Feb. 19, 2023

Origins | Ajahn Brahm

Origins | Ajahn Brahm

To find out the origins of your consciousness of mind, you can test it out and find out where you come from. The mind is the biggest thing in the world because it can see everything and everything can fit in the mind. An origins talk is beneficial fo...

To find out the origins of your consciousness of mind, you can test it out and find out where you come from. The mind is the biggest thing in the world because it can see everything and everything can fit in the mind. An origins talk is beneficial for many reasons, including that it reminds us of the importance of the mind. Mind is comprised of delusion, craving and ignorance. The way we understand and experience the world is based on these three factors. The Buddha said that life is a process in action and that one can't say there is absolutely nothing because the process of arising is seen. When you watch or experience anything, be aware of the six senses and how they work to create your experience. The lotus at night closes up to protect its petals from the sun, but when the first rays of the sun reach the outer petal, it warms up and the petals open. This is analogous to stillness of mind, which opens up layer by layer to see things as they truly are. When you achieve full enlightenment, you reach the jewel in the heart of the lotus: emptiness.


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 25th October 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.


 Okay, here we go.  Very good. The title of this evening's talk is going to be Origins already got the title already. And the reason I'm giving this talk. I was just going through a transcript of a talk I gave in Singapore a long time ago on that subject, and I thought it was a nice one to talk about this evening because maybe many religions in the world  make a lot about answering the question, where did all this come from? And it's very rare that in Buddhism we talk much about this. The main reason it's rare we talk much about this is because it doesn't have a central path in Buddhism or meditation. Nevertheless, that we can answer a few of these questions and the answer to the question why or where did all this come from? Sometimes brings up some very interesting aspects of the truth of life, of you, of the world and your place in it. So it can be a very useful discussion.  And it also is something which is interesting to me personally, simply because of my background as a theoretical physicist. Every now and again, someone begs me the latest theory of the origin of the universe, which is always good fun. And someone was talking recently about the latest theory of the origin of the universe, of being like two membranes which come together, which starts a big bang, and eventually you have a big crunch at the end and in another big bang afterwards. It's very similar to the Buddhist idea of cosmic cycles, of eons, of existence coming and going. So one of the reasons why in Buddhism you don't really talk much about the origin of things is because which origin are you talking about? This isn't just in the same way that as a Buddhist monk, the meditator, you actually know the truth of rebirth, that this is not your first life, that life goes on after death, as it were, to a new birth, life after life after life. And in the same way, it's not the first universe which has been born. Even universes get, as it were, reincarnated universe after universe after universe. And it's fascinating to see this is part of the modern astrophysics, modern science.  But anyway, that one of the problems with when people start to talk about the origin of things. And I think many of you may have picked this out already at the start of this talk. People want to find out, you know, who created this world or where it started from. And obviously two alternatives. One was a being created this world which creates lots of logical problems. If it's a being which created this world, then the next question comes who created that being? And if there are some things in this universe which aren't created, which are there from the very start, then why should it be one thing? Not many things. There's a lot of problems with the idea of a creator who starts everything. But I was contemplating the other day when I was going through this article that why is it that people, even despite the rational problems of a being creating everything, the fact that if we're being created, everything is also responsible for everything as well? And so there's a lot of responsibility about if you created this thing we call Earth the universe.  But more than that, why is it that despite those difficulties, that people still want to believe in a creator? I think the main reason is because  when you talk just about the scientific theory of the origin of things, it still misses out very much. It's still something which we call life. Now, what in Buddhism we often call like mind the stream of consciousness which feels, if you like, you there is that there. And that is obviously never really touched on by science. And so, even though that science might sort of have all these wonderful theories, which are probably just the most rational, well proved, well documented theories, which are far more rational, far more tenable than any of the other theories, about the origin of the physical universe. It still doesn't touch sort of the spiritual the heart side of life, because it's quite clear to many people that we're not just a bunch of atoms. There's something more to life than that. And this is actually one of the reasons why people always want to put that which is different than the material world. Put some spiritual word for that. That's where sometimes people call soul or God or whatever.  