阿 姜 曼 正 傳 

 

第二章第九節:無懈可擊的人

       

               

             

第二章第九節:無懈可擊的人

    當一群天神來參訪阿姜曼的時候,又發生了另一起神秘事件。天神的領袖開始與他對話,表示:「您於此處的停留,帶給了所有的天神相當多的喜悅。由於您無遠弗屆的慈心光環,瀰漫籠罩著整個地球與天界,我們都非常享受這份極大的幸福。您散放出的光環難以形容地美好,且無與倫比。也因此,我們總能知道您在什麼地方。您所散發出「法」的氛圍遍及十方。當您教導比丘、沙彌和在家眾時,你的聲音也會穿越整個地居天與空居天,產生出無邊無盡的共鳴。除非是已死去的天神,不然的話所有的天神都能聽得見您的聲音。」我會寫下更多關於阿姜曼與這位天神之間的對話。雖然我無法保證它真實無誤,但這些內容都是我從可靠的來源那裡聽來的。阿姜曼用以下的問題與天神展開了對話:「如果我的聲音真像你說的那樣在天地間產生共鳴,那麼為什麼人類卻聽不到?」

        天神的領袖回答:「人類怎麼可能會了解道德戒律?他們一點都不關心這些。他們只會以自己的六根去造惡業,從自身不斷生出地獄業果的因緣。他們打從出生到死亡的那一天都是這樣。當他們身為人類時,一點不關心他們應該奉行的道德。事實上,只有極少數的人會有興趣以道德利他的方式來使用他們的感官,在他們一生中所累積的道德數量實在太有限了。可以這樣子類比:人類壽命的十倍甚至百倍,都比不上一般的天神 —— 就更不用說那些壽命極長的梵天神brahmā了。人類的總人口數極為龐大,這反而意味著無數的輕忽放逸,因為會注意的人少之又少。人類都應該要護法,卻鮮有人知道佛法與道德的珍貴。」

        「惡人只知道造孽,他們之所以會被稱為人是僅因他們會呼吸。一旦他們停止呼吸,他們就會立刻淹沒在自己的惡業下。我們天神能了解這些,為何人類不行?這根本就不是秘密。當有人過世時,比丘就會被邀請去為死者唸誦《吉祥經》。但一個作惡多端的人在那個時候又怎麼會去聽呢?在死亡最初的那一瞬間,他的心識就已被自己的惡業緊緊地捆綁住,他又怎麼可能去聽法呢?就算他在世的時候也不會對佛法感興趣。只有活著的人才能聽法 —— 如果他們有興趣與渴望的話,但很明顯他們並不感興趣。難道您沒有發現當比丘在誦經時他們可曾表現出感興趣的樣子?因為他們沒有興趣,所以佛法並沒有真正嵌入他們的心中。他們最迷戀的東西,就連一些動物也都會感到骯髒與厭惡,這些都是不道德的人最喜歡享受的事物,而且從不會感到厭倦。就算他們瀕臨死亡,仍熱衷於這一類的事情。我們天神對人類的了解遠勝於人類對我們的了解。而您,尊者,是一位非常特別的比丘。您非常了解人類、天神、地獄的眾生與所有的眾生,而這也是為什麼諸神都向您頂禮的原因。」

        當天神說完後,阿姜曼想進一步釐清而問道:「天神都擁有天眼與天耳,能使祂們看到與聽到極遠的事物。天神們比人類更了解人間事件的善與惡,難道你們不能找出一個可以讓人類更能注意到善與惡的方法嗎?我覺得你們比人類的老師更有能力做到這一點,你們有辦法可以做得到嗎?」

        天神回答道:「我們天神已看過許多的人類,但從未見過跟您一樣無懈可擊的人。您一直對天神與人類平等散發著慈悲,也同時熟悉各式各樣從粗糙到最精緻微妙的有情。您已試過去教他們接受有天神以及其他無數確實存在於這個世上眾生的事實。但儘管如此,一代又一代,從生到死,沒有人真的看見過這些眾生。所以他們又怎麼可能會對天神感興趣?至多,他們可能會窺見一些奇怪靈異的事情,但在還沒有仔細搞清楚前,就聲稱他們見鬼了。他們又怎麼可能會從我們天神這裡得到任何有關善與惡的忠告?雖然天神一直都知道人類的存在,但人類對我們天神有關的事卻一點興趣也沒有。這樣您教我們怎樣去教人類呢?這根本就辦不到啊!我們只好讓業力與果報自行運轉,就連我們天神也是不斷承受過往業果。如果真超脫了業力,我們就都到達涅槃了,那麼我們就不用在這些困境中待這麼久了。」

        「你說當已作業耗盡時就可證得涅槃,天神都了解涅槃嗎?天神也會跟其他的眾生一樣去經歷痛苦與折磨嗎?」

        「尊者,我們當然也會經歷這些。歷來出世的諸佛皆毫無例外教導眾生要超脫苦,他們從未教我們要繼續待在苦的泥淖中,但世人卻對他們所喜愛的事物比涅槃還要有興趣。因此,沒有人考慮過想要證得涅槃。所有的天神都會記得並對涅槃的概念印象深刻,因為那是每一尊佛傳授給各處眾生的教導。但天神在擺脫天人之身並趨向涅槃之前,還有濃密的業力羅網必須先處理。只有這樣,所有的問題才會止息,而這種隨業牽引的出生、死亡與再生的輪迴,也都終將停止。」

        「是否有許多的比丘能與你們天神溝通?」

        「只有一些可以,但不是很多。他們大部分都是像您一樣住在山林裡喜歡修行的比丘。」

        「是否有在家人也具備這種能力?」

        「有一些,但非常的少。他們必須求法若渴,並依法修行,直到他們的心變得明亮與清晰。只有這樣,他們才能感應到我們的存在。天神的身體構造對祂們自己而言都相對粗糙易見,但對一般人而言仍是太過精緻微妙而無法察覺。所以只有內心明亮清晰的人才有辦法感應到天神。」

