阿  姜  曼  正 傳 

 

第四章第三節:老虎假扮的人

        

              

           

第四章第三節:老虎假扮的人

    阿姜曼說,過去除了少數曾去過大城鎮的人以外,大部分的清邁府山地部落居民都從未接觸過比丘。早期阿姜曼剛開始行腳的時候,他曾與另一位比丘住在離部落村莊約一英里半的山區裡,他們在森林搭起帳棚棲身。第二天清晨,當他們走進村莊裡托缽時,村民們便問他們要幹什麼?阿姜曼解釋他們是為了托缽而來。村民感到很不解,因為他們不知托缽是什麼意思,便繼續追問那是什麼意思。阿姜曼解釋他們想要一些白米的布施,村民又問他們是要熟米還是生米。阿姜曼回答是煮熟的米飯,於是他們把米飯各放一些在兩人的缽裡。然後這兩位比丘便走回他們的營地處,一起吃著白飯。

        剛開始,村民們對比丘沒有信心,並且抱持著非常懷疑的態度。就在當晚,村長敲著竹製的響板召集大家開會。他提到阿姜曼與他的弟子,並當眾宣稱,現在有兩個「由老虎所假扮的人」就住在附近的森林裡。他還說,他尚未確定他們究竟是哪一種老虎,但絕對不能信任他們。他禁止婦女與孩童進入森林裡;也警告需進入森林的男人們不能落單,並且要攜帶武器,以免被這兩隻老虎攻擊。

        就在村長對全村宣布的時候,正好是阿姜曼開始他傍晚禪修的時間。也因此,阿姜曼,這個被村長所警告的對象,也知道了這件事。對這項愚蠢的指控,他感到很悲憫;但不是生氣或氣餒,而是對當地的村民感到深深的悲憫。他在意的是大多數的人可能會因為愚痴而輕易地相信這樣的毀謗,因此而種下可怕的業果。當他們死亡後,可能會投生為老虎。第二天一大早,他就告訴他的弟子他看到了什麼。

        「昨晚村長召集了村民,並且宣布我們是老虎假扮的。我們兩個都被說成是老虎,裝成比丘是為了博取他們的信任,好吃掉他們並毀掉他們的財產。因此,他們現在對我們毫無信心;但倘若我們在他們仍懷有這些邪見的時候就離開這裡,那麼他們死後可能都會投生為老虎,這實在是一個悲慘的惡業。因此,為了替他們著想,我認為身為比丘的我們,有義務繼續待在這裡,暫時忍受這種情況。我們必須忍受即將發生的困難,直到他們改變態度後,我們才能到別處行腳。」

        然而這些村民不僅僅是不信任而已,經常還有三、四名攜帶武器的男人在監視他們。有時候,他們站在遠處監視;但有時也會在阿姜曼經行時,靠近經行路徑的盡頭、側面或甚至站在路徑的中間盯著他看。他們四處觀望,調查整個區域約十至十五分鐘,然後便離開了。就這樣他們日復一日例行性進行這樣的監視,持續了好幾個星期。

        村民們到後來一點也不關心這兩隻「老虎」,他們不再注意這兩個人是否有足夠的食物或其他的生活上的需要。也因此,這兩隻老虎的生活條件變得極為艱困。他們每次托缽最多也只能得到白米飯的布施。有好幾天,他們所乞得米飯的量也只能勉強填飽肚子;但大多數的時候,就算他們進食後再喝很大量的水,仍無法得到飽足感。

        由於沒有洞穴或突出的山崖可供棲身,因此他們只能住在樹下,忍受著陽光的曝曬和雨水的侵襲。在這個地區,一旦下雨就往往是整天的豪雨。當雨勢減弱,森林也比較乾燥時,他們開始找些乾燥的樹葉與草建造一座臨時的茅草屋頂,只能用來勉強遮風避雨。儘管並不是很舒適,但畢竟還是提供了足以讓他們能生存下去的遮蔽物。當傾盆大雨時,他們就坐在傘帳下,四周再懸掛著衣服、被單抵擋冷風。雨水通常伴隨著從高山吹來的凜冽強風,吹打著他們的傘帳,浸濕他們的隨身物品,使兩位比丘待在傘下全身濕透、發抖。如果是發生在白天,他們至少還可以收好隨身物品,尋找能躲雨之處。但是若在夜晚,情況就會變得極其艱困。他們就像是盲人一般站在狂風暴雨之下,周遭盡是殘枝落葉,完全不知道自己是否能在這四面八方的風雨與飛濺的碎片中倖存。即使是在這樣的艱困環境之下,他們依然以最大的毅力忍受這一切。他們必須忍受酷熱、寒冷、飢渴與存活的不確定性,靜靜地等待村民們的懷疑能平息消失。就算他們有可能得到白米飯的供養,但這供養也是極不穩定。飲用的水也很難獲得,所以他們不得不走到山腳下,用水壺裝水,再帶回住處,以供日常所需。儘管他們處在這樣的艱困環境下,村民們對他們還是沒有一絲一毫的同情。

        縱然是這樣的艱苦,阿姜曼還是沒有任何的焦慮或壓力,他的禪修完全不受影響。他愉悅地聽著周遭森林裡各種野生動物的叫聲。深夜時分在樹下禪坐時,他常常聽到老虎在附近咆哮。但奇怪的是,那些老虎幾乎不會踏入他所居住的地方。有時候,會有老虎可能將阿姜曼視為獵物而悄悄地接近他;但老虎只要看見他有任何的動作,就會嚇得跳進樹林裡,再也沒有出現過。

        幾乎每天下午,會有三或四個男人來監視他們。但他們從不與阿姜曼說話,只是站在周圍彼此交頭接耳竊竊私語,而阿姜曼也不去理會他們的存在,只是收攝心識並投注在他們的思緒上。當然,他們不會懷疑阿姜曼知道他們在想什麼或是正在私下說些什麼。他們絕不可能想到有人竟然可以知悉他們荒誕的想法。阿姜曼把注意力集中在每個前來的人身上。他發現他們就像是偵察隊一般,希望能在某處找到他的過失。對於這樣的狀況,阿姜曼並不覺得有必要特別小心謹慎,他只是對他們報以無盡的慈悲。因為他知道,大多數的村民不過是聽信少數人惡毒的謠言罷了。

        就這樣經過了幾個月,阿姜曼仍停留在這個地方。然而村民們仍堅持要找到他可疑的行為。他們唯一的目的就是要找到證據,來確認他們心中的恐懼。雖然村民們堅信這個謠言,但他們倒也沒有嘗試要趕他走,只是輪流監視他。村民們一定感到很驚訝,因為儘管已有數個月的嚴密監視,但仍無法捉到他做錯了什麼事。

