阿 姜 曼 正 傳 

 

第四章第五節:象大哥

      

                                            

            

第四章第五節:象大哥

    有一次,烏隆府的Wat Tham Klong Phen寺的阿姜考,和色軍府的Wat Suddhawat寺的阿姜瑪哈通薩,這兩位比丘跟阿姜曼一起在清邁府的山區行腳。在通往山區的隘口,他們碰見一隻被主人釋放後獨自四處亂逛的巨大大象。他們看到的是一隻有六英呎長(約合一點八公尺)的獠牙、正在覓食的龐然巨象,真的是相當令人害怕的景象!

        他們彼此討論該如何繼續前進。因為那是一條唯一通往山上的小徑,而又沒有多餘的空間可以繞過這隻大象。阿姜曼吩咐阿姜考去跟這隻正在大啖路旁竹葉的大象溝通一下。於是阿姜考站在二十碼的距離外,對著這隻仍背對著他們且尚未注意到他們的大象說:「象大哥,可以跟你打個商量嗎?

        一開始,大象並沒有聽清楚他的聲音,但牠停止了咀嚼竹葉。

        「象大哥,可以跟你商量一下嗎?」

        這次牠清楚地聽到了。這隻大象突然轉過來面對這些比丘。牠的耳朵全開,一動也不動地站在那裡。

        「象兄,我們想與你溝通一下。你這麼強大,而我們只是一群弱小又非常懼怕你的比丘。大哥啊,我們希望能經過你現在所站的地方。請問大哥能否移動一下,讓我們有空間可以過去?如果你一直站在那裡,真的會嚇到我們,我們不敢走過去。」

        當他一說完,這隻大象立刻就轉過身,並將象牙插進旁邊的一叢竹子裡,表達出牠會讓他們平安通過的意思。他們看到大象面對竹叢,阿姜曼告訴比丘們,牠不會干擾他們了,現在可以繼續前進。那兩位比丘請阿姜曼走在他們之間,阿姜考領頭,阿姜瑪哈通薩則走在後面。他們排成一列縱隊,從大象身後約六英呎(一點八公尺)處平安地通過。

        然而正當他們正要離開時,阿姜瑪哈通薩的傘不小心鉤到一叢竹子,而離大象就只有幾碼遠。無論他怎麼嘗試就是無法把傘拔出來,因此他不得已在那裡花了相當長的一段時間試著把傘給拔出來。

        大象就那樣直直盯著他看,他真是嚇死了,冷汗直流。然而大象就只是站在那裡,像是一個巨大的填充玩偶;而他則是拼命地想要解開鉤住的傘。當他抬頭瞥見大象的眼睛,發現那是一對明亮又清晰的眼睛。事實上,大象的面貌安詳親切,不會令人害怕;但在那個時刻他仍被恐懼籠罩著。

        當他終於解開傘,恐懼才消退,這時他才意識到這隻大象是這麼的令人喜愛。

        看到大家都平安地走過後,阿姜考轉身對大象說:「嘿,象兄。我們都過來了,現在您可以放輕鬆些,安心地進食吧。」當他一說完,立刻就傳來咀嚼竹子的嘎吱嘎吱的聲響。

        稍後比丘們稱讚這隻聰明的大象,一致同意牠是一隻能激發出歡喜與慈悲的動物,牠缺少的只是說話的能力。當他們討論時,阿姜瑪哈通薩很想知道阿姜曼對這件事的看法,於是他問道:「從我們對牠說話到平安通過為止,這整段時間你都能讀取大象的心思嗎?因為牠是那麼討人喜愛,所以我很想多知道一些。」

        「當牠最初聽到我們的呼叫時,突然焦慮不安地轉身面對我們,我那時確信牠快要衝向我們,當場把我們壓成碎片;但只要牠一瞭解狀況,牠的心就轉變為柔軟了,就好像一個披著動物外衣的人一樣,迅速地將象牙插入竹叢中,站在那兒一動也不動。」

        「顯然牠似乎是在告訴我們:『現在你們這些小老弟可以過來了。大哥我不會做出任何事情。我已經把武器收好了。相信我,過去吧。』」

        阿姜瑪哈通薩接著取笑阿姜考:「阿姜考真是太神奇了,就像跟人說話一樣,對著動物說:『大哥,你的小弟們在害怕,不敢通過。麻煩大哥你讓個路,這樣我們就可以通過而不用害怕。』」

