A well-read layman was conversing with Luang Pu, saying, "I firmly believe that in our present day and age there are not just a few monks who have practiced to the point of reaching the paths, fruitions, and nibbana. So why don't they make their knowledge public, so that those who are interested in the practice will know of the levels of Dhamma they have attained, as a way of giving them encouragement and hope so that they'll accelerate their efforts to the utmost of their ability? It's normal that when people practicing concentration start getting results, they can have their doubts about what they've experienced — for example, when they experience conflicting visions or start seeing parts of their own bodies.
Many people came to Luang Pu, asking him to resolve their doubts or to give them advice on how to continue with their practice. And a lot of people would come to say that when meditating they saw hell or heaven or heavenly mansions, or else a Buddha image inside their body. The questioner might then ask, "You say that all these visions are external, and that I can't yet put them to any use; if I stay stuck simply on the vision I won't make any further progress.
Is it because I've been staying so long with these visions that I can't avoid them? Every time I sit down to meditate, as soon as the mind gathers together it goes straight to that level. Can you give me some advice on how to let go of visions in an effective way? A really simple method for letting go of them is not to look at what you see in the vision, but to look at what's doing the seeing. Then the things you don't want to see will disappear on their own. A large number of temporarily ordained women from a nearby teachers' college came to discuss the results of their vipassana practice, telling him that when their minds settled down they would see a Buddha image in their hearts.
Some of them said that they saw the heavenly mansions awaiting them in heaven. Some saw the Culamani Stupa [a memorial to a relic of the Buddha kept in heaven]. They all seemed very proud of their success in their practice of vipassana. You can't take them as a substantial refuge at all.
In March, , a large number of scholarly and meditating monks — the first group of "Dhamma Missionaries" — came to pay their respects to Luang Pu and to ask for teachings and advice that they could use in their work of spreading the Dhamma. Luang Pu taught them Dhamma on the ultimate level, both for them to teach others and for them to put into practice themselves so as to reach that level of truth.
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In conclusion, he gave them a piece of wisdom for them to take and contemplate:. Only when you stop thinking will you know. But still, you have to depend on thinking so as to know. The reason I say this is because the person of each Dhamma missionary is the determining factor. If, when you go, you behave in an appropriate way, keeping in mind the fact that you're a contemplative, with manners and behavior corresponding with what's proper for a contemplative, those who see you, if they don't yet have faith, will give rise to faith.
As for those who already have faith, your behavior will increase their faith. But as for the missionaries who behave in the opposite fashion, it will destroy the faith of those who have faith, and will drive those who don't yet have faith even further away. So I ask that you be consummate both in your knowledge and your behavior. Don't be heedless or complacent. Whatever you teach people to do, you yourself should also do as an example for them.
Before the Rains retreat in , Luang Phaw Thaw, a relative of Luang Pu's who had ordained late in life, returned from many years of wandering with Ajaan Thate and Ajaan Saam in Phang-nga province to pay his respects to Luang Pu and to learn more about meditation practice. He spoke with Luang Pu on familiar terms, saying, "Now that you've built an ordination hall and this large, beautiful meeting hall, you've probably reaped a really huge amount of merit.
As for reaping the merit, what would I want with merit like this? Six years after the Second World War was over, the legacy of the war remained in the form of the poverty and difficulties caused by the shortages of food and materials that affected every home. In particular, there was a great shortage of cloth. If a monk or novice had even one complete set of robes, he was fortunate. I was one of a large number of novices living with Luang Pu. One day Novice Phrom, another one of Luang Pu's nephews, saw Novice Chumpon wearing a beautiful new robe, so he asked him, "Where did you get that robe?
He saw that my robe was torn, so he gave me a new one. When it came Novice Phrom's turn to give Luang Pu a foot massage, he wore a torn robe, with the idea that he'd get a new robe, too. When he had finished his duties and was leaving, Luang Pu noticed the tear in the robe and was struck with pity for his nephew. So he got up, opened a cabinet, and handed his nephew something, saying,. A middle-aged lady once came to pay respect to Luang Pu. She described her situation in life, saying that her social position was good and she had never lacked for anything.
She was upset, though, over her son, who was disobedient, disorderly, and had fallen under the influence of every kind of evil amusement. He was laying waste to his parents' wealth, as well as to their hearts, in a way that was more than they could bear. She asked Luang Pu to advise her on an approach that would lessen her suffering, as well as getting her son to give up his evil ways.