        有一天晚上當阿姜曼在禪坐時,他知道村民們正在開會討論他的事,他能聽到村長正詢問村民偵察的結果:「到底是什麼原因使他們能堅持到現在?」而那些偵察過他的村民一致回答:他們實在找不到證據來證實大家的猜測。他們擔心村民的猜疑非但沒有益處,反而會為大家帶來危害。

        「為什麼你們會這麼說?」村長想要知道原因。

        他們回答:「到目前為止,我們只知道他們的行為沒有一件能證實我們的猜測。不管什麼時候我們過去查看,他們不是闔眼靜坐,就是寧靜地來回步行,眼神專注,不像一般人會四處張望。若是老虎為了要準備攻擊獵物而偽裝成人類,是不可能會有這些舉止。若他們是老虎所假扮,這兩名比丘應該早就露出馬腳,但我們一直查不到證據。如果我們一直像這樣對待他們,我們可能會遭到報應。我們應該直接詢問他們來這裡的動機。擅自假設他們居心不正,可能會讓全村招致惡運。」

        「好的比丘很罕見。我們應該有足夠的經驗可以去辨別好比丘與壞比丘。這些比丘值得我們的尊敬。我們不要貿然指控他們;如果我們想要知道實際的狀況,我們就應該直接與他們談談。我們該問問他們為何要閉起雙眼、靜坐不動,為何要來回走動,是在找什麼嗎?」

        村民們在會議中決定要派遣一名代表去詢問比丘。隔天一早,阿姜曼對他的弟子說:「村民的想法在改變了。昨天晚上,他們召開會議討論監視我們的結果。他們已決定要派人來詢問我們關於他們的猜疑。」

        正如阿姜曼的預言,村民的代表在當天下午前來,問阿姜曼:「當你閉起雙眼、靜坐不動,或來回走動時是在尋找什麼嗎?」

        阿姜曼回答道:「我把我的佛陀給搞丟了,所以當我坐著或走路時,都是在找佛陀。」

        「什麼是佛陀?我們能幫你一起找嗎?」

        「佛陀是三界中所出現過及記載過的事物中最稀有的珍寶。如果你們能幫我找到它,那就太好了。那我們就能更容易、更快地看見佛陀。」

        「你的佛陀已經丟了很久了嗎?」

        「首先,一次靜坐或步行約十五至二十分鐘。佛陀不希望你花太多的時間去找它。這是怕你在過程中疲倦而無法跟上。一旦失去興趣,你就不會想要尋找,因而完全地遺失它。以上足夠讓你進行了。如果我再說得太多,你會記不得全部的細節,反而會降低你找到佛陀的機會。」

        村民牢記這些指導後便回家了。他完全沒有向阿姜曼做任何的請示就直接離開了,因為山區部落並沒有這種禮儀。當他覺得該離開的時候,他就會直接站起來離開。一回到村裡,每個人都聚集過來,想聽看看到底發生了什麼事。他解釋阿姜曼為什麼要雙眼闔目、靜坐不動以及來回步行的原因,那是因為他正在尋找珍貴的寶物 —— 佛陀,而非他們所認為「老虎偽裝的人的行為」。接著他說出阿姜曼對如何才能找到佛陀的簡要指示。當村民們知道這方法後,從村長直到婦孺每個人都開始練習,內心繫念著「佛陀」。

        幾天過後,不可思議的事情發生了。佛陀的法已清晰地出現在一位村民的內心。某個村民照著阿姜曼的建議,一遍又一遍重複著「佛陀」時,他發現了「法」,他的心獲得了平靜與安詳。在這件事發生的幾天前,這名男子夢見阿姜曼正把一個非常巨大且明亮的蠟燭放在他的頭頂上,當蠟燭放到他的頭頂時,他的整個身體,從頭至腳底都放出明亮的光芒。光芒照亮了四周,他感到內心充滿了喜悅。當他證得這份寧靜的境界後,便立刻跑去告訴阿姜曼他的成就與他之前奇妙的夢境。然後阿姜曼又進一步給他指示,好讓他繼續練習下去。結果,他的進步非常快速,很快便獲得他心通。他也是以典型山區部落人民的那種豪爽的性情,直接了當告訴阿姜曼這件事。

        又過了一些時日,這個村民對阿姜曼說他已透視過阿姜曼的「心」,並清楚地看見它的特質。阿姜曼開玩笑地問他,是否裡面還有許多的不淨?這個村民毫不遲疑地回答:「你的心裡沒有任何一處有垢穢,只有令人不敢置信且純然耀眼的光芒。你的心是舉世無雙的,我從來沒有見過像這樣卓越的事物。你到這裡已經快一年了,為何不一開始就來教導我這些呢?」

        「你要我怎麼教導你?你又沒來問過我任何問題啊!」

        「我那時並不知道你是一位無上的導師。若我當時知道,我肯定早就來了。現在我們已經知道你是位極有智慧的人。那時我們來問你為何要閉起雙眼、靜坐不動,來回步行是在找尋什麼?你告訴我們你把你的佛陀給弄丟了,並請我們幫忙找它。當我們請你描述它時,你說佛陀是一個閃閃發光的珍寶;但結果你的心就是真正的佛陀。所謂遺失的佛陀不過是一個巧妙的計策,好讓我們能繫念佛陀,讓我們的心能像你的一樣,閃閃發光。現在我們知道你有大智慧,也希望我們能發現自己心中至高無上的佛陀,才能確保長久的福祉與快樂。」

        這位村民見「法」的消息很快就傳遍了全村,這使得大家更有興趣修習「念佛」,就連小孩子也開始修習。他們因此對阿姜曼充滿了信心,對他的教導也愈來愈尊敬。沒有人會再提起「由老虎所偽裝的人」這件事了。

        從那時起,這位已見「法」的村民會在阿姜曼托缽之後跟隨,幫忙拿阿姜曼的缽回到森林的住處。當阿姜曼吃完飯後,他會請阿姜曼指導他禪修。如果他有事無法前來,他會請別人告訴阿姜曼,他無法前來提缽陪行。雖然村裡有相當多的村民修習了禪定,但這第一名男子仍是其中最有成就的。

