April 28, 2023

Grief | Ajahn Brahm

Grief | Ajahn Brahm

When things go wrong in life, it's a chance to show the beauty of the heart. Take the time to cherish life and to learn from the experiences that we have in life. Grief is a feeling of sadness or regret in response to something bad that's happened. A...

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When things go wrong in life, it's a chance to show the beauty of the heart. Take the time to cherish life and to learn from the experiences that we have in life. Grief is a feeling of sadness or regret in response to something bad that's happened. As Buddhists we can challenge all the conditioned responses we have to events in our life, and see them as positive opportunities for growth. Things can go wrong at any time, and in order to cope with such a situation, it's important to allow ourselves to be human and to think positively. Grief is part of life. It's not just something you experience when somebody we love dies. It can be a lack of hope, a loss of dreams. It can be a feeling of being a victim.


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 7th March 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans. If you like the Ajahn Brahm Podcast, you may also like the Treasure Mountain Podcast and / or the Forest Path Podcast which are also produced by the Everyday Dhamma Network.

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


AI Generated Transcription

Just as a little pointer. As I come out of meditation, I always try and just put a little smile on my face, because I find that that helps to bring out the peace, the containment of meditation into the world. So it's nice to, as you come out of meditation, always see if you can just smile a little bit and you'll help to maintain the beautiful feelings of meditation and bring them out into the world. Okay, we're going to have a talk in a few moments. Some people are going in, some people are coming out, some people are sitting outside, some people are sitting inside to get yourselves ready. And in a few moments, we'll start this evening's exciting talk. The reason I say it's exciting him, because you don't know what I'm going to talk about. Very often I don't know either. That's why it's exciting. But this evening, I do know what I'm going to talk about, because someone else has given a suggestion for this evening's talk. And this evening's talk is going to be they also give a talk on the subject of grief. But I'm going to be widening the normal meaning of the term of grief to all other parts. Not just the loss of a loved one, but also some of the disappointments and things which have gone wrong in one's life so far. Because sometimes it's a very similar attitude of the mind that very often we look upon the past and we think, oh, that shouldn't have happened. I wish I hadn't said that. I wish I hadn't have done that. I wish the other guy didn't do that. And sometimes there's a lot of grief about the past, of lost opportunities and lost happiness, as well as lost people. So this is a talk this evening on grief. But as usual in Buddhism we try and turn everything around because as human beings we are just so emotionally conditioned. Certain things which we experience in life, we tend to react to them emotionally in ways that we've been trained. Our social conditioning, our cultural conditioning. And some of that conditioning is very, very strong. Which means that so often we expect ourselves to feel sad, we expect ourselves to feel angry, we expect ourselves to react negatively to the things which happen in life. And in Buddhism, we always want to rebel against our conditioning to do things in different ways rather than just be like sheep. Some years ago, I always go and give talks at the really weird places. Actually, this afternoon I went to give a pep talk to the team at six PR and 96 FM because their ratings were going down. So they wanted me to go and get the ratings up. So this is a lad for that radio station because if it goes down even further, never invite me back again. I'll lose my reputation. It's really interesting being a monk because you go into all these studios and see all these people. So it's a really great life as a monk right now and you go to places you never can go to as an ordinary person. And anyway, back to grief, or back to the story I really meant to be telling at the beginning that many years ago that I accepted an invitation to go and give a talk at a school. Very often you go and give talks to school. But when I got there, I didn't realize who was grade one and grade two. I thought the least to be people who could now understand something about Buddhism. He always willing to do anything for a cup of tea. So I went in there and gave a talk and. And just these little people there, how on earth are you going to teach Buddhism? And so what I did was I talked about conditioning and just how strong conditioning is and how to overcome conditioning. And this is how I did it. I asked the kids all sitting down, it was like whole grade ones and grade twos with the teachers and some parents sitting in the back because they'd never seen a Buddhist monk before. They didn't know what I was going to do to their kids, but I won them over straight away. I said I just started chatting to them, and I was a Buddhist mug. And then I asked them, said, we only eat once a day at our monastery. We have to eat all sorts of things, and we don't choose. And I asked people about your types of food, and I asked the kids, do you like rice pudding? And I said, Put your hands up, children, if you don't like rice pudding. And about among 60 or 70 children, maybe a bit more than that, about three kids put their hands up. They didn't like rice pudding. Now, what happened next was very important, because the other kids now only sort of five, six, seven year olds, they're looking around, they saw about three or four kids with their hands put up. And so a few more children put their hands up. Then