Outer Space and Inner Space | Ajahn Brahm | 02-01-2015

So for this evening’s talk, there was an
interesting suggestion which somebody sent to me and it’s a little subject to try and spin
a talk around – spirituality and just meaning and helping one’s life get better. And the subject of the talk was, Space, so
prepare, be prepared to space out for this talk. As we talk not just about outer space but inner space too. We’ll start with the outer space. And I remember for when I used to watch TV
40 years ago, Star Trek, the Final Frontier, and as I like to say, to baldly go where no
monk as gone before. [laughs] The phrase is [???], to boldly go where no
man has gone before, so I say to baldly go where no monk has gone before because as a monk I like to get new ideas, new
subjects for talks and just explore them. And to start off with space because many of you know
that before I was a monk I was a theoretical physicist. And one of my great joys was astrophysics,
exploring the meaning of space and outer space and finding actually what it really is, and it’s
brilliant to allow your head to be taken apart by all these theorems which people wrote on
the blackboard in universities, to start to see things in totally different ways. And some of those ways you learn to see
things expanded your awareness and it had consequences in your daily life. So it’s not just theory, it’s not just
like mental gymnastics just for the sake of it, it was actually quite powerful what it meant. One of the first little meanings, and I’ve said
this about a month ago, but I love saying this again, was about the meaning of space having
no boundaries to it – boundless space. But what that really meant to me, was as a young
man I do recall, just thinking about you know, the space and how far does it go? Is it infinite or does it have edges to it?
And if it has an edge is it a wall? Is it a fence? Is it just a
place where you go further and you fall off? And if you fall off, where do you fall into, because you
can’t fall into space because that space is ended. For me it was never very clear how you could have an
end to space and also how it can’t be infinite either. What I learnt in science, in theoretical physics,
if you haven’t heard before, that this space, this universe in which we live, it is limited. It’s only a limited size.
It doesn’t go on forever. But it’s got no edges to it, no boundaries. And how that was explained to me, and there’s
consequences to this little anecdote as you’ll find out in a few minutes. As it was explained to me, it was like an
ant crawling over a basketball. I would say a football if I was in Europe
or UK but over here, footballs are just AFL balls or rugby balls and they’re not round. But imagine a round balls, like a basketball,
and an ant crawling on the surface, goes round and round and round and round and round and
round and notices it’s a finite area but it hasn’t got any edges to it. And that was the description given to me at
Cambridge about the nature of this universe, the nature of space. It is curved. You go far enough and you actually come back
to where you began, just like the ant going round the ball eventually retraces where it was before. It’s got no edges to it. Space is curved, limited size but no boundaries. And of course, we know that we always thought
the Earth was flat before until we realized, we got our heads around
the fact it’s round, it’s a ball. So it’s got no edges to it but it’s a
limited area, that’s the same as space. But where I made the next step was to time. Just like space having no edges for being finite, time is the same. It has no edges, no beginnings, no ends. I know when people thought the Earth was flat
it has beginnings and ends. If you sail far enough, you will fall off.
And that’s what people think about time. There is an end of time when everything finishes. And more interestingly there is a beginning of time,
the first edge before which there was no time. And the answer, it’s not a satisfying idea:
time with an edge means there has to be a God, there has to be a Big Bang, Creator,
“first of all” stuff. Why should there be? And the best solution, instead of being a
flat-timer, which most people are these days, like flat-earthers, we are a bent time. So time goes round and round, no beginning,
no end and that starts to solve a lot of the problems of religion and also philosophy. So that’s where we start from but then also, as well as
outer space, we go to the inner space. Because yeah, sure if you ever see any photos
or videos of what it’s like when you get outside the atmosphere – there’s nothing there. But we always thought when we come back home,
we come and sit on solid ground, solid ground, hahaha, that is just an illusion. You’ve all seen in the science programs that
what you’re sitting here, concrete, is just a bunch of atoms, and those atoms are so far apart
that there’s so much space between the atoms. That it’s 99.9999999… – it goes on a long way – space. And the atom is just a tiny little thing compared
to the space between it. So even on this planet Earth, even on what you’re
sitting, there’s nothing there. It’s mostly space. And if you go inside the atom, the old ways
of looking at the atom – electrons and the nucleus – and the nucleus is so tiny! Even in one atom it’s 99.999999…
and it goes on – absolutely nothing. And then you go inside the proton and it’s
just a few quarks, there’s nothing there. It’s 99.9999% nothing.
