Chapter 12: People With Merit Can Practise Meditation Well
Dear followers, please listen attentively. First, when you practise walking meditation, before walking, you should stand still and note “standing thus” five times and be conscious that you are standing. When you sit, be conscious that you are sitting; when you sleep, know that you are sleeping (or assuming a sleeping posture.) When you turn to a certain direction, be conscious that you are turning. In this way, you are in command of your physical body all the time. Set the mind in mindful concentration and while pausing to stand note this position five times while doing walking meditation. This is called “Tacapa๑caka-kammatฺtฺha-na ” meditation. While a baby is being formed in the womb of the mother or would –be mother, if the mother has merit enough to know how to practise meditation, the offspring born will have much merit too. If the father happens to be someone who has committed lots of bad karma, and the mother is no different from the father, the baby will be unlikely to be better than the parents. It might be born mute, or mentally abnormal, an idiot or hard to be taught anything useful. This is the karma from the parents.
Therefore, the meditation practice (or kammatฺtฺha-na) helps one to accumulate merit and is beneficial to one’s children. The Buddha taught about this. The teaching can be traced in our contemplating : Kammada-ya-do, kammayoni, Kammabandhu, kammapatฺisaranฺo, yam. kammam. karrissa-mi kalya-nam.va- pa-pakam. va-. Literally it means we are the ones who create our own good or evil. For example, parents who commit bad deeds or engage in bad actions will pass on the fruit of bad karma to their children. Some of them may be born with deformed hands or legs ; some are born with abnormally big heads, while some develop kidney or liver disease.
For those of you who come to practise meditation, I can tell you that you are lucky to have the chance to reap the benefits of life and to shape your own thinking. So, sacrifice your time for meditation. It will make your life sublime in the future. There is no need for you to spend much money here. I charge you nothing throughout the duration of your stay and practise. You need not pay for your lodging and accommodation, nor do you have to pay for food. It is not even necessary for you to help me paying for the electricity bill.
I have taken much trouble to invite you here for a noble purpose like this, but regrettably there are still many people who take no interest at all in this meditation practice. It is a pity indeed. So, you see, there are still many people who have failed to come here to increase their merit, no matter how hard I urge them to come. Their own karma has “blocked” their eyes to a noble and moral cause. It is just like the one who was driving their car. Their past karma and its concomitant fruit “obstructed” their eyes so that they were unable to see clearly ; therefore, their driving ended in a tragic accident. It is the law of karma, dear followers! If you continue to practise meditation, you will understand what I have been saying some day.
It is said that only people who possess merit come to practise meditation. Not all people, of course, take great interest in meditation or have the chance to practise it. Different people hold different ideas, and they have different karma too. Some people have come from hell and are reborn in the present human world, but yet they are unable to practise meditation for one reason or another. Some people come and go to Buddhist monasteries frequently but seem to be blind to meditation practice classes made available in those monasteries. People who are ungrateful towards their parents are not likely to become interested in meditation, let alone those who murder their own parents.
Not long ago, there was a case of a man who had murdered his father in secret. His mother took pity on him and, probably because of his disturbed state of mind, brought him to Wat Ambavana to practise meditation. When they reached the monastery, the son who was the murderer would not enter. He felt hot all over his body and had a sudden splitting headache. His mother thought it was the ghost of his father coming to sort frighten the son and she asked me about it. I said no. It was the fruit of karma in action. He would never have peace of mind no matter what he did. One who kills one’s own parents can never practise meditation. They will never attain Nibba-na, nor will they ever be able to go to heaven. This man dared not even enter the monastery. He drove back home instead. This is a real event which took place not more than ten days ago.
Ahim. saka, the son of a Brahmin adviser, wanted to kill his mother in order to obtain her finger as a tribute of worship to his teacher. The Buddha, who knew that Ahim. saka was one with merit who could attain Nibba-na and became an Arahantan enlightened one, set out to stop him from this unthinkable and horrible intention.
The Buddha went to Ahim ฺsaka and said,”Please kill not your own mother, Ahim. saka”. The young man responded, “Stop, you hairless Samanฺa, I will kill you to get your finger to worship my teacher! I am short of only one finger to make up a thousand. Stop meddling, you hairless head!”
The Buddha replied, “Dear Ahim. saka, I stopped a long time ago.” Being one with hidden wisdom not yet uncovered, Ahim. saka suddenly awoke from his evil contemplation. “Oh! The Buddha stopped committing bad karma a long time ago, and yet now I have not yet stopped my reckless deed!” Thus, he threw away his swords instantly and asked to be ordained as a bhikkhu – a request which the Buddha granted and Ahim. saka was given the name Angulima-la.
I wish you all would remind your children and grandchildren not to think ill or badly of their own parents, at least not to the extent of wanting to kill them. If children have at any time thought or said unkind things about their parents, make them withdraw those unkind thoughts or words, and tell them to beg forgiveness from their parents. Having done that, they can come to this monastery for meditation practice. It will surely do them some good.
If anyone of you here had, at some time in your life, said very unkind things to people who had been good and kind to you, go to beg forgiveness from them and withdraw your horrible words! You will feel better when you meditate. It is just like monks who have to confess their mistakes or offences to one another before commencing meditating. The purpose is to “clean” or “purify” the mind.
There was once an old woman by the name of Taem who lived at Tau Pun, which was some distance down the road from Wat Swang. Mrs. Taem had been a regular visitor of this monastery for meditation practice for about 7 or 8 years, but her efforts in meditation were in vain. Why was it so? Well, Mrs. Taem was simply being very mean to her husband. She seemed to have developed a habit of reprimanding or scolding her husband for making the most trifling of mistakes, and she did that to him till his final day! Some times, most of the time in fact, the mistakes could hardly be classified as mistakes at all! I told her, “Ask for forgiveness from the spirit of your husband. That would help you”. She did and told me about it. From then on she had some success in her meditation practice.