        「當牠聽到這番恭維,便高興地立刻讓路。然而小兄弟我真是笨手笨腳,沒想到才走過象大哥的身旁,傘就鉤在竹叢裡,怎麼樣也無法將傘給拔出來,看來老天是要讓我待在象大哥那裡了!」

        「那個時候我的心一直往下沉,我深怕象大哥突然翻臉不認人。」

        聽到阿姜瑪哈通薩取笑阿姜考聰明到可以跟大象說話,阿姜曼也開心地笑了出來。他向他們證實,他早已注意到大象的精神狀況。

        「我當然有將注意力集中在那兒。以前在沒有像這次這麼緊急的狀況下,我就已經讀過許多鳥或猴子的心思。但這次可是關係到生或死,我怎麼可能不去讀牠的心思呢?」

        阿姜瑪哈通薩想知道阿姜曼到底讀取了大象當時在想些什麼。

        「當牠第一次聽到我們時,牠嚇了一跳,這就是為什麼牠會這麼快地轉過身來,牠只想到要準備打架了;但當牠看到身穿黃色大衣的我們,牠本能地知道我們是可信任的,因為牠很習慣看到比丘,牠的主人早已訓練過牠不能傷害比丘。所以當阿姜考以親切和藹的語氣稱呼牠大哥時,牠非常地高興,馬上就讓路了。」

        「牠能了解阿姜考對牠說的每個字嗎?」

        「當然可以;否則怎麼可能訓練牠從山上把原木給拖運下來?如果牠聽不懂人話,牠可能早就會因為毫無用處而被處理掉了。這種動物必須經過訓練,直到了解人類的語言後,才可以去從事各式各樣的工作。這隻的大象已經超過一百歲了。看看牠的象牙,幾乎有六英呎長!牠一定與人類生活過一段漫長的時間。牠的主人比牠還年輕,但他仍然可以使喚牠工作。牠怎麼可能聽不懂人話呢?牠絕對沒有問題的。」

        「當牠轉過身把象牙插入竹叢裡時,牠在想什麼呢?」

        「嗯,正如我所說的,牠了解情況並且讓路給我們。牠並沒想別的事。」

        「在我們走過去時,你有一直注意牠的心思嗎?當我們走過以後,牠又在想些什麼?」

        「我讀到的就是這隻大象願意讓路,牠沒在想別的事情。」

        「我會這樣問是因為我擔心牠在我們走過以後,會想攻擊我們,有些動物會出於好玩而這麼做。」

        「瑪哈通薩,你的想像力太豐富了。如果你能像這次一樣,針對實質性的事項,樂於思考、打破砂鍋問到底,那麼你有一天一定可以超越苦;但你卻像大多數人一樣,總是把時間浪費在空泛無聊的事情上面,而不去思維有益之事。而且,你可能也根本不想改變這種行為模式!你只想不斷地思索,整晚只想知道大象的狀況,難道你對佛法沒有絲毫的關心嗎?」

        阿姜瑪哈通薩聽到警告以後,便不再談論這件事。他害怕再談下去會招致更嚴厲的喝斥。

        許多比丘被喝斥的理由,都是因為他們跟阿姜曼說話時不專心,或因為無聊就隨便與阿姜曼說話。有些人甚至因此而發瘋。

        曾經有一位莽撞的比丘跟阿姜曼修行了一段短暫的時間。當阿姜曼作出評論後,這位比丘總喜歡插話來表達他自己的見解。當他初到時,阿姜曼就常常告誡他別多管閒事。阿姜曼勸他應仔細地觀察自己的思緒並抑制說出自己意見的衝動,致力於實修的比丘必須要知道如何正確地行事,而保持正念的比丘則能夠清楚地看到一個只想要高談闊論的心智的不善;但是這位比丘卻對於在阿姜曼的教導下的比丘應該有什麼樣的舉止則感到興趣缺缺。

        阿姜曼有一個特別的習慣,在托缽時若遇到動物或人們,他會把這些作為觀照的對象,用他們來教導走在他身後的比丘們。對於所看到的現象,他會像對著空氣說話一般,大聲地說出他的見解。