        「經典中說天神因人類令人反感的惡臭而不喜歡接近人類。這種令人討厭的惡臭到底是什麼?如果真有這種惡臭,為什麼你們卻常常來拜訪我?」

        「有高道德標準的人類就不會那麼令我們反感,這種人都有會激發我們去尊敬他們的芬芳;所以我們對你的說法從未感到厭煩。那些,會發出令人作噁氣味的人,都是些道德淪喪的人,因為他們厭惡道德,即便道德被公認是三界非常好的東西。他們反而喜愛那些高道德標準的人所厭惡的事情。我們一點都不想接近這種人,他們真的令人作嘔並臭氣四溢。天神其實並不厭惡人類,但只要一接觸人類就會經歷到這些事情!」

        當阿姜曼敘述有關天神或其他種類的神靈時,比丘們都聽到入迷了:他們都渾然忘我,也忘了流逝的時間與一天的疲勞。他們希望,也許有一天他們自己也能親自體驗到這些事情;而這份希望也讓他們樂於修行。這也是阿姜曼講述關於他自己或其他人的前世經歷時所發生的情況,聽眾們都很熱切想知道自己的前世,卻忘了該超脫苦並取證涅槃。有時候比丘會很驚訝地發現自己的「心」已走偏了,並告誡自己:「嘿,我快要瘋了!我竟然沒有思惟如何解脫苦,反而卻在追逐過往已不復存在的幻影。」這樣,他又會重新恢復正念一段時間,但很快又會再度溜走,回到同樣的思惟。因此,許多比丘發現實在有必要定期自我反省。

        阿姜曼有關天神與其他來訪神靈的故事都相當地吸引人。特別是,他提到在鬼道裡也有像人間一樣的流氓或黑道(惡靈、邪魔厲鬼)。這些心性邪惡並造成混亂的邪靈一樣會被逮捕,並關在我們人類稱作是「監獄」的一個地方。不同種類的罪犯會被關在不同的牢房裡,這些牢房都已「鬼」滿為患。有男的猛鬼與女的猛鬼,牠們都是非常殘忍凶猛一類的厲鬼,而且不分男女。阿姜曼說,從牠們眼中露出的殘酷無情便可清楚看出牠們是不會回應任何的慈悲或善意。

        鬼眾就如同人類一般,也住在城市裡。大城市裡也住著監督管理眾鬼的鬼王。有相當多的鬼,秉性很正直善良,因此贏得眾鬼及惡鬼們一致的敬重。眾鬼都由衷敬畏那些神通廣大與法力高強的鬼神,這不僅僅是一種逢迎諂媚,而是自然法則使然。阿姜曼總說邪不勝正,而他在鬼界中的見聞更印證了這件事。有累積善業的眾生因他們其他的惡業成熟,仍會投生到鬼道;但,他們善良正直的個性卻未曾改變,所以他們在鬼界擁有極大的權柄,這樣的鬼甚至能治理一大群的鬼眾。這些鬼眾的社會並不像人類的社會一樣被分類或有種姓階級制度,牠們反而嚴格遵循業力法則的權柄。牠們的業力使得牠們不會像人類那樣有偏見,牠們的存在本質上是由牠們的業果所掌控 —— 這是不變的原則。因此,我們在世上使用權力的方式,就無法在牠們的世界中適用。阿姜曼曾詳細解釋過這些事情,但很抱歉我記得的並不多。

        阿姜曼是透過禪定以「意生身」[1]去探訪眾鬼。當鬼眾一看見他,就會像人類一樣趕緊告訴大家來頂禮他。鬼界的鬼王非常尊敬阿姜曼,並對他有淨信。祂帶領阿姜曼參觀鬼眾所居住的各處,包括關著男女惡鬼的「監獄」。鬼王對阿姜曼解釋各種不同種類的鬼的生活狀況,並指出那些被關的鬼都有敵意,並過分騷擾他人的安寧。牠們依照各自罪刑的嚴重程度而受到監禁。人類創造出「鬼」這個字眼來稱呼牠們,但事實上牠們就如同其他的有情一般,是以牠們天生的條件真實地生活在這個宇宙之中。

        阿姜曼總喜歡在山林中住上一段很長的時間,他在那空帕農府指導比丘一段時間後,開始必須思考他自己的處境。他經常想到自己的禪修,他知道他仍缺少足夠的決心來完成在他眼前的最後任務。很明顯,只要他繼續抗拒這個呼喚並持續教導弟子,他自己個人的努力就一定會被耽誤。他說,打從他為了指導在東北部的比丘而從中央平原回來後,他就覺得他的「心」進展得比他獨居時還要來得慢。他覺得在達到最後的目標前他不得不再加把勁,這樣他就不用再掛念自己的修行進度了。當時,阿姜曼的母親以優婆夷的身分與他一起生活了六年。他對母親的掛念使他不方便去任何的地方。於是,他獲得了她的同意,便決定送她去烏汶府。然後他與母親及弟子們離開了那空帕農府,直接穿越了Nong Sung山區,經過Kham Cha-ee走出山區,到達烏汶府的Lerng Nok Tha那一年,他於烏汶府Amnat Charoen區的Ban Nong Khon結雨安居。在那裡有許多比丘和沙彌與他住在一起,他也很認真指導及訓練他們。當他停留在那裡的時候,有信心並接受他訓練的出家與在家眾人數逐漸增加。

        某天的深夜,阿姜曼在靜坐,他的心入定後便立刻出現了一個影像,影像中許多比丘與沙彌以一種美好、有序且肅穆的方式,恭敬地走在他的身後。然而,有一些比丘卻匆匆從他的身旁過去並走在他的前頭,一點尊重與自律也沒有;其他的人則以毫無紀律的方式拼命找機會超過他。最後,有些比丘竟拿著劈開的竹竿鉗住他的胸口,使他幾乎無法呼吸。當他見到這些比丘不恭敬的行為 —— 甚至是殘暴地折磨他 —— 他更加專注用心去看清未來將發生的事件。隨即,他了解到那些恭敬走在他身後的比丘都將是謹言慎行並忠實將他的教導付諸實踐的比丘,也是尊敬他並護法的比丘,他們能確保佛法在未來興盛。他們在未來能維持佛教的傳統與修行,使自己對佛法與各地的人都能有用處。他們受到的尊敬與榮耀將遍及整個人間乃至天界,他們會依照世尊的傳統教導堅持住佛法的完整性。因此,佛教不會衰落與消失。

