Hello, everybody! Hi, hello, it’s really good to see you, everybody. I’m online? Good time, awesome. Thank you for coming. Really, thank you for coming. It’s been a long time. I have a new microphone? Hello, hello? I think maybe, who’s going to … Grace? OK, all right.
[Introduction by representatives from Jamyang Buddhist Centre]
Thank you so much, thank you. Nice camera, by the way. It’s very professional. Awesome, perfect, thank you. All right.
Hello, how is the sound? Is it good? Everybody can hear? Good or no? Should I bring it closer maybe? How about now? Good? Better? Yes? All right.
Good to see you all of you here. How many of you are active members of Jamyang, who come here regularly? Wow, OK. How many of you have come for the first time? Nice, very good. And everybody knows a little bit and is aware of the work that FDCW [The Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom] is doing? Lama Yeshe’s vision, how it started? Kind of? OK, all right.
Maybe we should start off with a short meditation first. A meditation on gratefulness, on gratefulness for our body. How does that sound? OK, because every day of our life, every morning we wake up, it’s like a rebirth and every night when we go to sleep, we fall asleep, it’s like a small death. So, every day is a new day, it’s a new life, but do we ever thank our heart for beating 24/7 since the morning we’re conceived? Are we aware of that? Are we aware of our lungs, of our microorganisms, all the cells working continuously, available for us at all times? Whether we treat well our body or mistreat it, they’re always there, the body’s always there available for us, working tirelessly. So, let’s take a little bit of time, a short period of time to meditate on the gratefulness toward our body for being able to make this reality possible, this experience of life, which without the body would be very different.
Let’s start to breathe in and the inspiration—not just through the nose, not like that, but from down here, from the throat, a deeper type of breathing. [Ösel demonstrates deep breathing] Then, out the same way. Isn’t it relaxing? It’s very relaxing. Not from the nose just like that. [Ösel demonstrates a shallow breath] Not this one, the other one, OK?
Now just take some time off. Let’s try to calm the mind a little bit, try to prolong the sensation of the calming of the mind. We take over. The mind is not already in control and we put the mind to work to think about how grateful we are for every moment of our life—every situation that has been helpful for our learning, even the bad things, the good things, the hard ones, the easy ones, every meal we’ve eaten, every breath we’ve taken. Thank the clothes we’re wearing, the warmth we have right now, the company we have, the food we have in our stomachs, and the energy that’s running through our veins, the potential of who we are and what we can do, the positiveness of our life, and the result of us being aware of all of this, the beauty of life. Doesn’t it feel good?
So, all of you live in London, in the city? You all live in the city? How many of you live in the countryside? Wow, lucky you. Rejoice.
Student: It’s a choice.
Ösel: It’s a choice? Well, sometimes, sometimes. Those who live in the city also have a big opportunity to put in practice the lifestyle because—of course it’s not easy, a lot of stress, a lot of responsibilities involved in living in the city—but it’s always a good opportunity to have compassion, to talk to people, smile at people, ask them questions. When you are interacting with people who are at their jobs, just to ask them for example, “When did your shift start? When does your shift end? How are you today?” Things like that. It can really mean a lot to people—neighbors, people in the community, anything—you just say, “Good morning,” or “Good night.”
There’s a very funny story I wanted to start off with about a guy who was working, I think maybe it was in China or something like that; some place where there’s a big population and people don’t tend to really interact a lot with each other. They’re all a little bit like robots doing their own thing in a very hard-core way. I think it was a meat factory, a butchery, a big one, with many, many people working there, and somehow this guy ended up locking himself in one of the freezers accidentally at the end of his day, so everybody had left. He was alone and he could not turn off the freezer thing—somehow it was not there to turn off or to whatever, deactivate. He couldn’t get out the emergency button or the emergency lock didn’t exist or somehow, for some reason.
Anyway, the story goes that he couldn’t get out, so he was dying. He was freezing to death. Slowly, slowly, after being very nervous and really trying his best to survive, he decided he was going to die and he was going to accept it. And, just as he was already kind of giving in, somebody suddenly opened the door, which was impossible because everybody had left. He couldn’t believe it. He was like, “Wow, it’s a miracle!” It turns out it was a guard at the door and he asked the guard, “How come you opened the door?” And, he said, “Well, you’re the only person in the whole factory that ever says good morning to me and always says good night when you leave, and I was waiting for my good night. So, I started to look for you because I knew you were here and somehow I found you.”
So, that’s a very funny story, it’s dangerous, but it shows you the power of just saying hello to people. It could save your life—that’s what I am trying to say—sometimes in very ironic ways. Basically, I think, personally, the purpose of life and what gives meaning to life is sharing. Even if we are really happy or we have everything we want or we could have wished for, if we can’t share it, it’s not the same. If it’s just for ourselves, there’s something missing. I think even people who have no contact with Dharma or don’t really have the understanding or the wisdom or even the influence of having the empathy or the habit of non-cherishing themselves so much, even for them it’s a little bit—naturally, when they have joy or they’re enjoying something, somehow deep down inside of us, we want to share it. Then, if we share it, then it’s completely full. If we can’t share it, there’s something missing.
So, we are here today talking about the FDCW, about Universal Education, and one of the main keys about this, I feel, is about sharing. When I talk about sharing, I’m talking about the good things because that’s the real juicy part. What’s really worth sharing is the good things, right? If we share the bad things, maybe it’s to feel better ourselves or to get some therapy or maybe other points of views or get a weight off of us. But, normally, what we want to share is all the positive things of our life, starting from what we enjoy most, what we wish for, what we like. I feel that in life sharing is a very important factor, very important. Do you agree?
There’s a saying, there’s a French guy, I forget what was his name? Anyway, this writer,—Alfred Jarry I think is his name, Alfred Jarry, something like that. In French, he said, “It’s not amusing to be free by yourself,” to be freed from samsara. He didn’t use that terminology but that’s what he meant, kind of. Let’s say you’re free from suffering or from the cycle of life, but it’s not interesting if you’re alone, right? It’s like, “OK, now what?” Even people who don’t really know about Dharma or these things, they actually have the same feeling.
I just wanted to start off with that because we are talking about education, right? This is the subject today, educating the heart, right? So, what is the heart for you? Any suggestions, what is the feeling when you talk about the heart? Anyone can maybe give some insight on it? Any ideas? For you, what is the heart? Yes.
Student: To embrace life.
