Chapter 04: The Reporting Spirit
Today I am going to tell you a story of a spirit of a man who came to see me just after he died. This incident took place in 1983. It was the spirit of Mr. Wirot Panjaburi, who had strong determination to practice vipassana meditation at Wat Ambhavan.
Let’s begin with his biography.
Wirot Panjaburi was born on August 4, 1960, at 91/1 Pratuchai Road, Amphur Muang, Changwat Payao.
He was the second child of Mr. Wirat and Mrs. Mornkaew Panjaburi, who had four children. He was a good student with a very good record and a find young man, for he did not smoke or dring alcohol. He finished high school from Payao Pittayakom School in 1977, received a teaching certificate in 1981, and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education on March 2, 1983. When he was a student representative from Chiangrai Teachers’ College, he had attended a vipassana course at Wat Ambhavan in October 1982. It was a seven-day course organized by the Young Buddhist Association for college students from all over Thailand. The students were taught how to practice vipassana meditation. Wirot paid serious attention to the lesson and could achieve good meditation results.
In 1983, The Young Buddhist Association arranged a five-day vipassana meditation course for two hundred students at Wat Ambhavan, Changwat Singburi. Director Somporn Tepsiddha, the president of The Young Buddhist Association, invited Mr. Charn Manudham, the Minister of Education, to preside over the opening ceremony on October 21, 1983.
At Chiangrai Teachers’ College, Mr. Somdej Mungmuang, a master’s degree instructor asked Wirot, a new instructor, to join the course.
“Would you like to join the vipassana meditation course at Wat Ambhavan?” Somdej asked Wirot.
“Yes, I would definitely like to go. I learned to practice vipassana meditation at Wat Ambhavan last year when I was a student. It made me happy and peaceful,” Wirot answered.
Somdej knew that feeling very well because he too had practiced vipassana meditation when he was a student. So he assigned Wirot to look after the students and be one of the lecturers. Wirot happily accepted the job.
Wirot asked his girlfriend, Kunlaya, who worked at Changwat Payao, to attend the course. But she did not want to.
“Please go ahead. I will go to the temple when I am as old as a grandmother,” she said.
With firm determination to attend the course, Wirot prepared his bags. He packed two bags, one for his stay at Wat Ambhavan, the other for this sports attire as he was to play sports before going to the temple.
On October 16, 1983, five days before the course, Wirot and Kunlaya were riding a motercycle and had a fatal collision with a car. Wirot died instantly from head and body injuries. Kunlaya was taken to a hospital and died the following day.
On that same day, at Wat Ambhavan, we were on the last day of a vipassana meditation training course for Tepsatri Teachers’ College students. After the closing ceremony, we clean up the auditorium. There were two new monks, one had a master’s degree, the other had a bachelor’s degree. They were not interested in vipassana meditation as they said that they had ordained temporary, for fifteen days only. The master’s degree monk would be going to the United States of America to study for a Ph.D. degree.
“You should practice vipassana meditation because you will have better concentration and it will help your studies,” I told him.
“I am not interested because I want to prepare for my studies in the United States of America,” he answered.
The other monk was also not interested in meditation but he helped with the temple activities, such as cleaning up, sweeping the floor of the auditorium (we did not have carpet at that time). It was late evening. While I was sitting in a chair and the two monks were sweeping the floor, Wirot showed up carrying his two bags. He paid his respects to me.
“Hello, how are you?” I greeted him.
“My name is Wirot. I have come from Chiangrai. Do you remember me?” he asked me.
“Well, you look familiar.” I was not sure I remembered him.
“I was your student at last year’s training course organized by The Young Buddhist Association. I did not have enough practice then, but I practiced at home. I am very interested in vipassana meditation. I am joining the upcoming course because I have accepted an assignment as a lecturer from Instructor Somdej,” he said.
“Why have you come here so early. Today is October 16. The course will start on October 21,” I said.
“I am dead,” he said.
The two monks who were sweeping the floor became weak-kneed and sat down and looked at Wirot. He did not look like a TV ghost with rotten eyes, long hair and big hands. The two monks were very interested in his conversation.
“How did you come here?,” I asked.
“Dear Luang Poh, I realized the benefit of vipassana meditation from my last training course here. I have accepted the job from Instructor Somdej to accompany the students. I want to practice vipassana for seven days and seven nights. I also asked my girlfriend to come here but she did not want to. We were riding our motercycle, when a car hit us. I died instantly. I was determined to come to this temple and here I am with my two bags,” he said.
“Where is your funeral and where is your girlfriend?”
“Kunlaya was taken to a hospital and died afterwards. Our funerals were held separately.”
