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Ajahn Brahm: Okay, I did notice there's a few people with sore throats who've got coughing,
so to make it nice and peaceful during the talk can we all cough in unison at the beginning
[laughter] and have it all done away. So communal coughing first of all please.
[many coughs and laughter]
Thank you.
[more laughter]
Okay now be quiet. And of course there is no way to control these things so if you have
to cough just make peace with the coughing and let it happen. But the title of this evening's
talk is going to be on dealing with your emotions. Somebody asked me, a couple of people asked
me for subjects to talk about this evening and I wanted to focus on the big subject of
your emotions and how we deal with them, especially in Buddhism. Because this will cover a couple
of requests which people have given for the Friday night talk. And you may notice that
quite often when I give these talks on a Friday evening I don't really spend too much time
talking about the theory of Buddhism and the intellectual part which is just really the
realm of thought. Of course that's part of Buddhism and you can read about that in books
and sometimes I do go into those more intellectual and ephemeral parts of philosophy of Buddhist
life. But what's more important I've found in practice is this emotional world and how
to deal with life as we face it in our modern age. And especially how we deal with emotions
which have a huge effect upon on our physical and mental wellbeing. And those emotions range
from despair to raw anger to inspiration to love to compassion and all those emotions
are a very important part of our life. And sometimes the theories and intellectual abstractions,
sometimes they don't address the reality of our emotional world.
And I want to talk about that this evening - how we deal you know with those emotions
- how we identify them and make sense out of them and learn to move forward with those
emotions, because I do and also the Buddha identified a distinction between emotions,
there are some things which we do call the negative emotions which are problematical,
there are things such like you know grief, being angry, being afraid, wanting revenge,
having a broken heart. Whatever else those negative emotions are
we realise they do impinge upon our happiness and our success in life, they do hold us back
from progress. So those are the negative emotions and there is many more you can include in
that category. There is also what we call the positive emotions, things like inspiration,
things like compassion. And one of the great positive emotions which too many people often
forget about is a positive emotion of peace. And I put that in the realm of emotions because
that's something that's solid which empowers and motivates you; I'll be talking about that
towards the end of the talk - usually we have to start with negative emotions first of all.
And of course I have to deal with that a lot, people usually come and ring me up, or come
and send me emails or come and talk about their negative emotions. Very rarely do they
come up and say, "Ajahn Brahm, I'm so happy! I'm having a wonderful time! Everything is
going well in my life! I'm just having so much joy!"
They say nooo..I've just broken up with my boyfriend, ah just my husband has run away
with my best friend, I just got the sack from work, I've got cancer, someone has died, that's
what, the stock market has gone down or the Eagles have lost, or whatever it is. People
they're always complaining about the negative part of their life - so that's what you have
to deal with first of all. And even sometimes in my monastery people actually ring me up
for counselling - we call that Dial-a-Monk service [laughter].
But you get so busy sometimes, I made this suggestion to have one of these answering
machine services - you know like you get in these government - like press 1 for something.
Because it has happened that sometimes people sometimes their dog has died or someone says
can you do some chanting for me over the phone. Can you do some Buddhist prayers, they ask
for. I've done that sometimes, in the middle of the night, to the opposite side of the
world - their dog is sick so I've done the chanting over the phone.. sometimes I'm too
compassionate. [laughter]. But.. so I've decided actually to actually, uh, so if you want..we
can record these chants and have them on the recorder so if you want a prayer you can just
press number 1. [laughter]. Why not, that's very easy. And then if you want to speak to
Ajahn Brahm you haven't got a prayer so press number 1 anyway. So that way I get rid of
everybody and have a nice easy time.
But you have to deal with people, and that's only a joke. You have to deal with..it's much
nicer to be accessible to people, even though you're tired, I'd rather be accessible then
be sort-of somehow separated from the people who support you, and feed you, and clothe
you, and look after you and your friends. So even though it's a lot of work I enjoy
doing it. But when you're dealing with people's emotions, sometimes you have to let people
understand, number one, that those emotions are real, they have a place in life, but also
where they come from. Because it's great when you have an emotion in your heart, to find
out why is that there, where did it originate from. Because it's great when you track it
back, you can see how emotions arise, how they build up. I don't know how many of you
have been to movies, but you can actually see that the trick of the movie is to start
with the music. You know the different musics that get your emotions going and just how
even the lighting starts to change. If you want to get people afraid, you turn the lights
down.. and the music is very very soft.. apumbabambumbum bumbumbum.. And it gets people, because actually
your heart beats. When you get excited you heart beat goes at that level. And if the
music or whatever else. the beat gets that, it actually encourages your heart beat to
sort-of get very very very strong. And you can even use your speech to say that..something..is..coming.....and
make people afraaaaaid.. But you can see how emotions can be generated, just in movies
especially by the music by the way that speech is actually said, and also by the lighting.
One of the first times when I saw this, how people can play your emotions is actually
when we started our nun's monastery down in Gingegannup because that was before Sister
Vayama was here, and we were looking for a nice piece of land, we found this nice piece
of land over in Reen Road but it was on auction. And so I went there for the auction, with
- I don't know if he's here this evening - Eddy Fernando was our bidder. But when the auctioneer
started the auction he was very calm, saying about this beautiful block of land, wonderful
place for retreat, lovely forests and the river and then he started mentioning the figures..
