Dec. 20, 2022

Rebirth | Ajahn Brahm

Rebirth | Ajahn Brahm

Rebirth is a very useful way to review our life, to reflect on our relationships, and to gain perspective on what is important. This talk is about how deep, beautiful meditation can reveal the truth of things, and also how deep, beautiful meditation...

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Rebirth is a very useful way to review our life, to reflect on our relationships, and to gain perspective on what is important. This talk is about how deep, beautiful meditation can reveal the truth of things, and also how deep, beautiful meditation can be fun. Rebirth is a reality which can be found out for yourself through the practice of meditation. Ordinary memory is unreliable, real memory through meditation is true. Regarding rebirth, we gain a solid ground for being good and responsible, and take long term perspective on the trials and tribulations of one life in comparison to the trials and tribulations of one year in school or one year in the office.


This dhamma talk was originally recorded on cassette tape on 13th July 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.



This evenings talk. I don't know why, but what's come up in my mind for this evening is to give a talk about rebirth. Part of the Buddhist teachings and it's part of the Buddhist teachings which sometimes people find difficult to accept. However, that teaching is central and also that it's very useful once a person can know the truth of such an idea. And also in Buddhism, we teach away so that everyone can find out that truth for themselves. Obviously, in the biggest scheme of things, it's important to know what's going to happen to you when you die. Fascinating to find out where you've come from. And both of those questions, they can be answered in this very life. They can be answered right here, right now. And this is one of the wonderful things which we can talk about with the power of the practices in Buddhism. These practices of Buddhism have been taught for so many centuries. And in those centuries, many people have followed the instructions and have followed that path and have found out for themselves for what we call insight, the nature of the mind. The ordinary mind is very weak. It is so concerned with daily activities, with the problems of the present, moments in the future and the past. And so often we don't have enough energy, we don't have enough power to actually use the mind to penetrate to these truths. Anyone who knows the story of Buddhism will tell you that when the Buddhist under the Bodhi tree where he became enlightened, the first thing which he discovered was his past lives, many of them. That was prior to the experience of full enlightenment. And he experienced those truths of his previous existence through the training of the mind, which empowers the mind to be able to see these things for itself. Because I've sat here in this seat here, this cushion, eating about, rebirth, reincarnation many times, and not really getting all that far, just with the theory. I've also spent a lot of time, especially in meditation retreats or in teaching the monks at the monastery at Serpentine to try and encourage them to develop the ability to find out these truths for themselves. Certainly that coming from a scientific background. Before I was a minecraft, a physicist at Cambridge, and I would never take on any of these theories, dogmas beliefs just because they were said by someone even of the caliber of the Buddha. In fact that I would never accept these things until you can actually see them for yourself. One of the powerful things which attracted me to Buddhism and has kept me as a man for so many years was that you could find out these things for yourself without having to believe them from somebody else. And this part of meditation is that which empowers the mind to penetrate that truth as well as many other truths as well. Again the problem with our minds that we can't even sustain our attention on one thing very long, our attention span is very short. How can we expect to really penetrate to a very fine truth like a rebirth when our mind is basically all over the place? Not only is it all over the place, but it's quality of mindfulness, it's depth of attention is also very weak. Our mind has an ability but we waste it. We wasted on just allowing it to go from one thing to another. In Buddhism we call it the monkey mind. Always on to the next thing. Next time you have dinner or breakfast or lunch. Show you what I mean. See how difficult it is to do what we call in meditation retreats for one spoon at a time. Practice. In other words, when you eat your lunch or your dinner, just pick up one spoon or one fork load and don't think about the next fork load you're going to put in your mouth until you completely masticate and sword out. This one usually what most people do. They got one food, one sort of spoonful in their mouth chewing, another one in the spoon waiting, and they're already choosing the next thing they're going to eat from their plate. There are two or three spoons ahead of themselves and that's similar to life. It's like that always two or three things ahead of ourselves. Which means we're never really tasting the food in our mouth now. Never really do anything properly. So if we really want to penetrate truths, we got to train our minds to keep on one thing long enough to finish it. Which means we have to develop this ability, what we call sustaining attention. Whether it's on a book or on a lecture, on a project at home, or even when we're listening to somebody speak, how hard it is to listen with full attention and to sustain that listening. The ability to sustain attention is what we call the madi in Buddhism. It's the result of meditation. Sustaining your attention means having your senses fully alert and still focused on the object. Not moving here, not moving there, sustaining attention. You can obviously understand the benefits of sustained attention. It means when you're reading a book, you focus fully on what you're reading. If you are studying, you study well, efficiently. If you're working and somebody is calling you on the phone, you can sustain your attention on what they're saying, which means you fully receive all the information. You are truly listening. If you got an ACH or a pain in the body, you can sustain your attention on it to really find out what the problem is. Whatever you're doing, you could