        有一天,他看到了一隻可愛的小牛調皮地在母牛周圍跑來跑去。起初小牛沒有看到比丘接近,但當比丘並肩走過來時,牠看看四周就嚇得跑向母牛,緊挨在媽媽的脖子下,然後害怕地偷看著比丘。母牛看到小牛跑向自己,便很快轉過頭面向比丘們,然後依然保持著平靜,牠的表現就如同一般動物習慣每天看見比丘一樣;但小牛仍躲在媽媽的下巴底下,遲疑地盯著他們。阿姜曼以平常的方式談起小牛與母牛的反應之差異。

        「這隻母牛是那麼地泰然自若,但小牛卻是那麼害怕,牠看起來就像是要揹起母牛趕緊逃跑[1]。牠一看到我們就哭著找媽媽去了。」

        「人類其實也是一樣,他們會立刻找一個可靠的避難處。如果他們靠近母親,他們就會跑向她;如果他們靠近父親,他們就會衝向他。人類總是會依靠親人與朋友的支持與幫助,他們幾乎不會想到要依靠自己。當年幼時,我們以某種方式依靠著他人;當長大成人後,我們則以另一種方式依靠他人;當年老的時後,我們仍是期望能以別種方式依賴他人!幾乎沒有人會向內尋找,在自己的身內找尋依靠,只是不斷地在找尋他人作為倚靠,我們就助長了自己的軟弱,讓自己沒有機會能真的自依止。」

        「我們比丘也如同在家人一樣,出家受戒以後,我們對修行就變得懶散,畏苦怕難,懶於實踐正道。不管我們想到什麼並開始將它付諸實踐時,我們似乎總是虎頭蛇尾;於是緊接著懶散就悄悄地進駐,阻止了我們的進步。因為我們缺乏幫助自己的能力,於是一直尋求他力的幫忙;若不如此,我們就像是活不下去了一樣!如果我們不能自力自強,還要靠別人才能呼吸的話,那句『自依止』的箴言對我們就毫無意義。致力於修行的頭陀比丘不應該總是依靠他力才能呼吸並生存下去!」

        「聽老師的話,思索他的教導並竭誠致力以求證悟。不要讓他的教導只是從你們的指縫中流過而變成毫無用處。要堅持下去,仔細思索老師的教導並遵照他的建議,直到能清楚看到利益的生起,然後你們就不再需要倚靠老師的幫助了。屆時你們將真的以自己的鼻子呼吸,這意味著你們將會發展出擺脫苦的知識與智慧。漸漸地,你們會愈來愈有信心,更能自依止,直到最後你們成為成熟且完全獨立自主的比丘。」

        阿姜曼提起這件事情,是為了讓與他一起托缽的比丘們能有沉思的主題。而當他暫時緩口氣時,這位有些冒失的比丘就隨意地接話下去並將話題扯給遠了,他完全沒考慮到這樣的行為很不應該。或許這位比丘的愚痴行為深深地冒犯了阿姜曼,他轉身過去對他嚴厲地喝斥,這讓其他的比丘們都嚇了一跳,他們有些害怕。

        「你一定是瘋了!你就像隻瘋狗,會跳向任何丟來的舊木片並且瘋狂地亂咬。你為什麼不往內看,看清楚這瘋狂的源頭。如果你再不遏止這類無意義的閒扯,你就會發瘋。」

        阿姜曼接著便轉身走回寺院,不再說任何話。回到寺院後,比丘們注意到那位冒失的比丘似乎有些怪怪的,他吃得很少,似乎是受到驚嚇,整個人都呆掉了。比丘們看到他的古怪行為,怕他會覺得不好意思,於是沒說什麼,就當作什麼事都沒發生過。

        從那天起,寺院裡一如往常,每位比丘都專心致力於禪修。但後來到了夜晚,當四下一片寧靜,他們突然聽到有人以一種錯亂且不協調的音調大聲喊叫。他們立刻尋聲趕過去,發現那位比丘躺在自己的小屋裡,神智不清地翻來覆去並且喃喃地唸著「自己這麼無禮冒犯阿姜曼實在是太不應該了」這類的話。大家看到這一幕大家都感到很震驚,於是有些比丘立刻去找當地的村民來幫忙。他們找來一些草藥讓他服下,並且按摩他的四肢,經過一段時間以後,這位比丘終於平靜下來睡著了。隔天早上,村民帶他去看醫生。他的病情很快地好轉,雖然仍偶爾會發作個幾次。當他的狀況已經好到可以旅行時,他們就送他回家,之後就再也沒有他的消息了。