Ösel: To embrace life. What else? Anybody else?
Student: Gut feeling.
Ösel: Gut feeling. Yes, anything else?
Student: Feel deeply.
Ösel: Feel deeply. Did you say love?
Ösel: Compassion. Sorry?
Student: Feeling connected.
Ösel: Connected. Wow, see.
Student: Feeling balance.
Ösel: Balance. Wow, beautiful. Yes.
Student: So, for me, it’s the source where; seems where everything comes from.
Student: Everything important.
Ösel: Exactly. Yeah.
The heart’s always there for us. It’s pumping blood all our life. And, we’re learning. Every single moment of our life since we’re born, we’re learning and the day we die, we’re still learning the process of death. We are all students. We’re students of life. We’re students of the heart, right? So, the heart represents life. It represents love. We were created with love and love is everywhere. That’s mainly the creation of existence. We could call it love. There are many different perspectives of love. Some people maybe disagree because maybe they confuse love with attachment, so maybe they’re like, “Oh no, love hurts.” No, love doesn’t hurt. Attachment hurts.
Where does attachment come from, for example? It comes from fear, right? Because you fear losing something, so then you get attached. You have a feeling and you want to have that feeling, you get scared of losing that feeling or losing something material, a possession. But we don’t really posses anything. What do we possess? What can we call ours, really ours?
Even our body, one day it’s going to go. It’s going to become worm food. It was stardust and it will become stardust some day. So, what, is it ours? No, it’s going to be of the worms someday or of the fire and oxygen or maybe—in Tibet, they give the bodies, they cut them into pieces and they give them to the vultures when people die. In other places, they throw the ashes into the sea. This body is temporary, so even the body we can’t really say it’s ours. For now it is. We’re in control of the body somehow. We can move our fingers, we can feel, we can cry, we can be emotional, we can be joyful, but we don’t even know how it’s functioning. We don’t even know what’s going on inside. When we have a pain, we don’t know what it is. We have to go to see a doctor.
So, we are attached. We think the material world, many things belong to us because we signed a piece of paper. Is that logical, does that make sense to you? People fight for land, people fight for power, for wealth, for influence, even for knowledge. Even from the beginning of humanity, when we were cavemen, we were even fighting for the driest log, the driest piece of wood or the less humid cave or the most fresh piece of meat. We’d even fight about that. Now, it’s evolved into more intricate and complicated matters like oil or coal.
Think about oil, what is oil? Oil represents death in a way. It’s a fossil fuel. It’s animals and trees, vegetation that died a long time ago, many millions of years ago, and was buried for a long time, and then we dig it up and we take out the energy from that. And, we fight over it. But, what is oil? It’s polluting. It’s creating asthma in our children. The oil spills are destroying the oceans, the whole ecology, the whole ecosystem. Coal, same. So, we are actually burning death and calling it energy and fighting over it and giving so much value to it.
I think one of the things that I should talk about today is the values, the inner values, the real values, right? Because I believe, I think many of you would agree that today in society and through the system somehow, through the education system also, somehow the values have been a little bit turned upside down. [Baby makes noises] I think he agrees. They’ve been completely turned upside down. What do we value in the capitalistic society? What is it? Money, power, land, wealth, influence? All those things, those are the real values. That’s what people fight for and they strive to have that more and more and more, even though they know they can never be satisfied. Deep down inside they know through materialistic means they cannot reach satisfaction. It’s impossible. How? If you don’t search inside, if you don’t find satisfaction inside, you cannot find it outside. If you don’t live the moment by being present with yourself, you cannot be satisfied. It’s impossible. Think about it. Logically, it cannot be.
Even, for example, in America or many other places, many children start their education through a loan. They have to fight so hard to get into the best universities, the best colleges, and they have to pay so much money. They have to take a loan and they’re already in debt halfway through their education. Then, when they finish their career, their degrees, already they have to start working even before they finish their career, their—what do you call it?—their degree of the graduation. They’re already working and then they have to work how many years—ten, fifteen years—to pay back that loan? They’re already in debt while there. Then, what is the American dream? To have the perfect house, the perfect wife or husband, family, the nice car.
Think about the cars. If it was really about the pleasure of driving, they wouldn’t try to make cars so nice outside. They would maybe have normal outside and then inside really luxurious so that you can really enjoy the driving. But, it’s also about creating envy, right? About showing off that you are happy even though maybe you’re miserable. It doesn’t matter. You have to give that appearance that you’re happy, you have the nicest car, the most shiny.
If you get a small scratch, “Oh no! It’s the end of the world. I got a scratch. Now what? Now I have to repaint the whole car because if I paint just the scratch, it’s going to look super ugly. And, it’s so important to look good, to have the appearance that I have wealth. Because, if I don’t have wealth, people won’t accept me. They won’t maybe respect me.” That’s the type of values society and the system is trying to make us believe are real.
Then what? After you get the house, the family, the car or cars, then what? Then, you have to work your whole life to pay for that. Then sometimes the car breaks down or maybe the wife leaves you and you have the children or who knows. In samsara anything can happen, right? So, it can be really difficult and especially if you’re living in a city without the wisdom or the information to really know how to cope with that. That’s why we’re here, that’s why FDCW is available, to start at a young age, to create that possibility. Because in the education system—not everywhere, there’s many different types of education which are very complete, but—normally, in general, the conventional education system, they teach you how to work, but they don’t teach you how to live. And what’s the point of working if you don’t know how to live?
If you don’t know how to really put it in practice, what you earn, how to spend it, how to really enjoy life, how to live a meaningful life, a satisfactory life, a peaceful life, a harmonious life, if you don’t know, what’s the point? It doesn’t really make sense, even though people live like that and have been living like that for generations. And, do we question it? Maybe we do, but do we do something about it? I don’t know. At least we are here now, right? At least many people are doing it and we really have to thank those people who are actually dedicating their life and committing themselves energetically, giving their space and the time to really be able to create this, to be available, to educate the heart, so values, right?
How beautiful do you think it would be if children at a young age already have those values, the real values? What are the real values, the inner values? There was a guy that is a descendant from I think Mayan, Inca or Aztec? I’m not sure. I saw one of his videos on YouTube. He gives talks on the mountain. He dresses up and he talks to the camera, and there’s different subjects. There’s one subject he was talking about which I found really interesting. He was talking about gold.
