阿  姜  曼  正  傳 

 

第四章第十節:阿羅漢的入滅

       

           

                        

第四章第十節:阿羅漢的入滅

    阿姜曼住在一個名叫Chiang Dao的山洞裡時,曾有大量的禪相出現在他的禪境中,其中有一些相當不尋常,這裡我只提其中的幾個禪相。幾乎每晚的深夜時分,他會接見許多來自上下的各層天界的訪客,他們分別在約定的時間來參訪,他們的團體有大也有小。阿羅漢們也會定期來與阿姜曼說法並鼓勵他。每一位阿羅漢都會為他顯示他們般涅槃的方式,有些阿羅漢是在Chiang Dao山洞裡善逝,而有一些則是在別的地方般涅槃。他們會依照當時發生的前後順序一一顯示,並以一種激勵人心的方式說明。

        聽阿姜曼說到那些阿羅漢時,我很氣餒並為自己的不幸感到有些沮喪。我明明就跟阿姜曼一樣有眼睛、耳朵與其他心識的功能,但卻做不到他所能做到的事。一方面我喜歡聽他說故事;但另一方面卻很沮喪。我發現自己既想哭又想笑,一直忍住不讓眼淚流下,因為我不想讓其他的比丘認為我瘋了。事實上,那個時候,在我的內心深處真的有些錯亂。

        阿姜曼與這些阿羅漢之間激勵人心的談話是如此令人神往,在這世上很難再找到可與之相比的事。我盡量忠實呈現,但我怕我無法做到正確的解讀。以下是阿羅漢們對阿姜曼所說的重點:「所有的阿羅漢內心都擁有超凡絕佳、最驚人且無與倫比的特質 —— 這些內在的美德卓立于人間與天界。每位阿羅漢都是克服了最大的艱辛後才隨佛陀出現在世間。每一位就像皇宮裡自動出現的金礦,非常罕見稀有。阿羅漢的生活與世俗的生活方式形成強烈的對比,因為他們的生活動力完全來自於法義。雖然阿羅漢的色身與一般人一樣,都是由相同的物質所構成;但是維持身體運作的心卻是純然清淨,而心的清淨又推動著色身的每一個層面。」

        「你已所作已辦,已將各種可能導致來生的因緣與心作完全的濾除分離,因此你已是一位阿羅漢。因為你是一個不會再有來生的人,成為又一位受到世間所崇敬的完美德行之源。所以我們現在前來拜訪,並讚嘆你的成就,因為這種成就非常的艱難,很難達到。儘管很多人希望能證得你現在的果位,但當他們面對種種的艱辛後,鮮有人成功。出生在這個世界上的人本能地依靠父母與親戚的支助,幾乎沒有人了解到自依洲的重要性。絕大多數的人都只是漫無目的地生活,沒有作過任何有意義的事,這種人不勝枚舉。因此,一位已完全證悟的阿羅漢出現在世間是極為稀有難得,每一個世界的眾生皆可因此獲益。你清淨的成就對於人類、天神、梵天等來說是一項龐大的利益。你也精通於心靈的共通語言,這種語言比任何其他的溝通方式都更重要。諸佛與某些特定類別的阿羅漢在教誡眾生時都是使用這種語言,因為那是世間有情的共通語言。特別是在接觸與教化非人眾生時,只能依靠這種全宇宙都通用的溝通方式。而那些能夠以心靈語言互相溝通的眾生,比起以尋常方式溝通的眾生能更迅速且更輕易了解對方的意思。」

        每一位阿羅漢與阿姜曼結束振奮人心的談話之後,皆會示現他般無餘涅槃的方式。幾乎每一位前來的阿羅漢都會讓他仔細觀察他們般涅槃的姿勢。有些阿羅漢展示他們在結跏趺坐時是如何入三昧、死亡、般無餘涅槃;有些則展示他們是如何以右脅倚地採「獅子臥」的方式般涅盤;有些則展示他們是如何在經行的步道中以站姿般涅槃;也有人展示他們是如何在來回經行時般無餘涅槃。坐姿與臥姿是最常見的,採站姿或行走時般無餘涅槃的阿羅漢則相對比較少。

        他們精確示現入滅的過程,呈現每一個細節,直到最後一刻為止。以坐姿入滅的阿羅漢,他的身體會停止運作,然後像棉絮般輕柔地倒地並完全的靜止;如果是以「獅子臥」入滅的阿羅漢,則較難判斷他死去的精確時間,他的呼吸是唯一可見的生命跡象,而當他靜靜躺下時,呼吸就會變得更加輕柔,彷彿是睡著了一般,身體的任何部分沒有絲毫的移動,直到呼吸慢慢完全停止;那些採站姿入滅的阿羅漢則直直地站著,左掌疊在右掌上,頭微微地前傾,雙眼緊閉,彷彿在沉思一般。他們似乎先短暫沉思後才慢慢跌落至地面,他們先成坐姿,然後如棉絮般漸漸輕柔地下滑平躺在地上;於經行中入滅的阿羅漢則是先來回步行約六至七趟,然後才輕輕跌落在地面,然後完全靜止地躺在地上。