Luang Pu gave her some advice on these matters, also teaching her how to quiet her mind and how to let go. Luang Pu continued with a Dhamma talk, saying, "Material things are already there in the world in a way that's perfectly complete. People who lack the discernment and ability can't take possession of them and so they have difficulties in providing for themselves. Those with the discernment and ability can take possession of the valuables of the world in large quantities, making life convenient and comfortable for themselves in all circumstances.
As for the noble ones, they try to conduct themselves for the sake of gaining release from all those things, entering a state where they have nothing at all, because —. In the area of the Dhamma, you have something you don't have.
Whether sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations are good or bad depends on the mind's going out to fashion them in that way. When the mind lacks discernment, it misunderstands things. When it misunderstands things, it gets deluded under the influence of all things that are binding, both physically and mentally. The ill effects and punishments we suffer physically are things from which other people can help free us, to at least some extent. But the ill effects within the mind, to which the mind is in bondage through defilement and craving, are things from which we have to learn to free ourselves on our own.
But it counts only on the external level. Only when he has shaved off the mental tangle — all lower preoccupations — from his heart can you call him a monk on the internal level. In the same way, when a mind has gained release from its preoccupations and is freed from fabrication, suffering can't take up residence at all. When this becomes your normal state, you can be called a genuine monk.
Luang Pu was invited to teach in Bangkok on March 31, During a Dhamma conversation, some lay people expressed their doubts about what "buddho" was like. Luang Pu was kind enough to answer:. Don't fasten onto any knowledge at all. Whatever knowledge you've gained from books or teachers, don't bring it in to complicate things.
Cut away all preoccupations, and then as you meditate let all your knowledge come from what's going on in the mind. When the mind is quiet, you'll know it for yourself. But you have to keep meditating a lot. When the time comes for things to develop, they'll develop on their own. Whatever you know, have it come from your own mind. So let your knowledge come out of a mind quiet and still. Don't send it outside. Let the mind stay right in the mind. Let the mind meditate on its own. Let it be the one that keeps repeating buddho, buddho.
And then genuine buddho will appear in the mind. You'll know for yourself what buddho is like. That's all there is to it. There's not a whole lot Juap Jirarote, came to the Northeast to do some charity work. One evening they took the opportunity to stop by and pay their respects to Luang Pu at p. After they had paid their respects and asked after his health, they received some amulets from him. Seeing that he wasn't feeling well, though, they quickly left.
But there was one lady who stayed behind and took this special opportunity to ask Luang Pu, "I'd like something good [a euphemism for an amulet] from Luang Pu, too. Luang Pu replied, "You have to meditate to get something good. When you meditate, your mind will be at peace. Your words and deeds will be at peace. Your words and deeds will be good.
When you live in a good way like this, you'll be happy. The lady replied, "I have lots of duties, and no time to meditate. My government work has me all tied up, so where am I going to find any time to meditate? On that occasion, a senior monk from Bangkok — Phra Dhammavaralankan of Wat Buppharam, the ecclesiastical head of the southern region of the country — was also there, practicing meditation in his old age, being only one year younger than Luang Pu.
When he learned that Luang Pu was a meditation monk, he became interested and engaged Luang Pu in a long conversation on the results of meditation. He mentioned his responsibilities, saying that he had wasted a lot of his life engaged in study and administration work well into his old age. He discussed different points of meditation practice with Luang Pu, finally asking him, "Do you still have any anger? When Luang Pu was undergoing treatment at Chulalongkorn Hospital in Bangkok, large numbers of people came to pay their respects and listen to his Dhamma.
Bamrungsak Kongsuk was among those who were interested in the practice of meditation. He was a student of Ajaan Sanawng of Wat Sanghadana in Nonthaburi province, one of the strict meditation centers of our day and time. He broached the topic of the practice of the Dhamma by asking, "Luang Pu, how does one cut off anger? There's only being aware of it in time. When you're aware of it in time, it disappears on its own. Many monks and novices attending to Luang Pu late at night in Chulalongkorn Hospital were perplexed and amazed when they noticed that on some nights, well after a.
At first, no one dared ask him about this, but after it had happened many times they couldn't contain their doubts, and so they asked. A large group of Dhamma practitioners from Buriram province — headed by Police Lieutenant Bunchai Sukhontamat, the provincial prosecutor — came to pay their respects to Luang Pu, to listen to the Dhamma, and to ask questions about how to progress further in their practice. Most of them had practiced with all the famous ajaans, who had explained the practice in a variety of ways that weren't always in line with one another, and this had caused them more and more doubts.
