March 18, 2023

Good and Evil in the World | Ajahn Brahm

Good and Evil in the World | Ajahn Brahm

Buddhism says that sometimes people die young because of their karma, sometimes people become millionaires because of their karma, and sometimes people get sick because of their karma. This talk is about good and evil cloning and how to solve the w...

Buddhism says that sometimes people die young because of their karma, sometimes people become millionaires because of their karma, and sometimes people get sick because of their karma. This talk is about good and evil cloning and how to solve the world's problems. Karma is the cause and effect of your actions, so don't blame others for the situation you're in. You can do something about it right now. There is no one answer to the question of who is the happiest person in the world. Everyone's happiness is unique and depends on their own individual circumstances. However, some general things that may contribute to happiness include having good relationships with others, having meaningful work, and having a sense of purpose in life. Sometimes we look at the inequalities in the world and perceive them as being unfair. But is it really unjust after all? Instead, we can see that these things are just a result of karma from the past, and that we have a lot of opportunities to grow and learn compassion, wisdom and endurance if we make use of the situations we are in.


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

This dhamma talk was originally recorded using a low quality MP3 to save on file size (because internet connections were slow back then - remember dialup?) on 3rd January 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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


AI Generated Transcription (expect some errors!)

 So there we go. The best part of the evening, but an even better part of the evening is coming up now with this evening is Dumber talk. And this evening I think I'm going to talk about some interesting things like good and evil. Cloning, what else can I think about the conflict in the world? So don't go away, folks. An interesting talk this evening. Okay? I think most people settle down again now after the meditation is finished. Last week I gave a talk about  what was it? It was about Buddha nature and original sin. So today I'm going to give a similar subject, but again, a different spin on that subject. Good and evil in the world. Because I've been reading the newspapers to my monastery. Marks do get newspapers. US mostly. Just look at the cartoons, which is what we look at first of all. We're sensible monks. Wizard of It is one of my favorites.  And also we'd look and see what's going on in the world. And one of the things which has been hitting the news recently is this weird sect in the United States. I don't know why all the weird sectors are in the United States, but they tend to gravitate there. And a cult which is supposed to have cloned the first baby. And so everyone has been talking about cloning again and say how evil it is to clone things. And sometimes the Buddhists are so quiet about such things and very often it's the other philosophies, other traditions make all the noise a lot of times because Buddhists are supposed to be quiet. We're so quiet. Living monks. We don't have the Internet and our monastery. But it needs actually to be stated what the Buddhist position of these things is, what the Buddhist idea of good and evil is. But as was mentioned in brief at the end of last week's talk like original sin. There is no such thing as sin in Buddhism. All we have is like delusion, stupidity, ignorance and not seeing clearly. And that's really just a problem which from the time of the Buddha was pointed out as the root cause of the problems and difficulties and suffering of human beings not seeing clearly, not understanding properly. And very often, all of our ideas we just take from others. We're so easily influenced by what we read and by our prejudices. And so a lot of times there's no such thing as original sin. You might call it just regional ignorance or original stupidity. And the same with good and evil. Really, that good and evil is just wisdom and stupidity. From wisdom now, from seeing clearly, from enlightened wisdom there we get all the compassion, the kindness, the love, the peace of the world. And hopefully those of you who've been coming here for long enough just know with a little bit of Buddhist wisdom that it can create so much happiness in your life, so much sense of freedom. And so many problems of our life, whether it's in the workplace or within our family or with our own body, can so easily disappear just through seeing clearly. And we realize just how stupid I was not to really see what was going on and realize I created my suffering. It's one of the great teachings of Buddhism. You can't blame anyone else for the suffering in your life. You are completely responsible for your happiness and suffering. You're not so responsible to other things which happen to you in your life, your sicknesses and body accidents, things which go wrong in your life. But you least responsible for your happiness and your suffering. You can actually do something about that at all times. Even if you're sick, even if you've just got divorced, even if you're bankrupt, even if you're dying of cancer, even if you've got no place to sleep tonight, you can still be happy.  You can still do that. I've seen people do that. It's marvelous when you actually see that, to show that it is still possible to be happy, even in the most unlikely situations, because you are in complete control of your happiness. As the Buddhist said, even though the body is sick, the mind doesn't need to be sick. So a lot of times when we think about good and evil, we think that somebody else's, their evil machinations, their evil desires, and their evil acts are creating problems. For myself, please never blame anybody else. The law of karma in Buddhism says you get what you deserve.  What you get. You deserved it's. Hard teaching. Sometimes when we look at it, we say, yeah, actually, that's just quite right. Now, I got a cough last week because I wasn't working too hard, I wasn't resting.  I deserved it.  And as I say, when you're happy or your happiness, you deserve that. All those kids who got their tea results and done well, you deserve that. You worked hard on all the ones were very disappointed this weekend. Why was that? Because they partied too much. Instead of coming to the Buddhist society, we've got a couple of really good kids who got good results from the Buddhist society. So we always get what we deserve. So a lot of times when we talk about good and evil in the world, it's really like delusion, stupidity.  And that creates so much problems in our life, especially the mental problems, the anger, the despair, feeling upset, the lack of happiness, the stress, those are all inside the way we react to the world in an unskillful way. And all the happiness, the good comes from wisdom. And from wisdom, we realize it's just how we can create just a happy world inside of our body. No matter what's happening to us. We can create a happy world in our family, no matter who we live with. We can create a happy world in our community. We can create a happy world on our planet if we weren't so stupid.  So stupidity is the root cause. And this is what the Buddhist said. Are we jar from ignorance, delusion, stupidity? That is the cause of suffering, the root cause? So when we put these ideas of good and evil stupidity into the real problems of life, like cloning, sometimes a lot of people, they think, oh, cloning is bad, cloning is evil. You shouldn't do these things. It's not right to play God. And as soon as I hear that, I say, hang on, hang on. Buddhists don't believe in a creator God, so you can't play God anyway, because God isn't playing God. Even God can play God. Not in Buddhism. So  really, actually, I've heard many Buddhists say this. You know, the Buddhists shouldn't praise God. My goodness, you guys are supposed to be atheists.  