Responding to a request, Ajahn Brahm is talking about the experience of doubt in their lives and their practice. So how can we deal with doubt and the problems it causes in life? Tune in to hear some wise advice from Ajahn Brahm.
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 9th January 2004. 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.
Doubt by Ajahn Brahm
NOTE: Robot generated transcription – expect errors!
Okay, here we go. Tonight's talk. I've got another request. This is a request from overseas. I'm not sure if I should talk about this. This talk this evening. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't, because the title is called doubt. Today's talk is on doubts. What? That is how we can deal with it. Because for many people, doubt is a big problem in their life. It causes them to have sleepless nights. It causes them to worry and never being able to have any peace and happiness in their life. Because I don't know. And I want to know. It's called doubt. So this evening's talk is on what doubt is and how to deal with doubt and the different places where doubt causes problems in your life, for example, that doubt can be about what really happened in the past. What did she really do? Why did I do that can be either anger or guilt. It can be data. So the future, which is fear and worry, it can be doubts as to oneself. You know, who am I? What should I be doing? And it can be doubt according to the truth. What is the best religion in the world? I am going to answer all of those this evening. So hang on to your seats. Here we go this evening. The first thing is, I don't know what I'm going to say, and I already know this is down, but I've got to also trust that whatever comes out will come out right in the end. So I know one place where people have lots of doubts is about what happened in the past. Because do you ever feel guilty? Do you ever feel that you've done something wrong or someone's done something wrong to you? And a lot of times that this is this idea in the Western world of like a presumption of innocence, you're innocent until you're proved guilty. I love that part of Western law because it's one part of our Western culture. It is based on compassion and forgiveness. You're absolutely, definitely proved guilty beyond a measure of doubt. And give yourself the benefit of that doubt. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if people could do that towards themselves and towards their partners, and towards life? Give people the benefit of the doubt, innocent until proven guilty, then are all saying we have in a monastery because one of the jobs of being an abbot is also being the expert on the monastic rules. And, you know, like being a monk, there's many things which you can do. There's some things you can do. There's an old rule of thumb about monastic rules. If it's not absolutely, definitely, clearly in black and white disallowed that you can do it then. So it has to be definitely black and white. Definitely. You can't do this. Otherwise it's allowable. You always give the benefit of the doubt. Because of compassion. Compassion is most important. And so the first part where people have doubts about the past, who did what, when and how. And what they really meant by that. And my goodness, we can create a lot of pain for ourselves and others by dredging up the past. In Buddhism, we learn very quickly to let go of that past. Why is because the past is fraught with doubt. Once it's gone, you can't pick it up again. You can't sort of do anything with it. This is all Buddha's story about a man. I'm not sure when I last heard this story, but a man who came to see his favorite monk and said, oh, I feel so bad. I've done a terrible thing. I've said some terrible words to my wife. Can you please somehow help me, great monk, so I can make amends for what I've said? So the bad karma can somehow be removed so I can be absolved from my bad actions and bad speech. And the bank says, okay. But I have to perform a ceremony. It's a very, very rare and special Buddhist ceremony. And for this ceremony, I would need a chicken. And also the stories about chicken Soup Buddhism. And he said, you've got to go to the market and bring me back a chicken. No, I live on a dead run from the market. But he said on the way home. So rather on the way from the market to the temple, I want you to pluck that chicken because I can't use it with all the feathers in black, the chicken on the way home, and throw the feathers on the side of the path as you come back. They're biodegradable. You're not making a mess. And so he did as it was told. He didn't know why he went to the market. He bought a chicken, and on the way home, he plucked out the feathers and threw them by the side of the road. When he got to the temple, the bird was freshly plucked. He gave it to the monk, and monk said, thank you very much. Come back tomorrow morning. And we'll do the second half of the ceremony. He didn't know what this Mac was up to. Have you ever. Have they asked you to bring me a chicken? This is a special and very rare Buddhist ceremony. Very rarely perform these days. But the monkeys after the chicken put it in his refrigerator. And then the man came the following morning and said, venerable, please can we do the second part of the ceremony? I said some terrible words to my wife. I want to somehow have them absolved. And the man took out the chicken from the refrigerator, gave it to the man, and said, now I want you to retrace your steps back to the market. And audio wave. Pick up all those feathers you threw away last night and put them back onto the bird exactly where they were before. And only if you can do that. You're absolved from your bad speech. Yeah, I can't do that. Probably most of those feathers. Not in there anymore. And anyway, I can't put them back in the bird where they were before. He said, ah, that's the same with your speech. Once it comes out of your mouth, you can't grab it and put it back in again, especially a few hours later. So he said, in the future, you cannot absolve what's come out of your mouth. Once it's out, it's escaped forever. Then you have the karmic consequences of what