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Patipada:
Venerable Acariya Mun's Path of Practice

 

by Acariya Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno

Translated by Acariya Panyavaddho

 

 

 

 

Contents:

0. Introduction
1. Kammatthana
2. Training the Mind
3. The Story of the White-robed Upasaka
4. More About Training & ­Venerable Acharn Mun’s Talk
5. Stories of Bhikkhus Who Practise
6. The Ascetic Practices (Dhutangas)
7. The Story of Venerable Acharn Chob
8. Bhikkhus of the “Modern Kind”
9. About Beings in the Realm of Ghosts
10. The Practice of the Dhutangas
11. The Nature of Greed & Fighting Pain and Kilesas
12. A Short Biography of Venerable Acharn Kow
13. Methods of Bhavana
14. The Importance of Mindfulness
15. Kammatthana Bhikkhus’ Ways of Behaviour
16. The Customs of Kammatthana Bhikkhus
17. How Questions Differ in Samadhi and Pañña
18. More on Behaviour & Dhamma Discussions
19. The Story of Venerable Acharn Brom
20. Venerable Acharn Mun’s Practice & His Methods of Teaching

Conclusion
 

 


Introduction 
 

      This book is a translation of the Dhutanga practices of Venerable Acharn Mun Bhuridatta, and it was written by Venerable Acharn Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno Thera, as a companion volume to the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”. The author of this book, Venerable Acharn Maha Boowa, who is now (1995) already 82 years old, has been ordained for 62 years. He founded Wat Pa Baan Taad 40 years ago and has lived there ever since as the Abbot. He first went to stay with his teacher, Venerable Acharn Mun, in 1941 and learnt the ways of practice and meditation from him for 8 years. Much of what he learnt has been written about in this book so that the reader can get a fair idea of what hardships and difficulties he had to undergo.
      There are already two translations of this book. Only the first of them has been printed, in serial form, in the “World Fellowship of Buddhists journal”, but this translation is very incomplete and rather inaccurate. Whereas the second translation which was done by Venerable Suchard (Abhijato Bhikkhu) was complete and quite accurate. At first I thought of using this translation, correcting it and improving the English (which was already quite good). But then, I had to consider the style of English, the correct meaning of many of the technical terms and the way to bring out some of the underlying subtleties of the text. In the end I decided that it was easier to start over again and do it all in my own words. But in all of this, I must acknowledge the debt I owe to the translation that was done by Venerable Suchard.
      This book includes many things that may not be easy to understand for the reader who is not familiar with the theory and practice of Theravada Buddhism. For this reason the reader may find that for the first reading it is better to skip over many of the deeper explanations of the Dhamma teaching, and to go on to the methods and practices of the Acariyas which are related herein. However, it should be realised that one cannot get a full and proper understanding of the ways in which these Acariyas practised without also reading about the underlying reasons for what they did.
      In the text, many words in the Pali language are used. But in all cases a translation is given close by in the text, in footnotes, and in a few cases in which commonly used words occur, such as “Dhamma”, “Samadhi”, etc.:, no translation is given. The principle which I have used in using Pali terms is that, it is better for the reader to not understand rather than misunderstand a forced translation. But in any case, there is a fairly good and complete glossary at the back of the book, while some special words have also been covered more completely in an appendix. In the text I use both words Acharn and Acariya, both have the same meaning, “Teacher”, but in Thai the word Acharn is also used as a respectful title for a senior monk. Normally when referring to a senior monk by name or in place of his name I have used the word “Acharn”, but if I want to refer to him as a teacher I have used the correct Pali word “Acariya”.
      Finally I must express my thanks and gratitude to the person (who wishes to remain anonymous), who has typed out the whole book and carried out two series of corrections and several other things besides, while at the same time supporting a house and family.
     
      Bhikkhu Paññavaddho
      Wat Pa Baan Taad
      (1995)
     


     
1. Kammatthana 


     
      The word “Kammatthana” is a technical term. Although it is given a special significance in the way of Dhamma as practised by those who are Dhutanga Bhikkhus. But the true basis of kammatthana is to be found in everyone — in men, women, those who are ordained and lay people, for it refers to such things as hair of the head, hair of the body, and the rest. Some people may not have understood the full meaning of the word “kammatthana” or “Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu”. But this book will be concerned only with the way of practice of Dhutanga Kammatthana as derived from Venerable Acharn Mun (Bhuridatta Thera). Outside of this I am not well versed or experienced in other ways of practice, only having a passing acquaintance with them without ever having had a chance to become familiar with them. However, concerning those ways in which Venerable Acharn Mun led his followers I understand them quite well, having seen, heard, and practised them. But before writing about this, some explanation of the word kammatthana will be given, for it is the basis of the way of practice of Kammatthana Bhikkhus and this will serve as a guide to show how it conforms to the practices which will be described later on.
      The word “kammatthana” has been well known among Buddhists for a long time and the accepted meaning is: “the place of work (or basis of work).” But the “work” here is a very important work and means the work of demolishing the world of birth (bhava). Demolishing (future) births, kilesas, tanha, and the removal and destruction of all avijja from our hearts. All this is in order that we may be free from dukkha. In other words, free from birth, old age, pain and death, for these are the bridges that link us to the round of samsara (vatta), which is never easy for any beings to go beyond, free. This is the meaning of “work” in this context rather than any other meaning, such as work as is usually done in the world. The result that comes from putting this work into practice, even before reaching the final goal, is happiness in the present and in future lives. Therefore those Bhikkhus who are interested and who practise these ways of Dhamma are usually known as Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus, a title of respect given with sincerity by fellow Buddhists.
      A form of kammatthana which has been very important since the time of the Buddha, and is taught by the Upajjhaya (Preceptor) at the time of ordination, consists of five parts of the body: “Kesa — hair of the head; Loma — hair of the body; Nakha — nails; Danta — teeth; Taco — skin; in both forward and reverse order.” These are taught so that the one who has been ordained should grasp them as a method of contemplation, going back and forth over them, time after time until skill is gained and one of them, or all five, are known thoroughly. For these five are important parts of the bodies of all men and women.
      But that which is called the “kammatthana”, which is the “supporting object” (arammana) of any particular citta, is of many kinds, and according to the texts, which can be consulted by those who are interested, there are forty such objects. The main reason why there are so many different kinds of kammatthana is to allow those who are interested in practising to choose one or more which are suitable to their characters, for the characteristics of people differ. This is similar to diseases, which are of many kinds and therefore require different medicines to treat them.
      The method is to take up one of those objects and to repeat its name (parikamma–bhavana) in any bodily position that is suitable or appropriate. For example, repeating, Kesa… Kesa… Kesa… Kesa…, or Loma… Loma… Loma… Loma…, having mindfulness to maintain constant control, and not letting the heart wander elsewhere, while being aware of the particular Dhamma object, the name of which one is repeating, and not frequently changing about between several Dhamma objects — which is characteristic of one who is halfhearted and desultory. One should continue in this way until either truly experiencing the results or truly knowing that the object does not suit one’s character, before changing to a new object.
      One who truly knows that a particular object suits his character should take hold of it as the heart’s guide and continue to persevere without weakening until he experiences the results more and more and goes forward into the ground of Dhamma where it becomes necessary for him to change the object of Dhamma — which he will know for himself.
      The result that comes from practising with these or any other kinds of Dhamma that suit one’s character, is an increasing happiness and calm within the heart which one has never experienced before. This calmness of heart begins at the lowest level, which is the attainment of calm for only a few moments. Then it increases to a moderate duration, and finally to a state of calm for as long as one wants to rest, and to withdraw from it as one wishes. This last state of calm is both much more subtle, deep and intimate than the others.
      While the citta is calm it can let go of all those emotional disturbances which normally trouble it in various ways and then there remains only the “knowing” and “brightness” which are innate qualities of the heart, as well as happiness which arises from the calm, and accords with the level of the heart. There is nothing else there, because at this moment the citta is without any objective support (arammana) and it is its own self and alone. Even if there are subtle kinds of kilesas within it they do not show themselves, for it is like still, clear, unclouded water in which any remaining sediment has settled to the bottom and does not make the water muddy, so that it is clear and clean and fit to be used for drinking, washing or anything else.
      The heart which is without any objective support is peaceful in itself and for however long it stays alone it will be happy, wonderful, meaningful and of great value causing “the owner” to admire it long and much while it remains in that state. In that it is both meaningful and wonderful it never becomes insipid even long afterwards. This is because the heart which is profound and wonderful is already within oneself, so that when it is cleansed and one goes inside and truly reaches it even for only a moment, it immediately shows one by direct experience how wonderful it is. But if one lets it go, letting it slip out of one’s hands, and it deteriorates due to not truly going back to the method of practice or trying to develop it further, it will cause one to long for it and to feel very upset that one cannot get back to that state of the citta. It is probably for this reason, that at the time of the Buddha, the heart of one of the Savakas developed and deteriorated up to six times, until he became very disappointed and sorry because of his longing. But finally he became one of the Savaka Arahants because exertion and striving acted as a bridge that made the link, enabling him to penetrate and reach the Deathless (Amata) Dhamma — which is the realm of happiness. This he did by relying upon the Kammatthana Dhamma as the way to go forward.
      Of the countless Buddhas and Savaka Arahants of each Buddha who have attained Parinibbana throughout the immeasurable past, including those of the Lord Buddha, the Samana Gotama and his Savakas who passed on a few thousand years ago, all of them did so and arose up to the state of Buddha and the state of Arahant by using one or more of these kammatthanas — such as the five Kammatthanas. Not even one of them realised Dhamma without a kammatthana, so one may reasonably claim that kammatthana is the birthplace of all the Exalted Ones. This is because, before it is possible for the rupa and nama of a Bhikkhu or a lay person to develop and metamorphose from the state of an ordinary person (puthujjana) into that of a Noble person (Ariya puggala) from the lowest to the highest level, he must have a Kammatthana Dhamma as the device that will “wash him clean”, and the device that will in various ways, process and alter his thinking and understanding that are the background of his citta which has the “seeds” of vatta embedded within it, and will scatter them so that they disperse and disappear entirely. Then it will alter and become the “Buddha–heart” and an entirely new sphere of heart arises in complete purity.
      Therefore, all of the Buddhas have upheld the kammatthana as a vitally important and essential Dhamma, and every one of the “World Teachers” (Sasada) have always praised it highly in the circle of those who followed their religion right up to the present era. This is also the case in the religion of our Samana Gotama who upheld the kammatthana as the pattern and the ancient unchanging tradition to be followed, and he was the first and the foremost and he became the Lord Buddha because of the forty Kammatthanas, of which anapanasati is an example. The Lord Buddha also taught these kammatthanas to his followers and they have come down to us in the present age, and they still act as a bridge, linking beings in the world right up to Nibbana — and they will continue to do so until the end is reached of the power of the inherent good characteristics (vasana) of those who follow the Lord. For these reasons the term “kammatthana” has always been a special form of Dhamma within the circle of the Sasana, and it will always be so.
      Someone who has faith in Buddhism but has not yet cultivated and practised the way of kammatthana, yet knows something about the hidden things which are within himself, both good and bad, should not just think how clever he is in his self-knowledge, even if he can remember everything which he has read out of the Ti–Pitaka. Because the Ti–Pitaka is only a balance sheet of the good and evil of those things, or natural phenomena, which are within oneself and it remains like this until it has been recognised by a form of practice in which the kammatthana clearly shows up the way leading to the truth in accordance with the intention of the Lord in revealing Dhamma and teaching the world.
      These forty aspects of kammatthana are the cupboard where the Ti–Pitaka is kept. They are the means for the destruction of becoming and birth. They are the tools for destroying the “rotating wheel” (cakka) that leads worldly beings whirling around through birth and death until they neither know their old and new lives, nor their old and new dukkha which is all mixed up with these lives, all of which they cut off completely.
      Doing a form of practice which is without any of these Dhammas in any way, to give support and help to it will not lead to the destruction of the kilesas and the mass of Dukkha which are within one, nor will it reduce them, ameliorate them and eradicate them at all. But a practice which has these Dhammas to give some aid and support to it can certainly destroy the mass of Dukkha entirely.
      For this reason, one who practises for calm and happiness and for knowing clearly and penetrating into all Dhammas must take hold of these Kammatthana Dhammas as the life-line of his practice all the way through from the lowest to the highest level of Dhamma, this being the freedom (vimutti) of Nibbana. Whoever does the practice to develop virtue in a good and true manner and by whatever method, when he reaches a truly decisive situation — in other words, when he is taking a step up from a lower to a higher ground or level of citta and Dhamma — he will have to turn back and take up one or other of these Kammatthana Dhammas as the means of going on, so that he will be able to pass through and go beyond with ease and safety. Because these Dhammas are where all the Dhamma Truths (Sacca–Dhamma), which have Path, Fruition and Nibbana as their topmost point, are drawn together. All these Dhammas are within the sphere of the Buddha Sasana, and all the Great Teachers (Sasada) of each era have been the first to reveal and teach them, each in the same manner, after which they were handed down successively from teacher to pupil.
      Those who are still doubtful of the Buddhas, each of whom revealed and taught Dhamma in the various ages, until we come to the present Great Teacher who is our Lord Buddha, should practise and investigate by the way of the Dhamma of kammatthana, which he also demonstrated, proving it truly by the ways of wisdom until the results arose as he had intended. Then one will know from the knowledge and experience that arises from one’s own practice with complete clarity that the Great Teacher and Dhamma are not different but are one and the same thing. Which accords with the essence of Dhamma that the Lord revealed in brief, thus: “Whoever sees Dhamma sees the Tathagata.” The Dhamma in this saying proclaims all the Tathagatas very clearly and lets us know that the Tathagatas always dwell in Dhamma and are not dependent on time and place. For even though each of the Buddhas entered Parinibbana long ago, as understood in the conventions of the world, the truth in fact is that the Tathagata is just this Dhamma.
      All those who have seen Dhamma within the heart with clarity and certainty have no doubts regarding the Tathagatas at all — and what state the Tathagatas dwell in. For although the world understands that once they have entered Nibbana they all disappear into silence and the Great Teacher is no longer there to teach with metta. The truth is that the Dhamma which the Lord bestowed and which causes Enlightenment to arise in his followers is in fact our Great Teacher.
      If one has enough interest to want to have the Great Teacher with­in one’s heart, it can be there at all times, just as if the Lord Buddha was still living. It only depends on the extent to which one is wholehearted in one’s respect and reverence and pays heed to Dhamma which represents the Lord, and to what extent one rates it as more important than other things. For even if the Lord were still alive it would be of no help to one at all if one took no interest in it, and one would still be just as lost as one was before without gaining anything.
      So as not to cause regret and remorse to oneself in the future, and to bring contentment of heart both in the present and the future, one should practise and develop oneself by way of the Dhamma that was bestowed on us by the Lord Buddha as his inheritance and which stands in place of him. The results will be the same in all respects, as if the Lord Buddha was still living and there will be no difference in it at all. In other words one will have Dhamma, which is the Great Teacher in one’s heart constantly at all times.
      The topic of kammatthana, up to this point, has been considered repeatedly and at length until the reader must be getting tired. So I hope you will excuse my lack of ability once again which leads me to repeat myself sometimes. But to some extent I think that this is necessary, for there might be some who do not yet understand the meaning of kammatthana as they should and by this means they may be able to understand and to learn some of the ways of practice. Then, when they feel they would like to do some practice it will be much easier for them to do so.
      From this point on, we will consider the ways of practice that Acharn Mun led his followers to do, which are still done right up to the present day. Doing the practice in the way that he taught is quite difficult because it goes contrary to the ways of the world in bodily actions, speech and mind. The basis of these practices are the thirteen “Dhutangas” and the fourteen “khandha–vatta” (duties), which are mostly methods of practice concerning the physical body from the duties to be done in regard to visiting guests; right up to the forty kammatthanas, which are the methods of practice by way of the heart (mind). These are all interrelated with the various modes of striving.
      Those who wholeheartedly take up the life of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu must put up with things which go against their ingrained habits and which have been long buried in their bodies and hearts until they have become (strong) tendencies of character which are very difficult to get rid of. They must strive to get rid of them without weakening or giving up, because the manners and ways of those who are ordained are different from those of lay people in all sorts of ways. For in behaviour, manners, restraint and watchfulness, they must do things in the customary ways of the Bhikkhus, which is that of a calm and seemly manner. Therefore the Dhutanga Bhikkhu should be strict in doing those duties and other practices which he ought to do, so that he may feel contented and easy in himself and be an admirable example which gives confidence to others. For the thirteen Dhutanga observances and the various duties together with all the kammatthanas, are just methods of Dhamma that straighten out the characteristic tendency of being obstinate.
      Bhikkhus are derived from lay people and those tendencies of character are bound to be attached to them. If there are no methods of straightening them out, or applying disciplines then it is probable that they will not go beyond the stage of receiving ordination (as a Bhikkhu) and will ruin themselves and also their monasteries and religion. For generally speaking, the tendencies of character of people are such that they like to torment and ruin themselves and others in various ways, and this they do continually without even having to depend on any deliberate intention to do so. This is due to the formation of habits and their ambition which desires all sorts of things, which lead them on. Or because they cannot correctly understand a situation and then jump to conclusions and guess what is right. This opens the way for them to have dukkha and trouble all the time in all situations and seldom to experience the ease and comfort of body and happiness of heart which they desire.
      The words, “torment and ruin themselves”, in the above paragraph means various ways of thinking which are harmful to themselves, although within themselves they may or may not know that they are wrong (thoughts) and that they are the fuse which burns leading to damage and destruction for others, until it reaches the point where they spread out into speech and physical action — which may be called a case of persecution and destruction of everything.
      Now, we shall go on to describe the ways of practical training of those Bhikkhus who were living with Venerable Acharn (Mun). After this we shall write about what happened to some of his followers after they left Venerable Acharn and went off to practise and to live on their own.
      To begin with, those who came to Venerable Acharn Mun’s monastery, for training and the practice of kammatthana were normally taught by him that they should make themselves to be diligent and energetic in doing all the duties and works which a Bhikkhu ought to do. He taught them to be sharp in hearing and seeing, to be nimble and dextrous in movement, to do things quickly and not in a tardy, clumsy manner. He taught them to be resourceful and to use their ingenuity both in external things and internally for the sake of Dhamma in all sorts of ways, and not to remain idle like a lost person. In moving here and there they should have mindfulness present and he taught them to be careful and precise in all circumstances.
      In regard to meditation practice Venerable Acharn Mun taught all methods, starting from the five kammatthana as a basis and going on to include the other kammatthana depending on what suited the character of each individual. While listening to his teaching they would also practise samadhi meditation in themselves and there were some whose citta became calm and peaceful while they were listening to his teaching and the state of samadhi arose in them, even though it had never previously been experienced by them since they had started practising the training. Many Bhikkhus and novices who went to be train­ed by Venerable Acharn gained results from samadhi meditation (bhavana) while sitting and listening to his teaching in various different ways depending on their individual characteristics, but their experiences were hardly ever identical.
      Receiving the teaching from Venerable Acharn was a good way to lull the hearts of those who were listening, into both the states of samadhi and wisdom (pañña) in their various ascending levels. Those who had never experienced a state of calm began to get calm, but those who had already experienced some calm increased its depth each time that they listened to his teaching. Those who already had samadhi as their basis would gradually increase the firmness of that basis, whereas, for those who had begun to use wisdom, the teaching was a means of helping to develop their wisdom each time. Finally, for those who had attained the field of wisdom as their basis, at the time they were listening to the teaching it was as if Venerable Acharn helped to clean up the method of mindfulness and wisdom so that it became wider and deeper every time.
      After the teaching the Bhikkhus variously went to practise, each in his own place and way. As for resting and sleeping, Venerable Acharn did not lay down any fixed rule or discipline, for he left it up to each one to find out what suited him best. This was because of the differences in the extent of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses in regard to their physical constitution (dhatu–khandha), their ability to put forward effort in developing themselves and the strength of their resolve towards the various aspects of Dhamma. Some took time to rest during the night, while others took a short rest during the day and increased their effort during the night, lying down and sleeping little, or some nights not sleeping at all and putting a lot of effort into their practice. Venerable Acharn, therefore left it to each individual to determine what was convenient for them in resting, sleeping and making efforts in their practice.
      Along the path of progress which Venerable Acharn Mun taught, the five kammatthana and the thirteen Dhutanga were considered by him as being very important. In fact they could rightly be called the “life-line” of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus who were his followers.
      Whoever came to him for teaching was sure to be taught these kammatthana and the Dhutanga observances within a very short time. If it was during the dry season he would probably teach them to go and stay in the forest under the shade of a tree, saying:
     
      “Those large trees over there are thick with leaves, shady and peace­ful, suitable for the practice of bhavana, the weather is good and the place is free from the disturbance and confusion of the world. Those hills are places where your eyes and ears will open in the joy of Dhamma. Over there are caves and overhanging cliffs, all good places to stay and develop the practice and search for peace and happiness of heart. In those wild forests you will be able to get rid of all kinds of laziness and fear. A lazy or timid person should go and live in such a place for it will help him to develop effort and diligence and also to overcome his fear so that he becomes more courageous and bold and relieves the load and pressure on his heart, which has become too heavy.”
      “Over on that hill, in that cave, or under that overhanging cliff the air is good, it is right for bhavana and the citta can easily become concentrated and drop into a state of calm. Once the citta has become calm one will be able to see various strange and mysterious things that are beyond the ordinary level of perception. On that hill, in that cave, under that cliff — there are such things out there and anyone who goes to stay there should be careful and self-controlled. They should not carelessly think that because there are no other people and things to be seen or heard, that there is nothing else there. For there are many things which are more mysterious and subtle than the ordinary citta is able to experience. In fact there is far more than the material things which we see about us in this world — but we have no senses which are suitably adapted to display clearly their existence to us in the way we perceive other things in the world. So even though they are there, few or many as it may be, it is as though they did not exist at all.”
      “Therefore those who practise should be careful to behave in a proper and modest manner in every situation and they should at least be calm and emotionally cool. If on the other hand, they have gone beyond this stage, all those who have Deva bodies in their different realms and levels of existence and who live in that region of this world, and elsewhere, will be glad and full of admiration.”
      “This world is not void of all sorts of beings both gross and subtle, and even in the bodies of human beings and animals there are many kinds of organisms living in dependence on them; and those who practise to attain freedom from all conditioned things (sabhava–dhamma) in all three realms of existence should therefore, neither affirm nor deny things which they personally know and see, saying that they exist in truth, or that they do not exist and are not true.”
      “Even in ordinary material objects there are both gross and subtle things and we still cannot know everything about them. Sometimes a person stumbles into things which can lead to widespread destruction of property and this characteristic is still there in the nature of a person who likes being vain and self-opinionated. For while he goes about in his clumsy, stupid and silly ways with no mindfulness present he can stumble into such things in the belief that there is nothing there at all. But how is it that a thing such as that whose existence he refused to believe in at that time and in that place could cause such destruction? This should be enough to prove to him what habitual tendencies of carelessness he has. That is, of course, unless he has no intention to give way or prove anything. In which case there is no way for him to know the truths which are to be found everywhere in the world and in Dhamma.”
      “On that hill, in that cave, and under that overhanging cliff; I have stayed and practised there; they are places that capture the heart and free it from all worry and concern connected with the distractions and disturbances of the world. If you have it in your heart to seek the “realm” of freedom from dukkha, you should search for such places in which to stay, to practise and to put your life and everything into the hands of Dhamma. Then it will be as though the Great Teacher in person were sitting in front of you in all situations. Both asleep and awake you will be happy and the work connected with the heart will progress steadily and not hesitatingly and desultorily as it does in places that are distracting and disturbing. The Lord Buddha and all the Savaka Arahants made sacrifices and they made the sacrifice of giving their lives to Dhamma in such places. But those who see no harm in the kilesas, tanha, and the round (vatta) of samsara are engrossed in aimlessly wandering and reserving room in the cemetery of birth and death. The way that they go about is that of people who have no destination at the end of the road and they find no pleasure in those places where the Buddha and the Arahants were glad to stay. Here is a charnel ground, and over there a wild jungle! Go and live in such places with the hill and forest people. They are places which in all ways will give you the incentive to work to cut away at the endless process of going the round of samsara (vatta) in your heart, making it weaker at every stage of striving. Those who do such work in a place that is suitable, and with the desire to get rid of the anxiety of coming to birth and death for many more lives, are very different from the ordinary run of people in the world. But in an unsuitable place, even though they walk cankama or sit in meditation for the same amount of time, the results are likely to be very different. This is because their attentiveness, the closeness with which mindfulness and wisdom follow their minds and the general feeling about things in their surrounding environment are all different; so the results which come from conditions that are different must also be different.”
      “One who practises the way and truly takes the Buddha as his refuge should recollect the Dhamma that he gave to us far more than the difficulties and hardships, of which the fear of death is the most important. Others include such things as, lack of the four requisites, such as the food which is attained on the almsround; the difficulty experienced in making the effort to train and discipline the citta which is wild, uncouth and adventurous, for this is its primordial nature; and the hardships involved in walking or sitting in meditation over a long stretch of time, which creates painful feelings that torment both the body and heart. There are also hardships which are due to the citta refusing to give way and live within the prescribed boundary which is required; the hardships of hunger and weakness due to taking little food, because of not eating for a day or two or fasting for many days accordingly as it suits each individual’s characteristics, so that the work of heart can develop more easily; the hardships of living alone, and loneliness with no friends around nor the teacher who has trained and taught one and shared knowledge and experience together; the hardship of thinking about home, relatives and friends who used to give a sense of warmth and comfort; the hardship of being soaked wet by rain and having to put up with the suffering of having no shelter against the sun and rain; the hardship of feeling cold and numb as well as aches and pains which have come from various causes; the hardship of getting a fever with headache, heat and pain in various parts of the body and having no medicine or means of looking after oneself; the hardship of fearing death while living alone in the forests or mountains without anyone to look after and protect one, and after one has died, nobody to take care of the corpse which would remain for the crows, vultures, dogs and flies to fight over and eat. All these kinds of thought are obstacles on the path toward Nibbana. One must not give way and let them trouble one’s heart, for they can ruin a person and he will not be able to get through to the good.”
      “One should realise straight away that these thoughts are the substance of the world of causal uprising (samudaya). They are the key which unlocks dukkha so that it arises and overwhelms the heart until it can find no way out. One who practises must have the courage and endurance to put up with the sun, rain, hunger, and the various kinds of suffering and hardship that arise within the body and heart as well as putting up with the various aches and pains which come to one, both externally and internally and which are accepted by everyone as things that all are bound to have in one way or another.”
      “He who practises must train his heart to become firm and strong, to withstand the force of the storms which are always waiting for a chance to arise. They generally arise from the heart itself, where they are poised ready to break in and invade one and disable one’s resolve to work with effort, so that one becomes weak and ineffectual and one’s previous strength, resolve and readiness to put up with difficulties steadily diminishes, until one can no longer progress at all. Finally one comes to a stop, submerged and groping about in dukkha, as one used to be before one started out. Day by day one drifts further away from the Great Teacher (Sasada) and ‘Buddham Saranam Gacchami’ be­come mere words which any one can repeat. But the important thing is that the truth of the word ‘Buddham’ becomes steadily more insipid and disappears from one’s heart. This is what the Lord called ‘one who has given up; defeated by kilesa–mara,’ which means that he is unable to fight against his own low and baneful thoughts. One who is defeat­ed by khandha–mara gives way and lets the mass of dukkha in his sankharas trample on him and destroy him in vain, without his having the ability to find a way of thinking out how to cure himself by means of mindfulness and wisdom. For he has enough mindfulness and wisdom with which he could escape and get himself out of the situation by using the skilful ways of a warrior to save himself from the abyss.”
      “Whatever enemies there may be in the sphere of the world, none of them have such a subtle and penetrating power as the enemies within the heart — the kilesas and tanha. These enemies are a very heavy burden for people who tend to be weak, lazy and not much good at thinking and reasoning so that whenever anything happens to them they just wait and lose out without trying to think for themselves of a way of fighting and striving to get out of it.”
      “This is the type of character which the kilesa–mara delight in and whoever wants to be their favourite should train themselves in this way and accumulate such characteristics so as to become their most favoured servant, the kind who never emerges and lifts his face up to see the light of the meaning of Dhamma — that which can lead them to final freedom from dukkha. Under whatever conditions they are born in the future they will then submit their hearts to the kilesas — their hearts which are worthy as an offering to the very highest — but the kilesas are the ones that always have the power of command over Dhamma in their hearts. When one thinks about this, it is very sad to see even Bhikkhus who are of the type that practise the way, giving in to such vile influences without using any mindfulness and wisdom to pull themselves up a bit. Enough at least to breathe and live with the peace of Dhamma as should be the case with those who practise the way, going into the hills and caves, carrying the ‘klod’ and bowl, to practise and develop their bhavana. But you who have come here to train and practise in this way, are you then going to give way to the kilesas and tanha and let them walk all over you and destroy you and then chant the funeral ceremony for you as they feel like it? If so, then the teacher’s heart will break and he will surely die before his pupils do.”
     
      In talking about Venerable Acharn Mun’s methods of teaching, it is difficult to catch and display his characteristic ways, for they were the methods of a sage who was clever and penetrating and who lived in this present age. So I feel sorry how in writing “The Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun” and also in this book of the “Dhutanga Practice in the Line of Venerable Acharn”, I do not have a good enough memory, nor enough ability to conform to his greatness. So I am unable to dig down and find the real essence of his words and Dhamma which matters most in his teaching, so as to present it for you to read, in a way that is fully satisfying and is also appropriate to Venerable Acharn, who deserved to be called “one who is replete in Dhamma” — which is my opinion. But if I am wrong I apologise.
      In teaching the Bhikkhus, Venerable Acharn laid great stress on the Dhutanga observances and he laid special emphasis on that of living in secluded places such as the forests, hills, caves and overhanging cliffs. It seemed to me that he constantly stressed this group of Dhutangas almost every time that he taught us. If he did not mention these places at the beginning of his talk, he would do so in a summary at the end. This was consistent with one who practised the way and liked to live in the forests and hills throughout his life and whose ordination was genuine and true.
      His teaching rarely, if ever, let the essence of Dhamma become separated from the Dhutanga practices. As soon as he had finished leading the Bhikkhus on a tour to admire the forests, the hills, the caves and overhanging cliffs, which are delightful places, he would take them (in his talk) to the village on the pindapata round for various Dhamma lessons. He would teach them the way the robes should be worn and how they should behave in a proper, restrained manner. Not looking here, there and all over the place which is the manner of someone who has no mindfulness present, but looking in a self-controlled manner, quiet, modest and with mindfulness present in every move that they make. Meanwhile their hearts should ponder whatever Dhamma it has been their habit to practise and develop. Pindpata is always considered to be a very important duty for the Dhutanga Bhikkhus who follow the way of Venerable Acharn Mun and they should never miss it, except only when they do not eat food, in which case it is not necessary to go. He taught that when going on pindapata they should make an effort to work internally without letting up, both while going out and returning to the place where they are staying, and while they are arranging their food, putting it into the bowl and eating it with the hand. Also how, before eating, they should examine reflectively, ­using the repetition of the “patisankha yoniso” as the basis, with whatever skill each one has in accordance with the basic level of his mindfulness and wisdom. This should be done for at least one minute before beginning to eat in a modest, reserved manner while being mindful both of oneself and the bowl. The food which is in the bowl is of many kinds and it appears in various forms, characteristics and colours. When it is all together in the bowl, what does one feel about it? One should wait and watch for the deceitful trickery of the heart displaying itself in various ways while eating. Set your mindfulness and wisdom to wait and watch and to check both the hunger that may be produced in an unnatural way, which is the work of tanha (fiery eyes and a monkey mind), and also the tricks of the mind which may think how if the food is mixed together in various ways its taste will be altered accordingly. By contemplating in this way the mind becomes revolted, disgusted and d­i­s­in­ter­ested and has no desire to eat, for it goes against the natural inclinations of one who does this practice to correct himself in all ways and to get rid of all impurities in his heart.
      The method of investigation or contemplation which each individual uses depends on where the skill of each one lies. It may be in contemplating loathsomeness or in contemplating the elements, or any other way which reduces and gets rid of the kilesas, tanha and self-forgetfulness. These are all correct and proper ways for each individual to practise variously as it suits his skill and ability while taking food. While eating one should make one’s task be that of having mindfulness present in every process, by watching the interaction between the citta and the food which is taken and contacts the sensitive taste organs and body (dhatu–khandha) generally while chewing and swallowing it.
      One must not let the citta get out of hand and become obsessed with the tastes of various kinds of food — which is self-forgetfulness. For there is one kind of hunger that is due to the physical reaction of the body getting weak and wanting something to cure it, and there is also another kind that is due to the overruling power of craving (tanha) — the agitation of the heart looking for pleasure. The former is considered to be a normal state of the khandhas and even the Arahant can have it, like everyone else. But one must always be cautious and watchful of the latter kind and keep it under control, for if one is unconcerned and disinterested and lets it go its own way without restraint, it will lead one to ruin. Because it is the kind of desire which is under the controlling power of craving which floods everything, everywhere, and is never satisfied.
      One who practises the way must have constant mindfulness and wisdom close to the heart to watch over this process of taking food every time he does so, so that his heart will be able to get used to examining and guarding himself in various situations while standing, walking, sitting, lying down, eating and all others, including the various activities around the monastery such as sweeping the ground. These are duties that the monks should do without letting go of their mindfulness and wisdom which are factors of their Dhamma work. For without them in the heart, in whatever they do they become mere performing puppets for whom their work has no meaning — for they have no awareness of themselves.
      After the meal the bowl should be washed, wiped dry and if the sun is out, it should be put in the sun for a short while before putting it away in its right place. After that they turn to other things such as the walking meditation, sitting in samadhi bhavana or other kinds of work. After eating it is usually better to work at the walking meditation rather than sitting, because the activity gets rid of drowsiness better than other methods. But any day that one goes without food one will be able to sit and practise meditation at any time and in any posture without much likelihood of being troubled by drowsiness.
      Therefore, those who are suited to this way of practice, often like to fast. Sometimes they fast for a few days, sometimes for many, ­sometimes for two or three days, up to nineteen or twenty days, or a whole month and in some cases taking no food at all except water. Although after fasting for several days in most cases they will take a food drink such as Ovaltine (if it is available), which is enough to relieve physical weakness. They do not take it every day, but only on those days when they feel very tired and weak.
      In the days when Venerable Acharn Mun was a teacher, there was no question of milk, Ovaltine, white sugar, cocoa, coffee, or anything of this sort. One could not even find any pictures of such things to gaze at when one felt hungry — although looking at them could hardly cure one’s hunger. It was very different from the present day, for now there is an abundance of everything until it has become a case of opulence more than of starvation and lack. It is probably for this reason that we Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus find it very difficult to follow the way of Venerable Acharn Mun and complain out loud that the citta does not become concentrated and calm and it is very troublesome. It is like this all the time and almost everywhere, but truly, how can it be expected to get calm (and here you must excuse me if I put down the truth of the matter); for in the morning they go on the alms round and they return with the bowl filled with sweet and savoury foods, and sometimes carrying an extra food container, and when they arrive at the assembly hall the food carriers are put down in rows. But there is no way you can avoid accepting it — for it is only given out of faith by people who have the purpose of making merit by doing good acts and who have made an effort to come from all sorts of places, both far and near in order to share in the merit from the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus with smiles and happy expressions. However much they give they are not afraid of having nothing left, because the power of faith leads them on to better themselves.
      Up to this point it is troublesome enough, but then at midday, or in the afternoon and evening, there is ice, orange juice, soft drinks, cocoa, coffee, sugar cane juice, sugar, lots of everything coming until there is no way of consuming it and one just gives up — inundated!
      Such Dhutanga Bhikkhus are therefore very rich but their meditation practice is not good. They are sluggish and tired, like a heavily laden ship just waiting and admiring the water without yet having left port. Therefore those who aim for the “shore” of Nibbana are very careful, watchful and strict with themselves and are not thinking only of their mouths and stomachs, nor how difficult and hard it is, for they strive and persevere and fight against the obstacles which bar the way. They are not careless with things, nor with the food, the requisites for monks and other things which they are given. For even if there is much they take only a little, knowing what is the right amount.
      It is much the same with those who give up lying down, who reduce the amount of food they take or those who go on fast, for they are all methods of leading them to calm and happiness of heart. For those who find that fasting suits them, however long they go on fasting their hearts become increasingly calm and clear and their leve steadily goes up and becomes more subtle. Calm is then attained much more quickly and easily than usual, and when they withdraw from it to think and research by way of wisdom their hearts will be skilful, agile and daring and whatever they investigate they can penetrate throughout just as the heart wishes. As for hunger and tiredness, instead of being a trouble and torment to the body and mind, it becomes a smooth and pleasant way for them to progress each time that they reduce the amount of food they take or go on fast.
      Those whose natures are suited to this way will always try to strive and do the practice by fasting, and contentment with few things, in the foregoing way, even while they are in the midst of an abundance of the four requisites. Because they look on it as just that which is enough to sustain life from day to day, whereas the essential thing is the Dhamma in the heart. This they hold on to in a resolute unwavering manner, with their lives as the guarantee that they would never consent to backslide or let go of it. For those who practise and who are prepared to die for the essential meaning and Dhamma which truly leads to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, everywhere is suitable for doing the work of bhavana. This is their aim and they are not concerned about whatever sufferings and difficulties there may be. If they are deficient or lacking in anything they submit their hearts to Dhamma, which is the way that frees them from all Dukkha entirely, and has nothing secreted in it that could turn it into falsehood. Thus, whether they are walking, standing, sitting or lying down, they work all the time as if they were in the presence of the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha in all situations, excepting only when they sleep. But with this one exception they spend the whole of their time in gaining freedom from the kilesas — those things which bind up and entangle them in various ways. They purge their hearts of these kilesas without giving up or losing heart — as if they were about to destroy the kilesas and get rid of them from their hearts at that moment leaving none remaining to cause them any more trouble.
      Those whose tendencies of character are suited to this method, will practise this way with urgency and no slackening or weakening of effort which could let some kilesas, amongst those that have already been got rid of return, take heart and laugh in ridicule and brighten with power over the heart once again. As for the kilesas which still remain, these Bhikkhus strive to go on fighting against them until they reach the state of victory.
      Those whose tendencies are suited to a particular way and who have wholeheartedly set themselves to reach the goal of Dhamma are most likely to strengthen their efforts in the foregoing way. For instance, those who find reducing the amount of food they take to be the right way for their character will always try to use this in association with their way of practice and they are not likely to give up this method the whole way through until they reach the end of the path or until they reach a state in which the body becomes weak. In which case they may ease up and take more food as the situation demands and then later on reduce it as they did before, alternating in this way to suit circumstances.
      Those who find that doing a lot of the walking meditation suits their nature, will always try to work in the mode of walking rather than any other bodily attitude. Even though they may change in between times to other attitudes, it will be just for a physical change of posture, after which they will revert back to walking which they have found to give more results than other ways.
      Those who find that frequently sitting in practice suits them better than other ways will try to work in this way more than others, only adopting other bodily attitudes for a temporary change of posture. It is similar for those who find that much standing or lying down suits them, they mostly use those methods, all of which depend on the skill of each individual. Even the place in which they work must also suit their individual temperaments differently, for some like and gain heart from wide open spaces and a good climate such as being out in the open in the evening or the middle of the night. Others gain heart from living in caves, on hill tops or mountain slopes, in open forest or by a pond or other bodies of water, but that from which they gain heart best differs from person to person. In any case, those who practise the way and who aim for self-development will know their own temperaments quite well and will always try to work in whatever posture and place that they find to be suited to the nature of their own hearts.
      Venerable Acharn Mun taught all his followers how to practise the way, both inwardly and externally in precise detail. He taught every aspect of Dhamma at all levels and all the practical methods of applying it, in a manner which was well reasoned, most impressive and heart reaching. Those who had received enough training from him and who wished to increase their efforts on their own would respectfully take leave of him and go out to find a place that was secluded and peaceful. Each would choose a district which suited his temperament and then find a place to stay. In other words, those who liked staying in hilly country, for example, would make for such a district and find a suitable place to stay and practise which was to their liking. But it is most important that there should be water available for washing, drinking and other uses and this must not be lacking, for one can fast and go without food for several days at a time, but one cannot go without water; and water, unlike food, does not load down the body so that it becomes an enemy to the heart’s work. So there is no need to give up taking water which would only cause unnecessary hardship for water is most essential to the existence of the body.
      Therefore, the search for a suitable place to work must take into account whether water is available as a prime consideration. Even if one must obtain it from a source as far as one kilometre away, it is still satisfactory, for it is not very difficult to carry it that far. As for the almsround, if there is a village of more than about four houses it is quite enough for a single Dhutanga Bhikkhu. This is not really a problem because a Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu is not concerned normally whether the food is sweet or savoury or whatever else. For whatever he gets on pindapata he is satisfied with, even if it is only plain rice with nothing else for days. Because at times he has fasted and at times had plenty until he has become used to it.
      This may sound like boasting, but it is true and accords with what is experienced daily by those living the way of kammatthana. I also have experienced and grown accustomed to this way of life, but I never found any revulsion for it arising in me. Sometimes there is reason to speak in a boastful way to one’s followers about one’s poverty and lack of things even though people in the world tend to feel ashamed of such a state. People generally dislike talking about their own or their family’s poverty and lack of things for it is considered to be very ­shameful. But amongst Kammatthana Bhikkhus one can boast about it without fear that anyone is going to laugh at you.
      I can write about this without any feeling of shame because the Kammatthana Bhikkhu’s way of life has been a life of poverty and paucity since the time of the teacher who started the lineage. It was Venerable Acharn Mun who founded the present lineage by going this way himself to start with. Then it was taken up by his followers and by their followers who tend to practise the way of abstention and hardship.
      Being ready to accept some hunger patiently and willingly comes from the work of developing the heart, and the heart is found to be much more at ease than when one takes food in the usual way. The body and heart are then far less sluggish and inert — for those are the characteristics of laziness which is all embracing and which leaves one with no desire to do any work on the way of the heart in any direction. The end result of this is to let the heart go its own way — eating plenty under the influence of craving (tanha) which is in command. On such a day one neither wants to see or think about the place for doing the walking practice, for one just wants to lay down with one’s head close to the pillow — and if one lies down all day, this is just what the “big boss” wants. To persist in writing a lot is to advertise oneself a lot as being a Kammatthana Bhikkhu of special importance on that subject — so it is best to stop at this point.
      When one thinks about it, the hearts of Kammatthana Bhikkhus, of other people and of ourselves are probably very similar. The more we are allowed to go according to our desires the more we like it and have fun thinking about all sorts of things without end and without taking note of any facts or science or text books at all. The whole story is the story of hell and we are satisfied to open and read this story by day and night, all the time without ever getting bored or satiated with it. As if that was not sufficient, we are even bold enough to grab the power to take hell as our playground where we can have fun and laughter without any concern or fear of the Lord of Hell. This is what can happen when the kilesas take charge of the heart.
      The Kammatthana Bhikkhu uses various ways to discipline his audacious heart; sometimes by going on fast, or by abstaining from ­lying down, by going up into the hills, staying in a cave or under overhanging cliffs, and sometimes he sits in samadhi to discipline his desire to indulge in thinking and imagining. He must use whatever method he can to discipline his heart and overcome its obstinate refusal to give way; enough so that he can relax and live contentedly from day to day. Generally speaking, until they have attained a higher level of the citta which brings constant satisfaction to them, they will probably train it in the way that has been described above. In particular, I have seen Venerable Acharn Mun recommend to those who followed him to go and practise in this way. When they left him these Bhikkhus would then go up into the hills or into a cave for the purpose of training the heart in the ways which I have described here.
      Some nights they didn’t lie down to sleep and rest the body at all be­cause the citta liked to go wandering and they had to work at samadhi bhavana so as to tie it down. But when they went up into the hills they were also bound to rely on those things which arouse fear to help them subdue and discipline the citta — such as tigers! Animals such as this are considered to be very effective in disciplining the citta of the Kammatthana Bhikkhu. As soon as he hears only one roar on the side of that hill over there the heart gets ready to submit and stay close by, not daring to display any of its playful fantasies as it usually does.
      Sometimes the roar of this great teacher who is so strong and powerful, breaks out close by. Then it seems as if one forgets to breathe and immediately one forgets the theme of the kilesas which have been indulging in wild fantasies with abandoned playfulness. They all disappear entirely and all that remains is fear and a shivering body. Sometimes, because of the intense fear, it seems as if one’s breath really does stop and although the weather is cold, the body gets hot and soaked with sweat. This is most appropriate for a citta which is so bold and stubborn and which does not want to listen to the sound of Dhamma and its meaning and which refuses to be taught. But now, all at once the citta is ready to believe in the Buddha and to submit to the extent of entrusting one’s life into the hands of the Lord immediately. One is not then likely to go on thinking about the tigers any more, because to force oneself to think at all would increase the fear so much that one could go mad.
      The fear of going mad and the fear of death are very powerful influences which then force one to turn the mind to “Buddho” “Buddho”, internally; and having done this for a long time, the word “Buddho” and the heart can become infused together as one. From then on, the heart starts to become quiet and still until there remains only the one state of knowing and nothing else. All fear disappears, as though it had been plucked off and thrown away, and in place of it, courage and boldness arise without any thought of fear or of anything in the whole universe.
      Then, the citta sees in a heartfelt way how baneful a thing is this fear of tigers and also how great is the value of the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. The heart is then stable, no longer wavering, vacillating and going back and forth in association with any objects which tend to arouse an emotional response (arammana). What remains is a calm happy state and a heart which is full of courage and firm strength so that the citta can change round completely and become an intimate friend of its enemy — the tiger. In fact one even feels that one would like to jump on its back and play with it, as with an intimate friend, without thinking whether it would do one any harm in the way one had thought before when one was so afraid. It also seems as if the heart can be a friend of all the living beings in the forest without a thought that any of the animals or any of the more mysterious things could be bold enough to be a danger to one. In fact one thinks that the various wild animals truly cannot do any harm to one. Because the one that would do the harm is the citta (of the animal) which initiates the thought which leads to action, but now, one’s own citta has power over them which will tend to weaken their power and the strength of their will.
      Wherever he stays, whether in the forest, in the hills, under an overhanging cliff, in jungle, on a mountain side or various forest dwellings, generally speaking the Kammatthana Bhikkhu will look for a place that arouses fear in order to help him to arouse the effort to do his work more easily. Wild animals, such as tigers, are very effective in helping him to arouse effort and therefore he likes them, while at the same time being very afraid of them. He likes tigers because they help to arouse fear very quickly. Merely seeing their footprints on a path, in front of a cave or elsewhere causes the dormant fear which is deep within him to arise immediately, making for a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty in the place where he is staying. Then, whatever he is doing, the whole time he feels as if they are about to visit him, so his heart remains in a state of watchfulness. As soon as the state of watchfulness has arisen, the state of diligent striving is already within him. Because, when he is afraid, his heart must turn and recollect Dhamma as his refuge, or use whatever opposes and limits that fear at the same time as it arises. However long he goes on recalling Dhamma, he will be doing work which increases the strength of his mindfulness, wisdom and diligence in all ways.
      Therefore, whether they like tigers or fear them, for those who have the intention to gain the teaching of Dhamma from them, both are things which support and promote this purpose. So they immediately gain strength of heart from them whenever they are present — even though one would hardly think that such a thing was possible, but the fact of the matter is that many Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus have gained results in this way. All of this is due to the courage that comes from renunciation. If one is going to die, then so be it, for at that moment of time one has no regrets about one’s life.
      When we are truly up against it with no way out and we cannot find any other refuge, we must try and think of how to help ourselves. Dhamma is by nature the most valuable and productive refuge and when we submit to it and it enters our hearts as the refuge of the heart, then at any time when we are in the greatest need of a refuge the Dhamma gives results which show themselves to us, immediately right before our eyes and in the heart, which gives us no room for doubt whatsoever.
      Even though those who have never done this nor experienced anything of this sort may doubt it and say that it is impossible yet someone who has himself done it has the experience of it clearly and obviously evident to himself, even though others may neither agree nor accept it. Which of them is right is for the critics to decide. But the one who has experienced these things with his own heart is not likely to criticise them.
      This is what really matters, for those things which one has clearly experienced for oneself are beyond question to oneself — such as the experience of Dhamma of the Lord Buddha to a greater or lesser extent. For the Lord and the Savakas there is no question of doubt anywhere in any of its aspects, but for someone who has not yet had any experience to confirm it there is no way to avoid some doubts arising. Thus for example, the Dhamma teachings that: “The Noble Truths are true things, good and evil are true things, the heavens and hells truly exist, and Nibbana is true”. In the special case of the Lord and the Savakas, they have no doubts because they have the experience and are enlightened. For others who have no experience, it is likely that questions, doubts and arguments will arise. But, for those who have the experience for themselves, all questions cease automatically.
      Summarising the above; the whole of the Dhamma which the Lord Buddha revealed with complete truth has come down both to those who experienced it as it is, and they have complete faith and submit their lives to Dhamma, and also to those who neither know, see nor believe and who deny that Dhamma is truth. Since the time of the Lord, right up to the present, nobody has been able to display objectively what is the truth of this. Because Dhamma is not like external objects in the world whose nature can be determined by picking them up and examining them. For it can only be experienced with “sanditthiko” (knowing by one’s own direct experience) in accordance with the natural ability of each person who does the practice and works it out for himself. Therefore, the results which come from the training and discipline which each person undertakes are not common property which can be shared by others who have not worked to find out the truth which is within the ability of human beings to do, each one for himself.
      The Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu who trains himself by putting his life at risk should do this as a way to test the truth of both himself and Dhamma. By doing this he will not exceed the limits of what is taught in the traditional Buddhist teachings (Sasana–Dhamma). For what has been described above are the methods by which Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus have always tended to train themselves and the practices which are variously seen to be suited to the characteristics of each one individually. As well as the corresponding results which thereby come to them. They do not act in a haphazard way and this is not written in a merely speculative way, for even I who am writing this have struggled up by the methods which are described here.
      Those who practise and who follow this way have variously progressed and seen the results of it in accordance with their strength, which are enough to give proof and confirmation to them that: “The self-training and discipline by the various methods mentioned here is not worthless, such that causes are done without any of the promised results coming in response to them. But they are forms of practice that are full of meaning, or in other words, the results which one rightly hopes for are those which are accepted as normal in the field of practice of those whose practice is always excellent and impeccable.”
      Nowadays many people say that the Lord Buddha has gone into final Enlightenment (Parinibbana) and that the Path, Fruit and Enlightenment have accordingly been influenced so that they are not able to bring forth their flower and fruit fully to those who practise the way as: “Dhammanu Dhammapatipanno” — “those who practise Dhamma in the proper way in accordance with Dhamma are said by the Lord to be those who give praise to the Tathagata.”
      But such views as this are not to be found in the “well taught” (svakkhata) Dhamma nor will they ever be part of the Dhamma of the Lord. Because there is no absolute and sacred power apart from Dhamma, which has been “well taught”. And Dhamma is that nature which gives equality to all things. Therefore, those who have faith in Dhamma as their basis do not remain inactive and careless in striving to search for the attainment of virtue for themselves. From the first steps right up to the final cessation of dukkha they work with effort in various ways in accordance with their strength and the direction in which their abilities lie.
      Amongst all the various methods, the Dhutanga Bhikkhu will most likely search for a way to cure or to restrain the defilements (kilesa) within him step by step in whatever way he has the most ability. Thus for instance one who is timid may use the method of taking the tigers as his teacher, to help him in his training and discipline, by making the effort to go into the forests and hills which are fearful places and a suitable battleground for getting rid of the fear in his heart — which is one of the most important kilesas.
      It is normal for the feelings of the citta to change in accordance with the endless things that it contacts. Thus, living in a village or a town with many men and women causes it to have feelings of one sort. But going to live in wild hills and jungles or in lonely places such as a cremation ground or forests where there are many tigers causes different kinds of feelings to arise.
     


2. Training the Mind 

 

      It is necessary to have many different methods and ways of train­ing and constraining the citta in order to be competent to deal with the deceptive tricks of the many different kinds of kilesas which dwell in the citta and which display themselves in all situations, in different ways according to type. If one is observant one will see that the citta is the meeting place of all affairs and this causes one much disturbance so that one can never have any time to be quiet and relax even for a moment. In general, these affairs are of a low, unworthy nature, which lay in wait to draw and divert one’s activities in their direction and they hardly have anything of the teaching of Dhamma within them which could bring one some calm and peace of heart.
      So one who intends to find out everything that is false and true must be a person who observes the citta and who trains and disciplines the citta in various different ways. The Lord Buddha and the Savakas are the most excellent examples of this to all of us who practise the way, for they liked to stay in the forest until they became used to it.
      In truth, the feelings of all people are likely to be much the same, for nobody by himself would normally like to go and live in the forests, hills or lonely places that nobody in the world wants. But the Bhikkhu only thinks about and does this because he has the purpose of becoming a good and worthy person with faith and confidence in himself with thoughts and actions that he sees will be of value to himself and others. Therefore he goes against his inclinations of heart and does it in the same way that people everywhere in the world do their work, for in truth, nobody likes to do things that are difficult both physically and mentally. But they have to do it because the necessity of it compels them — and so they have to run around busily, everywhere in the world, instead of just eating, living, sleeping and lying down which is their natural inclination.
      But the difficulty of training the citta is much greater, and those who have never done it should not try to compare it with the difficulties in doing other tasks in the world. For if the time comes that one does the work of training the citta, one may not be able to put up with the difficulty of it and one may call it “torture” or an imposition. Then one may lose interest in going on with this work without ever considering the results which will come from it and how wonderful and miraculous they are.
      At this point one may have seen enough of the strength and tenacity of the kilesas which are the overlords ruling the heart to realise more and more how much tenacity and resistance they have and how much they oppose and torment beings in the world. Because training the citta is just the work of eliminating or driving out the kilesas from the heart. But the one who drives them out does not want to do so, for the one who has for ages been the overlord, having power over the hearts of people and other beings, does not want to go. Because to go and live elsewhere is not so easy as living over the heart of a person where it gets such affectionate treatment and lavish care all the time and where it is not likely to go wanting or be hard up for anything.
      If it wants to admire forms, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings and mental perceptions (arammana) of any kind, the one who is acting as the servant of the kilesas immediately runs about searching for these things to gratify them without delay. However much the cost or the credit payment, the pleasure of it satisfies the craving and the accounts can be left to be thought about later.
      Thinking out and paying the accounts is the work and the duty of the one who underwrites everything, but the Chief who has the power makes no complaint and is not the least troubled by this. In such a situation, who can make his heart so hard and from where can he get the steel resolve to be able to train the citta with the thought of driving out the kilesas — those lords who are so eloquent — from the heart?
      Therefore training the citta so as to know and see with true mindfulness and wisdom, that the kilesas are the enemy of the heart is a difficult training and the most difficult thing to see. In fact one should call the work of training the citta to torment the kilesas “a life and death struggle”. This work is not play, nor is it fun like sports on a playing field, and all of those who are able to know what the kilesas look like, destroy them so that they die from the heart. This means, such ­people as the Lord Buddha and they are therefore special people. If with us ordinary people there arises the ability to destroy the kilesas so that they die from the heart, even if we do not become special people like the Lord, we must be special in the field of all the kilesas. For if the wonder of the ability to destroy the kilesas and the wonder of the citta which has gone beyond the power of the kilesas is within any person, such a worthy person is beyond the world.
      Striving, in all its aspects for the purpose of capsizing the “Round of Samsara” (vatta) which is imposed on the heart is therefore a task which is full of difficulties and torments in every way. The Kammatthana Bhikkhu who opposes his natural inclinations and goes to stay in places of hardship to train himself, such as the wild forests and hills, is thus like someone living in a prison. Before he can free himself from the shackles of each of the kilesas he must go to the limit — “make or break”.
      Training the citta for the real truth of Dhamma is as difficult as this. Not only does he live under self-discipline but his mode of eating food is also a discipline. Because it is also an aspect of the work that he is doing and one who is anxious to pass through and get free from the jungle of darkness and obscurity will strive to apply the discipline to develop virtue in this direction also.
      When eating food, even though he may be very hungry and feel like eating a lot, after he has thought and taken Dhamma into consideration he will be sure to restrain and resign himself to eating only a little — enough to provide a balance between the needs of the body and of the citta — and he will try to make it his constant practice to eat that small amount which suits his needs.
      If he should increase the amounts he takes on some occasions he must be fully aware of it at the time, not forgetting himself. But by alternating and taking more at times and less at others, the body and mind can be kept in balance without becoming too exhausted or getting sick, which would spoil the work. Thus the citta will at least be in balance and will develop steadily in accordance with the amount of work which is being done continually to promote it.
      If his ability is enough and his characteristics of perfection (vasana–parami) are well developed, he can go beyond to what his heart is intent upon. Because each method of working in the direction of Dhamma aids his development, so those who find that going on fast is to their liking and accords with their nature, will try to alternate fasting, eating fully and eating little for longer or shorter periods as they see fit.
      The citta then stirs up effort every time it has an opportunity. Meanwhile the physical body will be weakened so that his work may go ahead with facility and so that the citta may steadily go on increasing in evenness and clarity. Then the way of samadhi will strengthen when the time is appropriate for it. And the way of wisdom will be active, and depending on the situation it will alternate with samadhi.
      Those Bhikkhus who stay in the forest, in the hills, under an overhanging cliff or in various other places, and those who reduce their intake of food, or who fast, all have Dhamma as the firm aim of the citta, and in their various ways they are all working and striving in the direction of samadhi bhavana in their various situations and activities. They are also constantly watchful of the changes of heart that take place in association with objects that cause emotional reactions (arammana).
      When the heart is consistently brought up and looked after in the right way, it will steadily develop. Then samadhi will develop and become firm and wisdom will become more skilful and widespread every time it is used. Things which were never known before become known, never seen before are seen and never existed before then arise in the heart which is continually searching for the truth wholeheartedly with complete commitment. Then the laziness and weakness, the distraction and instability, the confusion, restlessness, darkness and obscurity which are normally always present in the ordinary citta gradually fade away day by day, until it can be seen clearly how much they have disappeared. But in particular, for those who discipline the heart by means of fear, for those who fast for many days, depending on their suitability for this practice, and also for those who discipline themselves by sitting for a long time and investigating the resulting painful feelings (dukkha–vedana) as the object of attention (arammana), the results which they get from each of these three methods are unusually wonderful and far more so than come from other forms of discipline. But they will be explained later on as the occasion demands.
      Here, we will describe the general way in which the Bhikkhus practise. The way in which they train and discipline their hearts by the foregoing methods, depends on the technique which each individual thinks out for himself to train himself and this is different for each person. Some of them, as well as going to live in fearful forests and hills, also think up special methods to suit the time, place and circumstances and increase their effectiveness. Thus for example; in such a place at night, when fear arises in the citta they may go and walk in another part of the forest, in order to discipline the fear which was getting stronger, by going and sitting in samadhi bhavana on a rock on top of a hill or in the open, or by walking cankama in various places where large tigers pass by, and doing this for a long time.
      At the same time, the citta examines the nature of fear and death, and it also looks into the nature of tigers, which the citta assumes to be so frightening, and the nature of oneself by asking in what way the tiger is so different that one should be so afraid? One must investigate this by dividing up the different parts and comparing these things which the citta thinks are so different Thus for example:
     
      “What is it that the tiger has that is frightening? What about its teeth? I also have teeth. What about its claws? I also have nails. Its hair? I also have hair. Its head? … Its body? … Its eyes? … Its stripes? I also have tattoos and birth marks. As for its tail, even the tiger itself is not afraid of it, so why should I be?”
      “As far as the heart of the tiger and my own heart are concerned, they are both alike — indeed my heart is that of a man, a Bhikkhu, which has a much higher value. Even though the various parts of the body are not identically the same, yet the elements of which they are made are the same and there is not enough difference between the tiger and myself to justify this fear of each other.”
      “The heart of the tiger is the heart of an animal whereas my heart is the heart of a Bhikkhu with Dhamma in it, so it has value and power far beyond that of a tiger. Why then should I turn round and lower my value and status as a Bhikkhu by being afraid of a tiger which is only an animal? Is this not degrading to one who is a complete Bhikkhu?”
      “Furthermore the Sasana has such wonderful excellence throughout the “three worlds”, but in it there is a Bhikkhu who is timid and frightened, who is a blemish on it, who stains it and gives it a bad name and who also degrades it. To degrade the Sasana, which is the priceless treasure of the “three worlds” by being more concerned for one’s life than for Dhamma is not right and proper, and if I am to die I would do so in bad spirits and stupid, without any dignity in myself or in the circle of the Sasana at all. The Kammatthana Bhikkhu who dies in this way is said to die in the manner of one who “sells” himself and one who “sells” the Sasana and all those who practise the way everywhere. This is not dying in the manner of a warrior in battle who firmly believes in kamma and who courageously faces up to whatever is about to happen. I am a Kammatthana Bhikkhu in all respects, and I ought not to die in such a way, but rather in the manner of a warrior, ending my life in battle with bravery and courage and this will be for the honour of myself and the Sasana as a symbol for the world to uphold for a long time.”
      “I must think rightly and see clearly the nature of both the tiger and myself; all the parts of its body and of my own, as well as the fear of death which penetrates and possesses me inwardly. I must see this quite clearly with wisdom, not letting this fear inundate me and play with me and then pass by in vain for this would spoil my standing as a Son of the Tathagata and as a full Kammatthana Bhikkhu. So whatever happens I must fight to the end until I see either victory or defeat and life or death today. Whichever way it goes, whether the side which brings power and honour to me and credit to the Sasana, or the side which destroys both myself and the Sasana because of this fear, I shall know tonight — and now I must contemplate and investigate and go on working it out until it breaks apart.”
     
      While the contemplation and analysis are going on, turning round and about sorting out the elements, the khandhas, fearlessness and fear and searching for the underlying principle of truth with meticulous care and a resolute heart, the heart begins to know and understand from the wisdom which is continually teaching it all the time without letting up. Until the heart goes quiet and peaceful and all the previous anxiety disappears, resulting in a state of calm and happiness. All the emotionally charged images based on memory (sañña–arammana) which one had formerly believed in, in various ways then disappear entirely, leaving only calm and happiness of the citta which appears noble and dignified. The citta then gains faith in the method of contemplation which is the cause of this state, and it sees that it truly is the way to get rid of confusion and the tendency to run about searching for excitement and trouble, and also fear. It also gains faith in the results which arise at that time, that — “This is a state of calm and happiness of a strange and unusual kind which I have never experienced before and I did this contemplation by taking fear as the motivating cause.”
      This is a method which the Bhikkhus use to get rid of fear, until they see the results of it for themselves. But in the beginning stages of training in the way of kammatthana they use a preliminary meditation (parikamma–bhavana) on some aspect of Dhamma such as “Buddho”, when a lot of fear arises, rather than the method of contem­­plation. This can result in the attainment of calm and the dispersal of fear in the same way, but it differs in that one gains no skilful or clever methods such as one gets from the way of contemplation.
      Some Bhikkhus, when fear arises while they are sitting under the mosquito net, lift it up and sit without any cover. They put up with the bites of the gadflies and mosquitoes for nothing else matters but the resolve to practise their meditation using various methods to defeat the fear that is there at that time. Until they succeed. Then they stop and rest.
      The citta which gains calm by training and discipline based on fear seems to gain a deeper more subtle state of calm which lasts much longer than the calm attained by the usual methods of meditation. While the citta is in the deepest state of calm, in the above example, it feels as if the body has completely disappeared, and the contact (samphassa) between the internal and external fields of sensation (ayatana) ceases until the citta draws away from this state, after which they start to function again as normal.
      The state of the citta in which the functions of the fields of sensation cease, closely resembles a state of sleep although it is not the same thing, for when one sleeps nothing very strange and unusual happens. But when the citta is completely calm something very strange and unusual manifests and there is only “knowing” in that state of calm at that time. The generally accepted results that come from normal sleep are different from the subtle state of calm-of-the-citta which those who practise get from their samadhi meditation. Those results always stick in mind and make them long for this state which is never tasteless or insipid.
      It is results such as these that make those who have experienced them resolute and courageous in their methods of training and discipline which they apply to themselves on future occasions by following the same pattern of practice, and they will never give in to fear however strongly it arises. In fact they will rather take fear as a reminder which prompts them to both overcome that fear and to grasp victory in order to be the master with honour and dignity, as they have done so before. This is the reason which induces them to search for frightening places in which to develop themselves, and the more frightening a place is, the more are they determined to go and stay in such a place and do their practice there. Because, even though the heart is displaying a bold, venturesome spirit, training it by means of fear until a fearless courage arises quite clearly, using the methods of mindfulness and wisdom which are competent to deal with all the tricks within it, is something that is most desirable to them.
      When I said that these places are frightening, I mean this in truth because they are forests where tigers live and like to wander about searching for food, coming and going all the time. In some places, they wander about even in broad daylight, but much more so at night when these areas are their natural hunting ground and they are not afraid of people — which they are in the daytime. But in general they are just not very interested in people, but rather in animals, which they look on as their natural food. So even though they go back and forth round about where a Bhikkhu is staying, he would hardly know they were there unless they roar or growl. But it is a natural instinct of man to think of tigers as fierce wild animals and in those circumstances who could avoid thinking and being afraid of them. For as soon as he enters such a place a Bhikkhu knows very well that: “I have entered the Tigers’ jungle!” Under such circumstances who could be so fearless as to stay there relaxed and at ease as if he was in an ordinary market place? He is bound to think of them with mistrust and fear all the time.
      The skilled Dhutanga Bhikkhu is very skilled indeed and is worthy of a lot of respect and faith. When walking cankama and tigers roar in the area where he is staying, he still keeps on walking as if nothing had happened, and when later someone questions him about it he answers quite casually with good reasoning. So that when asked a question such as: “Tigers are fierce animals which can bite and eat both animals and men and I’ve often heard of them taking and eating people. How then can you walk cankama in such an unconcerned manner? Do you have a magic spell so that the tiger can’t open its mouth to eat people? If so, please teach it to me so that when I go into the forests and hills I need not fear the tigers and bears coming to eat me. Then I will be able to do my meditation at ease without fear, for the main difficulty in going to stay in forests and hills now is just because of fear. If I don’t need to be afraid because I’ve got a magic spell to keep the tiger’s mouth shut so it can’t eat people I’ll feel a lot more easy and comfortable.”
      He answers in an unassuming manner, “The tiger was roaring over there whereas I was walking cankama here. It was several sen (1 sen = 40m) away or maybe a kilometre and what is the use of being afraid? If it had come to me, roaring and acting as if it were truly about to jump on me and take me away to eat, there would be enough cause to be afraid. Wherever I’ve been I’ve only heard the sound of them roaring in the languages of animals who have mouths, but I’ve never seen them acting in any way towards me that would warrant being afraid. As for magic spells, everybody has them if they would only make use of them, but for people like you, even if you went to learn such spells from Lady Vessuvana in heaven, as soon as you went into the forest and just heard the roar of a tiger you would run for your life taking the magic spells with you. However powerful those spells may be, they would be carried away by a timid person afraid of death, running so hard that his robes fall off, and the spells would all be lost and forgotten. Even if I had any magic spells as a protection I would never think of giving them to someone like you, for I am afraid that you would take them and ruin them completely. However good a magic spell might be, if the person is incompetent, the spell cannot help in any way. Like someone who has a gun slung over his shoulder in case of danger. But when the time comes he doesn’t know how to use it, so the gun is of no help to him.”
      “Here, we are just talking about tigers and ghosts and you have already started to get frightened and beginning to shiver. How then could you have the presence of mind to recall a magic spell to protect yourself? You would think only of running away which is so shameful that you would never forget it. I don’t think in the same way as you, for if I did I would also have to go about learning magic methods and spells to subjugate tigers and various other animals without having any interest or concern for overcoming the fear which is an internal danger, so that it may be cured by various methods. Until finally I would just be an incompetent person without any self-esteem for the rest of my life.”
      When one thinks about it, it makes one ashamed that tigers should be more powerful than man. For many people are frightened of their power when they are just lying down or growling in their animal language, or having fun and playing together. One feels that a good tiger has many times more power than an incompetent person who wants to learn magic spells from such a Bhikkhu. But the answer they get should be a valuable lessen to them for a long time.
      Previously the citta of such a Bhikkhu would have been accustomed to jumping about and running everywhere with bold obstinacy and without any bounds or limits, but when he has trained it with persistent effort until it submits and becomes docile and responsive to reason and the ways of Dhamma, he is not disturbed or frightened by the various things which happen to people and which they are always liable to meet up with. He can live anywhere or go anywhere whatever the conditions may be. In the forests and hills where timid people dare not go, he can live comfortably, and look on it as a place of refuge where he can relax, recover and develop the true practices of a Bhikkhu (Samana–Dhamma) in a satisfactory way all the time. Those who are concerned to become good and developed people should thus take up the way of doing things of such a Bhikkhu as their own path, although it is not essential to go and live in the forests or hills like him. But the methods and means of training oneself in various activities and duties so that one shall become a good person with firmly established basic principles within, both in the present and the future, is something which can be taught and received from others. Otherwise the Lord Buddha would have had no way to proclaim Dhamma and teach the world, because nobody else has the ability to practise in the same way as the Lord. But there are those who take up the principles of Dhamma and then go and practise them as a follower of the Lord until they become the best of men. They are good people who uphold the traditions in the circle of Buddhist followers right up to the present day, and it is generally accepted that there are a very large number of them who have gained the results from doing the practices which come from the Lord in the manner of a pupil following a teacher.
      The various methods of training and asceticism which each individual uses to develop his citta are chosen by each one depending on his need and ability. However, the Dhutanga Bhikkhus in the lineage of Venerable Acharn Mun have always followed his ways of practice without discarding any of them, right up to the present time.
      Concerning the aforementioned Bhikkhu who found it hard to believe that the other Bhikkhu could walk cankama and be able to compete with the sound of tigers roaring, and thus thought that he had a magic spell to lock up the mouths of the tigers; in fact he genuinely thought like this, because he was very afraid of the tigers when he heard them roar in the vicinity of where he was staying, even though they did not come close to him. He therefore had to ask such a question.
      When several Dhutanga Bhikkhus meet and talk Dhamma together on a suitable occasion, it is very interesting to listen to: for the Dhamma which comes from the heart and arises from the way of practice; for the asceticism and the types of ascetic training of the citta in various different ways; for the courage and fear which arise at various different times, and for the sufferings and difficulties at those times when the body is pushed to the limit of endurance. But the most important thing is the Dhamma within. This means the samadhi and wisdom which each one of them has experienced in his own way in various places. When they talk together about their experiences, each one from the ground level of his own citta and Dhamma, it is so absorbing that one forgets the time and the aches and pains of sitting on the floor for a long time.
      In some cases, but not many, a Bhikkhu talks of his citta dropping into a state of calm in three distinct stages to attain the full state of samadhi. Thus in the first stage it becomes mildly calm such that there is a relaxed well being. In the second stage the calm and well being increase in a manner that is clearly evident. When it gets to the third and final stage the body vanishes and it feels as if one has no body. The fields of sensation (ayatana) also cease to function, and there remains only “knowing” of a subtle and most wonderful kind which is beyond all description. This is what they call the full ground of samadhi and it is the type which can form a firm and stable foundation for the citta. The heart which goes down into a complete state of calm at a ground level such as this will generally rest there for several hours before rising out of it. Sometimes it may stay there for as much as twelve hours. Some may wonder whether the body would not be very painful and stiff when the citta withdraws from samadhi after sitting in one posture without any change for many hours. What in fact happens to the citta and the khandhas is as follows.
      When the citta goes into a state of rest and calms down until it reaches full samadhi as related above, the citta and the body do not react to any disturbance from anything whatsoever. Then the integration of the citta and of the physical elements (dhatu) as they exist at that time are understood to be much more subtle than when one is in deep sleep. This is so, because, sometimes after sleeping for a long time, when one wakes one still feels aches and pains in those parts of the body upon which one was lying. But when the citta withdraws from this type of samadhi, there are no aches or pains of any sort at all, every part of the body being in its normal, natural state. This gives one good reason to believe in the truth about those Bhikkhus who are said to enter into “complete cessation” (Nirodha–samapatti) for several days. For it is said that, firstly, they can in fact remain in samadhi for such a long time and secondly, their health and body remain normal without any weakness or harm from it whatsoever.
      Dhamma talk amongst Dhutanga Bhikkhus generally revolves about the results of the practice which they have done which derives from the level of attainment that they have experienced, and also about the places where they have done the practice in various locations. This is the way in which the truth of their knowing and seeing by way of the heart is passed on to each other and it gives them all food for thought for a long time.
      Their talk never concerns the world of samsara, of business or politics, of gain or loss, love or hate, of anger, loathing, envy, vindictiveness, or jealousy, nor are they ever even suggested, for their only concern is the practice of Dhamma. However long they go on talking, which depends on what is necessary, it is a means of uplifting the citta of the listener, so that he “drinks” it in deeply and is permeated with Dhamma the whole way through.
      This is a most excellent occasion which is well described in the ­saying of Dhamma: “Kalena Dhammasakaccha etammangalamuttamam” (Talk on Dhamma at the right time is the highest blessing). Because such talk is between those who are all practising the way and their aim is knowing what is true and seeing what is true and promoting truth, and not at all for boasting about degrees and levels of attainment, nor about how much one knows and how clever one is. Each one’s citta is poised all the time, waiting and interested to hear the truth while each of the others is presenting it. But if any one of them, when talking, is seen to be deficient or mistaken in any point he is always ready to submit with genuine and heartfelt respect and to accept correction from one of the others whose ground of Dhamma is higher. Such talk is a way of checking the knowledge and understanding and the state of the citta of each other in connection with the attainment of samadhi and the Path, Fruition and Nibbana (Magga–Phala–Nibbana).
      When such Bhikkhus have full confidence in the value and wealth of practice of each other without feeling any doubts or reservations they can talk together intimately and reveal to each other all the Dhamma that they have within them without holding anything back or keeping anything secret. In this way, those who practise can get to know quite clearly what ground of Dhamma each of them has attained. This Bhikkhu has such and such a ground of citta and a ground of Dhamma; that one has a subtle citta; that one has a high level of wisdom; that one is close to going beyond becoming and birth whereas this one here has already gone beyond it and is free from all anxieties and can relax. As for this one here, he is lazy and weak in his meditation and when he sits in samadhi he just nods his head and sleeps inwardly. In fact wherever he sits he just sleeps inwardly, for this one is most skilled at sleeping inwardly. Therefore, amongst those who are Dhutanga Bhikkhus one should not assume that every one of them is entirely good. I also once became skilled at sleeping inwardly — but I don’t like to boast about it.
      This Bhikkhu here, his citta is steadily becoming calm; this one is beginning to develop into samadhi; this one has strange knowledge about external things such as the Pretas, Ghosts and Devatas. This one likes practising meditation while sitting down; that one likes practising while lying down; that one prefers meditating while standing. This one likes to discipline himself by not lying down; this one by reducing the amount of food he takes; this one by fasting. This one likes to discipline himself by going into the forests to look for tigers or bears as a means to help him overcome fear, by examination and inquiry into it while using the tigers or bears as the cause of the fear. This one likes to discipline himself by walking about looking for tigers in the hills at night. This one likes to receive mysterious guests such as those who have Deva bodies.
      But this one here is afraid of ghosts and Pretas as if his parents had brought him up in a house of such beings and dead bodies about the place to scare and haunt him all the time, so that after he was ordained he was in the habit of being afraid of Pretas. This one here has a nature which easily accepts and believes anything which anyone says and he does not like to think it over first to see if it is reasonable before accepting it. Whereas this one here has a lot of opinions and does not readily agree with other people.
      This one has a nature to be clever and every time he likes to examine and think well about things before accepting them and he does not believe blindly. When the Acariya teaches them Dhamma, after he has finished his talk, a Bhikkhu of this kind will probably have various questions in his heart which he will ask the Acariya and a dialogue then takes place between them based on reason. The others who were present would thus be enabled to increase their own knowledge and ability in many ways by hearing this dialogue; and this is a good method of assisting those who are practising the way, to develop their mindfulness and wisdom. Such a person is an ornament to those who accompany him, he gives dignity to the circle of those who practise the way and he gives a feeling of confidence to the Acariya who trains and teaches them. Wherever he goes and whatever Bhikkhu he stays with, everyone feels confident and assured about such a person. When he goes to stay on his own he endeavours to look after himself properly by using reason and Dhamma, without doing anything that would lead to deterioration or loss to his friends and associates who practise Dhamma. When contacting lay people he acts in a proper and seemly way, never getting too involved with them, for in the field of Dhutanga Bhikkhus this kind of thing is always liable to creep in. Although, generally speaking this is not done intentionally, yet a lack of skill and carefulness of one kind can also cause loss of virtue of another kind.
      Another thing which is always likely to occur in those who practise, happens when the citta attains samadhi, for then it becomes calm, firm and is not distracted or upset by the world. The heart then tends to become unusually eloquent and witty, which can easily cause the one who practises to forget himself. He may then think that he has become skilled although in fact he is not. For he only begins to gain some skill if he first tries to work at the practice without forgetting himself. But those who practise, generally forget themselves in this way more than any other, because they have never known such a thing to happen before. For this is the first step of virtue, calm, happiness of heart and stability of heart which is attained by those who practise and therefore it makes them excited so that they can forget themselves.
      If then, there is nobody to warn such a person he may become self-confident in the manner of someone who knows Dhamma, and having the conceit that: “Dhamma has arisen!” The eloquence can then develop into giving clever Dhamma talks; and later he may think that he is skilful at such talks and that Dhamma has developed in his heart. However much he talks, the Dhamma flows out more and more, as though it were water in flood, without limitation or restraint until finally he becomes engrossed in talking and goes on incessantly. Before he realises it many hours have passed by in talking or giving a discourse on Dhamma, and this happens every time.
      In making contact with people he has no idea of time, whether it is appropriate to speak, or when to stop, and his discourses have no ending, no “evam”. However much Dhamma he has in him he digs it out to speak and discourse to whoever comes to see him until it is all out, without knowing why they have come. He just shares out Dhamma without any restraint, regrets or thrift, and even though there is not a lot of Dhamma in his heart he still likes to spread it about to his hearts content. He keeps spreading it about without developing it and protecting it by working at the practice, which would act as a dam to prevent the Dhamma in the heart from flowing out, but instead he does damage to it by not knowing when he has gone too far. Even the level of the water in the ocean can drop; and the heart that is neglected so that no work is done to develop Dhamma in it with little time being given to it, is bound to go the way of deterioration and to drop in level. So the citta which “shares itself out” much without also doing any work on its own development is bound to deteriorate and go lower and lower all the time until there is nothing left in it at all.
      Finally all that remains is distracted thoughts and vexation through­out his entire mind. If he tries to make it settle it will not remain still and he cannot lead it into a state of calm as he once used to. From having been calm and cool, his mind then changes and becomes conceited, vain, flirtatious, disturbed and gloomy and whether standing, walking, sitting, lying down, or in any other position it is as if his heart is on fire and he cannot find any calm and peace. When he cannot find any way of escape he thinks then of going with the fire, which is the way to make the situation still worse although he does not realise this. Thus he thinks: “When there is only vexation, disturbance and disquietude like this all the time, why should I remain in robes and be a burden on the Sasana? It is better to give up the robe, for I see no value in going on like this. I must disrobe so as to get free from the anxiety which comes from emotional troubles of this kind and thoughts which have not been auspicious all the time since I became a monk.” But even after giving up the robe, such a person will not become auspicious by this type of thinking and will still be lacking in virtue as he was before and useless as he was at first. In saying that he would lighten the burden on the Sasana when he gives up the robe, this is not so, for the Sasana will be no lighter, and in fact it will just be the Sasana upholding the truth as it always has.
      Summarising this; the one who is not good is “self”, the one that is no use is “self” and the heavy-heartedness due to wrong doing of the heart is “self”. This should teach one that whatever kind of wealth one has, if one only spends it and disburses it without saving and replenishment it will diminish and finally vanish. The same is true if the heart is allowed to drift and go according to its fate, the result will be trouble and vexation which one must oneself receive everywhere and at all times. Because moral actions — good and evil — are not the fortune of just anybody, but only of the one who has done them and he alone is the only one that can receive the results of them.
      The Lord therefore taught that one should be very careful and well guarded and not abandon oneself to one’s emotional impulses. For when the bad results of one’s actions have come upon one they make for great hardship, because these results are far more heavy than a range of a hundred mountains. Wise men are therefore afraid of them and have always taught that one should be afraid of evil and this they still teach right up to the present day due to the fact that they know clearly that the results of kamma both good and evil are not things which change and alter from age to age.
      In the manner described above, the Dhutanga Bhikkhus from the most senior to the most junior can know the ground of the citta of each other without the need for insight knowledge (ñana) to find out by going deep down inwardly. Because these Dhamma discussions that take place amongst Kammatthana Bhikkhus are reckoned by them to be very important, and they take place regularly all the time. For they look on them as a means of exchanging knowledge and experience with each other and as a means of “Sammodaniyagatha” — “arousing joy and inspiration” in the Dhamma which they have variously practised and experienced.
      When the occasion arises for them to talk together it is up to any of those who are present to speak of something which he has come to know, which may be more or less gross or subtle. Then, while they are talking one has an opportunity to know about them. But when two of the Acariyas talk together, the more exalted they are the more interesting it is. Their Dhamma is all at a profound and high level and it leaves one with a sense of wonder. One feels so inferior and ashamed at one’s own meagre ability (vasana) in mindfulness and wisdom, that one wants to go and bury one’s head in the ground, for one is quite incapable of experiencing the kind of thing that they have experienced.
      While listening to the Acariyas talking together it is fascinating and wonderful and one feels so strongly that one wants to know and to see in the way that they do. One feels almost as though one’s heart would break, but where has the mindfulness and wisdom been buried which should enable one to experience as they do? One doesn’t know! Even if one looks for it in one’s thoughts, one searches for it in vain. For all is dark and obscure, as if nothing good or special will ever happen which would satisfy and bring some joy to one’s heart for the rest of one’s life, so that one will die with this corpse full of stupidity, in vain.
      Looking at the others who are also there listening, they seem to be so dignified and calm. As if they were flying towards the complete destruction of their kilesas, leaving one behind, oneself who is so incompetent that one cannot find the mindfulness and wisdom to save oneself, and leaving one to die alone submerged in the round of samsara (vatta). The more one thinks the more one’s chest feels constricted and the heart apprehensive, as if it had been thrown out into the jungle, desolate and lonely.
      As soon as the Dhamma meeting is over one quietly goes and asks the others who were present: “After listening to the talk on Dhamma how do you feel about it? For I felt almost as if my heart would break and I would die on the spot; the Dhamma which they talked was so amazing and wonderful that when I reflected and looked at myself I seemed to be like a crow perched on top of a golden mountain. When I thought about it I wanted to bury this corpse in the ground to get rid of it, thinking that this would probably lighten the load on the Sasana by relieving it of the dead weight of an unfortunate member lacking in inherent ability, as I am at present. But how was it with you and the others who were present, how did you feel about it? Please tell me truly so that I can use it as a lesson in Dhamma which will enable me to breathe more freely and to get rid of this feeling of depression and hopelessness, as if my heart was about to break.”
      Generally those who speak up have much the same sort of thing to say because each of them feels a great satisfaction in the Dhamma of the Acariyas. Then they turn and reflect on themselves, for they want to be like that also, but when the essential conditions (hetu–paccaya) for this are not there, disappointment arises. This then results in feelings of discontent (dukkha) in various ways, but as soon as they hear the same story from the others who are also learning and training in the way of Dhamma, they feel relieved and breathe more freely. Then they become determined to go on training themselves without being anxious and afraid that they will not be able to do so or will not be able to attain this or that state, which is an unnecessary way of hurting oneself.
      Where we previously discussed how some Dhutanga Bhikkhus are daring enough to put their lives at stake by going and sitting after dark in those places where tigers roam about in search of food; and how some Bhikkhus also do such things as wandering about at night on the hills searching for tigers; this may make some people doubtful or make them disbelieve that it is so. Because such things may make one question: “For what reason should Bhikkhus sit in such places or go about looking for tigers? Even just sitting in the vicinity of his dwelling place is enough to make someone who is timid, so frightened that he can hardly breathe, so why should he use such excessively daring methods? For the ordinary monk would never go to such an extreme — unless he was a bit mad,” and in truth this is how it should be. But the stories of some Bhikkhus contradict this, for they overcome the fear that arises when sitting in the vicinity of their dwelling place, in the same way as they do when sitting or walking on the hills where tigers live.
      However, the fear that arises when one is alone and close to one’s dwelling place is of one kind and a suitable method may be used to overcome it. But the fear which they are searching for in various ways such as going to the mountains and sitting on a rock, or searching for tigers, is incredibly strong, much more so than the fear that arises on one’s own near one’s dwelling. If they had no effective method of overcoming the fear it is quite likely that they would go mad when they actually met up with a tiger. Therefore, they must use a very different method to quell this fear until it can be completely vanquished by the skilful method which each individual devises to train and discipline himself.
      To train the citta when it is afflicted with fear up to the point where it can get rid of its stubborn resistance by means of skilful methods which are well suited to the circumstances, is a very important thing. The results which become apparent as soon as the citta surrenders to mindfulness and wisdom are wonderful beyond all expectations:
     
      First, the heart turns round and becomes bold and daring as soon as the fear has been dispelled by those skilful and effective methods, after which the citta remains completely calm without any fear whatsoever. Second, when the citta withdraws from this state, the bold fearlessness still remains without going back to the previous state of fear. Third, this acts as evident proof to one’s heart, showing very clearly how the citta can be forced by disciplinary training to give up its stubborn resistance with the support and aid of various conditions such as fear. Fourth, one feels satisfaction in training oneself by that method or any other with skilfulness of heart, and is not afraid of death.
     