What are you saying? You're just, you know, repeating things, which you heard outside.  So instead of just following what other people say, what you read in newspapers, seeing what actually is Cloning anyway,  as far as Buddhism is concerned, just straight down, all Cloning is doing is just creating another vehicle for a stream of consciousness to come into an Occupy for this lifetime. Even when you create babies, you're not creating a life, you're creating body. And that being who comes into your womb, into that baby which you give birth to, any mother would know that that hasn't come from them. My goodness. That some mothers and fathers are wonderful people. They get monsters for children  and sometimes some parents are monsters themselves and they get wonderful kids. And where did those kids come from? My goodness. They didn't come from the father or the mother. They're completely out of character with their parents. Have you seen people like that? I have.  My father, my mother. Weren't monks look at me now.  Completely out of character, but nevertheless.  When we actually see, just to understand, according to Buddhist theory, and it can be proved. It has been proved, and you can prove it for yourself if you want, sort of. We don't come into this life with a blank slate. To say that all beings are created equal goes against Buddhist wisdom. We're not created equal. We're not created. We come into this life with the mamma from our past, with all the experiences, from many lives. We come into this life with our tendencies, with our proclivities, with our potentials. And any sort of mother with a young child would know that some kids have got different tendencies than others. They've got different potentials. What they do with those potentials and those inclinations is something else. But I think each one of us can actually see that for ourselves. Some people are born Mozarts, two or three years of age, and they're already creating symphonies. My goodness, how could that come from parents?  And even these days that I was reading in the Time magazine about no cloning  and already clones being identical twins, identical twins are actually clones of each other. They got exactly the same genes. And anyone who's seen sort of twins would know identical twins, only identical in their looks, in their body, their characters and personalities are so different.  And sometimes when people think, well, we can actually clone sort of like a great sports star, say like a Layton Hewitt, so we can have people like winning the tennis year in, year out. My goodness, if you know a sports person who's a top sports person, you know, it's not just their physical body. There's so much more which will create sort of the elite sports person. There's their mental attitude, their character, their inner strength, not just their bodily strength. I'm sure there's many people who are much more strong, physically able, physically talented than, say, Layton Hewitt or any other top sports person. But why does one person succeed and another person doesn't? It's not just body, it's not just genes, it's not just the physical stuff. There's a mind in there as well.  And as basic Buddhism says, the mind is the forerunner of all things. It's the chief. It's the most powerful. And my goodness, if you crowned another Layton Hewitt, I would guarantee you'd probably be hopeless with the tennis racket because the person, the being who came into that body would not have the same karma, not have the same inclinations, not have the same drives, the same potentials from one person to another.  All that cloning is all that the same genes are just the same model of car running off the production line. And you can have 100,000 models of car coming off the production life line identical to each other. But as we all know it's, a driver is perhaps the most important ingredient in the car. That driver is a stream of consciousness which comes from a past life. So a lot of times when people argue about cloning is evil because we're creating life, my goodness, the Buddhist and the Hindus who believe in karma and rebuild, who put their hands up and say, no, that's an argument which we cannot accept. You don't create life. You're just creating a body.  Life is coming from somewhere else. And straight away, that gets rid of a lot of the ethical problems about cloning these days and puts it on the real area of concern. Because it's not cloning per se which is evil, which is wrong, or which is bad. It's just how human beings make use of that.  So often in life, sort of. Our world has actually gone against science, has gone against  opportunities for doing good in the world because of Deluded thinking, because of our preconceptions, because of our ideas which get so fixed inside of us, we just accept them without really thinking,  without really questioning, without really seeing clearly. That's what Delusion is not questioning, not looking deeply into things and just accepting just the normal way of thinking about things. Certainly, as far as Buddhism is concerned, that ethically by itself. There's nothing wrong with it. In vitro fertilization, there's nothing wrong with it. It's how it's used as a point and if it's used in a compassionate way, restrained way to actually to help people.  There may be sort of people who women who  have the need for a baby. I was arguing with the monks the other day. It would be a wonderful thing for cloning as far as the sanger is concerned because there's many young men who want to become monks and their parents say, no, no, if you become a monk, we can't have any children. Now with cloning you can become a monk and still have children. I can still give a few of my jeans here, a few of my jeans over there and then my mother can have her grandchildren. Doesn't really matter with me.  Or the other question, which people keep on asking. They ask this so often in talks. They say, because I would like to make more monks and nuns in the world. They say, what if everyone became a monk? What would happen with the world? And now my answer is cloning.  So  the world would sort of disappear because you got cloning. They could look after the problem on it. So there's many advantages of cloning.  So I'm just making it funny just to make a joke because sometimes that people get too serious on these questions. But of course, the main thing about it is if we have anything like cloning, in vitro fertilization, like drug therapies, whatever is how human beings make use of these great things which could serve and help human beings so much.  And they use it for greed or power. And that's the thing which makes something like Cloning dangerous. Because where there is the power  to give the opportunity for a being to come into this world where there's the power to adjust  some of the potentials, the physical potential, then sometimes too often in the world that power is misused for selfish ends. It is a clothing by itself. It's not the problem. It's just how human beings will make use of it that is the problem. It's the same with euthanasia. By itself, not so much of a problem. It's about how people can make use of that. Especially if your auntie is very wealthy and has got a big will. Those are the problems which you can see. So it is not the thing in itself which is evil but it's how we make use of those things through greed, hatred and delusion that becomes the problem in our world. And it's the same with some of the inequalities in this world which sometimes we think upon as being evil or being wrong. A lot of the time that we're looking at a world where so many people are writing that the conflicts arise because of the ill distribution of wealth in the world that some people are poor and some people are wealthy. And when I was reflecting on that some time ago and especially on the problem of conflict in the world so much of the conflict where we take is like evil and bad in the world arises from, again, the perception of injustice.  