Feb. 25, 2023

Mindfulness | Ajahn Brahm

Mindfulness | Ajahn Brahm

Mindfulness is having a guard on your mind and remembering what you are supposed to be doing. To be mindful, instruct your gatekeeper what to do in order to keep negativity out of your mind. Mindfulness can help you stop being angry, because you beco...

Mindfulness is having a guard on your mind and remembering what you are supposed to be doing. To be mindful, instruct your gatekeeper what to do in order to keep negativity out of your mind. Mindfulness can help you stop being angry, because you become more alert to what's happening inside. Mindfulness is the ability to know and be aware. It's developed through different degrees of efforts and attentiveness. It allows for more connectivity with the physical body and the environment. Four main focuses of mindfulness are The Body, The Feelings, The Mind, and The Consciousness. Mindfulness can help reveal hidden stresses and health problems that may have been ignored. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment, which allows you to experience energies and insights you wouldn't otherwise be able to see. Focusing mindfulness can lead to enlightenment.


You can find the 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 on 1st November 2002. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.

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


AI Generated Transcription - expect errors!

Ajahn Brahm


Okay, for this evening's talk, I'm going to talk about mindfulness. The last two talks which I've given have been much more oddly theory of Buddhism. I think I began this season of talks, as it were, after the retreat period, by talking about some of the attitudes towards death and tragedies. And last week I talked about the origins of things, the source. But all of those theories are all very well. They may be inspiring, they may be meaningful for one, as guidelines to one's life. But it's also important to talk about the practices that are an important part of Buddhism. It's like that we have the guidebooks of what it's like when you get there. You also need the directions, the how to sort of get there as well. But half of Buddhism, or even more than Buddhism, instead of telling people what to believe, is very much telling people how to find out. And this is all the practices which are part of Buddhism. And in particular this evening, I want to focus upon one of the practices which has been in at the heart of Buddhism for the very from the very beginning, 25 centuries ago called mindfulness. I know that sometimes the religions follow fashions and certain practices have become popular or unpopular. They become I'm in or whatever. But certainly that mindfulness has been part of Buddhism at the very beginning. It's always been part of Buddhism. It's part of the Eightfold Path central to the teachings of Buddhism. And so today I'm going to talk about mindfulness and exactly what it is and how it's practiced and what its results are. First of all, that I'd mentioned there are two aspects to mindfulness. The first aspect is the alertness, the clarity of consciousness. And the second aspect of mindfulness is what I always like to call, like, remembering the instructions. It's an aspect which includes a degree of wisdom, understanding. But first of all, what most people understand is mindfulness, attention. Alertness is just the ability to know. And that needs to be explained in deeper length, at deeper depths, because sometimes that which we think of as a knowing can be sometimes confusing. First of all, the degrees of knowing, the degrees of clarity, the degrees of attention vary enormously. And part of our practice of meditation is developing the ability to know the alertness of the mind and what we call the first aspect of mindfulness. That first aspect of mindfulness. Just to know is crucial to us. If we want to avoid problems and difficulties in life, if you want to try and understand life and understand ourselves, certainly that clarity is crucial to us and certainly that many people who practice meditation get the experiences of like feeling they're awake for sometimes the first time in their life as if one has been going through a cloud. One thought one knew, but one was not very deeply knowing what was going on. And because of that, if we didn't know what what was going on inside of you, you didn't know what was going on outside of you, that very often that problems arise in life, difficulties come to you. You don't know why. You don't know the solution. Simply because the eyes of the mind aren't wide enough. One of the obstacles to mindfulness, and it's an obstacle which shows you how mindfulness is developed and also sometimes what happens when mindfulness is developed. One of the obstacles to mindfulness is just the heedlessness, the laziness of the mind, and that usually manifests as being creatures of habit. Being creatures of habit. Whenever I give a talk on my mindfulness, I always remind people, so where are you sitting this evening in this darmo hall? And did you sit in the same position last week and the weeks before? Is this your spot? As far as I'm concerned, that I'm guilty of that, but I've got no choice. I have to sit here. But each one of you do you always sit on the same side of the hall? You always sit in the back or the front? Always in the same spot? Are you creatures of habit? Now, the reason we say this is because if you're a creature of habit, it means you don't have to exert the mind. You don't have much mindfulness. You can just go through the motions with a minimum of attention. And you can look at your life sometimes what you do in the morning and what you do as you go to work and your schedules and everything else like that. And you can actually see that if you are just going through your routines, which hardly ever vary, you do not need much alertness, much mindfulness. In fact, the more routine is your day, the more dead you feel. Your life very often is being different, doing things differently, the unexpected, the unplanned. And this is why that if you want to have some idea of what mindfulness is that when you go out this evening, from this hall here, go out through a different door than you always go out from when you drive home room, drive