阿  姜  曼  正  傳 

 

第七章第三節:其他神秘的靈異事件

   

        

                  

第七章第三節:其他的神祕靈異事件

    一般來說,人們由於自我感覺良好(自我中心),很難相信別人的優秀。然而,想要成為好人,他們就必須接受那些已經很明顯被公認為是對的事,因為若拒絕接受被公認為良善的事,將會被看成是一種蔑視人性尊嚴的愚蠢。就以阿姜曼為例,我從未見過有任何一個比丘、沙彌、八戒尼,在已經很清楚認識過他並瞭解了他的教導之後,還會表現出執拗與驕慢,不肯接受他教導的真理。不僅如此,他們似乎都願意為他犧牲生命。

        在真實諦與清淨道方面,他就像是在教數學一一地詳細指導他人:兩者(指修行與數學)都是建立在不變的原則之上,若能正確運用理則,一定都能得到相同的結果。舉例來說,一加一肯定等於二,二加二肯定是四……用這種算式不管去計算多複雜的數字,只要基本的算術規則能被正確運算,結果就一定不會出錯。不管是大人或是小孩,只要方法正確,結果就必然正確。不管有多少人武斷地否認這些基本原則的正確性,真理依然不變,這樣的人也只是突顯他們自己沒有意義的愚蠢而已。同樣的,真實諦並不是取決於特定的年齡群、性別或國家的突發奇想,它們是不容否認的自然法則。「法」的原則,世尊與其阿羅漢們都已完全親證,從整體方面來看,對於它們的(「法」的原則)正確性都絕對可以掛保證。

        阿姜曼是一位內心已完全見法的人,他可以徹底地講出他清楚證得的一切內在與外在現象的知識,不會在意他人相信或不信、誇獎或批判。他內在修為的各方面 —— 從戒德與禪定開始,一路進展到解脫涅槃為止 —— 都可以公開大膽地說出來,好讓聽眾自行依資質根器去運用這些知識。他無畏地講出他曾接觸過有關外在的世界,如天神、梵天、各種不同型態的鬼,都盡可能留給聽眾自行去觀察。除了在修行中獲得的鼓勵,那些分享了他以「心」察知感應到這種現象的人,都能顯著地擴展他們相關的知識領域,使他們自己在遇到這些神秘的靈異現象時也都能迅速應對與處理。

        雖然他的弟子們不像他那麼熟練,但他們也都見證了這些現象。我這邊可以舉一個例子,阿姜曼在某個夜晚接見了好幾群天神,直到深夜他都沒有機會休息。他終於累到不行,想要躺下來休息一下。然而當另一組天神在更晚的時候抵達,他對他們解釋因為先前接見了一些天神,所以現在很需要休息。他請他們去參訪他另一位弟子並聽他的開示 —— 而他們也照做了。當阿姜曼如是交代後,這位弟子同意為他們開示一下,之後他們便離去。

        隔天一早這位比丘就問阿姜曼這件事:「昨晚有一群天人來找我,他們說,在來找我之前,他們是先去請您開示,但因為您非常的累,需要休息,所以才來找我。這是真的嗎?還是他們只是為了想聽我說法而誤導我?我覺得有點懷疑,所以想向您求證此事。」

        阿姜曼回答:「沒錯,昨天晚上我接見了許多的天神,已累到不行。後來最後一組來找我時,我請他們去找你,的確就像你說的。他們跟那些善於說謊與不值得信任的人類不一樣,當天神許下一個承諾,他們就一定說到做到;如果他們跟人有約,他們一定會準時赴約。我接觸地居天神與空居天神已經有好長一段時間了,我從未聽過他們有說過任何虛假或不實的事。他們遠比人類更誠實與有美德,他們看重誠信就好像自己的生命一樣的重要。他們會嚴厲地譏嫌不守信用的人;如果有人說話不算話,又沒有正當的理由,他們對這個人就會失去尊敬。」

        「他們也指責過我幾次,雖然我無意失信於他們。有幾次在約定的時間之前我進入了甚深禪定,並專注於其中,直到我退到能與他們溝通的層次(近行定)才發現他們在等我。他們指責我讓他們等太久,我對他們解釋是因為我沈浸在禪定中,一不小心沒能在預定的時間出定,而他們也接受了我的理由。」

        「後來也發生過我責備天神的情況。我跟他們解釋我只是一個人,但有幾萬甚至幾十萬個來自高階與低階的天神都指定要來見一個比丘:又有誰能這麼準時接見每一群天神?有幾次我的健康狀況不是太好,然而我還是必須很有耐性地坐著接見訪客,你們應該要體諒我面臨的難處。有時候我沈醉在禪定的喜樂中,當我比預定的時間稍晚出定時,得到的卻是嚴厲的指責。如果這種情況繼續下去,我以後就把時間都留給自己,不再浪費時間與力氣去見訪客,你們覺得怎樣?當我這樣喝斥後,這些天神一定會承認他們的錯誤並立刻請求我的原諒。」

        「那些常來找我並熟悉我做事方式的天神,也因此,如果我有時遲到一點,他們也不會介意。那些以前都沒來找過我的天神才會介意我的遲到,因為他們天性都非常看重誠信真實。來自各界的天神,包括地居天,在這一方面都一樣。有時候,他們知道我必須從禪定的止息狀態退出才能跟他們溝通,真的會害怕因口沒遮攔譏嫌我而招致不善的惡果報。我偶爾會告訴他們我看重誠信勝過我自己的性命來回應他們的指責:我沒有即時出定接見你們的原因是因為我對『法』有一份責任,而這份責任遠比對一個天神許下的承諾更加重要。雖然各界的天神與梵天都不具肉體的形式,比起我這個人類的身體來得精緻許多,但我的心與誠信真實卻遠比所有的天神與梵天加起來都還要更加精緻微妙。然而我不是那種像傻瓜一樣會一直不斷提這件事的人,我現在跟你們提這件事是因為要提醒你們我真的是在護法,這件事有多麼的重要。所以在指責我之前請先仔細想清楚業果。」

        「一經我向他們解釋我真正的優先順序後,這些天神瞭解到自己的錯誤並擔心起他們的行為所招致的業果,於是他們全體請求我的原諒。我特意對他們保證我對宇宙一切的眾生不懷有任何一絲的惡意:我深信不具任何惡意形式的慈愛與悲憫,我的一切作為都是受全然清淨的法所支配;另一方面,天神,只具有善意與誠實 —— 這些特質都不是真的那麼不可思議。世尊與阿羅漢具有清淨的特質,因為他們心中的『法』是絕對清淨的。宇宙中沒有任何一個眾生能想像得到這種清淨可以崇高到有多麼的不可思議。天神所遵奉的那種誠實正直仍不脫世間法的領域,這種修行與知見一切眾生都做得到。然而,一個清淨心的真實法,唯有世尊與阿羅漢才具有。尚未達到這種成就的人,是不可能領會與付諸實踐的。不論我是否有這種絕對清淨的誠實,都不值得拿來誇耀。但請你們記住,與世尊和阿羅漢具備的法相比,天神所奉行的誠實,既非獨特,也不是唯一。」

        如果阿姜曼是對人類說這些事而不是對天神,人類很可能會感到尷尬 —— 甚至可能惱羞成怒。但天神都非常渴望聽他說法,所以會非常專注地聽他說,他們能瞭解到因為無知而冒犯到他的錯誤,對於今後能謹慎守護自己的行為這一點,他們反而更加歡喜。阿姜曼說,像這種值得稱許的行為真的配得上他們高尚的境界。

