Ajahn Brahm explores craving. Are there different types? Are some forms of craving necessary for survival? Is all craving ‘bad’? Ajahn Brahm shares the secret of finding a balance in the here and now by understanding the nature of craving, the different types of craving, and how to work giving up the types of craving most harmful to us whilst holding on (for the mean time) to those cravings which have some use to us and others.
[english transcription by Indira Fernando]
For this evenings talk I am going to be
addressing a subject
which is central to Buddhist teachings but
is difficult to understand
You see understanding that craving or desire
and how that actually fits into our
modern day lifestyles.
specially for those of you who know
You know in all of the schools of Buddhism
We have something called the
Four Noble Truths
and the second Noble Truth says quite bluntly
that craving is the source of suffering
And so as Buddhists we are supposed to
somehow let go of craving, have no desires or
But then how do we actually practice that
in our daily lives because we actually do
desires that what of we want.
Does that mean that we should all become monks
and nuns or just give up our jobs and just live
on the streets? Not look after our kids, not
have the latest cloths. What does it really mean?
It is a difficulty (for many Buddhism) for many Buddhists
trying to reconcile our lifestyles with the idea that
suffering is caused by craving. So I am going to
investigate what that really means especially in our lives today
And I thought we can actually start by just knowing
that our present world is in great danger because of the
untrammeled or unrestricted craving of our species;
always wanting more and more and obviously that
cannot be sustained.
Few years ago we were talking about Ozone layers.
Now we are talking about global warming.
Interesting to see what comes next.
It all seem to come by just using too many resources
And it’s tough being a modern western person
to see how can we actually deal with this.
because yeah once we finished our house then
we can actually start worrying about global warming.
or once we got what we need then we can actually
try to help other people.
Unfortunately sometimes that’s not really sufficient actually to
save our future.
We see like so many wars and so many arguments and so many
competition over limited things. So we wonder is this the world
we really want to bequeath to our children or is this the world we
really want to live ourselves. As far as Twenty Five Hundred years ago
Buddhism was concerned
was saying that the biggest problem here is the craving.
Sure that yeah we know that we want to try and do something
about global warming, we want to have peace on earth,
we want couples being able to live happily together
we want to have people sharing the resources
of our planet
but something called craving gets in the way.
And this is our problem.
However, that craving doesn’t mean no desires
this is going to be may be the central point of this talk today.
This is if the desire is ok but we are desiring the
wrong things life.
We are desiring the material things rather than the
Measuring people by possessions rather than by
qualities such as compassion, virtue and peace.
We are actually having goals in our lives, you know which
allows to pay off our mortgages but we never have
enough time to ourselves and to our loved ones.
So the heart of this talk to day is
Well we have to have desires that’s part
of being a human being
as part of having a mind, some of those desires are
but what type of desires do we have in our lives?
Being a monk I am in privileged position
simply because you do have acquaintances across the spectrum
from very poor people to very wealthy people,
from Presidents to Prisoners
from multimillionaires to people on the dole
and when you actually meet all these types of people
you can actually see that it’s not really their
economic circumstances which determines their happiness
This is one of the first insights I got when I was
relatively wealthy westerner. I say this even when I was a student
with very little money and holes in my jeans, I had holes in my
jeans because I couldn’t afford better ones.
not because of the fashion statement. I was ahead of my time.
These days people buy jeans straight from the shop
with pre-maid holes.
But mine were real.
But then going to a place like North East Thailand
in the villages a long way away from anywhere
there there were some system farmers who just had very
spare cash and would live on a barter economy
just growing rice or whatever they could catch
specially fish in the rainy season and building their
houses with whatever can be found in the forest
or in the fields. And you saw there that some of
those people were just so poor compared to the
poor student I thought I was
I was actually very wealthy compared to them.
But one of the things which I did notice living in that village.
yeah sure many of those poor people were happier than the
people I knew sort of from the great university like Cambridge
I also saw some miserable people in that village.
