Ajahn Brahm focuses on how to develop the quality of mindfulness – a practice that has been central (e.g. it’s a factor of Eightfold Path and Seven Factors of Enlightenment) to the teaching of Buddhism from the start. He goes on to talk about the varying degrees of attention and the ability to know what’s going on in the mind and body.
Okay. For this evening’s talk I am gonna talk about Mindfulness. The last two talks which I have given have been much more on the theory of Buddhism. I think I will begin this season of talk as it were have to be a retreat period by talking about some of the attitudes towards death and tragedies, and last week I talked about the origin of things, source. All of those theories are very well. They may be inspiring, they may be meaningful for one as guidelines to one’s life. And this is also important to talk about the practices of time, an important part of Buddhism. It’s just like we have the guidebooks of what it’s like when you get there. We also need the directions, the how-to get there as well. And half of Buddhism, in fact a lot of Buddhism is not telling people what to believe, is very much telling people how to find out, and these are all the practices which are a part of Buddhism, and in particular this evening I want to focus on one of the practices and that is being in the heart of Buddhism from the very beginning, 25 centuries ago called Mindfulness. I know sometimes religions follow fashion and certain practices become popular or unpopular, become in or whatever, but certainly Mindfulness has been part of Buddhism from the very beginning. It has always been part of Buddhism and is central to he teaching of Buddhism. And so today I am going to talk about Mindfulness, exactly what it is and how it is practiced and what the results are. First of all I would like to mention that there are two parts of Mindfulness. The first concept is alertness, the clarity of consciousness, and the second concept of Mindfulness is what I like to call remembering instructions, it is the aspect that covers the degree of wisdom and understanding. But first of all, what most people understand about Mindfulness, attention, alertness is just the ability to know, and that needs to be explained in deeper depths because sometimes what we think of knowing can be confusing. First of all, the degree of understanding, the degree of knowing, the degree of attention vary enormously, and part of our practice of meditation is developing the ability to know. The alertness of the mind is what we called the first aspect of Mindfulness. And that first aspect of mindfulness just to know is crucial to us. If we want to avoid problems and difficulties in life, if we want to understand life, understand ourselves, certainly clarity is crucial to us. And certainly many people that practice meditation experience life, feeling they are awake sometime first time in their lives. It’s like one went through a cloud, one thought and one knew but not very deeply knowing what is going on. And because of that if we don’t know what is going on inside of you, you didn’t know what is going on outside of you. When problem arises and life’s difficulties come to you, you don’t’ know why, you don’t know the solution simply because the eyes of the mind aren’t wide enough. One of the obstacles of Mindfulness, an obstacle that shows you how Mindfulness is developed and sometimes what happens when Mindfulness is developed. One of the obstacle of Mindfulness is just the laziness of the mind, and they usually manifest as being creatures of habit. And being creatures of habit, whenever I give a talk about Mindfulness I always remind people where are you sitting this afternoon in this demo hall, and did you sit in that position last week, the week before last week, is this your spot. As far as I am concerned, I am guilty of that since I have no choice, I always have to sit here. Do you always sit at one side of the hall, do you always sit at the back, at the front? Are you creatures of habit? Because if you are a creature of habit that means you don’t have to exert your mind, you don’t have to use mindfulness. You can just go through the motions with a minimum of attention. And you can look at your relaxing time, what you do in the morning, what do you do when you go to work, and your schedule, and everything else like that. You can see that if you are just going through your routines, which hardly ever vary much, you don’t need much alertness, much mindfulness. In fact the more routine is your day, the more you feel. Life a lot of times is doing differently, the unexpected, the unplanned. That is why if you want to get some idea of mindfulness, this evening when you go out of this hall here, go out through a different door than the one you always go out from. When you drive home, drive a different way, don’t go through the same route. When you brush your teeth before you sleep tonight, don’t always brush your teeth at the same spot as you always do. Where do start brushing your teeth? Do you start from the left, the right or the middle? Start