      Even in training themselves by other methods, it should be understood that these Bhikkhus do so with the confidence of having seen results from what they have already done. This makes them go on increasing their efforts to progress in the development of the citta and Dhamma in the heart until they reach the goal that the heart longs for.
      In consequence, the training of the heart, or of oneself, which the Dhutanga Bhikkhus undertake is of many different kinds, to suit their different temperaments. But generally, the methods which each of them use are those which have given them results in the past and they must therefore go on working at those methods constantly, rather than any others.
      People’s characters differ and there are some whose citta loses all mindfulness, which is required for self-control, as soon as fear arises and they become as if hypnotised and the same thing happens to them every time, regardless of what it is they are afraid of. Such people are not suited to the methods of training which use frightening situations for this could cause them to go mad.
      So the type of ascetic training which is used, must take into account the character of each person and which methods suit them and enable them to gain strength of heart. One should not just take up a method that one has heard about as giving good results without taking into consideration the nature of one’s own citta, for by doing this one is liable to get results which are not what they should be.
      This is said, not for the purpose of increasing the weakness or feebleness in those who practise the way, but only to point out that what one does should be suitable so that one will gain value from it in accordance with one’s state or condition. For when they come across this passage, some people might think that whatever they find to be tedious, difficult and against the grain is not suitable. Thus: “It is not suited to my character to be doing such things, because someone of my type is suited to living comfortably and there is no need for me to have fear of various kinds to hit me in the heart. I can live eating and sleeping comfortably which is a much better way and suits my character which likes comfort.”
      But one should recall how the Lord Buddha — the first Bhikkhu and Arahant, who is the “refuge” of the world — was able to attain Enlightenment and the fulfilment of Dhamma by strict training and discipline more than by any of those other methods which lazy and feeble people call good. Nobody has ever got to the fulfilment of Dhamma by the way of living, eating and sleeping as the heart desires without ever opposing the citta and applying disciplinary training to the heart.
      These forceful methods of training have been described, based on the understanding that the kilesas of people are only likely to be afraid of being overpowered by vigorous training, rather than by letting the heart go wherever it will. If one uses some force, it will submit a little, enough to open one’s eyes and breathe freely. But if one gives way and goes along with them a little, they gain encouragement and the situation deteriorates greatly.
      One must use many ways and means of discipline and training to frighten the kilesas in order to gain some peace, and those who want to see the submission of the kilesas for themselves must take up and use these strong methods as the tools of training and discipline in ways that are appropriate to their individual characters. This may be a way for them to bypass the kilesas from time to time and to weaken and eliminate them bit by bit. This will also reduce the discontent which torments the heart step by step until they reach the place of safety which is the “territory” of happiness and joy, by using these methods to help them.
      Those Bhikkhus who have gained results from training by using these strong and tough methods, truly make gains which are clearly visible and apparent to the heart. Usually this is because the citta which needs to be trained in this way is characteristically bold and likes to put everything into whatever it does without vacillating. When fighting he fights truly; when dying he dies truly; but he does not give up.
      Thus, when he goes to train himself to overcome his fear, he looks for a place where he can do so truly, like where he can take tigers for teachers to help him in his training. The more frightening he understands a place to be, the more he sets himself to go there and train himself in the manner of a “life and death struggle”.
      At such a time he is even prepared to die and asks only to see the disappearance of fear brought about by the superior power of mindfulness and wisdom which are the basis of the training. He submits himself entirely, otherwise he would never be able to train his heart which is already frightened in a frightening place. But in fact, he is able to withstand it until he sees the awesome power of fear and how it cannot compete with the awesome power of Dhamma, so that it then dissolves right before his eyes. In place of the fear, a bold fearlessness arises quite clearly evident and this gives testimony to the methods of training that he has used, that they are not valueless, but in fact have the greatest value, beyond even what one can imagine.
      With some people the heart becomes calm as soon as they hear the tigers roaring in the vicinity. With others, as soon as they hear the feet of the tigers walking in their own natural way, unguarded and unconcerned as to whether anyone is interested in being unafraid, or afraid of them, then straight away the citta concentrates and goes down into a state of calm. There are still others who if they work at their practice in the normal way, their cittas will never be able to submit and drop into a state of calm, but as soon as they use the method of going and sitting in meditation in a path or place where tigers normally walk by, then although the tigers may not actually be passing by at that time the citta can turn round and go down into samadhi by depending on the thought and the fear that the tigers will come looking for them.
      There are two methods of practising meditation when fear arises. In the first, one makes the citta concentrate and stay with that aspect of Dhamma that one has been in the habit of practising without letting the citta go away outside to think and imagine about any animals or tigers at all. One’s meditation practice just remains with that as­pect of Dhamma, with mindfulness to supervise and control it. Then whether one will live or die, one takes refuge entirely in that aspect of Dhamma which one is using as the initial entry into the meditation (parikamma). As soon as the citta gives way, goes down as one hopes and truly takes refuge in Dhamma without grasping at this or that, it is bound to become calm, and once the citta drops into a state of calm the fear vanishes immediately. This is the method of practice of someone who is in the beginning stages of meditation practice.
      The second method is used by those whose cittas are able to attain samadhi and have some basis of heart. When fear arises they will most likely investigate the situation using the way of wisdom. In other words, they analyse and examine the fear and they analyse and examine the whole of the tiger part by part, which the citta assumes to be such a frightening object. Thus they consider the teeth, the claws, skin, head, tail and the middle of the body, going through every part, bringing it up and looking at it to find out in what way it is frightening, until their nature is seen quite clearly with wisdom and the fear disappears by itself. This is the method for those who have been used to practising the development of insight (vipassana) and they will probably be able to cure the fear by the use of this method.

 

3. The Story of the White-Robed Upasaka 

 

      The foregoing methods have been used by those Bhikkhus who go to live in the forest, to train themselves, and they have gained satisfying results from them, and the tigers have never harmed any of them.
      Here, it is appropriate to relate a story so that the reader may think about what happened in this incident. There was an Acariya who was a senior follower of Venerable Acharn Mun, and at this time he was practising the way of Dhutanga while wandering along the bank of the Mekong River on the Laotian side and with him was an Upasaka — a white robed lay follower. This Acariya was temporarily staying under an overhanging cliff and the Upasaka who maintained the eight moral precepts was staying under another such cliff about 120 meters away. This Acariya who told the story, said that he had stayed there for several months for he reckoned that it was good for the health of both his body and heart, and the practice of the “Dhamma of a recluse” (Samana–Dhamma) developed smoothly without any obstacles, both for him and for the Upasaka. The obtaining of food on the alms round (pindapata) was not difficult for they were no more than four kilometres from the nearest village where there were about fifteen houses and the villagers did not come out and bother them, making diffi­culties and wasting a lot of time when they could be developing the ­practice of Dhamma, for each of them went about their own business accordingly.
      One day in the afternoon the Acariya felt a bit unwell as if he had a slight fever, now hot now cold and the body feeling not quite normal. When the Upasaka came to where he was staying he told him to go and boil some water to mix with some medicine that he thought he would try, thinking that it may effect a cure. A doctor had told him that this medicine could cure malaria and he was afraid that this was the beginning of a bout of malaria. For there was a lot of it about in that district and many people suffered from it as the forest was very thick and people accustomed to living in open country and farmland were not able to go and stay there. It was also teeming with all sorts of wild animals, tigers and other members of the cat family, and at night their cries and roars were very noisy. It seems that there were also some man-eating tigers in the district which was said to be due to the Vietnamese who make them ferocious and not afraid of people.
      As soon as the Upasaka understood what was required he took the kettle to the place where he was staying, to boil the water. After that the Acariya did not see him again and he did not bring the hot water back to him. The Acariya waited until it got dark, but still he did not come, so he thought that the Upasaka may have forgotten about it because he was sitting in meditation and becoming absorbed in the practice and neglecting his duties. Meanwhile the symptoms of the Acariya’s fever became steadily milder until it went away altogether.
      As for the Upasaka, after getting the kettle he prepared things to make a fire, but however he tried to light it, the fire would not catch, until he started to get angry. Then, forgetting that he was an Upasaka and a follower of an important Kammatthana Bhikkhu, he stood up suddenly and thought with anger: “I have made a fire here many times, but why won’t it catch this time? Maybe it needs some water. If it needs water I will give it some.” Thereupon he urinated all over the place where he set the fire until it was all wet and then walked away without saying anything to the Acariya who waited for some hot water until it was night time. Once the night had fully set in some very strange and unusual things occurred.
      Previously, while he had been staying there, nothing much ­unusual had occurred. But this night about 9 p.m., the white robed Upasaka was sitting in meditation and contemplating the misdeeds that he had done and his careless attitude towards the Acariya which was due to his anger which made him stand and urinate over the firewood. In addition he never went to ask the Acariya for forgiveness so as to rectify his fault and negate his bad kamma. While he was sitting and reflecting on his faults in a restless anxious manner, there was suddenly a great loud noise from about two yards behind him, the roar of a huge tiger which was crouching and looking at him as if it was just about to leap on him and eat him up. It was also continuously growling softly — enough to test how much courage there was in the anger of a kammatthana disciple — and loud enough so the Acariya could also hear it where he was staying.
      While it was growling it also smacked its tail up and down, hitting the ground with a thudding noise and shifting about back and forward as if it was getting ready to spring on the Upasaka and make fresh food of him right there and then. As soon as the Upasaka heard this unusual sound which he had never heard so close to him before he became frightened for the first time since he came there several months previously and he quickly turned round to see what it was. It was about the time of the full moon and he could see this huge tiger crouching there, looking at him, quite distinctly. His blood turned to water, he shook with fear and almost went unconscious. He could think of nothing and his heart turned for refuge to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha as a matter of life and death. “May the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha protect me and guard me,” he pleaded, “and don’t let this tiger eat me up tonight for then I would not be able to ask forgiveness for my misdeeds, from Venerable Acariya — which I did wrong to him this afternoon. May the ­Buddha help and protect me for the whole of this night and may the Dhamma and Venerable Acariya have “metta” and make my “kamma” void for those things which I did wrong. Don’t let it come to the point where I must be eaten by this tiger in punishment for these offences.”
      Thus he pleaded, he begged, he repeated “Buddho”, he quivered, shivered, and he turned around and stared at the tiger, afraid it would leap on him and eat him up immediately. But the tiger, as soon as it saw a man turn round and stare at it, drew back a little while still growling the whole time. Then in a short time it shifted its position and came in from a new direction and then drew back again, going back and forward all the time in this way.
      Meanwhile the Upasaka felt like death, being forced to turn this way and that, nervously following the restless movements of the tiger going back and forth all round his mosquito net without let up. When he took an attitude of staring intently at the tiger it withdrew, and at times it went so far away that it seemed it may be going for good. But as soon as he relaxed a bit and let his attention wander it would come back right up close to him. He could not let “Buddho” and his heart separate and he had to go on repeating it until the heart became attached to it and he held on to it all the time as his guarantee of life. But as soon as “Buddho” started to slip away a bit the tiger started to move in closer every time. When he saw that his position had got worse he quickly recollected — “Buddho” and implored the Buddha to save his life. Then once “Buddho” had become close to the heart, the tiger drew back as though it was going away for good.
      But the characteristics of people are such that they generally need to be forced to do things, so as soon as the tiger drew away some distance, “Buddho” started to drop away from the heart — thinking that he would not die. Then the tiger began to move in again and prepare itself, as if it were getting ready to jump on him, but it never did anything but to keep on changing the direction from which it approached.
      There was no let up in the battle between the tiger and the Upasaka which went on from 9 p.m. until dawn with neither of them being ready to admit defeat and the tears of the Upasaka flowed the whole time because of his fear of death or at least until there were no more tears left to flow. But as soon as the light of dawn came, the tiger slowly drew back to about eight yards and then slowly walked away until it went out of sight.
      Although the tiger had gone, the Upasaka stayed for a long time under his mosquito net watchful and alert, not daring to go out for fear that it was hiding close by. He was afraid that as soon as he relaxed and came out from his mosquito net it would jump on him and eat him up. So he felt compelled to sit and wait and watch the situation from under his mosquito net for a long time until he saw that all was quiet, that it had gone and was not returning. Then he quickly left his net and ran to where the Acariya was staying, confused, quivering, wild eyed and babbling incoherently so that what he said made no sense.
      Seeing the Upasaka’s unusual behaviour, the Acariya questioned him and managed to find out that he was asking to be pardoned for the offences which he did against the Acariya the previous afternoon. He explained the reasons for his wrong actions and told him everything including the coming of the tiger and the way it stayed around all night.
      But the Acariya, instead of pardoning him at once, turned and spoke in a menacing manner, thereby increasing his concern, saying: “What you like you get. If you like what is good you get what is good. If you like what is bad you get what is bad. But in this case you like tigers so you got a tiger. So what’s the use of asking me for a pardon, I cannot pardon you yet. At least you should meet those good things that you like for one more night. If then, you don’t die from being eaten by the tiger you will at least have learnt a long lasting lesson which you can reflect upon. The tiger is better than the Acariya, so I shall let the ­tiger teach and train you. What do you think about that, shall I hand you over to the tiger tonight? If you don’t listen to its teaching I shall let it take you away for food once and for all, for I’m tired of teaching you. What do you say, is that what you want? Meeting the tiger and listening to its teaching all last night was quite appropriate to the circumstances, and tonight I will have it come and teach you again. If after that you are still obstinate I will let it take you and turn you into sustenance for its wanderings. Its belly would be well filled for several days. Well, what’s it going to be? Say quickly and don’t dawdle! Who is the better, the Acariya or the tiger? Answer now, don’t hesitate or in a moment I shall call the tiger to take you away and make use of you, which it will do in a far more effective way than this Acariya.”
      After saying this he acted as if he were calling the tiger, saying: “Where has that tiger gone to now? Come back quickly and take him away now, don’t wait about. I’ll turn him over to you to be your follower, so come quickly and take him away.”
      At this point the Upasaka cried out loudly and wept, completely losing his composure and implored the Acariya, saying: “I am very afraid and I implore Venerable Acariya not to call the tiger here or I will die right now. Last night I thought I was about to die at one time, but I recovered and came around enough to retain consciousness, so I have come quickly to Venerable Acariya for help. But you keep calling it back again, and where would I get enough spirit to stand up to it. So Venerable Sir, I implore you to tell it to go away and not come back again.”
      After weeping and imploring Venerable Acariya not to call the tiger again; after prostrating and pleading for his life, conceding his fault in what he did and saying that he would be more self-controlled and careful in the future; after promising that he would never do such an act again while the dread of the lesson he had learnt was still before him; and after coming to implore the Acariya to forgive him; the Acariya seeing that the situation was right granted him forgiveness and taught him and spoke to him mildly and soothingly, saying: “It was nothing but your own evil kamma which brought that tiger to you. If you still don’t accept the blame for your evil deed, you will see it more clearly tonight! For as soon as night falls that tiger will come and take you away and it won’t come back again. It won’t speak nicely and act playfully as it did last night.
      When you have been hurt you remember it, for good and evil are always there in the world and nobody can get rid of these two aspects of nature. If it were possible for kamma to have been put under the power of any being or principle anywhere, such an authority would be sure to have eliminated both of those aspects of nature long ago so that there would be none left to come down to us now. But the fact is that good and evil kamma are still here and this is because kamma does not depend on any special being or power, but only upon each individual who makes his own kamma.
      In this instance you made evil kamma yesterday afternoon and you must see your own evil kamma. But if you are still not ready to see your fault, it is quite certain that tonight the striped and tawny lord of kamma will come to take you away for you to see the results of kamma quite clearly for yourself.”
      Having admonished him the Acariya told the Upasaka to return to the place where he was staying, but he did not want to go, for fear that the tiger was hiding in wait for him and would jump on him and maul him and take him away and eat him. So the Acariya had to coerce him by making him frightened once again. “Just now you said that you accepted and saw the evil of your obstinacy and that you would not do this again. But you have hardly finished saying this and you are being obstinate once again. Why is this? If that’s the case you can go on being obstinate if you can really stand up to that tiger.” Then the Acariya called out to the tiger once again to come, saying: “Tiger! You who are the Acariya of this Upasaka, where are you? Come here quickly to take away this obstinate Upasaka and teach him a bit will you. I’m tired of teaching him. Hurry! Come quickly!”
      As soon as he had finished speaking, the Upasaka began to weep again and promised saying: “I will go back right away now but please don’t let the tiger come at all, I am very afraid of it and last night I almost died.” Then he hurried back to where he stayed without thinking any more about being afraid or about death. It is very strange and wonderful how from that day on there was no sign of that tiger prowling about in the district, right up to the time when they moved away from there, which was several months later. In the normal way of thinking it would seem that there must have been something which influenced that tiger to come out and torment the Upasaka who was bold, stupid and evil enough to act in wrong and improper ways, such as standing and urinating all over firewood. Even an ordinary person who is not interested in practising the ways of moral behaviour and Dhamma would not normally do such a thing.
      For such a person there is not much that can keep him under control — except for a large tiger which is his equal and can torment and train him. From then on, the Upasaka was completely subdued and the Acariya said that afterwards he never displayed any obstinacy. It was very effective, for tigers are very able to torment and teach people and to instil a fear into them which lasts a long time.
      Here, I should like to digress a bit, to insert a personal comment. For, I would like to get a tiger to come and live in the vicinity of Wat Pa Baan Taad to help me by taking over some of my responsibility when the Bhikkhus, Samaneras, Theras, Nuns or any others become lazy in their practice and spend their time sleeping. It would help to rouse some effort in them, for even if they didn’t actually see it, but it only helped by the sound of its roar, it would probably be enough to open their eyes and ears and make them get up and do some practice so that they did not indulge in sleeping too much.
      On the other hand, if a tiger came to stay here many of the village dogs who live around the Wat would be so scared they would all run away, which would be a loss of help as they also have been “Acariyas”, teaching people who are too lazy to close doors and to look after and put away items of food and edible things. The ideal situation would be to retain both of these “Acariyas”, the tiger and the dogs, to help both in stirring up effort and in putting away and looking after various things. This monastery would then be complete, having both people diligently doing meditation practice and diligently looking after things.
      If this were the case it would be very good. But I am afraid that the Bhikkhus, Samaneras, Theras, Nuns and all other followers who come from various places, who are scared of tigers and lazy and careless about looking after things would cause trouble and get angry with the Acariya, complaining: “Why get a tiger to torment us? This is quite unnecessary and is just a big nuisance.” But truly speaking there ought to be something standing by to help act as a reminder to people because the Acariya alone cannot keep up with all of them.
      Generally it is in the “kitchen” area, where the women visitors and upasikas who come from many places to stay, that they lose out to the dogs from the village which come quietly and hide in the Wat in large numbers all the time, to steal edible things which they then take away and eat.
      Although this is not very important, nor something to get upset about, it is nevertheless a shortcoming which is undesirable. For wherever we say that there is a shortcoming in anything it means that the whole is deficient. Especially when this applies to people, and when they are not even interested in correcting themselves it is much worse.
      I hope the reader will forgive this diversion but as it has a relationship with the foregoing account it was put in here. But now we will return to the story of the Acariya and Upasaka, which is still not finished.
      Afterwards, the Upasaka was very watchful for fear of the tiger all the time, day and night, for he saw in his mind an image of that large tiger quite vividly and he thought about it coming and searching for him every time he breathed in and out until evening came. He could not relax and take it easy, being obsessed with the idea that the tiger would jump on him, tear him apart and eat him up. But this had a good side to it, for whenever he recalled and saw an image of the tiger, he immediately recalled “Buddho” and there was no time for his mind to slip away. That night, as soon as it began to get dark he started doing his meditation practice, sitting and recollecting “Buddho” part of the time, and part of the time thinking that the tiger would come, thus alternating between the two. He could not sleep and do meditation practice as he had been used to doing it, for while doing the practice his eyes were expecting to see the tiger, so for the whole of that night right through to the light of dawn he had no sleep. Because if he had relaxed and slept, what then would he do if the tiger came? It would be just like waiting for it to come and take him and eat him at its leisure!
      As soon as it was dawn he went in a hurry to his Acariya, who asked him: “How was it; did your teacher, the tiger, come and visit you again last night?” He replied that it had not come, and then the Acariya spoke quietly and soothingly to him, saying: “What is the use of being afraid of it, if you were afraid of your own evil in the way that you are afraid of this tiger you would have gained freedom from Dukkha long ago. You must hurry to get rid of the evil which has accumulated in your heart by reducing it steadily and finally eliminating it. Why be so concerned about the tiger, it will not come and do anything. You can take my word for it that as long as you don’t do anything evil again the tiger will not come. You must do your meditation practice to make you feel at ease. Then the tiger will be happy and not anxious about you so there won’t be any need for it to come and see you often and lose time in searching for its food. In fact it only came to help you and to drag you up out of hell because of the evil you had done, otherwise you truly would have fallen into hell. So if you don’t do any more evil things, the tiger will not come with any intention of eating you. Take good care of yourself, and if you try hard and work diligently at your meditation practice you won’t see that tiger again, as you saw it when it came to visit you, until we leave this place.”
      From that day on, the tiger was never again seen wandering around that district, just as the Acariya had predicted. After that, even though there were still sounds of tigers roaring from time to time, this was normal, the same as would be heard everywhere in the forest and not something that was disturbing. The Upasaka worked hard at his meditation practice and got rid of all his opinionated conceit so that he was transformed into a good person both inwardly and outwardly. From the time that the tiger came to help and train him, even though it was only one night, there was nothing that one could blame in the Upasaka. This was so strange and unusual a thing to happen that it still has not been forgotten. As for the Acariya, he never had any fear at all, and even when the Upasaka came to tell him all about it he was quite unperturbed. He said that the tiger which came was in fact a creation of the Devas.
      This Acariya was a senior follower of Venerable Acharn Mun and he liked to live on his own, deep in the forests and hills, depending for his food on going pindapata to the local farmers. During the time that he spent living under a cliff with the Upasaka he was able to progress in the development of his citta far more than in other places, so he stayed there for many months — until it was near the beginning of the rainy season when he returned to the Thai side of the river.
      He said that while the tiger was growling softly at the Upasaka, he heard it quite clearly but he took no notice of it because they could be heard all the time so that it was normal and he was used to it. But when the Upasaka came and told him about it, weeping and wailing because he was afraid, the Acariya thought about it and examined what had occurred. A Devata also came and told him about it, so he knew that the Devata had made that tiger to discipline the Upasaka and cure his overweening conceit. Otherwise he would have become used to it and would have displayed his obstinacy all the time, doing evil things more and more so that when he died he would fall to hell. Therefore it was necessary to cure this state in such a way that he would never dare to act in this manner again.
      The Acariya said: “What the Devata said was true because from that day on the Upasaka’s character and behaviour changed entirely and he became a different person. Previously he had been quite obstinate and at times he had the characteristics of someone who was a bit mad, but I never objected and I let him go on in his own way. It was not until the tiger came and straightened him out and broke his obstinacy by its rough and forceful ways that I saw clearly how this Upasaka had some very bad characteristics indeed and he was not at all mad. If he had been a bit mad, even the tiger coming to teach him would have been of little value and the madness would probably have come back again. But with this Upasaka, since that day none of his evil characteristics has returned and he is always good and right minded.”
      This Acariya has a very high standing in Dhamma and he is worthy of worship and devotion, but he died five or six years ago. When he was close to the time of leaving the five khandhas he said that he did not want anyone to be disturbed and bothered about him for it would cause needless distraction and worry to them. He wanted to die quietly in the way of the Kammatthana tradition, which means that his death is fully in accordance with that of a Bhikkhu who practises the way and is not broadcast with a lot of fuss. When they cremated him, none of the senior Bhikkhus in the country knew about it for it would just be a nuisance and cause a lot of disturbance. “Concern about dead people, who are worthless, their assets having all dried up, is not likely to be of much use when compared with concern for the living.” He spoke simply in this way and nobody dared to go against his words. For those were his parting instructions to them which came from a “true heart”, and they were afraid that it would be bad and evil to go against what he had said.
      While he was still alive I once went to stay with him far away in the hills, for about a fortnight. The place where he was staying was hill forest and he depended on the local farmers for getting food on pindapata, which was enough to live on day by day, and he was said to have stayed in that place for many years (vassa). While staying there I timed how long it took to go on pindapata, going out and back. From the place where he was staying to the edge of the forest took just three hours twenty minutes and to the village a total of four hours.
      His name was Venerable Acharn La and his original home was in Vientiane (Vieng Chan), Laos. From the time of his ordination until he died he lived most of the time on the Thai side of the Mekong River, because most of his Dhamma friends and the Acariyas who practised the way were in Thailand.
      In his practice of the “Samana Dhamma” he was very courageous and resolute and liked to live and go about on his own, or at most he would have only one Upasaka with him. He had the faculty of knowing many strange things including those beings who had Deva bodies such as the Devatas who worshipped him. He said that wherever he stayed such beings nearly always went there and protected him all the time. His nature was to want little, to be fully content all the time and to dislike going into society, even amongst his friends and other Bhikkhus. He always liked to live in the forests and hills with the local farmers, and the forest and hill people. His level of Dhamma was very high and worthy of praise and worship. In the direction of samadhi and pañña he was very skilful and proficient, but most people, including Bhikkhus and Samaneras, did not realise this because he never made any show or display of it. It was only those who had lived close to him who knew well about it.
      It was about 2493 BE (1950 CE) that I went to stay with this Acariya and I had the opportunity of learning from him and asking questions. I found that his Dhamma was very deep, penetrating and absorbing. He could explain the “production of causes” (Paccayakara), which is avijja, well and in a very profound way. It would be difficult to find anyone who could explain it so well, because the Paccayakara is a very subtle and profound Dhamma and it can only be explained properly and in depth by someone who is well experienced and adept in the practice of citta bhavana. For the Paccayakara, or avijja, are very subtle kilesas and he must be endowed with an equally subtle degree of insight-wisdom (pañña–vipassana) to be able to find out about and to eradicate the basis of Paccayakara which is the true nature of avijja; and also to be able to explain it correctly. This Acariya was one of those who were able to explain the Avijja–paccayakara with great subtlety, but it is beyond the ability of the writer to explain it here, so we must regretfully pass on to other things.
      While this Acariya was staying with Venerable Acharn Mun and Venerable Acharn Sao, he learnt the practices of eating only once a day and wandering in the traditional way of kammatthana in the forests and hills. He went on doing this from the day of his ordination until he died, and he never slackened in the practice of his religious observances and duties, nor in his work by way of the heart.
      This was an Acariya who was so unfailingly resolute in his practice of Dhamma that it is hard to find anyone like him in this present age and he should be taken as an example by all those who are interested in doing the practice of Dhamma. This ends the story about this Acariya.
      Before writing about the above Acariya we were discussing the methods of training and discipline of the hearts of Dhutanga Bhikkhus with frightening things, such as tigers. As this was not completed we shall return to this subject.

 

4. More About Training &  
Venerable Acharn Mun’s Talk 

 

      Some Bhikkhus go and sit in meditation practice on the edge of a deep chasm, which is enough to make them concerned in case they should fall. But these Bhikkhus are not afraid and have to do this as their method of training. If such a Bhikkhu should forget himself so that he loses mindfulness, he accepts the fact that he may fall into the gorge and die, but he does this because when he does his meditation practice in the normal way he cannot control his citta and make it remain still. It likes to become involved with things here and there and to be agitated by them, creating a lot of Dukkha for himself without letting up for a moment.
      Both people and animals are afraid of death in the same way, so when they are put into a truly tight situation, such as going and sitting on the edge of a deep chasm, the citta has got to work and it does not need anything else to force it, for death is what the citta always instinctively fears most. At such a time, the citta fights against death with determination and it calls up mindfulness to be present the whole time, not allowing the citta to go elsewhere. He has mindfulness to help and support him at every moment and when the citta is well protected with mindfulness, it does not slip quietly away to other things which are appealing to the emotions and which have been its enemies in the past. Then before long the citta will be able to drop into concentration and calm. Those Bhikkhus who have used this method have attained results which are satisfying to the heart, in the same way as with those other methods.
      Methods in which something is used as a goad, to arouse the fear of death, are very important and valuable. Therefore the work of looking after one’s life by having mindfulness present and aware of oneself, causes results in the direction of Dhamma to arise in one’s heart. In other words, one comes to see clearly how the restless, boisterous citta calms down and tends toward samadhi, and one does not have to wait a long time for this.
      Some Bhikkhus go and sit and do their meditation practice in a cave. When they hear the roar of a tiger they notice that the citta does not feel in the least afraid, nor does it give way and go into samadhi as they want it to. Therefore they must look for a method of intimidating the citta, such as going out and sitting in front of the cave so that when the tiger comes there the citta will be afraid and quickly concentrate, calm down and look for a safe place free from fear where the tiger cannot touch it. So the citta then becomes calm and goes down into samadhi.
      Generally speaking, those Kammatthana Bhikkhus who have gained strength of heart at such a time as the citta is afraid and go on training themselves until the citta has dropped into a state of calm, feel quite sure that nothing that is dangerous can do them any harm at that time. But whatever the truth of this may be, they are not concerned, for they only think of it as being for the important task of gaining strength of heart then and in the future also. Even if they were to die at that time, they are ready to accept it and make the sacrifice, because their faith in Dhamma is greater than their fear of death.
      This is why those who are truly intent on the essential meaning of Dhamma like to search for places and methods to train themselves in various ways without letting up. Because they have consistently seen results by direct experience from such places and methods. It is like making a small investment and getting a large profit from it which causes one much pleasure and should induce one to go on doing the same thing continually, without becoming either lazy or bored; as well as undercutting any uncertainty and doubt that may remain, about doing such things, as to whether they bring results or not. Because at every stage of the work, these practices give rise to the most obvious results which are self-evident.
      One can sit in meditation practice in front of a cave, wander in the hills and sit in practice on rocky outcrops, wander in the manner of kammatthana at night so as to meet a tiger, sit in practice in a place where tigers frequently pass by, or walk cankama and sit in practice competing with the roars of tigers round about, but all of these have just the purpose of helping the citta to concentrate and go down into a state of calm much faster than it would normally do so. Or, to arouse wisdom in contemplation of the nature of wild animals as aspects of Dhamma, for the purpose of getting free from one’s “upadana” — ­attachment — to life and death and steadily getting rid of the longing — yearning for all sorts of things which are related to the citta. That’s the way! But not in any way for the destruction of oneself.
      Those who aspire to get free from all aspects of dukkha based on birth and death, generally think and act in the above ways. Even the Lord Buddha, the foremost in the “Three Worlds” used the methods of abandoning his life by fasting, when he ate nothing for forty nine days, which is similar to the foregoing methods. For it is a method which needs strength and resolution in order to defeat the enemy within. But when the Lord saw that it was the wrong way he stopped. Then he turned and made an unshakeable resolve that he would sit and develop the anapanasati kammatthana until he knew Dhamma (Enlightenment), which was his original purpose. He further resolved that if he did not come to know Dhamma in a way that would satisfy his purpose, then he would sacrifice his life in sitting and doing this meditation practice until he died, without moving from that place. This indicates that if he had not truly known Dhamma while sitting in that place developing anapanasati under the shade of the great Bodhi tree, it would have been the last move of the Lord’s life, for even while he was unsure of the way, there was no other way for him to go.
      When one thinks about those who are the best and highest examples to the world whether it be the Lord Buddha and the Savakas through to the teachers (Acariya) or those ordinary people everywhere who practise Dhamma, they do things, whatever these things may be which are remarkable and which are very different from the usual ways of people, and they make an undying impression.
      Thus, the Kammatthana Bhikkhus work and strive and train them­selves in various ways according to what suits each one’s nature and ability. They do not do it for excitement, nor for what is bordering on the conceit that they are more skilled, brave or able than their teacher — or anybody else. Because they have the pure intention of seeking the essential meaning and Dhamma to lead them on to freedom from dukkha by using these methods. This is how they work and struggle according to their strength and ability which is not even equal to the dust off the feet of the Lord Buddha when he concentrated his effort by his readiness to sacrifice his life. When it comes to this, how could they think that their efforts were superior to the teacher’s and how could they do the practice for the purpose of being able to show off to the world when their efforts are not worth the dust from the feet of the Lord Buddha?
      If we think of the way of practice of the Lord Buddha and how he did things and compare it with ourselves who are always falling and failing and making only a little effort and afraid that we may go beyond the teacher — the Lord Buddha. This is shameful and the most disgraceful attitude.
      I also am very clever at being afraid in this way, whereas in other ways which are bad I am not clever and not afraid. This is the way of ordinary people who go head first into those things which the wise warn us about, things which we should not want to go into. But those things which they advise us to do and to go into head first we avoid and are afraid of diving into. When I think about it I become angry with myself for being so clever at going in for the wrong things. The readers should not think that I am a good example or many of them may become people who go in for the wrong things also.
      Those Dhutanga Bhikkhus who looked for various ways of training themselves as already described, did these things from the beginning when they first received the teaching from Venerable Acharn Mun when he was still young, and they continued to practise what he taught right up to the present. They did not slacken and give up for they saw it as an inheritance which he had bestowed on them with “metta” and taught them in a heart felt way. So each of them tried to hold to the teaching with reverence and the faith that: “This is the practice which he has done himself from which he has gained results that have become his heart’s refuge. This is also the best which he has selected from his own experience which was resolute, full of punch and ­vitality, which he has chosen to show for those who are resolute in Dhamma to take hold of as a method for continually teaching, training and disciplining themselves in the future.”
      They say that when Venerable Acharn Mun was young he practised with great determination and his teaching was very vigorous and full of punch, and he also had the faculty of knowing other people’s cittas (paracittavijja). Even when he was almost seventy two years old, which was when I went to train under him, his teaching was still full of punch. In fact, when I first went to Venerable Acharn and heard his teaching, I was almost unable to pay attention because I was so afraid. But at the same time I had great reverence and faith in him and had to submit to the truths that he showed me in everything that he said, each time, for it was impossible to deny them. When Venerable Acharn gave a Dhamma talk about the methods of using discipline to train the heart it was much more frightening, both in the sound of his voice which was loud and rhetoric, and also in the way in which he pointed with his finger while saying:
     
      “Over there, are the forests! Over there, are the hills! They are the right places for a citta which writhes and turns about and is difficult to train. Don’t get involved in things, in friends or others in this Wat or elsewhere. One who practises the way must know his own character and he must know the way to train himself. If he does not know his own character, even if he went on working at his practice until he died he still would not get the results which he should. When his heart is obstinate he must be resolute in making effort and heavy handed with discipline. Whoever is afraid of tigers should go and stay in the forests and hills with them. Whoever is afraid of ghosts should go and stay in the cremation ground with various types of dead ghosts until the heart has become one with the ghosts! Then one will be able to say that the citta has submitted to the discipline.”
      “If someone, who goes to stay in the forest is not yet unafraid in the face of the tigers, he must not give way and leave the forest; and if those who are afraid of ghosts have not lost their fear of them, they should not leave the cremation ground. They must consider the forests and hills as being places of death for those who are afraid of tigers, and the graveyard as being the place of death for those who are afraid of ghosts. But until they have got rid of fear in whatever it is they are afraid of, they must not leave so that the fear could laugh and make a mockery of them, for this would make them ashamed of themselves for the rest of their lives without having any way to right themselves.”
      “If one has respect for oneself and for the religion (Sasana) in a true-hearted way, one must not let all sorts of fears arise and lie there where they can excrete their filth down over the heart. One must quickly grab them and pull them down and trample on them and destroy them by work and effort which is replete with patient endurance.”
      “One who is afraid of death will be accompanied by death through various future lives without seeing an end of it; and one who is afraid of tigers will always have images of tigers coming to deceive him and frighten him. It is similar with one who is afraid of ghosts, for he will have images of ghosts of various kinds coming to deceive him wherever he goes, until he cannot live, eat, lie down or sleep in peace. Even if he happens to see a leaf fall from a tree, his thoughts would deceive him into thinking that it was a ghost coming to haunt him, and this does happen. One is a false person and one’s timidity and fear spoil oneself. Wherever one goes or stays one is bound to be timid and mistrustful due to the fear which the citta thinks up and imagines to deceive itself. Then one cannot find anything that is genuine and true at all.”
      “However frightened the heart may be, a person must learn to face up to fear by the methods of testing and disciplining himself until he gets to know the truth about fear. If he is afraid of tigers he must learn and get to know this fear of tigers by experience, by means of mindfulness and wisdom supported by patient endurance; until a bold fearlessness arises and he can jump up and go looking for the tiger, while the tiger is not bold enough to do anything about it!”
      “If he is afraid of ghosts he must learn and get to know about his own fear and about ghosts and what in fact ghosts really are. In truth the ghost is nothing but his own heart which haunts him with his own thoughts which make him afraid. Ghosts live with ghosts, people live with people and they do not interfere with each other. If he examines this thoroughly he should just live in peace. But he must not restlessly agitate his heart — for what do you think — would it be happiness? Why then do those who practise the way not know that the citta deceives them, and if they don’t know this, how can they get to know the true meaning of Dhamma?”
      “I have been practising the way for a long time, for forty or fifty years or more. Fear, I have been afraid; Boldness, I have been bold; Love, I have loved; Hate, I have hated; Detestation, I have detested; Anger, I have been angry — all this because I have a heart, I am not a dead man, or monk. But I have tried with my utmost ability to train myself without ever slipping back or giving way. Those things which used to be in charge and overpowering crumbled away under the power of the work and diligence of the one who is not afraid to die. Nothing can get into my heart and hide there secretly and unnoticed, and wherever I stay I live easy without any worry. Nothing comes now in the way it used to, to stir up and cause the fallacies of fear, boldness, love, hate, detestation and anger to arise, which are all involved in the mass of fire of the kilesas which burn the heart.”
      “What else could bring this result about but the training and discipline of the heart to make it live in submission to reason, which is the ‘meaning’ of ‘Dhamma’. All of you who have come here for teaching with the desire of eliminating all kilesas of every kind, by what means will you do this if not by training and disciplining yourselves with work and effort as already mentioned. To bring about the ending of all kilesas, such as fear for example, there is only this one way in which you must train and discipline your hearts that are at present wantonly ­playing and arrogantly running after emotionally exciting things (arammana) which they arouse to think about and imagine, to deceive yourselves. The Lord Buddha and all the Savakas were able to gain freedom from all ‘Dukkha’, only by this one way of training and disciplining the heart and there is no other way that is adequate to enable us to escape.”
      “As for waiting for fear, laziness and feebleness to clear the way for getting free from ‘Dukkha’, this you should never expect. For in a while you would die, empty and putrescent, a stain on the religion and a bad smell also; and do not entertain doubt for a long time, it wastes a lot of time uselessly. The Dhamma of the Lord Buddha is not a Dhamma that pets you and treats you gently and softly and deceitfully. But if anyone has faith in the reasoning which the Lord has given us and is dedicated to the practice of it in such a way that he is ready to give his life for it without the slightest fear that Dhamma will lead him to loss and ruin, and if he sets himself to get rid of those things which are his enemies and which are obstacles to his heart, such as fear, he will soon reach the “shore of happiness”. For training and disci­­­plining himself with this Dhamma is the only way to get free from ‘Dukkha’, there is no other.”
      “How should one think about those places where timid Bhikkhus go and stay and complain that they are frightening, even though the local villagers think of them as being normal and they are not afraid? On the other hand there are some places where I went to stay and practise, and all the local villagers were afraid of these places and they did not want to let me go and stay there, for fear that the tigers would take me and eat me. But I was not concerned about the tigers, nor about the villagers who told me that the tigers were very fierce. My lack of concern was not boasting that I had no fear of tigers, which in the eyes of the world are fearful animals. I was also afraid of them, but I was not afraid of them in a submissive servile way in which a timid Bhikkhu is afraid. On the contrary, my fear was the fear of a warrior, that : “Here danger is everywhere and it is bound to be an important place for developing myself. Whether I live or die I submit to my kamma which is the way of nature. If a tiger has no meat to eat — or thinks that the meat of a Bhikkhu is sweeter or more tasty than its normal food and it wants some, then I submit to it. But I must hold to Dhamma — in other words, to courage and renunciation for the sake of Dhamma — the whole time, without letting go of it until my last breath. This will be appropriate to the status of a Kammatthana Bhikkhu who is searching for Dhamma with genuine faith in merit (puñña) and kamma and who upholds the honour of the Sasana.” Having made this resolve and relinquished everything to Dhamma I then turned to the work of the heart with unwavering effort without giving up. The more I heard the tigers roaring to each other in the immediate vicinity, the more I turn­ed and made intimate contact with Dhamma, going deeply into it as if the heart and Dhamma were unified, together as one. The longer I went on fighting the battle between the tigers, and Dhamma which was the goal I was aiming for, the more I saw the wonder of the heart and Dhamma arise, displacing any thoughts about the tigers coming to eat me which would only have wasted a lot of time. But a timid person is like a young child who has learnt little and takes hold of fire to play with so that he burns himself. When a timid person is unable to find the way out he brings up thoughts of tigers or ghosts and then brings up fear to burn his own heart without knowing how to right the situation — like the child playing with fire.”
      “Sometimes the practice both internally and externally comes across obstacles one after another. If then one’s heart is not truly firm and courageous one is bound to fall down in an incompetent manner. In other words, the heart is troubled and obsessed with its own problems and while they remain unsolved, dukkha goes on piling up until they are solved, each of them, one by one. So ease and contentment of heart comes sporadically, and in the body there arises sickness and pain. For the body is the concern of the heart which is responsible for protecting and restoring it, and the heart must keep a watch on it and judge what is necessary and look after it according to the circumstances. In some places the atmosphere is very heavy making it hard to breathe, which is bound to have an effect on the body and mind. But one has to put up with it and stay there until one can look for more suitable conditions and one may have to endure the discomfort of it for many days.”
      “At the time when Venerable Acharn Sao and I first went out far away to practise, people did not know anything about kammatthana. The bare poverty and lack of everything focused on us two ‘warriors’. For the hill people were not interested like they are nowadays, and how a Bhikkhu lived, slept, ate and what requisites he used was of no interest to the hill people. You must not think that I became the Acariya that is here now by means of ease and plenty steadily building up results. In fact we had to struggle and strive and practise with suffering and hardship constantly while almost losing our lives.”
      “Food! We only had bare rice to eat, see! It was like this much more often than when we had chilli and fish that they normally ate. The villagers had no lack of their normal foods, but they did not understand the manner in which Kammatthana Bhikkhus ate. At the most they used to put in one or two bananas as was customary in putting food in the bowl, and once in a while they may include a packet of chilli and salt. Sometimes they would give some chilli pounded up with salted raw fish, but we only found this out after we got back to where we were staying and opened the packet. We had to put it aside because we could not eat it, as there was no lay person available to cook it for us.”
      “Generally it was like this for Kammatthana Bhikkhus at that time everywhere they went. It was only after living in a place for a long time, until we came to know their characteristics and they came to know ours, that they came to ask questions so that we got to know each other better. After that we would leave and go wandering to practise the way in another place where we thought it would be suitable. Then at the new place where we went, the same thing would happen all over again.”
      “For the place where we rested and slept we had to accept whatever was available by force of necessity, as we had done in various other places already. If it was the dry season it was more comfortable and convenient for we could find dry grasses and leaves to lay down where we slept, enough to make it soft to rest one’s head on so one could lie down and sleep from time to time.”
      “In some villages there were good people who, as soon as they saw a Bhikkhu come and stay in the vicinity of the village would go out and ask them whether everything was all right and what their intentions were, whether they were going to stay or move on and how long they intended to stay. We would then tell them something about what we were doing so that they could get some understanding of it. Then they would get together and make up a shelter where we could live, enough to ward off sun and wind, and a rough platform on which we could rest and sleep at times. Also a place for walking ‘cankama’ which would be enough to make it convenient for doing the practice.”
      “Wherever we went, generally if we stayed there long enough the villagers would come and make up a place to live and other things, and they would come to have a true faith in us. When the time came for us to leave they wouldn’t want us to go and they would complain that they were going to miss us very much. But we always had to do what was necessary for ourselves, so we had to return constantly to the practice of wandering. Because living all the time in one place is not very good and our work would tend not to develop as it should. Staying for a while and then moving on is a way to rouse oneself and keep oneself constantly alert. I found this to be very good for my own character and my work developed well.”
      “Going wandering in the manner of ‘Dhutanga’ in a variety of places without having any fixed destination nor any signposts to define the place or the time, both of which tie one up, is for myself a way that is unencumbered and full of ease of heart. As for others I cannot say, but if it is done for the sake of not being cluttered up, messy and disorderly, it should come to the same thing. Always moving on, then staying in whatever place one sees to be suitable for practising the way without any concern or worries. Responsible only for oneself; one’s body, life and breath being part of oneself and the practice of the way being also a part of oneself. Even the Path, Fruit and Nibbana, which should be within one’s reach, depends on the practice which is done by oneself — the one who causes it to arise. Going about and staying here and there, and practising the way for the sake of Dhamma, in the manner which is mentioned above, thus depends on oneself to search for what suits the one who should be able to attain and reach Dhamma which is the goal that it aims for and longs for with every breath.”
      “When one is quite sure that in making conditions suitable everything depends on oneself, then one must go to whatever place is suitable and do whatever practice or training and discipline are suited to one’s own state. Then even if one does not want to go there, one must; if one does not want to stay there, one must; if one does not want to do the practice because one finds it difficult, one must; and if one does not want to do some ascetic discipline when one ought, one still must do it. Even if one does not want to put up with poverty and lack of everything including the four requisites, one must put up with it because one wants to be a good person, one wants to know and see Dhamma and one wants to gain freedom from Dukkha. But if one brings the kilesas to the fore, letting them lead the way, it will be just like it has always been!”
      “A short while ago we talked about fear — such as not wanting to stay in lonely places for fear of tigers. This is the way of the kilesas which always hold one back, not wanting to let one go to those places where it is right to go, where one can practise in the traditional manner of the ‘Aryans’ who have led the way and destroyed these kilesas. But they (kilesas) want to lead one to go and stay in those places which are full of people and restless confusion, like those places where people have fun and enjoyment, such as the music halls, the theatre and other places where there is singing, music and entertainment of various kinds. This is the way the kilesas lead one on! They can catch the hearts of people and draw them away from morality (sila) and Dhamma so easily, and they can catch the heart of a Kammatthana Bhikkhu and draw him away from the forest which is the place where he does the practice. Or, they may not let him go into the forest for fear of tigers, ghosts and other things, and then pull him back into the trap — into the sphere of the halls of entertainment just as they like. After which they finish him off completely.”
      “It should be quite obvious to us that if we let the kilesas lead the way, the result will be that they stamp their imprint on the heart in the way I’ve just described. I have therefore tried to oppose them consistently and never to give way, but to resist those kilesas which always lie in wait to tie up our hearts whenever they get a chance. Thus it was that I went to places where people in the world do not want to go and where the kilesas do not like to go. I did things which the world does not like doing, nor did the kilesas, and I trained and disciplined the heart — the heart that is liked by the world which cherishes the kilesas, not wanting to let it be trained and disciplined all the time by wandering in the way of Kammatthana to all sorts of places. Wandering in accordance with that faculty which sees what is right by way of Dhamma to bring one results of calm and peace of heart; and also to bring one enough cleverness and wisdom to know what is the true basic structure of the main army and the supporting units of the kilesas, and ­exactly where they are located all the time. And furthermore to keep going on in this way until mindfulness and wisdom have become strong enough to be able to keep up with them and to sort and divide them out in such a way that those which are good may remain and those which are evil must be destroyed and no quarter is asked or given. The main thing that helped in this task was the practice of wandering and the places where this was done, which have already been described, and these have an importance which must never be underestimated.”
      “I always praise and think highly of those who practise the way in the foregoing manner, because this is the straight and direct way to the Path, the Fruition and Nibbana as it always has been and will be. But those who can only think of tigers coming to eat them as food as soon as they enter the forest make me feel weary and sorrowful and tired of teaching them. I don’t want to teach them for it is a waste of time and effort, and it is better to conserve my time and energy for teaching those who are genuinely interested and who are earnest and resolute. Then the Dhamma can be of use to the world, which is appropriate to Dhamma as being that aspect of nature which is so valuable.”
      “When I see anyone coming to me for teaching, whose character is weak and flabby as if his bones were about to fall out of his body even though he is physically strong and well, I feel sorry, like looking at someone who is sick, who appears to be in a serious, critical condition and beyond hope of a cure by medicine. Then the Dhamma in my heart with which for a long time I have used for teaching people — in fact since I first started — all runs away and hides but where it goes to I don’t know. All that remains is mere knowing which one cannot make any use of. I think maybe the Dhamma is afraid of the influence of such complete weakness and flabbiness, which is more than it can stand, so it all runs away and disappears. Then I have nothing left which I can bring out and show him and I can only sit unable to think, looking at the heart and unable to say anything. Why should this happen? If one compares this with a doctor, he would probably have come to the end of his resources to cure such a severe fever, and with such a person as this I also probably come to the end of my resources to cure this disease of weakness and flabbiness which is beyond the possibility of trying to force him and drive him to a cure. So the Dhamma disappears into hiding and I have nothing left which I can say to him.”
      “All you who have come here for training, have you ever thought how the sickness of being afraid of tigers and ghosts is also the kind of sickness that Dhamma is afraid of? It does not dare to face up to this sickness, so if you want to let Dhamma have a way in which it can stay with you, instead of running away and disappearing into hiding, you should make a complete change of heart into a new state. This change of heart need not be very much, for it is enough merely to see something of the virtues and faults of yourself, who is at present so timid. This can be done by thinking how the Lord Buddha, the Savakas and all the Acariyas were true warriors. So at least I must fight against that which I am afraid of at the present time. If I should believe that this fear is sacred, such that when I fight it and treat it badly and drive it out of my heart I would die, I must consider why it is that none of those who have trained themselves and ill treated fear, such as this fear that I have in my heart at present, and who have driven it out of their hearts ever seem to have died from it. Why then am I so afraid? And right now won’t I reach the stage of being driven mad by this fear? But if I don’t know this for myself, nobody else can know it. So how should I act now and practise for the best — or do I resist and go completely mad with this fear from now on?”
      “In this, the evidence points quite clearly to the fact that the Lord Buddha, the Savakas and all the Acariyas — and in particular the one who is now teaching me to clean out my fear did not die from being eaten by tigers; and those who have already attained Parinibbana did not go there because the tigers eat them, but because of : “Anicca vata sankhara…”. As for myself, why then should I think that the tigers are the only ones who are waiting to act as undertakers with my corpse — as if the world was full of tigers just waiting to act as undertakers to human cadavers even though I have never seen even one tiger waiting to take the body of someone who has died. I’ve only ever seen “people” coming in various ways to carry out the funeral ceremonies, cremations and such things and gathering up the bones and disposing of them suitably.”
      “After such contemplation I think that the fear will be prepared to leave, complete with its family, relatives and descendants who have long established their roots and dwellings securely in the heart. They will move out and scatter, fearfully shivering in despair, because they have no way to fight against a warrior who has the latest weapons, so they will go until there are none left. After that, nothing will ever again come trespassing, stirring up trouble and causing fear to arise.”
      “In seizing each type of kilesa and removing it from the heart, if one does not have the method of mindfulness and wisdom as tools to aid one in suppressing them, but only anger to act in a threatening menacing way so as to frighten them it is no use at all. One should know that the kilesas are not like a stupid dog which runs away in confusion to the pleasure of the person who frightens it, but instead they are the cleverness and sharp wit of that base and vile nature that perches and preys on the heart of a person. The more one threatens them without having the tools of mindfulness and wisdom which truly frighten them, the more it is as if one were just making them laugh a lot and have fun biting into and eating the heart away; until it can no longer be called the heart of a person and it becomes the heart of an animal, a ghost or a demon entirely.”
      “You must not think that the kilesas are afraid of such things as the force of barbarity or ferocity, for such force only comes from the kilesas themselves who provide it and they suggest that one should thus intimidate them. So it is good fun for them and they laugh every time one threatens them, because they see that one is stupid to the point that one does not understand that such threats are the kilesas themselves and this is just their kind of business.”
      “If you really want to frighten the kilesas and to see them flee away before your own eyes, then you must go ahead and practise those methods which have been taught already. In other words, wherever there is more fear and wherever it is strongest, the more should you go there and stay there and the more should you examine and contemplate it without letting up or slackening your efforts. What if you should die? Then you should accept this and submit yourself to Dhamma absolutely without any regrets or longings at all. If you do this sort of thing the home of the kilesas is bound to be ruined and destroyed so that they all have to flee in disorder, confusion and turmoil, worse than a conflagration of the capital city. If you have never seen a capital city all in flame you should try reforming the kilesas using the methods which I have already outlined. Then you will see the kilesas running in panic and complete confusion away from the heart, more so than people when their house is on fire.”
      “I have already done this and seen the results of it quite clearly and nobody can come and tell me lies about it. Therefore I can talk about it with full confidence without being afraid of whether anyone will laugh at it, or agree with it, for the story of it is true as I have told it. The Dhamma which I bring out to teach you, with whatever ability I have, comes almost entirely from this kind of practice and if anyone wants me to teach in some other way which I have never practised and of which I have never seen the results, I cannot do it. For it would be unfamiliar and strange and would be talk just for the sake of talking and it could lead others into trouble, and this I will not do. But teaching of the kind that I have taught here, wherever it goes, I can reach it, because I have the complete confidence in myself that I also have done it in this way and I have truly seen results of this kind arise clearly in my heart.”
      “Whoever wants to see the kilesas falling from the heart and drifting away from it should try to act and practise in the manner which I have taught here. But if anyone wants to see the kilesas moving in over the heart with their children, relatives and various supplies for their armies, and setting up their houses and work places, and places to discharge their ordure of various sorts onto the heart, then he must go the way of giving in and surrendering to them. So when any of the kilesas stirs and comes out even just a little, he bows in submission and pays homage to it. Such a person will be the owner of becoming and birth — which means, continual birth and death throughout the cycle of the ‘round’ (vattavana). He has no need to escape for he can’t get free from it and go anywhere else even to the end of time, because the way of the kilesas and of those who promote the kilesas is just that of birth and death.”
      “This is very different from the way of Dhamma and of those who promote Dhamma in order to cut away the kilesas and the cycle of births and deaths from the heart at every turn of their work, and in this work they do not hesitate to press forward and fight them in the manner of those who are not afraid of death. In such a person who is a fighter, even if the heart has been weak and feeble, it can change and become strong and resolute and it can go on until it changes and becomes a heart that is ‘free from the round’ (vivatta). Once the heart has become ‘free from the round’, there is no need to ask about the various kinds of kilesas for they will all have disappeared entirely.”
      “Now which way do you want it to be? Are you going to be a fighter for continuing birth and death, or a fighter for the destruction of becoming and birth by getting rid of all the seeds of it which are buried in all our hearts? You must make up your minds now — don’t put it off. You must not think that your breath is very long — like an electric power line — for its length is only as far as the breath going in and out from the lungs to the nose. You must not delude yourselves into thinking it’s so long that it will go on forever.”
     
      The foregoing is the kind of teaching (ovada) with which Venerable Acharn Mun taught the practising Bhikkhus from time to time. When he taught for the purpose of stirring them up so as to arouse a determined and cheerful attitude towards the practice of Dhamma the nature of what he taught seemed to be much more intense and pointed than normal. With anyone who had not heard him before, it was quite likely that they would be afraid, to the point of shivering, instead of becoming calm while listening, which is what should happen. For it would appear to them as if he was telling them off and threatening them, whereas in truth it was just his method of presenting Dhamma which was suited to the time, place and the people who were listening and taking in what he taught, and there was no hate or anger ­concealed in what he taught at all. But with those who had heard him before, the more they heard him urging them on in Dhamma, and however severe and strong he became, the more their hearts became calm and peaceful. It was as if he helped them to chop up the kilesas within them so that the kilesas were all cleared out of the heart in order that they could see clearly with their eyes and hearts while they were listening. This is the reason why the Bhikkhus who practise the way have always been so interested in listening to the Acariya whom they revere and have faith in, without ever becoming satiated, and it has always been like this right up to the present day.
      The revealing of Dhamma in its various parts, on suitable occasions, to those who come for training and teaching is upheld as an important tradition by those who go the way of Kammatthana following in line from Venerable Acharn Mun, which is successively carried down both by the Acariyas and by those who come all the time to practise the way by depending on the teachers. Because the displaying of Dhamma as it applies to the practice in its various levels from the initial stages of samadhi up to the attainment of complete mastery and from the initial stages of wisdom up to the most subtle, is the display of a map or plan of the direct path of the progress of the cittas of the Acariyas. They bring out the teaching from their own knowledge and understanding which is genuinely derived from their own practical experience, so that those who have come to them for training may follow in their footsteps and check in what ways their own hearts do not conform to the teaching. When they are not yet sure about anything they may ask so that the teacher can explain, or amplify, or correct any points where their understanding seems to be faulty, for they do not practise the way in the manner of someone who guesses or assumes what is right and wrong, based only on his own thoughts and views.
      Generally, those who practise the way learn Dhamma directly from the Acariya, from the initial stages of training in bhavana right up to the highest levels, by listening and checking frequently with the Acariya. Thus whenever their bhavana gives rise to knowledge and experience of any sort, they go to tell the Acariya so that he can then explain more about it to increase their mindfulness and wisdom each and every time, and also to correct any faults bit by bit, both in their samadhi at each level, and their wisdom in each ground of wisdom.
      In the beginning stages of samadhi, the foregoing is not so important, although there are some cases in which a person may get strange knowledge of external things. If this happens the Acariya must be available to explain the way to practise with this kind of samadhi in order that a person of this kind may go on in the right way.
      In general, the way to practise samadhi for each individual is to take hold of that basic way which he has been used to practising. Thus, those who have been able to attain calm with any Dhamma object such as anapanasati for example should take up that Dhamma object and go on practising it steadily without weakening or giving up. If then anything strange or unusual happens as a result of this practice they should go and tell the Acariya about it so that he can explain it for them to understand and so that they can go on practising steadily without going wrong. But where wisdom is concerned, its nature is such that it needs to be continually checked between the one who practises the way and his Acariya for it is most complex and intricate. But this will be explained later at the right time.
      The Dhutanga Bhikkhus who follow in line from Venerable Acharn Mun have great faith and reverence for their Acariyas — beyond that which they have for their own lives, because they learn Dhamma from the heart of the Acariya so that it becomes their own Dhamma. Or, one could call it a transmission from one heart to another, and this would not be wrong, for in fact this is what happens.
      When Bhikkhus who practise the way come together to stay with the Acariya in the place where he is living there are bound to be meetings for training as well as discussions and consultations going on all the time. Anyone who has a personal problem can tell the Acariya and get his guidance on this particular problem whenever there is a suitable opportunity. When the Acariya has explained and cleared up the problem so that the Bhikkhu fully understands, he will go and practise accordingly and try to make his knowledge, his understanding and his practical application accord with what the Acariya has recom­mended. If he has further problems later on he can go again to clear them up when they arise.
      Others who are also doing the practice will go along and clear up their problems when they arise, in a similar manner, but they must not hold on to their doubts letting them pile up, for this would delay their progress, or it might even be a danger to them. Because this path is a way along which they have never gone before and it is quite possible for them to make mistakes and go wrong without them realising it.
      Those who practise the way all think and understand in this manner, so that if any of them have any questions or problems they will bring them out and ask the Acariya about them, or one of the other Bhikkhus who they think will be able to clear up their problems. For in the circle of those who practise the way they live together as a group, with a genuine concern for and dependence on each other, and not merely living in the same place. For in living together, the associations between each other variously, make for many interrelationships both internally and externally. This is so from the Acariya down, including all those who are going the way of the “Brahma–faring” (Brahmacariya) together. They have respect and love for one another and when there is anything that they should discuss and talk over they are con­­cerned that the knowledge and understanding shall be clearly conveyed to each other without any underlying opinionatedness or conceit. Because of this, their living together is peaceful and harmonious and it is rare that any trouble arises amongst those who practise the way. In fact, in their harmony and cooperation, in their friendliness towards each other by sharing out things given to the Sangha (Sanghavatthu), as well as Dhamma and its meaning in various ways; and in the way that they are ready to submit and give way to each other, it shows how well they can practise the way and how they are worthy of respect. Both the seniors and juniors respect each other in their various ways in accordance with their age in Vassa and the level of their standing in Dhamma without any taint of being haughty and puffed up. For they have nothing but respect and a self-effacing humility and these graceful manners between each other are their normal characteristic behaviour and they live together in complete dependence on each other, as if they were all parts of one body.
     
      Behaviour and Practice in a Forest Monastery
     
      The four requisites which accrue to the monastery in varying quantities from time to time are shared out so that they go to every Bhikkhu and Samanera in the monastery. Excepting only when there are too few things to go all round in which case they are given to those who are in the most need. When more of such things are given on a later occasion they are then distributed after considering who has the greater need and who the lesser and then giving to the former first, but also attempting to distribute some to each of them, according to how much of each requisite each one has.
      When someone gives things of various kinds, the Elder (Thera) who is the head Bhikkhu must call the Bhikkhus to come and arrange the things and distribute them to everyone including the Samaneras with a heart of friendliness (metta), as if they were truly his own children. For his love and compassion for the Bhikkhus and Samaneras as well as his attitude and conduct towards them is the same as that of parents for their children. Except in so far as he does not act in the “ways of the world” as parents do who sometimes tease and play with them, but he accords with the usual ways in which love and compassion take place in the Buddhist religion.
      The head Bhikkhu considers that he has an important responsibility and duty which he should never neglect, this being to watch and take note of the behaviour and the characters of the Bhikkhus and Samaneras who he is looking after, and to advise, teach, admonish and scold them. Although the Bhikkhus and Samaneras under the Acariya may be very afraid of him, yet they also respect him greatly, love him much and have a lot of faith in him. At the same time, the Acariya also has metta for them and he loves and guards them well.
      If any one does anything wrong he must be told so, reproved, taught and well scolded without any fear or favour, because both sides are very close to each other and they look on themselves as being virtually one and the same — a unity, which cannot be separated. Because of this, looking after such a group is easy, because both sides are based on Dhamma.
      But if anyone does anything wrong intentionally it is considered by those who practise the way to be a serious matter. For even though the fault may be small it makes the Acariya and the rest of his followers lose confidence in that person, and it is only after he has been sent away from them that they can regain calm and happiness. That the Bhikkhus show such a dislike of one who does wrong things deliberately is in accordance with Dhamma. Because it is the way of people, that when they deliberately do wrong things of little importance it is sure to be only the prelude to wrong doing of great importance in the future. So when they “cut out the tree that has caught fire, while the fire is still small” they are doing the right thing, (samici–kamma) which we should agree with.
      As was written in the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”, they generally had meetings to listen to and receive training once every seven days in the Vassa period. But on other days, those who had any doubts could go and ask Venerable Acharn about them when there was a suitable opportunity and he was free. While staying at the Vihara, some of the Bhikkhus would look for a suitable place in the forest, outside the monastery, where they could walk cankama and sit in samadhi bhavana as they felt like it, both in the day time and at night. After the end of the Vassa period, many of them liked to go out far away from the monastery and find a place where they could hang their umbrella tents and where it was suitable for the work of self-development. But when it was time for sweeping the paths and clearings in the monastery (each afternoon) and for doing other routine functions of various kinds, including going on the alms round (pindapata) and eating food, they would normally come and join in with the others.
      These Bhikkhus did not fix their times for walking cankama and sitting in samadhi bhavana, for as soon as they were free they just started doing it; and they never had any fixed routine of walking or sitting nor did they determine for how long they would go on working. Some of them sometimes walked from dusk to dawn whereas at other times they may walk from between two to seven hours.
      In doing the sitting practice, one who is new to it can sit for about one hour and then gradually increase the time as he gains more skill and ability of heart (citta). But those who have become used to sitting can do so for a long time, and the more the citta has the ground of samadhi, or wisdom, the longer can they sit. Each time they may sit for between three and eight hours and sometimes all night; but walking cankama or sitting in samadhi bhavana for three to five hours is considered normal by those who are used to it and do it regularly. There are no aches, pains, tiredness or stiffness, because their walking or sitting is done entirely for the development of the citta and their interest is in this task and not in being anxious about various aches and pains in the body. Therefore bodily feeling does not bother them as it would when sitting normally, not doing bhavana.
      For those Bhikkhus in whom the ground of the citta is at a high level as far as samadhi is concerned, as soon as they have entered into the practice of meditation enough for the citta to drop down into a concentrated state, they can rest there undisturbed for many hours before rising out of it. When this happens, feeling (vedana) is not able to disturb them, and as long as the citta does not rise up out of this state, feeling does not arise. Therefore, the walking or sitting of someone who has a ground or basis of citta is very different from that of someone who still has no ground. Even in the same individual there is a great contrast between his walking cankama and sitting in samadhi when his citta still has no ground in Dhamma at all, and when his citta has such a ground. Thus for example, when one is new to the training, to walk or sit for as much as one hour is very hard, but as soon as the citta has a ground in Dhamma, one is not troubled by painful feeling even after walking or sitting for many hours. This shows us quite clearly that what matters most is associated with the heart rather than the body. And again, when the weather is pleasantly cool, or when a light rain is falling and the body feels comfortable and the citta is quite clear, as soon as one starts doing one’s meditation practice one finds that the citta tends to be different from its usual state both as regards samadhi and wisdom. For the citta can quickly go down and rest there for a long time before rising out of it, and when the citta has completely come out there are no aches or pains in the body at all. Therefore the heart is the important one in the human being.
      When these Bhikkhus strove for self-development they did so truly with full commitment to the work of doing this one duty without getting themselves involved in anything else. Their striving therefore went on continuously with causes and results taking place consistently and steadily. The way in which their hearts developed thus became more clear for them to see every time. If this was in samadhi they would know clearly that the citta was able to go deeply into a very subtle state. If it was in the direction of wisdom (pañña), they knew clearly that they had the skilfulness every time that they became involved in any of these “things” (arammana) which are the means of developing investigation (vicara). So the heart gradually emerges and rises out of the “boiling swamp” composed of the various kilesas like the sun arising from the ground (the horizon) to spread its light over the world.
      These are the results which make all those who practise the way engrossed in their striving so that they forget whether it is day or night, what day month or year it is, and they forget time and how many hours or minutes have passed because they are just not interested enough to think about them. But the things which they pay close attention to all the time are their strivings with mindfulness and wisdom which will bring victory closer to them all the time they go on striving. For they see freedom from dukkha becoming more and more apparent in the heart which is being opened up. In other words, the various kilesas which cover it up are being removed by mindfulness and wisdom unceasingly. Whether sitting, walking, standing or lying down, all the time it is being opened up, the only exception being while asleep. But as soon as they wake up they start the process of opening up the heart by removing the kilesas from it. This is the nature of their work which is truly as important as their own lives.
      All those Acariyas who have done the practice, both those of the past and those who are still living, must have been strong and persistent and they must have experienced a lot of suffering and difficulty due to the training and the ascetic practices, in a similar way, before they were able to become Acariyas teaching other people. Therefore, those who intend and hope to reach Dhamma, in a manner like those Acariyas who have experience and who reveal it for others to hear, should not do the practice of “jumping the queue” and doing as they please in the way that people in the world do things expediently to get results. One ought to know that Dhamma is very different from the world, and if those who practise do not follow the path and pattern of teaching along which the Acariyas lead them, but just do what they think is convenient and easy or quick and, as they say, “jumping the queue” and taking up some modern, up to date, Dhamma which grows in their hearts, there is no hope for them. Because Dhamma does not adapt to ancient or modern times, for “Dhamma” is just “Dhamma”, and the “World” is just the “World” and they have always been thus and they do not change and adapt. The practice of Dhamma therefore, should go the way of enacting those causes which are appropriate and suitable. The results which they should rightly hope for will then be able to arise.
      But distorting Dhamma to suit their desires or fancies without any thought of looking to see whether it is appropriate or not is the same as the practice of “jumping the queue”, and the results which they are anxious to attain will be out of line, like a broken queue, or the wrong way round, and useless. Then they will be sorry and assume that although they did the practice until they almost died they did not get results as they should and it would be better not to do any practice at all. The word, “better”, and not doing the practice because of their false understanding, will then become a poison which burns them for a long time, thus becoming a doubly compounded fault. This is nothing but the way to destroy themselves entirely, due to going the easy way and taking short cuts as one likes and doing the practice in the manner of “jumping the queue”.
      Therefore I ask you please to take note of and to keep in mind that Dhamma is of such a nature that it has definite laws in regard to both its causes and results. If then, one is going to practise Dhamma in the hope of gaining value and the highest blessings (siri–mangala) from it, one should take good note of the methods of practice, without thinking of acquiring or doing anything which is characterised by an underlying distortion in the sphere of practice. This includes such things as come from the conceit of being an up to date, modern man who wants to spread his views loudly and wants to be the motive force in a reform, all of which leads in the wrong direction.
      Those of the greatest wisdom practised and gained experience to begin with, and then chose what was suitable, rejecting what was unsuitable with penetrating wisdom, before they revealed Dhamma to others in the name of the “Svakkhata Dhamma” (The Rightly Taught Dhamma), which is right and complete and always suitable in all ages. So that in whatever place and age, the Dhamma is entirely acceptable and complete in word and meaning. From this we can understand that the Dhamma is already complete and entire, both in its causal aspect and the ensuing results and it is fit to be followed and practised without any doubt and uncertainty. The results that come from this ­practice are always a steadily increasing happiness and all one hopes for, from the level of the Dhamma of virtuous behaviour (Kalyana–Dhamma) upwards to the levels of Ariya Dhamma. Or, if we speak in terms of the class of people who get these results, it includes the virtuous person (kalyanajana) and the noble person (ariyajana) going up through the various levels to the Arahant (Arahatta–puggala) and there is nothing lacking on the path of the virtue which arises from the “middle way” (majjhima) of practice.
      Those who have practised the “middle way” in accordance with the principles of Dhamma have always pointed out that it consists of sila, samadhi and pañña. In other words, whenever one should have sila (moral behaviour), one should pay attention to sila; whenever one should have samadhi — calm of heart — one should pay attention to doing the samadhi practice so as to arouse it; and whenever one should have pañña (wisdom) one should develop pañña so that it arises. But one must neither promote exclusively, nor reject any one of these three and thus spoiling it, for this would be to reject and spoil oneself, because sila, samadhi and pañña are Dhamma treasures which are interrelated with each other.
      Those who practise the way should pay equal attention to sila, samadhi and pañña and whenever it is appropriate to develop any of these Dhammas they should do so. For they are not things which should be rejected or chosen just as one feels inclined, which would be a wrong interpretation of Dhamma. These three factors are not three piles of treasure all having value in the same way, like silver, gold and the finest diamonds, so that one may just choose this one and reject that one. But because sila, samadhi and pañña are Dhamma qualities which are linked to the practice of those who need these Dhamma qualities, they should practise in such a way that they may be brought into action in a harmonious manner as and when there is need for either sila, or samadhi or pañña respectively. In other words, “sila” is the ground of someone who maintains sila to look after himself all the time, whereas “samadhi” and “pañña” should be practised in whatever way suits his ability so that they may grow in strength, for they are a pair which help each other so that neither of them may be deficient in any way. The way of practice in connection with these two Dhammas is as follows: “If samadhi has not yet been achieved at all, one should try to attain it by way of a “preparatory meditation” (parikamma–bhavana), or by any other method which both suits one’s temperament and is able to cause samadhi to arise. But if one already has some ability with samadhi, one should also develop insight wisdom (vipassana–pañña) when one has the chance to do so after the citta rises out of samadhi and it has sufficient strength for it.”
      In doing that investigation with pañña, one should analyse the ­elements (dhatu) and khandhas, such as the body (rupa–khandha), breaking it apart and investigating its nature, going through it forwards and backwards, in and out, again and again while keeping to the way of seeing the loathsomeness of it all, or the way of seeing it all as the “Ti–lakkhana” (anicca, dukkha, anatta), until one becomes skilled and proficient at doing so. After this one rests the citta in samadhi in the way that one has been accustomed to doing so. In this way, samadhi and pañña may be practised in an evenly balanced way without doing too little of that Dhamma and too much of this one. Because both samadhi and pañña are Dhammas which help the citta to develop steadily without any deterioration or slackening. Therefore one who practises the way should pay attention to both of them in an even, balanced way, from the beginning to the end of his training and practice for reaching the Path, Fruition and Nibbana.
      Neither sila, samadhi, nor pañña are Dhammas that are out of date nor past their time, but in fact, they are Dhammas which are always suitable and appropriate in every era, every age. They are always unlimited by time (anantakala) and there is no time, place or person that can ever force these Dhammas to change into some other form. They are Dhammas which are suitable to counter every kind of kilesa that exist in the hearts of beings and there is nothing else that is more suitable to do this. Therefore, those who practise the way should act properly with these Dhammas which will lead them to cure all the various kinds of kilesas so that they fall away from the heart bit by bit.
      Sila, samadhi and pañña are the sharpest, most penetrating Dhammas in the teaching of Buddhism and they are used as the tools for curing the kilesas of all kinds so that they are completely eliminated. There is not a single one of the kilesas which can have more power than these Dhammas, all three of which are interconnected and one cannot single out any one of them which is able to cure all the kilesas on its own — they must all function together.
     
      In writing this book — “The Practice of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus” — it seems as if it is becoming rather disorderly and confusing and may cause the readers to feel a bit confused as well. But this comes from the fact that the practice of these Bhikkhus has many aspects and all of them are also included under the heading of “The Dhutanga Bhikkhu’s Practice”. Therefore each of the different aspects of practice which each Bhikkhu who takes up the training uses to discipline himself, must be considered separately and explained. Even the ways in which Bhikkhus train themselves by living in the forest has not yet been completed, but it reached a point where it became necessary to turn to other aspects of the training which are derived from living in the forest, which led on to yet other things. So I hope the reader will forgive me for treating some of the topics out of order, but I had to do it this way for the reasons given above.
     