“Why aren’t in your coffin? How can you come here?” I asked again.
“It’s not true that a spirit has to stay in his coffin,” he said and continued to tell his story.
He was in good mindfulness (awareness) while he was dying. He stepped out and looked at his lifeless body with its seriously wounded head and abdomen. When his body was taken to a temple and prepared for the funeral, he followed and watched every step; sprinkling water on the corpse’s right hand, putting the body inside a coffin and the monks chanting. As soon as the procedure was finished, Wirot’s spirit arrived at Wat Ambhavan.
Please listen carefully, the spirit will be in an unhappy existence if the mind is with defilements. Vise versa, it will be in a happy existence if the mind is without defilements.
“Didn’t you stay with your body when it was put inside the coffin?” I asked.
“No, I didn’t,” he answered.
So I learned that a spirit does not have to stay inside the coffin. He can go anywhere his mind wants to go. For example, as soon as you close your eyes and think of your house or your bedroom, you can be there without getting struck in traffic or turning left or right. Now you are listening to me in the auditorium, if you think of the dining hall, you can be there immediately without turning or stopping anywhere.
I would like to add that it is not always true that spirits remain at the place where they die. If they have an accident and die instantly, their spirits do not have to remain at that road. Only the person who has never trained in mindfulness or perform any merit stays at the place they died because they do not know where else to go. This kind of being is called “Sambhavesi” or a wandering ghost.
If they die with greed, they will born hungry ghosts or demons. If they die with anger or hatred, especially women who are in deep anger with their husbands, they will become ghosts (or so called “vampires”). Sambhavesi is a demon who died when his mind is with greed. His mind is attached to the place he dies and he has to stay there and guard that place. One example are those of Camp Bang Rachan during the Sri Ayudhya period. Thai heroes, such as Mr. Chan Nuadkeaw and Khun San Panrueng, died while they were fighting with Burmese enemies. That moment their minds were with anger, they remained and guarded the place. Everybody knew that place was haunted. Nobody could take anything from that place, wood or water. Some people tried to take away sacred water from a pond named Luang Poh Arjarn Dhammajoti Pond, but the kettle burst before they could leave the place.
Arjarn Dhammajoti was very good a Jhana (absorption meditation), but he died with hatred while fighting for his beloved country. His spirit remained and guarded the place fiercely. Later King Bhumibol built a new fort, made merit and dedicated the merit as well as radiated loving-kindness to the ghosts. The spirits could leave Camp Bang Rachan and went to their proper places. Now the Camp is not haunted anymore.
Wirot said that he was not a wandering ghost. Many people saw him while I was talking to him. It was not my imagination. How did I know that he was a spirit?
I had not noticed when he arrived because there were so many people cleaning up the auditorium. When I saw him, he was already sitting in front of me and was paying respect to me. After he introduced himself and told his story, I continued questioning him.
“Who will listen to the monks’ chanting if you are not in the coffin?” I asked.
“The chanting is for living relatives and guests. I do not have to listen,” he said.
The master’s degree monk was listening with gaping mouth.
“I definitely have to come here to meditate because I am determined to do so. Time in human world is very valuable,” Wirot continued talking.
The master’s degree monk thought “Oh! I am a monk but I do not want to learn vipassana meditation. He is a ghost but he desperately wants to meditate.” Later, he and the bachelor’s degree monk asked me to teach them vipassana meditation and they started practicing together.
I continued talking to Wirot.
“You should listen to the monks’ chanting. It is good for you,” I said.
“Dear Luang Poh, the chanting is for living relatives and guests. The spirit already has his own path, that is to go to a good place if the mind is good, to a bad place if the mind is not good. As for me I have planned for a long time to come back here to continue practicing vipassana meditation and be a lecturer for the upcoming course. Last year, I could practice vipassana meditation for only two full days because there were so many lecturers and the practice time was less. However, I was very impressed,” he said.
“Dear Sir, I am very tired, please let me stay here and show me where I can stay. I am willing to serve you if your need my help,” said Wirot.
“Go to the lodgings beside the Uposatha hall and find any empty one to stay,” I said.
“Please do not let him stay at my place,” a monk said.
“I do not believe him. He may be a drug addict who lies for a chance to steal from us,” the bachelor’s degree monk said.
Well it was not a bad idea. We should wait and see.
“I have to rest because I am very tied. By the way, do you know when the students will arrive? Wirot asked.
I checked the letter and told him.
“5 p.m. and they will have dinner here.”
