Using similes and stories, Ajahn Brahm tried to put a fresh perspective on the praise and blame that we receive in life with the aim of guiding us towards having a more balanced and contented perspective regardless of what life may throw at us.
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 2nd April 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.
Praise and Blame
by Ajahn Brahm
[NOTE: AI generated transcription – expect errors!]
Every time we give a talk here, we try and make Buddhism relevant to daily life, but also make it, uh, sometimes a little deeper to give some understanding on why all this works this way. And this evening I'm going to be talking about, uh, praise and blame and how that relates to the Buddhist idea of non-self. Uh, in Buddhism we have this very beautiful but very profound, very deep idea of non-self. And it's very useful when it comes to such things as praise and blame, because one, praise and blame. You also get things like pride or lack of self esteem, and lack of self esteem cripples a person's energies and hope in this world. Sometimes even the least depression and depression even to suicide. All because of too much blame. And, uh, praise is also something we should really learn to understand. And how does that all work with the Buddhist teaching of Anata? Who are you praising? Who are you blaming? One of the the core, um, teachings which I'm going to bring up today. I mentioned it to my monastery last Wednesday. One of the core teachings concerns a little simile, and one which really one should bear in mind very often is a simile for modern life is assembly of the two children in a supermarket. You may have you heard this before, but I'm going to expand upon this at length in this discourse today. Two children in a supermarket, and they're in the checkout line, one next to the other parallel lanes, and one child carrying a jar of honey drops it on the ground. The other one in the other lane has a carton of milk and drops that too, and that spills, smashes all over the floor. And the mother of the child who drops the honey says, you stupid child. And the mother of the child who dropped the milk said. That's the stupid thing you've done. Now there's a world of difference between those two responses to an act of stupidity in life. One is actually criticises the child, says the child is stupid, as if the child will be stupid for life. You stupid child. And the other one criticizes the act. That was a stupid thing, which you did, and you can see the difference in that one is condemned to be stupid for life. The other one sees the act and that's a stupid act. But they're not a stupid person. When we actually start to understand the meaning behind that, we can understand the place of criticism in this world and the way that we can criticize our husbands, wife, kids, people who work for us. I can criticize the monks sitting next to me, but you criticize them in a wise way, in a way which this never criticizes, a person that criticizes the act. That was a study that you did, monk. That was a stupid thing you did. Husband. But husband you never stupid. Nah, you disagree with me. I got a few people running their head, and I don't. Uh, that doesn't apply to my husband. He always does stupid things. Now, the point is here. When that happens to you, how do you feel if someone actually said that word? You know, that's a stupid. You're stupid. How does that feel? And when they say that's a stupid thing you've done, how does that feel? There's a whole lot of difference here because one is just putting you down, giving you a sense of self and destroying it, and that's you. And the other one is just seeing the act, what the person did or failed to do. And that is such huge consequences in many parts of our life. One of the places where it has huge consequences, where I started telling the story, first of all, was in prisons when I used to teach in prison. Because in prisons, what do we call people who are in jail? We call them criminals or cons or criminals. I like the word cottons, and that's one of the never convicts. So for convicts, because one of the monks was telling me he went down to kind of prison farm last week, and I think they wanted to photocopy something for him. And so he got photocopies. Now CDs, CD players and prison MP3 players have got there. I said, what do you do with MP3 CD players in jail? And the prisoner replied. Mod cons for mod cons. And the modern convicts have got modern conveniences. And so even they have those there these days. But when I was visiting person, I would never call. Them criminals. Good with you saying criminals exactly the same as if you call that boy who dropped the honey, you stupid child. Instead, I would say you're a person who's done a criminal act. Just like the child who dropped the milk. You have done a stupid thing. And there is a world of difference between being a criminal and being a person who has done a criminal act. If you call a person a criminal. Then I become a criminal and I always re-offend afterwards. If you say you've done a criminal act person, realize that that is not them. That is not the whole being that is not there. So they don't identify with that. They don't become that. Therefore they have a chance of changing. Now that happens in jail. I was very proud of this, and I mind repeating it was one of my, uh, most heartfelt, uh. Um, compliments which I've received from my life as a monk. When one of the prison officers at Carnet prison farm, I used to go up there most of all because it was just down the road from my monastery, gave me a call and said, can you come back? Can you come back and teach the prisoners? And I said, I'm too busy. I'm an abbot now. He said that I've noticed I've been in this cell a long time. All of the prisoners which went to a meditation class never came back. Other prisoners did meditation. Those sorts of attitudes actually stop them coming back to jail. I spent a lot of time in jail teaching those prisoners. So much time in jail, I kept a record of the hours I spent in jail. So if ever I got put inside for something I didn't do, I got credit like a night off my sentence as I've already done so many hours in jail. But nevertheless it worked. And you can see that it works not just with criminals that can work in your life. Especially I focus on