Chapter 08: Repent
I have heard that a novel is derived from real life. What I’m going to relate now could be a soap opera in someone’s view. But someone may realize that touching the taste of dhamma and accomplishing the purity of this stream is beyond narration.
Almost half of my life has been lived, passing through happiness and suffering, I have always been proud of myself, full of confidence and ready to take on any dare in life. I thought I was successful in all aspects, although each aspect was hardly earned. I had always been tired. I spent most of my life with my grandma. My parents were just my birth-givers. Grandma loved me more than herself. Grandma was everything in my life. I loved her more than anyone else in the world. Grandma was a righteous person with a dhamma mind. She made alms giving a habit.
Although I was close to grandma, I steered away from her habit. I believed that I myself was a kind of priest. I was never a follower of any religion in particular, at the same time never denied its validity. I could almost count the number of times I had chanted. Is it necessary to pay homage to what we cannot see? Is there really a next life? Who can confirm this? I never raised my hands to pay respect to anyone I didn’t have faith in. Even a monk. I had to be sure he was a good monk before I paid respect to him.
I never thought that there was any one better than my self – not even my own parents. I was always aggressive to my own parents. I often had a row with my father while he was alive, despite the fact that he was known to be very stern. He used to drive me out of the house when he was very angry with me. But I was not afraid. I stood my ground in order to aggravate him even more.
I had a special faith in King Rama VI, since the time I had paid homage to His Replica, wishing for a certain job and got it unexpectedly. The day I had a row with my father, I ran upstairs to tell Him that I had been unfairly punished. I made a wish that He would make father leave home within 7 days. After that, my father really had to leave his own home.
My father returned home again. This time he returned just to let the children look after him, while suffering from a malignant disease. I never looked after him. I smiled inside satisfactorily, thinking that I had won, even beating father. I have to tell this story because I want every one to know that I sought revenge even from my own father. When I had a row with anyone and the case went past heated arguments, I always thought that I would get back for it. That one day, I would embrace him, smile at him and stab him in the back with a knife, making him frighten to death within my arms. This should be enough to explain the strong vengeful trait in me.
I have had to have operations since I was young such as a tonsillectomy, an appendectomy, a cystectomy, bile stone removal and finally a hysterectomy. Every time that I knew I had to have an operation, I never showed any fear at all. On the other hand, my mother seemed to be worried about everything. It had never occurred to me why I had to be hospitalized so often. Later, it was so often that I got bored with myself, that my physical health was the burden. Comparing my education and the jobs I had, I had been lucky, that I had never had any supervisor except a direct boss. The longest job I had had for 12 years was hotel job. I like very much to provide service to others. I always take good care of people around me except my own mother. I speak to mother as if I were possessed by an evil spirit. I can always be contemptibly mean with mother. However, mother has never once reciprocated my evil. She endures all my badness. I have never been spanked at all. I can refrain from talking to mother for a long time. It seems as if it is my happiness to see her suffer. It gives me a kind of satisfying feeling.
I asked my mother for an amount of money to buy myself a new car, though she had to use an old one for a long time. At the beginning she disproved, until I wrote her a letter reprimanding her with tortuous words. I got a new car like I wanted. I won again. I want to tell you more bad things I’ve done to my mother. But I think this is enough for you to imagine the ungratefulness I’ve shown to a lady who gave birth to me. If I go on, the length of my story will be many times longer than the length of a double roll of toilet paper.
I am quite surprised with my own prophetic signs, which are rather accurate. No one believes it when I tell them. I tell myself that I do not want to eat any food leftover from some one else’s meal or from offering. I do not like to receive blessing from sprinkled holy water.
With all these evil, yet I like to make donations. On my 36th birthday, I bought good quality 5 tier food containers of the same number as my age, filled them with savories and sweets and brought them to poor school children. Every one of them thanked me with tearful eyes, not much different from mine. Perhaps, I have made merit, too, but not very much. I don’t know when I will get the result of that merit. But I see the fruit of my donation immediately. I always help the poor. I can give them all I have at that moment. I am always happy to make merit or give donations. It is strange that I am against it when I think about it.
