Be Your Own Therapist

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 07.10.2008

Thank you so much for coming. It's my honor and pleasure to host this morning, the venerable
Robina Courtin. Robina has been a Tibetan Buddhist nun for over 30 years and during
that time, is well reputed for the unique and very impacting and deep style with which
she teaches. I believe that you will find this talk to be engaging and enlightening
and fun and all of the best things that you can do at work, on a Friday morning. So, Robina
is working with a group called the--was actually the executive director of the Liberation Prison--Prison
Project which has sort of provided a spiritual foundation for more than 15,000 prisoners,
world wide and this is a very big undertaking and has a staff and staff requires, you know,
funding. So to help with that and to draw funds for the Liberation Prison Project, Robina
is leading a conference in San Francisco coming up soon which our very own Chade Meng-Tan
will be speaking, our jolly good fellow. The goal of this conference is to, of course,
bring about happiness and its causes and to cut suffering and its causes and one of the
other benefits that it will have will be to support the Liberation Prison Project financially.
Robina is here to give a talk this morning about how to be your own therapist and without
any further ado, I will turn it over to her. >> COURTIN: Thank you Tom. Happy to be here
everybody. Thank you very much for having me. Well, first of all, here I am dressed
as a Buddhist nun. So we straightaway go into our religious mode, don't we? And we think
it's all about religion and therefore believing things. Well, Buddha's not like that. So for
a start, the kind of thinking cap you put on when you think science, when you think
numbers, you put that same hat on, please. Don't bring your religious hat in here. Bring
your intelligent hat because I'm not joking to say that actually Buddha is more similar,
to say, Einstein in the sense that Buddha is not a creator, he doesn't speculate, no
one revealed anything to him. He didn't have visions of things, he didn't kind of make
things up and therefore, there's nothing to believe. It's actually true to say that Buddha
you know, is a person, like a scientist as we would call it who from his own experience
has found certain things to be sowed. So what he deals with primarily is the human mind.
So from that perspective, you could say he's a psychologist. I mean, obviously he didn't
use that word then; he didn't speak Greek, did he? He spoke Hindi or Pali or whatever
it was. But actually, Buddha deals with the mind, that's his expertise and that is finally
the essence of what Buddhism is, you know. So yes indeed, I'm a Buddhist nun and if you
go to Tibetan Buddhist places, you won't get a sense of its being psychological, what you're
going go to see is religion, pictures and holy things and nuns and monks and the trappings
of religion but what's interesting about Buddhism over the centuries is that there's no contradiction,
you know, for Buddhist--for Buddhist culture. There's no contradiction between what we call
spiritual and what is called proving things and using your intelligence, you know or philosophy,
these things. And frankly, that's what actually appealed to me enormously, I was more of a
Catholic and I think in my own life the thing that really drove me was my wish. I mean it
sounds awfully noble but I'm saying it, my wish for truth. So that drove me to sort of
philosophical approach. It always ends the big view, always wondering why and what, you
know. So you know, first being a bit of an old hippie and then kind of a revolutionary
leftie and then feminist politics and whatever, always looking for why things were and I found
that enormously appealing. That's Buddha's idea; first that you know Buddha didn't--nobody
created you, including your mother and the father. But the crucial thing about Buddhism
is that, as I said, Buddha presents things about how he has seen things and then what's
interesting in the Buddhist view is, it's a process of verification but the point of
that is, not just to give a headful of knowledge, that--that verification of something also
brings along with it the experiential result. So this is key relationship in Buddhism therefore,
between so called wisdom and happiness. So the Buddha's deal really is that first of
all we have this mind, this consciousness, these words used synonymously and so of course,
the way to listen to Buddhism because he is not a creator, you take it as the hypothesis.
You don't try to squeeze it inside your head and believe it or reject it, you take it as
a hypothesis which is a very reasonable person's approach to any knowledge. So Buddha's deal
is--Buddha's asserting that consciousness is not physical for a start. Second, it's
not created by anybody and that's a big shock because if we're materialists as far as way
concern, our mommy and daddy created us and if we're religious then God created us. But
the Buddha's has got a kind of third approach and he would say we don't need creating, why
we need a creator, he doesn't know. But he is asserting that consciousness and you just
take this as your--as your thing to run with it's your--it's this river of mental moments,
all your thoughts, feelings, unconscious, subconscious, instinct, intuition, the entire
spectrum of your inner being; this is your consciousness. So think of it as like a river
of mental moments and you know very well, if you had perfect memory, you could track
it all back to yesterday without a single second missing, you could track to it back
to the day before and if it existed the day before, yon know you have to track it back
the day before and so on and so forth, you know. So you could get back to the first second
of conception. So here is this hypothesis, the Buddha's view would be, that the second
before conception you know--your egg and sperm were in your mommy and daddy's body minding
their own business, God has nothing to do with it nor Buddha. But your consciousness
is its own entity and you can track it back and back so that will do for that concept
right there. But the key thing is to see the experiential implications of this which is--which
is what it gets to this business of being your own therapist you know which is a very
tasty way of seeing what a person who is living with Buddhism in their lives is attempting
to do. Because the Buddha's deal is that your mind is yours, no one gave it you. It's a
very bizarre concept, kind of part schizophrenic idea and Buddhism that someone else kind of
created us, planted us on this earth and said, "Okay now, get along with it," you know, I
mean the Buddha would say what's in my mind is mine. My anger, my love, my intelligence,
my kindness, my compassion, my tendencies are mine. So this simple one of the implications
of this idea of continuity of consciousness and I won't go too far into that now, doesn't
need. Just take it as your hypothesis, it's inevitable, it's execrable that therefore,
what's inside your mind is yours and you're responsible for it. Not in a guilty sense,
there's no dualistic idea in Buddhism about guilt and blame and sort of that kind of idea.
What's in there is yours, he would say, the Buddha would say, you are not stuck with it.