stay with it long enough to fully find out what's happening so often because people have not trained themselves to sustain their attention on anything. Studying is difficult. Learning is difficult. Even listening is difficult. And I'm talking about listening to others or even listening to oneself. When we practice our meditation, we are training in the ability to keep our attention on one thing for significant periods of time. In the same way that we watch our breath, we can find we can watch our breath a long time once we train in meditation. And how do we do that? We do that through the process of letting go of all the disturbances and also finding joy and happiness in the object which we're watching. To sustain the attention. You can never do this through force. Any school teacher would tell you, any educator would let you know. If you don't make the lecture enjoyable, entertaining, then you lose people's attention. You got to sort of keep the the attention there through happiness. In the same way, when a person trains themselves in meditation, very soon they have to look for the beauty in what they're doing, the joy in what they're doing. When you can actually see the happiness in peace, the happiness in just being there, sustaining, not moving, not going anywhere, then attention becomes easy, automatic. You can sustain it for long periods of time. Not through will, but through fun. So we actually learn in meditation. It's wonderful ability to keep the attention on one thing for long periods of time. It's a training. Once you can do this in meditation, you find that with a sustained attention. But you also do generate more happiness, more fun. It's as if all our energy we waste by spreading it around. How many of you have got high energy? How many of you sometimes feel tired? Where does that tiredness come from? It's spreading everything around too. Weekly you can focus. It is very similar to the old simile of magnifying glass. Focusing and taking all that red out energy and putting on one thing. The energy is a strange thing. This physical energy, this mental energy of the two. Mental energy is the dominant factor in people's minds and bodies. If the mind is depressed, which means low energy, the body also feels weak and it also falls into sicknesses very easily. However, if the mind is bright and happy, that's called energy. I've noticed this in my own years of experience of mindfulness. Happiness is energy. Dullness, lack of energy and also lack of happiness. Sometimes one gets into these cycles when one is depressed, one has got no energy. When one has not got no energy, one is not having fun, one gets more depressed. One goes into this terrible cycle. Sometimes all one needs to do is actually to turn the attention in another direction. Happiness is out there and it's in there. It's there to be seen. But mindfulness, it's the ability of the mind to see. It's so gray and dark, it just can't see anything. Even a beautiful picture where you turn down the lights. You can appreciate it anymore. Even a flower when it's dark, you cannot appreciate, you cannot see it. It's wonder, it's beauty, it's joy. So they need somewhere to turn out the lights of our mind and also to sustain the attention on the beautiful things which we see. The mindfulness is quality of mindfulness, which we talk a lot about in Buddhism, is part of the ability to see clearly, to see brightly. It's like in a room like this, we got most of the lights off at the moment. If we turned all the lights on and turn them on to full volume, you'd be able to see not just me, you'd be able to see all my pinpoints and all the places where I didn't shave this morning. You'd be able to see much more detail. This is what mindfulness does. He actually sees deeper into things. It's like turning up the lights of your mind. When we practice this meditation, this is what we're doing. By sustaining our attention, by focusing in, we're concentrating whatever energies we have. We're building up energy, we're building up happiness. We're building up brightness of the mind. Bye. That's why when people come and tell me meditation is just style, it makes you bored. I've got a clue what meditation is. Meditation is what wakes me up. Meditation is what gives me energy, what fires me up. Sometimes after really good meditation, you don't even feel like sleeping because you got so much energy, so much brightness, and also so much penetration as well. When that mindfulness get strong and you have the ability to sustain it, it's like having a mine with a 1000 watt flashbulb. Not a flashbulb, but rather a search light, which isn't just flash, but can stay on something for a long period of time. Which is why I encourage people, when they have good meditation, to start testing out the power of sustained attention with a high degree of mindfulness. I tell them to go outside and look at a leaf on a tree or just to look at a brick or just look at the spot on the carpet in front of them. The strange thing starts to happen when you have that energy and that ability to sustain attention. You can just focus on a spot of ordinary carpet. And because the lights of your mind are very strong, as if the carpet starts to open out to you, you see so much deeper into it, and what you see is extremely beautiful. Just reminded this morning of one of my favorite stanzas from a William Blake poem. To see a world in a grain of sand, a heaven in a wildflower of infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. This was an old mystic poet of the 17th century in England. To see a world in a grain of sand needs to take something insignificant like a spot of carpet in front of you. Allow it to open out into a whole world, the wildflower, these small things, to see something as huge and as beautiful as a whole heaven. Why is it that we can't always do that? Because our minds are trained in brightness, seeing clarity in penetration. We look on a piece of sand, on a spot in the carpet, and we move to something else too quickly. After my first meditation retreat, when I was a student at Cambridge, we had an hour every morning to go for a walk, exercise. Close to where we were having the retreat was the Cambridge Botanical Gardens. I thought that would be a wonderful place to have exercise, but I never really had much exercise there. I just got to the entrance way at which there was a clump of bamboo. There was an ordinary clump of bamboo. I'd been past it many times before, but