The last time that my karma clearly bore fruit was when everything I did met with obstacles. Close shaves occur every day. I was on the verge of giving up, not wanting to fight anymore. A couple of close friend visited me at the hospital and hosted me in Pattaya for my convalescence. I had a real rest. All I did was eat and sleep. For almost five days, I had been coaxed to turn to the temple and dhamma. But it sounded like a farce and non-sense to me. In order to stop their insistence, I told them that I would go to observe the Precepts as they wished.
On my last day in Pattaya, I presented a monk with cans of lychees, which I brought from Bangkok with me. I met this monk accidentally. After telling him my birth date, he told me that I would die. I was not affected much accept thinking that he was funny. But I asked him if there was any way to help. He told me to light candles and incense sticks to pay homage to the Buddha. Then he told me to lie down, covering me with white cloth. He told me to think that I was dead. After a short while he removed the cloth and told me to lie with my head pointing to the opposite direction. This time he told me to think that I will be reborn and I should make a wish for myself. I thought that was fun. So, I joined in the game by making a wish for me to be kind, honest and not taking advantage on anyone. I did not have time to add my wish to be rich before he removed the cloth.
That day, I donated all the money in my purse just because I thought he helped to perform the ceremony for me. On my way back to Bangkok, I did not know how I accepted to go to Wat Ambavana for Precepts observance. In fact, I used to go there only when my friend went to observe the Precepts. I had never been interested in anything at this temple at all. It was strange that my friends had neither questioned nor objected.
Upon return, I told my mother and others that I would go to observe the Precepts. People around me were surprised to hear this news, as if they had heard that the sun would rise at midnight. I was sure I could go to observe the Precepts, as if I had been called to do it. I went out shopping for white clothes and prepared everything like I was going to stay long. I did not know why I wanted to ask for my mother’s pardon. A day before I left, I took a clean wash basin full of water to wash my mother’s feet. I paid my respect at her feet, , telling her that if there had been anything I had done wrong since I had been born, making her sorry or cry, I begged for her pardon. My mother said she forgave me everything. Friends at the office drove me to Wat Ambavana.
Upon entering the temple, I told the nun that I had set no leaving date yet, without realizing why I gave such a statement. After a two-day stay, I felt if I had gone mad to come and learn “right stepping”, “left stepping” or “sitting down”. I did not get anything at all. This place was like a lunatic asylum. People who came here were insane. I would be ashamed to tell anyone that I had ever come here. I intended to make a long distance call to a friend to come and pick me up.
But that night I had listened to the sermon by Luang Poh Phra Debsinghapura-cariya without being sleepy at all. His sermon lasted till 11 p.m. I asked myself how I could listen to the sermon. His words sank deep down in my heart, not passing from one ear out the other like before. That was the first time I had listened to a sermon from beginning to the end without feeling like listening to the sermon at all. On the other hand, I felt like I was being reprimanded by a father, a very stern father. I did not move at all. Again, I asked myself, “Was I forced so?” I began to dare even Luang Poh. Well, everybody said he was advanced spiritually. What does that mean? I wanted to know. Somebody told me as well that Mae Yai, one of the Precepts observers who was looking after us, knew about the past and the future. What a farce! Set up a fortune-telling office if she could. What kind of ability could she have when she was that old? My mind and body were against dhamma practice a lot. I began to feel tired and to despair, daring both Luang Poh and Mae Yai.
When I was about to lose patience, I talked to Luang Poh mentally, “Let me have the power enough to keep meditating until the end of the session.” I opened my eyes at the end of the session. It might have been a co-incidence. The next day I put him to test again. What was the result? I opened my eyes like before! The next person was Mae Yai. She came up to practice meditation a little bit after 5 o’clock. I tried to walk as close to her as possible, making a wish for her power to enable me to meditate until 6 in the morning. I opened my eyes at six, sharp. The next day she came at about the same time. I wished for her power again. Who would believe that I opened my eyes at the same time. At this point, I began to be afraid that co-incidence did not happen all that often.