you have said. You can't put the feathers back once you've plucked them from a chicken. So you said, always be careful of what you said. But how do we know what we said in the past? And who said what and why and how? Because one of the great things about the past is once it's out there, it's gone forever. And literally go on. You can't even find those feathers where they were or which ones they were. It's a great thing about the past. Even a few moments ago, you're not quite sure exactly what happened. And that's why that to this day, I've got an argument with my brother which one of us had German measles when we were children. I'm sure it was me. I can actually remember going to see my teacher and he said, no, you haven't rested enough. Go back and stay another day at home. But my brother was absolutely sure. No, no, it wasn't me. It was him who had German measles. So he asked my mother and my mother said, all I know is that just one of you had not both. We stood out now. Isn't it that the case? The past is so long ago. Though we can never recapture it and know for sure it's the nature of the past to be full of doubt. We just cannot know what happened before it's gone. You think you know. But you don't. What you have done is actually change the past to suit your tendencies of the present. There's one of these great experiments which were done. I've got the paper in my room in, uh, down in the serpentine in my monastery. So if anyone really wants me to want strictly to check this out, I can begin next week for you. But because I never knew what I'm going to say when I'm teaching these talks. And they reported today. But this was an experiment which was done some years ago in a Canadian psychiatrist who was about to retire and cleaning up his office. He saw some papers, and these were papers which were from one of his earliest assignments when he just graduated as a psychiatrist. He'd interviewed a number of children at school, some 30 years previously, to find out about their experiences of that time, whether they liked school or they hated school. Whether they had a happy home life or was unhappy, whether they were closer to their mother or closer to the father. Even simple questions like did your parents discipline you? Which one and how? And he had all the results on his papers he'd stowed away in his office. He thought, wouldn't it be interesting to trace as many of these? It's all these children who are now sort of middle aged, elderly people. And to find out, give them the same questionnaire, ask the same questions again. And see if their memory of their use. Correlated with what they said at the time. And he managed to actually track down some 60 or 70 of these children who are now sort of adults, and give them this same test. Were you happy at home? Did you like school? Were you closer to your mother or closer to your father? How did your parents discipline you? Did they spank you? Did they find you? Did they send you to your room? And what was amazing was those children who said, yeah, my parents spanked me, said, no, no, no. They never had corporal punishment. Those who said they never did anything said, now they spanked them. One who said they were closer to their mother 30 years ago in his Tesla. Got the the paper there and I said no, no, no, I was close to my father. What was fascinating. What his experiment proved was that you cannot trust your memory. What you said at the time was not how you remembered it. And this is one of the great things to know about memory, though, once it's gone, the. The time has gone. The experience. The event has disappeared. You can never totally recall it. The memory is so uncertain. So anyone who asks you what you did yesterday or the day before. Do you really recall that if somebody says this is not the first time you did this thing wrong? You say you don't really know. So it's your turn to wash the dishes. I watched it last night. You can't really tell. The past is uncertain. Because we always get it wrong. Even. I remember talking to policemen. Policemen who had had two road traffic accidents. When I have to give witness statements about how the accident happened, and these were eyewitnesses who saw the event happened ten minutes before. And they say things which are completely impossible. How I remember it is not as it happened. Because what happens is our memory is only just a part of the event, and we build up from that little seed of truth. A picture of what we saw should have happened, what must have happened, what we expected to happen is our perception builds up the majority of the picture. I'm a seed of truth from the past is sometimes so small it's swamped with the expectations of the present. We just do not know what happened in the past. So that's why if somebody. Says something, you disagree with him, or if you want to know what happened in the past and who said what and why and how. Whether someone did this thing to you, they didn't do this thing to you. You cannot know. Once those feathers are out of the chicken, they can't put them back again. They're blown away. Gone forever. The past is like that. It's gone forever. It's like the wind. Which. Where does the wind come from? We don't know. His past is beyond our reckoning. The only time we know the wind is when it brushes our cheek. The present moment. That's the only experience, he says, which is real. So when the wind passes our face, it goes off into the future, where it goes. We never can tell. The past is in the future, as the future is, by its very nature, full of doubt. We simply cannot know. It's marvelous if you can do this, because when you realize the past is beyond your grasp, it's gone forever. That when you start thinking of the past, and when you start delving into the past, and when you want to know what really happened, always remember you cannot be sure. His uncertain. And its nature is of doubt. So if that happened, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Think of yourself as having a haven't had a happy childhood. Who knows that I've had a happy childhood, not have a happy childhood is beyond my reckoning now, so I might as well give myself the better for the down shoes. A happy childhood for the past. Why not? Because you cannot say you do not know. It's gone. It's just past. What ever happened to you? Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Who knows what happened and also give other people the benefit of the doubt. They did this or they did that. Who knows? Let it go. Imagine when you do this, just how free you are from the burdens of the past. Too many people carry the coffins of the past on top of their head. I call them coffins because it's all dead stuff. And that's why people have headaches. Because I'm worried about the parachuted one and who did when and how and who. And who started this anyway. And you see that sort of in Palestine and Israel who started it anyway? My goodness. You know, you can't say who started it. Chicken and egg stuff. See, another chicken story will come first. Chicken or the egg? You don't know. It's just full of doubt. So because of that, we should really sort of give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and give others the benefit of the doubt. They're innocent until proven guilty. And even in the present moment when somebody says something to you, why do they say that? What are they doing that to me for? Please give them so. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Who knows where they said, who knows what they mean? Very often I've got it wrong. Haven't you got it wrong? Sometimes I made a fool of yourself. It comes to my mind several years ago. I was with my mother in London. She was taking me to the railway station to go to an appointment. And it was a Saturday afternoon in a busy part of London where everybody was doing their shopping. Another was trying to avoid people. I heard someone shout out at me. Harikrishna. Harikrishna! Sometimes they do that to try and stir up the monks, especially people who don't know what monks really are. And I thought there was my mother with me. I'm not going to stand for that. I decided to do some. So to be assertive actually, to do some, some, some action. Affirmative action. I decide I'm going to go and teach this idiot who doesn't know the difference between a Buddhist monk and a Harikrishna. And so, with my mother in tow, I went up to this fellow's wearing a beanie and jeans. It was cold. And I said, listen, I'm a Buddhist monk. I'm not. Harikrishna, you should know better. And that's what I said to him. And my mother just behind me that that sort of. He took off his beanie. He had a bald head with a little pigtail behind. He said, yeah, I know you're a Buddhist monk. I'm Harikrishna. Harikrishna, Harikrishna. And why do those things always happen when your mother is with you? And I completely got it wrong because I was in a bad mood. I thought that guy was trying to have a heart. Give me a hard time. Why didn't I give him the benefit of the doubt? When someone calls you Harikrishna. Why did I think that he may be a Harikrishna? I lived a much happier life if I keep doing things like that. Give people. Give other people the benefit of the doubt with what they say in that way. And also, if somebody you know is really angry at you, give them the benefit of the doubt. They may have had a really hard time that day. When people get angry at you, it is because they are hurting. You all know that story of the fella. It's another chicken story. When my favorite stories. I'll go over it briefly because I think I've said this to 3 or 4 weeks ago. The guy who went to the market because his wife needed some eggs and he went to the market first time there, and this guy came up to me, this young man, and called him all sorts of names, you stupid. That's why I did, said his camel face. Remember the camel face talk a few weeks ago? And then he goes off. He was so abused he went back to see his wife. His wife said, you're back early. He got the eggs. He said, no. Why? Because this guy came up to me and abused me. Call me names and I don't like being called names in public. I don't like being abused. You like being abused in public. People calling you names in front of everybody else in the market. And his wife said, ah, describe that fellow to me. And he described the fellow, and the fellow was easily recognizable to the wife, who said, that's that mad guy, the crazy guy, when he was young. He fell on his head. He hit his head and he's never been the same since. Brain damage. Crazy. Poor fellow. Can't get a job. He just hangs around the market all day abusing people. It's not really anything to do with you. It's him. He's crazy. Husband, please go back. I really need those. He went back to the market. Got those eggs all the way to the egg store and all the way back. This guy was abusing him, but it didn't matter now. Why? Because the guy was crazy. Poor thing. And you know the punchline to that story. When the Buddha told her story. He said, if your husband gets angry at you. He must have hit his head that morning. He's crazy. Temporary insanity. If your wife shouts at you, it's the same temporary insanity. Give her the benefit of the doubt. She must have hit her head. Isn't that the case? Because if someone abuses you, why would they abuse you if they're feeling sane? They cannot be sane. Therefore, understand using the benefit of the doubt, they must have hit their head. You don't know why they're saying that to you. So you have the benefit of the doubt and don't get upset. This is actually how we even deal with the problems the present moment. Give other people the benefit of the doubt and give yourself the benefit of the doubt as well, which is means being kind. Give the future the benefit of the doubt. Who knows what's going to happen next? And future is uncertain. We don't know. We cannot tell. Even the great fortune tellers. You know my favorite saying? Never trust a poor fortune teller. You. They'll tell that story before about telling fortunes. When was the last time I told it? Okay? Yeah. See? I'm full of doubt. I don't know what I told last week or what I'm going to say now. I'm going to say this anyway. This was actually. Monks aren't supposed to tell fortunes, even though monks have got great powers. And sometimes people come up to me and say, come on, tell me my