relationships with husbands and wives. How many times do you break up a relationship, boyfriend, girlfriend, husbands and wife because you focus on the person rather than the act? Husband. You're a stupid person, huh? Wife you know you don't care. It's not that the wife doesn't care. They've done an uncaring thing or they've. The husband has done an incentive insensitive act. They're not an insensitive person. Because in Buddhism. What is insensitive? Insensitive? What is caring? What part of their body is sort of laughing or angry. I mention this because it's one of those party tricks. Whenever somebody sang, whenever you're angry and you are angry, sometimes try and point to the angry. What is angry is that your nose, which is angry, or is it your sort of, you know, stomach which is angry? Is it your brain which is angry? What is angry? You can't point at angriest. You are not angry. It's just a phenomena which happens in your brain, in your body or whatever. It's just a passing cloud on your life. But if you take that to be you, I am the angry person. It's amazing just how you become angry all the time. Just like the criminal keeps on re-offending. This is a psychology of how we make yourself out of our actions. We should just leave them as actions and not attached to them. Not make a self out of them. Not make our personality out of them. And this is where praise and blame coincide. Or rather, the end of praise and blame coincide with understanding non-self. You ask when somebody praises you. Who are they praising? When I ask who they blame? Me. Who they criticizing? Who they criticize it. I've been trying to find out for years. Can't find who they're praising, who they're blaming. It's really strange sometimes that I do some things and I get paid for it. And I think I did a stupid thing when people praised me for it. And then I do something really, really praiseworthy. I really work hard, and I get blamed for it. It's not happening to you as well. You can't win in this life. You really, really, really, really try hard to do something good and people blame me for it. You know, I've been sort of, uh, you know, really being kind because, you know, some people come and feed me and, you know, they cut all that way down to my mother's feed and serpentine to give me this food or give me that food. And they try and make the very best, and I eat it all. And what happens? People blame me. They say I'm probably getting too fat. It's not fair to be compassionate. They blame me for this and I'm trying to be be let go, let go concern. So I don't watch my my weight. Other people watch my weight. Weight Watchers. Uh, as I say, you try to get into shape, you know, nice round shape. But whatever it is. So that sometimes you really try hard to do something good. And yeah, you to like do some meditation. And people say, ah, you know, you're just sort of being, you know, copying out. Recently I went to Singapore for a few days now to help people out there. And I try and do something good, help other people, and then you get criticised. Are you bad in the monastery? You should be here more. So I stay over here and I get blamed by Singaporeans. I should come around and see me. See us more. So whatever it is, praise and blame, place and blame. What is it? Person? Blame? Who are they pressing? Who are they blaming? When you look at it, those actions which you do, his speech, which you do. How do you know it's worthy of blame? How do you know it's worthy of praise? How can you blame anybody? Well, you don't really understand what they did, why they did it, and all of the. Stuff which was going in their mind before they acted in that way. I always recall one of my friends from schooldays, one of my oldest friends, but he was a school teacher. He was a school teacher in the London Borough of Wandsworth. That's a really, really rough area where he was teaching it, and he got some really tough kids there. Now it's a government school, so they had no choice. He told me that when they had troublesome children, they would ring up the next school in Brixton, which was also very bad area, and they'd do swaps. You know, we'll swap our terrorist for your terrorist. And that's the only way to do it. Because once you get this no really awful gangster in the school and he goes to another school, it takes him about six months to impose himself on the gangs in that school. So for those six months, he's nice and quiet. That's how they work. But they're in this very, very rough school. And he told me that this kid came in one morning. Rains across and spat on the floor just between the teacher's feet. The spat. So my friend said, clean that up. And the kid looked at him and said, F off. You know the four words and I'm a monk. So I'm very restrained, sort of. And so he had to go up to the headmaster. Well, no, I think they had a sort of a disciplinarian in the school. And half an hour later, the vice principal or whatever it was to the discipline, came with his arm around this kid and said, didn't you know to my teacher friend, didn't you know that his mother and father had a big argument last night? We think the, uh, the father sort of beat up the the mother, and the mother left to go to a refuge. That's why he's crying this morning. Nepal. My friend the teacher said, I'm a teacher. I've got 30 kids in the class. You haven't got time to find out why. When he found out why that chart had done that. It's inexcusable. It's. Shouldn't do that. But sometimes when you find out why people do it, it makes your whole response to the situation completely different. How can we blame someone? How can we praise anybody? Now. When you praise someone, they've done something good. You don't know. They may have had a really good education and have really nice parents, you know, have a really good sort of spiritual foundation. By coming to the center every Friday night, what do we expect? You know, they're all going to be good people, aren't they? So sometimes when you praise somebody, what are you pretty praising anyway? Sometimes when I look about praise and blame of another person, I just can't do it. How can you praise another person when you think of all the stuff they've been through, all the stuff they've been doing? How can you blame them? Because praising and blame is just judging, that's all. Some years ago, I was coming