        當人們已確立了信心以後,其他的一切都自然水到渠成。例如,以前這些人是絕不會關心阿姜曼的飲食或休憩,也不管他是死是活。但後來當他們對阿姜曼建立起信心與尊敬,以前所缺少的東西一下子都齊全了。根本不需要阿姜曼開口交代,村民就會聚集起來為他建造一個經行步道。他們也為他建了一間小屋和一個可坐下來用餐的平台。當他們來幫忙時,他們會以抱怨的語氣來表達對阿姜曼的讚揚:「看看那經行步道,幾乎都被雜草掩蓋了,你恐怕得要變成一隻野豬才有可能鑽過那堆雜草叢;但你仍然堅持在那裡經行。你知道你真的很奇怪嗎?當我們問你那小徑是幹什麼用的?你說你丟掉了佛陀,而它是用來尋找佛陀的。問你為什麼要闔眼靜坐不動,你也說你是在尋找佛陀。你明明是一位至高無上的大師,但你卻不肯告訴任何人。即使你是我們見過最奇怪的人,但我們還是喜歡你這個樣子。你將樹葉鋪在地上當作床,但樹葉都已經有霉味了。這幾個月你怎麼能受得了呢?它看起來就像是豬的巢穴。現在看到你的住處,我們都覺得很對不起你,都快忍不住哭出來了。我們之前是那麼的愚蠢,我們不知道你是如此的聖潔。更糟糕的是,有一些人甚至還指責你居心叵測,去說服其他人討厭、懷疑你。現在全村終於都已經信任與尊敬你了。」

        阿姜曼說,當山區部落的人民信任與尊敬某人後,那種信心就是發自內心且毫不保留。他們會無條件的忠誠,如果有必要,他們寧願犧牲自己的性命。他們把他的教導都放在心裡,並依法奉行。當他們愈來愈擅於繫念佛陀的法門後,阿姜曼教導他們每天慢慢地增加練習的時間。

        阿姜曼停留在那個部落將近有一年多的時間,從某年的二月到隔年的四月,一直到他離開的時間終於到了。然而,由於這些人受到他這麼多的關愛,現在要離開就會變得非常的困難。他們非常不願意他離開。他們對他說,希望他能終身都能留在那裡,一旦他死後,部落將會為他舉行盛大的火葬。這些人都是發自內心的敬愛與奉獻,願意完完全全地信任他。毫無疑問的,他們已親身體驗到了他對他們教導的利益。而他們有足夠的智慧能很清楚地看到自己的過錯。一旦他們知道他是一位具有戒德、值得尊敬的比丘,他們會立刻拋棄原本的邪見,懇求他的寬恕。而他也早就原諒了他們,現在又對他的弟子說,村民們已改過了,這意味著他們兩位比丘已經可以離開此處。

        然而與他們的道別卻不是一件容易的事。阿姜曼說,當他們懇求他留下來時,見證到他們所流露出真摯且深刻的情感,實在難以形容。一聽到他即將要離開,全村落的人都出來,邊哭泣邊乞求,他們的激動不安充滿整座森林,他們的哭泣聲聽起來就像是有至親去世一般。他對村民們解釋他要離開的原因,並試圖安慰他們,並使他們瞭解這樣的悲痛是沒有意義的。他勸告大家要自我克制,而這才與「法」相應。

        當他們平靜下來後,似乎已經接受他將離去的事實,緊接著,意想不到的事情又發生了。所有村民,包括婦孺,都跟在他的後面依依不捨地走著,一路上圍著他團團轉,他們開始去抓他的隨身物品,有的人去抓他的傘、碗與水壺,而其他人則拉住他的袈裟,或緊緊抓住他的手臂和腿,試圖要把他拉回來。他們的行為就像小孩子一樣,不想讓他離去。

        阿姜曼不得不再次解釋為何他要離開,並安慰他們,使他們平靜下來,而他們也終於讓他離開了;但只要他一邁開腳步,他們還是會哭著把他拉回來。經過幾個小時以後,他才終於能離開此處,而當時整個森林也染上令人心碎、悲痛欲絕的氣氛。最初「老虎所偽裝的人」這個綽號現在已煙消雲散,取而代之的是對一位聖人深深的依戀與崇敬。最後,這群部落的人無法忍住情緒,聚集在他身邊哭泣、懇求,他們的哭泣聲迴盪在林間,形成一股愈來愈澎湃的哀求:「趕快回來看我們吧!請不要離開太久,我們會因為想念您而難過的。」

        在原本是充滿猜疑與敵意的地區,卻在阿姜曼離開時充滿著尊敬與敬愛。他已經成功地將粗鄙轉化為優雅,大幅提升其價值,而這正是一名佛弟子應該做的事。佛弟子絕不會去怨恨或責備他人。若有人厭惡他們,他們會慈悲地盡力去幫助那個人。他們不會因為他人的不當行為而反擊,也不會懷有任何的敵意,因為那樣的行為只會導致無止盡地互相指責。一顆充滿慈悲的心,能使那些飽受無明所煎熬的人們生起淨信,並為他們提供一個安詳、可靠的庇護。這樣良善的心,可謂世間稀有!

        後來我們聽到阿姜曼講述這則故事時,我們都不禁對這些部落的人民生起同情,在我們的腦海中彷彿可以清楚看到發生在森林裡令人哀傷的畫面。我們可以想像得到,這些有著堅強信仰的村民們,願意為這位擁有至高美德的人做出任何的犧牲。他們只是想要沐浴在他的慈光之下,繼續享受著富足昌盛的生活。於是他們哭著哀求他,抓著他的手臂與雙腳,拉著他的衣服和隨身物品,希望他能回到那個有平台與茅草屋頂的小屋,那裡就是他們內心豐足的起點。雖然這種場面是如此感人,但他繼續行腳的時間已到。沒有人能真正無視於世間的無常。瞬息萬變才是這世間的真相,沒有什麼能阻止它的運行。因此當時候已到時,阿姜曼不得不離開;雖然他也完全瞭解那些忠實的村民們在情感上是如此眷戀著他。

        儘管阿姜曼曾一度被部落村民說成是「老虎所偽裝的人」,但眾所皆知的事實是他是一位「清淨的人」,他為這個世間揭示了無與倫比的聖潔梵行。阿姜曼循著阿羅漢的自然特質而離開了那個部落,目的是為了讓更多的人能有機會親近無上福田。

        佛教是這世間最珍貴的傳承,它事實上也一直存在於每一個眾生之中。然而,它也可能會被惡意中傷,就如同阿姜曼被誣指為「老虎偽裝的人」,最後可能會被一些敵視佛陀教誨與傳承的人嚴重破壞。事實上,這種破壞早就已經開始了,所以我們不應驕矜自滿。如果我們不履行自己的義務,這個傳承可能就會被破壞殆盡,而我們只能在事後懊悔不已。

        阿姜曼的生活處事都是遵循著阿羅漢的方式。當他生活在森林或山區時,不斷地教導感化山地部落的人民,或是天神、梵天、鬼、龍、大鵬金翅鳥(garua)[1]等。他總是慈悲地幫助這個世間。在人類社會中,他平等地教導比丘、沙彌、八戒尼或是社會各階層的信眾。各處的人們都在找尋他,想獲得他的指導,而他們也都因此獲得莫大的裨益。他總能做出全面並條理清楚的教導,而且其他人很難與他相提並論。