Conflict, you might say, comes from injustice. Something is wrong. You think something is bad, something is evil. Why should I be poor and they're rich? Why should I live in a mansion or live from sort of outside and they're living in a mansion? Why should I sort of have no opportunities and someone else has all those opportunities? Unites. We say it's not fair. But in Buddhism, how can we look a bit deeper on that? We say it's the perception of injustice  and again Buddhism challenges you. Is that really unjust or not?  When we come for the law of karma. Hang on. Maybe there is something more to it than just the apparent inequality of wealth and inequality of opportunity in the world.  The same. Why is it that some people like to have got good results in their te? Why is it that some people got poor results all the time? It is because some people have worked harder. And so there is an ill distribution of results in the tee and it means that some people will have more opportunities to get good jobs, some people will have greater wealth, greater opportunities. Is that unfair or is that fair?  It's sometimes we think there's a perception of injustice there. It's the perception of injustice in the world which I think we can challenge.  Can the world ever be equal?  Is that the only way we can have justice in this world? Or is there a deeper justice in this world? A justice which is born of the law of karma, that we do actually earn our place in society, we do earn our wealth, we do earn our talents, we do earn our freedoms and our opportunities.  And if you are a Buddhist and if if you know these things, you say, my goodness, so much of the inequality of the world, which people use  as an excuse for violence and conflict, so much of that,  it's a misperception of what's going on. And that misperception means that it's unjust and it's somebody else's fault.  When we get the misperception of injustice and beginning, it's somebody else's fault, somebody else is to blame. It means that we don't do anything to help ourselves, that we want to sort of blame, hurt,  sort of take revenge on another person. And that is the root cause of much conflict in the world, blaming others again rather than taking control and responsibility for our happiness and for our destiny. So a lot of times that you can even see in one's own life just lin a microcosm of a family, there are many times perceptions of injustice. Now, why me? And of course, you always know the answer to the Buddhist answer to the question, why me? It's why not?  Somebody was telling me as we came in here today that their father, their two brothers died recently,  and he was saying, why didn't I die? I'm older than they are. My goodness. I thought, when people don't die, they say, why not me? When they do die, they say, why me? We're never happy. We're never satisfied.  We get sickness, we say, Why me? Where we don't get sick, we say, Why not me?  Isn't that interesting? Just our concepts of justice and fairness in the world. I can tell you why not you. Because sometimes in that life, you made some good karma. You've made the reasons why you have a long life. And sometimes the reason why we die young is because sometimes in this life, for a previous life, we've made the causes of reasons for a short life,  when actually you bring in calm and rebirth into the ethics of life and into justice and injustice. It changes the whole framework, the whole way we perceive justice and injustice in the world.  It changes the whole thing. It doesn't make life fatalistic, because sometimes people think, oh, that means karma. It's my karma to be poor. It's my karma to be stupid. It's my karma to be diseased. It's my karma to be disadvantaged. Remember, the law of karma just gives you the ingredients of your life. What you make of them is the karma of this life. So that's not the Buddhist idea. Buddhism is not fatalism.  But what Buddhism is say yes. You can understand where your situation has come from, why you are where you are right now, why you have your abilities and your disabilities, you can understand where that comes from. If you could learn enough meditation and get your mind peaceful enough and still enough, you can actually access your past lives. You can know that for truth for yourself. You can see the karma, why it is these things happen to you or have happened to you. But the wonderful thing about the law of karma is you can still do something with that. Now it's not so much blaming somebody else, the situation you're in if you blame someone else, the situation you're in if you look upon it as unjust and you're in conflict with somebody else because you're blaming them, you just make matters much worse and you're putting off the job, the task which needs to be done.  Because no matter what situation you're in, you can always do something about it right now, not somebody else. But you can. Too often we blame others and as long as we're blaming others, we're not doing what it takes to get out of our situation. If you're in a swamp drowning and you blame others, somebody else for pushing you where nation are pushed me in, why do they push me in? You're wasting time. You should be swimming and struggling to get out instead of blaming somebody else.  So what the Buddhist idea of common rebirth is, is that okay, this is a situation we're in, what are we doing about it? So whenever to look at anything as being unjust,  you say this is what's happened to me. Don't say why me? Why me? There's some karmic cause there. The perception of injustice is usually ignorance and delusion.  Now, how can I make use of this?  You know, like sometimes my life is a monk. Sometimes I think, why do I always have to give to Friday night talks? Why do I always have to talk to people afterwards about their problems? Why do people with marriage problems always have to come to me when I've never been married? That's why I didn't get married. I became a monk, get out of all that sort of stuff. When people come and ring me up and why do they always bother me? Sometimes they ring you up in the evening and they want counseling over the phone renting. Is it a dialoguek service we've got these days? Why is it always me? Why do I always have to go overseas and do these tours? I saw that years and years ago when I was a young monk, when sometimes a senior monk would give me the washing to do, because it's part of our monastic tradition. We look after each other. The idea of seniority, whoever is your teacher, you really look after, and you do your duties to a teacher that you should do duties to a parent. So it's very rare I have a chance to wash my own clothes because the other months would take them and wash them for me. Even sometimes they ask, can I wash your robe? Even when it's clean, I'll let them wash it because they need to make merit.  So this would be merit. And when I was a young monk, this Abbott would so often give me his robes to wash. And of course, I found myself saying, why me? There's other monks in this monastery. Why is always me has to wash these robes of this big, dirty old monk? He's old enough to wash his own robes. Moan, moan, moan, grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. This is unfair. I thought that was not right until I was actually the perception of injustice. And I realized afterwards that somebody actually told me, said, look, that's not the way of looking at it. If you look upon it that way, your whole life will end up being miserable, resentful. You'll be an angry person.  