        以上簡短的例子,應可作為存在於超越物質感官神秘現象的資料。這些現象都因為無法以感官來察覺,所以才神秘靈異;唯有那些能察覺感應到它們存在的人,才不會覺得神秘。這個道理也可以適用在《法現觀》(dhammābhisamaya),如果世尊是唯一證悟「法」真實諦的人,相對於其他人來說「法」就是神秘的。可一旦阿羅漢聖弟子也都證悟了相同的「法」,它(「法」)的真實諦對他們來說就不再神秘了。因此它與上面提到的神秘現象是一樣的道理:對那些能察覺感應到它們存在的人,就不會覺得神秘。

        在佛陀的時代,他與他的阿羅漢聖弟子們才是唯一能完全證悟到「法」的奧秘本質,也因此他們能察覺感應到外界的一切神秘現象。像這種事情並非一般的知識,在當時很多人都沒辦法感應到這些神秘現象。至多,他們只是聽說這一類的事情,然後,經過一番思考後,才開始相信,即使無法直接感應到也會相信他們的存在。當然也有其他思考過這些事的人,不肯相信這些神秘事件。這對他們的修行反而變成了一種障礙,造成了他們與世尊及阿羅漢們之間的一道鴻溝。到今天這種情況依然沒變:只有那些與生俱來有通靈能力的人才能發現這些神秘現象;對其他的人來講也只是道聽塗說而已。姑且不論我們是否選擇相信這一類的事情,都不可能有任何的科學證據來證明他們的存在。我以前也可能受到影響不相信,但後來我發現沒有足夠的理由可以懷疑。所以我嘗試敞開心胸拋開偏見,根據阿姜曼與他的資深弟子跟我敘述的一切,單純地寫下阿姜曼這本傳記。

        雖然我對這一類事件的知識不夠敏銳,但我必須承認我對阿姜曼有無盡的信心與敬意。如果有一個我可以信任的人來找我,並建議我用生命去換回阿姜曼起死回生繼續傳法 —— 他並指出因為我的愚蠢,絕不可能去教導任何人 —— 倘若能證實他說的都是真的,我會立刻答應。如果他真能保證用我的命可以換回阿姜曼,我會當下立刻安排我自己的後事,絕不遲疑。事實上,我已經為我的愚蠢困擾了很長的一段時間,雖然沒有人出面要求用我的命去換回阿姜曼,但在寫這部傳記的時候,他曾親切地告訴過我細節,我卻記不住那麼多東西,為此我不斷感到失望。因為我的記憶力不好,所以他告訴我的許多東西都已遺失。即使對於我能夠記得並寫下的東西,我仍感到相當的慚愧。卡在我記憶中的那一點點東西就像是黏著主人的寵物一樣,不管怎樣,都跑不掉。無論如何,這裡寫下的東西也只是讀者的開胃菜而已,因為言語文字無法適當地傳達出這些事件的神秘之處。

        現今的泰國,阿姜曼是讓大家對內觀與外在現象產生興趣的主要功臣,雖然沒有幾個人能和他一樣有這種察知神秘現象的能力。這就好像阿姜曼是為了眼、智、明、覺而修行;而我們卻是為了無明而修行,因此我們看不到他所看到的一切。我這裡沒有寫下太多有關他超能力的事情,是因為他向我們解釋的時候,我沒有太仔細聽。儘管如此,據我所知,跟他一樣有這種能力的弟子不但不曾駁斥過他說過的一切;反而,他們還見證了這些神秘事件的存在。這對我們這些在感應的技術上還不夠熟練的人來說,就算這些東西用肉眼看不到,應該也是一個很足夠的指標。同樣的,世尊是第一個達到解脫成就的人,也是第一個能察知到許多神秘現象的人 —— 他的阿羅漢聖弟子們最終也都達到了相同的成就,並見證了這一切。

        在我們現今的時代,這種超自然現象對於活在跟阿姜曼同一時代且擁有和他一樣能力的少部分人來說,已經不再是個謎了。這在另一則神秘事件中可以得到佐證,雖然令人感到相當的有趣,但對於自認是懷疑主義的人來說卻可能產生懷疑。當阿姜曼住在Ban Nong Pheu寺的時候,有一位當地的年長白衣女居士來寺院頂禮他,並告訴他有關她禪修的經驗。有一天深夜她在禪坐時,她的「心」入於一境,進入了深層的禪定,在那個境界保持完全靜止一段時間後,她注意到有一條非常微細、像絲線一般的觸角從她的心中流出,並離開了她的身體。她的好奇心生起,她跟著她的心念波去看它到底要溜去哪裡,要幹什麼,還有為什麼要這麼做。她發現這條精細的心念波跑進了跟她住同一個村裡外甥女的子宮裡,正準備預約一處來生的溫床 —— 儘管她自己的身體還很硬朗。這個發現讓她很震驚,於是她趕緊將她的心念波從那個位置給拉回來並出定,她感到很不安,因為她知道她的外甥女已經懷孕一個月了。

        第二天一早,她趕忙跑到寺院將整件事說給阿姜曼聽。他安靜地聽著,在場也有許多比丘都在聽她說。因為從來都沒有聽過這樣的事,我們對這樣的奇談都感到很困惑,我對於這件事本身以及阿姜曼會如何回答這位老婦人都感到特別有興趣。我們都屏息凝氣地坐在一旁,所有人的眼睛都盯著阿姜曼,等著聽他的回答。他坐著閉上眼睛約兩分鐘,然後清楚地告訴她該怎麼做。

        「下一次妳的又像那樣凝神入定時,仔細地檢查妳的心念波。如果妳發現心念波又向外跑出去時,那個時候妳必須集中精神以直觀的智慧切斷向外溢流出去的連結。如果妳能成功地以智慧完全切斷它,那麼這種情形以後就再也不會出現了。但這很緊急,有急迫性,妳要小心地檢查,然後集中注意力以智慧完全將它切除。而不要只是敷衍了事,不然的話,我警告妳,當妳死了以後就會往生到妳外甥女的子宮裡。記住我跟妳說的話,如果妳無法成功地將妳向外流出的心念波給切斷,那麼當妳往生後,一定會在妳外甥女的子宮裡重生,我很確定這一點。」

        聽到這個警告後,這位老婦人就回家去了。兩天後,她再度來到寺院,看起來很開朗很開心。不需要特別去觀照,從她的表情就知道她已經成功了。

        她坐下來的那一刻,阿姜曼便開始問她:「怎麼樣?妳是否已成功阻止自己投生到妳外甥女的子宮?儘管妳現在仍非常的硬朗。」

        「是的,就在第一個晚上我切斷了那個連結。當我的一凝神入定後,我就集中心力,清楚地看到了先前看到的情況。於是我以直觀的智慧專注於切斷它,就像您說的,直到它終於被切割開來。昨晚我又再次徹底檢查它,再也找不到了 —— 它就這樣消失了。今天我等不及,就趕緊跑來跟您報告這件事。」

        「嗯……,這是一個可以看出『心』有多麼微妙的好例子。只有曾經修習過禪定的人才能察覺到這種事 —— 沒有其他的方法可以辦得到。妳差一點就被無明所捕獲,因為妳沒有注意到無明正準備把妳推入妳外甥女的子宮裡。幸好妳在禪定中發現了這件事並及時正確處理。」

        就在這位阿姨通往她外甥女子宮的心念波被切斷後不久,她的外甥女就流產了,也因此將兩人之間的連結給永遠地切割了。

        不久,寺院裡的比丘開始討論關於這件事的兩個問題:

        第一個是關於一個還沒有死的人就投生的事;另一個是有關流產的問題。這位老婦人並沒有告訴村裡的任何人發生了什麼事,所以沒有其他的人知道這件事。但因為我們都在場聽到她跟阿姜曼說了這件事,這就引發了一些問題,所以比丘們就請阿姜曼為他們解釋。

