April 22, 2023

The Way of Meditation | Ajahn Brahm

The Way of Meditation | Ajahn Brahm

In silence, you find inner peace and wisdom. Meditation is a central part of Buddhist teachings, teaching people to find out truths for themselves and to find ways to cope with the challenges of life. Meditation is about having insight into the big p...

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In silence, you find inner peace and wisdom. Meditation is a central part of Buddhist teachings, teaching people to find out truths for themselves and to find ways to cope with the challenges of life. Meditation is about having insight into the big picture, about understanding and realizing the truths of life for yourself. When you become one pointed in time and focus in on the silence, you have all the time in the world because you're free from measuring time in a point you can't measure. Too much happiness in life is based on things which are unreliable and could change at any time, so it's not really happiness. True happiness comes from within - unconditional happiness. Delusion is thinking things we take to be real are actually not real. When we meditate we often go into the center of things to find the origin of things. In meditation, you will get deep bliss, and the ebbs and flows of that bliss will allow you to explore your mind deeply. You may get memories of past lives, as well as a deep understanding of the law of karma. Buddhist meditation leads to enlightenment and a better understanding of the law of karma. You don't need to spend a lot of time in deep meditation to experience past lives, but you do need to still be present and have power over your mind to ask about them. The point is that if we don't know what timelessness is, then we've got no perspective of this thing which we call time. And when we've got no perspective, we get ruled by time. Getting other perspectives and going into timelessness provides that other perspective, then when we go back into the time world, we see it in a completely different way.


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

This dhamma talk was originally recorded using a low quality MP3 to save on file size (because internet connections were slow back then - remember dialup?) on 14th February 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans. If you like the Ajahn Brahm Podcast, you may also like the Treasure Mountain Podcast and / or the Forest Path Podcast which are also produced by the Everyday Dhamma Network.

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


AI Generated Transcription

Also got into the habit of after meditation, smiling and taking that smile out into the world with me. So way of taking the piece of meditation and out into the world. Okay for this evening's talk again don't know what I'm going to talk about, but what came up at the beginning of the meditation is I wanted to indulge myself. This evening I'm going to talk about the subject which I like most of all, which is meditation itself. Buddhist meditation at its place in the scheme of things. I know that this weekend there are peace marches on. And sometimes you wonder, do people really understand what peace is? Do. Do people understand what freedom is? The United States sometimes calls itself the free world. But then there's over, I think, 2 million prisoners in the United States. What is freedom? We're all searching for happiness in this world. What is happiness? When we come to all the religions in the world, we may all go up on our soapboxes and pronounce what we think is right and what we think is wrong which is the best religion, which is the worst religion and so on. But that really doesn't really cut much ice, as they say. It doesn't really mean very much, just empty words. What is more important is we teach people just how to find out for themselves, especially the big questions of life about who are you? Is there such a thing as a god or not? Is there rebirth? Is there karma? What's the purpose of life? All of those big questions which are spiritual, which are meaningful, which are actually the guidelines for one's existence, for one's life are so important that really we can't just trust what a monk or a priest or a pope or whoever says. We have to find some way of finding these things out for ourselves. And this is the main purpose of Buddhist meditation. As many of you would know, that Buddhist meditation is and has been from the very beginning, the central part of the Buddhist teachings, simply because the Buddha became the Buddha by meditating under a wisdom tree, a bodhi tree. And so meditation is quintessentially Buddhist. But for these days, when meditation becomes quite popular, quite faddish, for much of what we call meditation in our Western world, it's relaxation. And there's something much deeper in Buddhist meditation. Relaxation is fine. Relaxation means that you have a greater chance of coping with the difficulties, with the stresses, with the disappointments, with the problems of life. But I think we should all know there's something much more to meditation than that. And indeed, the way of Buddhist meditation goes to the very heart of things on the way. It sort of brings up tremendous peace, tremendous sense of contentment, great relaxation and a sense of ease in one's life. But it moves much deeper into states which are beyond this world, literally, and also states which give you insights, understandings, into the answers to the big questions. So the way of meditation is actually teaching people to find out for themselves, giving people a means, a route to learn. I know that many teachers working in schools and universities tell me that their main job is not to impart information, but to impart the way to find out information, to give them skills to inquire and find out the truth themselves. And that's why that many people find the Internet just so fascinating, because there's all this information out there in Buddhism, really, instead of the Internet, the inside net of the mind, where you actually find out heaps and heaps. Of other information, by clicking on into meditation and by finding all those truths not in the World Wide Web, but in your inside sort of net of truths. And this is what the meditation is all about, finding those ways inside and finding out exactly what's going on. When a person sits down to meditate, what they're actually doing, they're letting go. Of distractions in the world. Distractions in the world are just ways of trying to seek happiness outside of yourself, outside of this moment. It's always this search for truth somewhere else. In the same way, we think that somebody else is the owner of truth. So you come and ask questions from a monk or from a guru or from some expert. And we have a culture