a few more put their hands up. In about 30 seconds, they had the whole of the two classes, the two grades of all these children put their hands up. Yes. They didn't like rice pudding. So put your hands down, children. Now, can you please put your hands up if you've ever eaten rice pudding? About two kids put their hands up, and everyone else laughed. Including the teachers and the parents behind. And I'd made my point, a very powerful Buddhist point about rice pudding, but also more importantly, about our likes and our dislikes and how we react and how we learn to react to some of the experiences of life and and being a Buddhist monk. One of the other places where I go is the funeral parlors and Go funeral directors and all the cremations and crematoriums in Perth. And I've seen too often, unfortunately, that when there's a funeral, little kids go along, little kids, as usual, full of life, playing around, smiling, laughing. As soon as they go into the funeral parlor or the chapel, all the grown ups are really sad and miserable and crying. And you see utter confusion on the faces of these children. They just don't know what's going on. Why are you so sad? And then they learn sadness. They learn it from their parents, from their uncles, for their grandparents. They learn it by going to funerals and seeing the reaction of everyone else. It's as if their parents and elders are putting their hands up. Yeah, we don't like death, so the kids put their hands up as well. Yeah, we don't like it as well, but. This is our conditioning. And so the Buddhists actually you can actually challenge all these conditionings and say, I don't care if what other people think. I'm going to see if I can react and relate to this in a different way, in a more skillful way, a more beneficial way, a way which will give you a greater sense of meaning in life. And how we do that. Whatever happens to us, we can always make use of it, turn it around to our advantage. There's nothing you can't learn from in life. Even the worse things which happen to you, you can always make some fun out of it. On a subject of funerals, I've got so many funny funeral stories simply because I've been doing so many, and every now and again, something goes wrong. And for example, I remember doing one burial service for a Chinese Buddhist once. They like to be buried, and a family wanting the very best for their I think their mother. They had a coffin with all the trimmings on it. Unfortunately, the trimmings added so much width to the coffin that when they started to lower it into the hole, it got stuck. Now, usually in Buddhist funeral services, that the monks, in this case myself, would do some chanting as we're lowering it down, we usually do the metasuitor. And when I saw it gets stuck and these poor funeral directors were trying the hardest to actually to get it out, I had to do this metachart about three or four times over and over and over. And I was getting desperate myself. They better get this out of the hole pretty quickly, otherwise I would not be able to charge much longer. And I was very relieved that some of the baddies actually to get it out. And of course, all the time I knew what was going on there, knew what was going on. We always have to keep a straight face because you're supposed to be the priest doing this all, but sometimes I don't keep a straight face, and sometimes things go wrong and it makes a funeral. And the people who go there see, and they see there's a different way of actually looking at grief. They can make a happy event, what we call like celebrating a life. And so often when things go wrong in life, it just has so many wonderful results afterwards. I just actually on Sunday I'll be going to an interface service of St. George's Cathedral every year for the Commonwealth Day. It's actually really boring usually, but once, many years ago, my favorite time, we had this interface service, all these people in their medals, all the army and military go there and the governor gives out the Queen's Common Off Day message and everybody is nodding away in the heat. But this particular time, right in the middle of the service, some policemen came in, there was a bomb scare. Someone rang up the police and said because all these people of different religions going into the Christian center there and they thought that somebody didn't like this and they were going to blow the place up. So we all had to leave in the middle of the service. And that was the best thing which ever happened happened to that service. Because once we were all sort of had to leave, we actually started talking to each other and we actually started having a really good time because the whole service was actually completely unorchestrated, unrehearsed and became spontaneous and. And this is what happens sometimes when things go wrong that life becomes spontaneous rather than planned and other things take over in our life. A lot of times what means spontaneous is our old condition of what should happen next. How things are supposed to turn out gets completely disrupted. And instead of working from conditioning we're actually reacting much more wisely to things as they occur, as things as they are happening. And this is actually the way more to live life, to live more in that moment. Plans go wrong and the past has completely disappeared. But so often we get conditioned to look back in the past. And once we get locked into this rut, this obsession with the past so often we can always pick out something in the past to make us feel miserable and sad. We've lost a loved one. Shouldn't have happened. Something else should have happened. If only I'd have done this. Sometimes we lose a job. Sometimes we have grief of a failed relationship or things which went wrong when we brought up our children or business deals or whatever went wrong. Look at me. And I was used to be theoretical physicist. Now, when when I went to Cambridge, it was really great because it was an old fashioned college