When I saw those miserable people in that village
I wanted to find out why some people were miserable
other people were happy when they both had
very few things.
and I found out that basically it worked out like this
Every house had a water buffalo which they used to
plough the fields.
and the dung from the water buffalo would be the fertilizer
for their fields
The buffalo would plough their fields and do all sorts of tasks
like pulling the cart and that was a very
important part of their house
But I noticed the farmers who had say one water buffalo
and happy with one water buffalo
seem to be the ones always smiling
But the farmer who had one water buffalo but wanted two
that was the farmer who was unhappy.
who didn’t seem to have so much time and so much joy
in their lives
Seemed to me that happiness was not so much how much you have
but how much you want. And that started to make me think
the basic question in life; how much do you really need
to be happy in life?
Does it really mean the more you have, the happier you are
I think that’s the greatest myth of our modern existence.
thinking that more we have the more pleasure and happiness
and the freedom and power we can exert.
But every one of you are old enough to know by now
that the promise of freedom and happiness when you
gain wealth is a very false promise. Those people who have
experienced the gain of wealth, people whose business goes well
people who win the lottery or inherit coming to a great deal of money
very often realizes it spoils their lives.
A classic story is few years ago one of the
people who won a huge lottery in the United States
hundred million dollars or more , his picture was in the newspaper
being led to jail
He was a very happy man before he won the lottery
and as soon as he won the lottery things started to go wrong in his life
Sure before he won that lottery he didn’t have much money
he had enough to enjoy his life, to be able eat and
have a modest little house and
go out with his friends but as soon as he became
really really wealthy
all of his friends he could not trust anymore. all were
asking for loans or bits of money here and there
it was one of the problems with wealth; even though
it promises you so much it tends to limit your enjoyment
of the world rather than facilitate it .
And I have seen this so many times and sometimes wonder
what do you want wealth for? It’s much better
to not be wealthy and not be poor but be someone in the middle
That reminded me of one of the books I read as a student
which was a very famous book Plato’s Republic
where in the last chapter, this was you know
Greek Philosophy twenty five hundred years ago
in the last chapter where
describing reincarnation, most of the Greeks believed
in reincarnation at that time, it was just common acknowledge
So you know reincarnation is not an Asian thing
it was right there in Europe two thousand or so years ago.
And in Plato’s Republic he was noticing that; in his
last chapter about reincarnation; that when people chose their
future lives, this was his way of describing it;
it is a wonderful metaphor, we chose our wealth in lives.
the stupid people were the once who chose to be
rich and powerful in their next life.
Because the rich and powerful has far more suffering
than the people who are just life in the middle.
So first of all, the Buddhist teachings of the middle way
just applies to your wealth as well.
Please don’t aspire to be too wealthy.
because you will find it gives you more problems in life.
if you just have enough in the middle somewhere,
middle income, that’s good enough.
And indeed that’s what Plato said twenty five hundred years ago
Words confirmed by a famous study which was done in the
United States twelve months ago where they were trying to find out
what the maximum happiness was compared to
peoples’ annual income. And it was not that hard
to gain the information, the data, they had a huge
sample of people from different levels of income
and they could gauge their happiness by
how strong their marriages were,
whether they have had many divorces,
whether they are depressed, drug dependency,
alcoholism and all these are very clearly indicators
that things were going wrong in your life, or
whether things were going well in your life.
And after done a huge sample that they found out
that the optimum income, in other words the income which
would guarantee you the best happiness was about
fifty thousand dollars US per year. More than that your
happiness level went down. Less than that you couldn’t just
afford the things which you wanted. So you weren’t happy.
So actually the best, as far as happiness was concerned,
and this was proved in, look at the research yourself,
a large sample and it is probably similar in Australia,
similar demography, about fifty thousand US or
the equivalent over here;
what that would that be about fifty five thousand Australian or something
was the optimum income; more than that and you have more suffering.
Less than that you have more suffering. And that’s actually the
income to aim for.
So if you are earning more than that the Buddhist Society of WA
can help you (audience laughs) to become happier by allowing
you to give the difference to our Retreat Center, to our Nuns Monastery
or to this joint
Or even better just to tell your boss fifty five thousand is
enough for me, I don’t want the raise.
(laughs) I want to be happy.
People laugh at that but actually that’s evidence based.
And that’s dhamma based, that’s Buddhist based.
Because sometimes we think the more money, the more happiness
the truth of the matter is’ the opposite.