        阿姜曼的喝斥,會隨著情況而有所不同。一個輕微的責罵通常可以促進當下的正念,並且提升未來的精進力;但是如果有人做出了會被嚴厲喝斥的行為,而那個人又缺乏足夠的判斷力,能從這個喝斥中得到利益的話,那麼這種喝斥可能就會對他造成傷害,正如我們所看到的例子一樣。所以與阿姜曼共住的比丘必須極度地警覺,並無時無刻地自我控制。與他同住一段時間並不意味著他們就可以在他面前隨隨便便,因為阿姜曼可不是那種輕易就會與人熱絡的人。他的學生們可能永遠不能過度自滿。畢竟,就算是對獵人有高度警覺性的鹿,有時可能也會中槍!

 

[1] 阿姜曼此時是指小牛的身體就在母牛的脖子之下,看起來就像要把母牛揹起一般。

       

Once Ãcariya Mun was wandering dhutanga in the Chiang Mai mountains with two other monks, Ãcariya Khao of Wat Tham Klong Phen monastery in Udon Thani province and Ãcariya Mahã Thongsak of Wat Suddhawat monastery in Sakon Nakhon province. As they reached a narrow gap in the path leading up the mountain, they chanced upon a large, solitary elephant whose owner had released it and then wandered off someplace. All they could see there was a gigantic elephant with huge six-foot tusks searching for food quite a fearsome sight. They conferred among themselves about how to proceed. This was the only path up the mountain, and it allowed no room for going around the elephant. Ãcariya Mun told Ãcariya Khao to speak with the elephant, which was eating bamboo leaves at the side of the path. Standing about twenty yards away with its back to them, it had yet to notice their approach. Ãcariya Khao addressed the elephant:

Big brother elephant, we wish to speak with you.

At first, the elephant didnt clearly hear his voice, but it did stop chewing the bamboo leaves.

Big brother elephant, we wish to speak with you.

Clearly hearing this, the elephant suddenly swung around to face the monks. It stood stock-still, its ears fully extended.

Big brother elephant, we wish to speak with you. You are so very big and strong. Were just a group of monks, so weak and so very frightened of you, big brother. We would like to walk past where youre standing. Would big brother please move over a bit so that we have room to pass by? If you keep standing there, it really frightens us, so we dont dare walk past.

As soon as he finished speaking, the elephant immediately turned to the side and thrust its tusks into the middle of a clump of bamboo, signaling its intention to let them pass, unharmed. Seeing it facing the clump of bamboo, Ãcariya Mun told the others that they could continue on as it would not bother them now. The two monks invited Ãcariya Mun to walk between them, Ãcariya Khao walking in front and Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak following behind. They walked past in single file only six feet from the elephants rear end, without incident. But as they were walking away, the hook on Ãcariya Mahã Thong Saks umbrella got tangled by chance in some bamboo just a few yards past the elephant. It defied all attempts to extricate it, so he was forced to struggle with it for quite some time. Terrified of the elephant which was now looking right at him he was soon drenched in sweat. Fighting desperately to disentangle the hook, he glanced up at the eyes of the elephant, which stood there like a huge stuffed animal. He could see that its eyes were bright and clear. In truth, its countenance inspired affection rather than fear, but at that moment his fear remained strong. When he finally did get free, his fear subsided, and he realized that this elephant was a very endearing animal. Seeing that they were all safely past, Ãcariya Khao turned to the elephant.

Hey, big brother, weve all passed-by now. Please relax and eat in peace.

As soon as he finished speaking, the sound of crunching, breaking bamboo filled the air.

