Chapter 05: Past Lives


At a certain society, after the usual Thursday morning meeting, there was still some time left over to debate the nature of reality. The subject of karma is one that many people in the present day and age are interested in, and many believe it, but there were many members of this society who had doubts about it, particularly karma from past lives, or previous karma giving fruit in this life. Some people in the present life seem to be of good conduct and not at all likely to receive the heavy karma results they do receive. Thinking about it makes one feel like one is pounding one’s fist into the earth: “If no other reason can be found for it then it must be the result of karma in a previous life.” Thus there were these two sides to the question, one saying, “There is karma (and karma results) from previous lives,” while the other side still had doubts. Some even went so far as to disbelieve the matter altogether, and they got into arguments with those who had read my books on “The Law of Karma.”

When my friend, who was the secretary of this particular society, told me about this, I explained that it was normal for unenlightened beings to have differences of opinion, and that debate in the cause of finding truth was a good thing, as it would lead to wise reflection and wisdom. At some future time the matter will probably be clearly resolved, and seen in clear black and white, and then all the doubts will be swept aside.

But by strange coincidence, later on the author received a letter containing a record of experiences pertaining to karma from past lives which was supported by hard evidence. It was an event that is very credible, and cannot be doubted. Once the ready learns of it and reflects on it carefully he will no doubt resolve some of this doubts on the matter, because it is an event that really happened, not so long ago, and there are still people around who witnessed it. As such it is supported by strong evidence. It just so happened that this “miracle” or “coincidence” came just at a time when a arguments about karma from past lives were occurring.

In the letter sent to me, the recounter said: “I (the writer of the letter) have a friend who is an army officer and likes to go hunting. It is a sport that he enjoys and derives a lot of pleasure and excitement from. It is his life. I had wanted to ask him to stop and point out the bad karma involved, and explain the law of karma, but I reckoned that my words and reasons would not yet have enough weight to be effective and my friend would not listen to me. So I tried to find a chance to take my friend to a monk who was of high virtue to point out the right and the wrong, the good and the evil, and so become more morally well-behaved, as befits one who adheres to the Buddhist religion. If people would just stop siding with their won personal preferences and look at things according to reality I am sure that they would see that all beings that are born in the world, from the highest, the human beings, down to the most lowly crawling creatures, all have a certain instinct within them, and that instinct is fear. Domestic animals, such as dogs or cats, exhibit it clearly if we take a piece of wood and make as if to strike them with it: they immediately take fright and run away. The run in accordance with their instinct of fear. Wild animals live constantly in fear because they have seen what human beings can do. But the humans that hunt them are very different from some of the monks who constantly spread thoughts of good will and kindness to all beings. Thus, wild animals are not afraid of monks, their instinct tells them that the monks present no danger to them. This shows that in spite of the fact that all animals have fear, and fear of danger is a very important force in them, they are able to recognize whether a person has kindly thoughts or not. If those who like hunting thought about this they would recall having seen with their own eyes, when they go into the forest in search of game and the sound of their guns makes the animals scatter in all directions, how afraid they are: the young flee from their mothers, the males forsake the females—all run as fast as they can to save their own lives. Some of them are unlucky. If the bullet kills them that’s the end of the matter, but if they are only wounded they stagger to the nearest hidden clump of trees. They can’t leave to search for food; their limbs, wounded by the hunter’s bullet, are deformed, and they suffer untold misery until they either heal or die.

If you want to be a hunter you should look at yourself first, ask yourself whether your actions are right or wrong, whether you are making merit or bad karma. If you still cannot resolve the matter, then try putting your own feelings into the body of the hunted animals. Suppose that you were being hunted by animals or people for fun, just as you seek pleasure by hunting other animals. If we pinch someone else, they feel the pain but we don’t; what if they pinch us? How do we feel? Don’t forget that we are Buddhists: are we transgressing any of the training rules? Don’t allow your feelings to force you into making bad karma, don’t deludedly make bad karma in the same of “sport.” Be fair. Don’t exploit other beings. They live in the forest, they have their limits, they have their own kind of pleasure in accordance with their nature. Even though the government has made laws against hunting wild animal, there are still selfish people who seek them out and destroy them so that they are almost extinct. If we were to look at the matter carefully in accordance with moral principles we would feel compassion and pity for them, we would not be able to shoot them, we would allow them to live in the forests as they have done, in accordance with nature. We would not disturb them, but let them live in peace in the forest, and we would be at peace also. When we are older we will not have to fear the arising of bad karma as we will have not made any from the time we were young.