        而那些沒有恭敬心並不經意從他身旁走過去的則是自以為是且狂妄自大的人。他們自認他們的禪修比老師的還要優越,無視於他之前指導他們正確修行的事實。他們對他在佛法上的教導毫無感恩之意,因為他們自認精通一切,也因此表現出相應的行為,這種行為不但會毀了自己,也會毀了整個佛教,包括來接受他們指導的人。他們的心將被這種比丘的錯誤所毒害,這些人又反過來傷害自己與他人,包括徒子徒孫,而不會發現自己是否走在正道上。

        再下一組是那些等待機會想要超越他的比丘們所組成的,這象徵著一種惡劣的態度即將展開及並對未來的佛教產生影響。就如同前一組比丘,他們堅持各式各樣錯誤的邪見,對自己與整個佛教都造成傷害。同時,他們對佛教與所有佛教徒的心靈集中都是威脅。因為他們無法正確考慮到自己行為的後果,佛教將陷入完全毀滅的危險中。

        而那些用劈開的竹子夾住阿姜曼胸部的比丘,則是自認見多識廣並從而採取行動的比丘。儘管是錯誤的行為,但他們還是沒有想過自己的行為到底是對還是錯。而且最重要的是,他們一定會造成佛教界以及老師很大的不安。阿姜曼說他很清楚最後一群的比丘有哪些人,而這些人在不久之後就會帶給他麻煩。由於這些人都是他以前的弟子,而且曾得到他的同意與祝福在附近結夏安居,所以他很難過他們會這樣做。他們回來的目的是來擾亂他而不是給予他應有的尊重。

        幾天後,府長與政府官員來到僧團,而這批代表團就是由那一群在他禪境中對他施暴的同一群弟子所陪同。他並沒將禪境中所看到的一切告訴這批官員,而只是很仔細地觀察他們的行為。他們集體請求阿姜曼向當地的人民募款,將籌募所得的金額在當地蓋一些學校,他們解釋這麼做可以幫到政府。由於阿姜曼深受當地人民的愛戴,所以他們一致決議來找阿姜曼商量,尋求他的協助。他們覺得這項計畫如果有他的參與,一定會成功。當阿姜曼一知道他們的目的,便立刻明白這兩名比丘是這次麻煩事件的始作俑者。而這起募款事件就代表禪境中對他的攻擊。後來,他把那兩名比丘給找來,並給予他們適當的教誡,他告訴他們身為一名禪修的佛教比丘,他的生活之道是根植在自我克制與平靜之上。

        這段故事之所以會在這裡重新提起,主要是為了使讀者能瞭解「心」的神秘性:包括能知道明顯的或隱晦的事,以及有關過去、現在及未來的知識,阿姜曼在很多情況下都證實了他具有這種能力。他為人處事超然客觀,想法也從不隱藏任何不可告人的世俗動機。凡他所說過的一切都來自於他的領悟與體證,而他說出來的目的是為了讓大家去思惟。他絕不會去愚弄那些容易輕信的人們,或者造成他們的傷害。

        這裡記錄下來的一切都是阿姜曼只跟親近的核心弟子說過的事 —— 並沒有對其他人說過。因此,作者揭露阿姜曼的事件可能是一種錯誤的決定,但我認為這對那些有興趣的人可提供一些有用的細節。就禪定及超自然神通這兩方面來說,在今日的頭陀比丘中,阿姜曼的經驗在範圍上可說是最寬、也最不可思議。有時候,當環境許可時,他會直接明確說明他的神通。但在其他的時候,他只會間接提及並作為一般教學之用。在沙里卡石窟的那一段期間,他曾以他心通讀取某個老比丘的心思,就因為那一次的經驗,儘管他很熱切想要幫助他的弟子們看到他們自己的不正思惟與邪見,但他對於能窺知他人的心思一事,始終抱持著非常謹慎的態度。

        當他很直接指出某個比丘的不正思惟或某個比丘的正思惟時,對方可能會因他的直率而受到不利的影響,他們往往會誤解他的慈悲而得不到利益,若是因他的話而惱羞成怒便極可能導致有害的惡果。因此,大多數情況下阿姜曼都是以間接的方式來告誡比丘,他擔心犯錯的人會在同儕的面前感到尷尬與恐懼。所以他並沒有指名道姓,只是給予警告,使對方能自我覺醒。但即使如此,有時犯錯的人還是會陷入很嚴重的沮喪,因為他感到自己在集會中受到了公開的譴責。阿姜曼自己也相當清楚這一點,所以不管在任何情況下他都能變通。

        可能有一些讀者對於這邊所寫下的一些事會感到不舒服,我對這一點感到抱歉,但我已正確無誤地記錄關於阿姜曼自述的每一件事。許多在他指導下的上座,都已確認並詳盡敘述了這些經過,也給我們保留下相當多的故事。

        一般來說,外界的感官對象對修行的比丘會造成最大的危險。他們樂於在心中顛倒妄想與異性在色、聲、香、味、觸等身體方面接觸的畫面。雖然他們不是故意要這麼做,但這種傾向早已根深蒂固深植在他們的個性中。不管是直接或間接的指導,這些都一定是阿姜曼的基本教誡。比丘們當然也會有別的想法或念頭,但除非是特別的誇張嚴重,否則他不太會去管它們。

        傍晚的集會顯然是最重要的時刻,阿姜曼會要他的聽眾們保持身心的平靜,當他在說法的時候,他不希望有任何事情打擾他們或他自己,以確保他的弟子們都能從聞法中獲得最大的利益。如果有人在當時放逸,心生邪念,就在他沈溺在邪念時,就會給他閃電般霹靂的一擊(當頭棒喝)。這使得這名膽敢胡思亂想的比丘顫抖不已,並幾乎當場昏厥。雖然阿姜曼沒有指名道姓,但他把胡思亂想的內容給公開,就足以帶給這名犯錯的比丘全身的衝擊。而其他的比丘也會跟著惶恐不安,因為他們深怕自己一個不注意也同樣會淪為妄想下的犧牲品。在他說法的期間,當頭棒喝的聲音持續不斷地響起,他的聽眾都屈服於現場的壓力,聚精會神地端坐,保持警覺。有一些比丘竟然在當時入了甚深的禪定,而那些尚未達到這種境界的比丘也害怕妄念紛飛而被喝斥,因而持續保持平靜與專注 —— 或者該說阿姜曼就像是一隻讓他們害怕的老鷹,冷不防隨時向下俯衝來抓取他們的頭顱。