So instead of actually just looking upon the origin of the physical world, here in this talk, I want to put more attention on the origin of the mental world, the heart world, the origin of life rather than the origin of material things. And I think that's one of the problems of our modern age, or rather a problem which has been there, but which is disappearing little by little with the  focus on materialism, with the focus on things outside  and on that focus being seen to be unsatisfactory not really giving you much satisfaction. The more people are turning to the spiritual side of life life, the heart side of life and the meaning behind things rather than just things in themselves. And in that search, we're coming more close to valuing something more than just a bunch of atoms. And what actually feels those atoms? What knows those atoms? Life. The mind. What is that?  And this is going to be the subject of this talk. Not so much the origin of universes because that's really well explained by science, but the origin of that which knows those universes the mind, the heart. And the first story I want to mention here about the origin of things is just the primacy. The most important thing is the mind, or the consciousness, the heart. And for many of you who are traditional Buddhists, you will remember probably one of the things you were taught very early on in your experience of Buddhism, the first line of the Dharmapada, one of the great books of Buddhism, that the mind is a forerunner of all things. The mind is a chief. In the very beginning of the Buddhist teachings, they made such a lot about the mind, the heart of the inner world, and what's out there was almost considered to be secondary. The mind was the most important thing. And one of the stories which brings this out was a very touching story which I was told many years ago by an old college friend of mine.  And this friend of mine, who was actually in the diplomatic service in England, in Britain, and who were great friends at university. And I became a monk, he became a diplomat. He had children, I had disciples. I think I had the worst part. But anyway,  he had two children to worry about. And one day, one of the children in their first grade at school was asked by their teacher, what is the biggest thing in the world?  This is a story I've told here before, but it fits in this context, which is why I'm going to repeat it. Once a person is unenlightened, you fully understand all these stories. You don't need to hear them again.  What's the biggest thing in the world? The class was asked by the teacher and this child or one child said, My daddy, which is quite obvious for a sixyearold. Another child said, an elephant, because they'd been to the zoo the last week.  The third child said, the biggest thing in the world is a mountain.  And the daughter of my friends said, the biggest thing in the world is the eye E-Y-E. Which stopped the whole class as they tried to figure out what this little girl meant when the teacher asked, what do you mean the human eye is biggest thing in the whole world? And this little six year old philosopher said, well, I can see her, daddy, and I can see an elephant. I can see a mountain as well, and much, much more. If all of that can fit into my eye, then the eye must be the biggest thing in the world.  It's a brilliant piece of logic from a six year old kid.  And it's true, isn't it? The eye is so huge, everything all these people in here can fit into my eye. But even bigger than the human eye is the human mind. Because the mind can see everything which my eye can see, and it can imagine things which my eye could never see in this world.  And my mind can also hear things. It can hear old songs, which I remember when I was a student 30 years ago, 40 years ago. It can imagine all sorts of things. It can feel, touches. And the mind also has its own special objects such as happiness and joy.  If all of those those things can fit into the mind and what can't fit into the mind? Everything can fit into the mind. Therefore, for in the logic of a six year old, the mind must be the biggest thing in the world. All universes can fit into the mind. Not one, but many, as I've already mentioned, is the serial universes of modern science. If all that can fit into your mind, then your mind is bigger than many, many universes. The mind, as the Buddhist said in the first verse of The Damapada, is the biggest thing, is a chief is the forerunner of all things.  So that's why from the very beginning of Buddhism, we made the mind the most important object. We want to find out what's the beginning of that. Where did that come from? What's the origin of mind?  Now, when we talk like this, when you ask by your friends, well, who created the universe? Who created all this world? It's always nice to explain to your friends. In Buddhism, we don't talk about the universe and the mind being in the universe. We talk about the universe being in the mind. So you are saying, well, where did the mind come from? Where did life come from? Where did feeling come from? Where did experience come from? Now, to find an answer to that, obviously, that looking out there into the world with science, with telescopes, doing experiments out there, you will never find the origin of this thing we call the mind because we all know that the mind is something which we experience as it was in here.  