sicknesses. Sicknesses have many advantages. Your partner can care for you and look after you. It's marvelous, actually looking after and caring for somebody else. And as a monk people actually love when a monk is sick. They've got someone to look after. To the point that many years ago a monk a friend of mine was visiting his mother in Chicago. That's right. And being a very cold city, he was in the wintertime, he slipped on the ice and broke his leg. He went to hospital straight away. When his mother found out, she came into the ward where his bed was with a big smile on her face. She said, now I've got you where I want you. He was a big boy. He was a monk in Thailand. Now he was in hospital. Hospital. And he couldn't run away. She could mother him for a couple of weeks. She was blissed out. I think you can understand why, because that when you're sick, you're given the advantage or the opportunity to other people to care for you. That's why it's nice to be sick sometimes. So that if you want to be sick, then you're not imprisoned by your ill health. It doesn't feel confining to you. It's not a huge problem anymore. You can be sick and still feel free. When you have that feeling of freedom there with your sickness, you don't mind it being there. It's like you're in a prison. Prisons are usually supposed to be uncomfortable, but sometimes people get used to it and they get comfortable there, they get content, and then they find happiness there and peace there. And this is like with a body which is being sick. Freedom comes from letting go of trying to make it different. The wonderful thing happens when you do this with, say, sickness. When you really let it go, you're content with the sickness. Sickness starts to disappear. It's one of those strange things. The more you try to get rid of it, the more it's a prison for you, the worse it becomes. One of the reasons is because so many of the sicknesses of human beings is caused from the mind stress. What that stress means. You know what stress means? You can feel it, can't you? I don't want this. I want it to be different, controlling. I don't feel happy here. I want to change it. I want to change my partner. I want to change my body. I want to change Adam Brahm. I want to change the carpet. I want to change the heat. I want it cold, I want it hot. I want to change the government. I want to change the world. I want to change my financial situation. I want to be rich. Pitch people want to be richer. The richer people want to be the motorich. Everyone wants to change something. Who's actually content, who's happy where they are, who's not in prison. The other story about freedom, which I'm going to bring up right now. Again, one of my favorite stories is the story of The Wishing Game. I told this the other day at some Thai people, the monastery. Again, it's a powerful story. And I recycle these stories again and again because I want you to remember them. Each story, when you look at it, you can always get more and more insights from them. The story of The Wishing Game goes like this it was a group of, I think, five children. They were playing the wishing game. It goes like this if you had one wish, what would you want? If I could grant you that wish, let's make it real. If I could grant you one wish, what would you ask for in this game? The first child said, If I had a wish, I would wish for an ice cream. It was only a small child, he liked ice creams, and it was a hot day. Second child, having heard that one wish, said, if I had a wish, I would wish for an ice cream factory. Because having an ice cream factory, if you own an ice cream factory, you can have an ice cream whenever you wanted. Now, as soon as the second child said that, the first child thought what an idiot I was. And how clever was that second child, oh, if only I could have that wish over again. But in life you can't have a wish over again. The third child did even better than the second child. The third child said, if I had a wish, I'd wish for a billion dollars. Because with a billion dollars, you can buy an ice cream factory. You can also buy a candy factory. You can also buy a fish and chip shop. You can buy so many things. And so you can have ice cream whenever you want, candy whenever you want. You can buy a pizza chain, have a pizza whenever you want. And the second child thought how stupid I was. If only I could have my choice again, I would wish for a billion dollars. Now to interrupt here, those of you haven't heard this story before, what would you wish for? If you had one wish? If you had one wish, what would you wish for? The fourth child was smarter than watching a billion dollars. He said, If I had one on wish, I would wish for three wishes. And with my first wish, I'd wish for an ice cream factory. With my second wish, I'll have a billion dollars. Thank you. And for my third wish, I'll ask for three wishes. So whatever I think about later on, I want I can have that for my keep on going. And the other three children thought that was perfection. How can you do better? To the Nat, you had one wish to ask for three wishes. Because you can keep on wishing. Get whatever you want again and again and again and again. Now, those of you haven't heard what the Fifth Child said, because the Fifth Child beat all the other four children. They had one wish which was more profound, gave them more happiness than that Fourth Child, who had an infinite number of wishes. In our world, we always want to be that Fourth child. We want to be billionaires. So whenever we have a wish, we can always get that wish. We want to be able to go wherever we