阿 姜 曼 正 傳 

 

第二章第四節:地方的民間信仰

          

                                 

               

第二章第四節:地方民間信仰

    早期,在阿姜索與阿姜曼開始四處遊方行腳為各地的人啟發道德的本質意義、並解釋行為與信仰所帶來的後果之前,鬼神與精靈的信仰早已在東北部盛行,並且是鄉村每天生活的一部分。每當在種稻子之前、佈置花園、蓋房子或只不過是多裝一個屋簷,每一項工程都要挑選黃道吉日,看月分、年節來決定。任何一項工程開始前,都要事先祭祀拜拜來安撫在地的鬼神。如果祭拜的儀式被忽略,那麼最小的倒楣事 —— 普通感冒或打噴嚏 —— 都會歸咎於是觸怒了鬼神。接著當地的巫醫靈媒就會被請來占卜調查原因並進行祭改來安撫被觸怒的鬼神。當時的巫醫靈媒比現今的醫師要高明得多:他們會立即說是某個妖怪精靈或鬼魂在作祟,並宣稱一定要透過祭祀或祭改才能化解一切。就算前來求助的人依照指示進行祭改後還是一直乾咳或打噴嚏,也沒有差。在當時,如果巫醫靈媒宣稱你已被治癒,你就是被治癒了;就算病症仍在,你也會感到輕鬆許多。這也就是為什麼我會如此大膽說:「那個時代的巫醫與病患都非常的灑脫:無論巫醫最後宣布了什麼,病人都會毫無保留地接受。」既然靈媒巫醫及其鬼神可治癒一切的病,那就根本不需要任何醫療上的治療。

        之後當阿姜曼與阿姜索經過這些地區,勸化當地的住民,並解釋真諦的法則後,他們對鬼神精靈的法力以及巫醫靈媒功能的關注逐漸消失。甚至許多巫醫靈媒自己也皈依了佛、法、僧三寶,不再祭祀之前的各種鬼神與精靈。現今,已幾乎沒什麼人再從事這類神秘超自然的民間信仰了。今天在東北部從某一處村落行腳到另一處村莊,我們都不會再像以前那樣在祭祀鬼神的供品中穿越。除了各地奇怪的聚落,民間信仰已不再是人們生活中的重點。這的確是這些地方的福氣,人們不需要再依靠這些信仰來過一生。東北部的人民早已放棄他們過去的信仰並轉而對佛、法、僧三寶很虔誠,這都要大大感謝阿姜索與阿姜曼兩位慈悲的付出,我們都應該對他們抱以無比的感謝。

        阿姜曼在該地區的那段期間,教化了當地的居民,用盡一切的力量與能力使他們成為善良有禮的好人。他途經某些村落,當地所謂的「智者」都會問他問題。他們的問題如下:「鬼真的存在嗎?」、「人類是從何而來的?」、「男人與女人為何會互相吸引?雄、雌動物為何會互相吸引?既然沒有人教導,人類和動物是從哪兒學習到這種相互吸引?」雖然我不記得所有的問題,以上這些是我還記得的部分。因為我的記憶一直都有些出入,就我這邊記得的部分,如果有不正確的地方,我願意接受指謫。就算回想我自己說過的話或一些個人的事,我都無法避免出錯;所以,阿姜曼事蹟的回憶錄肯定是不完整的。

        對於「鬼真的存在嗎?」這個問題,阿姜曼回答如是:「不管是鬼魂或其他的東西,如果真的存在於世間,它就是如實地存在!它並不是光憑任何人相信或不相信而存在。人類或許會說某物存在或不存在,但某物存不存在則完全取決它自己的本質。某物的存在狀態不會因為人類的想像而有所改變,同樣的道理也適用於鬼的身上。事實上,那些嚇人與折磨人的鬼往往實際上都是人自己想像出來的,他們早就相信,害人的鬼無處不在,這反而造成他們恐懼與不安。一般來說,如果不是人在心中先有了鬼的概念,不然是不會怕鬼的。在大多數的情況下,鬼往往只是那些怕它們的人所創造出來的心理上的影像。至於這世上是否真的有鬼的存在 —— 就算我說它們真的存在,也沒有足夠的證據使懷疑論者變成相信的人,因為人總是往往會否定事實的真相。就算小偷因作案而遭逮捕,通常也不會認罪。甚至,他可能會捏造一個不在場證明讓自己脫罪或任何不法的行為。他可能會因為對他強而有力且不利的證據而不得不接受懲罰;但,他還是會繼續辯稱冤枉。當他入監執行,如果有人問他是犯了什麼罪而被判刑,他會很快地回答他被控偷竊,但仍堅稱他沒有做,這樣的人很少會認罪。一般來說,各地的人大多都會有同樣的態度。」

        對於「人是怎麼來的?」這個問題, 阿姜曼如是回答:「所有的人都會有生下他們的父母親,就連你自己也不可能是由一棵空心的樹中神奇地出生。我們都明顯有生養我們的父母,所以這個問題不是很適當。如果我說人類是由無明與渴愛而生,那不如都不要回答,因為這將會造成更多的迷惑與誤解。人們不懂什麼是無明與渴愛,雖然它們就在每一個人的身上 —— 當然,除了阿羅漢以外。問題在於人們沒有足夠的興趣與動力去努力證悟這些事,所以我只能簡明扼要地回答:『我們是由父母親所生的。』太過簡短的回答固然會使我遭受批評,但這真的很難回答,因為它牽涉到真理,而提問的人又對真理一點興趣都沒有。世尊說:『人與動物都是因無明渴愛而生,無明緣行sankhāra,行緣識,識緣名色,……,有緣生,……,如是純大苦聚集起;而生的止息,也就是苦的止息;緣無明滅故行滅,緣行滅故識滅,緣識滅故名色滅,……,緣有滅故生滅,……,如是純大苦聚滅。』這種流程根植在每一個有無明的人心中。一旦這個真理被人所接受,就會很清楚這就是導致人與動物出生的緣由。主要的原因就是無明與慾壑難填的渴望。雖然我們還沒死,我們就已經開始找地方去出生並繼續生存 —— 一種導致人類與動物在世界各地出生並不斷受苦的心態。任何想要了解這個真諦的人,都應該仔細去看清充滿無明的心一直發狂似造下輪迴的因。無庸置疑地,此人肯定會不斷生死輪迴。這個問題只是顯示出一種無知的程度,凸顯了發問的人修得仍不夠好。『心』往往是世上最難駕馭、也最驕慢的東西。如果沒有興趣去統御它,我們永遠都不會察覺到它有多麼頑固,我們所有的希望與志願都將會落空。」

