Is Buddhism a religion? Or is it a way or life or a philosophy? What is it? And what are Buddhists supposed to do? Ajahn Brahm uses his characteristic humour and wisdom to answer these questions.
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.
Mindfulness isn’t an end itself, but a means of uncovering the deeper truths of existence that the Buddhist teachings are encouraging us to see. Mindfulness is the first of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. Ayye Vayama reminds us how developing mindfulness is an essential quality of mind that leads to insight, knowledge and ultimately to Awakening.
Is power any good at all? What is real power and how is it going to be of benefit to people in the world? How do people get addicted to power and become unwilling to give it up? Ajahn Brahm discusses these questions about the nature of power from a Buddhist perspective.
Ajahn Brahm opens the talk by pointing to how much popularity and traction mindfulness techniques are developing in the contemporary world. He then goes on to explain how developing mindfulness with compassion can be transformative for anyone who practices it.
One question often asked by those new to Buddhism is “What holy books do you follow?”. Ajahn Brahm responds by telling them that just as the Muslims follow the Koran and the Christians follow the Bible, Buddhists follow meditation. That means that the ultimate reference and authority within Buddhism, the real truth, is direct experience derived from a peaceful mind developed through meditation. This is the ultimate source of wisdom and truth.
Should we “tolerate” other people? Or is that just a bit patronising, or even a put-down? Ajahn Brahm explores what tolerance really means and ways in which we can do even better than tolerance.
“Meditation is better than sex!” So says Ajahn Brahm who is happy to celebrate the benefits of celibacy.
Is it really possible to be happy in the world? Or is there something inherently wrong with the system, and no matter what we do with our relationships, with our circumstances, with our mind, that we can’t really be happy? Ajahn Brahm takes us deeper into the notion of what happiness really is, and how true happiness can be found. The Buddha’s teaching of acceptance and letting go of states leads to the kind of deep happiness that cannot be found by shopping in the ‘happiness industry’ of this world. As Ajahn Chah famously said: “Joy at last -to know there is no happiness in the world!”
Often we feel disappointed with how our lives are progressing and how our progress on the spiritual path is going. Ajahn Vayama tries to put this all in perspective by seeing the bigger picture of where we are at on our spiritual journey.
Often we are tempted to try to take charge of things in the world and fix the world’s problems. Ajahn Brahm queries this urge to control, and says that another way is to understand and adapt. Indeed control freakery is very much the cause of the problems of the world and being another control freak is not necessarily the answer at all. Ajahn Brahm also refers to the example of the Buddha who could have become a “wheel turning monarch” ruling over much of the world, but instead chose to become the world’s wisest teacher.
Buddhist reflections on social, political and environmental action leading towards the creation of a better world.
Ajahn Brahm points out that there’s really nothing very wrong with procrastination, and that it’s our perfectionism and constant doing that is the real problem. So why do today what we can put off for tomorrow? Just be happy for now. And if you can be happy you’re on the track to understanding the meaning of life.
Is everything really interconnected? Is being disconnected always such a bad thing? Ajahn Brahm challenges the prevailing orthodoxy within Buddhism by pointing out when things are interconnected, when they’re not, and how understanding this can be useful on our path to find peace and happiness.
Responding to the question,”What is the best meditation to do when one is dying?” Ayye Vayama offers advice on how we can practice in such a way to prepare the mind for dying, and to yield other benefits from this practice too.
Everything we do by body, speech or mind has an ethical dimension, and there are consequences for our behaviour and our actions. We are all accountable for our actions, and Ajahn Brahm explains how we sometimes get so caught up in getting through the day that we often forget or put out of mind the longer term consequences of our actions, and offers advice on how to change.
Ajahn Brahm talks about the different sects of Buddhism, how it all came to be this way and what it means. Ultimately it’s all the same cake, just different icing on top.
Ayye Vayama explains the origin of the term that the Buddha used to refer to himself – the Tathagata. She then goes on to explain the significance of this term and what it means to all of us who are seeking the path to Awakening in this modern world.
Do we have the right to believe whatever we want? Should there be limits on what people can believe? Ajahn Brahm takes on this contentious topic, pointing out that certain extreme beliefs can be dangerous to oneself and others, and we need to be careful about what we believe.