I mean just the last 20 years, these amazing discussions that are being going on between
the Dalai Lama and all the marvelous minds in the--from the Tebestic--Tibetan monastic
tradition and with these, the best brains in the West, you know and some of the--as
one side has recently said; one of the greatest findings of the 20th century is the idea of
Neuroplasticity, or with respect, Buddha could have told you that two and a half thousand
years ago. I'm just happy we're catching up with Buddha, that's all, you know. But guess
what? We're not stuck with what we're born with. This is an assumption in all of Buddha's
view of the universe, you know and it's something that's assumed in a person who is a Buddhist
in their practice and it's quite empowering because if you look at how we suffer in daily
life, it's a sense of kind of hopelessness. I'm angry, I'm depressed, I'm no good, I can't
do this, we have this very limited kind of instinctive sense of what we think we are,
the kind of "I didn't asked to get born, it's not my fault, what can I do about it?" I think
if you look inside ourselves, this is what holds us back, you know, but what taking on
this Buddhist idea and learning to use it as your basis in your life, I can tell you
from my own experiences, unbelievably empowering. That yes, whatever is in there is there, take
responsibility, see it, don't pretend it's not there, the hopelessness, the fear, the
jealousy, the depression, you know, the low self-esteem, wanting to kill yourself, wanting
to kill others, blame, whatever you want to call it. It's all there, and the idea of being
your own therapist is to become intimately and I mean, intimately familiar with this
stuff. Not just to get more guilty but the--we all know that when you find what the problem
is, you then--that indicates the solution, doesn't it? If you can't locate the problem,
you'll never find the solution. So this is the basis, you know in this nice packaging
say, in the Buddhist teachings called the Four Noble Truths. The context here is suffering
and so the third one is where Buddha's really asserting and again, you take this as your
hypothesis that every living being necessarily possesses this phenomenal potential to be
free of what we would call suffering, what we would call the limitations, what we would--you
know, all the miserable stuff and the flipside of that is we have the potential to grow the
good stuff. So looking in a very simple way, kind of the Buddhist model of the mind, you
know and it's deceptively simple, actually, we make it awfully complicated in the West,
you know, with ADID and by this and whatever it is, you know. But the Buddha puts--put
talks about the mind in terms of we've got positive qualities which are those that necessarily
brings us happiness and causes the pain of others, that feel harmonious, that feels spacious,
that feel relaxed. Then you got the neurotic negative qualities that necessarily cause
you suffering, necessarily and that cause you to harm others and disharmonious and fractured
and miserable, and fearful and neurotic in their nature you know. So the marvelous point
the Buddha's making and this is not, this is completely flying in the face of all the
assumptions of all our models of the mind in the West, that these do not have equal
status. You know, if we think of what of what--what we think of a person, you define the parts
of a person in a materialist world, we would say that a reasonable person, you know, or
may be, you know, a couple of legs and nose, a couple of eyes in roughly the right place
plus some love, some kindness, some intelligence, some depression and as long as they're reasonably
balanced then you're an okay person or Buddha's view, his kind of baseline if you like, though
it sounds insane is really perfection. He would say that mind at its core is pure and
again this stuff you don't believe it. I'm stating it but then the person who is interested;
you go into this, you get your inferential kind of information and you work it through
in your own mind, you process to see the logic of it, to find the truth of it and as the
Dalai Lama points out again and again, if you can prove from your own direct experience
then the Buddha is wrong. You must reject him. So the Buddha's picture, the Buddha's
view is that the positive states of mind are at the core of our being, they are the basis
of who we are and therefore can be grown, for our sake and the sake of others in this
universe, you know. It's a reasonable practical issue, not like you must do it because God
said so, there's no concept like that in Buddhism. It's an experiential practical issue and then
he says therefore, the stuff that he would call the negative which he says is the basis
of our neurosis and misery and our low self-esteem and all the rest is actually not at the core
of our being. This is quite a shocker because there's a deep assumption as I said in all
our models of the mind in the West that it is at the core of our being. That in fact
you'd actually think that you're unnatural person if you didn't have depression or anger.
We think now we're unnatural when it's very extreme. But the Buddha would say having any
of it is our natural, in the sense that it doesn't belong in the sense that it's there;
loud and clear, look at your life, but that we can transform it, we can change it. No,
I'm not talking holy here, do not hear this stuff of holy. Here this is intelligent, practical,
doable stuff and I can't stress this enough, you know, because we have these absolutely
knee-jerk reactions the moment we hear about spiritual, Buddhist, nun, meditation, we kind
of lose our common sense. We think we have to put our thinking cap off, well mistake.
Keep it on, you know and that's what--for myself personally, what I absolutely delight
in, in this tradition of the Dalai Lama that happens to be in the Tibetan, you know this
monastic philosophical--monastic tradition the last thousand 1,200 years. I found in
my own life enormously appealing, you know--you don't chuck out your intelligence. There's
no contradiction between heart and intelligence in the Buddha's view. This is nice analogy
that a bull--that a bird needs two wings, wisdom and compassion and the wisdom wing
you could say is all this work of being your own analyst, knowing yourself intimately,
precisely, clearly, using the same level of depth of analysis and intelligence and clarity
that we know we need to employ in what we call science, you know. That's the kind of
intelligence you need to really know your own mind using these very marvelous techniques
that have been around for more than a thousand years, several thousand years, pre-Buddha.
He took these techniques from the Hindus you know and they are happy to share, these so
called concentration techniques. They're unbelievably practical, psychological techniques, the likes
of which we haven't even begun to tap, you know, in a materialist world and that is just
a practical fact you know. Don't think of them as religious, this is really a disservice
to ourselves and others. You really--to do these techniques well, you need phenomenal
discipline, phenomenal intelligence, phenomenal will and real long term patience, you know,
and the result of these, I mean Communist could do them, they are not religious in their
nature, these practical techniques called concentration meditation but again, we got
these clichéd ideas that has all to do with getting a nice feeling and being mindful but
excuse me, you know, thieves need mindfulness. There's nothing holy about mindfulness, okay?
You can't make a cake without being mindful, but you can't shoot somebody without being
mindful either. So we really got a quick just kind of wishy-washy nonsense about spiritual,
I really can't stand it, you know. You get my point, okay? I'm a Buddhist nun, I don't
deny. Whatever. But these misconceptions we have about spiritual, you know. We make these
huge sort of dichotomy in our own lives between pleasure and thinking and intelligence and
science and then you're spiritual on the other side. There is no contradiction, you know,
there is no contradiction. The essence of the Buddhist one really is this one of--can
you turn me around, I can't do it, I'm getting more to more on this side. Just whiz me around,
that's it. It's just going to go to the left whatever I can do, I can't help it. Get me
a chair, no don't worry I'll be all right. So okay, so let's look at the contents a little
bit of this mind of ours, the names of these so called positive qualities and the names
of these so called negative ones and again, don't hear this as judgment. It's a practical
issue, we're trying to identify problems because let's face it, we all want happiness, you
know and do your market research just in this room, you're going to get a 100% agreement.
People want happiness, don't want suffering. You ask the dogs and the giraffes, you look
at their behavior, you're going to see that they want the same you know. So then the Buddhist
deal is okay, that's practical, a good start so let's look at what happiness is, how does
he define it and therefore what are the obstacles to it and they're the things you work on,
you know. You want to be healthy, you got some suffering, you find out what the problems
is, you find the alternative, you solve the problem, it's practical. So Buddha's view
of happiness is actually very--is very simple. We make it complicated, we think of it as
like a needle in a haystack that you try to search for because we believe instinctively
this is the materialist view. Again, don't be kind of--it's not moralistic, it's practical.
We think of it as something you got to find. So we think of it in external terms, the job,
the body, the boyfriend, the dollars, the shape, the sound, the smell, well you know
no problem. As many boyfriends as you like, as much--many dollars as you like, no problem
there, all the Buddha is saying is, if you think that you'll get happy feelings from
it, you're mistaken. You might get some but they won't last. So for him, it's real simple.