Later the monks praised this intelligent elephant, agreeing it was an animal that inspired affection and sympathy. The only faculty it lacked was the ability to speak. As they were discussing this, Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak was curious to hear Ãcariya Muns reaction, so he asked:

Were you able to read that elephants mind the whole time, from the moment we spoke to it until we passed clear of it? Since it was so endearing, Id really like to know. When it first heard us call out, suddenly turning around to face us in an agitated fashion, I was sure it was about to charge and crush us to pieces right then and there. But as soon as it understood the situation, it had a change of heart almost like a person in an animals body and quickly thrust its tusks into the middle of that clump of bamboo, standing very still. Clearly it seemed to be telling us: You little brothers can come now. Big brother wont do anything. Big brother has put away his weapons. Believe me, come along.’ “

Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak then teased Ãcariya Khao:

Ãcariya Khao is really amazing, speaking with an animal as though it was just another human being: Big brother, your little brothers are frightened and dare not pass. Please make way so that we can go by without fearing big brother. As soon as it received this bit of flattery, it was so pleased that it immediately prepared to make way for us. But this little brother was really clumsy. I got past big brother only to get my umbrella hook caught up in the bamboo. Try as I might I couldnt get it free. It was determined to keep me there with big brother. My heart sank at that moment I was afraid that big brother wouldnt play fair.

Ãcariya Mun laughed heartily hearing Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak teasing Ãcariya Khao about being clever enough to talk to an elephant. He assured them that he had been paying attention to the elephants mental state.

Of course I was focusing my attention there. Ive read the minds of birds and monkeys with far less reason than this. This was a matter of life and death, how could I avoid it?

Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak wanted to know what the elephant was thinking when Ãcariya Mun focused on it.

When it first heard us, it was startled thats why it turned around so quickly. It thought only of preparing to fight. But seeing us dressed in yellow robes, it knew instinctively that we could be trusted, for its quite used to seeing monks. Its owner has long since trained it not to endanger them. So when Ãcariya Khao addressed it in a pleasant tone, calling it big brother, it was hugely pleased and immediately got out of the way.

Did it understand every word that Ãcariya Khao said to it?

Of course it did. Otherwise, how could it be trained to haul logs down from the mountains? If it couldnt understand, it would probably have been disposed of as useless long ago. This kind of animal must be trained until it knows mans language well before it can be made to perform various tasks. This particular elephant is over a hundred years old. Look at its tusks theyre almost six feet long. It must have lived among people for a long time. Its owner is relatively young, yet hes still able to drive it to work. How could it not understand human speech? Its certain to have no problem.

What was it thinking when it turned and stuck its tusks into the clump of bamboo?

Well, it understood the situation, as I said, and so was giving way to us. It didnt think of doing anything else.

Did you focus on its mind the whole time we were walking past it? What was it thinking just as we walked by?

All I saw was the elephant giving way. It wasnt thinking about anything else.

The reason I asked: I was worried that as we were walking past it might have thought it would like to attack us just for sport, as animals sometimes do.

You have an uncommonly prolific imagination, Mahã Thong Sak. If you enjoyed thinking and asking probing questions like this about matters of substance then you could certainly expect to transcend dukkha one day. But youre like most people you insist on wasting your time thinking about inane matters instead of useful ones, and you probably dont care to change. Are you going to keep pondering this matter, asking about that elephant all night without the slightest regard for Dhamma?

With this warning, Ãcariya Mahã Thong Sak dropped the whole affair. He was afraid that pressing the matter further would result in an even more severe rebuke.

MANY MONKS WERE REBUKED for speaking carelessly to Ãcariya Mun or speaking without good reason. Some even went mad afterwards. One rather obtrusive monk lived with Ãcariya Mun for a short while. When Ãcariya Mun made a comment, this monk liked to chime in expressing his own views. When he first arrived, Ãcariya Mun frequently warned him to mind his own business. He advised him to keep a close watch on his thoughts and restrain the impulse to speak out. Monks dedicated to the practice must know how to properly conduct themselves. Those who are mindful will see the inadequacies of a mind that wants to flow out. But it seems that this monk was not as interested as he should have been in Ãcariya Muns teaching.