“Please believe me. They will arrive very late, probably at 11 p.m., not before 9 p.m.,” he said.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“They will stop and tour around the Bhumibol Dam at Changwat Tak. It will take a lot of time for hundreds of students to finish their sightseeing. So they will arrive late. Please tell the cooks not to start cooking too early or the food will spoil. Please believe me Luang Poh, I know better than you in this case. I have become very tired since the accident. Please let me know where I can stay,” Wirot said.
“O.K. Please go and rest” I pointed at a lodging.
He bowed to me three times, lifted his bags and walked away.
The master’s degree monk could not stand anymore. He had to sit down. So did I. Why was it? When he moved away his feet were one inch above the ground! There were also other things: his eyes had no glistening of life. He had never looked me in the eyes but stared at the floor. He disappeared once he got to the Luang Poh Toeh shrine.
At that time we had not built the shrine yet. There was a big 800-year old tree (Luang Samarnvanakt had identified its age). I thought about the danger if the tree fell, either the temple or my lodging or the auditorium would be flattened. So I had it cut down. Some villagers asked for the wood. But soon they had to bring it back because they heard a cry from that wood. I had to build a small sacred house for the divine being who used to stay at the tree. Later, I built a small shrine for Somdej Buddhajarn Toeh Prommarangsi.
After Wirot left, several monks followed and checked all the lodgings, but they could not find him or his two bags. The two monks asked me to teach them to meditate.
“We have been here many days but we did not realize the benefits of vipasana meditation. The ghost is better than us, for he knows the value of meditation,” they said.
They started vipassana meditation and went on practicing with the students from Chiangrai.
Please remember Wirot could leave of his body and be here because he had trained in mindfulness.
“Dear Luang Poh if I had never trained in mindfulness, I could have gone to any place. But I had intention to come here and I had packed by bags and prepared everything. Now I can be here,” Wirot said.
October 21, 1983, the day that students from Chiangrai arrived, electricity at Wat Ambhavan was out from 6 p.m. till dawn, though it was not out at any other place. The dogs howled all night. I asked monks to light candles and put them along the walkways. The students arrived very late that night. So it was true what Wirot had told us.
After greeting the group, I told them to take a shower and have dinner. But they said that they were very hungry so they had dinner before taking a shower. After that they attended the orientation for the training course. Then I invited the staff: Mr. Somdej and three other female instructors, to see me. The master’s degree monk read the note about the visit of Wirot’s spirit five days before. After listening to the story, the staff came to tears and acknowledged that it was true.
It was a miracle, that we at Wat Ambhavan knew about Wirot’s fatal accident before the group arrived. I also told Somdej that Wirot should have died on October 21 at the Bhumibol Dam in Changwat Tak, but that would have delayed their vipassana meditation lesson. So he had died five days before the departure date.
Instructor Somdej said to me.
“I would like to go back to Payao to attend Wirot’s cremation ceremony on October 23. May I leave the students under your care on that day, please.”
This is a true story of a spirit who came to see me and asked to attend vipassana meditation. He could do it because he studied Dhamma and practiced vipassana meditation. His mindfulness was sufficient. I remembered asking him whether he was in pain while he was dying.
“Sir, it happened so fast that I hardly felt it and I just stood outside watching my body. I talked to many people but no one answered me because they did not see or hear me,” he answered.
Where is the ghost world or the world of divine beings? The answer is they are among us. There could be many of them in the empty space around us but we cannot see them. They are in different existences and different births. Heaven is not up in the sky. Hell is not down under the earth. Once I had dug the ground, and found only earth worms and millipedes. If heaven is up in the sky, I should have seen it when I was in an airplane but I did not see any up there.
Therefore, heaven and hell co-exist among us, but we do not know it.
Not only humans can practice vipassana meditation, but also ghosts and divine beings can practice too. For example, Mrs. Galong who practiced vipassana meditation at Wat Ambhavan and got successful results, for her status changed to that of a divine being.
We have witnesses and evidence to prove that Wirot’s story is true. I have some pictures of him and his colleagues. Wirot practices vipassana until he got successful results because he reached the sixteenth insight. How do I know? He had shown his qualification to me. The person who has gained the sixteenth insight will have a special qualification and appearance, which Wirot had after heartily practicing vipassana meditation at Wat Ambhavan.
In order that this story is a complete report about the spirit, we have attached letters and notes from the persons mentioned.
Letter from Instuctor Somdej To Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol
Amphur Muang, Chiangrai October 8, 1987
Wat Ambhavan Singburi
I am very willing to write this letter telling the story of my dead student. This is a true story that I can remember very well because it was quite a miracle. Here is the event that occurred in October 1983.
