阿  姜  曼  正  傳 

 

第三章第三節:至高的讚嘆

       

                                              

         

第三章第三節:至高的讚嘆

         阿姜曼證得解脫後的接下來幾個夜晚,過去諸佛及其阿羅漢弟子們,前來恭賀他的解脫。某晚,某一位佛陀在十萬阿羅漢弟子的陪同下來看他;又隔一晚,另一尊佛帶領近百萬的阿羅漢弟子前來。每一晚都有不同的佛陀,帶著不同數量的阿羅漢弟子們來讚嘆他。阿姜曼說:每尊佛陀所累積的波羅蜜不同,因而跟隨在旁的阿羅漢聖弟子數量也有不同 —— 這就是上一尊佛到下一尊佛之間有差異的因素。而陪同佛陀一起來的阿羅漢弟子在數量上也不代表那尊佛陀全部弟子的實際總數量;那僅表示每尊佛陀所累積的波羅蜜相對程度。在陪佛陀一起來的阿羅漢弟子中,有許多是相當年輕的沙彌。阿姜曼對此感到懷疑,所以他深思了這件事。他瞭解到「阿羅漢」一詞並不專指比丘,只要內心完全清淨的沙彌也可以是一位阿羅漢聖弟子,所以他們在這一點上完全沒有任何爭議。

        大部分來讚嘆阿姜曼的諸佛都這麼說:「我,如來Tathāgata,知道你已逃離無盡的苦難所帶來的傷害,而且都是你以前困在生死輪迴的監牢中所承受的,因此我特來表達我對你的讚嘆。這座監獄很巨大且堅不可摧,裡面充滿著迷人的誘惑,奴役著那些放逸的人,使人難以逃脫。在世上的眾生,幾乎不太有人會去思考如何找出能逃脫不斷折磨身心的方法。他們就像生病的人,懶得吃藥。即使醫藥充足,但對拒絕接受治療的人來說卻沒有任何用處。佛法就像藥。在生死輪迴中正在受苦的眾生,諸苦皆由無明所生,而眾生皆被無明所壓迫。這種病是可以被治愈,但一定要服下『法藥』。若不治療,它會把眾生拖進無盡的生死輪迴中,大家都會被身與心的苦所束縛。雖然『法』遍及整個宇宙,但對於不感興趣的人來說是不可能獲得任何益處。」

        「『法』以其本有的狀態存在。在生死輪迴中不停輪轉的眾生,就像輪子一樣,生生世世重複著痛苦與折磨 —— 這也是生死輪迴的自然態樣。他們不可能真正看到苦的盡頭。除非他們願意自救,並堅守法的原則,認真投入修行,否則沒有人能幫他們。不管曾有多少佛陀覺悟,或他們教的法有多麼豐富,只有那些願意吃藥的人才能受益。」

        「諸惡莫做、眾善奉行,這是諸佛所教。再也沒有比這個更殊勝的法了。因為即使眾生心中最不尋常的無明,再不尋常也不可能超越諸佛所教的『法』的力量。『法』本身足以消除各種的煩惱 —— 當然,除非,修行者任由自己被無明給擊倒,因而得出『法』無用論。」

        「本質上,無明一直在抗拒『法』的力量。因此,聽從無明的人,就是藐視『法』的人。他們不願意修行,因為他們認為修行很難,而且浪費時間,他們寧願享樂 —— 儘管欲樂會帶給他們傷害。一個有智慧、有遠見的人不應該像在一鍋滾燙開水中的烏龜,龜縮在自己熟悉的殼內 —— 因為找不到逃脫的方法而等死。這個世界就像是被熊熊燃燒的無明火所烹煮的大鍋子。大地上形形色色的眾生,不論何處,都無法逃避心中燃燒的大火 —— 彼處正是苦之所在。」

        「你已見到了如來,不是嗎?什麼是真正的如來?真正的如來就是你證悟到的清淨心。我現在所顯現的身體,只不過是以世俗相對因緣法的呈現,這個形象並不代表真正的佛陀或阿羅漢,它只不過是我們世俗的外觀而已。」