fortune. Tell me what the numbers of the lottery are going to be. So this man came up to see my teacher at NCR years ago and he said, look, I know you're a monk of great powers. I know you can tell the future. Read my fortune here. Come and read the lines on my palm. I said, no, no, no, no, no. Monks can't do that against the rules. Now come on, be compassionate. Let go. And. And then he reminded our teacher. And I said, now look, I've looked after you, I've fed you, I've taken you here. They're in my car. I've given up my work to help you. I've worked in this monastery all these years. It wasn't for me. You wouldn't have a monastery to stay an adventure. And it was true. As one of the chief supporters, he said, the least you can do for me after all these years is actually read the the lines on my palm telling my fortune. He was so insistent that AJ and Chas gave him. It's the only time in Asian child's life. He read the lines on someone's palm and told him their fortune. Told him their future. He took the man's palm, and with his finger he started tracing the lines. And every now and again he'd say, oh, look at that. Oh. That's interesting. My word. And is appalled. Mad was getting so wound up, so excited he couldn't wait for her to give him his power back. And when he eventually did, he said yeah, yeah, yeah, what's my fortune going to be? And I said very softly, sir, I never make a mistake. Yeah, no, they get on with it. Your future. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Your future, sir. Is uncertain. And that that child was lying when he got his foot on. But he was. Why did you have all the time to teach him truth? Dharma? If you just said that, I just said okay. The future's uncertain. Who would believe that? But you do the slides on the hand trick and get people wound up, and he never forgets that lesson. So isn't it marvelous? The future is uncertain. So you've got a terrible cancer. And the doctor says you've only got a few months to live. How I know heaps of people. They've been to the doctor and they said that, and they're still alive today, years afterwards. There's one guy here is he's supposed to die. When I first came here 20 years ago and he's still alive. Every time he comes to a monastery. As some of you know, I'm Keith and I say, Keith, what are you doing? He's supposed to be dead. And he laughs. And it's like the future is uncertain. You know the old story. The man who went to see the doctor. Doctor said you've only got one month to live. And he said, doctor, I don't think I can pay your bill within one month. Okay, said the doctor. I'll give you two months to live. But yeah, well business is business now to the government. So you see, the future is uncertain. So isn't it wonderful then? We don't need to worry about what's going to happen next. When I get up here and speak, I haven't got a clue when I'm going to say. So isn't it great? I don't need to worry about what I'm going to say. I just say a few jokes. Say a few stories. Now, isn't that how to relax when you're worried about what's going to happen next and you always mess up? Isn't that true? Who lost when I was in Malaysia. Uh, recently people were asking me, how can we make Buddhism more relevant, especially to the youth, to the kids? I said, well, look what the kids interested in. Young boys are interested in young girls. Young girls are interested in young boys. So why don't we sort of teach Buddhism to make it relevant? So I gave a little talk upon how to chat up girls. And how to keep boys. How to keep your boyfriends using Buddhist principles. Yeah. Right. And it's true. I mean, it's their works. And this is why I sort of. You get sort of more kids in here to sort of know, to enhance their social skills, because what happens? I remember very clearly, I think I told this story before when I was a young man going to dances, going to discuss going to parties. You see a nice girl there. You'd plan what you were going to say, you'd rehearse it. You had your chat up lines. And when you went out with it, I don't know why it happens. Excitement or whatever. You see the nice girl and you mess it up. You make an absolute idiot of yourself. You feel so embarrassed. You sort of slink away in a corner and cry. What's left? And you realize that's not the way. So the Buddhist way is actually just to let go. No fear of the future. No future's uncertain. So, you know, give it the benefit of the doubt. Don't know what's going to happen. So without any plans, without any ideas, you just go up there and enjoy yourself. Letting go. Being in a moment. Being mindful. Great Buddhist teachings. Being compassionate. Kind to yourself in her. And that way you did much, much better because you came across relaxed, confident. You weren't afraid of the future. So that's actually how boys can shut up, girls. And how girls can keep their boys. Don't be mindful when you're really, really mindful and you really alert you've got power over people. Because actually, you know, you get to know what they need and how to keep them in your control. Something I say about, you know, not controlling others. But ah, I told the story down. It's it's amazing just how I can get my own way as a man. There's many different psychologies which I use. And lastly, I think I can say this now because this is actually how I filled up the committee, um, for the Buddhist Society last year. Uh, and I think we've got enough people on the committee for next year while this we've got a good number already, but we needed a vice president last year, and there was one person I saw who I thought would make a very good vice president. She was in our Armidale group. So I went up to her and said, look, why do you become a vice president next year? And she said, no, I can't, I'm too busy. I got business to run. I got a family book. It's just too much work. I can't do it. So straight away I use my Buddhist psychology. And I said, actually, I think you're right. Now we should be more kind to people like you and compassion. Look, it's not right. No, I know now if I asked you, you might feel guilty about this. So I'm going to be very firm with you. You can't come on our committee next