So they asked Luang Pu's advice as to the way of practice that was correct and easiest, as they had difficulties in finding time to practice. If they could learn of a way that was really easy, it would be especially right for them. The group of Duangporn Tharichat from the Air Force Radio Station 01 in Bang Syy, headed by Akhom Thannithate, came to the northeast to present group donations and to pay their respects to the ajaans in the various monasteries. When they stopped off to pay respect to Luang Pu, they presented their donations and received small mementos.
After that, some of them went shopping in the market, while some of them found a place to rest. However, there was one group of about four or five people who stayed behind and asked Luang Pu to advise them on a simple method to get rid of mental distress and depression, which was a constant problem for them. What method, they asked, would give the quickest results? A lady professor, after hearing Luang Pu give a talk on Dhamma practice, asked him the proper way to "wear suffering" [the Thai idiom for observing a period of mourning].
She continued, "These days, people don't wear suffering in the correct way or in line with a common pattern, even though King Rama VI established a good standard in the time of his reign. When a member of your immediate family or a senior member of your extended family died, the pattern was to wear suffering for seven days, 50 days, or days. But nowadays people don't follow any pattern. So I'd like to ask you: What is the correct way to wear suffering?
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When you comprehend it, you let it go. Why would you want to wear it? A Chinese lady, after paying her respects to Luang Pu, asked him, "I have to move to Prakhonchai District in Buriram Province to set up a store near my relatives there. The problem is, my relatives have been recommending that I sell this, that, and the other thing in the store, in line with their opinion as to what would sell well, but I can't make up my mind as to what would be good to sell. So I've come to ask your advice as to what would be good for me to sell.
On May 8, , a group of ten or more army officers came to pay their respects to Luang Pu quite late in the evening before heading on to Bangkok. Two of the members of the group had the rank of Lieutenant General. After conversing with Luang Pu for a while, the members of the group took the amulets from around their necks and placed them in a tray for Luang Pu to bless with the power of his concentration.
He obliged them, and then returned their amulets to them. One of the generals asked him, "I've heard that you've made many sets of amulets. Which of them are famous? A group of three or four young men from a distant province came to see Luang Pu as he was sitting on the porch of the meeting hall. You could tell from their behavior — in the casual way they sat and spoke — that they were probably familiar with a rogue monk someplace. On top of that, they seemed to believe that Luang Pu was interested in talismans, for they told him of all the great tantric ajaans who had given them talismans of extraordinary magical power.
Finally, they pulled out their talismans to display to one another right there in front of him. One of them had a tusk of a wild boar, another a tiger's fang, another a rhinoceros horn. Each of them claimed extraordinary powers for his talisman, so one of them asked Luang Pu, "Hey, Luang Pu. Which of these is more extraordinary and good than the others for sure?
They all come from common animals.
Luang Pu once said, "In the Rains Retreat of I made a vow to read the entire Canon to see where the endpoint of the Buddha's teachings lay — to see where the end of the noble truths, the end of suffering, lay — to see how the Buddha had summarized it. I read the Canon to the end, contemplating along the way, but there was no passage that made contact deeply enough in the mind that I could say for sure, 'This is the end of suffering.
This is the end of the paths and fruitions, or what's called nibbana. Sariputta had just come out of the attainment of the cessation, and the Buddha asked him, 'Sariputta, your skin is especially bright, your complexion especially clear. What is the dwelling place of your mind? Ajaan Suchin Sucinno received his law degree from Dhammasaat University a long time ago and held the practice of the Dhamma in high regard. He was a student of Luang Pu Lui for many years and then, after hearing of Luang Pu Dune's reputation, came to practice with him.
Eventually he took ordination. After staying with Luang Pu for a while, he came to take his leave so that he could wander off in search of solitude. As for the Dhamma, if you read a lot you'll speculate a lot, so you don't have to read that at all. Be intent solely on the practice, and that will be enough.
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Luang Taa Naen ordained well after middle age. Illiterate and unable to speak a word of Central Thai, he had his strong point in that he was well-intentioned, tractable, and diligent in his duties, to the point where you couldn't fault him. When he saw other monks taking their leave to go wandering or to study with other ajaans, he decided that he wanted to go, too. So he came to ask permission to leave, which Luang Pu granted. But then he felt worried: "I can't read, I don't know their language. How will I be able to practice with them?
The fact that you know you don't know is a good place to start. The way to practice is this: In the area of the Vinaya, watch their example, the example set by the ajaan. Don't deviate in any way from what he does. In the area of the Dhamma, keep watch right at your own mind. Practice right at the mind. When you understand your own mind, that, in and of itself, will make you understand everything else. One of the problems in administering the Sangha, in addition to having to deal with all the other major and minor issues that come up, is the lack of monks who will be abbots.