        對於「一個還沒有死的人就投生」的問題,他回答如是:「她已經準備好就快要投生了,只不過過程尚未完成罷了。在事情發生前,做好準備工作是很常見的。在這一則案例裡,她已做好了準備,只是尚未完成而已。所以,說一個還活著的人就已經往生是不正確的說法。但如果她沒有這種感應力,她肯定就在她外甥女的子宮裡打造一個新的家。」

        對於第二個問題:「切斷這位老婦人與她外甥女之間的心念波的連結,是否等同於摧毀了一個生命?」

        他是這樣回答的:「哪裡有摧毀?她只是切斷了心念波而已,又不是真的砍斷了一個眾生的頭。真正的『心』一直都停留在那個女人那裡;她只不過是伸出了觸角去抓取了她的外甥女[1]。一旦她覺醒並切斷了向外奔流的心念波,破壞了這個連結,事件就到此結束。」

        這裡還有一個重點,當老婦人在敘述她的心念波是如何偷跑出來到她外甥女子宮裡預留的溫床時,阿姜曼並沒有駁斥她。他並沒有否定她經歷到的真實性,告訴她錯了或重新思考這只是一種臆測。相反的,他是直接針對她的經歷來回應。

        這個故事很有趣,因為實際上為什麼她的心念會流向她的外甥女,這一點有很好的解釋。這位老婦人說她很喜歡她的外甥女,跟她保持著很密切的互動,一直都很寵愛她。但她從未懷疑過在她們的關係之間潛伏著某種神秘的連結,等著溜出去使她投生為她外甥女的孩子。如果不是阿姜曼出手相助解決這個問題,她肯定就會在她外甥女的子宮裡了[2]

        阿姜曼說,心的複雜性已遠超出一般人的理解能力與範疇,對他們來說很難去適當地看管這顆心,避免危及到他們自己的幸福。如果這個老婦人沒有禪定的基礎,她一定沒辦法理解心在生與死之間的運作方式。因此,禪定真的是正確處理心的有效方法,特別是在生死緊要關頭時,正念與觀智都是理解與照顧心的極其重要輔助工具。當這些能力獲得充分開展後,它們就能有效地阻止及中和劇烈的疼痛,不會讓疼痛在臨終的那一刻吞噬了心。

        死亡絕對是緊要的關鍵時刻,因為閃失意味著錯失了再生為人的機會,最起碼是下一世的。例如說,某人在臨終時一不小心投生為一個畜生,那麼他就被迫要浪費時間「卡」在動物的生命期裡,並去承受低等生命的苦難。然而,如果,心受過訓練與修持,就有足夠的正念可以獲得適當的支助,那麼最低限度可以期待再生為人。除了以上所提到的,最後再生為人之前,可能還可以投生到天界去享受一段很長時間的各種天界歡樂。當再世為人時,各種過去生生世世所培育的美德心性都不會忘失。就這樣,天生的美德力量會隨著接下來的每一世不斷增長,直到心獲得了力量與能力去照顧自己。然後死亡只會變成形體轉換的一個過程,由低級進展到高級,從粗糙可見轉為更精細微妙的存在 —— 最後從生死輪迴到解脫涅槃。這就類似於世尊及其阿羅漢聖弟子們在過去多生多世以前接續提升生命品質的歷程,逐步去改變他們的心靈結構,直到無可改變為止。因此,心就是這樣經由接續的轉世出生在品德方面得到了培育,最終轉化為涅槃之寶。這一切都直接源自於心以品德來逐漸培育修持,一步一腳印。為此,不分男女老少,有智慧及聰明的人,永遠都不會厭倦有助於心靈功德的善行,在今生和來世一直促進他們的福祉。

        我覺得我必須向讀者們說聲抱歉,因為我在說阿姜曼的故事的時候是這麼沒有次序。我已經非常盡力用很有條理的方式來呈現他的傳記,但因我天生記憶力不好,使得我常常搞混主題,把本應該是在最後面的東西擺在最前面,而應該是在前面的卻放到了最後面。雖然阿姜曼的傳記已經接近尾聲,我還在添加之前沒想到但事後才想到的東西。因為這樣子,故事還是沒有結束的跡象。當你們繼續讀下去,你們就會發現我在事件的排序上很不可靠。

        當阿姜曼住在Ban Nong Pheu寺院裡的時候,又發生了一件很有趣的事。有一天他從禪定中出定,走出房間,在大家說話之前,立刻吩咐在他禪屋下面的比丘去看一看土壤上面是不是有大蛇爬行過的足跡。他跟他們解釋前一晚有一條大蛇來拜訪他並聽他說法。在牠離開之前,他(阿姜曼)請牠在地上留下隔天早上比丘都可以看得見的爬行痕跡。比丘們說真有看到一道從他禪屋下面的地上爬向森林的大蛇爬行過的痕跡。因為沒有進入的痕跡,所以他們搞不清楚牠是怎麼進來的,唯一看得見的就是從他的禪屋下方爬向森林的痕跡。他禪屋四周的地面都打掃得很乾淨,所以如果有其他的痕跡都應該很容易被注意到:但沒有其他的痕跡,只有一條。阿姜曼告訴他們不用再找了,因為他們找不到的。他重申那是他請求大蛇直接從他小屋離去前在屋外下面的地上留下的痕跡。

        如果是比丘們先看到這條痕跡,然後跑去問阿姜曼,那麼這起事件就不會這麼發人深省了。有趣的地方在於阿姜曼立刻先拋出主題,而不是被提問;果不其然,接著他們就發現在他禪屋下方的地上有巨蛇爬行過的痕跡。這意味著,他是透過內在的天眼來感應到這條巨蛇,他交代牠要留下讓比丘們都可以用肉眼看得見的記號,因為他們的內在天眼未開,沒辦法看到巨蛇的來訪。

        之後當比丘們有機會時,他們請教阿姜曼究竟巨蛇是以蛇的原形或其他的形象來參訪?他回答沒有人能確定巨蛇會以何種形貌出現。

        「如果牠們就如昨晚一樣是為了聞法而來,那麼牠們就會以相稱於自己的身分地位,以人類的形貌出現。大巨蛇會以君王的樣子,在眾侍衛及隨從的伴隨下來找我。牠的舉手投足在在都表現出皇家的氣質與氣派;所以我在跟牠說法的時候都是用皇室的敬語,就如同我以前接待過的皇室大人物一般。牠的隨從類似於伴隨在國家君王身邊的大臣或政府官員的代表團,牠們表現出最有禮貌、最尊重人的行為 —— 遠超過我們人類。牠們在聽法時,一動也不動,不會表現出坐立不安的樣子。當領袖在跟我討論法義的時候,總是為了全體的利益而發言。如果有任何的蛇有問題,就會先把問題交給領袖,然後由牠來發問,我來回答。一旦我回答牠們所有的問題,牠們就會一起離開。」

        還有另一則事件可以讓我們對阿姜曼超凡的神通生起信心,縱使事件本身的真正意義已超出我們的理解範圍。有一個比丘注意到阿姜曼喜歡抽某家特定廠牌的菸,於是他交代一名淨人[3]用其他人供養這位比丘的一些錢去買來供養阿姜曼。這名淨人照著做;比丘便將菸供養給阿姜曼。一開始阿姜曼沒說什麼,可能是因為當時他正在說法,沒空去審查這件事。但,隔天一早當那個比丘去見他的時候,他就命他把菸給拿回去,他不會接受這些菸,因為它們是屬於不特定的多數人所共有。那個比丘向阿姜曼保證這些菸都是屬於他一人所有的,因為那是他前一天交代淨人用他自己的錢去買給他的,他特別要買來供養阿姜曼的,所以那不可能是多數人的東西。阿姜曼再次重申要他把東西給拿走,因為那是屬於不特定多數人所共有之物,這種供養已經「不清淨」了,所以他不會抽這些菸。

