Dec. 28, 2022

Humility | Ajahn Brahm

Humility | Ajahn Brahm

Sometimes pain and suffering are an opportunity for us to grow and learn. When you criticize yourself, you inhibit your ability to succeed. Praise uplifts people and has a positive effect on relationships. The power of precepts lie in the fact that w...

Sometimes pain and suffering are an opportunity for us to grow and learn. When you criticize yourself, you inhibit your ability to succeed. Praise uplifts people and has a positive effect on relationships. The power of precepts lie in the fact that when we are guided by them, the mind moves in the direction of truth and calmness. Charles Martin spoke on the topic of humility and how it can be attained. He discussed the importance of virtuous conduct and how samatha (tranquility) can also be a contributing factor.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 12th October 2001. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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

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




Just while people are settling down. Just to let you know that the mic on my left here is Venusawanankara, who's visiting us for three or four days from Central Temple in Kuala Lumpur, who came with the group from KL this afternoon. I'm very happy to see him. He's looked after me when I've gone to visit at him. So now I can look after him when he comes to visit me. It's called the law of karma. So now I'm still a couple of people coming in. Is everything okay? Okay, now I'm going to give the talk for this evening. Going to quickly decide the next couple of seconds. What I'm going to talk about is those people are here all the time. No, I usually just decide very quickly on a Friday night, a couple of minutes before what I'm going to talk about. In that way, you can make the talk a little bit more connected to what people are thinking. So I'm going to wait to the carry on. One more go. One more go for it. Amongst the patients kind. Very good. Okay, one and a half more. Okay, here we go. Okay. I must admit, when I became a monk, I never thought I'd become a film star. I became a monk to get away from all of this. Maybe it's a nice talk about how about talk about humility this evening? Because humility is something in the Buddhist tradition we don't talk too much about, which is very important to have that sort of sense of humility in our lives because the opposite of being very proud and very arrogant causes too much problem in our life. So really, what humility really should be this is from the Buddhist teachings is that you don't judge yourself against others. As the Buddha actually said, not better, not worse, not the same. Sometimes when we look at humility, we think that we should just look upon ourselves as being worse than other people. And I'm not quite sure what happens in Singapore, Malaysia but in Western countries that's usually a psychological problem called lack of self esteem. People think they're awful, they're terrible. And sometimes they cultivate that or sometimes that is actually quite rare to find people who are so proud. They think they're the best, they're great, they're wonderful. Sometimes that people act as if they think that but a lot of times, if you get to know them very well you find out that that's just a defense against lack of self worth. And the alternative is very common in Western societies as everybody is equal. Neither of those is Buddhist. The Buddhist attitude is not the same. Not better, not worse, just different. That's all. It's true, isn't it? Because when we start to look at that there are three types of humility or the three types of wrong humility. Better, worse, the same. Each one of them creates problems for us. If we think it's worse, we're worse than other people. Where does that actually come from? Very often, again, because of my practice of being a monk a practice of mindfulness. What mindfulness means that being aware, being alert and also being open. Being open means you haven't got such strong views that you're going to assume the results before you look. So mindfulness means you suspend all of your ideas and views for the time being, and you just look to see what's there, not what you expect to be there, what actually is there. So very often in my life as Mike, I've just listened, listen. I'm not expecting to see anything or to find anything, but just seeing what's there. Quite a few times when I've been out and about in public transport or waiting in line at the hardware store like I was doing today, sometimes I've listened to how people talk to each other in the world. And the way people talk to each other is always well, not always, but very often criticizing each other. I was on a bus a few years ago and the school was out, just going home, and I sat behind a couple of school children and just listening to them talking to each other. And they're always criticizing each other. You've got a big nose here, but you're stupid. Yes, but I'm good at soccer. No, you're not. You're terrible. And all the time, that sort of criticism, I could imagine the effect I was having on those two kids in the school playground. The competition there was so great that everyone was putting each other down. When those kids went home, what did their parents do to them? You haven't cleaned your room yet. You haven't done your homework yet. You're stupid. You should work harder. You're not getting enough grades, not high enough grades. A grades. A lot of times there's so much criticism which the children were receiving. But I imagine what it would be like to have that input into your mind all day after day after day after day. It would condition you to having a low feeling about yourself that the mind is open to conditioning. Part of what we think about ourselves is what people say about us. And after a while, that will really get you down. Not only with children, but in a family. How many of you are married to a husband or wife? Always criticize you, point out your faults and how often someone is winning. Now, it must have hit the nail on the head. How often is it in a family you point out not the failings, but all the things you appreciate in your partner? How much do you talk about what you appreciate and how much you talk about what you don't like? Because what we talk about is what we think about. What we think about is what conditions our mind basically brainwashes our mind into a particular type of mind state the worse than other people. A lot of people in this world think that they're hopeless. They're not a good husband, they're not a good wife, they're not a good child, they're not a good parent, they're not a good worker. Because all the time, everything they hear is criticism. Even sometimes in a monastery I've got to stop myself. Because a monk does something wrong, I've got to say something, they do something right? You don't have to say anything, do you? So it means that if you're not careful, the only time you talk to your monks is to tell them off. And if I didn't waste careful, have