home in a different way. Don't go the same route when you brush your teeth before you go to sleep tonight. Don't brush your teeth from the same spot in your gums as you always do. Where do you start brushing your teeth? On the left side of the mouth or the right side of the mouth? The top or the bottom? Or do you start in the middle? Start a different place every day. Now, you might find this, like, amusing, but if you do this, you find you need more attention. You have to give more energy into the moment. And because you give more energy into the moment, first of all, you start feeling more alive. It's well known that people practice, or they indulge in what's called extreme sports, like bungee jumping or driving fast cars, because the fear makes them incredibly alert. They feel alive, which is part of the increase of mindfulness. So those people who feel dead and depressed, is it because one is always doing routines and going through the motions again and again? Try doing things differently. It takes more effort and energy, but you feel more alert, more awake. You're putting energy into knowing. As one practices like more mindfulness, one can also become more alert to, for example, the feelings in one's body. The mindfulness directed to the body is one of the traditional objects of mindfulness in the satypatana. The four focuses of mindfulness. When you practice mindfulness of the body actually feeling the body, you're actually experiencing the body. And sometimes it's a case that people are so busy doing something else. We don't fear, we don't know our body. That when the body starts getting tired or starts getting sick, when it shows all the signs of impending illness, because we're not really there paying attention. By the time we do catch it, sometimes it's too late. A full blown sickness or illness may have developed a person who develops mindfulness of the body. In other words, alertness to the feelings, the signs of the body. How you're going? When you have right awareness of the what's happening inside your body, the body will show you the signs that you're stressed, that you're tired. I've told a story in another context some time ago, and I told this because at our monastery last Thursday, we had 100 and 405 schoolgirls come to body in the Anna monastery, all the monks head. So I talked to school girls. They're actually very, very well behaved. And I was talking to them about an experience I had when I was a student, when I started doing some meditation during the times of final examinations. This was at university. There were final examinations. And because there were final examinations, your whole career at university depended upon one a set of exams. 3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon, an hour for lunch, six days in a row. Theoretical physics. It was very tough. But the point of this story, which I want to focus on this evening, is that when I had my lunch break, I went back to my room. I never ate anything. I sat meditation. As I sat meditation I had to let go of the past in the future. For me, the past was the morning exam, the future was the afternoon exam. Know what happens when you think did I do that exam question right? What's going to come up in the afternoon? That was the most important thing about the past and the future. But as soon as I let go of the past in the future, as soon as my mindfulness started to focus in the present moment, that's actually I became shocked because I found out that I was nervous, that I was physically shaking. What really shocked me was that two things I suppose I never thought of myself as a nervous person. But of course it's understandable with the pressure of final examinations at a university, it's quite almost like allowable to be nervous at that time. But more than that, I hadn't noticed it. I hadn't been aware of that for such a long time. This during the morning exam, maybe many days before, but now I'd stop to look. I could see what my body was doing. It was only then when I was mindfulness of nervousness could actually do something about it. I could just relax, convince myself that no worry was not going to serve any purpose except just make it even harder for me to do well. And so in a short time, I got rid of that nervousness. And then mindfulness started to reveal another part of what was hidden underneath. And that was the deep tiredness of my body and my mind. I'd worked so hard studying, revising, getting ready, and the mind and the body were exhausted, especially the brain. And it was again shocking that I hadn't been aware of that. I hadn't noticed that. It was only when I could take the time to look and allow mindfulness to play on that area did that truth revealed itself to me. Actually, probably from that time I realized just why it is that many people become sick. The tiredness, the stress is there, but we're too busy to notice it. As soon as I noticed that my brain was devoid of what I call now brain juice, you'd just be completely drained of all of that. As soon as I noticed that I could actually do something about it, I knew what the problem was. I could really relax and allow the mind's energy, the brain's energy and the body's energy to come back again. And of course, it did come back very quickly, very soon. But at the end of half an hour, I was bright, clear, and I did very well. But the point of that story, which I want to emphasize in this talk, is how that practice of mindfulness reveals some deep seated problems in my body, nervousness and tiredness. So you can imagine that people are rushing around with voted for mindfulness, that those problems can exist without being noticed. And when they're not addressed, when you don't do anything about it, month after month, year after year, it builds up, and that will be sickness. If it's a mental problem, it will become anger or depression. There's an old Buddhist story from Sin Buddhism of a very woman of very high social standing who was a devout Buddhist, who was very well respected in the community, except for one thing she had a problem with anger. She was always blowing up at people. And being a devout Buddhist well, even if she wasn't a devout Buddhist, she would still have the same attitude. She wanted to do something about her anger. It was a