        因為這個比丘怕被喝斥,所以不敢再堅持下去,不得不把香菸給拿回去。他請人去找那位買香菸給他的淨人,問他究竟發生了什麼事。原來,這個淨人動用了屬於不特定多數比丘的供養金,而那些都是其他比丘指示他去買一些必需品或其他物資的錢,他動用了那些剩下的錢去買菸。這個比丘就問他那些比丘的名字,並趕緊找到他們。他對他們解釋這些供養金與香菸的錢都混在一起,當每一個人都知道是用來供養阿姜曼之後,都感到更加歡喜。於是這個比丘帶著香菸再次去供養阿姜曼,並懺悔他真不該一開始沒問清楚淨人事情的始末,他承認阿姜曼是對的:淨人他證實動用了屬於不特定多數比丘的供養金,並將它們混在一起去買各種東西。但由於所有的比丘都已被徵詢過,並隨喜以香菸供養阿姜曼,所以他才再次來供養香菸。阿姜曼收下了香菸,沒有說任何一句話,也沒有再提過這件事。

        事後,這個比丘告訴他的一些同修比丘,他一開始是如何跟阿姜曼唱反調,直到最後才發現阿姜曼是對的。但如果沒有人跟他提起買香菸的錢跟其他的供養金混在一起,他又怎麼可能知道這件事?一些比丘對於這一點感到很困惑,在一次非正式的聚會中有一個比丘對這件事公開發表了意見,並嚴詞提出辯護。

        「如果他跟我們這些人一樣,他就當然不可能知道這件事。但正因為他跟我們完全不一樣,我們才會尊敬他,讚嘆他過人的智慧。我們大家聚在這裡,接受他的指導,都瞭解他的能力跟我們的差異猶如白天跟黑夜之別。雖然我知道的不多,但我可以確定他在各方面都比我更有智慧,知道的更多。我認為他是無可指責的,這就是為什麼我願意卑微地將我的生命託付給他並接受他的訓練。我的心還是充滿煩惱,但這些煩惱卻非常怕他,所以它們不敢在他的面前拋頭露面。我相信這就是我出於敬畏而願意臣服於他的理由,這是一種遠比齷齪煩惱還要更強而有力的態度,雖然這些煩惱天生就是會反抗老師。可是它們一旦遇到了阿姜曼,就徹底投降,不敢表現出以前我跟隨其他老師的那種相同的放縱。如果我們不能全心全意信服他的判斷,那麼我們就不該待在這裡繼續接受他的指導。如果在這種情況下我們還堅持待在這裡,我們一定得不到任何的利益 —— 只有帶來傷害。對於這起香菸事件,我已經沒什麼好再說的了。」

        比丘們在半夜只要生起一連串的不淨妄念,隔天一早就足以引起他一頓嚴苛的回應。犯錯的比丘一旦遇到了阿姜曼,就會看到他犀利、穿透人的目光,就像是穿透了罪犯,要把人給五馬分屍一樣。像這樣的情況,就算犯錯的比丘有需要,也不宜上前或嘗試去幫他,因為阿姜曼嚴厲拒絕任何比丘做這樣的事,這是磨練這名比丘內心頑劣的一種間接方法。但奇怪的是一開始比丘會表現得很乖,但不知怎麼的,效果卻不持久。他在被嚴厲斥責的時候會表現得很馴服;但之後,當阿姜曼以正常的語調對他說話時,他又會卸下心防重蹈覆轍。儘管他不意圖以惡念來思惟,但他的不淨妄念就是不自主地生起,從一件事跳到另一件事上,比一幫野猴還要快。後來,同樣的比丘再次去見阿姜曼時,他可以立即感受到自己不受歡迎 —— 光看阿姜曼的眼神就足以讓他繃緊神經。但就算這樣,他還是沒有完全受到教訓。過後,如果他沒有徹底瞭解到這種思惟帶給他的危險,他又會開始再次善待這些惡念,就好像這麼做真的很應該。這就是為什麼我會說,儘管看起來是學乖了,但不知怎麼搞的效果卻不彰。只有當他不僅外觀有表現出受教的樣子,並時時意識到再遇上這些念頭的恐懼,那麼正面積極的效果才會持久。他的心時時保持在清涼、寧靜、祥和的境界,下一次他去見阿姜曼時,他不用再那麼擔心會被他責備了。

        我自己的心也容易會有相同的反應,由於無法單靠自己的力量,所以我絕不允許自己離老師太遠。跟他同住的時候,我總是戒慎恐懼及繃緊神經,這麼一來我的念頭才不會偏離修行的道路。一旦我的心迷失了,就可以很快地覺醒,能把它給及時拉回,避免惡果。

        我完全確定阿姜曼能讀通我的心,至於他是否也能讀通其他人的心念,我不是那麼在意。我在意的是他是否能用這個神通減緩我固執的心性,給我好好上一堂課。曾有一次,我剛開始跟他一起住的時候,我曾很荒誕地想過:聽說阿姜曼有他心通,他知道我們每一個人在想什麼。這是真的嗎?如果是真的,他不需要對我想的有興趣 —— 我只想知道他是否知道我現在正在想什麼,這樣就夠了。如果他真的知道我此刻在想什麼,我一定會在他面前五體投地頂禮,我只求這件事。

        那天傍晚和他面對面的時候,我真的坐立難安。當他的眼睛眨也不眨地直盯著我看的時候,我心裡覺得他就要大喊出來並把矛頭直指向我。當他對參與集會的比丘說話時,我真的很怕被挑出來斥責竟敢愚蠢想測試他,所以我很難集中注意力。過沒多久,他的聲音就像鞭子一般霹啪作響,如雨點一般落在我的四周並爆裂開來,一次又一次從我身旁擦身而過,險些打到了我,直到鞭子最後打中了我的正中心。我的恐懼愈是高漲,就愈加顫抖,直到一切的安寧全都從我的心中消失不見。當我坐在那裡的時候,他的聲音不停地揮舞著鞭子鞭笞我的心,他的話一次又一次擊中了紅心要害,到了結尾時,我再也受不了壓力。我的心對他投降了,心裡想著:我會這樣想只是我想知道您是否真有他心通,我對您的德行絕沒有貶抑之意。我現在知道了,您在各方面真的是一位大師,所以一直到我死的那天我都願意將我的生命託付給您。請您慈悲我,用您的教導來幫助我,請不要因為這件事就對我感到厭煩。

        一旦我的心完全臣服於他,他聲音中激烈的語調便開始趨緩。最後,他以闡明一項基本原則來結束這次的集會。

        「對與錯都與你們同在,你們為什麼不對這件事有興趣呢?去管別人的是非有意義嗎?這種思惟可以讓你們變成一個有神通的修行人嗎?就算你們發現別人真有神通,但如果你們自己既沒有修行也沒有神通,那麼你們怎麼樣也都不可能有成就。如果你們想知道別人的修行好不好,那麼你們就應先徹底地內省;那麼,洞悉他人的神通就自然會出現。根本就沒有必要去測試別人,有神通、有修行的人根本就不會去做這種測試,一個真正見法的修行人根本不需要測試別人就能知道別人的修行成就是如何。」