want, to experience whatever we want, so that we have so much money, so much power that we never have a wish. We can get it straight away. We always like to aspire to the Fourth Child. That is the world. The Fifth Child said, if I had one wish, I wish that I didn't ever need any more wishes. I wish for the end of wishing. Because when you have the wish for no more wishes, that's called contentment. That's much better than always wanting a wish. Whenever you want to wish, it means you're not happy where you are. You're not content, you're not free. You're not happy where you are. You are still in a prison. When you have no wishes, you're happy where you are. Your content. That is what we call freedom. That last child was the Buddha. No more wishes. Imagine what it would be like to have no wishes. Absolutely content. What that really means is the real meaning of freedom. Freedom from desire, not freedom of desire. When you have desire wanting, that is why we never feel free. Look at it in your daily life. You want to get to work on time. You don't feel free. You want to get on in the world and become wealthy. That means that from Monday to Friday and probably during the week, you're not free. You want to have health in the body and you're not healthy. Therefore you don't feel free. You feel as a tough there even you got pain in your legs. You don't want pain in your legs. That's why you're always being pushed and pulled. You never feel free. You're not content with your partner, so you never feel free. You always have to try and find another one. Or even with your mind. You're not content with your meditation. You want it to be different. You want your mind to stop thinking. You don't want it to be this way. You don't want it to be that way. You're always trying to control the world. That is why you don't feel free. You don't have to change the world to be free. You don't even have to change yourself to be free. All you need to do is to let go of all changing and all all wishing. Then you feel freedom. Which is why it was a strange experience when I first became a monk. Being a monk, I had all these rules I had to keep. They say that there's 227 rules for a monk, but that's only the start of it. And you get more as you go along, as you read deeper and deeper into the teachings of the Buddha and especially the rules for monks. And sometimes you think, all these rules in our day and age where we talk about freedom and just not being hung up on things and liberating your mind. How can you feel free with all those rules? Aren't you always worried about doing something wrong? The answer is actually no. The more rules you keep, the fear you feel strange, but that's the truth of it. If you have no rules in your life, no self discipline, anything goes. Try it for one day. You feel just so uncomfortable, so lack of freedom. One of the lovely things when people come to visit the monastery and stay for a time, they got all these rules they have to keep. And they keep them because they feel just so free, feel so much space. The reason is because they're free from so many problems. It's why that we call just basic morality. Freeing yourself from so many difficulties. One of the other stories about precepts is the story of the fish in the aquarium. It's another powerful story which shows you why it's good to keep moral precepts in our life. The story goes like this. There are two months. Actually, one of those monks visited here very recently. There were two monks visiting a house where they were waiting for their morning meal. Sitting in the lounge room, they saw a fish tank. And one of the monks said straight away, that is not compassionate. That is not Buddhist to put fish in a tank. Do many of you have fishing and aquarium in your house? What are the fish done to be put in a prison like that? It's like a prison. They can't swim here. They can't swim there, can they? So you got these fish confined in a little tank in your house for your pleasure. So surely that should liberate them. Go and take them out to a river or a lake. That's what one monk thought. That was unburdened. That was cool to put fish in an aquarium in a house. The other monk, who is much wiser, said, no, you're wrong. You don't understand because fish in a tank have a lot of freedom. First of all, they're free from fishermen. Have you ever seen someone dangling a line and a hook in a fish tank in a house? They're free of the danger of fishermen. Number two, they're free of bigger fish, the fear of bigger fish. Because no owner in their right mind will put sort of a big fish and a little fish who eat one another in the same tank. In the rivers and the lakes, the fish have got to be very afraid. They see a big fish, they got to run as fast as they can because big fish eat small fish. Also, if a fish in the rivers and lakes see a little worm in there, that's their food. It might be a fly. That's what they eat. They don't know. They can't be sure whether that worm has got a hook in it or that worm hasn't. They've seen many of their friends eat a nice juicy worm and suddenly be jerked out of their lake, never to be seen again. Imagine what it'd be like like that if you had dinner. You never knew when you have your dinner where there's a hook in there and whether it be your end in your death, you get psychotic. I reckon that many of the fish in the lakes and the rivers are psychotic because they never can be sure that what they're going to eat is going to be their end, their death, or whether they can have a nice meal. You can never really enjoy your food, can you, as a fish? But the fish in an aquarium, their