and used to have servants looking after you. They clean up your room every day. Now look at me. Just one meal a day. Live in a little cell. Just have to work so hard. Oh, where did I go wrong? It's so good that happened to me. Like, you know, sometimes as a young man, I wasn't born as a mug. As I was saying this afternoon, you have to have your girlfriends. It wasn't wonderful that the girlfriends never fell in love with you. I've been terrible. If they fall in love me, I could have been married now, or probably second or third marriages. Many divorces, kids and things to pay off. Oh, my goodness. At the time, whenever, like, a relationship, it failed. You thought, oh, that's really miserable. But it's wonderful it failed because otherwise it couldn't have become a monk. So sometimes you look at your past and when it actually happens, you think, this is really awful. This is really terrible. Why me? But you find you can always make use of whatever happens to you in life. And instead of looking back on life with grief, feeling a victim of circumstance, feeling, if only this didn't happen, I'd be so much better, you can sometimes look back with gratitude instead of grief. Oh, isn't it wonderful that this happened to me? Isn't it wonderful this occurred? Isn't this tremendous gift that I've experienced sort of a deep meaning in life with some of the suffering and the pain? These are teaching experiences, things which we can grow from. And it's a marvelous experience when you lose someone you love. A marvelous experience. I'm being rebellious now. How can you say that? I can say that because I've lost many people I love. As you all know, I've told that story before my father died when I was 16. And I love that man dearly. I still do. He's a great father. He was the one who taught me that. Son, whatever you do in your life, the door of my heart will always be open to you. Beautiful expression of unconditional love. I remember even as a primary school kid, I got in the school soccer team. My father was supposed to be working on Saturday mornings when I was supposed to be playing soccer. But he would actually turn up to all the matches to see me. I felt so proud, like a little kid would. Your father was there. Then I found out actually what he was doing. He told his boss at work that he had to have a series of injections s. And so his boss gave him time off. He didn't have any objections. He just came to see his son play soccer. So wizard was lying. But I mean never guess that he was willing to sacrifice his job. So he had a marvelous sense of commitment to his kids and care for his kids. And when he died, you can imagine you felt very happy he died. I felt happy when he died. And he heard, or maybe many of you heard the story. Why? Why? I felt happy when he died. It wasn't that I didn't love him. It wasn't that he left me lots of money. I was waiting for him to die so I'd get a goodwill. He was actually very poor in money, but very rich in his spiritual wealth. But the reason why I was happy when he died was the Simile of the Concert. Simile of the Concert goes like this. As a young man, I used to go to many concerts in London and to the Albert Hall, Wall Festival Hall, little clubs in the back of Soho, blues clubs. I saw great bands and orchestras in those days. People now who you'd have to pay a lot, a lot of money to actually to see and hear. You'd have to sit such a long way back. I saw Led Zeppelin's very first performance when they're very, very and nervous. Saw the Rolling Stones when I was very, very young. I could actually hear them. All the girls were screaming. I was very upset and. I love music, like many young people do, but the SIM of the concert goes like this after a great concert, you'd clap when people wanted to stop and you'd shout for more, hoping that the band or the orchestra would just play on for a little bit longer. And very often they did. But eventually they had to stop and go home. So did I. When the concert was over, when the band had packed up and I walked out of that concert hall, the London nights I'm not quite sure if this was true, but this is how I always remember those London nights. They were always cold, very dark, and it was always drizzling. This word, which you only have for English rain, it doesn't actually rain properly. It just half heartedly. Just is like very, very light. Shower boiling all the time. It's miserable, it's gloomy, it's cold, it's damp, it's. But even though it was so horrible outside and even though very often after the greatest of concerts, I knew I'd probably never hear that band or orchestra again even though the concert was over never once never once did I cry or feel sad every time. Him after the great concerts, you'd always go out thinking what a marvelous performance that was, what great music. And how fortunate I was to have been there at the time. And that's exactly how I felt when my father died. What a great concert. What a marvelous performance. How lucky I was to have been there at the time, completely turned around. What was expected of me when a loved one dies and. What I was doing was remembering a good life. I was celebrating the years I'd had with the man. I was so grateful I had 16 years. It would have been great if you had 2030, 40, 50 years doesn't matter. 