This idea of happiness, if you think about it again, what we think it is, is what you
get when you get what you want and that drives us. This is primordial in us, this is deeply
instinctive within us and he is finding fault with this. He says it's just not practical,
it doesn't work but he says happiness is, it's really simple, it's what you get when
you give up the neurosis. It's in that sense, that's inside. It's a practical thing, in
other words, the extent of which we are caught up in any given moment in low self-esteem,
depression, anger, jealousy, you name it, we all know those words and there are under
the negative heading, we all know them. The extent to which we're caught up in those is
the extent of which we suffer, therefore, I'm not happy. The extent of which we are
not caught up in those and therefore the extent which we're involved in kind of, you know,
connecting with others, empathy, being harmonious, forgiving, it's a struggle but they're the
positive qualities. The extent of which they're prevalent in our minds at any given moment
is the extent to which we are happy. It's an incredibly simple little recipe in Buddhist
terms. We think it is what you get when you get what you want. He says it's what you get
when you give up the neurosis which is the one--so the technique is learning to know
your mind, be your own therapist. Yes indeed, using these so called mindfulness techniques,
they're practical, psychological techniques to help you focus your mind. The reason you
want to focus your mind because we can see from the second we wake up until the second
we go to sleep is ruining 4,000 miles an hour in every imaginable direction with zero control.
And we in our culture assume that's normal but Buddha says it's a mental illness and
he's got techniques to help us steady it and don't think about calming it, that's kind
of you get the sound of an idea of a person with a silly grin on their face. A calm mind
can be a busy mind okay? And if you think about it, what causes the problems isn't a
busy mind, it's when the--the busy mind is caught up in fear about yourself and worry
of what people think about you, am I good enough, am I too fat, am I too thin and depression
and jealous and anxiety and all the rest. That's the stuff that causes the misery. If
you're full of thoughts about being useful to others all day and being content with yourself,
well, please go for it, you know. You don't have a problem, believe me. So we got to be
very precise about this. Sure in time as we progress in the development of this mind of
ours, this ongoing job of being your therapist. We all know practice makes perfect. Then as
you progress, you can still have a busy mind, I have a busy mind, believe me, you can hear
it. But that's okay, I'm not trying to say I'm so holy but I know from the very beginning,
when I first wanted something spiritual. It's very interesting procedure I went through
and I've been a kind of a hippie and communist and a feminist and all this stuff. Looking
for truth, looking for the answers to why the world was the way it was and then I bumped
into this Tibetan Buddhists. When I heard the word meditation I thought how boring,
you know. I had no idea what--I couldn't care, I just knew I had this attraction to this
kind of--I wanted to get a view of the universe. So you know a philosophical approach, a way
to see how the world is and put it all, put you know, put the two and two together. So
I remember having this very clichéd idea about what I was supposed to be and kind of
these vague notions of being mindful and peaceful and all this stuff so I thought so I had to
go more slowly or something and I remember a friend of mind, she held my hand and she
said "Robina, what's happening, you've lost you energy?" and I got this strong sense of
what I was doing which is very common when we start this spiritual practice. It's kind
of I was wearing this pre--this inauthentic idea of spiritual, like a cloak. It was arti--it
was artificial, it was not authentic and I had this strong sense and this what I have
gotten from Buddhism, for myself and meeting these Tibetans, I mean people love the Dalai
Lama because he actually he doesn't know sometimes, he just says I don't know, when you ask him
a question, you know. People like very much this kind of authenticity. I think it's rather
like Sarah Palin, isn't it? She did a good job last night, I thought. She's--kind of
seemed authentic, you know. So the thing was I realized, stop trying to be something I'm
not, be honest about what I am but then slowly, slowly learn to be authentic. See what you
are, take--look at your qualities, take responsibility for them and then know you're a work in progress
as one Tibetan Lama says, we can mold our minds, our thoughts and feelings into any
shape we like, you know and this is the thing here. The level of which I'm discussing here,
the level of practice based upon these really marvelous techniques where you can learn to
focus your mind, you then use the skill of--of this--really a process of cognitive therapy
and I'm really not kidding. Buddha is a master of cognitive therapies. You learn more and
more clearly, literally to hear the millions of voices inside there that now are racing
like I said out of control all day everyday. But it is possible with more and more focus
and that just needs practice to see more deeply, to listen more deeply to be more precise and
then slowly being able to distinguish between the neurotic voices and the positive ones.
Truly, that's it, you know. That the basis of all are neurotic ones, this is one way
of saying about it in Buddhism, the basis of the neurotic voices, the feel for ones,
the angry ones, the jealous, the depression is a neurotic sense of self of "I." You think
about it, even if Monica and I are sitting, having a very friendly conversation, I'm listening
to her and she is listening to me and I crack--you know I laugh at her jokes and she laughs at
mine. You think about this carefully when it's very easygoing, there's no real vivid
sense of I this, I am listening to Monica, you're kind of connected to her. There's a
sense of interdependence, isn't there? There's a sense of "we." Now you watch what happens
when you start to argue, that "we" is cut in half right there. So when the things were
going nicely, you could say that the positive qualities of connectedness and that--that's
really their nature there's a sense of connectedness. The unhappy "I" is kind of quiet like a sleeping
lion and there's a sense of--a sense another, a sense of connected to other there. But then
when that's cut, you kind of revert back in to yourself and the "I" rises loudly and you're
panicking and your heart's beating and the blood's racing and she did this and I said
that, it's not fair, pull me this, that's the voice, the "I," the neurotic "I," behind
all the unhappy states of mind, that's their character. So it's a bit depressing if you
think that you are born with this and you can't change it. No wonder we want to go and
kill ourselves, you know. So even to think wow, that's interesting, maybe it's possible,
maybe what Buddha says is possible, that they're not at the core of my being, that I can learn
to look into these and deconstruct them and hear the voices and unpack them and slowly,
cognitively change myself. This is the process I'm talking about here. There are many kinds
of techniques. There's a whole tool--you know, tool kit of--of kit of tools as [INDISTINCT]
said recently about the economy. Did you hear him say that? I read every paper in the world
I tell you, I'm a complete junkie for newspapers. So there's a whole part, there's a big toolkit
of many kinds of things. The one I'm talking here which I find imminently practical for
us in the West, with all that geniuses--genius minds working ten times the pace of most peoples.
Don't try to hold yourself back. Love the fact that you've got a brilliant mind, that
you're a real thinker. This is the technique. This is the tool that you can use to be your
own therapist, to use this cognitive process to deconstruct your own stuff. Okay, alongside
that intelligence, you need some, you know integrity, you need humility, you need the
wish to look at yourself, you need the will to want to, the ability--and the wish to want
to go beyond blame and hurt that alongside this intelligence, that's a marvelous packaging
I tell you. That's the stuff that we need. Intelligence on its own is a disaster. You
can still be in an infantile at the age of 90 even if you're a genius, you know? So the
emotional intelligence is what we need to get and the lack of emotional intelligence
is what we have when we have anger, and jealousy and fear and attachment because there are
these totally self-centered, unhappy, miserable states of mind. So that the first in the wisdom
wing talk in Buddhism, it's a question of knowing yourself well, taking responsibility
but on the basis of the fact that you can change not, Oh, I'm so guilty, I'm so bad.