And he said, I think this is worth so much, I think we should start for at least a million
dollars. And straight away I thought, "oh no". And then he bids for one million, and
of course no one bid, any bids for five hundred thousand, four hundred, three hundred.. Let's
start two-fifty. Someone put their hand up - two-fifty. And that's when he started - two-fifty
two-fifty, we've got two-seventy-five, two-seventy-five, two-seventy-five, anyone two-seventy-five!
We've got two-seventy-five!! Three-hundred, three-hundred, wawawawawawa..!! [laughter].
And even I was a monk, even I started getting excited. [laughter].
And you can see just how they do this, just the way they speak, they suddenly raise their
voice and started speaking very quickly, and you do get excited. And how emotions can be
generated, when you see how those emotions can be generated, you can actually sometimes
be in power over other people's emotions. Just by acting slowly, and by speaking softly
you can calm people down. One of the first times I saw this and it was very impressive
was the former abbot and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia
Ajahn Jagaro. I was with him when he was a monk just learning his trade in Thailand.
Because we do learn a trade - this is a training which we go through. And we were having our
morning meal when a Thai lady ran into our dining hall. She ran in, and she's obviously
very upset, because they don't usually do this - interfering in a monk's meal. And she
was saying something in Thai, and I actually caught it after a while, she said "Suchin
is dead! Suchin is dead! She shot herself! She's committed suicide!".
And I got really quite excited too because I knew that lady, she had cancer, we've been
going to see her, talking to her, counselling her. She was a close disciple of the monastery.
And that morning she had shot herself, and this was her best friend who found her body.
She came in to the monastery just straight away, completely distraught having found her
best friend committed suicide. You can understand what she felt like. And I understood that,
and I looked to Ajahn Jagaro who was the head monk at that time to see what he would do.
He understood what she'd said and he put his head down and carried on eating. And this
lady - "She shot herself! She killed herself!" - and the monk just carried on eating as if
nothing had happened. And after about one or two minutes she stopped moving her arms
up and down, she stopped shouting, and at that point Ajahn Jagaro put down his spoon,
put aside his bowl, and said "what happened?" I thought it was a beautiful piece of psychological
calming a person's emotions down. Because he was not responding with anxiety to her
great distress, he was just calming her down just by his actions and by his softness, she
too calmed down in the space of one or two minutes. It was the most brilliant counselling
I'd seen for years. He was giving her a sense of perspective about what had happened. So
by having someone who was calm, was not being agitated, she could calm down too and see
the bigger picture. Which is what happens sometimes, when we see this is my boyfriend
that's left me, this is my child that's died, this is my job which someone else has taken,
these are my shares which have just all disappeared, it's my team the Dockers have lost - I'm being
fair because I've mentioned the Eagles first now I'm mentioning the Dockers.
Sometimes that we when lose perspective we can actually get emotionally distraught and
that was a very beautiful way that he dealt with that by calming her down to see a bigger
picture. Not negating her feelings but acknowledging them, but calming them down. Because you see
just how these emotions can get built up, what actually builds them up and how they're
created. I just was at a funeral service this afternoon - and I enjoy taking funerals because
at a funeral service you do have a group of people who are emotionally raw. They've just
lost a close member of their family or their friend and it's, I've seen many many times
just how grief can be created or how that feeling of grief can be calmed down to get
a different emotion coming up. I can actually see that I remember even when my own father
died that obviously I knew my mother so well but when my father died she knew he was going
to die, you know he came very close many times, when he actually did die she was at ease,
at peace with it. It was only when a cousin came in to the house and opened up her arms
to my mother and said, "oh you poor thing", and of course that meant the floodgates of
my mother's tears started coming. And I knew that if that cousin hadn't said that stupid
thing my mother would be much more at peace with the death of her husband and my father.
It was as if that there was a social trigger there, that you've lost your husband that
you must cry, and that was pressed by this cousin when, before that happened she did
not need to go on that path of grief. And I've seen so often that our social conditioning
creates these emotions. And one of the things which I love doing if you're teaching at a
funeral is to actually give people other triggers. Trigger not to actually generate these emotions
in the same old ways, but look at them in a different way. To give different triggers
to different emotions.
And let's look at another sort-of emotion, the emotion of anger. Where does that anger
come from? You know the old story, that someone calls you a pig, I don't know if anyone's
called you a pig today, but now I'm going to call you a pig. And what happens when somebody
calls you a pig? You think - "they have no right to call me a pig! Who does he think
he is to call me a pig!? I am not a pig! He shouldn't call me a pig." And every time you
remember that I've called you a pig, you allow me to call you a pig one more time. Every
time you remember that I'm calling you a pig again. Why do we do such things? Why can't
we just say "he called me a pig" and then forget about it. Instead of allowing us to
trigger that emotion of anger, ill-will whatever else it is. The anger that comes up in you,
you actually you allow it to happen. There is no reason for it at all, you don't have
to follow that path. If you trace anger back, where did you get angry from, you can actually
see a series of irritations which you dwell upon, you think about, and you create the
fire. Anger is like a blaze, like a forest fire, but all forest fires they start just
with a small spark. And even that small spark it starts just with a small little fire in
the twigs or in the leaves. If you catch it quickly it's just so easy to put out.
But a lot of times we don't notice it that easily, until it gets so big, so big it's
a forest fire. Living in the bush, and having experienced major bushfires, I know just how
difficult they are to put out once they are fully alight. It's much better to catch them
earlier. If you can catch these negative emotions earlier, through you mindfulness, through
your awareness, through your mental training, it's not that hard to actually to transcend
emotions such as anger, or fear, or grief. If we really want to, we can train ourselves.
