The truth is not something found in a book or passed on from someone else, but is something that is found within one’s own experience. But the deeper truth is not found in thoughts, but rather in silence. This teaching by Ajahn Brahm is about how to find one’s own way into silence and to seeing the truth directly for oneself. In short: how to stop doing things and to invest our energy into just knowing.
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 25th July 2003. It has now been remastered and published by the Everyday Dhamma Network, and will be of interest to his many fans.
These talks by Ajahn Brahm have been recorded and made available for free distribution by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia under the Creative Commons licence. You can support the Buddhist Society of Western Australia by pledging your support via their Patreon page.
How To Stop –
[Robot generated transcription – expect errors!]
As many of you know that this evening will be the the Last Talk, which I give here for a couple of months as concentrate more on my monastery at Serpentine. This year, there’s 33 people there 32, as well as myself, needed to be taught, instructed to help with their meditation. So that’s what I’ll be doing the next couple of months. So the Last Talk, which I’m going to be giving here for a couple of months, make it a nice deep one, how to not need to come here ever again, because I keep telling people that the job of a teacher is to get rid of disciples. I must be doing a very, very bad job because people keep coming. Every week you say to go and get rid of disciples. In other words, to try and get people independent so they know themselves, or rather, as all teachers understand these days, that the job of a teacher is to instruct the students how to access knowledge so they can become independent. People who can find out the answers for themselves, they don’t need to come to school. So that’s a job of a teacher, how to find out truths in your life. Because people always sending emails, asking questions, ringing up, asking questions, coming before the talk, after the talk, asking questions. I’m not doing my job because really I should be teaching and instructing how you can find out those questions, the answers, those questions all by yourself, how to gain truth, how to gain insight, how to gain knowledge. So this evening’s talk will be on that subject, on the path to truth. We call it truth because it’s something which is undeniably correct. But some of the problems with truth is that so much is presented in the world as truth and how can we select between what’s really correct and what’s wrong? And this is why the world is confusing with many different philosophies and religions, but more than that, many different ideas on what’s right and what’s wrong. We got to cut through all of those. In other words, put them all aside, bud
hism included, and your own ideas included, to be able to find what we call truth. Because truth is not something which you’ve heard from somebody else. It’s not what you’ve read in somewhere else. Truth, as everyone should know, is only to be found in your heart, in your mind, in your experience. But more than that, the truth is always found in silence, never in thought. When we think, we think around the subject. The mind is moving too much to really know what’s going on. There’s one of the great things in Buddhism that we have this path of meditation which is learning how to stop the mind moving in thought so it can actually see in stillness. It’s in that knowing where one comes closest to the truth. If you observe the process of thought which deceives many people, the process of thought is never pure and by saying it’s never pure is. We think old thoughts is conditioned from our past. We think in ruts in old ways. We think according to paradigms ideas which we have already fixed and our thoughts are supposed to fulfill all those views and ideas. To give that example, a Christian thinks in the way a Christian would think conditioned by their beliefs and so could a Buddhist as well. To think in terms of Buddhist ideas. An atheist thinks in atheist ways. We’re all conditioned just to think in ways which fulfill what we expect. In psychology we always know this as just seeing what we want to see and being in denial to what we don’t like. I was just reading in an article to somebody led me just last week. They did a survey of people asking whether they were above average intelligence or not. 98% of people believe they were above average intelligence. We showed that 50% of those people in denial about their stupidity. So you here. Do you think you’re above average intelligence or not? I’m sure that everyone here will say, yes, I’m above average intelligence. And actually, you are correct it’s. Those 50% are watching the football match tonight. Subiaco Oval. They’re the ones blind. I got caught in a traffic jam going past there today. So what we’re actually saying is that we all think in ways which are obviously not truthful, not right, they’re not correct. But we believe those thoughts. And this is our problem. Always saying there’s an example of our thoughts are untrustworthy. I hate you is a thought which we cannot trust. But because we trust that thought, we can go to war with our ex or countries can go to war with sort of their enemies. You can see just how this thinking, when we trust it so much, can create so much problems for us in our life. Imagine if you didn’t trust the thoughts which run through your head. You saw somebody do something, maybe your husband, your wife. You thought about that. You say, I’m not going to trust this thought of anger. I’m not going to trust this thought of ill will. I’m not even going to trust this thought, oh, I love you. The best person in the world. Each of those thoughts you can see is manufactured from conditioning. You think what you want to think. You don’t think what you don’t like to think. These