problem to her, and she wanted a solution. In those days, there weren't psychotherapists, but there were monks. I always say that monks are much better than psychotherapists because we're cheap. You don't have to pay any money for us. That's, I think, one of the main reasons why we're so popular. Anyway, she went to her favorite bank, and the favorite bank gave her this piece of advice. So always carry a mirror around with you, and the next time you get angry, take the mirror out and hold it in front of your face and see what you look like. Which she did. And being a very vain woman, as soon as she got angry, when she looked at her face, she looked so ugly that no makeup in the world could hide the fact that she looked like a demon, some monster. Because that's what you look like when you get angry. It's scary to see someone angry. So the next time your partner gets angry, get the get the camera out quickly and take a shot of them. So you can remind them what they look like when they get angry. According to Buddhism, the law of Karma says if you get angry a lot in this life, you get reborn as ugly. That's actually the cause for ugly people, because of anger. And you can understand why, because you get angry a lot. You actually get sort of stuck in that position. You look like a monster all the time. So that's the Karma getting angry a lot. Be careful. But anyway, she took out a mirror. She looked at herself. According to the story, just one glance at herself when she was angry was enough to stop her anger once and for all. She never got angry again, according to the story. I didn't believe that. It's just over the top, isn't it? Just one view of yourself when you're angry won't stop anger. But of course, I interpreted that for myself later on, because a mirror is one of the great symbols for mindfulness to be able to look upon yourself, to be alert to what's happening inside. And if you follow that idea that the mirror is a symbol of mindfulness, alertness, reflection, then you can understand. Yeah. If you can really reflect upon yourself when you have anger. You are alert to how it feels in your body and in your heart. This icon that's actually believable you. See what it does to you and how it feels like. Yeah. You will be able to get rid of anger. It feels painful. It feels extremely unpleasant. The problem with anger that we're never mindful of ourselves when we're angry, we're always mindful of the cause of our anger, or rather, the trigger of our anger. We're angry at him, at her, at something else, which we think is the cause. We're never looking inside. We're looking out of ourselves to the trigger of anger. That's why we never know what anger feels like inside. But with mindfulness directed inside this power of reflection, you see what happens. And that actually does stop these destructive emotions. This is why that power of mindfulness has been employed in modern psychotherapy, actually, to stop some of these negative emotions and these destructive habits which we have. The reason why they continue in people is because they don't notice what they're doing to you yourself, in the same way that they did. Even notice was tired. I was nervous. That's why it continued. But as soon as I noticed it, I reflected inside. You can see the trouble and you can act upon it. So actually when you develop the reflective type of mindfulness you find it does heal and overcome many of the habitual patterns of your mind in the same way. I was saying that a person of habit will always go through the same way of brushing your teeth or getting up in the morning. That habit means no mindfulness. You go through the motions is basically you have no choice. You're not really in control of your life. In the same way that we become habitual in the way we think, in the way we react to stimuli someone calls us a fool or stupid and we just react in the normal ways. That's why we call it pushing buttons. It's just reaction which can be predictable. When your mind for you are unpredictable. You can do things in different ways because you're alert to other possibilities. And that means you have a circuit breaker to the depressions, negativities, angers, anxieties and fears which run right in people's minds. For example, if you're afraid of something, you just look to see what fear feels like, what actually it is. Instead of focused on the object of fear, just go inside and just what's it like to be afraid. What's actually happening in here, not so much what's happening out there. And as soon as you take the focus of from out there and come in here, you'll find that much of fear loses its power to upset you and it just fades away. It's like you're turning off the fuel for a car. Eventually, it must stop. It is the same as anger and anxiety in everything else, which is why that mindfulness is very powerful as a therapy tool for human beings to overcome a lot of problems and great greater habits, happiness. But that's not the end of mindfulness by any means, because as one develops greater mindfulness, one becomes much more alert to what's happening. And that mindfulness. It's like turning up the lights of your mind and sometimes it can be very sort of humbling. The first time the lights of your mind get turned up and mindfulness really start to become strong, you realize just how dull you have been for sometimes many years. It's like driving in a car with a dirty your windscreen. You can't really see very clearly the cedar in front of you. But when you actually clean that windscreen up naturally, you can see it's bright, it's clear outside. And this is actually the strengthening of mindfulness which is also an important part of the understanding of mindfulness, weak mindfulness and there's power mindfulness. What I called in my article in the journal recently superpower Mindfulness. And this is where mindfulness starts to become extremely interesting. Not as just a means of overcoming problems in life, but understanding more deeply into the nature of life and texture of life. Now, what is life? Who are you? What is this all about? Because if one is only very weak mind with weak mindfulness with weak alertness that life sometimes is just lived in a fog one sort of understands but never fully one gets into trouble, one never knows