Saturday, November 24, 2007

Effects of Kamma

I came upon a website with events on Kamma in Dhamma Media Channel, based in Thailand:

And other stories, you can scroll to the end of the page to view more.

If Buddhists do not kill, why do they eat meat?

I find many do not actually understand why Buddhists eat meat, even though our First Precept is on no-killing or non harm.

The difference is in the intention. If you go to a market or a restaurant, points at the fish and instruct it to be killed, then the seller takes and kills it, then you have broken the first precept of non killing. This is even though you did not kill the being yourself but had instructed someone to specifically kill that fish.
The reason is because the fish would not had died at that time (even though it may do so later) had it not been under your instruction.

Instead, if you go to the supermarket and buys a frozen fish, there is no precept broken as we did not ask for that fish to be killed. It had died earlier or probably a long time ago.

It's always with the intention.

Take the 5th Precept- for instance- No lying.
Now let's say that you are a mutual friend of a couple. The wife, who is your good friend, came to you with a confession that she'd had an affair with someone else but had terminated it. She felt bad and very guilty. After hearing about it, you felt it was very unfair to the husband, who is also your friend. So you went and told him about it- after all, it's the truth, right?
As the result of that, the couple had a big fight and the husband could not forgive his wife. Eventually, they divorced.
You may not have told a lie, but the truth had separated people. It is still 'wrong speech' and the intensity of the kamma committed will depend on your intention. If the intention is due to being vindictive, it will bear a more negative kammic effect.

Kamma exists- and ultimately, we have to bear the results of its fruition. I have seen so many instances of this with my own eyes. A friend of mine, who was used to slandering and speaking the truth that had separated people, is now facing the negative effect of that. As she matured, she stopped doing that but the effects of the past still haunts her. In the past, her speech had broken friendship or caused unfair judgement being placed on others. Now, she's accused of things that I knew she did not do. Yesterday she asked me why others kept blaming her of things or words she did not say.... as I listened, I recalled years ago on how she had done the same to others.

Back to killing fishes, I want to share with you a real life story. When I was in Thailand, I met this Ubasika (nun) who had practiced meditation for many years. She relayed to me an experience she'd had:

One day when she was meditating, an intense pain attacked her stomach. She felt her stomach was being slit apart. In deep concentration, she searches for a cause. And she met the spirit of a fish. She had slaughtered this fish many years ago when she was a layperson- she had caught it alive and slit its stomach. The spirit said: "I can still forgive if you kill me, but I am really hate you for killing my babies."

True enough, she remembered that when she had slit that particular fish, its stomach was filled with fish eggs. The fish was pregnant that time. As her meditation practice and precepts were strong, she sent merits to the spirit and asks for forgiveness. The spirit accepted the merits and were gone. And her pain disappeared.

If you read Ajahn Mun's Spiritual Biography written by Luangta, you will come across similar stories as well.

If we continue to question studies on a purely intellectual level and not through the heart, we will not be able to fully understand the Buddha's teachings. It's only by understanding the teachings from our heart, we understand the value of the precepts. We will know what is right and what is wrong cause the answers will come from our hearts.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Have Your Practice Been?

How have your practice been?

Of late, my practice had slacked. Sometimes, I open my eyes, wide awake in the wees hours of the morning and yet I choose to sleep in almost everytime. Thereafter, I will wake up feeling as if I had sleep paralysis. It's a very tiring and drained feeling. When I asked why I have a sleeping condition, ie wake up feeling tired, I was told by several teachers that it's my kamma. I do believe so because no doctors or even mediums that I have seen could cure this condition. I discovered that it can be reduced if I were to meditate and chant before sleeping and dedicate merits to suffering beings. I will generally wake up very early feeling wide awake and fresh- maybe about 3.30am or 5am- and if I were to really meditate and dedicate the merits, if I go back to sleep later, I am less inclined to wake up feeling drained.

Yesterday, I dreamt about robed monks- and in the dream, I was torn between making offering to them and concentrating on my material but unfilfilling world. I wake up with the realisation that the dream carried a message- that I am really slacking just too much for my own good.

When I stayed in the monasteries, I am much more diligent and put in hours in my practice and meditation. Probably it is also due to fear of sleeping out in the open and practice is always the best way to protect ourselves against the elements. The teachers always tell us that it is our daily practice that matters. In the practice, my heart experience lots of peace and happiness. But my kilesas will try to deter me. I will try not to slack- try to dedicate more time to just do my sitting.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Luangta's 94th Birthday- 12th Aug 07



Luangta’s (Ajahn Maha Boowa) 94th Birthday
To view the photos in webshots, click HERE
Here are the photos of Luangta's 94th Birthday taken at his monastery, Wat Ban Taad:
On his birthday, many people came to pay respects and perform dana. Luangta sat at the main sala- the stream of devotees came non stop to pay homage and it went on for a few hours. For any normal human being, it would be tiring. But Luangta sat there, without any signs of tiredness. Luangta is so compassionate.... and his acts truly touches the heart of others. I do not speak Thai and yet, the language of heart and kindness transcends the need of any conventional language or words.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Writings by Others

In the midst of compiling writings by others:

The Language of the Heart

by Ajahn Maha Boowa

The Venerable Acariya Mun taught that all hearts have the same language. No matter what one's language or nationality, the heart has nothing but simple awareness, which is why he said that all hearts have the same language. When a thought arises, we understand it, but when we put it into words, it has to become this or that language, so that we don't really understand one another. The feelings within the heart, though, are the same for everyone. This is why the Dhamma fits the heart perfectly, because the Dhamma isn't any particular language. The Dhamma is the language of the heart. The Dhamma resides with the heart.

Pleasure and pain reside with the heart. The acts that create pleasure and pain are thought up by the heart. The heart is what knows the results that appear as pleasure and pain; and the heart is burdened with the outcome of its own thoughts. This is why the heart and the Dhamma fit perfectly. No matter what our language or nationality, we can all understand the Dhamma because the heart and the Dhamma are a natural pair.

The heart forms the core within the body. It's the core, the substance, the primary essence within the body. It's the basic foundation. The conditions that arise from the mind, such as thought-formations, appear and vanish, again and again. Here I'm referring to the rippling of the mind. When the mind ripples, that's the formation of a thought. Labels, which deal with conjecturing, memorizing, and recognizing, are termed sañña. 'Long' thoughts are sañña; short thoughts are sankhara. In other words, when a thought forms — 'blip' — that's a sankhara. Sañña refers to labeling and recognizing. Viññana refers to the act of taking note when anything external comes and makes contact with the senses, as when visible forms make contact with the eye and cognition results. All of these things are constantly arising and vanishing of their own accord, and so the Buddha called them khandhas. Each 'heap' or 'group' is called a khandha. These five heaps of khandhas are constantly arising and vanishing all the time.

Even arahants have these same conditions — just like ordinary people everywhere — the only difference being that the arahants' khandhas are khandhas pure and simple, without any defilements giving them orders, making them do this or think that. Instead, their khandhas think out of their own free nature, with nothing forcing them to think this or that, unlike the minds of ordinary people in general.

To make a comparison, the khandhas of ordinary people are like prisoners, constantly being ordered about. Their various thoughts, labels, assumptions, and interpretations have something that orders and forces them to appear, making them think, assume, and interpret in this way or that. In other words, they have defilements as their boss, their leader, ordering them to appear.
Arahants, however, don't. When a thought forms, it simply forms. Once it forms, it simply disappears. There's no seed to continue it, no seed to weigh the mind down, because there's nothing to force it, unlike the khandhas governed by defilements or under the leadership of defilements. This is where the difference lies.

But their basic nature is the same: All the khandhas we have mentioned are inconstant (aniccam). In other words, instability and changeability are a regular part of their nature, beginning with the rupa khandha, our body, and the vedana khandha, feelings of pleasure, pain, and indifference. These things appear and vanish, again and again. Sañña, sankhara, and viññana are also always in a state of appearing and vanishing as a normal part of their nature.
But as for actual awareness — which forms the basis of our knowledge of the various things that arise and vanish — that doesn't vanish. We can say that the mind can't vanish. We can say that the mind can't arise. A mind that has been purified thus has no more problems concerning the birth and death of the body and the khandhas; and thus there is no more birth here and there, appearing in crude forms such as individuals or as living beings, for those whose minds have been purified.

But those whose minds are not purified: They are the ones who take birth and die, setting their sights on cemeteries without end, all because of this undying mind.
This is why the Lord Buddha taught the world, and in particular the world of human beings, who know right and wrong, good and evil; who know how to foster the one and remedy the other; who understand the language of the Dhamma he taught. This is why he taught the human world above and beyond the other worlds: so that we could try to remedy the things that are harmful and detrimental, removing them from our thoughts, words, and deeds; try to nourish and foster whatever goodness we might already have, and give rise to whatever goodness we don't yet have.