from a different place everyday. Now you might find this amusing, but if you do this you might find that you need to give more attention, more energy to this element. And because you give more energy to this element, first of all you feel more alive. It is well known for people who practice or indulge in extreme sports like bungee jumping or driving fast cars because the fear makes them feel more alert. They feel more alive which is a part of the increase in mindfulness. So those people who feel dead or depressed it is because they are always going through routines again and again. Try doing things differently, try exerting effort and energy you will feel more alert, more awake. As one practices mindfulness, one will become more alert to, for example, one’s feeling to one’s body. The mindfulness directed to the body, one of the traditional objects of mindfulness, and this was practiced by the forefolks in the subject of mindfulness. When you are practicing mindfulness of the body, you are actually feeling the body, experiencing the body. And sometimes because people are so busy doing something else, we don’t feel that we don’t know our body. So when our bodies are tired, are sick, we don’t see the signs of impending illness, and sometimes it is too late and a full-blown illness is developed. But when we practice mindfulness of the body we know the feeling, the state of the body and the body shows you the signs! I told a story of another contact the other day at the ministry, 105 school girls visited the ministry and all the monks hid, they are very well-behaved, so I talked to the school girls about my past experience as a student, about I practiced meditation before the final examinations because in university your university career depends on this one set of exams. 3 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon, an hour for lunch, 6 days in a row of theoretical physics! It’s about the lunch hour, I went back to my dorm, did not eat anything and just meditated. I need to let go the past and future, the past being the morning exam and the future being the afternoon exam. As I practice mindfulness and focus on the present, and I was quite shocked about 2 things actually: the first thing is that I realized I was nervous, I was physically shaking. It shocked me because I never thought myself as a nervous person. And more importantly is that I hadn’t noticed it before, haven’t been aware of it for so long, and must have been nervous during the morning exam and the days before, but now I stopped and looked and I can finally see what my body is doing. Now that I am mindful of my nervousness I could do something about it, I could convince myself that doing so would not help me anything, and that I should relax instead in order to perform well on the exam. And so in a short time I got rid of that nervousness, then mindfulness began to reveal another part that was hidden underneath, and that was a deep tiredness of my body and my mind. I have been working really hard, studying and revising, and my mind and body were just exhausted, especially my brain. Similarly, it was shocking because I hadn’t been aware of that. I hadn’t noticed it. It was only when I took the time to look into mindfulness that I took notice of that, and I realized that is how so many people get sick. Our bodies and minds are tired, but we were just too busy to notice that. As soon as I found out that my brain was devoid of what I like to call brain juice, was completely drained of that, I was able to do something about it, I could relax and let the energies of my body and mind to come back by relaxing. And those energies did come back quickly, I was bright and clear soon and did well. What I want to point our from that story is that mindfulness reveals problems that were deep inside my body: nervousness and tiredness. And so you can imagine people running around devoid of mindfulness and those problems can develop without being noticed. And when they don’t notice it, it will gradually build up, months after months, years after years, and then it will become a sick mess. And when it comes to mental problems, it will become anger and depression. There is an old Buddhist story, of a woman at a very high social standing, a devout Buddhist, very well respected in the community except one thing: she has a problem with anger. She is constantly blowing off people, and believing that she is a devout Buddhist, she wanted to do something about her anger, it is a problem to her. There wasn’t any psytherapist back then, only monks, and I always say that monks are better psychotherapist because we are cheaper, you don’t have to pay us anything. She went to her favorite monk and he gave her this piece of advice: carry a mirror around with you, and take it out and put it in front of you whenever you get angry to see what you look like. Being a very vain woman, she realized that she look so ugly when she becomes angry that no makeup in the world can cover up the fact that her face looked like a demon, a monster, because that’s what you look like when you get