The letter stated:

One night, at the beginning of the month, 2nd April 1969, I set out with the retired army officer who liked to frequent the forests and hunt as the sport of a man. There was also another officer who was an expert marksman, who had received, as far as I know, six gold and silver medals. We had been arguing about whether game hunting was bad karma or not. That night we got into our car, with the driver, and set out. It was the night after the full moon, the moon was still unblemished, shining brightly in its full beauty, as it was the month of May. Even though the weather was muggy during the day, at night it had cooled down considerably. Since the moon was casting its light over the land, we could see the mountains and forests bathed in its light. Such a sight is a feast for one whose mind is normal, but a hunter’s thoughts go further into the forests, they turn to the animals. At the least they think of the rabbits which like to come out and play in the moonlight. At such times they can really enjoy some good shooting practice. Different people perceive the moonlight differently. For young unmarried people, such times are full of dreams of their beloved, full of sweetness and romance with their sweethearts under the bright moonlight. The time and the place, the mountains and forests in the moonlight, will produce dreams in everyone: for young men and women it is of love, for the old it may be of sweet memories of past moonlit nights.

But my journey out of the town of Lopburi with my friends and our driver was not for the purpose of entering the forest and hunting the rabbits that had come out to play in the moonlight, because that is not my fancy, nor was it to seek out our lady loves out of romantic mood. Our departure from our place of rest was in order to go to Singburi Province, to go and pay our respects to Phra Khru Bhavanavisuddhi, the Abbot of the meditation center, Wat Ambhavan in Singburi. It turned out that we were in luck as we managed to meet the Venerable Phra Khru on his own. It is difficult to find him on his own as he had so many visitors. It is hard to find time to be with him. After we had approached and paid our respects we had a chance to talk with him under his kuti. Venerable Prasidh offered us hot tea as usual, the same as happened every time I went there.

Having chatted with him for suitable time, we began to ask him about the “fruition of karma.” The Phra Khru kindly explained the matter and gave examples. Some of examples he describe got some of us thinking, about the things we had done when we were young and reckless. We were proud of showing off our expert marksmanship. We were weak in morality but strong in making bad karma. In those days we never thought of good and bad karma, virtue and vice, or morality. Whenever our friends invited us to go we would gladly follow in search of fun. Pity of compassion never arose within our hearts. If the unfortunate animals we shot didn’t die immediately, they would struggle to their utmost to get away, to save their lives. They would be trembling all over with terror, but we thought it was fun, we would be thrilled and excited. Now that we were listening to the Dhamma, and the Venerable Phra Khru’s explanation of the law of karma, thinking back on those times made us feel uneasy. We never thought of ourselves as cruel and violent men who exploited others in this way, because we had forgotten ourselves.

When my friend the expert marksman asked, “Hunting is a sport that human beings enjoy. Would it be bad karma? Some teachings say that it is not bad karma to kill animals because in so doing we are helping to send them on to a human birth.”