        究竟是什麼因緣,就算沒有人教,也會造成男人與女人及同種動物之間的性吸引力?阿姜曼回答:「性不是從書本中找到的,也不是在學校中從老師那裡學到的。性是一種存在於男女心中頑強、沒有羞恥的情境,使那些低級粗鄙的人受縛於它的魔咒,在不知不覺間令自己變得下流。性慾rāgataṇhā是不分男、女、動物、國籍、社會地位或年齡。如果它很強,就會輕易地造成世界的災難。如果沒有足夠的正念來抑止它,並將其限制在可容忍的範圍內,性渴望就會變成四處氾濫失控的洪水,沖潰心的堤防,淹沒城鎮與城市,之後留下到處滿目瘡痍。這種情況會在一切眾生的心中清楚地成長茁壯,因為它不斷收到養分與資助 —— 賦予它不斷宣示令人窒息的影響力,在世界各地散播破壞及造成痛苦的種子。我們只聽過發生在城鎮與城市的洪水,以及它們如何造成人與其財產的破壞,卻沒有人有興趣注意到性慾的洪流是如何吞沒人的心,這些人都很甘願讓自己及其財產被終年洶湧不止的洪水所蹂躪。結果,沒有人了解世界的局勢惡化的真正原因。每一個人都在助長及激化這種情勢,卻看不清性慾才應該為這種惡化的情勢直接負責。如果我們不去關注真正的原因,我們就不可能找到真正的滿足感。」

        原本的問題是只關於人與人之間性的吸引力,卻忽略了貪(性)慾經由仇恨與憤怒所挑起的破壞。但在阿姜曼的解釋中已觸及了來自於性慾一連串的後患。他說就是因為性慾,支配著男人、女人、各種動物激情的生起,使他們在彼此另一半中找到歡樂 —— 這就是自然的法則。除此之外,再也沒有任何東西會引發彼此間的愛意與彼此間的仇恨。當性慾為了使人發情而利用惑人的伎倆,人就會陷入愛河中;當它利用惑人的伎倆進一步帶來仇恨與憤怒,他們就不可避免相互憎恨、相互生氣與彼此傷害。如果它(性慾)把愛情當作一種想控制人的手段,人就會彼此吸引而無法分開;如果它希望那些相同的人都受到仇恨與憤怒的影響,那麼他們就會感到一股無法抗拒的衝動去這麼做。

        阿姜曼問在場的在家人:「難道你們之間從來沒有爭吵過?結婚前你們就已經相愛了吧?你問我這個問題,但你應該知道的比出家人要多才對。」對於這一點他們會回答:「是的,我們會爭吵,直到我們對此都感到厭倦而不想再繼續吵下去,但我們還是會因為別的事而爭吵。」

        阿姜曼接著繼續:「你看吧,這就是世間的本質:前一刻有愛情,下一刻卻有摩擦、生氣、憤怒。即使你知道那樣不對,但就是很難改過來。你有沒有認真試著去改正這個困難?如果真的有,那就不應該常發生(爭吵),就算盡最小的努力也足以控制脾氣(爭吵)。不然的話,就會一天照三餐那樣:早上吵,中午也吵,到了晚上還是吵 —— 日以繼夜的規律。有些人甚至到最後以離婚收場,讓孩子也被捲入大火災中。但孩子是無辜的,卻也必須承擔這樣的惡業。每個人都會被這場熾烈的大火給灼傷:親朋好友會因不好意思而跟你們保持距離。假設雙方都有心解決這個問題,他們就該意識到爭吵是一件不好的事,一旦開始(爭吵)就立即停止,努力在這一點上去改正,然後事情就會自行解決,而這樣的問題在未來也就不會再發生了。例如說:當憤怒或嫌惡生起時,首先,想一想你們一起共同擁有的過去;接著,想一想你們未來要一起共度的餘生;現在把這個拿去與剛剛出現的惡意比較一下,這應該就足以使事件平息。」

        「通常,誤入歧途的人都是因為他們堅持要走自己的路,而不去考慮它們是對的或錯的,他們想要在家庭中掌控每一個成員 —— 但這是不可能做到的事。這種傲慢會蔓延擴散並引起憤怒,灼燒他人直到每一個人都傷痕累累。更糟的是,他們想將他們的影響力施加在世上的每一個人身上,但這是不可能的事,這就好比試著用雙手去阻擋海洋一般,像這種想法及行為都應該嚴格避免。如果你還是這樣堅持,它們必將讓你垮台。在一起生活的人,與丈夫、妻子、孩子、僕人、同事等人互動時,都必須堅持並遵守公平的行為準則,也就是以理性、和諧的方式與他們互動。如果其他的人不接受這個真理,他們就是因不理智而犯錯的人,也將是付出代價的人 —— 而不會是那些堅守指導原則的人。」

        當阿姜曼必須教導大批的在家護持信眾以及許多跟他住在一起的比丘時,他就會分配時間分開指導。他從下午四點到五點教導在家居士,並從七點繼續教比丘及沙彌,最後他們會各自回到自己的禪房禪修。在第一次與第二次的東北行,他往往依循這樣的慣例;第三次也是最後一次的行程,從清邁府回到烏隆府之後,他大大改變了這樣的慣例。為了不打亂事件的連貫性,我會解釋他之後作出的調整。

        阿姜曼主要關心的是對比丘與沙彌的教導,他對那些在禪修中體驗到各種不同內明的弟子特別感到興趣,他會召喚他們私下面談。對那些禪修的人來說,不同的個性與性情都是很正常的事,所以從他們的禪修中所生起的內明類型自然也不同 —— 雖然生起的清涼、喜樂的寧靜感都是一樣的。而差異會出現在他們所使用的禪修方法中以及禪修期間所生起的內明性質。有一些禪修者比較想知道只存在於內心中的事;但有的人卻更想知道外界的東西 —— 譬如看到鬼或天神,或看見死去的人與動物就站在他們的面前。他們可能看到一具被包裹的屍體在他們的眼前被丟棄,或看見自己的身體橫躺在他們的面前死去。像這些經歷都已超出初級禪修者能夠正確處理的能力範圍,因為初學者沒有能力去區分什麼是真的、什麼是假的。往往不去仔細分析經驗的人可能會產生邪見,而相信他們所看到的都是真的,這很可能會在未來造成心理上的傷害。當他們的凝神收攝在一種相當罕見的寧靜狀態時,這一類人的心就很容易向外去探索外界的異相 —— 這樣的人最多每二十個人中就會有一個。但因為還是會有人發生這種情況,所以接受在這一方面有專長的禪師的建議是至關重要的事。