And it's not like a training of willpower, it's always a training of wisdom power, to
see where these things come from, to see their cause, how they're built up and catch them
earlier. Even some of the people who have panic attacks, who get very afraid in certain
situations, sometimes you think the panic or the fear just comes up almost immediately,
but it doesn't, there are signs there.. And trouble is that sometimes we're so busy that
we're not really aware what's going on in our body or in our mind because we're taken
up with the needs of the moment. We don't actually notice how these emotions are getting
built up in us, and how they're being reinforced by unskillful thought patterns.
Even like depression, another negative emotion, we create that. And again through some unskillful
thinking, not being mindful, not actually understanding where these things come from
we build up the negativity, minute by minute, day by day, until in gets so strong and then
we notice it like the huge fire. So what are the ways of understanding these emotions,
especially the negative emotions, is actually to trace back where they come from. If you're
angry, if you're afraid, ask why.
Over in Thailand, the Thais are just so so afraid of ghosts. And there was amazing, that
sometimes like the one thing they were most afraid of was actually being with a newly
dead body. And being a Westerner I wasn't afraid of that at all. I remember once when
I think it was Ajahn Chah's brother that died and was being cremated, I told one of the
monks - I'm just going to go and do some meditation by the corpse. He said "what?!" I said "I'm
going to do some meditation by the..". He said "have a cup of coffee". I thought - that's
really nice. And I couldn't understand why they were giving me all this coffee. And the
reason way they were so impressed that anybody could sit in meditation next to a newly dead
corpse, because they were just so afraid of that. So once I found that out, I always went
to say I'm going to sit by a corpse, and they brought all this nice coffee. [laughter].
A bit of a scam because I wasn't afraid. Maybe it was because at University I was part of
the Psychic Research Society and one of the things we found out was that never ever once
in a hundred years of ghost hunting in UK has a ghost ever harmed anybody. So armed
with that information I had my research - so why be afraid? They can't harm me at all.
And that way I wasn't conditioned through fear. But the Thai people, and there's a few
Thai people here, [laughter], they have grown up with ghost movies.
Ever since they were small they saw these ghosts, huge, like heads with entrails following
behind, and they would do terrible things to people. And because of that, just even
the mention of a ghost.. I remember this story - this poor little novice staying in our monastery
in Thailand. Because it was a cremation monastery that day was the moon day when we would meditate
all night...that poor little novice, we did a funeral that day, and were supposed to meditate
all night... in the hall. Now usually, little novices, they are only about 11-12 years of
age, there is no way they would stay up all night, they would sneak off in the middle
of their night back to their house. We knew they did this, it was breaking the rules,
but they were only small little monks, so we didn't mind. And we've go to be kind..
Not this day. This night, that little novice, he would not leave the hall. [Laughter]. Because
he was just so afraid of the ghost. See even the [Laughter]. Those dogs must have been
reborn in Thailand. Last night. [Laughter]. Great special effects.
Now these, here they go again. [Laughter]. Shut up, dogs! [Laughter].
There, they're going now. Now these ghosts, or rather this little novice, the poor little
novice, stuck in that hall, you know 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock, too scared to go out.
When it got to about 2 o'clock in the morning he just couldn't hold his urine any longer.
He had to go to the toilet. And the trouble is the toilet was about 20 meters outside
the hall. [Some laughter]. In the darkness. So this poor little, you can imagine what
he felt like, he had the pain in his bladder against the fear of that ghost getting him.
So he made a run for it - desperation. He ran and he got to the toilet, locked the door.
He'd only been in that toilet for about a few minutes when he heard the steps. [Laughter].
And it came right to the toilet cubicle he was in and started scratching. Can you get
a scratch..? [Scratches tissue box]. I tried to get some special effects.. for the tape
[Laughter]. A scratch at the door..and this poor little novice didn't come out of that
toilet cubicle for about 3 hours. [Laughter]. And when he came out he was telling us - the
ghost came to get him! The ghost! And he heard it, he heard it scratching. Another monk saw
that ghost.. You know what it was? It was a civet cat. Like a possum. Those of you who've
been to Asia know they've got squat toilets. The toilets are actually on the floor, and
that little possum, civet cat, every evening he would go into that toilet cubicle to get
some water to drink from the toilet bowl. That was his drinking place. And so that evening
all that happened was this little possum walked to that toilet and was scratching the door
- "please let me in, I'm thirsty". [Laughter].
But that little novice [laughs], he was a ghost coming to get me! And you can actually
see how because of wrong thinking, and because there was a funeral that day, thinking all
day, thinking all evening, and what was just a little jungle cat, just coming for a drink,
he thought it was a ghost and he was in that toilet for about 3 or 4 hours - poor little
novice. Now what about you? What do you get afraid of? And are you any more intelligent
than a small little novice. Why is it that these emotions they catch us. And why is it?
Because we don't see them coming, we encourage them too much. Every time we think negatively,
"oh, the ghost is going to come to us" or we think negatively "I'm going to lose my
job" or we think negatively "I'm going to get that cancer. I'm going to get it. I know
I'm going to get it. Now I'm fine but I am." When you think negatively like that you're
building up the emotions, the emotions you get are built up by many many moments of unskillful
attitudes and thoughts.