no months taking my monastery because they get fed up. Only time you ever talk to me is to point out my faults. And so we have to remember that that type of way we use our speech and our body always being critical of thought finding is going to lead to a lack of selfesteem that thinking ourselves is worse than others sometimes even in the practice of Buddhism. That some of you meditating here are you good meditators? If you thought no, that's lack of self esteem. If you thought yes, I was a great meditator, that's pride. And if you thought I'm as good as anyone else, that's also wrong. What happens if you think I'm a terrible meditator? Because you think you're a terrible meditator, you will be a terrible meditator. You won't be able to succeed. Everybody knows that. People actually go to expensive hotels and pay thousands of dollars to be told that. That if you really want want to succeed, you have to have something called faith. Sadda, impali belief that you can do things. Lack of self esteem actually stops that. Faith stops the possibility of success in your life. So a lot of times, I even tell the monks in my monastery at Serpentine that you can achieve whatever you wish to. You can become alahs, you can fly through the air if you want to, if you got a ticket on Singapore Airlines. Whatever. You can do whatever you want to in life. Why not? Because that belief in the possibilities is very important. The belief in the possibilities for a child, if the child is growing up, give them that belief in the possibilities. Wherever you wish to achieve, you can. But give them time. If you keep criticizing your children, always pointing out their faults, you'll find that they will become stunted in their emotional development and also in their scholastic studies. So the idea here is to be careful of criticism. Awesome. If you're going to do anything, praise flattery, as the old saying goes, gets you everywhere. Try on your boss at work, try it on the monks in the monastery. If you're staying in the monastery. What he's saying here again is that praise uplifts people. When I was a young monk, we always thought that if you praise someone they get very proud. You try praising your husband, saying what a wonderful fellow he is. You try praising your wife, saying just haven't appreciate her and see what happens. So often I found out there was a little bit of praise just creates so many wonderful things. Even for the balance sheet of the monastery some years ago. The first time I found this out, the first year of the monastery down at Serpentine. And as many of you know, you had to build that from scratch. And not only laying, I was also doing all the plumbing of that monastery. So those of you going to the monastery on Sunday, whenever you use those toilets, you know that that's a jump round plumbing which you're using. Hope it works. Otherwise, again, is my reputation. The first time I didn't know anything about plumbing, about the sewage lines. We couldn't afford to employ a plumber. So Ajan Jacob, the app at the time, sent me into the shop and I said, look here's, the plans help. And the fellow behind the counter was very kind. He spent about 20 minutes with me, show me how to put things together and how it all works. And then I could understand the logic behind it. And then we made the order. He helped me work out what sizes of pipes I need and how many pipes I needed. I think it must have been costed about $1,000. It's quite a big order for the shop. So I took it back and after two or three weeks put it all together the Bluish block the local health of air from the council came and you looked at it and he passed it so we could use it. And I was very happy. And when the bill came, the bill came to the monastery. So we got a check from the treasurer and I sent the check to the firm with a little letter saying here's a check for so much money for the bill. And thanks very much to Fred behind the counter who was so helpful to me in telling me how to put all these things together. It was very good service and thanks to Fred. What I didn't realize at the time is there was quite a big firm. And the accounts didn't go to Fred Behind the counter. He went to the accounts department to a little Clarke there. When the clerk read the letter he sent it to the manager of the accounts department because it was very, very rare that anyone sent a letter of praise whenever they sent a letter would only be to complain about something going wrong. And so this was so unique, it actually went right to the CEO of this company. When it hit the CEO's desk, the CEO straight away got on the phone to Fred on the counter and said, fred, this is marvelous. This is great. Company politics is just what we want. Well done, Fred. Straight from the CEO. It did happen that one of the parts which he gave was a little bit too small. I needed a bigger part. And that afternoon, just the afternoon after the cow rang this Fed up in the morning, I happened to go into the plumbing shop. Australian plumbers, these big men in shorts and sandals and singlets. They have to be strong men to do the plumbing. There's about two in line in front of me. As soon as Fed saw me, he said, Brahm, come over here. I got first service ahead of these two plumbers. He said, what's wrong? I said, I've got this little part over here which is too small. I need it bigger. So he took me around the back, gave me the bigger part, which must have cost a lot more than the original one. And I said, oh, how much should we pay you for the extra? He said, Brahm, for you, no difference. And they told me the story. What happened? He got praised now by his boss that morning. That little bit of praise saved our buddy center a lot of money. Now, he didn't save a lot of money, but it meant the next time I entered that shop, the fellow was very friendly to me and very helpful. It's amazing just how much a little bit of praise is appreciated in our society when we talk about the world of relationships. How often those of you living with a partner, how often do you praise your partner and tell them how much you really appreciate them and how much you love them and care for them, how much you would miss them if they were away. How often do you tell that to your children, not to your parents? A little bit of praise goes an enormous long way. But there's one person I've left out who you should really praise more than anyone else. Who's that? Yes. So why not say to yourself every now again how much you care for yourself, how much you value you and how much you're glad you're around and how much you'd miss yourself? It's not just a joke. Because actually a little bit of praise to yourself will actually stop a lot of psychological problems and a lot of physical problems as well. How often is that? We put ourselves down inside when no one is listing. We think terrible thoughts about ourselves. If you're a girl, you look at self in the mirror, I'm really ugly. If you're a bloke, I'm really weak. Or if you're a monk, so I can't meditate today, or whatever else you think about yourself. How