thoughts are conditioned. There’s many experiments have been done about the way that we use thinking, and the way that thinking is, again, what we expect to see, but not what is really true. Some years ago, those of you who have heard this before, you can actually please keep a little bit quiet. Because some years ago in this hall here, I made a confession. I made a confession because at that particular time, there were many monks, budhist monks, especially in Thailand, who were involved in scandals then sexual scandals. And I decided to make a confession in front of everybody. I told people in all humility that once, when I was young, I spent some of the most happiest hours of my life in the arms of another man’s wife. I did that in the arms of another man’s wife. Spent some of the happiest hours of my life when I first said that, people were shocked. I almost saw a few people going out the door saying, oh, no, not Ajam Brahm as well. Until I explained what I really meant. That that woman, another man’s wife, in whose arms I spent many of the happiest hours of my life, was my mother when I was a baby. Make him think of it. When I was young, I spent some of the happiest hours of my life in the arms of another man’s wife. So did all you as well. It was my mum. Now, the point is, I’m not quite sure how many of you remember that story, but those who did remember that story, you think, oh, my God, that’s adultery. He’s supposed to be a monk. He’s supposed to be an upstanding example. He’s supposed to be teaching us what’s he done. You can see how thought can be deceptive. Which is why I tell that story, how we can jump to conclusions which seem reasonable and rational. Yeah, he spent some loving moments in the arms of another man’s wife. But we don’t realize that there can be another way of looking at it. This is a problem with truth so much that we can jump to conclusions. Not just about what I just said. We can jump to conclusions about our partner, we can even jump to conclusions about ourself, our life, truth, everything. Which is why it is so difficult to see truth in our lives, to be able to actually to see that truth is as if we have to put aside all the old ways we usually look at life, the old conditionings, the old ways we’ve been taught. It’s amazing just how much we’ve been brainwashed into thinking certain things. I remember as a young man, the first time I took alcohol, I was about 14 years of age, sneaking into a pub, pretending I was 18 and drinking a beer with my friend. It was very exciting, but very wrong. But the person the thing which I always remember was as soon as I took this British beer, I couldn’t believe how disgusting it tasted. It was terrible stuff. And I couldn’t understand why people made such a fuss and bother about going to the pub and having a glass of beer, why people spent so much time there, why there was more pubs in London than there were churches. In fact, every time I’ve gone back to visit now, my old places where I grew up, in West London, I see many of the churches disappeared. But I never see the pubs disappear. They never get sort of sold off. They get busier and busier and more built all the time. What’s the big deal? I was thinking about beer being tasty because it tasted awful. That was the truth of it. But what I noticed over the next three months, six months, year or whatever, two years, three years, the beer started to be tasty. I started to like it and I started getting caught up like everyone else in going out to parties, going out to the pub and drinking the stuff. What was happening that I was reconditioning myself to like something because I was told to like it. The whole society, the whole condition was saying, this is fun, and I was buying into it. I’d actually bend the truth to fit in. It’s called conditioning. And I was bending the truth afterwards to think that when you go and have a party and you go and get drunk oh, what a great night we had. Oh, what a great piss up that was last night. Oh, yeah. I got stone drunk. AHA, yeah, great. And it took a while, actually, because I started getting interested in meditation and budhism. You were told to be truthful, and what that truthfulness meant was being reflective, using mindfulness and asking the toughest of questions and challenging no sacred cows at all. Nothing should be taken on face value just because the Buddha said it, just because your parents said it, just because the teacher said it, just because you believed it, that didn’t make it true. It. You had to pull all that aside and actually look and see whether it was true or not to go according to your experience. But it had to be mindful, clear experience and this became my path in life. When you started looking clearly at what you were doing in life, you weren’t following what other people were telling you. You were getting all that information, all that wisdom from your own experience. It became so clear to me that, say, drinking alcohol was a complete waste of time. It was expensive, it didn’t really make you happy and you could actually have more happiness without the stuff. I still used to go to those parties and had even more fun and all. So I remembered that fun afterwards. I remembered exactly what I was doing when I woke up in the morning I was fresh. What a wonderful way it was. Example of how to Live a Life I went against the stream I went against what was expected of me. I went against what it was expecting of a student. Even drugs as well. You saw. What do you want to do that for? You could get high. You can get happy without the stuff. In fact, you can get more happy. And this was not because I was being some sort of puritan Buddhist. It wasn’t because I was trying to prove anything except proving truth itself. Experimenting, testing out, and seeing whether it was right or not. These were my experiences. And this was actually the path of actually finding out truth. So much of what people do is following