food of the danger of bigger fish, they're free of the danger of fishermen. And also, whatever food they eat there, they know it's safe. Not only it's safe, they don't even need to search for it. It's like takeaway or like home delivery pizza delivered twice or three times a day. They don't have to work at all. It's there for them whenever they want. So they're free of hunger. Not only they're free of hunger. But if ever those fish get sick in the aquarium. The owner gets a fish doctor to come and heal them. They've got fee medical care. Even in our community, we have a certain amount of fee medical care. We got like excess we have to pay if we go in hospitals, fish don't have that excess. It's absolutely free. The best medical care you can possibly get. Also, they've got air conditioning. An aquarium has got this thermostat heater on it, so it's just the right temperature. I don't know about you coming into this hall today. It was very cold outside. This afternoon I did a funeral and it was blowing and raining on the way to the Crematorium in Fremantle. It was really cold. Fish have got a much better life than that in an aquarium. They never feel heat or cold or too hot or too cold. It's exactly the right temperature. So if you look at it that way, fish in an aquarium are free from so much suffering, so many problems. Now do you understand what freedom means? Sure. They can't go and swim to all these different places. They're free of so many problems. That's why. In Buddhism and other religions we look upon like keeping world precepts. Not as confining you, not as putting you in a cage, but actually liberating you, freeing you. You feel much more free keeping rules because you are free of so many dangers, of so many problems and so many difficulties. That's why the more more precepts you keep, the more freedom you feel. Ask someone who's been coming to our Buddhist center for a long time and who keeps the five precepts of not kidding, not steering, not committing adultery, not lying, not taking alcohol, that must be terrible. Not that you can't have freedom to have a nice beer or a nice bit of wine in the afternoon. You feel more freedom by giving up those things. Number one, you're free from fear of the booze bus when you go home. You're free of fear of liver problems. You're free of fear of not having enough money because it costs a lot of money. If you tell lies, then you're always worried about being caught out. If you don't tell lies, you always tell the truth. You're free from the fear of getting caught and all the problems which come from bad speech. You find you're free of so many things if you keep precepts. That's why keeping precepts gives you such a sense of freedom. If you start practicing compassion for other people, going out, helping and serving others and sometimes you think, why are you spending so much time at the hospital, people's home or monastery or church doing this and helping out that you haven't got any time for yourself. People think freedom is having free time. Do you have free time? What does it mean? Free time means time when you feel free, not time when you can do whatever you want. Because what happens if you've got, say, an afternoon? You got nothing to do. Both times people get bored out of their skull. Turn on the television. There's nothing on today. Turn on look at the CDs, listen to all that. That's really boring. Go into the refrigerator, which is pack sorted with stuff and there's nothing in the refrigerator. Refrigerator going up. A few friends and hours and they're all out. How many people get bored on a day off? You don't feel free, do you? Even though it's supposed to be free time, it's not free time because you don't feel free. A lot of the time, if people are serving others out of compassion, they feel free because they're free from worrying about themselves. This whole idea of yourself, you, and who am I? What am I supposed to be doing? That's all taken away. When you're acting out of compassion because your focus is on somebody else is a sense of freedom. There freedom from your own desires because you're concerned about another person. That's a lot of times. Why? When a person really has love for another person and they experience that feeling of love, there's always a sense of freedom. There an uplift of the mind and the heart because they're not so worried about themselves. They're wholly concerned with the other person. A mother looking after a baby, how much time does she spend with that child? Waking up in the middle of the night two or three times all day having to be concerned about their baby. There's a sense of freedom there because you're concerned not with yourself, with somebody else. One of the reasons why in our day and age people get psychotic again is because they're too involved with themselves. They don't know how to be at peace with themselves or feel that freedom. They get worried about guilt and fear and anxiety and loss and grief. These are all internal things. They don't know how to deal with themselves. One way to overcome depression is actually to go and do some work for somebody else, to fight depression with compassion. Because when you develop compassion you're sending that obsession with your ending the obsession with yourself and you're giving out to somebody else. I have found, just as a general rule of thumb that those people who serve who are compassionate in the world tend not to be depressives. You go out to other people. When you give to other people you get so much back in return. What you get back in return is energy, is happiness and that completely stops depression. Become