The Phra Khru answered, “According to Buddhism it is against the first precept. The animals in the forest just go about their business of looking for food according to their natural instincts, the stick to their area, we should stick to ours. But in fact human beings turn around and carry their gun into the forests in order to disturb them, to destroy and exploit those animals. And then we make excuses for ourselves, saying that we are “helping them onto a human birth.” How do we know that the animals we kill are being reborn as human beings? We just decide that for ourselves, but the animals can’t talk, they can’t voice their opinions. Only the human beings can speak, so the argument is one-sided. People reason according to their personal desires. For example, many years ago the forested areas surrounding the Wat were flooded, and the rabbits fled the water in search of refuge, otherwise they would have died. In the end they fled the water and came to live in the Wat. Because it was on high land, the floodwaters couldn’t reach it. Even though they knew that living close to human beings, who were cruel, was putting their lives in danger, the rabbits had no choice, there was nowhere safer than here to run to. They were forced to choose the Wat as their sanctuary, knowing full well that if they encountered humans that were cruel they would certainly die. It was a chance they had to take; better than drowning. If we humans thought about it, we would understand and feel sympathy for the animals, we would generate thoughts of goodwill for them. They had no refuge, they were forced to struggle into the Wat as a last resort. Some of the rabbits had fled into the Uposatha Hall. Seeing as how the rabbits had fled from distress (heat) seeking refuge (coolness), I felt sorry for them and made an announcement to the local people asking them not to harm the rabbits. They were already afraid enough as it is, being forced to come and live so close to human beings. Rabbits are naturally afraid of humans. I asked them to please refrain from harming the rabbits and instead help to protect them. Helping them to escape from the floodwaters was an act the merit making. It is skillful to help other beings form suffering. They had nowhere else to go.

“But it turned out that one of the local people took no heed of my plea, and instead took the opportunity to hunt the rabbits and eat them. It saddened me to hear this, because I felt that anyone who harmed these rabbits would surely receive more heavy karmic retribution than ordinary hunters who go out in search of game into the forests. In the forest the rabbits still have somewhere to run to, but here there was nowhere for the rabbits to go, they were trapped. Later on it turned out that the man who hunted those rabbits died from a strange and painful illness. It was the results of his karma: he had refused to listen to my words. Shat he couldn’t escape was the retribution of his actions.

“As my friend the hunter was listening to this he began to feel uneasy, as he had killed many animals in his life, and had never thought about good and bad karma. He had thought only of seeking pleasure as is the way of a young man. So he asked the Phra Khru, “Venerable Ajahn, I have shot many animals but I never thought about karma and the retribution that would be in store for me. I feel that my actions were a result of a young man’s recklessness, one who has no moral training. Now that I know about right and wrong, what ways are there for me to wash away this bad past karma?” The Venerable Phra Khru said, “Merit and wrong doing cannot be washed away. Merit is merit, wrongdoing is wrongdoing. They are like oil and water. But just to have the awareness of what is right and what is wrong, to realize that we have made bad karma, is a good sign. It means that we will begin to change our ways and make more good karma. A person who realizes this is more praiseworthy than those who try to justify their bad actions. If you know that you have made bad karma, and then continue to make it, it is like falling down one step and then jumping the rest of the way. You think, “Well, I’ve made so much bad karma already, I may as well continue to make it,” instead of gaining awareness, changing your ways and making good karma in compensation for the bad karma you have already made. The Buddha praised those who give up evil and become good. If we do make a lot of good karma and merit, while it cannot actually wash away our bad karma. At least our bad karma will become less than the good, and less effective in giving results; the good karma will carry more weight. As we make more and more good karma, we can begin to dedicate it to other beings, to those we have wronged or have wronged us. Whenever we make good karma, we can always dedicate the merits in this way. If your bad karma is not too heavy it will dissipate, because the good karma that we dedicate to others serves to atone for the bad karma we have made. As we make more and more good karma, while bad karma doesn’t get diluted it does get further and further away and the chances for it to give fruit are reduced. If we stop making good karma and revert to making bad karma, our bad karma closes in on us and gives fruition much faster. The heavier the karma is, the harder it is to escape its consequences. No matter how much good karma it is to escape its consequences. No matter how much good karma one makes, if the bad karma is still heavier that the good karma one is making in the present life, one must receive the fruits of the previous bad karma. Until one’s bad karma is used up and the good karma gives fruit later, or in the later life, the dept of one’s bad karma will not be paid up.

