Chapter 09: The Psychic Telegraph (Written by Viggo Brun)
The story of the psychic telegraph involved Viggo Brun, a Norwegian who came to Thailand to do a Master’s degree at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University. He came from Norway, but I think he was of Dutch descent. He came to ordain here. He was a Christian. His father was an electrical engineer in Norway, his grandfather a Professor of Mathematics at Oslo University. His mother was a Secretary of the University of Oslo. They had only one son, Viggo, but two daughters. Viggo was studying linguistics, majoring in the Thai Language. He had studied many languages, but had come to do a Master’s Degree at Chulalongkorn.
His grandfather, a professor told him. “When you go to Thailand you must bring back something good for me.” He had read the Tipitaka in English at the University, they have books on every religion there. After reading the Tipitaka he was really inspired by the practice of Dhamma. When you go to Thailand you must bring back something good for me.” He noted it down and had his grandfather sign it. The Westerners really do things thoroughly. While he was studying at Chula he came traveling around Singburi, he wanted to look at the lives of the villagers of Ban Paeng. The people there had moved from Vientiane at a time when their Kingdom was at war. Their village lived on pottery and crafts, such as filigree.
At Ban Paeng there was a Chao Khun named Chao Khun Prohmmoli. Viggo went to pay respects to this Chao Khun and had a list of questions he wanted to ask, but the Chao Khun couldn’t answer them, so he sent the Westerner to see me at this monastery. I don’t know if I answered his questions rightly or not, I just answered them and then he left. He was gone for ten days, and came back with a pile of belongings, saying he wanted to ordain here and study insight meditation, as his grandfather had wanted him to. I told him he couldn’t do it, he was a Westerner. He had to get permission from his father and mother before I could ordain him, otherwise he was no permitted to ordain. He had a card to show that he was free of his parents’ care. When the Westerners are grown up the parents are no longer responsible for their children. His grandfather was his guardian, and he had given him permission to “bring something good back from Thailand” by ordaining. So I allowed him to ordain.
This Westerner was really clever. He learned the ordination chanting in only three hours, and he had already studied the monk’s discipline as he had studied Thai and could read and write it fluently. He ordained and practiced insight meditation very diligently for 45 days, until he was able to develop the “psychic telegraph”. One day he said. “I would like to respectfully ask something: When Thai Buddhists die, and their relatives do the ceremony of “pouring water,’ do the deceased receive anything? When people dedicate merits or spread loving-kindness to their father and mother while they are still alive, can they received it?”
I perceived that his mind was already quite high, capable of sending psychic message. It just so happened that his mother was seriously ill, and was convalescing at their house. He wanted to dedicate some of the merits from his practice to her. Would she receive it? I told him she could. He practiced waling meditation and then sitting meditation, then he determined in his mind. When you are determining or spreading loving-kindness, don’t do it while you are practicing sitting meditation. The same applies when you are dedicating the merits of your practice: you have to complete your practice first, finish the job first. You may practice waling meditation for one hour, then practice sitting meditation for one hour. When you have finished your meditation, then you can chant the spreading of loving kindness and forgiveness. Make your mind calm and at ease first and then dedicate the merits afterwards, don’t practice sitting meditation and dedicate the merits at the same time. If you do they won’t receive them.
When he had finished his meditation he made his determinations, asking forgiveness for any wrongs and making his mind clear and pure. Then he determined:
“Today is my national day. My mother is seriously ill. By the merits and skillful qualities I have made from ordaining as a monk and practicing insight meditation, if it is true as I’ve heard, may my mother be immediately cured of her illness.”
“My second determination: my grandfather wanted his grandchild to bring back “something good” from Thailand. Now his grandson has found that “something good”.
My third determination: may my three friends who live close to my house and who study with me be happy and prosperous. When these three friends have received this dedication of mine, may the immediately reply by letter”
A dedication gives fruit immediately, you don’t have to wait as you do with the mail system. That day was the National Day of Norway. Viggo’s friends had gone to his house in Oslo. They were all talking together, but his mother was lying in her room, convalescing. She had just come back from the hospital. She was still weak so she stayed in her room. The time Viggo sent his “psychic telegraph” was about 10 p.m., but in Oslo it was morning time. He knew this because of the letter he received. At that time his grandfather saw a yellow cloth flash before his eyes. Everybody had a strange feeling, and all simultaneously thought of Viggo. So they started talking about him. His grandfather figured that Viggo had probably ordained as a monk because he saw the yellow cloth flash in front of him and then disappear. His father talked about Viggo learning linguistics at Chulalongkorn University. When his mother, who missed her son, heard them talking about Viggo and his grandfather talking about seeing the yellow cloth, she dragged herself out of her room, inspired by the thought of her son. Her weakness disappeared and she was able to sit at the table and talk with the others for hours. When the conversation was finished she began to write a letter. She wrote down the date and time. She wrote to her dear son, describing the events that had arisen in their house on that day, Norwegian National Day. “Your friends came too, to this house, and your grandfather saw a yellow cloth.” She asked whether it was true the he had become a Buddhist monk, and whether he was really practicing meditation. “Your mother is recovering from an illness, but when I heard them talking about the yellow cloth, and about you, my illness immediately disappeared.” She wrote about 4 or 5 pages. It took many days to get here, passing through Chulalongkorn University and from there to the Wat. As soon as Phra Viggo read the letter tears came to his eyes. He translated it for me. At that time he had asked for me to give one hour a day of my time to him, at nine every evening. I wasn’t to go anywhere at that time. He said that he had come along way, crossed the oceans, so that I couldn’t go anywhere else, I had to give one hours for him. All that I have said is backed by evidence.
