Ajahn Brahm gives a talk about mental illness. He makes a distinction between an illness of the brain and illness of the mind because whilst the mind and brain are related, the nature of illness for each has different symptoms. This becomes very clear when one develops deep states of meditation (the jhanas) and the mind becomes separated from the body (and brain). Ajahn Brahm starts the talk with an amazing story about his teacher Ajahn Chah going into deep meditation despite his body not working. Ajahn Brahm goes on to talk about the causes of mental illness (which can go back to previous lives).
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 12th December 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.
Buddhism and Mental Illness – Ajahn Brahm
And the title of this evening's talks, as you know that much of the time How People Ask suggest titles for the talk and its title has been waiting for quite a while. Actually, just before the reigns retreat, somebody sent me an email. I think the last talk had already accepted a title for the talk. Somebody gave me an email. I forgot about it because of the whole retreat, and they repeated the email to me last week. They wanted to have a talk on Buddhism and mental illness. So all of you who are mentally ill. Listen carefully. That's not just mental illness. I think one can say that there's like two types of things which are meant by this talk. It's like illness of the brain and illness of the mind. I like to make a distinction between those two, even though I'm not, say, psychiatrists. Even though that I have no degrees in that field, still one understands the mind. I spent my whole life looking at my mind, understanding it, seeing how it works, and seeing how it has potentials. And what would happen if you have damaged the brain? Which is one of the causes of what we call mental illness. Now, some people's brains are damaged at birth or there's something chemically wrong with them, or it happens later on in life. Somebody was asking me a question just before I came in, which is pertinent to understanding about mental illness. They said, as one of their friends had some road accident and they had some damage to their brain and their personality changed. What happens here is the personality sort of something. The mind, is it suddenly sort of. Changed completely. And what's actually going on there? And for my understanding, from the study of the mind, that the brain is something which the mind uses both to understand, to know the world, and to communicate back again. Some people have told me I can understand this from my own knowledge of the mind. Sometimes people have told me that when they have a stroke. And they recover afterwards. They recover fully afterwards. Sometimes they their mind wants to move part of their body, but the body doesn't follow them. The the mind's command. The mind wants to say something and the words come out completely different than they intended. The mind. The thing which is actually running the show, as it were, underneath that is unimpaired. That is actually quite clear that the body through its brain just will not follow the orders. Sometimes this happens, and sometimes this might happen to you in little ways that either sort of sicknesses or illnesses, or even sometimes in meditation, you can get into such deep states of meditation. Sometimes when you come out just the way you might, the mind might tell you to do something, but the body will just not do it. It takes a while, takes you to get those connections coming up again. I do recall when I did that six month retreat in silence. I never spoke for six months. In the year and Serpentine Monastery some people were waiting for when I come out to see if I had gone mad. Some people had dreams. They saw Jim Brown coming out with long hair, a long beard and wild eyes. How disappointed they was. They were when I came out. Not quite the same because when I came out I couldn't. It was really hard to speak because three days I had a headache because I was having to force myself to talk again. When the mind is that quiet to some mind, sort of. If it wants to talk, the brain has forgotten how. It actually shows me sometimes as how this brain is almost like the instrument of the mind is its tool. This what receives much of the information from the world, what filters it and what presents it to the mind. And the mind uses a brain to react back into the world. So painful is damage to the brain, either at birth or through throughout their life, sometimes experiencing that difficulty. I the some of the world is cut off to them because the brain just won't allow the information to come in. There won't be able to feel a part of their body. They're unable to be here or see even because of damaged the brain. But her mind is intact and clear. Another good example of that, of course, is for those of you who know about my teacher, Ajahn Cha in Thailand, I was because of stress or karma or something, or rather that he developed this what's usually called that water on the brain. The brain was secreting lots of liquids, and it built up pressure on his brain and unfortunately caused much of their brain to die. So he had to, almost like a stroke, was paralyzed and wasn't able to speak. And so there was a person. He was my teacher who had brain damage. Because of a some condition later on in his life. But it was very fascinating to be around someone who trained his mind so much. Most monks realize that when you talk to him, he will actually pay attention. Especially when his Western monks came to say what was going on in the countries outside of Thailand. We said what was happening in Australia. You could actually see that his body would change and he was listening. And the one reason why we found out that Agent Cha certainly was