year. I ban you, you cannot come. Don't even think about it. So you are not allowed. I left it. She said it was the next step. Arthur was about three or 4 or 5 days. She rang me up and said, why can't I come on your committee? And she was a vice president this year. She fell for it. And I think that was right. I've got one. I committed to Buddhist psychology, so it's amazing. If you want to keep your boyfriend, I'll get rid of him. But the psychology will work all the time. I said, I have to get your own way. So this is happening. Let's see how you can sort of bring like even the youngsters in because it's making it relevant. And again, there's a lot of times that youngsters are kids are very worried about the future. They've got the exams to year or what's going to happen afterwards. How do I go to so many interviews? How do you succeed in an interview? You've got to be confident. Which means you don't worry about the future. You let it go, you rest to enjoy yourself in the moment. When you realize the future is so uncertain. That's how you used out positively. You don't know what's going to happen next. You cannot predict it. No one can. So why worry? Using doubt positively. Sometimes you have doubt about yourself as well. Oh, I can't do this. So I'm hopeless. Can someone like me come up and give a talk? You know, when I became abbot, this monastery was about ten years ago now, when the previous abbot, a sort of left to left me holding the babies. I keep saying that. I started to think to myself. What's going to happen? And I started thinking, look, there's two possibilities. Either you're going to sort of know stuff up and be a terrible rabbit and not be able to give a good talk. And I thought, great that I can be the best I can be by myself. Meditate all day. That'll be wonderful if I'm a terrible teacher. And I thought, well, what happens if you know you are a good teacher and things go well, so, oh, isn't that's great. I can make lots of merit, have a good time. So whatever happened? Was going to be good. When you don't know what's going. The future's gonna hold. When your is so uncertain. You give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Especially you give your abilities. The benefit of the doubt doesn't matter. Sort of. You can't do it. You can't do. I told this to many students before the T exams. Don't worry if you fail. Because if you fire, you can always become a monk or a nun. And that might be a blessing in disguise. You might find that that's your path in life. And oh, what a wonderful thing it was. You failed. Otherwise you wouldn't have had the opportunity to actually to live the monastic life and become enlightened. So whatever it means is you don't have to be afraid of your abilities. You don't doubt yourself. If you want to give it a go, give it a go. See what happens. So you don't love worry? Can I do this? Can I not do this? Can I do this? Can I not do this? One of the stories. It is a powerful story. This was the story of when I was a monk in Thailand without answer, and sometimes I don't. I was very tough. Sometimes people ask, you said I was from England. He was a time back. How did he teach? How can this time? I could speak no English, teach so many Westerners. This is how he taught by examples. By object lessons, and this is one of the great ones. He was building his main hall in his monastery, and so we all came to give a hand. It was built on top of a little hill because that part of town was very flat. He wanted to put it on a hill to raise it up. And so the hill was made out of earth, which many of the monks we will buried it. But I wasn't actually there to wheelbarrow the earth into place. But when there was a lot of earth left over, I went there to help. Because I said, all this earth is in the wrong place. Can you put it around the back over there? And that took us three days. We had a meeting about 9:00, so I made it a day after the meal was finished washing our bowls. Maybe 930, 10:00 until maybe 7 or 8:00 at night. Without a break. Maybe a break for a sort of Coca-Cola or something. We were pushing wheelbarrows all day in the hot tropical sun, sweating, dirty, pushing wheelbarrows. Also, I didn't become a monk to push wheelbarrows. So why can't they go and get some sort of earth mover or something? Why us? But I had a lot of faith in my teacher. It was making merit. It was making good karma. So I thought, never mind. It was fun for the first few days. So we pushed it off. After three days was all finished and we thought, oh, it's really good, we're so happy. And then AJ and I left and went to another monastery who was visiting some other places. And so the deputy abbot, who's now the abbot, I tell them he's been here before. Many of you know him. He was now in charge, and he brought all our monks together and said, you know, I don't think that's the right place for the earth. Move it. Yeah. So for another three days we had to sort of put the earth in the wheelbarrows and move it to another place. But our faith was still strong. And when we moved into this other place, Atlanta came back. And guess what he said? He said, I told you to put it over there, not here. Move it. And so for another three days we had to push these wheelbarrows. And on that seventh day, my faith ran out and I started thinking, these bucks, can't they decide amongst themselves where they need to put this blooming earth? And I was pushing his wheelbarrows for the first time with anger. These senior marks. They weren't pushing any wheelbarrows. They were in their hearts talking to people all day. It's only the little monks like me had to do all the work. This is unfair. And I started complaining. You know what it's like when you complain. So I was complaining like that, and this one man came up to me and he said these beautiful words. He said, and this is actually for you and everyone else about doubting and stuff like that. He said, pushing the wheelbarrow is easy. Thinking about it is hard. Has already said and how true that was. Thinking about it was a difficult part. Pushing it was easy. So I stopped thinking. I stop complaining? I just pushed and you know, that wheelbarrow got lighter. And