often is it do we look upon ourselves on the bad side, find the faults, look at those faults and blame ourselves? What that does is create the psychological problem of depression, which is a huge problem in our world. It's self criticism. It's almost like pathological humility. It's going to depression and sometimes even going to suicide. It's nothing to do with a person's material wealth, nothing to do with a person's family is to do with the way a person uses their mind. That's why Buddhist monks are great psychologists. You can see the way that people use their mind and see just the harm they do to the way they use their mind. The harm they do to their mind. In the same way that those children I saw on the bus always criticizing themselves, you see in people's minds the way they use their mind. Always criticizing themselves, finding fault and getting angry at themselves and the anger, getting depressed and getting to the cycle where they can see nothing good about themselves, nothing good about themselves. The point they want to destroy themselves. It's pathological. It doesn't need to be that way. Once we notice what the problem is, we can actually change it around. Instead of doing this rotten thought finding, we can actually deliberately start to look for the other side. Even a few days ago when I went to do a grief conference to give a portion about a grief conference. The people before had actually said that the negative side about loss. It was the parents of those people in Perth know those parents of Kia Glenn, the little girl who was murdered by the Claremont serial killer in Perth. And seeing the negative side of loss is a terrible thing to happen. Having your daughter murdered and found in Bushland somewhere. But then again, there's another way of looking at that. Turning the negative thought, finding mind around to trying to look for something positive. Positive in this you can always find something positive there. What you can find is positive is what happens in any tragedy fence coming around, the bonding of people, the care of people, the value you feel for life after you've noticed the loss of someone very dear to you. There's never anything which is so bad that you can't squeeze some really good dumb or some good understanding, some peace and happiness out of it. Afterwards I try to turn that conference around just by telling such stories. Telling such stories is the old story which I've told people here before when my father died. I was 16 at the time. That which should be a time of great grief. Especially because I love my father a great deal. Still do love the memory of my father. But when he died, I never cried. Never cried since. Telling that story to people was very helpful because there was other of people there who said they haven't cried the death of a loved one and they feel so relieved to hear that someone else hasn't as well. Because in psychology, if you haven't cried, there's supposed to be repression. I'm not repressed. I would tell people that the way I'd explained it to myself and explain it to others was a symbol of the concert. A young man growing up in London. I'd gone to many concerts, seeing many great bands, orchestras and performances. And after every concert, just like everyone else, you'd always shout for more. Sometimes the band would carry on, but eventually they would finish. Once they were finished and went home, i, too, had to leave the concert hall, the club, the auditorium and go out into the cold drizzle of a London night. But every time I went out into the cold, blew me drizzle knowing I would never hear that band again. Never once did I feel sad. What I felt was how lucky I was to have been there for a marvelous performance. What great music that was. That's exactly how I felt when my father died. How lucky I was to have been there for 16 years and known such a man. How fortunate. What great music that was. What a lovely time we had together. I was celebrating the time we had together. Rather than mourning the years which were taken away. That's why I never felt sad when my father died. I was celebrating his life. This is an example of Buddhist psychology, the same event, but looking at it from a different way. Instead of looking at the faults in that experience of losing a father in such a young age, I looked at the positive side of that marvelous experience. 16 years. Great. It would be 20 years, 30, 40, 50 years. Of course, it can never go on forever. So this is the same way of overcoming that fault finding mind which can criticize yourself or criticize life. So that type of humility which puts yourself down is developing the fault finding mind, the critical mind, which will stop you being at peace with yourself, with your partner or with life. It's the same if you think yourself better than other people. If you think yourself better than other people again, that's really the wrong idea. Sure, you're better at some things, but not everything. That was last Tuesday. We spent spent many of our months spent some very pleasant hours at our annual visits to the Benedictine monastery in yours just north of here. Sometimes that people think that religions always fighting wars with each other. But the Buddhist monks here anyway, we're the ones who give talks in the Anglican cathedral and we spend lovely afternoons hanging out with the Catholic monks in a monastery up in the north of here. You have a great time together telling jokes. I got told off there because a joke I told was a Catholic joke. Okay, if I mention it, I better tell it now. Knows about this man who just came back from Europe and at the customs this would be very relevant for all those Singaporeans emulators who came through customs today and anything to declare? He said no. He opened the man's suitcase and there's a bottle of new Walker whiskey in the hand, declared it. He said, what's this? He said, oh, it's holy water. I've just been to Lords in France just to visit, because this is where it came to Catholic home. This is in the Catholic sanctuary and it's holy water from Lords. The customs officer said, look, it's in a Johnny Walker bottle. What's, the only bottle I have had to put in something. So the customs office said, not believing him, opened up the bottle and sniffed it, said Sniff that. That's not water, that's whiskey. And the man sniffed it and he said you're right, another miracle. 