in full control of his mind, even though he couldn't control his body. Was that occasion a fascinating occasion when attention will go into the deep? Meditation states. This was a person who was brain damaged but a trained his mind. What would happen if I've told the story before? It's a great story. What would happen was that because he was such a famous monk, the king of Thailand paid for a nurse, a male nurse, to be present 24 hours of the day. Obviously not the same nurse who was in rotation in roster, and there was always 3 or 4 monks who also doing services for their teacher. And on this one occasion, adventurer stopped breathing. And the nurse got afraid. A nurse got afraid that I was going to die. And as I told a story before. The nurse knew Atencao was going to die, but he didn't want at and cha to die on his shift. In other people's shifts. Okay, but none of my shifts. There's problems, especially the famous monk. So the nurse wanted to try and resuscitate Ajahn Shah, who stopped breathing. The monk said, no, he's just going into deep meditation. And I had this little argument. They came to a compromise. The nurse decided to check out Charles. Blood every few minutes to make sure there's enough oxygen in the blood, because it is long as there's enough oxygen in the blood is enough, oxygen goes into the brain, is no danger to the vital part of his body. And that's uncharted territory for several hours. And all the time, the oxygen in the blood remained the same. To monks who know about meditation, that means he got into a very deep meditation. Usually what the Buddha said is called a fourth jhana. There was evidence that there was a man, not any old man, who was a great monk, who had brain damage, but his mind was so sharp, so much mindfulness, so much skill. He could still do his job even in that body which was which was not working. It shows you what the separation is between this mind and his brain. His brain was damaged, but because he trained his mind, his mind was very alert. Of course, a time when your brain really gets damaged is when you die. That's when the brain really stops. And I've told you last week what happens when a person dies and how even though the brain is not working, the mind. Could still see, hear, feel, but in a completely different way. It's not even seen through the eyes, nor even hearing through the ears, but seeing a different way. And not sure if many of you might have seen some of the interesting documentaries on the nature of the mind and the brain. When one uses hypnosis. I remember seeing this demonstration of hypnosis. Where? This little lady was being regressed to try and remember her past life. She apparently recalled a past life in Berlin prior to the Second World War or some other. And it was a Berlin. It was some other could have been some other German city. And they showed her a map under hypnosis of the town at that time, and they asked her where she lived. She traced the street. She told her where she lived, where she lived, pointed out the hospitals, the tower, the other places, the railway stations, the bridges. The important thing was that before she was hypnotized, that many people would do when they sit on the couch. She took off her glasses. Without her glasses she normally couldn't see. But under hypnosis, she could see very clearly. It was interesting. Her eyes physically would not be able to see that map. They tested her out afterwards. When she came out of hypnosis, they gave him out. Can you actually remind us where you were? She didn't need my glasses. She could not see. Except under hypnosis. So how was she seeing him put her? So we know that under such hypnosis, you're not seeing with your eyes. You are seeing with your mind a different way of seeing the brain would not be working properly, or the eyes would not be able. Because of no some distortion of the the the, the eye ball or the the lens. But the mind is something different. So when we talk about people with brain damage, with that type of illness, sometimes a mind is something else. If you have a brain damage later on in life, if you trained your your mind, this not too much of a problem. However, the difficulties sometimes come when people are born with such brain damage, so either autistic or in some way that we say that not normal. And for many people, have to deal with such small children in their own family to bring them up. It can be very, very difficult. One of the first things I always ask is why does this happen? Why does this happen? And last week when I was talking about rebirth and karma. There is a good reason for that. We always need to know the answer. Why? And it's an obvious answer. There's some cause, not in this life, but in a previous life. The person has to endure sort of not being able to relate in ways which most people do. Some people say that that's really unfair. You know that. What have they done? And because the Western people have this idea that a baby is born just fresh without any past. I think all of you who are mothers or fathers when you live have a know the birth of your first child when you hold them in their arms and you feel that being. You should know that that's not a being which is just being created in this world. Many people know intuitively that's an old being who has a past, who's come here from another place, not just you've given that being your body. But their mind, their personality, the stream of consciousness, as it says in Buddhism, does come from somewhere else. They have a character. They have a being which could not have been created in nine months. This is what we mean by gist of being being born, where we actually understand there's a pass there, and we can understand that maybe because of some bad karma, because who some heedless sinners become, because of