And isn't that how many people live their lives? Why me? Why do I have to do all these things? Why does it always happen to me? Why is it me always has to wash the dishes? Why is it me always has to do this? In married life, if you start doing that, that's divorce is next week, you're on the wrong track. Instead of that way, I was told, look, this is a marvelous opportunity to do service.  Good karma is like helping your teachers, like doing something for somebody else. It's compassion in action. It's not just sitting there. May all beings be happy and well. It's actually doing something. They can maybe be happy and well. And that so changed the whole attitude I had to service.  And instead of thinking, Why me? I thought, what a wonderful opportunity that was to make good karma, to do something for somebody else, to watch somebody else's clothes for them, so they could have spent more time teaching others and helping solve the other people's problems.  And so I changed my whole attitude. Not only was it more fun to wash those robes, I also had they went much quicker, I was much happier. And I was learning a very powerful lesson in life. Instead of being resentful for all the apparent injustices which were heaped upon in me in life, I looked upon all of those things which once I didn't think were fair as wonderful opportunities to work with in life, to accumulate more good karma, to do more good things, to help, to serve and do more in the world.  And that's been my life for many years. If there's a job to be done, instead of thinking, leave it for somebody else, say, I want to do it. I remember telling you the story of a Jan Charles feet. This is our teacher in Thailand. It was also the job of the monks to look after their teacher by washing their feet after they came back from arms round, because we go arms round every morning with our bowl, walking barefoot along the dusty village paths just for our morning rice. It was part of a tradition of being a Buddhist monk, being a mendicant. A mendicant means someone who who goes they don't actually physically ask for food. It's not like begging the sense of asking, but actually going there and giving the opportunity for people to give you the food for the day. So that's why we didn't need any money.  And after coming back, it was a job of the Judy monks, actually, to wash the senior monk, the teacher's feet. And of course, it was very strange for Westner, first of all, to do that, to wash somebody else's feet, especially when you thought the fellow was old enough to wash his own feet. He was completely capable. Why do I have to wash it? But what we really, really upset myself. An experience with many other monks had was when.  Not just one monk, but about 20 or 30 monks would rush up, you know, wash this monk's feet. There's a whole crowd around this monk just washing his feet. And, my God, how stupid that was. You know, maybe one or two monks. Maybe we should have a roster. You know, like, you know, one monk is your turn today. And it's sure, you know, how we do it in the world, you know, in the Western world. Let's have a roster, let's organize it. But there wasn't that the way at all. There was a rush and people had to run to grab his feet and wash them. I couldn't understand what was going on until because I came from a scientific background. I did theoretical physics in Cambridge University. One day, sitting there watching this, I thought, look, the only way to understand what's going on here is to do an experiment. So I decided the next time Magenta comes back, I will get up and I will race the other monks to wash his feet. And so I did that the next time. It was wonderful. You raced there to try and beat all the other monks. And I managed to get a little toe. I was so happy.  I got a little toe all by myself  to wash his little toe. It's amazing just how much happiness you got out of actually serving someone else, of doing something. Okay, it's a really stupid thing. You could have done it by himself. It was only a little toe, a tiny little thing. These time marks aren't that big anyway. And he got so much pleasure out of that and what it was teaching, I realized why why the monks weren't going on a roster. They weren't sort of trying to organize themselves while they were racing each other, because it was far more fun  and just wanting to serve, wanting to help, wanting to do good karma. And there was no idea of, like, injustice anymore. And trying to have a roster. This was like a chore to be done. And it became you wanted to do these things.  And the whole life of the monastery, all the chores and the duties which you had to perform, they were never looked upon as being something which you didn't want to do, but they were looked upon as things which you were looking for the opportunity to do. You couldn't do enough of them. You chose sometimes where there was hoarding water for the wells, you got up before the bell so you could do it for the other monks, so they didn't need to do it. It was a whole idea of not injustice, but seeing how much more you could do for others, not how much less it was. How to work with what before was a powered injustice, unfairness in a completely different way.  And so it taught me just what I thought was unjust unfair. Why me? Why do I always have to do so much? And why do these other monks don't do hardly anything at all? I realized that that was just delusion. That was the evil which was creating so much suffering and unhappiness in my life. And so this is how I teach the monks at a monastery. Have a lovely monastery now. People always, always willing to help and do a little bit extra. Wouldn't it be wonderful if in your family it was the same? It wasn't sort of it's your turn to wash the dishes tonight now, I did them last week. It's your turn to do them now. It's not. It's someone else's turn. Instead of talking like that, wouldn't it be wonderful if people actually raced to the kitchen sink to try and get there first to do the dishes? It's my opportunity to make merit. It's my opportunity to do something good. It's not unjust because I am working for the family. I am serving other people. I'm doing this so you can have a rest. It's a completely different attitude. However, in our life, we always think that  it's so unjust and it's unfair. Why me? Why do they always have to do these things? It's because comes to finding mind again, why am I so poor that other people are so rich? My goodness, it's wonderful being poor.  You don't have to worry about tax returns because you haven't got enough money to actually fill out a tax return. The Microsoft one of the few people in Australia who haven't got tax numbers. We don't earn any money, so it's a waste of time. It's wonderful being poor.  You don't have to worry about so many things. There's a lot of advantages in being poor, isn't there?  You don't have to worry about burglars.  Maybe you actually worry about burglars. Maybe they come in your home and leave you something if you're really poor, out of compassion.  So a lot of times we think that why me? Wouldn't it be wonderful if I was as rich as somebody else? You see, recently I remember reading in a newspaper that in United Kingdom they were thinking that videos and televisions were so important. So it's a basic necessity of life that even people on the dole, people out of work, if they hadn't got a video and a TV, they're considered to be disadvantaged and they're given one free by the government,  which I thought was absolutely crazy.  We think we need these things. We have to have these things to be happy. And so much injustice in the world, or the perception of injustice, thinks, I have to have these things because everyone else has got them.  And sometimes we can actually look at that and say, well, is that really unjustice at all? You look at poor countries in the world and say, is that really unjust? Or do you really want to be as wealthy as America with all of their social problems? And do you really want to be American? Or would you rather just be a little bit poorer and be Australian?  