        聽頭陀比丘向阿姜曼報告自己禪修上的結果,以及他教他們如何處理他們的經驗,都會讓人受到感動與激勵,並令在場的每一個人都陶醉其中。在解釋如何處理看到異相的正確方法上,阿姜曼將禪相的類型作了分類,並非常詳盡地解釋每一種類型該如何處理。聆聽的比丘會因他開示的法而感到歡喜,因而獲得了信心,決意讓自己更上一層樓。就算沒有體驗到外界異相的那些人,也會因此而受到鼓舞。有時候這些比丘會告訴阿姜曼,當他們的凝神收攝在一種寧靜的定境時,達到了多麼寧靜的喜樂境界,並解釋他們所用的方法。連那些都還沒有達到這種境界的人也會躍躍欲試 —— 或甚至想超越他們。聽這些討論是一種很愉快的經驗,對於那些已經修得很好或還在努力中的人都是。

        有一些比丘的心入了定後,就會開始到天界神遊,去遊覽天宮,直到黎明破曉時,心才回到身體並回復平常的意識;有的比丘則是前往地獄,目睹地獄的眾生因生前的惡業飽受折磨,而為他們感到難過;又有一些人則是上窮碧落下黃泉,天堂地獄兩邊跑,去觀察兩邊世界的天壤之別:一邊正享受著幸福與喜樂,而另一邊正陷入絕望的深淵裡,彼處的眾生承受著看似永無止盡的折磨;有一些比丘會接待來自不同天界的訪客 —— 例如地居天神;有的比丘只專注在禪定中不同層次的平靜與喜樂;有的會運用智慧去「觀」,將身體分成不同的部分,再將其剖析成一小塊,一塊接一塊,然後再將整塊還原成最初的元素;有些人是剛開始才修行,就像小孩第一次學走路一樣的努力;有的因為一直無法進入渴望的禪境中,為自己的無能而流淚;有些是聽到阿姜曼在論述他們自己已經歷過的修行境界,因喜悅與驚訝而流淚;而有的就像一鍋食物裡的杓子:雖置身其中,甚至參與了烹煮的過程,卻仍不識食物的美味。當這麼多不同的人住在一起的時候,這都是很正常的現象。不可避免地,好的壞的都混在一起了。很有正念與觀智的人一定會去蕪存菁,保留那些真的有用的教誡 —— 對禪修的技巧很重要的教誡。就這一件事而言,我很遺憾我也無法確信自己的技巧是對的。事實上,這是我們大家有時都會面臨的問題,所以就讓我們繼續修下去,不要去擔憂這個問題。

        在第二趟行程中,阿姜曼留在東北部教了好幾年。通常,他不會停在同一個地方超過一個雨安居的時間。當雨季結束後,他會在山間與森林中自由地行腳,像一隻只承載著雙翅的鳥一般,隨心所欲滿足地飛翔,不管牠在何處著陸找食物 —— 一棵樹、一座池或一片沼澤濕地 —— 之後牠都滿意與簡單地飛走,毫不依戀執著。牠從不認為樹、樹皮、果實、池畔或沼澤是屬於牠的東西。就像鳥一般,修行解脫法的比丘,住在森林裡,過著一種滿足的生活。但這很不容易做到,因為世人是一種喜歡群居、依戀家庭及財產的社群動物。最初,就如阿姜曼出家並獨居的時候,他也曾感受到很大的阻力,有點像在陸地上生活的動物被拖進水裡一般。然而,一旦他的心與「法」緊密的結合在一起之後,實際的情況又相反:他喜歡自己一人行腳並獨居。他在每一種心境中的每日例行活動都完全是他自己的,他的心不受任何的打擾,使得「法」填塞了他的心 —— 而「法」又帶來了滿足。心中只有「法」的比丘,其內心是愉悅並極其滿足。他擺脫了各種會造成他愚痴與迷惑的障礙;他沒有任何的垢染。他沈浸在一種圓滿、天然的內在平靜中,不用擔心這種境界可能會改變或退去。這就是大家所熟知的「寂滅法」:超越了時空的法,它存在於完全超越了世間法(一切虛妄之源)的心中。阿姜曼此時已經是一位「善逝」sugato了,一位在一切活動中都完全滿足的人 —— 不論是行、住、坐、臥,他都全然滿足。雖然他引導學生們走他走過的路,但證得最高成就的比丘還是相對少數。然而即使是少數人能有這樣的成就,卻已能帶給各地的人極大的利益。

        當阿姜曼帶著他的學生一起托缽時,他會把路上所見到的動物都當成禪思的對象,並與內在的「法」融合在一起。他很有技巧地教導跟隨他的比丘們,而他們也都仔細地聽他說的每一句話。這就是他教導弟子們理解業力法則的方式,因為即使是動物也必須為牠們自己的行為承擔後果。他指出他們沿途經過的動物為例,阿姜曼堅持我們不應該因為畜生的卑劣出生就鄙視牠們。事實上,畜生不過是在漫漫生死輪迴中暫時變成這樣,去承受過去前生惡業所造的惡果,所以牠們跟人類是一樣的。動物的生命與人類的生命都有苦有樂,每一種生命都依據各自過去前生的業果而存在。就某一方面來說,阿姜曼只是出於憐憫畜生們的困境才會以雞、狗、牛等動物作為說法的主題。但另一方面,他想要讓比丘們瞭解業與業果之間的多樣性,指出 —— 正如我們是因為過去某些特定的業才能得人身-- 我們過去也曾經歷過無數次不同類型的出生。最後,他提高嗓門說出淪為畜生的極其神秘的因緣 —— 儘管它們每一個都那麼難以捉摸。如果我們不擅於解決這些問題,對於我們而言將是一種危險,因為我們永遠找不到可以超越的方法。幾乎每一次的托缽的路上,阿姜曼都是以這種方式來談論沿途他所遇到的動物或人們。有興趣去觀察這些主題的人,可激發出正念與觀智,從他那裡以這種方式來獲得有益的知見;至於那些不感興趣的人,就得不到任何的利益。因為當時比丘的隊伍是直線行進中,而他所談到的動物也不在眼前了,所以有些人可能不知道他是在講誰。