In fact even solid stuff is mostly space. And that really freaks me out when I think the only reason I’m standing up here
or sitting and not falling through is just the play of forces but actually there’s
nothing really there at all. Total space. But as human beings we forget
to notice space, we notice things instead. And that’s one of our mistakes of perception. So whenever you get into a room what do you notice
when you come into this room? Maybe the Buddha statue behind me,
who’s the monk giving the talk today, a few friends outside, the carpet, the walls. But how many of you, instead of looking at the
things in the room, look at the space between us? And the space in this room is far bigger than
all the people and the things. Sometimes we say oh, this room is full – it’s not full.
There’s heaps and heaps of space. And if you go with someone who observes space
rather than things, he gives you a different perspective on life and also you can use that
even to your financial advantage in your work. For example, you know I travel around a lot,
I’ve just come back on New Year’s Eve. I’ve been travelling over to Singapore and
Malaysia and I’ve often noticed how much space is wasted in the aircraft. And I can make this wonderful idea for any
person who wants to start a new airline which can double the capacity simply by asking people to
sit cross legged on the floor instead of seats. And in the normal aircraft you can get two
levels if people sit on the floor. There’s so much space wasted around their heads. If you put like what you are doing now, you
can put in just 2 metres, you can put two rows of people if you sit cross legged. So on my airline, Buddha Air, [laughter] there
will be no seats. Everyone will just be sitting on the floor, cross legged. Maybe we’ll give you a free cushion
and a bigger cushion for business class [laughter] but small cushions for economy class. But that way you can get twice as many people
in the aircraft, it means it’s cheaper, you get more profit.
What a wonderful thing. That’s when you start noticing space.
And also why is it? You really shouldn’t do that because space is beautiful. To give space between people. Have you noticed that sometimes when you’re
too close to someone you feel cramped? Why can’t we have more space in our life? The trouble is we’re afraid of space. So much so that I look in your houses which
I visit from time to time and how much junk have you got in your house. If instead of looking at things you look at space,
how much space have you got in your house? Don’t think, oh, I’ve got a space on that wall,
I need to buy something to stick on it. There’s a corner there, I’ve got to buy
something to stick in the corner! I’ve got a free room, I’ve got to put something in it.
Why is it that people hate space? They’ve always got to put things in it. Why is it when people go into the wilderness, they go
up a mountain, what’s the first thing you do when you go on top of a mountain?
Put a stupid flag on the top. Spoiling it. And the flag is only the first thing
they put on top of a mountain. Give them a few more years and they say,
Restaurant on top of the mountain. [laughter] Why can’t you leave the mountain free?! Beautiful empty space instead of thinking there’s
an empty place, I’ve got to put something in it. Why is it we cannot revere and cherish space?
Simply because we are materialists. We’ve been conditioned and trained to notice things,
and to value things, and to get more things! That’s why our world gets so full and jammed and
packed and it’s terrible we can’t move because there’s not enough space,
because we don’t value space. So it’s incredible when we change our perceptions and
then we get open areas, we say, this is full of space. So we can’t fit anything else in there.
“Ah this room, what’s there?” This is my Space Room. [laughter]
And keep it like that. Number one, the more spacious your room is,
I don’t mean your spacious house, people say “spacious houses”, they mean big houses. And it’s still as cluttered as anything else. You go into my house, many of you have visited
“my house”, my cave. There’s nothing in there. People’d say, “Where is your stuff?” What do you mean, my cave is full – of space. That’s why I love it to meditate because
I value the space, I value the emptiness. Imagine, this is one of my old huts,
years and years and years ago, there was this women’s group: every Wednesday afternoon, nothing much
to do, and they were retired or semi-retired and they’d have a club and go and visit, umm,
“interesting” or weird places. And I think our monastery came under the second
category, when they organised a visit. [laughter] Yeah, this is quite a few years ago, Buddhist monks,
this is weird, what they’re up to, what they do and all sorts of stuff.
It was an interesting afternoon out for the girls. And so I took them around and I remember taking
them inside my hut to have a look around. “Is this it? Is this where you live and sleep?” It’s only about 3 metres by 2.4,
the old huts we used to live in. And, they looked around, there was nothing there.
No TV, no radio, no cooker, no bed, sleep on the floor. And they said, “This is all… where you live?”
I said, “Yes, this is it.” They said, “Wow, if only I lived in a place like this,” they said, “I would get my housework done in half an hour.” And they were really jealous, [laughter] because
how long must it take to clean up your houses and you got too big houses. They’re not spacious.