16 years was marvelous. And anybody here who still feels grief for the loss of a loved one, whether it's a daughter or a son, whether it's a parent or a grandparent, a husband or a wife, I ask you to think, would you rather never have known that person? Would you rather they never came into your lives? Or are you so grateful you knew there for those few years and can, instead of you, grieving a loss, turn that round to a sense of gratitude and kindness and. Thank you for being there in my life for so long. So you can actually turn around what most people expect you to react into something which is far more useful, beneficial and wonderful in life. Because when you show gratitude to the life of someone who's giving you their friendship, their love, their companionship, you're actually not just celebrating their life, you're also celebrating those qualities. And, my goodness, we do need to celebrate the spiritual qualities in our world. We're celebrating the qualities which you really respect and value in the one who has died. And this is actually what you learn, what you gain from the death of a person. It brings you meaning to life, what life is really all about, because you find it's not the length of life a person lives. So many people like to live for long life. Do you want to live a long life? Do. Imagine what it's like living a long life. Imagine, look at some people who are old. They can hardly walk, they can hardly hear. Keep on forgetting things. Their mind goes, their ears goes, their nose goes, their legs go, the arms go. You know the one thing which doesn't go with old people? Their mouth. They can talk, people. So one thing which doesn't go any go with hour. Oh, my goodness. They can go on, they can't hear what you say, but they could still talk. It's true, isn't it? Do you like to be old? This is why I say, if you really want to lengthen your life, this is Ajam Brahm's way of lengthening your life. Sleep 1 hour less every day. You're lengthening your life. Now, what you're actually doing, you're lengthening your life. When it's a good life, a quality life. If you think if an average person sleeps 8 hours a day, sleeping 1 hour less actually, you're adding on sort of set of 60 nows, another 70 now. That's one 16th of a life. If you live 80 years, that's a whole five years. You're adding on in effect. And those five years are not added on to the very end, where you can't really enjoy yourself and life is really suffering and you spread it in the nursing home watching TV all day. We're actually adding on now when you can come to the Buddhist society, when you can meditate and enjoy yourself and have a good time. So this is a Jam Bob's way of actually extending your life. Sleep 1 hour less. You can always catch up on your sleep when you die and you're coughing all the time. Sleep as long as you like. So what it actually when persons die, what it actually teaches us is always the value of life. We waste so much time, we waste the years which we have. And if you actually look upon, like the example of somebody close to you who's died what it does if you use it rather than just allow yourself to get negative the things which happen in life you can always make use to learn from we can learn just how. Valuable life is the fact that life doesn't last forever is impermanent it goes. So we better make best use of this life while we have the time. And we also realize what is the best use of our life and when you go to a funeral, you realize accumulating money is a waste of time. Your relations will get it all. In fact, the more you have, the more you'll break up your family. When they start arguing over the will, the less you have, the more harm you can expect with your family. It's no worth fighting. You're not worth anything. But more than that, you realize that possessions are not important. Doesn't matter how big your home is, we all have the same room when we die. 6ft long, two foot wide, not made out of brick, made out of wood. That's all we're left with at the very end. That's our final realist eight. The only thing we truly need. What we're saying here is it brings back the meaning of life, which is not just going for material goods, seeing how rich I am, how big is my house? How great is my car? Look how much money I've got. That's just completely stupid. People's games. What's most important in life is the spiritual wealth. What people will remember you buying in Buddhism, what you'll take with you after you die your karma, your spiritual qualities, your kindness, your generosity. Because that's what people remember when a person dies. So the Greek for a death is actually you're wasting a huge opportunity to take an event of life which happens to everybody eventually to learn from it, to understand from it, to celebrate the good qualities in life and to actually to prepare yourself with those things which are really, really, really meaningful and meaningful in life. What it does do also, it shows you that if. When it's time to be with one another, to care for one another, to say sorry if we've offended one another when it's time of a death. We always want to do that straight away because we don't know who is going to happen next, who is going to be the next star of the next funeral. The central character in the middle of things school, as I often said here, because I used to do math before I taught maths and physics, theoretical physics, it was called. And you look in an audience like this with maybe 200, 300 people, and you do a quick calculation that because of the death rate, this time next year there must be at least two or three of you will be dead. Which two or three is it? And do not look at the old people, it's. But it's true, isn't it? You can't fault that. That's math, that's statistics. What we're really meaning there is when we see a person's death, we're actually remembering we are also mortal, we are impermanent. One day we're going to die. Are you ready to go yet? If you're not ready to go, you better be working pretty quickly. How much time have you got? So when actually you realize this, when something happens like that, we can make so much from that, so much happiness, so much worse. I'll tell the other story which comes to my mind. It's on a bit of a tangent here, but one of the monks in Sydney before he was a monk, he was a funeral director. Monks like doing these things. And he told some great stories in Sydney because not only do you know that they bury them how to actually collect the bodies as well and there's always things go wrong. They don't usually tell people, but they told me and they've had some funny stories, he said, like once they got told to go and pick up somebody