up to to normal for the weekend. We were going up the Tonkin Highway and, uh, I've stopped on a red light. Another Tonkin Harrison a double. A double lane highway. There was another car stopped just next to us and I looked through the window. It must have been on that side because I was. I never drive on the other side. I looked through the window and this man was swearing at the traffic lights. And you can actually hear them through the window. You, buddy. Traffic lights. You knew I was in a rush. You let the car in front of you, but you stopped for me. And it's not the first time you've done this. You've done this every time on this journey today. And he was swearing at the traffic lights. And there's a very good example because traffic lights haven't got a consciousness. They're an attack on self. They don't do it on purpose. It's not as if the traffic lights is looking out for you. And they spot you coming and they know you're in a hurry and they let you know what it's like. They're just on yellow. They let the car in front of you turn red for you, just for you, teach you a lesson. And that's what he was thinking, that the traffic lights had done this on purpose. Have you ever got angry at traffic lights? I seen Marx get angry at the sewing machine. And so the smart ones, because we do not have to stay around robes. And the needle kept breaking and he was actually banging is so stupid. Sewing machine. Your stupid sewing machine. So, you know, the, um. Was that a classic sketch in Fawlty Towers? You know, I'm not supposed to watch TV, but I did watch Fawlty Towers, you know, for one reason. And I watched two episode of Fawlty Towers because, you know, the the, um, the waiter in Fawlty Towers. Manuel. Because I went to school with him. He's not from Barcelona. He's from Chiswick. Andy Sachs and so I went to school and I went to find out what was up to, why I was so funny. But anyway, on that episode, which I saw, I think, uh, Basil Fawlty car stopped or something and just had an important appointment, and he ended up beating her with a stick, thrashing it. I warned you this would happen to you if you stopped. And it's a classic sketch because it shows we could hate and get angry. And a machine. So if you can get angry and you can blame a machine, certainly you can blame your husband. And it's not his fault. He's just a machine condition. That's what he does. What you expect to. Sometimes you go, your husband's late for some sort of appointment, and you know you wanted to go to the Buddhist center this evening. It's not the first time your husband is like, he does this all the time. In the same way that you can get angry at a traffic light just for being a traffic light. You can get angry at a husband or wife or a child or a monk or whatever, because a monk is just being a monk. When you actually see. You can get angry at traffic lights for no logical reason. How much of your anger to the people you live with, the blaming of them is really justified. You don't know what they've been through while you've done that. So when you play more prize others is judging others and judging others can't do that. I don't have enough information to judge any of you. I don't know what you've been doing, why you did this, where you came from. All the forces, the disappointments, the pain which you've been through. It's hard enough for me to judge myself. Tried to give myself a score for this. Maybe we should do that. Just like in the Olympics. And they have these little cards. They give a score after the talk. No, five for nine. Yeah. How can you judge all these things? You don't know what I've been doing all day. Now, when you stop judging, then all this praise and blame business start to sort of disintegrate. You can't judge, praise or blame yourself. You can judge an act. One act. I did a stupid thing. I shouldn't have said that. Fair enough. But you can't judge the person. When you can't judge the person, you can't judge yourself. How on earth can there be such a thing as lack of self-esteem? How can there ever be a big ego? How can everyone say I'm so great? I'm the best Mike in the whole of of none. I'm the best. I can hold a purse. The best Mike in the whole of the world are the best monkey. The whole of the universe. You can't do that anymore because you never judge anymore. A lot of judging, a lot of praise and blame is what builds up. This sense of self in here. And his sense of self and praise and blame. Causes a heap of trouble. If you've been abused in the past. Had a harsh upbringing. A lot of that play is to yourself. Judging yourself for being maybe unworthy, judging yourself as not really having anything worthy of respect. You've made herself and her very unpleasant self to live with. If everything is going well for you being successful. Sometimes people get so arrogant. And again, they just built up this self which again is going to cause them heaps of problems. When you just sing. I've just done a few good acts. I've been a lucky person. Then you never charged yourself. If you have have a good time. You never think that you are a good person. You don't have to keep on making sure that each act is a good act. You don't take your happiness for granted. When you don't have a big ego. Nor do you take taking happiness for granted is saying, I'm happy. You don't have to do anything more. This is it. I can relax, enjoy myself. You find that happiness disappears. You're building a permanent self. When you get abused and depressed again, that's also building a permanent self is taking your pain for granted. By which I mean you think because it's been painful so far, it's going to be painful for the rest of my life? Because I think I'm a criminal. I have to be a criminal for the rest of my life because my mother called me stupid. Therefore I am stupid. Believing that is where we make this self. We assume that the praise and blame of others is justified and therefore we accept it. When people are to blame you or they praise you, please be mindful enough. Remember, they're not blaming or praising you, they're just blaming or praising an act which you did, which isn't you, which is a passing phenomena. Certainly. You've done many good things, many bad things. You've made mistakes, but you've also done good things as well. When you see all of that, you can't know who you are in that