“For example, there was an incident that happened here about the year 1962. The person who received the results of bad karma at that time was a devout follower of Buddhism. He had a virtuous mind, always helped out in merit making ceremonies and had helped me out in many of the functions in the Wat. He was also interested in practicing insight meditation with me. His name was Chalor Gertsuvan. Because in the past he had been a soldier in the Guard (Senaraks), and was a kind and benevolent person, always helping out the villagers when they were sick, never reluctant to help them, he was much loved by the villagers. They called him “Doctor Chalor,” He was originally from Salah Loy village in Ayudhya. He got married to a young lady named Tongbai, who lived in the village next to the Wat. Then Dr. Chalor came here to study and practice meditation. He practiced regularly, so he was able to develop a good degree of concentration.

“One day Doctor Chalor told me while he was sitting in meditation a vision of a past life arose very clearly within his mind, as clear as if it had happened only recently.”

“The vision showed him a life in which had was 16 or 17 years old, and had an older brother. His mother and father were Vietnamese who lived in Rachburi. They sold earthenware jugs, taking them by boat and selling them along the banks of the river. At that time one of his older brother’s friends invited Doctor Chalor to join them in plundering the village of Morng Rai, close to the Erawan Waterfall in Kanchanaburi. As young people tend to do, Doctor Chalor saw the evil action as a form of excitement and, throwing all mindfulness and restraint to the winds, joined the group. At the appointed time he went with his older brother, and they took their guns with them. When they reached a certain house in an isolated area at the outskirts of the village, they quickly close in before the owner had a chance to find out what was happening. When the man who owned the house saw them coming he was taken completely by surprise. He realized immediately that bandits were coming to rob him, but he had no chance to fight back. Doctor Chalor’s older brother shot him and he fell in a heap onto the ground. The older brother’s friend was the leader. He ordered Doctor Chalor to kill the owner’s wife who had been sleeping on the “smoking platform”, having just given birth to a child, because she was screaming so loudly for help. Doctor Chalor did not hesitate. He killed the woman and threw her new-born baby, together with its bedding, into the fire. He did it unflinchingly and cruelly, with no trace of kindness or fear of bad karma. His mind was completely devoid of pity for his victims, and was not al all shocked at his actions. He was the killing of the woman and her child as perfectly normal, he was merely acting under his brother’s friend’s order, with earnestness and daring. He wanted to show his mettle, to show that he was a brave man, as is common for a young man who doesn’t know the difference between good and evil.

“His brother’s friend collected all the wealth that he could, and then set the house alight, and the three of them fled as quickly as possible for fear of being discovered when the neighbors came to put out the fire.”

“When they got back to their village they all connived to suppress the matter of their raid from their parents. Later, Doctor Chalor and his parents set out and their barge to sell pottery as they had always done. Doctor Chalor was poling the barge along when he suddenly fainted and collapsed into the water, where he died.”

“This is karma in the past, which manifested as an image in his meditation practice. Doctor Chalor told me about it in detail. I considered the matter and figured that his past karma was so heavy it would probably give results in the future, and no matter how much he practiced the Dhamma in this present life he would not escape its results.”

“I told him to forget about the vision, not to think about it, to forget about the image that he saw and make his mind equanimous, then to sit in meditation, and no longer to think of the past.”

“But I didn’t do anything because it happened that Mr. Charoen Gertsuvan, Doctor Chalor’s older brother, who lived in Ayudhaya, came to see him, and invited Doctor Chalor to join him in the bamboo trade in Kanchanaburi. At that time bamboo was becoming a valuable commodity for export, and bamboo sellers were making a lot of money because the investment was little but the return great. Doctor Chalor saw a chance to make money—he wanted to be rich man just like any other ordinary person. He looked on the chance to make money with excitement and zeal. Doctor came to ask my advice about becoming a bamboo trader and moving his whole family to Kanchanaburi so that he wouldn’t have to worry about them and waste valuable time travelling back and forth the between his present home and his place of work. I asked him where he was planning to live in Kanchanaburi. When I heard that name I felt ill at ease, but I could see that if I tried to prevent him I would not be successful. Doctor Chalor had his sights set on becoming a rich man. He breathed bamboo. It was like a strongly flowing current of water, nothing could get in its way. Even though he respected me it would be very difficult to change his mind. It seemed that unskillful karma had caused this greed to arise in him. I couldn’t remind him of his visions of past karma as I had already told him to forget about them and not to think about them anymore, but simply to make as much good karma as he could.