fashions, following what’s expected of you, living up to some expectation of your partner, your parents, your teachers, your friends, your religion, or living up the expectations of your atheism, of your rebelliousness. We always attempted to just not be ourselves, but to accept roles and to play up to those roles, be actors. Never really be free human beings. And after a while, we realize just how acting a role, living up to other people’s expectations or our own expectations, puts us in this terrible prison we call life. What’s expected of you? What do you have to do? What do you have to do to please the person you live with? What do you have to do to please the people you work with? What do you have to do to please your friends? What do you have to do to live up to your own expectations? I think you all know where that leads to. Your expectations and other expectations cannot be lived up to. You end up getting frustrated, you end up feeling inadequate. You end up getting depressed. You if I wanted to be the best monk, live up to everyone’s expectations, to be the great abbot, the great teacher, I’d go crazy. So instead, you just whatever you do? I just do it. If people like it, great. If they don’t like it, great. I just was filling out a form for our main monastery in Thailand. And I wanted to say, when I first became sort of abbot of this joint, that was about nine years ago. Eight and a half years ago in 1980 519 95. Sorry. And I remember that time because the previous abbot sort of disrobed, he left me literally holding the baby. The big baby has grown a lot. Sad time. But I looked at myself, Do I want to do this? Do I want to sort of take on all this responsibility? And at the time, I remember just thinking about it clearly, and I came to the conclusion, give it a go. If I end up being a decent teacher, that’s great. I can help other people. But if I end up being a complete hopeless teacher and no one actually comes, listen to the talks, I thought, that’s even better, because then people leave me alone. I can be a hermit because monks like being hermit, living by themselves. So that way, when there was no pressure on me, you can just go out there and enjoy yourself and don’t care if nobody comes. I wasn’t teaching to try and please anybody. And that’s why it became very easy just to get up and give a talk. You were relaxed because you weren’t having this pressure on you to try and live up to some expectation. It’s the freedom which comes from knowing your own truth rather than always expecting other people ‘s truths to control you. When you look upon that, it’s an expression of what we keep on saying in this place here, of letting go. Contentment, lovingkindness, compassion. You’re being compassionate to yourself, allowing yourself to be, saying to yourself with all of your faults, the door of my hearts open to me. Despite all my silly jokes, despite my so called failures and successes, despite who I am, I’m okay. It’s being at peace with oneself. What that’s actually being is actually being true to yourself and. You can you understand just how letting be contentment, compassion, and truth become the same word. You’re being true to how you feel. You’re being true to who you are in this moment, rather than trying to be true to somebody else’s ideas and expectations. Too often, we take our cues from others, which is why I always encourage people to be rebellious. I don’t mean being rebellious against society. I mean being rebellious in order to find out truth. I’ve always noticed that the great leaders of religions, the people who started all of this, were all rebels. The budha was a rebel. He went against the brahmanical system in India at that time. He spent his whole lifetime teaching against caste systems and saying people, no matter what gender, no matter what, was only one race, which he knew about at that time. No matter sort of what sexual orientation, no matter where they came from, how wealthy they were, no matter what caste they were, they should not be judged just because of who their parents were. They should be judged by how they behaved. So no castes. And he spent his whole lifetime fighting that. He failed, as we all know now, because there’s a big caste system in India and sometimes there’s even caste systems in Sri Lanka as well, which I think the Sri Lanka should be ashamed of. People should be judged not by who their parents were, but by their behaviour, by who they are. It was the same way that we could actually see that we have to rebel against these ways of looking and measuring which are imposed upon us by somebody else. And not true. Jesus Christ was a rebel. All the great leaders were rebel. Even my teacher, Ajian Cha was a rebel. He was a great rebel. In that time in Thailand, most of the monks were not really practicing very well at all, accepting money, being lazy, not doing much meditation. And she said, no, I don’t think that’s the right way to go. He rebelled against, though, went to live in the forest and started and he joined a great tradition of monks who are rebels. I rebelled against society when I was 23. My mother wanted me to go and get married and have kids. I rebelled. Society wanted me at a good degree to go and get rich and enjoy money. I rebelled. I said, no, I don’t want sex, I don’t want money, I want something else. The reason why I rebelled was because I had some experiences in meditation which showed me that there was something much more to life. The money and power and sex and family and all that sort of stuff. And. And that experience meant more to me than what other people wanted. People thought you were crazy at that time. 30 years ago, wanted to become a monk. Most of my family thought I’ll just let him sort of go through that stage. You grow up later on, I’m stood in that stage, and I’m very happy. What, you mean you a rebel? You actually go against even what your friends wanted? When I told them I was a Buddhist, they