But now we have them. So once you know where they come from you know they're actually created.
At least if you know that you create them, you actually bring them together, even like
grief.. Why do you have to have grief when somebody dies? Why can't we just celebrate
that fact that we've known these people for such a long time. What a wonderful time we
had together. Now we just let them go. You never cry for the person who's died, you always
cry for yourself. At your loss - nothing to do with them..
So when we understand that we can do something about these things it gives us a possibility
to actually to transcend those negative emotions. Because when you think about it, reflect upon
it, what good does grief do? It doesn't help the person who's dead. It doesn't help yourself.
It's not what the dead person really wants from you - they don't want you to be unhappy
and to cry all those hours and days. If someone really loved you and you loved them, they
want you to be happy, to live your life in as much fullness and joy as you possibly can.
If you really revere their memory surely that's what you should do. Not to grieve for them
but to be happy for them. For you to be happy, for them.
So when we can change our attitudes that way, when we can actually do something about our
grief, or like our anger - what good does anger do? Every time you get angry at your
partner they don't do what you want them to do, they don't get better - they usually get
worse! So why get angry and shout at them for? It just doesn't solve the problem and
doesn't actually fulfill its promises. And just was it in January, when I was going off
to Indonesia to give a series of talks I got to Perth airport and found that the Garuda
flight was cancelled. It was actually delayed by about 18 hours. And I was a monk so I just
went up to the counter and said, "Oh is it delayed? When is it going to leave? 18 hours.
Okay, thank you very much," and I sort-of called the monastery and got a lift back to
the monastery. But the people behind me they were thumping the counter - "You can't do
this to us! I've got all of these arrangements and plans!" I had arrangements and plans as
well - thousands of people were waiting to listen to my talks. But I couldn't do anything
about it. And you know all that anger and all that thumping and all that shouting..
it didn't make the plane leave earlier. It didn't do anything good at all except making
people upset. Themselves upset, and other people upset. So really what is the use of
anger? You can intimidate somebody for a short time but they will always want revenge. They
won't respect you. And if you're a boss they'll only do what you want, they'll only do what
you want for the time being, only because you're there. They won't do what you've asked
them out of respect. Just out of fear. And that's no way to have any sort of relationship
or any sort of business. Really anger doesn't make any sense to me.
So anger and fear and grief and depression these are negative emotions. So first of all
when these happen what should we do about them?
There's something in Buddhism called the second factor of the eightfold path. The eightfold
path is a way to happiness to enlightenment and the second factor is one of my favourite
factors of that path. It's called right intention or right attitude. And I love that because
it is an attitude which we have to everything we deal with in life. Whether it's the physical
world or the emotional world. The path to enlightenment hinges on our attitude to things.
So if you have depression or anger or grief, what should one's reaction be? And the three
parts of right attitude in Buddhism - second factor of the eightfold path - is letting
go, kindness and gentleness. The three factors. The letting go one is the hardest one for
people to understand because they don't know what they're supposed to let go off. It's
not letting go of the grief, it's letting go of the person that doesn't want the grief.
It's letting go of the controlling. Because sometimes when people have grief, disappointment,
broken heart, anger, fear, when we try and do letting go we think letting go means destroying
those emotions. That's disrespect to those emotions. Instead, we let go of that person
inside who's trying to do something about this, the controller, the one who says "I
don't want these emotions, I have to get rid of them". That's the thing we have to let
go of. The control-freak. So if you have those emotions inside of you and you try to suppress
them, get rid of them, destroy them, of course what happens - they get worse.
If you're fed up and you say "I shouldn't be fed up", that's what we call being fed
up about being fed up. [laughter]. We have something called suffering - the word for
suffering in Buddhism is dukkha. We call such things double-dukkha. It's like I'm angry
- "I shouldn't be angry! I'm a monk!". You're getting angry at being angry. You're depressed,
and I'm fed up with being.., I don't want to be depressed anymore! You're being depressed
about being depressed! Or you're afraid of fear. Those are called double-dukkha. Double-suffering.
And of course from double-suffering we go into the next stage of treble-suffering. [laughter].
I'm angry about being angry about being angry. I'm so sad about being sad about being grieving.
Now this is actually what people do. They actually build it up by their reactions of
trying to get rid of things, controlling things. The first part of the Buddhist reaction, the
wise reaction, is just accept this is your reality. Let it go, let it be if you like.
So stop messing around with these emotions in this moment, stop adding negativity to
the emotions you're experiencing right now. If someone is grieving for the loss of a child,
or they're disappointed because a relationship they cherished is no longer viable, or if
they're afraid - be honest to that fear. It's just part of life. It's just your reality
at this moment, don't take it personally, as an affront to your arrogant idea of who
you think you are. When you accept it, you start to undermine it. It's a wonderful thing
to know that when you're at peace with fear, fear dissipates. When you're not angry at
anger, the anger just loses its power source, it just dissipates. When you're just at peace
or accept the grief, the grief doesn't last very long. It's when we try and control these
things and get rid of them that we're actually feeding them.
So we let go of this controller. We're kind to our emotions, even our negative emotions.