now of having experts s and we think that the people who know all the truths are in universities or they're consultants. There's no consultancy in Buddhism. You are the consultant, you are the expert. So instead of trying to ask questions of somebody else in Buddhism, the whole idea, the purpose of Buddhism is to act as a mirror and encouragement to find out those answers for oneself. However many people are lazy in this world, they want to find out the truth from somebody else. Just go and ask a wise person, an expert, a consultant, and they know the truth. And. And of course, that has caused or will cause so many difficulties and problems in this world. If and they do know the truth, do you understand what they're saying? So it is why, especially in Buddhism of most religions, always telling you, encouraging to find out that truth for oneself, that every human being, no matter what race, no matter what gender, no matter what age, able, disabled or whatever, because everybody has a mind. And in that mind is the truth. Everybody has the opportunity to find out that truth for themselves. Everybody has the opportunity for enlightenment. Not just men, women, not just Asians Australians, not just university professors, bricklayers, whoever you are, one can find out that truth for oneself. And meditation is the way to find out that truth. Now, what meditation is doing is going to the source of things going into the center. Some years ago, I gave a simile of the times when I was used to go to cinemas in London as a young man in those days that people would smoke in those cinemas and I was very happy that they smoked, otherwise this simile would never have occurred and. When you'd look at the movie on the screen. But every now and again, especially when it started getting a little bit boring, you would notice that that screen in front of you had a cone of light receding from it instead of looking at the screen. Sometimes you'd look at that cone of light because the smoky air, some of the light was reflected off the smoke particles and form this very visible cone of light. And you go back to that source of that cone of light, you go to its focus, its origin. The visible cone would actually show where everything was coming from. And then you'd see in the back of the cinema, in a little box high up, there was a bloke, usually with a machine and just little celluloid going through a bright light. That was all it was. You went to the source of things, the origin of things, and you saw that what you thought was people kidding themselves on the screen, what you thought were romantic interview interludes, what you thought was some frightening monster about to eat up somebody was just a play of light on a screen and. It was a wonderful example of what we mean as delusion and how we can buy in to much of we take to be real and we can suffer as a result because we don't understand the source of all of this. It reminds me of a simile I haven't told for a while of a friend of mine who when he was young went to the island of Acre in the island of Jamaica. He went to a remote part, a very rough part. It was a very violent island. It still is have a high crime rate there. And he went to this particular part of Jamaica where they still had driving movie theaters. And this particular movie theater, instead of having a usual cloth screen, had a concrete screen, this huge reinforced block of concrete, some one or 2ft thick. And he had to ask the people why on earth of all of the driving movie theaters had ever seen in the world why had this place got a concrete screen instead of a cloth screen? And the answer was this this particular town used to like cowboy and Indians Western movies, and whenever there was, as there always is in Westerns, a gunfight. Whenever the cowboys were shooting the Indians or the sheriff was shooting up somebody, whenever there's a gunfight, the people in the audience would also get their guns out and join in. So if they didn't like the sheriff, they'd shoot at the sheriff. They didn't like the cowboy, they'd shoot at the cowboy. And the poor owner of this cinema had gone through so many cloth screens in the many years he owned a cinema. Eventually, and here comes a terrible pun, he decided to bite the bullet and actually get a concrete screen so that members of the audience could just go for their life and they could shoot whoever they wanted to. This might give an idea for entrepreneurs in Perth to have a theme movie cinema where people can be given guns and they could shoot whoever they want. I'm sure some people in our community were quite like that. But anyhow, in this particular movie, you could see that people were getting involved in the characters. Because they couldn't see the source of things as they truly are in the same way in our life, in the movie of our life, how often do we get involved in the characters in the dramas of life not realizing what the source truly is? So I use that because it's a simile which was used by not assimile, but it describes something which was said by the Buddha of the way to wisdom is seeing things as they truly are. In particular, the word yoni sat mana seekara the work of the mind which goes back to the source, the origin of things. That's Buddhist wisdom. So you want to find the origin, the source of things. Now, you can imagine just that cone of light ever going into a center, a confined area. This is defining the path of what we call Buddhist meditation. We go in. To the present moment. We go in to silence. We go into the breath, we go into the mind. We go into these deep states of bliss to find out the source of things. Always going in and in and in. If you look upon the way that our mind works, our mind very rarely goes into things. Instead, it goes on to the next thing. Always on the move, always going on to the next event, the next distraction or sometimes going back into the past, but never really going into the middle of things, into the center. Even going into the center of yourself is sometimes very difficult because many people are afraid of themselves. Many people are afraid of the moment. They're afraid of silence. As I've watched people meditate over the years, I've watched people get involved in spirituality again. There's a lot of fear comes up because it's a fear of finding out the truth which may not be what you expect or maybe not what you want. Very easy for any teacher or guru or priest or whatever to come up here and tell people what they want to hear. It. However, that's not being honest. Instead of telling people what they want to hear, have to people tell people how they can find out what is true, whether they need it or not, whether they want it or not. And this is a way, again, of Buddhist meditation, going into the