Dealing with Tiredness | Ajahn Brahm | 19 Feb 2016

Stretch and cough as loud as you like now. You’re not going to disturb anybody. Scratch knees, move your legs, move your bum. Get yourselves comfortable for the next
part of this evening’s festivities. The Dhamma talk. Excellent. So for this evening’s Dhamma talk
I had all sorts of ideas what I was going to speak about,
actually not many of them, but it’s quite obvious what I should speak about tonight, because it’s a problem which is common to so many people and I’ve just been feeling it and
overcoming it though this meditation: tiredness. Now, 3, 4, 5 years ago,
I cannot remember when, that’s the trouble with living in the
present moment, as a monk we don’t get dementia, we just get
living-in-the-present-momentness [laughts] so we don’t really think too
much about past and future. So other people say – when did that happen?
“In the past somewhere” we don’t exactly remember when,
and it’s not as if you don’t want to remember, it’s just the efficiency of
the brain and living in this moment rather than always living in that past. But a few years ago when I was teaching overseas as I often do, I was invited to spend the day at a
youth seminar in Kuala Lumpur, it’s a very interesting occassion,
about 400-500 young people 15-25, doing all sorts of interesting stuff,
one of the things they were doing is that they asked all the people there,
what is your most difficult emotion as 15-25 year old, mostly Chinese
Buddhists over in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. What do you find most difficult of all
in life? And the answer which came up was tiredness.
I never expected that before, but once they said that it was
quite obvious why people are tired even when they are in the late teen years, 15 to 25.
You can remember your time as a young man, a young woman, the pressure
is really on you. You have to do well at school,
your parents and teachers and friends say it’s really important,
so you have to do really well at homework and get good grades. That’s one of the problems with young people,
parents tell me off for this, but I’m supporting young people, it doesn’t matter so much what grades you get at school. People have found, Daniel Goldman,
emotional intelligence, found out that the grades you get at school and
University, all those certificates, they don’t really count for much when it
comes to success in life. Success is not guaranteed by doing
well at school. Something else is. That’s why I was telling people just yesterday,
in Singapore, came though there on the way back from Thailand, that if ever your kids get an “F” at school,
did they ever work out what “F” means? I was a schoolteacher.
“F” means Fantastic. [laughter] If they get an “E” that means Excellent. But if they get an “A” that means Arrogant.
[laughter] All these people getting so proud of getting
As and straight As, they really are a pain in the butt, aren’t they.
So full on themselves, “I got straight As…” So I prefer the Fs, the Fantastics.
The Excellents. Because it’s not so much the pressure on succeeding in that competition to get good grades, or to get
a place in a good university, look at me, I got a place at one of the
best universities, and what happened to me, didn’t do me any good going to
Cambridge, I might as well have gone to any old college, even no
college at all. Actually, if I hadn’t gone to Cambridge,
I’d probably have become a monk even earlier. That would’ve been good,
but anyway, this is just what happens in life, but you learn something there. On that subject, I like rambling,
one of the important events in my life as a student which turned me more towards
being a monk rather than being an academic. At the time I didn’t realise its
importance but when you look back and you find these are the crucial
experiences which direct you in life, and that was when, I was a Buddhist at
university, I had a few other Buddhists, but one of my best friends was a Christian,
a very strong pracitising Christian, he became a hippy later in life,
but anyway he was a really strong Christian. And he told me one day that together with
a couple of his friends in Bible Study class they’d started to volunteer once a week
to go to the local hospital for those who had mental disabilities and volunteer. And when he told me that I didn’t want to go, but I felt if I didn’t go I was letting down the team,
Buddhism. So the only reason I volunteered to go was just ego, just pride,
“if the Christians can do it, the Buddhists can do it as well!”
That’s what it was. I’m being quite honest – I just went there
because he was going there, so I had to go there. But a strange thing happened!
Like many things in life, you go and do something for one reason,
you find other reasons start to become predominant and it really changes your life.
Because those Christians, they went for two or three weeks and then dropped out.
I went there for two years. Every afternoon when I was up in
Cambridge and I would re-arrange tutorials and everything so I could go there.
I loved it and I wondered why, why did I enjoy going there?
I was helping out in the occupational therapy unit for those people with Down’s Syndrome.
It was incredible to see the emotional intelligence those kids had, not kids, young men, young women. Even though I never knew the words “emotional intelligence” this was in 1969-1971 or something, still, they were just so sensitive to a world I hadn’t really been trained in.
And I always remember, on a couple of occasions, I was a young man, you’d split up with your girlfriend, you’d go there and they’d pick it up straight away! I wouldn’t need to tell them, they’d come running out and give me a hug. “Why are you doing that?” “There is something wrong isn’t there?”