So when you are having your desires and cravings,
your aspirations in life
please keep that in mind.
And number two if we don’t want the salary what most people
aspire to in this life
and you work your butts off for this is, is actually to get the
nice big house in a nice suburb
Now look at Nollamara here, this was actually a bad suburb
before we came in (audience laugh)
and now we raised the house prices.
So those of you who want to invest in property,
or got property in some suburb
build a monastery next door, your house prices go up.
No that’s not the point (audience laughs),
the point is what I have often seen is that
you can see this huge houses which are built these days
and even a week ago just I went to our local councils at
And it was over in Jarradale because we want to be
friends with our local councilors
and other sort of people in Serpentine and Jarrahdale,
went there for PR
And as we were going through Jarrahdale
which is a very pretty little town in the hills there were
big development there, huge houses in the forest
but before I got to this huge mansions I passed these small
the old wooden cottages which used to be in that logging twon
or timber town in Jarrahdale.
I saw these huge places and thought ‘my goodness people have
to work so hard to pay for these big mansions’
and I thought ‘what they are doing that for?’
Number one if you have a very very big house people say well
I need that for my family. Jee when I grew up we were living
on top of one another
I was in the same bedroom with my brother all the time.
Sure we used to fight but we also learned to love one another as well.
You had to because there was no escape in such a small house.
One of the things which you learn living in such close quarters with
other members of your family
is how to get on together.
When you live in such a huge place
where everyone has their own rooms
actually probably two or three rooms for every person in the family
It means you got too many bog holes too many places you can go
instead of fixing up the social problems which you have with your
siblings or with your parents or children.
There are many advantages in living in close quarters with one another
you tend to get on. And I think that is what the social problems which
comes with people living in such huge houses in our modern age.
We don’t know how to live with each other.
May be that is the cause of so many divorces or
people changing partners. We haven’t earned those skills
of cooperation and give and take between one and another
You have to learn that when you live in subscribed quarters.
I remember my father telling me, at least I had my own bed
when I grew up,
he shared his bed with about six or seven brothers and even sisters when he grew up.
How can you go to sleep that way in a small bed with four or five or six other brothers in the same bed.
we certainly learn how to cooperation in such a small bed.
But they did have such a great time,
they loved each other very very much
so sometimes though we think that wealth will give us
such a huge property
but it comes at a great cost,
one of the biggest costs is how hard you have to work,
how many hours you have to spend to pay for such a big place.
You can only be at a one room at a time, sometimes that we
as an example, as a counter example we have our monasteries
where we live, and I enjoy taking people to see where I live
even years ago when I lived in a bigger place than I live now
there was a big room, may be three meters by two point four
with a walking path in the front. And I still remember about
ten years ago taking a group of women who were visiting
the monastery, it was a local women’s group who wanted to
do weird things on an afternoon and had never been to the monastery
and that qualified being weird, and when I took them to see my hut
my room, I always remember one of the girls turning around to me
and saying ‘wow if only my house were this small I get all
my house work done in half an hour’. She looked at my
simplicity with a lot of envy which is the other reason
huge houses takes a lot of maintenance, a lot of work,
and you haven’t got the time; number one you are working so hard
to pay off the mortgage and number two you have to work so hard
to maintain the place and keep it clean.
And you never manage to get all the things done.
So isn’t it something wrong about that?
So it’s great to be able to downsize.
Any of you who come and visit Bodhinyana Monastery
many of you saw this my cave, where I live
it is a small cave. It’s not even two and half meters
if it is that circular and about that high.
It is only a little cave were I live.
And that’s so easy when I wake up in the morning
it takes me about 30 seconds to make my bed.
I sleep on the floor. It takes about five minutes
to sweep it out. It’s just a simple place to stay
it gives me so much time and so much freedom.
This is a example when we have big places
we think that this is going to create happiness
and space, sure it got physical space but
we have no time space left.
And that is one of the great complaints of our
modern age. We are material wealthy but
time poor. So we have desire, we want comfort,
we want well being, we want sort of some happiness
sometimes are craving and desires are misplaced.
they haven’t got wisdom with it. And a lot of times
it is because we are sheep, we just follow what
other people do. one of the great things about
religion, what they should be doing especially you know in
parts like Buddhism, is making you question.