He said there’s two types of gold—there’s an exterior gold, which most people strive for all their life, and there’s an inner gold. He explained that the outside gold, basically people fight for that. In capitalism, if you become rich, it’s because other people got poor. That’s how the balance stays, in a way, so you have to fight. Sometimes you really have to just focus on getting and earning that. Because if you focus on how other people may lose, then you can never become rich in a capitalistic society. Unless of course you’re really striving to help people because the motivation is very important, so you have a good motivation maybe. I don’t know.
Either way, that gold, once you’ve achieved that gold, you need more gold to get more gold, right? So, if you want to do big investments to get more income, you need to invest more. You have to risk more and you can lose that anytime. That gold you can lose at any time, so you’re worried about losing it. You don’t want to share it because if you share you will have less. You don’t trust the people who come around you like your friends, or you think, “Oh, maybe they want to be my friends because they want a piece of this gold.” So, you have this, not trusting even the family sometimes. You have all these issues in the family because they all want a piece of that gold. Then you’re worried about whether you can lose it, how to get more and what will happen when you will die. Who’s going to get the gold? What’s going to happen? You can’t take it with you, can you? So, all these issues about the exterior gold.
What about the inner gold? How about that one? That one, the more you have, the more you get. The bigger it is, the more you receive. When you share it, it multiplies, right? You don’t have to be afraid of losing it. Nobody can take it from you. Even if they chop your body into small pieces, they still can’t get it. For example, in the prisons in Tibet, many Tibetans have a really hard time and the Chinese sometimes would try really hard to break down their faith and their hope, and they would torture them really hard. But many Tibetans would never lose their hope. They would always have their faith and they had that security. Many of them survived thanks to that, because they had that insurance or belief or understanding of life. All they had was compassion for their torturers and through that compassion, they were able to transform the pain. They were able to really not turn it into something bad. That’s why, for example, forgiveness is so important.
Forgiveness I think is a really important inner value. Of course, some people say, “Oh no, I can’t forgive this person. It’s impossible because what they did is unforgivable.” What are you doing by not forgiving? You’re carrying their weight. Even though it’s not your mistake or your problem or your action, you’re still carrying their problem by not forgiving them. Because you clench to that, you keep it, it’s something so important. Many people do that, they’re, “Oh no, I will never forgive them for that, because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and then they carry it all their life. For what? And, it’s not just about forgiving the other person, but it’s also about forgiving yourself.
If you do something, it’s OK to see that it was wrong, that it was bad, that somehow you hurt someone, you harmed them, you did the wrong decision, but at least don’t torture yourself about it. Try to learn from it and move on and not repeat it. If you repeat it, OK, then it’s a mistake, there’s an issue, something’s wrong. But as long as you learn from it and you move on and you grow, and you evolve, really good. So, forgiveness goes both ways. It’s very important to forgive. You don’t want to carry that weight. You want to forgive them so that they can also move on. That’s what compassion means also. You have to have compassion for the other person. If you don’t have compassion for the other person, then you’re suffering too and you’re not evolving and you’re not helping them evolve either. You’re carrying this.
Is Allison here? Allison, what was the name of what you were talking about today? When they bring the people together?
Allison: Restorative justice.
Ösel: Restorative justice. Has anyone heard about that? That’s so interesting. There’s this story about this woman in America somewhere—I don’t know if it was Brooklyn or Harlem or maybe Detroit or one of these places, a really hard-core gangland—and her young son was killed by another kid who was also very young, gang-related. The kid who killed the other kid did it because he had no choice, right? The gang pressured him to demonstrate his value, to show he’s worth being part of the gang. Anyway, so then he killed the kid and when the court case, when the trial was happening, the mother was there. When she saw the kid after the trial when they condemned him, I don’t know how many years because he was—what do you call it? An underage? What do you call it? Underage? Junior, yeah. He didn’t get the maximum sentence but he did get a pretty bad sentence. The mother was there and she looked at him in the eyes and she said, “I will never stop until I kill you.” That’s what the mother told the kid.
The kid went to prison with a really heavy heart and slowly it turns out nobody went to see him at all. And guess who was going to see him there; the only person that would go to see him? Guess. The mother of the kid he killed. She was the only person who would actually go to see him. Not his gang. He didn’t have a family. He was completely forgotten and the only person was the mother of the kid he killed. She kept going to see him and slowly, through the years, they started to build this bond and she would bring him things, she would talk to him, she would be there for him in a way. Eventually, when he was released, he had no place to go. So, guess who adopted him? The mother. Because she had this place in her house where her kid used to live, so she took in this kid and they started living together.
As the years went by, one day she brought the kid and she said, “Sit down. I want to talk to you.” She looked at the kid and she said, “Remember that day at the trial when I looked at you and I said, ‘I will never stop until I kill you?’”
He said, “Yes, I remember that perfectly.”
“Well”, she said, “I’ve have done it. I’ve killed that kid who went into prison. That kid who killed my kid, I have killed him. Now you are like my son, so I have achieved what I wanted to do, which was transform and bring out the inner values, the real you outside.”
Even my hairs are standing on end just telling the story. It’s a real life story. It’s amazing and things like that are happening every day.
We don’t really value so much positiveness. If you turn on the news, what’s interesting is the bad things, the negative things. If we had all these different sports going on—basketball, rugby, football, tennis, ping pong—and everybody was watching all the sports and suddenly one fight would break up, everybody would move, maybe not everybody but most people would all go to see what’s going on. “Oh, there’s a fight. Oh, let’s watch that.” Nobody would look at the other sports. Why? Why is that?
For example, a mother who raises her children by herself. A single mother who raises five children by herself, does two jobs, pays for the university, helps them all to graduate, does she come out in the newspaper headline? Probably not. A mother who kills her son in a moment of rage, one second of action, she would make headlines. Why is that so important compared to the mother who’s been working tirelessly for twenty years? Why do we value so much more one thing from the other? Why do we overvalue negativity so much more than positiveness? Why is that? Think about it. We have to switch that. That’s another job for FDCW, to really help people give positiveness the importance.
I have a friend, and he has a brother; he and his brother always had all the freedom in the world. Their parents always supported all their decisions since they were at a very young age. They never hit them, never shouted at them, never scolded them at all, ever. They always had everything they needed covered. If they wanted to travel, their parents would pay for it. If they wanted to do [something] they would support them. “You want to study this? OK. You don’t want to study or you want to study? OK.” They’re supporting them all the time. And guess what my friend remembers the most? That one time his mother slapped him. That’s what he remembers the most. Isn’t that amazing? Why is that?