“How the heck do you know that?” And they were just so sensitive to my feelings,
they got to know me and love me. And they had this incredible emotional sensitivity.
And when I was sitting next to Nobel laureates, which I did in a place like that, they were socially so insensitive, they hadn’t got an emotional neuron in their brains. Well they did, I’m exaggerating there. But when it came to the professors of life, I preferred to spend the afternoon with people with Down’s Syndrome. I learnt much more from them. And I grew much more from them. I had to empathise with people. When you’re with professors, or lecturers or even your friends, they were all talking, ah…the word is… “gomayan” [?] it takes me a long while to say, it’s the Pali word for bullshit. You know all in their head, no idea
of their feelings. The boys and the girls couldn’t understand how to get on with each other, just all fantasies and dreams and ideas and philosophies. You go with these people with
Down’s Syndrome, and they felt, they knew the emotions. They couldn’t do well at school, they were terrible at things like maths, but when it came to being able to feel what you’re feeling and actually be kind to you, they were geniuses. And it came to the point I’d rather spend the afternoon with those people than with professors. I didn’t know why at the time but it would actually encourage me in another area of life, this great emotional intelligence. It’s because we’re not sensitive to that inner world
of emotions, we keep thinking too much, doing too much, it’s one of the reasons why we’re tired.
But anyway, these young kids I saw, that was their biggest problem in life.
And once they told me that, told everybody, they opened up huge areas of improving
our lives both physically and emotionally, and with relations as well. How many of you when you come home
from work are grumpy? Even angry? So many people keep asking me:
“My husband is in such a bad mood every time, he’s always shouting at the kids,
he’s a terrible pain in the neck to live with. Why? Can you get him some anger management counselling or something?” I basically say, well teach him how to sleep at night. Teach him how to have a good rest.
See if he can overcome that tiredness which is so deeply embedded in our
humanity today. I’m only saying this because this is how I
understand things, there is no research to back me up here, but I’m sure that if
people did that research they’d probably discover what I know, and that is that
it’s tiredness that creates so many divorces, so many relationships would break up
because of tiredness. And sicknesses such as cancers,
heart disease, because of tiredness. And even other things, an obvious
sickness which is very prevalent today is depression – a very deep tiredness.
It’s such an obvious thing that there’s a big problem in this world.
Maybe you’ve had times of tiredness it’s as if the world is too heavy to
bear any longer. You really have to push so hard just to get by,
the struggle takes so much energy, and at times you have no more energy to give,
you go into this hole of depression, just absolutely low energy, nothing to give
to anything, can’t even get out of bed sometimes. Then you want to get out of bed,
don’t want to eat or do anything. Simply because you’ve got absolutely no energy at all,
you are deeply tired. We now have chronic fatigue syndrome.
I don’t remember that when I was a kid. Why is that? Of course obviously, that
is a problem, tiredness, and the reason is because we have so much to do
in this world. The reason I’m rushing off after this talk is
because there’s a monk Bhante Gunaratana, a very famous monk,
a really nice monk, he’s been here before, he’s 88, and he was supposed to come and teach a meditation retreat at Jhana Grove this weekend. When we heard he was here we moved
Heaven and Earth to try to get him to come here to get the retreat free for that weekend
and advertise it, buy him the airline tickets. But then he got too sick.
So his doctor said no, you can’t come. So where does the buck stop?
At the top – so I’ve got to teach the retreat in his place.
I should be relaxing this weekend, I’ve just been on a long trip to Thailand
teaching so many hours. And on Monday morning I’m off again
to Korea to teach there. This should be a rest for me.
So I am tired. But I could be exhaused but there
is another thing which I know, what happens when you’ve been
a meditator monk for so many years, how to deal with that tiredness,
so it doesn’t cause you depression, irritation, anger, all these other emotional and physical
sicknesses. How do we deal with tiredness in this world?
We have to do much more than maybe our ancestors did. So how do we deal with that tiredness?
One – if you’re tired you can’t afford to worry about the future. You haven’t got any spare energy to waste.