Is that really what you want in life? Or even, like even poor like Bangladesh sometimes? People think poor Bangladesh is so poor. That's why we have every year just the collection for the orphanage in Bangladesh. But some years ago, the London School of Economics did a survey. They worked out not just the economic indicators of a country, they worked out happiness indicators of a country, some way of measuring the average level of happiness in a nation. And London School of Economics is not just some  university with no prestige in the world. This is a well known university with some amazingly smart professors and lecturers. And having worked out some way of measuring a country's happiness, some indicators, then they applied those criteria to every country in the world to find out who was the happiest country.  And when they took in not just the economic state of a country, but no doctors, nurses, family general states of happiness. You know, the country which came out as the happiest country in the world was Bangladesh. According to the LSC, the happiness levels exceeded other countries.  It was so startling that when I read that, I couldn't believe it. But that was true. Sometimes we think how unjust it is to be born in such a poor country. But is it a poor country or is it just a poor country economically? Do we really understand what poverty is? Or do we just look upon it as just the usual way of judging to see what the gross national product is? Many years ago I m rightly said the Gnp is not the way to judge a country. You should look at the SNP. SNP is a subtle national product. The Gnp is the gross national product and money is gross.  And so the subtle national product is.  Like how families can stay together,  like, the divorce rate in a country would be a huge negative to the SNP.  The amount of  misuse of drugs and alcohol would be a huge negative to the SNP. It shows there's some deep emotional problems there. The suicide rate would be an indicator of the SNP. Low suicide rate would be high SNP. A big suicide rate would mean there's not a happy country at all.  Those sorts of indicators, if we apply those to countries like Australia, how would we rate?  So you can understand just the happiness quotient of a country. So when we talk about justice and injustice, fairness and unfairness, my goodness, isn't this starting to look at this as social justice in a different manner, a different way? Because those factors of wealth, maybe we can't do much about that, but the factors of living in harmony with our partners, with our family, looking after our mental else.  By right attitudes  so we don't commit suicide, so we don't get depressed, so we don't get this anger at ourselves that we need to go and distract ourselves with drugs and alcohol when we don't have those problems. Maybe that's the way to have a wealthy society. So when we talk about the injuries justices of the world,  what are those injustices? Perhaps we are living in the poor world. Perhaps this is the third world. The third world in social terms why is it that people can't live with each other these days in a family?  The relationships are just so hard these days. Why? And again, it's cause is another way of looking at these relationships, not the finding mind which we keep on looking at our partners in such a way that after a while we just can't stand them any longer. We want somebody else.  Our jobs, our bodies. There's another way of looking at these things. And so when we think it's not their fault the relationship is not working, it's not somebody else's fault that we're unhappy, it's our fault we do something about this now becomes like taking responsibility, the Buddhist law of karma, we can do something.  And when you actually take that responsibility for your happiness, you say, I'm going to learn how to live with other people.  Even living in a monastery sometimes it is, in a sense, like married life. You're living with all these other people, and sometimes you don't choose them. If they want to come and join the monastery, you allow them to come. And you have to live in peace and harmony with these people. Those of you who come to visit my monastery, how many times have you heard the monks arguing and shouting each other?  Never.  But if you go and visit home, how many of you over Christmas visited your family and heard them shouting and arguing with each other?  Isn't it a shame? Why is that happening? It's because, like in a monastery, we've got other ways of dealing with these problems. Ways of wisdom, forgiveness, loving, kindness. We take responsibility.  So if somebody shouts at me, I just let them. But I don't shout back. Find out why it was. What was the reason why they were upset. Find the root cause. That's a great way of overcoming conflict. Because anger doesn't cease with more anger. Anger only ceases with forgiveness and understanding the root cause of these things. And when people realize that  you are their friend, not their enemy, that you aren't out there to abuse them, to exploit them, to hurt them, but to help, it changes the whole dynamic of a family. How often is it in a family you think that somebody is exploiting you, making use of you? In the monastery, I say, exploit me. Make use of me. I want to make more good karma.  Now, if you manage to do that in a family, there'd be no sort of ill will anymore. It would be wonderful to get out for your husband every morning, making breakfast in bed every morning for the next whole year. Wouldn't it be wonderful,  a wonderful opportunity to serve another person.  Or your husband your husband can just work double shift for you so you can actually you make so you don't have to go to work at all, you can stay at home. What a wonderful service that could be, whatever it is, actually getting out there, not worrying about what I need, what's right for me, and thinking, oh, how unjust. Why me? Why do I have to do these things? Look at the opposite way. How can I give? How can I serve? What can I do for other people? That's compassion, that's Buddhist loving kindness. That's giving.  And that's the way to create a beautiful family, a beautiful community, a beautiful world. Not what I can get out of this, but what can I give to it?  Too many relationships or the sort what can I get out of this? What can I get out of her? What can I get out of him? What can I get out of the monks? When you come on a Friday night instead of what can I give? How can I contribute? How can I serve? And if your life is what can I get out of life? Not what I can give to life then you're missing the point of life. You have this great opportunity being born as a human being to serve, to give to your partner in life, to your children, to your parents, to society. Don't miss that opportunity. And if you know that, you realize there's all this perception of injustice in the world. It's not injustice at all. If you're having it hard, more difficult than other people then it means that you have more opportunity  to serve, to give, to make good karma, to develop compassion, develop wisdom, to develop these beautiful qualities which make a human being. If you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, as they say, talented, rich, smart you don't have as much chance of as other people to do good, to learn.  Learn compassion, learn wisdom, learn endurance, learn all these great spiritual qualities. So it turns around, the idea of injustice,  turns it around and says, wow, isn't it wonderful? But what I once thought was disadvantaged is actually the opposite, is being advantaged. More opportunities to grow, to learn and become a happier human being. It's tough, yeah, but you learn so much more. It's a common advice I give to people who are in problems, in trouble, got cancers, had sexual abuse or whatever. My goodness, you've got greater potential than those people who haven't had those problems.  