        就因為這個緣故,與阿姜曼住在一起的比丘在集中心念這一點上,都已經有了很大的進步,基礎也愈來愈穩固。他們與他住得愈久,內外舉止就會與他的互動更和諧。那些與他住上一段相當時間的人,對他活潑的教學方法都心悅誠服。不論在說法期間或平時例行的活動,他們都很有耐心地去瞭解他所使用的靈活方法。他們不厭煩地觀察他,都試著盡可能追趕上他的腳步。他們對「法」的渴望以及各種日常修行的認真,使內心的堅忍每天逐漸增加,直到他們都終於可以獨立。

        至於那些跟他住在一起卻未能證得道果的比丘,通常都是因為花了太多的時間在外界的事務上,而忽略了內心的修持。譬如說,當他們心猿意馬時,他們會怕阿姜曼嚴厲的苛責。當他為此而責備他們的時候,他們又會因為太過於害怕以致於無法像其他人一樣冷靜地思惟如何解決自己的問題。既然都已經跟隨一位優秀的老師修行還因循苟且,實在是很沒有道理的事。他們來到那裡,也住在那裡,卻沒有任何的改變,比如說:他們還是用跟以前一樣的態度聽法,仍陷在跟過去一樣的思惟窠臼裡,在處理每一件事的時候仍不脫無明習氣,以致於阿姜曼根本就沒有機會可以開導他們。當他們離開的時候,就跟他們當初剛來的時候一樣,完全沒有改變。可肯定的是他們的品德並沒有什麼改變,而吞噬他們的惡習卻仍持續累積,未曾削減。因為他們對這些惡習並未感到厭倦,他們只好跟那些不幸的人一樣,找不到正確有效的方法去對抗惡習並扭轉修行的方向。不管他們與阿姜曼住在一起多久,他們仍跟放在一鍋美食中的杓子一樣,永遠不知鍋中美食的滋味如何,卻只能週而復始從一鍋到另一鍋。同理,蘊積了無數的邪惡無明將我們抬起並丟進「苦」的鍋子裡,或是另一個充滿折磨的鍋子裡。毫無疑問的,我自己也是其中的一根杓子,從這一鍋又被丟到另一鍋裡。我想要精進並調御自己的時候,總是會有耳語跟我低喃,叫我放棄,叫我放逸。我想要追隨阿姜曼的足跡,我想要聽他教我的法,並以此模式去思惟。但耳語又再度響起,要我循舊習去思惟及生活,它就是不要我作任何的改變。到最後,我們開始信任起無明,直到很快便失去警覺,在處理每一件事的時候都因循苟且。因此,我們只剩下因循苟且的自己,對於激勵自尊或贏得他人的讚賞這一點,卻沒有任何的改進或進步。習氣對我們每一個人都是極重要的課題,因為它們深植在我們的個性裡。如果我們不好好認真調御自己,去觀察及質疑每一件事,那麼它必將盤根錯節而難以拔除。

        阿姜曼在乾季初的時候與他的母親一起離開了Ban Nong Khon村。他們在每個村落都停留一、兩個晚上,直到他們抵達阿姜曼曾住過的家鄉。在那裡,他教導母親以及村民,直到他們都已無疑惑。然後,他才辭別家人,開始往中部平原的方向行腳。

        他以頭陀比丘特有的那種不疾不徐的方式緩緩地行腳。如果他偶然抵達某一處有充足水源的村落或地方,他就會搭起傘帳,開始平靜地禪修,直到他的身心又重新獲得了能量,才會再度展開旅程。在當時,因為沒有汽車,所以大家都是靠雙腳徒步行走。儘管如此,他說他並沒有時間上的壓力,因為他主要的目的就是禪修,而終日徒步行腳就等於是經行了一整天。他丟下他的弟子獨自一人走到曼谷,就像是象王離開了牠的眷屬獨自到森林裡尋找食物一般。他體驗到一種身心的釋放,猶如將長期以來壓迫在胸間的煩惱刺給拔除。他穿越了原野、梯田區,身心輕盈,全神專注在禪修上。沿路上幾乎沒有可以遮陽的地方,但他毫不理會太陽的灼熱。這樣的狀態讓他覺得長途旅行似乎變得更輕鬆了。他肩上背著缽及傘帳,以及頭陀比丘的一些個人必需用品。雖然它們顯得有些笨重,但他卻一點也不嫌累贅。事實上,由於他卸下了對弟子的掛念而如釋重負,反而覺得像是飄在空中一般。他的出離感是全面性的,他的母親也不再是他的掛念,因為他已盡他所能讓母親達到不動搖的信仰程度。從那時起,他只需為他自己負責。他走路時都思惟著這些事情,一邊也提醒自己不能失去正念。

        他就以這種方式在沒有人潮的路上經行,到了日正當中的午時,天氣相當的炎熱,他才會在森林邊緣找一棵舒適的大樹,在樹蔭底下稍作休息。他就那樣平靜地坐在那裡,在樹蔭底下禪修。到了下午,天氣變得沒有那麼熱,他領悟到一切有為法的固有危險,因此培育一顆清明、覺醒的心,帶著沈穩繼續向前行。他需要的只是旅途中可以提供他每日托缽、有足夠村民的小村落;或者是與村落有適當的距離可方便他落腳及休息的好地方。