We really have to question ourselves and we really have to start working toward overvaluing positiveness much more than negativeness. If we do that, then what’s going to really matter is the positiveness. It’s going to be much more present. If we don’t give so much importance to negativeness, it’s going to slowly diminish. Of course, we have to be aware of it so we can learn, not repeat the mistakes, improve and really evolve, but valuing it too much? No. We really have to focus on the positive things and then the positive things will prevail much more. They really become solid and big and present.
Anyway, going back. I was talking about a lot of things! I wanted to go back somewhere. Anyway, the education, we want to really help people. The FDCW, this type of education, the heart education, is for all ages. It’s really for all types of ages. It’s never too late, right? In Tibetan, there’s a saying. [Ösel speaks in Tibetan] What does that mean? It means when it’s too late and you regret so much and you’re like, focused, so obsessed with the regression, like being regretful or remorseful, then you’re stupid. But if you’re clever when it’s early, if you are aware when it’s early, then you’re clever, right? Basically, it’s never too late. It’s always time to really be clever and if you think it’s too late, at least don’t regret. It’s never too late. You can always change that.
Now I remember what I was talking about—the gold. Back to the gold again, the inner gold. The more you have, the more it grows. The more you share, the more it multiplies. Nobody can steal it from you, so you don’t have to worry about that. You don’t have to worry about who’s going to take it when you die because you can take it with you when you die. How amazing is that? Pretty cool, huh? So, those are the values, I think. I think we really have to focus on those values because those are the real values, not like money, for example. OK, we need money today in capitalistic society to survive in a way and to be able to feed us and our families, but we have to know up to where is necessary and where after that is not really necessary. It’s just greed.
For example, we all know that the self-cherishing mind will bring suffering. Do we know that or not? Everybody? Are you sure? But we don’t act like it. I don’t know. I don’t act like it at least. Many times I’m self-cherishing and then the result is suffering, always, and I keep repeating it somehow. It’s strange, huh? It’s a pattern we have somehow since we are kids. I mean, already the first words we learn when we start speaking is, “Papa, mama, my papa, my mama.” Already we have this kind of concept of “mine,” which OK, maybe in a way it’s healthy because it’s good to have this kind of root connection. “Oh, these are my parents, this is my home, my neighborhood, my family, my country or my planet.”
Maybe not yet but hopefully soon it will be like, “Yeah, this is our planet. Long live earth!” Already from a very young age we have this self-cherishing kind of point of view, “us, me, we.” Not so much “them, he, she,” which is so important.
The first step to finding harmony, the first step to really feeling fulfilled is about sharing, it’s about thinking about the people that surround us. That’s the whole meaning of life, it’s about sharing—sharing the beauty, sharing life, sharing the joy, sharing our resources and everything we have. The more we share, the more joyful we’re going to be, and the more self-cherishing we are, the more we’re going to suffer. Theoretically we’ve got that, we have it. Do we put it in practice? Sometimes, sometimes.
The good thing is that when we do self-cherish, we’ll end up suffering, so through that suffering it really makes us click, “Oh, something happened.” [ösel snaps fingers] What happened? We have to investigate. Many times we don’t investigate. We just move forward. We sweep it under the carpet. It’s there, but someday the carpet’s going to become a mountain, then what? Then you can’t walk over it. You have to walk around it. Then you’ve got a problem. So, don’t sweep everything under the carpet. It can be maybe useful for a short period of time, but if you keep doing it, someday you’re going to have to confront that.
Addicts, for example, people who are drug addicts, they have that issue. I think Anna, she’s not here anymore. She went with the baby somewhere, but Anna, she works a lot with addicts and ex-convicts and people who’ve had such a hard time in life, who have been basically thrown into that lifestyle and they haven’t really had a choice. Even if they did have a choice, it’s very hard to sometimes get out of there because of the habit, because of the pattern, because of society, because of the peer pressure—many different conditionings.
The addicts, many times they become addicts in a way because they don’t have a feeling of belonging. They don’t feel useful and then society doesn’t really help them. They make them outcasts, “Oh, you’re an addict. You have to go to a mental hospital or you have to go to rehab and feel like an outcast, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Normally, the best solution to that would be to give them a feeling of belonging, give them a feeling of being part of something, being useful. That’s how really you can overcome addiction, because addiction is somehow looking for something that you cannot grab, you cannot catch. It’s like the donkey going after the carrot and we go back to satisfaction again. If we’re not living the moment, if we’re not present, we cannot be satisfied.
Do you remember what I was talking right before that?
Student: You were talking about … [Inaudible]
Ösel: Do you remember right before that?
Student: The gold.
Ösel: The gold? No, after that.
Student: Valuing the good things, the positive.
Ösel: After that too.
Student: The mother of the kid that got killed that would visit him.
Ösel: No, no, no, that’s way after that. It’s OK. Hmm, are you paying attention?
Ösel: Self-cherishing, good. So, as long as we have self-cherishing, we cannot really enjoy life. We cannot. We really can’t. It’s so important … and that’s also, for example, addiction comes from that, because we think that by cherishing ourselves, we are actually going to find happiness. That’s at least what the education system teaches us, what society teaches us, individualism—so the more you work for me, the more I work for myself, then supposedly I’m going to be happy. If I buy this, I’m going to be happy. If I achieve this goal, if I get that job, I’m going to be happy. If I marry this woman, I’m going to be happy. All these things, this kind of vision of the future that does not actually help to live the moment. The self-cherishing mind, this is so important to really understand what that is.
Many times, for example, when we have an argument with someone, it’s all about, “Oh, I’m right. You’re wrong,” and we’ll fight so hard just to show that we are right, even though maybe deep down inside we know we’re wrong. How is that, for example, emotions, the destructive emotions, how does that work? It’s like, for example, let’s say you’re chilling in your house, relaxed, and suddenly a family member opens a door, suddenly, “Boom!” kicks in the door, comes inside. How would you react? Would you be like, “Hey, it’s OK. You’re welcome, but who invited you? Why couldn’t you knock at the door?” Right? Even a family member.