Some years ago, when I was at a  seminar as part of the Federation celebrations, I was invited to the observatory in West Perth, the old observatory outside. And there was a panel discussion about religion and science. And I was on the religion side. And during the question time, a Catholic lady made a very profound statement. She said, whenever I look through a telescope to see the universe at night, it challenges my religion.  So can you please debate that or explain that? My response to that was actually to defending religion, to say to to all the scientists there as well. When a scientist looks in the big end of a telescope down the other way and has appear as a look at that, which is watching, then they become threatened.  It really depends on which way you want to look through that telescope out there into the world, to the stars, or down here inside, to what's watching. And that idea of, like, turning the gaze the other way to look inside is actually a part of Buddhist meditation, which has got a parley name, which is very, very well known to people who studied Buddhism in depth. That word is called yonisa Manasikara. It really means word of the mind, which goes back to the source.  That work of the mind which goes back to the source. Yonisa Manasikara, is that the path which we call of introspection, looking inside, but not just looking inside, not knowing exactly where we're looking, finding the source of things, where everything comes from, where the origin of mind is.  To give you a summary of this that I remember as, again, a young man going to cinemas in England. In those days, people were allowed to smoke in cinemas. And so being sort of an end entertainment, that people would light up inside the cinema, and the cinema would have quite a bit of smoke in there, even though there was supposed to be ventilation. But that was actually very helpful for this simile, because every now and again, you'd have on the screen, the cinema screen, you'd have the movie being played.  But as a sort of a young person who wants to find out exactly what's going on. And where did all these wonderful images camp come from? You wanted to trace them back to their source. This is that is a manifesto, a work of the mind, which goes back to the source. And in the cinema, because of the smoke, you could actually see this cone of light, and you can actually trace that back. You had to look in the opposite direction. You look back back, and you saw in the little cubicle right at the back of a cinema, that's where this light would focus in, focus back, and you see there's a little man in there with a machine, a little light machine. There was some celluloid tape running through this machine, and that was the film. Now, once I saw that, I didn't get so scared of the vampires on the screen. I didn't get so emotionally  wound up when the lovers finally met at the end of the movie, when you actually saw where it was all coming from. It's only a movie. You never got sucked in anymore to the action. I remember many times people getting sucked into the action when the alien comes on the screen and everyone jumps. Or when I remember  as one of the events of my youth going to see West Side Story, the old movie. Anyone who's in their 50s like me knows that story.  Are going with our girlfriends. A group of blokes going with the girlfriends. If you ever going out at night, don't go with a group of blokes. They'll spoil the whole movie, as we did to our girlfriends. Because when it came to the final part of this movie when Maria gets shot by the lamp post sorry, no, Tony gets shot. That's right. The bloke gets shot. As long as the blokes get shot in the old movies, that's really unfair. Never mind.  The broke gets shot under the lamppost and Maria comes running, too. It's just so sad. Just like a doomed love affair. And our girlfriends all started crying and the boys all started laughing.  It's really mean. But one of the reasons you could actually laugh is because it was only a movie. You could actually look at the action on the screen and you can look at that cone of light and find out where it was coming from and realize it was just celluloid going through light. It was caused it had its condition, conditions, and that was its reality. When we looked upon the screen and got sucked in, we gave it a reality which it didn't really deserve.  It was just a movie, that's all.  Now use that similarly to actually to see the movie which you're experiencing. Now notice watching a monk giving a talk actually is on a movie this evening.  Now all of this which we take to be real, we can actually see where it sources. And this is actually the part of Buddhism which we call dependent origination which is a subject which you might have heard about in Buddhism which monks usually don't like to talk about because it's complex and it's very difficult to put in ordinary words. I'm going to try and put it in ordinary words this evening. The origination of things.  Now when we actually look what is this movie which we're experiencing? You can start to experience it in what in Buddhism we call the six senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and also mind.  In Buddhism from the very start,  they're always recognized as not just five senses. There is a very strong and powerful 6th sense called mind consciousness.  And that is so important to allow that from the very beginning, because very obvious. It's not just you see, it's not just you. I'm here, or you smell, you taste, or you feel with your body. You know, you feel. That aspect of knowing is called an object of the mind. That's a mind working.  