why. Sometimes one gets out of trouble saying that was lucky. You don't know what you've really done to get out of the trouble and get some happiness in your life. The whole of life is a fog. You don't know what know really what you're doing or why you're here, what the point of all this is. But if you develop a powerful mindfulness it's like you are shining a bright light on existence, on the existence outside, on life, on the mind, on feelings, on everything else. Now, the shining of the bright lights again is a trend training of mindfulness rather the result of the training of mindfulness because you find that what our mindfulness is sometimes it's like spread too thinly over too many things. It's just like a light which needs to be focused. When a light is spread thinly, you can see a wide area, but nothing in great detail if you can somehow focus, focus, focus. It's like focusing your camera. You get sharp images of reality rather than fuzzy images. And I'm sure that you will anticipate me now because you know of how you learn focusing mindfulness, because we did that for the half an hour before I started this talk. Focusing mindfulness is the job of meditation and I hope that many of you have focused that mindfulness enough to experience just what happens when you put all the energy which is dispersed over the past and the future fantasies, dreams, thoughts and goodness knows what else, start collecting it in one place. Another word for mindfulness is recollection, and actually collecting is an important part of that word. Putting everything in 1.1 spot is like gathering up the energies of the mind. And one of the great joys of meditation, one of the reasons why people like to meditate is that when you're do collect all that attention in one spot, you feel powerful. It's as if you have a very weak flashlight and you're putting new batteries in. And instead of just seeing things dial, you see things illuminated. And as you develop meditation more and more, that illumination increases beyond your wildest dreams. Which is why it happens often that when a person has a deep meditation and they really focus and getting into one point, which is why we do the breath, actually start to focus the attention. We start going in the present moment that's the focusing silence focuses even deeper. You're really getting some energy going down on one thing, say, the breath. Then you can really focus all of that energy of the mind on one tiny part of the world. When you do that, you feel energies coming up. Very often those energies come up with happiness because this is one of the truths, the insights which you find in life. Energy is happiness. Happiness is energy. And dullness lack of energy. That's depression, that's negativity. The tighter you are, the more negative you'll feel. It's why one of the monks many years ago said, the world always looks beautiful after a good cup of coffee. Just he had lots of energy with sort of borrowed energy from caffeine. But you never got depressed after a good cup of coffee. Unfortunately, these days we have got decaf, which is one of the reasons we had so much depression in this world. That's only a joke about being cynical. But anyway, when you start meditating, start getting into high energy states, then your mindfulness actually changes and becomes very bright, which is an excellent experience, which many people have had and certainly I have had many times. And it's great fun to have these experiences. When you come out of meditation afterwards, after a deep meditation, everything is brilliant. Look outside and this boring old carpet in front of you, this dull blue, almost like gray, uninspiring carpet, becomes magnificent. It becomes so beautiful, the colors, as if they've just been polished. And they're vibrant colors. This is a common experience. After meditation. You go outside and if you see just an ordinary piece of carpet, it's incredibly beautiful. It's the same carpet if you've seen before. But the mindfulness, the power of the mind can pick up so much detail. What you pick up is incredibly enjoyable. If you go outside and see something in nature, like the stars, they just blow you away with awesome power. Leaf on a tree just absorb you for hours. Just all of the beauty, the joy, the detail which is going on in there, you start to experience the word icon is like super power, mindfulness. What's actually happening here is this faculty of knowing. It's becoming brightened. Instead of just having a strong flashlight, you got like a super searchlight. Whatever you shine it on, you see details there which you never expected to see. It's fascinating and it's enjoyable. It's super power mindfulness. If you start to develop that degree of alertness, that degree of deep seeing, then if you start to focus it on some of the powerful or some of the deep mysteries of life, such as what is this body you're carrying around with you? What is life? What is this being inside? What is the knower? What is the doer? And those are the occasions when you find from that degree of mindfulness, you really start to get penetrating what we call insights. You see things which are normally obscure to the ordinary person. You have the ability to see deeply and you do. You can see deeply into a carpet if that's what comes into your vision. And sometimes that can just absorb you for incredibly long time. But if you have the good fortune to have a look at sort of things like the body or the mind or life or whatever, then that can really absorb you and you can play in there and you can understand its sequence. These are places where enlightenment happens because mindfulness is so powerful and it's always accompanied by a lot of joy. That sometimes, though, that you can make a big mistake and take that mindfulness itself to be the be all and end all of life. There are what I've called the usual culprit, the usual suspects. That's the word, the usual suspects. An idea of a source, an essential being, a god or a soul. The ultimate reality. And sometimes that degree of mindfulness is so powerful, so penetrating, that it's very easy for people to stop at this point and go no further and think that to know or the knowing consciousness is the ultimate reality of life. I've already mentioned, I think, last week about