        阿姜曼回答,他對於真正的佛陀與阿羅漢沒有疑惑。他還會感到困惑的是:佛與阿羅漢證得無餘涅槃後,應該已無任何殘留的世俗因緣法,為什麼卻仍可以身體的形式現身?佛陀對他解釋這個問題:

        「如果已證得無餘涅槃的人想要與那些尚有餘蘊且已證得有餘涅槃的阿羅漢互動,他們就一定會暫時呈現出世俗的形象來跟他們互動。然而,如果雙方都已達無餘涅槃,那就完全不需要再用世俗的身體。因此,當處理世間法的時候,才有必要使用世俗的身體;但當世間法已經完全超越後,就不會再有這樣的問題了。」

        「諸佛都是藉由禪相來得知過去與未來的事件,這些禪相都象徵最初發生問題的世間緣起法。例如,當某一尊佛想要知道在他之前諸佛的生活,他就必須以每一尊佛及其當時生活環境細節的禪相為所緣,以此作為直觀的方法媒介。如果事件本身已超出了世俗相對因緣法的範圍,例如徹底的解脫自在,那麼就不會有任何的禪相出現。正因如此,過去諸佛以約定俗成的世間概念法為理解的共同基礎,就如同我這裡所示範的。我與一切阿羅漢弟子們,必須以當初世俗的形貌出現,這樣你或其他人才能憑此得知我們的外表。如果我們不以這種方式現身,就沒有人能感應到我們。」

        「當某些情況必須以世間法來互動時,徹底的解脫自在就必須要借用適當的世間法來呈現表達。就以清淨的解脫心為例,當兩個清淨的解脫心彼此互動時,只存在覺知的必要特質 —— 而這不可能以任何方法來闡明。所以當我們想要表達絕對清淨的特質時,我們就必須借助世間法為手段,來協助我們描述解脫心的經驗。例如,我們可以說『解脫心』是一種『沒有一切禪相、無上的至樂、自己發光的境界』,但這些都只是被廣泛使用、世間慣性的隱喻。只有在心中清楚體證過的人,對於解脫才不會有一絲的疑惑。因為其真正的特質無法表達,『解脫』對於世俗相對因緣法而言是不可思議的。『解脫』一如既往地呈現,『解脫』以其最初本來的狀態而存在,然而,兩者皆為阿羅漢所肯定。這包括『解脫』在某些特定情況下以世俗的概念自己呈現,以及解脫以其最初本來、非因緣所成的狀態而存在。你是因為疑惑或只是作為一個特別的對話才問我這個問題?」

        「我對一切諸佛在世俗的因緣或非因緣所成的觀點上都沒有疑惑。我的問題只是表現恭敬的一種世間法,即使您與阿羅漢弟子們沒有來看我,我對真正的佛、法、僧也沒有疑惑。不管是誰,只要見法即見如來,這是我清楚的信念。也就是說佛、法、僧每一項都代表一樣的絕對清淨,完全超脫世俗諦(世間法),統稱為三寶。」阿姜曼回答。

        「我,如來,不是因為認為你有疑惑才這樣問你,而是一種友善的問候。」

        當佛與阿羅漢聖弟子們一起來訪時,只有佛陀與阿姜曼說話。而陪同前來的弟子們,沒有人說一句話,他們只是以一種值得最高禮敬的姿態安靜地坐著。即使是外觀看去比尊者們可愛的小沙彌,也表現出相同的沉靜。他們有些年紀很小,介於九到十二歲之間,阿姜曼發現他們真惹人喜愛。

        通常,一般人只看到他們是可愛、天真爛漫的孩子。如果在不知道他們是阿羅漢的情況下,有些人很可能會想要去鬧他們一下,開玩笑地伸出手去摸他們的頭,卻沒有察覺到這樣做很沒禮貌。當阿姜曼說到這裡時,我頑皮地想到我可能是第一個不計後果忍不住伸手去和他們一起玩的人。然後,我還是可以懇求他們的原諒。