sense. You don't take the past for granted. You don't allow the past to define you, and then you're free. If you had abuse in the past. When you let go of that self-blame, then you are free from that past. You forgiven it. To forgive. It means letting it go. Not accumulating it in your mind as me. Because this is what we mean in the Buddhist idea of a self. When you say like a self for me, who are you? A lot of times we're the accumulation of all of our experience of the past. We're the sum total of our acts and our experiences, and that's what we take ourselves to be. I am the person who got a degree. I am the person you know who came from United States. I am the person who worked hard to make my money. I am the person who's a failure. It means you're just summing up what you've done so far, thinking that you when you do that, you become a prisoner of your past. You become a prisoner of your blame. That's called lack of self esteem, depression. Or you become a prisoner of your praise, which is called being arrogant. In Buddhism, we have this beautiful teaching which is close to the idea of self I'll call the three conceits. In the West, to being conceited is always thinking are better than you. In Buddhism, that's only a third of conceit. The other two thirds. I'm worse than you. Well, I'm the same as you. Those are the three types of conceit. I am better, I am worse, or I am the same. They call them conceits because each one is judging. Comparing. It's comparing things which just cannot be compared. How can you compare yourself with anybody else? It's like going to a school and praising the year 12 because they know so much more than the year ones. To a stupid. You can't say that. It's just the year 12 have been in school longer than a year. One sooner or later the year one will be the year 12, and then sooner or later the year 12 will be the year once again when they get reincarnated. It's all goes round and round. But what ever we can't. How can you compare these things is when we compare things, that's when we start to praise. That's when we start to judge. That's when we can get anger heal well from. I would get hatred from. So when we start comparing, stop judging. Then all this praise and blame business starts to disappear and the three conceits go. We can't say I am the same, I am worse, I am better. All we can say is each one of us is different. Remember. That's a wonderful piece of wisdom for the life of Brian. When they ask, does you know that movie? When I ask Brian, please tell us something wise, profound. He said, you are all different. And the big crowd underneath of Barclays said, we are all different in harmony. So the truth is, when you are all different. You can't compare yourself to any one else. But how often do you compare yourself with somebody else? And how often does that cause so much suffering? When you compare yourself to someone better, you want to sort of reach up to their heights, but you compare yourself to the rich guy next door. You want to be as rich as they are. When amounts compare themselves to the wise monkeys, they want to be as wise as somebody else. I want to be as smart as the guy next to me. It's cold, like in sometimes. Like in in Buddhism, we want to be as enlightened as the person next to us. We want to sit as long as I do. You see some monks or some lady. So still, I really want to sit, just like they do. Someone's got psychic powers. We want to get those psychic powers, too. Some people get enlightened. We want to be aligned to is called spiritual materialism. And it needs to be really understood what spiritual materialism is. Sometimes you see that. Actually, I was guilty of spiritual materialism this afternoon because I think there's, uh, a, uh, a visiting swami, I think. Swami, uh, was it Ravi Shankar or something? I was coming back from the plane on Wednesday, and he was on the same plane with me, but he was sitting up in first class. And now he's not a real swami on the real Swami. I mean, Swami is supposed to be humble. And then I thought, ah, I've lost spiritual materialism. And Brahm is trying to go one up and keeping up with the Joneses. And. That's what spiritual materialism is. I'm more holy than he is because I went in economy and he went up in first class. Really? It was just jealousy, that's all. Yeah, but you can see the spiritual materialism as well. Spiritual materialism as well. And where is that all coming from? From comparing for measuring. And appointed with his praise and blame business with analyze. How can you measure? What standard are you measuring? You against anybody else? Is it really fair? A lot of times you find you can't measure anymore. You can't compare yourself to any other being in this universe. No more than you can compare one tree to another tree. Every tree has got its value in on my monastery. The small trees I was important as the medium trees was important as the big trees. Those ones which are really straight now, might be nice for timber, but nowhere near as beautiful as the ones which are all all over the place, and leading this way and leaning that way and out. So the old trees are wonderful. The middle aged trees are just so strong. The young trees are so full of hope. How can we judge between them? You know, we judge in our society, don't we? Young people, they're the heroes. They're the people you see on the TV. They're you see, they're the people you see on the in the magazines. Never see a picture of an old person with gray hair and broken teeth on the picture on the front of Vogue magazine. Yeah, you never see them reading out the news, but. Vary that value just as well. Why are we measuring people? When you are measured like that, when you're measured, how does it feel? As a woman. How does it feel when you start getting pimples? As a man, how does it feel when you start losing your hair? What's it like when you have to go and have false teeth for the first time, when you realize they're getting old? People keep saying no. Life begins at 40. That's what they used to say when I was young. And then it went up to Life begins at 50. Now I hear people saying, life begins at 60. That 80 is the new 40. That's great. Why is these people, people saying, why not just enjoy getting old? Why measure the worth of a person according to their age? How can you do that? It doesn't make