How about a stranger? When a stranger comes in, somebody you never saw before, you would actually freak out, right? You’d be like, “Woah, who are you. Oh my god, I have to call the police.” Right? That would be the first reaction. You’d actually get scared. But, you wouldn’t welcome them in and say, “Oh, would you like a cookie? How are you? Are you doing good today? Please sit down.” You wouldn’t do that, right? Would you? Maybe someone would. I don’t know. So, why do we do that when the negative destructive emotions come in? Why do we do that? Why do we welcome them with open arms? Why do we do that, as if they are our best friends?
Ösel: Fear. Fear of what?
Student: Fear of being hurt.
Ösel: Hurt, vulnerable, maybe? It’s a defense mechanism you say, but does it help us to defend ourselves? Not really, right? It just makes us dig our grave deeper. We’re actually making a hole for us to jump in.
Because when we get angry, are we in control? Not really. When we get angry, do we say nice things that actually create harmony? No. Do we regret most of the times the things we do or say when we are angry? I mean, when we get angry, sometimes if it’s controlled anger maybe. It’s different, maybe it’s not anger, it’s wrathfulness. Maybe you, sometimes you have to be strict, you have to really put your foot down, maybe punch the table a bit. I don’t know. Sometimes it’s good to be [wrathful] but you’re in control of your emotions, you’re not being mean to the person, you’re not trying to harm them, trying to make them feel bad. In that case, it may be helpful, I don’t know, depending on the situation, circumstantially.
But most of the time, when we give control to the destructive emotions, most of the time the result is suffering and it’s not really helpful in the long run. We really have to be aware of that. We have to be so aware of that all the time, to be in control of our mind, to be in control of our emotions, to be the captain of our boat. If we let the wind take us anywhere, eventually we’re going to hit some rocks or we’re going to go somewhere we don’t want to go. We’ll end up maybe in a bad place, maybe in a good place, but it’s kind of like the casino—we don’t know.
So, you really want to be in control. You really want to know what you’re doing, where you’re going, the method, right? And the wisdom. They’re very important. Yes, it is easy to get distracted and that’s because we have the monkey mind. Do you know Mingyur Tulku? Anybody familiar with Mingyur Tulku? Amazing lama. I met him this last Kalachakra in Bodhgaya briefly. I just went to say hello to him twice. He’s really, really nice. There’s this video from Huffington Post where he talks about the monkey mind and I thought it was a great name, a great name, talking about the monkey mind, how we have no control over the monkey mind. Any distraction, we’re just following that all the time, everywhere. Are we present? We’re present, but the moment something happens we’re gone. [ösel snaps fingers] The presence is gone. We’re not here anymore.
This monkey mind takes over and most of the time we give it free will, and even sometimes we identify with that monkey mind, “Oh, that’s me. I am my thoughts.” The thoughts are like clouds—they come and they go—but if you go to grab them, they’re not there. You are not your thoughts. The thoughts are just parts of you, just like a tool, like the screwdriver, for an electrician. The screwdriver without the electrician. The electrician without the screwdriver, maybe if he’s intelligent he’ll use his nails, I don’t know.
We have to use the monkey mind, put it to use, put it to work. How? By meditating, for example, on being aware, for example, with the breathing, being aware of the thoughts. Sometimes it’s good, maybe it’s good to calm them down, turn off the mind, but sometimes it’s also good to let the thoughts come and go and just observe them. Where are they coming from, where are they going? Just observe. [Baby cries] We’re all, once we were there, one time and one day, we’ll be there again. Isn’t it so beautiful? We are here to talk about educating the heart and we have the living embodiment right there, the purity from where we came, so beautiful.
His Holiness, in his teachings, he was talking about how five-month-old babies, when you show them the photos of a baby pushing another one or frowning or taking an apple away from the other one or being mean toward another baby, when you show them that photo, they frowned. Five-month-old babies.
Student: Pushing the ball up the hill. The animation … that you talked about.
Ösel: Pushing the ball up the hill?
Student: They were happy and then when a kid pushed the ball back down, they got sad.
Ösel: Yeah, because they kicked it down, right? That’s interesting. I missed that part. So, pushing the ball up the hill made them smile, helping them to push the ball up, OK. And when they pushed it down the baby would frown when they saw that photo. Even five-month-old babies are aware of this. Even if they can’t speak, they already have those innate qualities inside. Naturally, the empathy, it’s there. That’s what we were born with. That’s what we have. Basically, education, this type of education is just bringing that up more, making it really available, helping them to be aware of that, really to understand what they already have. We’re not giving them something. We’re helping them to see what they already have, the inner potential, and that’s for everybody, of all ages.
Anyway, do you have any questions? Do you have questions here? Otherwise, I’m just going to go on and on and on, and you’re all going to get super-bored. Or maybe something you want me to talk about? OK, great.
Student: OK, thank you. Very often people talk about using meditation as a tool to transform the mind and I was wondering how important ethics are in transforming the mind.
Ösel: Ethics, yeah.
Student: So, if you could say something about that.
Ösel: Sure, sure. Morality, you mean?
Student: Yeah, morality, but ethics has a slightly different connotation for Westerners.
Ösel: Moral code, moral code?
Student: Because morality tends to be linked to the idea of God and absolutes.
Ösel: Oh, really?
Student: For many Westerners, yeah.
Ösel: So how would you describe ethics?
Student: I like the Theravada tradition where they use the idea of skilful and unskilful means, what’s of benefit to oneself and others.
Student: So, they use upaya, a Sanskrit word.
Ösel: Interesting. We do come back again to the self-cherishing mind in this case. I think I’m going to go back to the self-cherishing mind. I think that’s very important and it’s connected to your question. For example, when we buy some clothes, let’s say you’re bored of your clothes, so you want to buy new clothes and you feel some kind of enjoyment. By looking at yourself in the mirror, you see something fresh, a new look. That kind of feeling that you get for yourself, when you see someone that bought new clothes, how come you don’t have the same feeling for them? For example.
Or, for example, when you look at a recent group photo and you’re in the group photo, who do you look at first? Yourself, right? And, what is the first thing you do? You look for the defects of yourself. You’re like, “Oh, my god, I’m so ugly or this or that, or my hair or maybe my smile is not, or maybe I wish there was another photo where I looked better than that.” You have all these monkey-mind thoughts coming in and you don’t like, basically you don’t like the photo so much in general, let’s say.