So when you have, you know a negative emotion, you're disappointed, you're fed up, look at
those emotions like beings in this world, be compassionate to the beings which exist
in your mental landscape. And we should never be cruel, we should be gentle to ourselves
and allow these things to be.. Because too often we do violence to our emotional world,
and because we do violence to our emotional world, it's against the gentleness of this
second factor of the eightfold path. Because we do violence to that world - "I shouldn't
be afraid! I shouldn't be grieving! I shouldn't be angry!" you can see that that makes more
negative emotions for your future. Basically we call this the Law of Kamma. The emotions
you have now have been generated by what you've done in the past. But they're there - you
can't undo the past. You're stuck with this, the results of your past kamma. I don't mean
past life - I mean what you've been doing today, it's created this moment you're feeling
now. But now what are we going to do about this. It's the kamma we do in the moment which
is most important and if we face this moment, maybe a moment of grief, it may be a moment
of fear, it may be a moment of sadness, a moment of anger, we can face this moment and
say "This is a result of past kamma, what am I doing about this now? I'm going to make
good kamma with this feeling. I'm going to let go of trying to control it. I'm going
to be kind to it. I'm going to be gentle with it. I'm going to respect it. Allowing it like
every other being in this universe to be - they have a reason to be here. I'm going to allow
them to be and accept them and be at peace with them."
When you can make peace and be kind to the emotions you're experiencing in the moment,
a wonderful thing happens - the emotional pain loses its sting, and the tightness of
that emotional knot starts to unravel. Whether it's a broken heart, or whether it's grief
over the loss of a child, when you really let it be, we call it healing. We call it
sort-of fixing up the problem. We call it moving on. We call it just growth out of that
sort-of dark part of the heart.
Things change. But when you fight those emotions, when you think they shouldn't be there, when
you're not kind to them, when you try and get involved with it, you always mess up.
So this is actually using this Law of Kamma, these things are because of the past, what
am I doing about it now? And that way you can actually take these negative emotions
and they start to disappear. They don't last all that long.
There's a story - a wonderful story - in my book and the reason I mentioned it this afternoon
at the funeral, the reason I mentioned it because I got a letter from United States
last week and somebody had listened to the talks on the internet, they read my book "Opening
the Door of Your Heart", and there's a story in there about the emperor's ring, "this too
will pass", that story, if you haven't heard it before, it's a powerful story, about an
emperor, a young man who took over the kingdom when he wasn't really mature enough to know
how to lead. And so whenever things were going well in his kingdom he'd always have celebrations
and parties. And because he was spending too much resources and too much time celebrating,
and not actually doing the running of the kingdom, the good times never lasted all that
long. And when the terrible times, the bad times, bad economy, unrest, social disorder,
whenever there was trouble in his kingdom he'd get so upset and depressed he'd stay
in his room and sulk and cry, which meant he wasn't working during the difficult times.
And the ministers they realised that their leader, their king, their emperor, wasn't
really working properly, and that's the reason why there were too many bad times and not
enough prosperous times. You can't just tell these people what to do. Even these ministers
in the Howard Government, they can't tell John Howard what to do. They've got to be
sneaky, they've got to be wise, and so what these ministers did, instead of telling their
emperor what to do, they just went to a goldsmith, asked for him to make a ring, the only difference
between that ring and ordinary rings was what was engraved on the outside, which was the
words "this too will pass". And they gave that ring with the engraved
words "this too will pass" to the emperor, told him to wear it on all occasions, that's
all, and the emperor did. Whenever there were bad times he would look upon the ring, "this
too will pass", he knew by nature he didn't have to force those negative emotions and
those bad times out of his kingdom, he knew they would pass naturally. And because he
knew the bad times would pass, it gave him what's called hope, and when there's hope
we can work, where it's hopeless we think the grief is going to last forever, the broken
heart was always going to be there, you'll never find another partner ever in life.
Or you'll never find that money again on the stock market, or whatever it is your chance
to win the cup is gone forever. When you think it's forever that just makes life hopeless
and you don't work. You don't make kamma anymore. But when actually you have hope, there's always
something you can do. It gives you that motivation to work even in difficult times of your life.
And actually the reason I'm saying this was because the photograph someone sent me was
actually from the graduation ceremony of Virginia Tech university, recently, and I think you
all know what happened at Virginia Tech in April, I was in London at that time. I think
it was 39 young men and women were shot down by that murderer? You know, while they were
on campus. And at the graduation ceremony one of the graduates, you know the funny hats
they wear, they're called mortarboards, with the flat top, on the top of his mortarboard
he'd actually painted the words "this too will pass", in memoriam of the pain that had
happened in that university in the biggest serial killer murder in United States history.
That's why he said "I don't know whether this guy's read your book or what", by he's obviously
got the message. And it is a powerful message because it gives you hope, it allows you to
let these things pass away. So "this too will pass". The other part of
that story, which is very valuable to consider, is that that emperor wore that ring not just
in difficult times but also in the happy times as well. Because it's in the prosperous, happy,
good times that we should always remember, "this too will pass". Because he knew that
the happy prosperous times were also fragile, he had a few celebrations but not many, because
he knew he had to work hard to make sure those prosperous happy good times lasted as long
as they possibly can. And they did. He became a very successful and well-loved emperor because
the bad times were very short and the happy long times were longer than anybody could
ever remember. And of course you know who that emperor really
is - it's you. And your empire is your life, your body, your family, your environment.