You've got the greatest potential. If you make use of that, if you take that on and grow from it, learn from it, to grow in the beautiful qualities of compassion, wisdom, endurance. Isn't this what life is all about? To see how much you can do?  Hard a test. It's a much stiffer exam, but of course, the harder the tests, the stiffer the exam, the more you will grow.  So when we look upon the inequalities in the world, the injustices in the world, sometimes I look upon those things. Are they unjust after all? Or is it just our perception which is wrong? When we say why me? Why does this happen to me? This is unfair. Is it unfair? Instead of saying it's unfair, let's put it down to karma from the past that's happened to you if you're born in a poor country perhaps was because you were stingy, you were mean in the past life, you were lazy, you didn't do very much for other people. So you have to learn what it's like to be poor.  What better way to learn the need for generosity, to know what it's like to be hungry?  Because, my goodness, if you've been hungry, you haven't eaten for a few days. Do you think you could ever pass by someone else who's hungry when you know how it really feels when you've been sleeping out in the cold with no friends, with no relations, with nowhere to go?  When you really know what that's like, could you pass by someone else who is homeless and cold?  When you know how lonely life can be? Would you ever turn away from someone else who needs a friend?  Isn't so much of compassion learned  by experiences of pain, loneliness, hunger, suffering?  It can be. But too often we waste the opportunities by saying, it's unfair, it's unjust. I want revenge. Who did this? This is not right.  So this is actually how we can do and learn from these injustices. And we actually make injustice  into something completely different. Instead of having wars, instead of trying to solve injustice in the world externally, try and encourage people to make use of the situations and the lives we're in. If you're into a poor village in Bangladesh, instead of not just wanting to have a huge mansion and go to United States or go to the west or whatever, stay in your village. Work hard. Lots of people are there to try and help.  And perhaps you can even be richer in your heart than anybody living in purse.  See what you can do with what you've got.  And certainly that I've lived in the poor parts of the world, northeast Thailand 30 years ago was very, very poor. And I know what I'm talking about. Even though there was poverty there, the food was disgusting still that people had a happiness there which is very rare to see these days.  But still, some of the scenes of those first years are etched in my mind forever. Just right in my mind now is one evening just walking into the village of Bongwai one evening to go to a little ceremony charting in a house. There was no electricity in this village. There was no televisions or radios. And as you pass house after house after house, you could see the whole family sitting on the upper veranda. You could see their faces illuminated by a little oil lamp. The oil lamp was made of a rag which was shoved through the top of a toothpaste tube. The little opening in the top there made a wonderful wick. It was just floating in kerosene.  And as I watched house after house, I looked up to see there was about 13, 1520 people in each house. The grandparents, the uncles, the parents, their brothers, the uncles and the children sitting around an oil lamp, just telling stories to each other, which they've been doing every night of the year ever since they had known it.  When I saw that, I realized there was something which I had missed in my upbringing in London.  We used to watch the TV. In those days there was only two channels in London ITV and BBC. And we used to argue tooth and nail about which channel to pull on.  You had your channel on last time? No idea. It's my turn now. Oh, my goodness. That's what we used to do most evenings argue. And there was a family of not just three or 413, 1415 people talking to each other, being with each other, telling stories to each other. And I realized when I saw scenes like that, I was deprived.  And that wasn't a poor country after. It was poor in wealth, it was poor in food, but it was rich in time, it was rich in family, it was rich in happiness, it was rich in compassion, it was rich in peace.  In many of the things which we don't really notice in our world.  So when I look at injustice in the world sometimes I look and say what are people actually fighting over? Poverty and wealth? What are we really fighting for? Sickness and health opportunities. Opportunities to do what?  So a lot of the problems, not all the problems, there are injustices, there are cool governments, there are people who are tortured and treated just abominably, which we should try and do something about. But a lot of the perceptions of injustice in the world are based on delusion.  And that is the evil. When just being to Malaysia for ah, couple of weeks, the Muslims in Malaysia, I just feel that they're being treated unjustly by the western world. That they're, their culture is being threatened.  That's a misperception. But that perception of injustice is being cruelly exploited and it's causing huge problems in our in our Western world, in the whole world. How many wars start because of perceptions of injustice when really  it's just a misperception?  So a lot of the ideas of good and evil in the world good and evil, good and evil. There's no good and evil. It's wisdom and stupidity. Not seeing clear, not thinking for oneself, not looking deeply into things and seeing things in a different way. Not as you've been taught them, not as it says in the newspapers or the TV, not as in the books, but seeing it in your own way. To be wise, you have to be rebellious, going against the stream of the world and seeing it for yourself. So don't go around just aping what I say. Those people disagree with me. I love you so much because you're at least thinking for yourself.  That way. You're challenging, you're looking deeply into things and maybe you may find that yeah, with common rebirth, with the opportunities to value the spiritual qualities in the world and not so much the physical qualities of long life, of possessions and just the ability to have as many desires as you want are fulfilled. Those aren't the real freedoms of the world, as I keep on saying. That's the freedom of desire, the freedom from desire which you find in a loving relationship with family, at peace with one another,  just at rest,  when you're free from desires, free from problems, free from difficulties, those moments of peace  are just the most wonderful times of your life. When you're so content you don't want anything else.  That's the real wealth of the world, contentment. So when you look at injustices in the world, is it because you're not really understanding what justice truly is with the law of karma? And one thing you can actually say, no matter what, what you've got to deal with in life is always the possibility of enlightenment at any moment.  It doesn't really matter if you're sick, doesn't really matter if you're poor, doesn't really matter if you haven't got a home to stay in. You can become enlightened at any moment. In other words, you have the potential for real freedom.  When everyone has that potential, then you can't say that there's injustice in the world.  Everyone has the opportunity to be at peace, to make beautiful minds of themselves. So a lot of evil in the world is just stupidity. Not really seeing things clearly, not seeing things properly. And because of those perceptions of injustice, whether it's in the Muslim world, whether it's in poor people, rich people, advantage, disadvantaged. What was it just? When I first came to Australia, there was a big strike up in the north, in one of the mines, and it was because they only had vanilla ice cream and they demanded chocolate ice cream.  