        阿姜曼說,雖然他們都是很年輕的小沙彌,但他們的舉止都很成熟。他們看起來就跟其他的阿羅漢一樣安靜、穩重,令人印象深刻。總之,跟隨在每一位佛陀身後的阿羅漢比丘及沙彌,都表現出無懈可擊且最令人尊敬的行為。他們整齊、有序,看起來讓人覺得舒服 —— 就像乾淨折疊好的僧袍一般。

        阿姜曼對於在佛陀時代如何經行與靜坐等一類的事都一直感到很好奇。他還有一些關於資淺與上座之間互動上的禮節,以及在禪修時比丘是否有必要穿著正式袈裟的問題。當這些問題在他的心中生起時,定境中總會出現過去某一位佛或聖弟子為他示範佛陀時代應有的慣例行徑。例如:阿姜曼很想知道該如何正確經行才能適當表達出對「法」的恭敬。這時過去某一位佛陀或阿羅漢就會出現,為他仔細示範手該如何擺放、該怎麼走,以及如何保持沈著穩重的威儀。有時候,這些示範的內容包括很多詳盡的指導;而有時候,這些則是透過舉例來說明。他們同時也為他示範在禪定中適當的坐法,包括面向最適宜的方向及採取最好的坐姿。

        阿姜曼說了一些關於上座與資淺比丘互相表達敬意的奇特事情。阿姜曼想知道究竟在佛陀時代的比丘是如何表達對彼此的尊重。就在這個想法產生後沒多久,某一位佛陀與阿羅漢弟子的身影便出現在他的面前。這些阿羅漢們的年紀都不同 —— 有的很年輕,有的年紀很大,有一些甚至老到鬢髮都花白了,還有許多不同年紀的小沙彌跟在一旁。然而,佛陀與阿羅漢們並非同時出現 —— 每一位阿羅漢都是各自出現。先抵達的就坐在前面,而後到的則坐在後面,這樣的次序是按先來後到而不是按年紀來區分,甚至那些早到的沙彌會坐在晚到的比丘前面。最後一位、也是最年長的比丘抵達後便從容坐在最後的空位,沒有人露出任何困窘或不好意思的樣子。即使是佛陀本人,也是在抵達後,就直接坐在空位上。

        看到這種景象,阿姜曼心中有些懷疑。難道佛陀時代的比丘都不尊敬年長的比丘嗎?這當然不是一種鼓舞人心的景象。當「法王」(世尊)及其最親近的弟子們如此不分尊卑,那麼當佛陀及其弟子們在說法時,又如何期待聽眾能信服呢?很快地,答案自然在心中生起,而非來自佛陀及其弟子們所給的答案:這就是一種清淨純粹解脫法的例子,沒有因緣相對性及世俗諦的問題 —— 所以才沒有既定的尊卑禮節。他們正示範全然清淨的真正特質,大家都完全的平等,不管世俗的稱謂是年輕、年長或高或低。從世尊開始到最年輕的阿羅漢沙彌,他們在清淨的境界中都一律平等。阿姜曼見證到的是一個決定性的指標,那就是所有阿羅漢比丘與沙彌都一樣清淨。

        這一點已經讓他很清楚了,但他還是不明白就世俗的觀點(世俗諦)他們是如何互動的?當這個念頭生起沒多久,坐在他面前的佛陀與阿羅漢的景象又開始發生變化了,之前他們沒有按特定順序坐在一起,現在卻換成了佛陀坐在前端,而先前坐在前面的小沙彌則坐到最後面去了。這是一個令人印象深刻的景象 —— 一種最令人恭敬的景象。此時阿姜曼很清楚瞭解到這個畫面代表佛陀時代比丘們相互尊重的傳統方式。就算已解脫的年輕阿羅漢還是必須尊敬心中尚有無明而仍正確修行的上座。佛陀接著就這一個主題做了闡明:

       「如來的比丘必須相互尊敬與和睦相處,猶如水乳交融,但這並不意味是那種世俗的友好,而是『法』的那種平等無二的友好。當如來僧團中的比丘們住在一起的時候,即使人數很多,他們也都沒有爭吵或表現出驕傲自大的樣子。那些不遵循佛陀的教法與戒律而尊敬同修的比丘,是不配稱作如來的比丘。即使他們會模仿佛弟子的樣子,但也不過是掛羊頭賣狗肉而已。只要比丘們遵照佛陀的教法及戒律(以戒為師)相互尊重,且永不違背,那麼不論他們身在何處,何時出家,或來自什麼種族、國家、地位,他們都是真正的如來弟子。而一位真正追隨如來的弟子,有一天終將證得苦邊盡。」

        當佛陀及其弟子們說完以後便立即消失了。至於阿姜曼,所有的疑惑也都在景象清楚出現在面前時消失了。

        有關阿姜曼對於禪修時是否該穿正式僧袍的疑惑:某一位阿羅漢弟子出現在他的面前,為他示範為何不用每次都一定要穿正式的大衣。他個人示範在穿著正式大衣時該如何靜坐與經行,以及不穿大衣時該怎麼做的例子。有關比丘僧袍的一切他都已清楚了,包括比丘三衣的正確顏色。他跟阿姜曼解釋土褐色的僧袍是從波羅蜜樹的心材分別染成三種不同的顏色 —— 淡褐、中褐、及深褐色等。

        仔細思惟這些事件足以讓我們確信阿姜曼都有合理可靠並確認的先例可循;他絕不去臆測連他自己都不確定的事,使自己的修行陷入險境。 因此,他的修行從開始到最後都很平穩、始終如一且無可指謫。當然,現今已很難再找到能與他相提並論的人。那些採用他修行方法的人一定會表現出優雅行徑,而且他們的修行也一定會進展得很順利。而那些蔑視傳統修行方法的人就像是無主的孤魂野鬼或失怙的孤兒,他們背棄老師而竄改修行的方法,來符合自己主觀的見解。阿姜曼有神秘且難以形容的內在指南針在指引著他,他的弟子中沒有任何人可與之相比。

 

    

The Most Exalted Appreciation

On the nights subsequent to Ãcariya Mun’s attainment of vimutti, a number of Buddhas, accompanied by their Arahant disciples, came to congratulate him on his vimuttidhamma. One night, a certain Buddha, accompanied by tens of thousands of Arahant disciples, came to visit; the next night, he was visited by another Buddha who was accompanied by hundreds of thousands of Arahant disciples. Each night a different Buddha came to express his appreciation, accompanied by a different number of Arahant disciples. Ãcariya Mun stated that the number of accompanying Arahant disciples varied according to each Buddha’s relative accumulation of merit – a factor that differed from one Buddha to the next. The actual number of Arahant disciples accompanying each

Buddha did not represent the total number of his Arahant disciples; they merely demonstrated the relative levels of accumulated merit and perfection that each individual Buddha possessed. Among the Arahant disciples accompanying each of those Buddhas were quite a few young novices.23 Ãcariya Mun was skeptical about this, so he reflected on it and realized that the term “Arahant” does not apply exclusively to monks. Novices whose hearts are completely pure are also Arahant disciples, so their presence did not raise issue with the term in any way.

Most of the Buddhas who came to show their appreciation to Ãcariya Mun addressed him in much the following manner: “I, the Tathãgata, am aware that you have escaped from the harmful effects of that monstrous suffering which you endured in the prison of saÿsãra,24 so I have come to express my appreciation. This prison is enormous, and quite impregnable. It is full of seductive temptations which so enslave those who are unwary that it is extremely difficult for anyone to break free. Of the vast number of people living in the world, hardly anyone is concerned enough to think of looking for a way out of dukkha that perpetually torments their bodies and minds. They are like sick people who cannot be bothered to take medicine. Even though medicines are plentiful, they are of no use to a person who refuses to take them. “Buddha-Dhamma is like medicine. Beings in saÿsãra are afflicted with the painful, oppressive disease of kilesas, which causes endless suffering. Inevitably, this disease can be cured only by the medicine of Dhamma. Left uncured, it will drag living beings through an endless succession of births and deaths, all of them bound up with physical and mental pain. Although Dhamma exists everywhere throughout the whole universe, those who are not really interested in properly availing themselves of its healing qualities are unable to take advantage of it.