some cruelty, the person in this life has to endure. So it's that type of situation. Karma is a cause. Now, when we say that karma is the cause, it's what we are doing with that. Karma is the most important part of karma. Karma? The past can't be changed. We can always do something with it, as you always know. So karma is never that fatalistic. Even a person who's been born brain damaged. Sometimes it's amazing to see what they can do. I recall when I was a young monk in Thailand, in a small village, there was one of the members of that village, a young girl who must have been about maybe 4 or 5 years younger than me. She was also born brain damaged. Just want to say also, I was just talking about me. I mean, she was born brain damaged. And she couldn't speak. But she could grant. And it was amazing thing that because of the village society, because she was accepted into that society, because in a village you have so many aunts and uncles, if not aunts and uncles or parents or sisters that your friends. So there wasn't just a great big burden on one family to look after her. She was shared amongst the whole village. She had friends. Whenever there was a celebration of festival music or boxing in the village. Her friends would always take her along as well, even though though she was in our society, someone would probably be put in an institution. And because she was associating with her friends for so long, she developed this series of grunts, which I could not make out at all. But her friends knew exactly what she meant. It was a new language which she developed, and because of association, everyone understood. And that girl. Was happy. She had her friends. She had her her life. It may not be the same as other people's lives, but I saw her very often. She would often come to the temple. And I remember one occasion which really moved me deeply. I told a story whenever I give teachings on generosity. Because on this one occasion, I was cleaning up the main hall in this monastery in Thailand, and I was sweeping behind a cupboard in which we used to keep our robes. When I heard someone creep into the hall, my first thought was because they were creeping in. Was it a burglar or someone tried to steal something? Now. I looked around the corner of the cupboard and I saw it was this girl. She too was looking around. She didn't notice me. So I actually hid and watched to see what she was doing, and I saw her go up to the main shrine, first of all, making sure that no one was there. Then she went up to the main shrine, and she very quickly put onto the main shrine in front of the big Buddha statue. A gift. She'd made out of paper. A little lotus flower which she gave to the Buddha. She bowed very quickly and then ran out because she was afraid some would see her, catch her, and stop her. When I saw that gift, the way she gave it, and knowing how hard it was for her to make that gift. To this day, I call that one of the greatest gifts I've ever seen given to the Buddha in that monastery. That was worth much more than a person who put $1,000 check, or 10,000 100,000 because it was so hard for her to do. And to see the humility. She was embarrassed. But she was given that opportunity to do her act of good karma. And I went up to look at that little paper lotus. It was what most people would say was really ugly, poorly made, the sort of thing that people would throw out as soon as they saw it. But when I knew where it came from, I told all the other monks that that little lotus stays, and if anyone moves that they'll see and get angry. It was hard, but because it was hard to do good karma, it was huge. Could come. This is how a person, even with limited faculties, can still do good in this world, can still be kind. When I was a university. I had a friend who was a Christian. Like, even as a Buddhist, I deliberately cultivated, as I do to this day, as friends from other religions, because I don't want myself to become narrow minded. I live with Buddhists. When I come here, I meet with Buddhists. I hang out with Buddhists. And if we're not careful, what I think is Buddhism. And I've got a narrow mind in the world, and it's very good to associate with people from other beliefs and other religions because they check you out. It gives you a balance. You don't become like cultish. So to this day, I've still cultivated friendships with people of other beliefs, people who even don't like Buddhism. I value their comments. They keep me honest. And at the same time that because I cultivate such people that I can actually learn a lot about tolerance. And I was going to say now about the about the bad as it was coming on to some sort of story, but maybe I'm brain damaged, essentially lost my memory. But anyway, as we can make good karma, as we can do good things, no matter sort of what our brain damage is, we can always do something with what we've got. And this is actually how people can actually can grow. So when we talk about sort of people having sort of difficult aspect, this is a story I remember now, though, when I was because I cultivated friendship. One of my best friends when I was a student was a Christian. When he said that him and his mates were going to go to a local hospital to do some voluntary work every week with people who were. Whoever they were. And. I think people with Down's syndrome mostly, and a few other people have been put in a hospital because their parents, they just couldn't cope with them. And he was going to go with his mates to do some social work, to actually to help, to give and to help with the some therapy work. So as soon as you see he said that, I said, I'll go as well. I couldn't be outdone by the Christians. If they can help, how this so can the Buddhists. And that was actually my motivation. It wasn't all that good. But