Not that at all which is a knee-jerk reaction we tend to have when we point out problems
in ourselves. That's not the attitude here. It's a courageous attitude. It's just, "Okay,
I am jealous, I get depressed, I am this, I am that, what a drag, it's breaking my heart."
You've got to have compassion for yourself really, which is a brand new idea for us.
We love to hate ourselves. So this wisdom wing is on the one side, it's on the basis
of the fact that you got this marvelous potential, emotional, intelligent potential to develop
your human qualities. More strongly you can kind of identify with your positive potential,
the more you have the courage, don't you, to see the things that are holding you back.
But the crucial one for me is we take one thing from this room. I can change. It sounds
so simple, it's almost embarrassing but you check the major level at which we suffer when
things are going bad, we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is why we despair
because instinctively we're identifying "I" with that junk. So the key thing I'm saying
here is we have the junk, don't pretend we haven't, but it's not at the core of your
being, that's all. It's sort of like you got this big ugly scar on your--on your arm and
you think it's--it can't be removed. So of course, you want to hide it, you feel depressed,
you identify with it but one day you discover, you know, you can remove it slowly. Well,
there it is, it's still there but you feel more hopeful now because you know it's not
at the core of your being. It's something like this. It's quite profound actually. So,
to me, the thing we need badly in our culture, you know, when the Dalai Lama heard about
the level of low self-esteem in our culture, he was quite sad. He said, "That's a mental
illness." They don't even have a concept like that among Tibetans, you know. What do you
mean low self-esteem? How can you hate yourself, they say, they think it's a shocking thing
to say. We have bucket loads of it, and even though we might be getting buckets of dollars
and have brilliant jobs and be praised and loved by everybody, look at the torture inside
their hearts, you know. So we might have this stuff but the miracle is--the key is and start
with a hypothesis, don't just blindly believe it. You can't begin to investigate something
unless you hypothesize it. If you never think it's possible, you won't to open the door
to it. You got to think it's possible and then you go to work with it and find out,
test for yourself, you know. This is the approach so what I think you're going to ask some questions
now, why not? You actually got an hour's worth in half an hour because I talk fast. So there's
an advantage so really ask me some questions. Get the mic. Please.
>> Okay, so thank you so much for coming in... >> COURTIN: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.
>> So since it's pretty pointless to pursue a job and the girlfriend and the dollars and
the car when the most practical thing for us to be, to just take care, have a little
bit of shelter and food and spend all the... >> COURTIN: How revolting. I couldn't stand
a life like that. No, you've gone ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with millions of dollars
and jobs and girlfriends and gorgeous things, no, no you're chucking the baby out of the
bath water. You went too far, you became kind of [INDISTINCT]. No, that's not the point.
You can have your cake and eat it too, sweetheart and I'm really serious here. The Buddha makes
this enormous distinction between the thing itself and your interpretation of it and what
he is describing here--the problem is our interpretation of the girlfriend, of the money,
if you put all your eggs on those baskets, believing primordially that having them equals
happiness. He says that's when you will be disappointed because you just got the wrong
recipe. So he doesn't say give them up, he says change your way of interpreting them.
So the wisdom wing approach would be you'd see that happiness is dependent upon you changing,
getting rid of your neurotic attachment, getting rid of all your craving for people to love
you, getting--I mean I am talking of the neurotic side here. The craving for people to approve
of you, I think you're fantastic and the dollars in the bank, the neurotic dependence on that
stuff is what I am talking about, not the stuff itself. Because look at our world, you
know if you're in Tibetan culture a thousand years ago, you'd live like that. Excuse me,
you'd be chucked into prison if lived like this, homeless people live like this and they're
the scum of the earth, aren't they? So that's not the answer, we're in this world of abundance
and money and things and color and shapes and music and sounds, it's kind of a sophisticated
view. The first level is maybe you back away for a while, while you go into retreat mode,
you know. But eventually with skill, you're going to have your cake and eat it too. It's
giving up the neurotic attitude towards the things, not the things themselves. That's
a major, major point. Makes sense, doesn't it?
>> Yeah. Thank you >> COURTIN: Okay.
>> So to kind of continue in the same vein, I've heard of the concept of pain without
suffering. I guess what I'm wondering about is, I feel like it's--I feel like I understand
or it's not that hard for me to apply the kind of thinking that you are talking about...
>> COURTIN: Yes. >> an awful lot of day to day issues
or even pretty big issues. >> COURTIN: Sure.
>> But if you're confronted for instance with the death of loved one...
>> COURTIN: I SEE. >> Or these larger things, how does that kind
of fit into this framework? >> COURTIN: It was just exactly you know,
I mean, one of the ways Buddha's talking is that--we, in our minds, we have, deep in the
bones of our being so intuitively because of enormous amount of habit, series of layers
upon layers upon layers of assumptions about how things are and how we think they should
be. We--so much so that we don't even notice so the one that's being attacked right here
in terms of a neurotic state of mind which is why we suffer, is a deep assumption that
somehow I shouldn't change, that loved one shouldn't die, the job shouldn't go, that
I shouldn't get the sack, the bad thing shouldn't happen. I mean, you're getting my point here?
If we look at life, we did some market research again. We're going to see that it is normal
to that people die, it's normal that people lose jobs, it's normal these things happen
but everything in this--desperately thinks, try to avert it because somehow it's a mistake.
So the idea here is the way they talk in Buddhism. One of the first steps is to recognize everything
changes, I mean, it's hardly Rocket Science, but it's deep in our bones. In other words,
if I got this lovely cup that came from my grandmother, I'm investing in
this cup a lot of energy, aren't I? So there's an assumption in my mind, the more I'm attached
to it, the more I believe it won't break so when it does, I'm devastated. "Why are you
suffering, Robina? Oh, my beautiful cup broke." No, no, no the Buddha says you're suffering
not because it broke, because that it's nature, but because you really believe it shouldn't
and wouldn't. So, it sounds a bit sort of clinical but because we have strong connections
with certain people and that's just part of life. We therefore have the neurotic over-dependent
attachment upon them which is the cause of so much of the pain, which builds up this
whole idea that they will always be in my life, and I will never lose them and they
will not die. We know intellectually they will, but there's no way we want to ever confront
that, it sounds too depressing. So this end which we're not in touch with that simple
reality, that things change, is this end which we suffer when it does. So getting in touch
with that which is quite deep inside us. So, it doesn't mean you just, oh, when they die,
you don't care. It doesn't mean you have to become indifferent. I remember the Dalai Lama
talking about when his mommy died, he was in tears. But when we got a lot of neediness
and attachment and over-dependence upon something in a neurotic sense, we might never heal that
broken heart when our love one dies because--you understand my point? It's a real--the difference
between the positive and the negative sides of us there, it's really, really quite subtle
to see them. They're very mixed together. So it doesn't mean like his point is a perfect
one, we chuck the baby out with the bathroom as soon as we hear happiness doesn't come
from girlfriends. Well, as soon as we hear that we suffer because we're attached to our
friends, we think, "Oh, we don't care when they die." No, no, no it's not like that.