        阿姜曼便以這段註解結束了他的說法。那一次,我都快昏倒了,坐在那裡汗流浹背。那一晚,我對他心悅誠服,我學到了一個終生難忘的教訓 —— 絕不敢再去測試他。如果我修行的過程,能像那一晚測試阿姜曼的事一樣,嚴厲地被磨練、懲戒,我可能早就可以滅苦(解脫)了。唉……!可惜,我無法那樣地鞭策、砥礪自己,有時真的讓我很扼腕。

        這是另一個比丘們在非正式的集會中偷偷討論的問題,而我也在場。由於該事件涉及我個人,我會在這裡收錄香菸的故事是為了強調真實諦的真實性無處不在的法則,無時無刻 —— 「法」。我們該做的就是認真修行,直到我們見法;那麼我們就一定能領悟真實諦,我可以領悟的極限有多大,便取決於我們內心能力的先天限制,這包括內心的真實,或稱為真實法(saccadhamma),及一切各式各樣的外在知識。還有要記住一點,經由生生世世的輪迴,人類會培育出各種不同形式與程度的內在美德,還有為自己設定的不同心靈成就,但「道」、「果」、「涅槃」的基本結果並沒有不同,這些結果對每一個已經達到的人來說都是一樣的。


[1] 十二因緣的「執取」。

[2] 請以十二因緣思惟這一段重要的內容:老婦人仍有再生的渴求是「無明」,與外甥女經常的互動是「行」,對外甥女的喜愛是「愛」,老婦人的心念波連結到外甥女的子宮是「執取」。

[3] 以勞務供奉僧團的在家居士。

     

Ordinarily, people’s sense of their own self-importance makes it difficult for them to believe in someone else’s superiority. Nevertheless, aspiring to be good people, they feel obliged to accept what is obviously true, for refusing to accept manifestations of genuine goodness would show a kind of stupidity that defies human dignity. Take Ãcariya Mun, for example. I am unaware of any monk, novice, or nun, who knew him well and understood what he taught but remained so stubborn and conceited that they refuse to accept the truth of his teaching. Moreover, they all seemed to be quite willing to sacrifice their lives for him.

The way of truth and purity, that he taught in such detail, can be compared to a discipline like mathematics: both are established in fixed principles that give precise results when followed correctly. For example, one plus one must equal two, two plus two must equal four. No matter how many multiples are calculated in this fashion, the calculations will always be correct so long as the basic rules are applied. Whether it is an adult making the calculations, or a child, if the right method is followed, then the results will inevitably be correct. No matter how many people may come along arbitrarily denying the validity of these basic principles, their truth remains the same. Such people merely display their own senseless stupidity. Likewise, principles of Truth do not depend on the whims of any particular age group, gender, or nationality. They are accepted as irrefutable natural laws. The principles of Dhamma, that the Lord Buddha and the Arahants fully realized to be true, can be proclaimed in their entirety with absolute assurance about their validity.

Ãcariya Mun was one individual who fully realized the principles of Truth within himself. He could fully describe all the knowledge about internal and external phenomena that he had so clearly attained, without concern for the belief or disbelief or the praise or criticism of others. Every aspect of his internal practice – beginning with moral discipline and samãdhi, and progressing all the way to the absolute freedom of Nibbãna – was declared openly and boldly so that his listeners could make use of that knowledge according to their own capabilities. He spoke fearlessly about the external aspects of his practice, like devas, brahmas, and various types of ghosts, leaving it up to his listeners to investigate as best they could. Besides receiving encouragement in their practice, those who shared his natural inclination to perceive such phenomena, were able to significantly broaden the scope of their knowledge, enabling themselves to deal expeditiously with the mysterious phenomena they encountered.

Some of his disciples bore witness to these phenomena, though they did not possess nearly the mastery that he did. I’ll give you an example. One night Ãcariya Mun received groups of devas late into the night, having no chance to rest. Eventually feeling very tired, he wanted to lay down for a while. When yet another group of devas arrived late that night, he explained to them that he was very tired from receiving several previous groups and now needed a rest. He requested that they go instead to visit one of his disciples and listen to his Dhamma discourse – which they did. When told what Ãcariya Mun had said, this disciple agreed to talk with them about Dhamma for awhile, after which they left.

The next morning this monk asked Ãcariya Mun about the incident: “Last night a group of devas came to visit me. They said that, before coming to me, they had paid you a visit to request a Dhamma teaching, but you were very tired and needed a rest, so you sent them to me instead. Is this true, or were they misleading me just so they could listen to me talk about Dhamma? Feeling somewhat skeptical, I wanted to ask you about it.”

Ãcariya Mun replied:

“Well, having already received several groups of devas, I was dead tired. Then the last group came, so I sent them to you, exactly as they said. Believe me, devas never lie to monks. They are not like human beings, who tend to be quite deceitful and untrustworthy. When devas make a promise, they always keep it; and when they make an appointment, they are always right on time. I have associated with terrestrial and celestial devas for a long time now and I have never heard them say anything false or deceitful. They are far more honest and virtuous than humans are. They scrupulously honor their word as if their very lives depended on it. They will severely criticize anyone who deviates from his word; and if that individual does not have a genuinely sound reason for failing to honor his commitments, they lose all respect for him.

“They have criticized me sometimes, though I had no intention of being dishonest. On certain occasions I entered into a deep state of samãdhi prior to the appointed hour. I became absorbed there, only to find the devas waiting for me when I finally withdrew to a level where I could access them. When they reproached me for making them wait so long, I explained that I had been resting in samãdhi and inadvertently failed to withdraw at the scheduled time, a reason which they accepted.

“Then there were other occasions when I reproached the devas. I explained to them that I am only one individual, yet tens or even hundreds of thousands of devas from the upper and lower realms insist on coming to visit this one monk: How could anyone successfully manage to receive each and every group exactly on time? There are times when my health is not so good, yet I must patiently sit there receiving visitors. You should sympathize with some of the difficulties I face. Sometimes I’m pleasantly absorbed in samãdhi, only to get roundly criticized when I withdraw a little later than scheduled. If that’s how it’s going to be, I’ll just keep to myself and not waste my time and energy receiving visitors. What do you say to that? When rebuked like this, the devas invariably admitted their mistake and immediately asked for forgiveness.

“Those devas who visit me often are familiar with my way of doing things, so, they don’t mind if I am a little late sometimes. It’s those who have never come before that tend to mind my being late, since by nature they place such a high value on truthfulness. All devas from all realms, including terrestrial devas, are the same in this respect. Sometimes, being aware that I must withdraw from a restful state of samãdhi to receive them, they do worry about the moral consequences of criticizing me for not keeping my word. I occasionally counter their reproaches by telling them I actually value my word more than my own life: ‘The reason that I did not withdraw from samãdhi in time to receive you was due to an obligation I have to Dhamma, which is something far more important than any promise made to a deva. Although devas and brahmas of the celestial realms possess nonphysical forms more refined than this human body of mine, my citta and my sense of truthfulness are exceedingly more subtle than those of all the devas and brahmas combined. But I am not one to talk incessantly about such things like some idiot. I mention it to you now only to remind you how important the Dhamma I maintain really is. So please consider the consequences carefully before criticizing me.’