        當阿姜曼住在清邁府山區的時候,部落的居民都會在接近黃昏時滿懷著喜悅來聽他說法。到了午夜時分,他則為諸天說法,並一一回答他們的詢問。教導天神們是一項辛苦的工作,因為很難找到另一位在神通方面能取代他的比丘。至於教導人類則可以委託他人代勞,至少聽法的民眾能瞭解並依法奉行,便能獲得利益。對阿姜曼而言,與諸天的互動是最重要的。因此,有關他與諸天互動的故事,總會在不同的時間、不同的地點,乃至到最後穿插出現在他的傳記中。

        就在不久前,我去頂禮一位最優秀的頭陀禪師。他是一位資深的比丘,有極為良善、溫和的性情,深受泰國各地的人們與僧團所崇敬。當我抵達時,他正與幾位近侍弟子在討論佛法,所以我剛好能加入他們的討論。我們一開始討論佛法實修方面的各類議題,最後則談到他過去的老師-- 阿姜曼。他曾在清邁府的偏遠山區裡接受過阿姜曼的指導。他們是住在森林裡,步行需要幾天的時間才能抵達最近的村落。很難用言語來記述那一天他告訴我許多不凡且驚人的故事。而我在此只會敘述那些我認為適當的故事,省略掉其餘的事件。理由就如同前面所述。

        這位阿姜說,阿姜曼除了有不容質疑的清淨心以外,他還具有許多獨特的神通,使得弟子們都很敬畏他,以確保他們在任何時候都能保持正知正念。他說,他不可能記得所有他聽阿姜曼說過奇異且不凡的故事。我則鼓勵他就他記得的都告訴我,因為這些敘述都將會如紀念物般,作為激勵後世眾生的來源。以下則是他所述的內容:「我能說什麼呢?阿姜曼就是會知道我在想什麼!我感覺不管是白天或夜晚都被一條鍊子給緊緊地拴住,我就是以這樣的正念覺知來觀照我的心。但就算我盡了全力,他仍然可以抓到我的妄念,並公諸於眾,讓大家都知道。當我和他住在一起的時候,我的禪修實際上是相當不錯的,但我就是無法阻止妄念的產生。我們千萬不要低估它不分日夜、不停地想的能力。我們當中又有多少人有足夠的時間追趕得上我們的思想,並有效地控制它們?所以我無時無刻都保持警覺,因為他比我還要能抓得住我的念頭。有時,他甚至會說出連我自己都忘記的想法,赫然間,我會憶起那是過去很久以前的想法。」

        我問這位阿姜,是否阿姜曼曾經斥責過他?他說:「他有時會,但,通常他會讀完我的心念後,便使用這些資訊為我說法。有時其他的比丘也會聽到,這真的讓我很丟臉。還好,就算有其他比丘坐在一旁聽到,阿姜曼也絕不會公布犯錯者的名字,他只會提到不善思惟中值得借鏡的那一面。」

        我想知道為何他覺得阿姜曼曾斥責過他。他說:「你知道愚癡凡夫這個名詞嗎?這意味著一個比巨石還要頑固且搖擺不受控的心。它不會考慮想法是好的還是壞的,是對的或錯的,光是這樣就已經該罵了。」

        我問當阿姜曼斥責他時,他是否會害怕?

「怎麼會不怕?我的身體或許沒有發抖,但我的心卻怕得要死,幾乎不敢呼吸。對於阿姜曼能知道他人心中的想法這一點,我一點都不懷疑。」

        「我自己就親身經歷過。他真的可以記下我所有的想法,之後當面問我。例如,時常我會生起一個有些想要獨自離開的想法。如果我是在夜裡生起這樣的想法,第二天一早,只要我遇到他,阿姜曼就會立刻教訓我:『你到底想要去哪裡?這裡遠比其他的地方好。你和我一起待在這裡對你才是最好的……』諸如此類。我要離開的念頭就是會被他察覺。『還是這裡比較舒服。待在這裡並且聽聞佛法,比起你獨自離開要更好。』他永遠不會同意我離開!我認為他是在擔心我的禪修可能會因此退步,所以他試圖留下我並隨時接受他的指導。」

        「最讓我害怕的是,不管白天還是晚上,只要我將心識集中在他的身上,我就會看到他回頭盯著我看。他似乎從來不休息!有幾個晚上我甚至不敢躺下,因為我會想到他就正坐在我的面前無時無刻觀察著我。當我集中心識在心外的對象時,我也總會發現他在那裡看著我。正因為如此,我時時警惕並保持正念。」

        「作為他的弟子,我們不得不保持正知正念。跟著他托缽時,我們都小心翼翼地控制念頭,限制我們的心念不要超過自己的身軀之外。如果我們稍有不慎,我們就可預期聽到喝斥,甚至有時當場就開始了!因此,我們隨時都以正念看顧自己的念頭。即使如此,他總是可以找到一些好理由來教訓我們。不可避免的,我們中間至少會有一位比丘讓阿姜曼出聲喝斥。」

        「在晚上聚會的時候,阿姜曼可能用一種喝斥的語氣責備一些聽起來相當奇怪卻似乎又無意義的事。只要集會結束後,比丘們就會私底下悄悄問當天是誰的想法被罵。最後一定會有人坦承,雖然聽起來很離譜,但他真的曾經這樣想過。與阿姜曼一起生活真是一種奇妙的經驗,因為對他的畏懼總是能促使我們每一個人提起正念。」

        這位阿姜告訴我,當他剛到清邁府時,他是待在當地的一間寺院。在那裡還不到一小時,他就看到一輛車開進寺院,而且就停在他剛剛搬進的小屋前面。

        「當我抬起頭看是誰來了,結果正是阿姜曼!我趕緊下來迎接他,我恭敬地問為什麼他會來此,他毫不遲疑地說是來接我的,他說他在我來的前一晚就知道了。我問他是否有人告訴他我今天會抵達清邁府。他說他如何知道並不重要,他就是知道並且要來這裡,所以他現在來了。聽到他說的,我開始擔憂了。而我愈認真思考這件事對我的影響,我就愈是惴惴不安。後來,當我和他住在一起之後,我所有的擔憂都得到了證實。」

        「如果在聽他說法時,我們的心能放下自己的成見,那麼我們就能沉浸在聞法的喜悅之中。他的整個開示都是法,清淨又淺顯易懂;它比我們聽過的任何事物都更能吸引我們的注意。但若有比丘不專心,分心於世間思維,我們很快就會在他的開示中感受到猛烈的砲火,而那位犯錯的比丘馬上就會如坐針氈。阿姜曼在說法時不會考慮他人因他的話可能感到不安,因為他的法就是要正面對抗無明所聚集之處。」