I'm being honest. You're just like, know, keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. So I went along. But I found I really enjoyed it. I went there for two years, going now, even doing throughout my last two years of my university career at Cambridge. And one of the most moving occasions was the last time I went there. I wasn't asked on the second, the second from last penultimate visit. I've been going there for so long. The questions that dropped out a long time ago when I kept on going, I mentioned, now you see the Buddhist focus sort of staying power. That's because they left. That's why. Because they went somewhere else. But I kept on going every week and. The last time I went there was in the afternoon, and I was so skilled and so used to it. They gave me like two groups. Now one of the first part, they had some tea and then he gave me the other part all by myself, so the physiotherapist could just actually relax and do some paperwork. Now because they trusted me. I knew the kids and after the last second class was finished, they call me in. The reason I give me two classes because when I was doing the first class, the second class were making little gifts for me. Little like actually cards to thank me for being there for so long. Of all the students I lasted the longest and the one I was in the second class, the first class was doing the same, and these were people who couldn't draw very well. They couldn't make things very well, but they did it especially for me because I thought it was my last time, my last day there. No one was most moving experiences when I was at college. Touchy to be there in front of all these, these some down syndrome kids and their their teachers now saying goodbye to me and giving me these gifts. I knew how hard it was for them to do this. And I almost cried. At that time, I didn't know how to cry because I was only a young man, a student. But it really touched me. But I had to ask him. I said, listen, I know you think this is my last day because the final exams are coming next week, but you know, it doesn't actually start to the day after. So can I please come next week? I beg to come again. And I wondered why was I? Why was I wanted to go there again? It was actually enjoyable because I was learning so much. To relate to people who had Down's syndrome on a completely different level. They taught me so much. Because even though they had down syndrome, they could not relate in a way in which I was accustomed. Still, they could feel and you could relate to such people on the deeper level, the mental level, the emotional level. Their brains were damaged, but her mind certainly weren't. And some of those kids were very sharp and very smart. If I was feeling off that day upset, they could pick it up straight away. Then you went to give me a hug. They taught me a lot, and it taught me especially to be non-judgmental. Because sometimes we think, oh, those poor things, I must be terrible. But I'm just putting on my value judgments. And I don't know what it's like to be inside a down syndrome person. Certainly that lady who was in Thailand, I think that was her diagnosis, down syndrome. But she had a happy life. So I think one of the the problems is we understand it's coming from the past, but don't judge that. Come. That must be terrible. Why is a person being punished that way? Depends on what they do with that. Karma is the most important part of no brain damage. And for those people who have to deal now with a child who has some sort of a brain damage or some sort of mental disease, then of course it takes a lot of tolerance, a lot of wisdom, a lot of compassion. So much so that many people take that as a challenge, as a spiritual challenge for their life. Maybe it's their karma. They have to learn such patience, such tolerance and such kindness. Because sometimes this. 24 hours. Full. Full on. If you can handle that. If you're up to such a high spiritual practice, her selflessness, you have immense rewards. Not only do you understand what kindness is, as I keep on saying here, the kindness is a door. My hearts open to you as you are. You're not trying to make your son and daughter something different. You're not trying to so-called make them better. This idea of better means they're not good enough now. The Buddhists. We try and stop all of that measuring and they are not trying to make you better. I am happy that you are who you are. That's what Slav is all about. That's what compassion is. Not trying to change some somebody to fit in to what you think they should be. But accepting them for who they are. It is called tolerance. Peace. That's hard because a lot of times that, first of all, people feel that their parents that you've done something wrong, you have some guilt there. Why are they like that? Parents are always into guilt trips with their kids. I don't know, maybe my mother thinks she feels very guilty that I ended up as a monk when I could have been a doctor or a business person or something else, but now I know she's come to peace with that now. And sometimes that happens. I've seen that happen with some some parents. The child becomes a monk and then the other their friends come and say, oh, you poor thing. You got two of my monks in the monastery. They're brothers. And then mom was very upset when the second one became a monk. She said, I'm like giving you one, but giving you two. That's a bit much. I have one. But parents are often into guilt trips. Sometimes their child becomes a homosexual. And I don't tell their their friends. Why not? Was wrong. What are you upset about? Isn't love? Accepting a person for who they are? I can't appear and at least give that type of love to their child. So become a monk. Or if they're mentally disabled, Kawi, accept them and give them that