free of those things. It seems to be the more you serve, the more you give, the freer you feel. Not if you have all the time by yourself, but if you give to others. And as you take freedom even further you start to when the times when you aren't serving others, when you're by yourself, when you're with yourself that's when you have to face some of these guilt, anger, fears, whatever else is in the mind. And when we're by ourselves sometimes we feel no freedom at all because these qualities of the mind again concern us so much. They become such a huge problem we never feel free from them that we don't know how to deal with them. We try again to get rid of our anger. We try to overcome our fear. We try and do something about these problems. The more we try and control and do, the worse it becomes. One of the great ways of overcoming fear, anger, restlessness is just to leave it alone. To be content to be afraid, to be content to be restless, to be content to be bored. If you can actually do that, you are actually undermining the very cause of those negative qualities. When you have contentment, there the whole edifice of restlessness. Fear completely disappears. That's why sometimes some teachers would say, well, what's wrong with being afraid? What's wrong with it? Be afraid. Enjoy it. Have fun. Wasn't wrong with being so depressed. When we think it's wrong, we get depressed about being depressed, and then we get depressed about being depressed about being depressed, and depressed about being depressed about being depressed about being depressed. And I'm just so depressed about being depressed about being depressed about being depressed. We just dig ourselves into the shoes and hold of negativity. So instead of doing that, we're just going to enjoy being depressed. Now, of course, as soon as you start to be content enjoying being depressed, depression is gone. The same as the way I overcame boredom. Because being in a monastery, there's nothing actually, something did go on last Thursday. It's just I'm going on off on a complete tangent, because last Thursday afternoon we had the tactical response group and police helicopters swarming all over our monastery. Not sure if you saw the news last night of the paper this morning. There was the most wanted criminal in Western Australia. It wasn't me, but it was someone. Who is actually hiding out in the land next to our monastery, you know, just a few hundred metres from our boundary. And the the policeman came to see me on Wednesday, one of the detectives, and actually let me know what was going to happen and actually asking me questions. So actually for the last from Thursday Wednesday till Thursday actually I was helping police with their inquiries and happening on Thursday afternoon actually we saw the helicopters in all the noise, they swarmed into the lad next to our monastery and arrested the fellow. Really exciting. Not nothing much happens in the monastery, but seeing the tactical response group and police helicopters swarm them all over the place is really exciting. All the monks really loved it. So you don't have to actually need to buy a television. You can actually see real life in a monastery. So what was I saying? I suppose being in a monastery, being bored sometimes you're sitting meditation, like six months of retreat, no one to talk to, no newspapers. They had I had some books, they were the Buddhist suitors in parliament and the translation that's all the books I had there. But no letters, no telephone calls, no emails. I think you get really bored out of your mind. The way I overcame boredom is investigating boredom. You know, boredom could be really interesting. What boredom feels like, where it comes from, does it change? Is there different levels of boredom? No, really bored, super bored. Mega board or an overboard. When you start to investigate these things, it becomes really interesting. You can actually do a study on boredom and of course as soon as you start to investigate these things, instead of feeling negative about boredom, you start to make it interesting and it's not boring anymore, it's beautiful peace. Instead of being afraid, what is actually fear? Fear is the thing that I give for fear is like being chased by a ghost. There's a ghost right behind you now and are you afraid to turn around and you keep running away? That's what fear is. There comes a time where there's fear when you turn around and look at the ghost straight in the eye and you go Boo. And the ghost runs away. Saying boot of fear. Ghosts are much more scared of you than what's it than you are of them. You can always say boo to a ghost. The ghost will run away. You're no fun anymore. I see one of them no edge of Tamil gave a ghost, which is my ghost story. I don't know if he told you this one. There's a monk in Thailand. Many of the monks in Thailand, even where I lived, was in cremation grounds. It was swarming with ghosts. The ghost all over the place, it's true. But they never bothered with the monks because they're again more scared of monks than people are of them. Monks have got more power, so we tell the ghosts to behave themselves. In this particular monastery, this one bad ghost came into the hut while this monk was supposed to be meditating. The first time he realized this was when he was doing the meditation. He got a bit sort of sore, so he leant back and put his feet out and he felt something actually notice. This is a bit of a pun, but they're actually putting his leg they're actually tucking at it. It's not supposed to be a joke, but it's supposed to be real. They actually tucked his