        「偶爾,他還是會說出比丘的名字,並直接問他,『你昨晚為什麼那樣修?那不是禪修的正確方式,你必須要這樣做……。』又或是『今天早上你為什麼會這樣想?如果你不想被這種有害的思維給毀了,就該立刻停止。你為什麼不照著佛陀的教導去思維與行事?你到底是怎麼了?我們在這裡是要以正法來修練自己,好擺脫過往錯誤的態度與邪思惟;我們在這裡不是要讓自己心猿意馬,而你現在做的事就是用它們來燒毀你自己。』那些已全心全意接受真理的人,都會安心地跟他一起生活,而他也很少會去責罵他們。但任何會讓他疑慮的鬼祟言行,就像是弟子的偏差思想正在燃燒他一般讓他難受,他會冷不防地對此作出讓人嚇一跳的批評。然而,若是那位比丘已意識到自己的錯誤,並改變他的心態,他就不會再多說什麼,事情也就此平息。」


 

[1] 大鵬金翅鳥,天龍八部之一,是龍族的天敵。

           

Ãcariya Mun said that, excepting the few who had visited large towns in the region, most of the hill tribe people in Chiang Mai had never seen monks before. Early in his travels, Ãcariya Mun and another monk went to live in the mountains about a mile and a half from a hill tribe village. They camped in the forest, taking shelter under the trees. In the morning, when they went to the village for alms food, the villagers asked why they had come. Ãcariya Mun said they had come to collect alms. Puzzled, the villagers asked him what that meant. Ãcariya Mun explained that they had come to collect offerings of rice. They asked him if he wanted cooked rice or uncooked rice. When he said cooked rice, they got some and put a little in each of their alms bowls. The two monks then returned to their camp and ate the plain rice.

Lacking faith from the very beginning, the villagers were very suspicious of the monks. That evening the village headman sounded the bamboo clapper to call everyone to a meeting. Referring to Ãcariya Mun and his disciple, he announced that there were now two ‘tigers in disguise’ staying in the nearby forest. He said that he had yet to determine what kind of tigers they were, but they weren’t to be trusted. He forbade the women and children to enter the forest in that area; and men who went were warned to go armed and in groups lest they should be attacked by the two tigers.

As it happened, Ãcariya Mun was beginning his evening meditation at precisely the time the announcement was made to the village community. So, Ãcariya Mun, who was the object of this warning, was also privy to the whole affair. He was deeply saddened by the senseless accusations; but, instead of feeling angry or discouraged, he felt only ineffable loving compassion for the local villagers. He was concerned that the majority might naively believe such slanderous talk and, therefore, be burdened by its dreadful moral consequences until they died – at which time they might well be reborn as tigers. Early the next morning, he informed his disciple of what he had seen.

“Last night the village headman assembled everyone and announced that we are ‘tigers in disguise’. We were both accused of being tigers who are disguised as monks in order to deceive them into trusting us so that we can then destroy both their persons and their properties. Because of this, they have no faith in us at all. If we were to leave here now while they still harbor these negative thoughts, they may all be reborn as tigers when they die – a grievous kamma indeed. So for their benefit, I think it’s incumbent on us as monks to remain here and put up with the situation for a while. We must endure the ensuing hardships until they’ve changed their attitude before we move to another location.”

Not only did the villagers distrust them, but groups of three or four armed men often came to keep an eye on them. Sometimes, they stood watching from a distance. But at other times, seeing Ãcariya Mun walking meditation, they came closer and stared at him from the end of his walking path, or from the side of it, or even stood right in the middle of it. They glanced around, surveying the whole area for about 10 to 15 minutes, then left. This surveillance routine continued day after day for many weeks.

The villagers showed no concern whatsoever about the personal welfare of these two ‘tigers’. They were not interested in whether or not they had enough food and other necessities to survive. Thus, the living conditions of these two tigers were difficult in the extreme. The most they received on almsround was plain rice. On some days, it was just barely enough to satisfy them; on other days, it wasn’t nearly enough, even though they drank a lot of water with it as well.

Since there was no cave or cliff overhang in which they could take shelter, they lived and slept under the trees, putting up with exposure to the sun and the rain. When it rained in that area, it tended to rain all day. After the rain abated and things dried out a bit, they went looking for dry leaves and grasses to construct a make-shift thatched roof, giving them some limited protection against the weather. It provided enough cover to survive from day to day, albeit with much discomfort. When it rained heavily, they sheltered under their tent-umbrellas with the cloth sheeting hanging down around them as protection against the cold wind. Often the rain was accompanied by strong winds that came howling down out of the mountains, blowing their umbrellas, soaking their belongings, and leaving both monks drenched and shivering. If it happened during the daytime, they could at least see what they were doing while collecting their requisites to look for some cover. But when it occurred at night, the situation was extremely trying. They were unable to see even as the rain poured down and the cold wind blasted through the trees, causing branches to break off and crash down around them. They were never sure of surviving this onslaught of rain, wind, cold, and loose debris flying at them from all directions. During such hardships, they just endured the best they could. They had to abide the heat, the cold, the hunger, the thirst, and the uncertainty of their existence while they waited for the villagers’ mistrust to subside. Even though they received only plain rice, their supply was, at best, erratic. Drinking water was hard to come by; so they had to walk down to the foot of the mountain to fill their kettles, carrying the water back up to serve their daily needs. Despite such an impoverished existence, the villagers showed no sympathy for their plight.

In spite of the hardships, Ãcariya Mun felt free of anxieties and responsibilities as his meditation practice progressed unhindered. He took great pleasure from listening to the calls of the various wild animals in the surrounding forest. Seated in meditation under the trees late at night, he constantly heard the sounds of tigers roaring close by. Curiously, those huge tigers rarely ventured into the area where he was seated. Occasionally, a tiger did approach Ãcariya Mun. Perhaps, suspecting him to be wild game, it snuck in to have a look. But as soon as the tiger saw him make a move, it leapt off into the forest in alarm, and was never seen again.

Nearly every afternoon, three or four men came to check them out. They stood around whispering among themselves without a word to Ãcariya Mun, who, in turn, ignored their presence. When they arrived, Ãcariya Mun focused his citta on their thoughts. They, of course, never suspected that he knew what they were thinking or what they were whispering about. It’s unlikely they even considered the possibility that someone could be privy to their thoughts, which they indulged in unrestrainedly. Ãcariya Mun focused his attention on everyone who came. As was to be expected of a reconnaissance party, he discovered that they were primarily looking to find fault with him in some way. Instead of taking precautions against such findings, Ãcariya Mun responded with great compassion. He knew that a majority of the villagers were subject to the corrupting influence of a small minority.