It's just that it won't be a neurotic "I" base thing, you'll heal more quickly, you'll
miss them and you will be sad when you think about them but it doesn't take your heart
with you, you don't get destroyed, you know, you can heal quickly because you recognize
this is a part of life, it's a reality. >> Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.
I have a second question... >> COURTIN: Yes, keep going.
>> ...if people have the patience. For those of us who are, you know, clearly novices and
new to this, what do you think are some good gateways to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism
here in the Bay Area? >> COURTIN: Well I--you know, they have this
nice saying in Buddhism that everything exists on the tip of the wish so the first is sort
of obvious but the first step in anything is the thought. So my walking out this door,
believe me, my legs won't take me unless my mind decides. I'll be very surprised if my
mind says, "I want to sit here," and my legs take me out the door. So the same with going
a Buddhist center you know. Your legs will walk there, your finger will point there,
and you'll click on it, if your mind wants it. So the first step is to want to know,
and no, I'm not trying to sound smart here. I'm really meaning it seriously. If we want
something, you open the door in your mind and you make this aspiration. Okay, I like
this, let's see because there's buckets--loads of stuff available. But then if you do start
to search, get rid of all these emotional nonsense about religion, you know and you
walk into some place and someone makes you all excited and you go [INDISTINCT] amazing,
this is so holy, be very careful. Do your due diligence, check up because there's a
lot of wackos around you know, like you do your due diligence when it comes to even just
anything, definitely do it with a spiritual practice. Go down, do your research, check
things up, listen carefully, they say, "Check the teachers, check the steps, use your intelligence,
use your common sense and it'll unfold, it'll come, if you've got the connection with it,
you'll--all the doors will be there for you to walk into, you know.
>> Thank you so much. >> COURTIN: Got to start in your mind though.
That, in permanence, I want to tell you something. When I read Vanity, one story in Vanity Fair
a few years ago, I told you I read every magazine in existence. I read this wonderful interview
with Tom and Nicole--Tom and Nicole when they were together, right? And Nicole said, it
was very, very kind of the point I'm making; at the end of the interview, she said, "We
will be together until we're 80." And we understand that. We all feel that way when you're in
love with a person, you can't imagine that he might leave you, this is why it was so
devastating. But then she covered herself and said, "And of course, if something does
change, it will be devastating." So, the point the Buddha's making is you've got this close
connection with somebody, whether it's your mother or your lover, you know. But what this
nonsense in our mind does is [INDISTINCT] onto it, all these concepts of "Now, it's
forever." That's why when things go down and you're depressed, you want to kill yourself
because you can't see that that will change too. So whatever this stage is [INDISTINCT]
we grasp onto it as "That's it, forever." We do it all the time even though we're so
stupid, you know, we can see it's stupid because we know from experience, things change. To
say that, "Oh, I might die tomorrow," every one of us in this room will think that's hysterical.
Now you do your market research within a hundred mile radius, you're going to find a lot of
people who believe when they went to bed, they're going to wake up in the morning, didn't.
We don't do that kind of market research, you know, we don't want to. But it's a fact,
you prove it, Buddha's right, people die, you know. But we don't want to think it, you
understand? It is like a cute kind of idea but it's--the implication is quite profound
actually. So the Buddhist deal is the more we're in touch with reality, at whatever level,
that's his key thing actually. That's what he means by wisdom because he's saying--okay,
this is am interesting point, actually, I'll get another question in a second. There are
two--he says there are two main characteristics, these neurotic states of mind have, one is--and
that's fairly evident, they are really disturbing, they're painful, they are--just the having
of them is suffering, right there. But the other one is fascinating and this one--he's
really looking when you study Buddhist psychology in more depth. The other characteristic is
that they're delusional and now if you were accused of being delusional, you'd be very
offended but then he uses this word, delusion for these unhappy states of mind. Meaning
the extent of which I'm put up in attachment to somebody or a chocolate cake or my own
sense of self is the extent to which I'm not in touch with the reality of things. I'm kind
of, as one Tibetan Lama said, "These delusions, these neuroses decorate on top of what is
already there, layers upon layers of characteristics that just aren't there." We overexaggerate,
you know, so if you have a version for George Bush, let's say and I hear that people do,
you really--he appears ugly to you, doesn't he? You really believe he's ugly. You don't
say, "Well, yes there's this human being and I know I have all this anger in my mind" and
that causes me--that causes him to appear ugly to me, but I'm sure there must be other
qualities there as well. You do not do that. You go he is this and you believe what you
are thinking. Well, you know, Condi likes him, she sees a nice guy there. When you see
a person you're attached to, you don't say, "Oh yes, it's just my attachment making up
this ridiculous story, he's really a regular guy, you know, you farts in the toilet in
the morning and all these things." No, no, you don't say that, you say he is what you
think he is. These delusions and this is quite primordial as well, the more we look into
our minds, the more we see these characteristic, they make up a story and then we believe that
story. This is the major way the Buddha's talking. I remember how come we suffer, you
know, and this whole deconstructing of our minds, this cognitive therapy I'm talking
about is very real at this level you know. And being so intelligent, we're brilliant.
This is the style that we really like, you know. Yes, go on, here we go. Just oh you
darling, you wanted to say? Please. >> Okay, thanks. So, I've been exploring some
of these... >> COURTIN: Speak closer to the mic, sweetheart.
>> I've been exploring this for a little while and when I first started hearing about you
know, anger and delusion, my instinct was to--well if I felt angry, I shouldn't so I'm
not going to... >> COURTIN: That's exactly--that's what we
do. >> That wasn't helpful, right?
>> COURTIN: Not helpful at all. >> So, now I am at the stage where, "Okay,
I'm angry, I'm going to deconstruct and I'm going to feel it..."
>> COURTIN: There you go darling. >> But then what happens after that?
>> COURTIN: Sweetheart, listen, okay, you're doing it with a level of feeling but that's
still quite gross. You've--what's fascinating about this approach to the mind, okay, let's
say, we have some people on this room no doubt who are, a little girl would have called a
passive-aggressive. When I'm a person who ain't a passive-aggressive, believe me, I'm
an active-aggressive. All right, now I knew about as a little girl because I was always
the one that copped the trouble. I knew the ones who were really looking sweet, I knew
they were angry inside. So you get my point here. So what I'm trying to get is this, let
say you're one of the quiet people and you don't express anger so if, but you know in
your mind, you get angry thoughts, wouldn't you agree with that? So if your work goes
down, and somebody had to just put the mp3 player on me, well, I wouldn't have to write
them down, then you transcribe them, you're going to have two bits of paper, one from
a quiet person who doesn't express through her mouth and one with a loud person who does
but you're not going to see the difference, are you? They're both a bunch of thoughts,
aren't they? That's where anger actually is. Okay, my anger harms others because I do verbal,
you know. But the real thing you try to get into is to start to look beyond the feelings,
darling, that's just your body, to get to see the actual construction of the thoughts
of anger. And they are called, "How dare you this, I hate you," and that's the path that's
hard to hear because it's so feeling level and it's so physical for us and so deep down,
we can't get to the point of deconstructing the thoughts. Well sweetheart, if you have
a series of misconceptions in your mind, like if you say, I am wearing a blue sweater, if
you said that about yourself, when we look there and we can see that's a misconception,
wouldn't you agree? What would you do about that? You change your mind, baby. That's right.