the origins. We're talking about the source of things. We go deeper and deeper and deeper into the source of life. There's sometimes that we can get to what I call the doer, the will as a source. But deeper than that is the knower, the knowing consciousness mind. And I think that many of you know in philosophies and religions, they start to take the idea that an absolute source, the ground of being, is something like cosmic consciousness or full knowing. Or just being ness. And all of that is always identifying with what we call like super power mindfulness. That knowing as being and that knowing, that being as being an absolute. But this is where it is the job of mindfulness to turn in on itself, to not only just to know what's out there, but that just know what the knower is not who knows, but what is knowing. And this is where, again, one has to have very sharp mindfulness, very strong mindfulness to be able to penetrate and go deeper into things so you don't get stuck in these delusions. Last week, I also mentioned that Sydney of the Lotus very often those thousand petal lotus. Remember, every petal has to open the outer ones first and then the inner ones stage by stage until you get to the very center of the lotus. And delusion where people get stuck sometimes. They get so far and they think that's the end of things. They don't open that lotus up as well to see what's inside that. So with mindfulness, we even have to look at mindfulness with mindfulness. When you actually start standing back and looking at knowing something again, strange happens. It's like a person who is in the ground, handstand of a stadium watching say people play a sports match, save footy. The people actually on the ground on the match, they can crunch themselves in tackles and they really hurt themselves. The people understand, can watch all of that, but they don't get hurt. When you stand back and watch, you're one step away, as it were, from the action. And it's bit more peaceful if somebody was actually watching the spectators, there'd be even more peaceful, more removed from the action. Someone watching the person watching the spectator watching the action would be even more removed from the action. This is sometimes what happens when we watch the one watching. Who's listening to this. Can you watch the person listening now? Watch the person watching the person listening. As we stand back more and more we become less involved. And that less involved in life is sometimes understood quite wrongly as being detached. As if that our real being. Many people mistakenly think our real being is that which watches all of this. That which knows, that which hears. Now, if you look carefully at that again with superpower of mindfulness you can actually start to see the process of mindfulness knowing, the knowing. And of course, what we're one sees is that even all knowing rises and passes away as one deepens, one's meditation. One goes into different stages of knowing. The mindfulness, that which knows or the knowing, the awareness starts to change into what you call different levels of consciousness. Sometimes people call it higher consciousness, but it's just different stages of letting go. And in this practice of meditation, which certainly sort of the monastics aspire towards so many of the monks attain what we call the jonas, these actually reveal different levels of consciousness, different levels of knowing, but they're all marked by letting go of more and more. When one starts to attain these deep states of meditation, what one is actually letting go of, first of all are two things you're letting go of that which does the doing. The more you let go of the doing, the more stillness you attain. So the deep states of meditation are marked or characterized by profound states of stillness where there's no movement going on at all. Such stillness, such on ledity of your experience that it becomes quite weird. But very alert. Those first stages of meditation are highly mindful. As one lets go more and more, what one is letting go next is letting go of parts of consciousness, parts of knowing, parts of the mind, and the whole purpose of the highest ages of meditation. But to realize that that which knows consciousness itself has parts to it, each part starts to fall away, fall away and fall away. As one goes into the deeper meditations, you get into the janus through letting go of doing. You proceed to the higher vaginas through letting go of consciousness. And this actually shows you something. In each of these stages is a very profound and deep knowing. As this is experience. One thing which comes very clear to you when the results of mindfulness is the nature of all of this. The complete emptiness that everything which arises passes away including the knowing itself. The very idea that being is a knowing becomes seen as one of the great illusions. Instead of saying that ultimate knowledge or ultimate being is consciousness, one realizes that is missing the point. So this degree of mindfulness is required to understand these deep questions. One of the sometimes when you look that that which knows with deep mindfulness what you're actually seeing is you're not knowing that which knows. You can see that the mind can only know one thing at a time. There's only one object of consciousness at every moment, and that which we call reflective knowing. I know that I saw, I know I heard that Dog is actually I know that I knew, I know that I heard, and then I know that I knew that I heard. When you actually see the sequence of conscious events, the idea of a Noah disappears and the idea of a process takes its place. And that's what I was pointing to last week. That which you take to be you is a process, not a being. Not a constant flow of consciousness, but particular moments of consciousness. Just like the sands on the beach, from afar it looks as if it's a continuous stretch of sand. If you look closely, you see there are particles of sand. If you look closely, you see that each of those particles is alone, separated from the one next to it. Even with a space in between, they aren't touching. Every moment of consciousness, of knowing is seen just like many grains of sand, particular alone, not touching, with a space in between every moment. But