I forget which mining company it was said, no, you can only have vanilla ice cream. So they went on strike for a couple of weeks because that's not fair. We demand chocolate ice cream as well. See? Perceptions of injustice, how stupid some of them are. That's an extreme. But do you think you've had a hard time this week?  Do you think you've been treated unjustly? Do you think that life is unfair?  Now, I asked you, is it fair?  And I say, yes, it is. So stop complaining and do something about it. And you can make so much of what you have in this world instead of complaining, getting negative, getting depressed, suicidal divorcing and going into drink and drugs and all these terrible things because of the wrong way of thinking about injustice. Good and evil cloning. Think it out for yourselves and see if there's another way. So that's the talk this evening on good and evil cloning and all solving all the world's problems this evening. So the world's problems are all solved. Everything is fine now. What a wonderful way to start the new year.  Okay, that's a talk this evening. Now, I hope there's some questions.  It's saying that if you haven't got a roof over your head, if you haven't got any food and stuff like that, it's not possibly getting lightened. The only people who can't get enlightened, according to Buddhism, is if you killed your parents. That's supposed to be such heavy karma. You can't become enlightened in this life. Well, you created a schism in the Sang or killed in our heart, things like that. But no, it's not just if you are very hungry. There was this wonderful story of this in the time of the Buddha. There was a famine and there was a monk. Because of his he was keeping his rules very strictly, even though there was some food which had fallen off from a tree and he was just really starving. He refused to pick it up because it hadn't been properly offered. And so he was like lying down there next to food. But because he hadn't been offered that, he was starving, almost passing out. And a lay disciple saw him and saw him were just so weak and so hungry, he decided to take him back to his house and give him a feed. But the mount was so too weak to walk, so the layperson just put him over his shoulder was just so weak and so thin. He was hardly any weight at all. And as he was over this lay disciple shoulder, he was just thinking  he'd renounce sort of his desires to keep his rules. And that created so much happiness inside of him, like the mental happiness, that his mind got into a very deep state of Samadi like bliss. And he became enlightened over the shoulder of a monk, shoulder of a layperson. So even in hunger, starving, sort of, he became enlightened.  And not enlightenment. But I noticed even like, being very, very sick and getting into very deep meditation because I've done that myself when I had scrubbed typhus once.  So sometimes that the people who find it hard to meditate are those ones who are the very busy ones who live very complicated lives, basically westerners,  because we do things so much, don't we? We're disadvantaged by our education  when it comes to something we know so much that we feel too little.  We always want to give things names rather than just knowing it, just feeling it, experiencing it.  So a lot of times that you come across some simple villages who have only gone grade one, two or three and they teach them a little bit of dumb, they understand straight away  because they haven't been complicated by their life. And also, we see so much television that many of our ideas and views are completely conditioned by what we watch on the box. That's why people do medicine. That's why have the political advertisements let you to manipulate you and get you to look at things in a certain way. And that's why I wanted to bring up cloning. Cloning, cloning. Because how many people just think cloning can be good? You ask a person, no, cloning is bad. You can't play God. They're just repeating what they heard other people say without really thinking what they're saying.  So I like to challenge people that way.  And, yeah, everyone has the opportunity to become enlightened unless you've killed your mother or father. So if you haven't done that, you're okay.  Sometimes it's more of a challenge. And I noticed that sometimes people are more challenged in life that actually encourages them to put forward off more energy and effort into what they're doing. If the task is easy, they get very lazy.  So in my early life as a Mic, it was very tough as far as food, accommodation and medicines were concerned. Medicines, there weren't any which is expected just to tough it out. And the food was disgusting. As I've said many times in the talks here, I won't repeat all those frog stories and rotten fish stories. You've heard them many times. It was disgusting food I had to eat. In fact, I was told when I first got there, don't ask what you're eating,  because if you knew, you'd be in big trouble. So, thankfully, I didn't ask. And it was very tough. But because it was so tough physically, it was more of a challenge. And so you really had to get your meditation together. So, in one sense, I really value that toughness. It was tough, but I really had to work hard on the spiritual qualities which you built up.  So, yeah, it's tough, but it's not impossible.  Sometimes I've seen sick people as well, so they're not supposed to get into deep meditation. They can make it. And sometimes they too get enlightened as well. Really, really hard, really tough. But okay, when the chips are down, you really go for it.  This is your attitude. You can very easily, when things are very hard, think, oh, poor me, why is this happening to me? This shouldn't really happen to me. We should get better food in this monastery. I should have more time. Why don't people love me?  That is a problem. And if instead of thinking how unjust it is, we think, okay, what am I going to do about this? There's always something you can do. That's a wonderful thing, which I found in life, it's in Buddhism, rather, light a candle that complain about darkness is always something you can do with what's happening in life. And even if it is just doing nothing and just meditating and just making it so peaceful, that's doing something positive.  That way you find you can actually make a wonderful life for yourself.  And all the things which you complained about and instead, like opportunities,  opportunities for enlightenment.  Okay, so not injustices.  I know that sort of I made those. That karma somewhere along the line, why this happened to me. It's interesting that sometimes it's karma, rebirth. Once you actually bring this into some of the problems of our life, whether it's euthanasia, whether it's cloning, whether it's wars, essentially injustice, you've bring calm and rebirth into the equation. It changes so many of the conclusions which people come to. And nobody ever mentions calm and rebirth when we talk about cloning or we talk about euthanasia or we talk about justice in the world. Oh, my goodness. Whether people think it's right or whether it's wrong, there are quite a few, almost a billion Buddhists in the world. I think some of their views should be taken into account as well. At least they should be respected. That that's a valid way of looking at life. You may not agree with it, but my goodness is as valid as thinking you only live once.  And so when we actually bring those equations, those considerations into the equations come and rebirth, it makes a different conclusion to the problems of cloning or rebirth of cloning or perceived injustices in the world. The problems are like people dying young, which creates so much confusion and sometimes anger in people. Why did they die eyes so young? They're only three years old. Four years old. That's really unfair. If it was only one life, my goodness, it would be unfair. Haven't had much of a chance.  