        阿姜曼在東北的某些府時,會在深夜時的某些特殊情況下為比丘們說法。地居天神也會現身來參訪他,並聚集在一起很恭敬地聽他說法。當阿姜曼察覺諸神來了,他會取消法會並立即進入三昧,以這種溝通方式與諸天進行私下的對話。祂們在這種場合保持靜默是出於對僧伽至深的敬意。阿姜曼解釋,這些來自不同天界的諸神都會很小心避開比丘們的禪房,在深夜的時候來參訪他。當他們抵達後,在坐下來之前會很有秩序右繞阿姜曼三匝(圈),然後諸天的天主 —— 每層天界都有各自的天主,而天界的臣民們都十分服從祂的領導 —— 會自我介紹祂們是來自哪一層的天界,並表達祂們想要聞法的意願。阿姜曼會回應祂們的問候,然後集中心念在諸神想要祈求聞法的意願上。當「法」在他的心中生起時,他開始說法。當諸神都理解了他開示的法以後,便會齊呼「善哉」sādhu三次,聲音在諸天迴盪,每一個有天耳通的人都可聽得到,至於像湯鍋把手的凡胎肉耳就聽不見。

        當他說完法後,諸天再度右繞他三匝,接著以優雅的姿態 —— 大不同於人類的方式 —— 飛回祂們的天界。就連阿姜曼與比丘們也無法模仿祂們如此優美的姿態;這是因為祂們的身體非常的精緻飄逸,與我們的凡胎肉體有著很大的差異。當天界的訪客退到僧團的邊界時,祂們就像被風吹起的絨毛一樣飄升到空中。祂們每一次的來訪,都是以同樣的方式降落,祂們抵達僧團的外緣,然後步行入內。祂們每一個動作都非常的優美,祂們來拜見阿姜曼時絕不會像人類一樣發出聒噪的聲音。這很可能是因為祂們精緻的天體結構所致,限制了祂們不會做出這麼粗魯的言行,而我們人間可以勝過天界的地方就是 —— 大聲說話。諸天在聽法時都很沉靜,絕不會動來動去、坐立不安,或因驕慢自大而干擾比丘說法。

        當天神要來的時候,阿姜曼通常都會事先知道。例如,如果諸神預計是在中夜(將近午夜十二點左右)前來,那麼在傍晚之前他就會知道。在某些情況下,他不得不取消當晚為比丘們說法的既定行程。阿姜曼會在適當的時候離開經行的步道,開始靜坐入定,直到接近諸天來訪的時間。接著,他會退到可以溝通的層次,發送出心念波去看祂們是否已經到了。如果祂們還沒到,那麼在發送出第二次的心念波去察看之前他會繼續入定靜坐。有時候,諸天神已經來了,或正在途中;在其他的時候,他必須等待,在祂們來之前繼續入定靜修一段時間。在很罕見的情況下,如果他事先知道諸天會晚到 —— 在凌晨一、二或三點 —— 他就會禪修一下然後休息,在諸天抵達之前做好準備。

        阿姜曼住在東北部的時候,諸神來訪的次數並沒有太多,數量也不大。祂們只是偶爾來聽他對比丘們的開示。但只要祂們現身,而他一察覺到天神,就會立即取消法會,迅速進入禪定,為諸神的利益而開示法義;結束之後,諸神就會離開,他會躺下來休息,隔天一早起來繼續他日常慣例的修行。阿姜曼會把接見諸天神視為一項特殊的義務,因為履行自己的承諾對諸神而言是非常重要的,因此他非常注意守時。祂們很可能會譏嫌與指謫一個沒有正當理由就取消約定的比丘。

        諸天神與比丘之間的討論對話完全是以心的共通語言來進行,完全迥異於人類與其他種類動物間所使用的大量傳統世俗的語言。問題從心中生起,然後轉化為發問的人可以清楚理解的心語,就好像他平時使用的語言一樣。而回答的人每一個字或詞彙也都直接從心中發出,一如世間語言。語言的溝通也是一種心的機制;但往往會辭不達意或無法反映內心真實的感受,所以在溝通上很容易造成意思的誤解,只要世俗的語言仍是心意傳達的代理媒介,這種意思表示的不一致就會一直存在。因為世人不熟悉這種心靈的語言,即使在表達內心真意時沒有辦法很精確,他們的心仍無法避免使用正常的語言作為促進溝通的一種機制。除非是人類願意學習這種心靈的語言並揭露其奧秘 —— 否則也沒有別的方法可解決這種溝通上的困難。阿姜曼對於有關「心」的一切議題都非常地精通,包括如何教導他人成為好人所需要的技巧。我們其他人,雖然很有能力為自己思考這些事情,但還是會四處向別人借貸。這意思是說,我們往往會不斷從一個地方到另一個地方四處跟不同的老師學習。儘管如此,我們仍無法消化吸收我們所學過的東西,忘了老師跟我們說過的重點。因此到頭來仍兩手空空,一事無成。我們不該忘記或遺漏的就是我們的「習氣」:缺乏正念、智慧及禪修的技巧,也就是缺少可以在我們生命中注入希望的法義,不管我們在人生中作什麼,都一直是處於絕望。

        阿姜曼自己的禪修以及教學任務,都持續進展得很順利,任何不當的干擾都早就沒有了。不管他到哪裡,他都帶來了清新的祥和與平靜,各地的比丘與沙彌都非常尊重與敬仰他。只要某地的在家人一聽說他要來,都歡喜踴躍,並急著向他頂禮表達最深的敬意,阿姜曼與阿姜索以前住在寮國他曲Ban Thum 就是一個最好的例子。就在阿姜曼抵達不久前,整個村落開始感染天花。村民們只要一看到阿姜曼的到來,心中的喜悅便克服了病痛,都從家裡跑出來歡迎他並求他留下來庇蔭他們。阿姜曼引導村民皈依佛、法、僧,取代了整個村落過去一向所信仰的神明。他引導他們從事正確的修行,例如每日頂禮佛陀,並早晚課誦經文,而他們也非常樂於遵循他的教導。至於阿姜曼,他施展了一種內在心靈祝福力量幫助他們;結果也見證到了神奇與奇蹟。在他抵達之前,每一天都有很多的人死於天花。但自從他來了以後,就不再有人死亡;而那些感染天花的病患也都很快地康復。不僅如此,也不再發生其他新的疾病,這使得從未見過或想像過有如此奇蹟逆轉的村民,都感到驚訝不已。結果,當地社區對阿姜曼產生了極大的信心與敬愛,一代傳一代,迄今未減。這包括當地很敬愛阿姜曼的現今僧團住持,每一次他提到阿姜曼前總是會先合掌表示敬意。