He taught us to foster and develop the goodness we already have so as to nourish the heart, giving it refreshment and well-being, giving it a standard of quality, or goodness, so that when it leaves its present body to head for whatever place or level of being, this mind that has been constantly nourished with goodness will be a good mind. Wherever it fares, it will fare well. Wherever it takes birth, it will be born well. Wherever it lives, it will live well. It will keep on experiencing well-being and happiness until it gains the capacity, the potential, the accumulation of merit it has developed progressively from the past into the present — in other words, yesterday is today's past, today is tomorrow's past, all of which are days in which we have fostered and developed goodness step by step — to the point where the mind has the firm strength and ability, from the supporting power of this goodness, that enables it to pass over and gain release.

Such a mind has no more birth, not even in the most quiet or refined levels of being that contain any latent traces of conventional reality (sammati) — namely, birth and death as we currently experience it. Such a mind goes completely beyond all such things. Here I'm referring to the minds of the Buddhas and of the arahants.

There's a story about Ven. Vangisa that has a bearing on this. Ven. Vangisa, when he was a layman, was very talented in divining the level of being in which the mind of a dead person was reborn — no matter who the person was. You couldn't quite say he was a fortuneteller. Actually he was more a master of psychic skills. When anyone died, he would take that person's skull and knock on it — knock! knock! knock! — focus his mind, and then know that this person was reborn there, that person was reborn here. If the person was reborn in hell or in heaven, as a common animal or a hungry ghost, he could tell in every case, without any hesitation. All he needed was to knock on the skull.

When he heard his friends say that the Buddha was many times more talented than this, he wanted to expand on his knowledge. So he went to the Buddha's presence to ask for further training in this science. When he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an arahant to knock on.

'All right, see if you can tell where he was reborn.'
Ven. Vangisa knocked on the skull and listened.

Silence.

He knocked again and listened.

Silence.

He thought for a moment.

Silence.

He focused his mind.

Silence.

He couldn't see where the owner of the skull was reborn. At his wit's end, he confessed frankly that he didn't know where the arahant was reborn.

At first, Ven. Vangisa had thought himself talented and smart, and had planned to challenge the Buddha before asking for further training. But when he reached the Buddha, the Buddha gave him the skull of an arahant to knock on — and right there he was stymied. So now he genuinely wanted further training. Once he had further training, he'd really be something special. This being the way things stood, he asked to study with the Buddha. So the Buddha taught him the science, taught him the method — in other words, the science of the Dhamma. Ven. Vangisa practiced and practiced until finally he attained arahantship. From then on he was no longer interested in knocking on anyone's skull except for his own. Once he had known clearly, that was the end of the matter. This is called 'knocking on the right skull.'

Once the Buddha had brought up the topic of the mind that doesn't experience rebirth — the skull of one whose mind was purified — no matter how many times Ven. Vangisa knocked on it, he couldn't know where the mind was reborn, even though he had been very talented before, for the place of a pure mind's rebirth cannot be found.

The same was true in the case of Ven. Godhika: This story should serve as quite some food for thought. Ven. Godhika went to practice meditation, made progress step by step, but then regressed. They say this happened six times. After the seventh time, he took a razor to slash his throat — he was so depressed — but then came to his senses, contemplated the Dhamma, and became an arahant at the last minute. That's the story in brief. When he died, Mara's hordes searched for his spirit. To put it simply, they stirred up a storm, but couldn't tell where he had been reborn.

So the Lord Buddha said, 'No matter how much you dig or search or investigate to find the spirit of our son, Godhika, who has completely finished his task, you won't be able to find it — even if you turn the world upside down — because such a task lies beyond the scope of conventional reality.' How could they possibly find it? It's beyond the capacity of people with defilements to know the power of an arahant's mind.

In the realm of convention, there is no one who can trace the path of an arahant's mind, because an arahant lies beyond convention, even though his is a mind just the same. Think about it: Even our stumbling and crawling mind, when it is continually cleansed without stop, without ceasing, without letting perseverance lag, will gradually become more and more refined until it reaches the limit of refinement. Then the refinement will disappear — because refinement is a matter of conventional reality — leaving a nature of solid gold, or solid Dhamma, called a pure mind. We too will then have no more problems, just like the arahants, because our mind will have become a superlative mind, just like the minds of those who have already gained release.
All minds of this sort are the same, with no distinction between women and men, which is simply a matter of sex or convention. With the mind, there is no distinction between women and men, and thus both women and men have the same capacity in the area of the Dhamma. Both are capable of attaining the various levels of Dhamma all the way to release. There are no restrictions that can be imposed in this area. All that is needed is that we develop enough ability and potential, and then we can all go beyond.

For this reason, we should all make an effort to train our hearts and minds. At the very least, we should get the mind to attain stillness and peace with any of the meditation themes that can lull it into a state of calm, giving rise to peace and well-being within it. For example, mindfulness of breathing, which is one of the primary themes in meditation circles, seems to suit the temperaments of more people than any other theme. But whatever the theme, take it as a governing principle, a refuge, a mainstay for the mind, putting it into practice within your own mind so as to attain rest and peace.

When the mind begins to settle down, we will begin to see its essential nature and worth. We will begin to see what the heart is and how it is. In other words, when the mind gathers all of its currents into a single point, as simple awareness within itself, this is what is called the 'mind' (citta). The gathering in of the mind occurs on different levels, corresponding to the mind's ability and to the different stages of its refinement. Even if the mind is still on a crude level, we can nevertheless know it when it gathers inwardly. When the mind becomes more and more refined, we will know its refinement — 'This mind is refined... This mind is radiant... This mind is extremely still... This mind is something extremely amazing' — more and more, step by step, this very same mind!

In cleansing and training the mind for the sake of stillness; in investigating, probing, and solving the problems of the mind with discernment (pañña) — which is the way of making the mind progress, or of enabling us to reach the truth of the mind, step by step, through the means already mentioned — no matter how crude the mind may be, don't worry about it. If we get down to making the effort and persevere continually with what diligence and persistence we have, that crudeness will gradually fade away and vanish. Refinement will gradually appear through our own actions or our own striving until we are able to go beyond and gain release by slashing the defilements to bits. This holds true for all of us, men and women alike.

But while we aren't yet able to do so, we shouldn't be anxious. All that is asked is that we make the mind principled so that it can be a refuge and a mainstay for itself. As for this body, we've been relying on it ever since the day we were born. This is something we all can know. We've made it live, lie down, urinate, defecate, work, make a living. We've used it, and it has used us. We order it around, and it orders us around. For instance, we've made it work, and it has made us suffer with aches here and pains there, so that we have to search for medicine to treat it. It's the one that hurts, and it's the one that searches for medicine. It's the one that provides the means. And so we keep supporting each other back and forth in this way.

It's hard to tell who is in charge, the body or us. We can order it around part of the time, but it orders us around all the time. Illness, hunger, thirst, sleepiness: These are all nothing but a heap of suffering and stress in which the body orders us around, and orders us from every side. We can order it around only a little bit, so when the time is right for us to give the orders, we should make it meditate.

So. Get to work. As long as the body is functioning normally, then no matter how much or how heavy the work, get right to it. But if the body isn't functioning normally, if you're ill, you need to be conscious of what it can take. As for the mind, though, keep up the effort within, unflaggingly, because it's your essential duty.

You've depended on the body for a long time. Now that it's wearing down, know that it's wearing down — which parts still work, which parts no longer work. You're the one in charge and you know it full well, so make whatever compromises you should.

But as for the heart, which isn't ill along with the body, it should step up its efforts within, so that it won't lack the benefits it should gain. Make the mind have standards and be principled — principled in its living, principled in its dying. Wherever it's born, make it have good principles and satisfactory standards. What they call 'merit' (puñña) won't betray your hopes or expectations. It will provide you with satisfactory circumstances at all times, in keeping with the fact that you've accumulated the merit — the well-being — that all the world wants and of which no one has enough. In other words, what the world wants is well-being, whatever the sort, and in particular the well-being of the mind that will arise step by step from having done things, such as meditation, which are noble and good.

This is the well-being that forms a core or an important essence within the heart. We should strive, then, while the body is still functioning, for when life comes to an end, nothing more can be done. No matter how little or how much we have accomplished, we must stop at that point. We stop our work, put it aside, and then reap its rewards — there, in the next life. Whatever we should be capable of doing, we do. If we can go beyond or gain release, that's the end of every problem. There will then be nothing to involve us in any turmoil.

Here I've been talking about the mind because the mind is the primary issue. That which will make us fare well or badly, meet with pleasure or pain, is nothing else but the mind.
As for what they call bad kamma, it lies within the mind that has made it. Whether or not you can remember, these seeds — which lie within the heart — can't be prevented from bearing fruit, because they are rooted in the mind. You have to accept your kamma. Don't find fault with it. Once it's done, it's done, so how can you find fault with it? The hand writes and so the hand must erase. You have to accept it like a good sport. This is the way it is with kamma until you can gain release — which will be the end of the problem.
---------------------------------------------------------
Source: Straight from the Heart
Thirteen Talks on the Practice of Meditation
by Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Accesstoinsight.orghttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/boowa/straight.html

Chanting

Chanting with audio:

An Heir to the Dhamma

The following are taken from Ajahn Maha Boowa's book- Straight from the Heart.
Ajahn Maha Boowa talked about an auspicious dream that he had:

An Heir to the Dhamma
A talk given to the monks at Wat Pa Baan Taad.