That's as simple as that. It just is a lot longer to deconstruct the thoughts and say,
"I hate you and you are the cause of all my sufferings," and I--and because it goes real
subtle, real deep based upon layers and layers of assumptions. It's a very sophisticated
process of deconstruction but once you get your head around the fact that it is conceptual
and I'm not joking, I swear you're on the track of being a Buddhist then. Do--what you
call it, I don't care, who cares, you know. That's what--that's where the changes at the
level of changing the way we think. But you got to have long term patience, honey, and
you've got to be brave enough and this is the scary part, to learn to love it. It's
like you got to learn to taste your own vomit and delight in it. And I'm really not joking
here because that's the scary part. So we know we're angry or depressed, whatever it
might be. Then we hear Buddha say, "You shouldn't be," we go all tut, tut, tut, I'm a naughty
girl and then we add anger to the anger. We're angry about our anger and we think that's
being spiritual. Well, that's fun to mentalism, you know, and look at the spiritual world.
It's revolting, a bunch of maniacs, you know. That is not spiritual, darling. You got to
have the courage to know this is long ancient old stuff. You got to have the courage to
own it and the respect to yourself to know that it does not define you and then the willingness
to want to get in there, dive in deep and work with it. Honestly, I'm not kidding. Okay,
Buddha didn't talk like this. If you read Buddhist stuff, he doesn't talk like this.
I'm talking like a Westerner, aren't I? But there's not a word here I'm saying that is
not pure Buddhism. It's just this is different cultural way of saying it, that's all. You've
got--that's a major step to make. I am angry. I am jealous but guess what? It ain't me and
I can change, rather than the guilty nonsense. That's just self destruction and it's appalling
and that's not spiritual. Do you understand? There's a nice saying--again we had--when
we do this kind of practice in Buddhism, we say--we talk about, at the end of the day,
you kind of check up, you know and you regret, you kicked the dog at 11 o'clock and you killed
your mommy at 12 o'clock and you stole the money at 1 o'clock whatever, you check back
on your day, but you know what we have right now is, "Oh I did this and I did that" and
then we go and, "I'm a bad person" but no, you say, I didn't do it but then you say,
"What can I do about it?" That's the miracle. I remember Martin Luther King saying the same
about anger because this internal is not anger but you're the object. So what we do now,
is he did this and this and then we say, he this and how this, we curse and swear, right?
But no, you must that fault. It is wrong to drop bombs. It is wrong to harm people. You
see the fault but then you say, like Martin Luther King said, now what can I do about
it? That's the action part. That the responsible part. That's the grown up one. The one that
says I'm bad, or he's bad is like taking no responsibility, he's like a little baby and
that's where we live, in this self pity, misery you know. You understand? It's a major step
but when you got to catch that voice, turn it around. It's up to you darling. Who else?
Yes. >> So I think you kind of answered my question
but I guess I've come at a place in my life where I've accepted that death is part of
life and that there will be struggles and you know, pain for everyone so how do you
get to that next stage where you find happiness knowing that in part of my...
>> COURTIN: Just question--just question of getting used to it. And that's, I swear to
you, is the experience I'm having this last 12 years working with people in prisons, you
know. I mean I didn't ask for it to happen. I didn't sort of think, now I go to prison,
you know. I was editing a Buddhist magazine when I was living down in Santa Cruz, the
magazine of the organization I'm part of it and we got this letter from this young Mexican
guy, he was 18, he told me he'd been in prison since he was 12, been in gangs all his life,
you know from Los Angeles. He was in this prison called Pelican Bay which is--just south
of Oregon and one of the main top security prisons in this state [INDISTINCT] this country
because this state is the best for prisons you know submerge--the only growth industry
in California, someone told me recently. This guy had been in this prison since he's been
in prison since he was 12. So since that time, we've had letters. We get a thousand letters
a month from people in prison. Now we got eight staff in San Francisco, 150 volunteers
around the world, we're officed in Australia, we help people in Mongolia, Mexico, Spain,
Columbia, and we--mainly, it's on the basis of getting letters so about a thousand a month
and so we've--contact will easily be fifteen thousand, probably more. Human beings in prisons,
mainly in this country so, it's just this stunning experiential example of what exactly
this point about how as one lovely person said, we [INDISTINCT] how to find happiness
when you don't expect it? So, we think of happiness usually is a pleasant joyful feeling.
Okay, and that's nothing wrong, but the amazing thing is when we understand this attitude,
you can learn as one Tibetan Lama said, "It's a like problem, like you like ice cream,"
and it sounds nuts. But the first step is accepting the reality that death and change
happens, that you can thrown into prison, someone can wrongly accuse you, that you can
get raped, that you can get murdered. I mean life happens, that's another discussion about
why? But there's no time for that here, you know, the Buddhist deal. But the facing of
the reality of this is profound, actually it means okay, this is how it is, now let's
see what I can do about it, that's the one. The angry voice says, "It shouldn't be this
way, how dare it be this way, why is it this way? It's wrong, it's this way," as long as
we have that interpretation of it, you will never, ever, ever be happy. But what I'm saying
about these people in prison, amazing examples. I'm not trying to make them more sound so
holy, you know, regular people but the scum of the earth, the bottom of our society, most
of them have been in drugs and violence and gangs and no family, no friends, no money,
I mean unbelievable lives you know, these people I've been meeting over these years.
But I can't describe to you the humility and the courage of so many of them, life sentences,
death row, turning themselves around, recognizing this is the reality. I'm in this shit hole,
excuse me I will not get out alive very likely. Now what can I do about it? Now let's see
what I can--now let's interpret it in a different way. The Buddhist deal at the deepest wisdom
level is nothing has an inherent nature as good or bad. That's a shock to us. This is
the beginning of emptiness in Buddhism. It's quite profound view, you know, that nothing
is stuck in this or that. Things have a relative reality of good or bad. You can't deny it
but finally it is how we interpret things. Finally, it's up to how we interpret. So we
all know if we have a person who's very angry, everything will always look ugly but another
person is more tolerant, they'll see the bright side, they'll see that we can do this, we
can do that, because their mind is different. And I am seeing this with people in prison
and for me, it is so humbling. I'm not in prison, I'd go crazy in some of these places,
you know. They live in these violent, insane asylums and they're learning to become amazing
human beings and they're doing this job that I am talking about. Nothing holy, working
on their minds, changing the way they interpret what's right in front of them, seeing the
good, seeing the possibility, seeing the opportunity, that's what I am talking. We can all do that
but just they were such junkies to get the nice tastes and smells and touches, we don't
want to change our minds because we can change anything with a flick of a button there, you
know, with such geniuses. You understand? Make sense, doesn't it? Yes.