        像這一類的事件很可能是阿姜曼運用了心中「法」的力量,從心間散射出來,給世界帶來安樂與幸福。阿姜曼說他每天會撥出三個時段散射慈心給一切的有情眾生,他會在中午靜坐時、在傍晚休息前及早上起床後。除此之外,在白天時他也會多次針對某些特定需要幫助的人群散射慈心。當他向十方世界散射慈愛時,他的作法是將心向內專注[1],然後以該點為中心,將心的念波擴散瀰漫到整個世界,至上、至下,乃至十方,沒有阻礙。那時,他的心產生了能普照整個世界的璀璨光輝:這種光是無限的、遍滿一切、比一千個太陽更加的明亮耀眼 —— 因為這世上再也沒有比一顆完全清淨的心還要光明的東西,從這般純淨的心所散發出的獨特屬性照亮了整個世界,並以一種難以言喻及奇妙的方式使世界沈浸在祥和之中。一顆完全沒有雜染的心,具有「法」的清涼、祥和的特質;一個慈悲、善良、有絕對清淨心的比丘,不論他身在何處,都可預期會受到天神與人類的保護及敬愛;而動物世界裡的眾生在他面前也不會感到畏懼或危險。他的心持續平等無私地散發著溫柔的慈愛給一切蒼生 —— 恰似雨水平等地落在山丘及山谷之上。
 


[1] 指「置心一處」,「心守一處」,「繫念在前」。

                    

Earlier, before Ãcariya Mun and Ãcariya Sao began wandering through the region to enlighten people about the nature of moral virtue and to explain the consequences of their actions and beliefs, the worship of spirits and ghosts had become endemic in the Northeast and a common aspect of everyday village life. Whether it was planting the rice, putting in a garden, building a house, or making a shed, an auspicious day, month, and year had to be determined for the start of every endeavor. Before any type of work could begin, propitiatory offerings were routinely made to placate the local spirits. Should those ritual offerings be neglected, then the least untoward thing a common cold or a sneeze was attributed to incurring the disfavor of the spirits. A local spirit doctor was then called in to divine the cause and pacify the offended spirit. Doctors in those days were much smarter than they are today: they unhesitatingly declared that this spirit, or that ghost, had been wronged, claiming that a certain offering or sacrifice would cure everything. Even if the supplicant was hacking and sneezing long after offering the prescribed oblation, it made no difference. Back then, if the doctor declared you cured, you were, and you felt relieved despite the symptoms. This is the reason I can so boldly assert that both the doctors and the patients of that era were very smart: whatever the doctor declared was final, and the patient accepted it without reservation. It was unnecessary to search for medical cures, since the spirit doctor and his ghosts could cure everything.

Later when Ãcariya Mun and Ãcariya Sao passed through these areas, reasoning with local inhabitants, and explaining the principles of truth, their preoccupation with the power of spirits and the agency of spirit doctors gradually waned. Today it has virtually disappeared. Even many of the spirit doctors themselves began taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha in place of the various spirits and ghosts they had been worshipping. Nowadays, hardly anyone engages in such occult practices. Traveling from village to village in the Northeast today, we no longer have to tread our way through offerings laid out for the spirits as we did in the past. Except for the odd group here or there, spirit worship is no longer an issue in peoples lives. Its truly a blessing for this region that people no longer have to live their whole lives clinging to these beliefs. The people of the Northeast have long since transferred their faith and allegiance to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, thanks largely to the compassionate efforts of Ãcariya Mun and Ãcariya Sao to whom we all owe an immense debt of gratitude.

DURING HIS TIME IN THE REGION, Ãcariya Mun taught the local people, applying all his strength and ability to render them as decent human beings. He passed through some villages where the local wise men asked him questions. They asked questions such as: Do ghosts really exist? Where do human beings come from? What is it that causes sexual attraction between men and women, since theyve never been taught this? Why are male and female animals of the same species attracted to one another? From where did humans and animals learn this mutual attraction? Though I cant recall all the questions he was asked, these I do remember. I accept blame for any inaccuracies in what is recorded here as my memory has always been somewhat faulty. Even recalling my own words and other personal matters, I cannot avoid making mistakes; so my recollection of Ãcariya Muns stories is bound to be incomplete.

To the question Do ghosts really exist? Ãcariya Muns reply was: If something truly exists in the world, whether a spirit or anything else, it simply exists as it is. Its existence does not depend on the belief or disbelief of anyone. People may say that something exists or doesnt exist, but whether that thing actually exists or not is dependent entirely on its own nature. Its state does not alter according to what people imagine it to be. The same principle applies to ghosts, which people everywhere are skeptical about. In reality, those ghosts that frighten and torment people are actually creations of their own minds. Theyve come to believe that, here and there, dwell ghosts that will harm them. This in turn causes fear and discomfort to arise in them. Ordinarily, if a person doesnt mentally conjure up the idea of ghosts, he doesnt suffer from a fear of them. In a majority of cases, ghosts are just mental images created by those who tend to be afraid of them. As to whether there really are such things as ghosts in the world even if I were to say that they do exist, there is still not enough proof to make skeptics into believers, since people have a natural tendency to deny the truth. Even when a thief is caught red-handed with stolen articles, he will often refuse to admit the truth. More than that, hell fabricate an alibi to get himself off the hook and deny any wrongdoing. He may be forced to accept punishment due to the weight of the evidence against him; but, he will still continue to protest his innocence. When he is imprisoned and someone asks him what he did wrong to deserve that punishment, he will quickly answer that he was accused of stealing, but insist that he never did it. It is rare for such a person to own up to the truth. Generally speaking, people everywhere have much the same attitude.

To the question Where do human beings come from? Ãcariya Muns reply was:All human beings have a mother and father who gave birth to them. Even you yourself were not born miraculously from a hollow tree. We all obviously have parents who gave birth to us and raised us, so this question is hardly an appropriate one. Were I to say that human beings are born of ignorance and craving, this would cause more confusion and misunderstanding than if I gave no answer at all. People have no knowledge whatsoever of what ignorance and craving are, although they are present there in everyone except, of course, in the Arahants. The trouble is people are not interested enough to make the necessary effort for understanding these things, so that leaves the obvious answer: we are born of our parents. This then opens me up to the criticism that Ive answered too briefly. But it is hard to give a reply which goes to the truth of the matter, when the one asking the question is not really much interested in the truth to begin with. The Lord Buddha taught that both people and animals are born of avijjã paccaya sankhãra samudayo hoti. The ceasing of birth, which is the cessation of all dukkha, stems from avijjãya tveva asesavirãga nirodhã sankhãrã nirodho nirodho hoti. This condition is inherent within the heart of each and every person who has kilesas. Once the truth has been accepted, it becomes clear that its just this which leads to birth as a human being or an animal until the world becomes so crowded one can hardly find a place to live. The primary cause is just this ignorance and insatiable craving. Though we havent even died yet, we are already searching for a place to be born into where we can carry on living an attitude of mind that leads human beings and animals all over the world to birth and constant suffering. Anyone wishing to know the truth should take a look at the citta thats full of the kind of kilesas which are frantically looking to affirm birth and life at all times. That person will undoubtedly find what hes looking for without having to ask anyone else. Such questions merely display a level of ignorance that indicates the inquirer is still spiritually inadequate. The citta tends to be the most unruly, conceited thing in the world. If no interest is taken in reigning it in, we will never become aware of how really stubborn it is, and all our noble hopes and aspirations will come to nothing.