The next Buddhist holy day, Luang Poh gave a sermon. I was listening just like before. After a long while, I felt like I was being forced to weep. I tried my best to resist. And then my palms were clasped together up to the forehead in salutation manner. I made a bow towards Luang Poh. A few minutes later, I bowed towards Mae Yai, while closing my eyes. That time I put my clasped palms up to the mouth level and bowed down to the floor like a bent-back old woman. I was conscious all the time. I could hear the sound of people around me. At the same time, people who sat near me must have heard the noise of my sob. But I was surprised they kept still. I cried of being sorry, asking myself why I had been so. Why did I have to weep? Why didn’t I resist? It was like a force that I could not fight at all. That night, I felt that I had been punished for insulting them both. I began to be afraid then. Not of ghost like before. I was rather afraid of sin. I was conscious of sin. What had happened to me? How could I have been so change?
The next day I put an effort into practicing meditation. I missed my mother a great deal. I saw my own bad deeds, one after another, mushrooming. I began to be sorry for my own actions toward my mother. Why was she so kind to me? On the day I asked for her pardon, I should have been trampled instead of forgiven. I wondered which part of hell would I be?
But I still keep on being rebellious. There was another monk, whom I happened to meet. On the first meeting, I criticized him mentally for not being proper, because he told me that I was obstinate. If I used it right, it would be useful. I was not satisfied at all. But I kept quiet. The next day, I felt despair again. So, I asked for his power. What was the result? That day I could meditate in trance until I could feel it. What was it then? Who exactly was that monk? I had to arrange for a set of candles and incense to offer him as a way of begging for his forgiveness.
On the eve of my scheduled leaving date, I prepared a lei to offer as homage to the Precepts and told Mae Yai that I would leave the day after. She asked me if I could stay for two days more. I did not know how I accepted, as I had stayed for 9 days already. That was quite long for those who knew me. But for me, it was the most valuable time in my life. I had not been counting time to the leaving date at all. I only knew that my responsibility was waiting. Then I learned that on the day I had originally planned to leave, a newly disrobed monk was hit by a car just a bit further along the temple gate. Oh! My! If that day I had left, what would have happened to me? After I heard this news, my feeling told me to offer my grateful thanks to Mae Yai. She had just saved my life.
Even so, the last two days were my rebellious period as before. I had an alarm clock with me, thinking if I could wake up without it at 3.30 a.m. for two consecutive days, I would give it to the nun who registered me for this dhamma practice session. The last day I had an occasion to give this alarm clock to the nun according to my intention. I have many more of this kind of story. But, as I said, people would think that I have written a soap opera. Today, now I want to go and tell everybody so that they realize that there is karma. If you do good deeds, you will get good return. If you do bad deeds, you will get bad in return.
I promised Luang Poh that I would not return to sin any longer. I asked for his blessing that goodness would not leave me and sin would not return. I was reformed through punishment and was really afraid. I have just learned that the fruit of dhamma practice is opening up my eyes. It makes me know myself, being ashamed and afraid of wrong doings. I do not dare to say how much I have changed. But from hardly chanting before, I have chanted the virtues of the Buddha, more than the number of times Luang Poh advised me to, without counting. People around me look at me with strange looks, like on the day I told them that I would go to observe the Precepts. But the strange look today is radiated with bliss in my new life – the bright life without the poison of sin in mind and the mind that blossoms from the taste of dhamma. Now you have read my story. Don’t you want to know if you can come to practice like I’ve done, how valuable an asset you will receive on your return? It may be even more than what I’m receiving now.
And finally, I would like to make a wish to the Buddha, thanking him for giving the Dhamma to me. It is like nectar that pours into my life. I would like to make a wish to Luang Poh Phra Debsinghapura-cariya, Mae Yai and all the nuns, including those who look after me at Wat Ambavana and those who have taken me here to know the taste of dhamma. The power of you all will direct me away from sin. And perhaps, towards the end of my life I may come back to reciprocate the favour of all benefactors here.
410 Sukhumvit 63,
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