We sometimes hear news of monks competing to become abbot of a monastery, but Luang Pu's students had to be cajoled or forced into taking on the abbotship in other monasteries. Every year without exception, groups of lay people would come to Luang Pu, asking him to send one of his students to become the abbot at their monastery. If Luang Pu saw that a particular monk should go, he would plead with him to go, but for the most part the monk wouldn't want to go. The usual excuse was, "I don't know how to do construction work, I don't know how to train other monks, I don't know how to give sermons, I'm no good at public relations or receiving guests.
That's why I don't want to go. Your only responsibility is to follow your daily duties: going for alms, eating your meal, sitting in meditation, doing walking meditation, cleaning the monastery grounds, being strict in observing the Vinaya. That's enough right there.
As for construction work, that depends on the lay supporters. Whether or not they do it is up to them. To the end of his life, Luang Pu would have his daily warm-water bath at every evening, assisted by a monk or novice. After he had dried off and was feeling refreshed, he would often speak a few words of Dhamma that occurred to him at the time.
For instance, once he said,. But if we have the status of a monk and yet hanker after any other status, we'll be engulfed in suffering all the time. When you can stop thirsting, stop searching, that's the true state of being a monk. When you're truly a monk, the poorer you are, the more happiness you have. The purposes they serve are all external: as a benefit to society, a benefit to other people, a benefit to posterity, or a symbol of the religion. The only thing that serves your own true purpose is release from suffering. In one of Luang Pu's branch meditation monasteries there lived a group of five or six monks who wanted to be especially strict in their practice, so they made a vow not to talk throughout the Rains Retreat.
In other words, no word would come out of their mouths except for the daily chanting and the bi-weekly Patimokkha chant. After the end of the Rains they came to pay their respects to Luang Pu and told him of their strict practice: In addition to their other duties, they were also able to stop speaking for the entire Rains. When there's no speaking, then no faults are committed by way of speech.
But when you say that you stopped speaking, that simply can't be. Only the noble ones who enter the refined attainment of cessation, where feeling and perception stop, are able to stop speaking. Aside from them, everyone's speaking all day and all night long. And especially those who vow not to speak: They talk more than anyone else, simply that they don't make a sound that others can hear. In addition to the wisdom that came straight from his heart, Luang Pu would also quote passages from his having read the Canon.
Any passage that he saw as important, as a short and direct lesson in the practice, he would repeat to us. For instance, one of the Buddha's teachings that he liked to quote was this: "Monks, this holy life is not practiced for the sake of deceiving the public, nor for the sake of gaining their respect, nor for the sake of gains, offerings, and fame; nor for the sake of defeating other sectarians. This holy life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion, and the cessation of suffering.
Any directions other than this are all wrong. Luang Pu once said, "People, as long as they're run-of-the-mill, have their pride and their opinions. As long as they have pride, it's hard for them to see in line with one another. When their views aren't in line with one another, it causes them to keep quarreling and disputing. As for a noble one who has reached the Dhamma, he has nothing to bring him into a quarrel with anyone else.
However other people see things, he lets it go as their business. As in one of the Buddha's sayings,. And whatever the wise people of the world say doesn't exist, I too say that it doesn't exist. I don't quarrel with the world; the world quarrels with me. At that time, Luang Pu was resting. Luang Pu Saam sat down near him and raised his hands in respect. Luang Pu responded by raising his hands in respect. Then the two of them sat there, perfectly still, for a long time.
Finally, after an extremely long time, Luang Pu Saam raised his hands in respect once more and said, "I'll be leaving now. For the entire two hours, those were the only words I heard them say. Why didn't you say anything to him? During all the many years I lived near Luang Pu, I never saw him act in a way to indicate that he was bothered by anything to the point where he couldn't stand it, and I never heard him complain about any difficulty at all.
For example, when he was the senior monk at a function, he never made a fuss or demanded that the hosts alter things to suit him. Whenever he was invited any place where he had to sit for long periods of time or where the weather was hot and humid, he never complained. When he was sick and in pain, or if his food came late, no matter how hungry he was, he never grumbled. If the food was bland and tasteless, he never asked for anything to spice it up.
On the other hand, if he saw any other elder monk making a fuss to get special treatment from other people, he would comment,. If you can't endure this, how are you going to win out over defilement and craving? Luang Pu was pure in his speech, for he would speak only of things that served a purpose.