9s So I got told off by Abbott Placard about that he was the advert of the Benedictive monarchy. Anyway, with a month so that we can actually. Of course, there's lots of differences which Buddhist monks have with Anglican priests and also with Catholic monks. But there's a lot we have in common as well. This is like the difference between thought finding or being proud and thinking you're better. Because there are some things which Buddhist months are much better at. There's some things which you are much better at than I am. So actually, can we actually say that we're better because better means better at everything. The truth of the matter is that we all have our talents, the things we're good at. And the only way to have a real success in our life or in our community, in our monastery, in our society, is not so much from competition, but cooperation. What cooperation means is if I'm good at something but weak at something else, and you're good at that, and I'm weak at that, we can actually work together. There is the old story of the blind man and the lame man. The blind man couldn't get to his home because he didn't know the way. The lame man couldn't get to his home because he couldn't walk. So what happened? The lame man got on the blind man shoulders and pointed out the way they could all get home. It's called cooperation, isn't it? And this is the same way which we talk about better or worse, as long as we can realize that we've got our strengths and our weaknesses and we work together. Now, part of the Buddhist monastic lifestyle is being dependent. Sometimes in our life, we like to be independent, self sufficient. I don't need anybody in life. But the way the Buddha set up the monastic lifestyle with the rules of vineyard, it did not allow monks just to grow their own food. We can't even cook our own food. Even if it's grown and cooked and in the fridge, we still can't eat it. We need someone to offer it. And it happened many times. When I first came here, there was all this food in the refrigerator, but no one came to offer it. Oh, that hurt. We went hungry. And sometimes that happens because as a Buddhist monk, you have to have things offered to you. They have to be cooked for you, presented to you. I'm a grown man. I can do that myself. So why did the Buddha make all these rules for monks and for nuns? Why do we always have to have food presented to us, cooked for us? Actually, I used to be quite a good cook. Before I became a monk. I've baked my own bed and cooked vegetarian food. The reason is because if we could grow our own food, cook our own food, store our own food, eat our own food, it would mean we wouldn't need you. You mean, say we can be completely independent. You can live by ourselves. We don't need you lot. I don't need to come every Friday night to give a talk. I don't need to give counseling. I don't need to do anything, don't need to chant with your house or anything. I just be by myself. What would happen then? If the monks would just buy themselves? It would mean that there would be no interaction. There would be no great fertilization of Buddhist ideas. In fact, Buddhism would die out very quickly. There will be no new monks coming because they wouldn't not hear any teaching. So no interaction. And so the Buddha made it quite clear in the rules of discipline that monks had to be dependent upon others. Every day I have to depend upon you to feed me. You can see how well they feed me by how fat I am. Actually, it's not that they feed me too much, but if you worry a lot, you get thin month. We don't worry about anything, so that's why we put on weight. But anyway, because we're deliberately dependent, it means people have to come to the monastery every day to feed us. Isn't that wonderful? Isn't that lovely to have that dependence to actually for the monks to say, I need you. I need you all who came from Singapore and Malaysia today. I need all of you Thai people who come during the week to feed you. I need all you Australian people who come ate me a cup of tea. I need you. Thank you. What does that actually do? That brings up this wonderful warmth and softness of the heart when we're working together, rather than being so alone? And with that type of interaction of mutual need. You need the monks as well. People have been telling me, because we've been on retreat for three months, I've been hanging out for the monks to come back because people need the monks. The monks need to lay people. There's something cross fertilizing there because there's some things which the monks can do, which you can do. There's many things you can do which the monks won't do. There's mutual help there. And so don't say we're better. The monks are better at some things. We're better meditators because we're professionals. We do it all the time. Of course we're better. Chances. People actually ask. Sorry, not asking. We're discussing this at the Benedictine monastery. They say that anyone could do any chanting, do any praying. They said no, because monks are professional chanters. It's not just because of knowing the words, but knowing where those words come from. Deep inside the heart, be able to make the mind that peaceful and that calm. Your chanting has power. Chanting does have power. Especially our chanting. I mentioned the other day that the ghost chanting that the banks of our monastery are really, really good. Know why? When we do our ghost chanting, it's so terrible that any self respecting ghosts would run a mile away. Now don't ask any joke because the purity of heart of the monk it has much more power whatever you say like that because it's coming from a pure place because of the monks training, the trading in virtue which a bank does that empowers you. It also empowers you with like being trustworthy. It's marvelous like having those monastics in the community who are so trustworthy because of the power of their precepts that when people come and ask them a question or if they confide in something personal, they know that monk is so trustworthy that they would never use it to the person's disadvantage. A monk you can really trust. That's why recently I was telling a few people but because I've been here for 18 years now there are some young children or there were young children years ago. Now they are 17 1819 I've known them since they were little babies. So they've seen me throughout their whole life as a monk. It's happened. A few of them have some very severe problems. Emotional problems, psychological problems. They haven't been able to discuss them with their parents. For one reason or another, they come to the monk to discuss them. You know why? Because they trust that monk implicitly. Even if they're afraid of their parents, they're not afraid of the monk. The power of those precepts, what the precepts are the way of the precepts are like purifying your mind. When we talk about this thing called the mind in Buddhism, I like to use this similarly. I was using it today with someone to explain meditation, explain what Buddhism was all about. The mind has always been compared in Buddhism to like a body of water, like a lake, like a pond. And the purity of your precepts is having pure water in that lake with no pollutants. The meditation practice we do is purifying the mind even more. So that lake not only has actually pure water, there's no ripples on the surface. It's smooth and calm, have pure water with no ripples on the surface. Then you can look over that water and you can see right to the bottom. Wisdom this is how the Buddhist path works. From the purity of the mind, purity of the water, calming its surface from any waves or ripples, that's the absolutely still mind. Then you can look into it and see right to its depths, understand