love. The tour of my house open to you. No matter who you are. No guilt, but acceptance. That will be half the battle. I would say in dealing with somebody in your family who is so-called brain damaged, who's got some mental disturbance. But of course, you have your limits as well, because sometimes it just the amount of work, the amount of attention is sometimes so much. And in Buddhism, as I was always taught, that loving kindness will always have to go two ways. The door of your hearts open to you as well. Loving kindness goes to all other beings and that includes yourself. And so the person who asked that question, I'm sure that they want to know that. How can they, as a mother, as a father, as somebody who is. Mentally imbalanced. I don't know what the right word is. I find it harder to find that word, but I think you all know what I'm talking about. Who is brain damaged or what we call not ordinary? I hate that word. Not ordinary. Because what is ordinary? I'm the most ordinary. I have got three other people who are weird and sitting next to me this evening. Now look at us. If anyone is, like, sort of mentally strange. And this people who give up sex, you know, give up drinking, don't watch movies. Don't. I'm not worried with money. If we did the cycle psychology test, you know we'd be in big trouble. You know, I remember once, you know, having somebody who had a epileptic fit. And I'm not in a temple. Old temple. And as soon as the ambulance came, we had to call an ambulance. The first question they asked was, what day is it? And that's a standard question to ask you to find out whether you in your in your with your sign or not. A lot of times I don't know what day it is because you live in the moment. You're mindful. You've you've let go of the past, let go of the future. You forget what day it is. So I'm very, very concerned. If I have an accident, an ambulance man will come along and the next thing I know, I'm in grievance because I can't remember the date. So we really weird here? No, the idea of what's ordinary. Let's put that aside. So. But the person who is very, very difficult to bring up because they need so much attention every now and again, you have to give yourself attention as well. Take time out and not feel guilty about that loving kindness. Care has to go both ways. But again, just acceptance and not judging who is ordinary and who's not ordinary. This is actually brain damage is very easy to actually to see. But mental illness is something different. Because that mental illness, the Buddha said, is anything which is greed, hatred and delusion. And each one of you is mentally ill. It's one of the rules. Look at it. What a stupid way you live your lives. Why do you get angry at others? Does that really help you? That's actually being mentally ill, getting angry at others. You know that story which I told about the person who went to the market because they had to get some eggs. They were abused by a man in the market. We'll call them all sorts of terrible names that got very upset when they go in. Back home, they finally found out that that man who abused them had fallen when they were young. They'd hit their head and they were crazy, and they did that to everybody. When a person who was abused found out it wasn't abused because of themselves, it was the person was crazy. They'd hit their head. They didn't mind any more if somebody shouted at you, if they called you names, if they called you camel face. That's the worst I can say, being a monk. But. Would you get upset and angry if you knew they were crazy? It wouldn't matter. You wouldn't get angry back. Now you know the punchline of that story. The Buddha said that anybody who calls you camel face, or even worse, they are insane. They're crazy. Only a crazy person would say something like that. I've seen a camel and I can see you. And it's a great difference, sir. But why is it we get upset? Always remember if someone abuses you, if they get angry, if they call you names, that's temporary insanity. If your husband starts to sort of get cranky at you, if your wife starts to shout at you, just remember they probably just hit their head that morning. That. Oh, you. Maybe you might have hit the head, but that's temporary. Insane. So if they are, you look at them as temporary insanity. They can call you whatever name they like and you don't move. You don't get upset. That's why the Buddha said anger is insanity. You never get your way. It never really fulfills the objective. You can get far more out of the person you live with are the people who work for you. If you don't get angry. There's other psychology psychological ways to get what you want. I know those ways. I've been cultivating them all the time to get what I want out of my monks, get what I want out of you lot as well. And, you know, this is a story of actually psychology and how to have control over your partner. Because when I first came here to Australia, I was another two monk. There was another monk who was supposed to be the boss. I changed his name was. But I always figured out how I could get my own way, even though I was number two. This is a story which I say I wanted to build a hut up on the hill. So I went up to him and said, you know, it'd be a good idea if we built a huts up on the hill over there. And he would say, don't be ridiculous. He always used to say that. Don't be ridiculous. When? And I say okay. Okay. Never mind. And I wouldn't push it. But I knew psychology. All you need to do is to put the seed in the mind. Because I'd always think about it no matter what they say. Even if your husband said, that's a stupid idea, that's ridiculous. Where did you get that idea from? That's absolutely ridiculous. Doesn't matter. You've said it. It's in their mind. They're going to process it. That's. So I