angry. So next time when your partner gets angry, take out a camera and take a picture and show them what they look like. There’s a law in Buddhism that when people get angry they will get reported as ugly. That’s actually the cause of ugly people. You might can understand this because when you get angry you kind of get stuck in the position all the time, like a monster. According to the story, one look into the mirror was enough to make stop becoming angry. I don’t believe that story, but according to the story she never got angry again. Of course, a mirror is a symbol of mindfulness, to be able to be alert about yourself, to know what’s happening inside. And if you pay attention to mindfulness, to have this alertness, then you will realize, yeah, how angers feel like in your body and your heart and you will know what it does to you and be able to get rid of anger. It feels painful, it feels extremely unpleasant. When we are mindful, we will know the cause of our anger, what triggers our anger. You are angry at her, at him at something else. We never look inside the cause, the trigger of our anger, but always on the outside, that’s why we never feel what anger feels like inside. But with mindfulness, we know exactly what is going on inside, and can fix these disastrous emotions and habits. Similar to me realizing of my tiredness and nervousness, I didn’t notice it, but once I was aware of it I could act upon it. So you will find that once you employ mindfulness, you will heal the many habitual patterns of your mind! Like people of routine who go through their day in the same way of brushing their teeth and getting up in the morning, they are not using mindfulness, they have no choice, they are simply going through the motions, they have no control over their lives in the same way that we react in a habitual way to stimuli, to people calling us stupid, fools and we just react in a normal way! That’s why we called it “pushing buttons” because reactions are predictable, but when you are being mindful you are unpredictable and you can react in different ways because you are alert to the different possibilities! You have a circuit breaker to the depression, anxiety, anger that run wide in people’s mind! For example, when you are afraid, go experience what fear feels like. What you do is not treating fear as an object, but rather go inside and experience what fear feels like. Once you go in and not just stay outside and see what it looks like inside, you realize that fear loses its power and it just fades away! It’s similar to turning off the fuel of the car! And it is useful for treating anxiety, depression, anger and all that stuff, and that is why mindfulness is so useful for dealing with many problems and create happiness! But that’s not the end of mindfulness by any means because once one creates a greater mindfulness, one becomes even more alert to what’s happening, and that mindfulness is like turning up the light in your mind! And it happen so humbly. The first time the light gets turned up and mindfulness becomes stronger, you realize how long you have been down for so many years! It’s like driving with a dirty wind screen, you can’t see the scenery outside, but once you clear that wind screen you can see clearly that it’s bright and clear outside, and this is actually a strengthening of mindfulness and this is also an important part of understanding mindfulness, and this is what I would like to call in a journal the superpower mindfulness. And this is the part where mindfulness becomes extremely interesting, not just as a tool for solving problems, but also as a way to look better into the nature of life, the texture of life. Now what is life, who are you? Because with weak mindfulness, weak alertness, life sometimes is just like living in a fog. One sort of understands, but does not full understand life, one gets into trouble and sometimes gets out of it, I don’t know what you have done, maybe you are just lucky to be able to create some happiness in your life. It’s like you constantly don’t what is going on, why you are here, what is the point of your life. But if you practice some mindfulness it’s like you are shining a bright light on existence! On existence of life from the outside, of feeling, of everything else! Well again, the shining of the bright light is the result of practicing mindfulness because what you will find what mindfulness is that it is just sometimes spread too thinly over too many things! It’s just like light that needs to be focused. When a light is spread thinly, you can see a wide area but nothing in great detail! If you focus, focus, focus, like focusing your camera, you get a sharp image of reality. I am sure you will anticipate me now because you know how to learn focusing mindfulness because we did that half an hour before I started this talk! Focusing mindfulness is a job in meditation! And I hope that you are now good with practice focusing mindfulness enough now to experience what it is like to pull all the energy disperse over the past, future, fantasies, dreams and goodness what