“Once I explained my true priorities to them, the devas realized their mistake and felt very concerned about the moral implications of what they had done. Together they asked for my forgiveness. I made a point of assuring them that I do not feel any resentment toward any living being in the whole universe: ‘I put my trust in the Dhamma of compassion and loving kindness which is devoid of all forms of malice. My every activity is governed by the Dhamma of absolute purity. Devas, on the other hand, possess only wholesome intentions and a sense of integrity – qualities that are not really all that amazing. The Lord Buddha and the Arahants possess an integrity that is pure because the Dhamma in their hearts is absolutely pure. No living being in the universe can possibly imagine just how supremely amazing such a state of purity is. The kind of integrity that devas observe is something that exists within the sphere of conventional reality. And the knowledge and the practice of it are well within the range of all living beings. The Dhamma integrity of a pure heart, however, is the exclusive property of the Buddha and the Arahants. No one who has yet to realize that attainment can possibly comprehend it or put it into practice. Whether or not I myself possess an absolutely pure level of integrity is not a matter to boast about. But please keep in mind that, in contrast to the Dhamma integrity of the Lord Buddha and the Arahants, the moral integrity that devas observe is neither exceptional or unique.’ ”

Had Ãcariya Mun addressed these words to human beings instead of devas, the humans would probably have felt embarrassed – or something even worse. But the devas were keen to hear his Dhamma, and so listened with intense interest to what he said. They were able to realize the mistake they made in taking liberties with him out of their ignorance of the situation. They were more than glad to carefully guard their conduct after that. They weren’t angered or offended in the least. Ãcariya Mun said that such admirable behavior was truly commensurate with their lofty plane of existence.

This brief example should serve as food for thought about the mysterious phenomena existing beyond the range of the physical senses. Such phenomena are mysterious only to those unable to perceive them; they cease to be a mystery to those who can. This same principle applies to dhammãbhisamaya.  So long as the Lord Buddha was the only person capable of comprehending the true nature of Dhamma, that Dhamma remained a mystery to everyone else. But once the Buddha’s Arahant disciples comprehended that same Dhamma, its true nature ceased to be a mystery to them. So it is with the mysterious phenomena mentioned above: they cease to be a mystery to those who can perceive them.

At the time of the Lord Buddha, he and his Arahant disciples were the only ones capable of fully comprehending the mysterious nature of Dhamma, and the only ones capable of perceiving every type of mysterious external phenomena. Such things were not common knowledge. Many people at that time were incapable of perceiving these mysteries. At most, they had heard about such things, and, after consideration, they came to believe in them, being satisfied of their existence even though they hadn’t perceived them directly. Others, who also considered the matter, refused to believe in these mysteries. This became a hindrance to their practice, preventing them from unreservedly following the Lord Buddha and his Arahant disciples. It is the same today: only those possessing an innate capacity to perceive these phenomena can uncover their mysteries; for the rest it’s just hearsay. Whether we choose to believe in such things or not, there is unlikely to be any scientific evidence to prove their existence. I too might have been tempted to disbelieve, but I never found enough reason to be skeptical. So I have tried to remain impartial and simply write Ãcariya Mun’s story as he and his senior disciples related it to me.

Although my knowledge of these matters is not very astute, I must admit that my heart is full of immense faith and respect for Ãcariya Mun. If someone whom I trusted were to come to me and suggest that I exchange my own life for that of Ãcariya Mun, so he could return from the dead to teach again – pointing out that with my stupidity I could never possibly teach others the way – I would agree immediately, provided I could confirm what he said to be true. If he could guarantee that Ãcariya Mun would return in exchange for my life, I would quickly arrange for my own death then and there without a second’s delay. In truth, I’ve been quite troubled by my own stupidity for a long time now. Although no one has ever requested that I exchange my life for Ãcariya Mun’s return, I am constantly disappointed, that in writing his biography, I am unable to remember so many things he kindly recounted to me in such detail. Because of my poor memory, so much of what he said has been lost. I feel rather apologetic even about what I have been able to remember and write down. The little that has stuck in my memory is a bit like a pet animal that sticks to its owner, no matter what, and never runs away. In any case, what is written here can merely serve to whet the reader’s appetite, as words alone cannot properly convey the mystery of these things.

In  modern-day  Thailand,  Ãcariya  Mun  was  the  person responsible for reviving an interest in experiencing these internal and external insights, though very few people could hope to perceive such mysterious phenomena nearly as well as he did. It’s almost as though Ãcariya Mun was practicing for the sake of sharp vision and clear understanding, while the rest of us were practicing for the sake of blind ignorance, and were thus never able to see as he did. The fact that so little has been written here about his unusual abilities is a result of my own failure to take enough interest in these matters when he explained them to us. Still, to my knowledge, none of his disciples possessing similar abilities ever contradicted what he said about them. Instead, they themselves bore witness to the existence of these mysterious things. Which should be enough of an indication to convince the rest of us, who are not sufficiently skilled in their perception, that these things do exist even though they are hidden from view. In the same way, the Lord Buddha was the first person to attain enlightenment and the first person to perceive many mysterious phenomena – attainments that his Arahant disciples were eventually able to duplicate, and bear witness to.

I N OUR PRESENT TIME, the sort of unusual phenomena that was perceptible to Ãcariya Mun ceased to be mysterious to a few of his contemporaries who possessed an ability similar to his. This is evident in the case of another mysterious affair that, though quite intriguing, is likely to raise doubts among those of us who are self-confessed skeptics. While Ãcariya Mun lived at Ban Nong Pheu monastery, an elderly, white-robed lay woman from the local community, who had great respect for him, came to the monastery and told him about an experience she had in meditation. As she sat in meditation late one night, her citta ‘converged’, dropping deeply into samãdhi. Remaining absolutely still in that state for a time, she began to notice a very fine threadlike tentacle flowing out of her citta and away from her body. Her curiosity aroused, she followed the flow of her citta to find out where it had slipped away to, what it was doing, and why. In doing so she discovered that this subtle flow of consciousness was preparing to reserve a new birthplace in the womb of her own niece who lived in the same village – this despite the fact that she herself was still very much alive. This discovery shocked her, so she quickly brought her citta back to its base and withdrew from samãdhi. She was greatly troubled for she knew that her niece was already one month pregnant.

The next morning she hurried off to the monastery and related the whole affair to Ãcariya Mun. Listening quietly, many of the monks overheard what she said. Having never heard anything like it before, we were all puzzled by such a strange tale. I was especially interested in this affair and how Ãcariya Mun would respond to the elderly lady. We sat perfectly still in breathless anticipation, all eyes on Ãcariya Mun, waiting to hear his reply. He sat with eyes closed for about two minutes and then spoke to the elderly lady, telling her precisely what she should do.

“The next time your citta ‘converges’ into calm like that carefully examine the flow of your citta. Should you notice that the flow of your citta has again gone outward, then you must concentrate on severing that outward flow with intuitive wisdom. If you succeed in completely cutting it off with wisdom, it will not reappear in the future. But it’s imperative that you carefully examine it and then fully concentrate on severing it with wisdom. Don’t just do it half-heartedly, or else, I warn you, when you die you’ll be reborn in your niece’s womb. Remember well what I’m telling you. If you don’t succeed in cutting off this outward flow of your citta, when you die you will surely be reborn in your niece’s womb. I have no doubt about this.”

Having received this advice, the elderly lady returned home. Two days later she came to the monastery looking bright and cheer- ful. It didn’t require any special insight to tell from her expression that she had been successful. Ãcariya Mun began questioning her the moment she sat down.

“What happened? Did you manage to prevent yourself from being reborn within your niece’s womb despite being very much alive?”

“Yes, I severed that connection the very first night. As soon as my citta ‘converged’ into a state of complete calm, focusing my attention there, I saw exactly what I had seen before. So I concentrated on severing it with intuitive wisdom, just as you said, until it finally snapped apart. Again last night I examined it thoroughly and couldn’t find anything – it had simply disappeared. Today I could not wait any longer. I just had to come and tell you about it.”

“Well, that is a good example of how very subtle the citta can be. Only someone who practices meditation can become aware of such things – there is no other way. You nearly fell prey to the kilesas, which were preparing to shove you into your niece’s womb without you being aware of it. It’s a good thing you uncovered it in your meditation and managed to correct it in time.”