left it another couple of weeks. And just to reinforce it, because sometimes these things need to be reinforced. When I thought he'd forgotten, I said again, you know, I think we should build a hut over there on top of the hill. And again you say, don't be ridiculous, a stupid idea, okay? Forget it. And it always worked. It was amazing. Two weeks later, he came up to me and said, you know, I don't think we should build a hut over there on the hill. Another way to say that's a very good idea of yours, right? He is. How to get your own way. You don't have to get angry, you psychology. To sign with your kids. Many of you want your kids to come and learn Buddhism. Come to the Buddhist Center on a Friday night. The way to get them to come here is to tell them you cannot come. Your band, your bar. This is not the place for you. It was also Zachary. But you don't have to get angry. But also, kindness is one of the best ways. Because when you're kind to others, people want to help you. It's amazing just in business, if you're really, really kind to the people you work with. I mean that they need a day off because, you know, the sun is sick in hospital. I take the day off. Go on. I'll cover for you. And that person there will help you out much, much more. You'll get that day double tripled. Because I really want to help someone who's helped them. So be kind. That's the way. So anger is mental illness. It makes no, no sense at all to get angry. It's the same with like. Like craving or wanting. That's mental illness as well. What do you want and what do you want it for? After a while when he said, what's this for? If I get this, then what? So what? How many of you want to win the lotto? That's mental insanity. Mental craziness. Number one, you've got no chance. Now that if you did with the lottery, then what? So there's a lot of, like, mental insanity. Mental craziness. The biggest mental craziness is guilt and worry. Unless we all mental illness. Why are you feeling so guilty? Why can't you forgive? You make mistakes, I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Being a human is to make mistakes so you can forgive other people. Why can't you forgive yourself? Sometimes it's in our culture to have blame and victims. Somebody blew up the World Trade Center. Let's get them back. Somebody killed my son. I'm not gonna rest until I get my revenge. That's craziness. You can see that in Northern Ireland. You can see that in the Middle East. You can see that in your lives. You can see like husbands and wives. Once they get divorced, you want revenge. I want to get my own back on there. I can't say a casual face. So. So why do we do that? Does that help anybody? And obviously the answer is no. It doesn't help anybody at all. This insanity is mental illness. That's why that in Buddhism we have a standard of what mental sanity is and what mental illnesses. And how we deal with mental illness is actually realize that this is causing us suffering. It's causing us pain. Why are we doing this? And we find a way of letting it go. Her transcending guilt, transcending worry. Imagine what it's like when you're not a person who worries. We're not a person who's guilt, who feels guilty when you don't carry the past, nor do you anticipate the future so much. How much more free you are. That mental freedom is called mental sanity. When a person doesn't look after their mind when they allow ideas of guilt. Depression is very much caught up with guilt, with negativity towards the past. When they develop fear and worry about the future, fears about the future, and they develop that and they don't allow will they allow it to actually to build up that can drive you crazy. That's not like illness caused by brain damage as illness caused by mind damage. And you are responsible for that. You had a choice. Ready to train your mind to develop it. And you've let it go. In a wrong way. And so I say letting go. But I mean, you sort of, you know, you haven't really trained yourself. And you can see that mental illness, what it does to people. Sometimes people feel so guilty about something they've done. It walks a whole life. It stops them enjoying this life. It stops them actually being a person, having relationships with others, being at peace with themselves. It stops them smiling. That's mental illness. My physical illness causes you pain in the body. Mental illness causes you pain in the mind. What are we doing that for? After a while, we realized that no one else is making us do this. We're doing this because of wrong attitudes of mind. But as this is the places where Buddhist practice such as mindfulness and meditation can really help. We see what we're doing. Honesty. Truth. The mindfulness in the moment. To see what's happening. Too often we're in denial to our mental insanity, to our mental illness. And this is the big problem. We don't realize it's there. Having monks around saying people gives you other gives you other ways of judges is other models. Sometimes we say how everybody's doing the same. Everybody's gets guilty. Everyone has fear. So no, that's not true. There are people who don't feel guilt even though they make mistakes. You know one of the times when I made a mistake. At time when? Passing car had just taken over, I think half to Edge and Chakra left, and I was walking around the monastery on a tour of inspection and when I was walking around I found a hammer which was left in the bush. And it was getting rusty. It obviously been left out for many days. And I was always a very frugal. My family were very poor where I grew up, so we didn't really have very much. And I knew from all the people actually donated to my monastery they weren't rich people. Sometimes they put $1 in and they had to save up for that. Somebody had offered a hammer to my monastery