could accept that. But I remember when I said I was going to become a monk, they said, Hang on, you’re going too far. They didn’t mind me being a Buddhist and being a vegetarian and not taking alcohol, but being a monk, that was really challenging. You know why it’s challenging? Because it’s challenging other people’s ideas of what life is all about. You. It’s not just me rebelling. The very fact that I’m sitting here enjoying myself with no sex, with no TV, with no money, with no family, I’m having a great time, challenges the way you think about life and what’s important in life. The fact that I have no money and are happy having no money means maybe money’s not so important in life. Look at money. What is it anyway? It’s just the value which people put on it, that’s all. That’s why one of Adrian Charles’great stories, he made a prediction once. He said that in the future there will come a time when society will run out of paper to print coins. It’s almost happening now. Where? Nothing. Australia’s printing on plastic now. Plastic money. There’ll be a time when there’ll be no metal left for coins. So the governments of the world would have to find something else to use as currency. And he predicted that in the future, instead of using paper and metal, the governments will use chicken shits. And you get paid every Friday in a big bag of these little pellets of dun and you’d be looking to see who’s got the biggest bag of dung. And you’d be going to the bank and putting all this chicken shit into the bank and worrying whether you got enough to pay your bills. And it’s all just chicken shit, that’s all. And people will be fighting over chicken shit. They’ll be robbing your house to try and pinch some more chicken shit. And the IMF will become the International Manure Fund. It. What’s the difference between paper and coins and chicken shit? Nothing. It’s just a value we we give on it, isn’t it? So why are you so concerned about working your butt off to try and get more chicken shit every week? That’s a bit coarse, but I like being a rebel. As I’m telling you what it is challenging some of the assumptions we make about life, what’s really important. After all, you don’t take any chicken shit with you when you die. So those assumptions really cut to what is actually truth, what we’re here for. So instead of actually following our society, which is a very silly thing to follow, what other people are doing look at the houses which you live in. Look at the house which I live in. Who’s the more sensible? I ask you, how many rooms can you stay in at one time? How? And how how much time do you spend cleaning? And how much money does it take to actually to build those houses? It’s bigger and bigger and bigger every year. Look at the old houses in Perth. Look at those houses 20 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago. You can see them getting bigger and bigger and bigger, but at the same time, the number of people who live in them get smaller and smaller and smaller. Doesn’t that tell you something? We’re going in the wrong direction. Huge houses, but no family and friends. We can’t live with each other. So build these big prisons for us to stay in. It cost us all this money to keep these prisons called our homes going. And they’re prisons because they take so much time to clean and so much money to pay off the mortgages. How many years do you have to spend paying off your mortgage? You had a house half the size. You could be able to retire by the time you’re 40 or even 30, but. But we always have to have bigger houses. Why? Because everyone else is doing it, that’s why. Because we’re always measuring ourselves against somebody else. We want to make it in the world. And to make it in the world, we have to have a big house. We have to have a car, a big car or one of these sports car. We have to have the holidays overseas. We have to have do you really need all of that? What do you really need? Truth is asking that question. What do you really need in life? Not what you want, but what you need. Where everybody says all they need is peace, they need contentment, they need happiness, that’s what we need. And so often we’re sold this old bomb of a life by used car salesmen called politicians, called teachers, even parents sometimes who know no better. We should question and ask ourselves so the whole point of truth is actually questioning yourself, not following others, not following me. Do not believe what I say. Now you’re believing that already? I did that once with someone and said whatever I say. Don’t believe it. Said yes. Yes, you’re believing it. Thinking just gets you in knots. But knowing is much more clear. Knowing when we practice mindfulness, alertness, awareness, we actually feel what’s going on. We understand what’s going on. We’re getting much closer to truth. Just simple examples of the psychological well being of a human being. When we think what’s expected of us, we tie ourselves in knots. When we think we just think around things, we get so restless, we don’t understand anything. When we stop and look, we see everything we need to know. We’re being aware, alert. When you get upset, how do you feel? When you get angry at somebody, how do you feel? What’s going on inside? Be alert. Be awake. Be aware. It’s an interesting thing when people start practicing. Mindfulness of their inner state, they realize just how much they torture themselves with desire and with ill will. And you wonder, why on earth do I allow other people to control my happiness? Which is what you do when you have craving or ill will. Someone triggers a button in you, they call you a fool, they call you an idiot. You know, a lot of the time they do that on purpose to try and get you upset. And you let them do it. Why do you allow other people to control your happiness? So people can call me anything. You can call me a dog. You can call me an idiot. You can call me much worse. And I am not going to allow that to control my happiness. You know why? Because I don’t believe you. If someone calls you an idiot, if your partner calls you a fool, the only reason why it upsets you is because you believe they might be right. It because if you had that understanding, awareness and you said, actually, I am a fool, you say, oh, thank you very much. You’re right, you know, it’s all right to be a fool, to make a mistake. That’s another part of wisdom. Life says we’re not allowed to make mistakes. Society, he says that you’re a failure if you make mistakes. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if he said it’s all right? It’s allowable. It’s permitted to make mistakes in life. Hands up anyone here who’s never made a mistake and anyone who puts their hand up. I say that’s another mistake. But it we’ve all made mistakes in life. So can’t we accept those mistakes and be at peace with it? Understand that’s life. When we accept those mistakes, it’s like loving those mistakes. The door of my heart’s open to your mistakes. Come in. I can be with this. What we’re doing is we’re being real, allowing ourselves to be with our mistakes. You know, a great partnership if you’re lucky enough to have a partner who’s wise, they’ll love you together with your mistakes. Have this beautiful sense that another person understands I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I get upset, sometimes I drop my load. But I know that you understand that it’s nothing to do with you. It’s just me. I’m a human being. I make mistakes from time to time. So do you. We don’t feel just this great pressure on us always to be perfect. The harder you try to be perfect, the more mistakes you make. When you allow mistakes to happen, you make so few because you’re allowing yourself to be you’re, relaxing, being yourself. You understand other people love you for who you are. You don’t have to be perfect when you’re actually mindful of that. In such a state of freedom, a state of peace. And you realize why am I always allowing to snort other people’s ideas of me and criticisms of me to control my happiness? When other people think you’re the greatest person in the world, you get so high, next moment they think you’re the biggest idiot of the world and you feel just so terrible. Why do you allow other people to control that happiness inside of you? Isn’t it better just to be yourself and be at peace where people say, I can enjoy the joke. You have great fun being a monk. Not so much these days because people are used to you, but in the good old days when you were really weird and strange used to have some great fun being a monk walking around in robes. I think I told a story last week of like being propositioned by a homosexual. Oh, you do look beautiful in those robes. I thought it was really good fun. I remember the other day that I was visiting some family who’s going to become to visit me just in October in Stoke on Trent in the Midlands of England. And so that morning we went for a walk because I like a bit of exercise. So we went for a walk and there was a circus in town. And they thought I was one of the act. Think they thought I was one of the clowns, I think. Side joy. That was good fun. One of my best stories. There’s a whole stash of these. But once, going down each highway in a car one hot afternoon, we had the windows open, going down Leech Highway, three lane highway on both sides. We were going down on some sort of business or other and a car of hoons saw me. They saw me, this bald headed, brown robe, weirdo. And so they decided to sort of draw alongside. And so there was our car, our van, and this carload of, like, young hoons, 20 year old, 21 year old, having a good time. And they shouted at me. My window was down. They pulled up right along at each highway, right next to our car, very close, quite dangerous. And they called over to me, all of them. I had a look. And they pulled up this magazine and started pointing at it. Hey, look at this. It’s Playboy. And. It. They’re going around each highway sort of trying to get me to look at these pictures of nude women because they knew I was a muck. I didn’t look. I didn’t look, but I laughed because I thought, that’s unique, okay? If I was 20, I’d have probably done the same if I’d have seen a muck. So I never allowed them to upset me. I laughed with them. As I was once taught as a school teacher, if you make a mistake in class and the kids start laughing, you laugh as well. That way, no one ever laughs at you. They always laugh with you. Isn’t that lovely little saying? So if you make a mistake, you fall over and you sort of make an idiot of yourself. You laugh as well. To be able to laugh at yourself is accepting yourself is understanding. Yeah, I make mistakes, and it’s all right to make mistakes. So I can laugh at my mistakes. So I can laugh with other people. Then no one ever laughs at. It’s a lot of difference there. You never allow other people to control your happiness and if they sort of say silly things about you, you can just understand that sometimes when people say those things that you understand the truth of the matter is it’s nothing to do with you. If they call you an idiot, a dog or whatever, it’s not nothing to do with you. It’s usually because they are really feeling upset, they’re in pain, they want you to be in pain as well. It’s usually what happens because you can see yourself doing that as well. You’ve had a hard day, something’s gone wrong. The last thing you want is other people to be happy. It’s a strange thing about human nature. When I’m suffering, I want the whole world to suffer. When I’m suffering grief because the loss of a loved one, I want everyone else to cry as well. Can’t understand if I’m feeling so miserable, why anyone else should be happy. It that’s the nature of human beings sometimes. So when people get angry at you, they try and upset you. Don’t take it personally, it means that they’re suffering. So when somebody