any sense to me. How can you measure a person according to their physical beauty? How can you measure a person according to their wealth? How can you measure a person according to their wisdom? You can't measure the person or you can do is measure their act. If a person is kind. I don't matter what gender they are, what age they are, I don't matter what race they are already in there. Is there a kind person? I love them as a friend. If they're a wise person. Or rather, if they do a wise thing, then they can be my friend. Now you can understand you're not really touching the person, you're touching the acts. And so this is actually how you can look at yourself. When you look at yourself, you don't judge for yourself because I'm hopeless. I'm terrible, I'm useless, I am ugly. It is. You've had an ugly morning, that's all. Was it called a bad hair day? I don't have bad hair days. Because it isn't simply robbed of the good advantages of having a bald head. But. When you don't judge yourself, you don't measure yourself against other people. Can you not see the freedom which you have, the peace which you have? A lot of our problems. Human being problems is always trying to please others. Some people spend their life trying to live up to the measurements of others. When you're young, you're trying to live up to the measurements and the hopes of your parents. When you're sort of going out looking for boys or girls, you try to live up to the measurements of what you thought was attractive. And then you become a married, and you live up to the trying to live up to the expectations of your partner. And then when you get old, you're trying to live up to the expectations so you can go to heaven afterwards. It's always trying to live up to someone, trying to please someone. If you're not trying to please, your husband is trying to please, please some God. My goodness, so much pressure on life. If you're not trying to please those beings, you're trying to please yourself. Wouldn't it be wonderful just to let go of all of that and just be yourself instead of having this pressure on? You are trying to live up to something. What are you trying to live up to? You know that when I became a monk, you had this ideal of what a monk should be. And then I have this idea of a man just sitting in a remote cave somewhere in a remote monastery to so wise, never speaking just when I want. And I would ask you a deep question. You just smile and he matically. And that's what I couldn't get away with that. I tried very hard many times. You know, some of my cave stories. You know, this time when I was in this monastery in the north of Thailand, and I got so fed up with all these people coming to ask me questions because I was the only Western monk in this monastery in the north of Thailand. And they would ask me the most stupid of questions. What I would ask him. Asking me is, uh, what country you come from? And as soon as I said England. Do you know the Beatles and. And how many brothers and sisters have you got? And it's just really boring questions. So after enjoying that for a couple of hours when I had a break, that's all I think I told him I was going to the toilet. So I rush away. I did go to the toilet, but I was in the main reason I was trying to escape from them. And so I escaped back into my heart and I grabbed very quickly a bottle, a flashlight and a mat to sit on my waiting to one of the caves. In this model. She had lots and lots of caves. There's limestone hills in the north of Thailand, the foothills of the Himalayas, close to the border with Burma. And I ducked into one of the deepest of caves. It must have been about 100m, maybe 150m long. So winding passageways this way or that way. And I went to the very, very end when no one would find me, put my mat down, bottle of water, turned off my flashlight, I could meditate, I'd escaped. I felt so happy. I could be a real monk. Again for about ten minutes. So they gave me ten minutes. Because I heard a noise. Someone was walking towards me in these this passages of the caves. So open my eyes and even there was lots of bends I could see. Like a light so glowing brighter and brighter. At the end of the little passage where I was, somebody was coming with the, you know, the lanterns. And then I kept my eyes open. And then I saw someone's head poke around the corner, one of the tile man's head poke around the corner, and they put the head away round the corner again, very, very quickly. And because I listened to them, what I was saying next, and they say there's a ghost at the end of the cave, that's that's what they said. So that it can't be a ghost. Really? Yeah. We'll go to the end of the cave. And then I was discussing what they said, where they said, don't run away. But then two of them put their heads, you know, just a heads, not the rest of the body around the corner. I said, no, it's not a ghost. It's a Western man. No, it's the ghost. And then the three of them put their head around. It's the western monk. I'd be much happier if they thought I was a ghost, because then they would've left me alone. So about 8 or 9 times they'd also got bored. They decided to explore the caves. They should have been listening to the sermon by the head monk. Actually, so should I, but I wasn't. So they came along there and they came up in front of me, and as soon as I came up in front of me, they started to ask, what country are you from? Do you know the Beatles? And so that point you sort of give up. So you have an idea of what a monk is supposed to be. Well, you have sort of an ideal, but you can't live up to it. But you're much more living up to being yourself. You know that I've been in this business, monk business, for so many years, and sometimes you get up here and give a talk. And those monks, you know, who know me very well, many of you who know me very well, this is just who I am. I don't put on a show when I'm in front of a microphone, because you don't try and please anybody. If you try and please someone trying to live up to some ideal, try to measure yourself up to some ideal, trying to be somebody trying to seek praise from other people. Then I would never be able to survive as a monk. If it is too hard to be, too much pressure on me, too much stress. So I just relax and enjoy myself. When I took over from the previous EP about ten years