Because we have that that mind of seeing the defect in us, we’re not satisfied with how we look. We are so self-aware or self-cherishing or self-centered. But then, for example, we see the same photo two years later, three years later and the first thing we do, look at us again, right? “Where am I? Where am I? OK. I’m there. Oh wow, I used to look good at that time.” Why is that? What changed? Did the photo change? Right. What changed? Our mind changed, our way of seeing ourselves. This is a very good example of self-cherishing. If we can really start switching it, instead of looking at ourselves, look at everybody, “Oh, look how beautiful everyone is. Someone got a new haircut. Oh wow.” You get the joy from their haircut, their fresh look. They bought new clothes, you enjoy their new [look], that feeling of freshness they got, the same way you would enjoy it. Start doing it like that, care for other people instead of caring so much about ourselves.
I don’t know if you’ve seen that new movie, what is it called, Doctor Strange? There’s one phrase, I thought it was so funny. The woman says, “You're not the center of the universe.” I thought it’s a good movie. It’s action, Hollywood, whatever, but it does have certain messages like the Matrix or some other movies. What is another movie that’s interesting to watch? [Student: Star Wars.] Yeah, Star Wars is good. There’s a movie called The Peaceful Warrior, that’s a good one actually. [Student: Rogue One] Rogue One, you liked that? [Student: Wow!] Yeah, how’s that? [Student: It’s about sacrifice.] Yeah, sacrifice, it’s true. They all, anyway, I’m not going to, I don’t want to—what do you call it? [Student: Inaudible] Yeah, let’s not do any spoilers here. Don’t worry, the live streaming, you can keep watching. We’re not going to tell you what’s going to happen in the end.
Anyway, I think it’s a great thing to be able to switch that, to start putting it into habit, create new patterns of thought, mindstream, where you care for other people before you care for yourself, when you think about the others before you think about yourself, you put ethics. You want to talk about ethics? Humility, compassion, respect, patience, all of these things are really good methods for having a harmonious, peaceful life. If we really put that in practice, we would have a really harmonious, peaceful life, genuinely. Because many people strive to find happiness and most of the times we strive, we look for it outside. We are actually distancing ourselves from inside by looking outside, so it makes it almost impossible to really find the happiness which is inside. The real happiness is inside, right?
So, maybe instead of looking for happiness, we may start looking for non-unhappiness. That’s more easy. And once we get the non-unhappiness state by basically switching the cherishing mind into outside cherishing, then maybe we will create the conditions to really start being happy. Because happiness, if it existed, it would be a state of mind, it would be continuous. But somehow, because we are in samsara, we have temporary suffering and we have temporary happiness, and we think the temporary suffering is so big and so bad and the temporary happiness is so small and so insignificant. So, let’s switch that around again, right?
So, ethics. I don’t know, ethics, I think ethics for sure. I don’t really know what ethics means. My English is not so good but I relate it to the moral code like the samurai code—what you would do, what you wouldn’t do, because you know the result of certain things. You’ve experienced them already, so why repeat them? Why keep repeating things that take you to suffering, that take you to making other people suffer, making other people unhappy? Why would you do that if you know the result?
Patience is very important, and patience is not with the other person, it’s with yourself, always. If you were patient with yourself, you would have no problems with anyone. Because it’s so easy to point the finger to someone else, saying, “Oh no, it’s his fault. It’s her fault. They did it. It’s Trump’s fault.” It’s very easy to point the finger and to judge. We love to judge. We love to gossip and criticize so much. It’s like, I don’t know, we get this feeling like, “Oh, who did what? What? Woah. How? What happened? What did they do?” Right? “Oh, really. Oh my god, that’s so horrible. Oh no.”
But, why does it feel so good? Why is it that we are so interested doing that? Because it distracts us from ourselves, makes us feel better about ourselves, because we don’t want to focus on ourselves. We don’t want to see our mistakes. We don’t want to recognize that. That’s why many times we like to criticize other people, point the finger, “It’s their fault.” But no, it’s your fault for losing patience. If you had patience for yourself, nobody could really make you angry.
Humility, the same thing. If you’re humble enough, you wouldn’t let the negative destructive emotions come in, like anger, for example. If you’re humble, you would never get angry. You get angry many times because you’re like, “Oh, it’s unjust. They are so unjust because they said this. They did that. That’s so unjust because they don’t see how hard I’m working and they don’t appreciate it.” If you’re humble, you wouldn’t have that feeling because you’re really doing it out of genuine [humility] because you choose to do that.
If someone chooses to wash the dishes and then doesn’t get credit for it, why would they get angry? You chose to wash the dishes. Nobody told you to do it, right? Sometimes it happens. That’s just an example. If you think about metaphorically in life, it happens all the time and that’s because we don’t have enough humility to just give unconditionally. We expect something in return because we are too proud. We think, “Oh, I did such an effort. Now, I need the cookie. I want my cookie. [ösel acts as if trying to get someone’s attention] Look at me. I want you to be like, ‘Good boy!’”
Look, for example, at dogs. Sometimes I feel like animals are a really good way of seeing the good qualities in ourselves, like a dog, for example. You can tell them to fetch all the time and they’ll always be happy. They’re happy. They don’t expect you to give them a prize. They will wag their tails the same way whether you give them a prize or not. By the third time they fetch or by the third time they sit, they won’t be like, “Grr, where is my cookie? Grr.” Would they do that? I don’t know. Maybe some dogs do that. I’m not sure. The dogs, for example, they’re so loyal. They really have this genuine empathy and gratefulness.
Humans throughout history have always learned from animals, from nature. It’s interesting how dances, martial arts, medicine, many different things like that, we’ve actually learned it from the habits of animals. It’s really good to observe. We can learn about ourselves by observing the outside world, and every moment is an opportunity to learn. Every moment is, we can really use it in a positive way, even though it looks really negative. So, humility, compassion.
Compassion is so important. If we have compassion, then we have no problems. If we have compassion for ourselves, we have compassion for everybody else. How would the problems appear? When they appeared, we would have compassion and through compassion, we can really transform them. Compassion is so important because without compassion we are lost. We can have all the information in the world, we can have all the wisdom in the universe, but without compassion how are we going to use it? It’s completely useless, so that’s why it’s very important to have the wisdom but also the method, and the compassion would be the method. That’s what we’re trying to do.
FDCW brings out the compassion, the empathy that we already have, that we’ve hidden because of fear of being vulnerable. Many times we are scared of being vulnerable so we don’t show those inner qualities because somehow society, the individualistic way of thinking, has created that kind of way of thinking, of being defensive about yourself. And the American dream is what? Becoming really rich and having everything you want? Then what? Then you want a private jet, then you want an island, then you want a country, and then what? Look at Trump. He’s already got a country and what’s next? Huh?