“Dhamma exists in its own natural way. Beings in saÿsãra spin around, like wheels, through the pain and suffering of each successive life – in the natural way of saÿsãra. They have no real prospect of ever seeing an end to dukkha. And there is no way to help them unless they are willing to help themselves by holding firmly to the principles of Dhamma, earnestly trying to put them into practice. No matter how many Buddhas become enlightened, or how extensive their teachings are, only those willing to take the prescribed medicine will benefit.

“The Dhamma, taught by all the Buddhas, is invariably the same: to renounce evil and do good. There exists no Dhamma teaching more exceptional than this: For even the most exceptional kilesas in the hearts of living beings are not so exceptional that they can transcend the power of Dhamma taught by all the Buddhas. This Dhamma in itself is sufficient to eradicate every kind of kilesa there is – unless, of course, those practicing it allow themselves to be defeated by their kilesas, and so conclude that Dhamma must be worthless.

“By nature, kilesas have always resisted the power of Dhamma. Consequently, people who defer to the kilesas are people who disregard Dhamma. They are unwilling to practice the way, for they view it as something difficult to do, a waste of the time they could otherwise spend enjoying themselves – despite the harm such pleasures cause them. A wise, far-sighted person should not retreat into a shell, like a turtle in a pot of boiling water – it is sure to die because it can’t find a way to escape. The world is a cauldron, boiling with the consuming heat of the kilesas. Earthly beings of every description, every where, must endure this torment, for there is no safe place to hide, no way to elude this conflagration burning in their own hearts – right there where the dukkha is.

“You have seen the truly genuine Tathãgata, haven’t you? What is the genuine Tathãgata? The genuine Tathãgata is simply that purity of heart you have just realized. The bodily form in which I now appear is merely a manifestation of relative, conventional reality.25 This form does not represent the true Buddha, or the true Arahant; it is just our conventional bodily appearance.”

Ãcariya Mun replied that he had no doubts about the true nature of the Buddha and the Arahants. What still puzzled him was: how could the Buddha and the Arahants, having attained anupãdisesa-nibbãna26 without any remaining trace of relative, conventional reality, still appear in bodily form. The Buddha explained this matter to him:

“If those who have attained anupãdisesa-nibbãna wish to interact with other Arahants who have purified their hearts but still possess a physical, mundane body, they must temporarily assume a mundane form in order to make contact. However, if all concerned have already attained anupãdisesa- nibbãna without any remaining trace of relative, conventional reality, then the use of conventional constructs is completely unnecessary. So it is necessary to appear in a conventional form when dealing with conventional reality, but when the conventional world has been completely transcended, no such problem exists.

“All Buddhas know events concerning the past and the future through nimittas that symbolize for them the original conventional realities of the occurrences in question.27 For instance, when a Buddha wishes to know about the lives of the Buddhas who preceded him, he must take the nimitta of each Buddha, and the particular circumstances in which he lived, as a device leading directly to that knowledge. If something exists beyond the relative world of conventional reality, that being vimutti, then there can be no symbol representing it. Because of that, knowledge about past Buddhas depends on mundane conventions to serve as a common basis for understanding, as my present visit illustrates. It is necessary that I and all of my Arahant disciples appear in our original mundane forms so that others, like yourself, have a means of determining what our appearance was like. If we did not appear in this form, no one would be able to perceive us.