this time in the middle of a meditation retreat, when I got to that clump of bamboo, I literally could not go further. What I saw in that bamboo is just something so beautiful, so wonderful, so captivating. Imagine there was a bench next to the bamboo. I just sat down there for about 45 minutes. I just stared at the bamboo. I'm not sure what other people thought of me. I thought, must be crazy on drugs or something. Wasn't on drugs. I was on meditation. But the point was that I actually went back to that same clump of bamboo every morning. I never finished being just here. Beauty. The depths of what was going on in just a simple clump of bamboo. A few days after the retreat, a few weeks after the retreat, just to see what would happen, I went back there. I couldn't see anything. It was just an ordinary campaign and boo. I was wondering what had happened to me when I was meditating. I could see so deeply into that thing and enjoy this deep, wonderful beauty. What I realized afterwards is, when I was training my mind, when the mind became bright and energetic, it became penetrating. You could keep your mind still long enough. To feed deeply into it. It was showing me some of the first signs of how Buddhist insight works and how pleasurable, how much fun it is to feed deeply into the beauty of things. Things whose beauty is covered up in ordinary life because we are moving too fast. After that experience, when I developed my meditation more and more, it was amazing. All the beauty you could see in the world, beauty in places you'd never expect. One of the powerful experiences of my training in Thailand was also during a retreat period when, during the monsoons, we would do our walking meditation in the main hall. And the main hall was built out of concrete, which the villagers had laid, and they weren't all that good leveling the concrete. It was bumpy. But when I was walking, focusing my attention a couple of meters in front of me, going backwards and forwards, after a while, I had to stop in my tracks. There's a piece of concrete in front of me. Opened out into this beautiful, colorful, amazing pictorial display. Different shades of gray. The texture, the way they all arranged just captivated me. I stopped and stood, I don't know for how long, amazed at the beauty of maybe a couple of square inches of ordinary concrete. It was so beautiful, I thought it should be taken out and sent to the National Gallery and hung on a wall. And I'm not exaggerating these experiences. You really started to see the beauty in a wild piece of concrete called infinity. Infinity means that there's no limit on what you're experiencing. There's no measures, there's no boundaries. You go into a boundless state. Where all you can see is just deep, wonderful beauty. What you're doing here is exercising the power of the mind. With deep meditation, you make the mind still and quiet enough, focused enough for the energies of the mind can see such things. And this is not exceptional to a monk. In my meditation retreats, ordinary people can do this as well. They're fascinated at how the mind becomes so clear, so bright and so penetrating through this very simple practice, but also how much fun it is to do this. To see beauty in ordinary things gives you so much pleasure sometimes that people don't realize just how much pleasure is there for meditators. So this part of Buddhism, you go to a church to sit in the cold, you sing hymns. Here, we don't sing him as we get the pleasure of the beautiful, still, powerful meditation. But more than just being able to sustain your attention long enough to see beauty in a piece of concrete or in a clump of bamboo, you're developing the strength of mind, the power of the mind to really find out the truth of the world. All religions talk about truths. Many religions say a revealed truth which is revealed to you by some authority outside of you. In this part of Buddhism, we say that you reveal the truth for yourself. No one does it for you. It's inside of you. Do this practice and then focus your attention. Instead of on a cup of bamboo, on a piece of concrete, focus on attention on you. So what I teach people, just following the path of the Buddha, is that when you have one of these wonderful meditations, when you're very still, You got lots of energy born of that stillness. I tell people to make a suggestion to themselves. What is my earliest memory is the fact you'll find that when the mind is still, it does what it's told. A lot of times you give a suggestion to mind, it doesn't do what it's told at all. It does complete opposite because the mind isn't ready yet. It hasn't been prepared, it hasn't been trained. But if in a deep meditation or after deep meditation you make any suggestion like that, you'll be amazed at what comes into the mind next. As a monk, I'm forbidden from my rules for telling all the experiences had in meditation which pertains to previous lives of mine. What I can say is one of the first times I did this as a monk. I was just playing around, seeing whether it would work or not. And the first memory which came up into my mind when I did this, straight away, a smell came into my nose. And immediately I recognized that smell was my plan when I was a baby. It was fascinating that the whole memory of being in a baby's Pram for 30 years previously came so clearly into my mind. I was actually in the Pram. This is what those memories actually are like a rexarien of the past. It fascinated me. It shocked me at how easy this process is to recollect your past. Can you remember when you're in your Pram? You can't do this with ordinary memories just too far back. But with a power meditation, you can actually recognize everything. I even remembered, and I haven't got that memory. I can picture it now. This little toy I had. Porky the pig. It was blue in color, and my mother used to sort of rocket backwards and forwards and I used to delight in porky the pig. Little memories like that, which had been hidden for me for many years came flooding back. I was actually in my palm. I could see everything, feel everything. But most importantly, there was a smell which was most prominent. I checked afterwards with child psychologists, with doctors, and they actually commented that as a person develops, as a baby develops, they know their world in the first couple of months, not from sight or touch, but by smell. You know your mother in your first few weeks of life by how she smells, your