      More About Training and Discipline
     
      Now we will continue with the various ways of training and discipline as used by these Bhikkhus.
      When they use any particular method of applying discipline to them­­selves and they feel that it gives them more strength of heart than other methods, they pay attention to it from then on without slackening or giving up until they are quite sure that the citta no longer displays any resistance and opinionated obstinacy towards it. Thus, when they go to stay in such places as have been described before and they feel quite normal in such places, just as they would anywhere else, they have reached the point where they can stop practising that form of discipline and go on doing their practice in more normal ways.
      If they have already managed to train and discipline the citta, the result must be of the foregoing kind, such that wherever they live it is satisfactory to them and they do not upset themselves in various ways, such as by the fear of tigers or ghosts. But also, once they have disciplined themselves, even though the citta does not display any fear like it used to, if they find that they have contentment of heart when staying in any particular place, they will generally prefer to stay in such a place as their normal dwelling place the whole time.
      This is not different from the way they acted in the time of the Lord Buddha, for the Savakas preferred to live in whatever manner suited their natural inclinations. Thus, some preferred to live in the forests and hills, so they stayed in such places for the remainder of their lives; for example, Venerable Aññakondañña who only came out of the forests and hills when he was near to the time of his death (Nibbana) and went to see the Lord Buddha to pay his last respects before finally entering Nibbana. None of the younger Bhikkhus or Samaneras, in the place where the Lord was staying, had ever seen him before, wearing his robes dyed with red earth, there being no dark brown or ­yellow dye from the jack fruit tree available in the deep forests and jun­gles. So they were uncertain about him, thinking that he was an old wandering monk, — “and where did he get those robes from?” — So they went to see the Lord Buddha and in accordance with their thoughts they said: “Lord please forgive us for troubling you, but we wish to know where this old wandering monk has come from with robes of such a frightful colour. They are red, as if they had been dyed in blood, or what else we don’t know?”
      The Lord saw the wrong attitude of these young Bhikkhus and Samaneras who had such doubts that they did not respect this Maha Thera so he spoke to them immediately, saying: “This is Venerable Aññakondañña, the elder brother of all of you and the first of the Savakas of the Tathagata to reach Dhamma. You must remember your elder brother and keep this in mind from now on, for Venerable Aññakondañña has been an Arahant since the beginning of the Sasana of the Tathagata. He has always behaved and practised in the right manner (samici–kamma), habitually living in the forest and hills and having no liking for the involvement and turbulence of crowds of people. But now his body is old and beyond the point where it can be cured with medicines so he left the forest to come and see the Tathagata and to pay his last respects, for before long he will enter Nibbana. It is rare to find any of the ‘sons’ of the Tathagata who have an inherent liking for living in the forests and hills such as Venerable Aññakondañña has. So all of you should remember well that the Bhikkhu who has just left the Tathagata is Venerable Aññakondañña, the first and eldest of the sons of the Tathagata and the most senior of all of you — and not the old wandering monk as all of you thought.”
      As soon as the Lord Buddha had explained the facts about Venerable Aññakondañña to them, the young Bhikkhus and Samaneras felt sorry and saw their fault in speaking improperly about him to the Great Teacher, without having properly considered the matter beforehand. There also arose great faith and respect in them for Venerable Aññakondañña, as well as feelings of regret that he had gone away before they had learnt about him from their Great Teacher.
      In so far as the Bhikkhu’s liking for living in the forest and hills is concerned, the above story is very like that of those who practised following the way of Venerable Acharn Mun. The main difference is that Venerable Aññakondañña was an Arahant who is known to all Buddhists. But as for those who are followers of Venerable Acharn Mun, right up to the present day, whatever kinds of Bhikkhus they may be, whether in fact they are like Venerable Aññakondañña or only puthujjanas, I cannot say, so I have just said what I can about it.
      Those Bhikkhus who are determined to train and discipline themselves by living in the forest and hills and by using the method of reducing their food, take less than normal all the time. In saying that they reduce their food, this means that they eat little, that they do not eat what the body wants, nor under the dictation of craving (tanha) which may infiltrate into them at times. Thus they may try eating 70% or 60%, maybe going down to 40% of normal until they find what suits them, or in some circumstances they may increase and then reduce their food intake. But they try all the time to maintain a reduced diet; or maybe they look upon it as a practice which goes together as a partner with all the other methods of practice which they do for long periods of time — for one or two or many months, as it suits their practice of citta–bhavana and the physical body without going too far so that they become sick and too weak with hunger. Therefore they try to aid and promote their striving until the body shows untoward reactions, or until the citta improves to such an extent that they no longer need the aid of this method of training and discipline. In which case they can go on smoothly and steadily, and they may even be able to give up taking so little food. But this depends on each individual case and it is not the invariable rule.
      As far as we know, all those Bhikkhus who have ever gained strength of heart from any particular method will hold to that method and they are never likely to let it go into degradation. For however high their strength of heart may become, they will generally have developed special skills and techniques on the path along which they have been going all the time, and it is as if they see the value of it and always think of that method with heartfelt appreciation. If one thinks of that method as though it were a person, one would say that one appreciates the value and virtue of that one who has been of such great value to oneself. Or again, if one thinks of it in terms of Dhamma, one would recollect the value of that Dhamma which has been of such value to oneself, like the Lord Buddha who bowed in homage to the Dhamma for example.
      When reducing food intake, the eating of only a little makes all parts of the body become light. Its strength decreases so that it does not bother the citta, which makes the practice of bhavana more easy and the attainment of calm to be quicker than it normally would be, when one does not reduce food. (This applies only to those whose nature suits this practice).
      In doing the practice of bhavana while taking little food, the heart does not usually have its ups and downs in connection with calm. This differs from its normal state in the early stages of practice when one does not reduce food and the citta is at such a level of development that it still needs training. When one takes little food, walking cankama is easy, sitting in samadhi one feels contented and both during the day and at night one’s bhavana will generally give similar results. Whereas normally, when walking cankama and sitting in samadhi, night is the time when the bodily constitution is more subtle and it always tend to go better than during the day. But for the person who likes eating little, both times give similar results.
      If one fasts for many days, feelings of hunger and weakness arise often, but the citta tends to be much more subtle than when one only reduces one’s food intake, and both in samadhi and pañña one has much more skill and dexterity.
      In fasting, the Bhikkhus generally start by fasting for a short time and then gradually increase the time until they are fasting for long periods. In other words, to begin with they fast between two and five days to try it out. But as soon as they see that they get good results in their bhavana, they increase the time steadily to eight or nine days at a time, depending on circumstances.
      In the period when they are fasting they continue with the work of bhavana and they also keep a watch on the citta and the body. If they see that they are altogether in a good state they continue alternately fasting at times and eating food at times. As they steadily increase their fasting they may go on for many days at a time, some reaching fifteen or eighteen days, and there are some who continue fasting for a month when the situation is favourable. While fasting like this, if the body feels very weak, they may take a little milk on some days.
      For those who find that fasting suits their nature, while fasting there is great value to be gained of many different kinds, as follows. After the first two nights of fasting one no longer gets tired or sleepy, and after several nights have passed this becomes stronger so that sleepiness is no longer a disturbance. Wherever one sits, the body remains erect like a post without nodding or fidgeting at all. Mindfulness (sati) is good and doesn’t slip away, there is little absent-mindedness and the longer one goes on, the better mindfulness becomes so that one almost never forgets oneself. When thoughts about anything arise in the citta, one’s mindfulness immediately catches up with them almost every time, without even having to set up the resolve not to let one’s mindfulness slip away forgetfully, for it remains there on its own quite naturally. This may be because the fasting which one does is for the purpose of striving for one’s development and because one has set up one’s mindfulness and continually maintained it from the first day one went on fast. Therefore one’s mindfulness does not tend to slip and be forgotten at the beginning of the fast, nor for the remainder of it, however many days it may go on.
      The work of bhavana then tends to go on smoothly and skilfully all the time and in every way, both in samadhi and pañña. When one wants to rest the citta down in samadhi one can do so, as one wants to. When one wants to investigate by way of pañña after the citta has arisen out of samadhi, pañña will be of the kind that becomes steadily more skilful as one goes on, and it will not be sluggish and inert as it usually is when one does the practice of investigation. In all the various attitudes and postures of the body mindfulness will be present and one is not easily distracted or led away by anything. When one investigates anything that happens to arise, the heart catches up with it very quickly and can understand it clearly and much faster than usual. Then the body has hardly any of the normal aches and pains and it feels unusually light. The citta will also be able to see dangers with ease and it does not tend to oppose the truth and be very stubborn as it used to.
      Those who are at the level of samadhi will then be calm in all bodily situations and postures; and those who are at the level of pañña will always be possessed of contemplation and thought, analysing causes and results in those things of endless kinds which they encounter. The citta is then engrossed in doing the investigation by looking into every one of the dhamma, meanwhile all trace of tiredness and fatigue has disappeared, as if they were eating food as normal.
      If any feelings of tiredness, hunger or weakness arise, it will only come when the citta withdraws from samadhi, or when the citta takes a rest from doing the investigation, or again when one comes out of samadhi to change the attitude or posture of the body, then one is likely to feel it. The reason for there being no feelings of hunger or weakness when the citta enters samadhi and when investigating all the dhammas, is because the citta is completely engrossed in samadhi and pañña and it has no interest in paying attention to the physical body. Therefore in effect, there is no bodily feeling at that time.
      When the day comes that one decides to eat food, a dispute arises between the citta and the body-mind group (khandhas) and they cannot agree together. The body-mind group say that they are weak and want food and supporting nutritional aids to sustain life. On the other hand the citta says that while fasting, the practice of bhavana is good and the heart is calm, clear and not disturbed by all sorts of things, but as soon as one has eaten bhavana deteriorates. For, once one is full of food one thinks only of one’s pillow and sleeping instead of Dhamma and its subtle meanings as happens when one is fasting. Therefore it does not want to eat, because after eating, bhavana does not go properly, whereas the body will be strong, which is good. Thus, between the citta and the body-mind group there is a dispute of this kind.
      The “owner” must decide which way to go. To fast at times and to eat well at times is a good way. For the citta gains benefits while the body knows how to put up with deprivation, without taking more and more nourishment until it becomes excessive, which is the way of animals, only eating and sleeping all the time. One cannot stand too much fasting for the body is bound to start breaking up. On the other hand, to fill up with food makes one lazy so that one goes looking for one’s pillow, rather than for Dhamma and its meaning, as happens when one fasts. Thus it is that fasting has many benefits as described above.
      The time when one is fasting is the time for increasing one’s effort to its maximum capacity in all positions and postures of the body. One sleeps little; one sleeps just for a short time which is enough for the needs of the body, but it gets rid of all nodding and drowsiness. For those whose nature is suited to this method, it will enable them to see both samadhi and pañña for themselves, right there, in the present.
      The feelings of hunger that arise strongly at times will only persist for the first two or three days, after that it diminishes for many days, but the feeling of weakness tends to increase. The citta then becomes steadily more subtle and skilful from the first day of the fast onwards. It is this which, when the time comes to eat food again, causes the citta to be sorry and to want to go on fasting. But the physical body feels that it can not stand it any longer, so one must give way to it to some extent, otherwise it will cease to function properly, and the body-mind group will fall apart before the kilesas are cured and got rid of. So one must apply the remedy, for if one were to follow the desires of one’s heart, the body would almost certainly not survive. But if one were to give way entirely and let the body have just what it wants, the heart would not be likely to “drink” Dhamma as it should be able to and as one intends that it should.
      Fasting gives results which are quite evident, both in samadhi and pañña, which leads one to reflect upon the Lord Buddha when he practised his most rigorous austerities and took no food, with the intention of gaining Enlightenment just by fasting, without any striving by way of the heart. While he was doing this, no results were to be seen, but when he took the sweet rice-milk which Lady Sujata brought and gave him, even though he had taken some food that evening, every part of his body still remained bright, light and vibrant. Then that same night, as soon as the Lord developed mindfulness of breathing (anapanasati), which is work done by way of the heart, it enabled the Lord to gain Enlightenment that night. It seems likely that the effect on the Lord’s body which came from the fasting he had done was a help to his heart in that it prevented the body from being too much of a burden on the heart at that time. Even though the Lord censured fasting, saying that it was not the way that he attained Enlightenment, it is probable that he did not intend this to include fasting for the purpose of aiding the work of development in the sphere of the heart. It is likely that he meant only, fasting as the sole means of attaining Enlightenment — which is the wrong way. Be­cause the attainment of Enlightenment, or reaching Dhamma, refers to the heart as being the important one and not the body at all, due to the fact that the kilesas dwell only in the heart and not in the body.
      However, to the extent that the body is a supporting condition for the kilesas, it can cause them to increase and become strong. This can be the case when, for example, the constitution of the body is at full strength and it displays this fact and is immediately obvious to the well trained heart which knows that, “the khandhas are getting out of hand”. But if there are also kilesas in the heart they are bound to be drawn in so that they flare up. Then one way and another one will not be able to keep up with them and they will lead one down until one is completely submerged in the mud. When the time comes that one’s wits return, one realises what has happened — if one looks. But if one does not look, one will never have any means of knowing what happens, so one gives way and allows the kilesas and the body-mind group (dhatu–khandha) to lead one into whatever they will. This is how the kilesas and the body become associated together. But on their own, the body-mind group are no danger to the citta when the citta is pure.
      From the above, one may see that fasting is very helpful for the practice of citta bhavana in some characters. Therefore the Lord did not completely forbid fasting when it was used in connection with bhavana. This may be seen in some of the Vinaya rules concerning fasting, thus: “A Bhikkhu who fasts for the purpose of showing off to the world commits an offence every time he goes on fast, and also, every time he acts in any way for the purpose of showing off his fasting. But if he fasts for the purpose of striving by way of the heart, he may do so. This the Tathagata allows.” This may have been because the Lord saw the value of fasting as an aid to striving by way of the heart in those cases which are characteristically suited to this method. Therefore the Lord gave permission to use it and did not forbid it entirely.
      In those whose characteristics are not suited to fasting, if they were to do so it is probable that they would gain no value from it. This is similar to the practice of those forms of kammatthana which do not suit a person’s nature, and here, the saying that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, is quite applicable.
      From what I have actually seen, even nowadays there seem to be many people whose nature is well suited to fasting, and this is the reason that I have included this discussion here for the reader to think about. In particular, at Wat Pa Baan Taad which is my own monastery, there are many bhikkhus who like to go on fast often, in fact it is almost as though the whole monastery takes turns to go on fast. This happens all the time and has continued since the monastery was first founded, and it goes on throughout the dry season, the wet season and both in the vassa period and out of it. Nowadays, there are still those who fast in the monastery in the same way, including the English and other western born Bhikkhus who like fasting. For they say that when they fast their bhavana goes better than when they do not, so they do it frequently. This, they also do from their own volition, for there is no compulsion or coercion to fast at all.
      The Western Bhikkhus are able to fast quite as well as the Thai Bhikkhus and they can do so for many days at a time, then they eat for one or two days before continuing to fast. Some fast for up to fourteen or fifteen days and they stand up to it well, whereas others go on for nine or ten days. They are quite able to fast like this in the same way as our Thai Bhikkhus do. When asked, they say that while fasting the citta has much less tendency to be restless and uncontrollable. It can then be governed more easily and it is both calm and peaceful and also more stable, and it is not easily distracted or disturbed. Therefore it makes them want to fast often so that the citta may advance as fast as it ought to.
      This makes us feel sympathy with them and glad that they have made the effort to come so far across the ocean to become ordained in the Buddha Sasana, to take up the moral precepts and bhavana with hardships and deficiencies. They have to take food which is unfamiliar and to be separated from their home, parents and relatives for many years and they do not complain of being homesick or longing for their country, friends and relatives with whom they had lived in close contact at all.
      It would seem that these Western Bhikkhus became ordained with the true purpose of searching for Dhamma and development which accords with their having been born into a race which is intrinsically clever; although they never show any signs of being haughty or conceited. In fact, in all ways they have a humility and modesty which is worthy of respect and in their relations with other Bhikkhus and Samaneras in the monastery they behave well and act properly.
      Nearly all the Western Bhikkhus who are in this monastery like to fast, without any persuasion being used. They just see the other Bhikkhus going on fast and ask about it, and when they understand the reasons they try it for themselves, and after that they are regularly seen to be on fast. When they are asked about it they say that their bhavana is better than usual, so from then on they go on fast regularly.
      In particular, in the vassa period which is a time that is free from other things, and a time when the Bhikkhus increase their efforts to practise the way in this monastery, there are some days when very few Bhikkhus go out for pindapata and eat food together, for when they do not eat, there is no need to go for pindapata.
      Each Bhikkhu fasts for whatever length of time suits him; some go on for four or five days, some go on for longer times up to 12 days or a fortnight or more, until the end of the vassa period. This includes both Thai and foreign Bhikkhus who fast in the same way and for many days equally.
      At this monastery, during the vassa period, every seven days there is a Dhamma meeting to aid and promote the effort which is put into developing the way of the heart so that it shall progress in accordance with the favourableness of the prevailing conditions. After the vassa period has ended work and duties become very troublesome in connection with people coming and going for Dhamma, for sila and dana and various good actions (kusala things), which are in the nature of Thai people who are Buddhists. They have been used to doing these things for generations for they have always been considered as the heart of those who are Buddhists right from the beginning. Therefore it is most praiseworthy, for such acts as this are not only good actions giving beneficial results to those who do them, but they are also setting a good precedent for the young people of the next generation to follow.
      The self-training methods of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who follow after Venerable Acharn Mun are many and varied, for they differ in each individual case. In writing about them it is therefore necessary to divide them up into various categories, in accordance with those cases in which the methods of training differed from each other. This is so that you who read this with practical interest can take up and gain value from any of the methods of the Acariyas which you consider to be suitable to your character and your situation in life.
      Some of the Acariyas who set out to practise kammatthana with practical interest never experienced the citta dropping into a state of calm and unity for years. But as soon as they learnt about some skilful methods of training and discipline in various ways which were recommended by the Acariyas, and their friends and contemporaries in Dhamma, and took them up and tried them out selectively, to their liking, the citta steadily became calm and peaceful and they were able to establish firm and strong roots of the citta. This was because the method of training was right for their characters; as for example, those who managed to make the citta go down into a concentrated state when fear arose at the sound of tigers roaring in the vicinity of the place where they were staying — which would not otherwise have been possible.
      Therefore, the character of the person and the means of Dhamma which are used for training are both important and necessary for all who practise the way in each and every case. Thus, for example, in those whose citta is strong, active and venturesome, who do not easily submit to the Acariya or anyone else, it is necessary for them to be their own Acariya and to train and discipline themselves, using their own methods which are inherently and especially rough and strong.
      Some Bhikkhus like to go and live where they are hard pressed and up against it, having to put up with a lack of the four requisites. Sometimes doing without, sometimes having enough, but generally lacking amenities and hard up. And also living in very frightening places to force and drive themselves on. Because people of every class and age have characteristic tendencies which react well to being forced, ever since the day they were born. For there is no way in which we can develop ourselves and prosper by letting go and relaxing. It requires both ourselves and others to help drive us on towards all types of virtue and benefit. This we can see from the way in which our parents got angry at times, scolding and treating us harshly, and also the way that the Acariyas practice towards us and how they normally use words of rebuke and admonishment in close connection with all the Dhamma which they teach and train those who live constantly under their care and guidance. To use only pleasant and soft words in the teaching is not likely to be suitable to all conditions and occasions, because some cases respond well to a “hot and spicy flavour”. So the teaching must have both the harsh and mild methods blended together.
      Speaking of rebuke and admonishment makes me think with gratitude of the excellence of Venerable Acharn Mun, for the way in which he used to scold me and the other Bhikkhus at times when we had done something wrong. When he was doing this his attitude and expression was most awe inspiring while castigating and shaping up his followers who had been stupid, so as to make them become true people by using rebuke and admonishment. Looking at those who were being rebuked and admonished made one feel very sorry for them, because they were so frightened that they shivered — like baby birds in the rain — but the result of this was that it remained fixed in the heart for a long time. This is the kind of result that comes from others to help one in one’s training.
      As for the results which come from training oneself, those Venerable Ones who have trained themselves to the utmost of their strength and ability will know clearly for themselves what they are. As for instance, those who have gained a complete calm of heart from walking cankama after being afraid, due to the sound of tigers roaring, and then the citta turning round and becoming bold and fearless while still walking, in such a manner as one would not have believed to be ­possible. Because of this, training oneself is a very important way of working, which those who wish to progress in their own development can­not afford to overlook, both in the direction of the world and in the direction of Dhamma.

 

5. Stories of Bhikkhus Who Practise 
 

      The reader should please understand that in all the forms of practice which are described herein and which are associated with the practice of Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus, I have tried in all cases to write only what is factually true, which I have seen or heard from the Acariyas who have received training under Venerable Acharn Mun. This applies both to the causal conditions; how, in one case, this Bhikkhu has such and such characteristics so he liked to train himself in this way, whereas that Bhikkhu liked to train himself in that way; and also to the results which they attained from their training mixed together with their causes, which we have been relating and will continue to go on doing so. But the names of these Acariyas who have done these things and attained the results will not be disclosed, so as to guard those things which should be kept to oneself. There may however be exceptions to this when it is necessary to disclose the identity of an Acariya.
      When I use such expressions as “some Bhikkhus”, or, “in some case the Bhikkhus like training themselves by this method”, for example, the reader should please understand that this is an indirect way of naming a Bhikkhu. Thus the words “some Bhikkhus” or “some cases” in fact stands for the name of a particular Bhikkhu who trained and disciplined himself by such and such a method — like fasting, or walking cankama while competing with the sound of tigers roaring, for example.
      In addition every offshoot of the methods of training and discipline which these Bhikkhus used, is a method in itself from which they have gained results that are distinct and certain. Therefore as they have all been tested in practice I have included them herein. For it must be stated that none of this writing has come from speculation or guess work, for if it had, there would be no certainty whether the results would be real and permanent, nor whether they would be acceptable amongst those who practise the way. So the reader should please understand that these writings, both those which I have completed up to this point and those yet to come, are in accordance with the true facts of what happened in the case of each Bhikkhu. But whether it is right or wrong to write such things is my responsibility as being a writer who has the tendency to put down everything without sufficient consideration, which has always been my natural inclination. Therefore, as always, I hope that you will forgive me for this.
      The methods of self-training and discipline which these Bhikkhus used, until they became Acariyas teaching Bhikkhus, Novices and other people up to the present day, seem to be activities which nobody has come across before, which have never been heard of before and which never have been thought of as methods of training oneself. Nor would one think, in this present day society, which wants to get results more than doing the work that causes them, that there are those who are daring enough to do these things which put their lives at risk. For life is the thing which people want and preserve more than anything else in the world. But in fact, there are those who do these things and who are ready to take the risks involved until they are a “vital nature” which survives death. If they also come to know Dhamma from the use of these methods, they may be said to be the “death defying Dhamma” of each of these Bhikkhus, because the cause goes beyond death, so the result should equally go beyond death. But such causes and results as those are unlikely to come to Bhikkhus whose interest is in thinking and firmly believing that their lives are so very valuable. Even if they were to think of going in for these methods, they would probably not be able to get into the way of them fully and intimately, because of their overpowering love of their lives which conceals the value of the Dhamma which they have within themselves so that they cannot see it.
      On the other hand, there are those Bhikkhus whose interest in the principles of truth is equal to, or greater than their concern for lives; for if they were to let go of these principles it would only result in their lives being in continual disorder and turmoil without any purpose or path. Such Bhikkhus will carefully think over and make tests by comparing what happened to the Acariyas and what has happened to themselves, and how their lives are now, in so far as going into the principles of truth is concerned, and in what aspects they are superior or inferior to the Acariyas. Thus for example: “I have done these things in this way, but why did they do them in that way without any fear that Maccu–raja — the Lord of Death — would laugh and mock at them? Is there anything hidden and obstructing the truths of Dhamma which is different between myself and them? How can they do these things and take the risks and know that they have experienced various things both superficial and deep, revealed and secret from those methods? Nor did they throw their lives away uselessly in using these methods of training and discipline. So the causes and the results which came from them are their own valuable possessions, the signs of which are still there for us to read about now, in the present. They also had physical bodies which are things that they must have cherished much in the same way as I do, and they were individual people who probably had feelings of the same sort as people everywhere. But then, how were they brave enough to make such a sacrifice — and for what? Those things which they did, I have not done yet, and those things which they knew, I have never known. But why? We are all people in the same way, and we all desire those things which are so good and so valuable. So I should take up one of their methods which is well suited to my citta and my ability and go and practise it myself to try it out and see what the results will be like.”
      If one is interested in using reasoned thought to round up the mind, and lead it toward the principles of truth which accord with the Dhamma that the Lord taught, then regardless of sex or age there is sure to be a way that one can accept and take up and use and gain value from. Because “truth” does not depend in any particular way on sex or age, but upon reasoned thought and searching for the ground of truth which is in every person.
      Those Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who practised and developed themselves until they became very impressive people, to such an extent that we have seen fit to include their stories here for you to read about, all showed that they had a strong and firm intention and longing for the results which they were aiming for. Therefore they did not think, when they put all their strength and effort into attaining those results, that they would find it difficult or easy, whether they would live or die and gain or lose. They just had the single unshakeable resolve that they could succeed, without a thought of the difficulties and the possibility of whether they would live or die. Because, due to the effort that they were making the results of their efforts, which they hoped for, began to come steadily, and they were results of such a nature as they had never experienced before, which made them ­forget all their fears entirely. These things which seem so amazing to others who have never come across them are to be found in plenty of cases amongst the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus, such as those you can read about in the remainder of this book.
     
      A First Encounter With a Tiger
     
      Now we will turn to the story of one of the Acariyas who at this time was walking cankama, back and forth in front of a cave in the hills at night without any thought that anything unusual may happen. Because while walking cankama he had hung up a candle lantern which gave enough light to see where he was walking quite clearly, and normally wild animals know that fire is an indication of the presence of human beings. But as soon as this Acariya had become absorbed in walking cankama he heard the sound of a tiger making a threatening roar at one side and slightly above the path where he was walking, about four yards away, after which it continued to roar on and off.
      As soon as he heard it, the Acariya knew it was the sound of a tiger and right then he was afraid in his citta and he stopped and looked in the direction from which the sound came. But he did not see the tiger and so continued to walk cankama. Almost immediately he heard it roar again, so he stopped walking and once more tried to see it, but he still could not get even a glimpse of it. Meanwhile his feelings of fear continued to increase all the time, until he shivered and broke out in a cold sweat which drenched him, and this despite the fact that it was the cold season and the weather was very cold just then. But he roused up his courage and resisted the temptation to flee away; meanwhile the tiger kept on growling. So he looked for a way to shake himself out of this state, to gain courage and take control of himself, and he thought like this:
     
      “I have taken up the practice of Dhamma in the same way as they did it at the time of the Lord Buddha when they acted with great courage and were willing to make all kinds of sacrifice, even including their own lives, without any longing or regrets. In those days it is said that there were many animals and tigers which could be dangerous to Bhikkhus, but there do not seem to have been any cases in which those wild animals ever took Bhikkhus to eat as food. Even if there were such cases, very few of them have ever been recorded — maybe only one or two cases. Yet those Bhikkhus attained Dhamma, brought their kilesas to an end and taught the way to the world until people gained confidence and faith in them and looked on them as their refuge. This has continued right up to the present day and it doesn’t seem that the tigers ever took them to eat as food.”
      “As for myself, I am a monk in the Buddhist religion in the same way as they were at the time of the Lord Buddha and I am practising the way to attain the same Dhamma, leading to the one goal, which is the Path, Fruition, and Nibbana (Magga–Phala–Nibbana). But why then, as soon as I hear the sound of a tiger coming to visit me and ask me how I am getting on, do I stand stiff and shiver like someone who is out of his mind and jealously attached to his body, life and heart as if I am not ready to die, in the same way as people in the world, even when their time has come. Why then am I stubbornly resisting this fact of nature which has ever been the way of the world, even to the point where I am standing here shivering, jealously attached to life wanting only not to die? And why am I standing here stiff and opposing the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha in this way? Am I not ashamed in the face of this tiger which is roaring at me — with laughter, right now? If I am not ashamed before the tiger, why do I not think of turning inward so as to be ashamed before myself, a Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu who is standing here shivering? This should be enough to make me mindful and wake me up and remind me that I am a Bhikkhu, with a vocation and one who has willingly given up everything. But here I am standing and shivering because I have more concern for my life than for Dhamma, which is more gross than the ways of animals. And that tiger is also an animal whereas I am a man and a full Kammatthana Bhikkhu. Then why should I be so afraid of this tiger; there is no sense in it; and supposing now, while I am so afraid of this tiger and standing here shivering like a puppy in cold water, that my teacher, my Acariya should send his citta to see what is happening here. He would laugh at me just like the tiger is laughing now, and where should I hide my face? This that I am doing is quite disgraceful, and it is bringing disgrace upon Buddhism, on my teacher, my Acariya, as well as all those who practise who are all Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus, in a way that is really obnoxious. Just now it is as if I am being a clown, for the tiger and all the Devatas who live in the vicinity of this hill to laugh at, so that I have no face left. What should I do in order to redeem Buddhism and those that are Buddhists so that they will not be denigrated like rotten fish being sold in the market, for at this moment I am in the role of the merchant advertising them for sale.”
     
      While he was calming down and scolding himself, he was in a state of confusion and anxiety, and the tiger kept on showing its derision by roaring — with laughter — while resting from time to time. As if it was warning him that he must become mindful and control himself with those methods of Dhamma which he was thinking and searching for in confusion, and he must also act in a decisive and true way, right at that time. It seems that he was still resisting the tendency to run away and gradually his mindfulness returned to him, and with it a method or way came to him, thus:
     
     “Whatever beings there may be, whether tigers or people or myself; within Dhamma, the Lord has taught that we are all companions, in that we all have suffering (dukkha), birth, growing old, pain and death in the same way without exception. Even this tiger which is growling at me, and I who am so afraid of it that I have almost gone mad, when each of us have birth, growing old, pain and death as our lot in the same way, what is the use of being afraid? Whether I am afraid or not I am bound to die when I have reached my time, for there is no being anywhere who can avoid this. I came here to practise the way of the Samana Dhamma without envy and without any intention to harm any beings. If then this tiger wants my flesh and blood to increase its vitality so that it can go on living from day to day, I should be happy to make this generous gift to it. It would be much better to do this than to stand here in this dull way, jealously clinging to this living corpse so strongly that I am shivering all over, while still not being ready to move it away elsewhere.”
      “Those who have been ordained are those who make sacrifices and not those who cling on jealously with so much concern for their lives that it is shameful and a disgrace to themselves and to the religion. Since I was born I have been eating the flesh, skin and meat of all sorts of animals which the Dhamma teaches us to be our friends and equals in both growing old, pain and death, and this has been the food that has enabled me to grow up to my present size. Almost as if I should not feel any pain if I were pinched or scratched because of the flesh and skin of all these animals covering me. And now, when the time has come that I should be ready to sacrifice my skin and flesh and make a gift of it to this tiger, why am I so tight and stingy as a miser, jealously holding on to it? In addition I am still tenaciously clinging to this body so tight that it is shivering, and this attachment is so strong that I have been unable to get rid of it. But what is worse is that I have reasoned about it, yet the citta will not accept it nor will it either believe or listen to Dhamma. Then in this case it must surely mean that my ordination as a Bhikkhu is for the sake of pure selfishness, because my fear of the demonic kilesas is so strong that I have had no consideration for anything else in the world.”
      “If I believe in the kilesas more than Dhamma, then I must remain standing here shivering and looking after this body, this mass of discontent which is here. But if I believe in the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha, I must sacrifice this blood and flesh to the tiger for it to take as food so as to maintain its life. It is no good waiting about, so what is it going to be, the way of Dhamma or a jump into the awful whirlpool of miserly attachment? Quick! Make a decision! Don’t waste the time of the tiger who is waiting and listening for this monk, who comes from the line of those who renounce things and make sacrifices, to declare his courage based upon wisdom which has carefully considered the situation, — and say: ‘Whether to give way or cling tightly’.”
     
      This intense battle between the tiger and the Acariya probably went on for about an hour, with neither side being prepared to give way to the other. Finally the Acariya decided that he would give way, because he could see the danger in being possessively attached to life. His heart then turned about and became courageous and brim full of metta and sympathy for that tiger by taking the teaching of a verse of the Dhammapada as the basic principle in his heart, thus: “All beings are companions in suffering, birth, growing old, pain and death, without exception.” When he saw the image of the tiger in his imagination, which had been his enemy, it was changed and became the image of a close friend and he thought how he would like to stroke it and play with it with love and sympathy and truly heart felt intimacy. So he left his path for walking cankama, taking his lantern which was hung up at one side of the path, and walked straight towards the tiger with kindness and metta in his heart. But when he got to the place where he thought the tiger would be, it was no longer there, so he went in search of it going all over the forest in that region. Yet the whole time he was walking about searching for the tiger, full of courage, kindness and metta, he saw no sign of it at all and he never knew where it had mysteriously disappeared to. After he had been searching for it for some time without finding it, he became tired of it. Then something spoke up within his heart, as if someone had come to warn him, saying: “Why are you searching for it? Both knowing and delusion are just within oneself and are not to be found in any other being, nor in this or any other tiger. The fear of death which almost drove you mad a short while ago is just your own delusion. And the knowledge of the Buddha Dhamma which teaches that ‘all beings are companions in suffering, birth, growing old, pain and death, without exception’, which enabled you to relinquish your possessive attachment entirely, so that your citta became full of metta and kindness and a friend to all the world, is also just your own knowledge. Both of these states are the property of nobody except yourself, so what else are you searching for? When there is knowing, the one who knows should have mindfulness and energy and this is right and proper. But to go on searching for anything from other beings, or from this tiger is turning it back into wrong understanding again.” As soon as this knowledge which spoke up within him, came to an end, his mindfulness immediately returned to him.
      The Acariya said that, while he was walking and searching for the tiger, he was quite sure that the tiger was a close and intimate friend of his and that he could pet it and stroke it and fondle it as much as he wanted to, and he never thought that it would do any harm to him at all. But whether this would have been the case or not he did not know.
      After this he returned and went on walking cankama fully at ease, without any anxiety or fear remaining at all. Meanwhile the intermittent roars and growls, which he had previously heard, had ceased and never reappeared either that night or for the remainder of the time that he stayed in that area.
      The Acariya said that it was quite wonderful how the citta which was so frightened it could hardly keep the body standing upright and almost went mad, was able to turn and become bold and courageous as soon as it was mastered and disciplined in various ways; and how it was then quite prepared to give up flesh, blood and life and sacrifice them to the tiger without any fear and trembling or longing for life at all.
      He said that since then whenever he walked cankama or sat in meditation practice, if the citta would not calm down easily he would think of the tiger wishing that it would search him out and often let him hear its roars. Then his citta would be roused up and alert and at least it would become calm. Beyond that his heart would change and become full of metta and kindness and happy in sympathy with all animals — and tigers. Because when the heart changes in this way due to the sounds of all sorts of animals, as well as the tiger, the happiness which arises is most subtle and beyond description.
      There is a further short passage which the writer forgot to include before, which arose in the heart of the Acariya while he was out searching for the tiger. He said that it came to him as follows:
     
      “Metta which is experienced as kindness and gentleness is a close and harmonious intimacy with all beings. Both those who would be enemies and all others, including all people, the Devatas, Indra, Brahma, Yama, the Yakkhas and Demons, and all throughout the three realms (Ti–loka–dhatu), and at such a time there are none that can be seen as enemies. The hearts of all the Buddhas and Arahants are full of boundless metta for all beings and those who have metta are always happy whether awake or asleep.”
     
      What was said then seemed to be a teaching directed to myself alone, arising softly in the citta, to be heard and known just by myself alone. I can remember much of it quite clearly but I cannot recall everything that was said which I regret now.
      Living in the forest and hills which are lonely, desolate places is likely to be unusually beneficial, and particularly so for those whose aim and intention is for Dhamma. As for example in the case of the aforementioned Acariya who told us how his citta became kind and gentle towards all beings, without exception, including the tiger which he wanted to meet, to fondle and caress and play with in sympathy.
      I believe the truth of this story without reservation, because I once had a similar experience. At one time I also became very frightened so that I could hardly control myself. So I tried using a method to train and restrain myself, much in the same way as the foregoing Acariya. Until the citta was cured of its stubborn resistance and became courageous and gentle with metta and was able to go and search for its enemies, of all types, without any apprehension at all. So as soon as I heard the story of this Acariya I immediately felt deeply impressed by his story which showed that there are still those who practise the way of the forests and the wilds in the same way as I had done. Before this I thought that I was the only one to have done this. Because it is not easy to explain this sort of thing to people, due to its being outside the normally accepted limits within which people everywhere think and consider.

 

6. The Ascetic Practices (Dhutangas) 
 

      Each one of the thirteen Dhutanga practices are capable of subjugating the kilesas of all kinds, and this they are able to do in the most wonderful manner which is almost impossible to anticipate. But they have already been elucidated in “The ­Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”, sufficiently well, so we will not give any lengthy explanation of them here, although it must be kept in mind that all the Dhutanga Bhikkhus who are followers of Venerable Acharn Mun, in their various ways continue to maintain those practices which were in line with his tradition.
      Those of the thirteen Dhutangas which have been elucidated in “The Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun” are as follows (unless the writer’s memory is at fault):
     
      1. Dwelling under the shade of a tree.
     
      2. Going pindapata as a regular duty.
     
      3. Eating from the bowl.
     
      4. Eating only once a day.
     
      5. Using only pamsukula robes
     
      6. Not accepting any food given after the pindapata round.
     
      Any further explanation of these will only be minor additions to those that have already been given.
     
      Having written the above, I went and talked about it with some of my colleagues, saying that I was not going to repeat my explanation of the Dhutangas because it was already in “The Biography”. But most of them thought that the explanation of the Dhutangas should be repeated here because one cannot be sure that all who read this will also have read “The Biography”. Some may never have seen it and thus they may not have a chance to know how important the Dhutanga observances are in the practice of Dhamma. So finally I decided that it was necessary to include some explanation of them. But I ask for the indulgence of those who have already read about the Dhutangas in “The Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”, that they do not become irritated by the repetition, and understand that this has been included to help those who have never learnt anything about the thirteen Dhutanga observances.
     
      The Dhutanga observance of dwelling under the shade of a tree (rukkhamula) was the first of the Dhutangas to be practised by the Lord Buddha. On the day when he penetrated Dhamma (En­light­en­ment) and the three worlds shook, he was sitting under the shade of a tree — the great Bodhi tree which Buddhists have looked upon as a sacred tree and synonymous with Buddhism (Sasana) and the Great Teacher (Sasada), right up to the present day. Also, when the Lord entered Parinibbana, it occurred under the shade of trees — the twin Sala trees. This is what is meant by “rukkhamula” in this Dhutanga observance.
      Living in a hut, roofed and closed about gives security against various dangers, which is very different from living under the shade of a tree. This can be learnt from those who have stayed both indoors in a hut or vihara and also “rukkhamula”, under the shade of a tree where it is lonely. The heart feels how the first is warm and cosy while the second is very lonely, and how different they are. This is even more so when either the hut or the tree shade are in a lonely, desolate forest full of wild animals including tigers. One who does this will see quite clearly that there is a remarkable difference between the hut and the shade of a tree. Living in a hut in desolate forest can be enjoyable, for one can sit relaxed and lie down rather than finding enjoyment in the meditation practice — which deteriorates. For, doing it in this way is comfortable and free from all sorts of fears and uncertainties.
      As for someone who stays under the shade of a tree in desolate forest, without any protection, so that he has nowhere to escape to where he could sit or lie down in comfort and relaxed, he must be on guard against ever present dangers whatever he does. His mindfulness and his citta have no time when they can part from each other, for fear that he may be caught at a disadvantage whenever danger approaches, which may come at any time, whatever he is doing.
      In these two ways of staying in the forest, the differences as regards the pleasurableness of the one and the uneasiness of the other, is very great. One who stays under the shade of a tree will suffer a lot in almost every way. But as far as his samadhi bhavana goes, if he is someone who is intent on Dhamma, he will develop and gain more by the practice of “rukkhamula”. Because in all postures and movements he will act in the manner of one who is striving, excepting only when he sleeps.
      The force of the fear of danger drives him to be watchful and careful and to maintain mindfulness, which he dare not allow to depart from the heart. This is undoubtedly of great value in helping him to make that effort which can cause the citta to develop in samadhi and wisdom. Therefore, for a “warrior” who is ready to face death, the Dhutanga of living under the shade of a tree in a desolate forest is like going into the front line of battle. Even though his citta has never attained calm, never known what samadhi and pañña are like, nor what the experience of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana means, when he sets up mindfulness inwardly, in intimate contact with the heart, making an effort to guard it and prevent it slipping away, then his meditation practice will be correct, and complete with mindfulness, and regardless of which aspect of Dhamma he is using as his preparatory meditation technique (parikamma–bhavana) his meditation practice will be correct and complete with mindfulness. Likewise, when examining and questioning the true state of nature (sabhava–dhamma) to see it clear­ly with wisdom, then true wisdom can arise when mindfulness is there to control the mind. Mindfulness is therefore an essential component of mind (dhamma) and is of the greatest importance in affairs, both internally and out in the world.
      Those who live in desolate, lonely places, under the shade of a tree, or in similar ways, for the purpose of self-training, therefore have a much better opportunity to promote their striving in this way than have those who stay where they feel safe and secure and where they feel no anxiety at all, such as in a hut. The value of staying under the shade of a tree is to be found in the way it prevents one from relaxing into complacency and self-satisfaction. Thus it makes one mindful of oneself, which leads to the development of samadhi samapatti (ability in samadhi) and Magga–Phala–Nibbana (the Path, Fruition and Nibbana) in a steadily progressive manner with no wasting of time or delay, nor any doubts or hesitation due to negligence and complacency. Those who have been living “rukkhamula” in desolate forests until they have become used to it are like experienced fighters in a war who have no fear of the enemy, for they can live anywhere, which is very different from those who have had little training.
      Venerable Acharn Mun used to praise the practice of staying under the shade of a tree, in a manner that left a deep impression on those who heard him and it was a topic that he often brought to mind and talked about, right up to the end of his life. He used to speak about it in such a manner as to bring all his followers to their senses and make them think about their own situation and to arouse interest in the practice of living the way of “rukkhamula”. He used to say that:
     
      “If my Bhikkhus want to know about themselves, both in regard to what is gross and subtle, and to have confidence in their own abilities, such that they know whether or not they are Bhikkhus who practise the way in full measure, they ought to go and take up the practice of “rukkhamula”, living under the shade of a tree in a desolate forest which is full of tigers and other wild animals to keep them alert. In addition, this will test and show to what extent they are skilled and fearless and also the extent to which they are incompetent and timid, until they know fully, in all ways, what is meant by ‘living rukkhamula’, which was established by the Lord Buddha.”
      “Once one knows the fears that are inherently in one’s nature, and the courage that comes from the effort one makes, which can clean them out, then Sila, Samadhi, Pañña and the higher Dhamma will increase stage by stage. They are most likely to develop in association with each other and one will know their progress in one’s heart as it occurs, step by step. This is the way in which one can see the value of this Dhutanga practice to one’s heart’s contentment.”
      “The Lord Buddha and his Savakas all upheld the practice of this Dhutanga as an inherent part of their life of striving, from beginning to end, which was never given up. Because it is the dwelling place of those people who are alert and zealous — not heedless and complacent — and the striving which they did by way of the citta brought gains and development until they reached the end of the road, and nothing in the whole universe can compare with this. So the Lord established his teaching of “rukkhamula”, to act as a signpost, pointing the way. It was as if he was saying: “This is the way to go if you want to overcome all fear, and danger and get free from dukkha. You are all so dim, dull and sluggish and what are you going to do about it? This place, is not a dull place, unsuited to mindfulness and wisdom, but a place that arouses and revives mindfulness, wisdom and striving in all ways, so that they become mature, strong and penetrating. Come now! We, the Tathagata, will lead the way without hesitation. Don’t go on messing about in a disorderly way, shouldering your heavy burden by thinking that you have sufficient strength and ability to continue on your own. For when you come to a critical situation with no escape you will have nothing in you to turn to. You must be quick now and search for a suitable battle field where you can gain victory, such as under the shade of a tree. There the citta will reach that Dhamma which is proper to the heart and void of all kilesas and Dukkha of all kinds. It was in such a place as this that the Tathagata was able to gain ascendancy over all the kilesas so that they gave in completely. Over there is the Sri–Maha–Bodhi Tree which is the symbol of the great victory of the Tathagata, and if this is not “rukkhamula”, what else can you call it? Prince Siddhattha was enlightened and became the Lord Buddha at the foot of the Sri–Maha–Bodhi Tree. But if you are still in doubt, where else will you go and search for Dhamma if not in the same kind of place as the Tathagata used to search for and know it. A place such as this is sacred to those who see danger.
      “For where else should you go groping in delusion to search for sacred places? That which is sacred within yourselves is the most longed for holy refuge, more desirable than anything else. You must search for it until you find it, and the place to search for it is in your own hearts, while depending on and aided by a suitable place to act as the field where you dig down searching in this way.”
     
      Whatever aspect of Dhamma was revealed by Venerable Acharn Mun, such as the foregoing example, made a deep impression, touching the hearts of those who heard it. For it was teaching that came from the true knowledge and understanding of one who was true in himself. There was no room to doubt it nor think that the way of practice to attain the Path, Fruit and Nibbana should be anywhere else except in the practice of someone who does it entirely with “Samici–kamma” (actions that are appropriate and right). This was even more so when one listened directly to Venerable Acharn’s teaching, for it was as if he drew the Path, Fruit, and Nibbana out of his heart, so that his followers who were blind (mentally) could feel it, enough to make them long for it with regret before returning it to its original place. In other words, when Venerable Acharn Mun gave a Dhamma talk it seemed almost as though he brought it out from within him for others to see. Then as soon as he finished it was as if he put it back where it came from — in his own heart. Listening to him made us feel as if we were flying high and walking on the clouds. But once he finished we became like a lot of blind men groping for the way and unable to find it. Uncertain about this, uncertain about that; thinking that this is good and that is best. Picking up both the rice husk and the kernel. Picking up all sorts of unessential things, as well as the main essentials, which does not lead to anything valuable. They could just as well accept their fate and leave it at that. Living at the Foot of a Tree (rukkhamula).
      Venerable Acharn Mun said, this had brought him remarkable results all the time, so he liked staying in such places and never got tired of it. When staying in a place without a roof and walls, or anything else, to protect one from danger, the citta is bound to be afraid and insecure. This is especially so at night, and for a timid person, whatever he sees he will believe is a tiger. So in the case of one who is very timid, he should in the daytime take note of where all the bushes are located round about where he is staying so that at night he can see them and know what they are. Otherwise the bushes in the locality where he is staying will become tigers in his imagination and they will deceive him all night so that he will hardly be able to lie down and sleep or do any meditation practice.
      One who lives the way of “rukkhamula” is much more careful and cautious than someone who lives in a place that is closed about, both as regards physical movements involved in his living routine and in lying down and sleeping, and also in his samadhi meditation practice. Consequently his citta is likely to go forward and progress more rapidly, despite the fact that no compulsion has been used and nobody has forced him to do this. On the contrary, it is freely undertaken by each Bhikkhu who decides to look for a way to train and discipline himself.
      Sometimes, while a Bhikkhu is sitting practising samadhi under his mosquito net and beneath the shade of a tree (rukkhamula), a tiger creeps up very slowly to have a look at him and sniff him out. Some may even come right in close to where he is staying, but once it knows that it is a human being it quickly draws back and goes away and never comes back again. It probably creeps up close in this way to have a look because it does not know what is there, never having seen anything like this before. But there are some tigers which seem to have unusual hidden characteristics which makes them suspicious. This was shown by the experience of a Bhikkhu who was walking cankama at night without having lit a lamp. For a tiger crept up quietly until it came to within two yards of the end of the path where he was walking, where it crouched down and watched him without going away. Then this Bhikkhu heard a slight sound which he could not account for so he shone a flashlight towards it and saw this tiger which immediately leap away, but he never saw it come back again after that. In this case the animal was a large striped tiger about the size of a race horse. It was not a leopard which likes to creep up and catch and eat dogs which often like to accompany people who go into the forests.
      The Dhutanga Bhikkhus who live in the manner of “rukkhamula”, go through various experiences which are fearful and frightening, of which a small number have been told here. If you can imagine yourself in the position of one of these Bhikkhus, living in the manner of “rukkhamula” and experiencing these various things which happen, how would you, who are reading this, feel about it. If you could put up with it and take the discipline until it became your story, a fine and beautiful biography, it would be truly worth something — a story for future generations to hold up as an example, as a guiding principle in the heart. But for one who cannot put up with the difficulties nor accept the ascetic training, there is reason to fear that his biography will be of the type that brings discredit to himself, to his colleagues and to the religion which is the heart of all Buddhists, staining it in a way that nothing can erase for a long time. He also becomes a person who has feelings of inferiority, so the sphere of kammatthana and the religion become inferior. Because they depend on oneself, who is an incompetent person, who drags all these things of incomparable value to ruin with him.
      Merely using one’s imagination to try it out for a moment is enough to make one realise how difficult for the body and tormenting to the mind is the way of those who strive and struggle using such methods, right from the start of the life of Dhutanga–Kammatthana, until they are able to plant their roots firmly in all the forms of Dhamma, due to their determination to go this way however difficult it may be. ­Wherever people live, it is hard to find anyone who has enough strength of will to go this way and to make sacrifices such as this. For most people are afraid of suffering and think only of themselves rather than of Dhamma which is the way leading to freedom from suffering.
      Living without any shelter or protection against all kinds of things can be instrumental in causing someone to see that he is a person who has made renunciations in all ways and is not dependent on anything. If anything should happen to cause him to die, he is then ready to submit and let it happen as it will, following the natural course of events, without contending or opposing it with methods derived from an attitude of self-importance. If he is short of food and lacking those necessities which the world depends upon and considers to be essential, he accepts this for the sake of Dhamma. He makes no display of being oppressed and hard-done-by, nor of any vexation, in his heart — which is the way to increase suffering, making it still more overwhelming. As for the suffering and hardship which arises due to the hard work of striving, he accepts it and puts up with it because he wants to gain freedom from suffering by means of this striving. Even supposing a hungry tiger should come and bite him and carry him away to eat, he would submit and sacrifice his life to it with the attitude in his heart that: “I am a Bhikkhu who has already renounced everything completely.” He has no jealously guarded attachments to hold him back from sacrificing everything for the sake of the Supreme Dhamma, and thus he lives in contentment everywhere.
      Although the life as led by those who practise the way of “rukkhamula” under the shade of a tree in the spirit of renunciation may have no meaning for people in general, yet it does have meaning in Dhamma — which has the greatest value. Therefore, instead of their lives and actions being meaningless as people in the world generally like to suppose and believe, they become of priceless value, but it is rare to find anyone who can make such sacrifices. The Lord Buddha saw with insight how important were the qualities of this Dhutanga as an effective method of subjugating the kilesas within the hearts of those who live in the world. Therefore, he prescribed it as the path to go along for those in this world who would follow him, to enable those who have the heart of a warrior to attain the final goal of the life of purity (Brahmacariya). The purpose of this teaching is to act as a vehicle in which they can drive through the world of samsara and be victorious in the fight so as to follow the Lord Buddha, and catch up with him quickly, without having to wait about for a long time. For this article of Dhamma acts as a spur to those who practise, so that they become resolute and determined in their aim of reaching the realm of freedom from discontent (dukkha). There is no doubt that this can be done by depending on all those things in the surrounding environment to act as a spur to foster and keep them striving in a steady and regular manner until they manage to reach the goal without meeting any obstacles.
      The foregoing is enough to act as a brief explanation of the way for those Bhikkhus who are interested and who may like to make a comparison between themselves and these forest Bhikkhus, for both groups are anxious to develop themselves in the way of Dhamma. It may also show them enough of how they should practise so as to have a way that would enable them to escape (from dukkha) safely and properly, without sitting about just waiting for dukkha — much or little — to come from the activities of the citta. For the citta is the leader, the one that has a habitual liking for things which have frequently come within its orbit.
      This Dhamma–truth is so important that it would not be out of place to call it the heart or the first principle of Kammatthana, because nearly all the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who truly aim for the meaning and Dhamma like to practise this article of Dhamma. I who write this do not know much and I am not at all clever, yet I have a heart and I cannot help liking this article of Dhamma. It is just that, in reaching for it I don’t get it, so I unashamedly admit my situation.
     
      The Dhutanga Observance of Pindapata
     
      Pindapata is an essential duty for those Bhikkhus who are ordain­ed as sons of the Sakya in the Buddha’s Sangha (Sakyaputta Buddhajinarasa). This is evident in Buddhism as being one of its most obvious features and it is generally considered by the Bhikkhus that pindapata is an important part of their lives. This may be seen in the instructions (anusasana) given to all Bhikkhus after the ordination procedure, when they are taught both about dwelling under a tree (rukkhamula–senasana) and about pindapata, and they are considered important enough to be repeated again after every ordination. The Lord Buddha set his heart on these two practices and always considered them to be important duties which he kept up until the day of his Parinibbana. The only exceptions to this were those occasions when it became impracticable for him to do so, as for example, the time when he spent the vassa (rainy season) in the Lelayika forest with the elephant Palileyyaka. Because there were no people living in that area who could give him food if he went on pindapata.
      The regular routine of pindapata is a duty which gives peace and happiness of heart to those who practise it. This means, firstly, that when one is walking in those places where there are houses and where people live together, and also when one is going to and coming from such places, one is striving for one’s own development within oneself all the time which is the same sort of thing as walking cankama at the place where one is staying. Secondly, it is a change of bodily posture and activity for the time while one is going pindapata. Thirdly, for those who are in the process of developing wisdom all the time, while walking on pindapata, they may at times see or hear various things that are passing by and which enter and stimulate the doors of their senses. These are things which can promote wisdom and which they can take hold of and often gain value from. Fourthly, to overcome laziness — which is an inherent characteristic of human beings who only like to get results but are lazy about doing those causal actions without which the results will not come. Fifthly, to overcome conceit — which makes one believe that one is a high and important person whose family is long established in the upper classes, wealthy and opulent in all ways. So one dislikes the way of pindapata which virtually turns one into a beggar.
      Whatever one gets from pindapata one may eat and it is enough to keep one going, but not so much as would makes one’s body increase in strength and vigour so that it acts as an enemy to one’s heart’s striving for Dhamma, making it difficult to progress.
      In eating once a day one should take sufficient, but not too much so that one’s stomach is disturbed and one gets indigestion because one has exceeded the natural capacity of one’s digestive system. But generally speaking, fasting and hunger are considered to be normal for all those who probe into Dhamma for the purpose of ending dukkha and leaving none remaining. In addition to eating only once a day one should also examine and consider which types of food are of value to one’s body, not causing any stomach trouble, as well as being of value to the citta, so that one’s meditation practice (bhavana) goes smoothly and the citta is not tarnished due to the wrong type of food causing damage to it. For instance, foods that are too hot and spicy or too salty which cause heart-burn, making one feel anxious are no help to one’s striving for Dhamma. For body and mind (heart) are closely interrelated and can quickly react on each other. So it is taught that one should choose those foods that are beneficial (sappaya) and of value to both body and mind — if one is in a position to choose. But if one has no choice and one knows that the food before one is not beneficial, then it is better not to eat any of it at all. For if one were then to persist in eating, it would only do harm to the body and cause dukkha and anxiety to the mind. But those who eat only once a day are likely to be well aware of themselves so that they are not carried away by the tastes of various foods.
      Whether the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu does the practice of dwelling under the shade of a tree (rukkhamula), goes for pindapata as a regular duty, or eats food only once a day as a regular practice, all of these are just his methods of training and putting pressure on the kilesas which cause the citta to be restless and unstable. Thereby their strength is reduced so that they are not bold and spirited enough to go wild like a stubborn horse which bolts away from the battle ground. So the value which is derived from these Dhutangas lies in the way in which they make the body and heart light and buoyant so that they are made easier than usual to train. The body does not then have so much vitality that it can be a heavy load on the citta, as when one lets it eat as much as it wants, as well as taking snacks and nibbling a bit here, a bit there all the time, which is being excessively self-indulgent. This is very different from the ways of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who learn and train themselves to know what is reasonable and moderate in everything which they associate with.
     
      Eating Out of the Bowl
     
      This is the Dhutanga of eating from a single vessel, which means that one eats all the food out of the bowl, where it is all grouped together in one place. Both savouries and sweets are all together in the one bowl, and not divided up in separate containers outside the bowl. For this would tend to promote greed and excess which contradicts the essence of the Dhutanga Bhikkhu who has set himself to live and be contented with little. This is right and appropriate for him, for he is not then cluttered up with all the preparations for eating, for sitting, for sleeping and so on.
      The value which the Bhikkhus gain from eating out of the bowl can be great, depending on the strength of each one’s mindfulness and wisdom to probe and search and draw out this value for his own use. There are also three levels of practising this Dhutanga, these being, the lowest, the moderate and the most excellent levels. For the lowest level, although all the food is put into the bowl, it is divided up and arranged so that the different types are separated so that for example, the rice and savouries are in one area and the sweets in another. Or, they may be separated by a suitable item of food, such as a banana which prevents them from mixing. For the moderate level, all the food is put in the bowl in the same way, but it is only separated to the extent that each item of food remains intact and is not actually mixed together. For the most excellent level, all the food whether sweet or savoury is all mixed together and none of it is kept separate at all.
      Before putting his hand into the bowl to take the food to eat, the Bhikkhu should reflect upon it (paccavekkhana) thus: Patisankha yoniso pindapatam patisevami... etc., which is a skilful way to consider all this food gathered together there in one bowl. He should do this with whatever strength of wisdom he may have for at least one minute, because the good which comes from this reflection when done properly is hidden in the food all mixed together, in a recondite way. In addition, the day will then come when one sees the craving (tanha) which has been hiding behind one’s hunger in a manner which one would never have suspected. For in the teaching of Buddhism, the hunger which arises from the body and mind (dhatu–khandha) is not normally considered to be craving. But that hunger which is in fact craving and which waits to creep into the body and mind whenever they are hungry, is very secretive and evasive, and it is difficult to see and lay hold of it. Because it keeps covering its tracks and infuses into the hunger which is in fact there in the body and mind. Then one has little interest in whether the hunger of body and mind has invisible kilesas hidden within it or not.
      The investigation, or recollection which one does before eating, or continually while one is eating is thus a way of finding out about those kilesas which are hidden in hunger. It also enables one to see the value of the recollection — “Patisankha yoniso... etc.”, and how it is a most efficient weapon for destroying these hidden kilesas. Then whatever other duties or business one may have to do, externally or internally, one will not forget this article of dhamma, so that eventually one becomes a person who always has it in his heart in all situations.
      I have not gone very far in exploring the various aspects of this Dhutanga, both as regards the types of food and the methods of recollection because it would become too involved.
     
      The Dhutanga Observance of Using Only “Pamsukula” Cloth
     
      The observance of using only “Pamsukula” cloth is the way to diminish the kilesas concerned with worldly ambition and the desire for beauty and attractiveness. These kilesas are looked upon as odious and pretentious by those who are the wisest of men, whereas all the average foolish people of the world look on them with pride and satisfaction, and forget themselves in them. But the Dhutanga Bhikkhu who wants internal beauty, which means a clean and clear heart, must oppose these kilesas which want beauty and attractiveness to make them feel as if they could fly up and walk on the clouds. So he must go about looking for “pamsukula” cloth which has been discarded in the charnel ground, or on the garbage heap and take them and wash them and sew them up piece by piece to make a “sabong,” “civara” or “sanghati”, and use them as mere coverage for his body so that he may develop the “Samana–Dhamma”. Then he may follow the “Samana” traditions without any concerns or worries and he does not think with emotional attachment which is anxiously bound up with anybody or anything, excepting only that form of Dhamma which he is presently working on and delving into.
      In former times, the “pamsukula” cloth was truly valueless, such as the shroud wrapping a corpse and bits of cloth thrown away on the roadside. It was not just a length of cloth which is called “pamsukula” cloth that the lay followers give with faith, as is done in our country nowadays. Those who are able to go and find the true “pamsukula” cloth must be Bhikkhus who have decided to renounce the popularly accepted way of the world and have turned their hearts towards acquiring virtue as their wealth, as well as establishing their aim and purpose in the direction of Dhamma. This in effect, means that they have entirely devoted and dedicated themselves and their lives and turned themselves into slaves of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha, completely devoted and fully committed to them.
      In throwing away all that which most people look on as valuable as well as the popular approval of society, instead of becoming a worthless person and a social outcast, as most people would think, their hearts grow in value in a wonderful way, almost beyond belief. Thus it was in the case of the Lord Buddha, for when he left home, renounced all the wealth of royalty and ordained as an ascetic, he had become worthless in the eyes of the world and society in those days. But the result which came from this was far beyond what anyone could have guessed, for he became the supreme teacher to the three worlds right up to the present day. That this Dhutanga observance is a way of continually reminding and teaching Bhikkhus to behave like discarded bits of cloth, has the same purpose as the former Dhutangas in that it is also for the purpose of promoting the value of the citta.
     
      The Dhutanga Observance of Living in the Forest
     
      The observance of living in the forest is a tradition of those Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who practise the way following in line from Venerable Acharn Mun, who considered it to be the most important of all the Dhutanga observances.
      The Dhutanga practices which they practised much and regularly, included: 1) Living in the forest, 2) Living under the shade of a tree (rukkhamula), 3) Going for pindapata regularly, 4) Eating food only once a day, 5) Eating out of the bowl, 6) Wearing “pamsukula” robes. (But not refusing the robes which lay followers give with faith. Although Venerable Acharn Mun never wore any other robes which he was given, right up to the end of his life. But there were very few of his followers who took up this practice after him), 7) Living in a cemetery or charnel ground, 8) Maintaining a sitting position (nesajja); in other words, not lying down for as many nights as one has resolved to remain sitting; 9) Not accepting any food which is offered after one has returned from pindapata.
      The Bhikkhus who follow in line from Venerable Acharn Mun have a great liking for all these practices. As for the remainder of the Dhutangas, some practise them at times also, but we shall not discuss them here because they have already been explained to some extent in the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”. Any readers who want to know more about them should consult the section dealing with the thirteen Dhutangas in the “Dhamma Vibhaga Pariccheda”. But here, any further explanations of the Dhutangas will only be in connection with the practices of each of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus, which will shortly be described. Although the Dhutangas which those who followed in line from Venerable Acharn Mun, liked to practise all the time are the ones which have been listed above. The fourteen “Khandha–vatta” will also not be explained here, for they can be found easily in many books, such as the second volume of the “Vinaya–mukha”. If the reader wishes to know about them, he should have recourse to the available literature.
      The Kammatthana Bhikkhus always practise in the general way of the thirteen Dhutangas and the fourteen “Khandha–vatta”. Even if they deviate from them in some details they still keep within the basic principles of them as described above, without going off course to practise other things. But the things that they practise and what happens in their experiences do differ to some extent in unusual ways in each case, depending on their individual differences of character.
      Generally speaking, those Bhikkhus who habitually like to live deep in the forest and hills are more likely to have strange experiences than those who live in the more readily accessible forests. So it was with Venerable Acharn Mun, who was the founder of this particular line of Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus, for his inclination was always to like living in the forests, caves and hills, and he used to like teaching the Bhikkhus to make them more interested in living in the forests and hills rather than the more usual places that people live in. So those Bhikkhus who liked living in these desolate forests often had many unusual experiences and things which happened, such as were associated with ghosts, Devata, Indra, Brahma, Nagas, tigers and other animals. On occasions they were also visited by the Savaka Arahants who came to give some teaching.

 

7. The Story of Venerable Acharn Chob 
 

      At this point I shall relate the story of Acharn Chob, an elder disciple of Venerable Acharn Mun who had many experiences of a similar nature to those of Venerable Acharn. When you who read this and have thought about his experiences and what the truth of them is, from your viewpoint, which is that of a reader reading about the experiences of someone else that are not your own experiences, you should consider how you will think and feel about it when the time comes for you to experience such things yourself — if you attain the ability to do so. This should be kept in mind constantly while reading the following.
      This Thera, who is still alive today, has a natural tendency to like wandering in the forests and hills, but he dislikes any involvement with other Bhikkhus and Samaneras. For he sees the value in living alone, deep in the forests and hills, both for himself and for other beings whose nature is subtle and mysterious, such as the Devaputta, Devata, Indra, Brahma, ghosts, Nagas, Asurakaya and so on. The beings in these realms of existence are hidden from the sight of human beings, so it seems as if they have no meaning and no existence in the world of people and in the “three worlds” of existence at all.
      These unusual beings begged the Thera to consider them, saying that they have belief in good and bad kamma, in merit and demerit, in the hells, the heavens and Nibbana, in the same way as human beings who also believe in these things. But they have no way to show themselves and what they understand so as to let the world know about themselves in an open, self-evident manner like others who live in the world. Only rarely do they meet a person who is “long sighted” — meaning one who has special means of knowing which is not prejudiced or biased in the totality of what exists — who comes and acknowledges them once in a while. They said that:
     
     “None of these beings like becoming involved with human beings — men and women — who are gross in body and mind and whose minds have aggression hidden within them which gives no confidence and freedom from fear to others living together with them in the world. Excepting only those who have a moral nature (Sila–Dhamma) in their hearts, for even though their bodies are gross, this is just the way of nature for those who are subject to the laws of kamma to which all must submit. For these, none of the Devatas hold any objection or dislike, but such people are very rare and difficult to find and to meet, although they are able to give peace to us because of their virtue which they also impart to others in various ways. But they are not able to know about and make contact with us directly and the only link between us is virtue.”
      “People of this kind bring widespread peace to the world, both ­directly and indirectly, and in ways that are manifestly apparent or ­hidden, and not restricted to place or time and are boundless. Even amongst the ghosts, those whose kamma is sufficiently mild also get peace from people of this kind who always give and share out their merit and virtue, and those who have Deva bodies always rejoice (anumodana) with them. May they have prosperity and long life, and long may they continue to help the world before they give it up to go and enjoy their own valuable and subtle wealth.”
      “But in your own case Venerable Sir, you are a special person in that you are complete with moral behaviour, replete with Dhamma and your heart is bright with knowing and with the virtue of Dhamma, which is worthy of the highest praise and faith. All of us ask and invite you to stay here to bless us by your presence for a long time, and so as to help with your compassion those beings in the world who are unfortunate, in so far as their state of being and level of existence is concerned as understood from the viewpoint of people in the world. Then we could all come and listen to your teaching to increase our “pure merit” (puñña–parami) greatly and also to act as a condition or cause leading to the “Path, Fruition and Nibbana,” which is the highest Dhamma in this kind of world.”
     
      The Venerable Acharn said that while he was staying far away in the mountains, those who generally made contact with him ranged from the Devas living nearby or far away and in the higher or lower realms to Nagas and ghosts of all kinds and there was hardly a single night that they did not come. But he was also able to do his own practice for Dhamma at suitable times and regularly. In finding time for resting the body there was no difficulty and he was able to keep on receiving his mysterious guests without ceasing. Both by day and night he hardly had any spare time with nothing to do, yet everything went more smoothly than usual. Much more so than would be the case in living with a lot of people, Bhikkhus and Samaneras, when it is hardly possible to get any peace while in contact with them. But having association with those living in the realms of the Devas at all ­levels, regardless of however many came the effect was as though nobody was there at all, and in presenting Dhamma to them it came entirely from the heart without any need to use any physical energy for communication. In fact, while presenting Dhamma to them it seemed, in respect to what one feels, that the body was not there at all, for there was just “knowing” and Dhamma meeting together and coming out. Meanwhile, feelings of tiredness never arose while presenting Dhamma for those beings to hear.
      As soon as the Acharn finished his teaching it seemed that these beings were all smiling, bright and cheerful and all of them simultaneously said “Sadhu” three times, and the sound of it echoed through all the realms (loka–dhatu). Venerable Acharn Mun used to tell us of some of his experiences which were almost identically the same.
      When there was a Dhamma discussion their aim was to gain true knowledge and understanding. In the same way as someone going along a road where they had never been before may fear that they were going the wrong way and would ask with concerned interest whether they were on the right road. Some of them would converse using the usual “language of the heart”, but others would talk using the Pali language which was the language of the Buddha. But the Acharn understood the meaning of the Pali they used which had one and the same meaning as the “language of the heart”.
      The Venerable Acharn said that when he had withdrawn from samadhi he tried to write notes of the many questions in Pali which the Devatas often asked. While Venerable Acharn Mun was still alive, he would go and ask him the meaning of those questions. But Venerable Acharn Mun said:
     
     “Although Pali words as used everywhere in the world have specific meanings, those which arise spontaneously within one and those which the Devatas use in asking questions are words used in a special way, only applicable to the people concerned at that time and place. It would probably be quite unsuitable to relate what was said to the world in general. For even though the meaning may make good sense and be quite clear when translated from Pali as used in the world, the Pali which arises spontaneously in a specific individual to express what he intends, has a meaning which relates only to that individual and is not generally applicable elsewhere. So even if I were to translate this to you, it may not correspond to the meaning which you understand from those same Pali words, and I do not want to translate them. Because words which arise from the heart, whether Pali or the “language of the heart”, and whether giving a warning or advise or whatever else, are only likely to be understood and to give their meaning with certainty to that person alone. Others could only analyse the words which were intended for that person, and this would distort the meaning of the Dhamma which was spoken just for that person.”
      “I understand well enough about the Dhamma which is spoken and arises spontaneously within one, both that which is for myself as well as that which is for the Devaputtas, Devata and for all the others who are capable of making contact. For these “Dhammas” have been arising within me continually, and in fact, if I were to say that they constantly arise as the complement of the practice of samadhi bhavana, it would not be wrong. But “Dhammas” such as these can also arise at other times. Sometimes they arise while walking cankama, while just sitting down normally, while walking for pindapata, while eating food, and while talking with friends and associates. When one stops they arise, and also when pausing just for a moment while presenting Dhamma they arise. They arise without any regard for time, place or situation, but to say they come from my character does not seem right to me, because when I first started to practise and was still floundering about I never saw any of these Dhammas arise. They only began to arise when my practice had developed to the point where I knew a little bit about it. From then until my citta had developed samadhi and wisdom, right up to the present, these Dhammas gradually became a constant companion as the citta became stronger.”
      “Nowadays these Dhammas keep arising all the time, endlessly, without any special conditions, such as the need to be in a special situation or place. For they arise in any situation, any place as they will, and in general I consider them as private and personal Dhammas, to be understood just by myself. I never think of asking anyone to translate them to me, except when I want to know the meaning from someone who is able to translate Dhamma sayings such as this, so as to compare it with my own understanding. So I sometimes ask someone about such things. Not because I haven’t understood the meaning of that saying of Dhamma and want to know what it means, for I fully understand everything that is Dhamma both within others and myself.”
      “Therefore I do not want to translate this for you, for even though I am your Acariya, the essential meaning which you should know and understand from this Dhamma which spoke up within you is something which has more value than any translation of mine.”
     
      He never did translate it. But in fact I never really had any doubts about it, and what Venerable Acharn said was absolutely true and I had to agree with everything.
     
      The Devatas Visit Him to Hear Dhamma
     
      Venerable Acharn Chob said that the Devatas would come and listen to his Dhamma. At times many came and at other times few, but in general there were not so many as came to visit Venerable Acharn Mun. Sometimes between fifty and sixty came, sometimes from one to six hundred and on rare occasions there were thousands.
     
      “The clothes which the Devatas wore, whether from the upper or the lower realms, would all be the same, sometimes white sometimes red but none of them would be obtrusive. None of them ever had on any jewels, decorations or make-up, whatever group they were and however often they came. For when they came to visit a Bhikkhu who was possessed of Virtue and Dhamma which all of them venerated highly and had faith in, their leader would let it be known that none of them should wear any decorations or make-up while visiting the Bhikkhu, and their dress should be appropriate and correct, in the manner of the Buddhist lay devotees. Their manners and behaviour were beautifully graceful, impressive to see and captivating to the heart, and having seen them one never felt bored and uninterested. It is an example which we human beings would do well to adopt when visiting a Bhikkhu or the Sangha in a monastery or elsewhere so as to give an appearance of seemliness, which does not cause offence or revulsion such that having seen it one feels a disgust which one cannot easily shake off.”
      “But who is capable of telling people about the Devaputtas and Devatas, so that they would believe it enough to learn and to take them as an example to be followed and practised? Who is bold enough to undertake this task? For as soon as they hear anyone talking about Devatas, Pretas and ghosts, whether in fun or seriously, they just laugh at him. As for anyone suggesting that the world of human beings should take up the standards of social behaviour of the Deva worlds, they would say he was mad, deranged. Even a mental institution would hardly accept him for treatment, so don’t you think he would just die worthlessly, while still being infected by madness?”
      After the Elder had finished, we both laughed and paused for a short while. Then I could not resist the impulse to sound out the Elder, half seriously, half in fun, saying: “I think the Venerable Acharn should himself be the one to introduce people to the etiquette of the Devatas, because you have actually seen them yourself so why should they say that you are mad? People in the world, when they go abroad and see things in various foreign countries, talk about them after they return home, and they introduce some things from abroad to improve things and solve problems in their homes and towns. Thus they introduce regulations and customs for people in our country to follow. For instance, in Thailand the styles of dress and clothing have almost completely changed into those as used in other countries, both for men and women, young and old. For our Thai people are easy to teach, not being stubborn and inflexible like in some other countries. For the more styles of dress and decoration they have, the more they like it, and they make copies of other peoples styles as well as, or better than the originals. They also have the most wonderful memories for anything which they see or hear that is strange and fascinating. Now when we think of the dress styles in the realms of the Devas which none of them have ever seen, not even those who go flying about in space, there is no doubt that they would grasp at them and admire these Deva styles as soon as they were displayed to the world. If people were shown the way I think that there would be many who should be interested, because this is the style of the upper classes.”
      After I had finished saying this we both had a good laugh. Then the Venerable Elder replied saying: “What you say is, as usual, too extravagant. If I was to do as you say I would not be able to live in Thailand for certain. I would surely have to be exiled amongst the Pretas and ghosts. Because people would accuse me of being one of them and they would drive me out to live with the Pretas and ghosts for sure. As for sending me to live amongst the Devas and Brahmas, there is no hope of this because their status is very exalted and respectable. But it is to the realms of the Pretas and ghosts that they would exile me, because their status is low and inferior, which nobody wants to pay respect to. If this were to happen, what would you say then?”
      Again, we had a good laugh, and the Venerable Acharn went on speaking: “Please don’t ever suggest that I should introduce the manners and customs of the Devas and Brahmas to people in this world. For people still respect the Sasana and the Lord Buddha and hold them in the highest regard and the Dhamma which we have discussed is to be found within them. So if anyone is interested enough to practise this way, there is nothing lacking in all the teachings of Dhamma which are available to people — unless, that is, one is too stupid. But that which I told you about was for you alone and I did not think of it as being for other people. Then as soon as I tell you of these things that happened you immediately ask me to teach the ways and customs of the Devatas to people in general. It would be the greatest misfortune for anyone who starts to think of teaching these subtle ways and manners to the world. I couldn’t do it, in fact I shouldn’t even think about it.”
      “I merely suggested it on the spur of the moment,” I replied. “If you don’t like it you should not force yourself to do it.” We talked together in a relaxed intimate way as Bhikkhus who are alone and have complete confidence in each other.
      Many groups of Devatas who came to visit him on various occasions had preferences for different aspects of Dhamma. Some liked to be given the moral precepts (sila) before listening to Dhamma, some wanted to listen to Dhamma straight away, some liked the higher and some the lower Samyojana Dhammas, but most preferred the lower group. Some liked to hear the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, others the Karaniyametta Sutta, and yet others preferred to listen to the Sangaha–Dhamma which is concerned with helping each other.
      He said that they variously had their own peculiar preferences, each being different but they followed the wishes of the majority when many of them came. They variously liked listening to Dhamma in accordance with their tendencies of character, much as some people do. Some liked to hear about metta and the Brahmaviharas, others liked to hear some suttas which I had never heard of before and I could only tell them that I didn’t know anything about these suttas. So they asked to hear another sutta which they liked.
      He said that the Devatas loved and respected him very much and did not want him to go elsewhere. They wanted him to stay a long time with them, for they told him that while he stayed there their hearts were very peaceful. At night they would hear the sound of his chanting and developing the Dhamma of metta, and they were deeply affected by the Dhamma which he chanted a great deal, so that they did not want him to stop. He said that in doing this chanting he only did it mentally and did not do it out loud such that anyone could hear it. But when the Devatas came to visit him they would ask him to chant various special suttas which made them feel happy and which they enjoyed listening to more than any other suttas. While he was chanting they listened intently and completely absorbed. He asked them: “How do you know when I am chanting these suttas?” They immediately answered saying that: “The sound of your chanting reverberates through all the worlds and how could we not hear it?” Dhamma is very subtle and refined, and when it is brought out and proclaimed by chanting or recitation it is bound to resonate throughout the worlds to let everyone hear it who is able to hear it in the whole Loka–dhatu.
     
      An Arahant Comes to Reveal Dhamma
     
      The Acariya was staying in a cave and late at night while it was very quiet and he was practising samadhi bhavana an Arahant whose name was Venerable Bhakula who was tall, light complexioned, beautiful and such as would inspire faith in those who saw him, used to come through the air to visit him by the way of samadhi bhavana. One day the Acariya had lost something and had been quite unable to find it. That evening, as soon as he had sat to do his meditation practice the Arahant came through the air to visit him. As soon as he had descended and sat down he immediately said: “I believe you lost something of yours earlier in the day, is this not so?” The Acariya said that it was so. The Arahant then pointed and said, “It is over there, it’s not lost, you just forgot where you put it.” The next morning he went and had a look and found the article where the Arahant had indicated. The Acariya was quite surprised at this, for he had not made a plea for help nor said anything about it at all, “So how did the Arahant know about it, for I found it in the exact spot that he had indicated, which is remarkable!”
      While visiting the Acariya, the Arahant expressed his admiration for the way in which he kept up the Dhutanga observances, and he praised him highly for his behaviour and practice which were good and true and it was this that inspired him to come and visit the Acariya.
      Then the Arahant taught and revealed Dhamma to arouse joyfulness in the Acariya, and he taught him to be firm and unrelenting in the maintenance of the Dhutanga observances. He said: “You must always keep up your practice of the Dhutangas so that they become firm and strong, and you must never let them deteriorate. The deterioration of the practice of the Dhutangas is equal to the deterioration of the religion (Sasana). For even though all the books of Dhamma may still be available, they are not likely to be of real value to people who are not able to become interested in them in the way they should. The Dhutanga duties are very high forms of Dhamma and anyone who is able to stick to the practice of them is bound to have an exalted citta (heart).”
      “You should know that: “all the noble Ariya of all classes originated from these Dhutanga duties because all of them are methods of Dhamma which can destroy all the various types of kilesas.” Thus it is that the Dhutanga duties are the path to go along for the Ariya–Dhamma and the Ariya–person (puggala). But those who keep no Dhutanga observances, in fact keep no practical observances at all. They are like an empty village, an empty town, which however fine it may be is not attractive when it is empty. So you must keep up the Dhutangas, the destroyers of the kilesas. You must always look after them and make them good and strong. Don’t let the story of your life be vain and barren so that it becomes a channel for the Path, Fruition and Nibbana to leak out and trickle away. For the Path, Fruition and Nibbana are what you should reach and attain.”
      “All the Buddhas and Savakas and all others who have reached the final excellence, maintained and upheld the Dhutanga observances. But those who are careless and think that they are unimportant lose that which is essential and important within them. So you must always guard that which is important within you by means of the Dhutanga observances. One who is possessed of the Dhutanga observances has a strange, subtle power and authority, both outwardly and inwardly, of a kind which is quite charming and hard to explain. Such a person stands out in all the Deva realms throughout the universe and both people and Devatas of all classes praise and respect one who is endowed with the Dhutanga observances, and he never causes any harm either to himself or others wherever he goes, for he is always peaceful and calm in himself.”
      “The Dhutanga duties are subtle Dhammas and it is difficult to ­appreciate their importance even though they have always been im­portant Dhammas in Buddhism right from the beginning. For the Dhutanga observances are a major principle of Buddhism; and those who have the Dhutangas as inherent characteristics within them, who know what is important within them and who guard well that set of conditions which is within themselves which is important, are worthy of our heartfelt admiration and praise.”
      “Those who are well possessed of the Dhutanga observances will have hearts full of metta and kindness for all beings, and while there are still people who practise and maintain the Dhutanga observances, Buddhism will still be flourishing and giving results in that place. Because the Dhutangas are the way of bringing the Path (Magga) and Fruition (Phala) of all levels flowing towards them and there is no place, time or anything else that can act as an obstacle barring the way to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana as long as the Dhutanga observances are kept up by all who practise the way.”
      “You should take good note of all this concerning the Dhutanga ­observances so that it gets into your heart, and think about it and contemplate it so that it reaches Dhamma. Then wherever you stay, wherever you go, peace and happiness will be with you in yourself, for these Dhutanga observances are the source from which all Dhamma arises.”
      As soon as he had finished this Arahant said farewell to the Acariya and then flew into the air and disappeared. After the visitor had gone, the Acariya thought over and thoroughly examined what the Arahant had revealed and taught him. He became overwhelmed with wonder, for he had never even dreamed that an exalted Arahant who had reached Nibbana already should make a special effort and come with metta to teach him about the Dhutanga observances and many other aspects of Dhamma. He became very confident in all aspects of Dhamma and felt sure that he had not wasted the opportunity of being born as a human being, and he was full of praise for the supremely wise being who had come with metta to teach him. For it was one of the “Khinasava” who came through the air to him. “I have probably got some vasana parami (accumulated tendencies of perfection) which enable me to see things which are normally not visible, and to hear things which were completely unexpected, things which I never even dreamed I would hear or see since the day I was born. My practice of the way is probably not worthless in the sphere of Buddhism, for otherwise why should an exalted Arahant waste his time coming here through the air to favour me with metta?”
      Later that night when he had come out of the place where he had been doing his meditation practice to walk cankama, he felt as if his body would float up into the sky until he could follow the way the Arahant went. In striving to practise the way he did not feel tired nor stiff and sore anywhere and it seemed as if the Path, Fruition and Nibbana had come within arms reach, even though in fact there were still kilesas in his heart. His citta was calm and peaceful, his body was light, and wherever he looked everything appeared free from danger, clear and open. It seemed that nowhere were there any things or emotionally disturbing objects coming into association with the heart and getting entangled with it, to disturb it and make trouble for it, always acting as a demonic influence (Mara) as they had always done in the past.
      He went on walking cankama until the dawn came, without feeling in the least tired or stiff. He told me that a Dhamma saying which he had known before: “Dhammapiti sukham seti” — one who has joyful enthusiasm (piti) in Dhamma lives and sleeps happily — occurred to him and became absolutely clear and obvious to him that night.
      On hearing this the writer felt as if his hair stood on end due to joyful enthusiasm and being so glad in hearing of the experiences of the Venerable Acharn who had the vasana parami to develop the way of Dhamma until he saw the Path and the Fruition right there before him. For outwardly a supreme Arahant flew down to favour him with metta and inwardly he “drank” of the Dhamma, the taste of which seemed to spread throughout the body and heart, the taste of a rare and indescribable peacefulness. Such as this cannot be found anywhere in the world, in the sky, far, near or anywhere else except only in the effort and striving to practise and train oneself in the way of Dhamma. But those who really try and strive in this way are likely to gain such experience one day, because that which brings about such experiences are within Dhamma, and Dhamma is in the heart and is never separated from it nor ever goes to stay elsewhere.
      It seems probable that this Acariya will have the strangest biography of all Venerable Acharn Mun’s disciples, for he encountered so many unusual things. Most of them involved hardship, difficulties and lack of normal requisites, as well as encounters with wild animals and tigers which meant putting his life at risk — life which the world cherishes and looks after more than anything else! The results which came from this were like jewels decorating and enriching the heart both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, means that he saw and heard mysterious, subtle things which were beyond the capacity of the ordinary person to know, see and hear. For he continually saw such things which went hand in hand with his practice of Dhamma right from the beginning. Whereas inwardly, means that the “taste” of Dhamma was always present in the heart.
      Going on from here, the reader will be able to use his imagination in following the stories of this Acariya which we will continue to relate.
      The Venerable Acharn was striving for the way of Dhamma while living in a cave in a hillside, and it seems that he was staying much farther from any village than he ever had in the past. It took him more than two hours to walk on pindapata every day, and return, and by the time he got back he was covered with sweat. But he was quite contented to do this and he willingly accepted the conditions without any thought of the difficulties and lack of amenities, for his meditation practice was absorbing and never boring and insipid. Then one night, not long after his citta became calm and went down, there appeared before him an Arahant coming towards him through the air until he came right up in front of him and then slowly came down, almost as if he had brakes. He came right down until he reached the ground, ever so gently, and then sat down in front of him in the most seemly manner. His name was Venerable Kassapa Thera, he was smiling, while his whole countenance was full of radiant brightness and his expression and bearing displayed the mild gentleness of metta. It was as if he were a doctor who was full of concern and thoughtfulness for a sick patient, asking how he was feeling and anxious to help with various medicines and other methods to the best of his ability. Such was the manner of this Arahant.
      As soon as he had sat down, his whole bearing displayed metta and a willingness to assist the Acariya in Dhamma, he asked quietly:
     
     “How is it between the five khandhas and the heart which is the owner of your round of birth and death (vatta), are they going alright? Is your citta able to see well enough the banefulness of birth and death, and is it wearied of them yet? I feel anxious for you and I am afraid lest your citta which has been in the habit of lying asleep without waking up for endless ages, will not be interested enough to want to wake up sufficiently to see the way to go on to Nibbana. For this is a mysterious realm for worldly beings who are not interested in waking out of their sleep. This sleep which is their deluded engrossed absorption in all things which deceive them, which are always there in the realms of worldly beings who delight in their infatuations much more than they delight in knowing and seeing the whole truth which is there to be found in those same realms.”
      “This is why I came, and now that I am here I would like to praise (anumodana) you for the strength of your faith and the intensity of the practices which you are doing at present.”
     