that is only seen with super power, mindfulness. Now, I've mentioned the different degrees of mindfulness of knowing. This is shining, this is empowering, your flashlight. So you see deeper and deeper into things. Not only do you see the nature of your habits, especially the bad mental habits, you also see sort of your body, how it's going. You see sort of the nature of flowers and carpets. That's really good fun that's playing around, but it's worthwhile doing because it shows you the power of this meditation and mindfulness, what it can do. Then you can actually shine into the deep questions. But the other part of mindfulness which I wanted to point out, which I mentioned at the beginning and this again is a part of mindfulness which many people forget is that aspect of mindfulness which remembers the instructions. Because if mindfulness is going to be useful for you, it's not just knowing, it's knowing what to do with what you know. It's remembering the instructions. And the symbol which I usually use is the simulation from the Buddha, which I've adapted because in Buddhism, they called mindfulness, like a gatekeeper. And that was a symbiote of the Buddha. And I've used that especially in my meditation retreats, actually, to show that just bear mindfulness is not enough. In other words, just bear attention is not enough to actually to give you happiness, to give you wisdom, to actually to protect your sanity, if you like. In your state of wellbeing, you need more than just alertness. And this simile makes it very clear. Instead of a gatekeeper, I use a simile of a guard to your house. Imagine you're a very wealthy person. You've got a big mansion somewhere, and you have to employ a guard, because when you come to Nalama on a Friday night, who knows who's going to go to your house and maybe rob them? There are thieves around. So you tell the guard, please be alert, be mindful. There are thieves around. When you go home after the Friday night talk, you find that actually your house has been burgled and you get very angry and upset at your guard. I told you to be alert. I told you to be mindful. And what the guard said was, I was mindful. I saw the thieves going in. I saw them going out with all your jewelry. I saw them go back in again as they went out with your CD player and DVD. And I noted DVD, DVD, DVD. I noted sort of a jewelry, jewelry, jewelry. I noticed bank book, bank book, bank cook. I was very alert all the time, very mindful. What would you do with a guard like that? What would you do with a guard on your mind before you did was anger. Anger. Anger. Depression. Depression. Depression. Murder. Murder. Murder. That's not good enough, is it? The job of a guard is not just to be alert, but also to respond to what it sees, to what it knows wisely. That's also part of mindfulness. The word mindfulness in Buddhism is called sati. It also is the word for memory, for recollecting. Not just recollecting what's just happened, but for recollecting even things a long time ago in particular, that it means remembering the instructions. Remembering, say, the dumb, the teachings, what you're supposed to be doing. So as a guard on a house, they have to remember the instructions of the owner of the house thieves. Sometimes you may even give them some pictures of the notorious criminals in the area. Be alert for these guys or girls or whatever they are. And if you tell the guard good instructions, very clear, until if you see those criminals coming in, stop them coming in. If they sneak into the house, call the police, get them out. This is in Buddhism, we call it the four white efforts to avoid unwholesome states arising in the mind. If they arise in the mind, get rid of them. It's like thieves who see deal your happiness and your peace is not just knowing, but doing something about it. Those are two of the right efforts, making sure that you avoid the thieves coming into your heart, your mind. If they do come in, try and do something to keep them out. That's actually a negative part of the four right efforts. Know the best way to protect your house. Actually, the best way to protect your house is this is actually how we protect our monastery. But this is not part of the form of efforts. Many of you actually went on the tour of our monastery last Sunday. You went to one of the marks huts. I said there was going to be a surprise there. And those of you went on that tour, you found that one of the marks has got a coffin in his hut. And I've got a skull, which somebody gave me. So I put the skull in the coffin. So when people went for the tour of the monastery, they opened up the coffin and saw this nice skull. Just my sense of humor. But if you are afraid of burglars, you can borrow my skull. Even better. Getting a whole skeleton, hang it in your front door. You don't need a burglar alarm. As soon as a burglar opens the door and sees a skeleton dangling in front of it, he will run for miles. You never come to your house again. Especially if he can rig up something. So when he comes in, it sort of starts to shake and move and rattle or maybe a little sort of some CD recording. Cybersecurity is the best burglar line. Having a skeleton in your front door. Especially if you put some candles and some knives or something spooky there. That way to get rid of them anyway. That's how much get rid of burglars. But the best way to get rid of burglars actually, this is another little story. I remember when I was visiting my mother's house some years ago she was busy making my meal of the day. So I didn't want her to be disturbed. That was important for me. So when the doorbell went and I answered him. And this was in a rapport part of London. And there was this gypsy lady and she was trying to sell little trinkets to try and make some money. When I said I was answering Darth and Bank, I said, no, sir, I don't have any money. Not interested, thank you very much. And she said, if you don't buy these, I'll put a gypsy curse on you. That's their sales pitch. They put a curse on you. And so I stood up in my robes and said, I am a Buddhist monk. My curses are much stronger than yours. And she ran away. It's really funny. I laughed after that one especially. I told people I was only joking. I don't have curses. But people don't know that because they don't know about Buddhist monks. They think they've got lots of powers. And so she was really scared of me afterwards. Anyway, the best way of stopping burgers coming into your house. What's that? It's having friends in your house. Because burglars always like to go into empty houses. If you've got lots of friends in your house and they're having a good time, the burglar looks all the windows, you know, the lights are on, you can see people inside, they won't go to your house. In these four are efforts. The best way of avoiding unwholesome states is having good states in your mind. And the best ways of avoiding, like negativity or anger is having kindness, love, passion, inviting that in. And if you have guests in your house, make sure that your refrigerator is full of supplies. Nice cakes and goodies and lots of drinks. And not alcohol, obviously, just fruit juices because you're Buddhist. Lots of nice things to keep them there a long time. There's nice sort of CDs of the monks and nuns to talks available to listen. They're all good things to keep them there a long time. And if you make the house entertaining and you invite people, good people in and keep them there, then that keeps out the burglars. This is actually the job of mindfulness. You tell the guard any good states which come into your mind, like compassion, like generosity. Keep them there, whatever it is, entertain them, keep them there as long as possible. And that's the best way to keep that negativity from your mind. So this is actually the other part of mindfulness of giving instructions to your gatekeeper, to your mind what to do. So if you give clear instructions, there's a good chance that mindfulness will remember. And this is actually the part of mindfulness which people forget. Whatever your problems are in life, your difficulties, the things which cause you pain, tell mindfulness this is what you want to do. If you're always someone who has trouble with negativity, tell mindfulness be careful of negativity. Look out for the signs. Avoid it when it comes. When I see Negativity approaching, try and put some friends in my house. Enjoy yourself, listen to some nice music if that inspires you listen to some read some Dharma, do some chanting or just meditate or whatever else it is which can avoid that happening to you and taking over your mind not only are you alert, but you're giving instructions to the mind. In Buddhism we call that Aditana or in Sri Lanka, Adistana from the Sanskrit word making resolutions, telling yourself what you want to do and telling yourself what to look out for, what to avoid that's also part of the training in mindfulness. So whatever your problems are in life, tell yourself look out for this even physical problems. How often is it that some years ago, for example, I hurt my back? I know the time because I was laying concrete for a wall in the monastery in Serpentine and the concrete on inner trench there was going hard very quickly. I had to work so hard I couldn't actually stretch my back. And because I was bent over in a very uncomfortable position for a long time, sort of I hurt my back. Really. I should sue the Buddhist society, shouldn't I? I wouldn't do things like that. So anyway, sort of I was bent over for a long time and sort of some of the people I was only about 40 something at a time. I looked like I was 60 and like there's, you know, bending over double like an old man and I couldn't straighten up. And now I heal myself afterwards with a bit of exercise and other things. But after that time you have to be very careful. If you're not careful, you don't instruct your gatekeeper. Don't pick up heavy things. If you do pick up something, pick it up in the right posture. If I don't do that, then my back goes out again and it hurts. You have to talk to yourself and give yourself instructions. Be careful. You are instructing your gatekeeper mindfulness. For example, if you eat too much chocolate, you got a problem with your weight. How do you start to tell yourself, look, be very careful not to take chocolate. Instruct the mindfulness very carefully. It's making resolutions and then say next time I feel like I'm going to have chocolate, then do something else. Go and sort of watch listen to some music or listen to a tape or whatever else it is you're instructing yourself. And it's amazing what happens if you do a clear instruction to your gatekeeper. Your gatekeeper always remembers. Only if you're very clear in the instructions. If you give those confused instructions to the gatekeeper next time I want shocked it, don't allow me to have it. But maybe every now and again it's okay. You got to be reasonable, middle way and all that. You have to be very clear instructions. That's important. That's one of the reasons why this practice of giving instructions to gatekeepers. Sometimes it doesn't work because people aren't clear enough. Be precise. As if you are giving someone a work assignment in your office. Got to know exactly what they're supposed to do, what's expected of them. Then with those sorts of resolution it's amazing how you can heal problems in your life. Whether it's physical problems, emotional problems, even mental problems. Anything which really upsets that she may have problems with a relationship. Someone who always makes you angry. Tell yourself be careful of this person. They press buttons, they wind you up every time you've known it, you've done it many times. Remind yourself when they say this, when they do this, I will not get angry. Say it very clearly what happens? You find yourself, the situation starts to occur. You find there's something watching all of this unfurl and you're watching it, but you're not buying into it. You're in control. You can let go. Mindfulness gives you the alternative. You're not being a creature of habit anymore. Those mental habits which cause many problems and much pain to you. You find you can stop, you can sidestep and avoid them because you've given the instructions that's half of mindfulness, one half alertness, the other half remembering the instructions. And that's taken to even deeper stages as one practices more and more, as part Buddhism, everything which creates suffering for you, you see very clearly. Craving, wanting. Mindfulness