eyes haven't developed very well. Even the sounds haven't developed. The smell is prominent. And that fascinated me. There was the smell by which I remembered my babyhood. And people have taken that practice of my earliest memories and they've recognized the time in their womb, the time when they were born and came out of that womb. People say you're not supposed to be able to have sensory experience, certainly not memory. The brain hasn't developed long enough yet. Hahahaha. That's not true. You do remember those things. And one of the fascinating parts of such a memory is the third certainty that that was you. It's very different than an ordinary memory. Ordinary memory, as I've said before, it's actually like Chinese whispers. It is a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory of a memory. Really you're remembering the last time you remember that event. And that's why such memories change every time you remember them. And they are actually very different to what actually happened. Ordinary memory is very unreliable. Real memory, through such patterns of meditation where you ask the mind to dig out your earliest memory, that's real and that's true. It's like taking a photograph of the past and that is a way that you recall your own previous lives. Through such meditation you get your earliest memory, maybe the time in the pram or in your mother's arms or when you were born. Then you ask earlier if the mind is strong and calm and sustain its attention. The mind will be very quiet and still. And then another experience will come up into consciousness. Experience of an old man, an old lady. Usually at the time of your previous death. You remember such times because those are the most important, powerful experiences of life. They're like performance. You remember the significant events and these become real experiences for you. You see these, you know this. And the real past life memories which you get through meditation again come with the same sense of certainty that was me. Just to get one of those experiences for yourself. Just one will be enough to tell you that such things as a Buddhist teaching of rebirth. Actually, it's true. You will never be able to convince anybody else, but you will know because it's your experience and you'll have no more any doubts. I encourage this because I think is very important for our life view, for our paradigm of life where we come from, to have these experiences. Because imagine if that was you who had that experience and you had absolutely certain because you knew that you had lived before, what would that actually do? What would actually do for you straight away? It would put this life into proper perspective. If you've died once, you know, you've died many times, and the death which lies in front of you now assumes no big deal status. We've done this many, many times. Here we go again. It takes away the fear of death. It takes away the mystery of death. It takes away the finality of death. Why are human beings so afraid of death? Why is it one of the subjects which surrounded by not just grief but also fear? It's because if it was really the only life we had, it would be so sad if somebody died with a life unfulfilled when we know we've got another chance of next time around, then it's not such a tragedy when somebody dies. How often is it we say that a death is tragedy? Could be if a person is only six years old at seven years old and dies. If you realize the last time they lived, they were 60 years old and then 80 years old, then 40 years old. This evened out over many, many lifetimes. I think that's fair enough. Just this time you have to have a short life. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that? Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that all our old people are all going to come back again? Wouldn't that be that we look after our elderly people? You know that we have a lot of trouble in our modern society with our youth. Many young people become very rebellious and do one thing. I think that that is because 20 years, 30 years previously, there were old people who weren't looked after by their children. And now they're getting their own back. They're imagine like an old person being neglected instead of a nursing home. Not being cared for, not being looked after. Why do we do that in our society? Why don't we give resources to the elderly? The reason is because we think there's no economic benefit from them. They're just going to die and disappear. Let's get rid of them as soon as possible. Let's put them out of the way so we can't see them. Why give any resources to them? Because they're not going to come back again. If we realize that those people are going to come back again, they're going to be the use of tomorrow, wouldn't we actually look after them better as an investment for the future? It puts things in a different perspective, doesn't it? Not only that, if all of our politicians people have got control over our country if they knew that they've got to come back as children in the education system which they've made. There's no escape. They can't just go off and retire somewhere. They got to come back. If we all knew, if Mr George Bush, w Bush knew that he's got to come back and actually experience global warming as a child wild, wouldn't he actually take greater care of this planet and actually look after this planet? Because it's an investment for our future, for my future. When we talk about rebirth, it means we can't get away with things so easily. A lot of times when it's Mr Skysie in Majorca, he thinks if he can just keep putting off putting off putting off the extradition, then he can sort of be happy ever after. Eventually, rebirth, extradite him back to Australia, where he's got a face the consequences of his karma. You can't get away with it that easy. Which is why we have rebirth as a teaching. It means that there is no escape for us. It's a wonderful level where karma can actually manifests its justice. There's something inside every human being which actually demands justice. There has to be just, there has to be right. Without rebirth, there's no justice. Now, look at all the rotten things that some people have done. When you think they're going to get away with it, with rebirth, it's no getting away with anything. You have to come back to the house which you once lived in to pick up the mess. So what actually the teaching of rebirth does? It gives us a solid ground, a reason