      These were the first few words of greeting spoken by the Arahant to the Acariya, out of concern and with metta for him. As for the Acariya, it seemed to him in this meditation vision (bhavana–nimitta) as if he actually got up and then prostrated to the Arahant and greeted him with a full felt heart, even though his heart was still in samadhi.
      In reply to the first question of the Arahant after he had come down out of the sky, he said, in connection with his samadhi meditation that: “I can put up with the khandhas alright in the way that people in the world have to put up with them. But when it comes to the citta I am still trying to strive and scramble up so as to see how bad and harmful it is to be self-forgetful and to get involved in all sorts of things which are inwardly troublesome and which lay in wait to deceive me, always causing me to fall into delusion. And thus to get some peace and see the banefulness of the round (vatta) — of samsara as far as my mindfulness and wisdom are able.”
      When the Acariya had finished speaking, the Arahant started to reveal Dhamma to him with special emphasis on the Dhutanga observances, in much the same way as the previous Arahant, finally ending with some explanations of the Vinaya (discipline).
      The gist of the Dhamma which this Arahant revealed to him was based upon the Dhutanga observances which the Acariya was correctly practising, thus:
     
     “The practices which you are doing at present are the right way to act (samici–kamma). The Lord Buddha and all the Savakas, who were the most wonderful people, used to like living in the lonely forests, in caves, under overhanging cliffs, under the shade of a tree, and in dense jungle. Or in charnel grounds where there are always things to remind one of death. For every day the local people come to dispose of their dead bodies. Bodies of women and men, brothers and sisters, children and old people — all the time. Now you are staying here searching with mindfulness and wisdom into such things that happen, things which are there all the time, so that mindfulness and wisdom shall have a way to rouse yourself up to search for a way out. The Bhikkhus of old lived in the way that you are living and acting now. So the way you are living is right, as it should be, and not scattered and disturbed by things that increase the suffering of the round of samsara (vatta–dukkha) so that it accumulates in the heart until one cannot find anywhere to lay down the load. But in fact beings in the world hardly ever think of laying down the load. Rather do they think, each in their own way, of ‘accu­mulation and development’, so that suffering and its causes increase until it becomes immense suffering (mahanta–dukkha). Therefore, the birth and death of beings in the world goes on taking place everywhere on earth, and nowhere can one find anything more prevalent than the charnel grounds of beings who are intent on birth and death. Even the whole of this place where we are now sitting down, is the charnel ground of various kinds of life. Nowhere is there a vacant space which we can say is not a charnel ground of beings, and even your own body is a charnel ground. So when there is nothing but the birth and death of beings in this way everywhere, where can we find any peace and comfort?”
      “Have you yet examined and seen how even your own body is a charnel ground where various kinds of beings are born and die, in a similar way to those which are external? If you have not yet examined this, it means that your wisdom is still not circumspect enough to make you frightened of samsara (vatta) so that you look for a way out, and so that it will no longer come to trouble you and lead you on to be born and to die time after time — endlessly — which is a most vexatious and woeful thing in the eyes of all those who are the wisest of men.”
      “Wisdom, means the skill and ability of the heart alone which must penetrate into everything without excepting anything — even to pebbles and grains of sand — which are nothing but relative conventional things (sammuti) that can also cause one to become involved and caught up in attachments. The wisest of men therefore examine them all and uproot them until there are none left at all.”
      “You are one of those in the circle of Dhutanga Bhikkhus whose heart is firmly intent on attaining the realm which is free from suffering, and you are practising in the well established way of the highest of the Noble Ones (Ariya–puggala). So you should use mindfulness and wisdom in the same manner that they used them. Then you will be doing what is correct and in line with the original intention of the Dhutanga observances. For these observances were originally established for the purpose of promoting the mindfulness and wisdom of those who use them; and also for the purpose of arousing their skilful ability to know thoroughly every aspect of everything with which they come into contact and for the purpose of being able to uproot and get rid of them one by one.
      This is to be done not merely by looking at these Dhutanga observances in an idle, passive way without knowing what they are for, but by knowing their purpose and seeing what kilesas and evil states of mind each of the Dhutanga practices is aimed at curing; and also knowing what benefits they bestow on those who practise them variously in the proper way. For in truth, each of the Dhutangas has its purpose in curing, or pulling out and getting rid of the kilesas within oneself root and all. For whatever types of kilesas are to be found in the hearts of those living in the world these Dhutangas are capable of uprooting them completely, provided that the one who practises has the ability to know the purpose of the Dhutangas thoroughly and correctly. For these Dhutangas have been the means of purifying very large numbers of ordinary people and turning them into wonderful and special people.”
      “The way in which you are practising at present is praiseworthy, but this additional explanation is given so as to act as a boost to your mindfulness and wisdom to make them go on increasing and growing more and more. For this is appropriate to the Dhutangas which are the means of refining people to make them become steadily more and more clever and sharp-witted — not merely being attached to the words and the idea of ‘upholding the Dhutangas’ by rote, which is just stupidity and complacency and not thinking of going the way of wisdom to search for skill and cleverness to imbue oneself with.”
      “Each Dhutanga has a very subtle meaning which is difficult to know in all its aspects. Therefore, you should use mindfulness and wisdom to examine and reflect upon each of them, one by one, in fine and subtle detail. By this you will gain immeasurable value from the Dhutangas. Even the ultimate attainment of the freedom (vimutti) of Nibbana is not beyond the scope of these same Dhutangas when acting as the agents of one’s development in Dhamma.”
      “All of the Supreme Ones cherish these forms of Dhamma very much and they entrust their lives and hearts (citta) to them. They also admire and commend those who are interested enough to practise the Dhutangas and say that, such a person will gain what is valuable, leading him to completion (Enlightenment) without running into obstacles. He will also be able to maintain the tradition of the Ariyas, because this is the tradition of the Ariyas, the tradition which they have practised in every age and period. This is true, not only of the religion of the Lord Buddha who attained Enlightenment in this age, for in whatever age and place an enlightened Buddha arises, the Dhutanga observances which are always a pair with the religion, are always bound to be there.”
      “You should not think that these Dhutanga observances are only there in the religion of one of the Buddhas, for they have always been there in the religion of every one of the Buddhas, right up to the Buddhist religion of the present day. Each of the Buddhas, who became enlightened in the essence of purity which is completely free from all the kilesas, are bound to teach and introduce the Dhutanga observances to the Bhikkhus who are his followers, in the same way in every sasana. Because the Dhutanga observances are the most suitable form of practice for those who are ordained; and those who have a heart felt anxiety that they must attain freedom will be able to do so with the firm determination to filter out and remove the kilesas from their hearts. This happens immediately once the causes are produced, without delay and without having to wait a long time for the results.”
     
      The Arahant paused for a moment and the Acariya took the opportunity to ask him a question:
     
     “There are some who are doubtful and think that, since the Parinibbana of the Lord Buddha, more than two thousand years have passed. In such a long time the fruit of a tree and other things in general would have withered in accordance with the law of impermanence (anicca) and nothing would be left, not even the dead wood of the tree. In a similar way, other things in the world like industries, businesses and shops would have all fallen to the ground and decayed with nothing left to show for them. Even the hills, so firmly established, can also change and alter for there is nothing which escapes the law of impermanence. So when we consider the “penetration of Dhamma” (Dhammabhisamaya) in which the Lord Buddha and all the Savakas were enlightened and attained in that age, by the time we reach the present day, not even a trace of the skeleton of the path, fruit and Nibbana should remain for all good people to taste by means of those practices which they used. It is likely to have diminished gradually until it vanished in the same way as all other things.”
      “For myself, I do not have enough wisdom to be able to correct such wrong ideas as this in a satisfactory way. But today I have the most wonderful opportunity and the unexpected good fortune to be visited by a most exalted Arahant who has come through the air and has favoured me with metta and compassion. So by your leave, I will ask this question which comes from my heart: Concerning the Path, Fruition and Nibbana in the Sasana, which is a revolt against everything of the supposed, relative world (sammuti), does this also go the way of nature together with the changing (anicca) world? Or what other­wise happens? In other words, when the world changes, does the Dhamma change, when the world deteriorates does Dhamma deteriorate, when the world disappears does Dhamma disappear, and when everything becomes meaningless, can Dhamma also become meaningless? Do these disturbances effect the Path, Fruition and Nibbana so that it is bound to come to an end, to be cut off and disappear, taking the same course as the whole environment following the Parinibbana of the Lord Buddha? Or how else should it be?”
      “As far as my understanding goes, the Parinibbana of the Lord only concerned the Lord and was not connected with the principles of Dhamma and Vinaya which the Lord laid down and taught for the attainment of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana in any way at all. But there are those who have doubts about whether the time that has elapsed since the Parinibbana of the Lord has effected the Path, Fruition and Nibbana. They say, for instance, that the Lord entered Parinibbana more than two thousand years ago and it is likely that the Sasana of the Lord will have steadily deteriorated and that there will thus be no Path and no Fruition of it by now. Also, that even though one may do the practice it will only make for difficulties and be in vain, giving no results at all. This is the sort of thing I have heard and I feel that it is quite contrary to the words of the Buddha and likely to cause wavering and instability in the Sasana and people who are Buddhists, leading to doubt and uncertainty, as can be seen. Such forms of understanding bring no benefit to anyone and only disturb the Sasana and the hearts of people, causing them to be gloomy and confused.”
     
      The Arahant replied:
     
     “If Dhamma was of the same nature as fruit growing on trees, industries, shops, houses and all sorts of other things in the realm of the relative world (sammuti), which is subject to the law of impermanence (anicca), Dhamma would have disappeared completely, long ago. Then nobody could take it up and know the taste of it with the heart, even just momentarily. Nor would any of the Buddhas and each of their countless Savakas have any opportunity to come into being in this world of impermanence (anicca). Even those countless number of people who will attain Enlightenment in the future could not be, which would mean that the Aryan birth, the Aryan characteristics (Ariya–vasana), and the Aryan lineage would consequently all be void. But in fact all the Buddhas and all the Savakas both of the past and future have been and are still appearing, one following from another, steadily without any loss or disappearance of their foundations, their roots (Dhamma). It seems that virtue and good — special people — still appear, to whom those in the world pay homage and worship with puja as their ideal right up to the present day, and this is because Dhamma is not of the same nature as buildings and houses and things which only wait their time to fall on people and kill them, all being bound by the law of impermanence to this end.”
      “What else should the saying — ‘Dhamma is timeless (Akaliko)’ — mean if it does not refer to the Dhamma state of absolute purity beyond the bounds of the relative, conventional world? What is the meaning of Dhammasara? The Dhammasara (Dhamma essence) which is timeless; ‘that’, is the True Dhamma, not be found within the limiting conditions of the ‘good Dhamma’ (Kusala–Dhamma) and the ‘evil dhamma’ (akusala–dhamma), which go the way of impermanence in the same way as all other things in the world. Thus, we say that: ‘Dhamma develops’, or ‘Dhamma deteriorates’ — which follows the same principles as the world in general. But there is no room for this in the ‘Dhamma essence’ — such as the Dhamma in the Heart of the Lord Buddha and in the hearts of all the Enlightened Ones (Jinasava), where there is nothing but the ‘timeless Dhamma’, where no laws or conditions can get in to influence or harm it.”
      “This kind of Dhamma is the true essence of Dhamma. Dhamma which has no causes or conditions to combine together and cause all sorts of things to arise — such as all things we find in the world. For however much these things change and lose their meaning, deteriorate or disappear, the Dhamma essence is still Dhamma which has meaning in itself, regardless of whether anyone respects and has faith in it or not. This Dhamma is still able to endure in all its fullness and eternally remain the ‘Akalika Dhamma’. All the Buddhas and Savakas pay homage to and revere this Dhamma, and the world also recollects this Dhamma essence and reveres it. The Parinibbana of all the Buddhas, not just for some of them such as the Venerable Samana Gotama but for all of them, concerned only their physical bodies which followed the path of the three characteristics (Ti–lakkhana) which are always there in all beings and formed things (sankhara) everywhere — and so they just left this world. But this can in no way influence the “Pure–Buddha–Nature” which is this true Dhamma essence, nor cause it to change, to deteriorate or to disappear at all.”
      “Wherever and whenever any of the Buddhas enter Parinibbana the event is not able to disturb the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, which those who practise in the right way (samici–kamma) should still attain in the future. In other words those who go the right way entirely in the same manner as the Buddhas have taught should expect to see results arising continually from their own practice in the same way as if the Buddha was still living. Nothing has really changed, for even if the Parinibbana took place one thousand or ten thousand years ago, they are just relative times and conventions upheld by people in the world. As for this ‘Dhamma’, it is independent of time or place — as these are understood in the world — for ‘Dhamma’ depends on Dhamma and not upon any other support or condition which is outside the characteristics of the true Dhamma.”
      “This ‘Dhamma Essence’ is the greatest wonder in the world, whether anybody knows it or not. But as to what Dhamma is, and whether it is to be found in the world or not, Dhamma remains just Dhamma, existing in its own nature.”
      “Therefore, in saying that: ‘The Lord Buddha entered Parinibbana between two or three thousand years ago, that the Path, Fruition and Nibbana has degenerated and faded beyond recovery, and that it is completely lost in antiquity so that even if one were to practise the way, however strictly or well, one would just make difficulties for oneself in vain without getting any appropriate results from it at all’; whoever says such things does not conform to the meaning and intention of the Lord Buddha who proclaimed and taught the world by using the Dhamma–truth (Sacca–Dhamma). Nor does this conform to the path or the purpose of the Sasana which was bestowed on us by the Great Teacher, the Buddha who had dispelled all his kilesas and reached the state of highest excellence in the world. It is not a principle of the Dhamma teaching in Buddhism which those who have faith in the Great Teacher, the Dhamma and Vinaya ever take up, to think about, waste time upon and make obstacles for themselves without bringing them any results at all. In fact it is just such thinking and learning which blocks one’s path so that one can find no way out. Therefore, those who have faith in the Sasana which is the Dhamma that the Great Teacher, the pure one, gave us, ought not to talk in such ways, which are like a bed of thorns that stick into themselves. For to do this is like someone who has given up, unable to find a way out to escape from his situation, even though there still is a way out. So he becomes a pathetic, hopeless person, full of self-pity, although he is still alive and capable and should take the opportunity to do something useful while he can.”
     
      The Arahant went on further to teach in his inspiring way, thus: “Don’t you know that there are still people who are waiting for an opportunity to make themselves into the leader of the Sasana so as to be the great teacher to the world, even though their characters are full of kilesas and stupidity? There are still plenty in this world who have such obscene things within them. And how about you? Are you another of those who are waiting for an opportunity to become a savaka of this obscene teacher?”
      The Acariya replied: “For myself, I have never been disturbed nor wavered from the principles of Dhamma by such talk at all, not even for a single moment of thought. Every moment the citta and the body in their various situations are firmly resolved on the purpose of reaching the Path, Fruition and Nibbana by means of the Svakkhata Dhamma with absorbed interest and joy. The reason I respectfully asked about this was that it seemed to me necessary, in that I am a person who tries to do things to help the world as much as I can, but if I have to rely entirely on my own resources I fear that I would not have sufficient ability to point out the way and set right the doubts in the hearts of those who have these ideas. Because this is something which deeply affects both the sphere of the Sasana and the lay Buddhists who are associated with it. Therefore when I saw such a good opportunity as this I took my chance respectfully to ask you about it, so that this occasion may be like a bright lamp lighting the way for myself and for those people who have some brightness in their eyes and ears, because of the metta which you are showering on me here. For you Venerable Sir, one of the excellent, most precious ones, have favoured me with metta and you know the whole Dhamma with certainty — which is a rare thing to find in this world of people.”
      The Arahant went on with his teaching:
     
     “To ask such questions for the sake of other people is good and right. But to be truly right you should look at those times when the citta is a danger to yourself. Even if there is only a slight danger, you should know that this is so and you should also know how to get rid of it, because internal danger, such as those which we have already talked about, have a capacity to cause harm which is very much greater than that of external dangers. This is well known by all those who are the wisest of men. But so as to make sure that you understand all this, I shall go over the basic facts of these Dhamma truths once again.”
      “There is no person, power, or thing in the whole universe that can force Dhamma to be void of results for anyone who practises it in the right way (samici–kamma). This applies not only to such times and places as we talked of before but anywhere and any time. Whatever powers there may be in all the three realms of the universe, if they were to muster their people and their powers to prevent the Dhamma giving results to those who practise it well, there is no need to fear that they could ever succeed. Dhamma must always be Dhamma and always give results in accordance with Dhamma, so that whenever the right and appropriate practices are done there is nothing which has the power and ability to prevent the attainment of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, regardless of who it is that practises, where or when. Don’t let your thoughts be like thick wet mud so that you tread on thorns that you cannot see, causing pain and suffering to yourself — the one that has such great value — causing its downfall and ruin due to the over-ruling power of stupidity and ignorance which compels and draws one in their direction. For these are the ‘Dhamma truths’ (Sacca–Dhamma) which each one of us has within ourselves. The first pair of Dhamma truths which are concerned with involvement and attachment are Dukkha and the Production of Dukkha (Samudaya). These two, by their psychic influence are what drive on beings, who do not know the meaning of life and death, to like accumulating them very much without ever being satisfied. In other words, they are what truly block the Path, Fruition and Nibbana and will not let it arise in the hearts of beings while they still have some liking for them and go about accumulating them.”
      “Whenever Dukkha arises within the hearts of beings it tends to make them lose all their rational faculties (sati–pañña). Thoughts, which they had previously been able to use in a rational and skilful way, then become completely stupid, self-indulgent and obstructive, leaving them with no way out. All they can do is sit or lie down looking at their own suffering while acting in ways that display their suffering outwardly — as people do who have no way out and no interest in searching for a way that leads out in the right direction.”
      “Samudaya, the Production of Dukkha, means thought which arises, grows and develops in endless varieties, or imagination of various kinds, which are derived from the three kinds of craving (tanha) — these being the cravings, for sensation (kama–tanha), to remain the same (bhava–tanha), and to change and become something else (vibhava–tanha). These three are the leaders, leading one to think, to conceptualise and to imagine endlessly, and they bring on discontent to burn in one’s heart so that it becomes a fire, which turns into the same kind of fire as that which one has already created and has at present, and cannot extinguish. Or, which one has no interest in extinguishing and instead, goes on to develop so that its flames go up and up, and it may go on to set fire to the whole world without there being any way for it to end. Samudaya — the production of dukkha consists of these three forms of craving. It is these three which can ‘close the door’ against the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, so obstructing it as to make it completely unattainable. There is no special occasion or bright light that can get rid of these three, for there is nothing that can do it except the Dhamma Truths (Sacca–Dhamma). This is the only thing which is capable of eradicating the production of Dukkha (Samudaya), this darkness, and annihilating it with certainty.”
      “The remaining two Dhamma Truths which are the cure, are the cessation of Dukkha (Nirodha) and the Path (Magga), which are the tools for doing the job. In the whole field of the Production of Dukkha (Samudaya), there is nothing which is like these two, nor anything with such ability as they have. Nirodha is what extinguishes Dukkha, getting rid of it steadily bit by bit, in accordance with the strength and power of the Path (Magga) — which consists of moral behaviour (sila), samadhi and wisdom (pañña). When the ‘Path’ is strong enough the kilesas are not likely to be able to find anywhere to hide. This then becomes the complete cessation of Dukkha without any dependence on the time, place or anything else which most people think to be necessary. Only Nirodha and Magga perform this function of destroying the kilesas, nothing else.”
      “What difference in results should there be from holding a belief in the Dhamma truths of the Lord Buddha, replete with the Truth of Dhamma, as I have just explained compared with those empty beliefs which are void of substance, showing themselves merely in talk, such as you spoke of earlier? You should use your wisdom to examine this question and gain value from the Dhamma in this. For having come to this point, you should not just let it pass by uselessly. If you have any more doubts left you should bring them up now, because the chance of having a discussion on Dhamma (Dhammasakaccha) such as this, which is a true blessing, is rare and hardly ever happens.”
     
      Then the Arahant remained quiet for a short while, and when he saw that the Acariya was not going to ask any more questions, he went on to talk more about the Vinaya (rules of discipline and training).
     
      “The Vinaya when practised is what decorates the Samana (recluse), confirming on him a gracefulness in his behaviour and manner. For whoever strictly observes the Vinaya will have graceful manners of body, speech and mind. The gracefulness of a Samana is in his modes of behaviour which are faultless and it shows up in everything he does, and the Samana who holds intimately to the Vinaya in his life and ways of living is one who is at peace. He is at peace when living alone, at peace when living with his colleagues and with other people generally. When he is in the forests and hills or when confronted with dangers of various kinds, nothing dares to harm him for the Devatas protect him and people are very fond of him. For the Vinaya acts both as a source of nutrition and a protective wall preventing the Path and Fruition from breaking out and seeping away.”
      “The life of a Samana is the life of someone who has pure moral behaviour, a life which is lively and cheerful. We are Samanas and ‘Sons of the Sakya’ who have pure moral behaviour and for this we do not have to be born just at the time of the Lord Buddha. In whatever age and place we are born and whatever our race, colour or nationality may be, we are still Samanas and sons of the Sakya, from the most senior to the most junior — the most recently born. As parents who have many children who were born in various places and times, but all of them are children of the same parents.”
     
      After he had come to the end of his talk on Dhamma, the Arahant went on to give him his final instruction before leaving, out of his concern for this Acariya and for the Buddha Sasana, in the most moving way.
     
      “I am going to leave you now — at least, in so far as the conventional world understands this in terms of images and forms. You must always have the Sasada in you, which means to have the Dhamma and Vinaya present in your heart, your body and in your speech in every situation. In gaining freedom there is nothing which you can be more sure of and confident of than the Dhamma and Vinaya, which are the “Dhamma of Salvation” (Niyyanika–Dhamma). You should not take up and think about anything unless it is for the purposes of Dhamma and Vinaya — which are the heart of the Great Teacher (Sasada). You should let them enter you to help you, and then purity and freedom will be your priceless treasure, for you alone.”
     
      Just before the Arahant went, by rising up into the air and going up into the sky, he looked at this Acariya with affection and metta for a few moments. Then he gradually rose up, steadily and slowly, which was a way of capturing the Acariya’s attention and making a deep and lasting impression on him which would be fixed in his memory (atitarammana) from then on.
      As for the Acariya, he sat with faith, yearning and regret, and with complete concentrated attention through his meditation practice (citta–bhavana) as if he did not even blink his “inward” eyes at that time. Then the vision of the Arahant disappeared in the sky without a trace — except for the memory of this vision which was so deeply impressed within him that it would never fade for the rest of his life. It was a strange and wonderful experience such as he had rarely come across before.
      That night he practised his meditation until dawn, the same as he did on the night the Arahant Bhakula came through the sky to visit him and explain Dhamma. The Arahant Kassapa was with him for about three hours while he explained Dhamma and talked generally. When the Arahant had left, his citta then withdrew from samadhi, after which he steadily recalled the Dhamma and Vinaya, which came from the metta of the Arahant, and thought it over once again. Doing this he became completely absorbed, and this state of bliss spread throughout his whole body and mind so that he forgot all about sleeping that night. For the Dhamma which he had received from that Nimitta which he told us about was profound and it was hard to describe the truth of it correctly. Even at other times when his citta was not in samadhi meditation, it made him recall and think of the Arahant all the time, and it seems that this gave his citta strength and encouragement for a long time. Meanwhile his performance in practising the way became firm and resolute, and it seems that the strength of his intention in Dhamma to reach and attain that refuge which the Arahant had explained with such metta, became unusually intense. As if he would reach and attain the “Dhamma territory” which is free from dukkha at every moment that he returned to recollecting the Arahant’s instructions. (In some places the Arahant stressed what he was saying as being important for the Acariya personally. But the writer feels that it would be inappropriate to relate these parts, for he fears it may harm the Acariya and upset the reader also. The writer therefore asks you to forgive him for these omissions which some readers may have liked to read fully.)
     
      An Encounter With a Poisonous Snake
     
      This was a strange and unexpected event which occurred in a remarkable manner as in the following account.
      The Acariya was going to stay in a certain cave to practise the way of Dhamma of a recluse (Samana–Dhamma). But before he went to the cave, the villagers in that district warned him that a black poisonous snake lived in that cave and had been there for many years. They said that its body was no larger than a large flashlight battery in girth and rather longer than one meter, but it was incredibly fierce. This snake had already done harm to some people but everyone was afraid to do anything to it for fear that there may be some hidden power behind it. Finally the villagers gave it the name of “The Lord of the Cave”. Nobody was likely to go and spend a night there, they said, for if anyone did so, this snake was sure to come out either in the evening, ­during the night or in the morning, spreading its hood and hissing threateningly. If it was able to it would actually bite them as well and there were many cases in which people had been its victims, so that now everybody was afraid of it and nobody dared to spend a night in that cave.
      The Venerable Acharn however, thought that he would like to go and stay in that cave to go on doing his work on the way of Dhamma. Then he asked the villagers to take him there even though they told him that nobody would believe how fierce this snake was and what harm would come to him due to it, nobody could tell. So they did not want him to go and stay there, but he persuaded them, using reason, pointing out that if one’s time has come one will die even if one is resting in one’s own home, and nobody can do anything about it. “I have seen this often enough to give me a confidence in kamma which is deeply rooted in my heart, and I have lived in caves enough so that I am quite used to it — so much in fact that if it were possible, my body and heart should have turned into rocks and mountains already and would not put up with its present human state. Even if I go to stay in that cave, if I have not reached the end of my time, I am still likely to go on living the life of a Bhikkhu, much as I have been doing up to the present and I am not likely to change into something else. A snake is an animal, I am a human being and also a Bhikkhu who constantly holds close to the way of moral behaviour (sila) and Dhamma. I do not envy anyone, nor do I oppress and harm them, so if the snake attacks me and I die, it should be because of my bad kamma and the evil I have done in the past. This would be better than turning back, afraid, the bad results of which would follow me and come back on me in the future. The supremely wise would also praise me, saying that I truly believed in kamma. For these reasons I want to go there even if I should die because of it.” Having said this he set off for the cave with some villagers to show him the way.
      When he got there and stayed in this cave he felt physically well and comfortable and staying there alone, his mind was contented and easy. On the second day he was there, in the evening, he saw the black snake sliding out of a crevice in the rocks, and gradually, slowly, it came up right in front of him while he was sitting there on a small bamboo platform, contemplating the teachings of Dhamma, and it came in the manner of one that instinctively considers itself to be superior in its power to harm others. When the Acariya saw this snake coming up to him without fear, and as if it really meant to do something to him, he immediately recalled what the villagers had told him and he knew that this must be the “killer snake” that they talked about, otherwise it would never have displayed itself in such a bold, fearless manner.
      The Acariya thought: “I have come here to practise Dhamma without any thoughts of doing harm to anyone. Even with small creatures I always have metta for them and look on their lives as if it was my own life. I never pride myself that I am a person and a Bhikkhu whose status is much higher than that of other creatures who are companions in birth, growing old, pain and death throughout the three realms of the universe. Even this black snake is one of my companions in happiness and suffering, birth and death also. But why then, when I am showing no signs of contention, or any intent to hit it or harm it at all, why should this snake be so determined to come and kill me who would be its friend in life and death, for on this hill it will not find another friend who would be more reliable. When I reflect on my moral behaviour, it is pure in Dhamma, as for example the metta, of which my heart is full, that comes about due to the power of my citta and Dhamma that I have developed by training. If despite this, this creature is still bold and callous enough to kill me, it must be because in a past life I have been extremely cruel and ferocious so that there is not even an abyss in the great hell which would be able to put up with me and give me the deserved results of such bad kamma. Now I must accept the ferocity of this snake to whom I have been ferocious in the past and there is no escape from it, and I must not now try to escape from my evil kamma. For if I was bold enough to do such things, I must now be bold enough to accept the evil results. Then I will be worthy of the name of one who truly believes in kamma.”
      Having come to this decision he then spoke to the snake which had stopped in front of him about two yards away and spread its hood out waiting for an opportunity. He said:
     
     “I have come here, without any evil intentions or any desire to harm anyone, but for the purpose of developing Dhamma for the sake of happiness for myself and for all fellow beings. Regardless of what form they may have or who they are I spread metta for their happiness. You who live here should also be able to partake of it. If you still long for physical ease and peace of heart, in the way that all other beings do everywhere, you should accept this metta Dhamma which is peaceful and melts all hardness, and make it part of yourself. This is far better than intimidating and killing others which will bring nothing of value; and even if you hurt and kill others with your deadly poison, it will not make you any better, virtuous or venerable, so that you get happiness and develop towards a higher state. But rather it will lead you down to be submerged in a sea of dukkha such as hell, for this is the result which comes from tormenting and killing others. I do not accept nor feel any gladness that what you do has any merit or virtue at all, because it only increases your dukkha which torments and presses in on yourself. I can only accept the ways of those who do not torment and kill others, as being actions which do not bring fear and trouble to them. So one has peace in oneself and one brings peace to others. Thus looking on each other as if an intimate friendship has existed for aeons and seeing that we are all friends and companions together in dukkha, birth, growing old, pain and death, it is not right to cause dukkha and anxiety to each other, for it only increases one’s own dukkha as well.”
      “I have come here to make friends with you and all other creatures, and you should be sympathetic to me for I am a loyal and honest friend, so please accept my friendship and metta Dhamma and then go and live in peace. Later on, if you want to come to me again from time to time you can do so whenever you want to. I am happy to be your friend always, and I do not have any feelings of revulsion that you are an animal and I am a person and a Bhikkhu, for I just consider that we are friends together in birth and in death and I do not think in terms of who is superior and who is inferior. For, as always, those tendencies of perfection (vasana–parami) which beings have within them are different in each individual, depending on the effort they have put into developing them. So it is possible that you may have tendencies of perfection which are more mature and stronger than mine, there’s no way of telling; and also, because all beings each have their individual kamma, good and bad, intimately attached to them, it may be that when you leave this life you will abandon the state of an animal and slip into a higher level to be born as a human being. Then you may even attain to the perfection of purity and freedom before I do. For I am still struggling with the foul kilesas, so it is quite possible that this can be so as long as you do not create more evil to weigh you down, such as making bad kamma now in regard to myself.”
     
      Having spoken to the snake, he then set a resolve in his heart to produce the overpowering force of Metta–Dhamma, which has always upheld the world, to make this snake change its attitude from that of being an enemy into that of being a close friend in Dhamma. After this a surprising and wonderful thing happened and it is hard to say what brought it about. But something caused the snake, which in a few seconds would have attacked the Acariya, to change its attitude away from that of being an enemy to him quite suddenly. It immediately drew back its head and lay flat on the ground in a submissive attitude and remained there quite still for about ten minutes. Then it turned around slowly and gradually moved away and disappeared from sight.
      The next day, the snake came to the Acariya again, and it continued to come to him almost every day from then on while he stayed there, but it never again displayed a fierce and frightening attitude as it had the first time. It just came out quietly and slowly to the same place it had been before and lay there calmly and quite still for a while and then turned and went away. The Acariya said that once again he saw and realised the wonder of Metta–Dhamma while he was there, in a manner that touched his heart.
      From that day on, he and the snake lived there in harmony without any mistrust or doubts about each other. Whenever the snake wanted to come out and wander about in the vicinity of the mouth of the cave it would do so in the manner of an animal which is quite accustomed to living with people without any suspicion and watchfulness on either side. It would also go out wandering about at any time it wanted to and not only at particular times of the day as it used to before, as the villagers had told him.
      In regard to this kind of story, for a long time I have been quite ready to believe in the truth of such things. If people say that I am a fool I am ready to accept it, but I do so because I have also come across such things, and so have all the other Acariyas such as Venerable Acharn Mun for example. They have often told stories of how animals of all kinds were never afraid of the Bhikkhus and how they liked to come and live in their vicinity. They would come in groups and swarms, both large animals such as wild boars, ordinary deer and barking deer; and small animals like chipmunks, squirrels, civets and snakes. This is because animals generally speaking know the mannerisms and modes of behaviour of those who do not torment and kill them.
      In whatever place Bhikkhus go to stay for a time, before long there will generally be various animals coming to live there and to look on that place as a sanctuary. And the Bhikkhus who have metta, like to play with them and also to bring lots of food to give those animals which like bananas, fruit and rice. Water is a necessity for most animals and so, when the Bhikkhus see a lot of animals coming to live round about, they look for vessels to put water in and they place them wherever it is suitable for these animals to drink.
      It is because the Bhikkhus have metta in the citta as a basic underlying foundation that people and animals have a special, intimate confidence in them, which is appropriate to their peaceful calling, for they have never been any danger to others. Therefore the story which this Acariya told is readily acceptable as being in conformity with experiences which others have had since the origin of Buddhism.
      Generally speaking, the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu who practises with determination and courage will tend to come across dangerous situations continually, but he manages to escape unharmed without becoming a victim of these dangers. This encourages one to think and feel confident that, those who have Dhamma in their hearts and who are absolutely intent on the pursuit of Dhamma will always triumph by way of Dhamma when they come across the various things that happen to them. It is rare that anything harms them so that they lose out and come to serious damage as so often happens to others. It seems almost as if they have some mysterious supernatural protection within them which is difficult to describe and cannot be explained to others. But this is the truth, for the writer knows from his friends and colleagues who have often told him of incidents of this kind that they have come across.
      This Venerable Acharn has a very resolute, determined character and likes to go off and live on his own, but he does not like mixing with his friends and associates. The reasons he gives for this go to one’s heart, for he said:
     
     “When one goes off alone and lives alone it makes one have the mindfulness to recollect and know oneself all the time. One is not likely to forget oneself and to go out and become involved with all sorts of things as happens when living with friends and colleagues who are sometimes bound to talk together. Whereas, when one lives alone one’s only concern is oneself and there are no distracting concerns in connection with any companions. Whatever attitude one’s body is in one continues to strive for Dhamma associated with mindfulness which is there continually without any breaks. And anyone who has mindfulness present with him is likely to have a way to know well about all sorts of things which happen in himself. Even when he comes to a time of crisis, he is not full of attachments and concerns in regard to other people, for he is responsible for himself. And when the time has finally come for him to submit his life to the way of nature, he does so in the manner of Dhamma. No fuss, no concern, and no holding back, which would be a worrisome burden. Thus he submits to death according to the circumstances, relaxed, at ease with no concern or worry. As far as the corpse and its disposal are concerned, once their owner has relinquished all concern and anxiety, what remains is a worthless lump of matter from then on, which becomes covered with earth and grass like all other things and there is nothing left there which is special or unusual.”
     
      What the Acariya said was worth hearing, it was pleasant and went to one’s heart, but it was also well suited to the character of one who had set himself to be a “Son of the Sakya, The Supreme Buddha (Sakyaputta Buddhajinarasa)” following truly in the Lord’s footsteps, and it is rare that one meets anyone like this. After hearing what he said, one stores it in one’s memory to bring joy to one’s mind and to uplift one’s heart by recollecting it often. Stories of his life will be good examples for future generations, spreading out into the future, so that the Dhutanga observances which have been passed down to us Bhikkhus shall not be buried and wasted, which would be a sad loss and a cause for sorrow.
      He has shown that there are still those who strive to follow the way and to gain the fruits which come from their own practice, and the line of continuity is not yet broken of those who attain more and more calm and happiness as they reach successively higher levels of the citta and Dhamma. They start from the levels of samadhi, reaching the levels of wisdom (pañña) until it changes into the levels of attaining freedom (vimutti) from the influence of the “Ti–lakkhana” — these being: Anicca (transience), Dukkha (discontent — suffering), and Anatta (being not-self), which all those who have kilesas are stuck with.
      Those Bhikkhus who like to live in the forests, in the hills, in caves and under overhanging cliffs seem to have stories which are much more interesting and much more likely to set the reader thinking about them than those Bhikkhus who live in more ordinary places. The Acariya whose stories we are presently considering illustrates this point well. If we were to give him a pseudonym and call him “The Adventurer”, it would suit him without being in any way disrespectful, because his ad­venturous encounters were for the purpose of clearing out the “weeds” and searching for the true Dhamma. So this pseudonym accords with his mode of practice which is very much that of being a warrior or an adventurer who never gives in nor retreats.
      One may laugh at this, for it hardly seems that the instances related above are worthy of such praise. But the reader should first consider the following stories before deciding whether he was a “warrior” at the moment when he was actually face to face with a crisis. I think the reader may therefore learn to admire the courage of this Acariya in the following stories.
     
      Encounters With Various Tigers
     
      At one time the Acariya was staying in a cave. One night when the moon was waxing, the sky was bright and starry and the weather was calm and pleasant, the Acariya was walking cankama in front of the cave. At that time there was a very large tiger with a huge round head, as big as he had ever seen and, speaking colloquially, as large as one of our earthenware water pots. To begin with he heard it growling in a frightening and threatening manner about twenty yards away. Then it started to roar, and it roared as loud as it could, until it seemed that the whole mountain was vibrating. While it was growling the Acariya had still not been able to see it. But before long he saw it emerge from the background coming straight towards him and roaring full volume, until it was about four yards away when it stopped, stood there and sat on it haunches. It did not show any other sign that it would attack him but just sat there, much in the way a dog would sit in front of one. He could see it quite clearly now, its stripes and all, because he had a candle lantern lit and hung up to give light for walking cankama.
      When the Acariya saw this tiger come and sit in front of him, he thought to himself: “Why has this large tiger come here? This district covers a large area and there is plenty of room for it to wander about, so why does it not go away? Instead, it comes here, apparently thinking of having a bit of fun by showing its superiority over a human being who is afraid of such things.” He stood there for a short while looking at this tiger sitting in front of him and roaring to its hearts content. The Acariya felt a bit of apprehension in his heart, but it was only slight and he had no external symptoms or signs of fear at all. Then he slowly walked towards it, speaking to it, saying: “This is not the place for you to be wandering about, for this is where a Bhikkhu is working to develop the Dhamma of a recluse (Samana–Dhamma), so what have you come for? You should go and wander about over there where you can play with others of your kind. So go! For Bhikkhus are not made of brick and stone, and they are afraid of frightening things in the same way as all other animals.”
      Having finished speaking he then walked straight towards the tiger. He said that he got to within about a yard of it when it leapt away suddenly and disappeared, but where it went he did not know. In fact it disappeared so quickly it was as if it had gone by magic. He looked for it all around but could see no trace of it which surprised him and he has wondered about it ever since, because it could not have dis­appeared so quickly. The place where he was staying and the place where this large tiger was sitting was clear and open and there was nothing there which was enough to give cover or to obstruct his view or prevent him seeing it the moment after it leapt away. So he was puzzled and kept wondering about it all the time. Later on when he went to visit Venerable Acharn Mun he took the opportunity to tell him what had happened and to ask him about the tiger which jumped away and disappeared so fast and how such a thing could happen.
      Venerable Acharn Mun explained it to him saying:
     
     “That was not a real tiger but one created by the Devas, for these Devas have many magical powers which are beyond the scope of us people. They are able to take on the form of a gross body or a subtle body, or create a mental image (nimitta) of an animal, a tiger, a man or women without any difficulty. Sometimes when they come to visit me they come in various different forms and sometimes the same Deva will come in different forms on different occasions. That tiger which came to visit you, if it had been a real tiger, coming up in front of a person like that one must assume that it had the intention to eat the person for certain, even though it knew that man is held in awe by all animals including tigers.”
      “There are tigers which act under the control of Devas and there are those which are the Deva himself taking on a created form (nimitta), and the one which visited you was of this latter form. This is why when it leapt away, it disappeared so abnormally fast that you could not see and follow what happened to it and where it went.”
      “I have become well accustomed to animals, tigers, Devaputta and Devadhita coming to me. For when one goes to live in the hills and forests alone one goes for the sake of Dhamma, and because the Dhamma is very powerful, all animals have respect and love for it, and so the heart which has Dhamma in it will also be powerful. But the power of Dhamma is not like worldly power which always waits for a chance to become aggressive, and those who are threatened by it are truly afraid while it threatens them. But their hearts don’t want to submit to the threat of this worldly power, and as soon as there is a chance they begin to take revenge on it, and we can see this happening in the world quite often. Therefore, where only worldly power is used, there is no Dhamma in it to back it up and the world finds great difficulty in maintaining peace and calm. So the Lord taught that the world should be governed by Dhamma, and people should govern each other by the way of Dhamma by relying upon what is right, good and appropriate as the authority, and not by taking emotional preferences and conceited opinions as the authority.”
      “Dhamma has no form or substance which we can see with our physical eyes, but Dhamma is that nature which is most subtle and recondite and beyond all comparisons with any relative conventions. However subtle the heart (citta) is, Dhamma is equally subtle, and the heart is the abode of all Dhammas. Apart from the heart, there is nowhere else that is a suitable abode for Dhamma and therefore, Dhamma is not easy to talk about even though one knows it full well in one’s heart. That is, with the exception of those who practise the way and know Dhamma at various levels and stages; with them there can be discussion and a good enough mutual understanding. But for those who know Dhamma completely, and have realised the full range of the citta and Dhamma, when they discuss Dhamma they understand each other with complete certainty in all aspects and nuances. Questions such as: ‘What is the meaning of Dhamma?’ or ‘Where is it to be found?’, they already know without having to waste time in explanations. Those who must still depend on asking questions and the answers they receive have not yet attained the qualities of one who knows the field of Dhamma in full measure — this is the nature of the true Dhamma. But if the heart is false it will produce false Dhamma, and however long one goes on asking questions and receiving answers one only gets a lot of views and opinions and a heart full of the conceit of knowledge which can never agree with others. These are only the names and symbols of Dhamma, and in this way one gets only the names and symbols of Dhamma, and nothing of the true Dhamma filters into one’s heart. Anybody can learn and memorise the names and symbols of Dhamma because they are things which anybody should be able to memorise. But the important thing is the true Dhamma whose name and symbol one has naturally in oneself without having to learn it by repetition and memorising — and this kind of Dhamma is difficult to practise, difficult to see and difficult to know.”
      “The reason why I said just now that the true Dhamma is difficult to practise and to know, and that it does not arise by asking questions and receiving answers, is because its whole nature is truth and this is the end point of all questions and problems. In addition, this Dhamma is always in the world, for it is eternal, neither developing nor deteriorating under any circumstances. So when we talk about the power of Dhamma, it is this Dhamma that is meant — what else could it be?”
      “I am very uncertain whether you and the others who are listening will be able to understand and follow every aspect of the Dhamma that I have just told you, but this was the right time to speak so it was necessary to do so — for it is said “Talk about Dhamma at the right time is one of the greatest blessings (kalena dhammasakaccha etam mangalamuttamam).”
     
      This was the Dhamma which Venerable Acharn Mun gave in answer and explanation to this Venerable Acharn and to others present who were his colleagues and who were listening also. But I had to write this based on what I heard from this Acariya. And although I may not have understood every word of it I have tried to write down everything, because I am sure that as different people have different abilities and cleverness, there are bound to be some who are able to understand the words of Venerable Acharn Mun quite clearly, even though I may not be able to do so. So I have written it down for others to work out its meaning in the hope that it will be of value to all of us in so far as this is possible. Because the words of someone like of Venerable Acharn Mun, even though amounting to only two or three sentences, are usually Dhamma of a kind that one rarely hears. Even though one may not understand it, one still feels satisfied to hear it and to write it down so that those who read it in the future may be helped in their contemplation of Dhamma, which may be a means of promoting their mindfulness and wisdom to some extent.
      There are still many more such sayings of Venerable Acharn Mun’s, and I will include them from time to time as this account of the ways of practice involve Venerable Acharn Mun, and according to their suitability — up to the end of this book.
      There was another cave in which this same Acariya stayed and he stayed here longer than elsewhere. But it seems that there were no tigers or other animals which came to bother him and cause any difficulties. That is, until he had almost reached the time for him to leave the cave and go wandering and seeking for Dhamma as was his disposition.
      Early one morning when it was almost time for him to go for pindapata, he heard a big tiger growling and roaring and coming right up to where he was staying. As soon as he saw it coming up to him and roaring, his hair stood on end and he started to shake all over and he was so frightened that his heart almost stopped. (On this occasion his citta could not yet have become firm and strong enough. But in writing about this Acariya, I do not know in what order the events occurred, for I did not ask him when each one took place. I just took note of each event as he told them, so I do not know in what order they should be to conform to the Acariya’s development in the practice of Dhamma. Therefore it would be best if the reader just takes in the gist of each story by itself.)
      He must have been very frightened, because the tiger walked straight up to him in a genuinely determined manner even though it had seen him since it emerged from the forest, and came towards him. For normally it should have stopped for a few moments when it first saw him, but it kept on walking and growling until it came within about four yards of him. Then it stopped and sat down like a domesticated dog and looked straight at the Acariya, staring without blinking, but it did not crouch nor make any sign that it would attack him, in fact its manner was very like the tiger in the story we wrote about previous to this one. This tiger also showed no serious intention to do him any harm — but a tiger is a fearsome animal and even though its actions may not give cause for fear, one is still almost bound to be afraid of it.
      When the Acariya saw the tiger looking at him, he looked straight back at it with fear for a short while. Then he recollected himself and as soon as he was able to set up his mindfulness, he raised his arm and pointed his finger straight at it, saying: “This is not the place for you to be wandering about, but a place for Bhikkhus to stay and practise meditation. Now go away to where there is more forest and more hills than there are here.” But it just sat there looking at him without any sign of going away. So the Acariya picked up a stick and pointed it at the tiger saying: “Go away! There are plenty of hills where you can go wandering about, so don’t go on sitting there staring and making a Bhikkhu frightened. I am not an animal, not meat; I am not tiger’s food like they are; I am a Bhikkhu who is possessed of moral behaviour (sila) and Dhamma. So don’t stay here making me afraid, for soon, when you die you will fall into the fearful abyss of hell. Don’t say I haven’t warned you!” Then he pointed the stick at the tiger again, saying: “You must go now, for I am very afraid of you; your eyes are the eyes of a tiger, more sharp and penetrating than anything else and if you go on looking at me for a long time to make me very frightened so that I die, you are sure to fall into hell.” After which he moved from where he had been standing pointing the stick at the tiger and strode straight towards it. Immediately it leapt away and disappeared. When it had gone his own thoughts came up to frighten him some more. “What if it should follow me while I go for pindapata?” For it was thick jungle all the way, but he never saw the tiger as he thought he would.
      That day his thoughts were all tainted with fear. He was afraid that it may come again, and during the night he thought of nothing but the tiger coming to get him within the next few moments, until he was unable to develop any concentration at all. So he had to teach and placate himself almost the whole night until eventually his heart submitted to the teaching and he was able to go down into a calm state of peace. From then on all his fear disappeared in a state of calm and happiness.
      After that he never saw the tiger again for the rest of the time he was there. He said that this tiger was very big and long and truly very frightening. It seems as though it was probably one of those mysterious tigers for it was as big as the one that came to him in the middle of the night in the previous story of this Acariya. It’s behaviour and characteristics were similar and it leapt away very fast in the same way, which makes one think that it was likely to have been a tiger created by the Devas, as Venerable Acharn Mun explained, which when seen is so frightening that one tends to lose all one’s reason and all control of one’s senses. The Venerable Acharn explained the value of living in the forest and the value of the citta which has faced up to all sorts of happenings. His explanations were wonderfully impressive, but I cannot remember much of it because I have a tendency to forget easily. He said that when necessity arose, in difficult circumstances of various kinds which put the heart under compulsive pressure, he got a feeling as if there was something giving protection within him of a strange and unusual kind which is impossible to describe. Under the pressure of such critical circumstances, the growth and development of the citta took place with ease and very fast which was very different from the normal way of things. This is what made him like living in places which are dangerous and full of uncertainty, even though normally he tended to be timid, easily frightened and cautious. For when he was confronted with these fearful experiences he felt his heart moving up to a higher level every time they occurred. This happened in the most strange and unexpected way which amazed him, and he actually wanted these fearful experiences to occur frequently so that his heart may strive to develop itself and grow up more and more by depending on these experiences to assist it.
      Living in the forests and hills is beneficial in subtle and strange ways which is hard to convey to others; although the Acariya never had any desire to talk with others about living in such places, because the nature of this kind of living is only suited to people whose char­acters have a tendency in this direction. As for the Acariya himself, whenever he left the forest to live in more usual places or in the ordinary forest, his heart tended to be lazy, careless and over confident and he had little interest in helping himself, so that the results which his heart should have been getting hardly ever appeared. He ate more food than when he was living in more rigorous conditions, and he also slept a lot and was more lazy. Then emotional concerns began to arise gradually and to increase every day while mindfulness and wisdom deteriorated and diminished.
      Summing up all his characteristics he said:
     “While living in places where people normally lived I could see no development or improvement taking place in myself, and for me to live in such places would be just waiting for the day when I shall die, without gaining any value from it. So I thought that if I did not want to die in the manner of a worthless person, I had better go away and search for Dhamma for the sake of my own salvation. Having reached this conclusion I made up my mind to go into the forests and hills again where I had always been.”
      “The heart that has experienced peace and calm and which has been bright and scintillating with wisdom, derived from living in the forests and hills, in caves and under overhanging cliffs, cannot be made to come and live in conditions where it is cramped and difficult and where no Dhamma touches it at all. It has got to get back to the forests and hills in accordance with its nature; and as soon as it does so the heart feels easy and relaxed in conformity with the pleasant environment, without having to force or coerce it at all.”
      “The effort made in practising the way and the various attitudes and postures of the body then blend together in harmony; and the mindfulness and wisdom which used to go hand in hand with the effort, then arise by themselves without having to call them up or force them to be there. The tendency to be lazy, to eat a lot and to sleep a lot, all die away of themselves, and in place of them whatever arises is Dhamma. Then those things which are not Dhamma — which were so difficult to drive out while living in ordinary, more civilised places — all gradually drop away and disappear without any need to use a lot of effort to get rid of them, which one has to when living in ordinary places.”
      “Eating, sleeping, reducing emotional concerns and striving to promote the way, all change and become harmonious, each being done in the right order and for the right amount of time — which is very different from the way it was when I was living in more ordinary places. This made me think how the task of extracting and getting rid of the kilesas is very much easier when living in the forests and hills than in more usual places.”
     
      The Acariya said that, going by his own experience of living in ordinary places, instead of extracting and getting rid of the kilesas in the way he had been led to believe, he found in fact, that he was accumulating kilesas in every position and posture which he assumed. This meant that he ate a lot because craving (tanha) came gently whispering to him that he should eat plenty, for the food was of good flavour, easily digested, good for the body’s health, well suited to his nature, — and well suited to the nature and tendencies of the kilesas! The kilesas liked it so much that they must be given plenty. He also slept too much, because the kilesas came whispering to him that he should rest a lot, otherwise he would be tired and weak and would not be able to strive for Dhamma with his full strength. But when the time actually came for him to strive for Dhamma with his full strength it in fact turned out to be the time for resting. In other words, he just went on lying there without having any fixed time when he should get up — for the kilesas never made any decision as to when he should get up! And his “striving with full strength” never showed up at all for him to see it, so that he could say that he had worked hard for so many hours this day and night. Instead, the kilesas lulled him to sleep from the time he finished eating his meal until dusk. He never saw his striving for Dhamma gain power over and penetrate into the laziness which arose from eating too much food. His thinking and imagination then increased until they went beyond all reasonable limits, and all the time in every case, his thought and imagination was concerned with nothing but the story of craving, the cause of dukkha (tanha–samudaya). They led the way, taking him on a tour through all sorts of buildings, places and halls belonging to the King and Queen of the three cravings (kama–tanha, bhava–tanha, vibhava–tanha), all prepared and ready to entertain the tourist who had eaten so much food his belly was over full, and to appease his emotional problems.
      Laziness was very much in evidence, for if his head touched his pillow all his cares immediately vanished, and if anyone or anything came to rouse him up it was quite useless. He said:
     
     “Eating a lot, ­lying down sleeping a lot, and being very lazy have always been ­companions that nobody can separate. Laziness is the most important member of this group and it gets support from the other two members. Wherever these three comrades go, they go together, never separating in life or death. If I was unable to wash them out and get rid of them, then I would have to go off into the forests and hills to find a tiger to help me drive them out, as well as using the methods of taking little food and having few amenities, to bring them under control. For otherwise I would have gone on like this until I died in their tight grip with no hope of escaping.”
      “In order to overpower them so that their influence would weaken, I opposed the desires of my heart and went to live in places where they did not want to go — places where they were afraid. Then in all ways, the effort I made in striving for Dhamma developed smoothly and consistently, and whatever way it went, its way was the way of Dhamma and not the way of the kilesas and craving as it had been when I was living under ordinary conditions. For under such conditions the kilesas could easily take charge of me whereas I never had a chance to take charge of them at all.”
     He said: “My character is of a type that is difficult to train and discipline and it was essential for me to find a suitable place and conditions to help in doing this by forcing it to accept training and discipline in a different way. Then I would at least be able to breathe more freely without being weighed down, clogged up and unable to think all the time. Living in the forests, in the hills, in caves and under overhanging cliffs in the way I have been accustomed to living is, I feel, well suited to my character and temperament in that it enabled me to have some calm and peace of heart. For my character is thick with kilesas and dull in wisdom.”
     
      The Acariya said how when he was still fairly young, he was very zealous in self-discipline, which included fasting, eating little, wandering about and living in the forests and hills. He never felt easy in his heart about leaving them to go and stay in more ordinary places as most other Bhikkhus do, and he only did so when he was compelled to. Staying in ordinary places showed him quite clearly that if he was ever to make the Path, Fruition and Nibbana become the wealth of his heart, he must undergo training and discipline of the most rigorous kind. But if he was to go the way of submission to the power of craving he would live like an animal without a master and in a few days he would see the results of its influence quite clearly. This was the reason why he could not live in ordinary places.
      When he tried to practise the way of living in a forest environment such as those which we have already mentioned, his heart turned and became peaceful, mindfulness and wisdom which had never been there became apparent, and steadily, as he went on with his training and discipline, he came to know and experience things which he had never before encountered. This gave his heart the encouragement which enabled him to fight those obstacles to his development as need arose from time to time. Until finally, staying in such places brought a deeply felt satisfaction, and he saw how they were the right places to correct those bad characteristics of his, and how they are also places which become the “Temple of Dhamma” (Vimana–Dhamma) in the most unexpected way.
     
      The Acariya said: “Right up to the present day, my heart has nothing but praises and gratitude for those places in the forests and the hills where I lived with ease of heart. I would like to go and live there, until they become the place of my grave when I come to the end of my life, for I do not want to die in a place which is all distracted and turbulent. To die in those forests and hills is to die in peace, joyfully in Dhamma with nothing acting as a disturbance to pull and influence one, for such things are nothing but a distracting nuisance. The heart is then intent on Dhamma alone, with mindfulness and wisdom as its two associates, joyfully searching and examining with thoroughness and circumspection to get to the causes and the results of the Dhamma truth which dwells within the citta.”
      “The heart and Dhamma have the most intimate and close association together, so when the time comes that the body and its parts lose their strength and continue to deteriorate until they are abandoned and left to go their own way in accordance with the truth of what they are, if then one has circumspect mindfulness and wisdom in everything, both inwardly and outwardly, one is oneself entire and complete. Then there is no need to go and pick up and borrow what is called “oneself”, from the conventional relative world, which one puts on and wears, to become a “man of the world”, which is the “way of the world” everywhere. Then one can let go of this burden — the khandhas — that one has struggled with and carried about all the time, by relaxing and letting them go their own way quite naturally. One lets the fundamental elements of the khandhas revert to their own natural state — “analayo” — free from attachment. This is the “wealth” for whoever can do it and he will guard his “Analaya treasure”, and whatever his history has been, this will just be the end of it. Why then should he go about searching for things to get involved in any more, when they would only give rise to more trouble and confusion? For the truth is that the kilesas are at an end, for they have all been driven out of the heart, and since that moment all concerns have ceased.”
     
      This is how this Acariya praised the virtues of living in forests and hills for one who has the same type of character and temperament as himself. He always gained calm and happiness of heart from the forests right up to the present time and he never became tired of them. This conforms to the teaching that the Lord Buddha laid down for Bhikkhus who have just been ordained, thus: “Go out and find a quiet and secluded place in the forest under the shade of a tree for instance, where you can strive to practise the way.”
      This Acariya has the faculty of being able to know and see all sorts of things in the realms of the gods which the human eye cannot see, for example, the Pretas, Ghosts, Devaputta, Devadhita and the Naga–kings. His way was very like that of Venerable Acharn Mun, and whenever the opportunity arose they would talk Dhamma together about those beings who have subtle, Deva, bodies. It was wonderful to listen to and quite absorbing, so that one wanted them to keep on talking for a long time. It was even more worth while to hear when they talked about the Devas who came to listen to Dhamma talks and who asked questions, because both Acariyas knew what the other was talking about without any danger of misunderstandings arising. This is much the same as people who have learnt a particular branch of knowledge who can talk together about the subject without difficulty.
      It seemed that this Acariya was quite an expert in his understanding and knowledge of those who live in the realms of the Devas. When I asked him questions about these realms, he gave detailed answers which were wonderful to hear. Thus, for example, when asked about the Naga–kings, he said that these Naga–kings have great supernatural powers. When they came to see him they came in all sorts of different bodily forms (kaya–nimitta), and one time the Acariya asked one of them to demonstrate his ability for him to see. The Naga said that to produce bodily forms of various sorts is not difficult for the Naga–kings and they can make the body appear in any form they want. Then he proceeded to display various different forms which the Acariya saw right there. He told the Acariya to just keep watching and he disappeared for a short while. Then the Acariya saw a white robed lay follower (upasaka) walk up to him and when quite close this form suddenly disappeared, then he saw a hunter complete with his weapons come up close to him and disappear. After that a large elephant appeared coming towards him, and so on. The Naga said that in whatever form he wanted to appear he could appear just as he wanted, whether it was that of an elephant, a person or anything else and he could do so almost instantaneously.
      Concerning the Naga–kings ability to release poison, the Acariya said that once when he was wandering with Venerable Acharn Mun near the Mekong river, in some places where they stayed there were ponds of clear clean water which should have been good for drinking and bathing. But Venerable Acharn Mun would not let them use the water at all, for he was afraid that the Naga–kings had ejected poison into the water and that if they used it for washing or drinking they would get sick with fever, making them generally unwell and increasing their difficulties. Acharn Mun said: “This is because this group of Naga–kings do not yet have any faith in or respect for us. They have been competing to gain superiority over us for several nights already, but before long their conceited views will die away, for they cannot stand against the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha. This group of Naga–kings still have no faith either in Buddhism or in us and they think that we have come here to contend with them and to drive them away from this place. This is why they have reacted by contending with us for several nights, but I am not interested in the way they react, for I have complete certainty that evil was never able to defeat virtue, and this Dhamma teaching, as with all others which the Lord proclaimed from the day of his first teachings to the time of his entering Parinibbana, has never changed or altered. Because this is a ‘Dhamma Truth’, complete and perfect and cannot be altered.”
      This Acariya knew what it was that Venerable Acharn Mun was warning them about because he knew a lot about this group of Nagas and had also talked with Venerable Acharn Mun about them. But before long these Nagas gave way and took the “Refuges” (Sarana) with Venerable Acharn Mun, and they offered protection for the safety and convenience of the Bhikkhus, just as he had predicted. After the Nagas had gained faith, submitted to Venerable Acharn Mun and taken the refuges with him, he asked them saying: “Why did you release poison into the water which is of value to everyone, both people and animals? Were you not afraid of the evil kamma you would make when the water poisoned those who take it? For the Naga–kings themselves must bear the responsibility for this evil, and there is absolutely no way to escape from it, this being the law of kamma as it has always been. Because the results of kamma have power beyond that of all the Naga–kings everywhere, and if the Naga–kings are afraid of evil, afraid of kamma and afraid of falling to hell, they should go and remove that poison from the water in those ponds and turn it into pure water as it was before. Neither I, nor any of the Bhikkhus, have touched that water so far, because I knew perfectly well that the Naga–kings had deliberately put myself and all these Bhikkhus into the danger of drinking and using that water.”
      At this point the Naga–kings submitted completely, for this was just what they had in fact done. They had not told Venerable Acharn Mun anything about the poison but he knew of it from his own internal intuitive knowing (ñana) and they admitted that what he said was true. After this they hurried to draw the poison out of the water in the ponds until there was none left, and then they came back quickly to tell Venerable Acharn Mun. At the same time they invited him and all the Bhikkhus to use the water freely without any fear of danger. This is how the Naga–kings who were conceited and contended for superiority with Venerable Acharn Mun, turned round and submitted themselves to him completely. They also dedicated themselves as his followers, learning the Truths of Dhamma from him with enthusiasm and strong faith from then on. As soon as Venerable Acharn Mun knew that the Nagas had given way and removed all the poison he told the Bhikkhus that they may use the water to drink and to wash in from then on.
      Venerable Acharn Mun considered this Acariya to be very precise and thorough in his knowledge of subtle, mysterious things, such as the Naga–kings, and it is hard to find any of his followers who could equal him. Venerable Acharn Mun always taught the other Bhikkhus how they should behave in relation to those of the Deva realms. For instance, when they went to stay in some places, almost every day beings of the Deva realms would come late at night to hear Dhamma from him, when it was quiet and peaceful. He had to point out to the Bhikkhus that they should be careful of their behaviour and he told them to lie down and rest in the early part of the night. Once it had become late at night they should get up and get on with their striving for Dhamma so that when all the Devas come they will be able to salute and pay homage to us and to admire the zeal of these Bhikkhus, all of whom would be practising the way and doing their meditation practice when they come to visit us. We should not let them find us in an attitude of sleep, for it is lacking in mindfulness and is likely to give rise to unseemly mannerisms. The Devas often used to complain to Venerable Acharn about Bhikkhus who were asleep and had no manners. But although it may not be possible for one who is asleep to have mindfulness to control his behaviour, it is within the ability of the Bhikkhus to avoid this by not lying down and sleeping at those times when the Devas usually come. Therefore Venerable Acharn told them to rest and sleep before the time when the Devas come. The Bhikkhus then made an effort to do what Venerable Acharn had told them and there were no more complaints from the Devas. As for any of the Bhikkhus who had the ability to receive the Deva guests, they would do so in the same way as Venerable Acharn Mun did. But those who did not have this ability would go on practising their samadhi meditation when the Devas came.
     
      The Way Devatas Liked Hearing Dhamma
     
      Venerable Acharn Mun and the foregoing Acariya both said the same thing about the Devatas in that they have characters which are quite individual, in the same way that people do. Some of them liked to hear the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta, some the Karaniyametta Sutta, some liked to hear the Abhidhamma — in other words “Kusala dhamma, akusala dhamma...,” which the Lord Buddha taught to his Mother in the Tavatimsa Heaven. Some liked to hear the Aparihaniyadhamma Sutta and some the Mettabrahmavihara Sutta, in fact more of them wanted to hear this sutta than any other. The different groups, levels and realms variously liked different suttas depending on their individual characteristics and there were so many different ones which they asked to hear. However, I will not attempt to make a list of them, for I have not come across nor looked into all the Suttas which the Devatas wanted to hear, so I cannot let the reader know about them, and I must ask you to forgive me for this. But wherever this Acariya went to stay in the hills and forests the Devatas always liked to go and associate with him in the same way as they did with his Acariya — Venerable Acharn Mun.
      Sometimes the Acariya stayed with the Rishi hermits who practised their way in caves in various locations far away from the turbulence of society, and generally four or five kilometres or more from the nearest village, and deep in the hills where nobody goes. For these Rishis do not have the tradition of going pindapata as the Bhikkhus do and they cook and eat their meals themselves, alone. When the Acariya went to stay there in a cave close by, he went to the Rishi for pindapata, and that day the Rishi cooked curried beans and gave them to him with great joy and gladness of heart. The manner in which this Acariya related this story was very funny but we will not elaborate it here. The Acariya said he was very hungry and tired having walked three days through wild country and he had eaten very little while travelling. For in walking through the forests and over hills he came across the occasional small village composed of only three or four houses where some forest dwellers lived who knew nothing about Buddhism, and he had to rely on those people to give him enough food to keep him going. So both because he had walked very far and also gone up and down many hills, his body was quite exhausted and he wanted food much more than was normal for him. So as soon as the Rishi had finished cooking the curried beans and given them to him he ate the lot until his bowl was clean, both the curried beans and the rice, for that day he left nothing, not even any bits sticking to his bowl. But having eaten, instead of feeling strength returning to his body, he felt increasingly weak and tired and he just wanted to lie down and sleep, for the food that the Rishi had given him was quite delicious. Meanwhile the Rishi was very pleased and happy to see him eat all of it, for what he had done seemed to be absolutely suitable to the occasion, without any thought of the situation and what might come of it. As soon as the Acariya saw that his condition was not good he went to a place where he could walk cankama and walked, until the afternoon after which he rested in meditation practice.
      While he was sitting practising samadhi, his citta dropped into a state of calm and he heard the sound of gongs and drums of the Devatas who were expressing their appreciation for the fruits of metta which they had received from the Acariya. They were also glad about the gift of food which the Rishi had made to him when he was very hungry, for the merit and good which he had made was exceedingly great and beyond calculation. So these Devatas were overflowing with delight and thanksgiving (anumodana), for it is very rare that a “holy” man, complete in moral behaviour and Dhamma who is worthy of respect and veneration and makes one glad at heart, should come and favour them. They were truly glad about the fruits which had come from him so they all came to express their satisfaction and thanksgiving and asked that they may share in this merit by their act of thanksgiving.
      This was how the Devatas who lived round those hills all ex­pressed their gladness at the gift which the Rishi had made through the Acariya who had been so hungry and had eaten a lot. They came so that he should be a witness to their gladness and they also asked him to tell the Rishi about this and to express their thanks (anumodana) to him. So early that evening, he took the opportunity to talk Dhamma with the Rishi, and speaking in an indirect manner he said: “This afternoon I dreamed that a great company of Devatas came beating gongs and drums to give thanks for the great merit which you made in giving food to me this morning, and they also asked for their share of merit which comes from the thanksgiving. You must have gained a lot of merit for all these Devatas to come and give thanks and to ask for a share in it as well.”
      Hearing this, the Rishi put his hands together and raised them above his head in appreciation and agreement with the Devatas, and he expressed his admiration of the Acariya, saying: “You must be very skilled in the ways of intuitive knowledge (ñana); for if you were able to hear the sounds of the Devatas showing their appreciation by this thanksgiving while you were merely sleeping in the middle of the day, how much more skilled you must be at other times when you are not asleep. I have no doubt about this for I have had great reverence and faith in Venerable Acariya since I first saw you, and for this reason I have done whatever I can for you gladly and willingly, so when I saw you eat a lot of that food my gladness and joy was boundless. Can you tell me where these Devatas live so that they were able to know that I had given food to you and then to make their thanksgiving, and also to ask for a share in the merit from me? And why have I never seen them display themselves all the time I have been living here?”
      “These are the Rukkha Devas (Devas who dwell in trees) and they live not very far from us. This morning when I was doing the thanksgiving, “Yatha... Sabbitiyo...,” they also heard it and responded with their “Sadhu”; but if we are not aware of them it seems as if there are none of them anywhere around here at all.”
      The Rishi was very interested in the story of the Devatas coming to make thanksgiving for the “dana” which he had given and asked the Acariya to tell him more about it. The Acariya then devised a way to get this Rishi to practise meditation, and also, so that he himself may have time for his own meditation practice without having external things coming to bother him too much. So he said to the Rishi:
     
     “In order to see the Pretas, Ghosts, Devaputtas or Devadhita you must look with the internal eye, the eye of the heart; and in order to be able to know all these other forms of existence with the internal eye you must be diligent in practising meditation. Examine the thirty two parts of the body in detail with wisdom. And when you do samadhi meditation practice, keep your attention on your breath, or on the word “Buddho”, just that, and don’t let it get caught up with anything else. When your citta becomes calm by either of these methods of meditation, you will be able to see the Devata for yourself without having to bother other people by asking about them. But if you are lazy in doing your ­meditation practice you will not see any Devatas, nor will your heart become calm and peaceful.”
      “To see the Devas, who have Deva–bodies, you must see with the Deva heart — in other words, you must use samadhi meditation as the means of doing this. If one does not have the means of doing this, there is no way in which one can know or see the beings of these realms.”
     
      After giving this explanation, the Rishi felt eager to practise this way so that he may come to know and see the Devatas. Then this Acariya took his leave and left him so that he could get on with his own practice. Late that night the Devatas came to visit him to ask about the Rishi and his desire to know where the Devatas lived, about his desire to practise meditation so as to know about the Devatas and also how the Acariya had taught him. So the Acariya then explained to them what he had taught the Rishi.
      The Acariya did not stay very long with the Rishi even though he had such great faith in this Acariya and was also very attached to him and did not want him to go. Once this Acariya was staying in a certain place in the forest with two other Bhikkhus. Later on he heard from the villagers that close to where the Bhikkhus were staying, they had buried the body of a woman who had died in an abnormal way — the villagers called it a “violent death”. This woman who lived in the forest was pregnant and she was ignorant of the necessary care and attention required in giving birth to a child and she was left to her own devices and died in a sorry state. This is what they told the Acariya, but to start with, none of the Bhikkhus knew about this woman.
      When the Acariya practised his meditation, the ghost of this woman came to bother him nearly every night. He explained that as he understood it, ghosts and people have very similar characteristics in regard to the sexual cravings that exist in the hearts of all beings in the world. (The writer apologises for bringing in this subject matter, but it is necessary for understanding the true basis of what happened.) He said that he saw this quite clearly when he went to stay and practise meditation in that forest with the two other Bhikkhus. As soon as night had come, whenever he entered into meditation he would see the ghost of this dead woman coming to him and displaying all the suggestive things of her sex to him all the time. But his citta was too strong for her and she could not do anything to overcome him. Sometimes this ghost appeared to become much more active than normal, almost as if it was going to try and rape him to satisfy her heart’s craving, but she had no way to get at him. He developed metta in his citta toward her but she would not accept it, for all she wanted was the satisfaction of this emotional state of craving (arammana). When he questioned this ghost, she answered quite truthfully without any deception, about how and why she had died, which was later confirmed by the villagers.
      It was after this that she tried unsuccessfully to do these things to him that he asked her what had happened to her. She told him that when she was alive as a human being her marriage had broken up and her husband left her for someone else. This had upset her very badly and when the time came to deliver her child there was nobody to look after her and give her medical attention. It was then that she died with her child still unborn. This was the same story that the villagers later told him. In fact he asked the villagers about this ghost because of its improper behaviour and because he would always see it when he entered samadhi. He said that this ghost was quite vicious. When it could not get its way with the Acariya it turned its attention to the two other Bhikkhus by acting as if it would rape them while they were asleep. They shouted out in their sleep, so loud that he could hear clearly what they said. “You are a woman and I am a Bhikkhu, how can you expect me to act like a lay person — I don’t want it — you must go away now quickly before you make worse kamma than you already have and go down to hell. Venerable Acharn! Help me! This ghost of a woman is trying to rape me! Come quickly! Help!” This is the kind of thing they were saying, but very loud, even though they were still asleep. Like someone shouting out something to let us know. The Acariya who was just coming out of his meditation practice after contending with the ghost, turned his attention out beyond himself and heard these strange noises quite clearly. So he quickly went to the Bhikkhu who had called for help and woke him up. When he was asked what had happened, he said that in his sleep he saw a pregnant woman coming towards him as though she would rape him, and she would not listen whatever he said to her so he called to Venerable Acharn for help and he was woken just in time. The Acariya said that he had never come across anything like this before and the whole incident was very strange. The two Bhikkhus both had the same kind of dream, but not on the same night. And both of them called for help to the Acariya when they became afraid that the ghost would make them lose their chastity (Brahmacariya) as Bhikkhus, and they called out loud and clearly. One night one of them called out, the next night the other one did the same thing and it went on like this. The Acariya was also disturbed in his meditation practice, but the two other Bhikkhus were disturbed almost every night.
      The Acariya said that the problem with this kind of madness is that it will not let its obsessed victims give way and receive any of their share of blessings and metta. They are so completely obsessed by their desire that they know no shame, which makes their thoughts go into strange and wrong ways, and this is the case quite regardless of their realm, world or form of existence. If such a shameless obsession should take possession of any being anywhere, that realm or world is bound to be of a nature similar to that in which the ghost of this woman lived and behaved in that way towards the Bhikkhus.
      I asked, “When the ghost of that woman was acting in bad, improper ways, what did it actually do?” The Acariya replied in a manner as if he was still angry with the ghost: “Do you want me to display everything in detail to you — like a boat on dry land? What I have already told you is enough to make me want to bury my head in the ground and I cannot go and reveal everything like someone taking off all his clothes. I am not shameless like that ghost who can speak without any sense of what is seemly and proper; and is it not enough simply to use the word “rape”? What else should one say? Surely everyone should understand what that means quite clearly, whether it concerns a ghost or a human being.”
      I then asked another question. “Did the other two Bhikkhus not know about the ghost from their samadhi meditation? If so, why should this ghost go and bother them when it was time for sleep — when one wants no pleasure more than a good sleep?” The Acariya replied: “They did not say whether they knew about it or not; all they did was to shout out in the middle of the night so that I could not stand it and had to go quickly to help them. When they woke and I asked them about it, all they said was that the ghost was trying to rape them.”
      I again asked: “How long did you stay in that place?” He replied: “We stayed there for several months and the reason why I decided to leave the place was because the other two Bhikkhus did not want to stay there. They said that they could not stand this ghost’s persistent efforts to have its way with them, so we had to go elsewhere.”
      I asked: “Does not the ghost which caused all this trouble belong to the realm of Pretas, who should be capable of accepting shared merit (puñña)? Why then was it not glad to accept its share of merit when the merit of someone’s good actions are shared out to other beings?” The Acariya replied: “I really do not know what group of beings it belongs to, in fact all I know is that it acted only in its own mad way, having no interest in anything else at all.” After this he smiled and said further. “I was sorry for the other two Bhikkhus who were still very young. They practised the way well and they were very intent on Dhamma, but they could not relax and stay there with an easy heart because of this thing which came to trouble them. At night they seemed to be very uneasy with thoughts of “dukkha” and desire in both of them. When it was time to sleep they both were afraid of the ghost and how it may harm them in the same way as it had already done so. So they did not want to go on staying there and we had to leave.”
      I asked: “Does this sort of thing happen only to women, or can men also become like this when they die?” The Acariya replied:
     
     “Let us just think in terms of sexual craving (raga–tanha), which not only afflicts women, or men, or Bhikkhus or Samaneras, or Pretas and ghosts, or Devaputtas and Devadhitas; for it is the leader in bringing harm to all of them. It never readily submits to being the servant of anyone and so it does not accept that there is anybody over whom it cannot be the boss and cannot order them about, for it is the one that orders them about. Therefore both men and women are equally susceptible. But in regard to this incident, I merely related what happened without any thought of blaming or criticising women and saying that they alone were bad. For if the situation was reversed and a man acts badly; or his ghost should appear to any woman or to one who practises meditation acting in a way comparable to the incident which I related, she would be bound to talk about it in a similar manner. If anyone says that we, or they, speak in a disparaging way about the spirits (viññana) of women or men, it will be no more than his own ideas which we cannot stop.”
      “As for sexual craving (raga–tanha), we should not take much interest in how it effects the ghosts and Pretas and other such beings. It would only waste a lot of time to know what they are all like and how they react to it. We human beings are the clever ones, and clever enough as women and men also, and even though we may not display anything outwardly we are still clever internally. For instance, the difference between the way things were when I was young as compared with the way they are nowadays is enormous, as different as the sky and the earth. Look for yourself, there is no need to go and talk about it both outwardly and inwardly, for the change has taken place just due to this — sexual craving — and it has almost reached the point where the whole world is ablaze with it. Because when one person who is bold faced and brazen makes a point of showing off his cleverness in this direction, then other people pick up these ideas and they also show off their cleverness, and this spreads more and more. So the world becomes more disturbed every day, because there is nothing good or beneficial that comes from this senseless display of vanity. Under normal conditions sexual craving is volatile and rather like a dangerous object such as a weapon or poison which can harm and kill. But when they think of it as being fun and play with it and praise it as being artistic or modernistic, saying how good it is, and then go and display it to the world its powerful influence will spread, because all of them have sexual craving in them, and it can cause the break-up and destruction of the world. Take a look for yourself! But if you don’t believe it you can try it out. You will soon see for yourself quite clearly just how powerful its influence is. But there is no need to talk much or to look far away, for it is there to some extent in the hearts of almost everyone and it shows itself outwardly for us to see how malignant it is, quite obviously. But why then should people go and promote it so that it develops and becomes so powerful that it ruins themselves and destroys the world? This is why the wisest of men have always taught people to be very cautious of it and to restrain and overcome it. This will at least bring some peace and calm in those groups who do this, enough for them to relax and breathe freely.”
      “You asked me about this so I have talked about it, but please do not think that I am blaming or criticising anyone. For I also have been afflicted by it and have sought for it and roused it up enough in the past for me to know without doubt that if ‘I’ should search for supreme happiness and satisfaction I must do so in quite another direction. Otherwise it would have kept whispering to me and dragging me down to hell all this time and every day for the rest of my life. Don’t think that it will lead you to the peaceful Dhamma which is a state of calm and tranquillity. If you look for the baneful side of sexual craving you should be able to see it because in itself it is entirely baneful, and it also dwells within the hearts of each one of us. If then you are still unsure of it, what else can I say?”
     