“On occasions when it is necessary to interact with conventional reality, vimutti must be made manifest by the use of suitable conventional means. In the case of pure vimutti, as when two purified cittas interact with one another, there exists only the essential quality of knowing – which is impossible to elaborate on in any way. So when we want to reveal the nature of complete purity, we have to bring in conventional devices to help us portray the experience of vimutti. We can say that vimutti is a ‘self-luminous state devoid of all nimittas representing the ultimate happiness’, for instance, but these are just widely-used, conventional metaphors. One who clearly knows it in his heart cannot possibly have doubts about vimutti. Since its true characteristics are impossible to convey, vimutti is inconceivable in a relative, conventional sense. Vimutti manifesting conventionally and vimutti existing in its original state are, however, both known with absolute certainty by the Arahant. This includes both vimutti manifesting itself by means of conventional constructs under certain circumstances, and vimutti existing in its original, unconditioned state. Did you ask me about this matter because you were in doubt, or simply as a point of conversation?” “I have no doubts about the conventional aspects of all the Buddhas, or the unconditioned aspects. My inquiry was a conventional way of showing respect. Even without a visit from you and your Arahant disciples, I would have no doubts as to where the true Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha lie. It is my clear conviction that whoever sees the Dhamma sees the Tathãgata. This means that the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha each denote the very same natural state of absolute purity, completely free of conventional reality, collectively known as the Three Jewels.”

“I, the Tathãgata, did not ask you that question thinking you were in doubt, but rather as a friendly greeting.”

On those occasions when the Buddhas and their Arahant disciples came to visit, only the Buddhas addressed Ãcariya Mun. None of the disciples accompanying them spoke a word as they sat quietly composed, listening in a manner worthy of the highest respect. Even the small novices, looking more adorable than venerable, showed the same quiet composure. Some of them were quite young, between the ages of nine and twelve, and Ãcariya Mun found them truly endearing.

Ordinarily, the average person would see only bright-eyed, adorable children. Being unaware that they were Arahants, one would most probably be tempted to fool around, reaching out playfully to stroke their heads, without realizing the impertinence of doing so. When Ãcariya Mun spoke about this, I thought mischievously that I would probably be the first to succumb to the urge to reach out and play with them, despite the consequences. Afterwards, I could always beg their forgiveness.

Ãcariya Mun said that, although they were young novices, their behavior was very mature. They were as calm, composed, and impressive to see as all the other Arahant disciples. In short, all the Arahant monks and novices who accompanied each Buddha exhibited impeccable behavior worthy of the highest respect. They were neat, orderly, and pleasing to the eye – like immaculately folded robes.

Ãcariya Mun had always been curious to know how walking and sitting meditation were practiced at the time of the Buddha. He also had questions about the proper etiquette to be used between junior and senior monks, and whether it was necessary for a monk to wear his formal robes while doing meditation. When such questions arose in his mind, invariably one of the Buddhas, or an Arahant disciple, appeared to him in samãdhi and demonstrated how these practices were originally performed in the Buddha’s day. For example, Ãcariya Mun was curious to know the correct manner of practicing walking meditation so as to show proper respect for Dhamma. A Buddha or an Arahant then appeared, demonstrating in detail how to place the hands, how to walk, and how to remain self-composed. Sometimes, these demonstrations included explicit instructions; at other times, the methods were demonstrated by example. They also showed him such things as the proper way to sit in samãdhi, including the most suitable direction to face and the best seated posture to assume.

Ãcariya Mun had some strange things to say about how junior and senior monks showed their respect for each other. Ãcariya Mun wanted to know how monks at the time of the Buddha conducted themselves with appropriate respect toward one another.30 Shortly after this thought arose, the vision of a Buddha and many Arahant disciples appeared to him. The Arahants were of all different ages – some were young, others older, a few being so old that their hair had turned completely white. A considerable number of small novices of all ages accompanied them. However, the Buddha and his disciples did not arrive together – each Arahant arrived individually. Those arriving first sat in the front, while those arriving later sat further away – without regard for seniority. Even those novices who arrived earlier sat ahead of the monks who arrived later. Finally the last monk, a very elderly man, arrived to take the last available seat – way in the back; but the others showed no sign of shame or embarrassment. Even the Buddha himself sat down in whichever seat was available at the time he arrived.