They’re cluttered. Imagine you get rid of things, how quick it is to clean
it up, so it’s nice and free, and empty, and spacious. That’s the real “spacious”, not the size of your
house but the amount of space you have in there compared to the amount of “things”. So maybe, I should actually start, also my
other idea for a new business. You know for a new like Myer store,
where we only sell space. [laughter] So you can get a couple of metres for a couple
of hundred dollars and just put the space in your house, freedom. [Laughs] Now when we value that space what we’re
actually valuing is freedom because when things get cluttered, we lose our freedoms. We’re not just talking now about space, physical space,
but the space in your schedules, the time you have. How much space do you have in your weekly
schedule or is it all just filled up with “things”, with things to do, places to go, jobs
to finish off, things to fix and sometimes we don’t give our daily schedule enough
“space”, because we don’t value that. Space is not important.
Space is something you got to fill up. “What you’re doing for the holiday period?” Nothing, oh, come over here, go over there.
Fill up your space! This is supposed to be your holiday time,
a time for rest! Many people are going to go back to work on
Monday morning, two weeks over Christmas, New Year, more tired than when they left work!
They’re exhausted. I don’t know why that is, people say
“I can’t wait to get back to work I’m so tired.” [Laughter] Some people say that.
So one of the reasons why is because we don’t value the space,
the emptiness, the freedom which space gives us. So, just like you can value space in your house,
space between houses, space in our cities. You know the space in the cities, the gardens and the
parks, they are so incredibly important for our well-being. It’s just a place where we can just open up,
haven’t got the walls around us. We can actually be free. I recall actually
going to the old Freemantle jail. I’ve been here for over 30 years now.
In my first year here, I went to go and give some teachings in the old
Freemantle jail when the prisoners were still there. I remember one of the things I noticed
about going in that jail, the walls were so high, you could never see far distances. You had to look up really high to see the
sky and so all these men inside this jail spent years just, you know, just seeing walls
in front of them, never seeing space, never seeing the horizon, never being able to have
this incredible privilege which you take for granted to go up onto a hill and just see forever,
see space all around you. Now there’s something really important
to be able to do that. So even if people are in a prison, if I design
a prison, I wouldn’t mind to do one, I’d actually put a tower in the prison so the
prisoners can go up to see the sunset or the dawns. At least they get close to something which is
incredibly therapeutic and natural and freeing. Yeah they may be in a jail because they’ve
done some crimes but certainly they should not be, to have the idea of space and freedom
taken away from them totally. And prisoners complained about that and
I thought how incredibly perceptive you guys are. You realise that seeing just no space, no freedom, no horizons was a torture which was,
should be against human rights. But anyway, you have that opportunity to see
great distances, do you take advantage of it? Do you get out of your house, do you get on top
of the house and see just the great distances? They always say that when you have houses on
top of hills they’re worth much more. That’s also why we build monasteries on
top of hills and mountains, you can see the great space around you,
it’s so refreshing. And sometimes in big cities which
are all closed up or in airports where you can’t see very far and it’s all plastic and unnatural,
there’s something which is very unhealthy about that. And it causes people to be sick
emotionally and physically in society. Just going out where there’s lots of space
solves so many emotional problems. You have a sense of freedom all around you. The world is not encumbered any more. You can go wherever you want in any direction,
there’s space you can see in any direction. There’s nothing in between cluttering up
your vision or even cluttering up your imagination, the ability of your mind to soar in great
distances that’s so important spiritually. And of course, we need that in our time as well. Just like our cities become very cluttered,
so our schedules become very cluttered. So it’s up to you to grab those spaces,
give them importance. And so the parks and the gardens
in your time, in your day, the places where you can just hang out
and do nothing, is so important. Sometimes I feel a bit of a fake teaching meditation,
as all I’m teaching you is how to do nothing. And it’s the most difficult thing people can do. That’s why, meditation retreats, people say,
“Give me something to do.” I just, “No, I won’t. Just meditate.” “How do you do meditation?”
You don’t do meditation, stupid. You just don’t do anything.
“But, but, but, I need something to do!” Isn’t it strange? That what should be the most simple of all things
for a human being to do – to find space in their minds. Space and time. Space just to hang out and be, not cluttered,
not having things to do, not having objects in the mind like you have objects in your house. So you can go freely through, this 30 minutes
of meditation, no encumbrances, nothing to bang up again, nothing to trip over, just
totally through because there’s nothing there. That is the meaning of space. When one values space – this is the key to it,
value it, give it importance, cherish it, it’s more important than things, because
when you actually think of space between people, the space between you and your lover,
that’s where the relationship happens. Sometimes we think it’s his fault.