fully. Wisdom enlightenment. So the pure not only gives you power to be trustworthy, it's an essential way of gaining wisdom, understanding, enlightenment, even. So when we're talking about being better, being worse or being the same, this is again a wrong way of looking. Again, because we haven't really trained ourselves to see properly because it's the wrong way of looking. It creates so many problems in our life. Be careful, because this once you actually see into the depths of the mind, you see just how much of our mind keep on calling it conditioned. We are conditioned by our culture. We are conditioned by our friends, we're conditioned by our religion. Especially. We are conditioned by the way we think. Being conditioned means that this is the way we create our world, we create our happiness. We make the way we look at the world. You might call it karma. It's up to us. Somebody just before I came in here asked me, because that's a couple of questions from a Christian friend, like, who created heaven? Easy question. You did. We all create our own heavens, we all create our own hells. All these things are made by you to prove that point. I told them that like even in a nice city like Perth, there's no terrorists in Perth. There's no problems in Perth. It's a rich city. There's plenty of food, plenty of shelter, plenty of places to go to entertainment. Why is it that many people in Perth commit suicide? Why is it you can go down the main street in Perth and two people are walking down the same street, one is about to commit suicide, the other one is happy. It's the same city, the same place, the same day. But we can make a hell out of this city day. Or we can make it fun, we can have enjoyment out of this. The point is, it's not. The city of Perth makes it hell. It doesn't make it heaven. We make it heaven, or we make it hell. That was such an important teaching to me when I was a young monk, because sometimes you'd have a hard time being a young monk. And that jianchar. He once said, ask one of the monks, is this monastery Hell? And the monk had to answer, no, it's not the monastery hell. I'm making it hell. I'm making it happen. It's what we add on which creates heaven and which creates hell. That's a powerful teaching, because once we know, we add on to make it happen or to make it hell to our relationship, to our job, to our monastery, to our body, to our life, how much do you add on? The Buddha was saying it's 90% of it. 99% of it. You add on knowing that it means you can make a heaven out of some of the worst possible situations. You can face yourself. You're faced with life difficulties you can laugh at. It really is up to you to change perceptions. So knowing that all these perceptions, the hells and the heavens, are very much conditioned by our culture, we're taught to quiet funerals. We're taught to be upset when things don't go our way. Instead of doing that, we can look at things another way around. When things don't go away, it's another opportunity for learning. Called it growing pains. Anything hurts. Don't just call it pain. Suffering. Growing suffering. Somebody once said it's like a flower. Before a flower actually bursts its buds and all these beautiful petals come out, it's in this very tight bud, and they asked people to imagine it's. Very tight bud with all these flowers and petals inside, growing, growing, growing. That's incredibly tense beside that bud. Sometimes that's what it's like in your life, just so tense and tight. It's a wonderful thing to imagine that. That's just a flower about to burst forth. So tight, so tense, you can hardly stand it any longer. OOH. And there's this beautiful flower. It's a different way of looking at the suffering and pain in life. What it's doing is looking at it as an opportunity for the flowering of a beautiful flower. It's up to you to use it that way or to use it another way. Very often in the teachings of the Buddha, there were monks and nuns who went through terrible pain and suffering. There was a Patachara. She was a woman in the Buddhist scriptures who, having given birth or about to give birth to her second child, was going on the journey to her parents home and her husband accompanying her as she gave birth. On the way, her husband got some fiber to keep her warm at night and keep the new baby born. Inside one of the logs was a snake, and it bit the husband, and the husband died almost immediately. She lost her husband, and she had just given birth to a child. She took her two children, continued on the journey and across a river which was in flood, she took one of the children, a small baby, across, couldn't carry them both across. The river was flowing to one of the babies across, left it on the bank and waded back in the middle of the stream, which he saw a hawk come down. To snatch her newborn baby. She turned around, tried to wave at the hawk to let go of the child. But in doing the waving, her elder child on the near bank thought his mother was calling him a cross. And so he waited in as well and got taken by the currents. She lost her two children, and as she was almost losing her mind, she went again towards her parents home and found that the parents had been died in a storm. The same storm which caused a river to flood the night before. She lost all of her family two children, her husband and her parents. She went out of her mind. That sometimes happens. I was in a Jan Charles monastery. When this man came into the monastery, he was very distraught. His wife and I think eight children had died that very day from eating poison mushrooms. These things happen. All the other people who gone to Sijn Shah that day with their problems, they didn't think their problems were so bad. Now, this was lady. She went out of her mind with suffering. She went out of her mind. But when she was raving, she wandered in by chance or by good karma into a monastery called the Jada Grove where the Buddha was in the middle of giving a dumb discourse. Just the same as if because she was raving, she lost all of her clothes. The same as if somebody came into this room here naked. Most of you were trying to protect the monks and say, don't come in here. But the Buddha saw her and said, Allow her to come in. Someone put a rope around her and the Buddha calmed her down and gave her to teaching. She soon became a nun and an enlightened nun. Not just an ordinary enlightened nun. She became probably the best teacher. In the time of the Buddha, as a nun, she enlightened so many other women. And I was taken by that story when I was reading the tales of the enlightened nuns again and again. All these nuns said they've been practicing in the monastery for many, many years. They were getting nowhere. And then this path of bikuni came along, gave her discourse, taught meditation, and they became enlightened very quickly. Knowing her story, I thought, what's happening there? Why? Because of that experience of that woman losing all her family. She had turned that experience around to her benefit. That was the source of her great wisdom. The