Ãcariya Mun had a unique habit of taking the animals, or the people, that he encountered on almsround as objects of contemplation, using them to teach the monks walking behind him. He commented out loud on what he observed, as though speaking to no one in particular. One day, he spied a cute little calf playfully running around its mother. At first it didnt see the monks approaching; but as they came abreast, it looked around startled and raced to its mothers side, nuzzling in under her neck, then peering out to look at the monks with fear in its eyes. Seeing the calf run up to her, the cow quickly turned her head to look in the direction of the monks, then remained impassive, as animals do when they are accustomed to seeing monks daily. But the calf remained under her chin, staring out distrustfully. Observing them, Ãcariya Mun commented in a general way about the difference between the reaction of the calf and that of its mother.

That cow is quite unperturbed, but its calf is so frightened it looks like it wants to pick her up and flee.14 As soon as it got a glimpse of us, it ran bawling to its mother for help. People are just the same they rush to find a reliable refuge. If they are near their mother, they will run to her. If they are near their father, they will rush to him. People invariably lean on family and friends for support. Rarely do they think about relying on themselves. When we are young, we expect to rely on other people in one way; when we grow up, we expect to rely on them in another way; and when we grow old, we still expect to rely on others in yet a different way. Very few of us turn inward, looking for support within ourselves. By constantly looking for someone else to lean on, we tend to foster our own weakness and so never allow ourselves to become truly self-reliant.

We monks are the same as lay people. Having ordained, we become lazy about studying. Worrying that it will be painful and difficult, we become lazy about practicing the way. We never seem to finish what we start, for no sooner do we have a good idea and begin to put it into practice than laziness creeps in, blocking our progress. Lacking the ability to help ourselves, we have to look to others for support. Otherwise, we couldnt carry on in this life. The maxim: attãhi attano nãtho oneself is ones own refuge is meaningless for us if we cannot breath through our own noses. Dhutanga monks who are dedicated to the practice shouldnt always have to depend on others for life and breath.

Listen to your teacher, think about what he teaches, and commit yourselves to attaining it. Dont let his teaching just slip through your grasp to no avail. Be persistent. Consider what he says and follow his example until you see the benefits within yourselves. Then you no longer need to lean on him for support. Youll be breathing through your own noses, meaning you will have developed the knowledge and wisdom needed to rid yourselves of dukkha. Gradually, you will become more confident, more self-reliant, until finally you become full-fledged, fully-independent monks in your own right.

Ãcariya Mun brought up this matter to give the monks on almsround with him something to contemplate. As he paused for a moment, the rather obtrusive monk began to prattle away on his own without considering the impropriety of such an intrusion. Perhaps this monks idiocy struck a dissonant chord deep within Ãcariya Mun, for he turned around and gave him a severe rebuke that took the other monks aback, making them all somewhat apprehensive.

You must be mad! Youre like a rabid dog that pounces and chews furiously on any old piece of wood tossed at it. Why dont you look inside yourself where this madness arises. Youll go crazy if you dont curtail this sort of mindless prattle.

Ãcariya Mun then turned around and walked back to the monastery without another word. Arriving at the monastery, the monks noticed something peculiar about the obtrusive monk he seemed stunned, eating very little. Seeing his odd behavior, the monks kept quiet, as if nothing had happened. They were afraid he would feel embarrassed. For the rest of the day life in the monastery continued as normal, each monk applying himself to his meditation. But later, during the night when all was quiet, they heard someone cry out in a deranged, incoherent voice. They immediately rushed over to find the monk lying in his hut, tossing deliriously about, mumbling something about being sorry for offending Ãcariya Mun so rudely. Shocked by this sight, some of them hurried off to get the local villagers to help take care of him. They brought some herbal remedies for him to take, then massaged his limbs for a while until he finally calmed down and fell asleep for the rest of the night. The next morning someone took him to a doctor for treatment. His condition soon improved, though he did have occasional relapses. When he was well enough to travel, they sent him home. There was no further news about his condition after that.

Ãcariya Muns reprimands varied with circumstances. A mild scolding was usually sufficient to promote mindfulness in the present and increase vigilance in the future. However, if someone did something that prompted a severe reprimand, but lacked the good judgment to make use of it, then it could well be damaging, as we have seen. So monks living with Ãcariya Mun tended to be exceedingly vigilant and always self-controlled. Just because they had lived with him for a long time didnt mean they could expect to get overly familiar with him, for he was the type of person who didnt readily countenance familiarity in anyone. His students could never afford to be complacent sometimes even the deer thats wary of hunters gets shot.