Sometimes we think it’s her fault. It’s not his fault, it’s not her fault. All the problems don’t exist in that partner,
they don’t exist in yourself, they exist in the space between the two of you. And sometimes, you know when counselling people
having trouble with living with another person, focus on, not your partner,
not, you know, yourself but what’s going on between the two of you. Even you actually visualize the space between
you and your, you know, lover, your partner, what’s happening in there,
what are you putting in that space? Cos’ what you’re putting in that space that actually
affects your relationship 100%, totally. A lot of times, we put, say, fear in that space. We actually choose to put fear in that space. The fear what she’s going to say, what he’s
going to do, fear whether it’s going to happen. Whatever you put in that space affects the
way you look at that person. Sometimes you put suspicion. I’ve seen this happen
so many times in marriages after a few years. The husband comes home late and you think
– oh my goodness he’s coming home late, he must be having an affair.
He’s not having an affair. There’s lots of work on in the office.
You know, trust the guy. You know, the wife’s dressing up, really nicely,
she must be having, sort of a partner on the side. She’s not, she’s just becoming a bit more
self-confident, experimenting with her, you know, her looks, her hair or whatever.
But why is it we’re so suspicious of one another? We put suspicion in the middle of our relationships
and that causes a huge amount of problems for us, and even actually
the relationship to our self. Again, sometimes we put just so much negativity in that
space between a relationship to ourselves. In order to change that – you know, in some
of my old little tricks and techniques I’ve told it to someone just before,
that’s why it’s in the front of my mind, and I just tell this to so many people,
in Malaysia, in Penang, in Singapore, such a simple way to put some fun and silliness in the
space between you and the other person, especially you and yourself.
I do that a lot of the time. I’m a really silly monk sometimes, messing
around, putting fun between things and so, the one which I’ve been teaching people – get up
early in the morning and do your ten push-ups. As soon as I say ten push-ups, is that a
New Year’s resolution to lose weight or something. It’s not a New Year’s resolution to lose weight! I do my ten push-ups every morning,
I haven’t lost weight yet but I have a lot of fun. And the ten push-ups if you haven’t heard
before – in the morning, you get up, go into your bathroom, stand in front of your mirror,
get out your two fingers and push-up [corners of mouth] One, two, three [laughter] four, five, six
– it works in front of a mirror. Just by you looking at me doing something
stupid like that, straight-away you’re putting a bit of stupidity between you and the image of you in
the mirror – what a beautiful way to start the day. Why are people so serious in life? There’s enough to be serious about,
but put a bit of space of fun and joy. Remember that Patch Adams guy who’d mess around
like hell in the hospital and so many people got better. They tried to get rid of him and sack him, you know,
for not being what a doctor is supposed to be. What’s a doctor supposed to be anyway? But he was doing it differently and had so much joy
and fun, joie de vivre of doing stupid things, he actually increased the curing in hospitals just by
putting a bit of fun between him and the patients. Cos, it’s really serious stuff, if someone’s
dying of cancer, you know, really sick. You know that, I ended up telling, this is my story, there was a Tibetan Buddhist nun here
many years ago. There weren’t that many monks and nuns around.
We don’t care what tradition you are. We’re all Buddhist and so we’ll look after one another. And so she was in the hospice. You know that old
hospice they had in Shenton Park which they closed down. That was a crime to close that place down,
but nevertheless, what can you do. So I went to visit her one day because she
called me. From our monastery at Serpentine it’s about an hour and a quarter, an hour and
a half to that place. She called me, the word came through, that she said, “I’m dying.
Can you come and visit me before I die?” And this has happened to me a lot of times,
in my job, you know, you’re really close to death because, you know, you just go visit people
all the time who are dying and do funerals and stuff. So many times I’ve noticed this, this is anecdotally,
you may have the same experience. When a person says they’re going to die
in a day or two, they always do it. You know, they’re sick, the doctors can’t
say, but they know, yeah I’m on the way out, another day or two and I’m going to
die – and they always get it right. So this is what, this lady says, so when she
said she’s going to die in a day or two I realised, you know, she’s not making this up,
she’s going to go, so I better go visit her quickly. So I went all the way from Serpentine to Shenton
Park, dropped everything I was doing, and all the building stuff and other stuff I was
supposed to do cos this was important, arrived at the Shenton Park hospice and had
to check in with a nurse first of all. And the nurse was this middle aged Irish
nurse and she was, you know, I described her as a ‘Margaret Thatcher of nursehood’
[laughter], cos she was just one character. Cos when I went up to her and asked her,
“look, what room is this nun in?” She said, “No, you can’t go and see her.” I said, “I’ve come all the way from Serpentine,
an hour and a quarter just to see her.” “I don’t care how far you’ve come, we must
respect our patients’ wishes, mustn’t we?!!” [laughter] Well she was really fierce on me. But you know, you think I’m soft but
I like to stand up for myself. And I said, “She just called me a few minutes ago!