The ordinary mind — no matter whose — when it doesn't yet have any standards and meets up with things that drag it here and there in the wrong directions, will tend to go rolling after those preoccupations without let-up, to the point where it can't find any foundation for sustaining its peace and calm. In terms of the Dhamma, these preoccupations are called defilements.
We can see them when we begin to practice: The mind stumbles and crawls along, not at all willing to follow the Dhamma, because the defilements are strong. This is something I haven't forgotten, from the time I first set out to practice up until now, because it's a truth that lies embedded in the heart. How could I forget?

From the very start of my practice, I was really in earnest — because that's the sort of person I was. I wouldn't just play around. Wherever I would take my stance, that's how it would have to be. When I set out to practice, I had only one book — the Patimokkha — in my shoulder bag. Now I was going for the full path and the full results. I was going to give it my all — give it my life. I wasn't going to hope for anything else. I was going to hope for nothing but release from suffering. I was sure that I would attain release from suffering in this lifetime. All I asked was that there be someone who could show me that the paths, fruitions, and nibbana were for real. I would give my life to that person and to the Dhamma through the practice, without holding anything back. If I was to die, I'd die with the practice. I wouldn't die with retreat. My heart was set like a stone post.

The first rains after I had set out to practice, I spent in Cakkaraad District, Korat Province, because I hadn't been able to catch up with Venerable Acariya Mun. I began accelerating my efforts as soon as I got there, and it wasn't long before my mind attained stillness, because I was practicing both day and night. I wasn't willing to do any other work aside from the work of concentration practice — sitting and walking meditation — in my own stumbling and crawling way. My mind was able to quiet down, so I really accelerated my efforts; but then, as I've told you before, it regressed when I was making a klod. 2 Up to that point, I was no mean hand at concentration. It was really solid. I was sure that the paths, fruitions, and nibbana were for real, because the mind was really solid. It wasn't affected by anything at all. But even then it still managed to regress just because I made a single klod.

When I reached Venerable Acariya Mun, he taught me the Dhamma as if it came straight out of his heart. He would never use the words, 'It seems to be...,' because it really came right out of his heart — how he had practiced, what he had known and seen. It was as if he kept saying, 'Right here. Right here.' So did he see or didn't he? Did he know or didn't he? 'Right here.' Where were the paths, fruitions, and nibbana? 'Right here. Right here.' My mind was convinced, really convinced. From that point on I made a resolution: As long as he was still alive, I wouldn't leave him until either he died or I did. As for going off from time to time to practice on my own, I'd ask to do that as a matter of course, but I'd take him as my base, as if my home were with him. No matter where I'd go, I'd have to return to him. So then I stepped up my efforts full speed.

That dream I had — I'll never forget it. I've told you all this dream before, but it had such an impact on me that it bears telling again. I had come to stay with him and made my resolution with full conviction, with complete faith in him. There was no point on which you could fault him. Whatever he did, inwardly or outwardly, was right in line with the principles of the Dhamma and Vinaya. There was nothing roundabout or evasive about him. That was why I had made up my mind to stay with him. If he were alive today, I still wouldn't leave him. I'd have to stay with him, although as a matter of course I'd still go here or there from time to time, as I had told myself.

It was only around the fourth or fifth night after I had gone to stay with him... this dream, you know, was really amazing. I dreamed that I was fully robed, carrying my bowl and klod, following an overgrown trail through the jungle. There were no side paths on either side. Both sides were full of thorns and brambles. All I could do was to keep trying to follow the trail, which was just barely a path, all overgrown, just enough to give a hint of where to go.
Finally I reached a point where a thick clump of bamboo had fallen across the trail. I couldn't see which way to go. There was no way around it on either side. How was I going to get past it? I peered here and there until finally I saw an opening — a tiny opening, right along the path, just enough for me to force my way through together with my bowl.

Since there was no other way, I removed my outer robe — that's how clear the dream was, as if I weren't dreaming at all — I removed my outer robe and folded it away, just as we keep our robes folded here. I removed my bowl strap from my shoulder and crawled through the opening, dragging my bowl by its strap and pulling my klod just within reach behind me. I was able to force my way through, dragging my bowl, my klod and my robe behind me, but it was really difficult. I kept at it for a long time until finally I worked my way free. I pulled my bowl, and my bowl came free. I pulled my klod, and my klod came free. I pulled my robe, and my robe came free. As soon as I was entirely free, I put on my robe again — that's how clear the dream was — I put on my robe, slung my bowl over my shoulder, and told myself, 'Now I can go on.' I kept following that trail-it was really overgrown — for about another 40 meters, wearing my robe, carrying my bowl and klod.

Looking ahead, there was wide open space. In front of me was the ocean. Looking across, there was no further shore. All I could see was the shore on which I was standing and a tiny island, way out in the distance, a black speck on the edge of the horizon. I was going to that island. As soon as I walked down to the water's edge, a boat — I don't know where it came from and I didn't notice whether it was a speedboat or a rowboat or whatever — a boat came up to the shore and I got in. The boatsman didn't say anything to me. As soon as I sat down in the boat and got my bowl and other things in, the boat sped out to the island, without my having to say a word. I don't know how it happened. It kept speeding, speeding out to the island. There didn't seem to be any dangers or waves or anything at all. We went silently and in no time at all we arrived — because, after all, it was a dream.

As soon as I reached the island, I got my things out of the boat and went ashore. The boat disappeared completely, without my saying even a word to the boatsman. I slung my bowl over my shoulder and climbed up the island. I kept climbing until I saw Venerable Acariya Mun sitting on a small bench, pounding his betel nut and watching me climb up towards him. 'Maha,' he said, 'how did you get here? Since when has anyone come that way? How were you able to make it here?'

'I came by boat.'

'Oho. That trail is really difficult. Nobody dares risk his life coming that way. Very well then, now that you're here, pound my betel for me.' He handed me his betel pounder, and so I pounded away — chock, chock, chock. After the second or third chock, I woke up. I felt really disappointed. I wished I could have continued with the dream to see at least how it ended.
That morning I went to tell my dream to Venerable Acariya Mun. He interpreted it very well. 'This dream, you know,' he said, 'is very auspicious. It shows the pattern for your practice without any deviations. Follow the practice in the way that you've dreamed. In the beginning, it'll be extremely difficult.' That's what he said. 'You have to give it your best. Don't retreat. The beginning will be difficult. The part where you made it through the clump of bamboo: That's the difficult part. So give it your best. Don't you ever retreat. Once you get past that, it's all wide open. You'll get to the island without any trouble. That's not the hard point. The hard point is right here.'

I listened to him, really listened to him, and it went straight to the heart. 'Even if it kills you, don't retreat at this point. Here at the beginning is the hardest part — where the mind advances and regresses. This part is so hard that you'll want to go smash your head against that mountain over there out of frustration. The mind advances and regresses, over and over again. Once you get past this point, though, you'll make progress easily, without any obstacles at all. That's all there is to it. Give it your best at the beginning and don't retreat. Understand?' That's what he said. 'If you retreat here, you won't get anywhere. So give it your life. Strike your way through right here. After all, your vision says you can make it. No matter how difficult it gets, you can make it. So don't retreat.'

I remembered his words and took them to heart — happy and pleased. I kept practicing until that following April in line with what he had said. The mind had regressed ever since December the previous year until December of that year and then on into April. It still hadn't advanced. It would advance to full strength and then deteriorate, again and again, for a year. It wasn't until April that I found a new approach, focusing on my meditation theme in a new way so that it was really solid. From that point on I was able to sit in meditation all night long. The mind was able to settle down in full measure, which is why I accelerated my efforts from then on. Speaking of the difficulty, that's how difficult it really was for me.

From there on in, the mind was centered and never regressed. The way it had regressed before was an excellent teacher. I'd absolutely refuse to let it regress again: That was how I felt. If it regressed again, I'd die. I couldn't stand to stay in the world bearing the mass of suffering that would come if it regressed again, because I had already been through it once — more than a year of the most acute suffering. There's no suffering that burns more than the suffering that comes when the mind regresses. If it were to regress again, it'd kill me, which was why I was really meticulous in keeping watch over myself from then on. I wouldn't let the mind regress, and so it kept on progressing.

The first time I saw the marvelousness of the mind was when I began sitting in meditation all night — right from the very first night. I was investigating pain, and was it ever severe! At first I hadn't planned on sitting until dawn, you know. I was simply sitting along, and the pain began to grow. No matter how I contemplated it, I didn't get anywhere at all. 'Eh. What is this? Okay, if I'm going to die today, let me die.' So I made resolution in that moment: 'From this moment on, I won't get up until dawn. So. If I survive, so be it. If not, so be it.'