middle, going into the center of things. So this is where we start by going into the center of time. Even going into the center of time, into this beautiful place called now, is a strange experience for many people, because when you get into the very center of now, when there's no past and there's no future for you, first of all, many problems and difficulties disappear. How much of the suffering and burden of life are concerned with what's happened in the past or what's going to happen next? Fear if we really look just with our wisdom, with our own sense, with just how past and future tortures us. How heavy they are. Then we can realize how much freedom from problems and suffering can be found without going anywhere, buying anything, by just being in the moment for a short while. Sometimes in people look at their past and look for reasons in the past for what's happening now. They look for problems of abuse in the past, mistakes of somebody else or themselves in the past. No Guilt and Victim Psychology so often in Buddhism we say that that's mostly a waste of time. But the best way of dealing with what's happened in the past is to drop it, to leave it alone, to acknowledge, forgive and let go. The famous AFL code. When we can do this, you find there's a great sense of freedom. Very often we pick up the past, maybe some very painful, unfortunate, unpleasant things which happened in the past. And very often we magnify those. Too often the past is so far gone we cannot be absolutely sure what happened. You can't be absolutely sure what happened even half an hour ago. There's an old meditation trick, or rather question which is done by meditation teachers which asks the people you've come into this building now, you've taken off your shoes. Do you remember exactly where you left your shoes? Which direction they were pointing? Very often, even something simple like leaving your shoes where you left them, you can't remember properly. Sometimes even people can't remember where they parked their car. It's happened quite a few times here that somebody's come afterwards, my car has been stolen. My car's been stolen. We go out and have a look. They just forgot where they parked the blooming thing. That source very embarrassing, but nevertheless, it just shows you just how our memory is unreliable. Understanding the unreliable nature of our memory, how can we judge ourselves or judge someone else? Think we're a victim or even have guilt? How do you know what you did or why you did it? When sometimes it was such a long time ago there. You. So this is why in Buddhist psychology you say you can acknowledge what you think is the past, but don't trust that your image of the past is accurate to what actually happened. In fact, it's so uncertain what actually happened, it's far more wise to completely let it go. When you let go of the past, you are free from the past. And isn't that what you want? That freedom from the guilt, from the pain, from the disappointment never happened. And that is possible at any moment for human being when they have the courage just to let go to same, the freedom from fear. How fearful is our community. Fearful of war, fearful of sickness, fearful of our relationships being broken. So much fear happens. And of course, all of that is of the future. Imagine just being in the present moment. In the present moment, there cannot be fear, there cannot be guilt, there cannot be idea being a victim. Which is why that in that first stage of meditation when people do become present, we feel this lightness, this freedom. It's also we have the free from the burden of time. We feel oppressed by time in our society never having enough time to do all of these things we think we should be doing to go to all these places we should be going to complete all our tasks. In the present moment, you find there is all the freedom you have in the world. It's a strange thing that when you come to this very small area of time we call now it looks as if there's no space there at all. But to come into the present moment, you feel this huge amount of time. You have all the time in the world. When you're now that's how it feels. A couple of weeks ago I was talking about measuring. This is what is happening when you become one pointed in time, which is what present moment awareness is all about. One pointed in time, going to the focus, the source of time like that cone from the movie theater you find in that point of time you have all the time in the world because you are free from measuring time in a point you can't measure. All measurements are from the past to the present, future to the present or future to past. There's no measurement there possible. That's why you feel free. So just that amount of meditation of being in the present moment is pregnant with so many insights into the nature of time itself and how you make time, or rather what you conceive of time by planning, expect, going into the past, remembering you make time. It's not time makes you time is made by desire, by craving. When you give up that craving and that desire, you come into the present moment. Time takes on a completely different meaning, the timeless present you're focusing in, and you're getting a completely different paradigm. When I was talking last week, a completely different worldview, a completely different way of looking at this essential part of life called time. Have you got enough time? You have all the time in the world. When you get into the present moment, you got no time at all. When you're off in the future or lingering in the past, literally, you're not here. If you go even deeper, focusing in, as I was saying during the meditation period, into silence. Into silence, which is in the center of now, there there's no time to speak. There's no time to say anything. There's no time to measure nor to judge. All these judgments about yourself and others, about life, they all stop there in the silence. My goodness, why does people speak so much? And I'm not talking with their mouths. Why do people speak so much inside their heads? Always thinking, never being quiet. In a moment of silence, just one realizes just how noisy is our hearts, never being quiet for a moment. For most people, never knowing the freedom of from that inner speech. After a while, that inner speech can stop you sleeping at night, think, worry, worry, worry. In a while it can actually just send you crazy. And sometimes one can go to places in the world which are just so silent, deep in the bush, in the middle of the ocean. Places of absolute quiet. And it reminds you of something sacred, which is a silence in your heart. There is something very spiritual about silent places, which is why indigenous communities, and even European, Asian, whatever communities