leg. First of all, he thought it was like a good ghost who was trying to stop messing around, cross your legs and meditate some more. But little by little that it got started to interfere with him more and more and more. And after a while, whenever it came in, he could always notice it coming in, because the terrible smell came into his hut when the ghost came in and was always playing with him and giving him a difficult time. So one day he smelt the terrible smell of the ghost coming in and was ready for the ghost to start playing around with him. So he said to the ghost, stop messing around. If you're going to come in here, sit down and meditate or get out. And the ghost went out and never came back again. That's the way it has to look after ghost. Be firm. Don't stand any nonsense with any ghost. You tell them what to do. Stop messing around or get out. They do. Because when you don't get afraid, there's no fudge playing with you. They go up to the next bank and the next tab to sort of mess around with them. I think that's what when I gave a talk on ghosts, I'm just really going off. Freedom. But please don't mind. When I gave a talk on ghost in Kuala Lumpur, the Venerable Daman Under, you see many of his books. The Chief Priest of Bigfield Temple. We started trading stories. Ghost stories. And he came up with a pearl of a ghost story. Because somewhere in Kuala Lumpur or somewhere, there was a halting in one of the houses and he went to do the chanting. Monks chanting is very powerful for ghosts. And it were the ghosts sort of left the house. But the next day or two days later, the neighbors came to complain. The ghosts had just gone next door. You got him out of one house. You hadn't got him out of the neighborhood. It's a true story actually happened anyway. Freedom. When we have any of these bad qualities in the mind, often they get worse because we want to get rid of them. We don't want to be there. I'm bored. I don't want to be here. I'm depressed. I don't want to be here. I'm sick. I don't want to be here. That's the definition of prison. If you want to be free, you don't need to get rid of the fear. You don't need to get rid of the depression or the restlessness. You need to get rid of the reaction. The way you look at it, be content to be afraid. Be content to be restless. Be content. Allow it to be. What you're doing then is you're turning around at that ghost and saying, Boo. The ghost runs away, never comes back. It's a way of overcoming problems by by being free from them. And that sense of freedom runs all the way, not just from those ordinary problems of life into the deeper problems which separate you from deep meditation and enlightenment itself. The meditations, the deep meditations in Buddhism are called states of freedom. For those of you who have some knowledge of this whole tradition, you may have come across the word we Mooti. It's a Hindu word as well as a Buddhist word. It means freedom. One of the words to describe enlightenment is states of freedom, absolute, ultimate freedom. And this is as we go along our path of life, of wisdom, of developing ourselves, we're always going to enlightenment or freedom. The idea, even of Christianity, of a heaven world will be a state of freedom. However, you envisage that sometimes we envisage freedom in such a weird way that it's not free at all. But when you start contemplating that word, experiencing deeper and deeper freedoms through your own meditation or insights, understandings of life, you understand what the path is to enlightenment, what enlightenment really would be. More and more freedom. In your meditation, many of you have been meditating for a long time. Some of you just meditated for the first time today. You should always notice that the more you try and control, the worse the meditation gets. Now and again you get the message. Maybe just for a few seconds, you just leave it alone. And things get quiet by themselves. The way I can tell you is to say it was like a leaf on a tree. It only weighs up and down because of the wind. When there's a wind, it moves. It's not the leaf's problem, it's just because there's a wind, that's all. So if you can somehow protect that leaf from the wind, what would happen? The leaf would move less and less and less until it gets absolutely still. That wind is called desire, craving, wanting it to be something different. Wanting, that's the wind. So what Ajan Char was saying in that, similarly, is when we let go of wanting, we find that little place inside of us where wanting starts, where it originates from discontent. That's where wanting starts. We find that little place, we stop the discontent, we turn it into contentment. So there's no wanting. We're stopping the wind. We don't have to hold the leaf still, don't have to grab onto it and come on, be still, leaf. You just have to protect it from the wind of craving, desire, of wanting, wanting it to be different. If you can protect it from that wind, you just sit there and watch the leaf move less and less and less until it becomes stiller and stiller and stiller. That's why. The way I've learnt my meditation over many years is learning just how to find that place inside of me. When I said two weeks ago, the controller, the place where wanting starts putting contentment there rather than discontent. Once I put contentment there, doesn't matter what I'm feeling, doesn't matter what's happening in my mind, doesn't matter what I'm going to be content with that even if I'm thinking of all sorts of stupid things, okay, I'm just going to leave it alone. I'm going to be content there. The wind is stopped