What is it that causes the sexual attraction between men and women and animals of the same species, since theyve never been taught this? Ãcariya Mun replied:Rãgataõhã is not to be found in any book, nor is it learned in school from a teacher. Rather, rãgataõhã is a stubbornly shameless condition that arises and exists in the hearts of men and women, causing those who have this vulgar condition to come under its spell and become vulgar themselves without ever realizing whats happening. Rãgataõhã makes no distinction between man, woman, or animal, nationality, social status or age group. If it is strong it can easily cause disaster in the world. If there is insufficient presence of mind to restrain it and keep it within acceptable limits, sexual craving will become like runaway floodwater, overflowing the banks of the heart and spreading out to flood towns and cities, leaving ruin everywhere in its wake. Such a condition has always been able to thrive within the hearts of all living beings precisely because it receives constant nourishment and support things which give it the strength to assert its suffocating influence continuously, sowing havoc and causing misery throughout the world. We hear only about floods occurring in towns and cities, and how they cause destruction to people and their belongings. No one is interested in noticing the flood of rãgataõhã engulfing the hearts of people who are quite content to let themselves and their belongings be ravaged by those surging floodwaters all year round. Consequently, no one understands the real reason for the on-going deterioration of world affairs because each and every person is contributing to and encouraging this situation by failing to recognize that rãgataõhã is directly responsible for the worsening situation. If we do not focus our attention on the real cause, it will be impossible for us to find any genuine sense of contentment.

The original question asked only about that aspect of rãgataõhã concerning the attraction between people, completely ignoring the destruction instigated by rãgataõhã through hatred and anger. But in his explanation Ãcariya Mun touched on the full range of detrimental results stemming from rãgataõhã. He said that it is rãgataõhã which dictates the passionate urges of men, women, and all the animals, facilitating the pleasure they find in each others company this is a principle of nature. Nothing other than this gives rise to mutual affection and mutual animosity. When rãgataõhã uses its deceptive tricks for passionate ends, people fall in love. When it uses its deceptive tricks to bring forth hatred and anger, they inevitably hate, get angry, and harm each other. Should it wish to control people using love as a means, then people become so attracted to one another that theres no separating them. Should it wish those same people to fall under the influence of hatred and anger, then theyll feel an irresistible urge to do just that.

Ãcariya Mun asked the lay people present: Havent you ever quarreled among yourselves? You husbands and wives who have been in love since before you were married? You asked me about it, but you should know a lot more about this matter than a monk does. To this they replied: Yes, weve quarreled until we are sick of it and never want to again, but still we have another argument.

Ãcariya Mun then continued: You see, this is the very nature of the world: one moment theres affection, another moment theres friction, anger, and hatred. Even though you know it to be wrong, its hard to correct. Have you ever seriously tried to correct this problem? If so, it shouldnt happen very often. Even a minimum effort should be enough to keep it under control. Otherwise, its like eating three meals a day: in the morning you quarrel, in the afternoon you quarrel, and in the evening you quarrel regularly around the clock. Some people even end up in divorce, allowing their children to become caught up in the conflagration as well. They are innocent, yet they too must bear the burden of that bad kamma. Everyone is affected by this blazing fire: friends and acquaintances keep their distance due to the shame of it all. Assuming both parties are interested in settling the issue, they should be aware that an argument is a bad thing, stop as soon as it starts, and make an effort to correct it at that point. The matter can then sort itself out so that in the future such problems dont recur. For instance, when anger or aversion arises, first, think of the past you have shared together; and then, think of the future you will share living together for the rest of your lives. Now compare this to the malice thats just arisen. That should be enough to lay the matter to rest.

Mostly, people who go astray do so because they insist on having their own way. Without considering whether theyre right or wrong, they want to personally dominate everybody else in the family something which just isnt possible to achieve. Such arrogance spreads and rages, singeing others until everyone is scarred. Even worse, they want to exert their influence over everyone else in the world, which is as impossible as trying to hold back the ocean with your hands. Such thoughts and actions should be strictly avoided. If you persist in them, they will bring your own downfall. People living together must adhere to and be guided by equitable standards of behavior when dealing with their husbands, wives, children, servants, or co-workers. This means interacting with them in a reasonable, harmonious way. Should others not accept the truth, it is they who are at fault for being so unreasonable, and it is they who will pay the price not those who adhere firmly to guiding principles.

ON THOSE OCCASIONS when Ãcariya Mun had to teach large numbers of lay supporters, as well as the monks living with him, he would allot separate times for giving instructions. He instructed the laity from four to five p.m. He taught the monks and novices from seven p.m. onwards, at the end of which they returned to their huts to practice meditation. He tended to follow this routine on his first and second tours of the Northeast. On his third and final trip, after returning from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani, he changed this routine considerably. Rather than disrupt the sequence of events, I shall explain the adjustments he made later.

Ãcariya Muns chief concern was teaching monks and novices. He took a special interest in those students experiencing various insights in their meditation by calling them in for a personal interview. Its quite normal for those practicing meditation to have varying characters and temperaments, so the types of insights arising from their practice will vary accordingly although the resulting cool, calm sense of happiness will be the same. Differences occur in the practical methods they employ and in the nature of insights that arise during meditation. Some meditators are inclined to know only things existing exclusively within their own minds. Others tend to know things of a more external nature such as visions of ghosts or devas, or visions of people and animals dying right in front of them. They may see a corpse carried along and then dumped right in front of them or they may have a vision of their own body lying dead before them. All such experiences are beyond the capability of beginning meditators to handle correctly with any certainty, since the beginner is unable to distinguish between what is real and what is not. People who are not inclined to analyze their experiences carefully may come to a wrong understanding, believing what they see to be genuine. This could increase the likelihood of psychological damage in the future. The type of person whose citta tends to go out to perceive external phenomena when it converges into a state of calm is quite rare at most, about one in twenty people. But, there will always be someone in whom this occurs. It is crucial that they receive advice from a meditation master with expertise in these matters.