        那些阿羅漢在示現的時候,與阿姜曼之間的距離都不超過六英尺,這樣才能使阿姜曼清楚看到入滅時的每一個細節,好讓他有深刻的印象。聽到他講述那些事的時候,我竟然有流淚的衝動。當這種奇怪的情緒襲向我時,我不得不轉身面向牆壁,否則可能會引起騷動,成為這些故事的尷尬結局。這些阿羅漢的無餘涅槃是在既優美又安詳的狀態下完成,與大多數人在死亡時所承受的折磨痛苦形成鮮明的對比。聽到每一位阿羅漢般涅槃的經過後,我感動不已,竟止不住眼淚。這些不凡的人最後離開充滿混亂與困惑的世間,是值得令人省思的不凡事件。我相信任何人在聽到之後,也會同樣感動不已。

        有三位阿羅漢在Chiang Dao洞般無餘涅槃,其中兩位是以「獅子臥」般涅槃;而另一位是經行時般涅槃。在示現如何入滅之前,每一位阿羅漢都會先詳細解釋選擇這個姿勢的理由。極少的阿羅漢是以站姿或經行時入滅;多數是採坐姿,但以「獅子臥」者為最多數。基於以上的禪境,阿姜曼得到了一個結論:幾世紀以來,有許多的阿羅漢曾在泰國入滅。就我記憶所及,包括了在Chiang Dao洞裡入滅的這三位阿羅漢;還有一個是在Wong Phra Chan的山裡;一個是在華富里府的Tago洞裡;另一個是在那空那育府(Nakhon Nayok)Khow Yai;在南邦府(Lampang)Ko Kha縣的Wat Dhatuluang寺裡也有一位。當然還有其他的阿羅漢,但可惜我已記不得了。

        「涅槃」一辭只適用於佛陀、辟支佛及阿羅漢,因為這些人的心中已經沒有任何會導致來生的各種煩惱了。「涅槃」一辭與尚有無明煩惱的眾生無關,因為眾生仍不斷地在心中積聚導致來生的種子,因此「涅槃」這個稱號完全不適用於他們。死此生彼;死彼生他處;於他處死後又另生他處。無知的人在生時如果從未為自己的來世做過任何的努力去培養德行,死後便很可能會轉生至畜牲道,比起轉生至較高級的人類、天人、梵天界的機會就要高出太多。所以那些偏好造惡業的人很可能正踏上投生在動物國度的其中一條道路上 —— 畜牲的世界比起其他更高級的境界更廣大且多樣化。但畜牲、人類、諸天卻都有一個共同點:情感執著的重擔,使他們一次又一次地轉生,永不止息。因此,「涅槃」一辭並不適用於他們。

        唯一符合「涅槃」的就是那些心中已完全根除無明煩惱的人 —— 即便在他們仍活著的時候,煩惱也已完全熄滅。在入滅的那一刻,沒有任何殘留的垢染與執取可將他們束縛在生死輪迴中,甚至正在分解腐壞的身體也一樣,心中對任何事物或地方都毫無執著。因此,他們毫無恐懼地向世界作出最後的道別,對於經由業果再出生於某個境界也不會有任何的渴愛,沒有無止盡的「苦因」(集諦)。已證得絕對自由的心是不變與全然知足的,它對世間不再懷有任何的期待,例如身體。因此,世間就算是小如一粒原子也都無法鑽進與侵擾全然清淨的心。「涅槃」一辭指的就是不再隨外境起舞或憂慮,活著時不悲傷,死的時候也不遺憾,始終平靜。

        「涅槃」是適用於這些特殊的人所用的特殊辭彙,心尚未清淨的人是不敢以此自居的。「涅槃」不像果園或農場之類的個人財產,可以在未經業主的同意下被財團接管。想要擁有「涅槃」的人就必須自己努力修行去開發,守株待兔根本就是異想天開的事。

        阿姜曼,這本傳記的主角,得到許多阿羅漢激勵人心的教法。他曾受到全國與世界各地虔誠佛教徒的擁戴與尊敬。他之所以能獲得這樣的聲望,是因為他如實地實踐了法義,直到心中領悟了真諦,已沒有任何的虛妄殘存。他能洞悉那些本質上是虛假之物,譬如有情的生命;正因如此,他放下他們,心不再執取。真正的阿姜曼,不再屬於無常,已成為他所證悟到法義的實相,法爾如是 —— 永恆,不同於其他不穩定以及有時間限制的事物,時間的流逝對他來說沒有任何的影響。