      The Acariya said that the ghosts and Devas have the pretentious wiles and ways of sexual craving quite as much as human beings, but this is not so in all cases. There are some who are bold to the point where they display their sexual craving quite openly in the same way as people who are given to this sort of thing. Sometimes a Deva would make a display of enticing mannerisms and ways and even going as far as grabbing hold of the Acariya saying that she loved him very much. Then he had to point out and explain the situation until she understood, after which she would not act in that way again. “But,” he said, “Going to the extent of grabbing hold of someone — this makes one think some! One should expect that beings in two different realms and states of existence would not be able to love and care for each other in the manner of emotional attachment (arammana). But this showed me how sexual craving is no respecter of persons, for it can make attachments anywhere that there is the opportunity and the appropriate situation. When this sort of thing happens, my gross, physical body is not apparent and I feel no awareness of it. It is probably a Deva body that is known, seen and felt by the Devas and this is what arouses whatever it is in the heart of the Devata. This reaches the point where she makes a display of her love openly without any shame — which is worse than the way of good people who have a proper sense of shame.”
      This kind of experience is often found amongst those who practise the way. But generally, they are not ready to talk about it to other people, except to those who also practise the way; or to someone whose character they know well and can trust; or to one who has come across such things.
      Some of the Bhikkhus who go far away into the hills are likely to be protected by a Devata who keeps close by him, although nobody is able to see this, although the Bhikkhu who the Devata has become associated with can know about it. But they make no ostentatious show to spoil it, like people in the world who have gross physical bodies. For they come with good intentions, faith and respect, and with a genuine desire to do what is meritorious and virtuous for the Bhikkhus. There are times when such a Bhikkhu may fast for many days until his body becomes weak and exhausted although his heart is still strong and bright. The Devata seeing this feels sorry for him and may want to give him some physical strength. So the Devata asks permission to help him by giving him some Deva food. This Bhikkhu saw what he understood to be the Deva food in the hand of the Devata, which she had brought with her. It looked like an off-white chalky powder, and this, the Devata told him, was the food of all classes of Devas. The Devata then asked if she could give him this food by rubbing it very lightly over his body so that the nutritive essence of this Deva food should permeate all parts of the body very quickly and give it strength, like one gets from eating ordinary food, or more so. The Bhikkhu felt that he should not give permission, for he was afraid that he may be breaking some of the rules of the Vinaya. Because it was already late in the afternoon and the Devata was female and she had come on her own, and if anyone should chance to see them, they would at least criticise him even though it may not be a fault against the Vinaya. Even worse, they might think that she was a real person and blame him in the way of the world, saying that a Bhikkhu and a woman were living together in a cave in the desolate hills and there was no other man anywhere about to act as a chaperone. The Devata who has a Deva body would then be taken for a woman who was making advances to a Bhikkhu. The whole thing may get blown up into a scandal which may cause a lot of damage and trouble, even though in fact there would be nothing between them which was not proper and pure.
      With this reasoning he would not let the Devata touch his body, not even to rub the Deva food over him. But the Devata was insistent, saying that no harm would come from the association with a Devata at all because the body of the Devata is a Deva body and the food which she had brought to give him strength was Deva food and there is nothing in it which would contravene the Vinaya and cause him any trouble. As for seeing and hearing each other talking together, it is a case of the heart at the level of the Devas seeing a Deva body and the Deva hearing listening to Deva sounds, and it has no connection with the gross physical body, physical seeing and ears made of skin in any way that would be an obstacle to you and the Vinaya at all. The Devata said that she had come to serve him and help him in the hope of making merit and developing her virtue through this Bhikkhu who was so resolute and intent on Dhamma, and that she had not come to harm him or Buddhism at all. “You should please have metta and agree to let me have the share of the merit which I ought to get through you, and please do not reject this Devata who is anxious to make merit so as to be a condition for the promotion of my future births and becoming; and to cause my development and gain in the present and future to increase by this good action.”
      The Bhikkhu replied by saying: “While you are here with me, whe­ther I shut my eyes or open them, I can still see you. Other people have eyes and if they are not blind they can also see us sitting here. What do you think, would this be proper and in character for a woman, the two of us together like this? Please think well about it before doing anything.”
      “What you see here, you see with your heart and eyes which are supported by Dhamma, in other words, you have samadhi and ñana which enable you to see easily and clearly.” The Devata explained:
     
     “Even though you may use your physical eyes to see me, the seeing still comes from the internal ñana which helps them and enables you to see as if your physical eyes were seeing. Because it is just your internal eye which enables the physical eyes to see Deva forms and if you did not have ñana within you to aid your seeing you would never be able to see the Deva body of a Devata at all. In order to give you confidence that you have no need to be afraid of anyone coming and spying on this Devata who is sitting with you I can give you complete assurance that apart from yourself alone, even if people came here in thousands they would not be able to see me at all, not even one of them. I have the power to prevent the ordinary person from seeing me and this is not difficult for me to do. The only exceptions are those who have Dhamma within them, and ñana which enables them to know, and for these people I have respect and reverence and I have no ability to prevent them knowing. But also, you should not think that this Devata is a supernatural being who has come from some mysterious place, for I have come from the realm of human beings who love the way of moral behaviour, who love Dhamma and who are always glad to make merit and make gifts of whatever is appropriate and who have these qualities as their habitual nature. So whenever I come across anyone such as yourself who practises the way properly, I feel great faith and reverence and want to increase it, and however much or little I develop, it is all merit and virtue and becomes part of my conditioned characteristics. You should therefore agree and help me with metta to do whatever is proper and right. I would not dare to do anything which is not allowable for a recluse, for good and bad arise from kamma — the actions which one does oneself — which I understand well and respect and I do not go against. But what I have been pleading for you to accept is entirely within the realm of Dhamma; it is not a matter of Vinaya and there is nothing of the way of the world in it. Like when you give Dhamma talks to us Devatas, it makes no difference as far as the Dhamma and Vinaya are concerned, whether there is only one person listening or however many listen.”
     
      The time when the Devata and the Bhikkhu were talking to each other was the time when he was in samadhi practice and not at any other time. But when he said to the Devata that when she came and sat there with him, he could see her with his eyes closed or open, he was referring to other times in general when he was doing other things and he was still able to see and know such things by means of his own special ability. Therefore, the reasoning which the Devata used in asking him to accept the Deva food was within the bounds of what is reasonable and proper, because it is limited entirely to the affairs of the heart (mind) which is in samadhi meditation. Where the Bhikkhu questioned the Devata and they talked back and forth, all of this took place in samadhi and in accordance with Dhamma. But action done in the attained state of samadhi (samadhi–samapatti) are not within the scope of faults against the Vinaya rules.
      It seems that while this Bhikkhu was in samadhi that afternoon, the Devata in fact rubbed this Deva food over his body. But the body which the Devata rubbed was his body in samadhi and not his ordinary body. When the Devata rubbed this food over him he felt much lighter than normal in samadhi, and when he came out of samadhi his body felt light and buoyant and much stronger than usual — as if he had eaten food that day.
      This Bhikkhu said that some days he was able to see the Devata all the time, without having to enter samadhi.
      But the seeing of Devatas in samadhi or with one’s physical eyes at other times is always likely to be self-deception and false in someone who is just beginning to train themselves in the early stages of meditation. Therefore, even those who are naturally endowed with such abilities and may at times see various things must be cautioned by their Acariya, who should insist that they do not let go and let the citta go out and get to know things in the way they have been used to doing this. They must wait until they have become sufficiently skilled at entering and leaving samadhi, and they understand what to do and how to react to the various things which are experienced, knowing well enough what is genuine and what is false. Then, when the time is appropriate to let go, they may do so to some extent, but not in the manner of letting go of all self-control and having no consideration for what is right and wrong, good and evil which may become involved with this type of samadhi.
      Amongst those who practise meditation, there are some who see Devatas that come from their own delusions in this way, but if they are intent on Dhamma, not proud and conceited in this ability, nor believing it to be something special in them, and they do not deludedly go after these things which they experience, then it is not difficult to cure. But what is difficult is the type of person who tends to be haughty and boastful. As soon as he comes across any of the above phenomena, one fears that it will become a chronic disease and he will not be the least interested in taking any “medicine” to effect a cure. Rather he would try to spread the germs so that the disease becomes widespread, causing harm and loss to others who do not know nor understand about these things, nor about their tricky deceptions; and this disease is a type which one should be very much on guard against. I am not a knower or seer of the Devatas, Pretas, ghosts and other such things, but if someone comes and talks about them in an effusive extravagant manner, without any “steering wheel and brakes” to retain some control I feel afraid and concerned. Because, generally speaking most people are susceptible to this “disease” and as soon as the “germs” of it enter their system, there is fear that it would spread and increase and get out of hand.
      In order to combat this kind of disease effectively one must ask the help of someone who is an Acariya and who understands well about this sort of thing, as well as the way of samadhi and wisdom and other things also. If anyone goes to him and talks just a little about this sort of thing, he will know immediately whether it is genuine or false, and he can point this out clearly and cure the trouble straight away, provided that this person is interested to listen for the sake of learning the truth of Dhamma and its ways. Then he will be able to practise the way rightly by following the Acariya without losing anything at all. But what is frightening is the way that some people grab hold of anything that comes and passes by them and then hold onto it as their “valuable possession, absolutely genuine and true”, without considering whether it is really true or false. This kind of “true thing” is then capable of causing endless disturbance and loss both to the person himself as well as to others, and because of this such “true things” are most frightening to those who have experienced them and gone beyond them. So those who practise the way should use mindfulness and wisdom to be well guarded against such things, and they must not let such “true things” as these be able to arise. This means that they will know all aspects of the way of practice with circumspection and they will be a blessing to themselves and to the whole field of Buddhism. This Bhikkhu who had the Devata coming to look after him could tell the most fascinating stories and I enjoyed listening to him. He talked of a time when he had gone for a period of meditation practice to a place where he was dependent on two or three families of farmers and every four or five days he would go pindapata to them and would eat one meal and that was all. But it seems that his meditation became progressively deeper without any slackening. He did his meditation both in the day and at night with equally good results, but it was rather hot during the day and at night it was cool and pleasant and the citta was able to go down into complete absorption in the realm of samadhi, and to remain there for several hours at a time before rising out of it. If he thought with sympathy of the Devatas, late at night he would withdraw from samadhi to some extent and look around. If he saw that some of them had come he would receive them for a while, then afterwards he would turn back towards samadhi again, as was his way, until the time came for him to withdraw from it. After that he would investigate and research with wisdom until he finished whatever he was investigating. The total time spent in samadhi at night was four to five hours each time whereas during the day it was from two to four hours, and in addition he would walk cankama after doing samadhi meditation. This was his regular routine, but he was not much interested in the amount of time which he spent, for the effort which he put into these various aspects of Dhamma were his chief concern. He said that whether he ate food or not he did not feel hungry, although there were some mild reactions from the body, but not enough to bother him and cause trouble. When the Devata talked about him being hungry it was just her assumption. For himself, he had no concerns about being hungry because he was absorbed in the Dhamma which was in touch with his heart all the time — which was a more subtle nutrient than any other kind of food.
      This Bhikkhu said that sometimes he could see the Devata in the middle of the day sitting on a rock politely watching him about twenty yards or more from him. Sometimes in the middle of the day the Devata would come up to him quite silently, as she did on the day when she came to ask permission to rub the Deva food over his body. At times he would see the Devata who had come to sit only about four yards away from him. He could see her quite clearly as if he were using his physical eyes, but when he opened his eyes he could also see her just as clearly as when they were closed. At that time his citta was only slightly calmed down and he should not have been able to see her. Because the citta which is going to receive guests from the Deva realms must normally be in a deeper state of calm than he was in then. Sometimes he felt strangely disorientated and he had to ask the Devata: “Have you produced a gross bodily image (nimitta) now, like a human body for I can see you clearly both with my “heart’s eye” and with my physical eyes, in the way I see other things in the world?” The Devata replied: “I can create a subtle body or a gross body without any difficulty at all.” “And this image that I see, is it a gross body or a subtle body?” he asked. “This image is a gross body,” she said. “Then what if someone else should come here and see you?” he asked. She replied, “I have made myself visible to you alone as I told you earlier, you need not be afraid.” But this conversation took place via the heart and not at the level of ordinary speech.
      The Devatas are able to recall their actions in the past (lives) (pubbenivasa) in the same way as those Bhikkhus who have the ability in this sort of thing. In this case the Devata told this Bhikkhu all sorts of things about her past and the things she had done. But regretfully we must pass over this because I cannot remember all the things that happened.
      The above account has been included here so that the reader may think about how the citta which has been continually taking on this or that form of body throughout endless past realms of existence and lives, never has any time when it can stop and rest from this however it twists and turns about.
      But there are some people who deny this and say that death is the end and one is then annihilated. In one who believes this, annihilation and the truth which is that one is not annihilated, contradict each other in one and the same person. But who is it that has to accept the results of his past actions, and who is it that gets the truth which is unalterable, coming back on him apart from the one who denied and the one who accepted the truth. There is nobody else to take on the results of each one’s past — which are those of birth and death — for this is bound to be the destiny of beings in this world, each for itself. The happiness and suffering which each one has within the span of each life — between birth and death, is just the destiny of each one who is born and dies and who must accept it themselves. The words, or the opinion which says: “death is annihilation”, or “death leads to rebirth”, are not what will bear the result in place of oneself so that one can take heart and feel easy about making these assertions without any thought of what in fact is the truth of the matter.
      The practice of training and developing the citta (citta–bhavana) is the way to get to know about oneself, and most especially to get to know about birth and death which are inherent in oneself. This is far better than any other methods for determining the truth of this ­matter, for other methods only tend to waste time without getting to the truth that convinces and makes one restrain one’s heart from indulging in all sorts of wayward and playful thoughts which are pointless and cannot lead to the truth. The one that has to accept being born again ­after death is the heart; and conversely, the one that some say is annihilated after death is also the heart.
      This “heart” is the most recondite thing and quite different from all other things, and this ought to be verified by the way of citta bhavana, which is the best way to enable one to see with certainty what in fact happens. In doing this, the important thing is to get the citta to go down deeper and deeper steadily, until it reaches its original ground. Then one will be bound to know about oneself for sure, both about birth and about death and also about not being born and not dying, all of which are to be found in the sphere of this same heart. As for being annihilated when one dies, this is not to be found anywhere within this heart which goes touring about. Nor in the Dhamma of the Lord is there any mention of annihilation upon death to be found in the heart. When one practises citta bhavana one never comes across anything about the citta dying and being annihilated, for if one comes across anything at all it is always and only about death being followed by birth. If the citta gets to know all about itself it will come across “no-birth” and “no-death” within the citta. But never death and annihilation.
      Yet there is that within us which vigorously denies this and it is not interested in searching for those causes which are there within each of us and which are proclaiming themselves openly all the time. The important thing here is that, if the heart, which is the leader, refuses to investigate the ways of those basic causes which it should get to know from itself, then even if thousands of people were to come and tell him the truth which they have known from their own experience of having seen it for themselves, they would still have no way to make him accept what they say. Or at least, not so that he will accept that truth in a way which leads him to improve and correct himself so that he becomes a rational person who can take up and hold onto what will be of increasing value to him. In the end he will probably become one who goes through birth and death time after time, defying himself and not looking any further than his present situation.
      This is like a person who has a critical illness, who is not interested in thinking about himself so much as about his room in the hospital, the medicine which he must take, the doctors and the nurses and how they are no good and do not respond to his wishes, and he complains and moans and groans all the time disturbing other people as well, even though none of what he does is any use at all.
      The account of the Bhikkhu who was visited by a Devata and about his recollection of past lives has been told. The writer has also completed the discussion of life after death as against annihilation after death, and what has been written should be sufficient as a means of verification for those of us who still have doubts and uncertainty in regard to these two views which we should verify ourselves. Now we will go on to tell of various other things.

 

8. Bhikkhus of the “Modern Kind” 
 

      Generally, in the practice of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who follow in the line from Venerable Acharn Mun, they like to live in the forests and hills, as we have already said before. They do this in order to get away from disturbance so as to live at ease in doing the work of a recluse (Samana–Dhamma) in their own time as they feel like it, without wasting time with other duties which are not really necessary. In particular, the Lord said that construction work and building projects are an enemy and detrimental to the work of a recluse. This is recorded in the Maha Khandhaka Vinaya, in connection with the way of development for a Bhikkhu who is just at the beginning and who has not yet gained any firm principle in his heart nor reached any level of attainment. In this, the Lord teaches that such a Bhikkhu should turn away from such works and go quickly to find a place to stay which is quiet and secluded. Thus, for instance, he should not go and stay near a boat landing place where there are often crowds of people, nor in a monastery where they are doing building or repair work. One should reflect on how, if one has a small wound it should heal quite quickly with the right treatment, but when it is left open and comes into contact with all sorts of things all the time, it will probably get worse even if one tries to protect it. The heart is like such a wound which needs to be looked after and which can get worse when it comes into contact with all sorts of things all the time.
      In fact, this is true, not only for the citta which is just beginning the training, but also for one that has trained for a long time but has still not attained enough controlling principle so that he can feel some confidence — or feel absolutely confident — for there is still the possibility that he may get worse. This is like a fresh wound, or an old wound, respectively, which he does not take care of. So “taking care of”, and “looking after” are the ways of being heedful, both for those who are just beginning the training and also for those who have been training for a long time. One must not think that one is well experienced in the ways of Kammatthana and that one is adept at it just because one has done it for a long time and that one is able to go anywhere and live anywhere. To think like this is to be imprudent and careless. Or, as some would say, “imprudent to the point of being shameless”, and they are probably right. Because whether one has been training for a long time, or not, is not nearly so important as having a firmly established controlling principle in one’s heart, which is the aim of the Dhamma Teaching that has been handed down to us.
      Therefore in this present age, Venerable Acharn Mun taught all his followers most emphatically about the importance of a quiet place for Dhutanga Bhikkhus of his lineage; and also how they should not become an “Acariya” teaching others before they have become an “Acariya” to teach themselves in the first place, so that the heart of each one shall have gained a firm controlling principle which is able to look after and protect himself. Then, wherever he goes he will be of no danger to himself nor harmful to others. As for being of value to others, this will follow on naturally when such a person who practises the way has a ground or basis of Dhamma which is sufficient — or which is completely fulfilled, accordingly.
      To begin with one’s teaching must be to oneself — almost as if one does not let oneself look at anyone else, but only at the right and wrong, and good and evil of oneself, as well as teaching oneself to be cautious of things which harm the citta in indirect ways. This means all those things which make trouble and difficulties or which cause worry to oneself because of having to organise this or build that, for this is the kind of work that people in the world do everyday. This is not the kind of work that should be important for Dhutanga Bhikkhus whose aim is that of attaining freedom while they are still at the stage of “walking on” and teaching themselves. For their interest should be in bhavana so as to look at their own kilesas (defilements) and to see the conceit and self-opinion that they have. Rather than going about increasing their worldly ways by looking for gross burdensome pursuits to take up and get involved in, until they become a “narcotic drug” in the heart. Then one cannot live in peace but must always be arranging this or building that, otherwise the kilesas cause one trouble. Which means that one has to exercise them in doing this business or that job, sufficient to act as an object of attention and interest which it can depend on for the time being. Having finished they again cause trouble, until once again one must exercise them and this goes on all the time without ever reaching any satisfactory solution.
      At first one thinks of doing such work to overcome one’s restless irritability and that one cannot live without doing such works. But in the end these works become increasingly burdensome until they actually tend to make the irritability worse. They become things which disturb both oneself and others, causing turbulence in all, like mud stirred up in water. Because those who practise the way have taken up this path to cure their kilesas and to attain calm and happiness both for themselves and other people everywhere. Therefore, so that the kilesas can gain heart they like to make their owners take them out and exercise them in the foregoing way until there is no time to rest and relax and get into a state of calm at all; and they like it even better if those who practise the way come to have no routine practices left which are regularly done as a basic discipline.
      When Venerable Acharn Mun was emphatically teaching Dhamma in a manner which went to the heart, he was very afraid that it would not reach the hearts of we who were listening and who were inclined to go in the opposite direction to him. This he pointed out in ways such as:
     
     “If any of you who practise the way want to surpass the teaching of this foolish old man, then go and do so. When you have attained the highest Dhamma using your methods, then please come and help this old man so that he can see the sky and the earth with you, for this old man just dwells in the forest practising meditation by closing his ears and eyes without looking at the moon, the stars and the world of samsara to see how it is developing and deteriorating. Anyone who wants development and progress in the modern way must use modern ways. But this old Bhikkhu has not yet got the wisdom to find out how to use these modern ways, and so he holds on to the methods of using the old Dhutanga practices which the Lord Buddha gave us, to be used according to the needs of each person. But others always want to come and be a nuisance, disturbing him all the time and not allowing him to relax even for a short time. And when they come, instead of using whatever mindfulness and wisdom they have to keep a close watch on the routine methods of practice and taking them up as their way to develop, they turn about and become modern Bhikkhus taking a short cut to get rid of their kilesas by indulging in business and works of various kinds so as to show off to the world that: ‘I have ability and talents.’ But are they talents (vasana)? In fact they seem to be nothing but kilesas which bind and tangle them up until they cannot find any time to live in peace and happiness, not even for brief periods. All they have is emotionally bound involvements (arammana) which drag them this way and that until they cannot sit still. Are these the talents of a practising Bhikkhu? I’m foolish and I don’t know what kinds of talents these are, nor how those talents should be promoted so that they may be the right way for a Bhikkhu who practises. And how then does the work of a Bhikkhu who practises with the highest aim and ideal of attaining salvation differ from other work as done elsewhere in the world? And why do they like all the troublesome involvement in the world, yet do not see what it’s all about. As for myself, I am still alive and I can see the way it has gone already, and how will it be when I am dead? Even though I am very foolish and ignorant, I know what will happen and how it is going to be from the way things are happening now in the field of those who practise.”
      In addition, these Bhikkhus, once they go away from here, they wander about boasting to the world that they are followers of Venerable Acharn Mun — followers of Venerable Acharn Mun who never have time to shut their mouths, until other people are tired of hearing them; and it is significant that Venerable Acharn Mun is a forest Bhikkhu, whereas most of his followers are Bhikkhus of the modern type. This is where it will decay and decompose until it loses all form due to the boastfulness and ‘sales talk’ of Acharn Mun’s followers. This is why I am concerned about my Bhikkhus who act and behave in ways that are unusual and abnormal, setting up their teacher like food for sale in front of a shop. To begin with, this leads people to the false belief that these Bhikkhus are the Acariya’s followers, without understanding that they are the type of followers who are parasites and who, in an occult way, ‘suck his blood’, as well as that of other people in general. Secondly, it makes people tired and fed up with hearing their self-advertisements, boasting of all the things they have done, and fed up with the endless trouble and nuisance which they become in all sorts of ways. All of this is what leads to their own destruction, as well as to the destruction of their Acariya, the circle of those who practise the way and Buddhism, causing it to become lost with everything else. A vision (nimitta) which I saw in my meditation practice, of Bhikkhus running about back and forth in front of me and behind me, which is to be interpreted as showing the shameless arrogance of those practising Bhikkhus who are lacking in moral shame and moral fear (Hiri–Ottappa–Dhamma) in their hearts, is now coming into being for me to see quite clearly all the time — even while I am still alive. After I am dead, whoever has the ‘stripes of the tiger’ or the ‘spots of the leopard’ concealed within them are then bound to display them as much as they can. For they have already begun to sell themselves and their teacher to some extent, in various ways which depend on the colour of their ‘stripes or spots’. This is an indication which can be clearly seen in the present, of the harm which they will do in the future.”
     
      He further emphasised this theme, saying: “If there is anyone here at present who wants to be clever and bold-faced in a shameless way even while still staying with me, please say so! I will set you up as the ‘great teacher’ of the way of practice right now — even though you are still full of stupidity. But I want to let the others admire you as a thoroughly clever person to satisfy your desire, so you must speak out now! A skilled and clever person is rarely found and I would like to meet one, for I would be sorry to die without having this opportunity. Therefore I want to meet you now, while I am still alive.”
      This is how Venerable Acharn Mun could be truly forceful, strong and acerbic when he wanted to be and those who heard it would sweat profusely as they felt hotter than fire. But for those who listened with interest in learning the way of Dhamma and who were truly intent on the way of practice, the more forceful it was, the more their hearts submitted to it, the more they accepted it and the more cool they felt. This was very different from those times when he taught Dhamma in the usual way.
      The foregoing was written so that the reader may get an idea of what Venerable Acharn Mun was like, both when he was benign, when he was acerbic and in various other aspects of his character, as well as that of his followers. Some people may think that his followers were all good, like their teacher, but in truth they are mixed, some good and some bad, like parents may have many children, some good and some bad mixed together. The followers of Venerable Acharn Mun had kilesas, so there may well be that which is good, unavoidably mixed up with that which is blameworthy. To look and examine well in all situations both externally and internally and to act accordingly is the right way of being circumspect in Dhamma. It is also a boon and blessing to that person in particular, and afterwards to others who accept what he says.
      Some things which Venerable Acharn Mun taught exclusively to the circle of those who practise, and special aspects of Dhamma which he taught in a forceful, provocative manner, are not suitable for inclusion in this book. But I have the bad and perverse tendency to like those talks which are more forceful and provocative than usual, because they go straight to the heart, which dwells deep down and does not like to rise to the surface to show itself nor to accept the Dhamma teaching easily. But when the heart does rise to the surface to accept Dhamma, even though it may be forceful and provocative, it is prepared to put up with it. Therefore, a sample of this kind of talk was included above for those readers who have similar temperaments to the writer, and who may be aroused by it to think in ways that will be of some value to them. If however the reader feels that it was inappropriate then I ask for your forgiveness. But normally, Dhamma has many facets and it may be profound or simple, and gross or subtle. So the teaching of Dhamma should be of various types to correspond with the different facets of Dhamma, so that those who receive it and who have various different characters may choose the type that fits them best. What is written in this book has also been done with this same principle in mind so that the reader may choose what he likes to bring him some benefit. As for me, I am doing the best I can to assure that all who read this book shall gain something of value from it.

 

9. About Beings in the Realm of Ghosts 

 

      We must return once again to the story of Venerable Acharn Chob which is not yet finished.
     
      At one time he was staying in a cave in the province of Chiang Mai and it seems that it was very favourable for his practice of Dhamma. While there he experienced all sorts of things both internally and externally, much more than before and much more extensively and quite different from everywhere else he had been. He soon saw that this was a good opportunity for him to progress, so he stayed on doing his practice there for many months.
      His investigation of Dhamma was good and clear both by day and by night, the weather was good and the cave was open with a good flow of air through it all the time, so he had no problems with external conditions which were comfortably cool and constant. But in that place there was something which he felt was unusual in connection with samadhi bhavana. When he did some investigation within his heart it became calm in a very subtle way, and when he came out of samadhi to go the way of developing wisdom, it was nimble and skilful without any fumbling, groping and sluggishness, which are signs that laziness has crept in. He said that while he was there he was constantly visited by Devatas from many different levels and places, both high and low, but he considered that this was quite normal. What was unusual was the large number of “ghosts” that were moving house with their families from various districts in the Northeast of Thailand and going to settle in the hills of the province of Chiang Mai. Some were riding on horses or cattle holding their children and belongings, and moving their families, passing by in front of the place where he was staying. As soon as they came close to where he was staying, the leader of the group would bring all his followers to pay respect to the Acariya. He asked them why these ghosts were all moving like this. They replied that they were moving their families and relatives from their village — they told him the name of the village — and they were going to a hill, which they named, in the province of Chiang Mai. They also told him that where they had come from there was little food, conditions were very difficult and people had no sense of morality (Sila–Dhamma). All the time they were robbing, plundering and killing each other. As ghosts have characteristics that are very like human beings, they become ghosts without any moral sense by following the ways of people. They tormented and harmed each other in the same way as people were doing, causing trouble and confusion so that it was not peaceful like it used to be. Then they heard from relatives who came to visit them, that here in Chiang Mai one can find happiness for the moral behaviour of the people is better than elsewhere. They also heard that there were other beings living in the district of Chiang Mai who were similar to themselves and who were unknown and unrecognised by human beings, and that they were also well imbued with moral behaviour and had more peace and happiness than elsewhere. Therefore they decided to move there following the advice of their relatives (one must understand that their relatives were also ghosts).
      The Acariya asked: “When you say that conditions are difficult and there is little food, how is this since you do not depend on rice, fish and other foods, nor on housing, clothing and other things connected with living and eating, as people do. For these are what would make you work with hardship to plant and build things, as well as providing the conditions for those who make trouble by thieving and plundering from each other, as happens in the world of people?”
      He replied: “As long as one is a being who has the results of kamma (vipaka) attached to oneself, wherever one is born and lives one always has results of kamma to support and help one, and to bring one trouble and suffering, in the same way as it does with all other beings. Whether one is born with a material body or any other kind of body is not so important, for what really matters is whether one is endowed with good or evil kamma. One takes birth and goes to live in some form of existence in a particular place and it is this one himself who lives there just for the happiness and suffering which he is destined to experience. Therefore, to be in want, and to have plenty, are both found in beings who have good and evil kamma, but how strong or weak they are depends on the background of each individual.”
      The Acariya asked: “When you said that some ghosts have Sila–Dhamma (a moral basis) and some do not, how is this? Do you mean that ghosts know the meaning of Sila–Dhamma in the same way that people do?”
      He answered saying: “Sila–Dhamma is a universal thing, it is not only found in human beings, but everywhere. The virtue and happiness in this principle of nature, is known by beings everywhere in the world, but they may or may not have a name for it, because the name is not so important as the nature of it which all beings like and are bound to depend on. That ‘virtue’ is in fact Sila–Dhamma, and the happiness that arises from that virtue is also an aspect of Sila–Dhamma. But they are different in that the former is causal and the latter is resultant. In saying that ghosts have Sila–Dhamma, I mean of course, those ghosts who have good characteristics and whose behaviour towards the other ghosts is good. And also, in saying that ghosts do not have Sila–Dhamma, I mean those ghosts who are not good and who have bad characteristics, and whose behaviour towards the others is not good. This is much the same as people who are good and bad, and it shows up in their different forms of behaviour respectively. Therefore wherever Sila–Dhamma is found, it is peaceful, and wherever it is lacking, there is trouble.”
      The Acariya asked: “What does it mean when you talk about your relatives, and since when have you been relatives to each other?”
      He answered: “The relatives of ghosts and the relatives of people are the same. In other words, previously when we were humans we were related together as brothers and sisters and so on, and we were close together and had a high regard for each other in the way people do. Then, when we died we all came back to birth as ghosts, and we can clearly remember each other so we have been inseparable blood relatives ever since we were human beings and will remain so until kamma separates us, causing us to be born elsewhere so that we have no way to remember each other.”
      The Acariya asked: “When you live here in Chiang Mai, won’t you be thinking of your old home with longing, in the same way as people get homesick when they move to another district?”
      He answered: “There is nothing to long for, because ghosts do not have farms and homes like people. All we have are a few subtle ­personal possessions which we carry with us, so there is nothing to long for.”
      The Acariya asked: “Why do you carry these baskets and things along with you to clutter you up; and why do you bring these horses and cows? Wouldn’t it be better to leave them behind?”
      He answered: “Those things which are useful to ghosts and those things which make up their wealth are bound to cause attachment in ghosts. Or, to put it another way, there is no real difference between the results of kamma in ghosts and in people, nor between that which makes up the wealth of ghosts and of people when either of them have kamma–results inherently with them.” The Acariya asked: “Where you lived before, and where you are going to live in the Chiang Mai district, are you all bound to have houses to live in and friends about the place, or do some of you live differently?”
      He replied: “We are bound to have houses, children, relatives and friends in the same way as people and other beings do. Because we are beings of one kind in the same way as all others, but our bodies are not visible to human eyes and the eyes of some other beings. Although we are quite visible to those who have Deva bodies, and we all have happiness and suffering in the same way, because the hearts of the ghosts and the hearts of all other beings have kamma and the results of kamma in the same way. So that wherever one is born, whatever type of birth one has and wherever one lives, one must experience the results of kamma in the same way as all other beings.”
      The Acariya said that when he saw these ghosts moving their families, husbands, wives, children and relatives going by in large numbers, they were in no way different from human beings when they move their family to a new home. They gave the same kind of impression of being loaded down with all sorts of things which they were carrying along with them, outwardly showing their suffering, anxiety and unhappiness. Just like people moving home and also like some other creatures such as ants carrying their eggs from one home to another. It made him think of the Dhamma aphorism, where it says: “Kamma disposes of beings in many different ways so that they experience different things in accordance with the results of the kamma which they have done. In whatever state and wherever they are born they come under the overruling influence of their good and evil kamma, as also does their sukha and dukkha and there are no exceptions to the law of kamma at all. Those who do good will be rewarded by the result of happiness, and those who do evil will get the result of suffering (dukkha).” These two principles of happiness and suffering are to be found in beings everywhere regardless of their form of birth. The only difference is that they are more gross or more subtle, depending on how gross or subtle the bodily form is. Or to put it briefly, this is just the bodily home of our happiness and suffering. Therefore one should not get so excited about birth, which has an equal status with death. For one who does not want to die but desires to take birth in various different forms, is in fact desiring nothing but death.
      The Acariya said, “I have thought about these ghosts and the various Devas that I have met and seen, and compared their situation with my own and with that of other beings generally, until I came to understand quite clearly that all are enmeshed in this mass of Dukkha together. Like a lot of animals of various kinds which have all been confined together in one place. It made me very sorrowful about the condition of birth and death under which we and all other beings live, never knowing if or when we will be able to get free from them. And the more I came across such things, the more it made me diligent in the practice of citta bhavana for the demolition of the kilesas which lead one on to ever more becoming and birth. For existence, or birth, is what sets up the immediate conditions for suffering. Therefore, one who wants to attain complete and perfect happiness should not at the same time desire birth, which contradicts and opposes this aim. For in fact it is the erasing of the seed of this tendency from the heart which is true, complete and perfect happiness.”
      He said further that he not only knew about the Pretas, ghosts, Devaputta and Devata, but:
     
     “Even Venerable Acharn Mun who has already reached Parinibbana, came regularly with metta, to visit me and explain Dhamma. Generally the teaching which Venerable Acharn Mun gave me laid great stress on not being negligent, and doing this by rousing up mindfulness as the assurance that one is being diligent. He said that one who has present mindfulness in any position or situation, not only when practising meditation for samadhi or walking cankama, is in fact being diligent, because the presence of mindfulness means that he is being diligent. Mindfulness is the acknowledging Dhamma, the Dhamma of withstanding or putting up with hardships, the fighting Dhamma, the Dhamma of evading the enemies attacks, as used in fighting, and the Dhamma of advancing, fearless of death in the battle between the citta and the kilesas. But if mindfulness is the only thing that is lacking one will lose.”
      “This is what Venerable Acharn Mun taught so one who practises must develop mindfulness, and it ought to be present with Dhamma at every stage and level of the citta. Regardless of whether one is just beginning the training, whether the citta has achieved samadhi, whether one is just beginning the training for wisdom, one has developed wisdom or one has reached a stage of skilfulness and pene­­­­tra­tion in the use of wisdom, in all cases mindfulness is a necessity with Dhamma at all levels. Mindfulness should never be confined to a limited field of activity with the idea that one should have it present in those circumstances as a necessary minimum — or that so much is the maximum that is necessary. But one should promote mindfulness until it becomes firmly entrenched and becomes “Maha–sati”  — and this is the way it should be — because mindfulness is a very important Dhamma in this work, and one in which those who practise should take the greatest interest. Regardless of what one is doing, whether internal or external, gross or subtle, mindfulness is an essential Dhamma which should be present and which should permeate everything that one does. In samadhi at every stage and in wisdom at every level, mindfulness must be present as a guardian continually. If mindfulness is lacking, more is lacking than would be the case if one lacked in all other forms of work and did not do them. So one may do work or not, but one should never let mindfulness be absent from oneself, from one’s heart. Anyone who endeavours to develop mindfulness relentlessly is bound to clear obstructions from his path and to walk on until he gains success regardless of how thick the kilesas are within his heart. This means that samadhi and wisdom at every level will arise and be able to gain strength due to the overpowering influence of mindfulness — that which gives them sustenance — and this is absolutely certain. The way which leads progressively from the beginning onward until it reaches the state of freedom (vimutti) of Nibbana is the way of mindfulness and it is this that supports them. If those who would develop calm (samatha) or insight (vipassana) at all levels lack mindfulness, their calm and insight have no way that they can develop at all. From the beginning of the practice, right up to the end of the way, I have never seen any Dhamma which is so remarkable and which goes so deeply into the heart as mindfulness. Mindfulness is a guardian, a sustenance, and a prophylactic or preventive remedy which protects samadhi and wisdom at all levels — and these two Dhammas (samadhi and pañña) can only develop and reach their fulfilment if they are associated with mindfulness to promote and look after them — which can never take place if mindfulness is absent. You must listen well to what I say, take it to heart, grasp hold of it and never let the following be forgotten in a cloud of delusion, that: mindfulness is a deep well of great strength in every aspect of striving in the way of Dhamma. Before one can alter or change one’s thoughts or views in any way, they must be subjected to mindfulness, and whether they are gross or subtle and at whatever level of Dhamma one must have mindfulness which is one of the most important things in the field of Dhamma practice.”
      “With regard to wisdom, when the time has come to use thought for research, one must do so to the maximum of one’s ability without holding back one’s strength for fear that wisdom will “overflow”. If one always has mindfulness to control wisdom in every aspect of investigating or research, wisdom will not be able to overflow and become trivial nonsense. The reason why wisdom becomes like water overflowing until one is unable to intervene and stop it, is because there is a lack of mindfulness to control it. Then it turns into discursive thought based on memory (sañña), until finally one can find no truth in it at all. But wisdom which has mindfulness as a companion is sure to walk up towards the stage of Maha–pañña (Great wisdom) in a way that one would not expect.”
      “Once the heart has Maha–sati and Maha–pañña as its companions, then even though the kilesas may be thicker than a mountain, they will not be able to withstand their own destruction being brought about by the power of these two — “Maha–sati” and “Maha–­pañña”. When one is working to develop the way, one should not pay attention to time, place or anything else more than one pays attention with mindfulness to the citta or the events that arise and cease in the citta, while investigating them with wisdom. This is the way to freedom from dukkha of all kinds which is here within one and not dependent on place, age or time.”
      “But the search for a secluded peaceful place to act as a suitable battlefield where one may gain victory is the right way of Dhamma. Although one must not be so concerned about it that it becomes an obsession and changes into a self-made obstacle due to one’s anxiety to find a place. One should just go on searching until one has found a suitable place that is satisfactory enough. Having found a place one should set up mindfulness and think with wisdom at the same time without wasting any more time.”
      “The Four Satipatthanas and the Four Noble Truths (Sacca–Dhamma) are the battleground, and in that battleground one must throw in the utmost of one’s mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort. Don’t doubt that the Path, Fruition and Nibbana are to be found anywhere but within the field of these Four Satipatthanas and the Four Noble Truths. These are the unshakeable Dhammas which have guaranteed the Path and Fruition through the ages since the beginningless past, and they are still the Dhammas which give complete and perfect assurance of the Path and Fruition at all levels without any shortcomings.”
      “Any shortcomings and inability to reach the goal are to be found within the mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort of each individual and not in the aforementioned Dhammas which are unshakeable and have always been there to give assurance. So you must set your heart firmly on the Path and Fruition by digging down and searching in the Four Satipatthanas or the Four Noble Truths with the utmost of whatever wisdom you have. Then one day in the future you will certainly be one of those who bestow the Path and Fruition on yourself through your skill and in the most unexpected way, a way that one could never have foreseen.”
      “This explanation that I have given is a summary of the Path and Fruition which cannot be found elsewhere. You must try and follow it! You must get rid of all doubt concerning “the essential nature” (anga) of the Teacher (the Sasada: i.e., the Buddha), of the Dhamma and of the Sangha, as well as that of your Teacher (Guru–Acariya) whom the world claims has “entered Nibbana” already.”
      “That which is called “Nibbana” is not where the “world” thinks or believes it to be. Where it is actually located, the “world” is quite unable to guess. But where it is, there you will see Nibbana, the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, the Teacher, and also yourself right there; and then all doubts and uncertainties of all kinds will disappear. And where is that place? That place is the Four Satipatthanas and the Four Noble Truths together with the heart that has Maha–sati and Maha–pañña digging and searching in detail all round, until everything becomes Dhamma and absolutely true in every part, without any false knowledge and understanding remaining in those Four Satipatthanas and Four Noble Truths at all. Then each of them is true and real; in other words, the Four Satipatthanas are true, the Four Noble Truths are true, and the heart is true with wisdom. This is freedom (vimutti)! This is Nibbana! This is the dwelling place of the Great Teachers (Buddhas), the Dhamma, the Sangha, and those Acariyas who have attained the state of Purity! But once again, where is this place? It is where all anxiety and worry are at an end, where all becoming and birth are let go of, where all dukkha is let go of. You let go of them, all of them, right there. So you must endeavour to develop the way of practice for this “letting go” in that place. You must not indulge in speculation and guesswork which only wastes time and makes you tired in vain. Because that Dhamma is not a Dhamma of speculation or guesswork but the true Dhamma of whoever truly does the practices which the Lord laid down. That person will reach and attain the true Dhamma without having to do any guesswork at all.”
     
      When Venerable Acharn Mun had finished his teaching out of metta, this Acariya prostrated to him within his samadhi bhavana, then Venerable Acharn Mun just moved a little bit and immediately disappeared. This time he did not come by flying through the sky and when he went it was immediate. This Acariya said that he could never predict with any certainty what nimitta he would get for Venerable Acharn Mun, for sometimes he would come and go as if flying through the air, whereas at other times he would come walking like a normal person, and go in the same way, but his appearance was the same as it had been before he died without any noticeable differences. In fact, he said, that every time he came to teach, his appearance was always the same and he came quite regularly out of metta to teach him.
      This Acariya is endowed with a rather strange destiny of which the most outstanding features are his tendency to like living in the hills and forests and to wander about on his own, and his liking for eventful encounters of various kinds, such as with tigers. Even when he came out of the forests and met up with other Bhikkhus and friends, it was only for a short while before he returned to the forest again. But despite these tendencies, he has lived his life in safety without anything doing him any harm.
      At one time, in the middle of the day he was resting in a small hut while staying in a Wat. On that day it happened that his Mother came unexpectedly to the Wat, and she went to his hut and called to him, “Come quickly to the sala (meeting hall) because just now Lady Madri is there. Please come quickly, right now!” What inspired her to do this is not known, but she kept on calling him while waiting for him in front of his hut, telling him to hurry up and come quickly until he became startled, woke up completely and ran out of the hut. He did not think of why, and whether all this about Lady Madri being in the sala was true or not, for without thinking about it he just jumped up and immediately left the hut. Then the most unexpected and unusual thing happened, for hurrying out of the hut, he had only gone about nine yards away when a huge tree in front of his hut broke and fell right on his hut, demolishing it and smashing it into fragments. If his mother had not come and roused him up so that he woke suddenly, he would have gone on sleeping and would never have been able to wake. He said that this was his kamma which was still going on, for it had not yet reached its end on that day, otherwise that would have been his last moment for sure.
      After this had happened, the Acariya asked his mother why she had come and called him and woken him up in such a hurry that he had no time to think, so that he got out of the hut so quickly. And after he had woken up properly he was still puzzled, even despite the falling of the tree. His mother said that it was as if something made her feel that she must quickly go and wake him up to come and see Lady Madri, and just at that moment she saw Lady Madri actually sitting in the sala, and she said that she was Lady Madri. So she wanted the Acariya — her son — to come and meet and to welcome Lady Madri. Up to that moment, she had only heard of Lady Madri in the Vessantara Jataka story and she never ever dreamed that she would see her or that she would come to sit in the sala in the forest like this. So she was completely overwhelmed and went quickly to wake up her son and bring him to the sala quickly to meet the Lady Madri. This was his mother’s explanation, and the Acariya went on to say that he was amazed and never thought that such a thing could happen — “but if it had not, I would have died for sure right then.”
      While listening to this story I felt as if my hair was standing on end! The Acariya said further that this was a true case of an event caused by kamma. As to seeing Lady Madri sitting in the sala, this was probably a Devata nimitta in the form of Lady Madri which came to save his life, otherwise he would almost certainly have died that day. His mother told him that she really did see a woman sitting in the sala and she was very beautiful, in fact she had never seen such a beautiful woman as this one who said that she was Lady Madri. But when she went back to look for her after the tree had fallen, there was nobody there — only a picture of Lord Vessantara and Lady Madri which had been there for a long time. Everyone who heard of this incident was amazed and filled with wonder that such a thing could happen.
      This Acariya seems to have come close to the end of his life many times, for apart from the foregoing incident in which a tree fell on his hut, he has also met wild tigers face to face on several occasions, but the Devatas have been able to help him escape unharmed. We will relate one further incident where this Acariya narrowly escaped death in the following story.
      One day, this Acariya had been on tour and had gone to stay near a village in an extensive forest area after having come from the hills. He arrived in the evening and stopped in the forest to spend the night. After it was dark, about 9 o’clock it started to rain and a storm came on with large hailstones coming down. He could not find anywhere to shelter and had to stay close to a large tree. It was too dark for him to see anything and the rain was pouring down mixed with hailstones like pebbles falling from a mountain, as a huge storm developed. It seemed as if the tree that he was by would be uprooted while he was standing there soaked, with one hand holding his opened umbrella tent (klod) and his bowl hanging from his shoulder in its carrier, cold and shivering like a small bird caught in the rain at the foot of this tree. Then quite unexpectedly and suddenly a large branch broke off the tree in the storm and fell just by him, hitting his umbrella tent which he was holding, breaking it in pieces and his bowl slipped off his shoulder and fell, scattering its contents about the place. Now all he had left were his body and his life to withstand the cold weather and wait for his last moment to come. All his possessions had fallen and he had no way to find out where they were because it was too dark in the middle of the night with the rain falling heavily and the storm in full blast for him to distinguish anything. All he could do was to stand there, close his eyes and watch his breath to see when it would finally stop. All he had left were his two robes which he was wearing and they were soaking wet. The cold, numbness and pain seemed to spread quickly throughout the body. It was quite indescribable and at one time he thought he had already died due to the suffering and torment which covered him at that time.
      Standing there, he reflected on the Lord Buddha who is the original Teacher, and how he had experienced suffering and torment much worse than this that he — the Acariya — was experiencing at this time. The Lord was not overwhelmed by it and he was able to pass through all the dangers he met unharmed, until he was enlightened and ­became the “Sasada”, the world Teacher. “As for myself,” the Acariya reflected, “I have some suffering, which will only last until the rain stops. If I cannot stand this I should die and I should not regret the loss of my life at all.”
      When the rain and the storm abated, after about two hours, he was able to breathe more freely, for to begin with he had thought he would die with all the rain, the storm and the hailstones. That night he never lay down or slept at all, for he could only stand and squat down right through until dawn. While it was raining, by chance a large snake — a banded krait — came up to him and would not go away. It crawled right up to his feet and he bent over to look closely at it and he was able to make out that it was a banded krait. That he was able to see at all was because the moon was up, although it was still very dark due to the heavy rain clouds. He tried to drive the snake away, but it would not go and just coiled itself up about half a meter from him. This made him resign himself to the course of events, thinking: “At present here I am full of suffering, but when the rain comes, this snake probably finds it most agreeable, so it comes out to look around for something to eat. But why, instead of looking for food, does it come and coil itself up and lie there quietly so close to me — and I can’t even drive it away? Maybe it has come to be my friend at this time of suffering and hardship.” As soon as he had accepted the situation he stopped trying to drive it away and just let it lie there peacefully. But the snake never displayed any fearsome behaviour at all and it was probably just acting in its accustomed manner, and as soon as the dawn came it went away quietly.
      The Acariya could not leave that place while it was dark because he could not see to find his things and he could not light a match because they were in his bowl which had been knocked away by the branch and he had no way to find out where it had gone. Nor could he find his candles and “cloth” lantern which had also been in his bowl. All he could do was to stand or squat down and watch the banded krait until dawn. As soon as it got light enough to see, he looked for his things which he had lost in the night. His umbrella tent which had been knocked away by the branch that fell had been broken to pieces. His bowl had been badly bent out of shape by the branch that hit it, but it was not beyond repair and he beat out some of the dents in it so that he could use it to get and eat his food out of.
      In the morning some of the villagers came out to see him. They expressed their sympathy and condolences for his plight, saying that he must have a lot of merit to have survived this ordeal, and they felt very sorry for him. But they could not help him at that time because many of the houses in the village had their roofs damaged and blown off in the storm. When an incident of this kind occurs, if one has not yet reached one’s time, one can get through unharmed — but who would want to go through such an experience as this?
      Such is the way of life of a Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu and the kinds of experiences which each one has to put up with before he can become a teacher (Acariya) who can show the way of Dhamma to his followers. Their lives are eventful with much suffering and torment as we have already seen from the above accounts. But even so they are not prepared to relax their striving to take it easy. Thus, where we said above, that, “all he could do was to stand or squat down... and put up with the cold all night,” this was another way of fighting the enemy. This method is known as the method of being in a tight corner with no-way-out, for he was up against enemies, which were in this case, the rain, the storm, the hailstones, and the branch which broke off and fell and tore away all his possessions and broke them up and scattered them about. These were enemies that surrounded him and came so close to him that there was no way to escape, and this is what is meant by fighting the enemy in the manner of one who is in a tight corner with his back to the wall and close to death. Yet he was able to go through it and survive, which suggests that his time was not up — and he was able to go on until he became a teacher or Acariya, imparting Dhamma and its meaning to others. But when his followers listen to the “Dhamma of narrowly escaping death”, from him, they must think how if he had not gone through such experiences, there would probably have been no Dhamma concerning narrow escapes left to reach them and us. When one thinks about it, his followers would seem to be in a more advantageous position than their teachers in that they can hear of such experiences without going through such difficulties and hardships as those who strive and struggle.
      The Acariya met with a lot of suffering and difficulty throughout, from the time he first started practising the way. But the level of his Dhamma is very high and worthy of respect and veneration as an ideal and an example to all of us. Even nowadays, he still has not reduced or relaxed his striving, because he always gained good results from making strenuous efforts in the past and he tries to keep up the same thing all the time. Never has he seen any useful results coming from laziness and weakness, so he refuses to drift in that direction. As explained early on in this book, those who have seen valuable results coming from any path of practice are likely to strive along that path. This Acariya should be a good example to us, although it is difficult to find anyone who can do as he did. The level of his citta and his Dhamma are worthy of respect and homage, for he has great ability at samadhi and he is able to know the Pretas, ghosts, Devatas and the Naga–kings both inwardly and outwardly, and it is rare to find anyone who can experience these things like him. In the ways of wisdom he is skilled, but the Dhutanga practices are his special love and he maintains them well all the time. Amongst Venerable Acharn Mun’s follows he is one that is very high in his Dhamma attainment (Dhamma–guna) and when Venerable Acharn Mun was still alive he praised him highly saying: “He has a characteristic tendency to help the Devatas and when he speaks about the Devatas, Pretas, ghosts and the Naga–kings he knows what he is talking about. He is content with little in the way of possessions and wants and likes to live alone in the forests and hills. He is by nature both resolute and courageous and he encourages his own striving, not becoming excited by the world of samsara where people so easily get involved in popular trends. He holds that the forests, hills, caves and overhanging cliffs are the best place to live and practise all the time, following the way that his teacher practised. He is not one of those who tend to do an about face to curry favour with people, to fawn obsequiously on those who are senior, nor to climb the ladder of special success by ‘running with the fox and hunting with the hounds’, but who are hardly able to uphold anything that is essential and valuable. They just like the words but nothing that is genuine and true. If one compares them with money, all they have got is the balance sheet without any assets to back it up... He has none of these tendencies, but is one whose level of Dhamma is worthy of respect and admiration. He is also praiseworthy in the way that he does not talk much. But when he does talk, what he says is very penetrating. He does not chatter nor speak aimlessly in ways that have little of the truth in them and are improper, but he likes speaking what is true and acting in a true and genuine way and this is habitual to him, which is appropriate for one who has been a practising Bhikkhu from the day of his ordination up to the present. As to his material wealth of possessions, he has very little. But the Bhikkhus and his followers know very well that he has not accumulated a lot of things because of his tendency to like wandering in the hills and forests, rarely visiting villages and towns where there are many people. In addition he rarely stays in one place long enough for others living there to get to know him and to visit him regularly, and he likes to keep his interest and his focus of attention on Dhamma rather than becoming involved with and concerned about other people and their offerings of dana. All this has formed his characteristics which are those of one who likes the way of searching for Dhamma and staying in places which he considers to be suitable and conducive to the way of practice for the attainment of that Dhamma which is his goal.”
      This Acariya usually likes eventful encounters of various kinds connected with wild and fierce animals, and it is possible that he and the animals were all frequent enemies in the past. So now that he is living the life of a Bhikkhu he likes to walk in those places where he will most frequently encounter danger from them. But when we look at the various things that happened to him, it would seem that however fierce some of the animals may have been, his citta increased in strength every time he met up with them. Never did any of these encounters cause him any misfortune, nor did they cause him to lose heart and become dejected, nor yet were they in any way a danger to his life of purity (Brahmacariya). But in fact the more he met with such experiences the more they confirmed his faith in merit, in kamma, in moral behaviour (sila), in Dhamma, and faith in the capability of his own citta, all of which became stronger than they would have been normally if he had not encountered such things.
      This gives rise to the speculative thought which accords with the intuitive feeling of those who practise the way of Kammatthana, that it is the power of the metta–citta, the power of the one who practises the way, and the power of Dhamma — the Dhamma which has always given confidence and peace to the world — that enables them to emerge unharmed and safe, and to gain strength of heart every time they encounter these various incidents. This Acariya is likely to be among those who have strong metta–citta, enough to cause uncertainty in the hearts of the animals which he came across and to cause their vicious ruthlessness to abate and die away, until they become as though intimate friends with the Acariya, in their hearts. Otherwise they would probably have been a mortal hazard to his life of purity long ago and he would never have lived to have the story of his life told — whereas in fact he is still alive now. Dhamma is therefore the most amazing and wonderful thing beyond all expectations for those who have experienced and realised it clearly in themselves. But it is a mystery for those who do not live within that sphere where the way of being able to know lies. Nevertheless, Dhamma is always Dhamma, standing as a pair with the world and it does not depend for its existence on whether someone makes contact with it and knows it and believes in it — or not. Because Dhamma exists by its own rights as the one Dhamma (Eka–Dhamma) based on its own natural principles throughout eternity and it does not depend on anything else by which it could otherwise be influenced or led.
      This Acariya must have a fine faith in the value of all the forms of Dhamma which we have already discussed buried deep in his heart. So that he likes to dive into the forest, willingly putting up with all the obstacles and difficulties he finds there without ever backing out and taking it more easily or weakening. In fact it seems that he is content with his lot and goes this way more and more, with contentment and happiness. He shows the truth of this by the way he leaves the Wat to go on his Dhutanga wanderings in the forests and hills every year at the end of the vassa period, when he goes away and nobody sees him or knows where he has gone to. He has never been seen to hang about where there are lots of people, nor to get involved with others, but always, he sets off for the forests and hills to strive for the way of Dhamma in his heart without letting up or giving up. He can talk easily about the forests, hills, caves and overhanging cliffs in all sorts of places with an evident satisfaction, and if one leads him on to describe these places in more detail it arouses an enthusiasm for such places in those who listen to him and they become engrossed and do not want him to stop. One pictures oneself going the same way with a fully committed and joyous heart, as if one were dropping all one’s burdens and restrictions of every kind from one’s shoulders — in other words, dropping the kilesas away from one’s heart in those places that he described. After listening to him one gains heart and starts thinking how one would like to go and stay in such suitable places. Places which this Acariya described, where he had gone to practise the way and where the heart can become calm and peaceful much more easily than in more ordinary places where he stayed until he became wearied of them.
      This Acariya said: “Sometimes while I was sitting in meditation, or it may have been while I was asleep, I am not sure which, but during the night a huge tiger came quietly up to the small bamboo platform where I sat and slept, and I never knew anything about it at all. But when I woke I saw its footprints, for everyday I swept the grounds round where I stayed, clear of leaves and things and anything walking there would leave clearly visible marks. So when I saw its footprints in the morning near where I stayed I followed them to see how close it had been and found that it had come right up to the platform where I slept. Not just close to the platform four or five feet away, but so close that the last footprint was less than about eighteen inches away. It probably came to sniff me out and finding that I was still alive and a person it quietly retreated, and when it went, it went back over the same tracks that it had come by without wandering about over the area where I was staying. When I saw its footprints, so bold and fearlessly coming right up to me a little shiver of fear went through me, for its footprints were so large, well above the average size. But it only came that one night and it never came close again. I stayed there for several months and if it had thought to come and make a meal of me it would probably have returned. But it never came near, although I heard it roaring and growling round about there as I had so often heard them everywhere in the forest.”
      I have a tendency to make fanciful suggestions, so having heard what the Acariya said, I immediately said to him in an encouraging manner: “I think that it came to pay respect to you and to admire your virtues (parami), and that it did not come as an enemy. As it was an animal it could not be ordained as a monk and practise the way of Dhamma like a human being, so when it went wandering here and there and happened to come across a Bhikkhu who had a kind heart it felt confident with faith in you and came to pay homage and admire your virtue. But if it had come at any other time, I think it would have been concerned lest it frighten the Bhikkhu, so it came to sniff you while you were asleep so that it could admire you to its heart’s content while you were not conscious of its presence and it need not fear that you would be scared stiff — for this would have been contrary to its purpose in coming to pay respects to you. As soon as it had paid respect to you to its satisfaction it then withdrew immediately, for fear that you may wake up and be afraid, or that you may make a symbolic gesture or use some magic saying or mantra to cast a spell over it which may spoil its good-hearted feelings and respect for you. I think that this is the most likely explanation, otherwise, how else would it be so bold as to go right up to where you were resting?”
      The Acariya laughed quietly and said: “How would it know enough about me to have any faith or respect? But it may well have thought that — “this is a nice snack for me” — or some such thought, for sure, and that is the only reason why it crept up to me to have a look. Then as soon as it realised that it was a person it went away quickly because from the time they are born they have an instinctive fear of people. From that day I never saw any sign of it coming to sniff me or look at me again while I was there.”
      He said further: “Animals of this kind are strange in that it seems as though they are possessed of some tendency in their hearts which makes them want to come and look at Kammatthana Bhikkhus who are sitting in samadhi, walking cankama, striving to practise the way, sitting in meditation practice under a mosquito net or sleeping. Sometimes in the morning they would decide to come and look me up, and they would sit there like a dog, looking at me complacently but not acting in any way that would frighten me. Sometimes one would be prowling about in the middle of the night roaring and growling and it would then come up and see me in the cave where I was staying. As soon as it got there it would just sit there and look at me, like a dog, and when it had enough it would go without doing anything to frighten me at all. But I could not help being rather apprehensive, because they are always fearsome animals. What is rather strange is that, the tigers that came to see me, regardless of where it was or when they came were always very large striped tigers with long bodies and quite awesome. But they never displayed any aggression to make me afraid at all. All they did was to look at me, and when they had finished they went away and never returned. Wherever I stayed, in whatever kind of place, when they came to see me they always came in the same manner; not as an enemy coming to bite or claw me for food, but in the manner of a domestic pet well accustomed to people. So they never had the appearance of an enemy, but their eyes looking at me always seemed to be very sharp and implacable which was their nature even though they were not filled with the anger and hunger to make them spring on me to eat me as food. Even so, the nature of their eyes is very sharp and frightening.”
      I then asked him: “When those tigers came to visit you, did you talk to them at all?”
      He said: “Sometimes I would say something, such as, ‘Why have you come here? For this is not the place for you to find your food, but a place for a Bhikkhu to stay and practise meditation. You should go away to wander about elsewhere. Don’t come here, because this Bhikkhu may become so frightened that your coming becomes evil, which may lead you to hell.’ But in saying, ‘I may become frightened,’ in fact this was just talk, because I had been frightened from the first moment I saw it.”
      I asked: “Did you ever walk towards any of these tigers when they came and sat in front of you, staring at you?”
      The Acariya said: “Sometimes I walked towards them. For after I told them to go and they took no notice of what I said, but remained there about six to eight yards away, just sitting and looking at me, I would walk towards them pointing with a stick or my finger, saying, ‘The place for you to be wandering about is way over there, where it is all forests and hills and you can go where you like to your heart’s content. It would be so much better than coming around here frightening this Bhikkhu. Go! Now! Don’t come sitting here for fun, scaring a Bhikkhu who is doing his meditation practice or you may soon end up in hell!’ When they went they took one sudden leap away and then disappeared silently.”
      “I think these tigers know something about what Bhikkhus have within them, otherwise why should they come up and look for me in the caves where I stayed. Because some of the caves were large and roomy and not the sort of place where tigers like to stay or climb up to, for they like to live in well concealed places, out of sight where they can keep their meat and their kills in ways that conform to their nature. They must know something about the ways of Bhikkhus for them to make the effort to come quietly in the middle of the day to see me. Much in the same way as children who think it would be fun to climb up to a cave and visit a Bhikkhu staying there — which often happens. But tigers are different from children in that they also like to visit a Bhikkhu during the night or in the morning before going on pindapata.”
      I asked: “Before these tigers came up to see you did you ever think that you would like them to come up and visit you?”
      “Why should I ever think of wanting them to visit me?” he replied. “Even when they come for only a few moments I almost die of fear and I break out into a sweat. If they came to stay for a long time and showed no intention of leaving, I am afraid I would surely get an attack of fever. Who would ever think, in a kind of perverse playfulness, of actually wanting a tiger to look them up for no real purpose at all?” he laughed gently.
      “Seeing that you are obviously very courageous and are not afraid to live alone without any companion to talk to, I merely thought that you might like a tiger to come and keep you company and talk to. That is why I asked you that question.”
      He grinned and then said: “To look for trouble and danger is not the right way to act at all. Who would be bold enough to think in such a way as that, which is a careless inconsequential thing to do and out of keeping with Dhamma? Supposing it suddenly appeared there showing every intention of actually attacking and killing, in what world would this bold daredevil who knows no fear end up?”
      The practice as done by Kammatthana Bhikkhus must seem, when one thinks about it from the viewpoint of most people, to be very risky and dangerous. But when one thinks about it from the viewpoint of Dhamma, one can see how it is normal and natural for people who have gained value from any particular way to want to go on looking for more in the same way. So those who have gained good results from such a way of practice will probably continue to “scramble up” by that way, and even though it is difficult and they must risk suffering and danger in various ways, they have to put up with and accept it to some extent. Most of those who have been able to establish a firm basis in their cittas, until they have been able to act as teachers — Acariyas — to other Bhikkhus, novices and people in general, have practised in the foregoing way. Thus Venerable Acharn Mun used to say: “Dhamma is to be found where death is close by, if one has not been faced with death one has not seen Dhamma.” This is because to risk one’s life and sanity by truly facing death with a heart that is unshakeably intent on the Dhamma of Deliverance is the principle which is upheld by those Kammatthana Bhikkhus who are determined to practise the way in a true and genuine manner. Therefore they are likely to meet with insufficiency of food and poverty of possessions all the time while they are striving for Dhamma. But their hearts will be fully contented with Dhamma, for they have peace and brightness where the heart abides, without any external involvement and turbulence.

 

10. The Practice of the Dhutangas 

     

The thirteen Dhutanga observances are necessary forms of Dhamma for the kind of Bhikkhus as described in the last chapters and they are an essential part of the way of life of those whose aim is to progress towards the Path, Fruition and Nibbana. This is no different from the way in which the Dhutanga observances were necessary forms of Dhamma for the Bhikkhus at the time of the Lord Buddha.
      Some Bhikkhus like to live under the shade of a tree in the dry season, until their mosquito nets and klods all go mouldy and discoloured after becoming wet by the dew every night in their exposed unprotected position. For in the cold season the dew is very heavy and the mosquito nets and klods become completely soaked every night. In the morning they must lay everything out to dry in the sun every day, but even so they still go mouldy. Wherever the mould grows in the cloth it makes a small black spot which cannot be washed out and remains there until the cloth is destroyed. But no way has been found to prevent fungus moulds from becoming established in cloth which is out in the open for a long time, becoming saturated with dew every night and drying before it can be put in the sun to dry.
      These Bhikkhus also do the practice of walking cankama in a true and genuine manner so that they can attain calm and happiness from it. Each time they do it they may go on for three to five hours, until they feel genuinely tired. Then they stop walking cankama and go and sit in meditation practice for several hours, after which they stop and rest.
      Those who resolutely practise the Dhutanga Kammatthanas while being completely committed to them, will see the value of each Dhutanga practice and how much benefit they can attain from them. For each Dhutanga is a means of assisting those who practise them to reach the higher levels of Dhamma step by step. Not one of them is ever an obstacle in the way of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana. They are all forms of Dhamma as the means of training those who practise to become courageous and full of cheer in Dhamma, and also to become “warriors” who fight in every way that weakens and drives the kilesas from their hearts.
      Those who have only lived in houses or buildings and have never gone out to the forest are not likely to have seen the kinds of things that happen in the forest. They have probably seen only the things that happen where people live in houses — which are ordinary kinds of things which all of us have come across and which we are all quite familiar with. But it is also likely that they never think in such a way as to see what disadvantages come from these kinds of things, and how they may extricate themselves and go free from them. Day by day they are bound to run into the same things that they have met in the past, and they get the dukkha that comes from them every hour of every day without exception. But they have no interest in searching for the reason why, even only to the extent of being able to avoid them.
      To live in the forest in the right way, which accords with the true purpose of the Dhutangas, a person must be a “warrior”, a fighter in order to extricate himself truly from the various obstacles which are in his own heart. He does not merely live there like an animal in the forest, which has always lived there and is completely familiar with the forest life. But he lives there for the purpose of examining things which are within himself and which arise in various circumstances, with Dhamma as his ultimate goal.
      Of all the enemies to his life in the forest, the greatest is likely to be fear. This type of kilesa is an obstacle which makes the heart sink down so that it no longer wants to stay in the forest. When he understands that this kilesa is an obstacle barring his way forward towards the Path and Fruition, he must clear it away and drive it out from his heart until it is entirely eradicated and there remains only bravery and courage. Then he will be able to go anywhere, live anywhere and lie down anywhere without fear of death — which is yet another type of kilesa — and he will see clearly in his own experience just how valuable and how important this Dhutanga is. This is why the Lord ­Buddha prescribed the Dhutanga of living in the forest as a routine practice. But apart from this, living in the forest is also valuable in so far as one has no distractions and involvement with all those things that one associates with. Things which generally speaking tend to depress the heart and bury it so that it goes right down, giving it no chance to recover and emerge for it to be able to be its own master even for a few moments at a time. Admiring the natural scenery in various places in the forest where one is staying is not the sort of thing that disturbs and upsets the heart causing it to be agitated and confused — as do those things which arouse one’s thoughts and imagination which are just waiting to “put one to sleep” as soon as one is invaded by any one of these many kinds of things. The more one is invaded by these things by day and night, all the time, the more difficult it is to say how long one would be able to stand up to it and how many times before becoming unconscious and falling down, due the various poisons which one is “inhaling” all the time from those things.
      Those Bhikkhus who think about the Dhutangas and examine them to see the purpose behind them, whatever understanding they gain, they will see the value of the Dhutanga of living in the forest, to the extent of their understanding. Because this Dhutanga Dhamma is a beautiful adornment which has always decorated the Sasana in the most wonderful way; and amongst those Buddhists who maintain it and do not give it up nor let it degenerate there is no sadness or lack of cheerfulness. This Dhutanga will also adorn the Bhikkhus who ­continue to uphold it, making them into a Sobhana Sangha in the Dhamma and Vinaya, which gives no cause for adverse criti­cism whether externally or internally.
     
      The Forest University
     
      Places such as forests, hills, caves, overhanging cliffs, charnel grounds, jungle and remote hill forests where the natural environment remains undisturbed far away from any villages, are the places which bring mindfulness, wisdom, knowledge and skill to the Bhikkhu whose interest is in Dhamma, with the aim of attaining freedom for himself. Such a Bhikkhu does not like the distraction and turmoil associated with anything which is an obstacle, an enemy, hindering his progress towards freedom from Dukkha. In Buddhism, such places have always been favoured, right from the beginning when the Lord Buddha was the courageous leader undaunted in the face of death who practised for his own development in such places, before he became fully enlightened in the highest Dhamma, and then went out to teach those who were fit to receive the teaching. All the Savakas who heard the Dhamma teaching and learnt from the Lord about those places which were suitable for them, variously went off and practised the way. They followed in the footsteps of the Buddha until mindfulness, wisdom and skilfulness arose which were equal to the internal tricks (of the kilesas) which had deceived them and led them down to hell in past lives both short and long through countless ages. Then they shook off and entirely got rid of all that was filthy and loathsome in their hearts, and this they did in this forest, or on that hill, or in a cave over there, or under an overhanging cliff in that district, in a charnel ground, a deserted house, or under the shade of a tree while living in a remote district in this forest or that hill. These are the places where Dhamma was planted and cultivated in the hearts of those who practised the way, giving them an unshakeable root principle within them, and this has continued right up to the present day. If one compares this with modern institutions, it is analogous to those large and well known Universities where students may work for their Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor’s degrees, or whatever other scholarly distinctions there are, so that those students who are interested in learning all that they need to know to finish the course may return home and be of value in developing their own country and people.
      All of the above places were considered important at the time of the Lord Buddha and since then throughout the ages right up to the present for the “students” practising Dhamma at various levels of development. In these places they did everything to the utmost of their mindfulness and strength in the various stages of skill which they should aim for and attain in such a “forest university”. In other words they attained their “degrees” at their various levels of development until they reached the topmost level. The levels of Dhamma which they learnt and practised in those places, which we have likened to a university, are those of the Path and Fruition of Sotapanna, the Path and Fruition of Sakadagami, the Path and Fruition of Anagami and the Path and Fruition of Arahant with, at the same moment, the attainment of the one Nibbana. At this final stage the student becomes a great Master because whoever reaches this final level is a perfect “field of merit”, both to himself and for others, and there is no grade of learning which is higher than this throughout the threefold Universe.
      So, as to accord with the world, which has always been a pair with Dhamma, the forest hills, jungle and other such places may be called the University of the Great Master, the Lord Buddha, the founder of the religion. The Lord prescribed such places right from the beginning when he first formulated our religion by his teaching, which he bestowed on the Bhikkhus and others from that time on with such brief injunctions as “Rukkhamula–senasana” (dwelling at the foot of a tree). Afterwards he gradually increased the number of Dhutangas up to thirteen which also includes the Rukkhamula–senasana Dhutanga.
      These “universities”, are where the Bhikkhus at the time of the Lord Buddha liked to stay, to learn and practise the way truly and to their utmost with complete dedication until they attained the first, second and third grades and finally the fourth which was their Master’s degree. Then they brought the pure and true Dhamma to their associates and taught it in place of the Lord, the Great Teacher, so as to lighten his burden to some extent. So Buddhism developed and prospered and spread out to countless numbers of people because it relied upon the “university” of forests and hills and other such places which were so favourable. For they proved to be of the greatest value both to the Great Teacher and to all his “Savaka” followers who reached the final stage of learning. They became “Masters” to whom the world bowed in homage as their ideal, both in behaviour and in what concerns the heart. This has continued through the ages right down to us who are here now and who uphold them as the guiding line of our lives and hearts and practise the way following their example, enough to know the significance of being a person at a level of what is generally accepted as that of a “genuine human being”.
      When we think of the Dhutanga observances and make comparisons with the places where universities should be established, what course of study should be provided and what syllabus should these universities in the world have? A good guide may be found in the thirteen Dhutanga observances and the fourteen Khandha observances as taught in Buddhism. These can give an indication of a suitable ­location to set up the “university” and the basic principles of such a Buddhist University. Thus, some of the Dhutanga observan­ces give a good indication of the kind of places that would be suitable for their practice, such as the injunctions to “live in the forest”, to “stay under the shade of a tree”, to “live in a charnel ground”, to “visit a charnel ground”, to “accept whatever place to stay is arranged by other people”, to “live out in the open without any shelter”, and to live in any other appropriate and suitable place, such as, a cave, an overhanging cliff, or an empty building where nobody is staying.
      As for getting some indication of the principles of the curriculum — which is the way of practice — in such a university, the Sangha is able to give some help in this regard. Thus, the students should keep the observances of using only cloth from the charnel ground, having only the three robes as their clothing, relying only on pindapata food, eating only out of the bowl, eating food only once a day, refusing food given after pindapata and not lying down to sleep for any set number of nights. In addition there are the Forty Kammatthanas which are the basis of the way of meditation practice which also give assistance in this curriculum in conjunction with the Dhutangas.
      In summary, Buddhism is a religion that is complete with many branches of knowledge and it has acted as a university ever since the time that the Great Teacher started teaching Dhamma to the world. There are many places where this university is established and there are many forms of learning which are available which the students may choose to take up and learn and practise. Those places which the Lord Buddha recommended as being the foremost, the most important, and the highest branch of the university are the forest, the shade of a tree, a charnel ground, and living out in the open. In addition there are other special places including, a cave, an overhanging cliff, the top or sides of a hill, a valley, and the edge of the forest or hills, all of which are also to be considered as special places which are recommended in the same way by the Lord. The principles of training as used by this “university” in the various courses that are offered, are based on the practice of the various Dhutanga observances which are to be kept up all the time in all situations — as we have already described herein. In other words, the practices of using only discarded cloth obtained from the charnel ground, using only the three robes, going on pindapata every day as an observance, eating only from the bowl, eating only once a day, and in addition the Forty Kammatthanas such as, for example, the practice of Anapanasati (which will be discussed further on) are forms of learning which will not lead to disappointment in those who variously practise them for they lead to the attainment of the third, second, first and the Master’s degrees. These are the titles given to the performance of those students who have had the interest and the commitment to follow the course through in all its parts at the level of the degree that they worked to attain.
      The place where this university is located is very extensive and is not crowded and constricted as are the universities where the “world” goes to get their learning. The number of students can be very large, including both men and women, monks and lay people of all nationalities, race and colour regardless of class, age or educational background. It is open and accepts students in all seasons, every day of the week and at all times of the day or night. In fact it is always open and has been so ever since it was founded almost two thousand six hundred years ago by the Lord Buddha, who was the first “professor” to teach in it. From the beginning he accepted students and taught them from the most elementary levels up to the level of the Master Citta — which is Dhamma throughout.
      The students of the Lord Buddha are of four types, these being: Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upasakas and Upasikas, but as there are no Bhikkhunis left now, we may put Samaneras in their place. The first students to graduate from the university were the Pañcavaggiya — the first five, of whom Venerable Aññakondañña was the first. The second group included Venerable Yasa Kulaputta and sixty friends of his. The third group was composed of the three Jatila brothers who were Teachers, and all their followers, altogether making up one thousand and three Bhikkhus. All the members of these three groups attained the completion of their learning and training from the principles of the course of training (vijja) in freedom (vimutti) in various places in this “university”, and they all became Masters. These were the “assistant professors” under the Lord Buddha, who were also called the Savaka Arahants. They helped to teach other people, thereby taking on some of the burden of teaching and reducing the load that the Lord was carrying. Their reward was the result of their work which their followers gained to a greater or lesser extent, and they looked on this as being sufficient reward, taking into account the metta which they had for them. If we consider the value that they got from this in terms of worldly things, then each of them received thirty bowls of food per month equally, from the Lord down to the smallest Samanera — which is a very good example of equal treatment. It is not easy to find such kindness to equal that of the Great Masters who always have metta for the world, which never diminishes or dulls.
      Therefore we who are Buddhists can confidently assert that the “university” and its various “courses” of instruction which belong to Buddhism, as founded and formed by the Lord Buddha, and where he himself taught and directed all the Savaka Arahants so that they then went out to teach in his place, is the foremost “university” and the foremost teaching in the world, and there is no other teaching to equal it in the universe. Even the Devaputtas, the Devatas, Indra, Brahma, Yama, the Yakkhas, the Nagas and the Garudas, all still pay homage and reverence to the Lord and accept him as the foremost Teacher and the greatest Master in the universe — as in the often repeated verse in praise of the Buddha: ... sattha devamanussanam ... etc.
      Even with the Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, his Enlightenment arose in the midst of this “university”, as well as all of his knowledge of the way to attain freedom (vijja–vimutti), which has already been mentioned above. This is why he praised and extolled the virtues of those “forest institutes” in his religion. When a worthy man was ordained as a Bhikkhu, the Lord taught him the Five Kammatthanas and the Anusasana (instructions as to the mode of living), such as dwelling under the shade of a tree, to act as a pointer to show the general way of practice and some of the things which they should do. These are also the means of cutting down the thick, tangled forest with persistence — in other words, the various kinds of kilesas in the heart which enclose it and prevent it from seeing the path leading to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana — and clearing the place with the Dhamma weapons which the Lord provided. But when Samaneras were or­dained he only taught them the Five Kammatthanas to fight against the various vicious Maras, to destroy them and clear them from the heart. He did not teach them the anusasanas concerned with living in the forests and hills — probably because they were still too young for this. So he did not send them out into the front line of battle, which was not yet necessary for them. In the time of the Lord Buddha the number of people who became Savaka Arahants was very great and nearly all of them attained Enlightenment from the forest institutes which we have discussed.
      The Lord Buddha and all the Savakas graduated in Dhamma from the hills and forests where they gained their Master’s degrees. The courses of training which they completed in this “university” were concerned with liberation (vimutti), so when they went out to teach the world, it was a subject which they could be absolutely sure about and in which they had full confidence. There was nothing which was modified, false or ambiguous in it, both in regard to those worthy ones who had fully attained to it as well as the knowledge of it in which they were fully proficient. This is very different from the knowledge and the students which are found everywhere else in the world, but the “Sangha University” which we have described has difficulty in finding students who want to learn. This may be because this institute gives more authority to each student to look after himself than it gives to anyone else to look after him and direct him and govern him in the way that they do in the world’s universities. In other words, to enter, to stay and to train in any of this institute’s places or branches is for the student to choose and decide as he likes. In a similar way, amongst the various subjects and courses of training which are available in this institute, each individual has the right to choose those which he finds suitable to himself. Both the Acariya and the student are chosen by himself, and if his Acariya — who is himself — is strict and resourceful in training his follower — for both the Acariya and the pupil are in one and the same person — driving himself on with skill, then both will steadily progress towards a state of calm and happiness. Then even if he should go into a forest which is full of all sorts of wild animals and tigers, he has no fear and can stay there calmly relaxed, peaceful and happily enjoying the noises made by all the animals which serenade the forest with their “music”, each in its own characteristic way, to which he can listen with absorbed attention. This does not cause one to lose one’s wealth like man made music which penetrates deeply and catches the heart. If one’s heart is still excitable, only waiting to emerge and “put its head out” to get some fresh air, it may be blown away by the storm of music and scattered about in an uncontrolled manner, which is most unseemly. This can also spoil oneself and that which is of value to one, leading to loss of restraint and loss in a very real way.
      On the other hand, the music of the forest animals is a soothing lullaby which they each sing at their own time and the sound makes one become pleasantly absorbed in listening to it with a sympathy that touches the heart. But wherever a Kammatthana Bhikkhu goes to stay, all sorts of animals, two legged, four legged, winged and without wings tend to gather round in his vicinity, and the longer he stays there the more seem to come. At times the sound of them calling to their friends who are all about the place, in their own animal languages resounds loudly through the forest; and this is the same sort of thing as happens with us human beings. For all beings who have hearts, naturally think of each other, but they are not able to speak human languages to let us know about themselves, although each species has its own inherent language which derives from its birth and upbringing — as also do people. Their calls and the noises they make to each other are what the Bhikkhus call music, and it goes on all the time. In the morning one type of animal will make its call; later in the morning another species will start up; then in the afternoon yet others will call out to each other, and so it goes on throughout the day and night. It is almost as if they work in shifts, one taking over when the previous one finishes. Although in fact they are probably like the chickens which people keep round their homes which just crow at that time which is natural to them. But in the forests there are many kinds of animals, each kind having a different time for wandering about searching for food and making their characteristic calls and cries and never are they all silent, even at night, when many species search for food as others do by day. Therefore their cries and calls never cease throughout the twenty four hours of the day.
      Living and training in the subject of Dhamma, in accordance with the policy and way of Buddhism, in the institutions that we have described above is far more difficult than the way of learning from text books. But if one can put up with the difficulties of this way of learning and practice and if one gets the results they will be great results, one will have great merit and one will know clearly in one’s own heart the value of striving persistently to the limit of one’s endurance.
      Anyone who is not as resolute and bold as a true warrior is not likely to be able to stay there. Because it is rather like being in a reformatory the whole time — even though there is nobody there to force or intimidate one — apart, that is, from the volition due to anxiety about what one will become in the future, which compels one from within oneself to go on.
      When one has oneself done the work of training in Buddhism in the foregoing way until one has seen the awesome power of the hardships and tormenting conditions in everything of all kinds, then one will be able to realise fully how proficient and courageous the Buddha and his Noble Disciples were, and one will see how their lineage was truly that of skilled warriors.
      The business of getting rid of all one’s doubts and uncertainties entirely, in such a way that one knows and sees quite clearly for oneself, means — that other people have fear, but if one has not yet experienced fear of that kind one will not yet appreciate that there is anything special about it that should make one think much of it; other people have suffering (dukkha), but if one has not experienced suffering such as that, one will not appreciate that there is anything special about it which should make one think; others discipline themselves in their various ways of striving to develop, which involves much dukkha and difficulty, but if one has not experienced this kind of discipline and dukkha, for oneself, one will not appreciate that there is anything special about it which should make one think; there is suffering and torment which comes from various causes and which arises out of the strenuous training undertaken by other people, but if one has not yet experienced these things for oneself, one will not appreciate that there is anything special about it which should make one think; and this goes right the way through to happiness, which is the result that arises to a greater or lesser extent from all the training and discipline done by other people, but if one has not yet experienced this in one’s own heart one will not yet appreciate that there is anything special about it which should make one think and wonder greatly. Even if one has the belief that these things can truly be as others describe them, it still doesn’t reach one’s heart. But when the time comes that one has actually experienced these things oneself, both the causes — which means the training and disciplining of oneself in various ways and the acceptance of the ensuing sufferings and discomforts of many kinds; and also the results — which means the happiness of heart which one derives from the various forms of training, from the lowest to the highest levels, then one will see for oneself that it is something special which makes one think much of it. In fact one may say that it makes one appreciate it from the full depth of one’s heart, as well as making one see in the fullness of one’s heart just how baneful is the state of dukkha. Then one will see full well the value which has come from those causes which one has enacted, and all doubts of all kinds will disappear, without any more need to go and ask anyone else. Because the answers have all become obvious to oneself, both in connection with good, evil, happiness and suffering, which all arise from oneself alone.
      The Lord Buddha, whose metta brought the greatest blessings to the world, intended that people and other beings should practise and realise or experience things for themselves. He did not want them to accept his words in the manner of someone who brings exciting news just for us to listen to, even though it is true. So the practice of Dhamma at each and every level as it becomes appropriate to each one, should be a matter of knowing and seeing, and he wanted this to be experienced by each one for himself in his own heart. This is far better than hearing and gaining knowledge from other people which one has not actually met and attained for oneself. For it was the aim of the Lord to get each one to do the work for himself, to know for himself, and to see for himself so that it may be truly his own possession and treasure. Then nobody, however bold or daring will be able to take any part of it away from him, nor make him lose any of it.
      It was the intention of the Lord that one who practises should go into the forest by himself. Even if he meets up with wild animals, like tigers, he should do so himself; and when he meets a tiger he should know for himself how much fear he has. In evading and curing it in various ways, the methods he uses should be his own methods derived from his own skill in mindfulness and wisdom. The heart which he trains and disciplines to stand up to such incidents should be his own heart; and the ease of body and peace of heart which he gets from the training and discipline should be the value which is in his own heart. This is far better than having the good news of the value of someone else. The heart (citta) is what penetrates the Path and Fruition at all its levels, because of this training and discipline; so let it be your own heart that breaks through. In gaining freedom from dukkha of heart, let it be your own heart that gains freedom, rather than hearing about someone else attaining freedom due to their own efforts. It is also right that our religion should be the special wealth of those who are interested to promote and guard it. Normally this religion is the general wealth of all those who have interest in practising and looking after it, but then it turns into your own abundant wealth due to its development to completion in your own heart. We may say that such a person is skilled and clever, using his own mindfulness and wisdom to lead him to by-pass the world and samsara and to reach Nibbana, thus conforming to the intention of the Great Teacher, to whom the religion belongs, who taught his followers with such insight and ability with the purpose that those who come to stay in the shade of his supreme perfection should gain skill and cleverness so that they may penetrate the Path and Fruition to become Ariya Puggala of the highest level and safe, having got rid of all the evil, vile things which had been their enemies for countless lives.
      When they have attained the level of the Master of great learning and wisdom they will have reached the completion of their learning and training in the Sangha University of Buddhism with full honours, and there is no need for them to go elsewhere for them to learn anything for the remainder of their lives. This is called the complete and perfect learning of the “Brahmacariya’’, and it is nothing but this that the Lord Buddha and all the Savakas learnt to completion in their hearts. They did not learn anything elsewhere but in the heart, because it is the heart alone that, being deluded, leads one into birth and death. So when learning is completed in the heart, all affairs of all kinds come to an end.
     