She asked me to come here.” She got really upset at me, she glared at
me and she said, “Come with me!” [laughter] So I followed her and we went
to the door of this patient’s little room and sure enough, there was a notice on it. The notice said, “ABSOLUTELY NO VISITORS”
and the nurse looked at me, “See!” “Huh!” [laughs] There was a notice up there,
“absolutely no visitors,” but I looked closely, you know what it said on the bottom?
‘Except Ajahn Brahm’ [laughter] And a Buddhist should not
do this but I couldn’t resist, “SEE!!!” [laughter]. She deserved it, but really,
I should have been more compassionate and kind. And she just went off in a huff. [laughs] And that was
one of my memorable moments, getting my own back. But then of course I went in the door, when
I went in the door, the first thing I said, when she welcomed me, I said,
“Why did you put that notice on there? Why did you say, absolutely no visitors except for me?” And she told me and this is important for you,
she said, “When I have all these visitors, they see me, riddled with cancer, only
got a day and a half, two days to go, and look at me” (and she did look like skin
and bones, gaunt, not the person you knew six months ago). She said, “everybody who comes
in to see me gets so depressed and they get so upset seeing me like this,
one or two days from death. When they get so depressed and they start crying,
that makes me feel bad. I’m bad enough as it is! I don’t need everybody
else’s emotional baggage put on me!” She said, “Ajahn Brahm, you’re the only
monk, only person who comes into this room who doesn’t get upset and instead tells me jokes.
So, another joke please.” [laughs] And that’s what I did for about
an hour or two, just you know, shared jokes, she was laughing – because she wanted to
be treated as a person (and I was the only one who could do that)
instead of someone dying, someone sick. People just saw her body. I saw something much more than that, much more valuable than that because I put respect between me
and her and saw deeper than the sickness. How many times when you see a person you just
see the sickness? You don’t see the person. It’s much more than that, the sickness.
So you can do that and she valued that so much. I treated her as if I was just treating
a person, you know, for the… “Go have a cup of coffee in the afternoon.”
I refused to see her sickness. I refused to see the fact that she was going to die
because everyone else was seeing that. She knew that.
She wanted to see something bigger in her. So you know, between the space between us,
I can have this beautiful relationship. You know, taking away the fear,
taking away the negativity, taking away the disappointment and putting
something positive, and I often teach people that
if you want a relationship with anybody,
have a look at what you put between you and that person cos that’s what you look through to that
person, fear, anger, you know this is my enemy, so you put anger between you and look through that
anger and you see all the faults in that person. Of course you will do that. Every now and again, you do this automatically,
someone you really like and care for, maybe your mother visits from England or
a really best friend you haven’t seen for a while and they come for New Year’s or Christmas
time and you have so much fun spending time with them because you put love between you
and that person. And that’s what you see and that’s what
they show you back. I’ve done that a lot with visiting people in prison. I like talking about prison experiences simply
because these are extremes. People who’ve done some terrible, terrible things in their life. When I go to the prison, I put respect
between me and that prisoner so I can see things in them which are wonderful and good and beautiful and kind. I see that through the respect which I put
between me in that space between people. And when they come back to me it passes through
respect and I see the beautiful part of them. It’s an incredibly powerful effect because I’m connecting with the person, what I see in them, they see in themselves
and what they see in themselves grows. Amazing just how they really get on and don’t
go back to prison again. I remember dear old Nick, he was in prison. Uh, I was teaching him meditation, he was a
drug dealer, and after a while, so you know, he left the prison, went straight. And I remember seeing him in the airport. Just waiting for someone in the airport, I spend
lots of time in airports, as you gather. I sat in the airport, just somebody put their hand
on my shoulder, I turned around, that’s Nick. He said, “Hi, Brahm.”