Ãcariya Mun remained at this site for many months; yet, the villagers persisted in trying to catch him at suspicious doings. Their sole purpose was to find him doing something that would confirm their worst fears. Although they were sincerely committed to this, they never tried to chase him away: they merely took turns spying on him. The villagers must have been surprised that despite their consistent surveillance for months, they still couldn’t catch him doing anything wrong.

One evening while sitting in meditation, Ãcariya Mun became psychically aware that the villagers were assembled for a meeting concerning his case. He could hear the village headman questioning the others about the results of their surveillance: What had they been able to determine so far? Those, who had taken turns observing the two monks, said the same thing: they could find no evidence to confirm their suspicions. They were worried that their suspicious attitude might be doing them more harm than good.

“Why do you say that?” The headman wanted to know.

They replied: “As far as we can tell, there’s nothing in their conduct to confirm our assumptions about them. Whenever we go to check them out, either they are sitting still with their eyes closed, or they’re calmly pacing back and forth, not looking here and there like most people do. People who are tigers in disguise, poised to attack their prey, would hardly behave like that. These two monks should have exhibited some sort of incriminating behavior by now, but we’ve seen nothing so far. If we keep treating them like this, we may suffer the consequences. The correct approach would be to speak with them to find out about their motives. Presuming their motives to be sinister may well reflect badly on us all.

“Good monks are hard to find. We have enough experience to tell good monks from bad ones. These monks deserve our respect. Let’s not hastily accuse them of treachery. To find out the whole story, let’s go speak with them. Let’s ask them why they sit still with their eyes closed, and why they pace back and forth – what are they searching for?”

A decision was reached at the meeting to send a representative to question the monks. In the morning, Ãcariya Mun spoke to his companion: “The villagers are beginning to have a change of heart. Last night they held a meeting about their surveillance of us. They have decided to send someone here to question us about their suspicions.”

Just as Ãcariya Mun foresaw, a village representative arrived that very afternoon to question him: “What are you searching for when you sit still with your eyes closed, or pace back and forth?”

Acariya Mun replied, “I’ve lost my buddho. I’m searching for buddho while sitting and walking.”

“What is this buddho? Can we help you find it?”

“Buddho is the most precious gem in the three worlds of existence – a jewel of all-pervading knowledge. If you help me find it, that’ll be excellent. Then we will all see buddho quickly and easily.”

“Has your buddho been missing long?”

“To begin with, sit or walk for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Buddho doesn’t want you to spend too much time searching for it yet. It’s afraid you’ll grow tired and so be unable to keep up with it. Losing interest, you will not want to search anymore. Then you’ll miss it altogether. This is enough to get you started. If I elaborate any further, you won’t remember it all, thus jeopardizing your chances of meeting buddho.”

With these instructions in mind, the villager returned home. He didn’t take leave of Ãcariya Mun in any special way, because that was not the hill tribe custom. Deciding that it was time to go, he simply got up and left. As soon as he arrived at the village, everyone gathered around to hear what had taken place. He explained why Ãcariya Mun sat still with his eyes closed and why he paced back and forth: he was searching for the precious gem buddho and not, as they had presumed, because he was a ‘tiger in disguise’. He then explained Ãcariya Mun’s brief instructions on how to find buddho. Once the villagers knew the method, everyone – from the headman on down to the women and older children – began to practice, mentally repeating ‘buddho’.

Several days later, something truly amazing happened. The Dhamma of the Lord Buddha arose clearly in the heart of one of the villagers. While mentally repeating the word “buddho” over and over again as Ãcariya Mun had suggested, one man in the village found Dhamma: his heart attained a state of peace and calm. A few days earlier, the man had dreamed that Ãcariya Mun was placing a very large, bright-shining candle on top of his head. The moment Ãcariya Mun set the candle on his head, his whole body, from the head on down, was brightly illuminated. He felt overjoyed as the radiance, spreading out around him, illuminated the surrounding area as well. Soon after he attained this state of tranquility, he went to tell Ãcariya Mun about his achievement, and about the amazing dream he had prior to it. Ãcariya Mun then gave him additional instructions on how to proceed with his practice. As it turned out, his progress was very quick: he was soon able to psychically know other people’s thoughts. He informed Ãcariya Mun of this very matter-of-factly in the forthright manner typical of forest people.

Sometime later, this man declared to Acariya Mun that he had examined Ãcariya Mun’s citta and had clearly seen its characteristics. Playfully, Ãcariya Mun asked if he could see much evil in his citta. The man answered without hesitation, “Your citta has no focal point whatsoever – only an absolutely incredible radiance shining within. Your preeminence is unrivaled anywhere in the world. I’ve never seen anything like it. You’ve been here about a year now, why didn’t you teach me about this right from the beginning?”

“How could I teach you? You never came to ask me any questions.”

“I didn’t know you were a supreme master. Had I known, I’d have come for sure. Now we all know you’re an extremely clever person. When we came asking you why you sat still with your eyes closed and what you were looking for as you paced back and forth, you told us your buddho was lost and asked us to help you find it. When asked to describe it, you said buddho is a bright, sparkling jewel, but in truth the real buddho is your heart. The missing buddho was simply a clever ploy to persuade us to meditate on buddho so that our hearts could become bright like yours. Now we realize that you’re a supremely wise person whose only desire was for us to discover the supreme buddho in our own hearts, thus ensuring our long-term welfare and happiness.”

The news of this man’s attainment of Dhamma spread rapidly through the community, further arousing everyone’s interest in buddho meditation so that even small children took it up. Their faith in Ãcariya Mun thus reinforced, their reverence for his teaching steadily increased. No one ever mentioned ‘tigers in disguise’ again.

From that time on, the man who had learned to meditate carried Ãcariya Mun’s alms bowl back to his forest retreat every day after the almsround. After Ãcariya Mun finished eating, he would then seek advice on his practice. On the days when he had business to attend to, he told someone to inform Ãcariya Mun that he wouldn’t be available to carry the alms bowl. Although quite a few men and women in the village learned to meditate, this first man was the most accomplished.

When people are satisfied, everything else naturally falls into place. For instance, previously these people were not the least bit interested in how Ãcariya Mun ate or slept, or even whether he lived or died. But later when faith and respect arose in them, those things that previously were scarce soon became plentiful. Without having to be asked, the villagers joined forces to make him a walking path. They also built him a hut and a platform on which to sit and have his meal. When they came to help, they disguised their praises of him in reproachful tones.

