First I would like to express how very happy I am to meet all of you and to share our understanding. I think the announcement talked about the Happy Path. However, whatever you understand by that, I thought maybe first to talk a little on stress. Generally, the main topic is how we can solve our various life problems, especially the biggest problem in our life, the one we're most concerned about and most frightened of. We'll especially discuss that one, how we can overcome that problem and meanwhile, until our mind has reached the stage when we can overcome it, when we are free from it, how we can deal with it.
I could be wrong, so if I'm mistaken in my thinking please correct me, but I think that stress doesn't come from anything outside. Stress doesn't come from machines, from the outside elements - sky, water, fire, earth - and it also doesn't come outside people. Stress comes from within our own mind. It depends on our way of thinking. One way of thinking creates stress, builds up stress; another way of thinking does not create stress, but eliminates it. Stress depends on our concept, our way of thinking.
Actually our own mind is the creator of stress, and it is also the one that can free us from stress. Our own mind is the creator of our problems, but if we know how to think, it also the creator of the happiness in our life. We don't need to look outside for happiness; we can find happiness within our own mind. Our mind produces our problems, but there's also the possibility that it can stop our problems and bring us happiness, peace, relaxation. This is not some philosophy made up by someone interested in personal profit. It is the basic experience of life that everything is created by the mind. Our life comes from our own mind. This is the reality, this is the experience. This evolution is the reality.
From morning until night, twenty-four hours a day, it is our own experience that all our happiness and all our problems depend on our way of thinking. With one way of thinking, there is problem in our life; with another way of thinking, there is no problem in our life. With one concept, we find a problem in our life; with another concept, there is no problem in our life. It all depends on how you think, on whether you label something a problem or not. If you look at a situation and establish the thought of disliking it, "I don't like this. This is bad." the situation then appears bad to you. After you label it bad, it appears to be bad. But as long as you don't establish the thought of disliking that situation and as long as you don't label it bad, there is no appearance of bad to you. As long as you don't label, "This is a problem, I have a problem," as long as your own mind doesn't give the name "problem" to the situation, there is no appearance of a problem.
It is like giving a name to a child. For example, if there is a child and its parents do not label the child "Toto," Toto does not exist. As long as the parents do not label "Toto" on the base, the association of the body and mind of the child, Toto doesn't exist. How does Toto exist? The parents agree to label "Toto" in dependence on the association of body and mind of the child and then believe in their own label. Only then does Toto come into existence. That is how Toto exists. Toto exists in dependence upon the association of body and mind of the child and the parents' minds, which make up the name, the label, "Toto." Depending on these two, Toto exists. That is all that Toto is. How Toto exists is nothing more than that.
Toto is merely imputed by the mind depending on the association of the body and mind of the child. Therefore, there's no real Toto existing from its own side. Toto exists from the side of the mind, under the control of the mind; there's no real Toto, no Toto from its own side. That is the ultimate nature of Toto, the reality of Toto. There is no real Toto existing from his own side. That is not true because Toto came from his parents' minds, Toto was merely imputed by the minds of his parents. The main point that I'm trying to clarify is that if the parents do not label Toto, Toto doesn't exist. Toto comes into existence only after his parents label "Toto." And they do not label "Toto" on just anything, but on the association of body and mind of the child. You can see very clearly the evolution of how Toto comes into existence - Toto comes from the mind.
Now it is the same when we think we have a problem in our life. Actually, in reality, the problem comes into existence the same way that the child Toto does. If we do not establish the thought of disliking the situation, if we do not look at it as bad and label it "bad," label it "a problem," a problem doesn't exist in our life. If we do not label something a problem, a problem doesn't exist in our life. If you don't have the expectation that somebody should love you, there is no problem if that person doesn't love you. Even if that person dislikes you, you don't care. It doesn't really bother you whether the person likes you or not. But when you have the expectation that the person should love you, when you cling to that, and the person doesn't love you, you are upset. However, if we establish the thought of liking rather than disliking that, even if the person doesn't love you, you experience only pleasure. Or even if you can't establish the thought of liking the situation, at least that it doesn't matter. In this way it doesn't bother you, it doesn't disturb your mind, it doesn't hurt so much. If at the beginning you have the expectation that the person will love you, and you cling to that, when the person's mind changes, you establish the thought of disliking the situation. You yourself make up the concept, "I don't like this." You make up your own philosophy. You then label the situation a problem, and after you have labeled it a problem, it appears to you that there is a problem in your life. You think, "This is bad. This person is bad. They don't love me - this is my problem."
We forget that the bad comes from our own mind. We are not aware that the problem comes from our own mind. How does it come from our own mind? Because we have interpreted the situation as a problem, we have labeled it "a problem," and taken it upon ourself, "I have a problem." It then appears as a problem. And in your view, it's a real problem existing from its own side, an independent problem, an inherently existent problem. The problem comes from outside; it exists from its own side as a real problem. So, all that is not true; it doesn't exist. What exists comes from your own mind. If you do not label something a problem, there is no problem in your life. If you do not label it, if you do not interpret it in that way, it doesn't exist. This is very clear.
