>> 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.
>>…to 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.
>>…to 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.>>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 happinessSF.com. That’s a shortcut to the site. HappinessSF–no
happinessSF.com get you there. That’s all in the back of the buses. Okay. Thank you.
That’s my commercial.>>Thank you.