And also in deep meditation, which some of you would have experienced, that we can go so deep in meditation. You can't see anything, you can't hear anything. You're not smelling or tasting. You can't even feel anything with your body. Those five senses are completely turned off. They're not working. But you are very much alert, awake, conscious. That is what we call the mind consciousness. And in those deep states of meditation, you can be so deep inside.  And all those deep states of meditation are very happy, very blissful, very enjoyable. They're so deep inside that the five senses are inaccessible to you. And when you know that was consciousness, you were aware, you were alert. That's the proof, what the 6th sense mind is all about.  And so in Buddhism, we have to see six senses and we investigate those six senses. We aware of them, we watch them, we see how they work. When you start to watch the play of the six senses, you find that there is not a person inside behind your eyes watching all of this. You find there's not a person between your ears sort of hearing everything. When you start to see what is actually listening to this, go to the source of things, what's seeing this? What's hearing this? You're actually going inwards and finding that this is all a process,  a cause and effect process.  When there's something to be seen and you're looking, consciousness turns on. You have what we call a site.  And the mind then takes that object and knows its sore. When you know something, it's already happened, it's gone. It takes time for those signals to be known by the mind.  Everything is old. I think we all know that by the time you see the sun's rays. Those sun rays has spent a lot of time no traveling to us. And so we only see the sun when it's old. Sometimes when we watch a cricket match, we can see the person hit the ball and we can hear the sound afterwards. We don't really feel that that's actually what happens with our mind as well. By the time we know it's a long time after the event, many milliseconds in those milliseconds, many things have happened. Especially we know that we filter the world.  Sometimes we're listening, sometimes we're feeling at the very moment you've got many things which are attacking your senses, sights, you're looking at me, the words which I'm saying, the feelings in the body, the fantasies in your mind. If you're getting bored, many, many things are sort of competing for the attention of your mind.  Why isn't we pick some things, we don't pick others.  Very often it's from the time of sensory impingement to the time of knowing. There is a filtering going on.  We are perceiving those things which we have the idea are important to us.  The things which we are looking for. We see what we want to see. We don't hear what we don't want to hear.  In psychology it's called denial.  This is something which has been known to Buddhism for many, many years.  The fact that when we see, hear, think, whatever, there's a lot of filtering going on. And because of this, how often is it there's been arguments about what happened? You said this. No, I didn't. They may have said that, but they didn't hear it.  It didn't reach their mind. So they may have actually been right in front of them, but they couldn't see it because it wasn't important to them or they didn't want to know it. They didn't want to hear it.  For example, and this is one of the stories from the early years here in Western Australia. There was a disciple of mine, and she was a meditator, a keen Buddhist.  I had a very happy family, a nice husband, two young children. They're twins.  She came to me one day having a big problem. The problem was, she had discovered rather, the teachers at her children's school had told her that her husband had been sexually abusing her children children.  Huge problem.  And she felt guilty at first because this had been happening for a while  now she'd been told it was happening. She could see all of the signs. In retrospect, she felt guilty. Why didn't I pick these signs up?  And it was quite clear to me and very easy for me to explain that the very idea that the the husband and you loved that guy at the time, as he couldn't do afterwards at that time, you loved a fellow, you had a wonderful family, nice house, doing well in your life. The very idea that someone you could love was abusing and hurting the other people you love, your children, was so abhorrent, so ugly, so unacceptable. That is why she could not see it. She could not pick up the signs.  It wasn't her fault. That's just the way the mind filters anything so horrible. You just can't see.  This is what we call like denial. Sometimes we have problems in our body, sicknesses, which tell us that we're getting sick. But because the very idea that I'm going to get sick, that I'm going to have cancer, that I'm getting old, that I'm dying sometimes, that's so abolish, so ugly for a person, we don't want to admit it.  And so we actually deny signs of the body.  As a meditator, someone who practices a lot of mindfulness, you actually become very aware of your body. You can become alert to the signs of the body. When a person gets sick,  before they get sick, the body has been telling you for a long time, take it easy  now, the rest a bit that don't work so hard, the body tells you beforehand. But because we don't heed that body, because we're not alert to it, basically because we don't want to know,  that's why we miss those signs. Again, it is denial. Sometimes in relationships, which are obviously very important to people in the lay community, the husbands and wives, partners in life, parents and children, sometimes relationships get into big trouble.  And isn't it the case for those of you who have had divorces, separations, isn't it the case that so often for one person the signs have been very clear for the other person person, they wonder, I didn't know. This came as a shock to me. I thought we were having a wonderful time together.  