ago now, nine years ago. Oh, ten years ago, I thought to myself, there's only two possibilities. Either I turn out to be a good teacher and then people like it and they come here. Many people come, but if that doesn't happen, that could be a hermit. And that's even better. Whatever happens, I'm not afraid. Even when I'm just going off on a tangent here, because I only recently came back from Singapore and came back from Singapore. The sniffer dogs were out again sniffing us all, and I remembered the part of my memory. The last time the sniffer dogs came out was when I was just returning from Sri Lanka. I'd gone off to Sri Lanka to do a little meditation retreat, and on the way back at Perth Airport, waiting in the line for the immigration, you know, the big clears. They have an immigration counters in Perth Airport. They're really, really slow. I often was side door. One of the customs officers came dragging a sniffer dog sniffing for drugs. And then up and down the line. You know what it's like when you get a sniffer dog coming up, even though you haven't got any anything. You know, people are so relieved when the sniffer dog passes by. But when it came to me, it didn't prosper. I did it. He put his bows in my robe and they said, no. This is a real story. The customs officer had to drag it away. He was wagging his tail ferociously. And at that I could see the person standing in front of me. He sort of moved a step further away. The person behind me moved up. They were with this bloke. He moved a step further back. And they went down the line again because people are looking at me by this time. But before I say got the immigration sort of counter, they brought the dog out again two times up and down the line, sniffing. People going right past came to me again saying the same thing happened, nose in the road, wagging his tail violently and had to pull it, push it, put it away. And people were really looking at me now. But I was completely relaxed. I had no worry in the world. So I'd been to jail before I visited the alpine tour. Now you get three meals there. You watch the TV and the. The beds inside are much more comfortable. In my monasteries. I didn't care if I go. If I go to jail. It's more comfy in that after all this work, you know, talking about people's problems. So anyway, just when I went to the customs, of course, I come over here. They come in through your stuff. And one of the nice things about being a monk. You don't have much belongings if you stuff a little bowl in the back. And that's what I travel with. And so I only took about five minutes to go through it all. And so now what have you got? You know, underneath it's very easy to because a robe you've got no buttons on simply just open it and have a look. Easy. So I attended a strip search. So they could actually sell anything. And they said, okay, well, first of all, I said, where are the drugs? I say, no, I don't have drugs to answer, approved it because I open up everything and say, well, why did that dog stop? No, twice, just at you requesting us. I say no because banks have a loving kindness. And I started to explain about better to him and he said, get out of here. The best way of getting faith in the customs officials is trying to convert them. He. But the point of the whole story was because I was completely relaxed. I didn't care what happened because you weren't judging yourself. You weren't trying to live up to somebody's expectations. You were relaxed. That's how you sort of peace with such such incidents. If you say, oh, what are people going to think about me? You know, I think I'm a drug addict. Oh, well, people are going to think about me. What are they going to say about me if I go to jail? I see how much what we think other people think of us. Other people's praise and blame just controls our life. How many women worry about your appearance because you're worried what other people think of you? How many men? Why do other people think of you? And what a pressure that is on your life. Here's a wonderful just to relax and well, are people taking me? That's their business. They can't tell who I am. How can they judge me? How can I measure me? They just do not know the problems and difficulties, the pain, the pressures. They don't know my history. How can they judge? Then you become free. Of the prison of the comments of other people. Wouldn't that be wonderful? You can just be yourself and enjoy yourself as you are rather than what other people think of you. They can criticize you. They can blame you. They can call you all sorts of names. Who cares? Why allow other people to control your happiness? Why allow a few words, a few criticisms to make you to spoil your day? I refuse to allow what other people say to me to make me unhappy. I absolutely refused. How many times. Being a monk. Wearing these funny clothes. People do stuff to say funny things to you. Why did he get a proper job? You bludger! The. You. Know when there is a Superman? Superman movies were on. That was one of the best comments I got. Someone saw him and said, Superman. I thought it was actually quite a compliment. Really. You know, you've got a robe, you've got, like, a cape, like Batman. Anyway, so there's no need to worry what other people think of you. Now, if you can do that, what your husband or your wife says about you. If you don't worry what they say about you, they can call you camel face. They can call you pig face, whatever they call you. If you don't get worried about it, they'll stop calling you those names. They only call you names to get a negative reaction because they want to control your happiness for one reason or another. If you refuse to allow other people to control your happiness, people stop calling you names. It's a waste of time. Those kids in school who get bullied say people call you names and laugh. Don't ever allow other people to control your happiness. If they call you names, they criticize you, they blame you. They call you stupid. They call you an idiot. Whatever is the only reason why we do get upset is when we believe they may be right. Otherwise, why would you get upset when someone calls you an idiot? Because you think there might be one. But if you know they're wrong, then that's the end of the problem. Well, I'm not an idiot, so you just got it wrong. And I'm not going to care what you