As I explained before, you establish dislike because of your expectation, your grasping. However, as long as you don't establish the thought of dislike in your mind and don't label the situation as a problem, there is no bad, there is no bad person, there is no problem in your life.
I will give you another example. There are two people. One person hasn't actually loved you for a long time, but they act as if they love you. Now, you label, "This person loves me. This is good." Because of your expectation and grasping, you establish the concept of liking the situation, "This is good. This is my friend." You put all these labels. And after you have put the label of good, the person and their actions then appear to you as good. After you put the label, friend, there's the appearance of friend. All these views come from your own mind.
The other person actually loves you very much, but they act as if they don't love you. Now because you don't like their behavior, you establish the thought of dislike and then there's an appearance of bad. You label this person your enemy, so there's the appearance of enemy. Now this has nothing to do with their mind - it is completely your own projection. The first person actually doesn't love you, but you interpreted their external behavior as meaning that they loved you. This second person actually does love you, but you interpreted their external behavior as meaning that they don't love you. The first person doesn't love you, but you think that they do. The second person does love you, but you think that they don't. This has nothing to do with their actual attitudes towards you. We make our own world. You create your own world with your own concepts. Again you can see that you created your appearance; it came from your own mind labeling. This example makes it even clearer.
It is very important to understand that the appearance of anything - house, table, microphone, clock, whatever - comes after you have labeled. This object doesn't appear to you as a table until your mind labels it "table", in dependence upon this material object that performs the function of lifting things up.
When you first came into the room, you didn't call this chair a table, you didn't call the hundreds of other objects here a table. You don't call just anything a table. Now we have to think, "What makes me give this specific label "table"? When you come into the room, you see hundreds of objects. Why does your mind make up the particular label, table? It's not because you see this, or this, or this - just anything. You see this particular material object with a certain shape, which performs the function of allowing you to put things on top. You see this object that performs this function first. Before you make up the specific label "table," you have to have a reason in your mind. The reason has to come before you make the label. The reason makes you choose this particular label, "table." The reason is that there is this particular object that lifts things up.
After seeing this object, you label "table." You are not seeing first the table; you are seeing first this object that performs this function. If you were seeing the table from the very beginning, what would be the reason making you decide on this particular label "table." There has to be a reason before that. You have to discover the reason that makes you decide on this particular name "table." If the very first thing that you see is the table, not the basis of on which you label "table," what makes you choose this particular name "table"? What is the reason? There is no reason. And if there is no reason beforehand, you might call anything a table. So, this does not accord with our experience, with reality.
In reality as you come into the room you see first this object that performs this particular function. You then label it "table." And after you label it table, table appears to your own mind. Only then does a table appear to your mind. What is the table? You can see now what it is. What you see at the very first is not the table; it's the basis on which you are going to put the name "table."
It is the same with the child, Toto. What the parents see at the very first is not Toto; it's the basis to be labeled Toto, the association of body and mind. They see the base first, then after that they put the label, Toto. The association of body and mind is not Toto - Toto is something else. So, what is Toto? Toto becomes an extremely subtle phenomenon. The way that Toto exists is extremely subtle. If you analyze scientifically like this, it is very subtle. Toto is nothing other than what is merely imputed by the parents' minds.
It is the same with the table. What you see at the very first is not the table; it's the basis to be labeled table. Because of seeing this object that does this function, you label it table, and then believe in this label. Only then is there an appearance of table. So again, what is the table? It is an extremely subtle phenomenon. It is not what we normally think. When we do not analyze, when we are not aware of the reality of the table, we think it is something real existing from its own side, something independent, something not created by the mind. In reality there's no such table. So, what is the table? It is extremely subtle.
The point I am trying to make is that the appearance of table comes only after you have labeled table and believed in that. I'm just giving various examples. If you can understand the way that the table and Toto come into existence, and how subtle they are, you can understand how the I exists. You can analyze the nature of the I, the self. What is the I? People always have questions, "What is the I? Why do I exist? Where do I come from?" I'm not going to go over this now because then the other subject may not come.
This is just to give you some idea, some example. You should analyze whether what I have said is correct or not. My English is not clear. If you have understood well my explanation of the evolution, you know that when you come into the room, you have to have to reason before you put a label on any of these things you see; there is a reason that makes you choose a particular label, a particular name.
It is exactly the same with the I, the self. Now "I" is the label. The aggregates - or to make it simple, the association of body and mind - is the basis; "I" is the label. Remember, table and the basis of table - they are not one. The association of body and mind is the basis to be labeled I; it is not the I. The body is not the I, the mind is not the I, even the whole group is not the I - the I doesn't exist anywhere on these. I'm not saying that the I doesn't exist; what I'm saying is that the I doesn't exist anywhere on this base - inside it, above it. The I exists nowhere. It cannot be found. If you search, you cannot find it anywhere. Nothing of this is the I, and even the association of body and mind is not the I. The I is nowhere, inside or outside this.