to be good, caring and responsible. So once you have these experiences of rebirth and you know that you're going to come back again, it means you've got to basically clean up your act and make sure this is going to be a good place to come back to. If you're only renting this house, you can rubbish it and leave it for the next person. If you got to come back, you got to look after it. So anyone who really knows about Rebirth and accepts it as a fact will become much more conscientious in the way they look after this world, both the environment and also the people. That's why we have to take that long term perspective, not just on the planet, but on the people in the planet, to make sure we don't just take the easy option. We really put effort into doing what is going to be worthwhile in the long term. When I was building the monastery in Serpentine, still building that monastery, I was thinking of the 200 300 year perspective monasteries. They don't just last ten or 15 years and then you go and set up and go and move to a bigger house. We don't start a monastery in Serpentine and then move to Netherlands and then finally move to Peppermint Grove. That's not how we build monasteries. It's open time to stay hundreds, who knows, thousands of years. The monastery at Gucci Ganner, 2000 years, 3000 years that might be staying there. So we're in for the long term. This is what we understand from rebirth and also when we understand the idea of rebirth. The trials and tribulations of one life get put in perspective in the same way the trials and tribulations of one year at school or one year in your office at work get put into perspective as learning experiences which we have to come and revisit until we get right. We're here to learn? What are we here to learn about? Everyone knows what we're here to learn about. Whether you're a Christian, Buddhist or Hindu or whatever. There are certain qualities of mind which people these days called spiritual qualities. You don't need to be a Buddhist to know that lovingkindness is what you're here to learn. Compassion, kindness, selflessness, generosity, goodness. In the context of one life, such qualities aren't so important. The qualities of many lives, they are desperately important. It's not whether you live or die which is important. It's how you live. It's what's most important. It doesn't matter how long you live in this life. It's the quality of life. Those years, what have you been doing? Have you been learning? How you've been using your time? In growth, in these wonderful qualities. If it's only one life, it's important know how much wealth you have, how many possessions, how much fame. But in the context of many, many lives and rebirth, what is really important to you? It's not your possessions material if you like, your spiritual qualities. As a monk, one of my jobs is to conduct funerals. I've conducted so many funerals. I've had more funerals than you've had hot dinners. I've departed. Maybe not that much. But what I've noticed over all those years of conducting funerals you know, afterwards, when the funeral is finished, people go outside. When they go into these lounge, what they talk about is a person who's just died. Very quickly in my career. As a month, I started to notice something. No matter Christian funeral or good or funeral what people talk about concerning that person once said that is never how much money they had. What they talk about is never of how big their house was. What people talk about concerning the person who's died is their qualities of kindness, generosity, their honesty, how much they have contributed to society. It is their religious or spiritual qualities. When people say you don't take money with you in possessions with you, it becomes so apparently true at such times, all those things, you don't take them with you. Your children and other people in the will, they take all of that. And the lawyer takes most of it anyway. What is left behind, what people remember you by, is your spiritual qualities. What a good person you were, what a great friend you were, how caring you were, how much you actually contributed to the well being of your kindness, your generosity, what we call the spiritual qualities. When I saw that, I realized this is what the point of life is, to develop those qualities. In the context of one life, money is all important. In the context of many lives, it's not important at all. What's important is those spiritual qualities. So in the terms of rebirth, which we can find out for ourselves, it actually shows us also what is important in life, why life, the meaning of life, what we should be doing with the time we've got here. Makes religious practice so important. By religious practice, I don't mean going around with placards saying the end is nigh. If I had a placard, I wouldn't say the end is not a rebirth is nice. What we're actually saying is that the spiritual qualities are most important in life. And so this is actually where we come back to the law of karma. This is the most important law. You know, as a young man, I was always interested in all sorts of strange things in the world psychic things, occult things, spiritual things. There was one of the mediums who was perhaps one of the most famous. Some of you may have heard of him. It's a fellow in American called Edgar Cay. We live in Virginia Beach, sort of between the first World War and the second world War. He was amazing fellow, because he was, I think, a Baptist Christian. And every now and again, he would go into these trances. And in these trances, he be able to settle like a doctor took over, and people could ask him questions, questions about someone's sickness. And he would prescribe these medicines, which were completely off the wall as far as medical science was concerned, but they would work invariably. One of the anecdotes about this epic Casey was that there was one person who was very, very sick. And so Edgar Casey, fellow, went into a trance. And the people that asked him this was a lady, this was a sickness. What should we do? And he prescribed a medicine which no one had heard about. They went to the local drugstore from the drugstore, never heard about this, didn't exist. They put him into trance again. The second time he said, you'll find that in the town of St. Louis in the drugstore, and you can in the drugstore, they came out of trance again. But in those days, I had to send a telegram to telegraph. It took a couple of