else, start collecting it in one place. Another word for mindfulness is recollection, and actually collection is an important part of that word, putting together everything in one point, one spot. It’s like gathering the energies up for the mind. And one of the reason why people like to mediate is when you collect everything to that one spot, you feel powerful. It’s like you have a very weak flashlight and you are putting your batteries in. Instead of seeing things dark, you see things illuminated! As you develop meditation more and more, that illumination increases more and more beyond your wildest dreams! That is when a person really gets to deep mediation, trying to get to that one place, that’s why we do the breath, actually help to focus your attention. We start going to the present moment, and that’s a focusing. Silence focuses it even deeper, you are really getting some energy going. Oh, one thing, do that breath and you can really focus on that tiny part of the world. When you do that you feel like energy is coming up. Very often those energies come up with happiness because this is one of the truth, the insights that you find in life: energy is happiness, happiness is energy! And downness, lack of energy, that is depression, that’s negativity! The more tired you are, the more negative you feel! That’s why many years ago a monk said that the world always look beautiful after a cup of coffee. You just got a lot of energy, a powered energy from caffeine. You never feel depressed after a good cup of coffee. Unfortunately these days we have decaf, that’s why we got so many depression these days. Haha that’s called joking, trying to be cynical. Ok, so meditation brings you to a high energy state and your mind becomes very bright and tis is one of many experiences people had after mediation, and this is the experience that I had. When you are done with mediation, afterwards, after meditation, everything is brilliant. Looking outside, this boring old carpet looking at you, dark, blue, almost grey, uninspiring carpet becomes magnificent, it becomes beautiful! The colors as if they have just been polished. And they are vibrant colors. This is a coveted experience after meditation. You go outside, and see an ordinary piece of carpet, it’s incredibly beautiful. It’s the same carpet that you have seen before, but your mindfulness, the powerful mind, you have picked up so many details that the same carpet looks incredibly enjoyable. You go outside, and see something natural, like the stars, that just blows you away. With the awesome power, a leaf on the tree will just absorb you for hours with all the beauty, the joy that’s going on in there. You started to experience what I like to call super mindfulness. What is actually happening here is the faculty of knowing, it’s brightened. Instead of having a bright flashlight, you have a super search light. Whatever you shine on you see details that you will never expect to see. It’s wonderful. It’s enjoyable. It’s super power mindfulness. If you have started to develop that degree of alertness, that degree of deep seeing, then if you start focusing on some of the powerfulness, some of the deep mystery of life such as what is this body that you are carrying around with you, what is this, what is this being inside? And you have attained that degree, you are starting to do what I call penetrating the inside. You see things that are normally obscure to a normal person. You have the ability to see deeply, and you do. You can see deeply into a carpet, if that is what comes into your vision, and sometimes that could just absorb you for an incredibly long time. If you are very fortunate and get to see into the body, the mind, life, then you will be able to play around in there, getting to know its secrets. These are places where enlightenment happens. Because mindfulness is so powerful, it is often accompanied by lots of joy. Sometimes though, you can make a big mistake and take that as mindfulness itself. Like what I like to call the usual suspect of a source, an essential being, a god or a soul. The ultimate reality, and sometimes a certain degree of mindfulness is so powerful that it makes people often stop at this point, and go no further, thinking that they know without knowing that consciousness is reality of life. I think I already talked about it last week, about the source of things, about going deeper and deeper into the source of life. And sometimes we can get to what I call the doer of the world, it’s the source. But deeper than that is the knower, knowing consciousness, the mind, I don’t know if any of you know that in philosophy and in religion this starts to take the idea of an absolute source, ground of being, something like cosmi- consciousness or full knowing, or just beingness. And all of that is just what we call to identify super mindfulness, that knowing is being, and that knowing is being an absolute. This is where it is the job of mindfulness to turn in on itself, so not just knowing what is out there, not just knowing who the knower is, not who knows, but what