Listening to dhutanga monks as they relate their meditation results to Ãcariya Mun, and hearing him give advice on ways to deal with their experiences was so moving and inspirational that everyone present became thoroughly absorbed in it. In explaining the proper method for dealing with visions, Ãcariya Mun categorized different types of nimittas and explained in great detail how each type should be handled. The monks who listened were delighted by the Dhamma he presented, and so gained confidence, resolving to develop themselves even further. Even those who did not experience external visions were encouraged by what they heard. Sometimes the monks told Ãcariya Mun how they had achieved a state of serene happiness when their hearts converged into a state of calm, explaining the methods they had used. Even those who were as yet unable to attain such levels became motivated to try or to even surpass them. Hearing these discussions was a joyous experience, both for those who were already well developed and those who were still struggling in their practice.

When the citta converged into calm, some monks traveled psychically to the heavenly realms, touring celestial mansions until dawn; and only then did the citta return to the physical body and regain normal consciousness. Others traveled to the realms of hell and were dismayed by the pitiful condition of the beings they saw, enduring the results of their kamma. Some visited both the heavenly abodes and the hells to observe the great differences between them: one realm was blessed with joy and bliss while the other was in the depths of despair, the beings there tormented by a punishment that seemed to have no end. Some monks received visits from ethereal beings from various planes of existence the heavens, for instance, or the terrestrial devas. Others simply experienced the varying degrees of calm and happiness coming from the attainment of samãdhi. Some investigated, using wisdom to divide the body into different sections, dissecting each section to bits, piece by piece, then reducing the whole lot to its original elemental state. There were those who were just beginning their training, struggling as a child does when it first learns to walk. Some could not make the citta attain the concentrated state of calm they desired and wept at their own incompetence; and some wept from deep joy and wonder upon hearing Ãcariya Mun discuss states of Dhamma they themselves had experienced. There were also those who were simply like a ladle in a pot of stew: although submerged there, it doesnt know the taste of the stew, and even manages to get in the cooks way. This is quite normal when many different people are living together. Inevitably, both the good and the bad are mixed in together. A person having effective mindfulness and wisdom will choose to keep only those lessons which are deemed to be really useful lessons essential to skillful practice. I regret I cannot guarantee my own skillfulness in this matter. In fact, its a problem we all face occasionally, so lets pass on and not worry about it.

On his second trip, Ãcariya Mun remained teaching in the Northeast for many years. Normally, he did not remain in the same place for more than a single rains retreat. When the rainy season was over, he wandered freely in the mountains and forests like a bird burdened only by its wings, contented to fly wherever it wishes. No matter where it lands in its search for food a tree, a pond, or a marsh it is satisfied and simply leaves all behind to fly off with no lingering attachment. It doesnt think that the trees, bark, fruit, ponds, or marshes belong to it. Like a bird, the monk who practices Dhamma, living in the forest, leads a life of contentment. But its not easy to do, for people are social animals who enjoy living together and are attached to their homes and property. Initially, he feels a lot of resistance going out and living alone as Ãcariya Mun did all his life. It is sort of like a land animal being dragged into the water. Once his heart has become closely integrated with Dhamma, however, the opposite is true: he enjoys traveling by himself and living alone. His daily routine in every posture(姿勢?心境?) remains entirely his own, his heart unencumbered by disturbing preoccupations. That leaves Dhamma as his preoccupation and Dhamma promotes only contentment. The monk who is occupied solely with Dhamma has a heart thats cheerful and wonderfully content. He is free from the kind of hindrances which cause dullness or confusion; he is empty of all defiling preoccupations. He basks in a full-fledged, natural inner peace, never having to worry that it might alter or diminish in any way. This is known as akãlika Dhamma: Dhamma which exists beyond space and time. It exists in the heart that has completely transcended conventional reality,20 the source of all deception. Ãcariya Mun was one well-gone;21 one completely contented in all his activities. Coming and going, sitting, standing, walking, or lying down he remained completely contented. Although he led his disciples along this path, relatively few of the monks reached a high level of Dhamma. Yet even this small number is of great benefit to people everywhere.

WHEN ÃCARIYA MUN led his disciples on almsround he took various animals along the way as objects of contemplation, and combining them with his inner Dhamma, he skillfully taught the monks who were with him. They clearly heard his every word. This was his way of teaching his disciples to be aware about the laws of kamma, in that even animals must receive the results of their actions. He would just point out an animal they came across as an example. Ãcariya Mun insisted that animals should not be looked down upon for their lowly birth. In truth, animals have reached their time in the perpetual cycle of birth and death, experiencing the results of a past kamma. So it is with human birth as well. In fact, both animal life and human life consist of a mixture of pleasure and pain, each living according to the consequences of their own individual kamma. In one respect, Ãcariya Mun brought up the subject of animals such as chickens, dogs, or cattle simply out of compassion for their plight. In another respect, he wanted to make others understand the variations in the consequences of kamma, indicating that just as we have been brought to human birth by certain types of kamma we too have passed through uncountable previous births of all sorts. Finally, he reflected aloud upon the very mysterious nature of those things that are responsible for birth as an animal things that are difficult to fathom despite their presence in everyone. If we are unskillful in solving these problems, they will always be a danger to us, and we will never find a way to go beyond them. On almost every almsround Ãcariya Mun spoke in this manner about the animals or the people whom he encountered along the way. Those who were interested in investigating these themes stimulated their mindfulness and wisdom, gaining useful ideas from him in this way. As to those who were not interested, they did not gain any benefit. Some probably wondered who he was talking about, since the monks had moved on by then and the animals he spoke about were no longer present.

IN SOME OF THE NORTHEAST PROVINCES, Ãcariya Mun would give Dhamma instructions to the monks late at night on special occasions. Visible to Ãcariya Mun, terrestrial devas gathered at a respectful distance and listened to his talks. Once he became aware of them he called off the meeting and quickly entered samãdhi, where he talked privately to the devas. Their reticence on those occasions was due to the profound respect they had for monks. Ãcariya Mun explained that devas of all levels were careful to avoid passing by the monks dwellings on the way to see him late at night. Upon arriving they circled around Ãcariya Mun three times before sitting down in an orderly fashion. Then the leader devas of every plane have a leader whom they obey with great deference would announce the realm from which they came and the aspect of Dhamma to which they wished to listen. Ãcariya Mun would return their greetings and then focus his citta on that aspect of Dhamma requested by the devas. As this Dhamma arose within, he began the talk. When they had comprehended the Dhamma that he delivered, they all said sãdhu three times, a sound that echoed throughout the spiritual universe. This exclamation was heard by everyone with celestial hearing, but not by those whose ears were like the handles on a pot of soup.