When we have these negative emotions what we're actually saying, we're sulking, we're
forgetting, "this too will pass". But also when you have the positive emotions, when
you have happiness and joy and inspiration, please never take them for granted. They also
need to be guarded, and cherished and nurtured, otherwise they go too quickly. So when we
have our positive emotions, when things are going well, be careful, don't get heedless
and think "Oh my life is going well now, I'm healthy therefore I don't need to exercise
anymore, I have a wonderful relationship now so I don't need to put effort into caring
for my partner, I have a wonderful Buddhist Society now, so I don't need to put donations
in the donations box anymore [laughter]".
You've got to keep caring, otherwise the whole thing sort-of falls apart! "I'm happy, therefore
I don't need to put effort into my happiness anymore." Be careful there because all these
positive emotions, they're fragile, you know where they're caused from. If you have the
happy emotions well done, if you feel well, you're happy, you have these beautiful inspirations
of kindness and generosity, now how does that feel? The positive emotions are great. They
need to be cultivated. Where do they come from? Just like the negative emotions, when
you're happy, where does it come from? You can actually see the positive thoughts get
more and more and more, like in the movies, when they have a romance. In a romance movie,
it's years seen I've seen these movies, but I'm sure they haven't changed, they don't
fall in love at the very beginning and get married. That happens at the very end of the
movie. It all builds up to this. So the whole movie is building up to the suggestion that
these two people are going to meet and be happy and all their problems are going to
be solved. And that thought is been on your mind again and again and again for about an
hour, an hour and a half, so when they do meet, "oh at last they've met!", you get emotional,
you start crying, "oh isn't it wonderful", because that emotion has been built over the
whole course of the movie. And once you understand where these positive emotions come from, you
can actually start building them up inside of you.
One of the things which I teach my monks, teach nuns, teach yourself as well - negative
emotions they come basically from what we call the fault-finding mind. You always see
what's wrong in other people, you see what's wrong in yourself, what's wrong in the monks,
what's wrong in the Buddhist Society, what's wrong in the government, what's wrong in the
whole world! And that gives a lot of negative emotions. Why don't we look at the other side
- not the fault-finding mind, but what we call the gratitude mind. When we see the beautiful
in our Buddhist Society, you see the beauty in your partner, you see the beauty in yourself,
you see the beauty in our wonderful Prime Minister Mr Howard [laughter]. What are you
laughing for, you cynical group? [laughter]. You can see the beauty in these things! And
jee, I mean I wouldn't like to be a Prime Minister. Would you? It's a very difficult
job. So when you start to see the positive parts in these people, you're actually generating
the positive emotions such as respect. How many people actually have respect for their
parents, for their partners, for the people in authority? Why do we disrespect our systems?
Because we've been cultivating those fault-finding negative thoughts in our media, in our newspapers,
in our conversations. No wonder we have a lack of disrespect. You know if you ask people
in other countries they look at Australia - "This is a beautiful land. It's pretty well
governed. It could be better but could certainly be a lot worse!" So why don't we have respect
for our institutions, why are we so negative? You know if we're so negative with our institutions,
we get very negative towards our partners. Why is it that in our modern life people have
such a hard time finding a life partner, keeping them, sticking with them? Because they always
find fault with each other. And why do people always have lack of self-esteem, getting depression,
because they start finding fault with themselves as well. I'm not good enough. They're not
good enough. Life's not good enough. Be careful because that path leads to big depression.
We're actually building up those negative emotions and instead we can build up the positive
emotions. We deliberately look for something in our partner we can respect and love and
care for. We deliberately look in something in ourselves which we can love and care, respect.
We deliberately look for something in life which we care about, we love and got passion
for. And that way, by focusing on that, we're building up, generating, the positive emotions
of life. And when you start to learn how you can generate those positive emotions, the
path becomes clear just how you can have a sort of control of this emotional world of
yours. You're not just like a rudderless ship, always going through these storms and these
calms of the ocean of your emotions, but you can actually have some guidance there, you
can generate beautiful emotions. That's basically just what our whole path of Buddhism is. Letting
go of the negative emotions and generating the positive ones. Compassion is a positive
emotion. It's not just something you talk about, and just throw that word out "compassion".
Yeah, we all know we should be compassionate. And I'm sure at the Dalai Lama's talk everyone's
saying "yeah we should all be compassionate". But then afterwards when somebody cut in front
of them in the traffic jam - "You stupid..! You shouldn't do this!". We have to actually
act compassionately, be compassionate, generate this positive emotion. This is actually how
we do this, you know, through our mindfulness, and our care and our understanding of life,
we realise that whatever we're faced with in life, that's result of old kamma, what's
the kamma we're doing now? By generating this beautiful allowing this moment to be, respecting
this moment, but being kind to it, being gentle, we are actually developing these positive
wonderful emotions, of respect, of gratitude, allowing things to be, compassion, even inspiration.
What a beautiful emotion inspiration is. When somebody says something or does something
and it just raises your heart and gives you happiness for hours sometimes days sometimes
years. These are the emotions we should be developing. Imagine if we were a nation, a
world, which ran more on inspiration rather than its opposite, desperation. Inspiration,
it uplifts us and gives us energy, because the positive emotions empower you to do something
really worthwhile in this world. The negative emotions - anger, fear, depression, grief,
what does that do - that immobilises you. Anger sometimes gives you some energy, but
it usually just wears you out after a while. You can't do anything in this world - you
can't do things. The positive emotions give you power, and open the path to achievement,
achieving something really worthwhile in this world. Things like love, compassion, they're
not something which is your birthright. You develop these, you train for these things.