So sometimes when I’m very busy I refuse to look at my calendar. If I looked at my calendar,
“whoa” no one could ever do that. Some of the other monks look at it,
“how do you do that Ajahn Brahm?” “Because I don’t look at it.” You do live in the present moment,
because how much energy do you waste worrying that you will not be able to cope? I never do that because I know
just how that is going to be awful. I told one of the monks today, because I was just
really exhausted, I remember a time when I was a young monk in Thailand, wondering around from monastery to monastery, having a great sense of freedom but on this occasion I’d been travelling all day
from just after lunch, our lunch is about 9:00 and that’s it for the day, and then travelling all day
in hot weather, I was in a Thai bus, not like the Thai buses these days, Thai buses these days are
fantastic – people say what are you talking about. I’ve been there, it’s not fantastic, this was 40 years ago,
and this really hot and cramped small seat for two, and there’s usually three in there plus a chicken
or pig or something else, I don’t know what else, cramped up for hours after hours after hours,
and finally got to this monastery where I was supposed to be going to, I rememer the time, 5:45
in the evening and checked-in, there was two monks there, “Welcome, you can stay here but you’ve got
15 minutes to take a quick bath because at 6:00 we all have to meditate for 4 hours, no moving.” “What?! I’ve been on the road all day, I’m tired,
I’m not going to be able to handle that!” But…the wisdom of my practice kicked in,
I think I’ve said this a couple of weeks ago, the story of moving the wheelbarrows of earth,
if you haven’t heard that story it’s in Opening the Door of Your Heart,
one of the first books which I wrote, It’s a story of how as a young monk
I have to move earth from 9 o’clock in the morning to 9 o’clock in the evening
for 3 days because my teacher wanted it to be moved. It’s really hard work,
really heavy labour, but you don’t mind. I was fit and healthy, I’m fit and healthy now.
It finished, and that night Ajahn Chah went to another monastery and the second monk,
he’s the head monk now, said, “You put it in the wrong place, move it.”
Another 3 days of hard work. I can handle that..but you get very dirty,
and just sweaty, and mosquitos, you got both hands on the wheelbarrow,
you can’t keep the misquitos off you, you’re sweating, and oh the mosquitos they really have a great lunch when you’re working like that, so after 6 days, finished at last. That night my master Ajahn Chah came back and the following morning said, “Why have you moved the earth over there? I thought I told you to move it in that other spot. MOVE IT!” Another 3 days of hard physical labour. In the mosquito-ridden sweaty jungles. Those people who worked for the Japanese in the Second World War, I know what they felt like. Honesty. Really hard work, actually, they were, we were malnourished as well. You should see photos of me in those days, nothing like now, you wouldn’t recognise me, honestly from what I look like today. Being a bit fat today is just balancing what I did when I was young, it’s fair. [laughs] Anyway, really hard work, and when it came to the next day, 6 days already passed and 3 more days of hard work were in front of me, I started complaining. I was exhausted, tired, had enough. I complained, I always say, it was great in those days because there were hardly any other
Westerners there. Just working with the Thai monks and the Laotian monks, so you could swear in English. I thought no-one would understand you. But even though they never understood any English just they could pick up your body language, you were really suffering. And that was when one of the monks, I forget who it was, but whoever you are, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for what you taught me because he said to me, “pushing the wheelbarrow is easy, thinking about it is the hard part.” He got me, he nailed me. I was thinking about it, that was the hard part of pushing a wheelbarrow for another three days. Doing it is easy, and so, thank you, thank you, thank you, I stopped thinking about it and it became fun again. We had races with the other monks, who’d get there first. You know, your turn to go on the shovel, putting earth into the wheelbarrow, oh sorry, did I throw it a bit hard? Oh sorry. On purpose of cause. Just having fun and games, messing around. But anyway, I am pretty playful. I went to a conference in Vietnam a couple of years ago, and if you go to conferences, big organised conferences, the organisers want you to see some of the sights. I don’t like being a tourist but you had no choice. So I was in the middle of Vietnam somewhere, to these lakes and underground tunnels and stuff, where you go through in a barge, fascinating beautiful place but on the way back… Actually, weird, I was representing Singapore, not Australia, so I was in the Singapore boat and there was another Singapore boat, we had the Theravada monks in our boat, and the Mahayana monks in the other boat, so I looked at them and said “Right, a race, who’s better, the Mahayana or the Theravada? [laughter]. Those are the two parts of Buddhist so we had a race between Mahayana and Theravada. I was in the Theravada boat paddling for all I could and the Mahayana monks were paddling really hard as well just to see who would win, and of course it’s obvious, the Theravada would win, it’s obvious, if you know anything about Buddhism, because the Mahayana, they are Boddhisatvas, they even let other people get to Enlightenment before they do, so they made us get to the finishing line before they did, that’s their tradition [laughter]. Just playing around. Monks have a lot of fun. We do really stupid things sometimes but it’s good fun. Religion can be far too serious and I just really rebel against serious religion. But anyway, this was where I learnt how to have fun, because I was exhausted moving those wheelbarrows but instead of thinking about it I just did it. And all the tiredness vanished. It’s like this evening, all the tiredness vanishes when you
stop thinking about it. Thinking about the future, worrying about it, because most of your energy gets wasted in thinking. If you are tired, if you’ve had a really busy day, for goodness sake, you can’t afford to think! And complain…and worry… and get afraid.. and plan this..and plan that… Your brain is exhausted, give it a break! But what do people do when they’re tired, they get grumpy, they don’t know how just to be. They always tend to think too much and that is the most important reason why people are tired. Thinking way too much rather than just doing it. I don’t know what you’re going to do this weekend so don’t just think about it, just do it. Tell that to your husband who has to clean out the garaga – “I’m busy” Say, “don’t think about it husband, just do it” [laughter] You’ve got to go and have a biopsy. Don’t just think about it because you get really exhausted thinking “oh…..is it cancer? I’m going to die..” Don’t just think about it, just do it. Even dying itself, dying is okay, just don’t think about it, just do it. [laughter] The thinking about it is the problem but don’t actually do it on purpose, just when it happens. That’s one of the reasons why I learnt that much of tiredness is the physically exhaustion which you can’t do too much about, actually you can do something about it, but the major part of tiredness is the mental, emotional, tiredness. Emotional tiredness is because you’re trying way too hard. I don’t know why you’re trying. Sometimes people try because, “oh I have to.”