is knowing. And this is once again where one must have very sharp mindfulness, very strong mindfulness, so they are able to penetrate and go deeper and not get stuck in these delusions, like last week I also mentioned that the centre of the lotus. The petals of lotus opens steps by steps until it reaches the centre of the lotus. And delusions that get people stuck sometimes make think people think that they only need to get this far and this is the end of things. They don’t that lotus up to see what’s inside there. So for mindfulness, we even need to look up mindfulness from mindfulness. And when you step back and something about knowing, something strange again happens, it’s like a person standing on a grand stand in a stadium, watching people say playing sports. The people sitting on the ground and in the match actually can crunch themselves in tackles and really hurt themselves. The people on the stand and watch all of that, but they don’t get hurt. When you stand back and watch, you are one step away as it were from the action, and starts get more peaceful. If someone is actually watching the spectators, they will be even more peaceful, more removed from the action. Someone watching the person watching the spectator watching the action will be even more removed from the action. This is what happens when we sometimes watch the one watching. Who is listening to this? Can you watch the person who is listening? Now watching the person who is watching the person listening (Laughs). As we stand back more and more we become less involved. And that less involved in life is sometimes understood quite wrongly as being detached, as if it were our real being. Many people have mistakenly think that our real being is what that watches all of us, that which knows, that which hears. Now if you look carefully at that, again, with our superpower mindfulness, you can actually start to see the process of mindfulness, knowing the knowing. Now of course what one sees is that even knowing parts one away. As one deepens one’s mediation, one goes through different stages of knowing. The mindfulness which knows, the knowing, the awareness, starts entering what you call different levels of consciousness. Sometimes people call it higher consciousness. They are just different stages of letting go. And then this practice of meditation what many of us aspire, these actually reveal different levels of consciousness, different levels of knowing. But they are all marked by letting go more and more. When one starts to attain these deep stages of meditation, one is actually letting go of, first, two things: you are letting go of that which does, the doing. The more you let go doing, the more stillness you attain. So the deep states of meditation are marked by, characterized by profound states of stillness, when there’s no movement going on at all. And such stillness, such solidity becomes a bit weird, but very alert. The first few days of meditation are very mindful. As one lets go more and more, what one is letting go next is parts of consciousness, parts of knowing, parts of the mind. And the whole purpose of the higher stages of meditation is to realize which knows consciousness itself has parts to it. Each part starts to fall away, fall away and fall away. As one goes into the deeper meditations, you go through the downess through letting do doing. You perceive through the higher downess through letting go consciousness. And these actually shows you something. Each of these stages are very profound and deep. As if this is experience, one thing that becomes very clear to you of the result of mindfulness is the nature of all of this. The complete emptiness of everything part of it which arises as a part of the way, including knowing itself. The very idea is that being is the knowing becomes seen as one of the greatest illusions. Instead of saying, the ultimate knowledge, the ultimate being is consciousness when one realizes that one is missing the point. So this degree of mindfulness is required to understand these deep questions. Sometimes when you look that which knows. With deep mindfulness, what you are actually seeing is not knowing which knows, you can see that the mind can only see one thing at a time. There’s only one object of consciousness, of every moment, and that we call reflective knowing. I know what I heard, I know what I saw dot dot dot. I know what I knew, I know what I heard, I know what I knew what I heard. When you actually see the sequence of conscious events, the idea of a knower disappears, and the idea of a process takes its place. And that is what I was pointing to last week, that which you take to be you is a process, not a being, not a constant flow of consciousness, but particular moments of consciousness. It’s like the sands on the beach. From afar, it looks like a continuous stretch of sand. If you look closely you see that they are particles of sand. If you look closely you see that each of those particles are alone, separated from the one next to it. Even with the space in between, they aren’t touching. Every