hours, the message to come back from that drug store. Never heard of the medicine. It's not here. He went into a trance a third time. This time he said, you'll find it on the third shelf in the left at the back. When they said the second telegram, the message came back, Found it. Incredible. And this fellow was actually investigated because he was consistent by the doctors from New York who couldn't believe that such a thing was true. But the point of the story was, once they asked him not about killing people, they asked him the question, what's the most important law in the universe? Straight away, in trials, he said, the law of karma. He was a Christian. He didn't even know what the law of karma meant. That's what actually came back out of his trance. And he said for many years, in his biography afterwards, answers such as that challenged him so deeply. Without a trance, he was a Christian. But in trance, all these weird and strange came out. That law of karma is extremely powerful and so wonderful. What it means is that your happiness is in your control. A lot of times people think that Karma is all about explaining why we suffer. I've got a head like and that's because I must have kicked a holy monk in my past lifetime in the head, whatever else is. But a lot of times we don't realize that Karma also explains our happiness. You are healthy. Why now? You are reasonably wealthy. You're well fed. Why? Because you deserve it. You work for this. You've been kind. The Buddha said if you've been kind to others, if you've giving other people life, you get long life yourself. If you help people when they're sick. Then the reward for that karmically is health. It becomes like an obvious return adjust return for what you do to others. If you've been very forgiving and people aren't so critical of you all the time, time that people criticize you, abuse you, they want things about you only because you've done the same to other people. What comes round, goes around. One of the best examples of the understanding of law, of karma was told to me by a prisoner at Carnegie Prison farm many years ago. I've been teaching meditation for many weeks. I think about two or three years in that jail. And this prisoner I got to know very well came up to me one day and said, Graham, he said, I'm not going to lie to you. I lie to others, but I'm not going to lie to you. He said the crime for which I've been put in jail for, I didn't commit, I'm innocent. I'm in here for a crime I never committed before. I could say that was terrible. He gave a very cheeky smile and said but I committed so many other robberies, I wasn't caught for it's. Bare let's call the law of COVID so why do we complain? It's unfair that something happened to me it's true you've been innocent. We've done many other naughty things which you hadn't been caught for. So it's fair when we actually understand the law of karma and the law of rebirth, then it gives a different perspective to our lives. We can actually be more serene with what happens to us in life get a much better perspective on what life is all about and how we should live it. It'd be wonderful if everyone accepted the idea of rebirth and all this business about life and death and just worrying so much about this death business. If you realize you're going to come back again and again and again and again, and all the people you think you've been part of started with, you come back again. It's strange. With rebirth, you tend to come back in groups, in flocks. This power of attachment actually brings you back again. I tell people when. This is the buddhist idea of karma. If you do things together, such as if you come to monastery, the night's monastery, or the monks monastery, and you offer food together, the husband and wife, the calming result of that is you're going to be husband and wife are getting an ex life. I should warn you. You really want to do this? The point is, because of our attachment, we tend to meet each other. Now, one of the English Buddhists, one of the people pioneered Buddhism in England was a fellow called Christmas Humphreys. And he was actually a high court judge. He was actually a very prominent figure. And because he was a judge now in England, to all places that he gave Buddhism a good name, they didn't associate Buddhism with hippies and pot smoking. They associated Buddhism with a high court judge. And so it gave you the sense of legitimacy. But I remember hearing a radio interview office on the BBC where he said to the whole audience, and when they talked about with this rebirth business, do you believe in that? He said, I don't believe in it. I know it. I remember my last night, of course, this was about 30 years ago, and the interviewer said, come on now, don't give us that. He said, Look, I'm a high court judge. My reputation be ruined if I lie to you. I remember my past lives and he told him of some of his past lives. He remembered one as a very minor senator in Rome. His whole career was just one law which he managed to get in the statute books. He said that karma let him to be a lawyer in this life. He remembered his wife from a previous life. He met her in his present one, but he obviously never went to a monastery to make merit together to offer things because he didn't want to marry her anymore. But they were best of friends. He married another girl. He remembered her clearly. This was a high court judge who was saying these things and it showed you that these things are actually possible. We can do these things, but we tend to meet each other again. But sometimes not in the same way. Sometimes we meet each other as friends, sometimes as husbands and wife, sometimes as brothers. Because while the Tibetan, they make a lot of this. And it's the same with Terravada, with my tradition, that we have been brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. You haven't always been a woman, you've been a man. You haven't always been a man, you've been a woman. I would love to get Pauline Hanson and get her meditating and find out in a previous life she was an aboriginal Asian. It's that'd be both. We don't identify with racism or with genderism. Isn't it so that every woman is a part which is a man, every man is a part of him which is feminine. It's a memory of the time long ago when we had a different gender, a different race, a different time. This actually brings us together and stops all the separation. Where can there be racism or gender isn't