there's something about silence which resonates with truth. As there is the resonating of truth in the silence of your own hearts. When all of the words stop, when there's peace, when there's quiet inside, when the complaining ends. There's an old story of one of the monks in Adjan Charles monastery. He was only a novice monk and this particular novice monk listening to a talk by Ajan Char one evening. And the talk was droning on and on and on and on and on and on. Sometimes Ajan Char could talk for hours. Whenever you pick up a book by this famous teacher which has been translated into English, please know that that's been edited heavily be edited. All those hours and hours of talk just a few jewels which have been remaining from those talks have been sifted like diamonds from the gravel. And. And that's what we have in the book. But to listen to him at the time, sometimes as many, many hours, he had to wait for just one little jewel to come out. And this is what was happening that evening. The Little Novice as you know, in Asian countries, in Sri Lanka, in Thailand, Burma, Laos, sometimes little boys get ordained as novices. Maybe because they have no pair parents or because their parents are destitute and the monastery looks after them and gives them a livelihood. But once this little boy was meditating, was listening to this talk, and he was getting so bored and fed up. And as a novice, he couldn't walk out of the door. He had to sit there and listen. And he got so mad at Gencha, he kept on thinking, when is this monk going to stop? When is he going to start? When is he going to stop? And you know how obsessive the mind can become. Like getting into a rut, which you can't get out of, when is he going to stop? When is he going to start? When is he going to stop? And after an hour or so of thinking this in his mind. His mind changed slightly, but so dramatically. Instead of, when is Ajanchar this great teacher? When is Ajanchar going to stop? His mind turned and said, when am I going to stop? And he stopped. His mind stopped. He went into silence. And when he opened his eyes again afterwards, though all the monks had long gone, he'd been sitting in deep meditation. He didn't know for how many hours his mind had stopped. He got into silence, into timelessness, for a long period of time. A happy little novice. This is what we mean by that silence. When that inside stops and it gets quiet, you'll find that when that mind stops, all the thinking, all the judging, all the fault finding, all the measuring. All the knowing. We think we know, we think we understand because we believe in that inner monologue. This is where you find a deep truce. You're not buying into that inner soundtrack. You're stopping it and becoming quiet and silent. You in. Silence is where one finds wisdom, not in the words. There's too many people who think too much, who gather evidence and come to stupid conclusions. If only half the world would be quiet, would stop thinking. Instead listen instead of talking back to the world to listen to the world, to listen to themselves, to suspend all of this inner monologue so they can listen for a change. It's like giving a talk, as was reported in Time magazine a few years ago, they did a survey of people giving lectures in the audience and they found out that while, on average, while a person was giving a lecture, that 95% of the audience were thinking sexual fantasies. I do hope that's not the case here. Isn't it hard for people just to be silent while they're listening to the world? If you can't be silent, how can you listen to your partner in life? How can you fully understand them? How can you even understand yourself when you're always talking back to life? And in silence, there's not only the freedom from this judging is almost like a suspension of this judging and giving things names. There's a silence in that heart. In the silent mind, one gets a huge amount of peace when we talk about peace in our world. There cannot be peace in the world when there's not peace in people's hearts. And peace in people's hearts comes from the silence of the heart. And. When the mind doesn't need to move into speaking, into thinking, into judging that training of just giving silence to people that creates so much peace and harmony in their body, in their mind, in their family, in their office, in their community, in the world. One of the biggest causes of conflicts, whether it's huge conflicts between nations or conflicts in a family, is people thinking too much. There's too much coffee in the White House. Think, think. Judge, judge, judge. Whichever way it goes, thinking always creates huge amounts of problems. Be wonderful if they can just shut up for a while in their hearts and be quiet, to be still, to listen to. When you listen in silence, you have a much better chance of knowing what's right and what's wrong, what's skillful, what isn't skillful. One is more trusting in the emotions, more close to love, to care, to kindness, compassion. Those are things which you can't put into words. Those are things born of silence. But even deeper into the silence is when one goes even closer into the moment. This is where, in Buddhist meditation, we go into not just present moment silence, into one pointedness not just in time, but one pointedness in space, one pointedness in phenomena, choosing one thing above all others and focusing all your attention on it till it doesn't move. Mostly, we use the breast. Sometimes people meditate on colors until that color fills their mind without moving. Suns, IBES. We use other concepts. Even just the concept is like peace itself, until things do not move in the mind. This is where one sees that it's not just. It's moving in time, it's also moving out there into the world. We're going even closer into the thing we call one pointedness of the mind. There comes a time when if one does a breath meditation, when all you've got is just breath unmoving. Beyond the concepts of in and out, just breath, that's all. There is nothing else. Which is why in the books which I've written, we call it the beautiful breath because at this stage you get huge amounts of happiness, even bliss, coming up into the mind. Here, instead of diversity of consciousness, one comes to a unity of consciousness, focusing on one thing rather than many things. Too often we hold too many jobs, too many portfolios, too many plates and dishes in our hands at the same time. And life is a juggling act of doing too many things. And here one is just doing one thing, one simple thing, in silence, in the moment. The point is that one gets so much happiness and bliss in such an occasion that one will get the insight where all that happiness comes from. If life is the search for happiness, you're finding