He never created any trouble for himself or for others through his words. Even when people tried to bait him so that they could hear him criticize others, he wouldn't fall for the bait. Many were the times when people would come to say to him, "Luang Pu, why is it that some of our nationally renowned preachers like to attack others or denounce society or criticize other senior monks? Even if you paid me, I couldn't respect monks like that. They say what comes easily in line with the level of their knowledge. Nobody's paying you to respect them.
If you don't want to respect them, then don't respect them. They probably won't mind.
Generally speaking, Luang Pu liked to encourage monks and novices to take a special interest in the practice of wandering in the forest to meditate and observe the ascetic practices. Once, when a large number of his students — both senior and junior — came for a meeting, he encouraged them to search for seclusion in the wilderness, living on mountains or in caves for the purpose of accelerating their practice.
That way they'd be able to release themselves from their lower states of mind. One of the monks said thoughtlessly, "I don't dare go to those places, sir. I'm afraid that spirits might victimize me. There are only monks who victimize spirits — and they make a big production of it to boot. Think about it. Nearly all the material things lay people bring to donate are for the sake of dedicating the merit to the spirits of their dead ancestors and relatives: their parents, their grandparents, their brothers and sisters. And do we monks behave in a fitting way?
What mental qualities do we have that will send the merit to those spirits? Be careful that you don't become a monk who victimizes spirits. At present there are a lot of meditators who get enthusiastic about new teachers or new meditation centers. Just as lottery enthusiasts get excited about monks who forecast lottery numbers, or amulet enthusiasts get excited about monks who make powerful amulets, in the same way, vipassana enthusiasts get excited about vipassana teachers.
A lot of these people, when taken with a particular teacher, will praise that teacher to others and try to persuade them to share their opinion and respect for the teacher. And especially at present, there are famous speakers who tape their Dhamma talks and sell them all over the country. One woman once brought many tapes of a famous speaker's talks for Luang Pu to listen to, but he didn't listen to them.
One reason was that he had never had a radio or tape player since the day he was born. Or supposing that he had had one, he wouldn't have known how to turn it on. Later, someone brought a tape player and played many of these tapes for Luang Pu to listen to. Afterwards, she asked him what he thought. He said,. He has a beautiful way of expressing himself, and an abundance of words, but I couldn't find any substance to them.
Each time you listen, you should be able to get the flavor of study, practice, and attainment. That's when there's substance. At present, many people who are interested in meditation practice are extremely confused and doubtful about the correct way to practice. This is especially true of people just beginning to get interested, because meditation teachers often give conflicting advice on how to practice. What's worse, instead of explaining things in a fair and objective way, these teachers seem reluctant to admit that other teachers or methods of practice might also be correct.
There are not a few who show actual disdain for other methods. Because many people with these sorts of doubts would often come to ask Luang Pu's advice, I frequently heard him explain things in this way:. The reason there are so many methods is because people have different tendencies. This is why there have to be different images to focus on or words to repeat — such as "buddho" or "arahang" — as means of giving the mind a point around which to gather and settle down as the first step. When the mind has gathered and is still, the meditation word will fall away on its own, and that's where every method falls into the same track, with the same flavor.
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In other words, it has discernment as its surpassing state, and release as its essence. Everyone who came to pay respect to Luang Pu would say the same thing: Even though he was almost years old, his complexion was bright and his health strong. Even those of us who lived near him all along rarely saw his face darken or look exhausted or get furrowed in displeasure or pain.
His normal state was to be quiet and cheerful at all times. He had few illnesses and was always in a good mood, never excited about events or affected by praise or blame. Once, in the midst of a gathering of elder meditation monks who were conversing about how to characterize the normal state of mind of those who live above suffering, Luang Pu said,.
People practicing the Dhamma at present are of two sorts. The first are those who, when they learn the principles of the practice or receive advice from a teacher and get on the path, are intent on trying to follow that path to the utmost of their ability. The other sort are those who — even though they've received good advice from their teacher and have learned the correct principles of the practice — aren't sincerely intent. Their efforts are lax. At the same time, they like to go out looking for other teachers at other centers. Wherever they hear there's a good center, there they go.
Meditators of this sort are many. You don't gain any sure principles in your practice. Sometimes you get uncertain and bewildered. Your mind isn't solid. Your practice degenerates and doesn't progress. Students and practitioners of the Dhamma are of two sorts. The first sort are those who genuinely study and practice to gain release from suffering. The second are those who study and practice to brag about their accomplishments and to pass their days in arguments, believing that memorizing a lot of texts or being able to quote a lot of teachers is a sign of their importance.
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