in Sydney who just died. And they went in there and they put the corpse back in the bottom of their car and it was like one of these big straiders with a big fat belly. And that didn't really mind. It took a lot to actually to put them in the car. But the call came again and there was another person who just died they had to pick up on the way back to the funeral parlor. This was again a big fat woman. So put them in the back of the hearse as well. And I don't know what it was, but this day so many people were dying in Sydney because I? D had a third person and they were also really fat and so they were going back to their funeral ceremony and actually the bottom of the car was actually scraping on the road because very heavy dead people in the back and they were being very hoping that the police wouldn't stop. But the most funny was actually when they went to one of his apartment blocks, one of his old block of apartments in Sydney. And there was like an old man had died and the only way up they had some stairs was this old fashioned lift which elevator and, you know, when a person dies they usually put them in a stretcher, actually, to take them out to the car. But they couldn't get the stretcher down the stairs because the stairs were too narrow and too windy. And they couldn't get it in the lift because the lift wasn't wide enough for us. Stretcher. So the two of them, the two funeral directors are wondering what to do. And the only way to do it is actually to get in the lift and actually hold the guy vertical between them. But. But they were hoping. They were hoping. So please, please make sure we can get them from that six or seven storey down to the ground floor without anybody pressing the button halfway down. But of course, Murphy's Law, if it can go wrong, it does go wrong. About the third floor, the lift stopped and the doors open. And now this is block of flats. Many people have been in there for a long time. Everybody knew each other. So there's a little old lady. Imagine it. As soon as the doors open, she saw this old man she knew. It just started between these two strange people and they said they could help it, but they're trying to hold this old dead body upright. But it started to fall and they just grabbed it before it sort of hit the old lady. But it was too late. Anyway, the lady screamed and fainted and. But the only thing they could do is to press the button quickly and get downstairs and rush it into the back of the car. One of them ran up the stairs again to look after this poor old deer. What a terrible experience that would be. Imagine so when it can go wrong, it does go wrong. But sometimes when things go wrong again, it brings up the humanity of life. When things go wrong, as I was saying at that sort of ceremony which we did in St George's a few years ago when there's a bombskirt, when it all went wrong, it became really human. It became warm. People talked to each other. We were starting to work together again. One of the famous funerals favorite funerals I went to was on an outdoor funeral. It was in fremantle. Fremantle Carol. It was Fremantle, I think. You know that the little conveyor belt when you press a button, the door opens when it goes behind, then the door closes behind it. On this occasion that the the family decided to make their own coffin, which is allowable. They got the right size, only they used very heavy wood. And so it was so heavy that actually when you pressed the button and the conveyor belt started the conveyor belt was having such a hard time actually moving this thing that the door opened, but it started to close before the coffin was all the way through and it jammed in the middle. It went crash into the middle of the coffin. It's a marvelous experience because I saw the funeral director's face went like whiter than the corpse. I thought he'd be the next one to go because something had gone wrong. And that funeral directors hate that with something. The poor funeral director. But then another wife I always remember this, actually, she jumped up on the conveyor belt and started to push. Come on. Trying to get rid of you. And that just broke the whole solemnity of the funeral. And actually people started cracking jokes. The funeral director was laughing. Somebody said it was just like when he bought his first car. The very first day he crashed it. The first day is in his coffin, he crashes it again and. And that was one of the most loveliest funerals I've ever been to. Because people were being people. Things were going wrong and they were celebrating life because life is what goes wrong. And it brought into their consciousnesses a wonderful, almost like, party atmosphere to end a love for loved one's life. Wasn't that wonderful that people were smiling, happy, celebrating a life. And as they celebrated that life, they also learned so much about the meaning of life. And that's to say with other things which go wrong with us in life, not just the loss of a person. Sometimes it might be the loss of a job, might be the loss of a partner in life, because grief is not just the loss of a person. We grieve over anything which we thought was really important to us, which has been taken away from us. Or we grieve because of pain, some terrible experiences we've had when we were young. And sometimes you look back upon those experiences and you have a choice. It's up to you to allow that experience to give you a sense of pain. A sense of, poor me. Why did this happen to me? A sense that you're a victim of life. Rather than looking back upon those experiences and just see how you can make use of them in your life, to learn from them, to grow from them and to be so grateful that those experiences happen to you. Sometimes people have these experiences, they lose their job. When they lose their job, they have to spend some time with their family. They're at home. They start to realize with that time just how much they have neglected their family and the people who they really