moment of consciousness, of knowing is like seeing the many grains of sands, particular alone, not touching, with the space in between every moment, but that is only seeing with super powerful mindfulness. Now I mentioned the different degrees of mindfulness, of knowing. It’s shining, empowering your flashlight deeper and deeper into things. Not only do you see the nature of your habits, especially the bad mental habits, you also see how your body is going, you see the nature of flowers and carpets, it shows you the power of this meditation, mindfulness, what it can do. Then you shine into the deeper business. The other part of mindfulness, which I’d like to point out, which I mentioned at the beginning. This again, is a part of mindfulness, which many people forget, that aspect of mindfulness, which is remembering the instructions because if mindfulness is going to be useful for you, it’s not just knowing, it’s knowing what to do with what you know. This simile for what we use is from the Buddha, which is well-adapted because in Buddhism they call mindfulness like a gatekeeper. And that is the simile for Buddha and I actually use it in my medication retreats to actually show that just mere mindfulness is not enough, another words just mere attention is not enough to actually to give you happiness to give you wisdom to protect your sanity and the like and your well being. And this simile makes it clear. Instead of the simile of a gatekeeper, I use the guard of your house. Imagine you are a wealthy person, you have a big mansion somewhere, you need to employ a guard because who knows on a Friday night who’s going to be in your house? There are thieves around, so you tell your guard please be alert, be mindful, because there are thieves around. And then you go home after your Friday night talk and realized that your house has been broken, and you get angry and very upset of the guard: I told you to be alert, I told you to be mindful. What the guard replied was: I was being mindful, I was being alert. I saw the thieves, I saw them going in your house, then I saw them coming out, carrying your jewelry. Then I saw them going in again, this time with your CDs and DVD, DVD, DVD, and DVD, I noted jewelry, jewelry, jewelry, banquet, banquet, banquet, I was very alert all the time! I was very mindful, what would you do with a guard like that? Before what you did was anger, anger, anger, depression, depression, depression, murder, murder, murder, that’s not good enough isn’t it. The job of a guard is not to be just alert, but also to respond, to what it sees, to what it knows wisely, that’s also part of mindfulness. The word mindfulness in Buddhism is called Sati, it also is the word for memory, for recollecting, not just recollecting of what just happened, but recollecting even things from a long time ago. In particular, it means remembering the instructions, what you are supposed to be doing! So as the guard on a house, they have to remember the instructions from the owner of the house! Thieves, sometimes might give them an idea of the notorious creatures in the area, be alert to these guys, or what goes with whatever they are. And if you give instructions that are very clear, tell the guard if he sees the criminals sneaking into the house, call the police, get them out. This is what’s called forward effort in Buddhism. These thieves are stealing away your happiness, it’s not just knowing, it’s doing something about it, to avoid those thieves coming into your heart, your mind. If they do come in, try do something to keep them out. That is actually the negative part of the forward efforts. Know the best way to protect your house. Actually the best way to protect your house is how we protect the monestry here, but this is not part of the forward effort. Last week, some of you went to visit the monestry, and I told you that there will be surprise there. And when you got there you found that there was coffee in one of the monk’s hat. If you are afraid of burglars, get my skull, or even better get a whole skeleton and hang it on your front door. You don’t need a burglar alarm. Once a burglar opens the door and sees a skeleton dangling, he will run away for miles, he will never come to your house again, especially when he sees something so shaken and rattle, or maybe you record some CD that goes like OOOOoooohhh, especially if you put some candles and knives, something spooky there, that will get rid of him. The best way of getting rid of burglars, this was years ago when I visited my mother, she was making my meal of the day, so I didn’t want her to get disturbed, it was important for me. So when the door bell rang, I opened it, and this was a poor part of London, and when the door opened, there was a gipsy lady, and she was trying to sell some little trinkets, trying to make some money. I said, sorry I am a monk, I don’t have any money, but I am very interested, thank you very much, and she said: If you don’t buy these, I will put a gypsy curse on you. That’s her sales pitch, a curse. So I stood up for my pride, and I said: I am a