say. You're no judge and jury. Who knows who's competent to know me. So that way the blame doesn't stick. And when blame doesn't stick where we don't receive blame, then people will stop blaming us. They stop criticizing us when they stop criticizing us, when they start blaming us. That way, maybe we may stop blaming ourselves and criticizing ourselves, just not even allow my stupid thoughts to control my happiness. I can't change myself and I'm not going to trust myself. I'm not going to measure myself. How can I measure myself? How can I still say, well, I'm a good mark of a bad monk? Or no sort of wise monk or not so wise monk. I'm just gonna be a peaceful man. Can't you enjoy myself? That's enough. Now, I think you're getting some understanding about praise and blame and how to overcome that. Too many people in our society suffer from depression, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence. Why have you got lack of confidence? Because you're afraid. What other people are going to think about you? What are they going to say about you? Why is it that after all these talks give the opportunity? Any questions? Any questions? You've all got lots of questions. No. You talk about them on the way home, but you don't ask them. Now, why is that? Because. Oh, what people are gonna think about me? Because of that lack of confidence, because of that lack of that fear of what other people are going to say about us. You can see how that cripples us in our life. Finding a partner in life. Sometimes we don't speak to each other from our hearts because we're afraid. What's he going to say if I say this? What is she going to think of me if I do that? Can we just relax and be ourselves? Certainly that I learned confidence as a young man. And it's actually one of the reasons why when. I'd go and speak to youth groups. I spoke to one of the youth groups in Singapore when I was over there this last week. When you're talking to a youth, when you're teaching Buddhism to young people, you go to. Talk to what they're interested in to make it relevant to their lifestyle. So what were the youth in Singapore concerned about? The boys were concerned about girls. No, girls were concerned about boys. Basically I said about 90% or they were concerned about. So I decided to teach them mindfulness. On how to set up a goal. Yeah. If Buddhist Dharma make it relevant to people. And I certainly used to tell the story that when I was a man chatting up girls, you know, many of you have had that experience. The boy comes out. If you were a girl or as a boy, you plan what you're going to say because you're afraid of what she might think of you. You get all nervous and you blow it. You say stupid things. I did that many, many times as a young man. And I decided that's not the right way. So I decided I'm going to relax. I will enjoy myself. I don't care what she thinks of me. And then when you do that, you relax. You're confident. You're just having a good time. You're mindful but not mindful of what other people think of you. You will actually come across as confident and that really, really works. So teaching the boys how to pick up girls. And I was teaching the course using Buddhist principles. About how to keep their boyfriends. You could have a mindfulness. Find out what he likes. Be sensitive to that mindfulness and sensitivity. Is listening, learning, fully listening. So that was the point as well. So this is the way that I was teaching. I said, okay, this is the way I was teaching people how these Buddhist values actually apply in daily life, make it relevant to people, and in particular hear about praise and blame. One of the big problems in Western societies in Australia in depression, depression, depression, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, not being able to communicate with one another. Why is that? Because we're just too concerned what other people think of us with two concern about price and blame. We're too concerned about measuring, too concerned, what we look like, how we come across, rather than just relaxing and being not ourselves, but being no self. Allowing yourself to do stupid things but never thinking you're stupid. Allow yourself to make mistakes, but not thinking that you are a mistake. That way we become free. An immense burden of pain and suffering is taken away from us. It's as if, like we were in a prison of praise and blame and always seeking praise and always being afraid of blame, always being a prisoner of criticism. And now we're free. We're not measured by anybody. We're not measuring ourselves. It was being ourselves and enjoying it. If you're ugly, you're enjoying being ugly. If you're old, you enjoying being old. If you're whatever else it is, you're enjoying who you are making the most out of it instead of trying to be somebody else. A lot of. Problems is trying to be somebody else, and you don't really know who you are yet, and you're always trying to be someone different. Why don't you just let go and be yourself? You find you're not half as bad as you think you are. When you really relax on that go, you're confident. You're at peace. You're happy because you haven't got the stress and the pain, or trying to be someone else and not liking yourself. You. Can leave your husband. You can divorce your wife. You can leave your job and change your job. You can even move to another country. But you can't get away from you. You are stuck with you for the rest of your life. And actually, in Buddhism, you're stuck with you for many more lives as well. You can get away from everyone else, but you can't get away from you. Understanding that profound truth that you are stuck with you for many, many more lives, you might as well sort of deal with the problem of not liking yourself, sometimes hating yourself, being depressed, even some people who commit suicide. We don't believe in suicide in Buddhism. It just doesn't work. When you kill yourself, you're still there afterwards. So it doesn't work. That's why I don't believe in it. So whatever happens when you do these things, it's not. Solving the problem just gets rid of the body. It's like a person with a sort of a driving along with a sore foot, and they sort of throw away the car. They still got the sore foot because the foot, the pain is not in the body. The pain is in the mind. Kidding. The body