in my mind. The leaf moves less and less and less, and it starts to become very, very still. There's very subtle winds, just like if you had a microscope, you can see the surface of that leaf, what you think is still vibrating. That's also there's a bit of discontent in there. Very refined. Let go of desire all the way. No wanting. No wanting to get into deep meditation, no wanting to get into Janas, no wanting to get into the next Jana. Janas are states of deep meditation, not wanting to get to enlightenment, letting go of the wind. And if you stay in that state long enough, doesn't matter whether you think you're a skilled meditator or a novice meditator, the cause of those deep states of letting go is established. And it happens all by itself, the nature of a leaf. When there's no wind, it becomes still. And the strange thing is that even though that leaf is not moving, you feel more and more freedom the deeper and deeper you go. They say the deep meditations are stages of one pointedness of mind. Under definition, there's only one thing there. You'd think that when the mind is so concentrated on a point, you think there's no freedom there. That's the ultimate prisoner confinement. You can't even think. You can't move, you think that's a prison. I saw in the newspapers, and I think in Time magazine, because I never seen these movies, there was a photograph of Hannibal Lecter and he was apparently this is how he was moved. He's in this with his arms outstretched on this, almost like cross with wheels underneath. That's how they transport him from one place to another, so I was told. Is that true? He couldn't even move because you're such a dangerous person. That's what it feels like in meditation. You just can't move. But you feel so much freedom and peace there because there's no wanting or no desire. Try and see, the deeper you get in meditation, the quieter it is. The less movement there is, the less, as it were, things happening in your mind. Do you notice? The more freedom? As you go deeper and deeper into letting go, you find more and more sense of freedom. You understand the path to freedom. It's freedom from desires, not the freedom of desires, which is one of the major reasons our Western culture is to use a word against psychotic. No one is really happy. No one really knows what they're supposed to be doing in life. They get by, usually by following what everyone else is doing. It's like when I had my first glass of beer, it tasted awful, but everyone else said it was enjoyable. So I actually had to change the way I looked at it and lie to myself until I started believing those lies and said beer was enjoyable. Have you ever tasted English beer? It's bitter. No, it's just really rotten to drink the first time. Even whiskey. I tasted whiskey once. It was disgusting stuff, but everyone said it was delicious. So you got to do it, haven't you? This is it. But I was a rebel. I said, I'm not going to follow what other people do. I got my green velvet trousers and hippie beats out until I found out I went to one of these big rock concerts that I think the Isle of White, actually, the laughings I don't know if those of, you know, the laughings at Woburn Abbey. That's sort of one of the first ones I went to. And I got a great shock there because I found out there was 10,000 other people also with Greenville, with Trouser Aviv Bees. This is another uniform. I wasn't being rebarious at all. I was just being following other people, following a crowd. One of the great things about the path of spirituality, especially Buddhism, is to be a rebel. Think for yourself. When I say think for yourself, don't follow what I say. You know that story? Was it the life of Brian? They asked Brian that movie, Life of Brian. They asked Brian, So what gives you some advice? And that everyone is different. So everyone said in unison, we are all different. It's so hard to go against the stream of conformity, especially in the mind. You expected not to be happy when you're ill because of the expectation. That is why most people aren't happy when they're be radical, decide to go against what people expect of you and be happy when you're ill. Today, at a funeral, people expected to cry at a funeral. What a stupid response. Why should you cry at a funeral? Who told you to cry at a funeral? Why should you cry at a funeral? When I die, I don't want any of you to cry at a funeral. Will you cry when I die? I hope not. I hope you have a good time. When you die, would you like me to cry at your funeral? And your friends? Of course not everyone. I've asked that when you die, do you want your friends, your loved ones to cry? So now I want them to sort of have a nice time out of compassion. So why are you just against the will and the wishes of the person who dies? When a person dies and if they've been a good person, they're going to go to a nice place. What is unhappy for? They're having a good time, they're resting in peace, whatever they're supposed to be doing. But so often that I've found that people cry because that's how they're taught to respond. That's how our society conditions them. The way we respond to the difficulties in life is not from wisdom. We like sheep, completely conditioned to respond in a certain way. And that is not freedom. It's your choice. You can be free to respond whichever way you want. And that means that the problems you have in life whether you're poor, whether you're sick, whether you're ugly, whether you're stupid it's wonderful to be stupid. Enjoy it, be free. In fact, people who are intelligent, they think too much. This is a poem I haven't got in my back, I just have to remember it. This poem, which was by a Chinese poet in the 12th century of the Common Era, that's about 800 years ago there was a poem on the birth of his son. He said Most parents, when their child is born, wanted to be intelligent. I, through intelligence, having wrecked my whole life, only wish the baby is stupid. Then the baby will live a tranquil life and crown his career by becoming a cabinet minister. A beautiful poem. All your intelligence. Was it done for you? Sometimes if you're stupid, you have a tranquil life. The more intelligent you hide have, the more pantable you have to take. It's true, isn't it? So you can go as you go against the stream. Because have a look for yourself and you can be free without changing the situation you're in. You don't have to get better. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be healthy. You don't have to be rich. Be happy where you are. The difference between a prison and being free is not escaping from the prison. It's just wanting to be there. When you want to be there, then you are free. That's the talk this evening on freedom. Okay. Is there any questions this evening on the talk of freedom? No. Oh, yes. Okay. Yes. Okay. Living in the world with sexual desire in an ethical way, with regard to the precepts and especially in the context of this talk on freedom even sexual desire is limiting your freedom. Because when you have sexual desire as a man, you cannot relate to many women the way that a monk can relate to a woman. Because there will always be that undercover nerve. Is this going to be a sexual encounter? Is it going to develop into something? Even at our monastery in Serpentine, in the early days when we had working bees to help build a monastery, we'd had all these men working there. I always made sure made sure we had some of the Thai ladies come to the monastery because the Thai ladies always dress up when they came to the monastery with makeup and with nice dresses. And we'd always make sure they stood close by to where the men were working. That way they'd always work harder. It's true. It worked every time. So even just there was no sort of over sexual relations there, but it's just the nature of that relationship between the man and the woman. The man would always be trying to impress. So knowing psychology, we exploited that to get our monastery built. But that desire, even in that level, doesn't fit. It's a constraints on you. You have to look good as a young man. You have to sort of speak well. You have to be confident. There's so many constraints on you as a young man trying to find a partner or sort of a girlfriend in the world. And this is the same with a woman. You all know what it's like trying to find a partner. There's so many things you have to meet, so many criteria. You got to be pretty, you got to be charming, you got to be this, you've got to be that. And how much time do you have to spend in front of the mill with all those paints and stuff? I feel so much sympathy. Imagine being a nun. None of that at all. No more lipstick, no more hairdressers. Wouldn't that be freedom? It doesn't matter what your hair looks like. If it's like windy light today, no worries at all. You haven't got any hair. It can't blow around. It can't be you don't have to worry about whether you're pretty or you're ugly. As a nun, you're free of all that. But when it comes to sexual misconduct, that's another level. Because if you have sexual misconduct, then you're really putting yourself sort of in less free freedom. I know quite a couple of people who played around with so called free love in the they fathered a child. Now they've got to pay maintenance. My goodness, they're not free at all. They're going to pay that for such a long time. They can't go on a holidays, they can't get a nice house. That's no freedom at all, is it? That's karmic result that's one aspect of a karmic result of going outside of precepts. If you keep precepts, just like the fish in a tank, you're free from so many problems and dangerous. That's why the only reason why you say those things, it's dangerous. It's dangerous to have sexual relationships with another man's wife has got another partner in the same way that, you know, if you had a partner and she played around with somebody else, that would really give you so much trouble and suffering. So we don't want to create suffering in the world. So if you're going to have a sexual relationship or in a relationship with somebody, make sure it's free of those dangers, the worst dangers. And then you'll find that you'll have much more sense of freedom. One partner in the world. And don't complicate the world so much, because if you complicate your life, then you come to me and you start bothering me for hours on end, talking about. Talking about the problems with this lady and her husband and their lawyers and the divorces and goodness knows what else gets so complex. So this is actually the problem. You'll always find that with the precepts for any moral code they're not just there for, you know, that, you know, some pious wows. A monk sort of devise them or just to stop people being happy. But you find that there to try and help you become even happier. The idea of a wowser sort of in Australia, like a Fred nun if you have fun, it must be bad for you. But it's not true. If it's fun, it's actually good for you. Real fun. Keeping precepts is fun. Becoming a monk is absolute fun. Big and none is just better than taking ecstasy. It is ecstasy inside the mind. So all of these things actually more and more happiness. That's why I like to smile a lot