>> How do the people who you work with the prison deal with--I imagine, there's probably
a very big stigma attached to pursuing spirituality in such a violent surrounding. Is physical
violence ever an outcome of trying to do this practice?
>> COURTIN: Oh God, you can't image. All the time.
>> So how do you...? >> COURTIN: And there is one guy in Texas.
This guy, he's got AIDS, he's gay, and he's on crutches and he got brutalized and beaten
up by some gangster recently, you know, he has to be in protective custody. There's so
many stories like this. But on the other side, there's many wonderful stories too. You know
I mean some will have to keep it completely secret, they all share cells because in California,
the prison is so overcrowded so it's just like a joke, you know. They have to keep completely
silent about it or they might have a roommate, two inches above their head on the top bunk
you know, who purposely shouts, and has the radio on, and fights and does bed noises and
abuses while the guy is trying to do his practice. So these people live with the most intense
things staring them in the face, you know and they work with it, I mean I'm blown out
by it, you know. I'm really humbled by it. I'm the one telling what to do and they do
it, I can't believe it. You know really, it's incredible. So humbling what human beings
are capable of when we are forced to. When is the wake up call? It's almost like their
mantra; this is my wake up call, you know. So, yes, it's not that easy for many of them,
definitely. Especially if you've been in gangs, this is terrifying, I mean the gang? I could
tell you--I could keep you here for hours telling you stories about gangsters, you know.
Unbelievable culture in these prisons and I--beyond belief actually. So, yes, they're
very courageous, they're unbelievably courageous, some of them, you know. Yes.
>> You had said many times that this is a very difficult work and one has to be persistent
and courageous... >> COURTIN: Yes.
>> What is the hardest thing about this work? >> COURTIN: Changing your mind, getting rid
of anger, stop in believing what you are seeing, stop in believing that you are a creep, stop
in believing that person is really mean, stop in believing that it really is that bad, stop
in believing the stories and the lies of unhappy states of minds tell us that we are completely
sucked into that we think of as the truth. Does that make sense? That's what's hard.
I mean it's--to make ten--a hundred million dollars is easy in comparison with this job.
But it's the one job that if we don't do, nothing else is worthwhile. And as the--this
is the emphasis of the Buddhist one, that our mind is ours and no matter how--it is
possible, it's just that we're stuck in these ancient views, you know that we believe as
the truth. So it's--once you--but any job, it isn't matter, even if you got a map. As
long as you got the map, it doesn't matter if it's a million miles you have to walk.
You know there's an end to it. You know there's--if you want to approach it, it's not a hit and
miss. You've got the technique and it's a question of applying it. That's what gives
you courage and confidence and patience. Whereas we tend to think of spiritual practice as
kind of like hit and miss. One day, you feel all blissful, next day, oh my God, I want
to kill myself again. We don't think it's method, you know. And I'm being rude about
using the theistic religion, please believe me, I'm an old Catholics, you know. But it's
not our job as a Christian to deconstruct Christ's views. I mean, I remember, what's
his name? who's that bloke who's got MS, who lives in a wheelchair?
>> Stephen Hawking. >> COURTIN: Stephen Hawking. When he went--he
met the Pope, and the Pope thanked him for all his work up to the Big Bang but he said,
don't go further, that's not your job, that's God job. But with the Buddha, it is our job.
There's nothing sacrosanct. Being a Buddhist means getting our minds in touch with reality.
It is our job to deconstruct this stuff, it is our job to see reality, it's our job, not
anybody else's. But it's possible. Buddhist says it's innate within us, the capacity to
do it. So you get courage from that and long term. We all know practice makes perfect,
it's not hit and miss. Yes? >> To come back to your practical instruction
earlier you were speaking about positive and negative things that go on in our minds.
>> COURTIN: Yes. >> And I've always been wondering, you know,
how do people decide what makes them happy and how we figure out which column something
should be in... >> COURTIN: There you go.
>> ...especially when something like that could be self-deceived as an example of maybe
alcohol that sometimes might it be a positive thing and helps then and you enjoy...
>> COURTIN: Absolutely, no, that's why... >> ...and then it can become a negative thing
or it could be a negative thing that you feel but it's positive.
>> COURTIN: That's exactly right. >> So, how do you go about characterizing
some of these more challenging thoughts and [INDISTINCT].
>> COURTIN: Well, first of all the object really isn't the point? Its--it is the point
of the attitude as you're saying. So, the key thing in understanding the Buddhist approach
to it in this--in this little kind of model way describing. When you look, first of all,
establish that the characteristics of the positive minds are two; they are peaceful
feeling, I don't mean gluey peaceful, I mean pleasant feeling, not paranoid, not miserable,
the kind of harmonious feeling and they are in touch with reality in the sense that was
a sense of interdependence which is how things exist. The negative quality, and this is the
point, are in their nature, neurotic, fearful, and distorted in their view of how things
are. So alcohol is not the issue, it's whether you're craving and attached to it. That is
the one cold attachment which is the state of mind that its energy is neediness, it assumes
an unhappy I, it assumes an I that needs something to fill it up which then causes to hanker
after that object, which causes to exaggerate the deliciousness of the object, which causes
to manipulate to get the object, which causes to expect that we'll get happiness when we
get the object. All of that is a characteristic of this neurotic state of mind called the
attachment. It's multifaceted. That's the cause of suffering, not the alcohol. So if
you have--if you don't have that, then you could have a taste of the alcohol, feel extremely
blissful and you put it down before you get out of control. There's no negativity there
its positive. Does that make sense? >> Yes.
>> COURTIN: Okay. Yes. Go. Oh one more question. Okay. Time to go. One more question. Yes
>> I am listening so carefully to how you describe this introspective lifestyle and
its kind of relentless self-analysis and looking at the mechanisms for emotions and what you
can do about them... >> COURTIN: That's right. Relentless is a
good word. >> ...and I--and I subscribe...
>> COURTIN: Okay. >> these ideas. Why hang it on Buddhism?
>> COURTIN: Sure. >> It seems to me it almost create noise to
go with somebody else's words because... >> COURTIN: Also--say that part again. Start
that sentence from "why hang it..." >> Why hang it on Buddhism?
>> COURTIN: What does that mean? >> When you read somebody else's path and
somebody else's set of ideas... >> COURTIN: Yes.
>> It can get--it can be distorted once--once they've tried to describe it...
>> COURTIN: [INDISTINCT] see it in different ways.
>> ... and you get away from your--your own current organic way of getting there can be
disturbed it seems to me. >> COURTIN: Okay. That's--okay. Okay. Did
you go to school? Did you learn Math? >> Yes.
>> COURTIN: Did you have a teacher who told you about one and one is two?