You know, he called me Brahm, not Ajahn Brahm because these are sort of not Buddhists
but just people who really respect you. “Hi, Brahm”, and he had this big smile on
his face, “I still meditate every day”, he said. It’s so cute you know, that you’d actually helped
somebody and they are still doing the right thing, simply because you learnt that relationships
exist in the space between people. So just actually changing perceptions and seeing
spaces rather than people. Seeing the space between things in your house
rather than the things in your house. Seeing this hall, you know actually I
designed this hall, believe it or not, an architect just drew it up, it’s basically
my design, and I wanted to just make it full of space and have very few things. Unfortunately the altar behind started really,
really simple but people don’t like space, they keep putting things on there [laughter], they’re not worshipping the Buddha,
they’re worshipping things. Have you been to any of these temples or churches
who’ve got so much stuff? And sometimes people in our modern world they
get upset at that, rightly so. Why you’re wasting all this money on stuff,
when what the church or the temple or the monastery is really teaching is space, emptiness, freedom. The first year over at Bodhinyana Monastery,
they had visitors. And I remember this experience. They came along and I saw them,
“So you got a new monastery, a Buddhist monastery, fantastic.
Where is the monastery?” “What do you mean, where is the monastery?
It’s here, you’re in it, you’re standing in it.” But they had this idea that a monastery is a building. They wanted to see some big structure. Maybe like you see in Thailand or some big
structure or like a cathedral or something. “Where is the monastery?”
“This is the monastery!” The space is the monastery, not the things inside of it. And this actually gives you a different perspective. What is, I always like saying this, what is a church? You know actually the meaning of the word church,
if you look in the English dictionary, you find the etymology, was the people. The church which was a gathering of human beings. And after a while because they gathered in
a building, you know to protect themselves from the weather, and the rain,
and the cold and the snow and stuff, the meaning of the word church was transferred to the building. And now we have buildings but no church
any more, the people have gone. Fascinating, isn’t it? Because we forgot the meanings.
Space is the most important part of spirituality. Once we can focus on the space, cos the space is not
just what’s between us, it doesn’t just separate us. But actually the space connects us. I remember doing a little ceremony for
this conference we’re doing next August, it’s a whole series of conferences and when they launched
one in Singapore, they invited me to go up for the launch. And to make something for the papers, some
event, you know, we got on a boat and got into the straits and we did a little ceremony
of just throwing some, I forget what it was, some holy water or some flowers, you know, into the straits, this would go to every part of the world,
on the currents of the oceans. We were saying that the water actually doesn’t
separate the countries. The water actually connects us.
We can look upon space in two ways. We can look upon space as what separates us or
what surrounds us, embraces us and connects us. Just a change of perception. The distance between you is not what separates,
but connects us. And looking at that space in that different
way, all the space in this room actually connects us, embraces us,
enfold us and keeps us safe. So we don’t have to be afraid of space if
we change our perception of it. It can be something very beautiful and lovely. The spaces between, say, me and, example,
just think about me and my brother in England, a long way away but that space doesn’t separate us. That connects us, that’s the thread between us,
which may get stretched but will never disappear. The space is very beautiful and even when somebody
dies, they are not in the house any more, but their space is still there.
It connects us, you know they’re not gone. There’s been an imprint there in space. And that imprint, just like, I don’t know
if any of you have ever studied homoeopathy. I got very into homoeopathy when I was in Thailand
simply because there was no other medicine. The doctors were too far away.
You had to just look after yourselves. And if you got bit by a snake or a scorpion or hit
your toe, you know there’s nobody to ask to help you. There’s no ambulances.
You had to look after yourself. So somebody suggested homoeopathy,
I really got into it. My personal experiences, great experiences,
when it worked for me. So, anyway that was where you take something
and you, take some sort of poison and you add it to water or alcohol, shake it up,
then you dilute it and dilute it and dilute it until the chances of even one molecule of
that original substance being in the final solution is zero but it leaves an imprint somewhere. People, things, leave an imprint in space. That’s part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity,
just how massive objects leave an imprint in space. They actually bend space.
That’s where he explained his law of gravity. That space, is not something which has no texture
or anything, space is like a membrane, he called it. You put a massive object on that membrane, it
bends that membrane. That’s what space is. Space is not something which is unaffected
by the people within it. So when you come and live your human life, you leave
an imprint in space which is never eradicated. Just like massive objects and some of you, especially
me, massive objects, we do bend space-time around us. [chuckle] Having that idea that you
actually leave an imprint in space in the universe, it’s actually something quite fascinating
to get your head around. You certainly know if that’s a family member
who’s passed away. They don’t go. They’re dead, they’re buried, they’re cremated
but they don’t go. They leave an imprint in your lives.