But if you look upon in common rebirth many, many lives, then perhaps it is fair after all  gets rid of so much anger in human beings.  Thanks for that question. He always gives really good questions. Yes, thanks. Yes. Next question. Yes, Eddie?  What do I think of Saddam Hussein and Bush?  We can learn a lot from them.  You go and help because Passivity has got nothing to do with Buddhism. We got, like, right efforts of doing things. My goodness. That I'm probably one of the least passive of monks. I come here every Friday. I work my butt off all the time in the monastery and overseas and goodness knows what else. But okay, look around. Like with aggression, when something's being attacked there, you got to be very careful there, because sometimes that the quick solution is very often the wrong solution, and you just actually make you more problems in the future. You have the compassion there. There's a problem, it needs to be solved. But it's like the solution which is very often wrong. And I've never seen almost never seen any case where aggression or violence is a solution which is going to last. Sometimes there's many other solutions which are preferable to violence. The history of our world just shows that when we try and trade violence for violence, he just gets worse and worse and worse, and there's no solution after all. Look at sort of Palestine in Israel. My goodness. I mean, they all justify their aggression to each other because they think it's necessary, but it never works. Look at people's lives. When your wife or your husband sort of shouts at you and I'm not going to stand out and you shout back, you can still be assertive.  Find out the reasons why and deal with those reasons. And there's always like, the positive forgiveness. What we have is like, finding out the cause of the problem.  And a lot of the causes I mentioned this evening is the perceptions of injustice  and the solutions are is actually solving it not on the external, but on the internal way.  And then, my goodness, with all the bombs and the problems which have gone on in Palestine and Israel over the years, if all the money which has been wasted and just lost lives and medicines and rebuilding and bombs and stuff could actually be put into creating jobs, giving food to people, giving education to kids.  How much does that a cruise missile cost? Is something like three or $4 million or something? US. And I think how much was the so called war in Iraq about to cost? I think there's a few trillion dollars or something. A couple of thousand million US. Dollars?  Just wasted on armaments. And imagine if all that money, instead of, like, being paid for by bombs, just could be given to the people of Iraq. So here's a check for a trillion dollars.  What would the people of Iraq do? They probably just they'd love the Americans so much. The Americans just could walk into that country and they'd be welcoming, be home.  What I'm actually saying is just there's always other ways of dealing with things rather than violence. But sometimes you need to be assertive. Sometimes you need to stand up. And just when somebody is shouting at you, he's just say, no  violence against women.  You take no doubt. You find out a way of, like, avoiding the conflict. If anything, run. Find out why you're in that situation to begin with.  Don't just take the easy option of just someone hits you, hit them back.  And it's not just like turning the other cheek. If someone hits you and you turn the other cheek, you just got to go and see the dentist twice rather than once.  That's passivity. You've got to be more wise than that.  Find out what the reason is. Why is a person that's actually getting so aggressive?  So I think that's the solution which the Buddha was suggesting. Violence isn't ceased by violence. Anger doesn't cease by anger.  It takes much more work to actually find that sort of nonviolent solution. But it's not a passive solution. It's actually getting in there and solving the problems, doing something about it, whether it's just like talking to a person, being friends with other people and communicating with one's enemy. So we realize that we can actually be friends, and it's in our interest to be friends.  Yes. One last question and everything. Should I?  Absolutely, yes. That's a danger of if you're born into no wealth, talent, sort of good health, it is a danger of good karma. Complacency. That's why we always have the wonderful teaching of Annie Cha. It's impermanent, it won't last. So, my goodness, you've made good karma to get where you are. But don't just waste the opportunity now you're here. Keep on making good karma so it lasts a long, long time. This is interesting that we always think that we are wealthy. The people over there are poor. What I was saying this evening, you're the poor people. The people over in Bangladesh are the rich ones.  There's a poor inside the spiritual wealth in our Western world. We just look on the outside as a measure of our success. The size of our houses, the clothes, the amount of food we eat. But my goodness, look at the suicide rate in our country, the amount of people taking drugs, abusing kids, divorces, people having to go to therapists. That is sickness, that is a sense of not enough health there. But my goodness, we've got problems as well. And sometimes at those spiritual problems, those mental problems, they're eating at our society through crime,  through a lack of sense of spiritual well being. When you're a daughter or a son hangs himself when they're only twelve years of age, is that good? That's really more painful. When a baby dies of maybe sort of dysentery or something, maybe the mother can understand it's. Poverty, they can understand it's some sort of cause there when like a twelve year old hangs themselves in the front porch as someone did a few months ago.  But it's good what you mentioned there, that sometimes when we are wealthy or we are content when things are going well for us, that is the result of your good karma as well. You deserve that. So you deserve your happiness. So delight in that. But remember that that's not going to last. So that's why they say that keep on making good karma there's. One of the Buddhist female disciples called wasaka very famous lady in Buddhist history. When she got married to her husband, her husband wasn't a Buddhist at all, but very wealthy. When she went around complaining, in our house, we only eat old food. We only eat old food.  And her husband said, what are you saying, wife? We only eat old food. We get new food every day from the market. She's who said no, that's not what I mean to say that our wealth, our happiness, our prosperity is from our past karma. We're not making any new karma. You don't let me go to the temple. You don't let me give arms.  So we have to keep making newcomer as well. If we want wealth for the future.  And her husband understood and also allowed her to give arms and also contributed himself. So, our wealth, our prosperity, our good luck, whatever you wish to call it, we've earned that. So, for our future, we have to keep on earning that happiness by building up the spiritual qualities which we call good karma, generosity,  virtue, you, compassion, kindness that will create the happiness inside and also the apparent wealth outside for you.  So it's important to keep on doing that. Keep on doing that. Otherwise, it's true, we do get complacent. And what we have, what we've earned, we lose very quickly. As they say, a fall and their money are soon parted the same way. Sort of a looted person. And their good karma is soon used up. Okay, thanks for listening to this talk this evening. I've gone on for a little bit longer. But that's your karma this evening. So don't blame me. You deserve that.