“Thus, after reflection, all I could do was to recommend that on his first journey he should not take family with him, because he was not yet sure of the situation over there. I said he should go by himself first. Once he had been and seen the place and made a place of himself then he could move his family there with ease. If the bamboo trade wasn’t as fruitful as they understood, he could always come back to Prohmburi and live there as before. Doctor Chalor agreed to my suggestion.

“Then Doctor Chalor set out together with his older brother to join the bamboo trade in kanchanaburi. I couldn’t help feeling worried about him and was on the watch for any news that may come, but there was none.

“After Doctor Chalor had been away from Prohmburi for about one year he came back to visit his family and dropped in to visit me at the Wat. I asked him about the bamboo trade, and he said that it was very profitable. In only one year he knew all about it, he had got hold of a piece of land deep in the forest, where he had built a little hut in the area of Ban Morng Rai in Tah Gradan District, close to the Erawan Waterfall in Amphur Srisawat, Kanchanaburi Province. This time he had decided to take his family back with him so they could live together and he would not have to worry about the house while he took the bamboo by raft, selling it along the banks of the river Kwae, and in Kanchanaburi. He had already built a big and comfortable house for his family. I listened calmly and gave him some encouraging words, saying that if he had found a good means of livelihood, I was pleased for him. But within my heart I felt a strange sense of foreboding. All I could do was warm him to wary of misfortune and not to forsake the monks, then maybe he could mitigate things. I also told him about the law of karma, but it seemed that Doctor Chalor had changed. He said that if his time was up he would die wherever he went, but at least he was happy that he had made a lot of good karma. I felt that I couldn’t restrain him or bring him back to his previous self. It was probably because of the influence of his past karma. After we had talked for a while, Doctor Chalor took my leave, and he took his family, together with a niece, Urai and a nephew, Chaveng Cheuasrikaew. They had asked to go with him to make a living in Kanchanaburi. They were excited at the prospects of riches that lay in store for them. All I could do was warn them not to neglect the religion.

“About four years passed by and still nothing had happened. I was very interested in this family because the events of past karma that arise in meditation practice are particularly heavy, and I could not see any way that they could be alleviated apart from practicing the Dhamma and dedicating the fruits of the practice to one’s enemies in order to ask their forgiveness. In this way it may be possible to decrease the effects of past karma. But I heard that when Doctor Chalor went to Kanchanaburi he had no time to practice meditation or make merit, he was so busy making money. I was saddened by this but all I could do was look on and listen for news. As time passed I heard that a tragedy had struck his family. The news came from one of Doctor Chalor’s wife relatives, who had traveled back and forth between there and this area. She told me the news. It seemed that the heavy karma from Doctor Charlor’s past life had finally given fruit. On that particular day, Doctor Chalor had gone on business into Kanchanaburi town with his wife and children. His older brother was left alone to mind the house When Doctor Chalor got back home he heard that his house had been robbed, and that his brother had been shot by bandits on the steps of the house. All the wealth had been stolen. When Doctor Chalor, his wife and children heard the news they raced back home. Seeing the sight, he almost fainted on the spot.

“Doctor Chalor raced to report the matter to the authorities and asked them to come and check his brother’s body, but they were slow in getting there and the body had begun to fester.

“Some days later a stranger came and told Doctor Chalor in a threatening tone to take his family and get out of the area fast and get as far away as possible, otherwise he would die like his brother. Doctor Chalor didn’t like people threatening him, he was proud and wanted to defend his honor like a man. People normally don’t like being threatened, especially when the threat is coming from bad elements. Even though he knew he couldn’t beat them, his anger pride, and resentment deprived him of his sense of reason. His older brother had only recently been killed, and his resentment and desire for revenge filled his heart and incited his pride. If there was going to be any killing around here, they would have to shoot it out first and see who was the one to die. Thus, with anger and vengeance guiding his heart, Doctor Chalor refused to heed the threats or leave the area that had made him rich. But he was careful, he didn’t let down his guard. He practice his shooting, both short arms and long arms, and he kept a gun close by him at all times, ready for use. In the event of an emergency he could grab it and use it immediately. He was fully ready for fighting, like a true man. He thought of the words of the Phra Khru, and told his nephew that if anything should happen to him, to look after the house after him.