They certainly leave an imprint in your heart. Those people will never get forgotten. And some of their teachings, some of the experiences you
shared with them, they’re there, just like homoeopathy. It always leave a trace of the original substance, a footprint. Even though there’s no sand for the footprint
to be seen in, the footprint is there somewhere. Each one of you will leave a footprint on
this world, will leave a footprint amongst the people you’ve known and lived with and talked with. It’s wonderful to know that,
that space carries information as well. It carries information of people who’ve lived in that space. Sometimes in indigenous culture, they always
say the land carries the imprint of the people who went before them, the ancestors.
Space does too, not just land. It carries the echoes of the people who’ve
walked through the space before. Feeling that, understanding that,
makes the life totally different. It’s not meaningless any more. Spaces should be like the indigenous cultures value
the land. I value space as well. The emptiness. When one understands that whether it’s meditation
or life, it means you’re not so afraid of the end of things. The beginning of your life, the end of things. Why should there be a beginning or an end,
like I was mentioning in time? Time being curved, life being curved as well,
no beginning, no end. Yeah, bodies come and go but life is something
much different from the body. Life is just what does interact with space
and space with your life. If we’d only respect space much more,
maybe we’d have much richer lives. You go off into the bush, you go off by the ocean, one of the beautiful things in Western Australia,
you’ve got this ocean, and you look out over the ocean,
the most beautiful part of it, there’s nothing there. If you see a ship or a great tanker or something,
it spoils the emptiness, spoils the space, there’s something there. When you see nothing for miles, as far as
the horizon, there’s something very moving about that. So this is actually reflecting and understanding
and really loving the idea of space which connects us, in which we leave an imprint,
in which we change space, even changing space for the better. So when you look at your house, don’t just
look at the stuff in your house, look at the space and worship it. When you go out into the community,
don’t just see how many cars are on the freeway, there are many, but there’s also much space
as well. See the space and value the space
and don’t feel so cluttered. Give more space in your daily schedule and
also please give more space in your heart for people. Sometimes we think we can’t get many more people
into our hearts. Of course you can. One of the meditations I developed years ago
was imagining, when you start meditating, closing your eyes, imagine a circle. Inside that circle all the people you like
and love and care for, just on the edge of the circle, there’s all the people, yeah,
they’re okay, you don’t really like them that much, but you don’t hate them either, they’re
just, know, ordinary people. They’re not in your inner circle. And the further you go away from your centre
of the circle, the more you put the people you don’t like, to way beyond the inner
circle, the people you really hate, despise, the people who just really hurt you or hurt
other people – the paedophiles, the torturers, all those people way up there. And in this little meditation when you just
arrange the people and events in this world. The things, the people you like in the centre, the further you get away from the centre
the more you dislike them. Then you expand your circle. Give it more space, to allow more people in,
the more things you don’t like, in, until the people who you are neutral to, actually
you quite like them and you bring them in. And you keep expanding your circle, expanding
it and expanding it until you have space for the whole universe with all its people,
the really terrible people and the beautiful people, they can all find space in your heart too. That’s the sign of an enlightened being,
doesn’t reject anybody but understands them. Why people do bad things, I can’t understand
only they know, sometimes they don’t know, actually they don’t know for sure. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time,
drunk, stupid, whatever it was. But there’s so much more to them. Whoever’s hurt you, whoever is your enemy,
don’t judge them so unfairly. There’s far more to them than that. How many of you have been judged? Many of you are the enemy of others. Some people just don’t like you, what’s wrong
with you? Nothing [laughs] you are okay but still
you’ve become the enemy of others. So the only way to overcome that is to see
much more, see the other side of you. If only the people who think you’re an enemy,
who don’t like you, could see the real you, the whole you, all of you, then they would
not reject you any more. And the same as you, you can do the same for
others, until we have such a huge heart so we can actually expand it to include everybody. Have more space in your heart for others. Have more space in your heart for the pain of life. That’s important, that’s where we learn from. That’s actually where we learn things like
compassion and kindness and wisdom. It’s part of life. Have more space in your heart
for people who do strange or weird things. That poor young man who came in
during the meditation, have space in the heart. And so, when we understand the importance
of space, space in the heart, space in our day, just to relax and be, space in our schedule
when we realise that doing nothing is important. So you schedule that it in – the doing nothing
time every day. Space, and we can understand just how important
space is in the spiritual world, in your life. So please give yourself space. Value space, cherish space and then you’ll
have a wonderful life. Thank you. [Audience: Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu.] Okay, so just talking, meandering on space. My journey into inner and outer,
all sorts of space. Okay, so now we’ve got some questions. I hope we’ll have a question from outer space today. Somebody signing in from Mars. Any questions from the audience here, about
what I was talking about this evening? Spacing out.