I struck right into the pain, to the point where the mind, which had never examined anything in that way... Discernment had never moved into action that way, you know, but when it was really cornered, at the end of its rope, discernment stirred itself into action, keeping up with events from every angle until it was fully alert to the pain, alert to the body, and understood the affairs of the mind. Each was a separate reality. They then split away from one another and disappeared completely, even though nothing like that had ever happened to me before. The body disappeared from my sense of awareness. The pain completely vanished. All that was left was an awareness that was simply aware. It wasn't the sort of outstanding awareness we might imagine it to be. It was just simple awareness, but very subtle, very refined, and very amazing in that moment.

When I retreated from that state, I renewed my investigation, but when I used the strategies I had used before, I didn't get any results, because they were now allusions to the past. I had to come up with new strategies to keep up with the events of the moment. The mind then settled down again. That night, it settled down three times, and then dawn came. Was I ever amazed at myself!

That morning when I got the chance, I went to tell Venerable Acariya Mun. Normally, I'd be very intimidated by him, but that morning I wasn't intimidated at all. I wanted to tell him the truth, so that he could see the results of my being true — how I had practiced so that things had occurred that way. I spoke with audacity, even though I had never spoken that way with him before. I really told it to him straight — crash! bang! — and after he had listened, he said, 'That's the way it's got to be.' That's just what he said! He really let me have it. He explained things to my complete satisfaction. It was as if I were a dog: As soon as he praised and spurred me on, this stupid dog I was, was all raring to bark and bite.

After one or two more days, I sat up in meditation all night again. After another two or three more days, I did it again, until the mind was thoroughly amazed. The affairs of death, you know, disappear when the mind really knows. When you separate the elements (dhatu) and khandhas to look at life and death, the four elements of earth, water, wind, and fire dissolve down into their original properties as earth, water, wind, and fire. Space returns to its original property as space. The mind that used to fear death becomes even more prominent. So what is there to die? When it knows so prominently in this way, how can it die? The mind doesn't die. So what does it fear? We've been lied to. The world of defilements has been lying to us. ('Lying,' here, means that defilement has lied to the living beings of the world, making them fear death, even though actually nothing dies.)

When I'd investigate one day, I'd get one approach; another day, I'd get another approach, but they were all hard-hitting and amazing. The mind was more and more amazing and brave, to the point where I felt, 'When the time comes to die, what sort of pain do they think they're going to bring out to fool me? Every facet of today's pain is complete in every way. Beyond this, there's simply death. I've seen all these pains, understood them all, and dealt with them all. So when the time comes to die, what sort of pain are they going to bring out to deceive me? There's no way they can deceive me. The pain will have to be just this sort of pain. As for death, nothing dies. So what is there to fear aside from the defilements that lie to us, making us fall for their fake tricks and deceits? From this point on, I'll never fall for their tricks again.'

That's the way the mind is when it knows, and it knew clearly right from the very first night. As for the mental state that had progressed and regressed, up to that first night it hadn't regressed. Beginning that previous April, it hadn't regressed but it still wasn't clear. That first night, though, it became clear: 'Oh. This is how it's supposed to be, the mind that doesn't regress.' It was as if it had been climbing up and falling down, climbing up and falling down, until finally it climbed up and grabbed hold tight, 100 per cent sure that it wouldn't regress. This was why I stepped up my efforts full speed.

During that Rains Retreat (vassa), I sat up all night in meditation nine or ten times, but never two nights in a row. Sometimes I'd skip two or three nights, sometimes six or seven. I got to the point where I was completely sure about pain — heavy or light, big or small. I understood how to deal with pain, how to sidestep it, how to cure it right in time, without being shaken by it. I wasn't even afraid of death, because I had investigated it with the most completely adroit strategies. Mindfulness and discernment were completely up on death in every way.
Speaking of effort in the practice, my tenth rains — beginning from the April after my ninth rains — was when I made the most all-out effort. In all my life, I have never made a more vigorous effort, in terms of the body, than I did during my tenth rains. The mind went all out, and so did the body. From that point on, I kept making progress until the mind was like rock. In other words, I was skilled enough in the solidity and stability of my concentration that the mind was like a slab of rock. It couldn't easily be affected by anything at all — and then I was stuck on that concentration for five full years.

Once I was able to get past that concentration, thanks to the hard-hitting Dhamma of Venerable Acariya Mun, I set out to investigate. When I began to investigate with discernment, things went quickly and easily because my concentration was fully prepared. It was as if all the materials for building a house were right at hand, but I hadn't yet put them together into a house, and so they were just useless pieces of wood. My concentration simply stopped at concentration that way. When I didn't put it together into mindfulness and discernment, it couldn't support anything at all, which is why I had to set out investigating in the way with which Venerable Acariya Mun hit me over the head.

As soon as he hit me, I set out; and no sooner had I set out than I began to know what was what. I was able to kill off that defilement, cut this one down, step by step. I began to wake up: 'Here I've been lying in concentration as if I were dead — for all these months, all these years — and it hasn't accomplished a thing!' So now I stepped up my efforts at discernment, making it spin day and night without anything to put a brake on it at all.

But, you know, I'm the sort of person who goes to extremes. Whatever tack I set out on, that's the only tack I take. When I began following the path of discernment, I started criticizing concentration as being like lying down dead. Actually, concentration is a means for resting the mind. If you practice just right, that's the way it is. But instead, I criticized concentration as being like lying down dead. 'All these years, and it hasn't given rise to discernment.'
So I stepped up my efforts at discernment, beginning first with the body. When I contemplated unattractiveness, it was remarkable, you know. Really remarkable. The mind, when it contemplated, was adroit and audacious. I could perceive right through whatever I looked at — man, woman, no matter how young. To tell you frankly how really audacious the mind was (and here I have to ask the forgiveness of both the men and women involved if it's wrong to speak too frankly), it wouldn't have to be a question of old women, you know. If the gathering was full of young women, I could march right in without any sign of lust appearing at all. That's how daring the mind was because of its contemplation of unattractiveness.

Looking at a person, there would just be the bones wrapped up in skin, nothing but flesh all glaring and red. So where could I see any beauty? The power of the unattractiveness was really strong. No matter whose body I looked at, that's how I'd perceive it. So where would there be any beauty to make me feel desire? This was why I'd dare march right in... really beautiful young women, you know. (I'll have to keep asking forgiveness until I've finished with this 'forest madness.') I could march right in with no trouble at all when I felt daring like this, because I was sure of my strength.

But this daring wasn't right, in terms of the point at which the mind really had its fill of lust, which is why I criticized myself afterwards, after the mind had passed this point. This daring was a kind of madness, but while I was following the path, it was right, because that was how I had to follow it through. This is like criticizing food after you've eaten your fill. Right or wrong, it's the same sort of thing.

I contemplated unattractiveness until no physical desire appeared at all. It gradually faded away, all on its own, without giving any reason at any specific time or place. It didn't give me any assurance that lust or passion for the male or female body had disappeared at this or that point in time and place, so I had to deliberate again. I wouldn't go along with this simple fading away on its own. That is, my mind wouldn't accept it. If lust had been wiped out at any particular point, there should have been some sort of indication, so that I could know clearly that it was all gone for this or that reason, at this or that moment, this or that place. It should have had its moment.

So now the mind had to back up and contemplate to find various approaches to remedy the situation. If it were really all gone, why hadn't there been a clear indication that it had been wiped out at this or that moment? As soon as I saw a person's body, I would perceive right through it. There would be nothing but flesh and bones in that body. It wouldn't be a beautiful woman or a beautiful person or anything, because the power of my contemplation of unattractiveness was so strong that I'd perceive everyone as a pile of bones. What would there be to make the mind feel attraction or desire when it's in a state like that?

I now had to turn around and take a new approach. If physical desire had ended without leaving a trace at a particular moment, using a particular strategy, why hadn't there been a clear indication? I turned around and contemplated another way. I brought attractiveness in to force out the unattractiveness — the pile of bones — covering it with skin to make it beautiful. I had to force the mind, you know. Otherwise it would immediately break through to unattractiveness, because it was so adept that way. I forced the mind to visualize the bones covered with skin so that they'd be beautiful, and then had that beautiful body cling right to mine. That was how I contemplated. I'd do walking meditation visualizing the beauty of that body clinging to mine, clinging right to mine as I walked back and forth. So. How much time would it take? If there was any desire still left, it would have to show. If not, then let me know that it was gone.
I practiced this way for four full days without any physical attraction or desire appearing at all. Even though it was an extremely beautiful body, nothing appeared. The image kept trying to change into a pile of bones wrapped in skin, but I forced the mind to stay just at the skin level.
The fourth night, tears began to flow. 'I've had enough. I give in.' In other words, the mind wasn't feeling any pleasure. It said that it had had enough, so I tested it again: 'Enough of what? If you admit that there's no more desire, then let me know. I won't accept your giving in like this. To give in like this is just a ruse. I won't go along with it.'

I kept on contemplating every facet to find which facet would make the mind feel desire, to see at which moment the desire would arise, so that I could then take whatever might appear and focus on it as the object to be contemplated and uprooted. The night got later and later, and I kept on focusing in — but I wasn't focused on contemplating unattractiveness at that point. I was contemplating nothing but attractiveness for those entire four days, because I was determined to find an approach to test and learn the truth of the situation.