in 2 or 3 days it was all finished. I was happy and I'm so thankful for that lesson. To this day, I am sure I never actually asked him I should do. Maybe. I'm sure that they plan this all out from the start. They planned it all out to get the monks to move it here, and then move it back again and move it back again. Just ask you to test. Your wisdom, compassion and ability just to be in the moment. Thinking about it is a hard part. Doing it is easy. Whatever it is you're doing in life. So. Why doubt yourself? Stop doubting and thinking. Can I do this? Can I not do this? This new job? Can I do it? Can I not do it? This new relationship, this new whatever. Can I do it? Can I not do it? Just don't think about it. Just do it. And this talk this evening is sponsored by just the Nike. So you actually said, can you actually write to them and get a donation? Yeah. So what we're saying here, this here is like, don't doubt yourself because here we get into the heart of what that is thinking too much. Because whenever you start thinking, you will always end up in doubt. That's what thinking does, because thinking promises you that it will find out the truth. That was that. That's the the con, the deceit of thought. It promises you. If you think long enough, you find out the answer. All of you have been thinking all your life. How many of you found the answer? Now you never find out the answer through thinking. Thinking just goes around in circles. You think about something. You never think into something. That's why the more you think, the more doubt you will have. Because thinking will never get you to the truth. You know why? Because thinking is done in words. Well, it's untruth. The symbol that we have in Buddhism of words is the menu. The menu is words. It's not the food. If you go to your favorite restaurant and order the menu and eat that, you're going to be very hungry. But people do that. They read the books and they worship the books and say that this book is a word of the ultimate. This is absolute truth. Those are just words. There's menus is not the truth. As I say, Mr. Someone, before I came in here, the Buddha said I got all of the truth. If you go in alive, you can see the Topeka, the Buddhist Bible. So many books. You know where that is kept. Not in a bookcase. Not in a library. I would have said all of those teachings can be found in your father belong body. They're inside of you. All of those books are just menus. They're pointers. They're maps which show you your own heart. Really all those words are just descriptions, descriptions, pointers to what really is truth. Experience. That's the truth of things. If you just stay in worlds and signpost is always doubts because it depends where you're standing. If you're in serpentine, the signpost to Perth points north. If you're in Fremantle, the signpost to Perth points east. If you're in Queens Rocks or Joondalup, he points south. Why can't they get these signposts right? The point is that so much it depends for where you're standing. And that's what words are like. They're relative. They're just signposts. They're pointing to the truth. But. When you get to Perth, you get to know when you get to the Buddhist society, do you really need to have it described to you in words what it's like on a Friday night here in November? There are some things you can't put into words and what you can't put into words. That's where doubt stops. For example, what is it like in your bottom right now? What is the feeling of your bottom against the chair? Against the cushion? I like this simile because no one has invented a word yet for bottom feelings. So there you have a feeling, you know, for yourself. Do you doubt what that feeling is? You know it's true. It's there. But we can't give it a name. Thank goodness you have an experience which hasn't got a name. Because then you stop doubting it is real. That's why all of those scriptures, those teachings, those religions, those ideologies, all they're doing is signpost menus pointing to the food. When you just start with the menus, you'll always have doubt which menu is the true menu. Which menu is really written by the owner of the restaurant, and which ones are fakes? Who cares? It's the film which is important. I don't care who writes the menus. As long as the food is tasty and it manages to get in my mouth. It isn't that most important thing in restaurants is eating. Who cares whether Map is accurate or not, as long as it's good enough to take you to your destination. So this is why all of those words. If he starts where we stop, we'll always have arguments. We'll never be able to know who's right and who's wrong. Don't think about it. Just do it. This is how we find the truth. So when we ask the question which is the correct religion and which is the correct path, what is the answer? Here's one of those stories I haven't told for a long time. This is a story of the. I think it was an Anglican priest. Who want one Sunday sermon. After his sermon, he did what many priests never do. He said, any questions? And when he said, any questions? One of the people from the back put their hand up. He was actually a professor from the university, and they the priests recognized him straight away. Or getting a question from someone like this is bad news. And there was a trouble because. The professor said. You just said in your sermon to the Anglican priest, the Anglo preset is that the only way to go to heaven is to believe in Jesus Christ. So what about all those other great good people in the world who have done such wonderful, noble acts but did not believe in Jesus? What happens to them? For example, you got like the Buddha. He was an a Christian. You got people like Marcus Aurelius, you've got Mahatma Gandhi, you've got Socrates, you've got all these great people in the past. They weren't Christians. And they were great people and good people. Have they gone to hell? Good question. So the priest said, well, not enough time now. I'll answer you next week. He was a smart priest, always prayed for time. So I knew that was a tough question. You promised. He's going to answer it the week afterwards. This is not a Buddhist story. I read