Shortly after the flow of her aunt’s citta to her womb had been severed, the woman’s niece had a miscarriage, thus cutting that connection for good.

Soon the monks in the monastery began pondering two questions related to that incident: one to do with the rebirth of a person who has yet to die, the other to do with miscarriages. The old woman never told anyone in the village about what happened, so no one else knew about it. But having heard the whole affair as it was related to Ãcariya Mun, the monks were well informed about the incident. This prompted several questions, so the monks asked Ãcariya Mun for an explanation. To the question: “How could a person who has not yet died begin to take birth in a womb?”, he answered as follows:

“She was merely preparing to take birth, the process had not been completed yet. It’s quite common for preparations to be made before the work takes place. In this case, she was making the preparations but she had yet to finalize them. So it would be incorrect to say that a person can be reborn while she is still alive. But had she not been so perceptive, she would certainly have established a new home in her niece’s womb.”

To the second question: “Isn’t severing the flow of the citta, connecting the elderly lady to her niece, tantamount to destroying a human life?”, he answered as follows:

“What was there to destroy? She merely severed the flow of her citta. She didn’t cut off the head of a living being. The true citta remained with that woman the whole time; it simply sent a tentacle out to latch on to her niece. As soon as she realized it and cut the outward flow of her citta to break that connection, that was the end of the matter.”

The important point here was, Ãcariya Mun did not contradict the old woman when she described how the flow of her citta had stolen out to reserve a place in her niece’s womb. He did not dispute the truth of her experience, telling her that she was mistaken or that she should reconsider the nature of her assumptions. Instead, he responded by addressing her experience directly.

This story is very intriguing because there was in fact a good reason why her citta flowed out to her niece. The woman said she had always been very fond of her niece, keeping in constant touch and always doting on her. But she never suspected that anything mysterious lurked in their relationship, waiting to sneak out and cause her to be reborn as her niece’s child. If Ãcariya Mun had not helped to solve this problem, she would have ended up in that young woman’s womb for sure.

Ãcariya Mun stated that it is far beyond the average person’s capabilities to fathom the citta’s extraordinary complexity, making it very difficult for them to properly look after the citta and avoid jeopardizing their own well-being. Had that woman possessed no basis in samãdhi meditation, she would have had no means of understanding the way the citta functions in relation to living and dying. Consequently, samãdhi meditation is an effective means of dealing correctly with the citta. This is especially true at critical junctures in life when mindfulness and wisdom are extremely important aids to understanding and caring for the citta. When these faculties are well developed, they are able to effectively intervene and neutralize severe pain so that it does not overwhelm the heart at the time of death.

Death is an absolutely crucial time when defeat means, at the very least, a missed opportunity for the next life. For instance, someone who misses out at death may be reborn as an animal and be forced to waste time, stuck for the duration of that animal’s life and suffering the agony of that lowly existence as well. If, however, the citta is skillful, having enough mindfulness to properly support it, then a human birth is the least one can expect. Over and above that, one may be reborn in a heavenly realm and enjoy a variety of celestial pleasures for a long time before being reborn eventually as a human being again. When reborn as a human being, the virtuous tendencies, that were developed in previous lives, are not forgotten. In this way, the power of an individual’s inherent virtue increases gradually with each successive birth until the citta gains the strength and ability to look after itself. Dying then becomes merely a process by which an individual exchanges one bodily form for another, progressing from lower to higher, from grosser to ever more refined forms of existence – and eventually from the cycle of saÿsãra to the freedom of Nibbãna. This is similar to the way that the Lord Buddha and his Arahant disciples raised the quality of successive existences over many lifetimes, while altering their spiritual makeup steadily until there were no more changes to be made. Thus it is that a citta trained in virtue through each successive rebirth, is eventually transformed into the treasure of Nibbãna. All of which stems directly from the citta being trained gradually, step by step, in the way of virtue. For this reason, wise, intelligent men and women of all ages never tire of doing good deeds that redound to their spiritual credit, always enhancing their well-being now and in the future.

I  FEEL   I   MUST   APOLOGIZE  to the reader for meandering so much in telling Ãcariya Mun’s story. I am trying very hard to present his biography in an orderly fashion, but my inherent forgetfulness has caused me to mix up the subject matter, putting first what should have come last, while putting last what should have come first. Although the story of Ãcariya Mun’s life has already drawn to a close, I am still tacking on afterthoughts that I failed to remember earlier on. Because of this tendency, there’s still no end in sight. As you read along you’ll see how unreliable I am at arranging events in their proper sequence.

ANOTHER   INTRIGUING   INCIDENT  took place one morning at Ban Nong Pheu monastery when Ãcariya Mun, rising from meditation, came out of his room and, before anyone spoke, immediately told the monks to look under his hut and tell him whether or not they could see the track of a large snake imprinted in the dirt there. He explained to them that the night before a great nãga had come to visit him and to listen to Dhamma. Before it left, he had asked it to leave some marks on the ground as a visible sign to show the monks in the morning. The monks informed him that they could see the track of a very large snake trailing out from underneath his hut and into the forest. There being no other tracks leading in, they could not tell how it had gotten there. The only visible track was the one going out from under his hut. The ground around his hut was swept clean so other tracks would have been easily noticed; but there were no others; only the one. Ãcariya Mun told them they need not look for others because they wouldn’t find them. He reiterated that the nãga left directly from his hut soon after he requested it to leave a mark on the ground below.

Had the monks seen the track first and then asked Ãcariya Mun about it, the incident would not be so thought-provoking. The intriguing fact is that Ãcariya Mun immediately broached the subject first, without being prompted; and sure enough, they then found the track of a large snake under his hut. Which means that, perceiving the nãga with his inner eye, he told it to leave some visible mark for the monks to see with their physical eyes, since their inner eyes were blind and they had no way to see the nãga when it came to visit.

Later  when  they  had  an  opportunity,  the  monks  asked Ãcariya Mun whether the nãgas who visited him appeared in a serpent-like form or in some other form. He replied that one could never be sure with nãgas how they would appear.

“If they come for the purpose of listening to Dhamma, as they did last night, then they’ll come in the form of a human being of a comparable social status to their own. A great nãga will come in the guise of a sovereign king surrounded by a royal entourage. Its comportment will be very regal in every respect; so when I discuss Dhamma with it I use royal terms of speech, just as I would with any royal personage. Its entourage resembles a delegation of government officials accompanying a crowned head of state. They all behave in a most polite, respectful manner – much more so than we humans do. They sit perfectly still when listening to Dhamma, showing no signs of restlessness. When discussing Dhamma with me, the leader always speaks on behalf of the whole group. Anyone with a question will refer it to the leader first. Then he asks me and I give a reply. Once I have answered all their questions, they all depart together.”

HERE   IS   ANOTHER   INCIDENT that we can take on faith about Ãcariya Mun’s extraordinary abilities, even though its true nature lies beyond our comprehension. A certain monk noticed that Ãcariya Mun liked to smoke a particular brand of cigarettes,  so he told a lay supporter to use some money he had been offered to buy some for Ãcariya Mun. The lay supporter complied; and the monk then offered them to Ãcariya Mun. At first Ãcariya Mun said nothing, probably because he was speaking on Dhamma at the time and did not have any opportunity to investigate the matter. But, the following morning when that monk went to see him, he ordered him to take the cigarettes away. He said that he would not smoke them since they were owned in common by many different people. The monk in question assured Ãcariya Mun that the cigarettes belonged to him alone, since he had told a lay supporter to buy them with his own money the day before. He specifically had them purchased as an offering for Ãcariya Mun, so they could not possibly be owned in common by many people. Ãcariya Mun reiterated that he wanted them taken away. Being owned in common by many different people, the offering was not ‘pure’, so he did not want to smoke them.