Why does that happen? It happens again because it's denial. The partner who is comfortable in that relationship refuses to see the signs. Even when the other partner tries to tell them, look, it's in trouble. The relationship is dying. Do something. Sometimes it's such a horrible thing for one of the partners to even contemplate that they literally can cannot see it. They cannot hear it.  These are examples of what I mean by the way of cognition.  When we actually hear, see, even feel, a lot of the time we can't see, feel, or hear that which we don't like to hear, or see that which is abhorrent, which is detestable. This is actually shows where mind is coming from, where our experience is coming from. It's not always that trustworthy.  Sometimes we think, I saw this, I heard this. It must be true. It's not always true. That's why when people have revelations so often, revelations are very often untrue. We're not actually seeing or hearing what's actually out there. We're actually seeing or hearing, imagining what we want to see, what we want to hear. That's why we can't trust these things.  So when we actually start to understand just what this mind actually is and where it all comes from, we find out that actually operating this little  was it projector, there's a person there who's actually fiddling about with the controls. And that thing which is fiddling around with the controls, it's what, in Buddhism, we mean by craving,  likes and dislikes what we want, what we don't like, want,  and because of craving, based on delusion, this is actually what creates our reality, creates our world.  So when we talk about mind or world, what's the origin of that world? Why is this world like this? We can actually go back to these two main forces. Delusion and craving. Both work together as a pair. These are the culprits.  In order actually to find out what truly is going on. What the mind truly is, what the world truly is, is quite obvious from the way I've been discussing this evening. But what we really need to do is actually to get a window where there's no craving, where there's no delusion. So we can actually see what's really happening. We can face up to the truth without any one once or not once or likes or dislikes.  You know how you subdue or repress your likes and dislikes? That method of subduing your likes and dislikes is the whole purpose of what we call in Buddhism, meditation.  What did I say we were doing during meditation? Letting go. What are you letting go of? Remember I said letting go of the controller, the person of the vehicle are the controls of your vehicle. What are you letting go of? Craving of desire. When you actually let go of craving and desire for a few moments, then actually you can see things as they truly are.  Not as you want them to be, not as you expect them to be, not as you fear that they might be, but as they truly are. This is why we call the way of wisdom, the way of truly. Finding out has to be based on that degree of peace. That you can see things without any desire.  No preconditions. No preconceptions. Sorry. No likes and dislikes. Just seeing things.  Not as you want them to be, not as you expect them to be, but as they truly are. Now, that might sound easy, but that's incredibly difficult to do because our likes and our dislikes are so deeply embedded in us, it becomes nightly impossible.  There is a symboli which I've been given to the amongst over the years, and it's a simile of the thousand Petal lotus. It's an ancient Buddhist simile or symbol which I have adapted to illustrate what we mean by the opening of wisdom, by going to the source of things, the origin of everything, which is the subject of this talk.  Many of you who have seen a lotus would know at night time it closes up. It closes up into a ball, an oval shaped ball with a point at the top.  In the early morning when the sun rises, if it's a clear day, when the first rays of the sun hit the outer petal of the lotus, it warms the lotus up.  The biology of the lotus  means that when the outer petal warms up, it's starts to open.  Only when the outer petal opens can the light, the heat from the sun, reach the 999th petal, the one inside,  and only then can that petal open up. When the 999th petal opens up, the sun can then reach the 998th petal, on and on, the petals opening up, seeing what's deeper inside.  This is very similar to the process of stillness in one's meditation to see things as they truly are. We are still still of desires, we are still of likes and dislikes, because those desires, those likes and dislikes, are what agitates our mind. There were once and when we want, then we move. Or rather, the mind moves.  So stillness means no wants, no lights, no dislikes, no doing what you experiencing meditation, I hope, when you're just sitting there, completely content, not wanting anything, that's called stillness. Peace with that degree of stillness, if you focus your attention, just like I focus my attention inwards in the cinema, going to the source of things go in, in it's like putting your attention on the mind. This life, me, whatever you wish to call it, putting your attention on that thousand petal lotus. There's many layers of what we call life.  There's many sort of rings which we call me. We want to go to the heart of this, the origin of it all. And so very much, if you can keep that stillness, that peace, that attention.  