this in a book. If you're a Buddhist, you might get offended by this. But it's not the. It's the. The meaning behind the answer, which is most important here. So on Sunday. On Monday, the priest had a day off. He'd been working all weekend. Fair enough. And on Tuesday went to his library, reading all the books to try and find an answer to this question. According to Christianity, the only people go to heaven have to believe in Jesus. What about all these other people? You know, like the Buddha, like Gandhi, like, um. I don't know. What about, um, Nelson Mandela? Well, he hasn't died yet, as he said. Fair enough. And Socrates, Marcus Aurelius. Wonder what happens to them. So he looked in all his books. He spent a whole day in this library on Tuesday. Couldn't find a decent answer, so he rang up one of his mates, a fellow priest, a bit senior to him, made an appointment, had coffee the next day, and he asked him that question, and his fellow priest said, look, that's too hard for me. Go see the bishop. So on Thursday they went to see the bishop. The bishop said, no, no, that's an archbishop question. So on Friday you went to see the archbishop. The archbishop said, look, the person you want to see is a theologian. The Doctor of Divinity at the university. So on Saturday he made an appointment with the theologian. And the l'argent gave him an answer. All right. But he couldn't understand a word of it. And so there was nothing he could actually turn in church the following day. So it came Saturday night. He hadn't got an answer at all. He's had to face his professor in his congregation the following day. He hardly slept on that. He worried himself sick. I'm trying to find an answer, because it didn't seem fair that good people will be sent to hell. And no. Was his teachings actually talking about. So after a sleepless night, he did what any priests would do early in the morning. Having not slept all night, he went to the church and prayed. As he was praying, he fell asleep. And in his sleep he had this dream. What are these dreams which are very clear and precise. The sort of dreams which you might call prophetic dreams once you remember afterwards very clearly when you were awake, he dreamt he was in a railway station, and there was a train waiting on the platform. Intuitively, he knew where that train was going, but he asked the guard, he said, this train, he wouldn't be going up to heaven, would it? I said yes and saying, you're a religious man. You can go up there for free. So I went up the train. On the train. And in his dream state, it only took a while. Just a fraction of a second. And he. Dreamt the train was pulling into a platform, and on the side of the platform he could read the letters he a vn he'd made. He got up to heaven. When he went outside, just to make sure the first person he saw was wearing white with this little donut on top of his head, and he said, this place. So what's it called? Said, it's heaven. Welcome up here. I said, oh, this is really great. This is like the answer to my prayers. Now I'm going to ask you a couple of questions, if you don't mind. First of all, how long you have been up here? And this angel said, I've been up here for so long, thousands of years. And the priest said, you're just a person. I need to ask this question now. Is there anyone up here by the name of Buddha? He said Buddha never heard that name before. No. What about Marcus Aurelius? No, he's not up here. What? What about Socrates? This Greek guy? No, no, Socrates. Up here. What about Mahatma Gandhi? This little black fellow. No, no, no, it is not. I don't know anything about him. He had his answer. Oh, he felt so good as he walked out onto the train. He's about to get into the train again, but he saw on another platform there's another train. Did you intuitively aware that was going as well? But he asked the guys, did that second train? Would that be going to a place called hell? And the guy said yes. So he bought a return ticket. You've got to be careful. And in a short while the train pulled up to this other station and sure enough, on the side of the wall, the station hall. It arrived at home. You want to find out? You know where these guys go to. And so when he got out of the platform. Now, this actually wasn't quite what he expected. When he went to heaven, he had to walk and approach somebody when he went to hell. This fellow came and said hi, welcome here and gave him a big hug. Do you want a cup of tea? Something to drink, something to eat. He was so friendly and so kind. He said, hang on a moment. Hang on a minute, please. I thought this place was hell. He said, here is hell. And are you sure you don't want something to drink? So hang on, hang on, hang on. How long you been doing it? I'll be done. It's thousands of years. This is really. Hell. Yeah. This is hell. Look, if you've been here to so long, other people down here called the Buddha. Oh, yeah. What a wonderful, peaceful man. If anyone here like Marcus Aurelius. Oh, it's just a great poet and such a Socrates. Oh, it is so sharp. How about Mahatma Gandhi? Oh, what a wonderful new addition he is down here. And he said, look, I'm really confused. He said. So according to my tradition, these people should be down here. But here is supposed to be a place of torment. It's supposed to be a place of agony. And this place is even better than heaven. What's going on here? And a man said, oh, you know, this place used to be like that before the Buddha came down here. He. You've got Paul, Socrates or Marcus Aurelius or Mahatma Gandhi came down and I had the bullet of that story is it's not a true story, so don't get offended. The moral of the story is it's the people which make the place. Not the place which makes the people. It is not a marvelous answer. It's the people which make the place. Don't matter if you call yourself a Christian, a Buddhist, a Hindu or whatever. It depends whether you're a good Christian, whether you're a kind Buddhist, whether you are wise Hindu, whether you're a Gentile Muslim. That's what makes it a heaven. So here we have like a deeper answer and the reason why people appreciate that story. It goes against what said in the