Not daring to press the issue any further for fear of being rebuked, the monk was obliged to take back the cigarettes. He sent for the lay supporter who had purchased them for him and asked what had happened. It turned out that this layman had taken money belonging to many different monks, all of whom instructed him to buy some necessity or other. He had used the money left over from those purchases to buy the cigarettes. The monk asked him for the names of the monks whose money was involved, and then hurried off to find them. Once he explained about the mix-up with the cigarettes, each was more than happy to see them offered to Ãcariya Mun. So the monk took the cigarettes and once more offered them to Ãcariya Mun, confessing that he was really at fault for not questioning the layman thoroughly about the matter first. He acknowledged that Ãcariya Mun was exactly right: the layman confirmed that he had taken money belonging to many different monks and put it all together to make various purchases. Since all the monks had been asked and were happy to share the offer of cigarettes to Ãcariya Mun, he was offering them again. Ãcariya Mun took them without saying a word and the matter was never mentioned again.

Later, that monk told some of his fellow monks how he first tried unsuccessfully to contradict Ãcariya Mun, only to discover in the end that Ãcariya Mun was exactly right. Some monks were puzzled as to how he could possibly have known whose money was involved in the cigarette purchase since he had never been informed about it. One monk at this informal meeting spoke up, protesting vigorously.

“Were he simply like the rest of us, obviously he wouldn’t have known a thing. But it’s precisely because he is so very different from us that we respect him and admire his superior wisdom. All of us gathered here under his tutelage realize that his capabilities are as different from ours as day is from night. Although I don’t know much, I do know for certain that he is wiser and more knowledgeable than I am in every way. I see he is truly above reproach, which is why I have entrusted my life to him and his training methods with self-effacing humility. My heart is still full of kilesas, but those kilesas are very afraid of him, so they don’t dare show their faces in his presence. I believe this is due to my willingness to surrender to him out of fear and respect, an attitude far more powerful than these vile kilesas, which naturally tend to oppose the teacher. Confronted by Ãcariya Mun, they give up completely, not daring to display the same reckless abandon they do when I live with other teachers. If we feel we cannot submit wholeheartedly to his judgment, then we do not belong here under his guidance. Should we persist in staying under those conditions, we will not benefit at all – only harm will come. What more need be said after this incident with the cigarettes.”

Just an unwholesome train of thought in the middle of the night was enough to elicit a stern response from him the next morning. Meeting Ãcariya Mun, the offending monk would be met by his sharp, penetrating gaze, a gaze that seemed to pierce the culprit and tear him to pieces. In a situation like that it was inadvisable to approach him or attempt to help him with his requisites, since he would strictly refuse to allow that monk to do anything for him. It was his indirect way of tormenting the monk’s innate stubbornness. But it is strange how a monk initially felt quite chastened, yet somehow the effect didn’t last long. He felt chastened at the moment he was stung by a severe reprimand; but later, when Ãcariya Mun spoke to him in a normal tone of voice he would let down his guard and make the same mistake again. Despite having no intention of thinking in ways that were harmful to himself, he was simply unable to keep up with his own restive thoughts, which tended to jump from one thing to another quicker than a horde of wild monkeys. Later on, when the same monk went to see Ãcariya Mun again, he could sense immediately that he was not welcome – just the look in Ãcariya Mun’s eyes was enough to make him extremely wary. Even with that, he had yet to fully learn his lesson. After a while, if the dangers of his way of thinking were not brought home again to him, he would inadvertently begin to befriend those harmful thoughts once more, entertaining them as if they were actually something worthwhile. That is why I say that, despite feeling quite chastened, somehow the effect didn’t last long. When he not only felt chastened but also remained very conscious of the fear of revisiting those thoughts, then the positive effects were long-lasting. His mind remained cool, calm, and peaceful throughout. The next time he went to see Ãcariya Mun, he needn’t be so fearful about being taken to task.

My own mind tended to react in a very similar fashion. Being unable to rely on myself alone, I could not allow myself to stray far from my teacher. Living with him I was always fearful and on guard, which prevented my thoughts from deviating from the path of practice. Becoming quickly aware when my mind did stray, I was able to pull it back in time to avoid harmful consequences.

I am absolutely convinced that Ãcariya Mun could read my thoughts. Whether or not he could read other people’s thoughts doesn’t concern me so much. What does concerns me is how he used that ability to mitigate my own stubborn tendencies and teach me a good lesson. There was a time, when I first went to stay with him, that I thought, rather bizarrely: They say that Ãcariya Mun can read other people’s thoughts, that he knows everything we’re thinking. Can this really be true? If it is true, then he needn’t take an interest in everything I’m thinking – I just want to know if he’s aware of what I’m thinking right now. That would be enough. If he does know what I’m thinking at this moment, I will prostrate myself before him. That’s all I ask of him

Coming face to face with him that evening I could hardly sit still. As his eyes glared directly at me without blinking, I felt in my heart that he was about to shout and point straight at me. When he began speaking to the assembled monks, I was so worried about being singled out and scolded for stubbornly testing him, that I had a hard time paying attention. Before long his voice began cracking like a whip as it rained down blows all around me, brushing past and narrowly missing me time and again until finally the whip lashed into the very core of my being. I became flushed as my body shook uncontrollably. The more my fear mounted, the more agitated I became until all traces of contentment vanished from my heart. While I sat there, his voice kept whipping and lashing at my heart, his words hitting home time and time again until by the end of his talk I could no longer bear the pressure. My heart gave in to him, thinking: I thought as I did simply because I wanted to know if you could truly read other people’s thoughts. I had no intention of disparaging your other virtuous qualities. I now acknowledge that you are a true master in every respect, so I wish to entrust my life to you until the day I die. Please have compassion for me and assist me with your teaching. Please don’t become fed up with me because of this one incident.

Once my heart completely surrendered to him, the fiery tone in his voice began to subside. Finally he concluded by elucidating a basic principle.

“Right and wrong both exist within yourself. Why don’t you take an interest in looking there? What’s the point in meddling in the rights and wrongs of others? Is this the type of thinking that will make you a good, skillful person? Even though you may find out how good or skillful someone else is, if you yourself are neither good nor skillful, then you will never be successful. If you want to know how good other people are, first you must thoroughly examine yourself; then, knowledge about others will come on its own. There is no need to test them to find out. Good, skillful people do not have to resort to such testing. A good person who is truly skillful in Dhamma can know about others without having to test them.”

Ãcariya Mun ended his talk to the monks on this note. I almost fainted at the time, sitting there soaked with sweat. Surrendering to him completely that night, I learned a lesson I’ve never forgotten – never again did I dare to test him out. Had I been as severely chastened about matters concerning my own practice as I was that night about matters concerning Ãcariya Mun, then I would probably have transcended dukkha long ago. But, alas, I have never been able to chasten myself to such good effect, which really rankles me sometimes.

This was another issue that the monks discussed secretly among themselves at their informal meeting, which I also attended. Since this incident involved me personally, I’ve included it here with the story about the cigarettes to highlight the principle that the truth about the nature of Truth exists all around us everywhere, at all times – akãliko. All that’s required is that we practice sincerely until we attain the Truth; then we will surely understand the nature of that Truth, the fullest extent of our understanding being conditioned only by the natural limitations of our inherent abilities. This includes the intrinsic truths, or saccadhamma, as well as all the various forms of extrinsic knowledge. Keep in mind also that people differ in the type and degree of the inherent good qualities they have developed through successive existences, as well as the spiritual goals they have variously set for themselves. But the primary results of magga, phala, and Nibbãna do not differ. These results are the same for everyone who attains them.