After about 9 or 10 p.m. the night of the fourth day, there was a flickering, as if the mind was going to feel lust for that beautiful body that had been clinging to me constantly during that period. It was a peculiar sort of flickering. Mindfulness was alert to it, because mindfulness was there all the time. As soon as the flickering appeared, I kept encouraging it. 'See that flickering? We've caught the criminal who has been in hiding. See? So how can it be gone? If it's gone, why does it have to behave like this?' I focused in on it. That flickering was simply a condition of the mind that appeared only slightly, with no effect on the body at all. It was inside the mind. When I encouraged it, it would flicker again, which proved that it wasn't all gone.
So now that it wasn't all gone, what was I supposed to do?

I now had to take a new approach, by alternating my tactics. Since this was a path I had never taken before, something I had never known before, it was very difficult to proceed. As soon as I'd focus on unattractiveness, attractiveness would vanish in the flash of an eye. It would vanish extremely fast because I was already adept at unattractiveness. As soon as I'd focus on unattractiveness, the body would turn immediately into a pile of bones, so I would have to focus on attractiveness to make it beautiful again. I kept changing back and forth between the two this way. This took a long time because it was a path I had never trod. I didn't understand, so I had to try out different methods until I could be sure and settle on one path or another.
I finally came to the truth when I was sitting visualizing an image of unattractiveness right in front of me. The mind focused on unattractiveness standing still right there. I wouldn't let it move or change in any way. I had it stay right there like that. If it was an image of bones wrapped in skin or a pile of bones with the skin removed, I had it stay right there in front of me. The mind stared right at it, with mindfulness focused, waiting to learn the truth from that image of unattractiveness, to see what it would do, how this pile of unattractiveness would move or change.

However I stared at it, that's how it would stay, because of the adeptness of the mind. If I wouldn't have it destroy the image, it wouldn't destroy it. I forced it not to destroy it. If I had focused on destroying it, it would have been demolished in an instant because of the speed of discernment. But I didn't let the mind destroy it. I had it stay right there in front of me in order to exercise and experiment to find the truth of which I could be certain.
As I kept focusing in, the image of unattractiveness standing there before me was gradually sucked into the mind, absorbed into the mind, so that I finally realized that unattractiveness was a matter of the mind itself. The state of mind that had fixed on the idea of unattractiveness sucked it in — which meant that attractiveness and unattractiveness were simply a matter of the mind deceiving itself.

The mind then let go in a flash. It let go of external unattractiveness. It understood now because it had made the break. 'This is how it's supposed to be. It's been simply a matter of the mind painting pictures to deceive itself, getting excited over its shadows. Those external things aren't passion, aversion, and delusion The mind is what has passion, aversion, and delusion.' As soon as the mind knew this clearly, it extricated itself from external affairs and came inward. As soon as the mind would 'blip' outward, it knew that these inner affairs were displaying themselves. So now the image of unattractiveness appeared exclusively within the mind.

I then focused and investigated within the mind. But now it wasn't a matter of that sort of passion. It was something very different. The affairs of worldly passion now were all gone. The mind understood clearly that things had to make the break that way. It had passed its verdict. It had understood. So now that there was the image appearing within, the mind focused within. As soon as it focused within, it knew clearly that this internal image came from the mind. When it disappeared, it disappeared here and didn't go anywhere else. The instant after I'd focus on making it appear, it would vanish. Before I had focused on it for long, it would vanish.
After that, it was just like a lightning flash: As soon as I focused on making an image, it would vanish immediately, so there was no time to elaborate on its being attractive or anything at all, because of the speed of the arising and disappearing. The instant it would appear — blip! — it would vanish.

From that point on, there were no more images in the mind. The mind became a completely empty mind. As for external unattractiveness, that problem had already been taken care of. I had understood it from the moment it was sucked in toward the mind, and the mind had immediately let go of external unattractiveness. It let go of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, everything external — because the mind was what had been the deceiver. Once I understood this point clearly, those other things were no longer a problem. The mind had understood immediately and let go of external things once and for all.

After the internal images had all disappeared, the mind was empty. Completely empty. Whatever I focused on was completely empty. I'd look at trees, mountains, buildings, and see them simply as shades, as shadows. The major part — the mind — was empty all through. Even when I'd look at my own body, I'd see it simply as a shadow. As for the mind itself, it was empty clear through — to the point where I exclaimed to myself, 'Is the mind really this empty?' It was empty at all times. Nothing passed into it.

Even though it was that empty, I would form mental pictures as a way of exercising it. Whatever image I'd form would be a means of exercising the mind to make it even more adept at emptiness, to the point where after a single blip it'd be empty — a single blip and it'd be empty. The moment anything was formed — blip! — it'd be empty right then.
At this point — the point where the mind was empty in full measure — this awareness was also prominent in full measure. It fully comprehended rupa, vedana, sañña, sankhara and viññana. It fully let go of them on its own, without anything left. All that was left was awareness. There was a feeling of relatedness and intimacy, a very subtle sensitivity for this awareness that is hard to describe in line with its reality. There was a feeling of absorption exclusively for this awareness. Any other condition that arose would vanish in the same instant.

I kept watch over it. Mindfulness and discernment on this level: If this were the time of the Buddha, we would call them super-mindfulness and super-discernment, but in our day and age we shouldn't reach for those labels. It's enough for our purposes to call them automatic mindfulness and discernment. That's appropriate enough for them. There's no need to call them anything more exalted than that, for this doesn't deviate at all from the truth as it exists. This is why the mind was prominent, and this prominence made it bright all the way through.
One day I was doing walking meditation on the western side of Wat Doi Dhammachedi. I had gone without food for three or four days, and that day was the lunar sabbath, so people were coming to the monastery to give alms. I went off to do walking meditation from daybreak and came back only when it was time to receive alms in front of the main hall. When I was standing in contemplation on the meditation path, an uncanny feeling of wonder arose, to the point where I exclaimed, 'Why is it that this mind is so amazing? Whatever I look at — even the earth on which I'm treading and see clearly with my eyes — why is it that the mind, which is the major part, is completely empty? There are no trees or mountains in the mind. It's completely empty, with nothing left. There's nothing but emptiness filling the heart.'

I stood there contemplating for a moment, when a kind of realization appeared: 'If there is a point or a center of the knower anywhere, that is the essence of a level of being.' That's what it said, and I was bewildered.

Actually, the word 'point' referred to that point of the knower. If I had understood this problem in terms of the truth that appeared to warn me, things would have been able to disband right then and there. But instead of understanding, I was bewildered — because it was something I had never before known or seen. If there was a point, it would be the point of the knower. If there was a center, it would mean the center of the knower. Where was it? There in that knowing mind. That was the essence of a level of being. The statement that appeared in the mind already said so clearly. There was nothing at all wrong about it, but I was simply bewildered — 'What is this?' — so for the time being I didn't get any benefit from it at all. I let more than three months pass by in vain, even though the problem was still weighing on the mind. I couldn't set it down.

When the time came for me to know, I was contemplating just the mind — nothing wide-ranging or anything — because the mind had already known everything on the blatant level. Whatever sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations there might be throughout the cosmos, the mind had already known, understood and let go. It wasn't interested in investigating them. It wasn't even willing to investigate rupa, vedana, sañña, sankhara, or viññana at all. It was interested only in that conspicuous awareness, together with the subtle feelings within the mind.
Mindfulness and discernment kept making contact with that awareness, examining it back and forth. But you should know that the 'point' I referred to was still a conventional reality. No matter how magnificent it might be, it was still magnificence in the realm of convention. No matter how radiant or splendid it might be, it was still radiance and splendor in the realm of convention, because there was still unawareness (avijja) within it.

Unawareness forms the essence of conventional reality. The point of that prominence eventually began to show its ups and downs — in keeping with the very refined level of the mind — so that I was able to catch sight of them. Sometimes it was a little tarnished, sometimes radiant, sometimes stressful, sometimes at ease, in line with the refinement of the mind on this level, enough for me to detect its irregularities.

Mindfulness and discernment on this level were very meticulous guardians of this state of mind, you know. Instead of aiming my guns — mindfulness and discernment — in on the mind, I had aimed them outside, as unawareness had deceived me into doing. This is why unawareness is said to be really cunning. There is nothing more cunning than unawareness, which is the final point.

Greed, for example, is something blatant, easy to understand and plainly harmful, and yet world is still content to feel greed. Think about it! Anger is also blatant, and yet the world is still content to feel anger. Infatuation, love, hate: All these things are blatant, easy to understand and plainly harmful, and yet the world is still content to feel them.
But this was not the same sort of thing at all. It had gone way beyond. It had let go of all those other things, but why was it still attached to this radiance, this marvel? Now that it was inside, it would become tarnished, just a little. It would display stress, just a little — which was a form of change and nothing constant or trustworthy — so that I could catch sight of it, using mindfulness and discernment that were continually focused there at all times without letup, trying to know and see how this state of mind would behave.