Don’t just follow what other people are doing
like lemmings just going over the cliff of environmental destruction,
think for yourselves. Question. Don’t follow the norm.
But follow wisdom and common sense instead
You follow what other people are always up to
you going to be in lot of trouble
if you think what most people are doing
it must be right, I always remember one of my
favorite quotes from Voltaire
It was Voltaire who made a quote from mathematics
he was a mathematician as well, one of his
famous quotes which I thought was very funny
but also so true, “The only way to understand the
mathematical concept of infinity (to really get your head around
what infinity means)
is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.”
Then you know what infinite means.
So it’s a waste of time following other people
We question and find out for ourselves.
So doesn’t matter what other people are saying
Saying ‘ oh you should upgrade move to a bigger house,
it is an investment for the future. May be for your future
but not for your children’s future. And it’s not
a future for your peace and happiness at the time.
How much do you really need?
And it’s the same when we want fame or status.
Even when I was a young monk, there was a fellow monk
his name was Garry, and I remember as a young man
he grew up in Los Angeles, he met that filmstat
who was that who played ‘dirty harry’ what was his name?
Clint Eastwood, he met Clint Eastwood in his early days
because they went to the same university together
he told all these stories about being with the rich
and the famous but he remembered once when that
Singer Bob Dylan was in Los Angles he found out
from his friends which hotel he was in and managed
to use on of his contacts to sneak in the back and spend a
whole evening and night with Bob Dylan.
This is a famous man, at that time he was multi famous
and Bob Dylan was saying … no he was saying to Bob Dylan
Ah it must be great being famous; Bob Dylan swore
no its xxxx whatever it is, I can’t repeat it here
its terrible being famous. It’s such a pain to be well known.
I am not well known as Bob Dylan, but I think you know
sometimes I have gone to a toilet in Singapore airport
I have not been able to go to the loo because some one
in the toilet in the Changi airport stopped me to ask me
questions on meditation. Sometimes it happens here as well.
twenty five past seven I am trying to go to the toilet
before I do the talk here, and someone stops me ‘Ajahn Brahm’
So one of the great things of being ‘not famous’ is
you can go to the toilet whenever you want (audience laugh)
So but do you want to be famous?
would it be lovely to be famous?
Why do people go in this TV shows like
Australian Idle or this other Big publishers
they wanna be famous, they must see a psychiatrist very quickly
because no one in their right mind would want to be famous.
But lot of time people desire that, they want that, they crave that
And really sort of they are putting all of their energies
into the wrong place.
There is a great story which I sort of adapted
and wrote in that newsletter, a journal for one of the
Buddhist centres in Sydney and I told that in a
recent concert in Singapore, its a nice story
about a monastery somewhere in the world
and in the middle of the night the Abbot was woken up
when he heard a noise in the main shrine room
So he got up and checked, and sure enough there was a
burglar in the temple. As soon as the burglar saw the Abbot
the burglar was trying to open the donation box
and he told the Abbot just get out of here.
And the Abbot took one look at the burglar
instead of actually stopping the burglar opening the donation box
‘here’s the key’ so the burglar took it and told not to do anything
But the Abbot took one look at the burglar and like many burglars
and this guy was so thin. So the Abbot asked him when was the
last time you ate. Burglar said ‘shut up’ . When I give talks I
always like to wake people up every now and again (audience laughs).
‘Shut up’ he said. But the Abbot didn’t shut up he said
‘look there is some left over food from this mornings meal
in the cupboard, help yourself.
And the man was hungry. So just looking at the Abbot
and brandishing a knife from the kitchen he said
‘don’t come near. He quickly sort of stuffed some food
into his mouth and the Abbot said ‘don’t rush, there is
plenty of time’ and the bugler opened the donation box
emptied it, took some more food and ran away
saying don’t call the police, Abbot said I wan’t
the donations are there for charity, for compassion
you are a poor person just take whatever you want
I will clear with the committee tomorrow
So the next day when the committee heard about this
At least the guy was being kind and they liked
the Abbot for being kind but usually what happens
a few days later that bugler was caught robbing
another house somewhere and was sentenced to jail
The abbot forgot all about that and few years later
The bugler returned with another knife.
He came and said you remember me?
I robbed this temple five years ago, now I have come
to rob again; but the burglar said this time;
but last time I took the wrong thing
I took the money
Putting down his knife he said now I have come to take
compassion and wisdom, please show me
how you were so kind to me, even though
I was about to kill you and rob your tample.
So the Bugler realizing for the first time
he thought that money was happiness
after those five years realized
that kindness is more important than money
he said the first time he have stolen the wrong thing
now he come to take the right thing and asked the
Abbot to teach him; compassion and Kindness.
I like that story because sometimes
when we want something, we are wanting the wrong thing.
It is ok to want but not the material things in life
the rich people in this world are not the people
in the big houses
The rich people in this world are the
people with the big hearts
Those people who are wealthy are not the
people with big bank balances
Those people who are wealthy are
the people who have got time for each other.
Isn’t that so? It is obviously the quality of life
which is why that the craving which we have
in this world is actually wrongly directed
And that’s why it leads to suffering.
And usually you should grow older and older and older in life
while other people start to question more and more
when you experience getting the big house or the wealth
or the fame, so many people say ‘so what?’
This is it? This is what I worked so hard for? Where’s the pay off?
because such craving; we call it unfaithfully craving
We call it unfaithful because it promises so much
but fails to deliver. But the desire for the beautiful qualities of life
things like peace, time, contentment
kindness, compassion, generocity
those are the real things which is wonderful to crave for
which is great to desire, you are actually desiring
something which is truly worth something in life.
Why? because what does the wealth, the money
the house, the car, what does it really promise you?
It promises freedom and happiness, respect, security
That’s sometimes what people think about these days
If I get wealthy then I can be secure and happy for ever after
I still remember the story which I read still as a young man
May I read all the right stories which is why I became a monk
instead of seeking fortune in the world
I sort fortune in my heart.
There was a man who was in the boom years of
United States in the roaring 20s made enough money
and managed to cash it in before the depression years
and being a multimillionaire he decided ‘why should I just
live in the United States’
are there any other places in the world where I can live
which got a better climate, safer, more happy existence
so he went to the local public library got out books
and he used his intelligence to try and find the perfect
place in the world where he could retire and enjoy his
remaining years using his great wealth. He could go
anywhere he wanted with so much money.
So he decided on a tropical island with perfect climate
it was called Guadalcanal
For those of you who are old enough you know that
Guadalcanal became famous because it was the site
of two major battles in the Second World War.
First when it was taken over by the Japanese Imperial Troops
and then it was actually taken over by the Americans afterwards
two huge battles. So there was a guy who made his pile,
and thought I am now gonna retire to Guadalcanal
thinking of being peaceful for ever after.
What happened? He gets involved in two major wars,
Actually he survived both battles apparently.
Two major battles, he survived both and lived to tell the tale
but it wasn’t a peaceful place. So don’t know where
you want to retire
Whether it is the Peppermint Grove or to the Darryl Keys
I don’t know what other places you think but who knows
what’s going to happen there later on? (audience laughs)
That’s the trouble they might have a new airport in peppermint Grove
in next five years; wherever else you live
this is a great uncertainty of life so you cannot trust
such material investments.
sometimes you invest so much in your wife
you take her shopping to Paris
you bring her all the latest fashions
and of course she runs away with your best friend
because he is more wealthy than you
whatever else it is you know what it is like
how can you really have any security in life?
Now look at myself as a monk, I got no money
and I have no health insurance,
I have no superannuation, no pension plans
I am getting old now. And I think wow what am I going to do
next. But you know I don’t worry about my future
I got great investments than you have
Because of how much I have served,
how much I have given over these last years
I know I don’t have to worry about anything
about my future. Even when I go overseas
sometimes they ask whether I have any health insurance
because thing happen when you are overseas
can get into an accident, fall sick or something
But I say I have health insurance when I go overseas
there are enough people who care about me
when I go to Singapore or Thailand or Sri Lanka
and I know I would get the best of care if I fall sick
and same here why? its because I have been kind enough to
many people that people just want to be kind back
that is my health insurance, by paying in many many
installments, kindness and giving to others
This is what I know will come back to me
It is basic Buddhist teachings
If you want security for your future
make lots of good kamma
be kind, be generous, be there for others
and others will be there for you
which is why the wealthy people
sometimes gets so lonely
they wonder, I got all this money but I can’t get the best care
Sure they have invested in the share market
but they have never invested in their kamma market
This is the Wall Street of Australia,
Dhammaloka Buddhist Center
This is the way you can make great investments
with a guaranteed return, and the Buddhist Kamma stockmarket
never crashes and always there for you
for this life and the next
and that actually, this is not just a joke
this is not an exaggeration, people actually
craving and desiring, they want happiness
they want peace, ask yourself sometime
what do I really want in life?
Sometimes people just say
they want to be cared for.
How do you become ‘cared for’
you don’t become ‘cared for’
because you are rich, you just become exploited or
you become ‘cared for’ when you know how to
care for others. This is again; what kamma is all about
So if you desire, is to care for other people in this world
If that is your craving in life, seeing how much I care for others
Then you are putting the craving in the right place.
The craving to have a more harmonious
peaceful, sharing, kind warm society
Not having big houses, but again by having big hearts
Big hearted communities which really look after
That’s sometimes why in the poorer suburbs
people look after each other much easier
My mother because I came from a poor family
was always lived in what was called Council Flats
Council Flats were State subsidized housing
Even after my father died we just moved from
one council flat to another
My poor mother lived in these Council Flats
for many years. And these big tall tower blocks in London
were supposed to be a hot bed of crime.
So my little old mother was a prime suspect
according to the sociologists. But she lived in this
tower block for many years and I remember when I went
to visit her and stayed in that tower block for a short while
I was going to give a talk in the Sri Lankan Vihara is Chiswick
one day and it was not that far from where my mother lived
so I wanted to walk. I enjoyed those walks in the streets of London
especially in my robes. Because I was always a radical
I wanted to surprise and stagger and confront people with my
sartorial elegance of brown robes.
But I also enjoyed having fun because people would
look at me and sometimes not knowing exactly
what you were dressed in these robes, these are like
what people used to called bed blankets
sometimes they are cross the other side of the road
but I’ll always take
pleasure in wishing them Good Morning with a smile
to an Englishman when someone actually wishes you
you have to say Good Morning back.
It is psychological torture for them.
Being a sadist I enjoyed that.
But anyhow on this particular occasion when I
in the elevator when I got to the bottom as the door was
open I was the only one in the elevator and as the door
was opened I was confronted by an old lady who was
covered with blood. It was like scene out of a movie
I didn’t know what had happened to her whether she
has been attacked, mugged or whatever but she
actually told me
that she had fallen down by the flight of steps.
She must have been about sixty five or seventy
because she could still stand so immediately I forgot
about giving a talk at any sort of Vihara it’s more
important I am kind and compassion; I like to
practice Buddhism rather than teach it. So I forgot
about the talk and I took this old lady upstairs to
my mother’s apartment where we bathed her wounds
called the ambulance, she did have a broken leg
but because of the shock she couldn’t feel the pain
at the time, so we bathed her, comforted her, called the
ambulance but the wonderful thing which happened was that
because it was an accident and because I took her into
my mother’s apartment very quickly, my mother left
the door opened and there was a trail of blood which was
leading into my mother’s apartment and I was so pleased
in a matter of five minutes I don’t know how many people
had come into my mother’s apartment to find out
what was going on and whether she was alright.
And when they found out the reason why one of the
tenants in these apartment blocks had an accident,
fallen over and was wounded, it was wonderful to see
the community coming together and helping one and another
I was bathing the wounds because my mother doesn’t like blood
someone else was going to her house to actually to turn her
oven off because she had something in the oven cooking
and somebody was going to ring her daughter somewhere else
and everybody was working together so well
I thought, this is not a hot bed of crime this is a community
where people cared about each other.
And because they were all poor, they weren’t afraid of
one and another. I thought actually one of the reasons
why a community was made in this tower block is because
of the elevator. Every day people will be stuck together
in this very small elevator, not this big elevators you find
in these big mansions, a small elevators. Small elevators are great.
You are stuck together going up and down no matter how much of a
stiff upper lip, how reserved you are as an English person you see
these same people up and down on the lift, after a couple of years
you start talking to them. When you start talking to them you get
to know them. When you get to know them you become friendly
when you become friendly you start caring for each other.
That’s one of the lovely things which happens when you live in small
places. People get to know each other and care for one another.
And I thought Wow that places is not wealthy as far as material
things are concerned. But what a wonderful thing is that you know
that somebody would
switch off our oven if you had to go to a hospital unexpectedly,
someone would bath your wounds, someone would look after you
and care for you and that’s called health insurance.
The real one. Because there is always someone to care
because you cared for others. That’s what people want most of all
to be cared for and looked after specially in times of difficulty and
stress. So really when we talk about craving; this is really what
we should be craving for. We are using our mental energies,
using our desires to build up something which is
worth while in life. Instead of these false shimmers like
big houses, big bank balances,big cars and fancy cloths
shee you don’t need fancy cloths to get on in life
This is why we wear brown robes, these are far more practical
these brown robes like this because whenever I spill a
cup of tea I don’t need to wash it. The brown goes to brown
most stains are brown stains; that’s one of the reasons why
we have brown robes because they are easy to look after
and this actually seconds as a blanket at night times
so this is so practical to have few things and use them well
I don’t know how many clothes you have
specially those poor people who are young and have
to wear designer clothes, designer shoes and designer
everything. It’s great being like a monk which is so simple
the same robe we wear day in and day out.
I wear this robe to see the Queen of England, I wear
this robe to see the builders at the building site of the
retreat center. Isn’t that wonderful you don’t have to
think ‘I am seeing the Queen today what shall I wear?’
I am going to see the builder what shall I put on today?
It the same before I saw the Queen I never had a haricut
the same old thing or the President of Sri Lanka or other
people you go and see. So it’s great being simple.
So my craving is to see how simpler I can be in my life
materially and how rich I can make my life emotionally
carrying and looking after others. And that’s
precisely what we learn in Buddhism
You don’t need that much to be happy
The Secret of Happiness and I am saying this
because someone asked me today
can I talk about ‘the Secret’
‘The Secret’ is a book with a video which has
sold a lot of copies and has made the author into
a very unhappy rich person. Stupid.
But that’s not the secret like willing something and it comes to you.
Because sure there is something to that, it you imagine it
you will it long enough eventually it will come
But do you really want that? Is that how you are going
to use the power of your mind just to get a
car parking space you want in the mall?
It is much better to have the car park space
further away then you get some exercise.
And then you don’t die of a heart attack when you
are forty. So the thing is yes, there is some truth to that
but you are wanting the wrong thing. wouldn’t it
be wonderful if that book said if you just
imagine world peace or you can imagine just
poor people in Africa having wells in every village
or you can imagine just the people in Perth
having enough water because they don’t sprikle
their gardens too often or
you can people being kind to each other.
You can imagine people say in the buses or in the trains
giving their seats up to the elderly or sick or pregnant
people. It would be wonderful if the different communities
whether it is the aboriginal community or the other
ethnic communities can live together in peace and harmony
it would be wonderful you know if we can have love
between our families. Kids looking after one another
looking after their parents. It would be wonderful if
there is no violence in our schools.
Dreaming of things like that I think is far moe worth while
than sort of dreaming about material things .
So that sort of secret, that’s not the secret to happiness
that’s the secret to more headaches and more problems in the
world. So the real secret revealed by the Buddha if you like
it’s common knowledge now, its not a secret
we teach it all the time is that if you really want something
in life, if you really aiming for something in life
if you are using craving and the power of your physical body and
mind to do something, to get something, please get the
right things in life. The things which are really worth. You don’t
use the power of your mind for second rate sham stuff.
Otherwise you are like the person going to the doggy
brother’s car deals and getting an old bomb as a car.
That’s what that book reminded me of–people selling
false goods. So if you really want happiness, contentment
kindness compassion generosity that’s what makes the world go
around, that’s what inspires, brings happiness,
brings peace and brings a world in which you want to live
rather than a world in which we always complain why is it
life this, why is this all happening,
So use your cravings for the right goals.