really says oh, you’re an idiot, they get really upset at you, just go and give them a big hug oh, you must be really hurting. That really upsets them. I’m trying to get you upset and all you do is love me. That’s really what they need. They need a bit of understanding, that’s all. So this is actually truth. Now there’s one person who always gives you a hard time and that’s you. How often are you always calling yourself a dog? Stupid and idiot. I’m hopeless. You remember you’re only doing that to yourself because you’re hurting and you want yourself to hurt even more. Give yourself a hug. If you make a mistake inside, laugh at your mistakes. Laugh at your stupidity. Laugh with the world when the world can never laugh at you. Don’t try and live up to some stupid ideas. Which where do they all come from anyway? Know it’s much nicer just being yourself. And this is like knowledge of truth, being mindful, being alert. When you are mindful and alert, you just see the way you work and the answers are just pretty obvious. Just same answers people have been saying for years and years and years just be kind, be gentle, be forgiving. Then you become happy. Simple teachings which all religions actually teach, all wise people teach, actually, you teach yourself if you can only listen to it. So a lot of times I feel a bit of a ford sitting up here and just telling you what you already know. But people still keep on coming anyway, so it keeps me in business. But you can actually take that noddish deeper, because when you really want to find out the big truths, the truths which the philosophers argue about, which is one of the reasons they do come to places like this, you all know how to keep yourself happy about what is the real truth. Who are you? And what’s really going on. You find this awareness, this mindfulness, has different levels. The ordinary awareness which people have is actually pretty dull. When you think you know life and you’re experiencing what’s going on, you’re just experiencing a fraction of what’s going on. Really what one needs to do is to become silent and quiet. To be able to build up this inner awareness. You build it up and build it up and build it up until it gets really strong. This is why we meditate. Because when you meditate, you’re building up alertness, awareness, knowing the power of knowing. That power of knowing is something which is very profound. It’s not ordinary knowing. In fact, the more you think, the less you know. The reason is because all your energy goes into thinking and not much energy is left for knowing. These are two parts of the mind and these two parts of the mind are almost in competition for the energy of your life. And if you do a lot, you know so little. This is what happens in our meditation. I just taught this actually, at my monastery last or a couple of Wednesdays ago. Putting energy into the knowing, taking away from the doing. By that I mean. Just be be alert. Don’t manage, don’t control, don’t change. Don’t try and get rid of this, don’t try and get that, which is all doing, but just know and no but. Don’t move, don’t do anything, don’t change anything. Don’t try and control. Just know. Strange thing happens when you do this. It’s called meditation. When you put all your energy into knowing, nonreactive knowing, passive awareness, silent knowing, you find that knowing starts to get brighter and brighter and brighter. The knowing starts to get energy. People experience this very often after good meditation by just knowing the beauty of things. They go outside and they see like a plant and the leaf looks as it’s been polished. The green looks so deeply green. It’s brilliantly green. It’s beautifully green. You look up the stars at night in the heavens and my goodness, they’re just twig thing as if they too have been polished. Even ordinary things which you see your old wooden meditation stool. That’s not just an ordinary piece of pine, that’s a work of art. Wow, look at all those colors in there. The shapes strange happens when you put all the energy into the knowing. The knowing becomes powerful and incredibly sensitive. You see much more. You see more deeply. You see more richly. You know one of the old similes which are given about this those of you who come to the meditation retreats or come on a Saturday afternoons will know this very well, but it’s a brilliant simile. My monastery in Serpentine is 2.2 km on the top of a hill. For ten years, I think, or roughly about that time, I’d always gone up and down that hill in a vehicle. One day I decided, because it was a lovely, lovely day, to walk up that hill is quite a steep hill, but say two and a half kilometers. And what struck me was walking up that hill for the first time and. That hillside looked completely different than anything I’d ever seen before. Through the through the window of a car I couldn’t understand. Hang on. I’ve been going up and down this road for ten years. Why does it look so different? By say different, I was seeing things I’d never noticed before. The whole thing looked much more beautiful than I’d expected. And after a while off I stopped. I just stood and looked to that hillside and when I saw that stood and was still, it changed once more and become even more beautiful and more rich and more detailed. It was such a strange experience. I reflected upon it afterwards what was going on. I soon figured it out. When you’re going through fast car, your senses haven’t got time to really pick up what’s really going on. You see life in shades, almost like shadows. It’s not rich, it’s not deep. You haven’t got time to pick up the detail. When you slow down, all the senses have got more opportunity to see more. And what it sees has a deeper impression on you because you got time. When you stop, you have all the time in the world that hillside to show completely what’s there. All this detail, all this richness. My goodness, it was beautiful. When is stopped, this is