Ultimately, there was no escaping it: I had to see that this state of mind was nothing to be trusted, so I came to reflect, 'Why is it that this state of mind can be so changeable? Now it's defiled, now it's radiant, now it's easeful, now it's stressful. It's not always constant and true. Why is it that a mind as refined as this can still show such a variety of conditions?
As soon as mindfulness and discernment had turned to take an interest in investigating this state of mind, a totally unexpected realization sprang up within the mind: 'Defilement, radiance, ease, and stress: These are all conventional realities. They're all anatta — not-self.'
That was enough. Mindfulness and discernment realized that that state of mind immersed in unawareness was a conventional reality that should simply be let go. It shouldn't be held to. A moment after this realization arose to warn mindfulness and discernment, which were acting as the sentinels at that moment, it was as if the mind, mindfulness, and discernment each became impartial and impassive, not stirring themselves to perform any duty at all. At that moment the mind was neutral, not focused on anything, not alluding absentmindedly to anything anywhere. Discernment didn't do any work. Mindfulness was alert in its normal way, without being focused on anything.

That moment — when the mind, mindfulness, and discernment were each impassive and impartial — was the moment when the cosmos in the mind over which unawareness held sway trembled and quaked. Unawareness was thrown down from its throne on the heart. In its place, the pure mind appeared at the same moment that unawareness was toppled, smashed, and eradicated through the power of triumphant mindfulness and discernment — the moment when the sky came crashing down and the cosmos (within) trembled and quaked, showing its final marvel on the border between convention and release. Judgment was passed in the court of justice, with knowledge and vision of release acting as judge. The middle way, the truth of the path, was declared absolute winner, while the truth of the origin of stress was knocked out and carried off on a stretcher, with no way of reviving ever again.

I was utterly astounded and exclaimed, 'Isn't it amazing? Isn't it amazing? Where has this Dhamma been hiding? How is it that the genuine Dhamma, this amazing Dhamma, exceeding all expectations — exceeding all the world — has now appeared in the mind and is one with the mind? And before where were the Buddha and Noble Sangha? How is it that these tremendously amazing refuges have now become one with the heart? Is this what the true Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are like?' They didn't fit in with any guesses or speculations at all, but were simply a pure truth dwelling with a pure truth.

Then I reflected with discouragement back on my fellow living beings with regard to the Dhamma that was in my heart: 'Since this is what the genuine Dhamma is like, how could it be brought out and taught so that others would know and understand? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to live alone until the day the body breaks apart, rather than try to teach anyone?'
As soon as I considered this, a kind of realization suddenly appeared to me: 'The Lord Buddha knew this amazing Dhamma all by himself but was able to become the Teacher of living beings throughout the three levels of the cosmos. How is it that I have been able to teach myself and yet get discouraged at the thought of being able to teach others? The way to teach, the way to know isn't hidden or mysterious.' When I realized this, my discouragement at the thought of teaching my friends gradually faded away.

This event made me think of the first moments after the Buddha's Awakening, when he wearied at the thought of taking the excellent Dhamma in his heart and teaching it to the world because he felt that it lay beyond the capability of other people to realize it. Even though he had aspired to be a Teacher, to instruct the world, he felt that the Dhamma he had realized was a Dhamma beyond reach, that it would be hopeless to encourage the world to accept it and practice so as to know it. But when he reflected on the path he had followed to Awakening, he realized that the Dhamma wasn't beyond reach or beyond hope, that there would be infinite benefits for the world if he were to teach the way of the Dhamma whose results he had come to see beyond a doubt. This was why he made up his mind to teach the world from that point on.

The reason I had felt the same way was because it was a Dhamma I had never before seen or known, and it was a Dhamma utterly amazing. When I looked solely at the results in the present, without reflecting back on the causes — the path I had followed — I felt disheartened and abandoned the idea of telling or teaching anyone about this Dhamma. But since reflecting back on the path I had followed, I have felt more like speaking and acting out the various facets of the Dhamma, in line with the various levels of people who have become involved with me, who have studied and trained with me ever since, to the point where I have become a sham Acariya as decreed by monks, novices and people in general. This being the case, I've had to speak, teach, preach, and scold, heavily or lightly as events may call for.

I have to beg the forgiveness of my listeners and readers for speaking in an uncouth way to the point of being ugly, but when this scrap of a monk was hiding out in the forest and mountains, he suffered mightily while training himself by struggling in various ways on the verge of death — because of all sorts of sufferings — without anyone to provide him with a funeral. No one knew or was interested, except for a few of those people in the forest and mountains on whom I depended to keep my life going from one day to the next, who may have known of some aspects of some of my sufferings.

For this reason, the statement that the Buddha practiced to the point of losing consciousness before gaining Awakening is a truth that those who practice wholeheartedly for the sake of the Dhamma, the paths, fruitions, and nibbana, have to believe wholeheartedly without any doubt. Only those who have never practiced or had any interest in practice, or who practice by tying pillows to the backs of their heads and waiting for defilement to die, or dig graves for defilement by lying down and waiting to rake in the paths, fruitions and nibbana, won't believe in the difficulty with which the Buddha and his Noble Disciples practiced.

Especially at present, when people are very clever: Whatever would fly in the face of their already being wise and all-knowing, no matter how right or good or fantastic that thing might be, they aren't willing to use it to take the measure of their own wisdom. As a result, their wisdom can't escape creating a lot of foolishness for themselves and the common good. For this reason, the path leading to depravity for the mind and the path leading to Dhamma within the mind are very different.

Those who practice, the Dhamma says, are those who investigate and reflect on every facet of the world and the Dhamma without being complacent. No matter what posture we are in, no matter where, we should always use mindfulness and discernment to look after ourselves. We shouldn't be concerned with the deficient or developed manners, the good or bad behavior of other people, the points they give us or take away, more than we are concerned with our own deficient or developed manners, our own good or bad behavior and the points we give or take away from ourselves. This is the path of the Dhamma for those who practice the Dhamma, who are always embued with Dhamma. The opposite way is the low path for those with low minds, with no righteousness infiltrating them at all. This is a warning for all those meditators who have come here for training to understand and take to heart.
* * *
The Dhamma I have related today is mostly personal and isn't appropriate to be made public to people at large whose sensitivities may vary. I myself might be open to criticism, and it might be harmful to the attitudes of those who hear or read when the tape is transcribed onto paper — except for restricted circles of people who would understand. To make this talk public thus goes against the grain with me, but the extent to which I have made it public is out of sympathy for those who have come for training in all rectitude and who have pleaded with me to make it public as an example that those who practice may follow for a long time to come.
If this is wrong in any way, I ask the forgiveness of all my readers. It's with the thought that there will be many people endowed with rectitude in the practice of meditation, both now and the future, who might get some benefit from this outlandish talk, that I put up with the embarrassment of having exposed my own stupidity in it.
---------------------------------------------------------
Source: Straight from the Heart
Thirteen Talks on the Practice of Meditation
by Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno
Translated from the Thai by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Accesstoinsight.org
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/thai/boowa/straight.html

Archived Quotes

  • To practice meditation is one sort of food for the heart. Food for the body is not anything lasting. We eat in the morning and are hungry by noon. We eat at noon and are hungry again in the evening. If we're full today, tomorrow morning we'll be hungry again. We keep eating and defecating like this, and the day will never come when we've had enough. We'll have to keep looking for more and more things to eat. As for food for the heart, if we prepare it really well, even for a little space of time, we'll be full for the rest of our life. ~ Ajahn Lee (posted on 24 Nov 08)
  • For this reason, the Buddha teaches us to be true in whatever we do — true in being generous, true in being virtuous, true in developing concentration and discernment. Don't play around at these things. If you're true, then these activities are sure to bear you the fruits of your own truthfulness without a doubt ~ Ajahn Lee (Craft of the Heart) (posted on 13 Nov 08)
  • So as long as we are devoting ourselves merely to the theoretical study of the Dhamma, it can't serve us well. Only when we have trained our hearts to eliminate their 'chameleons' -their corruptions (upakkilesa) — will it benefit us in full measure. And only then will the true Dhamma be kept pure, free from distortions and deviations from its original principles. ~ Ajahn Mun (A Heart Released) (posted on 11 Nov 07)
  • When the mind is involved with the world, it's bound to meet with collisions; and once it collides, it will be shaken and roll back and forth, just as round stones in a large pile roll back and forth. So no matter how good or bad other people may be, we don't store it up in our mind to give rise to feelings of like or dislike. Dismiss it completely as being their business and none of ours. ~ Ajahn Lee Dhammadaro (posted on 9 Nov 07)
  • Dhamma has a value beyond all wealth and should not be sold like goods in the market place ~ Ajahn Maha Boowa (posted on 8 Nov 07)

Photos

Here are the resource sites whereby you can view photographs of various teachers from the Thai Forest Tradition:

Spiritual Partner of the Buddha

Below is extracted from the Notes section (page 478) of Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera- A Spiritual Biography:

Spiritual partner. Literally, "one's partner in developing the spiritual perfections (parami).Most living beings have an individual, usually of the opposite sex with whom they have maintained an intimate, personal relationship spanning countless lifetimes over many eons of existance. Life after life, those couples who share a deep spiritual commitment will reconnect and renew their relationship, assisting each other to develop one or another aspect of spiritual perfection. Such a devoted companion is considered to be essential for the eons-long quest to become a fully-enlightened Buddha, as Gautama Buddha's own story illustrates:

In a past eon of the world, as a forest-dwelling ascetic named Sumedha, he threw himself at the feet of an earlier Buddha, Dipankara, and resolved to become a Buddha himself in future. As he made this vow, a young woman bearing incense and flowers stepped forth joyously to congratulate him. He immediately rejected her support, saying that as a forest-dwelling ascetic he was determined to live alone. Dipankara Buddha then cautioned the young ascetic, telling him that every aspirant to Buddhahood had a spiritual companion (pada-paricarika) who was his inseparable partner throughout the long, ardous journey to perfection. After that, through countless lives, the Bodhisatta and his spiritual partner labored and sacrificed together for the benefit of other living beings as they traveled the Path of Awakening.