is alerted. Don't allow these negative things into your mind. Keep in the good things in the mind. Things like letting go, things like peace, things like compassion, what we call the positive emotions, joy, inspiration, all those wonderful things. Keep those in. And as you instruct your mindfulness like this, you become someone who is immune to the suffering of life. You become someone who is developing the positive faculties of life. You are someone who has joy, who has bliss, who has freedom. This is a training in mindfulness. So to sum up this whole talk on mindfulness this evening, there is mindfulness which is alert. There's mindfulness which remembers the instructions. Both are important. And as you practice in this way, you'll find that mindfulness will actually grow. And grow and grow will not only protect you and give you and keep out the negative qualities of life, but also they will illuminate areas of existence which you took as one thing. And now you see them much, much deeper. Insignificant things like carpets become the most beautiful things in the world. Things which you've feared like sickness and death, become easy to cope with. Even beautiful like a carpet. And more than that, you find that all the negative qualities of low life disappear and disappear and replace with the happiness of enlightenment. So this is the talk this evening on mindfulness, its power and its nature. Sometimes it's misunderstood, which is why I wanted to give the Talk on it this evening. Thank you. So has anyone got any questions? Questions about the Talk this evening? Yes. You're asking that very often I ask people to make little resolutions at the beginning of their meditation to tell the gatekeeper what to do. And you're asking now, at the end of the meditation, can you also tell the gatekeeper who's going to look after you after the meditation? When you go, can you also tell the gatekeeper then what to do? And the answer is certainly, in fact, that the more peaceful you are, the more alert you are, the easier is to instruct the gatekeeper. So any little resolution or any instructions which you give at that time because you're peaceful, you're more alert, there's not so much which is abstracting, the clarity of your mind. You can make a resolution then. It's amazing just how you remember. It one of the things which I do as a monk because you notice how busy I am sometimes of people think that monks have an easy life. You come and watch me at the monastery for a couple of days and you find that probably I work harder than anyone in this room. That's not a joke. Sometimes I've got many, many things I suppose to remember and I haven't got like one of these alarms which you can actually set on your computer to remind you what to do at a particular time. That the way I remember my duties. Especially I've got some important things to do is actually to tell myself with clarity JAMB I've got to remember I've got an appointment to see someone tomorrow at sort of 07:00. At 08:00 I must ring somebody in Melbourne. I tell myself that very clearly. 08:00 tomorrow I must ring someone in Melbourne. 08:00 tomorrow being that person in Melbourne. 08:00 tomorrow being that person in Melbourne. And I forget about it. It's incredible that when you do these things it comes about five to eight tomorrow morning and then the thought comes into my mind I've got to ring somebody at that time haven't thought of it in that whole period from making a resolution to make sure the time it's like programming a computer. That computer is nothing outside of myself it's my mind you can remember easily as a marvelous thing you don't need a personal organizer you've already got one. That's how you use it. And you don't forget. If you want to try this, this is what I usually tell. I'm not quite sure if it will work with you because in the busyness of life but you might try it this evening. I always give this instruction to people on meditation retreats because people get quiet at that time. What time you're going to get up tomorrow morning? Whatever time it is, don't tell me. I don't want you to be embarrassed. It's Saturday, after all but whatever time that is, you know decide what time you're going to get up tomorrow morning. Don't set the alarm. But as you in bed tonight, before you go to sleep, make a resolution. I must get up. Say say, for example, it's not 09:00. Say, I will get up at five to nine. I will wake up at five to nine. I'll wake up at five to nine before alertness. Never get about it. My goodness. So many of you will find you just wake up, you look at the clock a couple of minutes either side of five to nine. It's incredible how the mind works, especially if you have to get up at an odd time because you've got to meet someone at the airport. Some of these planes in Perth coming at really weird times. 02:00 in the morning, 03:00 in the morning. Try that. Now. You got to get up at 02:00 in the morning. Say, I will get up at five to two. I will get up at five to two. I will get up at five to two. And set your alarm clock at 02:00, just in case. Just in case, because I want to get into trouble. I don't want someone to sue the Buddhist society. Here, you try that and it's amazing. You'll wake up a couple of minutes before your alarm goes roughly around five to two. Just experiment with that. Try it's. Interesting, because this is not just theories, which we teach here. You can actually put them to practice and play with them. Incredible when it works and you actually find yeah, this is actually how you actually instruct the mind, what mindfulness is all about. It saves you so much worry and trouble. I must remember, I must remember. I must remember. I must remember. I must remember, I must remember. Don't forget, don't forget. I must remember. You drive yourself crazy that way, trying to keep so many things in the mind, just programming and forget about it and do something else. So you can actually do that, especially the end of the meditation. If you've got something very important to tell yourself, it's a great time to focus the mind and to tell the gatekeeper what to do. OK, I think that's enough now, because it's 09:00 and I'm programmed now to stop at 09:00. See, it worked again. But there's a clock up there, so I'm cheating.