a source of happiness which is right within you, which doesn't depend upon anything from our outside. It's not depending on a person being this way or that way. It's not depending on your body being healthy or sick. It's not depending upon the world going this way or going that way. It is an independent happiness. Too much of people's search for happiness in the world is conditional happiness condition on another person, condition on your health conditioning on the country or your footy team winning, or whatever. Too much of our happiness, one should know, is dependent upon so many causes that it is unstable, unreliable, and eventually it goes wrong. This is called suffering in the life conditional happiness. What I mean by conditional is you need things to keep it going. Is your happiness in life conditional? Depending upon other people, depending upon your wealth or your health or your security, the safety of the country or whatever? Don't things have to change? There's no way around that. That should be obvious. Truth, the one thing which you can be sure of and you can know as an absolute truth, the one thing which everyone would admit is the change. The flux of life, the flux of other people changing you, changing life, changing. That's something which everyone should accept. Yeah, we can accept that as true. That's so obvious. So why are we investing so much of our happiness? In things which are so unstable they could end at any time. If we really want true happiness, we have to go to the happiness which is within unconditional happiness. Internal happiness, like a spring deep within the human heart of deep peace and stillness, is a revelation in every sense of the word to gain those happinesses of the heart. I do remember even the first time when I meditated as a student, just trying it out for five or ten minutes, feeling a sense of happiness just by ten minutes of watching the breath and that was intriguing to me. Why could just sitting there, just watching your breath go in and out for five or ten minutes give that taste of freedom? When I was taught to believe they know that happiness came from chasing girls or your soccer team winning or going to the pub or becoming rich, whatever else, that's what I thought was happiness. But there was something else which taught me happiness. Too many people in this world are just a sheep major. Whatever anyone else says is happiness. You look upon the movie guide what other people say is a good movie and you go then because everyone else says is a good movie, you say it's a good move because it's been. Nominated for an Oscar. You mean it must be a good movie because everyone else thinks it's a good movie. My goodness, there's so many sheep in this world. Remember again the first time I took beer. First time I had a glass of beer as a young 14 year old breaking the law. Of course, I was being stupid. I don't recommend that. But the thing which I always remember was just how terrible it tasted and why sane people could spend so much money buying that stuff and making such a big business out of it. What was the big deal of having beer and getting drunk? However? Because everyone else was doing it. Because everyone else said it was so much fun to go and get a beer. After about four or five months, my perception had changed. I liked it. You could see just all my likes and dislikes were just following what other people said I should like and shouldn't like. Too few people actually challenge and ask questions for themselves. Is that fun? But is that not fun? Even watching TV, is that fun or is it not fun? Coming to Buddhist society, is it fun or is it not fun? Whatever it is, be rebellious and least ask questions to find out what real happiness truly is in your life. Is it really happy just getting your big house and paying off your mortgage and getting a nice car and going to Europe on holidays? Is that real fun? So why do you work so hard for that challenge? The thing is that with the power of meditation, you're coming to something which you know as a direct feeling experience. This is much more fun than anything you've had before. You get deeper into those beautiful breasts. You get into this beautiful NIM, these lights in the mind, which have got huge amounts of power and bliss. You're upping the bliss enormously. Very often when people first get these nimeters, these lights in the mind in meditation, they can't handle it. They get afraid it's too powerful. They certainly come out with a smile on their face and. Is a huge amount of happiness. One of the first deep meditations which I had as a young man then, he must be about 19 at the time, that was more blissful than sexual intercourse. And that, of course, if you have experiences like that, you will really what the heck is going on? And and I use that similarly sometimes when I go to teach meditation in prisons. It's an amazing sales pitch which gets all the prisoners really interested. But that is actually true as an experience. Why is there so much happiness there with so much stillness and so much peace? So what it's actually saying there is what people think of as happiness in this world does not need to be sought for outside of yourself. You don't need to pay money for that, you don't need to sacrifice so much for this. And that is right inside of your heart any moment, at any time if you're going to access this and learn just how to let go of your obsession with the future and the past and with chat, chat, chat. Talking the two biggest obstacles and just go into the moment, go into the silence, go into the breath again these beautiful limiters those limiters those lights in the mind, the simple light. I'm not talking about the many, many lights, but just the very simple and pure ones and. The insight comes that that is a reflection of your mind. Those people who want to know what the mind is, the thing we call a mind this is where you experience it directly. The nimeter is like similar to you looking at your face in a mirror. Here the mind is observing the mind in a mirror, as it were. For those people who think the mind has got something to do with the brain straight away that this should be quite clearly seen to be false. These are where very deep insights come up because you are having bare experience, you're having data which shows you some great truths which can be wonderful to find out for yourself. So you actually know for sure you don't to believe other people. The reason why you know that this has got nothing to do with the brain because it's got nothing to do with the body. By this time. When these beautiful deep lights come up into the mind during the deep stages of meditation, with lots and lots of bliss, the body has long since disappeared to the point that you cannot hear