But this doesn't mean that I don't exist - I exist! I exists because I can listen, I can talk, I can do the actions of sitting, standing, sleeping, helping others, harming others. I exist. The I does all these activities, but nothing of this is the I, and even the whole thing is not the I. The I exists nowhere on this. This is the important point to analyze. I'm just introducing this, but we have to meditate, we have to analyze this. Meditation is scientific analysis. Through scientific meditation you can realize for yourself what the I is and why the I exists. You can find all the answers through analytical meditation.
Again, when we analyze what the I is, it becomes extremely subtle. The I exists. Today the I is in Australia, the I is in Bendigo, the I is in this room. But what you should understand is that the body is not the I, the mind is not the I, and even the association of the body and mind is not the I - the I is nowhere inside this, outside it, above it. The I exists nowhere, it cannot be found anywhere. When we do not analyze, it looks as if it can be found, but when we analyze, we cannot find it. If it exists, if it is there, it should become clearer when you analyze, and you should be able to find it. But as soon as you start to analyze, it becomes unclear; you cannot find. That is the proof that it doesn't exist there.
But, what is it? There is some appearance of I, but it appears as if it is a real I inside the body. Why is there this appearance of a real I? That appearance is not true; it is false. Why is it false? As I mentioned before, it cannot be found. That is the basic reason why this appearance is false. When we think of its evolution, of the way the I exists, we can see that this appearance is not true.
So, as I mentioned with the other examples, depending on the association of body and mind, we merely impute I. That's all the I is. The reality of the I is nothing more than this. But the I that our own mind merely imputed does not appear to us. We forget that it is imputed by our mind. The I, which is merely imputed by our mind in dependence on these aggregates, on the association of body and mind, appears to inherently exist; it appears to have nothing to do with our mind labeling it, nothing to do with our own concept. It appears to have an existence from its own side, something from its own side. It seems as if there's a real I there, something independent of the mind labeling and the association of body and mind.
When we experience very strong desire, very strong anger, or strong pride, or when we are about to have a car accident, this false appearance of a real, independent, uncreated I that does not depend on the mind labeling and the association of body and mind becomes very strong. When you are about to fall down from somewhere or somebody criticizes you, talking about your mistakes, at such times, in such situations, the false appearance of this emotional I, this independent I, becomes very strong, very clear.
At other times when there are no such conditions, when you are not very excited because you have won something, got a degree, received a present or something, or when you are not very unhappy, depressed, or angry, it is not so clear. But it depends on the individual person. Someone with a sharp, intelligent mind can recognize this false I even during normal times when there is no particular emotional situation. They can recognize this false I, which you cannot find there, on this association of body and mind, because it doesn't exist there.
We need to do analytical meditation on the ultimate nature of the I; this is the only way to liberate ourselves from every single problem and all the causes of problems, which are within our mind. The root of all problems is this wrong conception that believes that this false I is a true I, that this real I existing from its own side as unlabeled is a true I. The object is empty there; it doesn't exist. But the thought believes that it exists, which proves that this thought is a wrong conception. This ignorance is the root of all problems. It is this ignorance that cause us to experience death, old age, sickness, rebirth. This false mind is the main cause of all these.
Once you recognize what is the root of all your problems, automatically you are aware of the method that cuts this root, this wrong conception that is ignorant of the ultimate nature of the I, the reality of the I. It is very, very important to discover what makes us experience all these problems. Separating from desirable objects, meeting undesirable objects and making fear and worry arise, not finding satisfactions even we find desirable objects - all these are caused by this false mind, this ignorance. Not experiencing these problems at all depends on eliminating their very root, this wrong conception.
How can we eliminate this ignorance, the root of our problems? By realizing that the object of this ignorance is completely empty. The I, which in reality is merely imputed by the mind depending on the association of body and mind, appears to be independent, a real one existing from its own side. But this object believed in by this ignorance is empty, completely empty. This is the solution. This wisdom realizing the ultimate nature of the I is the most important wisdom we have to gain in our life because it eliminates this ignorance. By then developing this wisdom, we are eliminate even the imprints, the seeds, left by this ignorance on the consciousness. If we plant a seed in the ground, there's a possibility that it will grow, that it will produce a sprout. In the same way, as long we have these seeds left by ignorance in the consciousness, there's a possibility to experience problems. However, even this seed left by ignorance can be completely purified by your own wisdom. You then do not experience at all death, rebirth, all the problems, all the sufferings, because you have completely removed the cause of suffering, which is in the mind.
When even the seed is completely purified, this is what is called ultimate happiness, liberation. When you can never experience suffering again, because even the seed of the cause of suffering has been purified, this is what is called in Sanskrit, nirvana, the sorrowless state, the mental state that doesn't experience any suffering. There is no experience of any problem: relationship problem, recession, whatever. There is no experience of hunger and thirst - nothing. If there is no suffering of death or rebirth, how could it be possible to experience other problems? There is no way.
By developing your own wisdom (it is not transplanted from somebody else), you completely purify even the subtle imprints left on the consciousness by ignorance, by the wrong conceptions. Even this very subtle obscuration of the mind is completely purified by developing wisdom with the skillful means of altruism, taking the responsibility to free everyone from all their sufferings and the causes of suffering and to bring them the highest happiness, what is called full enlightenment, or great liberation, which is a much purer and higher state than before.