pain and suffering which she'd experienced in life, that was like the bud, which was so tight, it was almost unbearable. She went out of her mind for for a while, but with the help of the Buddha and some of those teachings, seeing it in a different way, she flowered, flowered into one of the most beautiful blossoms in the Buddhist history. A fully enlightened nun, incredibly great teacher. So it's a different way of looking at the difficulties and pains which we experience in life. So instead of actually finding fault with these things, we can actually look at some of the difficulties we face and make use of them. Don't throw them away. We make use of them by looking at them in a completely different way. Instead of saying, this is terrible. This is awful. Why is it terrible? Because you've been taught it's terrible and it's awful that it shouldn't happen. What happens when somebody dies? They shouldn't die. When somebody gets sick, they shouldn't get sick. When you lose your job, they shouldn't lose your job. So they shouldn't, shouldn't, shouldn't. This is life. Welcome to life. People die, people lose their jobs. Is that the end of the world? If you lose your job and get retrenched, isn't the marvelous opportunity to come to the monastery, become a monk or nun? Isn't a marvelous opportunity to have more time to meditate? To do all these other things which are important in life. How about having a bit of trust in your karma? How many of you have been working so hard? Never have much time. Now you've got given time. Isn't that marvel? What is this life all about anyway? Just to become a great CEO, to become famous, to have lots of money and to have a big house, a big car. What are you doing in this life anyway? One day you will die. Before you die, you do your accounts what have I done in life? What have I achieved in life? What have I really earned in life? I don't mean monetary accounts. The great auditor in the sky will sometimes look at your account and say well, you wasted your time. Has your life been profitable? What have you done? A lot of times people have had great suffering in their lives. They've looked back upon it, especially the last years of their life and look upon it as a great learning experiences. Some of the most valuable times in their life. Some of the hardest times. The same way that when you were at school, if you went to similar schools when I went to school, it was the hardest teachers, the strictest teachers, the ones you learned the most from. You did enjoy them, but you learned ajan Chao was strict. He learned a lot from Ajan Sunshine. He wouldn't make life easy for you. You'd be settling down in a monastery, having a good time. Meditation was going well, and he said, I don't bomb. You're going next week? No. 1 hour. Pack your things. Go. You had to go to another monastery without any warning. You'd always do things like that just to make sure you were being trained. One of my favorite adjunct stories was when we were building the main hall in his monastery. Huge hall. It was built on a hill that was a monk made hill. He got lots of earth which was delivered, and amongst wheelbarrows and shovels, we move the earth and make this big hill on which the main hall is built. Took many, many days to do this. After the hill was finished, there was a lot of earth left over. So agile. Charles told all the monks we thought we'd finished another few days work and used to work until nine or 10:00. Monks didn't have a union in those days. Used to work a long time. So when we're finished there was a big part of Earth left over. So our Jianchar said the front of the temperature said, can you move it round the back? And he said, I'll be back in a few days. He went to another monastery for about three days. We had to work day and late into the night and move in this big part of Earth until it was round and back. So he was still there when we just finished. He left. Then the second monk, the Deputy Abbott, came up and said, that's not the right place for it. Move it back. Because of obedience, because he was a senior monk there. We had to spend another three days moving it back again. And of course know what happened when that gentle came back again. So what do you mean it therefore I told you about that. Move it back again. That was called practice. What he was actually doing was my Western mind was saying, look, can't these monks just sit down and decide whether they want this earth? We've already moved it backwards and forwards. But the point was, what he was saying is that instead of fortifying, instead of criticizing, instead of looking at all the wrongs and what's going on there, why not? Why not just move the earth? What he was saying is thinking about it was much harder than moving it. So often in life, thinking about doing something is much harder than actually doing it. Going to the dentist, thinking about it is much worse than going there. Having the operation, thinking about it much worse than doing it. Meditating, doing whatever is good. Thinking about it is always much worse. Just do it. So what he was actually saying is that the thinking what we add to it, the cultural accretions, that is where the problem is. It's what we add on to it makes it a hell or makes it a heaven. It's where we make hells or heavens. It's what we add on to it makes us say better, work worse, the same. How can you judge who's the best? Who's worse, even. Who's the same? Do you really know yourself well enough to be able to judge if you're the best wife in the world, the best husband, or the best monk or the worst or the same? Basically, you cannot tell. Just do not know if you can know that much. But you just cannot judge another person. How would you ever get angry at somebody? You can't judge them. There's no way that you can judge them enough to say that they deserve to be punished. Which is what your will is about. You will say, you hurt me, I'm going to hurt you back. You don't know why they did that. You can't judge. How often has it happened to you? Has it happened to me? Many times. Somebody has done something which I thought was very hurtful. You talk to them afterwards. You finally got a perfectly rational explanation to what they did, and you feel so terrible, you got angry at someone who really didn't deserve your anger. The same way that you got angry at other people got angry at you. You didn't deserve it. You've been judging, judging others without really knowing where they're coming from or what they're doing. So when we can be wise using our mindfulness, using our understanding, we don't become so judgmental in the world. If you're going to be judgmental at all, be praiseworthy, praising. Praise your husband. You find you have a wonderful relationship. Praise your children. You find they really love you back and respect you. Praise yourself. Then you find you'll have happiness and strength. But don't go around judging others. Others especially in a negative way. And praise life. Life is a great learning experience. You can get so much out of this life if you use the