care about. And they learn what's really important. Sometimes they get another job. They get part time or get a job in which they don't earn so much money but earn much more time. They realize the benefits of time. When we fail some other part of life, sometimes failure we can look upon it as limitation of our life or we can look upon it as opening up many doors, many other possibilities. So many people who have had sicknesses or close calls with death when they're very young at the time, it was just so frightening. It was just so sometimes painful. But very often they say. They would not have sacrificed and given that experience up for all the money in the world. Very often the spiritual experiences of life are, at the time painful, disappointing, disconcerting. It's as if every time, now and again in our life we get what we call in spiritual life the kick up the backside, the it hurts. But, my goodness, we need it from time to time to remind us what's really important in life. Remember a story of a miner in West Australia who was working in the far north some years ago? His job was to be the explosives expert. He said in those days was so dangerous that he would always go alone in the middle of the night when all the other people weren't working. And he'd set the explosives in case anything went wrong. He'd be the only one who's hurt. He'd set the explosives alone. And he would crack the rock face and then in the morning, the crews would come and use those cracks to extract the ore, whatever they were mining. I don't know. He says that one evening when he woke up after his midday nap, midday sleep, in his dreams, he had a premonition that something was going to go wrong. He was very careful with his explosives because he had mission, but it wasn't explosives with the problem. As he walked to the end of the tunnel, he heard a rumble of one of the Awe carrying trucks on the railway. In the thing coming towards him, someone had left the brake off and something had actually caused the thing to move and it was rolling straight towards the rock face and there was no room to move. It was very narrow and. The only thing he could do, he thought, when his scene came hurtling towards him at great speed, was to jump. That was the only space there was above. Not to the left, not to the right. He jumped. The thing hit him. He fell to the ground. And he realized that one of his legs was cut off and he was bleeding in great pain. You the only thing he could do was try and tap on the rails. But he realized it would be quite a few hours before someone came to help him. And there in the darkness, with your legs severed in pain, bleeding, he said he had one of the most wonderful experiences of his life. So great was that experience that he would not have given up that accident for the world. Can you accept that? I can. Because I know that sometimes these things start to teach us what is the most important thing in life and why life and. Many people can have painful experiences, even being the victim of abuse, physical abuse or even sexual abuse. I told the story before of, again, my own father, who was a victim of physical abuse. His father, my grandfather, born in Liverpool, was a plumber. Used to get drunk at night, almost every night, and come back home out of his mind, take off his belt and just hit whatever child happened to be in the way, no matter what they did. And then start beating his wife. My father just hated more than his own pain the straps which he got around his body. He hated that happening to his mother. But he couldn't help his mum. He's only a small child. He was a subject of horrific domestic abuse, which in those days, in the poor part of Liverpool before the Second World War, was not uncommon. Now, what do you think his reaction to that abuse was? His reaction was to make a very strong resolution that when he grew up, when he got married and have kids, that he would never hit his kids. He tried a couple of times, but his heart wasn't in it. He just couldn't do it. My mother was a disciplinarian in the house. My poor old dad can get away with murder with him sometimes because he'd seen it, he'd felt it, what it was like. And instead of being a victim of it, he was a beneficiary of it. He learned exactly what it does, and never, ever would he give that to anybody else. This is actually how we learn from some of the painful experiences of life. Life when we know what it feels like, when we realize just its pain and just how rotten it is, we don't need to repeat it on others. In fact, we learn the importance of gentleness, the importance of kindness, the importance of generosity. If you've ever had your house robbed, things stolen from you, and you know what it feels like, all those bad experiences, you can feel so grief. Stick. And why did this happen to me? Why didn't what do these things go? One of the people used to come here, one of our first members of our monastery. He said his only possession was a Hardy Davison bike, which was actually worth quite a lot of money. And he used to go around Australia on it. That was his pension fund, he said, when he got old. He told me once that he parked his car in a shop and not parked parked his Hardy Davidson motorbike in a shopping center in Sydney. And he went to buy some stuff and when he went back, he found his bike was stolen, the only expensive thing he had in his whole life, and someone had pinched it. And straight away immediately, for anger at the thieves. But then, because he was a Buddhist, because he'd been meditating, he'd heard all his great teachings, thought, Hang on now, this is actually showing me just that the trouble with attachments, how just you put all your effort, your attention, your attachment in physical things, which you know one day will so disappear from you. And he actually let go of his motorbike and he was so proud of himself that he actually had his most expensive possession of his whole life taken away from him and he was at peace and a