      The Purpose and Places of Practice
     
      The Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus in the line from Venerable Acharn Mun endeavour to learn about and around the “body–city” and the “citta–city” which are the great source of the threefold universe (Ti–bhava). Even though they may go and live in the forests, the hills, in caves, under overhanging cliffs or anywhere else, the most important point to realise is that they are doing this so as to learn primarily about the citta. Even nowadays (1970), it may be seen how there are many Kammatthana Bhikkhus in the lineage of Venerable Acharn Mun who spend the rains retreat (vassa) in the forests and hills, following his example, and they do this primarily for the sake of the citta. The training and discipline of various kinds which accord with their characteristic tendencies, mindfulness, wisdom and ability, are done primarily for the sake of knowing the end-point which is the heart — this alone is the one that matters.
      A Bhikkhu who is really determined to gain freedom is thus rather like someone who dies without having anything arranged for his funeral, so that others can cremate or keep the corpse. When his time comes anywhere will do without being concerned about it — and that place becomes the cemetery where he dies. While his khandhas are still together and alive he will continue to stay in any such place that is suitable for him to strive and develop himself in Dhamma, and there he will strive all the time without let up or ceasing. When sitting he strives, when standing, walking or lying down he strives, and the only time he stops is when he sleeps. If he does not do it this way he will never be able to catch up with the tracks left by the kilesas and tanha which have the knack of leading beings to death and wandering round the worlds of samsara, and much faster than the wind in the greatest storms. Even in one moment they can drag him round the worlds in the three realms of the universe without his being able to follow and keep up with them, and they bring dukkha to their owner who is more stupid and lacking in wisdom than they are. Thus he experiences dukkha which is sharp, hot and troublesome as well as being painful and tormenting, for there is no dukkha that can compare with the “taste” of that dukkha which the various kilesas bring to burden the heart.
      Therefore, someone who sees how baneful these kilesas are in a way which goes to his heart, is bound to strive to get rid of them all the time — every moment — and he has no time whether in the morning, afternoon or evening to rest, relax and take it easy, letting the kilesas and tanha walk all over him and do any more harm. One way or another he will reach the “far bank of the river” where it is safe and free from dukkha. However arduous and difficult this may be he will put up with it, supported by the thought of all the various births and lives through which he must otherwise whirl about because of the force of avijja and tanha, which means dukkha, which is bound to infiltrate everything in all these lives. He should hurry to cure himself, to get free and to overcome them entirely in this life now, while he can, and should, be curing himself. Because there is no doubt that in this life he is a complete and normal human being who also has the status of being ordained as a Bhikkhu who should indeed be able to dry out the kilesas from his heart in whatever way is suitable. One can hardly think of any possible future lives when conditions will be as suitable as those that he has at present. Whatever work ought to be done to completion to reach and attain that which man should reach and attain, that work is what he is doing at present, and he should finish it off while still alive in these khandhas. He must not be slow and sluggish, wasting time all the time, for when the baneful one, which is death, and which has such power, reaches him, he will be in difficulty and he will lose everything which he should have attained and have when that time comes.
      These are some of the ways in which such Bhikkhus rouse up and encourage themselves to hurry and increase their striving in their various places and situations, so that they do not become complacent and self-satisfied. Those who are in the stages of samadhi development then work at it with urgency so that it will become much stronger, and so that when they turn to investigation in the way of wisdom, it will be strong and fast — as they want it to be. On the other hand, those who are starting out on the stages of wisdom development, or who are already working at them, do their investigation with increasing urgency until they know clearly and see truly into the elements (dhatu), khandha, ayatana and the various types of kilesas which penetrate into things which are closely associated with the activities of the body and citta. This enables them to extract the kilesas one by one, steadily, all the time while they are full of zeal and striving, by depending on the forests, the hills and the jungles, which by acting as a strategic battleground and a suitable environment, help them to gain victory in their fight while struggling and striving to smash up all the kilesas. Then depending on whatever strength of mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort they have, they destroy so much of the kilesas each day — these kilesas which have established and concentrated their “armies” and forces within.
      Some of these Bhikkhus win these battles stage by stage and leave the university of the jungles, the hills, the caves, the overhanging cliffs or the charnel grounds. Sometimes when they have won the battle and leave completely fulfilled, perfect, smiling and bright, with their hearts pure throughout like the moon on the day of the full moon, they meet up with their colleagues and discuss the results that they have had from their practice of the way. They tell each other about the things that happened, and it is the most wonderful thing that one can listen to. Nowhere else can one hear anything to compare with it in any gathering of people anywhere. For in such a group one will hear Dhamma which is pure, fresh and direct — as if one were listening to a group of Savaka Arahants at the time of the Lord Buddha, telling each other about the Path, Fruition and Nibbana which they had attained. Nowadays it is extremely rare for anyone to hear such a discussion, but there are still some Bhikkhus who are able to talk and who are skilled enough in their knowledge of these Dhammas to be able to have a discussion together and they are the most revered amongst those Bhikkhus who practise the way in the present era. The Dhamma of these Bhikkhus can be a great encouragement to others who practise the way, making their faith both firm and strong so that they have the power of body and heart to be active and vigorous in destroying their own kilesas, without any weakness of the kind that makes for slackening of effort and zeal. This they do by taking up the ways of practice which Venerable Acharn Mun so skilfully bestowed on us when he was alive. Places like the hills and forests are therefore where the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who follow in line from Venerable Acharn have always liked to go wandering to do their practice ever since.
      Nowadays there are many Kammatthana Bhikkhus who spend the vassa period in the forests and hills in the same way as Venerable Acharn Mun taught when he was still alive. Generally these Bhikkhus are followers of those Teachers who were themselves direct followers of Venerable Acharn Mun, living in various localities, and they point out the ways of practice to these Bhikkhus. Some of the places where many Kammatthana Bhikkhus in this line of teaching spend the vassa period are in Nong Khai Province in the districts of Tha Bo, Si Chiang Mai, Phon Phisai, Bung Kan which are mostly covered by forests and hills. These are the kinds of places that Kammatthana Bhikkhus like to stay in to do their practice, but they do not like going where there are no thick forests and few hills. Generally they just pass through the latter places, or at most, stay temporarily at the invitation of the villagers to help them sometimes. Other places where they like to stay are in Nakhon Phanom Province in the districts of Khamchai where it borders on the district of Lerng Nokta in the province of Ubon where there are plenty of hills and forests. In the district of Si Songkhram where there is good forest and in the districts of Ban Phaeng and Mukdahan where there are both hills and forests in plenty, the Bhikkhus like going to stay right up to the present day. In Sakon Nakhon Province they like to stay in the district of Sawang Daen Din and Panna Nikhom where there are hills and forests in the southern part of the district. In Udorn Province, in the districts of Ban Phu, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Na Klang, Nong Han and Muang, there are hills and forests in plenty, as also in Loei Province in the districts of Wang Saphung and Muang. The Kammatthana Bhikkhus like staying in these provinces and districts more than any others in the Northeast of Thailand.
      There are still many who are interested in practising the way, fully intent on attaining Dhamma and understanding. Sometimes when there is some special function such as the funeral and cremation of an Acariya in whom they have faith and respect, the Bhikkhus and Samaneras gather together, as for instance, at the funeral and cremation of Venerable Acharn Prom at Dong Yen village in the district of Nong Han, Udorn Province. They like going to such functions because they expect to hear talk on Dhamma from all the Acariyas whom they respect and revere and who come to this function. Those who have problems in their hearts, associated with their meditation practices have an opportunity at such a time to go and talk and learn about it from the Acariyas. As soon as the function is finished they disperse and variously return to the forests and hills where they have been living and doing their practice.
      When the Kammatthana Bhikkhus come together in large numbers they are very impressive to see. One also feels sympathy for the small Samaneras who have come with their Acariyas, and who are more loveable than impressive. We can get some idea of how strong the cittas of some of the Bhikkhus are when they go to such occasions as this and we have a chance to talk together about citta bhavana. We can also do this when they come specially to visit us at other times, and also when we meet them on various other occasions. Because, generally speaking, when Kammatthana Bhikkhus meet each other they rarely talk about anything but Dhamma in the heart. Even when they talk for a long time it is only about Dhamma in the heart and they do not bring in any other topic of conversation. After seeing them one feels respect and confidence in them, and great sympathy for each one of them in what they are trying to attain. It makes us feel sure and satisfied that, if there are still those who are interested to practise Dhamma by striving with effort like these Bhikkhus that we have learnt about, they will get the results of what they are doing, so that both they and other people will feel happy and contented that the teaching can be handed on continually into the future, and will surely not be lost and become devoid of fruit. As in the saying of Dhamma: “We have seen, Ananda, how if there are still those who practise Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma this world will not become void of Arahants.”
      In the above saying of the Buddha, how does one “practise Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma?” When one has assessed the essential meaning of this phrase, it means, “whatever is appropriate to oneself”. “Appropriateness of Dhamma”, means being in accord with the reasoning which is in the Teaching that the Lord Buddha himself taught, which is called the “Svakkhata–Dhamma” — “The rightly taught Dhamma” — which is not deficient anywhere in any way. If it is thought of as a path or a way then it is a path that goes straight to its intended destination without breaking into many tracks and branches to mislead those who go along it. Or if it is likened to food, it is food which is plentiful and perfect, straight from the most skilled cook and complete with its full natural flavours, being not too spicy or salty and well suited to the taste of whoever eats it without exception. Or again, it may be likened to a suit of clothes which are tailor made to fit, being neither too tight nor too loose, but just right in all cases. Not like those clothes which they make up to fit tightly, which are most unseemly for both men and women to wear. To look at them much is very disturbing and offensive to one’s sensibility. So much so that if one were in mourning for three months one would still not be able to forget them, because they are so peculiar and far from the realms of human beings and the gods as well. Thus the appropriateness of Dhamma in all its parts and aspects, is to be assessed by whether it leads onward to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana. This alone and no other is to be called “Dhamma which is appropriate” — in other words, appropriate just for the Path and its Fruition, that is all.
      Where I wrote above: “... who practise Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma...,” it means doing practice which accords with those ways of Dhamma which are called: Supatipatti, Ujupatipatti, Ñayapatipatti and Samicipatipatti. These are what is meant by “appropriateness”, not deviating from the way of Dhamma, not going beyond nor falling short of Dhamma, and not modifying or obscuring Dhamma according to one’s fancy, as if one was oneself the Great Teacher of all Dhamma. These are what is meant by “practising Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma.” So if one practises in the manner of Supatipatti, Ujupatipatti, Ñayapatipatti and Samicipatipatti, it means that one is practising Dhamma in a manner that is truly appropriate to Dhamma, and the results which come from it will be those which one has been led to expect from it, and they are bound to come in this way. It does not have to be within the lifetime of the Lord Buddha, nor during any other particular time or era for these results to arise, for it depends mainly on the practice that is done, and this is more important than any other thing. It is like going along a smooth road, which is the right road going straight to the intended destination. Whether one travels by day or by night, in the dry season or the rainy season, when one does not turn away from this right road one is sure to reach the destination as all others have. Therefore it is important that one should go along the right road, both in the world and in Dhamma. Because the “Dhamma that is appropriate”, that we have been talking about, is the akalika (timeless) Dhamma, which is always aimed directly towards the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, without there being any time or place which is more favourable than any other. What is favourable is the right Dhamma practice, and this is more important than anything else.
      If one does not practise the right Dhamma, it makes no difference what age or time one is in, there is no hope of attaining the results which one should attain, because it contradicts the principle of “practising Dhamma in ways that are appropriate to Dhamma”. These wrong ways of practice do not conform to the principle which says, “... appropriate to Dhamma,” and they are likely to be an enemy to oneself and to Dhamma as well. The Dhamma that has been taught by the Lord is well suited to all states and situations everywhere and it does not set up any opposition to anything in the world and so it is called, “well taught”. Therefore someone who is anxious to attain a satisfactory refuge as a result of their actions, should consider what causes they are currently making and whether or not they conform to the principle of what is, “... appropriate to Dhamma”. If they do not so conform it means that one has gone astray, that one is without doubt opposing Dhamma and the Path, Fruition and Nibbana.
      It is hoped that the reader will forgive me for getting diverted from the main theme all the time. As soon as I leave the subject I am dealing with I get carried far away before mindfulness returns, by which time I have gone all over the place. So now I will return and say more about the Dhutanga Bhikkhus.
      There are many Kammatthana Bhikkhus in line from Venerable Acharn Mun who are still alive, although they rarely come out of the forests and hills. So people who live in towns, or in Bangkok hardly ever get a chance to know how they live nor where and in which provinces, so we have taken the opportunity to let people know some of the provinces and places where they stay. They do not like to stay much in the populated areas of these provinces but prefer to live far away where there are forests and hills and where it is calm and quiet. Such places are far from the places of administration in each province and its districts, and some places cannot be reached by car, whereas others can, with difficulty, for a car has to force its way into the forest through muddy places which become impassable in the rainy season.
      Normally, when the Kammatthana Bhikkhus go anywhere they like to travel in the Dhutanga way, which means going about on foot all the time. Walking up one hill, clambering up another, searching for a place to stay and practise bhavana which suits their temperament. They have little interest in leaving such a place to go to the villages and towns, for they do their practice in a quiet way which other people do not know about. But those who are Kammatthana Bhikkhus in the same way, all know about each other both inwardly and outwardly. Thus they know the whereabouts of the others, which districts of which province, and with how many other Bhikkhus and novices they are staying. These things they know well, because they keep in touch with others frequently. In particular they have faith and respect for the senior Acariyas, and the Kammatthana Bhikkhus have a great liking for visiting them, paying respect to them and training in Dhamma and its meaning with them and there are always some going and staying with them all the time. As soon as one goes, another comes, changing about, going and coming all the time, both during the dry season and the rainy season, excepting only during the three vassa months when it is difficult for those living far away, who have to stop visiting others for the time being. As for those who live close enough to visit each other, they will probably go to see the Acariyas and their friends quite frequently. They go to see the Acariyas to learn about Dhamma with an attitude of faith and reverence for those who are endowed with the quality of Dhamma. The need to visit, to pay homage, and to listen to the various forms of teaching of the Acariyas, whenever the time is appropriate, is looked on as a custom of Kammatthana which goes back to its origins. Therefore each of them know where the others are staying and what their movements are.
      In regard to those whose levels of citta and Dhamma are very high, there are still many of them who are living at present. But generally speaking, they are not likely to bring out their “Dhamma wealth” and spend it in an opulent manner, for they act rather like a rich man who does not like to show off. Their possessions, they have and use in the same way as other people and they do not show off nor make out that they are important, causing a lot of fuss. This is the way that those Bhikkhus who are truly intent on Dhamma behave, and each of them in their own way lives quietly, which accords with the characteristics of those who are intent on Dhamma, and they do not like talk which is vain and boastful, which is the way of the world.
      The Kammatthana Bhikkhus in this lineage (from Venerable Acharn Mun) have quiet natures and they like quietness in the spheres of the ear, the mouth and tongue, the eye, and the heart. If they are with others who are not truly of their own kind they hardly ever speak about the Dhamma which they have within themselves. So when they hear anyone speaking in a rather boastful way without there being good reason for it, in the manner of someone who likes to show off, they are likely to get a bit dizzy and feel nauseated. This is the nature of the Kammatthana Bhikkhus of this lineage, who like to be unassuming and modest in speech and not boastful. For they are not well versed nor familiar with those forms of society which are always given to being pretentious and boastful. In this they generally tend to accept those forms of behaviour which come from their Acariya who taught them to be calm and modest. If anyone were to speak rather big and boastfully the others would all immediately feel sick with stomach ache and want to get away to find medicines to cure it. For amongst those who go the way of Kammatthana nobody is normally boastful. But if by chance anyone is a bit boastful, the others are likely to laugh to themselves and turn and face the wall or go outside into the forest, for fear that they might faint if they put up with it and listened for a long time.
      Amongst Bhikkhus of the same group, if one of them is inclined to be boastful, the others all dislike it, for they say he is worse than cats or tigers who know how to hide their claws and fangs better than this raving Bhikkhu. After all, they only spread their claws and fangs in situations that warrant it. But we who are human and also Kammatthana Bhikkhus should consider carefully in a refined and subtle way before speaking out. If then we brag boastfully without shame or consideration for the place, people or time, the others may misunderstand and think that such a Bhikkhu is a Kammatthana monk who knows no shame. All those who are experienced in Dhamma will probably be reluctant to associate with such a monk, thinking of him as being worse than ordinary good lay people. Because of this it is difficult for anyone outside the field of those who equally do the practice, to know the level of citta and the level of Dhamma of those who practise — except of course with those who are boastful, and plenty of people will probably know their level already. But they don’t ask because they are not interested.
      Those Bhikkhus who practise the way properly do not like talking much and tend to keep to themselves, quietly, so as to accumulate Dhamma within themselves more and more all the time. This Dhamma they cherish and guard and they do not like to let it out and spread it about without good reason which would be like picking fruit before it is ripe, or selling things before one has bought them, which is considered to be a bad way of doing things in the world. Those who practise are all, from the lowest right up to the Acariyas, very careful of this, for the reason that speaking about one’s own inward Dhamma, which is just one’s own “wealth”, and telling other people who are strangers about it, people in whom one has no reason to feel especially confident, is not knowing what is suitable and proper in oneself, in society and in all forms of Dhamma. It is just “selling oneself” instead of doing what is useful and what brings good results.
      This not only concerns Dhamma which is by nature entirely subtle, but also the world where decent people who are endowed with the wealth of civilised behaviour know how to be modest and careful. They are not boastful nor do they show off, which would display a vulgarity within them which would be vexatious to other decent people and leave a “bad taste in the mouth”. Far more valuable than this is Dhamma, which is the wealth of those who are the wisest in this world, and one should be careful and cautious with it. This is appropriate for one who has a basis of Dhamma in his heart, not letting go of his restraint and scattering it about all over the place as if Dhamma was a thing of little value, which is a sorry sight in the eyes of those who practise the way and all other Buddhists as well.
      Those who practise the way therefore keep a proper reserve in themselves and in Dhamma. Even though I who am writing this am not imbued with knowledge as keen as the wisest of men, yet I know how to respect and look up to them. For this is a way of maintaining quiet modesty and humility in oneself so that one does not become haughty and vain, like a monkey that has got hold of a crystal ball without knowing how to use it properly. All he can do is carry it along with him while he swings from branch to branch in the forest at the edge of a deep chasm. After going a short distance, both of them fall into the chasm and both he and the valuable crystal ball are smashed to pieces. This example should make us think, both those who go the way of the world and those who go the way of Dhamma, how we should not be like this monkey with its crystal ball who makes a mess of the world and Dhamma. For this can become a chronic disease spreading into an epidemic which destroys both the world and Dhamma without any foreseeable end.
      There are some Kammatthana Bhikkhus who have only been ordained a few years, yet they practise well and resolutely by themselves, and they are an example and an ornament to those who practise the way well. There are still many of these Bhikkhus, all of whom are amongst the last generation of Venerable Acharn Mun’s followers, and at present they are working hard in themselves to hurry the development of their practice. In the future we will have to rely on these Bhikkhus to be the strength of the Sasana and to be the leaders when the present Acariyas who are the Elder disciples of Venerable Acharn Mun have all gone, for this is the natural course of events which we cannot help thinking about. Today, this Bhikkhu or that person dies. In a few days another one dies and so it goes on from day to day, month to month and year to year, and the time comes when it is also this Acariya’s time to go. For all these things are unstable and uncertain and each one of us is going about step by step in this world of uncertainty in the same way the whole time. None of us know when we ourselves or anyone else is going to make a false step which may drop us into the pit of anicca — in other words death. The Acariyas therefore teach that we ought not to be careless and indifferent to our sankharas — which means ourselves. Those Bhikkhus who are determined and resolute in their striving without letting up or giving way may have had some deep insight into the “law of decay and destruction”, which nobody can avoid. Because of this they swim on in all sorts of different ways without giving up or backsliding in their efforts. Sometimes they may have to conform to orders from the local government authorities who ask them to leave the hills for a period because the area is not safe for the Bhikkhus or for other people. This is because of trouble in the local villages when different factions arise which are antagonistic to each other, and amongst them there are both ferocious bad people and also good people but it is not worth the risk of staying there. As soon as the area has become peaceful again and they can go there without fear of danger they will return to live and practise the way as they choose. These Bhikkhus still feel uncomfortable and restricted in having to follow the requests of the authorities by leaving the forests and hills for a more ordinary environment, even though the place where they go to stay is still forest which is fairly quiet and isolated without much disturbance. The reason for this is because of the ease with which they were able to do the practice which always brought results to them in such places. In addition, such places suit the disposition of those whose aim and hope is towards Dhamma and this is strong within their hearts and always present in their characters. So they don’t want to depart from those places where they have found happiness and contentment in their hearts. For when they go to another place they feel very uncertain about their practice and whether it is going to be equally as good as they have been accustomed to.
     
      The Hardship of the Kammatthana Bhikkhu
     
      The Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu whose heart is intent on attaining that state where there is no discontent (dukkha), willingly ­accepts that he will probably come across nothing but lack and insufficiency in all external things as part of his practice. In other words he likes to go and live in places where things are insufficient and hard to get. But apart from the natural lack of things in the environment where he lives, there is also his own willing intention to go without things and to live a life of poverty. The food which he gets on pindapata may be plentiful, but he only eats a little of it, perhaps only the rice, even though he was given other food as well. He may decide to fast some days or for several days at a time, or perhaps to alternate doing now one way now another. While doing bhavana, he must look and see what results of calm and skilfulness his citta gets in the direction of mindfulness and wisdom. He must watch and define what methods give better results than others. Then he must strive to go that way all the time.
      Sometimes he may fast for several days and then eat less than nor­mal. Or else he may eat less than normal for a few days, followed by a complete fast for four or five days and then eat normally or less than normal as he sees fit. In observing the state of the body (dhatu–khandha) and of the mind or heart it is necessary to keep a watch on both of them at the same time. If the body feels too tired and weak he should increase his food intake by a reasonable amount, but not as much as the body calls for all at once, for this would depress the citta too much. He may for instance increase his food by fifty or sixty percent above the meagre diet that he has been taking. If however he feels that his body is functioning abnormally due to malnutrition, he must stop fasting and dieting entirely for the time being, until his body has had time to recover. After which he may gradually start dieting or fasting again.
      Those who are most likely to progress steadily by using these methods are those who are characteristically suited to them. Even though they ought to ease off for the sake of their health when their bodies show signs of malnutrition and weakness, generally the heart does not want to give way. They still want to go on dieting or fasting continually, because they have already seen the resulting development which takes place in the heart every time they do so. But if they have to ease off, they should try to find a balance which is enough to satisfy the needs of the body and the citta, so that their progress will be smooth in accordance with their intended purpose.
      When dieting or fasting for a long period of time it is quite normal for the body to be somewhat hungry, tired and weak, but if they let themselves get troubled and anxious about this hunger and weakness they will not be able to keep on doing it. This is one of the ways in which suffering comes in the practice of Kammatthana, therefore those Kammatthana monks who are hoping for calm and happiness of heart will generally have to make themselves accept hardship and poverty the whole time even though they do not like doing it. But their characteristic tendencies and their hope in Dhamma make it essential for them to do and to put up with these things.
      It should be understood that where we talked of alternatively fasting and eating or dieting and eating, this did not mean just for one or two months, but trying to keep it up all the time, for years; or until they become quite certain in their own hearts that there is no need to do so any more. Then the citta can go on from there comfortably and smoothly without obstruction, they can stop using those methods and revert to more usual ways of practice in regard to the body and mind.
      But generally speaking, from what the writer has observed, those things that are called “kilesas”, of whatever type and however much or little, are always bound to manifest as our enemies with whatever power they have remaining in our hearts, for never have the kilesas been any respecter of persons anywhere at any time. Therefore, those who practise the way and who believe deeply in their hearts that the kilesas have been their enemies are not likely to be complacent and let the kilesas flourish by being over confident and thinking: “The kilesas will become our friends and no more will they create poison and harm causing us to experience more suffering and trouble.” Rather do they see full well that: “If we destroy them right now, so that none are left, this will indeed be entirely satisfactory and by far better than letting them stay there to bring more harm to us sometime in the future.” This is the fundamental motive which drives them on without let up in striving to follow and round up the kilesas in various ways such as by dieting or fasting. For these are methods of helping and supporting their mental striving which makes their practice of samadhi very much more easy than normal, and they are not ready to relax or give up these methods which have always given such good results. In fact it is generally true to say that they are not likely to relax those methods of striving and struggling to climb upwards by training and discipline which they have seen to give good results, even after many years. For there are good and compelling reasons which are bound to make them strive in these ways.
      There are many Bhikkhus in this lineage who have used the ways of dieting and fasting to aid their striving by way of the heart. It is probably more effective than other methods such as, not lying down and therefore they have always liked the way of fasting, right up to the present day. If one has already used the methods of dieting or fasting it is also probable that there will be no need to give up lying down, for it will tend to happen of itself without any deliberate intention. This is because dieting and fasting tend to overcome drowsiness and sleepiness which disappear of themselves. They can then spend the whole night without lying down and without feeling drowsy or sleepy as they would when eating food normally. For them, lying down and resting for a while is only for the purpose of gaining strength of body so as not to let it get too weak and exhausted and not because drowsiness compels them to lie down and sleep — not while they are dieting and fasting. For the fact is that after they have been on a diet or have fasted for three or four days, all drowsiness and sleepiness which would otherwise lead them to lie down and sleep disappears. This makes it easy for them as there is no longer any need to force themselves not to sleep. Then concentrating attention and controlling the mind become easy. The citta is not so wild and playful in its various accustomed obsessions (arammana) and mindfulness is not so easily lost in forgetfulness. They are then able to know those various situations and things which they come across much more quickly than in normal times when they are not dieting or fasting. When they practise for samadhi they are able to drop into a state of calm easily, and in going the way of wisdom they are much more skilful and quick than they normally would be.
      These Bhikkhus see the value of dieting and fasting and how it brings advantages and makes it much easier in many ways for those whose dispositions are suited to it. So they endeavour to keep on doing it even though it may bring them more hardships than they would normally encounter, for their inherent tendencies of character bias them to go that way and they must put up with these hardships. They cannot use the method which is both easy and expedient like those who have gone the way of “Sukhapatipada khippabhiñña” — easy practice and quick insight — for their inherent tendencies are not suitable for this way. They are more likely to be amongst those whose way is “Dukkhapatipada dandabhiñña” — difficult practice and slow insight. Therefore they must go against their inclinations, “swallow” the hardships and take up this way with full commitment so as to “swallow” the calm and happiness — which is samadhi, and also to “swallow” the skilfulness which is mindfulness and wisdom down into the heart each time.
      They have got to concentrate dukkha into the body and heart in a very big way to start with, to the point where they can hardly stand it, and there is also some danger that if their constitutional strength is not enough, they may die before they gain results. When one thinks of the struggling and striving of each one of those who practise the way before they can experience the taste of Dhamma each time, one cannot help but feel deep sympathy for them; for each time they must put up with a lot of deprivation and hardship. It is good however, that there are still some Bhikkhus who are prepared to oppose their natural inclinations and put up with the deprivation and hardships which are necessary all the time in their training and discipline without relaxing or slackening in their striving. But once they have taken a drink of “sunlight and moonlight” from the flow of Dhamma by the way of their practice, they no longer have to put up with the deprivation and hunger experienced in countless lives of all sorts of becoming and birth which the citta has grabbed and held on to in its countless wanderings.
      If they look into the truth of what the citta is bound to come across in the various circumstances which they will surely meet up with in future lives, it will make them feel wearied and sick of carrying these burdens. For they are bound to be born again and again and to experience these things endlessly, unless they hurriedly endeavour to cut them short right now, so that all their heavy burdens may be made lighter, or got rid of entirely — which means that they shed the burden entirely. Seeing in a way that penetrates to the heart just how baneful is this samsara which has become bound up with each individual who has made his contract with it entirely by himself, is what makes them resolve to put forward the whole of their strength every time they go down inwardly for the purpose of striving on without giving way, relaxing or weakening and saying that they cannot stand it any more. But in fact they go on with outstanding and earnest determination, fighting for their own salvation to become foremost amongst people. They are not lacking in any aspect of striving, nor are they deficient in putting up with the hardships in doing their work — their duty. Mindfulness and wisdom, their skill which enables them to fight and destroy their kilesas is generated and arises all the time, every minute. Even the greatest dukkha is not likely to make them give up in their efforts to be self-restrained, to put up with hardship and to hit back at the kilesas until the dukkha breaks up and falls away from them and they can emerge from it, no longer ready to accept their own inferiority. This is appropriate for those who are the followers of the Lord of the “Ten Supernormal Insights” (Dasabalañana) who was a bold and valiant warrior and who never consented to ease off nor evade these hardships.
      However thick and obtusely the body of the kilesas, which are dukkha and its origin (Samudaya), are wrapped around obscuring the sphere of the heart we must strive to undo them, to cut and tear them away by attacking them with mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort which are our weapons, until the wonder of Dhamma becomes apparent, arising in the sphere of the citta, such as one has never before experienced even in the remote past. It is the heart itself which is wonderful beyond what one could ever have imagined and after this nothing will ever again be able to hold it in subjection. This is the Dhamma that reaches the “shore of death” as Venerable Acharn Mun expressed it at the time when he had reached the end point after the fight was over — which has been described in the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”.
      It is this Dhamma which all those who practise the way struggle to reach so as to pay homage to it all the time, without weakening in their striving while trying out various methods which in most cases are resolute, severe and ascetic, such as we have mentioned before, but none of these methods give any scope for easing off or relaxation to cure their weariness at all. If the Lord Buddha was still alive and should meet them while they were energetically striving to fight the kilesas and all their dukkha with patient acceptance of their difficulties, he would surely praise their efforts and encourage them soothingly saying: “All of you who are outstanding in your striving for the sake of Nibbana, the Supreme Abode, are followers of the Tathagata. At present you are displaying courage and resolve in fighting against the enemy with all your strength so as to destroy all further becoming and birth by rooting out this tendency from your hearts without giving up, and so that your fame and honour should spread and be proclaimed loudly throughout the three realms of existence. For are you not striving to dig out the original root which is the chief enemy — in other words avijja the all powerful one who leads beings into birth and death — and doing this with mindfulness and wisdom that is sharp and penetrating? We the Tathagata express our appreciation and approval of this and may you strive to make Nibbana clearly apparent within your hearts quickly, with urgency. The Supreme Dhamma is waiting to fall into your hands, for you are at present strong and clever in the ways of mindfulness and wisdom.”
      Thus he would lift them up and encourage them to increase their resolve by speaking soothingly to them so as to arouse strong and lasting faith and a fighting spirit by using gentle words. He would gently and persuasively talk to them, increasing their strength of resolve by expressing his appreciation of the striving of these “sons of the Sakya” who are going to reach Vimutti Dhamma in their hearts in a short while. For they will bring the wonder of Dhamma to the world to cure the sorrow, grief and confusion of all people who are in a state of trouble and turmoil with the kilesas and tanha which spread a coating of poison everywhere. For there is no cure for this apart from the cleansing power of the Dhamma remedy, which goes down to the heart as given by those who have the wonder of Dhamma within themselves.
      As for those Bhikkhus who should be able to gain victory over the enemy because of their persistent striving, the Lord Buddha is not likely to come to express his appreciation nowadays, for he has already attained Parinibbana and there are no longer any bodily constituents left. But the Lord’s pure heart is a constant presence which is unshakeable, even beyond death, giving assurance that: “Whoever sees Dhamma sees the Tathagata.”
      What we have repeated in the foregoing passages is some further explanation of the ways of striving associated with dieting or fasting as done by those Bhikkhus who practise with resolve in this way. As for the results which they should get from this, may the reader try it and find out for himself by following the gist of what we have already explained above. I who am writing this am quite certain about the practices which are described herein, both in regards to those things which are to be done — the causes — and also the results which come from them, that they are in harmony with each other. Because those things which have been described are things which I have done and practised and gained results from. Therefore I have written about them so that those who are interested may also take them up and practise them, and maybe gain the same kind of results.
     
      Sitting in Samadhi for Many Hours
     
      Those Bhikkhus who like to train and discipline themselves in other ways, such as sitting in samadhi practice for many hours on some occasions, use this to train themselves according to circumstances. I consider that sitting for long periods of time brings more dukkha and torment than any other method, due to the unpleasant feelings which bombard those who do this practice. If mindfulness and wisdom are not able to keep up with the painful feelings which concentrate together to attack them so strongly that they can hardly find anywhere in the body and mind to relax they are not likely to be able to go on resisting them and sitting there much longer. The “throne of samadhi” which is usually well polished will break away within a few hours without any ceremony. Because the painful feelings quickly spread to all parts of the body both big and little. Even the backs of the hands and feet feel as if they are on fire, all of which makes them anxious and restless both physically and mentally. As for what goes on inside the body, it seems as if every one of their bones where they are joined to each other, are about to break apart and separate, for the pain is spread throughout the body. Apart from this, their hearts become agitated with the fear that the body is just about to die at any moment. So they are in trouble both in the body and in their hearts, afraid that they will not be able to stand up to it much longer.
      The painful feeling which comes at that time will arise and die away three times before reaching the most intense and painful period. Each time it arises, it remains quite a long time before it calms down and subsides on its own without anything being done to reduce it or make it easier to put up with. After it has calmed down and eased off giving a short respite it then begins once again, and this happens three times. Each of these periods of painful feeling must arise and establish themselves and penetrate throughout the body in all its parts both big and small, then it remains there for some time until it gradually dies away and becomes calm. But when they reach the fourth period which is the period of the great “dukkha vedana” — or one may call it the period in which the armed forces of the great dukkha reach right up to the “throne” where one is sitting in samadhi at that time, one may reckon that the army of the great dukkha has reached one’s self. Every part of the body will then be as if it were burning in a mass of flames; externally, as if it was being roasted over a fire and internally, as if it was being beaten by hammers and stabbed with sharp steel daggers. It seems that the whole body is in agony, as though about to break apart and fall into bits until it becomes dust, dispersing and spreading apart due to the power of the pain and torment which is burning and destroying every part of it.
      From the moment when this greatest dukkha vedana becomes established in the body, one has no time to move about or fidget so as to get some relief in one’s body at all, for there is nothing left but pressing and squeezing and smashing and beating it to bits. Up to this time the citta may have been contemplating other aspects of Dhamma, but now it will have to withdraw from it so as to turn mindfulness, wisdom and all its strength to enquire into the question of one’s life, and to do this in real earnest. Otherwise the body and mind will become a sea of flame, because these most excruciating painful feelings are “trampling the body under foot” and destroying it, and at the same time disturbing one’s heart, making it quiver and shake with the fear of death. One fears that one will not be able to withstand it, for it seems to oneself that this body is turning into a mass of fire and there is no part of it where one can put one’s attention, and relax, that has not been affected by this painful feeling.
      From the start when they first sit down up to the time when the period of the most painful feeling just begins it is probable that anyone doing this who has not yet experienced this last stage, will not know which is the lesser and which is the greater of these periods of pain. It is quite likely that they will assume one of the lesser periods to be the greatest possible, whereas in fact they are merely its “offsprings” and the greatest one is still dormant, yet to wake into activity. But those who have already been through it before know straight away which period of feeling is which, for the most painful of them will only appear after about five or six hours. Before this there are only minor periods of painful feeling which are rather like children coming to play and tease and make a nuisance of themselves. But those who have never sat for long periods of time and who have never met such feelings before should begin to meet up with the “children and relatives” of painful feeling in the early stages — in other words, in the first two or three hours. This brings dukkha and restlessness from that time on and if mindfulness and wisdom are not able to catch up with this situation and correct it one may not be able to withstand it and go on sitting much longer. Then one may dismantle the “throne of samadhi” within the first two or three hours and feel satisfied that one has withstood the period of maximum painful feeling until one could stand it no more — even though this period of maximum dukkha has in fact not yet even started and one has not truly reached the stage when one can break away from it.
      But those who are used to sitting in samadhi meditation who have experienced calm of the citta enough to know about it and who are also used to sitting for fairly long periods of time — such as three or four hours regularly will probably have known and experienced feelings of dukkha of various kinds to some extent. If they have not experienced the final period of the greatest dukkha, they will probably say that the lesser forms of dukkha which arise two or three times and then die away and become calm, are the greatest dukkha. But once they have truly met and experienced the greatest period of dukkha, those lesser forms will seem to be quite mild, because the differences between the two is very great — like an elephant compared with a cat!
      When the greatest period of pain has arisen, it seems as if every part of the body hurts and aches with pain all over, as if it really is just about to break up and fall to bits right then and there. The heat on the backs of one’s hands and feet is very intense, as though someone had built a fire on them to cook up some food, and the bones in the various parts of the body are as if someone has taken a hammer and is hitting them and pounding them until they all break up. Because the painful feelings become so excruciatingly severe and all embracing until in the end there is nowhere that one can put the body and the citta to get any relief, for the whole of it seems to be a mass of fire. The only things which can stand up to it at that time are mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort, aided by patient endurance which supports one’s refusal to give up and withdraw one’s forces and lose the battle to the enemy who is fighting with every bit of power that he has, as though he is going to smash one to bits and grind one to powder right then without giving one any chance of survival. When it is driven into a corner such as this, the citta cannot find any way to escape and it is forced to dig in and fight as a matter of life and death, using mindfulness and wisdom to get at the truth of the body and citta which it may only come to know and experience by means of striving.
      Wishing that the painful feelings should stop and disconsolat­­ely thinking that one will not be able to stand up to it are aspects of “samudaya” — the cause of dukkha — which enhances dukkha, making it stronger and more intense. At this time one must under no circumstance allow thoughts of this kind if one does not want to lose out in a graceless unseemly manner. All one has left is mindfulness and wisdom which one must arouse by using various skilful means to cope with the feelings which arise at that time, by discriminating between the body, feelings and the citta, examining them and comparing them side by side — until one knows the truth of each of them quite clearly by means of wisdom.
      In separating out the body from the others, one should go to the focal point where dukkha seems to be stronger than elsewhere and single it out for investigation. Thus for example, if a bone in the leg, or the knee is the most painful, one fixes one’s attention on that place and establishes mindfulness to investigate it with wisdom, by questioning: “Is this bone really the pain, or is the pain this bone? If the bone is really the pain, why does the bone not disappear when the pain goes? For if the two are identically the same, both must go together in order to conform to the truth of nature. Furthermore, after a person has died, all painful feeling in the body is at an end, yet the bones are still there, and when the body is taken away and cremated, do the bones give rise to any pain or not? If they do not give rise to any dukkha in the sense of painful bodily feeling at all, right up to the point when the fire burns them down to ashes, to think as people usually think, that the bone itself is the pain when this is evidently not the case should make one ashamed in the face of the bones and all the other parts of the body which have similar characteristics. For none of them are the painful feeling itself in the way that people talk about them. And again, if the pain and the bone were truly the same thing, this bone has been there since the time one was born, so why does the pain only rise at times, such as while sitting here in samadhi? Why is the pain not continuous, much as the bones themselves are continuous, being joined one to another as they have been since the beginning? This being the case, to believe that this bone is dukkha or that dukkha is the same thing as this bone is bound to be false — a belief which contradicts the truth — which should make one feel quite ashamed in the face of the truth which does not conform to one’s beliefs and assumptions at all.”
      While one is disentangling the bones and feelings so as to find out the truth about them, the citta, mindfulness and wisdom must be fully attentive and truly committed to what they are doing. One cannot afford to let the citta go elsewhere, for one must be fully involved with what one is investigating, and one must go on investigating going back and forward and all over it until one understands it clearly. It does not matter how many times one goes over the problem, but only that one goes on investigating until one understands, which is the main purpose of what one is doing. When one has understood quite clearly in regard to one part of the body, the citta will probably penetrate all the other parts of the body which have the same characteristics, automatically, on its own.
      After doing that he will go straight on to separate feelings from the citta without any break, to examine them and compare them together, looking into them in detail, thoroughly, with mindfulness and wisdom. This is done in the same kind of way as was used to separate the body from feelings for investigation, by putting up questions to ask oneself, such as: “The citta is the same as feeling, or feeling is the same as the citta, is this true? If the citta is truly feeling, as I have supposed, when painful feeling dies away and disappears, why does the citta not also die away with it? And if feeling is identically the same as the citta, then whatever way the citta goes, this painful feeling must go along with it and it cannot die away and disappear. But in fact, painful feelings both arise and cease while the citta goes on, knowing and being the citta throughout time, for it does not die away together with feeling? This being the case, does it not contradict the truth and make one ashamed in the face of the truth to stick to the view that the citta and feeling are one and the same? — or to think in a way that “swallows the truth” so that it turns into falsehood, and goes the way of crazy, wild forms of knowledge and understanding such as this?”
      To analyse and distinguish between the body and feeling, or between the citta and feeling, it is essential for mindfulness and wisdom to move about quickly, with agility throughout the field of the work that one is doing. One cannot let them go out to anything else at that time for the more intense the painful feeling becomes, the more must mindfulness and wisdom go on investigating it without stopping, in order to come to know those things which one wants to know, to see and to understand. Whether the feeling becomes more intense, or abates or disappears, it is important that one should know it clearly in the sphere of one’s investigation. It is also important that one must not be anxious for the dukkha to disappear before one’s investigation has brought understanding of the truth of the body, feeling and the citta and how they are each different and separate from one another.
      What in fact is the truth about oneself? To find out one must go on investigating until one understands the body, feeling and the citta. After having truly understood by means of mindfulness and wisdom, one will have realised that: “The body is just the body and one no longer accepts the usual view that it is dukkha and feeling. Feeling is just feeling and again, one no longer accepts the view that it is the body and citta. Even the citta is just the citta and one no longer accepts the view that it is body and feeling in the way that one used to think, based on the mere assumption and guesswork that one had before one did this investigation and came to understand the situation.” As soon as mindfulness and wisdom have thoroughly investigated all sides of the problem, all painful feeling disappears immediately and it never gets worse than that on any future occasion. The citta then goes down into an absorbed, concentrated state which is fully integrated such that it accepts no stimulus at all. Or it may happen that the citta does not actually go down into absorbed concentration to the point where it is fully integrated and quiescent, but it still does not get any disturbance from feeling. In other words, the body is real, feeling is real, the citta is real, each is real in itself and each of them exists in its own way in accordance with its true nature. At this time when each is real in its own way, one will see the wonder of the citta and how valiant it is, in that it has been able to pull one away from all feeling in the most wonderful, incredible way. In addition there also arises an imperturbable courage in the face of any “life or death” situation which one comes across, nor does any fear arise any more. This is because at that moment one saw clearly for oneself what the nature of feeling is and how it has deceived one and made one afraid of life and death. After that, however intense feeling may become, the heart is able to examine it in the same way as it has already done so and understood its nature. To know and see in this way is to know and see the truths of Dhamma (Sacca–Dhamma) with true mindfulness and wisdom. Even though one may not know and see the level of unshakeable resolve which attacks the kilesas causing them to fall and be utterly destroyed, yet it will penetrate to the core of the kilesas without their being able to offer any resistance. So one must depend on this method as the one to use for one’s further development.
      Those who have the courage to fight against painful feeling by using this method of investigation are not likely to pull back their army and give up the throne without being able to find a way out. They are without doubt bound to grasp victory by using this method, as well as coming to see the fresh and new footprints of the Great Master (Sasada — the Buddha) and his disciples (Savakas), one by one on the path along which they went. In this, they may also be inclined to forget that the Lord attained Parinibbana more than 2500 long years ago, because the “Truth” is the same thing as the “Great Teacher — the Sasada”. For the real “Sasada” is not limited to time, place or people all of which have changed and gone and which we look upon as being far away in the past, separated from us by more than 2500 years. But we should realise that wherever the “Truth” is, there also is the “Sasada”, because Dhamma arises from the Truth which has been investigated and fully comprehended — and by no other means.
      Therefore, those who are able to investigate painful feeling until they reach the truth of the body, feeling and the citta will steadily come to see Dhamma quite clearly, and this Dhamma does not depend on the time or the place to prove its validity. This is illustrated in the recorded teachings of Dhamma where it says: “Behold Ananda, if the practice of Dhamma is still being done in a way that is appropriate to Dhamma, the world will not be void of Arahants” — and this is the teaching which has just been taught and the sound of it has gone just a moment ago. For the true Dhamma does not depend on the right time or the right moment, because in truth it is always there, and nothing is superior to the “Truth” throughout the Threefold Universe.
      This explanation of the method of investigating painful feeling is only a brief summary which should be enough to show the way to those who have the characteristics of a warrior, a fighter whose aim is to salvage himself and curtail further birth and death. Not one who gives up and lets his future births be endless, haphazard and scattered about in the various possible realms of birth. For his aim is that of vimutti — freedom — freedom from all concern about the mass of dukkha, great or small in the endless future. For this is what causes so much anxiety and is such a burden to the heart. So in order to search for a way-out he uses the method of investigation by taking up this mass of dukkha which is there in the khandhas. Like an abrasive stone, for sharpening up his mindfulness and wisdom so that they becomes very keen. Then depending on skilful expedients, to change and cure himself by all sorts of methods, of which there are so many kinds that it would be quite impracticable to mention all the details of them here. Because the investigation into every Dhamma requires a technique which each individual must devise and use for his own liberation.
      One who tends towards contemplation and reflective thought will find the way of escape from the mass of dukkha in the prison of the round (vatta) of samsara. Nibbana will be his dwelling place, with eternal peace and happiness. But those who are afraid of dukkha may refuse to do any investigation, which is like keeping a thorn that has become buried in one’s foot and letting it stay there and get worse until it suppurates and becomes infected, painful and throbbing, so that one lies down groaning. It may even get worse than this until it causes damage to the foot so that it becomes useless, disabled and lame. On the other hand, those who see the danger hurry to pull out the thorn and get rid of it, and however much it may hurt they put up with the pain while pulling it out. Then they know that the pain won’t last long and it will all heal up in a few days. By doing this, the pain does not go on causing torment for long, and the day soon comes when it is all healed and they become free from all dukkha and trouble. And this is because of their courage in facing up to dukkha so as to bring happiness (sukha) to themselves. We may reckon that people who act like this make blessings and good fortune for themselves that is rightly directed and as it should be.
      Those who have the courage to fight and to investigate the painful feelings within the khandhas, act in a similar way, for however much dukkha they have, they are able to go on investigating it until they know that they have reached the whole truth, and they don’t keep holding on to this dukkha to start a fire to burn themselves for a long time to come. That which we call Nibbana will be their treasure bringing satisfaction to their hearts one day for sure and this is bound to be so.
      The Lord said that dukkha should be defined and known — defined until it is truly self-evident to the heart — as we have already explained above. This is called: “Defining, knowing and abandoning the two Truths (sacca)” — these being dukkha and the cause of dukkha (Samudaya), by means of the Path (Magga) — which means, mindfulness and wisdom, both of which work together at the same time to extract the defilements.
      The Lord said: “Dukkha should be defined and known and the cause of dukkha should be abandoned.” But if one does not bring in mindfulness and wisdom, both of which are factors of the Path, to define, know and get rid of them, what else can one use to do this? “Nirodha” is the quenching of the defilements and the whole mass of dukkha. But in order that there may be a way for the quenching of dukkha, it is essential for mindfulness and wisdom to be brought in and put to work. When this is done, dukkha will at the same time be steadily reduced until finally it is completely eliminated due to the power of the Path. So this can show us a way of escape from dukkha.
      The inter-relationship between all four of the Noble Truths is therefore of such a nature that they cannot functionally be separated. They must all work together simultaneously like a chain, from beginning to end. Whatever strength the mindfulness and wisdom which are factors of the path, may have, they will weaken the various kilesas accordingly. So that they even come to the point of Nirodha — the cessation of all the kilesas and dukkha — which gradually quenches them in accordance with the strength of the Path, until finally there are no kilesas or dukkha remaining within. Then a state of complete purity arises inside, without there being any need to go and look for it anywhere else, for it is right there in the heart which is completely free of all kilesas. This is what is meant by the “Real Buddha”, the “Real Dhamma”, and also the “Real Sangha” which is this state of Purity. What is “Dhamma”? It is this state which is the “True Dhamma”, which the world has always paid homage to and longed for through past ages.
      Those whose aim and desire is to experience and see what is meant by the “Real Dhamma”, in a way which goes deeply into the heart, should not overlook or neglect the training of the heart which is always ready to become Dhamma throughout at any time. But how can we interpret the real meaning of the word “Dhamma”? We can go on finding meanings for it until we “reach the seashore”, without ever being satisfied. We can try to explain its meaning with as much imagination and skill as we like, but our doubts will never be set to rest in this way. Like someone who has never seen the “finest jewels of the first water”. He may look at photographs of them and pictures of them piled as high as a mountain, but they are still only pictures of them and not the real jewels themselves, so they cannot get rid of his uncertainty or bring him any satisfaction. For this can only be brought about by seeing the genuine finest “jewels of the first water” as they actually are. So it is with Dhamma, the nature of which remains deep and mysterious while we have not yet found it, for it matters not how much we read or learn about Dhamma, it will still be like the pictures of those precious jewels being shown to someone who has never seen the real thing — it will never bring us real satisfaction.
      In order to get rid of our uncertainty as to the real nature of Dhamma, we should learn all about the heart, which is the direct way to learn about Dhamma. The more we learn and know of the heart, the more we get to know about the real nature of Dhamma — until we come to the point where we know Dhamma throughout, in our own hearts. When our hearts know the complete story quite clearly, all our doubts and uncertainty will be set to rest immediately and doubt will never arise again.
      As to the question, “What is Dhamma?” It is that which we know and see just here in our own hearts; what else could it be and where could it come from? But although we know it full well in our own hearts, when we come to try and explain this true Dhamma as it really is, there is no way to do so at all, and all we can do is to use similes and talk a lot. It is like getting an irritation in one’s throat, one does not know how to scratch it or to get at the sore spot. However one scratches, one can only do so externally and one can never reach the actual spot, even though one knows in one’s mind where it is quite clearly.
      Therefore it follows that, what we call Dhamma is of a very recondite, subtle nature in the understanding of people everywhere, and there have always been many who are confused and uncertain and who ask bothersome questions about it. But there has never been anybody who can explain it in a way that others can understand sufficiently well to make them feel fully satisfied. There is also no likelihood that this situation will change in the future. But those Bhikkhus who practise the way and discipline themselves strictly and unremittingly, such as by sitting and fighting painful feeling with unrelaxing mindfulness and wisdom without giving up, are likely to find that Dhamma, which is so difficult to interpret and explain, much more quickly than would normally be possible.
      Most of the Acariyas whose Dhamma is determined and resolute and who come to teach the way to others, have attained it by methods such as we have outlined above, far more than by the usual methods of developing gradually little by little. When they come to teach others they are also likely to do so in ways that are characteristic of the methods which they used in their own training — teaching in forceful, provocative ways, both as to their manner of speaking, the tone of their voices and the Truth of Dhamma, all of which blend together — as they did with Venerable Acharn Mun for example. But those who are determined to reach the true Dhamma find that when they listen to such teaching, it reaches their hearts and brings results, much more than with the more usual forms of teaching.
      I who am writing this am a forest monk with inherently rough characteristics. So my temperament is such that I like the assertive, determined way of teaching which is never insipid. The kilesas are still very coarse, so I like what is hard and rough. The heart then submits easily and is afraid to be high spirited, arrogant and provocative. Like when I used to think that I was more bold, fearless and clever than my teacher, while I had still not met anything hard and penetrating to cut me down to size. Venerable Acharn Mun knew the nature of such smart useless people and how they would only give way to strong corrective methods frequently applied, rather than more mild and gentle methods. After having taken this special, powerful and penetrating medicine, such people only have to hear the sound of Venerable Acharn, or even just his name, for the busy meddlesome ones to crouch in submission or run into hiding faster than a monkey, which is the best thing that could happen and entirely appropriate. Even now, this busy meddlesome one here, is still afraid of Venerable Acharn and dare not “swing from branch to branch” in a most daring and exciting way, for the moment he recalls Venerable Acharn he submits and gives way immediately.
      When one talks about the inner Dhamma with those Bhikkhus who like to go wandering in search of wild places to practise the way; or those who like to go and stay in lonely places which arouse fear; or those who like to fast for the purpose of increasing their efforts as much as possible; or those who like to practise samadhi for long periods of time and to tackle painful feeling using mindfulness and wisdom; or those who like to train and discipline themselves in various other ways, such talk is truly wonderful to hear in a way that is impossible to describe. For the Dhamma which they relate each time is Dhamma which has truly arisen from the heart, and whether it is strange, peculiar or wonderful, it is rare to hear such things. When relating these things, if one watches their behaviour they will be seen to be solemn and well controlled, which suggests that what is within them is awesome and in keeping with the true Dhamma which flows out of them and which makes one have profound confidence and faith in them. But when they are with other people in general, they behave as if they are fools who know nothing about the ways of Dhamma at all. They speak little and have no liking for associating with others, preferring to live by themselves, alone. They like to go about on their own and dislike giving talks on Dhamma or talking with others in general — as if they truly know nothing at all.
      When however these Bhikkhus are with their intimate friends and they talk together, the listener can hardly keep up with what they say. One can hardly imagine where the Dhamma comes from, for it comes out in a torrent like water flowing free of all restriction, and without ever repeating themselves. Each time one listens to them, they speak about different aspects of the Dhamma which is entirely within them. When one thinks about it, it would seem probable that the day and time will come when they know Dhamma arising in their hearts continually, which is fitting for those who strive diligently and have no fear of death and do not look on the cemetery as being their final conclusion. For when they reach the end of their lives, whatever sankharas are still there, they will probably dispose of them without any longings or regrets. How different this is from the average run of people — as different as the earth and sky! In eating food, whatever they get is good enough. In dwellings, wherev
     er they rest and sleep, it is good enough. However things go with them, it is good enough and they are not concerned or anxious about how it is going to be in the future, or how it has been in the past. They are light and unburdened, their ears are very keen, and their hearts are firm and resolute — as if a diamond were buried in them. When they walk “cankama” they go on for many hours, either by night or by day for they resolutely strive as if it was all one night for them. When they sit in samadhi bhavana, their bodies are like a post and they remain there for many hours. For they act as if something unusual and wonderful had arisen in them, or so it seems to us who see them and admire all their ways and find nothing in them that we should blame. In fact, they are good examples to all of us in all their ways and actions.
      With such people as described above, even if they were full of kilesas, they would all be destroyed by this kind of effort. If the kilesas were physical beings, they would all be lying dead in great heaps. Some would die where the Bhikkhus walk “cankama”, some where they sit in samadhi, some near the trees which they shelter under, some on rocky ground where they sit in the open, some at the mouth of a cave, under overhanging cliffs, in jungle graveyards, in the places they sit, stand and walk striving to practise the way, and some of the kilesas would die where they lie down to sleep under the mosquito net; this is how it would be all round the place where they do their work. In fact if the kilesas were living beings with physical bodies like animals and people, the forest, where the Bhikkhus work to get rid of them, would be frightful graveyards full of all sorts of cadavers, ghosts and fearful spirits, killed by the force of striving in various ways, until it would become impossible to cremate and bury all of them. If any timid person, afraid of ghosts, were to go to such a place they could hardly breathe and must get out quick and go home because of the ghosts of the kilesas that had been killed and destroyed by those who were not afraid of death in the battle of the “round of samsara”. In fact there is a very large number of them including those that died in the past and in recent times, by being beaten out and forced out, all over the place making a sorry sight such as we would never have seen before. But those who destroyed all these various kinds of kilesas by means of their striving, gained happiness and contentment and cured all their worries, concerns, depression and melancholy states, and happily enjoyed their great inner wealth which is so excellent and theirs alone. Nothing ever gets into it to cause disturbance and trouble, which is so different from wealth in the outside world, for all that one possesses is just waiting to slip through one’s hands and disappear for all sorts of reasons. For one may lose one’s wealth by frittering it away and destroying it oneself, by thieves stealing it, or by countless predators of all sorts; so that in sleeping, sitting down, or whatever else one does, one is anxious, because one must watch and guard it all the time. Even then, wealth is also a danger to its owner in another way, as in the Dhamma aphorism: “Lobho dhammanam paripantho” — greed (lobha) is a danger to Dhamma — in other words, to all forms of calm and peace. Those forms of Dhamma which are what we call calm and happiness are not likely to be able to develop and thrive as they should in one whose heart is infected by greed, which is bound to destroy and wipe out all that he has without remainder.
      Therefore those who are anxious to gain happiness and increase of heart with Dhamma as their rest and support must think well about themselves and look on greed with apprehension as being a great destroyer. They must also be strict, unyielding and firm with that which is always waiting for a chance to destroy the Dhamma which is within their hearts, and they must never be easy and give way to it, letting it take charge of them — for it can lead to their death, even while they are still living.

 

11. The Nature of Greed & Fighting Pain and Kilesas 
 

      The Baneful Nature of Greed
     

      If one is forgetful and careless of oneself and welcomes greed (lobha) without inhibition, it will be like an animal which lays in wait to destroy the world, for it has never done any good to anyone. Like a disease which is much feared by the world, and is very difficult to treat and cure if it has once got a hold of anyone. It is a type of disease in which those people who have got it can give up all hope of ever curing it while they are still alive. All they can do is to wait for the day when they reach the end of this life — and die.
      Whatever else the world wants, apart from wealth, there is no hope of getting it from this disease. Therefore, those who hope to get what is truly valuable as an insurance so that they may live in safety, free from dangers, at ease and relaxed both now and in the future should begin to think and consider this matter deeply so as to see how evil greed is. For it is full of evil throughout — worse than a bomb which explodes and spreads destruction all about. Because when a bomb goes off it makes plenty of noise and disturbance and it displays its power so that everyone knows about it and they are afraid and hurry and find shelter as fast as they can to allay their fear and save themselves.
      But greed does not display itself in this way. Rather it tends to set up subtle traps deep in the hearts of people of all races, colours and nationalities. It is even there in the Sangha, from the Samaneras up to the Mahatheras, and the lay followers, for it is not in the least ashamed of getting in where it can. For if their hearts are low and base enough for it to take hold of them it is bound to force its way in and immediately turn them into its means of satisfaction — its servants. Then it sets up a production unit in their hearts, forcing those who are strong willed and resolute to go into training until they are experienced and skilful, after which they are made to go out to work, to think and search out all sorts of ways to make money and become wealthy. It matters not whether they get it by right — or wrong, crooked and illegal ways. All that matters is that it satisfies the “boss” — greed — who sets his expectations of reward so high that the heart which has a normal awareness of good and evil, right and wrong, such as people have everywhere, feels that it cannot go against it and reduce its expectations. Then the boss passes on the responsibility for doing this to its most favoured servant — the heart — which does the work of thinking out how to do it and passing on instructions to the body and speech faculties to go about acting and searching for profit. Each one does this in his own way and direction, both near and far, inwardly and outwardly, over water and land, by day and by night, whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down, all the time, the only exception being when they go to sleep. We can see them in various places where they congregate together in large numbers, both “raking in” the wealth, as well as bringing suffering down upon others without any concern for who they might be. They are not afraid to think, speak and act both openly and in secret, without feeling the least bit ashamed or afraid that anyone may blame or criticise them. Nor are they afraid of other people’s hatred, resentment and anger. All they want is to profit by following the teaching of the great powerful one — which is “Lobho dhammanam paripantho” — and this is the refuge which makes them feel satisfied.
      As far as safe-guarding what they have gained so that it does not leak out and slip far away from their grasp, “Master Greed” must tell them to store it securely, without thinking about how wide the world is and whether there will be enough space to keep it all. But they store it and accumulate it all until they forget to consider whether — “We are upholders of the sky and earth, immortal gods who know not death” — or whether — “We are people whose end is in the graveyard just like everyone else — or what kind of people are we?” Because it casts a magic spell over them which closes their ears, their eyes and their minds so tightly that they never get a chance to even glance at the faces of their “bosses” to see what kind of a secret this is that they have together.
      In addition, the nature of this greed leads them to display external characteristics which are not good to see. It makes no difference what the sex, nationality, race, colour or class of the person is, nor how much power and influence he has, what he displays are characteristics that nobody likes to see — for they fill people with loathing and repulsion. For in fact this is likely to lead to nothing but the downfall and ruin of the world, because the fire of greed spreads to burn and engulf everything so that nobody will be able to find shelter to withstand it.
      For reasons, which we already know and see — which are obvious in our sight and mind — reasons which are not at all secret or obscure, the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha should be accepted, affirmed and promoted as the “Svakkhata–Dhamma”  which has been so well and truly taught. Thus in the example of greed, the Dhamma of the Lord teaches that it is a danger which disturbs the peace and happiness of people who live together socially. In saying that greed is a danger, the Lord did not mean that it should only apply at that time when he said it, for this Dhamma has been known in the world for a long time, together with this religion which has taught it to the world. The world should therefore know, or at least be able to assess that greed has been a danger to the world for ages, just as it has been taught in the Dhamma which has also been with us for a long time. So people should be aware to some extent of its evil nature even if only in brief flashes of inspiration, for this is enough to bring them calm and happiness for a short time so that they are not always in blind darkness. This hazard which is called greed, has never brought blessings and benefit to anyone at all anywhere, and even though the whole world may praise it and think that it is good, all the results which in fact come from it are not what people expect or imagine they will be. For those results are bound to follow this same course as they have since the remote past in a fixed manner without any variation. So the wisest of people destroy the evil of greed and then live in happiness — which is so different from us ordinary people who lead each other to develop greed and make it thrive and increase its power until there is hardly any room left for it to increase further in the whole world. If greed were a physical thing like objects and things everywhere, the world would surely be inundated by greed objects with nowhere left to put anything else. Because people are making more of it in various ways all the time and using it openly until they forget themselves and lose all sense of shame in the face of their nature which is that of a human being and usually extolled as being a high state, inherently clever and instilled with moral behaviour.
      Even if they were to search for wealth and get it, piled as high as a mountain under the influence of greed, which goes about leading them on and directing them to go after it in evil ways, such people would get no happiness for the rest of their lives. And they would die in vain having wasted their lives looking after masses of suffering for which their greed led them to be energetic in accumulating it in large quantities — which is a sorry thing to happen. As for themselves they feel no apprehension, but other people feel afraid for them, for this is not a thing about which people can afford to be careless or indifferent. For when the time comes for the fire to start burning and destroying, it will do so truly without regard for status or rank. For every part of the world both small and large seems to be boiling and getting hotter and more disturbed everyday. In fact it seems to be accelerating because of greed which is like an engine, a prime mover, that drives everything else which has got to follow and cannot resist or stand on its own. What else but greed has such regal power to make the world run around doing its bidding until nobody is ever his own master. Nothing else but lobha (greed) has been raised up so high and established as the great lord and master over the hearts of people at the present time. What we have here called “Lord Lobha” is the one that has greed for anything and everything at random without selecting or choosing. All that is necessary is that there should be a liking for something for it to arise. Even the moon up in the sky has been laid claim to by people who were forced by greed to go up there and “take it” and stick a flag in it to indicate that they were the owners without feeling in the least afraid or ashamed that someone might laugh at them. In fact it is sensual craving (kilesa–kama) that is not afraid and does not turn away from sensual things. Once it finds a liking for anything it becomes so greedy for it that it cannot have enough of it and even if it means facing death it will put up with it, right up to the end of life without giving up. Even though it has things which support it, piled up until the owner is inundated by them and the greed cannot be seen under them, it is still not afraid of the burden. Even if it meant that it would break its back carrying this load it is not afraid and it never retracts.
      The words “retract” or “enough” are words which this type never utters, because its “stomach” is not made of skin and flesh such as people and animals have, but it is made of insatiable greed for which there is never “enough”. So the heart and greed can live together, go about together and compete with others sufficiently well so that they can both reach wherever they are going, together without being afraid of a burst stomach, a broken back, that the body may die and that they may end in disgrace without having any virtue at all.
      Those necessities of life, whatever they may be, greed goes about acquiring and raking them in to fill up the heart. If the heart were like any other vessel it would have burst and been thrown away as garbage long ago. But the heart is of an immaterial nature (nama–dhamma) which is tough and durable for it has been able to stand up to birth and life in all forms for a long time. So it can stand up to these conditions well enough and is not likely to be destroyed by all these baneful things which destroy everything else and which are associated with the heart all the time. But even then we are still not roused up enough to think more about the importance of the citta than about those things which destroy everything. Therefore, even though the heart is what brings us the greatest boons and benefits, it is generally forgotten, like something thrown away and left to go the way of nature and there are few who give it the attention that they ought to. But those things which are enemies of the heart are generally exalted and praised by people of all classes, so day by day they become more skilled and penetrating, and they steadily drag the heart down and bruise it and debase it all the time. Never can the heart be free even for a few moments such that it could know that — “Now there is a chance for the heart to get a bit of peace and happiness and freedom from all those oppressive burdens,” which is the way it should be and is appropriate to the heart which is the great one and the paramount essence within each and every one of us throughout the world. But instead of being like that, the heart always has to accept and experience the results of one’s actions and put up with the suffering. This is true even though one may have so much wealth that one can hardly find room to store it; wealth which one has sought for the purpose of ensuring one’s physical and mental happiness. But there is no way for it to act as a balm to bring some happiness, in the way one thinks it should, without any suffering, discontent and trouble. So in the end one never sees any hope of getting any freedom from it.
      The practices which the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus strive to develop in various ways are all for the sake of freedom and salvation, and these practices are such as we have depicted in this book. Apart from the purpose of overcoming the evil kilesas which makes it necessary for them to put up with suffering, hardship and a strict discipline, inherent in these practices, it is hard to see any other reason why they should do all this.
      What I have known and described here in this book, are just those methods which are used by those Bhikkhus who hope to slip quietly out of the snares of Mara which we have been discussing. They keep trying to force themselves onward with whatever mindfulness, strength and ability each one of them has, by using their own individual methods of making progress, as we have already seen, and each of them tends to stress that method of development which suits him most.
     