right attitude. And then you can make this heaven out of this world. It's up to you to make a head out of it or a heaven out of it. Have you seen people who have had terrible lives, having enormous suffering? They're happy. I've seen people make heaven out of the most unimaginable sort of poverty. I'm seen people make a hell out of just so much wealth and so much talent. So the essence behind the talk this evening is that when we talk about humility, it's judging. You don't need to be humble. You don't need to be proud. Just don't be anything. Just let go of all of those labels and judgments. Look out for that type of humility very easily lead to lack of selfesteem depression, negativity. You're looking at the faults. And it's not just with other people, it's with yourself. It's with life. You're making a hell out of this world. It's not the world as a hell of a heaven. You're making it that way. You're adding to it. So see if you can train the mind. Train the mind to look upon this life, this world. It's a great experience, learning experience. Places where you can get enormous wisdom from. Remember that symbol of the lake? Like, make it pure, make it still. You can look right into it. That's the best heaven to make. The heaven of purity, stillness and wisdom. So that's a little talk this evening just off the cuff on Humility because no one suggested anything else beforehand. Thank you very much for listening this evening. Now, are there any questions on this evenings talk? Any questions? Know that there are five causes for becoming a stream winner. This first one is virtuous conduct. The second one is like Learning. The third one is Samata Tranquility. The fifth one is insight. The third one is discussion asking questions. It's called sakura. It's an important part of understanding and learning the dummy does everybody questions. Thank you. Go through Yea. Yeah, 12s but first of all, there's so much turmoil in the world. We can't be in the world in our monastery, because no turmoil out there. And it was interesting that many of our monks, because we don't have televisions I saying this last week, we didn't have any newspapers during the Range retreat until the turmoil in the world, so called happened, but some of the monks were stood on retreat. Some of the monks didn't even know anything about what was going on in New York and the rest of the world until a week ago, there's no turmoil there at all. And even because I was saying last week, because the monks were not bombarded with media conditioning, we weren't so much in turmoil. A lot of the times you got to be very careful there that you make turmoil. You want to be upset. What have you people who just watched all that television coverage of the Twin Towers. Why did you do that for? Did you have to? Do you have to read those newspapers or look upon the television? Why do people do that? You know why? Because people like turmoil. They're afraid of peace. They make mischief for themselves. And if there's no turmoil in the world, they go and watch a movie about turmoil. It's true, isn't it? They go and watch a soap opera about people getting divorced. Know why there's never been a soap opera yet about a Buddhist monastery? Because nothing goes wrong there. There's no divorces, there's no rapes, people don't get killed and no thieves go there. There's nothing going on in the monastery. That's why people don't make movies about monasteries. People like turmoil. We like to worry ourselves city. We like to do that. It's a fascinating point of dumma. We actually seek that out and cultivate it like gossip. Do you like gossip? Why do you like gossip? It's just all the bad things which happen. But if somebody tells you all the good things about what that neighbor next door is doing are you interested? No, just a gossip. We like such things. There's a sense that we want to disturb ourselves. We're afraid of peace. We're scared stiff of being peaceful. I have nothing to do. I'm just being happy. That's why we're scared of Heaven. That's why few people get to Heaven. I don't know what to do when it's when I get there. There's no gossip up at Heaven. There's no disaster movies up at Heaven. Interesting point. Thank you for that question. Any other question before? Yeah. Okay. One, two, three. 13s Respect for other people means no one is the same as another person. That's part of the American Constitution, which in a year ago I thought that's absolutely stupid. Everyone is born equal. We know they're not born equal. We come with a different karma that sort of should tell you straight away that we're not all equal. But it doesn't mean that we're better or we're worse. We don't really have an alternative, something other than those three stupid things. When we have equality, we don't have respect. We have to have respect for teachers and respect for parents. I think it's important to have that respect. You do have respect for the person who employs you. Otherwise you get the sack. No respect for your wife, your husband, your children. It's good to have respect and to have even hierarchy sometimes. But the hierarchy should have their plan. In any police force or fire department there's always hierarchies there because it's a very efficient way of organizing. But even in a monastery we have hierarchies, senior monks. But there's times when we don't have that hierarchy. So we never think I'm abbot, I'm the best, nor do I think I'm the worst, nor do I think I'm the same. There's another option available. nonjudging. That's why I tell people that I'm not always a habit. I'm a part time habit. Whenever I meditate, I'm not an appetite anymore. I'm by myself in my room. I'm not an appetite anymore. It's good enough to carry around those labels and then you can be free. That makes sense. Okay, I just give it three questions at the back 12s many times. No, no. They will give mine. There's nowhere to send them. There's only up here or down there. We haven't got any. Too expensive. I get in trouble with our treasurer. I'd be lucky that you could do that, because it's actually setting in places. We encourage the monks to move their huts or move from one place to another. In our monastery it's serpentine when you go there on Sunday as usual, we have tours around the monastery and I told all the monks this morning, as I tell them every year, that make sure your hut is simple and clean. Because the people on the tours can go in any hut. Any hut is open for the late people to go and inspect. That means you have to be making it target. We do this twice a year. So two times a year the monks have to tidy up their huts? No, they do keep them very tidy. When they actually move from place to from one hut to another, we only allow them to stay. This is just a general monastery. Only two years in one hut. They have to move. They can't use a tractor. I'm very soft. I allow them to use a wheelbarrow sometimes. But they have to carry it themselves. That's a lovely practice of the monastery because having to move every two years and carry all your belongings with you, you really