where we know and we've been with with each other in different times, in different places also. There's never the same sense of loss. This is actually that so many people who remember past lives know that we've been together before. Like your partner in life, your husband, your wife especially. Why did you marry them? Well, not somebody else. A lot of times in many cases, it's because you've known them before. We all heard about love at first sight, haven't you? It's not love at first sight. It's here we go again. It's there's always that recognition there. If you could only know that and understand that, then you'll be a much more gentle approach to life. A gentle approach to all this coming together and leaving again. We always know in the meantime, don't we, what comes together. Parts about what parts will come together again. I know it's nice people say it's wishful thinking to know that one day you'll meet all the people you love and care for in some other place, in some other time. Those attachments, those cravings, those earnings, they have no power. Whatever you yearn for, eventually it comes to you. That's the power of the mind. Of course, after a while, we have no earnings to finish with all of its but in the meantime, if you really want it, it has to happen. This is the power of the mind. And so rebirth is a wonderful overview of our cosmos, of our life. It brings in so many beautiful aspects of humanity, what's really important. And also it answers some very deep questions in the nature and meaning of life. It's not something you need to believe in. If you pursue this practice of meditation, it will come. There has to come some time. Whether it's just through chance or just through persistence. When you everyone in this room will have a nice deep meditation that happens. Always remember to ask yourself, what was my earliest memory? And to see what happens. You too may remember up, sir. You don't remember in this life. That should be able to do it in your next. Okay, so that's what it looks like this evening on Rebirth. That's usually a nice controversial topic is. Any questions about that? Any questions? Yes, 1 we recognize people by the mind. But the mind is something which is very, very strange and very strong. An answer which comes to my mind. Which story which some of you know. Our monastery is serpentine. You know what serpentine is? 60 kilometres south of here. We've got a two cat there. Both cats were born in Serpentine monastery. One cat was called KitKat. He was born in a log. Not a very original name. He was born in a log as a little kitten and we looked after it. However, after some time it was killing too many cats in the bush. Don't really belong there. So even I was very fond of that cat. We decided the only thing to do, the only thing to do, the kind thing to do is to take that cat and give it a good home somewhere in purse. One of our disciples lived in the suburb of watermelon, which is what figuring out by the beach. So we invited her down and we put that cat in a sack, tied it up and put it in the back where your feet go. That cat had never been into a metropolitan area in its existence. The furthest it had gone had been the town of byford, still south of the metropolitan area, to the vet to be what we call metastasized. Even cats have to keep pizza. But anyway, when he got into watermelons, the lady took it out of the car, through the bag, and only opened up the sack inside her house and kept it inside the house for three days. To accustome it to its new surroundings. But when she let it out into the garden for the first time it was a Saturday morning and it bolted through the gates. It ran so fast, this woman just couldn't catch it. It ran down the street. She got into a car is looking for it. It disappeared. That was one of the weekends when I was on duty here. And she rang up and said, I'm terribly sorry. I know how fond you are of that cat. It's run away 2 hours later. I rang her back because a few minutes before I rang her the second time at the front door of that house, there was some muting. I opened the door and I couldn't believe it was his cat. Kick cat. That cat had never been in Perth before. It didn't know how to ring the rat. It could not read the UBD. It found its way from watermelon. So this temple where its friend, a monk, would stay here. How could it recognize that? In the same way that that cat would know where to go in the middle of a city it never been before? It actually must have crossed the freeway somewhere. Did that I don't know. In 2 hours, it's about 6 km from here to Watermelon. I don't think I could walk that distance into our house even if I knew the way. It pause was so hot because it was a summer's day. I thought it was going to get blistered, but it survived. Okay? Once it did that, it had permission to stay in the monastery where it still is. The power of the mind is tremendous. There's something inside of you which they look different. There's something inside which recognizes them. You know that you've had an experience before. You meet someone you've known. You've known them before. You've never met them in this life before. Sometimes it's unpleasant meet someone and you feel very uncomfortable. You've known them before, but it's been unpleasant. The wonderful thing is, when you meet them before feel so ease in their presence. It's something which the eyes don't know mind knows. Then it answers your question. Any other questions? Marty? Yeah. 2 Okay. You're asking that if the door covers what you sell, it's not as black and white as that what karma does. It gives you the ingredients what you sow in a sense, you reap that grain is how you use that grain in this life, which is important. I think many of you have heard me say before similarly of the two women baking a cake. You've heard me say that before. Sam. One woman has got the very worst ingredients possible. They got white flour, which they got all this green mold. And they have to pick out the green mold to use a good flour. They've got white sugar full of cholesterol. But more than that, their husbands dip the coffee spoon in all these brown lumps in it they got to take out. And the fruit which they've got in their ladder is just so hard raisins. And the oil is butter, which is going rancid. And the kitchen is the worst kitchen that should have been replaced years ago. The second person has got wonderful ingredients. They've got organically grown whole wheat flour, hasn't