“Only fifteen days after his brother had been shot and killed in the raid on his house, at midday, there was the sound of a long tailed boat landing at the boat landing at the boat landing in front of the house. From the boat man shouted out for Doctor Chalor to come down to the landing. Tongbai, Doctor Chalor’s wife, came down from the house and went to the boat landing where the boat was docked. She saw about fifteen men in military uniforms and guns, looking much like policemen. They shouted up to Tongbai, asking whether Doctor Chalor was in, as they urgently wanted to see him down at the boat landing. Tongbai rushed up to the house and told her husband that some officials wanted to see him urgently. Doctor Chalor thought that they must be the officials from the police wanting to ask him about the robbery and the murder of his brother, so he let down his guard. He walked down to the boat landing. His wife, standing higher up on the back, could see them talking about something or other, but she couldn’t hear what they were saying as it was too far away. The Doctor Chalor turned around and began heading back to the house, but just at that moment one of the men in the boat close to Doctor Chalor took out a gun and shot him in the back of the head. Doctor Chalor was completely unprepared, he didn’t have his guard up. As soon as the shot was fired he collapsed in the heap, dying instantly. His wife, seeing the incident, fainted on the spot. The murderers, dressed as policemen, having made sure that he was dead, sped off in the long-tailed boat. This incident took place on 4th September, 1961.

“As for Tongbai, when she regained consciousness, she raced down to the boat landing, wailing distractedly, and threw her arms around her beloved husband. When she was sure that the husband she loved so much was already dead without so much as a chance to say good-bye to his wife and children, she hugged his body and cried so much she almost collapsed and died on top of him. He was too heavy to lift up from the boat landing, their hired hands were still far off in the forest. Only her children were at the house, and they were too small to do anything. She had to find a rope and tie the body to the boat landing, as she was afraid that if the waters rose the body would be carried far away or would sink down into the river far from the boat landing. She raced off to report the matter to the authorities to come and inspect the body according to the routine.

“Tongbai, having lost both her beloved husband and his older brother, found herself a woman alone. She didn’t know what to do. She was both terrified and grief stricken. The more she thought about her husband about her husband and more desperate she felt. Her husband had only just been brutally murdered right before her eyes, she was shattered. She had never before experienced such tragedy. It was impossible for her to continue living on in the forest with her children, nephew and niece. She decided to give the bodies of her husband and his brother a cremation, right there in the grounds of the house, as quickly as possible. There are witness of the cremation. When it was finished, she immediately collected all her things, put the few remaining ashes from the cremation into a white cloth, and without hesitation took all she could with her and her children down to a barge to begin the journey down the river and back to her home village. But the bad luck was not finished yet, it followed Doctor Chalor’s family.

“Barge travel is dangerous. If the punter is not really skilled, it is easy to crash the barge into the rocks and smash it to pieces. Such was the barge that Tongbai and her children rode on. The man punting the barge was not very skilled and he smashed into some rocks, the barge fell apart, and everybody, including the children, were thrown into the water. They were lucky in that someone helped them out of the water, so no-one was killed in the incident. And they all make it safety back to the bank. But the bad karma continued to Doctor Chalor’s family as they made their arduous way back. By the time they got back to Ban Samrong in Prohmburi District, Singburi, they had to endure such intense hardship they almost cried blood. It was one of the most pitiful stories I ever heard.

“When they got back to Ban Samrong, the relatives came to visit and gathered round to show their condolences at the death of Doctor Chalor and the suffering his family had had to go through in traveling back home. They all designated an appropriate day to make merit for the ashes and dedicate the merits to Doctor Chalor and his brother. They invited me also but on the day of the funeral I had another appointment. However I did go to give a talk two days before the cremation, telling them about how there really is such a thing as karma from past lives, how it can easily come back and give fruit in the present life.