Student: Not Mexico.
Ösel: Not Mexico. Actually, for example, many of us like to judge and criticize Trump, but do we have compassion for him? I don’t know. Maybe not so much, right? If you think about maybe the karma he’s creating, do you think he sleeps peacefully at night? I don’t know. Have you seen him really smile genuinely? Not much, he smirks, kind of. Really, we should have compassion for him because maybe he’s not aware of the cause he’s doing, the cause, what he’s creating. The result is going to be pure suffering for him. Why? Because of the motivation. Maybe he does have some genuine motivation. I’m sure he does. I’m sure he’s got the motivation to help people improve their lives in a materialistic way, probably, and meanwhile get richer maybe. I’m not sure. Make his friends richer? I’m not sure about that, but I’m sure he’s got some kind of positive motivation.
The motivation is so important, karmically so important. Without the right motivation, it’s difficult in life, so always to have the motivation. That’s why mind, speech, body; the mind is so important, so powerful. If you look at everything in this room, even the arrangement of the flowers is created by the mind. What else? Give me one thing that’s not been created by the mind in this room apart from maybe our bodies. Give me one example. Let’s debate. One thing that has not.
Student: And the fire.
Ösel: Yes, I like that. Of course, but how it’s been positioned, the water inside the bowl, the fire in the candle. The element itself, yes, it hasn’t been created by the mind, but the way it’s presented has been created by the mind.
Student: The air.
Ösel: The air, same, yes. So, the elements are there, right?
Students: The absence of elephant.
Ösel: The absence of elephant? Are we talking quantum physics now?
If you look, if you walk into the city, everything around us has been started and created by the mind. It all started as a thought. That’s how powerful thoughts are. So, that’s why to be aware of our thoughts, to be in control of our thoughts, is so important. From the thought comes the speech. The speech follows the thought. We have a thought. It creates a state of mind, an attitude. From that attitude the speech comes or an emotion comes and then the speech comes. We say something fast, like an arrow that once you release it there’s no going back. Then what? Then the body acts after that. So, one follows the other, but what’s the most important? The mind, the thoughts. And what’s behind the thoughts? The motivation. That’s why it’s so important to keep the motivation active and aware and present at all times, and always to have a positive motivation, non-self-cherishing motivation. Then, the result is really going to be harmony, happiness, the inner calmness of our mind because we’re going to be calm. We won’t be restless and stressed.
With compassion, you don’t think about yourself. You think about the others. If you’re in an office and you’re unhappy, then you’re thinking about others and you forget about your suffering. If you’re in a stressful situation, a depressed situation and you think about others, you actually create the cause to not be so focused on your suffering, because your suffering is temporary, right? [ösel snaps fingers] So, the motivation, if we have a positive motivation, then the result will be positive, and that’s how karma works.
There’s this story about how in a past life of the Buddha, he killed someone in order to save three hundred peoples’ lives because that person was going to kill the three hundred people. The Buddha sacrificed himself knowing that if he killed someone, he would go to the lower realms, he would be reborn in a much worse place. But, because he had so much empathy for the killer especially, for the potential killer, he decided to sacrifice himself, take the bad karma himself and kill [that person] to save the three hundred people and to save the killer from doing that action.
Many lifetimes later, he was walking with his disciple and he walked on a thorn, which penetrated his foot. He took out the thorn and he looked at his disciple and he said, “See, this is the result of the karma of killing someone.” The disciple didn’t understand. He’s like, “Whoa, how come? That’s very strange. I thought the karma of killing someone is huge.” He said, “Yes, that is right, my child, but with the right motivation, the karma changes.” So, his motivation, he really sacrificed himself empathically to help that killer, the potential killer, and because of that, the result of the action was minimum.
So it’s really about the motivation. You can do the same action, if you kill someone because you really want to hurt them or you want to gain something for yourself, the result karmically will be a huge negative, a very big result. Who knows what can happen? That’s what life is about—it’s about evolving or devolving. You can go forward or you can go backwards. You choose anytime, anywhere, anyhow, and if you go backwards—for example, you harm someone, let’s say—you create the cause to suffer and you create a pattern in your head, I mean your mind, a habit to do it more, to do more negative things.
For example, let’s say you killed someone, then you’re reborn as a tiger which in order to survive has to kill more animals and create more suffering. It doesn’t really have a choice. I don’t think there’s a vegetarian tiger anywhere. Is there? Or, maybe you’re reborn in a gang neighborhood where you have to kill human beings in order to be accepted; otherwise, they will kill you. To survive, you have to kill someone to be accepted. That’s devolving. You create the cause to be reborn in a place where you keep devolving.
The same thing happens when you evolve. You create a positive cause, the non-self-cherishing, you’re outward-cherishing, empathic, harmonious, loving, caring. All of these good things will evolve you. The more you do it, the easier it is to do it, the more of the habit you have. Then, you will be reborn, let’s say, maybe in a vegetarian, organic, loving family who’s very loving and caring. Then, automatically you’re already put in that situation where you’re creating better causes to keep evolving. That’s how karma works and so you have the choice right now.
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you. It’s already been almost an hour and a half. We have about ten minutes. If you want to ask some questions or maybe talk about some subjects you would like me to address, please feel free. Yes. One, two.
Student: Hello. When you were talking about addictions, any kind of addictions, don’t you think that the base of the problem is in a lack of love not from others but for yourself?
Student: I’m talking about self-esteem problems.
Ösel: Self-esteem, OK.
Student: In my job I’ve been observing the same kind of behavioral pattern in a lot of people. “I want to compete against you. I am on top. You are not.” And I see that the base of the problem is just about self-esteem problems.
Student: What do you think about that? I mean, why people need to do that? Because when I’m coming to my job, the first thing is, I mean, I’m not thinking about having a bad day and prove others anything. You do not need to prove. You need to show yourself, I think.
Ösel: To yourself, prove to yourself, right?
Student: Yeah. Thank you.
Ösel: Thank you, thank you very much. Of course this is something very important. We were talking about self-cherishing all the time, I completely forgot about loving yourself, which is so important of course, to love yourself. That’s how we started, by feeling grateful to our body. It’s true, when you come into the work, you come into the job because you also want to show to yourself that you are here and that you can do that and you can achieve your vision, your goals. You want to be there, you want to do that, and you want to feel satisfied somehow, that you’re doing something meaningful, right?
