Two Days with Ajahn Brahm

 

I’m still processing My two days with Ajahn Brahm, I ended up having more conversation with him then I expected, while walking, subway, and car, and it was well worth it.

In terms of his talks, after watching him on YouTube for 8 years in lay life, there was nothing I had not heard before, but his actions were what impressed me more.

Two things that struck me immediately on meeting him were that he travels alone, without any other monks, attendants or an entourage.

The second was that he travels only with what he can carry in the small “monk purse” as I call it, and I thought I traveled light with a small duffel containing some extra shirts, bowl,sangati, and toiletries.

He did what we do at Bhavana, saying hello with a smile to everyone we walked past, and at google he opened the door for everyone acting like a bell hop and said “welcome to google” hehe.

It was great to hear his views and advice on monasticism, I feel a lot of it confirmed to me that I am on the right path in many aspects in my own monastic life, and I found it funny how much he was in agreement with Bhante G in a variety of topics. I tend to follow my intuition and conscience when it comes to things and it’s important to me that I check that intuition against the thoughts of senior monastics I trust, so I know I’m on the right track.

I’ve been lucky enough to have spoken with and gotten advice from, some of the most well known senior monastics in the western world, the gratitude I have for that is immense. I’m very young on my monastic life and will make many mistakes, this is why the guidance of senior monastics you trust is so important, until I’m one myself, if I live that long!

” ‘Us vs Them’ & Metta : A Call to Peace and Practice in an Age of Chaos”

I came across this video at the right time, as I’ve been wanting to make a post about what I see happening more and more in society.

What I see happening is that people are retreating to their castles and raising the moat bridge, or circling the wagons, whatever analogy works for you. Heck in modern terms you can even say they are retreating to their safe spaces.

Who is in the castle? everyone that is “us”, my religion, my political side, my country, my race, etc so on and so on in the myriad of ways people categorize themselves and others.

It makes us feel safe and secure, it is natural for humans to feel this way among other people we consider “us”. The flip side is that this also allows us to use ancient wiring to dehumanize the “them”. We can much more easily develop hatred, and justify all sorts of malicious and unskillful behavior, if the “them” is evil, wrong, and not even fully human. You can see where this has lead humanity to just in the past 100 years, let alone our whole history.

What I love about this video from this highly regarded professor, is that while he admits that it would be near impossible for humans to completely gut the “us vs them” dynamic, we are malleable as to who we place in each group.

Metta, a tool given to us by the Buddha, is the PERFECT fix for this, it allows us to practice putting ALL beings in the “us” group.. a lofty goal thats not easy to accomplish, but in my opinion one worth leaning towards. When we have metta for others, we can act more skillfully in the world, not out of a mind of fear , anger, and hatred.

This doesn’t mean we all will hold hands, and bring in utopia, utopia doesn’t exist, never has, and never will. There are real issues to work on, real problems to try and fix, or at least lessen, and our only real chance of doing this is not by breaking up into small groups that won’t talk to each other, but by overcoming our ancient nature, stepping out of our safe spaces, and meeting together to try to work these things out.

This requires discussion, and compromise, something I’ve not really seen much of in this country in my lifetime. This is a time of Chaos, and who knows what the future holds, I just know from my own life experience and Buddhist practice, that I’d rather face that uncertain future with a clear, calm, and peaceful mind, rather then a mind clouded with fear and hatred, nothing good can ever come from that.