anything with your ears, you can't feel anything with your body. All sight, sound, smell, taste, touch has completely disappeared. The five external senses by which you explore the world and know your body have gone. They've ceased, they've turned off. What you're left with, as I said already, is the mind, what in Buddhism we call this 6th sense. You're face to face with that mind, you're just with that mind. It's the pure mind with all those other five senses disappeared. Another simile which I've given before, which is a very pertinent, is a simile of the emperor who's clothed from head to toe with five garments. Imagine an emperor who's got boots which go way up past his knees. He's got trousers which cover from his waist way below the top of the boots to his calves. He's got a jacket which covers his waist and which also goes up to his neck and goes down to his wrists. He's got gloves which cover his hand. He's got a helmet which covers his head. The whole of his body is covered by the helmet, by the gloves, by the tunic, by the trousers and by the boots. So there's no part of the emperor's body which you can see. You. In that simile, the emperor stands for the mind and the five pieces of clothing stand for the five senses of sight sound, smell, taste and physical touch which are obscuring this mind, covering it over. So you don't know what the mind is because it's always covered and layered by these five external senses. Now the only way you can know what the emperor truly is is to take off all of those five garments to see that emperor as he truly is naked with no clothing on at all. This is the job of meditation to take off sight, sound, smell, taste and touch and see the mind when it's removed far away from those five things. And this is what happens in a time with the beautiful Nimeters you are far away from the body such someone can call you you don't hear them someone can tap you on the shoulder you won't feel it even at this time. And you're very, very happy inside. Even going to this stage, there's other deeper stages than this. Even going to this stage when the nimeter gets very, very stable and still you can stay there for long periods of time. There can come a time when you can just ask yourself little questions such as, what is my earliest memory? Which is the way of getting into your past lives, when the mind is so still has been empowered by that. Bliss is one other thing which you will find out at these stages that the energy of the mind is measured by its happiness. Those people who have got little energy get depressed. Even when your energy gets worn out from a busy day, you can get angry. Grumpy. All that anger, grumpiness, crankiness, depression is all a sign of low mental energy. When the energies get cranked up, when they get increased, when you get lots of energy, you get happier. If you have those of you into caffeine, if you have a strong cup of coffee, you usually feel happy. And when you get up in the morning, it's best not to talk to you until you've had your first cup of coffee. Because you're angry, you're grumpy. You can easily sort of why is that? Because you got low energy. The stronger the mind, the more you can remember and the clearer that memory will become. Even as a student, when I started getting some good meditation, that helped my memory enormously. So you can actually remember the times when you not only remember the question, the answers to the questions in the examinations at university, I even remembered the time when the lecturer said that had the question there, and you could visualize the lecturer in the lecture theater saying that particular point which came up in that examination. And. Know, like many people, you think that everyone has those abilities or everyone has a good memory, but obviously they don't because they hadn't trained the mind in mental energy, in that strength of mind. Now, if you want to answer the really deep questions of life, you need that degree of energy and strength in your mind. Which is why in these days when I teach meditation retreats, I encourage people get a nice deep meditation. You get your bliss coming up, you're really happy, and you got this very strong mind and very still mind. Ask yourself really important questions such as, what's my earliest memory? That's how you find out that, yes, you have lived before. Because you get memories of your childhood, you get memories of your birth. You get memories even at a time in your mother's womb. Anyone who says that you can't feel, you don't know in those situations. This is your own experience. You can say, no, that's not right, because you were there and you knew. You can even go further back and get your memories of a previous life, another time, another place. And the one thing which I keep saying about those memories and those powerful mind states, they're so clear. They always come real past life memories always come with the knowledge and the certainty. Yes, that was me. No doubt at all. In the same way that you know that you drove your car this even though you came in a car, you got no doubt that actually you drove here if you came in a car. Absolute certainty, no doubt at all about it. Even more certain than that very clear memory. And then you can find out for yourself about all these teachings. Is there such a thing as rebirth or not? You can also find out about as well, this other very important Buddhist teaching. It's wonderful to have the knowledge of the law of karma, that it's absolutely true, because it makes the whole idea of injustice in the world start to disappear. There is such a thing as justice in the world. Only sometimes we haven't got the big enough picture. We can't see everything which happened, so we don't know why did this happen to me? You haven't seen all the causes. You haven't seen the full picture because you haven't seen the past lives and the meaning of life. When you have this huge picture of not just one life, not just two lives, but many lives, my goodness, that starts to give you an idea about what this human existence is all about. So short. 