Buddhist monk, my curse is stronger than yours! And she ran away! It was pretty funny, I got a good laugh after that. Of course I was only joking, I don’t put any curse on any people, but people don’t know about that, so she was very scared of me afterwards. Anyways, the best way to stop burglars into your house is to have friends in your house because burglars like to go into empty houses. If he looks in and sees there are people in the house, he will go away. The best way to avoid this unwholesome state is having good states in your mind and to have love and kindness in your mind, inviting that in. And if you have guests in your house, make sure that the refrigerator is full! There are supplies! There are nice cakes and goodies and lots of drinks, well, not alcohol because you are a Buddhist, but lots of nice things to keep them long in there for a long time! And if you make the house entertaining, and invite good people and keep them in there, then that will keep away the burglars. If you tell your guard to be mindful, bring in any good state, such as compassionate, to keep them there, entertain them, keep them in there as long as possible, and that’s the best way to keep out negativity of your mind. And this is actually another part of mindfulness, to give good instructions to your mind, and if you give clear instructions to your gatekeeper, there’s a good chance that mindfulness will remember. And this is actually the part of mindfulness that people forget. Whatever are your problems in life, your difficulties, the thing that cause you pain, tell mindfulness that this is what you want to do if you are a person that always have trouble with negativity. Tell mindfulness to be careful about negativity. Look out for the signs, avoid it when it comes. When I see the negativity coming, put some friends in my house, listen to some nice music if that inspires you, or meditate, or do whatever it is to avoid letting it taking over your mind. Not only are you alert, but you are also giving instructions to the mind. In Buddhism, we call that aditana, giving yourself solutions, telling yourself what to do, and telling yourself what to look out for, what to avoid. That’s also part of the training in mindfulness. So whatever your problems are in life, tell yourself to look out for these, even physical problems. There was another time, a year ago, when I hurt my back. I was laying concrete for out wall in our monestry. The concrete turns hard very fast, and I had to work really hard, and was constantly bending over in a very uncomfortable position, so I hurt my back. I really should sue the Buddhist society. Haha. I was bending over like an old man, I couldn’t straighten up. I healed myself with a bit of an exercise and other things later, but you have to be careful not to pick up heavy things. You have to instruct your gatekeeper not to pick up heavy things and if you do pick it up in the right posture. If I don’t do that, then my back goes out again, it hurts! You have to talk to yourself, give yourself clear instructions, be careful. You are instructing your gatekeeper: mindfulness. If you eat too much chocolate, and have a problem with your weight, you have to tell yourself; hey look! Don’t eat chocolate. Instruct your mindfulness, read carefully, and tell yourself: next time I feel like having chocolate, do something else. Go look at a table, read a book, you have to instruct yourself, and it is amazing how whenever you instruct your gatekeeper clearly, your gatekeeper always remembers. But only when you give clear instructions. If you give confusing instructions, then when you want to eat chocolate you will say: maybe every now and then it’s ok. You got to be reasonable, make them well aware. And this is why sometimes this practice of giving instructions to the gatekeeper isn’t working because people aren’t being clear enough. Be precise. Be like giving someone in your office a work assignments, be specific of what to do and what is expected of them. And with this resolution, it is amazing how you can heal problems in your life, whether it is physical problem, emotional problem, or even mental problem, or relationship problem, someone in your life always gives you trouble, then tell yourself: be careful of this person, if they push buttons so many times, you tell yourself next time when they do this again you will not get angry. You find yourself in this situation of watching everything else unfold, and you are watching it but you are not buying into it, you are in control. Mindfulness gives you the alternative, it makes you not a creature of habit anymore. Those mental problems that have cause you trouble, you find you can stop, you can seize them and avoid them because you have given the instructions, that is half of mindfulness. One half is alertness, the other half is remembering the instructions. And let’s take into deeper stages as one practice more and more down the path of Buddhism, everything that creates suffer for you, you see it, waving, wanting, mindfulness is alerted and does not allow these negative things