Yes, loving yourself, that is so important. Many people are not able to love themselves somehow, maybe because of certain factors in their life, maybe childhood problems. Maybe they were abused by their parents or maybe their parents had a trauma when they were kids that came maybe from their parents. Sometimes the traumas are passed on from generation to generation and if someone doesn’t actually confront the trauma and neutralize it and understand it and use it as a stepping stone to evolve and to improve as a human being, then we pass on the trauma to our children too. That’s also very important, to be aware of that.
How we learn to love ourselves is by appreciating who we are, by understanding our potential, what we can do, the power of who we are, how far we can go. That’s when we have to talk about limiting ourselves. We constantly limit ourselves. We create certain limitations and then we can’t go beyond that. For example, an ant, sometimes, there’s this experiment they do, they have these pens with—was it with hormones or some scent that cuts out the scent or something? I’m not sure, but an ant is walking and then you take a pen and you make a circle around him, then the ant cannot leave the circle somehow because it’s disconnected from the scent it left behind. So, even though it can just walk over the circle, but because it can’t recognize the scent anywhere, it keeps trying to get out. It’s trying every possibility, but it can’t leave the circle because of this limitation it has in its mind, “Oh, if I don’t recognize my scent or something, then I can’t walk,” even though it can totally walk.
Or, for example, the elephants in India. This is a very funny thing. The elephants, when they’re babies, they chain them up to a tree so they can’t leave. As they grow older, they chain them up to a plastic chair and the elephant stays there because it truly believes it won’t be able to move, it won’t be able to leave. It’s just stuck there. Or some little stick—maybe not a plastic chair, I’m exaggerating—but a stick in the ground. If it pushes like that or pulls, it can just walk around easily, but it does not do that. The elephant doesn’t do that because he genuinely believes he doesn’t have the power. He’s limiting himself.
So, loving ourselves. For example, there’s one example also, Pema Chödrön made in one of her talks in Tushita, Dharamsala—I really liked that—about the traps for the monkeys. I wanted to use that for the talk tomorrow on Buddhism, but I’m going to use it today, too. How many people are coming tomorrow? OK. So, the traps for the monkeys, the hunters have these coconuts and they make a hole and put the candy inside. The monkey puts its hand inside, then grabs the candy, and once its done a fist, it can’t release the hand. So, it can’t climb trees. It can barely run. Some of them have two candies in their hand because they’re really greedy. Then, when the hunters come to capture them, they can’t run away. They’re stuck even though if they let go of the candy, they can get the hand out and climb on the tree easily, but they don’t because they genuinely believe they can run away with the candy. That’s a little bit like attachment.
They’re scared for their life. They know they’re going to be trapped in a circus, or eaten up or tortured or who knows what’s going to happen to them? Because of that attachment and that belief that they can run away with the candy, they get trapped by attachment. That’s a little bit like samsara—we know, we have the wisdom and the method to get free from samsara but somehow we’re attached to our comfort zone. We’re attached to this “poor me,” thinking, “Oh, I don’t love myself. Who I am is based on my childhood traumas.” That’s not us anymore. Why do we always have to go back and say, “Oh, this happened to me, so I can’t be that or I can’t go there or I can’t do this.” Because of these conditions that we hold on to so strongly. If we let go, which we can anytime, we can be free. We can really love ourselves, somehow.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now, in Spanish he says cuerpo dolor. In English, I’m not sure how you would translate it. [Student: Pain body.] Pain body, yeah, “pain body,” he calls it, so it’s this “poor me” kind of thinking. You create the suffering, this habit of suffering for yourself, about yourself, which is linked very strongly to the self-cherishing mind and the attachment of suffering, because sometimes we’re attached to suffering. We’re almost like masochists. We actually almost sometimes enjoy suffering because it gives us a sense of existence, maybe because we have a lack of self-love.
I don’t know, it depends on the person. Everybody’s different, so it can be very circumstantial. But how to overcome that is by realizing our potential, by really understanding who we are, our real inner values, our inner self because we have the potential to become a buddha. That’s who we are and if we really can find that, then we can really start loving ourselves. Once we start loving ourselves, then we can love everybody. So, we do have to start with ourselves but without the self-cherishing mind. We can use the ego to really say, “OK, I want to wake up in order to help the other people to wake up, too, but I have to start with myself.” In that way, you can use the ego as a tool to move on.
The other question was, I think it was you?
Student: It’s a bit of a juvenile question, really. You, as a person, how do you relax and have fun?
Ösel: I like that question, easy. Phew, I can breathe now. How do I have fun? Hmm, I don’t know. Sometimes, it depends on the moment. Sometimes just by lying down when I’m really tired, I can have fun. Sometimes by reading a book. Sometimes, I don’t know, looking on Facebook. Sometimes having a conversation with someone or hugging someone or saying to someone I love them. It depends. Dancing, I like to dance. I really like to dance, depending on the music though. And, I like to maybe change, I like to listen to music too. It’s nice. I used to play computer games before. Now not so much or at all, [not] anything at all any more actually, to tell the truth. It doesn’t attract me any more. I don’t get distracted by them.
Actually, in society today, we are bombarded by distractions and entertainment so much, and actually it’s part of the design of the system, to make us not be focused on ourselves, like the actual, who we are. We always need to be doing something, so that we can really forget about who we are really, to understand the mechanics, the science of the mind. That’s why we have a great opportunity to be here, to think about it, to be present and actually to put in practice all these good qualities that have always been there within us from the beginning of time, from the beginning of time.
OK, do we have an umdze somewhere to put all the merits in the bank? Any umdzes volunteer? Nobody wants to be umdze? No? How come? Umdze, leading the prayers. Come on, you can do it. OK.
[Dedication prayers in Tibetan]
We dedicate all the merits that we created now in order to really be able to succeed in our aim to help all sentient beings be liberated from samsara and suffering and find happiness, genuine lasting happiness, the real happiness, the juicy happiness. We put all these merits into the bank so that if we get emotional, if we get angry or we lose control, if we say harsh things or we do negative things, at least those merits will still be there. We won’t lose them.
OK, all right. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
[Applause and announcement]
I think there’s a buffet, right? Drinks?
[Announcements and thanks continue]