No you don’t. “But, but, my boss expects me to do some work.” As long as he thinks you’re doing some work that’s good enough for the boss [laughter]. How many of you read, I love reading cartoons, the Dilbert cartoon. I remember that Wally, in the Dilbert cartoons Wally is this guy in the office, you only ever see him carrying a cup of coffee from the left to the right, the right to the left, he never does any work, he just carries the coffee backwards and forwards, and it appears like he’s doing some work, that’s why he keeps his job. Maybe that’s why I keep my job, appearance. [laugher] No anyway, so there’s another lovely cartoon which I saw the other day, rambling again, somebody sent it to me and it’s a wonderful one to talk about – why people worry about death. Just don’t worry, it hasn’t happened yet, don’t think about it, don’t worry about the future. And this cartoon was of Peanuts, you know Snoopy and Charlie Brown, those wonderful characters. And honestly, read those comics, because you get far more sense out of those comics than you ever do out of editorials or other news articles. They’re far more insightful. And this Peanuts, this Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy, must have been on vacation somewhere, they were on a pier and they were sitting there enjoying the afternoon, this beautiful view, just mountains and lakes and waters, having a beautiful afternoon there, and Charlie Brown says to his dog Snoopy, “You know Snoopy, all of us one day will die.” And Snoopy, this great philosopher, he really is wise dog, much wiser than human beings, Snoopy says, “True, one day all of us will die, but most days all of us won’t die.” [laughter] What a wise thing to say.
Yeah, one day you’ll die but most days all of us won’t. [laughter] So why are you getting so negative? So don’t think about it, because thinking about those things, that more than anything else, is what tires us. So you get your kids trying to get good
scores in TER, don’t think about it! Doesn’t matter that much,
if you can do well in that fine… If it’s natural, if you’re naturally gifted then fine but don’t push yourself too hard for goodness sake. Some parents get really upset at me for that but I want those kids to have emotional intelligence, to feel loved and respected even if they don’t do well in those examinations. As I keep saying, half of your children,
all the people here today, half of your children will be below average intelligence. Come on, it’s logical, it has to be that way, half of your children will be below average intelligence, it has to be, that’s what average means! If you’re all Einsteins, half of the Einsteins have to be below average. [laughter] But what do you think – “oh not not my kids,
their kids, okay, but not mine!” So look, give your kids a break, let them be, because if you take the pressure off your kids at at early age, they won’t get so tired and they will develop the emotional intelligence which I saw in those Down’s Syndrome people. Beautiful people. They couldn’t do sums, they couldn’t be electricians, they could be a monk. They felt, they were sensitive, and they had these beautiful relationships with each other. Brothers and sisters, institutionalised, but really really kind. I saw that. Now what type of person do you want to be? Your kids to be? They weren’t tired, they had fun. And when we accept ourselves for what we are, instead of..going back to your kids, don’t push them, let them just develop, nurture them, encourage them, inspire them, but who knows what they will be in this life? They’re not all going to go to University and it’s terrible that everyone has to go to University – there’s so much more to the world and life! So many people in this world, University kills them. There was a graffiti which I remember outside the philosophy department, no, this was actually outside the physics lab in Cambridge. Graffiti in those days, you’d actually go looking for it because it was really profound. And that was – “exams – kill by degrees”. It’s a wondeful pun – they kill by degrees. They kill learning, they kill the excitement of investigating knowledge, we have to be tested and graded – who gets the best. It actually kills emotional intelligence, academic insitutitions, mostly, maybe they’ve changed somewhere, most of them them they kill that ability to explore and also to cooperate with each other, because scores are all personal, you have to compete against your best friends. And of course that causes a lot of tiredness. A lot of “you have to live up to something
you can’t be.” That is a stress of life. Me, I don’t have any stress
giving public talks. Years and years and years ago I
worked it out, so simple! That if I give a public talk and you guys like it,
wonderful! I get so much joy seeing you happy and see I can actually
help you and change your lives. I’m really happy if my talks are really well received. But I’m even more happy if you don’t like them! Because then you can live me alone
and I can spend more time in my cave and just enjoy my time, retire,
because you don’t like my talks, you’ve heard all the old jokes before,
all the stories before, so none of you actually come here,
brilliant! That actually is my trick, is my stratgy.