“After I had given the talk before the merit-making ceremony, many friends and relatives came to Tongbai to ask her about the events of Doctor Chalor’s death. This got Tongbai thinking back on those events, of her beloved husband who had to die so cruelly and miserable, and she began to be overcome once more by grief, crying and sobbing so much that she left her body and went to join her husband. The people who listened to the events that led to Doctor Chalor’s death couldn’t help feeling sorrow also, and all felt for Tongbai, who loved her husband so much. She cried as she sat recounting the events among the crowd of relatives and friends. Many of them couldn’t hold back the tears from their own eyes. Tongbai was so overcome by grief that she collapsed and lay prostrate for a moment, and her relatives had to help revive her. But once revived Tongbai had still not recovered: the more she thought, the more she cried, and the more she cried the more she thought of her late husband’s goodness. She couldn’t subdue the suffering that welled up inside her, she had lost her sense of reason and just let her mind completely follow her moods. Soon she fainted once more and became unconscious. The grief was too much for her. She lay prostrate once more, and, amid the astonishment of her relatives and friends, who tried in vain to revive her again, she died of a heart attack right then and there, on October 8, 1961, leaving her children to fend for themselves in the world.

“Not long after that, news arrived that the authorities had not been idle. Police Superintendent Colonel Yongyuth Gesornmalah led a squad of police to capture the band of bandits that had terrorized the local people for so long. Karma followed them as well, as the police surrounded their holdout. The bandits refused to surrender, and in the end the bandit leaders, Sawat Udom and Pee Piyapan, who led the raids on Doctor Chalor’s house and had killed Doctor Chalor and his brother, got in the way of some of the police squad’s bullets and died in accordance with their karma. Their accomplices surrendered. Altogether 38 men were captured. After interrogation, they were sent for trial.

“I think this is a good example of how major bad karma in a past life can follow one into the present life. It’s old karma giving fruit in the present life. May you all reflect on this. All people are born to pay the debts of their old karma, be it good or evil, it will always follow you, on-one can escape the effects of karma. May you all reflect on this matter intelligently, looking at the example I have given here.”

When the Phra Khru had recounted the story, we talked to him a little longer, and then it was midnight. The mood was bright in the sky. We looked each other in the eye and nodded, then paid our respects to the Phra Khru, Ajahn Phra Khru Bhavanavisuddhi, in order to let him go and have some rest. It seemed that he always had visitors coming to see him.

We got into our car and made our way out of Wat Ambhavan back to Lobburi. The moon was shining bright in the sky, as it was only one day after the full moon. But we all sat quietly, no-one saying anything; we were all thinking. The few words we did speak were about past karma. There was only the sound of the car’s engine as we sped through the night, among the fields, hills and forests in the bright moonlight. It was getting toward morning. Eventually we made it back to our base in the military compound. That night we had found our about “past lives”, with no room for doubt to remain about the matter. The only doubt remaining would be among those people whose minds are on a different level.

The author has compiled this story from the letter kindly sent to me by a senior army officer. If the reader is still unsure about the past lives recounted in this story, please go and see Venerable Phra Khru Bhavanavisuddhi, at Wat Ambhavan, Prohmburi District, Singburi Province, and you may get a more detailed account. The Venerable may tell the story more profoundly than I have. I would like to respectfully thank Venerable Phra Khru Bhavanavisuddhi for allowing me to include his real name and address in this story, in order to assuage any doubts among those people who are unsure whether the story is true or concocted. This relieves the writer of the duty of answering any questions about the story. The story should be useful in some way or other. I would like to dedicate any goodness arising from the recounting of this story to the people who were its main characters, who have all since passed away. The compiler cannot omit to thank Colonel Sawat Phanich and Colonel Tiang Konoknuwat, who kindly wrote down the story told to them by Venerable Phra Khru Bhavanavisuddhi and sent it to me in order to be made available to a wider audience.

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