Ups and Downs in Life

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Ajahn Brahm Live in Bangkok:

Public Talk - “Ups and Downs in Life”

October 10, 2006


Tonight’s talk will be about dealing with the ups and downs in life. We learn that

much of our life, we can’t control or do much to change it. Our health, the way

people speak to us...

The only thing that is in our control are our reactions to the ups and downs in

life. We can’t control the world, but we can control our mind. We can train our

mind. To perceive something useful in whatever we do.

Taking Buddhism to a Western country like Australia, one has to make the timeless

teachings relevant so they can be helpful to all walks of life.

The role of being a monk in a Western country is very different from in a Buddhist

country like Thailand. There, you have to earn respect, you can’t take it for granted.

You also get in situations you won’t be put in Thailand. There is a different lifestyle

in being a monk in the West. So you have to cope with some difficulties.

For example, I was once invited to go on an Australian phone-in radio show. Turns

out the radio program was a sex hotline. Imagine a Buddhist celibate monk having to

answer questions on sex and relationships! Even though I was put in a difficult

situation in life, my meditation training helped me out. The few questions I answered

in the beginning so impressed the audience, I ended up fielding most of the questions

being asked.

The insight you gain from meditation is so powerful, you can answer questions in

all subjects. Even if you are put in an uncomfortable situation, you can use your

experience and insights into the ways of the mind to cope with whatever


No matter what you experience, you can always do something about it. The

monastery in which I live we had to build ourselves. I recall an occasion where we

monks were mixing concrete. When you do that, you get cement dust all over you.

My robes and under-robes got all dirty with concrete and water. When I was on my