       

While Ãcariya Mun lived in Chiang Dao Cave, numerous nimittas appeared in his meditation, some of them quite extraordinary. Here I shall mention only a few. In the late hours of almost every night he received a wide range of deva visitors from the upper and lower celestial realms who arrived in groups of varying sizes at appointed times. Arahants also came regularly to hold inspirational conversations on Dhamma with Ãcariya Mun. Each Arahant showed him the manner in which his passing away into total Nibbãna had occurred. Some were Arahants who had passed away in the Chiang Dao Cave, while others had attained total Nibbãna elsewhere. Such demonstrations were accompanied by an inspiring explanation of the sequence of events that had taken place.

Hearing Ãcariya Mun talk about those Arahants, I felt dismayed and somewhat discouraged by my own unfortunate circumstances. There I was a human being with eyes, ears, and mental faculties just like Ãcariya Mun; yet, I couldn’t accomplish the things that he did. On the one hand, I was elated to hear his stories; on the other, I felt disheartened. I found myself laughing and crying at the same time, but I kept my tears to myself for fear that my fellow monks would think I was mad. In fact, at that time, deep inside, I really was a bit mad.

The inspirational conversations that Ãcariya Mun had with the Arahants were so captivating that it’s hard to find anything else in the world that compares with them. I shall try to faithfully recreate the essence of those conversations here, though I fear I may not do them proper justice. Here is the gist of what the Arahants said to Ãcariya Mun.

“All Arahants possess superb qualities within their hearts that are most amazing – intrinsic virtues unsurpassed in the human and deva worlds. Each Arahant who appears in the world following the Lord Buddha does so only with the greatest of difficulty. Each is like a gold mine cropping up spontaneously in the middle of an emperor’s imperial city – a very rare occurrence indeed. An Arahant’s lifestyle contrasts sharply with worldly lifestyles because an Arahant’s life is invigorated by Dhamma. Although his body is composed of the same physical elements as those of everyone else, the heart maintaining that body is pure, and such purity of heart invigorates every aspect of the physical element.

“You yourself have now completed the task of filtering from your heart all possible causes of existence, thus becoming one of the Arahants. Being one whose heart will never again give rise to birth and existence, you have become another incomparable source of merit for the world to venerate. So we’ve come to visit you now to show our appreciation for your achievement, which because of its enormous difficulty, is seldom accomplished. Although many people desire to attain what you have, very few succeed when they are faced with the difficulties. People born into this world instinctively cling to their parents and relatives for support. Hardly any of them realize the importance of relying on their own hearts as their mainstay. The vast majority of people just drift aimlessly, accomplishing nothing of real value – their numbers are beyond reckoning. So the appearance in the world of a fully-enlightened Arahant is a remarkable event that benefits living beings throughout all the world systems. Your attainment of purity has made you an enormous boon for humans, devas, and brahmas alike. You are also well-versed in the universal language of the heart, which is far more important than any other form of communication. All the Buddhas, and certain categories of Arahants, use the language of the heart when giving assistance to living beings, for it is the universal language of sentient beings throughout the universe. Contacting and teaching nonphysical beings is achieved exclusively by means of this universal form of communication. Those communicating in the language of the heart can understand each other much more quickly and easily than would normally be the case.”

After concluding his inspirational conversation with Ãcariya Mun, each Arahant would then demonstrate the manner in which he had passed away into total Nibbãna. Nearly every Arahant who came allowed him to observe the posture in which this was achieved. Some Arahants demonstrated how they had died and passed into total Nibbãna while sitting cross-legged in samãdhi. Some demonstrated how they were reclining on their right side in the ‘lion’s posture at that time. Others showed him how they were standing still in the middle of the meditation path; still others revealed how they were pacing back and forth in meditation at the time of their total Nibbãna. The sitting and reclining postures were the most common – relatively few Arahants passed into Nibbãna while walking or standing.

Their deaths were demonstrated in a precise manner, showing every detail right up to the final moment. As a seated Arahant passed away, he slumped over gently like soft cotton, while his body ceased to function and became perfectly still. It was more difficult to discern the exact moment when an Arahant reclining in the ‘lion’s posture’ passed away. His breathing was the only visible sign of life and that became ever more refined as he lay quietly, as if asleep, without the slightest movement in any part of his body, until his breathing gradually ceased altogether. Those Arahants who demonstrated death in a standing posture stood erect, assuming a reflective pose with the right hand placed on the left hand, head slightly bowed and eyes firmly closed. They appeared to reflect momentarily before slowly slumping into a heap on the ground – first in a sitting position, then slumping gradually further, until, softly, like cotton wool, they lay on the ground. Arahants, who died while walking in meditation, paced back and forth about six or seven times before gently slumping to the ground where they lay perfectly still.