content. He felt so good until he realized he was actually on the wrong floor of the parking lot and it was actually downstairs. It wasn't starting at all. It was just a test for him. Wasn't it a wonderful experience that he actually saw something of his which he thought was very important, being taken away and he learnt about the problem of attachment. All the things which you're attached to in life, what are you really attached to? It will all disappear sooner or later. It's a great test of us to actually to have things been taken away and realize thank you very much for all the time I've had you. Hardy Davidson. Thank you. All the good experiences we've had. This is the way we develop gratitude in life rather than grief. Because we can actually spoil our whole day when our car gets pinched. We can spoil our whole day when our house gets robbed. Why do you allow thieves to control your happiness in that way? Surely they can steal your goods, but why do you allow them to steal your happiness as well? Why'd you allow life to steal your peace of mind? In the end, we decide to take control of these things. We just say whatever happens to be happens to me in life. I will not allow these things to affect my happiness. I'm going to be happy no matter what. And sometimes when rotten things happen to you, you do find. The old silver lining, you find just how many friends you have. When there's a tragedy in life, it's when the community comes around. It's when your friends really just show their kindness. Compassion their time for you. It's marvelous. When things go wrong when things go wrong, people have the opportunity to show their hearts to you. When things go wrong, we don't need kindness, we don't need care. We don't need love, forgiveness and all of these things. When things go wrong, it gives people the opportunity to show these beautiful qualities of the heart. And it makes life so wonderful, so beautiful. So when we look upon all the things which have gone wrong in our life so far instead of saying poor me, we say, Lucky me. Isn't it wonderful? I lost all my shares in the stock market. Isn't it wonderful that my my relationship broke down and my kids sued me for this and that. Isn't it wonderful? One of these monks in in Thailand who was put in jail once for somebody accused him of being a communist and. This was you know, we had this McCarthy ism in the United States years and years ago when there was a big Communist scares in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War when people were very concerned about internal Communists getting their way in the government. This very, very senior monk was accused of being a Communist. And it was against the law at that time because of these draconian laws they had. And he was convicted and stuck in jail for two years. He wasn't a communist. He didn't do anything wrong. He was just a monk. I mean, my goodness, if you looked at all the things I said on these talks sometimes you might go to jail for this and that. Certainly should go to jail for some of the terrible jokes I tell here. But never that's actually your karma to listen to them. But anyway, he went to the jail and he said it was the best time of his life as a monk because in jail, he was in jail for two years. Monks love solitary confinement. If I went to jail, I'd misbehave on purpose to get more solitary. Not only that, but he had all the time in the day. He didn't have to go and give talks. He didn't have to go and solve people's problems. He was actually free all day. He said it's one of the best periods of his life. He could read, he could meditate, eat. He just had freedom. And my goodness, in a jail, you get three meals a day. In my monastery, only one. And maybe a little bit of breakfast. It's much more comfortable in jail, you know, for a monk. Anyway. So he had a wonderful time going to jail. What was actually saying there was a marvelous experience of his life. Even though for most people you think just the shame, the humiliation, the difficulty, the pain. But there are some people in this world who actually take the adversities in life and turn them into such positive contributions to their spiritual being they become better persons because of the tragedies sometimes the UN fairness, the difficulties, the pain the sheer tragedies of life we can turn around. And that's why when people say, do you like rice pudding? Have you ever eaten rice pudding? Do you like cancer? Have you ever had cancer? Do you like divorce? Have you ever had divorce? I haven't. But I'm sure you can make use of whatever it is in life and certainly my monastic life whatever's happened you can always make use of whatever tragedy, difficulty happens. And this is a way, instead of having grief about the difficulties and the bad things which have happened in life we actually turn it around because the Buddhist recognizes that the mind is the forerunner of all things. The first verse of the Dharmapada one of the core Buddhist Sutras teachings of the Buddha. The mind is the forerunner of all things, not life. The mind. It's what you add on to life how you relate to it, how you interpret it. Your attitudes of life are the most important thing. When we talk about our happiness and suffering our freedom or our imprisonment is how you look upon life. The mind the forerunner of all things. So because the mind can be changed because attitudes do not need to be conditioned by our society, by others because we have that freedom of the mind to change to look upon things in a different way, there we have the freedom to escape from suffering, to escape from being a victim. There we have the opportunity to be free of suffering. We can learn, we can let go and we can become better for the experience, not worse. No matter what that experience is in life. This is what the Buddha taught and this is the opportunities which are there for us in life. So as human beings, I don't know what your past has been, what your history has been. You'll find you've