in serpentine to help with the building work. And some negligent monk had left it out in the grass to get rusty. There wasn't. That wasn't all. That wasn't good enough. So I called a meeting. All the monks that evening. And you see here I give talks and lots of lots of, you know, in a monetary sometimes it's different. That evening it was fire and brimstone and all the months they were sitting dead straight. And they're not a smile on their faces. So I really laid it into them about as much as you're responsible. This year you didn't work for that hammer. You didn't earn it. I was some probably very poor person who saved up for for weeks to buy that hammer. And you're so careless, you don't even bother to put it away. You leave it out to rust. That's no way to treat people's generosity. I really laid it on the line. And when the talk was finished. I was very, very disappointed. Because not one of those monks confessed. Now. One of those monks admitted it was then. Good. I thought even though I was pretty tough that evening, I thought, but I wouldn't sort of, you know, really punish them. We've got a new punishment now in the monastery. I gave this punishment to one of the visitors because they said they. They said some bad things to the monks. I gave them 50 strokes of the cat. We think we have 50 strokes of the cats. We got this little cat in a monastery called Kitty. They had a stroke at 50 times. That's a great one. It's a great way of punishing somebody. Give them 50 strokes and little pussycats. The. But anyway. So I wouldn't punish any. But there's no punishment there. But I was just disappointed no one was honest enough to actually thrown up. And I went out of that talk just feeling so deflated, so disappointed. I lost my faith with my fellow monks. You can understand what that's like now. These are supposed to be honest, good people, people you know, who have got that sort of inner integrity. And I felt so sad. And so we were there's only when I walked out of our main hall and I realized why none of those monks who confessed. I remember who left her hammer out. It was this rock. I love that have completely forgotten. There's really just really awful that you only remember. Just off you tell everyone else off. I mean, it was very, very embarrassing. And my camera is that he to tell that story often actually to assuage my guilt. And I didn't feel guilt. I forgave myself straight away. So I feel guilty about these things. We all make mistakes. Sometimes silly mistakes, sometimes terrible mistakes. But a wise person to someone who can forgive others and forgive themselves. Acknowledge, forgive, learn. Otherwise we being mentally ill. We're stopping ourselves, being happy, being at peace with ourselves. We learn from it. We never do it again. But we learn, acknowledge, and we forgive. Otherwise you find, because of things like guilt. Things like grief. The loss of a loved one. Things like anger. We can sink and sink and sink until we do make ourselves mentally ill. These are the causes for excessive thinking. We sing so much that it basically burns out our brain. And I've seen I remember seeing one person become mentally ill. Because they couldn't stop thinking. It's almost like getting into a rut. Seeing things only in one way and the mind, or rather the thinking, just got stronger and stronger and stronger until they couldn't take it anymore. The fuse is blue and they had to go to the local hospital. And you can understand. Why would I see that? I understand just how if you don't stop. Please. City ways of thinking. Whether it's guilt, whether it's grief with this anger, whether it's fear. If you don't do something about that, they can grow so out of hand. They can make you become crazy. Become mad. Not being able to communicate with the world. Not even being able to communicate with yourself. I can understand. Sometimes it gets so painful that a person retreats deep inside of themselves and never comes out again. Catatonia. People who refuse to relate to the world. They go to this place deep within their mind, not willing to come out because they don't trust the world anymore. Is just too painful. Or rather, they've made it too painful. Sometimes it's like going to the concrete bunker inside your heart. You feel safe there? Maybe, but you're not alive anymore. You can't feel. You can't smile. Your heart is too deep inside because life has been too painful for you. And you haven't related to it in a wise way. The wise way is to let go the pain of the past. Don't carry it around. Don't keep thinking of it. Because every time you think about it, you're amplifying it. You're building up stronger and stronger until something which was a small thing becomes huge. You know, the way that someone. The old saying someone calls you camel face. Why do they call me camel face? They got no right to call me camel face. I'm not camel face. You're thinking about it every time. Every time you think about it. You call yourself camel face one more time. If you just sailed. Someone called you camel face and you stopped. It's gone. Is finished. Why keep thinking about it? Someone in your families died some years ago. They're dead. They're gone. Why do you keep thinking about it? Every time you think about it, they die in your heart once more. You feel the pain again. You've had a divorce, which was very difficult. You think about that. Why did that happen? Why did that happen? Every time you think about it, you have to relive the pain. Why can't we let it go? We can't. Why can't we let go of the coffins of the past? As I say. Bury them and stop carrying them around on her head. Otherwise, the pass can drive us crazy. Or rather, not the pass. But obsessive thinking about the past. Many people live in that past. They identify with their past. They are