      The Way to Fight Against Pain and the Kilesas
     
      We have not yet come to the end of the story of those Bhikkhus who liked to sit in samadhi for long periods of time — for many hours so as to get to know the nature of the painful feelings which arise in the body and heart quite clearly. But I got side-tracked and involved in the topic of the kilesa of greed, so I delved into it and dealt with it enough to allay my characteristic tendency to become excessively profuse. So now I shall return to the story of these Bhikkhus, and I hope that you will forgive me for this habit of going on and on beyond what is reasonable.
      It is well known amongst those who practise the way that many of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus prefer to train and discipline themselves by sitting for long periods of time. This is much the same as with other methods such as eating little food or fasting.
      They say that they sit for long periods, not with the purpose of fighting against the painful feelings that arise in the manner of dull and obstinate slogging which is lacking in thought and wisdom, but by using their heads to think and fight — in other words, by using their faculties of mindfulness, wisdom and the rest. They use their heads to think with wisdom so as to know the nature of all forms of feeling quite clearly, for they are a fundamental Dhamma Truth (Sacca–Dhamma) which is to be found in the body and citta.
      They say that the method of resolving the nature of painful feeling by constantly changing one’s posture, is upon examination, shown to be nothing but one’s own fear of pain, and not contending with it so as to get to know pain. Because the changes of posture conceal the painful feelings, so that one cannot see them clearly enough to be able to have complete confidence in oneself when painful feeling arises at a time of dire necessity.
      In experiencing the truth in the Sacca–Dhamma such as the truth of dukkha, and doing so by confronting it while sitting in bhavana one can experience it in a way that reaches causes and results, and reaches the heart (citta). This brings certainty and complete confidence in oneself both in the present and for the future, that one will never be afraid or overwhelmed by painful feeling again however strong it may be. This includes the final period before one dies when it is instinctive to feel afraid. But now one will have no fear because the fear of death and the fear of dukkha arise from the same hidden place and are the same thing. They are a contradiction of the truth which comes from investigating in a manner which is not thorough and does not take all sides of the problem into account based on the principles of truth.
      But when one investigates thoroughly on all sides until one sees the truth in dukkha and the truth in what we call “birth” and “death” until one is fully satisfied, there remains no reason why one should be afraid any more. Because the nature of the four elements — which are earth, water, air and fire, all gather together within the body, as well as the nature of the heart — each retain their fundamental natures as elements and do not die. They just change their interrelationships all the time in accordance with the causes and conditions which effect them. In other words, when the four elements have broken apart and departed from their association together in the body, they just revert to their original elementary natures, but they are not annihilated.
      As for the heart, it remains the heart as it always has been, even though it dwells in dependence on human or animal bodies of various kinds within those three realms of existence. But also, there are those who do not dwell in any bodily form, such as the hearts of the Lord Buddha, of the Pacceka Buddhas and all the other “Victorious Ones” (Jinasava) all of whose hearts are completely pure. Therefore one should not be afraid when one searches for the way it all works and fits together and can find no reason or basis for it, for this can only create a lot of fanciful and doleful ideas, all of which are caused by such thoughts.
      For those searching thoughts are the cause of one’s experience of the Dhamma Truths while one is sitting, investigating and fighting against the pain by using mindfulness and wisdom. And this brings the experience of tangible results to one very quickly — in fact much more quickly than one would normally expect. This experience then becomes deeply buried in the heart and always remain firmly fixed there within oneself. Even though after this one may not always be able to investigate and see the truth as one did the first time, that which one has once experienced will never revert and change and alter and become something else, for it must always be the truth within one’s heart.
      After that there is nothing left but to develop it and become skilled and far seeing in the truth, going deeper and more subtle all the time. Until one understands all aspects of it and can let go of all one’s attachments entirely. Therefore the investigation of painful feeling which arises when one sits for a long time, or at other times such as when one is sick and in pain, is a way to experience and reveal the truth of Dhamma fully — and this method is no problem for those Bhikkhus who are warriors and fight using true mindfulness and wisdom.
      On the other hand, no kinds of painful feelings are likely to be of any value to those who are weak and complaining and wanting all painful feelings to disappear without doing any investigation to find some way out. Painful feeling will continue to be a danger to such people and its danger will steadily increase the more they think in ways which oppose the truth. This is why, even though all people and animals everywhere have painful feelings, hardly anyone seems to be able to think of a way to gain some value from them. In fact, it is generally true that people are more likely to grasp hold of that painful feeling — a thing which they should not want — and to burn themselves with it by means of thoughts which oppose Dhamma. Rather than by investigating and examining it so as to remove dukkha and the cause of dukkha (Samudaya) from their bodies and minds, to whatever extent they should be able to do this in accordance with their level and ability — as it is taught in Buddhism.
      The Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus have knowledge and experience which is very different from that of the average person. Such as the ways of practice which we have delineated, including their stories and the things which branched off from them in accordance with the way that each of these Bhikkhus progressed. These are the things which we should think about. But it would not be right to assume that the way they practised was contrary to the regular way or path, because the principles of the practices which they did were entirely in conformity with the principles of truth, which are the truths of Dhamma (Sacca–Dhamma), and there is no way in which one can find fault with them. To say that they are conceited and that they practise so as to show off to others is certainly not true, because they never have any intention of becoming associated with external things in the world. Instead, their intention is just that of training and disciplining themselves alone. Even the results which they get from doing these practices are fully in conformity with the aim of Dhamma — which is to know the Dhamma Truths, that are the chief and fundamental principles of Buddhism.
      Venerable Acharn Mun, who is the teacher to this line of Kammatthana, also followed this same path, and he trained and taught his followers to do so in the same way as he had done it. By for example, teaching them to be fighters so as to know the various painful feelings which arise within them. But I feel that I have not enough ability to describe properly and assess many aspects of Venerable Acharn’s way of practice. It is just that I think about it and how, if I had had enough courage and ability to oppose the kilesas and withstand the dukkha in my khandhas and citta as Venerable Acharn had, I should by now have gone free from dukkha and attained something. I would then probably not be so clumsy and so poor in my ability to think and to be quick and nimble in wisdom as is presently the case, which is so vexatious to myself. In speaking or writing about others, when I know their story well enough I can probably do so reasonably well. But the important thing is my own lack of wisdom and ability so that I cannot find any way to express myself when speaking or writing so that others may understand. Therefore the writer can only write about the story of other Bhikkhus so that you who read this may gain some value from it, for each of us have our own characteristic good tendencies deeply hidden within us which are quite individual in their modes and directions, so that the Lord taught that we should not be thoughtless about each other. All of you who read this, both men and women probably have many good characteristic tendencies and much meritorious ­endowment. Some may even have much more than the Dhutanga Bhikkhus whose stories are told herein, as well as myself, in fact some may have such tendencies and merits as are incomparably greater — but none of us can know or see whether this is so or not. Like the work of writing this book which puts us in mind of the ways of a millionaire, loaded with wealth who is never likely to go anywhere without his servants. He is bound to keep in touch with them and to use them to do all sorts of business even though he is a millionaire. So I keep thinking how I can get a story from this person and another from that person and then I go and get them to tell me their stories so that I can turn whatever is suitable in them, to good use — in the same way as the millionaire puts his servants in his house to good use.
      You who read this and reckon that you should get value from those methods which the Bhikkhus put into practice to fight against their kilesas, ought to get some value from them. Because the kilesas in all their various forms which are there in the Bhikkhus are not likely to be any different from those which are there in men and women everywhere. We should therefore be able to think of a way to correct and cure those kilesas, which are daring, wild and reckless, always wanting to disagree with this and to fight that, so that we may dwell in a state of sufficiency and contentment and that our behaviour may be more seemly and peaceful. The kilesas will then no longer be stubborn and hard to placate as they used to be. For generally speaking one tends to give way to the kilesas and go along with them almost every time until they gain heart and change into kilesas which “must” have their own way. Then they lead one into all sorts of contrary behaviour without considering what one’s loss will be as a result of it — and what loss one’s family will also suffer, as well as the various aspects of one’s work and business for which one is responsible. For they can lead to all these things going wrong until they are ruined, with no way left to recover and put them right.
      But opposing the kilesas by going the right way of Dhamma, even if only a little will never do any harm. In fact it will continue to bring value to us, steadily, until it becomes of enormous value to ourselves to our home and to our country. This is in stark contrast to the kilesas which go against us and which we give way to and willingly go along with. The more we give way to them when they oppose us, the more we make ourselves subservient to them. If we are easy and let them go against us in a big way, and we always give way to them, the time will come when we are strongly under their influence, until finally we become people without any value and with nothing left in us that is essential or important, without even realising it. By the time we do come to realise the situation it will have already gone too far for any hope of recovery. It is a most sorry and deplorable thing that people who are complete in all their faculties should willingly give way and lay themselves down like a drawbridge, allowing the various kinds of kilesas to crawl all over their heads and to trample over them going back and forth, as if they were the carcass of a dead animal.
      I sometimes think about the kilesas and how they serve their own ends and take advantage of us in that way. It makes me angry, while also forgetting that anger is one of the kilesas which are crawling over our heads and trampling us down. But such thoughts of anger in the direction of getting free, gaining the upper hand and defeating the kilesas, which have had us in their power for a long time, do not seem to be the type of kilesas which bring people to loss or ruin. If anger directed towards the kilesas for the purpose of having revenge on one’s own kilesas were to turn into something which increased the kilesas, causing them to grow greater and stronger, it is hard to see how any of those who have in fact gained freedom from dukkha could have done it, because they would have been dull and unresponsive people who never get exasperated enough to fight against the kilesas. For, the instinct of fighting is widespread, so that both people and animals have tendencies of pride and anger to uphold their position, which come from their past. Thus they have strength of heart to keep working at whatever they do until they can finish it. Even in sports, they have pride and anger to spur them on until the contest is finished. But who wins or loses should not be important because each one is concerned with his performance.
      Some of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus tell us how the animosity between the kilesas and themselves seem to be no different from the way that people fight together in a war. The determination, resentment and anger which were there, were quite obvious while fighting the most significant kilesas at a crucial time with neither side ready to give way in the least. One of them said how the kilesas were clever in the way that they liked to get the upper hand while he was off guard. He also said “How he himself was clever” in the way he liked being off guard, so allowing the kilesas to be there all the time! For even though he had set himself to be watchful and guarded, he would forget, which allowed the kilesas to prevail. But the time came when he felt in himself that because he had been off guard and unmindful, he had let the kilesas swallow practically all that was valuable in him, then determination arose and anger arose. The effort that he had been making to practise the way then got help and support from determination and anger. So it became very strong, to the point where he took no thought of whether he would live or die, or whether it was pleasant or painful, but only of attacking and fighting against the kilesas to the utmost of his mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort. This Acariya said: “On each occasion, by the time I managed to defeat the kilesas I almost had to die first, when they would be the ones to cremate me — which in fact sometimes happened — because of the determined effort and hope of defeating the kilesas each time.”
      He said: “For myself, if I had not had the determination and anger to help me I am sure that I would never have done much good. Especially in the fight with the kilesas of obscene tendencies within myself. I could never do it in a playful way like someone who has no heart for it. Even if I walked cankama practically all night I would never see any results from it such as I would remember in the future. But when I acted like a warrior, full of either determination or anger to support me, the effort that arose stood out so clearly that I will never forget it. Though the experience does not go on lasting for long and I had to rely on this method to help me every time. For as soon as these two Dhammas were not present for a short while the kilesas at once started to move in. So I had to keep hold of these Dhammas close to me all the time until the war between myself and the kilesas reached a decisive conclusion with myself as the absolute winner. Only then could I relax and ease off.”
      As I have a tendency to be very outspoken, I asked him: “Have you reached a decisive conclusion yet? And if so, who is the absolute winner?”
      He smiled and answered: “I can talk about fighting all the kilesas using various methods, but as to that victory I must wait to hear about it, that’s all. For I feel quite certain that having done the work, the results of what one has done from the small beginnings right through to the greatest and most decisive actions must steadily become apparent. I have faith in the Lord Buddha and I do not believe that he ever taught with duplicity or deceit. Whatever he taught is bound to be true for all time, so I believe that the things I have done must come back to me as results for sure. From the most gross to the most subtle, my actions are bound to come back for me to experience the results one day — if I have not already experienced them.”
      “And now, have you already experienced some of the results?” I asked. But he just smiled and gave no answer.
      What we have understood so far should be enough for us to grasp the underlying essential principle that, when obstinate determination, and anger are set against the kilesas within oneself, leading one to cure the kilesas or to take revenge on them in various ways by using the methods of the Path (Magga) — which are mindfulness and wisdom — then these two factors (obstinacy and anger) should be considered as Dhamma — the way of the Path which goes in the direction of curing both obstinacy and anger — in which case they are not kilesas. This is like using a thorn to extract a thorn. For generally when one gets a thorn stuck in one’s foot it hurts, but when uses another thorn to pull the first one out it becomes a valuable ally. In a similar way, if obstinate determination and anger are put to use in the wrong way they are kilesas and bring one harm in accordance with how strong and ­persistent they are. But when they are used in the right way they ­be­come Dhamma and they are allies whose value also accords with their strength and persistence. This is the way that some Dhutanga Bhikkhus use them all the time as a Dhamma remedy to aid their efforts to cure the various kinds of kilesas.”
      I, who am writing this, am in full agreement with the foregoing methods — in fact they can be seen in the methods of training and ­discipline which the Lord Buddha used, by the way that he gave up everything in order to defeat all the kilesas, and for this he was even pre­pared to give up his life without any regrets. In addition, the Savakas who followed the Lord, also used those methods of practice which were given to them for training and disciplining themselves in various ways. All of these methods were bound to involve strong and stubborn determination to oppose those obstacles of many kinds which are the work of various kilesas that suggest and intimidate, and which in one way or another they may have become attached to and couldn’t get free from. But they kept on trying to oppose them, until they succeeded by means of stubborn determination — which at times may have been mixed with anger directed towards themselves or their kilesas which penetrated into the field of their striving. This is what helped and supported them and made their striving firm and resolute in their aim of gaining fulfilment of heart, and this has been the case with teachers and Acariyas throughout, right from those times up to the present, including all those who practise the way and who are interested in Dhamma. All of them must have put these two factors into use, for without them they would have got no results — because they are Dhammas which greatly increase their strength of heart.
      One’s training and discipline, which uses various techniques and methods which are seen to be necessary for getting rid of all the kilesas and evil dhammas, must have the above mentioned two Dhammas to support and aid it every time. This is necessary in order that the heart shall have a firm resolve and can stand up to those things which are its internal enemies to the absolute maximum of its capacity, without becoming weak and disheartened nor drawing back at those times when one gets into a critical situation — which is likely to happen at any time to those who strive for Dhamma. It is like walking in thick dense jungle, one is bound to come across incidents and obstacles which are on one’s path all the time. Until one has managed to pass free, beyond all of them. Those who practise for the eradication of the kilesas within their hearts are in the same kind of situation as this person walking through a thick jungle, full of kilesas of all types — some frightening, some obdurate, some overpowering, some lovely, some detestable or repulsive, some of which make one angry, make one cry, or laugh, make one fed up and tired, or make one feel satisfied and happy — on and on until describing them becomes endless. As the Lord said there are countless kilesas and cravings hanging about, ready to block the path of practice and there is no time when those who go this way can relax and take it easy for a while. All these kilesas, which we have rather incompletely described, are to be found in all classes of beings in the world and one cannot find any who do not have these tangled and distorted things as part and parcel of themselves.
      Anyone who would go this way must use mindfulness, wisdom, faith, and effort as the means of opening up the way, enough so that he can go along the path steadily, with such things as stubborn determination to help him along. This is like the gearbox of a car which can give increased force to drive it through muddy stretches of road until it goes free and beyond them.
      In regard to this “stubborn determination”, whether in the world or in Dhamma, those who are anxious to live in safety and security may have to bring it up and use it in some situations in order to gain the results which they intend if they do not want to be driven into a corner due to the suffering and troubles of various kinds which can arise from being in need and at their wits end — or due to some kinds of kilesas overshadowing the heart. And the more they have made a commit­ment to reach a high goal, the more must they put their whole effort into the struggle, without any thought of whether they will live or die. Their only aim is to bring to completion that which they have set their hearts on. Like those Dhutanga Bhikkhus which we have already discussed, who trained and disciplined themselves in various ways. All of them had the fundamental aim of reaching the great treasure — which is the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, the goal, victorious and free from Dukkha and all concerns or anxieties both great and small. This is why they are prepared to risk their lives and face death and suffering without having any regrets — like the Bhikkhu who walked towards the place where he heard a tiger growling and roaring in a fearful way. If it had been one of us we would probably have died even before the tiger could have reached us — yet those Bhikkhus who are ready to face death for the sake of the Supreme Dhamma can make themselves walk towards the tiger in a way which deserves our admiration. For out of hundreds of people it would be hard to find one who can do this if we think of ourselves in that same situation. This is why they should be praised and admired and held up as a true example of those who are warriors and sons of the victorious Buddha (Sakyaputta Buddhajinorasa) who are fully prepared to die in the battle in conformity with their declaration that they take the Buddha as their refuge from the day when they were first ordained.
      Few are prepared to give their lives as an offering to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha with complete commitment. Such people and Bhikkhus are a rarity — which conforms with the Dhamma as being a form of nature that rarely arises — and this has always been the case. Those who do cultivate Dhamma in order to make it grow within their own character in such a way that it is clearly evident to them will probably be quite prepared to sacrifice everything to it — even their own lives. Like those Bhikkhus who walk about the hills at night when there is no moonlight; those who walk cankama, in competition with the tigers roaring in their vicinity in the middle of the night; those who sit and practise samadhi bhavana at the edge of deep, precipitous cliffs; those who go and sit in meditation in the middle of the night right next to the path where tigers walk back and forth to the cave where they live; those who go and sit in meditation on a rocky outcrop in the hills in the middle of the night; those who walk cankama even while a big tiger comes and sits down close by and watches them; those who practise meditation under their mosquito net while a tiger creeps up quietly to look at them, until it reaches the mosquito net; those who sit in meditation practice from dusk until dawn; those who fast and do meditation practice for many days without eating; those who walk cankama from dusk to dawn; those who strive to develop their meditation by the three postures of standing walking and sitting but not lying down for many nights; in fact all the various forms of striving for development which the Bhikkhus practise with determination and ascetic resolve, without being afraid of suffering and death.
      If they did not have a stubborn determination of the do-or-die type how could they ever put up with the suffering and torment? In fact they would surely be a dismal failure. But because their effort is of the stubbornly determined kind, ready to do-or-die, these Bhikkhus do not get more suffering and “go broke”. The kilesas are the ones that are broken and their corpses vanish from the heart leaving none behind. The heart then changes and becomes completely pure, beyond and above those things which had previously been oppressing it.
      Thus, both stubborn determination and anger, when turned against one’s own kilesas give one a firm basis and strength, and they help one to finish this work without hindrance. So the wisest of men all praise whose who triumph over themselves, saying that this is supreme, and far better than being triumphant over other people or things of any kind. As the Dhamma saying goes: “Atta have jitam seyyo” — “To purify oneself is the most excellent thing.” Therefore, stubborn determination and anger directed against one’s own kilesas is the first stage for someone who would reach the level of those who have triumphed over themselves with complete fulfilment.

 

12. A Short Biography of Venerable Acharn Kow 

 

      While writing about stubborn determination and anger, at some length, we thought how it would be good to relate the story of one Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu who was a follower of Venerable Acharn Mun in the middle period of his teaching. For this is a story that illustrates the Dhamma teaching about stubborn determination and anger when directed against one’s own kilesas. This Bhikkhu was Venerable Acharn Kow, and he was strongly imbued with both of these factors in his practice of Dhamma and still has them up to the present time. But we should explain to the reader that this Bhikkhu is someone of significance at present, and he is also still alive. If we were to mention his name, practically everyone would know it throughout Thailand. But his name will not be revealed for the reason already given, and because it is generally the practice of Dhutanga Bhikkhus not to want their names mentioned in such circumstances.
      Venerable Acharn Kow had a very resolute character and liked to put his whole strength into whatever he did. He has been like this since he was a lay person and when he was ordained he carried these characteristics over with him, and the longer he was ordained in Buddhism, which is a true religion and teaches people to act truly in what­ever they do, the more he felt impressed by the principles of Dhamma. It seems that before he was ordained he had a wife and family, but he became disillusioned and weary with the round of samsara and resolved to train himself so as to attain Nibbana in this life, unless he died in the ­meantime. Therefore as soon as he was ordained he went searching for an Acariya who was fully conversant with the ways of inward meditation (citta–bhavana).
      Before he went the way of the practice of Kammatthana, it seems that he had many things which disturbed him and acted as a discouragement and an obstacle, things which came from practically everybody he met, both from lay people and Bhikkhus. All of them said that nowadays it was beyond all possibility to attain the Path, Fruition and Nibbana and that it was long past the era when this could be done. That however rightly and properly one were to practise the way of the Dhamma and Vinaya one would not be able to attain the result of reaching the goal as one may hope to. That the practice of meditation makes people mad and whoever wants to go mad should go out and practise it. That if one wants to be a good person like we villagers, one should not drive oneself mad by going the way of Kammatthana. That in this age there are no Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus apart from those who sold magic yantras, mantras, methods of magic, lockets which have magic properties, magic potions for influencing others, ways of making people impervious to bullets and knives, knowledge of auspicious times and astrology. But that as far as finding Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who actually practise the way of Dhutanga, there were none left nowadays. That he must therefore not waste his time and tire himself to no purpose, for to get to a state of ease and happiness in that way was impossible.
      These were some of the many obstacles which blocked the path of those who wanted to practise the way of the Dhutangas in those days. But Venerable Acharn Kow was not prepared to listen to any of them, although he did not object or argue with them for it would not have been useful to either side. But deep within himself he considered that —
     
      “These people and these Acariyas are not the owners of the ­Buddhist religion, they are not the owners of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana, nor have they any power to make anyone else go mad, such that I could believe what they say. I have faith only in the Lord Buddha, in the Dhamma and in the Sangha of Savaka Arahants as being truly worthy within the Triple World. Those who spoke, trying to persuade me and to stop me, so that I would not go the way of Kammatthana and practise its various methods are not amongst those who are truly worthy at all. Just by looking at their behaviour and manners, which they display, one can know whether they are truly wise or fools and generally what their characteristics are like. Therefore, their objections and their wanting to stop me are things which would be a waste of time for me even to consider. So now I must go away to practise the way of Kammatthana as soon as I can without considering anything else, and I must search for true things, which accord with the basic principles of Dhamma which have been handed down to us. This I must do until I reach the absolute limit of my strength and ability, and if this Kammatthana Bhikkhu, which in this case is myself, should chance to die, then I willingly give my life and entrust myself to the supreme Dhamma.”
     
      When he was ready to set out on his “Dhutanga” wanderings, there were at the same time many lay people and all the other Bhikkhus gathered together in the monastery, and just before he went he spoke in truth from his heart to those who had tried to stop him so as to leave no doubt as to his intentions, saying: “When I have gone from here, unless I can teach myself to attain the ultimate level of citta and Dhamma I shall not return to show my face amongst you again. I am ready to die for the sake of knowing and seeing into Dhamma with clarity and insight but not for anything else. Please remember this that I have said, just in case I have the right characteristics to enable me to return and meet you again and you will not have forgotten. So the only likelihood of my meeting you again will be in such circumstances, as I have already said.”
      He said this at a time when there were many people, both highly respected Acariyas and lay people from his village who had faith in them as being very wise and learned, all of them trying to stop him going away.
      He said:
     
     “At that time my heart seemed so strong it could crush a diamond into powder in an instant, and it seemed as if I could leap into the sky and walk about up there for all of them to see. This was probably due to pride and high spirits in my heart — as if it was shining out brightly for all those people to see and telling them: ‘See here, the diamond radiance in this heart, can’t you see it? Are you all stupid enough to disparage me, saying that I will go mad by delving into strange things? My heart is not in the same sphere as all of yours, such that you can gather it up into your clan to die worthlessly in the way a dog dies. I am not prepared to die in the way that all of you would lead me to go towards death right now, for I intend to die in the way that the Lord Buddha taught us, by not leaving any ‘seed’ of becoming remaining whatsoever. I have already died in your way countless times so that it is impossible to tell in how many cemeteries I have ended my days. But although I may not be able to know this with my own higher knowing faculty (ñana), I have faith in the Lord Buddha and his teaching, for his higher knowing faculty was supreme and unequalled’.”
     
      As soon as he was ready he said farewell and took his leave of all the Acariyas and learned people and walked away through a large crowd of lay followers. He then set out for That Phanom on foot through forest and thick jungle, following paths worn by people and buffalo carts, for in those days there were no roads, not even the roughest dirt roads, but only a foot path. There were also many wild animals of all sorts in large numbers throughout the forest with plenty of elephants and tigers everywhere, because there were no villages and not many people about as there are nowadays, with people and villages everywhere. The forest was also the original true forest and there was real danger that if one lost one’s way one would have no food and may die in the forest, for often one could walk all day without meeting anyone or seeing any sign of habitation.
      Venerable Acharn Kow walked through the forests and jungles until he reached That Phanom and from there he walked on to Udorn Thani and thence up to Nongkhai, searching for Venerable Acharn Mun whom he learnt was spending the vassa (rains period) in the district of Tha Bo. “I was only able to spend a short time training with him before he went away from us to Chiang Mai and disappeared into silence,” he said. “Then I felt a sense of hopelessness for a while because I had no teacher to teach and lead me. But when I heard that Venerable Acharn Mun had gone to stay and practise the way in the Chiang Mai district I set out to follow him by wandering in the Dhutanga Kammatthana way, going along the bank of the Mekong river until I reached the province of Chiang Mai. Then I wandered about in the various districts of Chiang Mai with peace and happiness.”
      The places where Venerable Acharn Kow stayed and practised were deep in the forests and hills and far away from any villages. At the same time Venerable Acharn Mun was also wandering about in that area, but it was not easy to find him because he always liked to take off on his own away from his colleagues and he would not readily let anyone meet him. However, Acharn Kow went on following him relentlessly, until finally he managed to meet him and to receive genuine instruction and training. But Venerable Acharn Mun would not let anybody stay with him for he liked to live alone.
      Venerable Acharn Kow said that he always tried to stay close by Venerable Acharn Mun so that he could go and see him and learn from him when it was necessary. Whenever he went to him to discuss and learn about any aspect of Dhamma Venerable Acharn Mun had metta for him and taught him to the utmost of his ability without holding or hiding anything — but he would never let anybody stay with him. However, Acharn Kow said that he was quite content that Venerable Acharn had metta for him and taught him at those times when it was necessary for him to go and ask questions of him. Then once he had cleared up his problems, he paid his respects and left to go and practise what he had learnt on his own — he was thus going back and forth quite often. When he had stayed there for a long time, for some years, Venerable Acharn Mun very kindly let him stay for the Vassa period with him. Acharn Kow was so glad and so happy when Venerable Acharn Mun told him that he felt as if he could float in the air, for after trying for so many years he had at last succeeded. From then on he stayed regularly with Venerable Acharn during the vassa.
      The practice and development of his citta bhavana (meditation) seems to have gained strength steadily after he went to stay in the Chiang Mai district, and with a skilled teacher to guide and teach him continually, his heart seemed as if it was about to leap up into the sky so strong was his happiness and contentment in the Dhamma that arose in his heart. No longer was there any unhappiness, lack of good cheer or sadness due to instability of heart, sometimes up and sometimes down, as happened when he was staying in other places. From day to day his heart steadily progressed both in samadhi and in wisdom and he became engrossed in striving day and night without ever becoming satiated.
     
      A Large Elephant Pays Him a Visit
     
      At one time Venerable Acharn Kow was spending the vassa period in the same place with another Bhikkhu. Late one night it was very quiet and he was sitting in meditation in a small hut. At the same time there was a large elephant whose owner let it loose to wander in the forest and find its own food in that area. He did not know where it had come from but it slowly walked closer towards the back of his hut. Right behind his hut there was a large boulder blocking the way, so the elephant could not get close up to him. When it got to the boulder it stretched out its trunk into the hut until it touched his klod and the mosquito net above his head while he was sitting in meditation. The sound of its breathing while it was sniffing him was loud and he felt it cool on his head while his klod and mosquito net swung back and forth. Meanwhile the Acharn sat repeating the parikamma “Buddho”, putting everything he had got into it and entrusting his heart and life to the genuine “Buddho”, not having anything else to rely upon. The large elephant then stood there quietly for about two hours as if it were waiting to catch him when he moved, ready to tear him to pieces. Once in a while he heard its breath sniffing him from outside the mosquito net. When it finally moved, it drew back and walked to the western end of his hut and reached into a basket of sour tamarinds at the side of a tree which lay people had brought him to clean the lid of his bowl and started to eat them making a loud noise crunching them up like they were delicious. Acharn Kow thought, “Those tamarinds for cleaning my bowl lid are going to be cleaned out and there will be none left for sure. If the owner of this big belly comes to the end of them and cannot find any more, it is sure to come into my hut and find me and tear me to bits. So I had better go out and speak to it and tell it some things that it should know, because this animal knows the language of people quite well since it has lived with people for a long time. When I go out to speak to it, it will be more likely to listen to what I say than to be stubborn and difficult. If it is stubborn and belligerent it will probably kill me, but even if I don’t go out and talk to it, once it has eaten all the tamarinds it is bound to come this way and find me. If it is going to kill me there is also no escape because it is late at night and it is too dark for me to see where I am going.”
      Having come to this decision he left his small hut and stood hiding behind a tree in front of it and started to speak to the elephant saying: “Big brother, your small brother would like to say a few words to you, please listen to what I have to say to you now.”
      As soon as the elephant heard the sound of his voice it went completely still and quiet without making a move. Then Acharn Kow spoke to it in a mild, persuasive manner, saying:
     
     “Big brother, you have been brought up by people who have looked after you at their homes until now you have become fully domesticated. You are thus fully aware of the ways of people, including their language which they talk to each other and which they have used to teach you for many years. You know all these things very well, in fact even better than some people know them. Therefore you, big brother, should know the customs and laws of people and you should not just do anything that you feel like doing as it suits your fancy. Because in doing some things, even though they suit your own inclinations, if they are also contrary to the ways of people and you upset people, they may harm you, or depending on what you do, they may even kill you. For people are far more intelligent than all other animals in the world and all of them fear people more than any other animal. You big brother are also in subjection to people, so you should pay respect to people who are more clever than yourself. If you are even a little bit stubborn or difficult they beat you on the head with a hook which is painful, and if you are very bad they will probably kill you.”
      “Please don’t forget what your little brother has taught you with sympathy for you — and now I will give you the five sila, for your little brother is a Bhikkhu. You should keep them well, then when you die you will go to a state of happiness, and at least you should be born as a human being with merit and the virtue of Dhamma in your heart. But if you are born higher than that you may go to the heaven realms or Brahmaloka or higher still, all of which are far superior to being born as an animal like an elephant or a horse which people use to draw carts or to drag logs about while being beaten with whips, all of which is nothing but torment and trouble throughout one’s life until one dies without having any chance to get free from this burden, which is such as you have to put up with at present.”
      “Big brother, please listen carefully and make a true resolve to accept the moral precepts. They are firstly, “Panatipata” — you must not kill people or animals deliberately by using your strength and ability to do so — and also, you must not maltreat or oppress others, whether people or animals. For to do these things is evil. Secondly, “Adinnadana” — you must not steal or take things for yourself which belong to others and which others are keeping in reserve for their own use — such as the tamarinds in that basket which big brother was eating up just now. For they were given by people to me for cleaning the lid of my bowl. But I do not take offence at this, for I don’t want you to make any evil kamma at all. I just mentioned it to show how it was something which had an owner. If things such as that are not given to you, you should not eat them, nor should you walk over them and trample them down and damage them. Thirdly, “Kamesu–miccacara” — you must not have sexual intercourse with any animal which has a mate for this would be wrong doing. If you have sexual intercourse, it should be only with one who has no mate, no owner, for this is not wrong doing. Fourthly “Musavada” — you must not lie or deceive. Let your actions and behaviour be true and straight forward and not deceitful such that they give a wrong impression and fool others, which would be wrong and evil. Fifthly “Sura–meraya–majja–pamadatthana” — you must not take anything which causes intoxication or drunkenness such as alcoholic liquors. To do so is wrong and evil.”
      “You must keep these precepts, for if you don’t you can fall into hell when you die, and there you will have to put up with great suffering for long periods of time, for aeons, before you reach the end of the kamma that led you to hell and you can rise out of it. But even after getting free from hell, there would still be the remainder of your evil kamma which would lead you to life after life as a ghost, a demon or an animal, suffering the results of the evil kamma you made, before you could be born as a person which is very difficult to attain because of the evil kamma which oppresses you and holds you down. Therefore big brother, you must remember well what I have said and practise what I have taught you. Then you will get free from life as an animal and will be born as a human being or a Devata in your next life for sure. That is all I have to teach you and I hope that big brother will be glad to do these things. Now, you may go about to find a place to rest or something to eat as you feel like it. Your younger brother will now go and practise his meditation and he will share some of his virtue with you and spread out metta to his big brother so that you will never be lacking in happiness. Now elder brother it is time for you to go elsewhere.”
     
      It was most remarkable that for the whole of the time that he was teaching this large elephant it stood absolutely still, as if it were made of rock. It did not fidget or move at all but stood motionless until he had finished speaking. Then as soon as he had given the sila and his blessings and told it to go it began to move its huge body making a noise like an earthquake while it drew back, turned around and went off. It walked away in a deliberate, thoughtful manner, as if it truly understood everything it had heard. Thinking about this incident I cannot help feeling a lot of sympathy for one whose body was that of an animal, but whose heart was that of a human being, able to appreciate the teaching on good and evil which it had received without being obstinate or arrogant, as one would expect with such a large and strong animal. In fact it was very mild mannered and appreciative of the moral teaching throughout — and as soon as Venerable Acharn told him it was time to go he immediately turned around and went away. While listening to his teaching it also listened attentively until it almost stopped breathing, just like those who listen to a Dhamma talk given to Bhikkhus — with full respect for Dhamma. For these two reasons it makes one think and fills one with wonder, for it is not only that the elephant was an animal and was interested in listening, for if any people had been there listening they would have been enraptured and carried away by the talk of Venerable Acariya Kow. For he used the most sweet and honied language with such skill that it would be rare to find anyone else who could do this, and equally rare to listen to it. So the elephant listened with rapt attention, not fidgeting or even moving its ears until he had finished giving his Dhamma talk and told it to go when it obeyed and went to find something to eat in the manner of a rare and noble animal. It makes one reflect even more deeply how, whether human or animal, if something is experienced which brings satisfaction, it tends to make their hearing clear and lucid and their sight bright as though the night becomes day. Then the heart is in a state of absorption with “piti” — satisfaction and joyful gladness — in the enchanting words, of the type which are always desirable and of which one can never have enough, because they are things which are greatly valued by the heart.
      Venerable Acharn Kow went on flattering the big elephant for quite a long time, until he was fascinated and mesmerised by the sweet, mild words, the flavour of which were heard deep inside — for example: “Big brother, you are very strong, whereas I am small and my strength cannot compare with yours — so I feel afraid of you.” Such flattery is one of the most powerful ways of enchantment, and he talked like this until the great elephant went into a trance while standing there, oblivious of everything else. It would even have been glad to disgorge the sour tamarinds that it had swallowed, to put them back in the basket for its charming little brother, without keeping even the taste of them. For this act was a disgrace to the dignity of an intelligent and noble elephant — a walking store of virtue. Once its belly was full of Venerable Acharn’s teachings it went off to find food and never again came to bother him throughout the rest of the vassa period, going to other places to find food — and this was quite remarkable, that the heart of an animal should have so much understanding. After the vassa, Venerable Acharn also went away wandering wherever he felt it would be good to go for the purpose of practising the way of Dhamma ever higher and higher.
     
      His Way of Practice
     
      Venerable Acharn Kow was an earnest Kammatthana Bhikkhu who was characteristically resolute and courageous and whatever he did, he did truly. When he was staying in the hills, he got the lay supporters to make up three places for walking cankama. The first one he used for giving homage (puja) to the Lord Buddha, the second to the Dhamma and the third to the Savaka Sangha of the Lord. He would walk cankama on these three paths at different times of the day according to a fixed schedule which he kept to quite strictly. As soon as he had finished his meal in the morning he would go and walk cankama on the first path paying homage to the Buddha and he would continue until about mid-day. At two o’clock in the afternoon he would start walking on the path paying homage to the Dhamma and continue until 4 p.m. when it was time to sweep the grounds and bathe. When he had finished doing all his normal and necessary duties he would start to walk cankama on the path for paying homage to the Sangha and go on until 10 or 11 p.m., after which he would rest, sitting in meditation practice for a while and then lie down and sleep. As soon as he woke up he would start doing his samadhi meditation practice again until dawn when he walked cankama until it was time for him to go on pindapata.
      Some nights he would sit in meditation practice the whole night without getting up from his seat until dawn. Even normally when he sat in samadhi meditation, it seems that his heart was very bright after he had finished. But at those times when he sat all night in meditation the material world disappeared entirely from his awareness, and even his physical body seemed to have gone as well. It was altogether a most remarkable and wonderful thing right from the time that he sat down to examine painful feeling (dukkha–vedana) until it died away and ceased due to his examination of the citta taking it deep into a subtle and intimate state of calm. At this point the only thing that was apparent to him was “knowing”, just this alone, which brought to him a most subtle and gentle calm and happiness which was quite indescribable. There were no supporting conditions (arammana) present in the citta however subtle. This means the same thing as saying that the elements of existence (loka–dhatu) disappeared simultaneously with the disappearance of the supporting conditions. This state remained until the citta drew up and out of it, after which the supporting conditions which were the usual companions of the citta returned gradually, bit by bit. Afterwards he would continue working at his practice in the normal way.
      When the citta has integrated and gone down into a state of calm, even though it remains in this state for several hours there is no feeling of it being a long time such as it would normally appear to be. This must surely be the state of “Eka citta, eka dhamma”  just within the heart itself alone without there being anything else to form a duality. When it arises out of this state it is then possible to know that the citta integrated into a state of calm and remained there for so long, for so many hours. “On whatever night the citta went into meditation practice without any difficulty and attained calm easily, even if I sat the whole night through in meditation, it seemed as if I had only been sitting for two or three hours. There was nothing to oppress or obstruct it,” he said.
      Venerable Acharn Kow tended to encounter dangerous situations in connection with elephants more than anything else. He said, “Soon after the previous encounter I again met another large elephant in the Mae Pang district of Lampang Province, and this time I was almost unable to save myself. This one was a true wild, forest elephant and not one that had lived with and been looked after by people like the previous one.”
      It was at night and Acharn Kow was walking cankama when he heard the sound of it going through the jungle making a lot of noise breaking branches and crashing about. It was coming towards him and getting closer every minute and there was no time for him to run away from it. Then he thought how, normally forest elephants are afraid of fire, so he quickly left the cankama path and went to get all the remaining candles that he had from the place where he was staying and stuck them into the ground all along by the side of his cankama path and lit them as fast as he could. To any person who saw it this would be a beautiful, peaceful sight, but it is hardly possible to say how an elephant would react to it. Then as soon as he had finished setting up the candles the elephant had almost got there, giving him no possible way of escape. All he could do was to set up a “true resolve” (sacca–adhitthana) that the supernatural power of the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha may come and help him and protect him, a servant of the Lord Buddha, against this huge elephant. By that time the elephant had got there and it stopped about two meters away from him at one side of his cankama path and stood there without a move, its two ears spread out. It was clearly visible in the candle light and he said that its huge body was as large as a hill.
      Meanwhile, Acharn Kow started walking cankama going back and forth as if he was not concerned about the elephant at all — although in fact he was very afraid of it, so that he could hardly breathe. When he first saw it walking towards him, so strong and aggressive, all that he could think of was to take hold of the “Buddho” symbol and to hold on to it tenaciously, just thinking of this as the one who guarantees life, but apart from this he did not think or see anything. He would not even let his thoughts go out to this giant elephant as large as a hill which had come and was standing by the side of his cankama path, for he was afraid that his citta may slip away from “Buddho” which was his best refuge at that time. “Buddho” and the citta then became one and the same thing until the heart lost all fear and there remained just “knowing” and the repetition of “Buddho” which were blended into one. Meanwhile the elephant just stood there like a mountain, looking at him without fidgeting or moving, its ears spread wide as if to indicate that it was not ready to accept any friendly advances. This accorded with the manner in which it walked towards Venerable Acharn when it first approached him, for it came straight for him without hesitating, and it acted as if it intended to crush him and kill him — but when it reached him it just stood there like a lifeless dummy.
      As soon as the citta and “Buddho” went inward and came together, becoming one and the same thing, Acharn Kow lost all fear. In fact he became positively bold and daring so that he could have walked right up to the elephant without the least feeling of fear. But he thought about it and realised that to walk right up to such a wild jungle animal would be an act of carelessness based on conceit, which one should not do. So he kept on walking cankama fearlessly with bold courage in competition with the standing elephant, as if there was nothing that could happen that would be any danger to him.
      From when it first came, the elephant must have stood there for about an hour, by which time the candles, which were long, and long lasting, were almost finished. Some had already gone out and the rest would not last much longer when the elephant backed away, turned round and walked off by the way it had come. After which it went looking for food in the forest around that area where it could be heard breaking branches and treading on dead wood making a lot of noise.
      This was the first time that Venerable Acharn Kow saw for himself the extraordinary power of the citta and of “Buddho”. For he was in a critical situation without any way to escape or hide and there was no alternative but to face up to it and use these methods — but even if he had died, he would have had to accept it, for he had no choice. It seems that this experience made him fully confident that whatever happened, if the citta and “Buddho”, or its equivalent, had become intimately blended together in a natural way, nothing could possibly do any harm to him. He said that he became absolutely convinced of this and has remained so ever since.
      It was also very strange how the elephant, instead of becoming wild and violent when it reached him, just stood there, its ears spread wide, apparently quite calm, watching him walking cankama going back and forth without getting tired of it. Then once it had seen enough it drew back, turned round and went its way searching for food, its manner showing that its stomach had lost all its aggression. One cannot help feeling sympathy for this elephant any less than for the previous one which was a domesticated animal and knew the language of people quite well. But this elephant had been a forest animal since it was born and it must have been over a hundred years old. As it was most unlikely that this one would know the language of people, Venerable Acharn did not speak to it at all and he just went on walking cankama. Also, unlike the first elephant, this one did not have a halter around its neck and the villagers later on told him that it was a wild elephant and had been a leader of the pack for a long time — but why it should have been wandering about on its own at this time nobody could say; maybe it just left the pack for a short time. Even after the elephant had gone, the Acariya went on walking cankama with wonder in his heart while realising the value of that elephant which had come and helped his citta to see the wonderful nature of Dhamma in connection with fear and fearlessness. For this time it enabled him to get to know about it with absolute clarity, leaving no room for any doubt at all. Therefore it would not be wrong to look on this elephant as being like a Deva elephant or like one sent by the Devas. Because normally, forest elephants are not used to people, nor do they act peacefully towards them, unless they are truly overpowered and cannot attack, when they will quickly flee and try to escape and save themselves. “But this one,” Venerable Acharn said, “Came walking straight towards me with its eyes wide open of its own free will without any one compelling it in any way at all, and it came right up close, well within the light of the candles that I had set in place. But it did not come up and squash me or tear me to pieces; nor was it startled and frightened by the fire of the candles, for it did not run away into the forest to save itself from the fire. Instead, after walking up to me in a bold, imposing manner, like it was the ‘boss’, it just stood there for over an hour, not aggressively, nor afraid, after which it went away in a normal manner. This is what made me think about this animal with amazement so that I have not forgotten it to this day. From that time on, wherever I went wandering and wherever I stayed, I was not afraid, because my heart had full faith in Dhamma from then on. For as it says in the Dhammapada, ‘Dhamma guards those who practise the way’, and it certainly does not discard them, letting them die buried in mud or water like an old log of wood.”
     
      Fighting the Kilesas
     
      “Knowledge of the citta and of Dhamma which reaches the heart is most likely to be found at those times when one is in a critical situation. If the situation is not really critical the citta tends to play-act as if it is so, causing one to become excited and agitated by endless kinds of kilesas which one could hardly keep up with and cure. In fact one is likely to let them inundate oneself while seeing them in full view right there, as if one was quite unable to restrain them or to follow and cure them so that they may fall away and disappear. But when the situation is truly critical and one is genuinely driven into a corner the citta and Dhamma become strong — though where the strength comes from is hard to say. The heart then bows down and submits, accepting oneself and Dhamma with faith and without any resistance. Then if one decides to make it act in any way, or to take hold of any aspect of Dhamma, it accepts and does just that without any opposition. This is probably due to the fear of death, which could in fact take place if it was uncooperative. So the citta becomes compliant and “easy to teach”, without being stubborn at such a time.”
      “This is probably the reason why Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus like going into the forests and hills, even though they are afraid of death and one part of the heart does not want to go to such places. My citta was like this, but how it is with other people’s cittas I cannot say — although if they are determined and fully committed to training themselves so as to get to the causes and reach the results of this way in truth, it should be much the same for them as well. Because the citta is the dwelling place of both Dhamma and the kilesas, which make all people feel full of courage or fear and good or evil respectively, in the same way. Training in accordance with causes, the results of which are the purpose and aim of Dhamma, is therefore able to make all the various kinds of kilesas surrender and vanish until they have all gone without leaving any trace or seed that could grow again.”
      “For myself, I have rather coarse and rough characteristics, so I tend to have confidence in strict discipline and rough methods to enable me to counteract the kilesas which are those gross forms of nature which I have within me. Like that time when the large elephant came walking up to me while I was walking cankama. That was a time when I clearly saw the kilesas as well as the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha within my heart. Normally the citta which has kilesas that dominate and are in charge of the heart is very difficult to discipline and train. Sometimes those who set out to kill and destroy them end up dying before they succeed in doing so because of the mean tenacity at the core of the asavas which have been squatting there within us and feeding on us for long ages. But as soon as I got to the point where there was no escape when that great elephant came to help me, the most stubborn kilesas which had been so clever in resisting my efforts all went into hiding, though where they went I don’t know. Then it became easy to instruct the heart so that when I ordered it to be like this or that, and when I wanted it to remain fixed to an aspect of Dhamma it immediately agreed and did so. It was as if oil had been put in the machinery so that there was virtually no friction as there had been before.”
      “As soon as the kilesas went away from the heart the Dhamma which had already been developed and was just waiting there arose at the same moment and shone forth brightly — and also, courage and fearlessness towards everything immediately arose within the heart. All this that I had longed for, for so long was there for me to see and admire to my hearts content. Meanwhile the fear of death had gone — where to I don’t know, but it enabled me to see quite clearly that fear is a type of kilesa which has always appeared quite openly. As soon as the fear which had been oppressing and deceiving my heart disappeared — or even though it may not have entirely disappeared — it made me see quite clearly at that moment how baneful a thing it is. After this, whenever fear should arise, as it may at times, I knew that what I had experienced and seen was enough to act as a reminder for me to know that: ‘This fear is not my friend and benefactor, but an enemy who has come in the guise of a friend.’ So it could no longer make my heart have confidence in it as it used to and I should endeavour to drive it out every time it arises throughout my life of striving for Dhamma, until the essential nature of this enemy which comes as though it were a friend, is at an end and has entirely disappeared from my heart. Only then can I relax and be happy and free from all kinds of concerns and anxieties.”
      “It seems to me that if only we can be anxious to take refuge in Dhamma, to have interest in Dhamma, to love and attend closely to Dhamma and practise Dhamma truly in the way that the Lord showed us with complete certainty and true metta, the knowing and seeing of Dhamma at its various levels, which the immediate followers of the Lord Buddha during his lifetime knew and saw, will not be a puzzle that is beyond our capability, which so many suppose it to be. We will then certainly be able to experience Dhamma as a matter of course, in the same way as they knew and saw it at the time of the Lord Buddha.”
      “The reason why the time, place and people in this present age are so contrary to those at the time of the Lord Buddha, in so far as the ways of the path and fruition are concerned, is because we ourselves act in ways that oppose our own development by wanting results without being interested in causes. These causes are the ways in which we usually behave and practise that may be right or wrong in various aspects. Whereas what we ought to do, is to adjust and alter our actions of body, speech and mind as necessary, to make them conform to Dhamma — which is the way of action leading to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana. If we constantly examine and test ourselves against the standard of Dhamma for the purpose of attaining whatever we have set our hearts on, we will at least succeed in attaining that purpose to our satisfaction at whatever level it may be, depending on the strength of each one’s mindfulness and wisdom. Because the age when the Lord Buddha taught and this present age, are both ages in which the kilesas should be corrected and cured by means of Dhamma — and also dispersed and got rid of by Dhamma. This is like various kinds of disease that have always been prevalent in all ages and which have always been curable by using the right remedy.”
      “I have had faith in this for a long time and the longer I go on practising, the stronger does it become buried in my heart where nothing can remove it; and the more do I hear the words which Venerable Acharn Mun used to teach me, which went deep into my heart at the time when I stayed with him. This firm faith went deeper and deeper into my heart until it became one with my heart — like he used to teach us:
     
      ‘In watching the kilesas and searching for Dhamma none of you should overlook the heart which is the place where the kilesas and all Dhamma dwells. Both the kilesas and Dhamma are to be found only in the heart and not elsewhere in any time or place whatsoever, for they arise in the heart, develop in the heart and die away in the heart — the only one that knows this. Trying to cure the kilesas elsewhere and searching for Dhamma in other places is useless, and even if you were to spend the rest of your lives doing so, you would never come across them as they truly are. Even after dying and being reborn many times you would only come across kilesas that have arisen from the heart, which means that you would experience the discontent and suffering that comes from them. But if you search for Dhamma in the heart, the day will come when you start to find it, and this will then increase steadily, depending on the intensity with which you strive for it. But both place and time are also conditions which can promote or suppress the kilesas and Dhamma, respectively causing them to develop or deteriorate.’
      ‘Thus, for instance, forms and sounds are conditions which promote the kilesas which are already in the heart, causing them to develop and increase. On the other hand, going to practise the way in the hills and forests is for the purpose of promoting the Dhamma which dwells in the heart, causing it to increase greatly.’
      ‘The real kilesas and Dhamma are within the heart, whereas the conditions which increase or suppress them are to be found everywhere both internally and externally. This is why the Acariyas teach their followers to avoid and to get away from things which are enticing and disturbing to the heart, things that tend to make those kilesas which are already within them become demanding and audacious — such as many things which are experienced through the senses. In addition, they also teach their followers to go wandering and staying in peaceful places where there is solitude so that they can much more easily disperse their various kilesas by means of their efforts to practise the way, thus diminishing the round of birth and death (vatta) within their hearts by using these methods.’
      ‘For this reason, to search for a suitable place for the purpose of striving to practise the way, is the most appropriate and right way for one who is ordained and hopes to attain freedom from Dukkha in his heart. For this is the right way which follows the basic principles of the Dhamma that the Lord Buddha formulated for his followers after seeing clearly for himself what things were dangers to this purpose. Because staying at times in ordinary places and at other times in unusual and lonely places, the attitude or feeling about the place which is in one’s heart, always changes with the place and it is quite inconstant. But when one stays long enough in a place, the citta becomes over familiar with that place. Those who are reflective and watchful of themselves will know immediately once this happens and will quickly change and move to another place so as to find the right conditions to prevent themselves relaxing to the point of carelessness. For this would give an opportunity for the kilesas to muster their strength so as to bring about one’s ruin without one’s being aware of what is happening. But when one corrects the situation right away, without being careless or indifferent to it, the kilesas are not likely to have any chance to build themselves up and gain enough strength to ruin the citta and the Dhamma which is together with them in this one heart — and one is then able to go on without deteriorating.’
      ‘Those who train themselves to see what is dangerous must be able to have mindfulness (sati) continually present to reflect and know, as an adjunct of the heart, without slipping away into forgetful indulgence — and to be able to do this is indeed good. Not slipping away into forgetful indulgence, is a barrier against many kinds of kilesas which have not yet arisen and it gives them no opportunity to arise. As for those that are still there, which have not yet been entirely cured, it prevents them from becoming more arrogant, and it also makes one try to get rid of them with unrelenting mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort.’
      ‘Any place where the citta is afraid and where it has mindfulness to watch and guard oneself well is a charnel ground for the cremation of all the kilesas by means of the ascetic Dhamma — which is the making of effort that has mindfulness and wisdom as the means of burning them up to destruction. Whether by the jhanas, by samadhi, by pañña (wisdom), by vimutti (liberation), by the kilesas losing their power, by the kilesas dying away steadily without having regard to place or time or by the kilesas dying away entirely and completely from one’s heart, it will happen, and it will be absolutely clear to one’s heart in that place where one practises in the right way, and where it is well suited to one who strives with zeal in everything in all ways. There is nowhere else where all the kilesas arise and cease, and one must keep it in mind and take it to heart that: The place where Dhamma thrives, is where the kilesas will deteriorate and die away entirely. What we call ‘That place’, those who practise the way should always know, is in the ‘heart’ alone and nowhere else.’
      ‘Therefore we should struggle to cut the kilesas to pieces and destroy them without fear or favour on the battlefield — which is the heart — while depending on a suitable environment as a supporting condition to enable us to be victorious, to gain salvation and to reach the highest point of human attainment by the persistence of our own zeal and striving. We must not go astray and be uncertain of the way, thinking that the kilesas and the great mass of our own dukkha are to be found anywhere else but within the sphere of the heart alone. In my own practice, from the first beginnings, which were rather haphazard because I had no teacher who was able to teach and train me properly, until I became a teacher myself with my own followers, I have never seen this mass of dukkha anywhere but in the heart. Nor have I ever seen any strange and wonderful things surpassing the imagination, the likes of which I had never known or seen before in any place whatsoever except in the heart alone, which is the abode of all Dhamma and all the kilesas as well. But it is dukkha and its cause (Samudaya) in the heart of each one of us, that have such power over everything in the three worlds. For they are able to block the way which leads to the Path, Fruition and Nibbana completely. Even when we consider the means, or ‘tools’ for digging out and clearing away dukkha and its cause so that the Path, Fruition and Nibbana may be clearly revealed, there is nothing in the three worlds which is able to do this better than ‘Nirodha’ and Magga (the Path), which are within the same heart — just this is the whole story. One must not long for other times, places or people, for this is a hazard and thing which wastes a lot of time and slows one’s development without being of any value at all. Thinking like this, rather than thinking about the kilesas and Dhamma which are within one’s heart contradicts the purpose and aim of the Great Teacher — the Lord Buddha — who bestowed his Dhamma teaching on the world — a teaching which is correct and suitable in all respects at all times.’
     
      “This, in essence, is the teaching which Venerable Acharn Mun taught in a fully reasoned way while I was living with him in Chiang Mai Province. This I can remember quite clearly for it is buried in my heart and I have no uncertainty, nor have I forgotten any of it right up to the present day.”
     
      Sometimes Venerable Acharn Kow had questions which he asked Venerable Acharn Mun who answered by admonishing him saying, “Why do you ask questions like this just as you feel like it without having first considered the principles of Dhamma to see in what direction the truth should be.” One such question he asked was: “At the time of the Lord Buddha, according to his biography and other writings, there were a large number who attained the Path, Fruition and Nibbana and quickly as well. There were far more than attain to it nowadays, for few people manage to get there now and far less than in those days. Also, those who do attain nowadays, seem to do so much slower.” Venerable Acharn Mun immediately asked him, “How do you know that there are hardly any who attain the Path, Fruition and Nibbana nowadays, and that those who do, only do so much more slowly as you say?” Acharn Kow replied, “Well, I have never heard of people attaining Nibbana like they used to in those days, in accordance with what is written in the old books, when many attained Nibbana simultaneously each time the Lord Buddha gave them a talk on Dhamma, and many others did so, going out to practise the way on their own. It also seems that they attained very quickly and easily and it is a joy to read about the results which they attained. But nowadays people strive until they almost die without seeing the type of results which one feels should come from such effort — which causes those who practise to become discouraged and to become weak in striving?” Venerable Acharn Mun then asked him: “In the old books, does it say whether in those days all those who practised the way attained quickly and easily, or were there those who practised the way with difficulty, some gaining understanding slowly and some quickly, as well as those who practised the way easily, some gaining understanding slowly and some quickly — which would accord with their levels and characteristics, which are very different in different types of people?”
      Venerable Acharn Kow answered saying: “Yes, they did vary quite considerably and they certainly did not all attain quickly and easily, and there were those who practised with difficulty, some of whom attained slowly and some quickly. But I still feel that it was very dif­ferent from the situation nowadays even though there were various classes of people, as there still are nowadays.”
      Venerable Acharn Mun then explained:
     
     “This difference comes from the leaders and how correctly and precisely they can lead the way; as well as from the power of the virtuous characteristics (vasana) of the Lord Buddha and the Savakas who followed the Buddha, which, when compared with us nowadays is so different as to be almost beyond comparison. An additional thing is the interest that people have in Dhamma nowadays, which is so different from the time of the Lord Buddha. Even the characteristics of people which are derived from their background in this life are very different nowadays from what they were in those days. So when there are all these differences, that the results should be the same is not really possible. But there is no need for us to talk about other people and ages, which would take a very long time and be tiresome. For in ourselves, we display a coarseness which disturbs us all the time, even though we are ordained monks who believe that we have zeal and are striving, sometimes by walking cankama and sometimes by sitting in samadhi bhavana. But these are just the bodily activities, whereas the heart is not striving in any way that corresponds to these activities at all. All it is doing is thinking in ways that accumulate the kilesas and disturb the heart all the time, while we believe that we are striving by means of these activities. When this is the case, the result is bound to disturb and trouble the heart regardless of when or where we are. Thus we conclude that we have been striving to our utmost and that we have not gained the results which we should have. But in fact we have been walking cankama and sitting in samadhi and at the same time gathering and accumulating poison which does nothing but harm to us without our being in the least aware of it. This is how we do not strive truly and properly as it should be done.”
      “Therefore there is really no comparison between the time of the Lord Buddha when their striving was genuine and they were truly concerned to gain freedom from dukkha, as against this present age where we just play, like children with their toys. In fact, the more we try to make comparisons, the more do we show off our kilesas and incompetence. For myself, even though I live in this age of insincerity and deceit, I do not agree with your criticising the Buddhist religion, as well as yourself as you did just now. If you still see that you have some virtue and truth left within you, you should try to act in accordance with the plan of action that the Lord Buddha taught so rightly. But not in accordance with the plan of action in which the kilesas lead you and drag you along in their way in everything you do, all the time and every day — even while you believe that you are actually striving in the way of Dhamma. The Path, Fruition and Nibbana is a universal treasure and the Lord Buddha taught that it may be acquired by anybody, a treasure that will be for your satisfaction one day for sure, as long as you do not keep thinking how difficult it is and how slow your attainment comes, which is nothing but an obstruction in your way.”
      “When we practise and strive in the manner of someone who feels that his body will break up if he keeps on doing it, because he is so weak, lazy and irresolute, it seems to me that we are like lazy inconsequential fools who think they are going to bore a hole through a mountain using a small auger, and they are very anxious to do this within the time of a single day. It is so ludicrous that those who are truly wise with sharp wisdom and who really do strive, just laugh at it. We should think and look at the manner of striving of those who were sons of the Sakya — the Savakas of the Buddha at the time of the Buddha, and see how they acted, and then compare it with our own striving which is like someone who goes to the shore and just smacks the sea with his hand, which is enough to make us feel sorry and disheartened that his longing for Nibbana is only to the extent of getting his hands wet! Look, think and see how the kilesas are like an ocean and the efforts we make are like the water on our hands — how far apart are they? People in this age of just “wetting their hands in the ocean” make little in the way of effort, yet their intention is to get free from the realm of samsara. Then when this does not happen as they expect it to, they find some excuse to blame the religion (Sasana), the time, the place and the people of this or that period of time. They are not in the least ashamed of the way in which they display their own incompetence and stupidity so that those Acariyas who are truly wise and skilled feel disheartened and laugh wryly, saying that there is no way in which they can do anything about such people.”
      “To invest only a small amount of capital in a manner that is useless and then to expect the most enormous returns on one’s investment is the way of an incompetent fool who builds his own charnel ground for cremating himself and remains submerged in the mass of his own dukkha. So the round of samsara never weakens its hold on him so that he could feel that he may get free one day.”
      “The question that you asked me which was in effect praising the teaching of Buddhism (Sasana–Dhamma) and praising the age, the place and the people at the time of the Lord Buddha, while at the same time criticising the teaching, the age, the place and people nowadays were the words of praise and blame of an incompetent fool who puts obstructions in his own path until he cannot find a way to crawl out to safety. It was the question of someone who was incompetent, the question of someone who puts thorns in his own path to obstruct himself and not a question which was designed to clear the way and make it free of obstacles so that he can go ahead with confidence due to ­being interested in freeing himself from the kilesas by means of the Svakkhata Dhamma (Well Taught Dhamma) which is the ‘middle way’ that was given impartially to all those beings in the world who have enough interest to practise the way rightly ever since its origins.”
      “If you will only have the mindfulness and wisdom to shed all these things from yourself you would be worthy of some admiration. This is like sickness and diseases which people get, both serious and mild. When people want to cure themselves and they take the right remedy they are likely to feel calm and easy and the cure is effective. But if they are not interested in looking after themselves and overcoming the disease, it will probably get worse and can become dangerous — except for minor complaints such as the common cold or minor skin troubles which cure themselves without special attention.”
      “The ‘kilesa’ diseases, which are not in the class of self-healing minor ailments, must be treated with medicine, and the medicine is the Dhamma–way of striving following the pattern which the ‘Sons of the Sakya, the Buddha Savakas’ practised. One may be fully confident that this remedy will quell and get rid of all the kilesas whether strong or mild or however else they may be. If you were only to think in this kind of way I should feel more at ease about you and I could admire you for being someone who has clever ways of thinking and one who can have some confidence in his own ability to be able to pass beyond the realm of samsara as well as having faith in the ability of the Lord Buddha and his religious Teaching (Sasana–Dhamma) and faith that he penetrated Dhamma with his intuitive ability, and spread it ab­road as the Sasana Dhamma in a proper manner. And that this was a ‘Dhamma of Salvation’ (Niyyanika–Dhamma), truly able to lead beings to freedom. Not blaming and criticising himself saying that his kilesas are very thick so that he can only learn Dhamma slowly, while at the same time having no interest in curing them. Not blaming the Lord Buddha, saying that he did not formulate and teach Dhamma in a way that was equally suitable for his own time and for all other ages as well. Nor blaming the Dhamma, saying that it is incapable, or not penetrating enough, to cure the kilesas of beings in this modern age in the way it did at the time of the Lord Buddha.”
     
      Venerable Acharn Mun continued, saying: “
     
     I am not denying the fact that the strength of people’s kilesas are different from what they used to be, and I agree that people at the time of the Lord Buddha had them far less than people do nowadays. The mode of teaching was also very different from what it is nowadays, as also were those who taught the way, and they were ‘seers’ in most cases, with great understanding and true seeing. For the Great Teacher was the Leader of the Savakas in formulating and teaching Dhamma to his followers and others. The teaching was therefore never wrong and never deviated from the truth, for it came straight from the heart of the Lord and from the hearts of his followers which were completely purified. From this purity of heart they drew out Dhamma and taught others in language that was fresh and direct without there being anything hidden or mixed in with it that was wrong or distorted.”
      “Those who listened to this Dhamma were intent on the truth and they had fully committed themselves to it. So the situation was entirely suitable on both sides and the results came stage by stage, being self-evident to them and fulfilling the expectations of these people who were looking for truth. Therefore they had no problems and questions which could interfere with their development. So it was that in those days, many people attained Magga–phala each time the Great Teacher or his Savaka Followers gave Dhamma teaching, whereas nowadays hardly anybody can attain. It is as though saying that people are no longer people and Dhamma is no longer Dhamma, so there are no results coming from it. But in fact people are people and Dhamma is Dhamma as they always were, but people are not interested in Dhamma now, so the Dhamma that enters into them does not reach the heart. The result is that people remain just people and Dhamma remains just Dhamma, which is not likely to be of much use in bringing about the final attainment. Even if a large number of people were taught and listened to an exposition of the whole Ti–pitaka, it would be just like pouring water over the back of a dog — it immediately shakes it all off until there is none left. In this way the Dhamma has no meaning in the hearts of people, much as water is of no consequence on the back of a dog.”
      Venerable Acharn Mun then asked Venerable Acharn Kow:
     
     “When you asked that question just now, was your heart like a dog’s back? Or what was it like that you blindly put blame just on the Dhamma alone, saying that it had not brought results to yourself for attaining the Path, Fruition and Nibbana the easy way — like it did in the time of the Lord Buddha without thinking about your own heart which was shaking off the Dhamma from itself faster than a dog could shake water off its back? If you will only reflect back and think about your own faults and failings, I think that some Dhamma will find a place to seep into your heart and remain there, not merely flowing through it like water flowing down a channel without any reservoir or storage place — which is how you are at present.”
      “Whether the people at the time of the Lord Buddha had few or many kilesas was just a matter of their own virtue or evil which does not effect us or make any difficulties for us nowadays. People nowadays have their own kilesas of various kinds which create trouble for themselves until there is hardly anywhere in the world where they can live normally. If people have not enough interest in curing themselves so that the world has some freedom from this trouble and freedom from the ‘fire’ with which they ‘burn’ each other, merely blaming and praising others, in whatever age they lived is not likely to be of any use at all. This is also true if each one of them is not interested in directing his blame and praise towards himself — towards this one who is creating the ‘fire’ to ‘burn’ himself and others causing all sorts of trouble now — in the present. For, turning one’s praise and blame towards oneself is the way to break the ‘fires’ of lust (raga), hate and delusion apart from each other whenever they are in consort together — at least, to the extent of having a way to go towards some degree of calm and happiness, so that one is not ‘roasted’ by these ‘fires’ beyond one’s endurance. This is the way it should be in the world of human beings who are far more clever than any other species in the world.”
     
      Venerable Acharn Kow said,
     
     “Venerable Acharn Mun used to scold and blame me very fiercely for asking such questions which had no practical solution, although I did not ask such questions very often. But when Venerable Acharn took up these questions and analysed them, it was as if they were like thorns and splinters obstructing the Sasana, himself and myself as well, for which there is no available cure. It made me feel and see where I was at fault and I would feel uneasy about it for many days, even though in fact I had no doubt that people nowadays could practise Dhamma. But Venerable Acharn would still scold me and ‘shred’ me with his fierce way of talking which I reckon was right and suitable for someone like myself who was always talking and could not be quiet and contented. On the other hand, this was also good in that I used to hear Dhamma from him, of a kind which went straight to my heart. In fact, what I have already told you is not more than a fraction of the deep, spirited and fiery Dhamma which he delivered, for it was deeper than the ocean and more fiery than the fire of hell. He would also bring up the questions which I had asked him in the past to stir me up time after time. Sometimes he would do this right in the middle of a meeting when all the others were gathered there to hear Dhamma and he would reveal my evil ways, talking about my wrong views (miccha–ditthi) and likening me to Devadatta destroying the Sasana. He would ‘tear me into pieces’, until there was nothing left that was good, and he would go on like this for a long time, not letting up easily, until some of the other Bhikkhus began to wonder about it. Afterwards they would come and ask me whether it was truly as Venerable Acharn said. I had to explain how the questions I asked were not a true indication of my attitude, but that it was just a method of getting him to talk Dhamma. For normally, if nobody asks him some outlandish question he does not speak Dhamma to us. But I suppose I was rather stupid in the questions that I used, for I jumped in with both feet and gave him the hammer to hit me over the head with. Maybe I should have asked a more normal and less inflammatory question so that I could listen to Dhamma that was more sweet and soothing.”
     
      Generally speaking it was in fact as Venerable Acharn Kow said, for if Venerable Acharn Mun was asked questions that were not in any way strange or outlandish, he would just answer in a normal way. Then even though it was Dhamma, his way of speaking was smooth and normal and it made no lasting impression on one’s heart. But when he was asked a strange, outlandish question he became quite animated and the import of the Dhamma which he brought forth was truly satisfying — as we have already described in the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun”.
      In truth, Venerable Acharn Mun had no doubts about Venerable Acharn Kow’s views, although the way in which he scolded him made it appear as though he was doubtful. But in fact it was just his way of teaching Dhamma which was the way of a skilled Acariya. For he would change his attitude and style of teaching in all sorts of ways to arouse and wake up the rest of us who were listening so as to make us think about and ponder his teachings which would act as a reminder to us for a long time. Otherwise we would remain supine, clinging to our own stupidity with no interest in thinking about anything at all — like a frog sitting and looking at a lotus flower without any purpose. But as soon as Venerable Acharn “rapped us on the head with his knuckles”, it was as though our ears and eyes became brighter. It is in the nature of those Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who followed Venerable Acharn Mun that they liked being stirred up and “rapped on the head” frequently to hold their attention and make them think.
      But if he talked in a smooth and even manner they would listen quiescently, with nothing to arouse and catch the heart to make it excited, concerned and a bit frightened. Their hearts then tended to go to sleep inwardly when there was no method nor anything else which was capable of making their minds active and thoughtful. Then various kinds of kilesas which had been waiting to take over were likely to find an opportunity to get out and go about causing trouble and disturbing their attention, because the method of teaching was not equal to the ability of the kilesas.
      But when they got an unusual form of teaching from Venerable Acharn Mun because he had been asked a question that warranted such a way of teaching, their mindfulness and wisdom was stirred up and became brighter and sharper. Therefore although in asking Venerable Acharn Mun questions, Acharn Kow was partly right and partly wrong, they were Dhamma questions from which he could expect to gain a lot of value in the same way as he had often done so in the past.
      Venerable Acharn Kow said that the first year that he spent the rains period (vassa) with Venerable Acharn Mun in the Chiang Mai district, an indescribable enthusiasm (piti) and joy arose. This was an appropriate reward for the several years in which he had tried to follow Venerable Acharn, for even though he had heard his teaching at times in various places, he only stayed for brief periods which were not truly satisfying. After staying for a short while he would be driven away by Venerable Acharn who told him that they must stay in separate places. But when an opportunity came and his meritorious tendencies (vasana) were helpful he was allowed to stay for a rains period with Venerable Acharn. This made him very happy and he increased his striving greatly until he was hardly taking any sleep at all, sometimes spending the whole night striving at his meditation practice. Then one day his citta became fully integrated and went down into a state of calm where it had a complete rest for some time before it withdrew and rose up out of it. He was filled with wonder at this brightness of the heart which went beyond what he had ever reached before and it made him completely absorbed in Dhamma until the light of dawn appeared. That night he did not sleep at all. In the morning he got up at the usual time and went about his duties, helping to clean and arrange things at Venerable Acharn’s hut and taking his bowl, robes and other things to his place where he ate food in the sala.
      When Venerable Acharn came from the place where he did his meditation practice it seemed that he watched Acharn Kow unusually closely. Acharn Kow himself noticed this and felt very self-conscious and afraid that he may have done something or other wrong. After a short while Venerable Acharn said to him: “How is your meditation practice going now? Last night your citta was much brighter than it has been in the past, ever since you have been staying with me. This is how you must do it! This is the right way for one who searches for Dhamma. Now do you know where Dhamma is? Last night where was that brightness?” He answered, “The brightness was in my heart sir,” but he felt afraid and ashamed until he almost started shivering, for he had never before been praised and asked a question at the same time like this. “Where had the Dhamma been before this that you could not see it?” asked Venerable Acharn. “That which you have seen is Dhamma and you must always know it in this way from now on. Dhamma is in the heart and in the future you must guard the level of your citta and the level of your striving so that they are kept well up and you must not let them deteriorate. For this is the ground of the citta, the ground of the Dhamma, the ground of your faith in Dhamma and the ground of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana — all of them are just there. You must be confident and resolute in your striving if you want to transcend dukkha; and in doing this, you have got to do it just there, for it is absolutely certain that there is nowhere else where you can get free from it but just this one place.”
      “You must not indulge in wishful thinking, for you are no longer blind and there is no need to do so. Last night I sent the flow of my citta out to look at you and I saw your citta brightly illuminating everything round you, and every time I sent my citta out to look it was the same way throughout the night. Because I also took no sleep last night at all; part of the time I spent in samadhi bhavana, part of the time receiving Deva guests and part in sending my citta to see how you were getting on, and it went on like this until dawn without having any realisation of the time. As soon as I came out of bhavana I had to ask you about it, because I have always wanted to know about my fellows in Dhamma. Was it peaceful, was it blissful this time?” he asked.
      Venerable Acharn Kow said that he remained silent, not daring to answer Venerable Acharn — “For he had already looked right through me until he could see my lungs and liver and everything else, so what would be the use of telling him. From then on I was much more afraid of Venerable Acharn and I was much more careful where he was concerned. Even before this I was quite sure that he could know the minds and hearts of people just as he wished. But that night I experienced it for myself which made me that much more certain and I became very afraid of him in a way that is hard to describe.”
      From that day on he was able to fix the state of his heart firmly and develop it steadily, more and more and bit by bit, without any deterioration or backsliding at all. He said: “Venerable Acharn Mun used to goad me quite frequently. Any self-indulgence and I would be told off immediately and he would get fierce and scold me much more quickly than before. In fact his frequent exhortation and reminders were methods of helping me to look after my citta and Dhamma and to make me more afraid of deteriorating and backsliding.”
      “From that time on I continued to spend every vassa period with Venerable Acharn. After the Vassa I would then go out wandering to practise the way in various places, wherever I found it to be suitable for striving. Venerable Acharn Mun would also go off, but in a different direction so as to be on his own, for he did not like going out with any of the Bhikkhus attached to him. So the Bhikkhus all went out in different directions, each as he felt inclined. But whenever some internal problem arose in their hearts, they would make for Venerable Acharn to ask him about it so that he would unravel it and clear the problem which he did every time.”
     
      The Elimination of Avijja
     
      In this way it seems that the striving by way of the heart of Venerable Acharn Kow progressed steadily. His mindfulness and wisdom gradually and steadily spread and branched out until it was infused into the heart and they became one and the same thing. Whatever his bodily posture or activity, he maintained his effort with mindfulness and wisdom present in his striving for Dhamma, and it seems that his heart was bold and courageous having lost all fear of those things which arouse and maintain thoughts and emotional states (arammana), which used to be his enemies. He was also certain of the path leading to freedom from Dukkha and he had no doubts about it even though he had as yet not actually attained freedom.
      One evening after he had swept the ground he left the hut where he was living to go for a wash. He saw the rice growing in the fields and how it was golden yellow and almost ripe. This immediately made him think and question:
     
     “This rice has sprouted and grown because there is a seed which caused it to grow. The heart that endlessly leads one to birth, and death should also have something that acts as a seed within it in the same way as the rice plants. If that seed in the heart is not destroyed entirely, it is bound to lead to further births and deaths going on endlessly. Now what is this seed in the heart? What could it be but the kilesas, avijja, tanha and upadana?”
     
     He went on thinking and searching into this problem, holding up avijja as the target of his research, examining it, going towards the future, then returning towards the past, going forward and then backwards, with intense interest, wanting to know the true nature of avijja. He went on searching and investigating in the field of avijja and the heart, throughout the night without let up. At dawn, just as it was beginning to get light his wisdom was able to break through to a conclusion. Then avijja fell away from the heart without any remainder — and the contemplation of the rice stopped at that point when the rice was ripe never to sprout again. His investigation into the citta also stopped as soon as avijja fell down, after which the citta became ripe in the same way as the rice became ripe. At this point it was clearly evident to him that the citta had stopped creating any more births into the various realms of existence. What remained made him full of admiration and satisfaction and this was the complete and utter purity of the citta in his hut in the midst of the mountains where he was supported and taken care of by the forest people.
      As soon as the citta had managed to go beyond the tangled jungles of the “round of kilesas” (kilesa–vatta) there arose the most wonderful thing to him alone as the dawn came. Then the sun began to shine its rays on the forest while the heart began to get brighter and brighter as it left the realm of avijja and went towards the wonder of Dhamma where it reached vimutti — freedom at the same time the sun rose. It truly was a most auspicious and wonderful occasion.
      After this supreme, auspicious and blessed moment had gone by, it was time for him to go pindapata. While he was walking away from this place of such great blessings he looked back at the little hut which had provided him with such happiness and such wonders, and he looked all around him and saw how everything appeared to have become superb and blessed in sympathy with the heart which was entirely and completely wonderful throughout — although in fact all these things were just there in accordance with their own nature as usual.
      While on pindapata his heart was filled with Dhamma and when he looked at the local people of the forests and hills, who had looked after him, it seemed almost as if all of them were beings who had come down from the heavens. In his citta he reflected on how good, how virtuous and valuable they had been to him, so much so that it would be impossible to describe the extent of their virtue. Metta and compassion arose in him for these “heavenly” forest people and he could not help but spread out the metta in his citta as a dedication to them as he passed by them all along the way until he reached the vicinity of the place where he was staying which was a place of such happiness.
      While he was arranging the Deva–like food which the hill people had put into his bowl his heart was full of Dhamma. He did not turn his thoughts to the food as he had always done in the past, letting it bring him some pleasure, but he merely ate it as that which the body depended upon for its maintenance. He said:
     
     “Since the day I was born this was the first time that I had ever experienced the body and mind (dhatu–khandha) in perfect harmony with the citta–heart, but it is quite impossible to explain it. All I can say is that it was the most wonderful and unique experience and it became the most outstanding event of my life which left a deep and lasting impression on my heart.”
      “After this world shaking event when the sky and ground collapsed and the ‘Wheel of Samsara’ (vatta–cakka) in the heart broke up and disappeared, all the elements and khandhas as well as every part and aspect of the citta were each and all free to conform to their own natural state. They were no longer enslaved and forced into service by anything, so the five Indriya and the six Ayatana would continue to function and do their duties without any dispute or contention disturbing them, which had previously been their normal state, until such time as the elements and khandhas are no more.” (The dispute which he refers to is the disharmony between internal and external things when they come together, which gives rise to gladness or sorrow that then turns into the arising of sukha and dukkha. All these are interconnected like the links of an endless chain going on forever.) “The disputes within the citta, which are far more numerous and disturbing than those externally in the world, all stopped and were peacefully settled from the moment the ‘court of justice’ was built and completed in the heart.”
      “This endless tendency to create inappropriate disputes, which used to seize the citta and use it as a floor on which to dance, to ­quarrel and to argue, never giving it any time to be calm and quiet, because avijja/tanha — the boss — directed and ordered it to work to cause turmoil and confusion of countless different kinds, then all dissolved into a joyful harmonious state of calm and peace. It turned into a world that is free and empty within the citta, where the superb and most excellent Truths of Dhamma (Vijja–Dhamma) are produced and arise for the delectation of the realm of the ‘citta–king’ in place of the former state of anti–Dhamma.”
      “Affairs, both externally and internally then proceeded smoothly in accordance with Dhamma without being harassed and disturbed by an enemy. So the eyes saw, the ears heard, the nose smelt, the tongue tasted, the body felt things cold or hot, soft or hard, and the heart received and knew the various supporters of perceptions (arammana) in the normal way without distorting and altering everything as it used to, by making out that right is wrong, that being shackled is freedom, that what is bad is good, that ghosts are people, that virtuous Bhikkhus are evil ghosts (Preta) and conversely that evil ghosts are good people. For this is what the Lord of anti–Dhamma, who had the power to dictate actions used to do when he was in power. ‘Now I can sit down and rest peacefully and whether I live or die I have complete happiness. This one, here, is genuinely out of dukkha and out of danger without any thread of attachment of any sort by which it is bound’.”
     
     This was the aphorism that Venerable Acharn Kow exclaimed in his heart at that time.
     
      Venerable Acharn Kow was another of Venerable Acharn Mun’s followers who stripped away all dukkha and got rid of all dangers from his heart in Chiang Mai province. He said:
     
     “The place where I practised the way until I reached freedom from dukkha within me, the little hut which gave me shelter where I could practise and strive and also rest my body, the place where I walked cankama, the place where I sat in samadhi meditation by day and night, and the village where I went out for pindapata to get food for maintaining the body, while staying in that district, all made a great impression on me which went deep into my heart in an inexplicable way and far more so than any other place. This has remained buried in my heart right up to the present day and my memory of it has never become faded or indistinct nor has it become insipid or commonplace. From the moment when the ‘Wheel of Samsara’ (vatta–cakka) was demolished and fell away from my heart, destroyed by striving, that place changed and became the abode of supreme happiness in all situations at all times. It is as if I were in the presence of the Lord Buddha at the place of his Enlightenment and everywhere where he practised striving for Dhamma, and all uncertainty about the Lord Buddha was swept away. Even though he ­entered Parinibbana a long time ago as reckoned by the usual conventions of time, yet it is as if the impression of him is permanently imprinted on my heart without fading after the time of his Parinibbana. All uncertainty about Dhamma was swept away as to whether it is much or little, profound or shallow, and gross or subtle, which the Lord bestowed on all beings. He saw that all of those Dhammas are permanently established in this one heart and that it is completely filled with Dhamma, not being deficient in any part. All doubt and uncertainty disappeared concerning the Savaka Sangha, who are Supatipanno and who are pure. For these three ‘Jewels’ (Ratana) are fused into one in the heart which lives with Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, each of which are pure and integrated together as one Dhamma.”
      “From that one moment I became completely contented and had no concerns or anxieties and there was nothing that could act as a burden and deceive my heart. Whatever situation I am in, I am my own master in that situation and nothing remains that orders me about or creeps in and ask for its share to eat and to use — like a parasite — as it used to when I was living with a beggar all the time, without realising it. Now it wanted this! Then it wanted that! All the time this is how it was in all situations.”
     
      Where this Acariya talks of “wanting this” and “wanting that”, he is talking about the kilesas which makes one (feel) deficient, in want and never having enough — for this is the way their inherent nature works. Once they have become powerful and established their position over the heart of a person or animal they are bound to demand or beg incessantly, for this is their natural way of acting. They do so by inciting one to think like this, to speak like that or to act in various ways according to their power, incessantly. If one doesn’t have the Dhamma to block this “leakage” which comes from the stubborn demanding and begging of this gang of kilesas, one is likely to be divided up or spoiled so that they can “eat one up”, until there is nothing left.
      It can even get to the point where one has not enough virtue left to keep one going on in one’s present state of life to enable one to be born again in the future as a good person with moral principles. Whatever form of life and situation one is then born into, it is bound to be the wrong place and the wrong situation. Where one will not be able to get the contentment of heart in one’s state of birth that one ought to get from a life in which one has made the effort throughout one’s life to be born into such a state of contentment. Then one may be said to have both lost one’s “capital” as well as getting no “interest” from it. In other words, one who is heedless and complacent gives power just to the kilesas to take charge of the house and look after the citta without any protection or resistance to them at all. Then they grab and take until he has nothing left, as we have already described above.
      But one who has got rid of all his debts and put an end to the untidy mess in his heart continues to live happily in all situations in his khandhas, in which he lives. When their life is at an end he drops the burden of the khandhas and there remains just the purity of “Buddho” as his treasure, throughout. This is the ultimate and eternal end of all dukkha — a wonderful ending and a moment which has ultimate value, greater than anything in the three realms of existence in the universe. It is quite different from existence in all relative worlds of supposition (sammuti) where, in their various ways, beings want birth, or at least, most of them do so — and with their eyes wide open, and they are not in the least interested to consider the dukkha which is bound to come as a consequence of that birth.
      The truth is that birth and dukkha cannot be separated and dukkha is still bound to be there even in those cases where it is minimal. The wisest of men are therefore afraid of birth more than death. Which is in contrast to most of us who fear death more than birth, while in fact death is only a result of its basic cause which is birth. This fear of death is a fear that is in complete opposition to the basic principles of nature and it comes about because people have no interest in searching and tracing out the truth about death, therefore they resist it, and dukkha is with them all the time.
      If the wisest of men had kilesas of the kind which would make them ridicule and laugh at other’s foolishness, they would probably not be able to contain themselves and may have to let it all out to their heart’s content when they see almost everyone in the world setting themselves against the truth with determination. And this they do without ever looking around or searching for the basic principles of truth. But in fact these men are truly wise and worthy to be so-called, and they do not act in the usual way of the world. In fact they generally have “metta” and compassion for the world and give help by teaching the way. As for those who are beyond all hope, they let them go their way as there is nothing that they can do to help them.
      Venerable Acharn Kow was one who transcended all the fear and danger that he used to have in samsara and he reached Nibbana while still alive (Saupadisesa–Nibbana) when living in a place called “Roang Cod” in the Phrao district of Chiang Mai Province, in his sixteenth or seventeenth vassa. I cannot remember which, but I know that it was the beginning of the harvest time just after the end of the vassa period. He related all this in a manner which touched the heart one evening when we talked Dhamma together from 8 p.m. until after midnight and nobody came to disturb us for the whole of this time. Because of this we were able to talk Dhamma freely on both sides, right through to the final conclusion — which was the final result that arose from our practice of Dhamma. We started from the basic A. B. C. of our respective practices, which meant the basic training that we did which was rather mixed up, at times slipping back and scrambling up again, at times falling into a bad state, or a state that alternated between bad and good, and sometimes getting into a state of satisfaction or dejection which resulted from the ups and downs of the practices which we used in our initial training. We then went on right through until we reached the ultimate and final point of the citta and of Dhamma of each of us.
      The result of our talk was very satisfactory and I have taken the opportunity of including it in this book so that those who read it and are interested in attaining Dhamma may use it as a field for investigation and contemplation and then decide what is suitable in it for them to use depending on their own characteristics. The result which is one’s intended purpose and which comes from such a discriminating choice is likely to be a smooth and steady development that is right and appropriate, depending on how strongly one tries to do it. Because, Venerable Acharn Kow is completely qualified to be a source from which things of great value can arise for those in the world who frequently associate with him. He is neither deficient in his behaviour which he displays outwardly, nor in his inward knowing of the way of Dhamma which is a “diamond of the first water” buried mysteriously within him. Such a thing cannot be found easily and if one has not narrowly escaped death one is not likely to be able to know it. I have secretly given him the name of “Diamond of the First Water,” in the sphere of Kammatthana, following the line from Venerable Acharn Mun for the last thirty years without being afraid that people will call me mad — because this arose from my own faith. Venerable Acharn Kow is still alive at present (BE 2520/CE 1977) and spreads out metta and warmth to many Bhikkhus and Novices as well as to lay people in all parts of Thailand who never stop going to pay homage and doing puja to him and to listen to his teaching. In his monastery they realise the difficulties that he must put up with, for he is already very old and they have had to arrange suitable times when people may visit him, pay homage to him and listen to his teaching so that he may have enough time to rest and recuperate and be of value to the world for a long time. Otherwise he may “break up” before he reaches his natural time.
      The receiving of visitors and the interaction between those Bhikkhus who are acknowledged teachers and the many lay people who come from all over the place to visit them is in most cases very debilitating and somewhat of an ordeal for these teachers for the whole time while these visitors are with them. For these visitors come with all sorts of preconceived views and attitudes and generally they are very anxious to get confirmation of what they want in their own hearts. They never think of the difficulties and the disturbance that they cause in the teacher’s normal daily routine, which means that they are often more disturbed than the water in a well or pond. If the teacher shows no sympathy for them they feel resentful and think that he dislikes them, that he is conceited and does not welcome guests as a Bhikkhu should do, for the purpose of overcoming his conceit and his dislike of others. Moreover, they then build up a dislike of him within their hearts and they spread this about telling everybody, which leads to endless harm. Those Bhikkhus who should be praised and respec­ted and who are of great value to the lay people, may then become Bhikkhus who are under accusation without any court that can try the case and pass judgement.
      The fact of the matter is that Bhikkhus are ordained for the purpose of bringing benefit both to themselves and to the world and not for remaining quiet, easy-going and unconcerned. In any one day they do various different kinds of work at different times and they rarely have any spare time. For they must find some time for helping the world in various ways; they must find time for helping the Bhikkhus and Novices who they are looking after as well as other Bhikkhus whom they chance to meet; and they must find time for looking after their own bodies and hearts so that they may last long and continue to be of value to the world for a long time to come. Both by day and night body and heart go round and round like a flywheel with hardly any time left to rest and relax. When one thinks about it, even the machines which we use, such as motor cars, have a rest at times, or they need time off for maintenance and repair to keep them running properly, otherwise they break down and deteriorate rapidly.
      Bhikkhus are not like stones and cement which are mixed up together and used in various places in the construction of buildings and houses as the chief builder or architect sees fit for his purpose. Therefore they are bound to get tired or exhausted and must have enough time to rest and relax for the strain of continued work, so that they can have some ease of body and heart.
      Generally, when lay people visit a Bhikkhu, they are likely to come complete with their tendencies of character, pretensions, conceits and problems quite uninhibited. So they make trouble for the Bhikkhu by unloading their complaints and criticisms, expecting him to agree with them and to act accordingly, without ever considering whether it is morally right or wrong. This is due to their fundamental trait of having no interest in reason or morals — which are the first things that should be considered. Whenever any desire or want arises which requires the help of a Bhikkhu, they never think how the ways and customs of Bhikkhus and lay people differ — for the Bhikkhus have the principles of Dhamma and Vinaya to guide and direct their actions. So the ways and customs of Bhikkhus are the Dhamma and Vinaya which shows them what they should do, and they must always think of what is right or wrong, good or evil and consider whether any proposed thing should or should not be done. But lay people have no “Dhamma or Vinaya” within them to act as a guiding principle to control their actions and so, generally speaking, they tend to rely on what they like and want as their guide. Thus, when they try to get a Bhikkhu involved in their affairs he is quite likely to be troubled or harmed, even though they have no intention of doing this. Or he may be harmed indirectly by frequent requests — such as asking him to give them a number for the state lottery — which is an activity that conflicts with the Bhikkhu’s Dhamma and Vinaya. Or by asking Bhikkhus to make love potions which cause a man and woman to love each other; asking Bhikkhus to tell them an auspicious time when they will have good luck and become wealthy — or for any one of a thousand other purposes; asking Bhikkhus to do their horoscope and to advise them about their affairs; asking for magic spells and sayings to make them invulnerable to bullets, knives, pointed weapons and clubs; asking for “holy water” to be sprinkled on them to annul perils, danger from enemies and bad luck; and all sorts of other things such as these. For all these things conflict with the characteristics and customs (which means the Dhamma and Vinaya) of any Bhikkhu who gives in to them, and the more he is an Acariya, a Teacher whom people respect and have faith in, the more he is troubled by all these things, which we have just described — and all sorts of other things of the same kind which would take all day to describe. In particular, a Dhutanga Bhikkhu who is intent on gaining understanding, Dhamma and freedom, following the lineage of Venerable Acharn Mun is not in the least interested in all these kinds of things. In fact they look on them as being enemies to the right way of progress and as things which increase the delusions of people. In the worst case these things could lead to the destruction of the Bhikkhu and of the religion (Sasana) for all to see, if, for example people started calling them “lottery number Bhikkhus” and the “lottery number religion”, or “love potion Bhikkhus and religion” — and the rest. This would make the Bhikkhus and the religion seem disreputable and it would cause its value to deteriorate steadily and inevitably. This is the kind of result that can come from doing these things.
      In all this that I have said above, I have no intention of blaming those good and faithful devotees of Dhamma — nor those who go to visit Bhikkhus to search for Dhamma. But it is necessary to let people know what is the right form of behaviour between Bhikkhus and lay people who have never been completely separate from each other — and how they should act and relate together so that both may have contentment and live without friction. This is how it should be and it accords with their mutual good intentions and the interdependence that has always existed between them — and also the way that both sides are concerned about the promotion and well being of Buddhism.
      It is important that we Buddhists should clearly understand that the monastery is an important place in the sphere of Buddhism. It is also an important place to all Buddhists who can hardly avoid having good and exalted thoughts arising within their hearts whenever they go into a monastery or go past one. This is because “the monastery” has always been a sacred place since the remote past, regardless of whether it is in the villages or forests. For the monastery is the place where the citta and all things sacred come together, as well as arousing the good and high aspirations of endless Buddhists, leaving nowhere for them to leak away and deteriorate. The monastery may be run down and in a state of disrepair or well appointed and beautiful, but in the hearts of those everywhere who have faith in Buddhism there will be a constant attitude of respect and homage for it.
      For these reasons, whenever Buddhists go into a Buddhist monastery and for whatever purpose, they should be self-controlled and make sure that their behaviour is sufficiently modest and suitable. This also includes the clothes that people wear and they should be very careful to make sure that they conform to their status as “children of the Buddha” who are going into a place which is high and sacred and which has been glorified by the Lord Buddha, the Great Teacher of the “Three Worlds”. This is especially important in the “forest monastery”, where Bhikkhus are a bit like the monkeys and apes in the forest who have never had the opportunity and fortune to have seen and learnt to admire the material progress and the latest cultural developments that have taken place in cities and towns. When they see people coming to the monastery wearing some of the latest fashions they feel unusually disturbed and apprehensive — almost dizzy and feverish. It may also give them a sudden fright which they have not experienced before, because they are used to living in the forest until they have become part of it and in such an environment it is not easy to imagine such things. So when they suddenly see such strange and unusual things, their eyes withdraw from Dhamma and the citta displays an abnormal state which fluctuates unsteadily which — tends to induce a melancholy depression.
      Most forest Dhutanga Bhikkhus say that they have this same kind of reaction and we should sympathise with them. Even if someone merely explains to them how the towns and villages have developed in material things and culture and how they are developing all the time nowadays equally within the country as well as abroad, within the towns and in the countryside, in the village monasteries and those in the forest, and in normal places where people live, as well as in the forests and hills, they would most likely not believe it. In fact they would probably just have a feeling of repugnance and loathing for it all, and a feeling of apprehension as well as dejection and sorrow — until the person who was telling them would be unable to find any way to cure the fear and horror that they feel. So it’s a pity that they are so primitive and so far away from all this development and civilisation — isn’t it?
      The monastery where Venerable Acharn Kow stays, is located in the forests and hills. A place that is well suited to the complete development of meditation and the practice of Dhamma, for it is full of ­boulders, cliffs and forests with pleasant, shady trees. It seems that Venerable Acharn Kow always tried to avoid and evade all the accoutrements of civilisation which we have already mentioned. If one were to call him uncivilised like most of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus it should not be considered as criticism. Because his Dhamma quality is very exalted — and I feel that he has gone beyond all that should be deserving of criticism. But presumably he may still have the habits left within him of being very watchful and afraid of the dangers in the forest, for even though his Dhamma virtue is at the highest level he will not have been able to let go of all his latent habitual tendencies. This may be in accordance with the Dhamma saying of the Lord, that — the original habitual tendencies cannot be entirely got rid of by the Savakas and only the Lord Buddha was able to get rid of his latent habitual tendencies (nissaya) completely, as well as his good characteristics (vasana).
      Whenever many people come causing a lot of disturbance with no good purpose or value in it, Venerable Acharn Kow gets away quickly and disappears into the forest or into a crevice between the rocks of a hill in his monastery until all has quieted down in the evening or after night has fallen, before returning to his residence. When he was asked why he escaped and disappeared in this way, he answered, saying: “My Dhamma is not much and it cannot withstand the strong flowing current of the world and I have to run away and hide. If I did not do this, but stayed and put up with it, my Dhamma would surely break up and disintegrate, so I must go wherever I can look after myself. For even though I do not have the ability to help these people, I should at least think about helping myself.”
      To the best of my knowledge, Venerable Acharn Kow has a lot of metta and generally gives a great deal of help to other people. But on those occasions when he escapes and goes into hiding it is probably because it is beyond his ability to put up with them — as he himself has said. Those who cause trouble and harm are the majority of people, though whether they do it intentionally or not is hard to know, but they do so continually. As for those who try to uphold and maintain Sila–Dhamma and virtue, they are few and they are hardly able to withstand the burden of doing so, and are normally bound to run into many difficulties.
      Generally speaking, lay people tend to watch the Bhikkhus much more than themselves. When they go to a place where they should have faith and pay respect, their manner and speech tends to be quite offensive in the eyes and ears of an observer. It makes those Bhikkhus who are observant realise how it is their habitual tendency to let themselves go, without restraint and carelessly, while having no thought for how they might appear to other people, or how it is with themselves — this is what makes it difficult.
     