had many wonderful memories and very terrible memories. Welcome to life. It's not all beer and skittles, as we say in the monastery. Don't say that at all, actually. That beer in the monastery. Well, we're actually saying that this is our life. And when unpleasant things happen to us, especially when we look back upon them in the past and don't be a victim. Don't allow that to limit. With grief, with sadness, with a feeling. Why me? Why did this happen? Instead, we can say thank you for this happening. The opportunities to learn and grow, the opportunities to know suffering and to turn it around into freedom, into kindness, into compassion, into wisdom, into peace. Many other people have done that. You can too. That's a challenge of the spiritual life. The channel challenge of the spiritual life is not to have everything going well, everything going perfectly with nothing going wrong in life. The goal of spiritual life is to have things going wrong and be happy and peaceful. Nevertheless, to know a mind which transcends the world, a mind which is not controlled by the vagaries of life, which is free to laugh at whatever happens. This is the promise. This is the goal. This is what you can do. So when things you look back upon your life, you can look back on grief if you wish, and feel sad, or you can use this as fertilizer for your heart to grow in beautiful qualities. What a wonderful performance. Thank you for that really stirring music. It may be very hot, maybe very moving, but you wouldn't have given it up for the whole world. So that's a talk on grief and overcoming it. Okay? Now, are there any questions or comments upon this evening's talk? Yes, we got a question. Yeah, go on. Okay. If you don't experience pain and grief, how do we know about it? Sometimes you can talk to other people. But we all have some pain and grief in our life. Some have more than others. But we all have our share from time to time. What goes around comes around. We have our little pieces here and there. We've all have relations and loved ones. Some are no longer here, some are still here. We all have our disappointments, whether it's at school, growing up, going to work, whatever. And this is what I mean by grief. It's not just always losing someone very, very close to you. It's like losing hope sometimes, losing dreams. Each one of these we can actually learn from. Even losing part of our body, losing our fitness or whatever. This is actually what I mean by grief. Even when your soccer team or your cricket team someone told me that the Sri Lankan team are playing cricket this evening. That's why there's not many Sri Lankan people here. Usually have quite a few Sri Lankan Buddhists here, but I think they worship cricket much more than Buddhist. The buttock. It's true, isn't it? So when your team loses, you have griefed in when the Eagles lose or Fremantle lose. Actually, I got into trouble the other day because people came, because we're monastery south of the river, we get many Fremantles up. Well, they paid the Eagles the other day. They asked me to do some chanting for Fremantle. I lost my reputation. But I told them they didn't lose as much as they would have done if I did do any charting. That's my excuse anyway. But people actually can feel very fed up into stupid things like the soccer team loses. Actually, that was one important experience to me when I was growing up as a school teacher. And this was in England, and England are like a soccer crazy. And there was a World Cup qualifying match. I still remember England versus Poland. And England needed to win to get into the finals. And everybody was watching it that night. It was such a close match. It was actually england only drew. They're so close. Hitting the crossbar, hitting the bar. No goals disallowed when they shouldn't be disallowed. But they were out of the World Cup finals that next day. When I was a teacher at school, there was no naughty children at all. The whole school was so depressed. Even the naughty kids, they didn't have the energy to misbehave. And even the teachers were just really down in the mouth and glum all day. I thought this is crazy. It's only a soccer match. Why would that sort of stop you misbehaving or stop you just being yourself? All and it was just to see just how much sadness that actually gave to that whole school community was actually mind boggling. It really boggled my mind. There was actually grief in a stupid form. Just because your soccer team lost, people were grieving, unhappy at the past. My goodness. You can learn from that. Learn from that. These days. Whenever someone said, as England were playing Australia, the cricket match the other day, someone this is actually Sri Lankan again, they rang for Melbourne. They said, how do you know England are playing Australia tonight? And they said, what team do you support? I said, which team are winning? Because I got dual nationality. Whichever team is winning. And if the Sri Lankans are winning because I'm a Buddhist, I support Sri Lanka. So I find out which team are winning. First of all, isn't that sensible? Because that way you're much happier. Why sort of support what? So this is actually like grief in life. We can actually grieve on so many things. So if you haven't experienced pain and suffering yet in your life, go and support FreeBuds. You'll soon learn about suffering. Okay, I don't have to ask you a question, but I wanted those moods this evening. Sorry. Okay. Thank you. Is there any other questions? This even before I finish off. Okay, I think that's enough for this evening. Enough jokes. I hope you leave happy instead of grief ticking this evening. If you didn't like the talk, don't grieve about it. You must have found something in it. You always learn something from whatever happens to you in life. So may you go well and happy into life. No matter what's happened to you, it's always something to learn from. Okay, now we have the Adverts this evening. Do you want to come up? This.