80 years, 90 years. So short when compared to all the many lives you've lived. Sometimes they're just five years, one year, sometimes 20 years. Sometimes old, sometimes young, sometimes a male, sometimes a female. My goodness. If you realize how many times you'd be in the opposite gender, where'd all this gender superiority inferiority, how could that last? How can this racism, genderism, speciesism where we think we're so superior than animals all this I am special business can all disappear. When one's seen how many beings one has been over those years this is where one starts to find out the truth of those ears. Deep questions about life, about the world, about nature, about the cosmos in particular. When one finds just in those deep states of meditation just how the mind is independent of this body one realizes why there is such a thing as rebirth. Sight, sound, smell and taste. So, sight, sound sorry. Sight, hearing, smell, taste. And physical touch. They will cease when you die. They're part of the body. But, you know, as an experience, as a truth for yourself that this thing which I call the mind once you see that mind that is completely independent of the body, you will know just from that much, seeing that much, experiencing that much, knowing that much, that when your body dies, that mind will still be there. I often notice that those people who remember past lives or who have experience of out of the body experience out of the body experiences floating out of their body, going off to the light, those people who tell the story, whether you believe them or not, that's common experience floating off into light, going into that light, through that light. When I put same light as you see in your meditation, that's the light I was talking about called a nimeter. Just when the body dies, when the five senses finally turn off, when the mind manifests itself, that's the light which people see when they die and. With the mind manifesting that lasts from life to life until it finally ceases in nirvana that goes on. And imagine that those truths, if they could be seen for yourself, just how they would affect your spiritual life. To know one, what the mind is, to know about the truth of rebirth, to know how karma works. My goodness, wouldn't that really give you a view, a paradigm, a way of looking at the spirituality of this existence and putting it all in perspective, giving that huge, big picture? So we go to the source, the truth of things, and we don't get so caught up and in just the few material possessions of this life, which we have to leave. You've been so wealthy in previous lives and so poor. You've let go of so much already. You've had so many relationships, you've had so many children. Why do we get caught up just in this one, in this little episode of this huge saga of many lives, when we can see the full picture, it will have to give us this sense of detachment, sense of not being so caught up, so intrigued in this one little episode we call our life. It so the power of meditation is not just for relaxation or for giving you bliss, even though that is a marvelous sales pitch and a marvelous encouragement to get deeper into this path of meditation. But it starts to unravel the basic truths of life, of existence, of who you are, why you are, what is happiness, where you come from, where you're going to. So this is why in Buddhism, we encourage and teach meditation as the heart of this path, this religion, this spirituality. Not so that you can just learn from other people, not just so you can read books and memorize and just be a person, goes on other people's experiences, but so that you can know for yourself, understand for yourself, penetrate for yourself these timeless truths. So in Buddhist meditation, it's not just for relaxation, it's not just for healing this body. Because sometimes in Buddhism, what the heck, it's one body, another body. You heal this one, you got to go to another one afterwards. Just the health of the body. When you see the big picture, it doesn't seem to be such a big deal anymore. Okay, you try your best, but it's not such a big deal the length of your life. So what? Ten years, 80 years, 50 years? Why make such a big deal about it? Why keep all these old bodies of yours going, going, going. It's just like keeping an old bomb of a car on the road when you get a new model very easily. Why? It's not so much a matter of life and death. That's supposed to be the biggest thing in the world. Matter of life and death. You can break all sorts of rule, go through red lights, break speed, speed limits. A matter of life and death. Buddhism, that's not the most important thing in the world. You've lived and died many times. Most important thing is not a matter of life and death, but a matter of how you're living. It's the how, not the length, not the measures. So these are ways you can find out these truths for yourself, really understand as your own personal experiences. And that's really, in my opinion, that's what makes Buddhism special, this past special, to be understood, each wise person for themselves. And meditation is not that hard. In fact, it's much harder not to meditate in the sense that you'd have many more problems, many more difficulties, more stress, more burdens in life. So when you really get into the meditation, it just gets so easier, so freer, so more peaceful, so much more happiness. Whatever you're doing in your life gets smoother with less obstacles. And eventually, if you really get into it, this is where it can lead to finding out these great truths, finding out for yourself. Sometimes you think, the only way we know who's right and who's wrong with all these religions and truths is to wait till we die. Then you'll know it's too late. Then find out now. Have a lot of bliss. Enjoy yourselves. When you have all that bliss inside, enjoying yourself, you don't need so many external things. It's good for the environment. Meditating. You don't have to spend so much time with big DVDs and all these other stuff which cost lots of money and take a lot of resources from the environment. Imagine if all you need to do is just go home and sit. Meditation make it all the happiness and pleasure in the world. You don't need so much. Have fun in life. So it's good for the environment. So this is a little way of explaining about Buddhist meditation, for actually finding out for yourselves about these great truths. And instead of people saying, oh, it doesn't really make sense, instead of going on the rational world, which is all coming from your conditioning, get beyond that conditioning. See things as they truly are, not thinking your way through these, but seeing into them. Present moment awareness into timelessness. Wow, that's so nice. Silence there's. No matter. All this talking inside. Wow, that's great. And then let go of the five senses in the body. Just get into this beautiful mind. Wow, that's so nice. And so much wisdom and understanding comes as well. Traditionally, men and women have become enlightened not through thinking, not through reading. But by stopping the way to wisdom. So that's a talk this evening on Buddhist meditation, the way to wisdom. Okay, anyone got any comments, questions, or complaints? Okay, you're asking two questions there. First of all, exactly what depth of meditation do you need to be able to experience your past lives? And the second one is a personal question. You're asking, have I experienced