books, but it really rhymes with what you know in your heart is what truth is. Well, reality is the books are learning the menus. I've just given you a meal. And this is actually how we overcome doubt once and for all. Forget the words, forget the books. Forget all that you were taught and told because all those things were just pointing to what you should know in your own heart. If you want clear experience of life. If ever I have a doubt knowing what to do. Should I do this? Should I do that? But I always make my mind quiet, as silent as I possibly can and as feel inside. And there I know what's right. What's wrong there I know what to do. People call it intuition. I call it more like this was written writing this article today. Total listening. And that's how you find what truth is. You go beyond doubt. Total listening is where you're listening to life with everything you've got. If you're talking, you can't be listening. If you're thinking you're not really paying attention. You're either hearing the thoughts or you're hearing life. An old story about sir going on a walk one day with one of his disciples. Sir Golden rule on the walk with a great Taoist teachers. You weren't allowed to say a word. However, they came to a hill. It was sunset as a gorgeous sunset. As the sun was going down, the student couldn't help but say, oh, what a beautiful sunset that is! Now through the master turned around. Will never allow that student to go on a walk again with him. He broken the golden rule. When the students said, why are you being so severe and tough with this guy? He only said a couple of words and also said it's very, very wise thing. When he said, what a beautiful sunset. He wasn't watching the sunset anymore. He was watching the words. To understand how difficult it is to see a sunset and to watch the thoughts. You remember that looney cartoon? Remember, Looney had a beautiful cartoon once. He was in this room of our bedroom watching the television. And the television was a nature program showing a sunset in trees outside. But in the newsroom, there's a window. And there's actually the real thing was happening outside. Why we watch the television instead of watching reality. Why do we watch sports? Instead of feeling life. Knowing life. When we silence, we go to this total silence. Total listening. So we're not even thinking. All our senses are open to what's happening around us. Let's see when you come much closer to truth, to true knowing. Total listening and then you might actually hear something. This is when doubts tend to vaporize away, because doubts as when we sort of just believe in the words, we believe in the text, we believe in the teachers. We believe in what we're taught. We believe in the past. We believe in the future. Thinking, thinking, thinking rather than knowing, knowing, knowing. You don't know. Through thoughts. You know through silence. And silence is kind. His compassionate silence embraces rather than pushes away. And because of that, the silent knowing is always a kind. No, giving the benefit of the doubt to you. The old house finished. You don't need to keep following. What is the right answer? What is the right answer? What is the right answer? If you're trying to find the right answer in the wrong place. It's like this old Chinese saying. The hungry farmer. Was looking for a light to start his fire, to boil his rice. He was looking for that light with a candle. If he only knew what fire was, he would have cooked his rice much, much quicker. United man holding a candle. Looking for fire. A lot of times we look for the answers. We're looking in the wrong place. And that's why doubt keeps on going at us again and again. What is the right religion? What is the right truth? What should we be doing? Stop thinking. Just do it. Be quiet. And there you'll find truth. There you'll find knowledge there you'll find wisdom. You'll listen. Totally in silence, and you be able to communicate with your partner, with your children, with your other members of the family. You begin to know because you're quiet, you're listening with everything you've got. You're not second guessing them. If you're in business, you'll be able to know what your client needs. But also thinking through silence. In silence. You'll be able to hear your body. What your body needs. Why is it people get sick? A lot of times the body tells you. It gives you warning signs. It sometimes begs you, please stop. Have a rest. But when it begs us, we are not listening. Were too busy thinking doing something else. Because. We never silent. That's why we never can listen. And if you listen to your body. He will tell you all the signs. He'll tell you to slow down and stop. Take a little bit of a rest and then you won't get these terrible diseases. Reason that all I seem to do to have some total listening. We can also listen to truth. Life is always teaching us. Life is so gentle and persistent in offering us truths. But too often we're thinking of the time, and so we never truly open up and no wisdom. What I'm saying here is that when you know that wisdom through silence their or your doubts, and they never end thinking, they end through being silent. First when the last question is answered. Who questions, questions, questions. These are the case that you answer one question, and it makes two more questions pop up into your mind. But when you have silence. All the questions and your questions. You find you were searching for a flame with a lit candle. Now you know what the candle is. Now you know where the flame is. You can cook your dinner much, much quicker. Why don't you know the difference between the menu and the food? You can look at the menu and quickly move on to the courses on the table. And that's where you get your happiness. That's where the end of doubt is. When you bite into that mango. Then you know it's sweet until you bite into it. You read all the books. You can never know what that word means. So that's how we overcome doubt. And if you don't believe me, if you are still in doubt, you can just couldn't stop thinking. So that's it. Talk today on out with a couple of stories and a couple of jokes. Hope you enjoyed it.