know just how much you have. You actually feel it. Your arms ache. And it encourages much to have that mindfulness of having few possessions. So they can just move lightly from place to place. Some of the marks on my monastery, they're much better than me in that sense. They've got hardly any possessions there at all. You go into their huts, no one lives there. Just a pillow and a mat, maybe one book, maybe one robe on the line. Nothing else. When I was a young child was still alive, I went up to his room once where he sleeps. And you felt like having even more faith in that. That monk, he was a very famous monk. He had generals, queens, kings inviting him, giving him things in his room. There was nothing. It was empty. It was a mat, a wooden pillow. Nothing. A robe on the line. And again, that was it. Nothing else. All his worldly possessions. That's really impressive. So it's good to send people from place to place or from room to room, from house to house? Do you realize just how many things you've accumulated in the world? This is not a settlement or a steer. The less you have, the more free you feel, the more happy you are. So you can't actually send it off to another monitor? You can send it to another hut? Almost. I don't know if that answers your question. Is that okay 11s now? I made it a hard time for myself. You always make it a hard time. Yes. Do you have a question? 30s Why not? 14s Things have always been worse mean is that as monks we do a lot of death meditation we make it very clear jam Braham you could die at any time you got to be ready to die today are you ready to die this evening? One of these evenings is going to be your turn and you don't know which evening it is that's why I tell you this not just to upset you but to free you when you're ready to die any evening that really means you are freedom every day becomes an extra day. Valuable day. I think we've got this terrible conditioning in our Western world that death doesn't exist. Other people die, but not me. And you got to be what's the life expectancy now? 75 or something. You got to be 75 before you die. Everybody knows that you can die at any time from zero years to one to two to three to four. I've been to so many funerals in my month life. I've seen people of all ages die, but it's very rare. I've seen someone ready to die. It's marvelous knowing you can die any time. It gives that sense of, like, freedom. It changes the whole value system of your life. If you knew that you've only got one day to live. There's actually a story. This is from the Buddhist commentaries. Asoka the great emperor, we had a brother. Soka was a great Buddhist. He really understood what the world was all about. He had a brother who was not a Buddhist at all. He was just having a good time. Being the brother king means you can have a good time. And so Asoka wanted to teach his brother a lesson. He was very smart. He arranged for his brother to be going past the bathhouse while OsakaA was having a bath, and all of the royal regalia, the robes, the crown, the SEPTA, whatever else the oprah had, just on the bench outside the bath house. This is all the set up. One of the coaches who was going with his brother said this the empress robes. You know, one day you'll have to be the emperor, because when the soccer dies, you probably are the best guy after him. You'll probably be the emperor. Why don't you try them on? Just to see? Just out of pride, his brother decides to try on the robes of an emperor. It's all set up, because as soon as he finished putting all the robes on, the emperor came out of the bath, said, what are you doing? You got my robes on. Just trying them on. Precise. Don't you know the law that's trees reason you have to die? I said, I'm your brother said, Look, I can't make exceptions. The law is the law is the law. It's a capital offense. She knew that. He said, yeah, but I was only you have to die. But because you're my brother, because I'll give you seven days before I carry out the sentence, it seems like you want to be the emperor so much you can have all of the joys and pleasures of being an emperor for seven days. But after seven days, I'll carry out the sentence and kill you. He left his brother with the keys to the harem, with the best food, everything he wanted. And after seven days, he called his brother in, said, now is the time for your execution. Have you enjoyed being an emperor? Have you enjoyed the harm? Have you enjoyed all the nice food? Have you enjoyed all the nice music and dancing girls and whatever else entertainment they had in those days? They didn't have DVDs in those days. He said, how could I enjoy myself when I knew in seven days I was going to die? That the emperor smiled? Seven days. Seven months. Seven years. 70 years. How can you enjoy yourself so much when you know that you're going to die? That was enough for the brother to understand a very deep point of dumb. It was enough that a soaker could smile and said I never expected I never intended to kill you. I want to teach you about about Buddhism. From that time on, the brother became a very helpful, compassionate Buddhist serving others, meditating, cultivating. What was more important, he knew that one day seven days seven days, 700 days one day he's going to die. How many days have you got left? So what are you doing about it? If you think like that, it actually enriches your life. It doesn't make it worse. Become a better person. One of our members, he won't mind me telling you this he's a very good dog. But he comes here almost every weekend. Helps out the place. His wife recently was diagnosed with having breast cancer. She never comes here, but he goes back home and obviously he talks about what he heard. It's rubbed off. And his wife now is taking this breast cancer in such a wonderful way. It's almost as if she is a Buddhist, but it's been through this. And her husband just talking in a Buddhist way, not being so afraid. And all the times which I've come across people death and dying, the real Buddhists aren't so afraid. One of the ladies who died of cancer some years ago, as soon as she was diagnosed in hospital, she called me. I went to go see her. She was laughing and telling jokes. Very great disciple ship off the old block. And then as soon as I walked out of the ward, the sister, the head nurse, and the ward took me aside, said, I'm very glad you've come. So she's in denial. That's what the sister said. She's not angry, she's not upset, she's not crying, she's not moaning. She said, telling jokes. She must be in denial. I actually had to take the sister aside that she's not in denial. She's been talking about it again and again. She's made all the arrangements, told me what to do when she dies. She's at peace with her death. After her funeral, a doctor who was a Christian come and told me that there's that lady died, I think she said died with grace, died beautifully. I died with class. That's what she said. Died with class. That was a result of all her Buddhist training. You're going to die, so please die with class.