“Look at that walking meditation path. It’s all overgrown with vegetation. You’d have to be a wild boar to penetrate that thicket. And yet, you still insist on walking there. You’re really weird, you know. When we ask you what the path is for, you say it’s a place to search for buddho – I’ve lost my buddho. When asked why you sit still with your eyes closed, again you say you’re looking for buddho. Here you are a supreme master, yet you don’t tell anyone about it. You’re the strangest person we’ve ever known, but we like you just the way you are. Your bed is a carpet of moldy smelling leaves strewn over the ground. How could you stand it all these months? It looks like a pig’s lair. Looking at it now, we feel so sorry for you we could cry. We were very stupid, all of us. We didn’t realize what a wonderful person you are. Worse than that, a few of us accused you of having sinister motives, convincing the rest to dislike and distrust you. Finally now the whole village trusts and reveres you.”

Ãcariya Mun said that, when hill tribe people decided to trust and respect someone, their belief was heartfelt and unequivocal. Their loyalty was unconditional – they would sacrifice their lives if they had to. They took what they were taught to heart, conducting themselves accordingly. As they became more familiar with the method and more proficient in their practice, Ãcariya Mun taught them to steadily increase the amount of time they spent doing buddho meditation.

Ãcariya Mun stayed with those people for over a year – from February of one year to April of the following year – until he finally left. However, because of his great compassion for them, taking leave of them was very difficult for him. They were very reluctant to see him go. They assured him that, were he to remain there until he died, the whole community would arrange for his cremation. Those people were willing to put their complete trust in him out of a deep sense of love and devotion. Unmistakably, they had seen for themselves the good results of his teaching. And to their credit, they were smart enough to see their own faults as well. Once they came to know him as a truly virtuous, highly respected monk, they realized their mistake and so begged his forgiveness. He forgave them, later telling his disciple that their amends were complete. This meant that the two of them were then free to go somewhere else.

But taking leave of them was no simple matter. Ãcariya Mun said that it was moving beyond description to witness their affection and deep devotion as they beseeched him to stay. Having heard that he was preparing to leave, the whole village came out, weeping and pleading with him until the entire forest was disturbed by the commotion. It sounded as though they were mourning the dead. While explaining his reasons for leaving, he tried to comfort them, assuring them that such distress was unwarranted. He counseled self-restraint, which is the way of Dhamma.

When they calmed down, seemingly resigned to his departure, he began to leave his forest retreat. Then, something totally unexpected happened. All the villagers, including the children, ran after him. Surrounding him on the path, they proceeded to snatch away his requisites. Some grabbed his umbrella, his bowl, and his water kettle, while others clutched at the robes he wore or clung to his arms and legs, trying to pull him back again – acting just like children. They were determined to not let him go.

Ãcariya Mun was obliged once again to explain his reasons for leaving, consoling them until they calmed down. Finally they agreed. But no sooner had he started walking off than the crying began and they rushed to drag him back again. Several hours passed before he eventually got away. Meanwhile, the whole forest was disturbed by noisy scenes of hysteria that were heart-rending to watch. The initial epithet ‘tigers in disguise’ meant nothing to them then. In its place had arisen deep reverence and attachment for a man of supreme virtue. In the end, these hill tribe people couldn’t hold back their emotions. As they gathered around him crying and pleading, their many voices merged into a crescendo: “Hurry back to visit us again. Please don’t be gone long, we miss you so much already it’s breaking our hearts.”

Having arrived in the area surrounded by suspicion and dissatisfaction, Ãcariya Mun departed amid emotional scenes of affection and attachment. He had managed to turn something unseemly into something beautiful, so enhancing its value immensely – as befits one ordained as a disciple of the Buddha. The Buddha’s disciples never hold grudges or look to blame others. Should anyone dislike them, they will try to help that person with loving compassion. They never take offense at other people’s misbehavior nor do they harbor feelings of animosity that could lead to mutual recriminations. A heart full to overflowing with loving compassion inspires faith in those ablaze with kilesas by providing them with a peaceful, dependable refuge. A heart of such loving grace possesses virtuous qualities that are unparalleled in the world.

Later when listening to Ãcariya Mun tell this story, we couldn’t help sympathizing with the hill tribe people. We formed in our minds a clear image of those chaotic scenes in the forest – as though we were watching a movie. We could imagine the villagers’ potent faith, ready to sacrifice anything for this man of supreme virtue. All they asked was a chance to bask in his aura of loving kindness, thus continuing to enjoy a life of prosperity. So they cried and pleaded with him, clutching at his arms and legs, pulling on his robes and other requisites, until he returned to the small eating platform with the thatched roof that had been a source of such contentment. Though an incredibly moving occasion, the time had come for him to move on. No one can possibly negate the transient nature of the world. The driving principle of constant change keeps everything moving – nothing can halt its progress. For this reason, when the right time came, Ãcariya Mun had to leave, though he fully understood the position of those faithful villagers who were so emotionally attached to him.

Although Ãcariya Mun was once labeled a ‘tiger in disguise’ by the hill tribe people, it is well known that he was, in truth, a ‘pure one’ who existed as ‘an incomparable field of merit for the world’.8 Ãcariya Mun left that mountain community in order to follow his natural inclination – to be of the most benefit to the greatest number of people.

Buddhism is a priceless inheritance that has always been an integral part of our very existence. But, perhaps it too could fall prey to insidious accusations of being a ‘tiger in disguise’ much in the same manner that Ãcariya Mun did. It could end up being severely damaged by people whose views are hostile to Buddhist principles and traditions. In truth, this process has already begun, so we should not be complacent. If we fail to fulfill our obligations, we may forfeit this inheritance, only to regret it later.

ÃCARIYA MUN FOLLOWED the way of sugato.When living deep in the forests and mountains he was constantly of service to the hill tribesmen, or else the devas, brahmas, ghosts, nãgas, and garuðas【譯按:garuðas:大鵬金赤鳥,天龍八部之一,是龍族的天敵。】. He was always compassionately assisting the world in some way or other. In human society he taught monks, novices, nuns, and lay people from all walks of life without exception. People everywhere sought him out to hear his instructions. They all gained an enormous benefit from his teachings, always delivered in a thorough, coherent manner that would be hard for anyone else to equal.

While he lived in the mountains of Chiang Mai, the hill tribe people received great joy, listening to his Dhamma discourses in the late afternoons. Later at night, he taught Dhamma to devas from various levels of existence, always responding to their many inquiries. Teaching devas was a heavy responsibility, since it was difficult to find another monk with the same psychic skills to stand in for him. Teaching people was a responsibility that could be delegated to others – at least the people listening would gain enough understanding to derive some benefit if they made the effort. Ãcariya Mun’s relationship with devas of all realms was of primary importance to him. So his biography is interspersed with stories about them at different times in different places, right to the very end.