        在繼續出發之前,他曾在某個更適合的地方住了一段相當長的時間。阿姜曼曾提過,當他抵達位於北標府(Saraburi)及呵叻之間的Dong Phaya Yen森林時,他發現了許多樹木叢生的山脈,能為「心」帶來特殊的喜樂。他為了強化「心」,便有意延長停留在此地的時間,因為長久以來他渴望能再住在這種與世隔離的山林中。他在離開一處好地方之前,都會決定先留在那裡禪修一陣子,直到該繼續前行的時間已到。他就這樣持續穿越這個區域。他描述當地充滿著有各種動物出沒的森林及山區,他以觀看以下的動物為樂:群鹿、野豬、水鹿、飛狐猴、長臂猿、老虎、大象、猴子、麝貓、野雞、熊、豪豬、樹鼩鼱、地鼠及許多其他各種小動物。這些動物出來找食物的時候,如果正好遇到他經過,也都不會表現出害怕的樣子。那個時代的森林區並沒有任何的村落,就算有住戶,數目也相當的稀少,大約只有三到四戶,而且彼此間相隔甚遠,他們都聚集在一起共同生活。這些居民會在阿姜曼經過的山區邊緣捕獵野生動物,種植稻米及其他穀類。當地的村民對頭陀比丘很虔敬,所以他能夠依靠他們而乞得食物。當他住在那裡的時候,他的修行很順利。因為他們從不會去打擾他或浪費他的時間,他也不與人來往並自給自足,所以一路上,身心方面都毫無阻礙,直到他平安抵達曼谷。

 

[1] 禪定中的心意所化生的身體即俗稱的分身」。

                                                              

An Impeccable Human Being

Another mysterious incident happened when a gathering of devas visited Ãcariya Mun. Their leader began a conversation with him, stating:

“Your stay here has caused much delight in all the devas. We all enjoy an extraordinary sense of happiness due to your all-embracing aura of compassionate love that permeates through the heavens and spreads across the earth. This aura that radiates from you is indescribable and wonderful beyond compare. Because of it, we always know where you are. This aura of Dhamma emanates from you and streams out in all directions. When you are teaching Dhamma to the monks, novices and lay people, even the sound of your voice resonates unbounded through the higher and lower realms. Wherever devas live they hear your voice– only the dead are deaf to it.”

I would like to write a bit more about this conversation between Ãcariya Mun and the deva. Although I cannot vouch for its accuracy, I heard it from a reliable source. Ãcariya Mun took up the conversation with this question: “If my voice really resonates as you say, why don’t human beings hear it as well?”

The leader of the devas replied: “What would humans know about moral virtue? They couldn’t care less. They use their six senses to make evil kamma and create the conditions for hell within themselves all the time. They do this from the day they are born until the day they die. They are not nearly as concerned about moral issues as they ought to be, given their status as human beings. There are very few indeed who are interested in using their senses in any morally beneficial way. The amount of moral virtue in their lives is really quite limited. By way of comparison: in the time that it takes one human being to die and be reborn, repeatedly ten or even one hundred times, the average deva has yet to pass away even once—not to mention the brahma devas who have exceptionally long lives. The population of humankind is vast, and this in turn means a vast amount of negligence, for those who are heedful are few and far between. Mankind is supposed to safeguard the sãsana, and yet people themselves know precious little about the sãsana or moral excellence.

“Bad people know only evil. Their sole claim to being human comes from the fact that they are breathing. As soon as their breathing stops, they are immediately buried under the weight of their own wickedness. The devas know about this. Why shouldn’t they? It’s no secret. When a person dies, monks are invited to chant auspicious verses of Dhamma for the deceased. Why would an evil person listen then? From the initial moment of death, his consciousness is completely bound up by his evil kamma. So what chance would he have to come and listen to Dhamma? Even while alive he wasn’t interested. Only the living can hear Dhamma – if they have the interest and desire. But it’s obvious that they’re not really interested. Haven’t you noticed them? When have they ever shown an interest when the monks chant Dhamma verses? Because they show no interest, it’s obvious that the sãsana is not truly embedded in their hearts. The things that they’re most infatuated with are sordid and disliked even by some animals. These are just the kinds of things that immoral people have always enjoyed more than anything else; and they never ever grow tired of them. Even when they are near death they still hanker after such things. We devas know much more about humans than humans know about devas. You, venerable sir, are a very special monk. You are quite familiar with humans, devas, creatures of hell, and beings of all sorts. That is why devas everywhere pay homage to you.”

When the deva had finished speaking, Ãcariya Mun asked him for clarification: “Devas possess divine sight and divine hearing, enabling them to see and hear over great distances. They know about the good and bad of human affairs better than do humans themselves. Couldn’t you find a way to make humans more aware of right and wrong? I feel that you are more capable of it than we human teachers are. Is there any way you could do this?”

The deva replied:

“We devas have seen many humans, but we have never seen one as impeccable as you, sir. You have always extended loving kindness to devas and humans alike while acquainting them simultaneously with the great variety of beings in existence, from the grossest to the most refined. You have tried to teach them to accept the fact that devas, and countless other spheres of existence, really do exist in this world. But still, generation after generation, from birth to death, people have never actually seen these beings. So what interest would they have in devas? At most, they may catch a glimpse of something strange, and, without considering the matter carefully, claim they have seen a ghost.

How could they possibly hope to receive any advice about matters of good and bad from us devas? Although devas are constantly aware of them, humans aren’t the least interested in knowing anything about us.

By what means would you have us teach people? It’s really a hopeless situation. We just have to let kamma and its results take their course. Even the devas themselves constantly receive the results of their kamma.

Were we free from it, we would all attain Nibbãna. Then we wouldn’t have to remain in this difficult situation so long.”

“You say that one may attain Nibbãna when one’s kamma is exhausted.

Do devas know about Nibbãna? Do they experience pain and suffering like other beings?”

“Why shouldn’t we, venerable sir? All the Buddhas who have come to teach the world have taught without exception that we should transcend dukkha. They never instructed us to remain mired in suffering. But worldly beings are far more interested in their favorite playthings than they are in Nibbãna. Consequently, not one of them ever considBiography ers attaining Nibbãna. All devas remember and are very impressed by the concept of Nibbãna as it was taught by each and every Buddha to living beings everywhere. But devas still have a dense web of kamma to work through before they can move clear of their celestial existence and go the way of Nibbãna. Only then will all problems cease and this oppressive, repetitive cycle of birth, death and rebirth finally come to a halt. But as long as some kamma remains in an individual – be it good kamma or bad kamma – regardless of his realm of existence, dukkha will be present as well.”

“Are many monks able to communicate with devas?”

“There are a few but not many. Mostly, they are monks who like to practice living in the forests and mountains as you do”

“Are there any lay people with this ability?”