Ajahn Mun's The Spiritual Partner- touching story

This is taken from Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera's Spiritual Biography (A Heart Released section) narrated by Ajahn Maha Boowa. The story was first translated in an earlier version of his biography (dark green colour). I read the book in the library and never forgotten the story.

The story shows that most Dhamma seekers would normally have a spiritual partner.

The Spiritual Partner
Sitting in meditation after his final attainment, Ãcariya Mun recalled a certain personal matter from his past – one which he had not taken much interest in before. Here I would like to tell a story relevant to Ãcariya Mun’s past. I feel it would be a shame to leave out such an intriguing story, especially as this type of relationship may be following every one of you like a shadow, even though you are unaware of it. Should the story be deemed in any way unseemly, please blame the author for not being properly circumspect. As you may already have guessed, this is a private matter that was discussed only by Ãcariya Mun and his inner circle of disciples. I have tried to suppress the urge to write about it here, but the more I tried to suppress it, the stronger this urge became. So I finally gave in and, after writing it down, the urge gradually subsided. I must confess that I’m at fault here, but I hope the reader forgives me. Hopefully, it will provide everyone, caught in the perpetual cycle of birth and death, something worthwhile to think about.

This story concerns Ãcariya Mun’s longtime spiritual partner.
Ãcariya Mun said that in previous lives he and his spiritual partner had both made a solemn vow to work together toward the attainment of Buddhahood. During the years prior to his final attainment, she occasionally came to visit him while he was in samãdhi. On those occasions, he gave her a brief Dhamma talk, then sent her away. She always appeared to him as a disembodied consciousness. Unlike beings from most realms of existence, she had no discernible form. When he inquired about her formless state, she replied that she was so worried about him she had not yet decided to take up existence in any specific realm. She feared that he would forget their relationship – their mutual resolve to attain Buddhahood in the future. So out of concern, and a sense of disappointment, she felt compelled to come and check on him from time to time. Ãcariya Mun told her then that he had already given up that vow, resolving instead to practice for Nibbãna in this lifetime. He had no wish to be born again, which was equivalent to carrying all the misery he had suffered in past lives indefinitely into the future.

Although she had never revealed her feelings, she remained worried about their relationship, and her longing for him never waned. So once in a long while she paid him a visit. But on this occasion, it was Ãcariya Mun who thought of her, being concerned about her plight, since they had gone through so many hardships together in previous lives. Contemplating this affair after his attainment, it occurred to him that he would like to meet her so they could reach a new understanding. He wanted to explain matters to her, and thus remove any lingering doubts or anxieties regarding their former partnership. Late that very night and soon after this thought occurred to him, his spiritual partner arrived in her familiar formless state.

Ãcariya Mun began by asking her about her present realm of existence. He wanted to know why she had no discernible form like beings from other celestial realms, and what exactly was her present condition. The formless being answered that she lived in one of the minor ethereal
states of being in the vast sentient universe. She reiterated that she was waiting in that realm because of anxiety concerning him. Having become aware of his desire to meet her, she came to him that night.

Ordinarily, she didn’t dare to visit him very often. Though sincerely wanting to see him, she always felt shy and hesitant. In truth, her visits were in no way damaging to either of them for they were not of such a nature as to be harmful. But still, her long-standing affection for him made her hesitant about coming. Ãcariya Mun had also told her not to visit too often, for although not harmful, such visits could nevertheless become an emotional impediment, thus slowing his progress. The heart being very sensitive by nature, it could well be affected by subtle emotional attachments, which could then interfere with the practice of meditation. Convinced that this was true, she seldom came to visit him.

She was quite aware that he had severed his connection to birth and death, including former friends and relatives – and of course the spiritual partner who was counting on him – with no lingering regrets whatsoever. After all, it was an event that had a dramatic effect throughout the world systems. But rather than rejoice with delight, as she would have done in the past when they were together, this time she felt slighted, prompting an unorthodox reaction. She thought instead that he was being irresponsible, neglecting to consider the loyal spiritual companion who had shared his suffering, struggling together with him through so many lifetimes. She felt devastated now, left alone in misfortune, clutching dukkha but unable to let go. He had already gone beyond dukkha, leaving her behind to endure the burden of suffering. The more she thought about it, the more she felt like one bereft of wisdom who, nonetheless, wanted to reach up to touch the moon and the stars. In the end, she fell back to earth clutching her misery, unable to find a way out of such grievous misfortune.

Despondent, hapless being that she was, and struggling to endure her misery, she pleaded with him for assistance: “I am desperately disappointed. Where can I possibly find happiness? I so want to reach up and touch the moon and the stars in the sky! It’s just terrible, and so painful. You yourself are like the moon and the stars up in the sky shining brightly in every direction. Having established yourself in Dhamma, your existence is never bleak, never dreary. You’re so completely content and your aura radiates throughout every part of the universe. If I am still fortunate enough, please kindly show me the way of Dhamma. Please help me bring forth the bright, pure knowledge of wisdom, releasing me quickly from the cycle of repeated birth and death, to follow you in the attainment of Nibbãna so that I will not have to endure this agony much longer. May this vow be strong enough to produce the results my heart desires, allowing me to attain the grace of enlightenment as soon as possible.”

Convulsed with sobs of anguish, such was the fervent plea of that sorrowful formless being as she expressed her hopes of gaining enlightenment.

Ãcariya Mun replied that his intention in wishing to see her was not to elicit regrets about the past: “People who wish each other well should not think in that way. Haven’t you practiced the four brahmavihãras: mettã, karuõã, muditã, and upekkhã?

The formless spirit replied: “I have practiced them for so long that I can’t help thinking about the closeness we once shared practicing them together. When a person saves only himself, as you have, it is quite natural for those left behind to be disappointed. I’m in misery because I have been abandoned without any concern for my welfare. I still can’t see any possibility of easing my pain.”

He cautioned her: “Whether practicing on your own or in concert with others, goodness is developed for the purpose of reducing anxiety and suffering within yourself, not for increasing them until, being agitated, you become all upset. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, but the tendency of people with kilesas is to somehow muddle through, not knowing which path is the right one for a smooth, safe passage. We don’t know if what we are doing is right or wrong, or whether the result will be happiness or suffering. We know the pain in our hearts, but we don’t know the way out of it. So we are left to fret about our misfortune, as you see me doing now.”

Ãcariya Mun said that the formless spirit was adamant in her complaints about him. She accused him of making his escape alone, showing no pity for her – she who for so long had struggled together with him to go beyond dukkha. She complained that he had made no effort to assist her so that she too could gain release from suffering.

He tried to console her: “When two people eat food together at the same table, inevitably one will be full before the other. It’s not possible for both to be fully satiated at the same moment. Take the case of the Lord Buddha and his former spouse, Yasodhara. Although for many ages they had jointly developed goodness of all kinds, the Lord Buddha was the first to transcend dukkha, returning then to teach his former spouse so that later she also crossed over to the other shore. You should consider this lesson carefully and learn from it, instead of complaining about the person who’s right now trying his best to find a way to help you. I am earnestly searching for a means to help you cross over, yet you accuse me of being heartless and irresponsible. Such thoughts are very inappropriate. They will merely increase the discomfort for both of us. You should change your attitude, following the example of the Lord Buddha’s former spouse – an excellent example for everyone, and one giving rise to true happiness.

“My reason for meeting you is to assist you, not to drive you away. I have always supported your development in Dhamma. To say that I have abandoned you and no longer care for your welfare is simply not true. My advice to you emanates from a heart whose loving kindness and compassion are absolutely pure. If you follow this advice, practicing it to the best of your ability, I will rejoice in your progress. And should you receive completely satisfactory results, I will rest contented in equanimity.