It did not work! I decided to write all my stories in books,
so you don’t have to come back anymore. I have to keep telling them until you get
so bored that you won’t come back. But it doesn’t work…
You keep coming back for more. You must be all masochists [chuckles]. But no.. the point was, I don’t care!
Either way life is good! You succeed, you don’t succeed. But the trouble is the pressure is on you
in this world – you only have one idea of success. Or limited ideas of what being a
successful person is. I want to try and make more ideas
of success, broaden it. Even if you’re living out in the streets,
you’re living out in the street happily. Is that success? Sometimes people think,
“oh that poor person” You ask the person and they say,
“No, I’m free, I don’t have to worry about..” It’s a bit cold maybe..
Have you lived out in the street? I remember just in the hippie years,
camping out under bridges. I remember as a monk, one of the
most wondeful times I had as a monk was when we had to leave the monastery in
in Thailand after 5 years, you had your basic training,
out, out, out, go! And we had to just walk and
eveything I owned I carried with me. It wasn’t that much, you could walk,
it was light. All my possessions were on my back and it never ached.
And it was a beautiful feeling of freedom, like being a bird,
and you could be a bird as a human being, and every crossroad I came to you could go
any directions you wanted, you had no pressure on you
to get anywhere, to achieve anything, you had no deadlines, no appointments,
you just “that’s a nice direction, I’ll go there.” You had this wonderful ability to sleep anywhere,
in a rice field, in a paddock. The best place, my teacher said to sleep
as a monk at that time was in the cremation grounds. The reason
was that Thai people were so scared of ghosts you’d be guaranteed
a peaceful evening if you went there. But if you go anywhere else
they’d always come asking you questions or whatever, so the
cremation grounds were the favourite places to go sleep at night. Everyone else was sleeping there
as well – all the corpses [chuckles] It’s a very nice place to have a sleep. But anyway, there was a beautiful feeling,
you had no pressure on you. So much freedom wherever you wanted to go. And in the morning you’d go to any
village and get enough to eat on the alms round. You didn’t need any money,
just your alms bowl. The beautiful feeling of freedom,
and even though you walked a long distance and it was hot, you never felt tired
emotionally because you hardly thought because there was nothing
to think about. What do you think about?
Your worries. Where you have to be,
how you’re going to get there. We waste so much time and energy
worrying about the future which is why if you are to overcome tiredness
and it’s a big problem for you, one of the things is please learn
how to keep your mind efficient. Doing life is easy, thinking about it
is the hard part. Living with a partner is easy,
if you think about it, it drives you crazy. Honestly, just in Thailand they were saying, “Oh, my husband keeps yapping at me,
he’s really nasty to me.” I say again, if your husband comes home
and he’s always nasty to you, says all these bad things remember
why you were born with two ears, one to go in, one to go out,
don’t keep anything! Because when you keep it,
that’s called thinking about it, you let it go immediately. The ability to let go of stuff which is not
necessary, that’s the secret of overcoming tiredness. Let go of thinking, just do it. Let go of the future, you’re exhausted
worrying about what’s going to happen next. And let go of the past – I don’t know if
I told this a couple of weeks ago but a very wonderful compliment which
I got, 2-3 weeks ago I did my annual visit to the Cancer Wellness Association,
they started off in this old house in Cottesloe, and the government, good on the Western Australian
government, they actually put a lot of money into building a huge campus,
everything to do with cancer, so there you will find the Melanoma Society,
the Prostate Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Society,
and the general wellness association, just all in one area, which is brilliant.
And I go there every year. And when I went there, I was reminded,
my 26th year going there, it’s a long time, 26 years, and they said
the reason we always invite you back, usually the first talk of the season,
the first talk of the year, to get it started in a good way,
they said 26 years ago there was a girl there, a woman, she had cancer, she got into
remission but she always worried what would happen if it came back,
and no counselor could help her, and then this monk comes along,
and tells the story of the other great philosopher, I told already
about Snoopy, the American philospher, the greatest philosopher of the last century.
But there was even an earlier English philosopher I really really respect, if you like philosophy
check out one of the best philosophers who’s ever been written about called
Winnie the Pooh [laughter] Now the other philosophers who teach in
universities there’s just full of too many words, they never get to the heart of it!
And there’s Winnie the Pooh, one of my favourite stories, it would’ve
been in Opening the Door of Your Heart, I actually wrote to Disney who has the
copyright for Winnie the Pooh now and they said “absolutely no!”
Because Disney is so commercial they won’t allow anybody, even though
it’s a tiny tiny little bit from that book Winnie the Pooh, but anyway
the story was which I told 26 years ago at the Cancer Wellness Association,
the story was about Winnie the Pooh and little Piglet walking through the forest
when there was a storm and twigs were coming down, branches were coming down,
and then trees started getting uprooted. Storms are dangerous. You shouldn’t be
out in a storm in a forest and so Piglet was really afraid and his fear got so huge
he turned to Winnie the Pooh and said “I can’t go any longer!
I can’t walk any longer! I’m so afraid.” “Why?” said Winnie the Pooh. “I’m so afraid that a tree might fall
when we are underneath it!” Which was a possibility…
And Winnie the Pooh shot back, which showed what a great philosopher
he was, if he didn’t have so much hair he could’ve been a Buddhist monk [laughter] He shot back with, “what would happen if
a tree fell when we were not underneath it?” And that was the end of the fear.
Because all fear is looking into the future with a negative mind, thinking of all
the things which will go wrong with a fault-finding mind, that’s called fear.
The opposite is hope, looking at the future with a positive mind,
what might go right, and you would have noticed in your life,
if you fear something, it’s more likely to happen, with hope, what you hope for
is more likely to happen. So when I told that story to this girl
26 years ago, I answered her question. What would happen if the cancer came back? The answer was – what would happen if it
didn’t come back? It never came back, and that’s why
they keep inviting me there. I come back but the cancer doesn’t
[laughter] Now you can understand,
analyse that a little deeper, it’s obvious, when you look at it a bit
deeper, if you’re worried about a cancer, “what would happen if it came back??
will it come back?” you’re getting tense, you’re getting worried,
the sort of things, the sort of stress which causes cancer, you are just putting into place.
But if you think, what happens if it doesn’t, you don’t worry about it, which means you’re
more relaxed, more healthy, and the chances are the cancer is not
going to come back. You increase the chances of success,
good health, happiness, and also you don’t get so tired,
worrying about what will happen. Deeper, this is meditation teachings
but it’s brilliant teachings – “two parts to the human mind”,
this is why people get tired. I call it the doing and the knowing.
If you’ve been to any of my meditation teachings you will know this, it’s a very
powerful way of looking at the human mind. The doing mind is what reacts,
it’s reacting to what I’m saying, thinking about it, saying,
“oh that’s good” or “that’s rubbish”, that reaction is called doing.
Planning, remembering, figuring out things, initiating action,
deciding to walk, figuring out what you’re going to do when
you leave here, what you’re going to do on the weekend, all that is part of the doing mind. The other part of the mind is just
what knows. The passive consciousness,
just being aware, feeling the itch on your arm,
feeling the coolness of this room, hearing the sound of the traffic
in the distance. Just knowing.
Now, once you know the difference between those two parts of the human
mind it won’t take you long to notice that most of your mental energy,
over 90% of it, goes into doing stuff, reacting.
Which means you’ve hardly got anything left just to know, to be aware, to feel.
Which is why so many people, they can’t even see the stars at night,
even when they’re up, they’re just doing too much.
They can’t feel the wind, they don’t know when it rains,
they’re too busy doing something else, they’re not alive, and they’re also
very very tired, doing far too much,
being far too little. What happens, if instead of actually
thinking you just “are”, just feeling, feeling the wind, feeling the cold,
feeling the heat, walking back to the car with your shoes off, feeling the stone
or the grass under your feet. You feel alive,
but not just feeling alive, you are feeding energy into knowing,
taking it away from doing so much. When you put energy back into
passive awareness – knowing, mindfulness – tiredness starts to go.
You wake up because the mental tiredness is the knower with
very low energy. Put energy into the awareness and
you’ll feel awake. A good example of that is having a
cup of coffee. Before you have a cup of coffee
you’re miserable. Have a cup of coffee, you can feel more,
you’re awake, you’re alive, you can see things, you can hear things,
you can think. That’s unnatural energy, it’s still energy,
but imagine that energy was natural. So you wake up alive.
When the mind is energised, it energises the body, that’s why
what I was doing 10 minutes after I was teaching you in the meditation
session, that’s why usually I give guided meditation almost all the way through,
but I was so exhausted, so tired, if you want to know why I’ll tell you
what I’ve been doing the last two weeks and today, if you want to know why it was there,
the reason, I should be exhausted, I taught you for 20 minutes, and then right,
no more doing anything, kept my mind really still,
getting energy pouring back into awareness, you wake up alive.
Wow, that’s incredible, feeling the wind.. Can you hear that?
Feel it? Wow.. Most people wouldn’t be able to
hear that, but you did. Energy starts to come back,
tiredness vanishes. Heard a story at a global conference,
a psychologist, he’s a good psychologist, but a bit crazy, why you have to pay people
to tell you this is absolutely ridiculous. His therapy, his method of therapy,
which is very very popular, you go to his place and pay a lot of money
and he tells you to go have a walk in nature. And it works! People’s problems disappear,
he makes a lot of money, their problems disappear, that’s it.
Smart guy. But why is it – walking in nature,
or being by the ocean by yourself, not swimming or surfing, just sitting there.
When you go to a forest and just do nothing, why is that therapeutic?
Simply because energy is going back into mindfulness, into knowing,
you’re not doing so much, which means that your tiredness is going,
it’s vanishing, and when that tiredness vanishes, your health,
mental, emotional, physical, increases enormously.
You’re healing just because in nature you can’t do very much.
Check it out this weekend. You’ve got a choice – go shopping
or go into the forest. And check what you feel like afterwards.
One is so much doing you come back tired. You go to a forest, or by a beach,
a quiet place by yourself, go into King’s Park or whatever,
walk around the river quietly, not really doing much, and you find your
tiredness vanishes. Please for goodness sake, give yourself a break.
Too many people getting cancers, too many partners breaking up.
Too many kids just not being able to connect with their parents, because their
parents can’t connect with them, because they’re too tired.
Not being able to listen because they’re too dull. For goodness sake understand
tiredness is one of the biggest scourges of our modern age, and there’s many many
ways, especially what you’re heard tonight, can overcome that tiredness and I’ve proved
it just by giving a talk, for 50 minutes, even though by all reasonable people
it should have been impossible. Thank you for listening.
Sadhu!! Sadhu!! Sadhu!! Okay, that’s energy! Very good. What have we got here?
From Ireland, France and London! Wow, Europe.
How do we deal with the tiredness with people telling us we’re wrong,
or that stuff we believe in is wrong? Just tell them – yeah you’re right,
I am wrong. When I went to Malaysia a lot, this is one of the problems.
In Malaysia there are also many Christians, and these are the evangelical ones,
the ones that want to convert everybody.. And so there was a problem in Malaysia,
also in Singapore, there’s an old Buddhist man, been Buddhist all his life,
but his grandkid or his son had become an evangelical. Everyone else was Buddhist.
Or even Hindu, or whatever. And the son would think, “My father will go
to hell if he doesn’t convert..” So he’d go with his friends, and his pastor,
by the bedside of this really sick and dying person, and keep harassing them until they
converted, and it was such a painful experience that even I think the Singapore government
made rules against that. But someone asked me – what was your advice? If that’s my son, my grandson, I’m dying, he comes with his pastor,
his friends and they start talking about the Bible, Hallelujah, and I’m going to go
to hell if I don’t convert, and Jesus is the only way,
what do I do? Don’t try to convince them they’re wrong.
You can’t. Convert! Tell them, “oh yeah that makes a lot
of sense, grandson, okay I will take Jesus as my saviour.”
And they go Hallelujah, Hallelujah, and then they leave you alone.
And as soon as they’ve walked out of the door, you can convert back again.
[laughter] Become a Buddhist. That’s my practical advice.
So if someone says, “you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
“Yeah, you’re right, I agree with you,” “I’m wrong, okay”. Then they leave you alone.
And as soon as they leave you alone, “no that’s rubbish, I was right all along”
[laughter] Otherwise it’s impossible. I say this even
with partners, whoever you’re living with, you should know by now.
[Phone rings] There we go, music to give an answer to a talk, that’s fine,
that happens, anyway it’s not your fault, it’s your mobile phone’s fault,
so don’t get angry at you, spank your mobile phone, or whatever,
put your mobile phone in detention. What was I talking about? Oh yeah,
about being wrong. There is no way in the world you will
ever be able to convince your partner that he’s wrong, no way.
And you should have found that out by now, how long have you been
living with that guy? You can’t do it. Even if you were, say,
the Prime Minister of Germany, what’s her name again?
Angela Merkel! Incredibly smart woman, very powerful,
I’m not sure if she’s married, but I bet she always loses arguments
with her husband, there’s no way she can convince her husband he’s wrong.
And Obama cannot convince Michelle, his wife, she’s wrong, it’s impossible.
Doesn’t matter how powerful, intelligent, you are, it cannot be done.
So don’t try it. Many husbands say “Yes dear, yes dear, I agree with you dear,”
and they go off and do whatever they want. [laughter] It’s true, so get used to that, wives.
So anyway, we developed, if you haven’t heard this yet,
I always tell this story when I do weddings, another wedding tomorrow afternoon.