just gets rid of the body. It doesn't get rid of the mind. If you're depressed and you kill yourself, you're even more depressed afterwards. You can't do anything right. Can you get rid of depression? Right. So where do you understand? You've got to live with yourself for a long time. At least get this lack of self-esteem under control, and at least get rid of all this self criticism, self-hatred, anger towards yourself. My goodness, why can't you be at peace with yourself to love yourself? To love yourself does not mean liking yourself. That's praised. Liking yourself. Loving yourself is accepting yourself. The door of my heart is open to me. No matter who I am, no matter what I do. Unconditional. I'm not measuring. Not praising and blaming and trying to live up to something. The door of my heart is opened to me. No matter what I've ever done, no matter what I ever do. So this is not making what you do. Ask yourself, there can be stupid things or wise things which you do. Love is independent of that. Accepting yourself in spite of your stupid actions and your wise actions. Seeing herself beyond that. All those things which you do and say, they're not you. The stupid axe. But you're not a stupid person. Loving kindness toward my heart is open to me no matter who I am. That's learning how to be at peace with yourself. Not liking yourself. Not hating yourself. Being at peace with yourself. It doesn't fit with any of those three conceits. I am better, I am worse, I am the same. You're not measuring yourself at all, just accepting yourself however you are. And that is perhaps the biggest goal of life. Coming home, being at peace with yourself. Getting beyond all praise and blame, all measuring all criticism. When you do make a mistake, it's just the act which makes a mistake. Not yet. So that's all you're getting today. So whether you like it, you don't like it. I don't care. Now I'm going to see how many people understood my talk. See if there's any questions. Who's got the nerve? The lack of self measurement. Measuring to ask the first question. Are you afraid what people are going to think of you when you ask a question? Very good. It's great. That is a stupid question. So there's a radio station with. But. Thank you very much. Yeah. It's always worth placing things which are worthy of praise. Encourage them, but be careful, because sometimes people become addicted to praise. They always want praise. And sometimes they can't get praise and they feel upset. And sometimes we, if we get addicted to praise, that is also becomes a bit of a burden for us. Because, you know, in a relationship. When you first fall in love, you praised every day. But, you know, after a few months, you know, the place tends to wither away. If you become addicted to price, the thing that's necessary for your relationship, you're getting in trouble. So is the addiction to price as well. And after a while, I think what they're really pricing me for. Maybe for children to give them a sort of an encouragement in life. But isn't it more wonderful just to please you? Not because you did a wonderful picture. Just praise you for who you are. Otherwise, it's only the top kids in the class at face. And the other ones don't get anything at all. So encouragement is good. But I think encouragement is to be fair. Encourage everybody. You know, that story went I was a school teacher. And of course there has to be one child comes bottom of the class. So, you know, I saw after giving out the results in maths, I was a maths teacher, this poor little boy and I got the results. He was bottomed 30th, I think it was 30 in the class, 30th in the class. And you look so despondent and depressed. How was that compassionate teacher? So I went up to him and said, look, I know you can bottom in the class, but what you've done is a wonderful act of self-sacrifice. Because someone has to come bottom of the class and you've taken an awful position this year, so no one else has to suffer. In Buddhism, we call our bodhisattva someone who gives up their own happiness for other people. And so. So you're the hero. You're like the martyr. You're taking that terrible position so no one else has to suffer. So it's a wonderful thing you've done. Now you deserve a medal, I said. And this little boy looks probably as if I was crazy. He was probably right. But when I said that, it just broke his depression. He laughed. And okay, they use bottom that year, but they say he did much better. And if somebody else has turned next year to make the heroic sacrifice. So when I do stupid things like that is to turn it around so that people don't get into this place of business. Someone's going to come bottom some of the other top. Does that really mean they're worthy of praise or worthy of playing? Sometimes you cry. Maybe had a bad day when he was doing the sums that day. May I just been a bit tired or not feeling well? So when you stop, a lot of praise from blame, especially when people grow up and encourage them, maybe encourage yourself. Be encouraged yourself to be peaceful, to be free. You don't need to be a great success in that. And what is success anyway? Look at me. Can you? I haven't got a penny to my name. I despise the word. I'm a complete failure. I haven't got any superannuation. I don't know what Mr. Costello thinks about me. Anyway. Thank you for that question. So thank you for those great questions. I shouldn't actually say grace. I've been praising you now. Thanks for those, uh, questions. Anyway, so now we can have the announcements to sum up for this evening. I know that, uh, I'll make the one announcement about this. An ordination on Sunday at my monastery. One of the novices is going to become a monk. So anyone who hasn't seen how you make monks. At a ceremony that's going to be held at Bodine at a monastery in serpentine around about 1215 on Sunday, and the person is becoming a monk. He is sitting next to me. So if an editor is going to become a former icon, his parents are here. His mom and his friends are here today. So thank you for the parents for coming. I think they listened to the talk today. I hope they like it. And he's going to become the monk tomorrow. This is his one chance for stardom. And then for the next ten years, he's just the ordinary man at the end of the line. So that's on Sunday. Okay. Other announcement.