When giving these demonstrations, the Arahants came to within six feet of Ãcariya Mun so he could clearly view every aspect of their passing away, which created a lasting impression in his heart. Listening to him recount those episodes, I felt the urge to shed tears. I had to turn my face to the wall as this strange feeling overcame me. Otherwise, I might have created a stir, which could have become an embarrassing epilogue to this story. The total Nibbãna of those Arahants was accomplished with a serene gracefulness that stands in marked contrast to the distress typically suffered by most people at the time of death. I was so moved by hearing how each Arahant passed away that I simply couldn’t hold back my tears. Those amazing individuals were taking final leave of the world of conventional reality with all its chaos and confusion – which is an amazing thing to contemplate. I am sure that anyone else who listened would have been deeply affected in the same way.

Three Arahants attained total Nibbãna at the cave in Chiang Dao – two while reclining in the ‘lion’s posture’ and one while walking meditation. Prior to giving Ãcariya Mun a visual demonstration of how his death had occurred, each Arahant gave him a detailed explanation of why he had chosen to pass away in that posture. Very few died while standing or walking. Many more did so while sitting, but the majority passed away while reclining. On the basis of what he had seen, Ãcariya Mun came to the conclusion that over the centuries many Arahants had passed away in Thailand. As far as I can remember, they included the three Arahants at the cave in Chiang Dao, one in the Wong Phra Chan mountains, one at Tago Cave in Lopburi province, one at Khow Yai in Nakhon Nayok province, and one at Wat Dhatuluang monastery of Ko Kha district in Lampang province. There were others as well, but unfortunately I can no longer recall them.

“Nibbãna” is a term used exclusively with reference to Buddhas, Paccekabuddhas, and Arahants, all of whom have expunged from their hearts every trace of the kilesas leading to future birth. It is not a term associated with living beings who still have kilesas, for those beings continue to accumulate the seeds of future births in their hearts constantly, thus making the designation “Nibbãna” entirely inappropriate for them. Having died here, they are reborn there; dying there, they’re reborn somewhere else. Negligent human beings who’ve made no effort to develop virtuous qualities in this life so as to enhance their future lives, may well be reborn as animals after they die. The opportunities for birth as an animal are more numerous than those for birth in the much higher human, deva, and brahma realms. So those who prefer making bad kamma may be on one of the many paths to rebirth in the animal kingdom, which is far more diverse and extensive than the higher realms. But animals, humans, and devas all have one thing in common: the burden of emotional attachments that cause them to be reborn over and over again – indefinitely. Consequently, the term Nibbãna does not apply to them.

The only ones who deserve the designation “Nibbãna” are those individuals who have completely eradicated the kilesas from their hearts – extinguishing them forever, even while they are physically alive. At the moment of passing away, they have no lingering attachments that could bind them to the round of saÿsãra – not even to the body that’s starting to decompose. Absolutely no attachment or concern for anything anywhere exist in their hearts. Thus they bid final farewell to the world with no trepidation, having no expectations of experiencing karmic consequences in another realm of existence – a source of endless frustration. The heart that has attained absolute freedom is constant, unchanging, and wholly contented. It harbors no expectations at all concerning conventional realities such as the body. Therefore, not even an atom of the conventional world could enter and affect the heart’s state of total purity. The word “Nibbãna” refers to the total purity of one who is never agitated or melancholy – neither

sorrowful in life nor regretful at death – but always imperturbably unchanging throughout.

Nibbãna is a special term used with reference to a special type of individual. No one who has yet to purify his heart would dare assume this title. Nibbãna is not a kind of personal property, like an orchard or a farm, which can be taken over by powerful interests even without the owner’s consent. Whoever wants to take possession of Nibbãna must make the effort to develop it within the heart – there is no hope for those who merely lie around waiting for it to appear.

Ãcariya Mun, the subject of this biography, received inspirational Dhamma from many Arahants. He has received national acclaim and respect from faithful Buddhists everywhere. He achieved this renown by faithfully practicing the Dhamma until he realized the Truth in his own heart, where nothing false existed. He was able to see those things that are inherently false, like organic life; and as such, let go of them so they no longer burdened his heart. The true Ãcariya Mun, no longer subject to change, was the Truth of the Dhamma he realized. That Dhamma remains true – forever. Unlike all other things which are inherently unstable and so of limited duration, the passage of time has no effect whatsoever on it.