Actually, Mrs. Taem did not mean anything truly bad towards her husband when she scolded him. It was simply a habit of hers to speak meanly when she felt provoked. I had asked her about this matter. She confessed, “It is true that I always scolded my husband. I have a sharp tongue and I liked to scold him but he never argued with me”.
Mrs. Taem lived till the age of eighty plus. Before death, she once requested of me that I should lead her coffin in the funeral procession to the crematorium. I was very ill on the day of her funeral, but I still attended her funeral as she had requested before her death. How did death come to her? She fell down the stairs. In fact, some years back, on a dark and unfortunate day, she was probably in ill temper and had tossed some unkind words on her poor husband. The old man must have said something not agreeable to that fiery-tempered and sharp-tongued woman. She gave him a push with her foot and the poor old fellow fell down the stairs and later died. He had a frail heart. So Mrs. Taem met the same fate as her poor life-partner! She sowed the seed of karma, and she was there to reap its fruit.
There was another family in which the father was a man with four wives. His first wife’s son lived with him. When the son returned to see his own mother, she told him that his father was a bad fellow. The son was upset. He went back to his father and reprimanded the old man for not being good enough to his mother. Later the young fellow came to ordain as a monk in this monastery. While he was a monk, he began to have inexplicable headaches every now and then. The headaches occurred very frequently and seemed not to respond to any medicine at all. I asked him where his father was. He said his father did not live with his mother as he had three more wives. I asked the young fellow if he had ever blamed or scolded his father. He frankly admitted that he had done so because his father broke his mother’ s heart. I urged him to go back to his father and ask for forgiveness as well as withdrawing all the unkind things he had said to his father. The young monk did as I told him to do. He returned with a look of relief, and a certain calmness could be seen on his face. His headaches disappeared!
I had once helped a couple, a husband and wife, at this monastery. The wife loved to call her husband names. She would call him “monitor lizard” everyday. A monitor lizard is a reptile we do not like and think lowly of in this country. To call someone a “monitor lizard” is rude and insulting. So, the husband of that woman with a nasty tongue was rather at a loss. He did not know what to do with his beloved wife who was quick –tempered and mean with her words. He certainly did not deserve such an insulting name, but there was no way to make his wife change her nasty habit. The poor man was therefore a very unhappy husband.
Out of compassion, I invited him to the monastery to calm his mind and soothe his nerves, and of course, to practise meditation or “kammatฺtฺha-na ”. He took ten days’ leave for this good purpose, and after ten days of meditation he felt much better apparently and learned to forgive his wife with genuine compassion. In short, he became much wiser than he was before the meditation training.
This man was actually a university graduate with a master’s degree, but he had a soft heart and was not in the habit of arguing. Thus, his wife took advantage of his gentle nature and mild temperament and sort of bullied him. Now when this man went home he was sarcastically greeted by his wife, who asked, “How was it? Did you get to heaven? Did you attain Nibba-na? Tell me!” The man smiled but said nothing.
One day this man, who was a government civil servant of C7 level, had to attend a meeting. He returned home late because he had stopped by a friend’s home for a visit. His wife was furious over his late return and began yelling and shrieking at him and calling him names, one of which was no other than her favourite term “monitor lizard”. The man, who had attained some wisdom from his meditation practice, remained calm and said calmly to his wife, “Calm down and do sit down and listen to me”.
“What? Listen to you? You, monitor lizard? Speak! Speak! But I don’ t want to hear!”, screamed the furious woman.
But the poor man continued, “Now, listen, you have a husband who has been good and sincere to you. We have been living together till we now have three children and they are all growing up. They have already entered the university, but you have become bad now.” At this point, the wife immediately shouted at him, “Me, bad? How am I bad? You, monitor lizard“.
The man replied, “Oh! Do speak softly, please. You need not shout. Today I will make a final decision. You used to have a husband who is a human being, but you have such a bad disposition. I am sorry to ask you but have you ceased to have a human husband and choose to have a monitor lizard to be your new husband from now on?”
Having said this, the man took his suitcase and said, “If you choose a monitor lizard to be your husband, then I cannot live with you. I am not a monitor lizard, thus I cannot be your husband.” With these words, he departed in his car. He went to Chiangmai for ten days. During his absence his wife came to the monastery. I did not know her well.
She said to me, “Luang Poh, my husband ran away, please help me! What must I do? “
I said, “I can’t help you. Go back. I am not interested. “Two days later, she came again, and she came more frequently after that. In the end, I decided to break my silence. I told her to come to practise meditation. She asked with suspicion, “Is that what you want me to do? If I practise meditation, will my husband come back?” “He will surely come back. I wager my head on that.” So said I.
However, she sat for only a few minutes and then rushed to complain to me that her husband had not yet returned. I made her continue her meditation practice. The purpose was to calm her down and put some sense in her silly head.
She practised for one day and on the following morning I asked her how meditation practice was going. She replied, “I practised and mumbled to myself: ‘breathe in, breathe out, where is my husband? Breathe in, breathe out, where is my husband? Breathe in, breathe out, is he coming back?’ “See, how absurd this woman was? In the end I told her, “You are a very sinful woman. You scolded your husband for no obviously good reasons. You should make a confession of your silly and ill manner. Ask for forgiveness in front of the Sangha of monks.” She did what I told her to do and appeared to be genuinely repentant. I made a phone call to her husband and told him to return.
So, the man came back and they finally became reconciled. At present they are still living together and have five children.
Credit: eBooks. Wat Amphawan.