As time went on Viggo was finishing this studies and was preparing to go back to Norway. They have a rule there that whenever a young man finished his studies he must go into the army for a year. There is no selection, all are obliged. This was the law in his country. Everybody had to be a soldier for one year, but they didn’t go to war with anybody. Viggo came to tell me that he was finishing his Master’s Degree, but he wanted to stay in Thailand for another year: what should he do?
I advised him to do the same as before: to sit for two hours, walk for two hours and then dedicate the merits of is actions to:
1. The King of Thailand
2. The Dean and teachers in his faculty at University
3. The country of Norway, his father, mother and teachers
4. Then to dedicate the merits to the Ministry of Defence, asking them to defer his conscription into the army for another year.
Viggo practiced in this way two nights in a row, then he took leave of the robes to return to the University. When he was disrobing he told me that if he did not get permission to stay longer he would write me a letter to explain, it may take a long time, but if he was able to stay longer he would immediately send me a telegram. He asked me whether he would end up marrying Ratree, a young Thai lady with whom he had been in love for many years, ever since he was in Norway. He asked me whether I thought it was appropriate.
I told him that I didn’t know, he should sit in meditation and look into it for himself whether he would be marrying her. This is another of the benefits of sitting meditation. He went to sit and shortly came to tell me, “Luang Poh, it seems we won’t be getting married after all.” How did he know? His mindfulness told him, his recollection of past lives. He had not married with this girl before. He said “I will go and marry a girl who is crippled and orphaned. That’s what appeared in my meditation.”
Eventually he went back to Norway. He was better than the Thais: he put some candles on a tray with some flowers and a bundle of offerings and went to pay respects to the Dean of his faculty and asked for this blessing; he took his leave everywhere in all different places that he’d been. The Thais don’t bother: they don’t ask for any blessing, as soon as they disrobe they run away without even taking leave and receiving a blessing from their teacher. They don’t receive any blessing, so they don’t live long.
I had him make a wrapping of silk cloth to offer to the Dean of his faculty. He entered the room and hadn’t even put the tray down when his teacher said, “Viggo, you can stay for another year.” The tears streamed down his face when he heard the news. It seemed there was a letter from the Ministry of Defence in Norway allowing him to stay in Thailand for another year. He stayed only for one night and came straight back to report to me. This is an example of the power of meritorious actions. Think about it for yourselves. This really happened, and instance of spreading merits and goodwill enabling him to stay for another year. When he returned to Norway he became a soldier, and he sent me news regularly.
One thing I am happy about: the government once sent some power station officials to look at the work in Norway. I sent a letter informing Viggo about it, and he let them stay at his house. The opened up a power station in Norway on a Sunday. He was the head of the power plant. He said he loved Thai people like his own children, because they had helped his own son to ordain in the Buddhist religion. The Ambassador from Norway came to the Wat here to see me: he wanted to see the religious leader who was able to get their son to ordain.
Viggo left Thailand and became a soldier for one year, then he became a teacher in Denmark, teaching at the Denmark University. Later on he had a chance to come here and do a thesis on spirits. They gave a three year sabbatical. Eventually he met up with his deformed wife and they got married in Denmark. She really was deformed, and she was an orplan. She was a teacher of Mandarin Chinese. She had polio in the leg and couldn’t walk properly. She had been deformed ever since childhood. She was from the Philippines. Her relatives had sent her to study in Denmark, and she became a teacher at the Denmark University too. That’s where they met and fell in love. He didn’t have to go to a fortune teller. When they had a son Viggo came to Thailand to do his thesis on spirits in Chiang Mai. He spent a year and a half writing it, then he went back to Denmark to teach about whether there were ghosts or not.
When he came back he brought his wife and they came to see me. He came to show that he really had married a deformed girl, just as he said he would. She became a Buddhist like her husband, and they have adhered to Buddhism to the present day. She was originally a Christian. They brought their son as well and stayed in the Wat many days. He went up to write his thesis on where spirits come from and what they are like and why do people believe in them. Now he is a professor. At his house there is a table-shrine that I sent to him.
That’s the story of Viggo, who came to practice insight meditation at Wat Ambhavan and was able to send a psychic telegraph to his friends and relatives in Norway.
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