“There are some, but very few. They must be people who desire the way of Dhamma and who have practiced the way until their hearts are bright and clear. Only then can they have knowledge of us. The bodily form of celestial beings appears relatively gross to those beings themselves, but is far too subtle for the average human being to perceive.

So only people whose hearts are bright and clear can perceive devas without difficulty.”

“In the scriptures it says that devas do not like to be near humans because of their repugnant smell. What is this repugnant odor? If there is such an odor, why do you all come to visit me so often?”

“Human beings who have a high standard of morality are not repugnant to us. Such people have a fragrance which inspires us to venerate them; so we never tire of coming to hear you discourse on Dhamma.

Those, exuding a repulsive odor, are people whose morality stinks, for they have developed an aversion to moral virtue even though it is considered to be something exceptionally good throughout the three worlds. Instead, they prefer things that are repugnant to everyone with high moral standards. We have no desire to approach such people. They are really offensive and their stench spreads far and wide. It’s not that devas dislike humans; but this is what devas encounter and have always experienced with humans.”

When Ãcariya Mun told stories about devas and other kinds of spirits, the monks were mesmerized: They forgot all about themselves, the passing time, and their feelings of fatigue. They wished that, someday, they also would come to know about such things; and this hope made them happy to practice. This was also the case when Ãcariya Mun thought it necessary to speak of his past lives or the past lives of others. His audience became eager to know about their own past lives and forgot about overcoming dukkha and attaining Nibbãna. Sometimes a monk was startled to find his mind wandering in this way and admonished himself: Hey, I’m starting to get crazy. Instead of thinking about freedom from dukkha, here I am chasing after shadows of a past that’s long gone. In this way he regained his mindfulness for a while, but as soon as it slipped again he would revisit those same thoughts. For this reason, many monks found it necessary to censure themselves on a regular basis.

ÃCARIYA MUNS STORIES about the devas and other visiting spirits were quite fascinating. In particular, he spoke about how the ghost world has its share of hooligans just like we do. Bad characters, who cause disturbances, are rounded up and imprisoned in a place which we humans would call a jail. Different types of offenders are imprisoned in different cell blocks, and all the cells are full. There are male hooligan ghosts and female hooligan ghosts. And then there are the very brutal types, again either male or female. Ãcariya Mun said that it was clear from the cruelty in their eyes that they would not respond to kindness and compassion

Ghosts live in cities, just as we humans do. They have huge cities with leaders who supervise and govern them. Quite a few ghosts are inclined to be virtuous and thus earn high respect from both the ordinary ghosts and the hooligans. It’s natural for all ghosts to stand in genuine awe of those among them who tend to possess great power and authority. This is not merely a matter of flattery. Ãcariya Mun always claimed that the effects of evil are less powerful than the effects of goodness; and what he himself encountered in the ghost cities was further evidence of this. There are beings with accumulated merit who are nonetheless born into the ghost state as a result of their kamma, but, their virtuous characters never change, so they exercise great authority. One such individual is even capable of governing a large community. These ghost communities do not segregate into groups or castes as humans do. Instead, they adhere strictly to the authority of Dhamma principles. The effects of their kamma make it impossible for them to hold the kind of prejudice that people do. The nature of their existence is governed by the nature of their kamma – this is a fixed principle. The way we use authority in this world cannot, therefore, be applied in the world hereafter. Ãcariya Mun explained this matter in great detail but, I’m sorry to say, I can remember only a little of it.

Ãcariya Mun’s visits to the ghosts were done psychically through samãdhi meditation. As soon as they saw him they hurried to tell everyone to come and pay their respects to him, just as we humans would do. The chief ghost, who was very respectful of Ãcariya Mun and had great faith in him, guided him on a tour past the many places where the ghosts lived, including the ‘jail’ where the male and female hooligans were kept. The chief ghost explained to Ãcariya Mun the living conditions of the different types of ghosts, pointing out that the imprisoned ghosts were mean-hearted types who had unduly disturbed the peace of the others. They were sentenced and jailed according to the severity of their offense. The word ‘ghost’ is a designation given to them by humans; but actually they are just one type of living being among others in the universe who exist according to their own natural conditions.

ÃCARIYA MUN INVARIABLY liked to remain in and around mountains and forests for long periods of time. After having been in Nakhon Phanom for quite a while instructing the monks, he began to necessarily consider his own position. He often reflected on the nature of his own practice.

He knew that he still lacked sufficient strength of purpose to finish the ultimate task before him. It became clear that as long as he continued to resist this call and remain teaching his disciples, his own personal striving would be delayed. He said that ever since he had returned from the Central Plains in order to instruct monks in the Northeast, he felt that his citta had not advanced as fast as when he was living alone. He felt that he had to accelerate his efforts once more before he could achieve the final goal and be free of all concerns about himself. At that time, Ãcariya Mun’s mother had been living with him for six years as an upãsikã.36 His concern for her made it inconvenient for him to go anywhere. So, having secured her agreement, he decided to escort her to Ubon Ratchathani. He then left Nakhon Phanom with his mother and a large following of monks and novices, cutting straight across the Nong Sung mountains, through Kham Cha-ee, and coming out at the district of Lerng Nok Tha in the province of Ubon Ratchathani. That year he spent the rains retreat at Ban Nong Khon in the Amnat Charoen district of Ubon Ratchathani province. Many monks and novices stayed there with him, and he trained them vigorously. While he was there the number of monks and lay devotees, who gained faith and came to train under him, steadily increased.

LATE ONE EVENING Ãcariya Mun sat in meditation and as soon as his citta dropped into calm a vision appeared of many monks and novices walking respectfully behind him in a nice, orderly fashion which inspired devotion. Yet, there were other monks who hurried past, walking ahead of him without respect or self-control. Others looked for an opportunity to pass him in a completely undisciplined manner. And finally, there were some who held pieces of split bamboo, using them to pinch his chest so that he could hardly breath. When he saw these different monks display such disrespect – even cruelly tormenting him – he focused his citta carefully to look into events of the future.