On this, we start to see layer after layer, opening up 997 petal, 996 petals. You know, with the lotus, as you go through the inner leaves, they become more beautiful and more subtle. The outer leaves, maybe it's because they are exposed to the weather, you know, they sort of become a bit harder. They become the colors aren't so beautiful. But as you go inside the lotus, the petals, or the leaves, if you like, they become more soft, more subtle, more beautiful, more fragrant. That's very similar to the introspection of the mind. You go to the source of things. The closer you go, the mind becomes more subtle, more soft, more beautiful, more fragrant. And this is experience in the path of meditation. As the joys of meditation, as you start opening up the lotus of yourself, it becomes so fascinating, so subtle, so peaceful and so beautiful, which is one of the reasons why people, monks and nuns, lay meditators. They actually pursue this path. It's not just for the sake of understanding the source of things, the origin of things. It's also just sheer fun. It's a delight to do this. This search is not a hard search. It's a very search which is full of beauty. The deeper you go, the more fun you have. The sheer pleasure increases. The beauty of the petals gets more and more refined.  The trouble is, though, that sometimes you go quite deep into that lotus. Maybe the hundredth petal you opened up, 900. That's a long way. And that 100th petal looks so beautiful, so subtle.  This is it. I'm enlightened. Then you go around saying you're enlightened to make a fool of yourself. And of course, that's only the 100th petal. Okay? It's very wise, it's very deep, it's good fun. But there's a long way to go yet. That's why sometimes, actually, people open up the truth of their hearts, but they don't go far enough.  Because they don't go far enough. They think they know and they don't.  Unfortunately, they still got to open up the lotus a little bit more, but you keep on going. As you go deep and deep, it gets more and more fun. The 10th petal is wow, this is really good. The 9th, 8th, 765432. Only one petal to go.  Then if you're very still, you don't mind being shocked. Any expectations? If you actually to try and pick one of those petals and open it up by force, they all close again. You'd be very still. When the last petal opens up, it reveals what in Buddhism, we call the jewel in the heart of the lotus. You know what that jewel is? I'm not telling you.  Find out for yourself. If I told you, you wouldn't believe me  or you misunderstand.  You know why you misunderstand? Because it'll be in denial if you don't see it yourself. I might tell you, but by the time it gets into your brain, into your mind, you've changed it all around again.  So that's why people don't say what enlightenment is, because people just simply would not understand. It's not just you're trying to sort of be clever and just trying to sort of not make the proper answers. It's worrying. Buddhism always tell people how to find out for themselves.  Even if you told them it's not the case. They wouldn't believe you. They wouldn't understand what you were saying.  But actually, what one finds out, I will actually tell you because it's part of the talk. What you find out that jewelry in the heart of the lotus is emptiness.  Nothing there. Isn't that beautiful? It's wonderful to know there's nothing there. This thing inside you'd be bothered about all these years. Isn't it wonderful to know there's no one inside. There's no one to feel anxious, there's no one to feel upset about what you've done. There's no one to feel guilty.  This is the beautiful emptiness in the heart of the lotus. You've gone back, as it were, in this cinema to the heart of things and you find us this beautiful emptiness. So what actually is this life you find from this emptiness? It's just this process,  you say to this process from Delusion there was craving from the craving. There's making lots of karma, of doing things, making things, sometimes doing good, sometimes doing bad. When you make karma, you always have to do both. We always strive, those of your Buddhists, to do good for things. You always succeed, do bad things. Now sometimes, of course we do, because this is part of making karma. You can't just make good karma and nothing else.  So don't feel guilty about it. It's part of the course. So you and everyone else are the same. It's one of the things which one of the first insights I had as a teacher this is teachers insights. There's no one to give talks up here. That people actually come and talk to me afterwards.  You've seen people coming up afterwards or just before handcoming to have counseling. The reason why people come to me months for counseling is because it's free,  it's cheap,  so it's much cheaper than going to a real psychologist or a therapist. They charge a lot of money. You can come here for nothing. Isn't it good?  But I think it's also because we're good value for money.  When when they first came, when they started talking about their problems, that was really interesting until about the second or the third time  in the second or third time the recognition came. I've heard this before.  And over all the years people have been talking to me, I've heard it's always the same thing again and again and again.  Your problems,  your big problem. The problem which you think is unique to you is shared with most people in this room.  We all think we're unique.  We're not unique. That's one of the great insights, the thing that women are different than men. You're not. You're the same inside. You're just dressed differently, that's all. Just on the outside, you've got a few different attachments and other ones got other attachments. But underneath all of that, it's still the same person, the same being, same mind. That's where you can get reborn from different genders, from life to life.  