what we mean by knowing too often we don’t know truth because we’re just moving too fast. Life is like being in a fast car from one thing to the next, even from one thought to the next. Our thoughts go so quickly. Responding to the speed of our life and all the things which we have to do and fit into one day is huge. We have to run so fast. That’s why what we see of life is just a shade of what’s really there. It never looks so beautiful at all. But then comes a time when you learn a bit of meditation, slowing down, stopping, being, not running around, not thinking, not giving things names. Not doing, just knowing. When you slow down, you become aware of things you never thought were there before. You become aware of yourself, how you work. As you slow down even more, you see yourself in greater detail, in more richness. There’s things which were going on there you never noticed before. Now you see them. One of the wonderful things is it’s a very reassuring things. When you slow down, that hillside looks more beautiful, not more ugly. It looks more inviting, not more fearful. The same happens with you when you slow down. You look much more beautiful, much more inviting. You find you’re nowhere near as bad as you thought you were. And as you slow down even more and come to a state of stillness when you can see that hillside fully, perfectly my goodness, it’s so beautiful. It. It. Everyone who has these spiritual experiences, when they stop, always come back with thinking the world is perfect and so am I. Strange. How can you say that? People say when there’s so much problems or troubles in the world, this is just what happens. The hillside, when you stop, looks the most beautiful thing in the world. It’s the nature of knowing. What’s happening is your knowing is increasing in its intensity, its ability to see. And I was telling you that this whole talk is about how to know truth. Strange thing. People think truth might be something you don’t really want to know. You might think truth is all theories and ideas. Truth is none of that. Truth is the clear seeing in the moment with power. Or sometimes I call power mindfulness, power awareness. So you see so deeply into things when you stop. The more you stop, the more you see the. Advanced meditators can stop so much. They see so deeply into things. They see through time, through the world, into their mind, through the mind, into nothing. The ultimate. So you got to really stop to be able to see that. The interesting thing is the BPC, the more beautiful it becomes. Which is why these states of stopping in Buddhism are also called states of bliss and ecstasy. Like I keep on saying here, just the happiness you get in meditation exceeds anything in the world. It keeps getting better and better and better. And it’s not something which is against the seeing of truth, but is part of the truth. The truth is beautiful. You find when you stop, you might get overwhelmed by the beauty. But what you’re seeing is the most real thing in the world. More real than thoughts and ideas which are just conditioned from outside, which are just taught to you. This is actually seeing something which is real and true for yourself. And sometimes all these ideas of what the world is, gods and religions and rebirth or one life, you start to see that for what it really is is the mind moving, allow the mind to be still. That’s where you find truth. And the most important truth which a person needs is the truth of contentment, of happiness, of freedom, of peace. Sometimes we don’t know how powerful freedom and peace it is, the truth of love. All these great religious words and spiritual words, but people don’t understand what they mean. In those deep, blissful experiences, somebody was telling me the other there they managed to get one of these somewhere else. And another time when they were very young, afterwards they were just they loved the whole world for a month or something. So, yeah, of course, that’s what happens because love is peace. Love is letting go. This contentment is freedom. These are all the same word, pointed to the same thing. And. What is love? The door of my heart’s always open to you no matter what you do. It’s not nonjudgmentalism. Allowing things to be, allowing yourself to be, allowing the whole world to be that’s peace. Making your peace with the world, the armistice with things you hate. Learning to live with things. Not always fighting them, not trying to get rid of the thoughts in life, but embracing the thoughts in yourself and in others. Being at peace with yourself. Being content rather than always wanting more. Love, peace, contentment, freedom. These great words which you can’t think, you can’t make, they all come when you stop thinking, when you stop making, when you stop doing me. They were all there in the middle of your heart. There’s an old simile which I’m going to finish off with. This is a dinky dai ajam brahm simile which I always tell in meditation retreats towards the end. Because when people do retreats or when they work in life, they’re always searching and chasing for happiness, or chasing for enlightenment, or chasing for what actually, Ajian Chai used to say was the tortoise with a mustache. Chasing for things which don’t exist. But the one thing we are always chasing for is happiness, fulfillment, peace, truth. And it’s like the simile of the donkey chasing the carrot. Because in Southern Europe, anyone who’s ever been to Southern Europe, they still even these days, or perhaps it’s just for the tourists, but they used to use as their transport donkey carts. And donkeys are some of the most stubborn fellows. They will not move unless you really have to force them or use psychology it. So what they usually do is to put a piece of wood, tie it to their back, and on the front of the piece of wood, on the end of a string, they dangle a carrot. Maybe a foot or 2ft in front of the donkey. And the donkey sees that delicious carrot