      More About His Way of Practice
     
      When Venerable Acharn Kow was living in the forests and hills and he became unwell, he was never much concerned about finding medicaments to cure himself. He tended to rely upon the “Dhamma remedy” much more than any other way, for it was effective both in the body and the citta at the same time. He could grasp the problem and fix his attention on it and reflect upon it for a long time — much longer than usual. He managed to overcome fevers many times by this method of medication, until he became quite confident of this process of ­reflective investigation whenever he felt ill. It started from the time when his citta attained samadhi, or in other words, when he had a calm and cool heart. Whenever he had any fever he would set up a determination to fight it unwaveringly by meditating with a completely resolute heart which is the method that brought him clearly visible results in the past. At first he relied upon Venerable Acharn Mun to guide him continually in the method of doing this when he had a fever, by recalling Venerable Acharn Mun’s experience in which he said how that, when his heart gained unusually great strength it nearly always came from severe sickness and pain. The more painful and sick he was, the more easily would mindfulness and wisdom go round and round the body, quickly going to each event and change of characteristics as it arose during the illness. There was no need for him to compel himself to look into the body and there was no interest at all in whether he would be cured or die. For his concern was to strive to know the truth of all the painful feelings that arose and “swooped down” on him at that time, using the mindfulness and wisdom which he had been developing by continuous training until he had become expert at it.
      Sometimes Venerable Acharn Mun would go to Venerable Acharn Kow when he had a fever and talk to him to make him think by asking a pointed question, saying:
     
     “Have you ever thought how in your past lives you have experienced pain and suffering much more acute than this, just prior to the time you died? Even ordinary people in the world who have learnt nothing of Dhamma can put up with the suffering of an ordinary fever. Some of them even retain good mindfulness and seemly behaviour — better than many Bhikkhus. For they do not groan and moan and restlessly move around, flinging their arms about while twisting and writhing, like some unworthy Bhikkhus who really speaking should not be Buddhists at all, and they should not be in such a position that they taint and soil the religion of the Buddha. For even though these worthy people may be in great pain and suffering they still have enough mindfulness to control their manners so that they are seemly and respectable, which is quite admirable. I once saw a sick lay man whose children had come to ask me to visit their father who was beyond hope of recovery. They said that their father wanted to meet me and see me and pay his last respects to me which would give him something to keep in mind and to raise up his heart when he came to the time of his death. When I got to the house, as soon as their ­father saw me walking up to the place where he was lying down, he managed somehow to sit up by himself and quickly too, his face beaming and happy. He did this despite his illness and despite the fact that normally he could not sit up without assistance — in fact all symptoms of his fever and illness had disappeared, but there were enough indications left to show that he was in fact seriously ill. He bowed down and paid homage with cheerfulness and joy in his heart and his manners and general behaviour were seemly and beautiful — which startled and perplexed everyone else in his home. They all wondered and talked saying: ‘How did he get up by himself when normally to move a little bit to a new position while lying prostrate we have to help him all the way with great care, for fear that otherwise he may be hurt or faint or die right then. But as soon as he saw you coming, Venerable Acharn, he got up like a new person — no longer like one who is about to die any time.’ They were amazed, for they had never seen anything like it before. They came and told me this and that he died shortly after I left him and that he was fully conscious right up to the last moment and he seemed to die peacefully as if he had got to some state of happiness.”
      “But as for yourself, your fever is not severe like that man’s, so why are you so careless and inattentive that you are not examining and investigating your situation. Or is it your laziness that is weighing your heart down and so making your body weak and flabby. If many Kammatthana Bhikkhus went like this, people would criticise the way of Buddhism, and the way of Kammatthana would fall apart. None of them would be able to put up with difficulties because they would all be weak and flabby. Their Kammatthana would also be weak and flabby, just waiting on the block for the kilesas to come and chop them up and make salad of them. The Lord Buddha did not give the teaching of mindfulness and wisdom for lazy, weak and flabby people who merely look at their sickness without thinking, searching and investigating in terms of Dhamma in the way that has been taught to us. For whether such a weak and lazy person gets better or dies from his illness is of no consequence — in fact it’s no more worthy than the death of a rat. You must not bring the beliefs and knowledge of a pig into the Sasana and the circle of Kammatthana Bhikkhus. For a pig just waits for the ‘chopping block’ quite unconcerned. It makes me feel ashamed in the face of those lay people who are more worthy than such Bhikkhus; and ashamed in the face of the rats who die peacefully and better than such Bhikkhus who have a fever and become weak and lazy, and die without any mindfulness and wisdom to look after themselves. You should try doing some investigation to see whether the Dhamma truths (Sacca–Dhamma) — such as the truth of Dukkha — which the wise say are Dhamma of the highest truth — are in fact true and how true and where the truth in them is to be found. Or, does the truth dwell in carelessness, weakness and laziness which you are promoting at present? For this is just promoting the cause of dukkha (Samudaya) so that it accumulates in the citta making it stupid and pre­venting you from rising out of it. It is not the way of the Path (Magga) — which leads one to nothing but freedom from dukkha.”
      “I am prepared to claim that I have gained strength of heart when I have been very sick by examining the dukkha that arose within me, until I saw the place where it arose and established itself and also its dying away and ceasing, by means of true mindfulness and wisdom, quite clearly. The citta that knows the truth of dukkha and becomes calm and peaceful does not go about looking for something to change its state, but instead, remains firmly within the truth and is ‘one’ and single. There is nothing in it to cause trouble or unseemly actions, nor can anything strange or false get into it to cause any doubt or uncertainty. Then painful feelings cease completely, or else, even if they don’t, they are still quite unable to overcome the citta. Each of them would then be true, each in its own sphere. This is when the Dhamma Truths are the highest truths, and this is how they are true. In other words, you live with that citta which has mindfulness and wisdom everywhere about oneself due to having done the practice of investigation. Not due to laziness and weakness, nor due to sitting or lying down on top of mindfulness and wisdom, the tools which are capable of curing the kilesas.”
      “Here is a simile to help you understand. If you take a stone and throw it at someone’s head it can cause injury and maybe kill him. But you can also make valuable use of that stone for sharpening knives, or other purposes. Accordingly, someone who uses it to damage or kill himself is a fool, whereas one who uses it for a good purpose to help himself in desirable ways is clever. Mindfulness and wisdom are like this, for they can be used wrongly to think and work out ways of doing things that are morally not right. Such as being clever in the wrong way, in one’s work and business. Clever in robbery and banditry. Being slick and quicker than a monkey so that others cannot follow what one is up to — which usually turns to evil because of using mindfulness and wisdom in wrong ways.”
      “But one can use mindfulness and wisdom in the right way, as in one’s livelihood, by using it in such things as building work, in carpentry, in writing or in repair work of various kinds in which one is skilled. Or one may use it to cure one’s kilesas and tanha which are sticky and stuck firmly to the hub of the wheel of the round of samsara (vatta) which leads one round to birth and then on to death repeatedly and unceasingly, until they have all gone from the heart. Then one becomes purified and reaches the state of freedom (vimutti), Nibbana, maybe today, or this month or year, or in this lifetime, for it is not beyond the ability of human beings to do this, as we may see by the example of those clever people who have done so from the Lord Buddha up to the present day.”
      “Wisdom brings endless benefits to anyone who has enough interest and incentive to use contemplative thought without fixing any bounds or limits to it. Because mindfulness and wisdom have never deceived and led anyone into a state of despair with no way out, making them afraid that they will have too much mindfulness and wisdom and that it will turn them into someone who is good at breaking up and destroying whatever Dhamma they had within them, as well as their chance of attaining freedom, and that they would be swamped and overcome while they were only half way there.”
      “The wisest of people have always praised mindfulness and wisdom ever since ancient times, saying that they are the most exalted things and are never out of date. You should therefore think and search and dig up mindfulness and wisdom and promote them as the means and method of defending yourself and destroying the enemy within you completely and finally. Then you will see the most excellent and precious sphere of heart that has always been there within yourself since endless ages past. This Dhamma that I am teaching to you comes entirely from the Dhamma that I have looked into and experienced as a result. It is not based on guesswork — like scratching without being able to locate where the irritation is — for what I teach comes from what I have known and seen and been, with no uncertainty.”
      “Those who want to get free from dukkha, yet are afraid of the dukkha that arises within them and refuse to investigate will never be able to get free from dukkha. Because the way to Nibbana has to depend on “Dukkha” and the “Origin of Dukkha” (Samudaya) to walk the Path (Magga), the means of going onwards. The Lord Buddha and every one of the Savaka Arahants attained the fulfilment of the Path, Fruition and Nibbana by way of the Four Noble Truths (Ariya–Sacca–Dhamma). There was not one of them that did not pass through these four Noble Truths completely — and now, some of these Noble Truths are displaying their truths within your body and heart quite openly and clearly. You must investigate those truths, using mindfulness and wisdom to get to know them clearly and genuinely. You must not sit or lie down merely gazing at them or you will become an invalid in the field of the Dhamma Truths which have always been true since the beginning of the world.”
      “If we Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus cannot face the truth which is displaying itself so clearly to us, who else will ever be able to face it and know it? Because those in Kammatthana circles are closer and more intimate with the Dhamma Truths than those in other circles elsewhere and they should be able to know and realise them first, before all others. In other circles elsewhere outside of Kammatthana, even though they will also have the Dhamma Truths as an inherent part of the body and mind, yet they differ in that they avoid doing any investigation which would lead them to understanding them in a different way. This is due to their disposition and opportunity which influences them variously in different ways.”
      “But the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhu is in a special situation, in that everything is complete for him to progress and to walk towards the truth which is apparent within him all the time. If you have the blood of a warrior who is worthy of the name given by the Great Teacher which is: ‘the True Sakyaputta Buddhajinorasa (Son of the Sakya, the Victorious Buddha)’, you must try to investigate so as to realise the truth clearly. This truth of painful feeling, is announcing its presence within you in a clear and unmistakable manner in your body and mind right now. Don’t let the painful feeling and this opportunity pass by uselessly. But instead, I want you to take out the truth from that painful feeling and bring it up to mindfulness and wisdom. Then mark it well, define it and let it be known and bury it in the heart firmly and indelibly. From then on, it may act as an example to show that out of these four aspects of Truth which the Lord Buddha proclaimed throughout his teaching, I have now gained a clear understanding of this first Truth, the Truth of Dukkha by means of my mindfulness and wisdom and there is no longer any room left for doubt. But rather, I will endeavour to promote and to make that Truth develop steadily and increasingly, until every bit of doubt has disappeared.”
      “If you strive to do what I have just taught you, even if that fever that you have becomes increasingly strong in your body, it will be as though you yourself are perfectly well and fit. In other words, your heart is not disturbed, apprehensive and shivering, nor caught up following the characteristics of pleasure and pain which arise in such circumstances. But you will have a steady sense of pride and satisfaction which will come from what you have known and seen in a calm, steady manner. You will not display any outward behaviour, restlessly moving and changing about as the fever gets worse or better. This is what is meant by learning Dhamma for the Truth, and the wisest people have all learnt it in this way. They do not wishfully imagine other types of feelings as they would like it to be — thinking how they would like this or that kind of feeling according to their desires — all of which just accumulates the “cause of dukkha” so that it increases and grows much stronger instead of going the way one should want it to go. You must take this to heart and remember it well and go on investigating to find the meaning of Dhamma which is the Truth that is within yourself. This is the basic ground which each should be able to know by himself, for I am just the one who teaches the way to do it. But as to whe­ther the pupils are fearless and valiant or weak and flabby depends entirely on those who do the investigation and no one else has any say in this at all. Well now! For yourself, you are a pupil and you have a Teacher who teaches you, so you must act in a suitable way as befits this situation. You must not lie down inert, like a rag for wiping peoples feet, letting the kilesas rise up and walk all over you to beat you out flat. This would be disastrous and bring nothing but trouble in the future — now don’t say I haven’t warned you!”
     
      Venerable Acharn Kow said:
     
     “When Venerable Acharn Mun gave me this Dhamma talk, it was like a violent storm that comes and then passes away and disappears. I felt as if I would float up into the air with rapture (piti), joy and ‘heartfulness’ from this teaching which was so skilled and penetrating and came entirely from his sympathy (metta), and nothing else could have been so valuable to me at that time. As soon as he had gone I took up the practice of the methods in which Venerable Acharn Mun had so kindly instructed me, and I started to examine and unravel the problems of the painful feeling which was presently apparent to the utmost of my ability, without any tendency to want to give up doing so, or any other forms of weakness at all.” “While I was doing this investigation of painful feeling after Venerable Acharn had gone, it was if he were still there sitting with me waiting to see and waiting to show me how to do it and to help me the whole time. But more than that it gave me strength of heart to increase my fight with painful feeling.”
      “While doing the investigation I tried to separate dukkha out from the khandhas. In other words, the body and all its parts I put into one heap (khandha); memory (sañña) which stands by to define or determine, thereby deceiving us, I divided into a second heap; sankhara, which is thinking and imagining I put into a third heap; and the citta I put separately into a special category. Then I investigated, I compared, I looked for causes and results from the start to the end of the dukkha which was making itself apparent in my body, milling around in confusion. But I did not think about whether the dukkha would die away and I would survive or whether it would get worse and I would die, for what I was absolutely determined to get to know for my purpose at that time was the truth of all these things. In particular I most wanted to find out what in fact the ‘Truth of Dukkha’ (Dukkha–Sacca) was. Why should it have such power as to be able to shake up and disturb the hearts of all beings throughout the world without exception? This is the case, both when dukkha arises in normal circumstances due to all sorts of different causes, and also when they reach the end of their lives and they are just about to leave this life and go to a new state. All sentient beings of every kind feel very apprehensive at this time and none are ever bold and fearless enough to face up to it and accept it — except when they have to face it because there is no other alternative and no way out. If there was anyway to avoid it they would be bound to escape to the other end of the world to get away from it — just because of the fear of death.”
      “I am also one of these sentient beings in the world who are timid and frightened of dukkha, so what should I do about this dukkha that I am now experiencing in order that I may be bold and fearless, with the truth as my witness. Well! I must contend with dukkha by using mindfulness and wisdom following the teaching and method of the Great Teacher and my own teacher as well. A short time ago, Venerable Acharn Mun had the metta to teach me in a way that went to my heart and left me no room for doubt. For he taught me that I should fight using mindfulness and wisdom by separating and analysing these heaps (khandha) and examining them to see them quite clearly. Right now, what Khandha is this painful feeling (dukkha–vedana)? Is it ‘form’ (rupa)? Or memory (sañña)? Or thought and imagination (sankhara)? Or is it consciousness (viññana)? And can it be the citta? If it cannot be, then why do I make out that the painful feeling is me? — That I am painful? — That it is truly me? Am I really this painful feeling? — Or what else am I? I must find out the truth of this today. So if the painful feeling does not stop and I have not come to know this painful feeling quite clearly with true mindfulness and wisdom I shall go on sitting here in meditation until I die if necessary. But I will definitely not get up from this place just to let the painful feeling laugh and mock and ridicule me.”
      “From then on, mindfulness and wisdom went about chopping up and analysing in what became a life or death struggle, and this battle between the citta and painful feeling went on for five hours. After this I knew the truth of the khandhas and I was able to know each one on its own. But in particular I knew the feeling group (vedana–khandha) most clearly by means of wisdom.” The painful feeling then died away immediately, once the investigation had gone round everywhere about himself completely and thoroughly. He said that from that time on an unshakeable faith in the validity of the Noble Truths arose in him, based upon the Truth of Dukkha. “From then on I knew the truth of it without any doubt or uncertainty.”
     
      He said: “From that time on, whenever I got a fever or any other sickness my heart had a way to contend with it and to get on top of it by the way of mindfulness and wisdom — not falling into a weak and flabby state of illness. For generally, my heart gained strength in times of pain and sickness, because these are times of serious concern and maybe truly a matter of life and death as well. The Dhamma which I used to believe in as if it were a plaything, without realising it, which is the usual characteristic of an ordinary person (puthujjana) at normal times when he is not in any special difficulties, then displayed the truth for me to see clearly at that time while investigating the painful feeling all round. The pain then ceased, and the heart became concentrated and went down and reached the base of samadhi. All doubts and problems with regard to the body and mind then ceased while they were at rest, until the citta arose up out of it, which took several hours. Whatever else needed to be investigated would be dealt with in the future with ruthless regard for the Truth which had already been seen.”
      Venerable Acharn Kow said: “When the citta became concentrated, went down and reached the basis of samadhi due to the powerful influence of the investigation, the fever ceased immediately and did not return again. It was quite extraordinary how this could happen.” In regard to this, the writer believes what Acharn Kow said without question, because he also has done such investigations in a similar manner and has experienced the same kind of results. This makes me feel fully confident that the “Dhamma remedy” is quite able to take care of sickness in subtle and strange ways and to appreciate those who do the practice and have tendencies of character in this direction.
      Most of the Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus like to do such investigations as a remedy for their own body and mind (dhatu–khandha) when they become seriously ill with painful fevers. But they like doing it quietly, on their own and they do not readily tell other people about it — except amongst their friends who are also doing the practice in the same way and who have similar characters. With them they can talk intimately about these things.
      It must be understood however, that in talking about curing diseases by the method of meditation in the foregoing paragraphs, this does not mean that all diseases can be cured by such methods. Even the Bhikkhus are by no means sure which diseases can be cured in this way and which cannot. But they are not inattentive or negligent in regard to whatever happens and to whatever changes take place within themselves. Even when it happens that the body is going to die due to a disease, they must also make sure that some of the diseases of the citta die at the same time by using the power of the Dhamma remedy, and this means some of the “kilesas” and “asavas” which are the diseases of the citta. Therefore they are relentless in their investigations into the various diseases that arise, both in the body and in the citta. Because they are confident that this is an important and necessary duty in connection with their khandhas and citta — which they must investigate and accept responsibility for, right up to the last moment.
      Venerable Acharn Kow always liked to deal with his fevers by using the Dhamma remedy. At one time he was staying in a hilly part of Sakon Nakhon Province which at that time was infested with malaria. One day after he had finished eating his food he immediately began to feel feverish and shivery. He wrapped himself in several blankets to keep warm, to no avail. He looked about for a warm place but it was useless, so he gave up trying to get warm by external means. Then he decided to overcome the external feelings of cold internally by the way of Dhamma which he had already used with success in the past. He told the other Bhikkhus who were with him, to go away and leave him alone and to wait until they saw that he had opened the door of his little hut before coming to see him again. After all the Bhikkhus had gone he began to get down to the practice of investigation of painful feelings in the way that he had done it before. It seems that he started about 9 o’clock in the morning and went on until 3 o’clock in the afternoon when he succeeded. The fever died away and he was cured right there; and then the citta became concentrated and went down and reached its natural level where it rested for about two hours. Finally at about 6 o’clock in the evening he left the place where he had been practising samadhi meditation, with a buoyancy of body and heart without anything left to cause him trouble. The fever had completely gone and his citta had become bright and skilled with wisdom, ex­alted and famous within himself — and he has lived with the Vihara–Dhamma since then, right up to the present.
      Venerable Acharn Kow is resourceful and absolutely resolute in striving and it would be hard to find anyone else to equal him. Now he is old and frail, but when it comes to striving in the way of Dhamma he is still very skilled and resolute without weakening, much as he always was. When he walks cankama, each time he goes on for five or six hours before taking a rest, and even the young Bhikkhus cannot equal him. Such is the striving of the wisest men who are so very different from the rest of us who tend more to look forward to the time when we can rest our heads on our pillows. As if pillows are more exalted than the Path, Fruition and Nibbana — which, when one looks at it and thinks about it, should make one ashamed of how clever one is in those ways which are completely lacking in essential value.
      An unusual and remarkable thing about Acharn Kow is how when­ever he thinks about anything, that thing comes in accordance with his thoughts almost every time. For example he may think about an elephant which he had not seen for many years and how it had not been seen here at all — or maybe it had been shot by a hunter. Then in the middle of the night after such thoughts, this elephant would come straight up to his hut and stand there playfully touching and stroking things round about so as to let him know that he had come. After which it would turn and go back to the forests and hills and he would see no more of it for it would not normally return. When he thought about any of the tigers, the same sort of thing would happen. If he thought of a tiger which used to roam about the district and how he had not seen it for ages, and perhaps it had been killed, when he thought of it in the day, that tiger would come at night and wander about the Wat and about where he was staying so as to leave marks to let him know that it was still alive. Then it would go back to the forest and would not stay about there or return again.
      He said that it was very strange how whenever he thought of any animals round about, the one he thought of would soon appear, and this happened almost every time. It was as if something went and told those animals to go to him. But a Bhikkhu who is so exalted inwardly as Venerable Acharn Kow must surely have Devas to wait on him all the time, to help him and make things convenient for him and to follow his thoughts and wishes. Then whatever he thinks about, that thing will come to him in answer to his thoughts whatever it may be. Otherwise, why should things come to him right after he thought about them every time, like this? For other people such as ourselves can think about innumerable things and go on thinking over and over again about them without seeing anything coming in answer to our thoughts and desires. At least, nothing which should make us think that we may have some virtue and that we are people who are worthy of reverence like Venerable Acharn Kow. But then our thoughts are mostly so worthless or evil and disturbing to the heart, which gets nothing but difficulty and torment from them, without seeing anything good concealed within them at all. It is really shameful that our thoughts create nothing but dukkha for us, thousands of times per day until our minds are dull and worn out and incapable of doing any more work.Venerable Acharn Kow has a very large number of followers including Bhikkhus, Samaneras and lay people from all parts of Thailand who regularly come for teaching and training in Sila Dhamma from him. Although nowadays he tries to live quietly and to be on his own much more than he used to, so as to preserve the khandhas and extend their life as far as he can — and also to be of value to those in the world who he should accept and help, and there are very many of them.
      After he has finished eating his meal he usually starts walking cankama and working in the ways of Dhamma practice for one or two hours. Then he leaves the path where he walks and goes back to his room where he rests and does meditation practice until two o’clock in the afternoon. If he has no other business to attend to he then walks cankama again and works at his practice until it is time to sweep the paths and clean up the Wat. After this duty he has a wash and then returns to the cankama path and walks while doing his practice until ten or eleven o’clock at night when he stops. From then on he does some chanting and meditation practice until it is time for him to rest his body until about 3 o’clock in the morning. In other words, 3 am is the time when he gets up to do his meditation practice until it is time for him to get ready to go pindapata. After returning from pindapata he takes food to give his body strength to go on living for as long as his vipaka (results of kamma) will let him. This is the daily routine which he strictly adheres to, unless he has other necessary duties which he has to do, such as being invited to go out to various functions which necessitates a break in his routine.
      Those who have such exalted Dhamma virtue as Venerable Acharn Kow are not concerned to search for happiness and joy from anything so much as from the Dhamma within their own hearts alone. Their way of living is replete with Dhamma inwardly, and whatever the posture or situation of the body, their hearts are in a constant state of happiness which neither increases nor decreases. For increase and decrease are a pair of opposites which is the way of our world of duality. The reason why they are like this is because they each have a heart which is single and pure throughout and imbued with the “one Dhamma” — alone (ekibhava). This makes no relationship with anything else such that there would be a duality, with one standing out better and more prominent than the other. Therefore there is a peace and happiness in it which cannot be compared with anything else. For the citta which has purity throughout its nature is a citta which has a calm, peace and happiness which is entirely satisfying and there is no desire for anything else to increase or develop it, for it would only cause turbulence and concern in vain without being of any value at all to that citta. So those who possess such a citta like to dwell alone and they have no liking for distractions and disturbances because they are things that trouble the calm and happiness in this natural state which is complete in itself. For such things cause the citta to stir and vibrate and to receive knowledge via the various sense doors. This is why they like to slip away and live in a way that suits them — which is the most appropriate and right way for their characteristic tendencies. But others, who do not truly understand their ways are likely to think that they do not want to receive guests, or that they do not like people and they slip away to save themselves alone, and they are not interested in teaching and training other people. But in fact the truth is as we have described it above.
      As far as teaching goes it is hard to find those who teach with complete purity of heart and filled with metta, without any interest in worldly gain or any recompense at all, such as Venerable Acharn Kow. Because in teaching people of every level every class and every age, they teach with true knowing and true seeing that is completely genuine and aimed at bringing benefit to whoever receives it and they do so with metta in a manner that is unimpeachable. The only exceptions are in those cases when some people go and trouble them with irrelevant and unnecessary things like those we have described above. So they may not receive and teach everyone who comes, because it is not possible for a Bhikkhu to act in wrong ways just to comply with the unreasonable requests of those who do not keep within the limits of what is reasonable and proper. For the Bhikkhu himself would become involved, be in trouble and come to loss together with the one he is sorry for.
      For some years Venerable Acharn Kow spent the vassa period in the hills on his own while relying on two or three families of farmers to give him food when he went out on pindapata each day. He said that for those who are ordained, this type of life provides the most happiness and peace of heart for the practice of Dhamma. All one’s time is filled with the effort to practise the way and there are no other burdens or duties to trouble one. One’s time is one’s own, one’s effort is one’s own in every situation and the citta with Dhamma is one’s own in all that one does, and there is nothing to distract one and divide up one’s attention causing it to diminish below what it had been before. One who is ordained and who lives in the present as if tonight is the only night left to him, is not concerned how much longer he is going to live, nor with any of these disturbances, for this that he is doing is of incomparably greater value than anything else.
      Venerable Acharn Kow said that when he spent the vassa period by himself in the hills along the borders of Sakon Nakhon and Kalasin Provinces, he lived in a place three or four miles distant from the nearest village. There were many wild animals in that district, including tigers, elephants, wild oxen, red bulls, barking deer, wild boar and deer of various kinds. At night he used to hear these animals calls echoing through the forest, and they would wander in search of food, often coming close to where he was staying almost every night. Sometimes he could see them and they came so close to him he could almost make out what kind of animal it was. Seeing these animals made him feel joyful, with metta and compassion for them.
      I cannot remember what year it was that Acharn Kow spent the vassa period in these hills but I know it was soon after Venerable Acharn Mun had died. He said how, in this vassa, when he practised meditation for samadhi it seemed that Venerable Acharn Mun came to visit him constantly throughout that vassa to talk Dhamma to him and give him “friendly Dhamma advice” (Sammodaniya–Dhamma). In doing his routine duties in the vicinity of the cave where he stayed, and in all other activities such as arranging his few possessions, if he did anything improperly, Venerable Acharn would point it out to him every time. Therefore it was just as if he had lived with Venerable Acharn Mun for the whole of that vassa period.
      Venerable Acharn Mun came and told him about the customs and traditions of the Dhutanga Bhikkhus who are intent on attaining freedom, saying: “The various Dhutanga routines should be maintained and done properly in the way that the Lord Buddha prescribed and they should not be altered.” Then he talked about the Dhutanga practices that he taught his followers to do while he was still alive and he repeated what he said for emphasis, thus:
     
     “In teaching my followers to practise the way throughout right up to the end of my life, I taught those Dhutanga practices which I knew about with certainty — without any doubt at all. Therefore you should take them to heart and practise them with a full and complete commitment — and you should never think that the Sasana is exclusively the treasure of the Lord Buddha or any one of his Savaka followers. For in fact, the Sasana is the treasure of whoever cherishes it and is interested enough to practise the way and thus includes everyone who aims to gain value from the Sasana. The Lord Buddha and all the Savakas retain no part of the Sasana which they gave to the world fully and freely and you should not think that the Lord and the Savakas would dispense both parts which were good as well as parts which were bad or tainted. For when we practise the way, whether we do so rightly or wrongly in any part of it is up to each one of us and in no way does it depend on the Lord Buddha and the Savakas.”
      “You have come here to practise the way, and this is your own particular purpose; whether you practise rightly or wrongly is also entirely your own business. Therefore you must be very careful in what you do so as to live contentedly in the Dhamma of one who has seen the truth (Dittha–Dhamma). You will shortly become an Acariya with many followers and you must set a good example to show what is right and seemly so as to be an exalted symbol of righteousness and truth and a blessing to all who follow after you — so that they who follow you will not be disappointed. Being an Acariya is a very important position and one should examine what it means carefully. For if just the Acariya himself goes wrong he may also lead many others in the wrong direction. But if he does what is right, he can equally lead countless others in the right direction. You should therefore examine carefully, all aspects of what it means to be an Acariya with many followers so that others may have an unobstructed, smooth path which will not be false because of taking you as their Acariya to teach them. The word ‘Acariya’ means one who teaches or trains his behaviour which is displayed externally in his actions and manners, in such a way that those who depend on him can hold him up as an example to be followed. It should not be the kind of behaviour which is an external display of what comes from falsehood due to a lack of prior consideration and thought. The Lord Buddha who we call the ‘Sasada’, the great teacher of the world, was not the ‘Sasada’ only at those times when he was giving a talk on Dhamma to those Buddhists who came to listen to him. For he was the Sasada at all times, in every situation and position and whether reclining on his right side in the ‘Lion posture’, sitting, standing, or going about the place. Even when he was within a Buddhist monastery, he would still be the ‘Sasada’ in all his behaviour in every action and every movement he made, and the Lord never did anything that was uncharacteristic of the Sasada. Therefore one who has mindfulness and wisdom and an inclination towards assessment and contemplation could take every movement and every gesture that the Lord made as a moral example that teaches people over and over again.”
      “You should not think that the Lord ever behaved in an abandoned manner, like all people in the world, where they like to adjust and change their manners and behaviour depending on the people and circumstances that they come across. For they behave like this in one place and act like that in another — which is the characteristic behaviour of ghosts and Pretas, even though they are in fact people — good or bad. They are to be found everywhere, and they have not got enough of a presence in them which can be held on to as a firm, ­stable principle, either for themselves or other people. But the Lord ­Buddha was not like these people of the world, for he was the Great Teacher in everything he did right up to the day of final Nibbana. Whatever action or characteristic he displayed he was always the ‘Sasada’, never deficient or incapable. So whoever holds to him as their ‘refuge’ — which means a basic principle or example of how one should act and do things — can do so at any time, in whatever they are doing, by following his example, without any doubt as to whether the example of the Lord is suited to this occasion or not. This is why the title of the ‘Great Teacher’ — the ‘Sasada’ — of the Triple world system is well suit­ed to the Lord. Even when the Lord was about to enter Parinibbana, he did so in the ‘Lion posture’. He did not lie down, as though he had thrown away his limbs and body, careless of them, afraid of death and repeating mantras and magical verses so that he would go to this or that place or realm — which is the way of ordinary people everywhere in the world — but he died and entered Parinibbana, composed, in the ‘Lion posture’. Meanwhile, his heart went through the process of ‘entering Nibbana’ with unwavering courage and discipline — as if he was about to go on living in the world for aeons of time in the future. In fact, the Lord proclaimed that he was the Great Teacher at these final moments by entering Jhana and Nirodha Samapatti and then withdrawing from them until the right moment came and he entered Parinibbana, fully supporting his status as the Great Teacher without any remaining attachments to anything in the Triple world. That was how the ‘Sasada’, the Great Teacher showed an example which was a standard pattern for the world to emulate, and he did this from the moment of his Enlightenment to the time of his Parinibbana. Nor did he diminish or give up any of his standards of behaviour below that required of the ‘Great Teacher’ by behaving in the manner of the average, ordinary person, for he dutifully maintained his position to perfection right to the end.”
      “Therefore you should take up the example of the Sasada and put it into practice. For even though you will not be able to match the perfection of the Lord in all respects, it will still be in the category of one who follows the word of the Teacher — not drifting uncontrolled like a boat in a storm adrift in the middle of the ocean which has not put out its anchor. The practice of someone who is ordained, but who has no right and firmly founded basic principle within him is likely to be without any real purpose that can enable him to determine whether he will reach a shore of safety — or whether there will be various dangers ahead. He is like a boat without a rudder and is not likely to be able to sail where he wants to go — and he is likely to drift with the ocean currents which can easily lead him into great danger.”
      “The principles of Dhamma and Vinaya, such as the Dhutanga observances, are the ‘rudder’ of the practice which lead it to a safe goal. Therefore you should take hold of them and grasp them firmly, without wavering or vacillating, which would lead those who follow you, who will be many, to uphold this example and go wrong accordingly. The Dhutanga observances are the practices which go straight and directly towards the goal and there is no other practice that can equal them in this. It requires only that those who practise them must also use mindfulness, wisdom, faith and effort in striving to do so. That Dhamma which they are hoping to attain should be within the scope of the Dhutanga practices that have been handed down to us and it is quite certain that they are capable of leading us to it without any doubts or obstacles being able to prevent us. For the Dhutanga observances are the only way which leads to the beyond of dukkha — there is no other way — so you should not feel uncertain or have doubts. This way of Dhamma is also the place where all the methods of practice and development gather together and lead into the process of quenching all dukkha.”
      “Those Bhikkhus who have a liking for the Dhutanga observances as their mode of development are those who have love and faith in the Great Teacher, who is the First Teacher. Whereas those Bhikkhus who have taken up the Dhutanga observances as their way of progress are those who have an established tradition and the Great Teacher as their refuge in every situation. Wherever they go or stay they have Dhamma to help and protect them in place of the Sasada. They are not lonely, aimless or unstable, for their principle of heart is the principle of Dhamma and this principle of Dhamma is the heart. Their breath going in and going out is Dhamma and it is intimately blended into a single unity with the heart. These people are the ones who are eternally living with Dhamma and they never become disturbed nor off balance. For yourself, it is true that you do not have anything to worry about, but there are many other people who will associate with you and you should have concern for all those who follow you, both fellows in Dhamma and lay people as well, so that they may feel contented in the practices which they have picked up from you that they are a means of making progress and that they are the right way and correctly portrayed, without error.”
     
     “This is how he taught me!”
     
      He said further that if he slept over the time for him to wake, even just a little, Venerable Acharn Mun would come and point it out to him, saying:
     
     “Don’t trust yourself more than Dhamma, for ‘yourself’ is the round of samsara (vatta). The elements of the body and the khandhas are the result that have come from the round of samsara, right from the beginning. You should only give way to it to the extent that is necessary — but you must not give way to the khandhas more than you have to. For to do so is against the way of a Bhikkhu whose nature is not inert or careless. Sleep and lying down for those who are truly wise, is only for the purpose of giving a temporary relief to the elements of the body and the khandhas and they do not look for pleasure or contentment from easing off the tiredness and weakness of these elements and khandhas. The Bhikkhu who lies down as a Bhikkhu should, must be careful to remind himself of the time to get up — like the mother of a deer who lies down to rest when out looking for food who must be more mindful and careful of herself than normal. To ‘lie down properly’ means, to be careful to set up mindfulness to make the intention to get up at the time that one decides to get up before going to sleep — not lying down in the manner of one who sells off worthless goods, letting the customer give whatever he feels like giving for them. The Bhikkhu who lies down, letting his body go however it will is not a Son of the Sakya, a Buddhist who guards the religion, promoting it in himself and others, but a Bhikkhu who ‘sells things having given up trying, letting the buyer fix the price’. To lie down properly in the manner of a Bhikkhu who is endowed with sila and Dhamma as religious duties, a Bhikkhu must have a regular pattern of procedure to follow before going to sleep and this habit makes him careful and self-possessed when he lies down properly to sleep. As soon as he wakes up he must get up quickly, not lingering, which is the way of a lazy person who tends to get up late — and who dies immersed in careless indifference, never waking enough to become aware of himself. Lying down in this way is the way of an animal whose self has no meaning in its own life — and it is also the manner of a lazy person who destroys whatever value he has and is unable to rise up and improve himself. This is not the way of the Sasana and it should not be allowed to develop, for it will become a ‘parasite creeper’ growing within the Sasana and within the whole company of Dhutanga Bhikkhus which will be one’s own undoing, for a ‘parasite creeper’ destroys the tree on which it depends. You should think about and compare the two concepts of ‘lying down properly’ as against ‘lying down’ in the usual way which everyone understands. Compare them and search out where they differ and how very different is the meaning in the ‘lying down properly’ of a ‘Son of the Sakya’ as against the ordinary ‘lying down’ of people and animals everywhere. Therefore, the attitude of a ‘Son of the Sakya’ who sets his mind to ‘lie down properly’ each and every time should be an important duty which cleaves to him, then and at other times also. This is appropriate to one who is said to wear the mantle of mindfulness and who has the wisdom to think with understanding and to use thought and contemplation in everything that happens. Not just thinking, just speaking, just acting, just lying down, just waking up, just eating, just taking his fill, just standing, just walking, just sitting down, all of which are just the behaviour of carelessly relaxing and going beyond the status and basis of a ‘Son of the Sakya’ who should never act in these ways.”
      “It is generally understood by people that after the Lord Buddha and each of the Savaka Arahants had entered final Nibbana, they went into oblivion and no longer had any meaning or relationship to oneself and other people. But this Dhamma, which is the basic causal condition that teaches us to practise in the present, is this not the Dhamma of the one who dug deep, searched and brought it up for the World to see and to follow in practice? And the whole body of this Dhamma, how did it remain, and why did it not go into oblivion also? The fact is that both the ‘Buddha’ and ‘Sangha’ are the pure heart which has gone free, beyond the limits of both death and oblivion by virtue of its nature. How could it die, be consigned to oblivion or become meaningless when its very nature does not accord with ‘relative convention’ (sammuti)? When its nature no longer accords with relative convention, it is not subject to the power of death, nor going into oblivion, nor becoming meaningless. Thus, Buddha is ‘Buddha’ in its own right; Dhamma is ‘Dhamma’ in its own right; and Sangha is ‘Sangha’ in its own right; and they are not shaken or disturbed by any of the ideas, attitudes, concepts or thoughts of the relative world of convent­ions which create and destroy themselves. Therefore the practice of ‘Dhamma which accords with Dhamma’ is the same thing as being face to face with the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, the whole time that one has ‘Dhamma which accords with Dhamma’ within the heart. Because the knowing of ‘Buddha’, ‘Dhamma’ and ‘Sangha’ by natural principles, must arise in the heart which is the most suitable dwelling place for Dhamma and no other vessel is more appropriate to it.”
     
      This was the teaching with which Venerable Acharn Mun admonished Venerable Acharn Kow in his samadhi meditation practice when he saw that he had erred in some way. As for example, in practising the Dhutanga observances incorrectly or not strictly enough, and waking up from sleep at the wrong time. He said: “In truth, Venerable Acharn Mun did not admonish me just with the idea that I had done something wrong. But rather with the understanding that: ‘This Acariya will be associated with many people including Bhikkhus, Novices and a large number of lay people in the future.’ Therefore, he advised and admonished me often, so that: ‘This Acariya will become strict and fully conscious in ‘recalling the duties’ so that he will pass them on to all the other Bhikkhus and Novices who come to live in dependence on him for peace and help, and they will be good and worthwhile things’; in the same way as Venerable Acharn Mun led his followers to practise the way.”
      Venerable Acharn also taught him that all one’s possessions, such as the bowl, kettle, robes and other things which one uses in one’s dwelling should be put down or put away properly and tidily — including also, such things as rags for wiping one’s feet. If one sees that any of them are not clean enough to be used one should take them and wash them before putting them to further use. After using things one should put them away, or fold them up and put them away tidily — not just leaving them lying about all over the place. If on any one day this Acariya became too absorbed in some other affairs that came and intruded into his life which made him forgetful and careless, he would see Venerable Acharn coming to him in the middle of the night while he was practising samadhi meditation and he would admonish him and teach him and point out the way of Dhamma to him.
      He stayed alone in this cave for the whole of that vassa period, and at night he was frequently visited by Venerable Acharn Mun who appeared to him as a nimitta of his meditation practice. Even sometimes in the middle of the day when it was very quiet and he was sitting in meditation, he also saw Venerable Acharn Mun coming to visit him in the same way as he did at night. He said that it was very pleasurable for him to be able to ask Venerable Acharn all sorts of questions to make his understanding quite clear. For he was most proficient in answering questions with great skill and dexterity and he made the answer so clear as to remove all doubt and uncertainty every time. With some types of questions he only had to have a feeling of uncertainty, although he did not think of asking about it. But at night when he did his meditation practice, Venerable Acharn would come and teach him, bringing up that question to explain, as though he had just asked him about it. He said how strange and wonderful it was — but he could not tell anyone else because they would probably pass him off as a “mad kammatthana monk”. But generally speaking, the Dhamma which cures the various kilesas only came from samadhi meditation and it arose from nimittas, such as that of Venerable Acharn Mun coming frequently, to admonish him, to show him the right way and to give him Dhamma teaching. This promoted his mindfulness and wisdom, making him think and consider carefully, leaving no room for carelessness.
      He said how the vassa period which he spent in that cave in the desolate jungle, enabled him to develop various skilful methods which arose both internally and externally and very frequently at all times of the day and night, and this was in marked contrast to all other places he had been in. He is one who lives in the present with joy in Dhamma in all postures and situations. Whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down he is filled with the bliss of Dhamma (Dhamma–Piti) in the midst of the Peaceful Dhamma (Santi–Dhamma) that is his basic, original ground, which is completely pure amidst the various kinds of Dhamma which come and go, making contact with the heart, and which then display their meaning in their various ways, refreshing the body and mind and making them joyful. Like a tree which is being cared for and supplied with fertiliser and water, and grows in a suitable climate and environment which always keeps it fresh and moist both in the trunk and throughout all its branches, twigs, leaves and fruit.
      Venerable Acharn Kow said how, when the citta has only the present alone with the calm and peace of Dhamma, regardless of how much it gets involved in turbulent, confusing and distracting things, we people still have nothing but happiness while living in the world of involvement with our own khandhas. There is no need to struggle to find happiness and contentment in other places or realms — which would be creating images to deceive ourselves, causing us to become ambitious and to develop craving (tanha) and the “uprising of dukkha” (Samudaya) — the “seed” of dukkha — that would come to “burn our own fingers” and so make for a lot of dukkha and difficulty in vain. Because the happiness which we know, see and live with dwells in “that heart”, and it is a happiness which is already sufficient and complete. This entire world and all other worlds, however many there may be in the universe of samsara then seem as if they did not exist. But that which does exist and which is quite clear and apparent is the citta with Dhamma which seems to cover the whole universe (loka–dhatu) — though to explain this or to make any comparison with it is impossible, because there are no characteristics or data by which one can classify it. For the citta and the “Ultimate Dhamma” (Acchariya–Dhamma) belong to each other and they are not within the realms of convention (sammuti), so there is no basis for making any comparisons or suppositions.
      After the end of that vassa period, those lay supporters who had helped him and looked after him with faith in him, invited him to come to where they lived and begged him to have metta for them and to be a Teacher to them, their village and the whole district of Sawang Daen Din in the province of Sakon Nakhon. So he had to leave the place where he had been staying, even though he longed to go on staying there and he had not thought of going elsewhere for a long time. When he had taught the villagers for some time, he took his leave of them and went wandering wherever he felt like going in the manner of the practice of Dhutanga Kammatthana. Sometimes he crossed the Khong River (Mekong) into Laos and stayed on the banks of the river and at other times he crossed back into Thailand. After this he went wandering and practising the way in an area that is mountainous and covered with thick forests called Mor Tong jungle, which is in the districts of Bung Kan and Phon Phisai. In this area there are many places which are good and suitable for practising the way and there were some newly established villages made up of only a few houses. The people there invited him to spend the vassa in that place for their benefit, and as it was a place which suited his temperament, he agreed to stay there for that vassa period.
      While he was staying and practising Dhamma in the hills of the Phon Phisai district, he said that he was fascinated and glad at heart to see all the different kinds of animals there and he had much metta for them. The animals he saw included: wild fowl, pheasant, all sorts of birds like hornbill and peacock, as well as animals like the palm civet, barking deer, wild boar, ordinary deer, monkeys of various kinds, gibbon apes, wild dogs, tigers, leopards, elephants, wild oxen, and red bulls, each of which were far more prolific than elsewhere. They wandered about in packs by day and night and he could hear their cries echoing loudly through the forest, each group coming regularly at the same time every day. Some days when he went out walking for pindapata, he would see a large tiger walking most gracefully in the forest ahead of him. It was quite close to him, walking fearlessly, proud and dignified which is its nature. He said that when it was walking in the forest ahead of him where there was a clearing, it was beautiful to see the way it walked. The first time he saw it, it glanced at him just momentarily and went on walking without looking back at him again as though it was not in the least afraid of him. But inwardly it was probably careful and watchful, which is in character for an animal that has good mindfulness and is inherently cautious and that does not easily let go and become fascinated with anything. As for the Acariya, he had no thought of fear of the tiger because he had seen them before on many occasions and he had heard them growling and roaring so often while staying in the forests in all sorts of places where it was quite normal for such animals to live all the time, so he was quite accustomed to them and had no fear of them.
      One evening while he was sitting and teaching the way of Kammatthana to the Bhikkhus who were staying with him, who were about three or four in all. He said that they heard three large, playful and reckless tigers roaring, each one in a different direction. After that they heard them growling threateningly at each other with some fighting and then they went completely quiet. After a while they heard them growling and fighting close by. At first they heard them playing and fighting beyond the area where the Bhikkhus were staying and then when they became quiet it seemed as if they had gone elsewhere. But wherever they may have gone when they were quiet, at about 9 p.m., they mutually decided to move in under the floor of the small meeting hall (sala) where the Bhikkhus were sitting in samadhi, listening to the Dhamma teaching. The floor of the sala was just over one meter above the ground and the sound of these tigers roaring and growling and fighting together was such that the Acariya had to shout at them, saying: “Hey! My three fiends! Don’t make such a noise; the Bhikkhus are listening to a talk on Dhamma. This is bad and evil and you could end up in hell — don’t say I didn’t tell you. For this is not the place for being boisterously noisy and you should all go away and roar and growl elsewhere. This is a monastery for Bhikkhus who like to develop calm, unlike yourselves — so go and roar somewhere else to your hearts content, where nobody will come to disturb you. In this place, the Bhikkhus practise the way of Dhamma and they do not give you permission to make a lot of noise and disturbance.”
      As soon as they heard Venerable Acharn Kow shouting at them they went quiet and still for a short while, but then they could still hear them, as if they were whispering to each other quietly under the sala. Saying: “We better not make much noise, the Bhikkhus are annoyed and shouting at us, so we must talk quietly or it will be bad and evil and we may soon end up with sores on our heads.” But after a while they again started growling and playfully fighting each other and they did not seem to want to go elsewhere, as Venerable Acharn had told them — and they mutually decided that under the floor of the sala was the place for them to play and have fun from dusk until midnight when they all went away. Meanwhile the Bhikkhus remained sitting there doing their samadhi practice after Venerable Acharn had finished his teaching while the three large tigers were playing and fighting and growling and making a lot of noise under the sala until they went into the forest at midnight. After which, the Bhikkhus left and went, each one to the place where he was staying.
      This incident was most strange and unusual. For, as Venerable Acharn Kow said, he had been wandering about in the way of Kammatthana in the forests in all sorts of places and different districts for many years and he had never before known or heard of tigers coming so close in a friendly manner, as if they had been close friends of the Bhikkhus for a long time. Normally, tigers are afraid of people by instinct, even though they are so powerful that they make people more afraid of them than almost any other animal. But generally, tigers are more afraid of people than people are afraid of tigers, and they avoid and keep away from people. Yet these three tigers seemed to be not only, not afraid of people, but they even went to the extent of taking possession of the space under the floor of the small sala to play and have fun together while a lot of Bhikkhus were gathered right above them. It seems that they were not in the least afraid of the Bhikkhus who were people, much the same as other people everywhere. This was quite remarkable, for such animals know nothing of Sila–Dhamma (morality), which all people know about, yet their behaviour in coming into close proximity to the Bhikkhus made it look almost as if these tigers had a good understanding of Sila–Dhamma, which they put into practice in the way that people do. They never once displayed any menacing behaviour towards the Bhikkhus, although they probably did so towards each other in the knowledge that they all understood what their intentions were. While listening to Venerable Acharn Kow telling me about this incident I felt as if my hair was standing on end with fear, even though it took place a long time ago — which was silly. Foolish, silly people are like this, for even if the Acariyas tell them stories of all sorts of things that have happened, which have a moral of Dhamma buried in them, foolish and incompetent people are not likely to listen for the purpose of extracting the moral teaching from it. Instead, they stick just to the thread of the story itself which shows their lack of skill. Like the writer who showed fear shamelessly in front of Venerable Acharn Kow while listening to his story. But in addition, the writer is also displaying his timidity in this book for those who read to laugh at him — which is bad enough! But having read this, please be careful and don’t let this kind of story penetrate into your heart to haunt it, or many of you are likely to become timid and silly people also!
      Venerable Acharn Kow said how most of the Bhikkhus who listened to his teaching on that night, and sat doing samadhi bhavana, were stirred up and frightened both at that time and after they left the sala also. Their eyes and ears were wide open when they heard the “three great teachers” coming to give them training and to help Venerable Acharn by staying under the sala. For their normal characteristic behaviour mixed with playfulness made the Bhikkhus who were sitting in bhavana frightened and rigid. They did not dare to let their cittas wander out and away freely, for fear that these three teachers would decide to jump up and give them “instructions” on the floor of the sala in various ways. But it was most praiseworthy and good of these three animals that they did nothing that was excessive or violent or beyond what was reasonable such as getting onto the floor of the sala. They knew what their basic situation in life was, and to some extent what that of the Bhikkhus was, and they did not go beyond what was proper for them in their situation for their activities were all gentle and harmonious — then they left and went away. After that they never came back again, although the district where the Bhikkhus were staying was a place where tigers and all sorts of other animals wandered about. There was never a night without some tigers wandering about the area, because it was a most suitable environment for all sorts of forest animals to stay in. For it was all hills and jungles and very extensive, so that if someone were to walk right through it, it would take him several days. There were all sorts of animals there, as we explained above, but there were large numbers of each type. There were many herds of elephants and packs of wild boars and each group was composed of many animals — and they were not much afraid of people.
      The year that Venerable Acharn Kow stayed there, all sorts of skilful ways and methods arose in him and he often had to warn and remind the other Bhikkhus who were with him not to be careless in maintaining the Dhutanga observances. For they were living in the middle of many things which made it necessary for them to be careful, by depending on the Dhutanga observances as their life line, with the Dhamma and Vinaya as that to which they fully entrusted themselves in both life and death. In this way, they could live happily without being scared and apprehensive of all sorts of things which might otherwise make them jump with fright. They ate very little food — just enough to act as a “medicine” which supported their bodies and minds (dhatu–khandha) and kept them going from day to day. For there were few faithful lay supporters, the village having been recently formed with only a few houses and it had still not become firmly established. But it was the intention of these Bhikkhus, who had pledged themselves in Dhamma, to train themselves to put up with difficulties for the sake of the Dhamma of living inwardly in a state of peace. So they were not much concerned about their living conditions, nor whe­ther they got a lot of food on pindapata, for such things would otherwise become an obstacle in the way of what they were trying to do. As for medicines and remedies for sickness, they had confidence in putting up with the pain and fighting the sickness by striving hard in samadhi bhavana. They also thought of their friends — the animals who lived in the forest about them — and took them as an example, for they never had any medicines available to them; nor were they born in a hospital with doctors and midwives to aid them. Yet here they were! Animals of all sorts, quite able to keep their family lines going, and in large numbers too! And they never show any grief or disheartenment at their lack of medical attention from doctors, nurses and all sorts of medicines and medical devices and machines. Whereas, the Bhikkhus are of human birth and are “Sons of the Sakya” — the lineage of the Buddha. The Great Teacher, whose name resounds throughout the “Triple Universe”, and who learnt everything in the “books” of the three levels of existence by means of endurance (khanti), effort (viriya), wisdom, skill and ability in all ways. Never was he caught at a loss, unable to find a way out, nor was he ever weak and lazy and inclined to give up. But if we Bhikkhus retreat, shedding tears just because of the suffering and hardships of the aches and pains as in fever of sickness, which is a natural condition for these khandhas, we are bound to lose out and go “bankrupt”, and we will not be able to guide ourselves or the religion properly. For unless we are courageous and firm, putting up with conditions (sabhava) as we find them — having, living and experiencing them all with mindfulness and wisdom to assess and know each and every event which comes into association with us, there is no way to save oneself and escape to a lasting and safe haven.
      When the citta has been trained in the right way it will find joy in Dhamma, gladly guiding oneself into the methods of the “Path and Fruition” without changing course or creating obstacles to cause more trouble to oneself. The practice of the way will then steadily progress without slipping backwards and feeling disheartened, that one has no refuge either outwardly or inwardly. For one will have the “heart with Dhamma” to cleanse, to soothe and to protect and look after one, causing one to feel affectionate warmth and peace of heart. Then wherever one goes or stays one is inherently content (Sugato) in the manner of those who are followers of the Tathagata, without any signs of being hard up and impoverished in their hearts. This is how those Dhutanga Kammatthana Bhikkhus who are intent on Dhamma, go about and live. So they can stay anywhere and go anywhere, for they are prepared to put up with hardship and hunger while remaining contented and free from anxiety about anything, with Dhamma as the object of attachment (arammana) of their hearts.
      It may be difficult for the reader to accept some of the things that happen in connection with the forest animals that like to come and live close to Bhikkhus. Therefore, to begin with it may be better to think about the domestic animals which people like to look after with metta in their homes and in the monasteries where they go for sanctuary. In the monasteries, the number of animals such as dogs and birds which want to live in the monasteries increases every day, until there is hardly any room left — or trees left for the birds — where they can all stay.
      Having thought about the domestic animals with which we are all familiar, we may go on to consider the various kinds of forest animals which tend to hang around and live about the places and monasteries where Dhutanga Bhikkhus stay. The writer has already written much about these animals in the “Biography of Venerable Acharn Mun,” and elsewhere in this present book also, where many incidents are related of animals coming to live near the Bhikkhus all the time and they all know by their own experiences that these stories are true.
      This is something we should think about from the viewpoint of Dhamma, for it is the principle of nature of giving peace, and it is a “Dhamma” that is inherently suited to all beings of all kinds in this world. Nor is it necessary that any of these animals should understand what this “Dhamma” is. But that which manifests in their experience makes all beings glad and happy to accept it, everywhere throughout the world, and none of them are ever averse to it. This thing is the natural Dhamma which manifests as calm and happiness, as peace, as trust and confidence, as good will, as metta, as affection and compassion, and as tolerance in which others are free to come or go as they will, without fear or danger. These are some of the things which flow from this Dhamma, and animals of all kinds like it and readily accept it without any need to go to any school to be taught about it. Because the citta and the outflow of Dhamma are a pair which should be together, far more than the possession of any external titles, rank or authority, which are like ornaments added to oneself that can dissolve and disappear depending on circumstances which are fickle and uncertain. Therefore, even though the animals have never known what Dhamma is, they will generally search on their own for those things which they naturally like and tend to accept readily, like the way in which stray dogs go and stay in a monastery, and forest animals go and live by Dhutanga Bhikkhus. Because the animals understand that Dhamma — which means peace and security — is to be found in that place, so they search for it in their own way. Even those people who have never had any interest in Dhamma, know those places which are secure and safe and they like to go wandering having fun and playing in such places. This has been the case right through from ancient times to the present, because it would not be safe to act like this in other places.
      This explanation should be enough for us to understand how Dhamma and the place where people live and practise Dhamma is the place where animals and people everywhere feel confidence and freedom from danger. So they tend to relax and dispense with their usual caution, and there are some who go so far as to forget themselves completely, without thinking how other people feel about it and whether their behaviour is appropriate to Bhikkhus who are the “treasure” of their country. For those who practise Dhamma, generally know what is good and what is evil. They know good people and bad people, good animals and bad, in the same way as people do everywhere. So people should think of others and how they also cherish their “treasure”, and they should not let go of all restraint everywhere. For there are always limits and bounds within which people and animals should remain, each in its own situation and they should not mix up their relative modes of behaviour until one cannot tell who is who, because they are all behaving in the same way.
      Venerable Acharn Kow liked wandering about searching for secluded places and he frequently moved from place to place. Normally he liked to wander in the manner of Dhutanga practice in the forest and hills where he was staying, and he also liked to change the place where he did his practice very frequently. Thus for example, he would go to stay in a certain place as his base, but in the morning he would go off somewhere else to do his practice. Then in the afternoon or evening he would go to another place, and at night he would wander off to yet another place — all in the vicinity of his “base”. He used to change the direction he went in, sometimes going far and sometimes close by. At times he would change to another cave, moving from the cave which was his “base” and he would go up to the top of the hill or to a rocky outcrop, returning to his base dwelling late at night.
      He said that the reason he acted like this was because when he was in confusion and disturbed while curing his defilements (kilesas), he found that by changing his situation in various ways, such as this, wisdom would arise all the time. Then none of the defilements were able to get a grip on him, because they were up against the skilful ways of mindfulness and wisdom which beat them into a corner, trapping them in various ways so that they were forced out and got rid of time after time. If he had stayed in just one place he would have got used to that place and settled down there, but the kilesas would not become used to it nor settle down and they would keep increasing regardless of whether he was used to anything or not. So he had to change about and alter his methods and his environment very frequently in order to keep up with the deceptive tricks of the kilesas which plant themselves and develop and increase and fight against oneself incessantly without ever taking time off for a rest. If there is any respite from them, it is only in deep dreamless sleep; otherwise they are working all the time. Because of this, in striving to develop oneself, if one relaxes, weakens one efforts and puts off doing the practice, letting time slip by, it encourages the kilesas which laugh and gain heart! By changing one’s place and methods of practice very frequently, one can see one’s losses and gains against the kilesas, which gives them no chance to feel satisfied that they are the sole master in charge.
      His reasoning was most intriguing and what he said was an excellent example for those who do not let the kilesas rise up and walk all over them due to an easy going over confidence ruining every move that the citta makes.
      Venerable Acharn Kow liked to wander in the districts of Phu Singh, Phu Wua, Phu Lanka, Dong Mor Tong, in the districts of Ampere Seka and Ampere Phon Phisai in Nong Khai Province; as well as Ampere Ban Phaeng in Nakhon Phanom Province. In these places there are plenty of hills such as Phu Singh, Phu Wua and Phu Lanka, which are all good places and most suitable for the practice and development of Dhamma. But they are far away from villages — too far to go pindapata, so it is necessary to have some people who take turns to bring food. All these places were full of wild animals of all sorts, including tigers, elephants, wild oxen and red oxen, amongst many others. In the afternoon and evening one could hear their calls and roars echoing throughout the forest. Anyone who had not truly overcome death would find it difficult to stay there, because there were many tigers in those places, far more than in other parts of the forest, and they were not afraid of people. Some nights while walking cankama and developing his practice, one of the tigers would creep up and crouch down to watch Venerable Acharn walking, without any fear of him at all. But it never did anything to him and it may have just wondered what he was up to, so it crept close to sniff and have a look. As soon as Venerable Acharn Kow heard an unusual sound that he could not place he shone his flashlight there, to see a great tiger leap away, sometimes right close in front of him. Even after that he was able to go on walking cankama and doing his practice, without any fear or thoughts that the tiger would come back and jump on him, maul him and eat him. Because his faith in Dhamma was stronger than fear of the tiger, so he was able to persist and keep on doing his practice. Sometimes he would climb up the hillside in the evening from where he could see large herds of elephants which were going for a walk along a large area of rocky outcrop which stretched for miles. As it was not covered by forest he could see the elephants quite clearly, both large and small going out to search for food. He said that while watching this herd of elephants who were having fun teasing each other and playing together, he went on happily looking at them, quite absorbed until the late evening and it got too dark to see. For they liked to tease each other and play together in the same way as people do.
      Venerable Acharn Kow had a streak of very strong determination in his character, which may be seen from what we have written about him already. He had no difficulty in sitting in meditation practice all night and there was nothing that prevented him from doing so. For sitting in meditation practice from dusk to dawn is no small thing, and unless one is the kind of person who has a heart full of courageous determination, so firm that it seems as if it could cut through a diamond, one cannot do it. So we should give him our heartfelt praise and admiration. It is in ways such as this that he is fully capable of being a teacher, an Acariya, to his followers, enabling them to gain peace, ever since he started teaching, up to the present day. He has absolute certainty in himself that he has reached the end of becoming and birth, and this is completely self-evident to him, even though he is still ­“wearing” the five khandhas. When it reaches the time for him to let go of the khandhas he will be in the state of ultimate happiness (Paramam–Sukham) in all respects and he will be totally free of all responsibilities and concerns.
      This brief biography of one of the most important and outstanding of Venerable Acharn Mun’s followers, is now completed. Those who read this should think about it and try to reckon who this Acariya is. At present he is still alive and he is revered by a large number of Bhikkhus, Novices and lay people, but I shall not disclose his name for fear that it may cause a lot of disturbance for him. For he has gone beyond all forms of worldly concerns entirely and is endowed with nothing but pure Dhamma — as well as his five khandhas which cause him trouble and disturbance all the time — and I have no doubts about him that he is anything other than what is portrayed here.
      May good fortune and blessings come to all of you who read this short biography of this most wonderful man. For as long as you do not fall back or give up your striving in the practice which leads to Dhamma, one day you will also praise the pure treasure of Dhamma — the refuge of your heart — even as this Acariya does in his own heart. This is bound to be the case, which is in conformity with the Dhamma as being the treasure of everybody who practises in the “Right Way” (Samici–Kamma).

 

13. Methods of Bhavana 

 

      The Method of Walking Cankama

      The Venerable Acharn Mun who experienced Dhamma quite clearly in his heart practised in a consistent, even and elegant manner which can and should most certainly and wholeheartedly be called the “Middle Way of Practice” (Majjhima Patipada) of a Bhikkhu in this present age. But I did not describe the method of walking cankama which he used when I wrote his Biography. For I forgot to explain how he did it, whether he walked in any special direction or not, how long the path should be for walking cankama, and before starting to walk cankama, were there any preliminary practices which he used? Therefore we shall now make good this omission and explain all these things in this book so that those readers who are interested enough may take them as the basis of their practice in the future.
      Truly speaking, Dhamma and Vinaya are the basic pattern of the “Middle Way of practice” for those who are interested enough to follow and practise them rightly and fully, and these are already available. Because of this, Venerable Acharn Mun used to set them up as the guiding pattern for what he did in a faultless manner, both in his ordinary activities and in the various forms of meditation practice which he used. But we will explain his method of walking cankama before any others. Firstly, the direction by the compass in which the cankama path is made and its length are as follows. Venerable Acharn Mun determined that the direction of the cankama path should be east–west, but it may vary from this between Northeast–southwest to Southeast–northwest, although it should be made within these limits and he always maintained this practice. The length of the path will depend on what is suitable. He did not give any fixed ruling on this and one must consider for oneself what is reasonable. Normally it should be about twenty paces long, although there is no fixed limit. He also said that it should not be less than ten paces long for those occasions when one cannot find any place longer and more suitable. Though generally speaking, a path of between twenty and thirty paces is most suitable. He made a special point of keeping to the limits of direction as mentioned above and always maintained this without deviating from it unless he had no other alternative, and he taught the Bhikkhus and Novices to practise in this way also.
      Occasionally he would see a Bhikkhu walking cankama in the wrong direction and he would tell him off and teach him saying: “When I teach my followers, whether in the way of Dhamma or Vinaya, I always teach according to a regular pattern without deviating from it. Even in walking cankama, which is an aspect of Dhamma, there is a regular pattern of how it should be done which accords with Dhamma. When they walked cankama in the time of the Lord Buddha, did they specify in what direction they should walk, or not? I have found out that they specified three directions as I have often explained to you, and nobody should think that this is an insignificant thing, which you have no interest in practising and accepting. For this would show that you are only determined to train yourself in whatever interests you and everything else you will see as being insignificant — which is how it has been with you in the past — seeing nothing as significant! Being like this is a clear indication of the insignificance of yourself. For you came here originally with a full commitment to train yourself in the whole teaching. But when you leave this place you will be bound to take this view and habit of seeing everything as insignificant, along with you and to put it into practice. This will lead you to believe that there is nothing of any real significance within all those who practise the way of Dhamma — for even having come to stay with a Teacher, an Acariya who you respect with faith, you still don’t see any significance in his teaching and admonishment. This means that at some time you will be creating things that will lead on more and more to your own ruin.”
      “It is just this thing, in those who come to follow my teaching, which makes me lack confidence in them and feel doubtful whether they will attain anything of ultimate truth (sara) to act as a firm foundation for their further practice in the future. All I can see is ‘insignificance’ everywhere in them! For the truth of the matter is that I have already investigated every aspect of the Dhamma which I give out to teach my followers. I have examined it and checked it over and over again until I am quite sure about it and I don’t teach things which occur to me on the spur of the moment without having considered them properly beforehand as though they just, so to speak, slip out of my mouth. But everything I teach has been thoroughly investigated right through from its gross and obvious, right up to its most subtle aspects.”
      “In determining the directions which are appropriate for walking cankama, I have explained them many times to my followers until it has become tiresome both to the teacher and to those who listen. But why instead of accepting it as something to investigate and try out and prove by training yourself, do you stubbornly oppose it and then develop an attitude in which you are shameless in the face of your teacher and of the others who are living together here.”
      “In regard to doing research into the various compass directions and their suitability for striving in Dhamma in various ways, I have done this for a long time and have known about it for a long time, so I feel competent to teach my followers with complete certainty. So, when I see them going against what I have taught I can’t help feeling disheartened and sorry and fearful that in the future I shall see nothing but falsehood everywhere in the monasteries and the Sasana throughout, including the Bhikkhus, Novices, Elders, Nuns and Buddhists generally, because self-will and doing these things the easy way will lead them into falsehood. It is not careful investigation and looking to see the ways of cause and effect that lead people into falsehood — for these things are what make the Sasana true and blameless. But those people who practise in ways that turn the Sasana into a tool of the kilesas which fill their hearts, is what brings blame on the Sasana. It is just this that makes me afraid, because I can see it with my own eyes — such as in this case here and in this sort of thing.”
      I actually watched Venerable Acharn call this Bhikkhu to tell him off and teach him in this forceful manner, and I can never forget it. So when the situation is right I bring it out and tell others about it. It is in this way that Venerable Acharn Mun had his own particular way of walking cankama, a valid way based on his own researches as mentioned above.
     
      The Direction for Walking Cankama As Defined by Venerable Acharn Mun
     

      In deciding on the direction for setting the path for walking cankama, Venerable Acharn Mun decided to look into the way of the Aryan tradition at the time of the Lord Buddha. He found out that originally there was a standard way in which they did it, so from that time on he always followed that way. As to whether one should wear the civara (outer robe), he said that in walking cankama one may wear it, or not, depending on whatever is suitable and appropriate in the circumstances.
      As for the direction in which one should site the path for walking cankama; the method of walking; wearing the civara, or not; or what one should do just before starting to walk while standing and pondering in one’s heart at the end of the cankama path; in all these things, Venerable Acharn Mun looked and found out how the Aryan tradition was practised in all of its subtlety and he set himself to practise it in the same way from then on. Thus, in walking cankama he taught that one should walk parallel to the mean path which the sun takes throughout the day, or between the two limits from Northeast–southwest through east–west to Southeast–northwest. He said that the line of the mean path of the sun is the best way, followed by the two deviations from this line. But as far as going beyond these limits, or walking on a north–south line, he was never seen to do this, and quite apart from seeing what he himself did, I in fact heard him say that one should not walk in these directions. But I have completely forgotten why this is so.
     
      The Method of Walking Cankama Bhavana.
     

      The practice of walking back and forth which is called “walking cankama bhavana,” should be done, neither too fast nor too slow, but in a harmonious, seemly manner, which accords with the tradition of the Bhikkhus who were striving to attain Dhamma by the way of walking at the time of the Lord Buddha. This was one of the methods of making a change from the sitting posture, called “sitting bhavana.” A further change may be made by standing still, called “standing bhavana.” Finally, a still further change may be made lying down, called “siha seyyasana bhavana,” in which a resolve has been made to practise bhavana while lying down in the posture called “Siha Seyyasana” (The Lion–Posture).
      Whichever of these methods are used, in striving to practise the way, the underlying purpose and intention is to clean out and wash away the kilesas in the same way and using the same methods in each of them without changing the “tools” — which means the Dhamma — that one has been using to do this job, and which suit one’s temperament.
      Before walking cankama one should decide on how long or short a distance one will walk and from where to where. One may then have to get the path cleared and prepared, making it as long as one wants, before one can walk on it conveniently.
      In walking cankama, one should, to start with, go to one end of the place, or the prepared path where one will walk, put one’s hands together and raise them to one’s forehead in puja. Then one should recollect the virtue of the Ti–Ratana — the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha — which one takes as the Sarana — the refuge which is firmly implanted in one’s heart. Then one should recollect the virtue of one’s Father and Mother, one’s Upajjhaya (Preceptor), one’s Teacher and all others who have been of value to oneself. Then one should reflect on the purpose of this practice which one is about to do, and how one should do it with determination to reach that purpose. After this one should put one’s hands down in front of one, the right hand over the left, just below the level of the navel — as in the images of the Buddha which depict him in contemplation — and then one should promote the Four Brahmaviharas. Having done this, one puts one’s eyes down in a modest manner, sets up mindfulness to be aware of the citta, and that Dhamma which one usually uses as a preparatory method (parikamma) to control the heart; or else one investigates the various Dhammas which one has been doing in other situations (such as sitting).
      Then one starts walking back and forth between the points which one has decided as the end limits of the cankama path. Walking in a controlled manner and being mindful of that Dhamma or that thing which one is investigating, the whole time, and not letting one’s citta go away from this work which one is presently doing. One should not walk swinging one’s arms, nor with one’s arms behind one’s back, or folded across one’s chest, and one should not be looking about all over the place while walking — which is the way of someone who lacks self-control. In standing still while fixing one’s attention upon and pondering or investigating that Dhamma, there is no need to take up any special position on the cankama path and one may stop and stand wherever one wants to and for as long or short a time as one wishes. For it depends only upon the circumstances as to whether one should stop, or go on walking again. Because, pondering that Dhamma may be deep or shallow and gross or subtle in various different ways and one must be free to practise in whatever way is necessary until one has gained a clear understanding of it, after which one should go on walking as before. Sometimes it may be longer than one hour before one has become quite clear about it and can go on walking again.
      When walking and keeping one’s attention on a parikamma, or investigating Dhamma, one should not count one’s steps — unless that is, one has taken up one’s walking process as the basis (arammana) of one’s practice, in which case one may count them if it helps.
      Whatever form of practice one is doing, it is most important that mindfulness (sati) should be present continually with that practice. If mindfulness is lacking in whatever work one is doing, that work cannot be considered as striving in the way of Dhamma. Anyone who does the practice should have as much interest in being mindful as he does in the Dhamma which he is using as a parikamma. If mindfulness drops away, even though one may still be doing the parikamma bhavana which goes by habit, the resulting calm of heart which (one) intends to get, will not arise as one wants it to.
      The length of time one spends in walking cankama one must determine for oneself and striving in the way of Dhamma may be done in any of the four postures — walking, standing, sitting or lying down — and one may find that any one of them is the most suitable for one’s own characteristics, for different people have different characteristics. Using these four postures at different times is not only for quelling the kilesas, but also to enable one to change one’s posture. Because, for the body-mind complex (dhatu–khandha) to be a useful “tool”, one must look after it. One way of doing this is to change its posture from time to time, and this keeps it fit and suitable for use in doing this work. For if one does not look after it in various ways, the body-mind complex can become an enemy to its owner — in other words it changes and alters in various ways until finally one cannot reach the intended purpose for which one is working.
      The Dhutanga Bhikkhu considers the practice of walking cankama as being a duty which is truly a fundamental part of his life and generally he will walk an hour or more each time. After he has finished his meal in the morning he will start walking on his cankama path and finish about eleven or twelve o’clock, after which he will have a short rest. Between one and two o’clock in the afternoon he will again start walking cankama and go on until it is time to sweep the ground around where he is staying, and to have a wash. After this he will start walking again until seven or eight o’clock in the evening in the winter, but at other times he will go on until ten or eleven o’clock at night. Then he will return to his dwelling to practise samadhi bhavana.
      This is typical, but however it may be, they are bound to walk cankama and sit in samadhi bhavana for long periods of time and to keep up this routine continually. Regardless of where they are staying, in whatever circumstances and in all seasons, they keep up their efforts to practise the way continually without letting it lapse. For to let it lapse would make them weak and let the kilesas rove about stirring up trouble and causing a lot of disturbance and vexation for their hearts; but instead, they keep on trying to chop up the kilesas in all situations. By practising in this way they see some results coming from their efforts; and as they go on, they continue to see results coming steadily all the time.
      In the early stages, when the influence of the kilesas is still very strong, it is rather difficult and one is quite likely to be caught by them and made to give way and lie down and go to sleep without realising what is happening. By the time one has become conscious of oneself, the kilesas will have eaten up that which one has inside oneself until they are full. Then they are able to go on wandering all over the world through every continent before one drowsily wakes up and complains to oneself that one was carried away and dropped off to sleep for a few moments. “From now on I resolve to increase my efforts as hard as I can, but for today drowsiness and lethargy made me go wrong.” In truth it was just his kilesas that made him go wrong, and the next time, he will still not look and see what they are like, and he will be caught again. But he is not afraid of them! It is unpleasant and hurts, but he is not afraid of them! And this is how the kilesas beat him and whip him.
      Those who practise bhavana have all been chastened and reformed by the kilesas many times, and then complained that the kilesas are still too clever and that they were not yet able to catch up with them. This is just as it should be, for they have been the teacher, the Acariya, of people and animals throughout the world since ages past.
      To begin with, when one first starts trying to do the practice the kilesas become angry and try to force one to go this way and that. They try to make one lazy, to make one feel pains here and aches there, to make one feel sleepy and drowsy, and to make one go and look for all sorts of things to do, which cause a lot of trouble, so that one has little time for practising bhavana; or so that the citta is so restless that one cannot practise bhavana. Then they make one think that one has little merit and not much inherent ability, so that one is incapable of practising much and one cannot sit in bhavana for any length of time. They make one think and imagine how that: “If I spend too much time with my eyes closed in bhavana, won’t it cause me a lot of trouble and difficulty? I won’t be able to keep up with the world; I won’t be able to make ends meet.” As if, before he even did any practice of bhavana he had millions, and that if he were to start doing any bhavana, this alone would swallow up all his wealth. If then he actually started to do some bhavana, would not the kilesas with large bellies and wide open mouths bigger than a giant, go and swallow the lot? Even when he is driven by the kilesas to think just this much, he feels irritable, painful, sore and stiff everywhere. Finally he gives way to them and they lead him to loiter off in the direction where he thinks there are no fierce giants, devils or Mara. But when he returns and checks to see how much he has got in his pocket, it