“Our original aspiration to achieve Buddhahood was made for the express purpose of crossing beyond the cycle of rebirth. My subsequent desire to attain the status of sãvaka instead, was actually a desire aimed toward the same goal: a state free of kilesas and ãsava, free of all dukkha, the Supreme Happiness, Nibbãna. As I’ve followed the righteous path through many different lives, including my present status as a Buddhist monk, I have always done my utmost to keep in touch with you. Throughout this time, I have taught you as best I could with the immense loving compassion that I feel for you. Never was there a moment when I thought of forsaking you to seek only my own salvation – my thoughts were constantly full of concern, full of sympathy for you. I have always hoped to free you from the misery of birth in saÿsãra, leading you in the direction of Nibbãna.

“Your abnormal reaction – feeling offended because you suppose that I’ve abandoned you without any concern for your well-being – is of no benefit to either of us. From now on, you should refrain from such thinking. Don’t allow these thoughts to arise and trample all over your heart, for they will bring only endless misery in their wake – a result incompatible with my objective, as I strive with heartfelt compassion to help you out.

“Escaping without a care? Where have I escaped to? And who is it I don’t care about? At this moment I am doing my utmost to give you every possible assistance. Doesn’t everything I’ve taught you arise solely out of such compassionate concern as I am showing you right now? The constant encouragement I have provided comes straight from a heart full to the brim with a compassion that exceeds all the water in the great oceans, a compassion that pours forth unsparingly, without concern that it might run dry. Please understand that helping you has always been my intention and accept this Dhamma teaching that I offer. If you just trust me and practice accordingly, you will experience the fruits of inner happiness for yourself.

“From the day I first ordained as a monk, I have sincerely practiced the way of Dhamma – never for a moment have I thought ill of anyone. My motive in wanting to meet with you was not to deceive you, or cause you harm, but to assist you as best I can with all my heart. If you refuse to trust me, it will be difficult for you to find anyone else so worthy of your complete faith. You said you were aware of the universe trembling that night. That trembling, do you think it was caused by the ‘Dhamma of deception’ arising in the world? Is that why you’re so hesitant about taking to heart the advice I have so graciously offered you? If you understand that Dhamma is indeed the Dhamma of Truth, then you should consider the trembling of the universe that night as a decisive factor in your faith, and take comfort in the fact that you still have great resources of merit. You are still able to listen to a timely exposition of Dhamma, even though your birth in that formless realm of existence should render such a thing impossible. I consider it my good fortune to be able to teach you now. You should feel proud of your own good fortune in having someone to come and rescue you from the hopeless gloom that your misguided thinking has caused. If you can think positively like this, I shall be very pleased. Such thinking will not allow dukkha to bind you so tightly that you can’t find a way out. It won’t allow Dhamma to be seen as something mundane, or compassionate concern to be seen as something malevolent.”

As she listened to Ãcariya Mun present these reasoned arguments with such loving compassion, his spiritual partner felt as though she was being bathed in a stream of celestial water. Gradually she regained her composure. Enchanted by his discourse, her mind soon became calm, her manner respectful.

When he finished speaking, she admitted her mistake: “My affection and my hopeless yearning for you have caused so much trouble. I believed that you had discarded me, going your own way, which left me feeling neglected. I became terribly disappointed. I couldn’t stop thinking
how useless and rejected I felt, with no one to turn to. But now that I have received the light of Dhamma, my heart is cool and contented. I can now put down the burden of misery that I’ve been carrying, for your Dhamma is like a divine nectar washing over my heart, cleansing
it and making it bright. Please forgive me whatever wrong I have done to you through my ignorance. I am determined to be more careful in the future – never shall I make such a mistake again.”

When she finished speaking, Ãcariya Mun advised her to take birth in a more appropriate realm of existence, telling her to cease worrying about the past. Respectfully, she promised to follow his advice, then made one final request: “Once I have taken birth in a suitable realm, may I come and listen to your advice as before? Please give me your blessing for this.” Once Ãcariya Mun had granted her request, she immediately vanished.

The formless spirit having departed, Ãcariya Mun’s citta withdrew from samãdhi. It was nearly five a.m. and almost light. He had not rested the entire night. Having begun sitting in samãdhi at around eight p.m., he had spoken with the formless spirit for many hours into the night.

Not long afterwards, the same spirit came to visit him again. This time she came in the bodily form of a beautiful deva, although in deference to the especially revered monk she was visiting, she was not adorned in the ornamental style customary of the devas.

Upon arriving, she explained to him her new situation: “After listening to your explanation, which removed all my doubts and relieved me of the misery that was tormenting me, I came to birth in the Tãvatiÿsa heavenly realm – a celestial sphere full of delightful pleasures, all of
which I now enjoy as a result of the goodness we performed together as human beings. Although I experience this pleasant existence as a consequence of my own good deeds, I can’t help remembering that you, venerable sir, were the one who initially encouraged me to do good. On
my own, I would never have had the wisdom capable of accomplishing this to my complete satisfaction.

“Feeling fortunate enough to be reborn in heavenly splendor, I am wholly contented, and no longer angry or resentful. As I reflect back on the immense kindness you’ve always shown me, it becomes apparent to me how important it is for us to choose discretely in our lives – concerning everything from our work to our food to our friends and companions, both male and female. Such discretion is crucial for leading a smooth, untroubled existence. This is especially true when choosing a spouse to depend on, for better or for worse. Choosing a spouse merits special attention, for we share everything with that person – even our very breath. Every happiness and every sorrow along the way will necessarily affect both parties.

“Those who have a good partner, even though they may be inadequate in terms of their intelligence, their temperament, or their behavior, are still blest to have someone who can guide and encourage them in dealing with all their affairs – both their secular affairs, which promote
peace and stability in the family, and their spiritual affairs, which nourish the heart. All other matters will benefit as well, so they won’t feel they are groping blindly in the dark, never certain how these matters will turn out. Each partner being a good person, they compliment each
other to create a virtual paradise within the family, allowing everyone to remain peaceful, contented, and free from strife at all times. Always cheerful, such a household is undisturbed by temperamental outbursts. All members contribute in creating this atmosphere: each is calm and composed, firmly established in the principles of reason – instead of just doing whatever they like, which is contrary to the very moral principles that insure their continued peace and contentment. Married couples work together to construct their own future. Together they create good and bad kamma. They create happiness and misery, virtue and evil, heaven and hell, from the very beginning of their relationship onwards to the present and into the future – an unbroken continuum.

“Being blessed with the chance to accompany you through many lives, I’ve come to realize this in my own situation. By your guidance, venerable sir, I have made goodness an integral part of my character. You have always steered me safely through every danger, never letting me stray in the direction of evil or disgrace. Consequently, I’ve remained a good person during all those lifetimes. I cannot tell you how deeply moved I am by all the kindness you’ve shown me. I now realize the harm caused by my past mistakes. Please kindly forgive my transgressions so that no lingering animosity remains between us.”

Assenting to the deva’s request, Ãcariya Mun forgave her. He then gave her an inspiring talk, encouraging her to perfect herself spiritually. When he had finished, she paid him her respects, moved off a short distance, and floated blissfully up into the sky.

Some of the resentful comments she made when she was still a formless spirit were too strange to record here, so I’ve been unable to recount every detail of their conversation; and for that I ask your forgiveness. I am not really that satisfied with what has been written here either, but I feel that without it a thought-provoking story would have been left out.

Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera



Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera was born in 1870 in Baan Kham Bong, a farming village in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeastern Thailand. Ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1893, he spent the remainder of his life wandering through Thailand, Burma, and Laos, dwelling for the most part in the forest, engaged in the practice of meditation. He attracted an enormous following of students and, together with his teacher, Phra Ajaan Sao Kantasilo, was responsible for the establishment of the forest ascetic tradition that has now spread throughout Thailand and to several countries abroad. He passed away in 1949 at Wat Suddhavasa, Sakon Nakhorn province.
Click HERE to read more.
(Source: A Heart Released- The Teachings of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera byPhra Ajaan Suwat SuvacoTranslated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

8 Nov 07- The Birth of This Blog

Picture from left: Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta, Ajahn Maha Boowa and Ajahn Fan.
I start this blog to compile sites and resources about the Great Masters from the Thai Forest Tradition. I realised that an online journal is an excellent way to compile resources and learnings. Over the years since I had first discovered Buddhism, there are so many links and resources that were lost when my PC crashed (twice or thrice). This morning while I was sitting in meditation, a thought arose in my mind that I should start a blog like this to log down various resources. I could access to these resources from anywhere, and people who are interested to learn more about the Thai tradition can read more.

I first discovered Buddhism via a Dhamma camp that I have attended during my university days. From the library of the Buddhist society, I devoured various Buddhist books. I knew then that the Buddha's teachings were what I was searching for in my life. I also knew, instinctively and with all certainty that my learning curve will be a difficult uphill one- but an inner voice promised that if I persisted on, the road will one day be smooth.

A few years later I disovered Thai forest tradition, and was intrigued by its authencity and simplicity. Ajahn Mun's teachings talks about the language of the heart- something that I had know deep in my heart was true. When I read the writings of Ajahn Maha Boowa- the Spiritual Biography of Venerable Acariya Mun, the book transformed my life forever. I've found the answers and validation that I have searched for so many years.

Therefore hereby I present to you resources and readings that inspired me deeply.
I welcome any sharings and comments.
-------------------

Source of pictures: