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  • Ajahn Brahm: Okay, I did notice there's a few people with sore throats who've got coughing,

  • so to make it nice and peaceful during the talk can we all cough in unison at the beginning

  • [laughter] and have it all done away. So communal coughing first of all please.

  • [many coughs and laughter]

  • Thank you.

  • [more laughter]

  • Okay now be quiet. And of course there is no way to control these things so if you have

  • to cough just make peace with the coughing and let it happen. But the title of this evening's

  • talk is going to be on dealing with your emotions. Somebody asked me, a couple of people asked

  • me for subjects to talk about this evening and I wanted to focus on the big subject of

  • your emotions and how we deal with them, especially in Buddhism. Because this will cover a couple

  • of requests which people have given for the Friday night talk. And you may notice that

  • quite often when I give these talks on a Friday evening I don't really spend too much time

  • talking about the theory of Buddhism and the intellectual part which is just really the

  • realm of thought. Of course that's part of Buddhism and you can read about that in books

  • and sometimes I do go into those more intellectual and ephemeral parts of philosophy of Buddhist

  • life. But what's more important I've found in practice is this emotional world and how

  • to deal with life as we face it in our modern age. And especially how we deal with emotions

  • which have a huge effect upon on our physical and mental wellbeing. And those emotions range

  • from despair to raw anger to inspiration to love to compassion and all those emotions

  • are a very important part of our life. And sometimes the theories and intellectual abstractions,

  • sometimes they don't address the reality of our emotional world.

  • And I want to talk about that this evening - how we deal you know with those emotions

  • - how we identify them and make sense out of them and learn to move forward with those

  • emotions, because I do and also the Buddha identified a distinction between emotions,

  • there are some things which we do call the negative emotions which are problematical,

  • there are things such like you know grief, being angry, being afraid, wanting revenge,

  • having a broken heart. Whatever else those negative emotions are

  • we realise they do impinge upon our happiness and our success in life, they do hold us back

  • from progress. So those are the negative emotions and there is many more you can include in

  • that category. There is also what we call the positive emotions, things like inspiration,

  • things like compassion. And one of the great positive emotions which too many people often

  • forget about is a positive emotion of peace. And I put that in the realm of emotions because

  • that's something that's solid which empowers and motivates you; I'll be talking about that

  • towards the end of the talk - usually we have to start with negative emotions first of all.

  • And of course I have to deal with that a lot, people usually come and ring me up, or come

  • and send me emails or come and talk about their negative emotions. Very rarely do they

  • come up and say, "Ajahn Brahm, I'm so happy! I'm having a wonderful time! Everything is

  • going well in my life! I'm just having so much joy!"

  • [laughter]

  • They say nooo..I've just broken up with my boyfriend, ah just my husband has run away

  • with my best friend, I just got the sack from work, I've got cancer, someone has died, that's

  • what, the stock market has gone down or the Eagles have lost, or whatever it is. People

  • they're always complaining about the negative part of their life - so that's what you have

  • to deal with first of all. And even sometimes in my monastery people actually ring me up

  • for counselling - we call that Dial-a-Monk service [laughter].

  • But you get so busy sometimes, I made this suggestion to have one of these answering

  • machine services - you know like you get in these government - like press 1 for something.

  • Because it has happened that sometimes people sometimes their dog has died or someone says

  • can you do some chanting for me over the phone. Can you do some Buddhist prayers, they ask

  • for. I've done that sometimes, in the middle of the night, to the opposite side of the

  • world - their dog is sick so I've done the chanting over the phone.. sometimes I'm too

  • compassionate. [laughter]. But.. so I've decided actually to actually, uh, so if you want..we

  • can record these chants and have them on the recorder so if you want a prayer you can just

  • press number 1. [laughter]. Why not, that's very easy. And then if you want to speak to

  • Ajahn Brahm you haven't got a prayer so press number 1 anyway. So that way I get rid of

  • everybody and have a nice easy time.

  • But you have to deal with people, and that's only a joke. You have to deal with..it's much

  • nicer to be accessible to people, even though you're tired, I'd rather be accessible then

  • be sort-of somehow separated from the people who support you, and feed you, and clothe

  • you, and look after you and your friends. So even though it's a lot of work I enjoy

  • doing it. But when you're dealing with people's emotions, sometimes you have to let people

  • understand, number one, that those emotions are real, they have a place in life, but also

  • where they come from. Because it's great when you have an emotion in your heart, to find

  • out why is that there, where did it originate from. Because it's great when you track it

  • back, you can see how emotions arise, how they build up. I don't know how many of you

  • have been to movies, but you can actually see that the trick of the movie is to start

  • with the music. You know the different musics that get your emotions going and just how

  • even the lighting starts to change. If you want to get people afraid, you turn the lights

  • down.. and the music is very very soft.. apumbabambumbum bumbumbum.. And it gets people, because actually

  • your heart beats. When you get excited you heart beat goes at that level. And if the

  • music or whatever else. the beat gets that, it actually encourages your heart beat to

  • sort-of get very very very strong. And you can even use your speech to say that..something..is..coming.....and

  • make people afraaaaaid.. But you can see how emotions can be generated, just in movies

  • especially by the music by the way that speech is actually said, and also by the lighting.

  • One of the first times when I saw this, how people can play your emotions is actually

  • when we started our nun's monastery down in Gingegannup because that was before Sister

  • Vayama was here, and we were looking for a nice piece of land, we found this nice piece

  • of land over in Reen Road but it was on auction. And so I went there for the auction, with

  • - I don't know if he's here this evening - Eddy Fernando was our bidder. But when the auctioneer

  • started the auction he was very calm, saying about this beautiful block of land, wonderful

  • place for retreat, lovely forests and the river and then he started mentioning the figures..

  • And he said, I think this is worth so much, I think we should start for at least a million

  • dollars. And straight away I thought, "oh no". And then he bids for one million, and

  • of course no one bid, any bids for five hundred thousand, four hundred, three hundred.. Let's

  • start two-fifty. Someone put their hand up - two-fifty. And that's when he started - two-fifty

  • two-fifty, we've got two-seventy-five, two-seventy-five, two-seventy-five, anyone two-seventy-five!

  • We've got two-seventy-five!! Three-hundred, three-hundred, wawawawawawa..!! [laughter].

  • And even I was a monk, even I started getting excited. [laughter].

  • And you can see just how they do this, just the way they speak, they suddenly raise their

  • voice and started speaking very quickly, and you do get excited. And how emotions can be

  • generated, when you see how those emotions can be generated, you can actually sometimes

  • be in power over other people's emotions. Just by acting slowly, and by speaking softly

  • you can calm people down. One of the first times I saw this and it was very impressive

  • was the former abbot and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia

  • Ajahn Jagaro. I was with him when he was a monk just learning his trade in Thailand.

  • Because we do learn a trade - this is a training which we go through. And we were having our

  • morning meal when a Thai lady ran into our dining hall. She ran in, and she's obviously

  • very upset, because they don't usually do this - interfering in a monk's meal. And she

  • was saying something in Thai, and I actually caught it after a while, she said "Suchin

  • is dead! Suchin is dead! She shot herself! She's committed suicide!".

  • And I got really quite excited too because I knew that lady, she had cancer, we've been

  • going to see her, talking to her, counselling her. She was a close disciple of the monastery.

  • And that morning she had shot herself, and this was her best friend who found her body.

  • She came in to the monastery just straight away, completely distraught having found her

  • best friend committed suicide. You can understand what she felt like. And I understood that,

  • and I looked to Ajahn Jagaro who was the head monk at that time to see what he would do.

  • He understood what she'd said and he put his head down and carried on eating. And this

  • lady - "She shot herself! She killed herself!" - and the monk just carried on eating as if

  • nothing had happened. And after about one or two minutes she stopped moving her arms

  • up and down, she stopped shouting, and at that point Ajahn Jagaro put down his spoon,

  • put aside his bowl, and said "what happened?" I thought it was a beautiful piece of psychological

  • calming a person's emotions down. Because he was not responding with anxiety to her

  • great distress, he was just calming her down just by his actions and by his softness, she

  • too calmed down in the space of one or two minutes. It was the most brilliant counselling

  • I'd seen for years. He was giving her a sense of perspective about what had happened. So

  • by having someone who was calm, was not being agitated, she could calm down too and see

  • the bigger picture. Which is what happens sometimes, when we see this is my boyfriend

  • that's left me, this is my child that's died, this is my job which someone else has taken,

  • these are my shares which have just all disappeared, it's my team the Dockers have lost - I'm being

  • fair because I've mentioned the Eagles first now I'm mentioning the Dockers.

  • Sometimes that we when lose perspective we can actually get emotionally distraught and

  • that was a very beautiful way that he dealt with that by calming her down to see a bigger

  • picture. Not negating her feelings but acknowledging them, but calming them down. Because you see

  • just how these emotions can get built up, what actually builds them up and how they're

  • created. I just was at a funeral service this afternoon - and I enjoy taking funerals because

  • at a funeral service you do have a group of people who are emotionally raw. They've just

  • lost a close member of their family or their friend and it's, I've seen many many times

  • just how grief can be created or how that feeling of grief can be calmed down to get

  • a different emotion coming up. I can actually see that I remember even when my own father

  • died that obviously I knew my mother so well but when my father died she knew he was going

  • to die, you know he came very close many times, when he actually did die she was at ease,

  • at peace with it. It was only when a cousin came in to the house and opened up her arms

  • to my mother and said, "oh you poor thing", and of course that meant the floodgates of

  • my mother's tears started coming. And I knew that if that cousin hadn't said that stupid

  • thing my mother would be much more at peace with the death of her husband and my father.

  • It was as if that there was a social trigger there, that you've lost your husband that

  • you must cry, and that was pressed by this cousin when, before that happened she did

  • not need to go on that path of grief. And I've seen so often that our social conditioning

  • creates these emotions. And one of the things which I love doing if you're teaching at a

  • funeral is to actually give people other triggers. Trigger not to actually generate these emotions

  • in the same old ways, but look at them in a different way. To give different triggers

  • to different emotions.

  • And let's look at another sort-of emotion, the emotion of anger. Where does that anger

  • come from? You know the old story, that someone calls you a pig, I don't know if anyone's

  • called you a pig today, but now I'm going to call you a pig. And what happens when somebody

  • calls you a pig? You think - "they have no right to call me a pig! Who does he think

  • he is to call me a pig!? I am not a pig! He shouldn't call me a pig." And every time you

  • remember that I've called you a pig, you allow me to call you a pig one more time. Every

  • time you remember that I'm calling you a pig again. Why do we do such things? Why can't

  • we just say "he called me a pig" and then forget about it. Instead of allowing us to

  • trigger that emotion of anger, ill-will whatever else it is. The anger that comes up in you,

  • you actually you allow it to happen. There is no reason for it at all, you don't have

  • to follow that path. If you trace anger back, where did you get angry from, you can actually

  • see a series of irritations which you dwell upon, you think