been pesticide within 100 miles of it. They've got this wonderful canola oil, which is like cholesterolfree, very expensive. And they I've got this fruit straight from Western Australia, just around the corner. Beautiful fresh fruit. And instead of sugar, they got honey. Again, organically grown, very best of ingredients. And they got this modern kitchen, the bacon. Who makes the best cake? It's not always the person with the best best ingredients who makes the best cake. Sometimes the person with the worst ingredients put so much kindness, so much love, so much effort, so much care into what they're doing with all those bad ingredients. They make the most delicious cake in that. Similarly, the ingredients are the karma from the past with which we have to work. It's not just the people with bad karma from the past who make the worst job of their life. There are some people you've met them? I've met them. We've had terrible karma to deal with. People whose parents have abused them, who been poor, who have been physically disabled, they got terrible ingredients for their life. My goodness, they make the best cake. And I've seen some people so beautiful, so talented, their parents so loving and caring, they give everything just the right amount. And their children make a mess of their comfort and make a terrible cake, even though they've got all these wonderful ingredients. Yes, it does matter in the sense of what ingredients you have in life. It's much easier to make a good cake with nice ingredients. Even if you've got terrible ingredients, you can make a wonderful cake. That's why. But no one is absolutely restricted by the karma from their past. Anybody can get in line. Anyone can be a good person, a kind person, a generous person. You don't need to be rich to be generous. More people go and give their time, give their heart. They make such a wonderful cake. Even much better than the rich people. So this is what karma does. What you do with what you've got is more important than what you got to do deal with. Yeah, you can do something. There's one question at the back. I'm going to leave it there. Yes, 2 you said that. I sort of checks you out after you die and say, right, you deserve to be disabled. You deserve to be. 2 Interesting. Who actually decides is you. You choose. This is why most people, if they do something wrong, they actually choose to punish themselves. That's called guilt. Who decides that you should be guilty and punish yourself because you've done something wrong? Wonderful thing about the law of Kami that you can actually escape from it. Who. Such things as forgiveness and letting go. You're the person who punishes yourself. You're the person who decides to grieve if you're guilty. This is one of the things which I'm very strong at, especially when people go on meditation. It's all of those that guilt from the past comes up very easily. It's lots of enjoying the meditation and being free. I tell them, look, you don't have to feel guilty and punish yourself no matter what you've done in the past. Buddhism, the attitude is to acknowledge forgive, learn the AFL code of knowledge, forgive, learn the g is not in. There no guilt. It's marvelous actually to see that you can make a mistake. You don't need punishment. In fact, if you punish, you are actually making that karma for yourself. You are choosing to punish yourself. Unfortunately that that is so strong in human being psyche if they do something wrong, they want to be punished as a result. That is what creates a lot of comment when people seek to be reborn into places of disability, basis of disadvantage. So they seek they can pay off their debts from the past. They seek to do that. It's not necessary. But you can understand why people do that in this life. They will do that between lives as well. It's judging. If you judge others, you'll judge yourself. One of the sayings in the Christian Bible which I was always fascinated with judge not that he be judged, not being judged by a god. Judge not that she judge yourself. You judge others and critical of others to be critical of yourself. You want to punish others. You will punish yourself. If you learn how to forgive others, you will learn how to forgive yourself. You can forgive yourself, you can forgive others. There was a German book which is in our monastery in Serpentine. Is it seriously for going on? But this is a lovely story. It was the people who remembered out of the body experiences. One of the fascinating stories there was of a young girl who died on the operating table. And when she was revived again, she told the story to her mother. And eventually she got into this book of German tales of out of the body. You don't usually see this in the Western world because they haven't been translated. This girl is a classic story floating out of her body and then going off to a place. She described it as a shit, whereas a man stayed saying that, standing there, as soon as he checked her, she said, you're not supposed to die, but before sending her back, said, well, now you're here. You can look on how this works. The next person who came was a German farmer. The man asked the farmer, have you ever killed any beings? He said, oh, only one or two. And this man turned to this little girl. See, even though he's died, he still tells lies. And while they were talking, there was another man who went right past the shed and went up to what the girl thought was heaven. The girl asked, why aren't you asking him questions about what he did in his life? This man said, that person never judged other people. Therefore we're not judging him. And that's the story this little girl came back with. What you want to make of that, it's up to you. But it's a wonderful story that a person who didn't judge others would never be judged by himself. Called forgiveness. nonjudging giving other people the benefit of the doubt. Giving you the benefit of the doubt. No, you make a mistake. Hands up anyone here who has never made a mistake. They join the crowd. We learn from our mistakes. The garage forgiveness. But don't go punishing yourself. OK, I think I hopefully answer that question. Is that okay? Okay. Thanks for those questions. Always get a few when you talk about rebirth and karma. That's one of the good reasons why I talked about it. If you have any more, please come up and ask personally afterwards. But now we've got extra quarter of an hour over time for me, but it's no extra charge.