Immediately, he understood that those, who walked respectfully behind him in a nice, orderly fashion which inspired devotion, were the monks who would conduct themselves properly, faithfully putting his teaching into practice. These were the monks who would revere him and uphold the sãsana, assuring that it would flourish in the future. They would be able to make themselves useful to the sãsana and to people everywhere by maintaining the continuity of traditional Buddhist customs and practices into the future. Honored and respected by people on earth and beings throughout the celestial realms, they would uphold the integrity of the sãsana following the tradition of the Noble Ones, so that it did not decline and disappear.

Walking past him carelessly without respect were the pretentious ones who thought they already knew it all. They considered their own meditation to be even superior to that of their teacher, disregarding the fact that he had previously guided them all in its proper practice. They were not the least bit interested in showing gratitude for his tutelage in matters of Dhamma because they already considered themselves to be clever experts in everything. And thus they behaved accordingly, which was ruinous not only to themselves, but also to the entire sãsana, including all the people who might come to them for guidance. Their minds poisoned by the errors of such monks, these people would in turn harm themselves and others, including future generations, without discovering whether they were on the right path or not.

The next group consisted of those who waited for the chance to pass him, signaling the start of a bad attitude that would develop and have repercussions for the future sãsana. Much like the previous group, they held a variety of erroneous views, causing harm to themselves and the religion as a whole. Together, they were a menace to the sãsana, the spiritual focus of all Buddhists. Because they failed to rightly consider the consequences of their actions, the sãsana was in danger of being utterly destroyed.

The monks who pinched Ãcariya Mun’s chest with pieces of split bamboo considered themselves to be astutely well-informed and acted accordingly. Despite their wrongful actions, they did not take right and wrong into consideration in thinking about their behavior. On top of that, they were bound to cause Buddhist circles and their teacher a great deal of discomfort. Ãcariya Mun said that he knew exactly who were among this last group of monks, and that they would cause him trouble before long. He was saddened that they would do such a thing since they were his former disciples who had his consent and blessing to spend the rains retreat nearby. Rather than treating him with all the respect he deserved, they planned to return and bother him.

A few days later, the provincial governor and a group of government officials came to visit his monastery. The delegation was accompanied by the very same disciples who had led the assault on him in his vision. Without revealing his vision to them, he carefully observed their actions.

Together they requested his support in soliciting money from the local people in order to build several schools in the area. They explained that this would help the government. They had all agreed to approach Ãcariya Mun for assistance since he was highly revered by the people.

They felt that the project would surely be a success if he were involved.

As soon as he knew the reason for their visit, Ãcariya Mun immediately understood that these two monks were the principle instigators of this troublesome business. It was represented in his vision of the assault.

Later, he asked both monks to come to him and instructed them in appropriate behavior for a practicing Buddhist monk – someone who’s way of life is rooted in self-restraint and tranquillity.

This story is recounted here to help the reader understand the mysterious nature of the citta: how it is quite capable of knowing things both apparent and hidden, including knowledge of things past and future, as well as of the present. Ãcariya Mun exemplified this ability on numerous occasions. He conducted himself with total detachment.

His thoughts never concealed any ulterior, worldly motives. Whatever he said stemmed from his knowledge and insights and was purposefully spoken to make people think. His intention was never to fool credulous people or to cause harm.

What is recorded here was told to his close inner circle of disciples – not just anyone. Thus the writer might be showing bad judgment in exposing Ãcariya Mun’s affairs. But I think this account offers those who are interested something useful to dwell upon.

Among present-day kammaååhãna monks, Ãcariya Mun’s experiences stand out for being uniquely broad in scope and truly amazing – both in the sphere of his meditation practice and the insights derived from his psychic knowledge. Sometimes, when the circumstances were appropriate, he spoke directly and specifically about his intuitive knowledge. Yet at other times, he referred only indirectly to what he knew and used it for general teaching purposes. Following his experience with the elderly monk, whose thoughts he read during his stay at Sarika Cave, he was extremely cautious about disclosing his insights to others despite his earnest desire to help his students see the errors in their thinking.

When he pointed out candidly that this monk was thinking in the wrong way, or that that monk was thinking in the right way, his listeners were adversely affected by his frankness. They invariably misunderstood his charitable intent instead of benefiting from it as was his purpose.

Taking offense at his words could easily lead to harmful consequences. Thus, most of the time Ãcariya Mun admonished monks indirectly for he was concerned that the culprits would feel embarrassed and frightened in front of their fellows. Without identifying anyone by name, he merely gave a warning in order to foster self-awareness. Even so, the culprit sometimes became terribly distressed, finding himself rebuked amidst the assembled monks. Ãcariya Mun was very well aware of this, as he was of the most expedient method to use in any given circumstance.

Some readers may feel uncomfortable with some of the things that are written here. I apologize for this; but I have accurately recorded everything that Ãcariya Mun related himself. Many senior disciples, who lived under his tutelage, have confirmed and elaborated on these accounts, leaving us with a vast array of stories.

GENERALLY SPEAKING, external sense objects pose the greatest danger to practicing monks. They enjoy thinking about sights, sounds, smells, tastes, bodily contact and mental images concerning the opposite sex.

Though this is unintended, the tendency to do it is deeply ingrained in their personalities. Inevitably these were the primary subjects of Ãcariya Mun’s admonitions, whether given directly or indirectly. Monks had other kinds of thoughts of course, but unless they were particularly serious he wouldn’t take much notice.

The evening meeting was the most important time by far. Ãcariya Mun wanted the members of his audience to be both physically and mentally calm. He didn’t want anything to disturb them, or himself, while he was speaking, ensuring that his disciples received maximum benefit from listening. If someone allowed wild, unwholesome thoughts to arise at that time, he was usually struck by a bolt of lightning – right in the middle of the thoughts that absorbed him, right in the middle of the meeting. This made the monk, who dared to think so recklessly, tremble and almost faint on the spot. Although no name was mentioned, Ãcariya Mun’s disclosure of the content of the offensive thoughts was enough to send a shock through the guilty one. Other monks were also alarmed, fearing that in a moment of carelessness they themselves might fall prey to similar thoughts. When lightning struck continuously during the course of a Dhamma talk, his audience succumbed to the pressure and sat very attentively on guard. Some monks actually entered into a meditative state of complete tranquillity at that time. Those who did not attain such a state were still able to stay calm and cautious from fear that lightning might strike again if their thoughts strayed – or perhaps he hawk they feared was swooping down to snatch their heads!