Just like an Olympic athlete, you train and train and train, by guarding your mind, changing
the outlook, making good kamma, mental kamma, with whatever you have to deal with in life.
Allow it to be. Be kind, be gentle. When you create this beautiful kindness and gentleness,
this wisdom this compassion grows and grows in you. This is not just in your life.
Even in that book which I wrote, "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond", I made an important point
even in meditation. Successful meditators are those who have an understanding of their
emotional world, because even the path of meditation is an emotional path. Very early
on you have to suspend your intellectual thinking and feel your way through the path of peace.
To allow that peace to develop into the amazing emotions which sometimes you get in deep meditation.
There's so much joy and happiness, and why does that come from? Because you're grateful
just to be in this moment, no fault-finding, so gentle to every breath, to every mind-moment
- so accepting. And that builds up. The most powerful emotion which I know, the inspiration
of peace in deep meditation, and that has moved me to tears. I've cried many times as
a monk. But not out of grief, or out of anger, or out of frustration. Just cried out of pure
inspiration, beauty, joy, delight, either in seeing amazing inspiring feats of others
or just seeing the beauty and peace in your own heart. This is actually what happens and
why I've often said that it's the females in general do better in deep meditation. Simply
because they have more familiarity, in general I'm saying, because there are many exceptions
- and you're probably one of them [laughter].
But I've noticed that because you do need that emotional sensitivity to be able to allow
these positive emotions to grow, to be able to develop them in the first place. Deep meditation
is a powerful emotional state. It's not a blanking out. It's not an intellectual state.
It's what you feel - deeply. The whole point of mindfulness is being deeper where you already
are - feeling it, being it. Not with thought, with this mindfulness which can accept the
power of a still mind. Those forces get very very strong. I'd say the highest emotion I've
ever felt are the emotions in deep meditation. So still but incredibly powerful. They move
you to become monk, they move you to stay as a monk, they move you to teach, they empower
you. So these are the very highest emotions. So in Buddhism we're not saying you should
be this emotionless zombie, like a robot, because that's what sometimes people think.
They think when you meditate you can't get any rise out of you, you're not supposed to
tell jokes, or laugh at jokes, you're supposed to be like this automaton who doesn't feel
because you're supposed to have no craving, no emotions, no attachment, you're never unhappy,
you're never happy, you're sometimes in this middle just like.. If that was the case I
would never be a monk. We start the path with the corners of our mouth turned downwards,
in the middle part of the path the corners of our mouth are horizontal, as the path develops
those corners go higher and higher and higher [laughs]. It's great seeing these enlightened
masters in places like Thailand - and they're the happiest people who would really laugh.
That told me something, that the goal of this is not being emotionally dead. The goal of
this path is having those negative emotions transcended and replaced by this beautiful
inspiring peaceful kind compassionate empathetic emotions. Caused by letting go of control.
Caused by kindness. Caused by the great gentleness of respect to every moment.
That way whatever's happening to you in your life, the negative emotions, make peace with
them, they're going to pass, they're part of things. You might not know it at the time
but I call them growing pains. Your heart is growing when it's crying, when it's hurt
- it's part of things, so allow it to be. Be with it and you'll find out why it was
there for you, what it's teaching was. When somebody dies it tells you the value of life.
When you break up with someone you love it tells you how valuable relationships are.
When you get disappointed it tells you just how your expectations were far far too unreal.
When somebody dies, it shows that your time here is not that long, so I must make better
use of it. All of these so-called negative experiences they're all teachers, so we should
never reject them. Allow them to come intro our heart. Make good kamma with the bad kamma
you're experiencing now. That way we grow and those positive emotions become stronger
and stronger inside of us. We become beacons to the world, people who don't get afraid,
don't get angry, who don't have grief. But have lots of kindness, lots of joy, huge amounts
of peace. Positive emotions grow at the expense of the negative ones. They grow and grow and
grow. This is actually the path. What a wonderful thing it is to cherish and nurture these beautiful
positive emotions of life. Understand where they come from, nurture them, grow them, the
negative ones become less and less a part of your repertoire. You don't get angry, you
get very kind. You don't get depressed, you just get wonderfully inspired. You don't get
so fault-finding, you'd be grateful in the smallest of things, even in... I shouldn't
say that, I was going to say a small John Howard. The smallest of things.. [laughter].
I shouldn't give him a hard time, he's not a bad guy. And that way we can have a happier
life and we can understand the role of emotions in life, how to deal with them, how embrace
them, how to generate the positive ones and have a happy time. So may you all have a happy
time by developing the positive emotions, understanding the negative ones, and understanding
how this all works. So that's the talk for this evening, thank you very much for listening.
Audience: Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu
Ajahn Brahm: Okay as usual, are there any questions or comments about the talk this
evening on emotions?
Yeah, okay.
Man 1: ...[difficult to hear] (if we point one finger at someone, three point back at
Ajahn Brahm: Yeah, you're talking about that one. That's the old story. See three, you
don't know what the thumb is doing, but one's pointed that way.