here. Because actually to, as I say, walk the talk. So that hopefully you've seen me long enough, you've seen the other monks. We don't just say these things as a theory. We try and live these things. This is my experience of my whole life. I didn't start life keeping precepts. I did all sorts of stupid things. But little by little, I gave up alcohol, I gave up lying. Then I gave up sex and became a celebrate monk. They felt so much happiness, more freedom. We talk about weird sex. Celibacy is the weirdest in our culture. And it's really weird. And a lot of times people challenge you, say it can't be real, but you can come to our monastery, you can stay in our monastery. You can see how we relate to each other. There's no sexuality there at all. It's so much freedom. There that whole thing which consumes so much of your money which you earn suits so much time, so much thought. There's so much angst. There's so much worry and suffering in the mind free of all of that wow. Just so much time and so much freedom. And it's marvellous because as a monk or as a nun no one can speak to a man at a completely different level. A man can speak to a woman on a completely different level because, you know, there's nothing sexual there. It can be as a friend. So there male and female could meet on a very beautiful level. It's taking out this thing which complicates the relationship. The more you actually practice this way, you finally feel more happy, more freedom. That's really radical. It's not free sex. It's free from sex. Great. Really blissful. I'm not sure if that answers your question. Does it? Sort of, yeah. Okay, because I go off on tangents. One more question, because we're going over time. I have to be one because Lawrence got one in the back before you guys had it. Before you did. Sorry. Okay. Yeah. You're making a very good point. That is like grieving and feeling the loss of a loved one from your own experience. It seemed to be a natural expression of the experience of the event. And is it natural? I had the very wonderful opportunity of living in the midst of a culture which was very far from the Western culture 30 years ago. Northeast Thailand was so isolated from the west that I went to many places where I was the first Westerner the village had ever seen. That's why sometimes when I went on arms round and people actually putting food in my bowl, sometimes the girls, they had never seen a Western white man before. They couldn't help but looking up, and they dropped the rice outside of my bowl. That's how sort of worried they were. But being in that culture and I mentioned this to one of the monks today. I was in a monastery which was a cremation ground most of that time. And all the villages around would have their people cremation in that monastery. We do the services there. In those nine years, eight and a half years which I spent in that monastery there's, only once do I remember seeing anybody cry. And that was only just one tier. I saw a different culture where people did not quite. Asian babies cry sometimes when they're spanked or when they hurt themselves. But I'm talking a lot about babies. I'm talking about adult people who would not cry and who would not feel grief. Because I knew these people intimately. They would talk to me and share their problems with me as they do. Because you were their monk. Absolutely. But what it was saying was it wasn't natural in the sense that everyone has to have that response. And it's a powerful point because it means there is an alternative to feeling grief. You don't want to judge a person. If they cry, that's fine. We're not saying one is better than the other. What we're saying here is there's an alternative. Therefore, you have greater freedom. Rather than always having to follow one path, you have another path. The more paths you have, the greater freedom you have. You've heard me talk before about many of my funeral similes. You can celebrate a life if you feel grateful. Excuse me for going over today, but the simile which I gave this afternoon I give almost every funeral. My father died when I was 16. I never cried then. I never cried since. I didn't feel like crying. But I loved that man very much indeed. The way I described those feelings was a simon of a concert. The young man. I love music. Growing up in West London, I had enormous opportunities to go and hear great bands. In those days, you can see great bands in small clubs in Soho and you get really close to them. These days you can only see me huge entertainment centers, see great orchestras, great maestros. When the concert ended, I clapped and shouted for more. Sometimes the band would carry on for a while. Eventually they had to finish. I could wear the instruments and go home. So did. For some reason, I always remember going out of those small clubs or concert halls. It was always cold, dark and drizzling with rain. It was gloomy. But even though I knew I would never hear that band or orchestra again, probably never once did I feel sad. Never cried after a performance. I felt uplifted, inspired. What a great, deep performance that was. How lucky I was to have been there at the time. That was how I felt when my father died. What a marvelous performance that was. How lucky I was to have been there for 16 years. Thanks, dad. That wasn't grief as a completely different emotion, which was more powerful than any grief it meant. I never cried like this. Express the love of my father with gratitude. That's an alternative which I offer to people at every funeral, which I give it's up to you to choose which way you wish to relate to losing a loved one.