When his discourse on Dhamma ended, the devas again circumambulated him three times, keeping him on their right, and then returned to their realms in an elegant fashion very different from we humans. Not even Ãcariya Mun and his monks could emulate their graceful movements; for theres a great difference between the grossness of our bodies and the subtle refinement of theirs. As soon as the deva guests retreated to the edge of the monks area, they floated up into the air like pieces of fluff blown by the wind. On each visit they descended in the same manner, arriving outside the monks living area and then walking the remainder of the way. Always very graceful in their movements, they never spoke making a lot of noise the way humans do when going to see an ãcariya they revere. This is probably due to the refined nature of their celestial bodies, which restrict them from behaving in such a gross manner. Here is an area in which human beings can be considered superior to devas talking loudly. Devas are always very composed when listening to Dhamma, never fidgeting restlessly or showing any conceit that could disturb the speaking monk.

Ãcariya Mun usually knew beforehand when the devas would be arriving. For instance, if they were planning to come at midnight, by early evening he was aware of it. On some occasions he had to cancel a scheduled meeting with the monks for that evening. At the appropriate hour Ãcariya Mun left his walking meditation path and sat entering samãdhi until the time approached for the devas to come. He then withdrew his citta up to the access level, sending out the flow of his citta to see if they had arrived. If they had yet to arrive, he continued with his samãdhi practice before sending his citta out again to check. Sometimes, the devas had already arrived or were just in the process of arriving. At other times, he had to wait, continuing his samãdhi practice for some time before they came. On rare occasions, when he knew that they would be arriving late like at one, two, or three a.m. he would practice for a while and then take a rest, getting up to ready himself just before the devas were expected to arrive.

Gatherings of devas who came to see Ãcariya Mun did not happen very often nor in very large numbers while he lived in the Northeast. They came only infrequently to listen in on his talks to the monks. But when they did, he would dismiss the monks as soon as he became aware of their presence, entering quickly into samãdhi to expound on Dhamma for the devas benefit. After he finished and the devas had departed, he would lie down to rest, arising in the morning as usual to continue his normal routine of practice. Ãcariya Mun considered receiving devas a special responsibility. Since honoring ones promises is very important to them, he was always careful to be punctual. They were likely to be critical of a monk who missed an appointment unnecessarily.

Discussions between devas and monks are carried on entirely in the universal language of the heart, bypassing the multitude of conventional languages used by human beings and other types of animals. Arising from the citta, the substance of the inquiries turns into questions in the language of the heart which the inquiring individual clearly understands as if they were words in conventional language. Each word or phrase of the respondent emanates directly from the heart, so the questioner in turn understands the reply perfectly well. In fact, the language of the heart directly conveys the true feelings of the speaker, eliminating the need for explanations to clarify further, as might be required in conventional languages. Verbal communication is also a mechanism of the heart; but, its nature is such that spoken words often do not reflect the hearts true feelings, so mistakes are easily made in communicating its true intent. This incongruity will remain so long as conventional language is used as a surrogate medium for the hearts expression. Since people are unfamiliar with the language of the heart, their hearts cannot avoid using normal speech as a mechanism to facilitate communication, even though its not very accurate in expressing the hearts true meaning. There is no possible way to solve this common dilemma unless people learn the hearts own language and expose its mysteries. Ãcariya Mun was extremely proficient in all matters pertaining to the heart, including the skills needed to train others to become good people. The rest of us, though we are quite capable of thinking of these things for ourselves, insist on going around borrowing from others. That is, we tend to constantly travel from place to place studying under one teacher and then another. Even then, we fail to properly safeguard what weve learned, letting it slip through our grasp by forgetting what the teacher said. Thus we are left virtually empty-handed. The things we do not forget or let drop are our habitual failings: a lack of mindfulness, wisdom, and contemplative skill. Lacking the very qualities of Dhamma which instill a sense of hope in our lives, we are constantly disappointed in whatever we do in life.

ÃCARIYA MUNS OWN MEDITATION practice, as well as his teaching duties, continued to progress smoothly, any undue disturbances having long since passed. Wherever he went he brought a refreshing calm and serenity with him. Monks and novices everywhere respected and revered him. As soon as the laity in an area heard of his arrival, they were delighted and rushed to pay him their respects with heart-felt devotion. A case in point is Ban Thum village in the district of Tha Khek where both Ãcariya Mun and Ãcariya Sao resided at one time or another. Shortly before Ãcariya Mun arrived, the entire village began suffering from smallpox. The villagers were overcome with joy at the sight of Ãcariya Muns arrival, running out of their homes to welcome him and begging him to remain as their refuge. So in place of the spirits the whole village had been worshipping, Ãcariya Mun had them take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. He guided them in the correct way to practice, such as paying daily homage to the Buddha and performing morning and evening chanting, and they gladly followed his instructions. As for Ãcariya Mun, he performed a kind of internal spiritual blessing to help them; and the results were strange and marvelous to witness. Before his arrival, many people died each day from the smallpox. But from his arrival onwards, no one else died; and those who were infected quickly recovered. More than that, no new instances of the disease occurred, which astounded the villagers who had never seen or imagined such a miraculous reversal of circumstances. As a result, the community developed enormous faith in and devotion to Ãcariya Mun which have persisted undiminished through each generation to the present day. This includes the local monasterys present-day abbot, who has a deep respect for Ãcariya Mun. He always raises his joined palms in homage before beginning to speak about him.

Incidents such as this were made possible by the power of Dhamma in Ãcariya Muns heart which radiated forth to give comfort and happiness to the world. Ãcariya Mun said that he set aside three times each day to extend loving kindness to all living beings. He would do this while sitting in meditation at midday, before retiring in the evening, and after rising in the morning. In addition to that, there were many times during the day when he sent loving kindness out specifically to certain individuals. When radiating all-encompassing loving kindness, he did so by focusing his citta exclusively inward and then directing the flow of his citta to permeate throughout all the worlds, both above and below, in all directions without interruption. At that time his citta had the power to extend its aura of brilliance to all worlds: limitless, all-pervasive, and brighter than a thousand suns for there is nothing brighter than a heart thats entirely pure. The unique properties emanating from a citta of such purity brighten the world and imbue it with peacefulness in an indescribable and wondrous way. A citta having absolutely no impurities possesses only the cool, peaceful qualities of Dhamma. A compassionate, kindhearted monk with an absolutely pure heart can expect protection and reverential devotion from people and devas wherever he stays, while members of the animal kingdom feel no fear or danger in his presence. His citta constantly sends forth a gentle compassion to all beings everywhere without bias much like rain falling evenly over hills and valleys alike.