Seeing this, Ãcariya Mun was somewhat incredulous. Could it be that the monks at the time of the Buddha did not respect seniority? It was definitely not an inspiring sight. How could the Buddha and his disciples proclaim the sãsana and then expect people to have faith in it when the sãsana’s leader and his closest disciples behaved in such an indiscriminate fashion? Instantly, the answer arose in his heart without the Buddha and his disciples having offered any comment: This was an instance of pure vimuttidhamma devoid of any trace of relative, conventional reality – so there was no fixed order of propriety. They were demonstrating the true nature of Absolute Purity,31 being perfectly equal for all, irrespective of conventional designations such as young and old, or high and low. From the Lord Buddha on down to the youngest Arahant novice, all were equal with respect to their state of purity. What Ãcariya Mun had witnessed was a conclusive indicator that all the Arahant monks and novices were equally pure.

This having been made clear to him, he wondered how they deferred to each other in the conventional world. No sooner had this thought arisen, than the vision of the Buddha and the Arahants seated before him changed. Whereas before they had been sitting together in no special order, now the Buddha sat at the head of the assembly, while the small novices, previously in the front, sat in the last seats. It was an impressive sight – worthy of the highest respect. At that moment Ãcariya Mun clearly understood that this image represented the traditional way in which monks at the time of the Buddha showed each other respect. Even Arahants who were junior in rank were obliged to respect those of their seniors who were practicing correctly but still had kilesas in their hearts.32 The Buddha then elaborated on this theme:

“The Tathãgata’s【譯按:The term” Tathãgata” is often thought to mean either "one who has thus gone" (tathā-gata) or "one who has thus come" (tathā-āgata).即「如來」之意 monks must live in mutual respect and friendship, as though they were all one single entity. This does not mean that they are friendly in a worldly way, but rather that they are friendly in the equal, unbiased way of Dhamma. When my monks live together, even in large numbers, they never quarrel or display arrogance. Monks who do not respect their fellows according to the principles of the Teaching and the Discipline of the Buddha, are not worthy of being called the Tathãgata’s monks. Even though those monks may imitate the disciples of the Buddha, they are merely impostors making false claims. As long as monks respect each other according to the principles of the Teaching and the Discipline – which substitute for the Buddha himself – and never violate these principles, then wherever those monks live, whenever they were ordained, whatever their race, status, or nationality, they remain true disciples of the Tathãgata. And whoever is a true follower of the Tathãgata must surely see the end of dukkha one day.”

The Buddha and all his disciples vanished instantly the moment he finished speaking. As for Ãcariya Mun, all his doubts had vanished the moment that vision appeared to him so clearly.

Concerning Ãcariya Mun’s doubts about the necessity of wearing the formal robes when doing meditation: one of the Arahant disciples appeared to him, demonstrating how it was unnecessary to wear them every time. He personally demonstrated when and how sitting and walking meditation should be practiced while wearing the formal robes, as well as the instances when it was unnecessary to wear them. Every aspect of a monk’s robes was made clear to him, including the correct color for a monk’s three principal robes. He showed Ãcariya Mun ochre-colored robes that were dyed from the heartwood of the jackfruit tree in three different shades – light, medium, and dark brown.

Careful consideration of these episodes is enough to convince us that Ãcariya Mun always had sound, acknowledged precedents for the way he practiced. He never jeopardized his vocation by merely guessing about things he was unsure of. Consequently, his practice was always smooth, consistent, and irreproachable from beginning to end. Certainly, it would be hard to find his equal nowadays. Those adopting his mode of practice are bound to exhibit a gracefulness befitting disciples of such a fine teacher, and their own practice is sure to progress very smoothly. However, those who prefer to flout convention are like ghosts without a cemetery, or orphans without a family. Having forsaken their teacher they may well modify the practice to suit their own opinions. Ãcariya Mun possessed a mysterious, ineffable inner compass to direct him in these matters, one which none of his disciples could ever match.