And if you start to use your cravings for the right goals
for things like peace, harmony for kindness, for generosity
you will also find that’s precisely how one gets
success in meditation. Why people love to meditate
why people like to become monks and nuns sometimes
People often say the happiest times of their lives
is when they are at peace. And that’s actually what we
say; that peace is golden or silence is golden
peace of mind is the most valuable commodity in the world
Isn’s that really why we search high and low for a partner
for a lifestyle so we can have a few moments of peace
It is really the craving, if you really want to crave the right things,
you really want to crave for peace, peace in our own hearts
if you can’t find peace in your own hearts, of course you
can never make peace in the world. All the peace makers
have a lot of anger inside of them. They also have lot of
self doubt; because of that they can never make real peace.
Only a temporary pause or ceasefire in the hostilities
between mankind or the womankind or the planet
When we learn how to find a bit of peace in our own hearts
then we understand what’s truly worth craving for
which is why in that book which I wrote Open the Door of your Heart
I said one way of making that peace in you own heart
is to say to yourself; whoever I am, whatever I have done,
the door of my heart is open completely to me.
you make peace with your past
Not by fighting it but by accepting it.
You can’t make peace and war at the same time.
Peace means accepting, embracing, being one with something
which is another word for unconditional love. Acceptance
embracing. So when you embrace the moment you embrace yourself
you embrace the people you have to live with
only then you can find peace. This is precisely what one does in
meditation. Like meditation is almost like a training ground
like a gym where one learns the strengths of character
so that one can go and attain those skills out into the world
and really make something of this world instead of
making problems. So learning how to make peace in ones own
meditation, sitting here for half an hour, a short time ago
did you make peace or did you make war? Did you try and
fight all the defilements, the wondering mind, the itchy head,
the aches and pains; did you try and fight past and future
or did you learn how to embrace them and make peace with them.
When you realize what craving does, it makes war
When you understand that peace, kindness, gentleness
gives you the highest happiness then only do you understand
how to make peace with yourself and be truly
free , be rich because the highest wealth even in our English Language
is called ‘to want for nothing’. To want for nothing.
How much do you need
before you can want for nothing? You need nothing at all.
You have enough right now. A moment of contentment
a moment of accepting yourself, a situation , your partner, your life
in this moment is a moment of great peace. Once you understand that
peace in the heart you understand what enlightenment is.
What the aspiration of Buddhism is. Why we meditate, why we
keep precepts, why we come here to listen to talks like this
because every now and again you get a taste of freedom
a taste of peace, Beautiful silence in the heart
where you want for nothing. When you want for nothing is the most
beautiful feeling in the world.
completely content, at peace and happy with this moment.
And as a result of that you know what compassion is
and no one not even monks sit in meditation for ever
half a hour, a hour two or three hours on retreat
and of course then you come and take that peace and put it
there in the world. So your craving is sometimes to
make peace in your heart and with your eyes
you are out of meditation to create the same
peace in this world using the same way.
To embrace the people you are with. To be kind to them.
To be gentle. To be soft. We call that making good kamma
The generosity the kindness, the compassion
that’s really what we should be craving for
And if we can make that in this world, sure we work hard,
we have our job, we contribute to society but then we
never have any stress. Our work does … our vocation becomes our
vacation as Mark Twain used to say
We enjoy what we are doing, because we are not
doing this for money, we are not doing this
to start a big house, we are doing this for peace.
We are doing this for kindness. We are doing this
to contribute to the happiness of our world.
When the goal becomes well aimed we never get
the collateral damage, environmental destruction
broken families, corruption and war.
It’s not that craving is wrong, its the craving for the wrong things,
things which lead to suffering, rather than things
which leads to peace. There is a challenge for you in
this life. You have desire, you have craving, you have aspirations
What is really worthwhile to aspire for? where do you want to be
in one, two, three, four, five years time. Where do you want the
world to be? Really it’s up to you to crave for the right things.
Thank you for listening.
Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu. So is somebody celebrating my talk tonight
with a firework display? I am very proud of that..
So does anyone got any comments or questions about
the talk tonight about ‘the Secret’