I organized a vipassana meditation training course with the corporation of Young Buddhist Association for student leaders of Chiangrai Teachers’ College in October 21- 25, 1983. I have enclosed herewith the training booklet.
I asked Mr. Wirot Panjaburi to join this training as a supervisor who would give talks and take care of the students, because he had been trained in the same cause in October of last year. He graduated from Chiangrai Teachers’ College with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education in 1982. Then he applied for an instructor position at Chiangrai Teachers’ College. He passed the qualification examination and was waiting for acceptance. He had a lot of respect for Luang Poh because he talked about you every time he saw me.
When I invited him to help with this training, he willingly accepted the job. His letter, written before he died showed how much he wanted to come to Wat Ambhavan and pay respect to you.
We planned to leave Chiangrai on October 21, 1983, but Wirot and Kunlaya, his girlfriend, died from a fatal motorcycle accident on October 16, 1983. We paid respects at his funeral in Changwat Payao on the departure night. (Kunlaya died on October 17, 1983. Her funeral was at her parents’ house in Payao.)
There was a heavy rain during the journey, just before we reached Singburi. It was around 8 p.m. when we arrived at Wat Ambhavan. The electricity was out. The students were all worried. I went to your lodging to pay respect to you and to inform you about Wirot and his girlfriend’s deaths. You told me that Wirot had already been there to see you and there were many people who had seen him. This was the first miracle.
I went back to attend their cremation ceremony, and their relatives asked me to bring their 500 baht donation to Wat Ambhavan. Another miracle happened on the night of October 24. At midnight, while you were giving the farewell speech and radiating the merit to any enemies and helpers, there was the sound of a dog howling far away from the temple. The howling got nearer and nearer until it surrounded the auditorium. You said, “The ghosts have received the merit we dedicated and they were around this auditorium. Wirot has also come and was standing behind the door.” The dog howling was very loud. Nobody dared to look at the door or windows. As soon as you said “Now all the ghost have gone,” the howling stopped. Everything was in silence. I remember this event very well because I had never experienced such a miraculous event before.
May I mention the accident on the night of October 16, 1983, that took Wirot’s and Kunlaya’s lives. That night they went to a basketball game at a school. When the game was over, they went home on his motorcycle via a highway. One portion of this highway is hillside, with many shrubs along the sides. Wirot used to tell his brothers and sisters that it was unsafe to use this highway at night. However, he and his girlfriend lost their lives there because they were hit by a pick-up truck driven by a drunken man. The riders of the truck were instructors from Payao Technical College who had just celebrated their graduation from a training course at Chiangrai Teachers’ College. The driver, who was not the owner of the truck, I knew because he was from the same district, Mae Jai, as I. This truck has had another sad story associated with it. The owner’s father was murdered and burned inside this truck on April 1985. Later, his mother committed suicide because she was afraid of being arrested for murdering her husband. The truck was eventually incinerated since the adulterous incident. This had nothing to do with Wirot’s and Kunlaya’s deaths, but I could not help thinking whether there is any connecting karma to this case or not.
Luang Poh had also told me on the night of October 21, 1983, when I arrived at Wat Ambhavan, that Wirot should have died on October 21, 1983, from drowning at Bhumibol Dam, Changwat Tak where we stopped for a study tour. I would have been very busy with arranging things if it had happened then. It could have caused problems to the vipassana meditation training on the following day. But both Wirot and Kunlaya were very good persons who did not want to cause any trouble to anybody, including me, so they died before the group started the trip.
I have told the whole story that is quite long, but it will be useful for your book and for future generations who read it. Other details are in the two booklets enclosed.
I pray that The Buddha, The Dhamma and The Sangha bless you with good health so you can help other human beings and other beings.
With highest respect,
Letter from Wirot to Instructor Somdej Mungmuang
91/1 Pratuchai 12th October, 1983
Dear Ajahn Somdej,
I would like to thank you very much for your warm welcome on the college home coming day. At first, I thought many things might change but I felt that I was still a part of Chiangrai Teachers’ College. I have fond memories and love the college. I do hope that I can join the next home coming and receive this warm welcome as an alumni again.
As for the training course at Singburi, I really want to go. However, I have not asked my father’s permission yet. I will ask him in a few days, after I study hard for the coming MST exam. Then he will not have any objection. I have to take the exam on 29th – 30th October, 1983. I guess many of my friends such as Seng, Uh, Manode Kwanyuen and Noppon will join this course. You and I will certainly enjoy the course. I really want to go to Singburi.
I will set the date and time with you after I get my father’s permission.
Please forward my best regards to Seng kwanyuen.
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