and moves towards it. And because it’s tied to their back, tied on the end of a stick, which is tied to their back, when they move forward, the carrot moves forward. And so as they try and catch the carrot, they always moving forward. The carrot moves forward, they move forward. They never quite catch the carrot, but they pull the cart as they’re going along. That’s how they get the cart to be pulled. They can understand, as a simile of life, that you’re always trying to catch the carrot. The perfect relationship, the best marks at school, the happiness, the fulfillment, the truth, the enlightenment. Whatever it is, it’s always like they’re trying to catch the carrot. It’s right in front of you. Sometimes you can see it there. It’s so close. And you move towards it and it moves away from you. You run towards it and it runs away from you. It’s no matter how fast you walk, it always runs away from you. Because it’s attached to the end of a string or the end of a stick, which is tied to. Now it seems that donkey will never catch that carrot. However, there are a few budhist donkeys in the world who are smart. And this is the way those donkeys catch the carrot. And this is a story of your life in your enlightenment. That donkey sometimes gets so frustrated, he runs as fast as he can after that carrot. This is how to catch the carrot. And then, like your life, how hard are you trying to run, trying to get the carrot, fulfillment, love, whatever else you want in your life. Riches. You’re running really fast. But the donkey comes to the Buddha said to one Friday night, and he hears the magic word stop. So his donkey, running so fast, stops, but he needs courage and faith, because as soon as that donkey stops, that carrot, because of momentum, goes even further away from the donkey. In fact, it goes further than it’s ever been before. But the donkey’s got wisdom. Because it waits. And that carrot goes as far as it’s ever been in its whole existence. And the donkey is still just waiting there. It’s not doing anything, it’s not chasing the carrot. And then the carrot starts moving very slowly at first and comes closer and closer to the donkey when it’s at its usual distance. Now it’s actually coming towards donkey very fast. And all the donkey needs to do as it swings to the other end of its pendulum is open its mouth and the carrot comes to the donkey. That’s how the carrot is won by the donkey. You run as fast as you can, then you stop. You have faith, encourage as it goes away, and you wait. And the carrot comes to you when you stop. Carrots come to you when you race. The carrot goes further away. Understand about life the more you strive run after things crave want, desire. The carrot just goes away. But you stop and the carrot starts coming to you. It’s not easy thing to stop. To stop, you have to be in a present moment. You have to stop thinking, stop doing, stop wanting anything. Be absolutely still, like standing on the road of a hillside. And enlightenment, peace, joy, love, it all comes to you. That’s the way to find truth, to stop. And truth, happiness comes to you. I’m going to stop now. Going to stop coming here for two months. So happiness is now going to come to you. Thanks very much. Okay, any questions about this evening’s talk, including the donkey Simile? No questions going. Okay. This has some announcements from I got a question about yeah. You. AHA. This is one of the most difficult things in the world to learn how to stop. Imagine that you’re in a car, you’re going down the highway and you take your hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals. Stop.
It’s scary. Yeah, because you’re not in control. A lot of times we’re all control freaks. We can’t even stop thinking. We can’t stop listening, we can’t stop doing things. We always get involved rather than standing back and just absolutely still. Meditation is the art of stopping. It’s a difficult thing to do. We think it should be so easy. So we tell ourselves, stop. That’s not stopping. That’s more doing things. Like the old simile, which I give. Someone says, Stopping is letting go. So say let go. Come on, let go. I’m telling you, let go. That’s not letting go, that’s controlling. I know love. Come on, love yourself. Come on, you stupid thing, love yourself. It’s completely opposite of that. You allow things to be, you let go, you relax. You don’t control things, you don’t manage it, you don’t measure it, you don’t say good, you don’t say bad. Because controlling comes from that. So stop all this measuring and comparing. Who’s the best, who’s the worst. I’m better than him, but worse than her. Stop all of that. You can’t compare yourself. You can’t compare this moment with the next moment. You stopped. When you do that, the mind stops moving. It stays at home, comes inside and mindfulness starts to get very bright. You get blissed doubt. Not only just blissed out, but wisdom doubt as well. That’s what they always say, that the truth is inside. Inside the moment, the present moment. It’s not the next moment, it’s not the last moment, it’s now. It’s in silence in the middle of this. It’s in the middle of the moment, the middle of the silence, the middle of the mind. So hard to find that middle always moving somewhere else because we’re always doing it’s a mental training in meditation in the silent times to have a nice home where you can just do nothing at all and really relax. Absolute no doing, just being. Moments of peace. Many times people have those moments and just sitting by the beach, nothing to do. All the problems in the world, all the things that need to be done later on, but not now. But moments of silence, moments of peace, moments of acceptance. Moment moments when they love the world for as it is. They’re not trying to fix it. Not trying to fix themselves or fix their partner or fix the house or fix the world. Not fixing anything, then you’re not in a fix anymore. Okay, thanks for that question.