Man 1: [difficult to hear]
Ajahn Brahm: Yes that's right, so if you criticise somebody else.. This was actually a saying
of the Emperor Ashoka. Who was a Buddhist, was it it 200 years before the birth of...about
22 hundred years ago or something. And he wrote in stone, we know what he said because
those stone monuments are still there. Usually in museums now, some are in their original
place. He said this wonderful thing that anybody who criticises another person's religion thereby
criticises his own faith. That's a wonderful thing to say 22 hundred years ago, what a
beautiful way of tolerance. You criticise somebody else's religion, then you're showing
that your own faith is not really up to scratch. It's not just religion - if you criticise
somebody else then you're showing your own understanding of life is lacking. How can
you criticise others? How much do you know about them, why they did that? How many times
have you been criticised - unfairly? So why do you go criticising others? Give them the
benefit of the doubt. And you have a happy life. And there's much doubt to give people
the benefit of.. [laughter] Okay thank you for that Eddy.
We've got a question there, and then over there, yes
Man 2 [hard to hear]: Your Holiness, I was intrigued by your labelling of grief as a
negative emotion. The way I see it negative emotions are destructive. Now when my mother
died and I had grief, it wasn't a negative emotion. Out of my grief came hope and inspiration,
determination and respect and all those things you talked about. And when a loved one dies
and we have grief, I think, I put it to you that we have grief because we have a connection,
it's the spirit connection within us - it's that God part in us that connects with the
God part of that other person. So therefore it's the passing of the spirit. That when
we have grief over death it's about the passing of that spirit which we accept. So I put it
to you that grief is not a negative emotion but it's intrinsic in the emotion of love
because out of love comes joy and peace and patience and kindness, gentleness, prayerfulness,
goodness and understanding and self-control. Now, in close, if you made a comment I'd appreciate
But I've noticed that you've mentioned John Howard, now I respect John Howard because
firstly as a father, he's been a great father, I'm a father, and secondly he's been a magnificent
leader to this nation for a long period of time, so I think we should respect him for
who he is.
Ajahn Brahm: I agree with you with respect yes. Okay, it's a long question there and
usually I try to repeat this for the tape but that was too long a question to repeat
it for and wouldn't actually catch it but the first thing, I'm just going to do this
in brief. The main question was about - is grief intrinsic to love? And I certainly thought
that way when I was very young, but I know that I never had grief when my father died
but I loved him very dearly. I couldn't understand why that was, and only later on when I went
to Buddhist countries and spent nine years in the north-east of Thailand which unlike
Sri Lanka had not been, I would say influenced by "Western" civilisation. The West had never
got to Thailand, or rather they never had colonised it. And so it was, what I could
actually possibly call a pure Buddhist culture there. And in the nine years I was there I
never saw grief.
And this was living in a village very close to those people, we were part of the family,
and many times I saw people die. The funerals were held in our monastery. I never saw tears.
It wasn't part of their repertoire. That proved to me was that grief is not intrinsic in the
human condition. There was a culture which didn't have it. And it wasn't just the funerals.
You'd see them afterwards, the next day, weeks, months, they were part of your family, the
extended family of a monastery embedded in a couple of villages in the north-east of
Thailand. And those people loved each other, but there is a another type of love, which
is a love which will let go.. Which will let a person go into a death. So grief is, and
we're not saying that grief is wrong or bad. We're saying that it's a negative emotion
because it does, and I've seen it many times, actually stop a person's growth for weeks,
for years. You're disabled for the time that you're grieving, until there usually comes
a time when you transcend that, you go through it, past it. And the quicker that happens,
the better.. I would say. And certainly if you look in the Buddhist
texts the grief was never encouraged by the Buddha. He would always actually say that
the wise person is beyond that grief, could understand the nature of life and death, and
in that understanding could let that nature be. And never fight battles which you can't
win. There's a famous Buddhist story, it's in the Dhammapada, I'll just go on with this,
it's a man who cried for the moon. A man who lost his only son, and would go to the cremation
ground every evening to cry and cry and cry, and his family let him cry for a while. But
when he was crying overmuch they wanted to find some way of overcoming his grief which
was going on far too long, ruining his health and his business as I've seen happen. They
hired an actor and the actor went to the cremation ground also, and the actor was crying more
than the father who'd lost his son. When they met together, these two men crying their eyes
out, the actor crying more, the actor asked, "what are you crying for?" He said, "I've
lost my son. He's dead..". "What are you crying for," said the father to the actor. "I'm crying
for the moon". "What do you mean, crying for the moon?" "It's my birthday last week, and
my father asked me - what do you want? And I said I want the moon please. And my father
wouldn't get it for me, and I'm so upset.. I'm crying for the moon." And the father said,
"You're stupid. You're crazy! Why are you crying for? No-one can give you the moon!"
"You call me crazy," said the actor, "You're crying for your dead son. At least you can
see the moon! Where is your dead son?" [laughter].
And at that, this is a story, an old story, in the Buddhist texts, at that, the man realised
what he was doing, he was crying for something you can never get. Grieving for something
which you can't change. And that was enough for him to stop his grief, go back to work,
and move on with his life. The story of the man who cried for the moon, in the Dhammapada.
But as for John Howard, yeah we respect him, but we crack jokes about him. People crack
jokes about everybody in Australia. It's our nation. You crack jokes about me, maybe not
in public but I'm sure you do when you go home. [Laughter]
Okay so thank you. Do you mind if we don't ask your question Derrick, because we've gone
over time. So maybe can we.. sorry, no announcements, so the announcement is - there is no announcements
tonight! [Laughter]. So if you've got any other questions or you'd like to discuss that
matter with me afterwards sir, please come up after the talk is finished.


情緒處理 (Dealing With The Emotion by Ajahn Brahm)

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Hhart Budha 發佈於 2014 年 6 月 13 日
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