So if you get really upset of your husband because he doesn't know what it feels like to be a woman, maybe next time he can go and learn, get a woman's birth next time. It all becomes fair after a while.  So anyway, what was I talking about? Yeah, I was talking about.  I forgot that I said, yeah, the inside. When you have to go to the inside and find out exactly who you are, sort of when it's just a process of craving, making karma, you find that this is actually where life rolls on.  When we're talking about life is a process in action.  Life is never completed, is it? Do you ever get all your jobs out of the way?  How can you get all of your life out of the way? Even when you come here, you've still got unfinished business, haven't you? The dishes at home or whatever else you've got to write. I got to go back to the monastery tomorrow and sort of get ready for the Coutinho ceremony on Sunday. There's always unfinished business. That unfinished business rolling on. When you're you die, there'll be unfinished business. That's why you keep getting born again until you finish all your business.  The origin of things is unfinished business.  That causes craving, which keeps the whole process rolling on. That's what the Buddha meant by dependent origination.  Not seeing, like as a soul, not seeing, like there's absolutely nothing there, but, like, the process. In one of the most profound teachings of the Buddha, he said, you can't say there's absolutely nothing,  but the harder things is nothing, but there's still the leaves on the outside, the petals on the outside. You can't say there's absolutely nothing, because arising is seen. That's life. Life is the world is feelings are. Anyone who says it's absolute emptiness,  that doesn't make sense. There's absolute emptiness. I wouldn't be able to hear there's absolute emptiness. There is life. There's experiences, feeling. But the board also said, you can't say there is something  because every phenomena which is can be seen to pass away, can be seen to disappear.  That's what we mean by the emptiness in the middle of the lotus.  So the process, which we call life is halfway in between emptiness and something.  But we even call this the middle. The third way between an eternal soul and absolutely nothing is called the empty process,  not some thing being reborn the same way that you can imagine, like planting a seed, you plant a seed in the ground. There's actually one of the Buddha similes. The seed, he said, stands for the stream of consciousness, of mind. And as long as it's got water and it's in a good soil, it will grow, it will develop, and then eventually, it will create another seed. That's the way that seeds propagate, as long as they're not genetically modified by companies. So they got terminated genes or whatever it's called. But in real life, in nature, the one seed develops another seed.  Now, what in the new seed was in the old seed?  Even the DNA, as you know what DNA stands for? It's an acronym for the National Dyslexic Association DNA. I read that joke the other day. I thought it was very funny. DNA means the National Dyslexics Association,  so even the DNA in the seed changes.  It's not the same as it was before. So what is in the new seed that was in the old seed? Absolutely nothing. There's nothing which has gone across. It's very easy to see the process where one seed can give birth to a new seed. This is actually a good simile for the way that one,  because of the process of craving making karma, can actually create the seed of a new consciousness in a new life.  With nothing going across. You can't say that there's something persisting there because everything is seen as passing away. You can't say there's nothing because the rising is seen the middle way, called dependent origination by the Buddha. That's why I just wrote in an article recently which is going to be published in Malaysia, if anyone asks to you, what is life? You can actually say the empty process. Someone says, who are you? That's who you are. The empty process.  May someone ask you, is it true that I am that? What is that? What that is, is the empty process. That's who you are. It's a process which you open up and go to. The very middle you find is the callless emptiness. And this is actually finding out the origins.  Not the origins sort of by going back to who created this universe. I mean, that's just not subtle enough. And that's why it's just created so much debate over the centuries, because it doesn't really fit common sense.  It can't be really tested.  If this Doctor Who's still going, you can't get us of a Doctor Who time machine and go back to the beginning of the universe to find out exactly what started it.  You only have to take that on belief. But actually to find out the origin of you consciousness of mind,  that's something which you can do, which you can find out. You can test out this origins of things and find out where you come from.  Don't just get lost on the screen and all the things happening to you, like people in the cinema get lost if you do that. Then you'll cry at the sad scenes of life, you'll grieve at the barley bombings, you'll get so much fun when someone gets married. You'll get so inspired at a good talk, you'll grown at a jamba jokes. But this is just things on the screen, that's all. When you know where this is all coming from,  then you'll be at peace. Just a movie. The empty process which we call life in Buddhism, that's what we call the origin of things. And that's the talk for this evening.