that past and they suffer that past. That is mental illness. Okay, maybe not so severe that you can't live in the world. You can't cope in the world. You get by, but you don't really get by. You're not really happy in that piece. As with those people who fear the future, the paranoids, the mind goes on to the future. What might go wrong if you keep thinking in that way? Training your mind to see the faults in the future. The life becomes so fearful you never even go out of your house. You're too afraid of what might happen. Later on this evening, I'm going in an aeroplane over to Singapore. I just read in the newspapers about all these bombs, which people can actually assemble outside, and then they go into the toilets and put them all together and blow up the plane. Oh, isn't that scary? Not for me. Who cares if I get blown up? I don't have to give any talks anymore. No go die subway. That's one of the best ways of dying. Being blown up in an aircraft. You know why? Three reasons why being blown up in an aircraft is one of the best ways of dying. Number one, instantaneously you don't feel anything. Number two, you're cremated on the spot. You don't have to worry about about any sort of funeral bills. And number three, your relations get an insurance payout. So the body they put aside can probably make a lot of money if I get blown up. Now you saying you don't be afraid of what's going on? Who knows what's going to happen? But sometimes people can think. Think things so much they get just crazy. So this is what we mean by the difference between the physical brain damage and the mental illness. Nor will the last mental illnesses, which I wanted just to go over before we start. His Alzheimer's. When you start forgetting things. Why do we forget things? The Buddha was actually very clear with his. He's he's got this he made this connection 2600 years ago between awareness and memory. Mindfulness. Sati in Pali. What we train ourselves to do in meditation is the cause of a strong memory. This is one of the ways that you can avoid Alzheimer's, the way you can avoid to dementia by training the mind. In this mindfulness, being alert, being aware, training at alertness, training that awareness. And what is that alertness? Our awareness that's being in the present moment. Being silent. Listening. With everything you've got. Instead of always having a conversation about the world, having a conversation about the world, you cannot be listening. If you're thinking, you're not mindful. You have to be alert, fully alert, giving it everything you've got. In my meditation talks, I say that the more energy you give into reacting to the world, in thinking, in doing and complaining, in guilt, in fear, the more energy goes in there, the less energy is going in to the knowing, being mindful. Being alert. And after a while there's no energy left for awareness. The mind becomes dull. When it becomes down to, doesn't really know what's going on. It doesn't know what's going on. He remembers very little. Memory is awareness. Alertness. I had a good memory when I was a child at school. When it came to exam times, I could remember the questions and also the time when the teacher taught us that lesson. Because every time that teacher was talking, I was paying full attention. I was alert. That's why I could remember. Even at college. At university, I paid full attention. That's why I remembered. Even the center teachers like attention. Pay full attention to make your mind so peaceful. You don't talk back for you. Listen with everything you've got. That's called mindfulness. Alertness. You remember things that way. Because of awareness, alertness. You maintain your memory. So if you want to be sharp in your old age and many, you are very close already. If you want to be alert to your old age, practice that mindfulness because there's training the mind, making the mind strong. Exercising the mind. You know that if you want to have a fit body, you have to exercise the body. If you want to stop physical illness, you exercise and eat well. If you want to stop mental illness, illness such as fear, guilt, grief, anxiety, you have to eat good food. Good mental food. Where is the best bedroom restaurant in Perth? Dermalogica centre on a Friday night. Here you eat healthy food for the mind Dhamma. It's called. And if you want to exercise the mind meditation. That's why meditation is just so powerful for most mental illnesses. Brain damage. You can't do much about it. But at least you can have the strong mind to deal with those problems, with peace, with happiness, but for your own mental illnesses, if you don't practice meditation, if you don't train the mind. Then it's like not exercising the body. If you only eat junk food for the mind by watching movies or the TV looking at the bill, then haha, I know what you get up to. The only in trouble in your old age you start forgetting things. You see what happens when a person watches a box. After a while you end up like that, you know. So be careful if you want to be mentally fit, mentally agile. This is what you should do. So the time is up. I remember what time I was supposed to finish. So I haven't got Alzheimer's. Interesting. You know that. Never seen. I never actually seen a monk with Alzheimer's. Even very old monks. You know, some of those old monks. It was so sharp. 70, 80. They remember everything. 92, 602 was 100, that Cambodian monks, 100 and 203 still traveling around the world on the airlines. Sit. I remember everything. Why? Because mindfulness. So if you want to be mentally strong, you want to be mentally alert. If you want to stop mental illness, not other peoples but yours, then you know where to come. Okay, so thank you this evening for listening to the talk on mental illness and Buddhist response to mental illness.