There’s no way you can convince someone they’re wrong, so how can you actually
make a decision and actually get on in life but not always having to submit.
That really sucks doesn’t it? He’s always right, why do I
always have to agree with him? Why does she always have to be right?
So the calendar method, the solution, which allows people to live harmoniously
with their partners, the calendar method is that when you have an argument,
don’t argue who’s right and wrong! Let the calendar decide!
On the odd days of the month she is right. [laughter] The girl is always right on the odd days
of the month. On the even days he is right. So that’s fair. Today is the 19th, so today
all the girls are right! Yay! Be careful, tomorrow he is right. [laughter]
That way you don’t have to argue anymore. The calendar decides who’s right without
any arguments and you can make a decision. It’s never that bad if the other person makes
a decision, not you, at least it’s fair. And people have already figured out,
you girls have already figured out, you get more days right a year than he does.
Only about four or five, but guys, give it to them, it’s worth it.
The trouble is, people say, what happens if you’re in a gay relationship?
[laughter] Then you’ve got me stumped, it doesn’t work. Both of you are right on one
day, the next day both of you are wrong. [laughter] Anyway, when people tell you you’re wrong
I just forget about it, just let them tell you, just do it, don’t think about it,
and afterwards you realise they can tell you whatever they want,
it’s just rubbish. [Next Question] Do you think there’s a link
between tiredness, and the oxygen we breathe, pollution or how you breathe? There is a little bit of a connection
there because oxygen gives you physical energy and if it’s not much
oxygen, or it’s polluted, or something like that, of course that will impact the amount
of oxygen you can breathe in but usually the lungs compensate so if there’s not
much oxygen coming in you breathe in more. That’s what happened to me when I
went to Bhutan. It was very clear air but there’s hardly
any oxygen when you go up to Tiger’s Nest, because it’s very very high up.
At the bottom of that hill someone had an energy bar,
a little energy bar like you can buy here, a Mars bar or something, but when
they got to the top it ballooned out. They showed it to me, it was like a balloon,
because the air temperature at the top and bottom was so different that the
pressure inside at the bottom was just ordinary pressure but by the time
we got up to the top it was a balloon. So that’s how high it was, and there was
hardly any oxygen there, but what happens is that the lungs breathe in more.
So yeah, there’s a little bit between the tiredness and the oxygen but not
that much because the body usually knows how to compensate.
It doesn’t know how to compensate when you think too much.. Dear Ajahn (from London), what can a person
do when they have lost everything in their life and have torturous anxiety about the future. Remember me, I have lost everything in my life. I’ve lost my degree, it doesn’t
count for anything anymore. I’ve lost all my money, haven’t got a cent.
I had some money when I was young. What else did I lose? I lost girlfriends,
money, possessions, everything. I lost all my past, all my memories.
I lost all my fears. I’ve lost my security. I don’t have
superannuation. I’m not allowed according to how monks agree,
to take a pension. I haven’t got anything.
What would happen if you didn’t feed me tomorrow or the day after?
Ah! Now losing everything is not the problem, sometimes it gives you
a lot of freedom, you can live simply, learn to live simply.
The torturous anxiety, now that, you’ve lost possessions,
but now you’re allowing your peace to be lost as well. Recently we had a
break-in at Bodhinyana monastery. They pinched some chainsaws.
Straightaway, I said they can pinch the chainsaws, they can steal that,
but they’re not going to steal our peace and compassion. We’re not going to
worry about that. In fact it turned out to be really good because those
chainsaws were quite old and the insurance allowed us to get much better
ones. [laughter] So if ever that thief is around,
come up here and we’ll say thankyou. I shouldn’t say that but it actually
worked out good in the end. They can come into your house
and they can steal your possessions but why allow them to steal your
happiness as well? You don’t need to do that.
So you may have lost all your physical possessions, maybe lost your wife,
or your kids, or something, but you don’t need to lose your happiness.
That is losing your hope. So what you can do is restore hope.
See other people, sometimes when we have these little groups,
people in the same situation, what’s that called again?
Therapy groups, peer support groups, sometimes when we hear what other
people have gone through, which is similar to what we’ve gone through, it gives us hope
instead of fear and anxiety. That’s such an important thing to create
in your life – hope. So even if you haven’t been able to
find a partner in life, don’t give up, keep on going. If you fear you won’t,
then you will not. You can always have hope, “yes it’s possible”, then you’re opening the
doors to success. So always look into the future with a positive mind and then
your last experience will never take away your hope and where there’s
hope there is success. So thank you to those people. It’s 9 o’clock now.
So is there any questions from the floor? Good, great, bye bye. [laughter] Okay, we’re going to bow down to the
Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. I’m sorry if I can’t say hello to you,
because I have to rush off and go and teach down in Jhana Grove
for a nice retreat.

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