into your mind. Keep the good things in your mind, things like peace, like compassion, like love, what we call positive emotions, joy, inspiration. All those wonderful things, keep those in. And if you become someone mindful like this, you become immune to the suffering in life. You become someone who is developing the positive faculties of life. You become someone who has bliss, who has joy and freedom. This is the training of mindfulness. So to sum up this whole talk on mindfulness this evening. There’s alertness mindfulness, there’s mindfulness of remembering the instructions. And as you practice mindfulness, it will not only grow, grow, and grow, it will also allow you to keep out negative things in life. They will also illuminate areas of existence, which you took as one thing and now you see them much, much deeper. Insignificant things like carpet becomes the most beautiful things in the world, things like sickness and death, things that aren’t easy to cope with are incredibly beautiful. And more importantly, you will find the negative qualities in life will disappear, disappear, disappear, and replaced with happiness and enlightment. So this talk about mindfulness is power, it is nature to misunderstood, and that is why I want to give this talk about mindfulness this evening, thank you!
So does anyone got any questions about the talk this evening? Yes! Yes you asking about that I usually ask people to write down their resolutions before meditation, to tell the guard keeper what to do. And now you are asking about the end of meditation, you also tell your gatekeeper to look after you when you go home, and you also tell the gatekeeper then what to do. The answer is certainly. In fact the more peaceful you are, the more alert you are, the easier to instruct the gatekeeper. So any resolution you give during that time because you are peaceful and you are more alert as to not to disrupt the peacefulness of your mind, you can make a resolution then. It is amazing how you remember it. One of the things I like to do as a monk, you know just how busy I am sometimes. You know sometimes people think that monks have an easy life! You come and watch me in the monastery for a couple of days and see our pool work harder than anyone else does. That’s not a joke. Sometimes I got many many things to remember. And I haven’t gotten these kinds of alarms which you can set on your computer to remind you what to do at a particular time. The way I like to do to remember my duties, especially when I got some important things to do, I tell myself, I say: Brah, you got something important to do, you got to see someone tomorrow at 7 o’clock. At 8 o’clock I must ring someone a melbin. I tell myself repeatedly, over and over: At 8 o’clock I must ring that person a melbin, at 8 o’clock I must ring that person a melbin, at 8 o’clock I must ring someone a melbin. It’s remarkable that once you remember to do these things, when it comes to 5 or 8 tomorrow, and then the thought comes to my mind: I need to ring someone at that time. And I hope here when you are making your resolution, it’s like programming your computer, like a computer, nothing outside of myself is my mind. That’s how you remember things, you don’t need a personal organizer. You never forget! If you want to try, I don’t know if it will work with you because that is the business of life. But you can give it a try this evening, I always tell people when they are meditating because people get quiet at that time: What time are you getting up tomorrow morning? Whatever that time is, don’t tell me, I will just be embarrassed, it’s just Saturday morning after all. But whatever that time is, don’t set an alarm. Before you go to bed tonight, make a resolution. Say it’s 9 o’clock, tell yourself: I will wake up at 5 to 9, I will wake up at 5 to 9, I will wake up at 5 to 9, then oh goodness, so many of you will wake up and find that it is a couple of minutes before 5 to 9. It’s very incredible how the mind works, especially if you have to pick up someone at the airport at such odd times. A lot of people’s planes arrive at odd times, 1 o’clock in the morning, 3 o’clock in the morning. Try that. Say you have to wake up at 2, tell yourself that I will wake up at 5 to 2, I will wake up at 5 to 2, and set your alarm at 2 just in case, haha, you don’t want to get into trouble. You will see that it is amazing, you will wake up roughly around 5 to 2 before the alarm! Experiment with that, try that, it is quite interesting, and see yea, this is how I can actually instruct the mind. This is how mindfulness works. Say you have so much worries and trouble, I must remember, I must remember, I must remember, don’t forget, don’t forget,… you drive yourself crazy that way, if you try to keep something in your mind like that, then forget about it, do something else. And so you can do that, especially after meditation, it’s a great time to focus your mind and you can tell the gatekeeper what to do. Ok I think that is enough since now is 9 o’clock, and I am programmed to stop at 9 o’clock, see, I am cheating.