For this reason, those monks residing with Ãcariya Mun gradually developed a solid foundation for centering their hearts. The longer they remained with him, the more their inner and outer demeanors harmonized with his. Those who committed to stay with him for a long time submitted willingly to his vigorous teaching methods. With patience, they came to understand all the skillful means he used, whether in the daily routine or during a discourse on Dhamma. They observed him tirelessly, trying to thoroughly follow his example as best they could.

Their tendency to desire Dhamma and be serious about all aspects of daily practice increased their inner fortitude little by little each day, until they eventually stood on their own.

Those monks who never achieved positive results from living with him usually paid more attention to external matters than to internal ones. For instance, they were afraid that Ãcariya Mun would berate them whenever their thoughts foolishly strayed. When he did rebuke them for this, they became too scared to think of solving the problem themselves, as would befit monks who were training under Ãcariya Mun.

It made no sense at all to go to an excellent teacher only to continue following the same old tendencies. They went there, lived there, and remained unchanged: they listened with the same prefixed attitudes, and indulged in the same old patterns of thought. Everything was done in an habitual manner, laden with kilesas, so that there was no room for Ãcariya Mun’s way to penetrate. When they left him, they went as they had come; they remained unchanged. You can be sure that there was little change in their personal virtue to warrant mentioning, and that the vices that engulfed them continued to accumulate, unabated. Since they never tired of this, they simply remained as so many unfortunate people without effective means to oppose this tendency and reverse their course. No matter how long they lived with Ãcariya Mun, they were no different than a ladle in a pot of delicious stew: never knowing the taste of the stew, the ladle merely moves repeatedly out of one pot and into another.

Similarly, the kilesas that amass immeasurable evil, pick us up and throw us into this pot of pain, that pot of suffering. No doubt, I myself am one of those who gets picked up and thrown into one pot and then into another. I like to be diligent and apply myself, but something keeps whispering at me to be lazy. I like to follow Ãcariya Mun’s example; and I like to listen and think in the way of Dhamma as he has taught. But again, that something whispers at me to go and live and think in my old habitual way. It doesn’t want me to change in any way whatsoever.

In the end, we trust the kilesas until we fall fast asleep and submit to doing everything in the old habitual way. Thus, we remain just our old habitual selves, without changes or improvements to inspire self-esteem or admiration from others. Habitual tendencies are an extremely important issue for every one of us. Their roots are buried deep inside. If we don’t really apply ourselves conscientiously, observing and questioning everything, then these roots are terribly difficult to pull out.

ÃCARIYA MUN DEPARTED from Ban Nong Khon with his mother at the beginning of the dry season. They stayed one or two nights at each village until they arrived at his home village, where Ãcariya Mun resided for a time. He instructed his mother and the villagers until they all felt reassured. Then he took leave of his family to go wandering in the direction of the Central Plains region.

He traveled leisurely, in the style of a dhutanga monk: he was in no particular hurry. If he came upon a village or a place with an adequate supply of water, he hung up his umbrella-tent and peacefully practiced, continuing his journey only when he regained strength of body and mind. Back then, everyone traveled by foot, since there were no cars.

Still, he said that he wasn’t pressed for time; that his main purpose was the practice of meditation. Wandering all day on foot was the same as walking meditation for the same duration of time. Leaving his disciples behind to walk alone to Bangkok was like a lead elephant withdrawing from its herd to search alone for food in the forest. He experienced a sense of physical and mental relief, as though he had removed a vexatious thorn from his chest that had severely oppressed him for a long time. Light in body and light in heart, he walked through broad, sectioned paddy fields, absorbed in meditation. There was very little shade, but he paid no attention to the sun’s searing heat. The environment truly seemed to make the long journey easier for him. On his shoulders he carried his bowl and umbrella-tent, the personal requisites of a dhutanga monk. Although they appeared cumbersome, he didn’t feel them to be burdensome in any way. In truth, he felt as though he were floating on air, having relieved himself of all concern about the monks he left behind. His sense of detachment was complete. His mother was no longer a concern for him, for he had taught her to the best of his ability until she developed a reliable, inner stability. From then on, he was responsible for himself alone. He walked on as he pondered over these thoughts, reminding himself not to be heedless.

He walked meditation in this manner along paths free of human traffic. By midday the sun was extremely hot, so he would look for a pleasant, shady tree at the edge of a forest to rest for awhile. He would sit there peacefully, doing his meditation practice under the shade of a tree. When late afternoon came and the heat had relented somewhat, he moved on with the composure of one who realized the dangers inherent within all conditioned things, thus cultivating a clear, comprehending mind. All he needed were small villages with just enough houses to support his daily almsround and, at intervals along his journey, suitable places for him to conveniently stay to practice that were far enough from the villages. He resided in one of the more suitable places for quite some time before moving along.

Ãcariya Mun said that upon reaching Dong Phaya Yen forest between the Saraburi and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces, he discovered many forested mountain ranges that brought special joy to his heart. He felt inclined to extend his stay in the area in order to strengthen his heart, for it had long been thirsting to live again in the solitude of the mountains and forests. Upon coming across a suitable location, he would decide to remain awhile and practice meditation until the time came to move on again. Steadily he wandered through the area in this way.

He would tell of the region’s forests and mountains abounding in many different kinds of animals, and of his delight in watching the barking deer, wild pigs, sambor deer, flying lemurs, gibbons, tigers, elephants, monkeys, languars, civets, jungle fowl, pheasants, bear, porcupine, tree shrews, ground squirrels, and the many other small species of animals.

The animals showed little fear of him when he crossed paths with them during the day when they were out searching for food.

Those days, the forested terrain didn’t really contain any villages. What few there were consisted of isolated settlements of three or four houses bunched together for livelihood. The inhabitants hunted the many wild animals and planted rice and other crops along the edge of the mountains where Ãcariya Mun passed. Villagers there had great faith in dhutanga monks, and so he could depend on them for alms food. When he stayed among them, his practice went very smoothly.

They never bothered him or wasted his time. They kept to themselves and worked on their own so his journey progressed trouble-free, both physically and mentally, until he arrived safely in Bangkok.