Not so long ago I went to pay my respects to a vipassanã kammaååhãna ãcariya of the highest caliber, a senior monk with an exceptionally kind, gentle disposition who is greatly revered by monks and lay people all over Thailand.When I arrived he was discussing Dhamma with several of his close disciples, so I took the opportunity to join them. We began by discussing various practical aspects of Dhamma, eventually coming around to the subject of Ãcariya Mun, who had been his teacher. In the past, he lived under Ãcariya Mun’s tutelage in the remote mountains of Chiang Mai, training with him at a forest retreat that was several days walk from the nearest town. It’s hard to find words to describe the many remarkable, amazing stories he told me that day. I shall relate the ones I feel are appropriate here, while the others I shall skip, for reasons I explained earlier.

This ãcariya said that, besides his undoubted purity of heart, Ãcariya Mun also possessed many unique abilities that inspired awe in his students and assured their vigilance at all times. He said he couldn’t possibly remember all of the strange, unusual stories he had heard from Ãcariya Mun; so, I urged him to tell me what he could remember. His words would serve as a memorial – a source of inspiration for future generations. This is what he said:

“Ãcariya Mun knew everything I was thinking – what more can I say? I felt as though I were on a tight leash day and night, such was the vigilance I applied to observing my mind. Despite my best efforts, he could still catch my errant thoughts, publicly exposing them for everyone to hear. My meditation was actually quite good while staying with him, but I couldn’t always prevent stray thoughts from arising【的產生】. We should never underestimate the mind’s ability to think incessantly, day and night – non-stop. How many of us can catch up with our thoughts long enough to restrain them effectively? So I was constantly on guard, for he was better at catching my thoughts than I was! Sometimes, he brought up thoughts that I’d forgotten having. Suddenly, I was made to recall thoughts that had long since past.”

I asked the ãcariya if Ãcariya Mun had ever scolded him. I asked the ãcariya if Ãcariya Mun had ever scolded him. He told me:

“Occasionally he did; but, more often he read my thoughts, then used them as a way of teaching me Dhamma. Sometimes other monks were listening as well, which really embarrassed me. Fortunately, if other monks sat listening, Ãcariya Mun never revealed the name of the offender – he merely spoke about the relative merits of the thoughts in question.”

I wanted to know why he thought Ãcariya Mun scolded him sometimes. He said:

“Do you know the word puthujjana?It means a mind denser than a mountain of stone, careening out of control. It doesn’t consider whether thoughts are good or bad, right or wrong – which was a sufficient reason for him to give a scolding.”

I asked him if he felt afraid when Ãcariya Mun scolded him.

“Why shouldn’t I have been afraid? My body may not have been shaking, but my mind certainly was. I almost forgot to breathe at times. I have no doubt that Ãcariya Mun truly did know the minds of others

 I experienced it myself. He could literally collect all my thoughts, then confront me with them later. For example, from time to time I rather foolishly thought about going off on my own. If such a thought occurred to me at night, early the next morning, as soon as I encountered him, Ãcariya Mun immediately started lecturing me: ‘Just where do you think you’re going? It’s far better here than anywhere else. It’s best that you stay here with me …’ and so on. He never let these thoughts pass undetected. ‘It’s more enjoyable here. Staying here and listening to the Dhamma is better than going off on your own.’ He never would consent to my going. I believe he was worried that my meditation practice might deteriorate, so he tried to keep me under his tutelage the whole time.

“The thing that terrified me about him was, day or night, whenever I decided to focus my citta’s attention on him, I saw him staring back at me. It seemed he never took a rest! There were nights when I didn’t dare lie down because I could visualize him sitting right in front of me, scrutinizing me every moment. Whenever I focused my citta on external objects, I invariably found him there looking at me. Because of this, my mindfulness was constantly alert.

“As his students, we were forced to be mindful. Following him on almsround, we carefully kept our thoughts under control, restraining our minds from straying beyond the confines of our bodies. Were we careless, we could expect to hear about it – sometimes immediately. Consequently, we exerted mindfulness over our thoughts – at all times. Even then, he could usually find something to lecture us about, and always with good reason. Inevitably, at least one monk among us gave Ãcariya Mun cause to speak out. During the evening meeting, Ãcariya Mun might speak in a scolding tone about some rather strange affair that seemed to make no sense. As soon as the meeting adjourned, the monks would quietly ask around to find out whose thoughts he was censuring that day. Eventually one of the monks confessed that, as strange as it might seem, he actually had been thinking such nonsense. Living with Ãcariya Mun was a wonderful experience, for fear of him always promoted a mindful attitude within each of us.”

This ãcariya told me that when he first arrived in Chiang Mai, he went to stay at one of the local monasteries. Having been there less than an hour, he saw a car pull into the monastery grounds and come to a stop right in front of the hut he had just moved into

“When I looked out to see who had come, there was Ãcariya Mun! Hurrying down to receive him, I respectfully asked why he had come. He replied without hesitation that he came to pick me up. He said that he knew the night before that I would be coming. I asked if someone had informed him that I would be arriving in Chiang Mai. He replied that it was beside the point how he learned of it – he knew about it and wanted to be here, so he just came on his own. Hearing that, I became apprehensive. And the more I considered the implications, the more apprehensive I grew. Later, when I was living with him, all my fears were confirmed.

“If our minds were free of conceited opinions when we received his Dhamma discourse, then we became pleasantly absorbed in listening. His entire discourse was Dhamma – pure and simple; and it engaged our full attention more than anything else we had ever heard. On the other hand, if a monk listened half-heartedly, burdened by the weight of worldly thoughts, then we soon perceived fire in his discourse, and the offending monk would promptly feel the heat. In giving a talk, Ãcariya Mun was not concerned about whose kilesas his words might disturb – his Dhamma rushed to confront the kilesas at just that point where they were most prolific.

“Occasionally, he did identify a monk by name, confronting him directly. ‘Why were you meditating like that last night? That’s not the right way to meditate, you must do it this way’ Or, ‘Why were you thinking like that this morning? If you want to avoid being ruined by such harmful thinking, then don’t think like that again. Why don’t you think and act in ways that the Lord Buddha has taught us? What’s the matter with you? We’re here to train ourselves in the way of Dhamma in order to get rid of wrong attitudes and erroneous thinking. We are not here to indulge our thoughts, burning ourselves with them the way you’ve been doing.’ Those who wholeheartedly accepted the truth, lived contentedly with him, and he didn’t say much to them. But any furtiveness caused him deep misgivings, as though the offending thoughts were fire burning him, and he would suddenly make a surprising comment about it. If, however, the monk realized his mistake and changed his attitude, then nothing further was said and the matter rested there.”