my past lives? And if you want to check me out on this, I'm not just trying to avoid the question. The 8th Pajita of the monastic rules say a monk is not allowed to tell a layperson, in other words, not a monk about those experiences. However, the way to find out, and I'm telling this, is you ask another monk, because I can tell you about this monk or that monk or someone else's monk, but I can't tell you about myself. So that's a little way around it. But it's good, actually, not to ask those questions of monks, if at all possible, because sometimes you put them on the spot. But there certainly are monks who can remember their past lives. Secondly and nuns and other people. How much deep meditation do you need? First of all, I always thought that actually you did actually need the full janus and come out afterwards. But I think that just to get even to that stage of even limitus this very beautiful bliss states of the mind, it the power of the mind, then I think that that might be enough to actually to experience, like, a past life. You do need stillness, you do need power to be able to ask that question, allow the answer to come up. And again, this is why, in my retreats, that I encourage people to do this. Even if they don't get their past life, they get early life memories. When you were little child, little baby, when you're at school, sort of things you just cannot remember just ordinarily and most people can actually do that if they can get some early life memories which really shock them because they realize just how meditation works and how past lives memories actually work. They might not get the full thing, but they get enough, close enough, that when you're sort of one year of age, can you remember when you were one? How many people can remember what they were doing when they were one year of age? Simple, okay. But in meditation, you can all can direct, experience, feel what it's like to be a baby. Yeah. What's the use of all these memories? Because it solves a question once and for all whether where you've come from, whether it's such a thing as past lives and future lives and law of karma. So it answers the big religious questions, because these days, is it just one life you're living, or is it many, many lives you can imagine? Just if you could remember many lives and you knew that rebirth or reincarnation was an absolute truth because you know it, you've been there. Just the same way you can know that Paris exists because you've been there. It's not just an idea of fiction if you can remember those things. It actually changes the whole way you live your life. It changes the way you look at morality. If you understand the law of karma, too many people in this life. One of the reasons there's a lot of immorality or like hurting the style, because people think they can get away with it. I can just as long as, you know, I don't get caught. This life now, I can just put all my money in some sort of tax haven or just don't pay and I can be cruel to you and hurt you and cheat you and do all sorts of things to you. Can I get away with it? If I'm clever enough. The point is that over many, many lives, you see, you don't get away with anything in one life. Yeah, you can see people get away, but over many lives? No, no, that doesn't work. You can see that it comes round to them. What goes round comes round over many lives. And also you realize if you realize you're going to another thing, which I always keep on saying, if you realize that sort of all the old people are going to come back again, then you look after the old people. They're a resource of the future because we think that when an old person, they're of no use to society, they're old, why look after them? Just bung them into an old person's home, sort of so. No, just so that's sort of okay, but we don't really care and put any resource we put all resources into kids. They're important, they're our future. But old people are our future as well. And. Is one of the reasons I think that young people today cause so much trouble is because we didn't look after them before when they were old and now they're getting their old back. So in many areas it actually gives us a different way of looking at life and the idea of justice, injustice, revenge and all that sort of stuff. It different way of looking at it. So it has a lot of consequences. Yeah, very good. You're asking the question about time and basically, if I understand your question correctly, you said that time is sometimes very valuable and you should not sort of just think that one can always be just time less. And I think that the question was very true. Most important point or word in that question was sometimes. Sometimes one has to plan for the future. Remember the past, one has to set one's watch. I have to look at the clock to make sure I don't go on too late, otherwise I get told off afterwards. But the point is that if we don't know what timelessness is, then we've got no perspective of this thing which we call time. And when we've got no perspective, we get ruled by time. We get the thing of time is just so important and so absolutely critical to us. When we get other perspectives and going into timelessness provides that other perspective, then we kind back into the time world, we see it in a completely different way. It. So it's just the gaining of perspectives. There's an old simile which I've given many times, but it suits so many different questions. Tadpole. Living in water can never get a perspective of what water is. Can never know what water is and what its purpose is. So anyway, it grows up into a frog and actually leaves the lake or the river for the first time, goes on to dry land. Land. Then it can know what water is. The same when we can leave time, go into timelessness. Only then can we know what time truly is and its purpose and how we can deal with it. It's true, the frog doesn't just always live on the dry land because its food and its family and everything else is in the lake. At least it knows from that time on what water truly is and how to deal with it. So, by getting into timelessness, into silence, where we know what silence is, we know what words are for. It's too often that we are tyrannized by the words, that we are controlled by thinking. It's not that we control the thoughts. The thinking controls us. If we can leave that thinking, go into silence, and go into that very deep stillness, then we know what thoughts are already there for. So, yes, time has a purpose. Yes, thinking has a purpose. The body has a purpose. But until we leave it, we can never know what it truly is for. Does that answer your question? Some of it. Okay. But I think I'll quit while I'm ahead then. Thank you for that very nice question. So thank you for listening.