Okay. Question: Does the mind fill space? Answer: Mind fills space, exactly, that’s
one of the deep meditations, getting into the realm of infinite unbounded space. So, have the questions… Thank you, only one.
Amos from Mars [laughter]. No he’s from USA. This is a big question in my life, the balance between solitude and connection,
also the world’s population is increasing very quickly.
Many people have to live in closed quarters. Any thoughts on how we can meet human
needs for space as the world gets smaller? Second question first: the world’s
population is increasing very quickly, we have to live in closed quarters, any thoughts
on how we can meet human needs for space as the world get smaller? Yes, we should have compulsory becoming monks and
nuns [laughter] And then if more people become monks and nuns,
because we are celibate, we don’t have kids, it means the population will go down.
We’ll have more space for everybody. So, you know, you should be valuing us for not
having any kids. So [laughs] you need to sponsor a monk or
sponsor a nun campaign to lessen the human world population to have more space. But being serious, even though there’s a
huge world population, why is it we tend to stick together and cluster? There is plenty of space but we actually deny that space. We avoid that space, we’re afraid of that space. And sometimes when we cherish the space,
it’s there for us. Even in a house, we’re close together
but there’s still an incredible amount of space. If you look for it, it’s there. Many, many people they go to the CBD for shopping
or for New Year’s Eve, there’s other places which are empty. Why not celebrate New Year’s Eve by the
beach instead of by Northbridge? Why not go for your holidays to the Bush instead
of to Paris which is very crowded? Why is it people always want to be
where other people are? Always noticed this, I used to live in a hut
on a hill in Serpentine. You can see the South West highway, when became
a long weekend you can see all the cars going south. And when it came to Sunday evening, all the
cars going back again. So, what do you go south for?
They went south to get away from it all. But everyone else was going down south. [laughter] If you’d have been smart, you’d
have stayed at home, and you get away from it all. What I’m saying in this talk, there is a
possibility, there’s a lot of solitude around, there’s lots of space around but take it,
grasp it. But the most important question here is about
between solitude and connection. And of course, there’s no such thing as
real solitude because when you’re by yourself you are connected, to yourself. It’s learning how to connect to yourself. I gave a talk over in Singapore, yes
Singapore, based on the Wisdom 101 conferences one of our committee members went to,
and it was titled “disconnect to connect”. Disconnect from your mobile phones to connect
with life and connect with yourself. I did mention that all those mobile devices,
what are they called – iPhones, iPads, iPods, it’s all about “i”. So I’m going to go to Google next month
and ask them to please rebrand them – Us-pods, we-phones [laughter]. So if you actually see that happening, you
know where it came from. [laughter] I invent these silly ideas. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, instead of calling
it iPhone, all about me, and then, you know, we don’t connect with anybody. If it’s a you-phone or we-phone, just give
it that different title then suddenly we realise it’s actually used to connect between people
rather than just me. So about solitude and connection, even if
you are alone, if you really know what being along is, you connect with yourself, you’re
kind to yourself, you’re giving yourself space, you’re giving yourself time, it’s
really important to spend time by yourself. And if you love yourself and care for yourself,
you’re never lonely. I always say the difference between loneliness
and solitude is whether you like yourself or not. As a monk I spent long periods of time in
solitude but I never felt lonely. Cos when I was in solitude, I spent actually
six months without seeing another human being, or talking to anybody.
Six whole months in total solitude. But I was never ever lonely, not once, because
I was always with my best friend and that was me. I am my best friend. But I also can have space in my life
for other friends as well. So solitude is where you learn how to be your
best friend. When you’re connecting with others, you
realise, just like you, just like others, they can be your friends too. So when I’m alone I put this beautiful kindness,
friendship between me and myself in that space. When I learn to do that myself then I can
do it so easily with other people. So basically there is no difference between
solitude and connection. In solitude you’re connected to yourself,
and in society you’re connecting with others. Put the same thing in the space. So that’s it.
Okay so I hope you enjoyed that talk tonight. Strange talk, new subject, just spreading around
the spirituality of space…da..da..da! Announcement: Somebody left their wallet around,
so if they can see me after. Ajahn: Okay, is there any space in the wallet,
or is there money in there? [laughter] And most people’s wallets, this
time of year are full of space, they spend too much. Okay lets pay respects to Buddha, Dhamma,
Sangha and then we can go. Araham sammasambuddho bhagava
Buddho bhagavantam abhivademi Svakhato bhagavata dhammo
Dhamma namasami Supatipano bhagavato savakasangho
Sangham namami

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