>> Yes. >> COURTIN: Well then, you know the rest of
the question right here. How dare you go and get someone else's knowledge? Why don't you
follow your own intuitive knowledge to come to what one and one is two is? I think you
already know that's ridiculous. How stupid and arrogant of you to think, "Oh, I'm not
going to listen to somebody else who's proved something to be true. I'm going to learn it
myself." Sweetheart if people have done it why we invent the wheel? But if you're the
boss you can read what Buddha says, you think about it, if you got a few cute ideas that
you think are useful then you thank him, but then you make it to your own knowledge, whereas
religion is believing it and trying to swallow it whole, oh my God that's a disaster. Your
teacher doesn't ask you to believe what I'm telling you, she say's, "Go check it out for
yourself and then you make it your experience. So why not use the knowledge of--there's a
nice word in Tibetan "Tenzin" Dalai Lama's name, "knowledge holder". Sweetie if I want
to learn music I would want to find a knowledge holder. I will then get them to help me find
mine then I'll say "goodbye" to them because now I've got it. I think it's the most intelligent
way to learn anything on this earth from wiping a little bottle when you're a little girl,
to tying your shoe laces, to learning how to be happy. Why not, what do you think?
>> I fell a little anger. I don't know if you're angry at me.
>> COURTIN: Oh darling, it's just how I talk. I can you see, if you can see my eyes you
will see that I'm smiling sweetheart. >> But I'm...
>> COURTIN: I'm--how can I be angry [INDISTINCT] possible?
>> I--I wonder--I wonder if there's a line there? I mean if...
>> COURTIN: A line in what darling? >> ...of course there's teaching, but there's
also getting thrown of course and... >> COURTIN: That's up to you. You're the boss.
>> ...and getting caught up in the idea... >> COURTIN: That's up to you. You're the boss.
There is bucket loads of information out there. Isn't there? But you're the boss darling,
you're the boss and I think I'm--it's true what your saying. We have to look--sometimes
when we suck in everything that everybody tells us, and that's what I'm hearing here,
we've got to be extra cautious whom we listen to. We've got to really have the integrity
to listen to ourselves, to trust our wisdom. You're absolutely right. So there is a line,
did right. Because some of us either swallow everything everybody else says whole or we're
so arrogant we think we have to reinvent the wheel. Its--it definitely is a line between
this two extremes, definitely. >> And--and Buddhism is one of many, many
different ideas... >> COURTIN: Clearly.
>> Yes. >> COURTIN: Clearly.
>> So choosing one seems... >> COURTIN: That's your business. You decide
exactly whom you want to listen to. Your--you are the boss not Buddha. He just--like Einstein
just a messenger. He doesn't want you to believe in E=mc2 but he's telling you about it, he's
telling his findings and he'll tell you the implications of it. That is your call darling.
You see my point? >> Yes. I understand.
>> COURTIN: Thank you very much. I understand yours, too. And I can see your eyes are smiling
and so am I. Is that all? Where done? We're cooked Tom?
>> Well, I'm feeling pretty cooked. >> COURTIN: Okay.
>> Are you guys feeling cooked? >> COURTIN: Okay.
>> Thank you so much for coming. >> COURTIN: Thank you.
>> I want to make a few quick announcements relevant to the topic of today's talk. One
is that, soon there will be a meditation space, a dedicated meditation space opening in the
new ALS buildings. We've worked hard on that for the last little while and it's finally
come to fruition... >> COURTIN: Good.
>> ...and Google is one of the companies in the world to make that happen, so good for
you and good for us. Second, is that the happiness and its causes and conference...
>> COURTIN: Oh yes. >> ...will be a held to support the liberation
prison project... >> COURTIN: I should do the commercial.
>> ...why don't you do it? >> COURTIN: Let me do the commercial.
>> Yes. >> COURTIN: I don't need the mic. Just quick,
I'll be like one second. Yes? >> Yes, but you should use the mic because
there are some folks over the [INDISTINCT]... >> COURTIN: Oh, my mic, yes. I just--yes.
Okay. You know one more thing, just quickly, that I've been--over the years, since I've
been doing this Buddhist stuff, you know, I've learned to really dislike the begging
mentality. I can't stand this kind of non-profit begging, this entitlement and sitting there
like, kind of waiting for people to give you money. I mean, I like to be an entrepreneur,
I think. So I became this sort of--I become an entrepreneur in my old age, its very funny
being a Buddhist nun, this is the point for you. So I kind of thought, years ago I thought,
"Well, what works in the west? It's called commerce." I mean, if, you know, I asked you
for $5, you got to be really reluctant to give it but if--if I give you a really delicious
cake and coffee and then charge you seven and keep five, you don't mind at all. So my
feeling is--we understand this in our culture, you know, we understand commerce really well.
So you give them what they want to make them real happy, and I'm not being cyclical, then
they'll be very happy to give you there money. So we got a little Buddhist book kept at our
center, we always have plans. Then last year I was in Sydney and my colleague there, Tony--thank
you very much. He is a--he's got his own company, like a half billion dollar company worldwide
that runs conferences and he runs our center in Sydney, so he started a couple of conferences
there as a means of bringing in people to--and bring in the dolls of course, you know. And
its currently--he started to--one is called "happiness and its causes" and one is called
"mind and its potential". Well, you know, the one last year, Dalai Lama was one of the
speakers and I happen to be there, too, and three and a half thousand people came and
we made 1.2 Million dollars for the center. I thought, "Oh, hell I'm going to do this
in San Francisco." I thought, "This is fantastic." Because you can't--people come to Buddhist
centers but like three and a half people come, you know, and they put maybe three dollars
in the bowl and you don't want to beg more from them. But, you know, for these conferences
you can kind of charge more and I'm not being cyclical about it. So we get these great conference,
forty people, some of the best brains, you know, psychology, philosophy, we got musicians,
we got an artist, we got a dancer, this gorgeous woman in New York who uses--she uses her own
company to go into women shelters using movement with abused women and children. We have a
guy, Andre, whose youth mentor--minority youth mentor in North Carolina who goes into prison
there for us, his son was murdered in January, and is tears and compassion for this boy who
killed his son, you know. He's going to be talking to Pam more, he's on [INDISTINCT],
I in San Francisco, talking about forgiveness and how we all need to forgive. We got, you
know, a singer talking about, we got, philosopher, psychologist, we got a [INDISTINCT] the green
politician guy in San Francisco. A great group of people over two days and also con--and
workshops, as well. As well as an amazing concert, we did--we commissioned a Guatemalan
composer to write a piece for us which we're going to use to do a fund raiser. Monica here,
she left Google and came to work for me. I stole her from you. She's going to organize
the concert for us. So except the Western in San Francisco it's about--we won a thousand
people. Is it--I don't know 500 box, but if a bunch of you come, you get a big fat discount.
But if your--Ming is coming. I think it's just great I'm really happy with it. We got
ads on the back of busses in San Francisco, we got 30--60 thousand cards dropped to two
thousand drops to LA, we got things on the back, they're coming up in a minute. We got
Ipods and what do you call them? No. Pod cast, twitter, YouTube, Facebook, iuspace, whatever
they're called. All of them. We've got the lot you know, trying to get the people to
come. So, next the conference. So please come. Okay.
>> What is the date? >> COURTIN: 24, 25 November. The days before
Thanksgiving. But--your edge around here I think and this--but check
That's a shortcut to the site. HappinessSF--no get you there. That's all
in the back of the buses. Okay. Thank you. That's my commercial.
>> Thank you.