Chapter 04: The Sign of Death


Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol
March 14, 1989

There can be some sign that signifies death. We all have to die and we certainly can’t avoid it. However, people who believe in “nimitta of death” can somehow postpone it. (Nimitta = Sign, portent, mental image). If you do not believe in this nimitta, you can’t solve your problem. So it is up to you whether you believe or not. In some cases, the time of death can be postponed. Saying as such has significant meaning. Please listen carefully.

Today I am going to talk about a nimitta of death which appeared two years in advance before a man’s death. He did not solve his problem, so he died.

The man’s name was Mr. Gru Sapthong, who had been acquainted with me for over thirty years. I often hired him to drive for me to other provinces, such as Kumphangpetch, because we did not own any vehicles: a van, a pick-up truck and an Austin sedan.

One day, Gru visited his friend, Mr. Yoo, who lived beside Wat Promburi. Yoo told Gru about his dream. There were four men taking him to the world of death.

“Gru, this is a nimitta of my death. I will die the day after tomorrow.”

Later, Yoo died accordingly to the “Law of Karma”. Can we postpone the time of death? Yes! We can if we believe that there is a signal for us. Most people do not believe. For example, Gru did not believe it. Here is his story.

Gru had a taxi-boat that ran between Singhburi and Chaiyo. He was quite well off. He once ordained as a Buddhist monk for a short time when he was twenty-two years old. Later, he fell in love with a Chinese woman, Miss Hoon of Ban Paeng. Her parents did not approve the marriage because Gru was Thai. After some struggling, the couple was able to start their own small convenience store in front of Wat Tanarin in the town of Ban Paeng, because his wife had talent in doing business.

When Gru was twenty-four years old, his wife was pregnant with their first child. He had to go to Bangkok in order to buy some goods, such as coconuts, curry ingredients, peppers, shrimp paste, onions and garlics. On his way back from Bangkok, it was quite chilly and he was sleeping under a canvas near the engine room. The taxiboat struck a rock at 1.00 a.m. and the boat sank near Ban Potoon. He could not escape because he was under the canvas. People die this way because they are sleeping and cannot free themselves from heavy fabric wrapping around them. Gru did not know what to do. However, in his last second before he was going to die, he vowed:

“I will ordain as a Buddhist monk if I can survive.”

After that he could somehow escape from the canvas covering and survive the accident! The water was not deep at all. Its depth was only at neck level. The accident happened because the driver fell asleep. The taxi-boat struck some rocks near the shore and turned over. Many people died in that accident. Most of them were inside the room. Some were under some big containers.

Gru came home penniless. He lost his three thousand Baht capital. He had never told anyone about his vow that night. That year his daughter, Udom was born. He went on raising his family and never ordained as a monk. He also invited his parents to live with him and they stayed with him. Later, his father ordained as a Buddhist monk and became the abbot of Wat Klongsaibua in Changwat Lopburi. This temple is behind Tepstri Teachers’s College. His father has passed away, but his mother is still alive.

As time passed, Udom graduated and worked as a nurse at Woman’s Hospital in Bangkok. In August 1974, she was twenty-four years old and going to marry a lecturer of Piboonwitayalai School in Changwat Lopburi. Gru was fourty-eight years old when he had a strange and terrible dream for three consecutive nights. He came to see me and tole me about his terrible dream. After I gave him some advice, I took notes and kept them as evidence. We also had other witnesses.

On the first night, he dreamed that some divine beings wanted to take him away.

“Why do you want to take me?”, he asked in his dream.

“Your time is up, you must go with us.”

Gru was very frighten and woke up. He came to Wat Ambhavan with tears in his eyes.

“Luang Poh, I cannot drive today. I am very afraid,” he said.

“What happened? Tell me.”

“I had a very bad dream last night. Four divine beings dressed in red wanted to take me with them. They pulled at my arms and legs. I told them that I could not go because my children are young. After that I woke up frightened.”

That day we missed our appointment at Kumphangpetch because he could not drive for us.

He had that same dream again on the second night. This time they were carrying a list and said that they had to take him away on that night. Gru begged and begged until finally he woke up. The following day we missed our appointment at Lopburi.

On the third night he dreamed again. They help that list and asked him.

“Gru do you know why we have to take you away?”

“I don’t know sir. Why do you have to take me?” he said very polite. (He was a polite man who had very good manners.)

“Gru, do you remember the event that happened when you were twenty-four years old. Now your daughter is twenty-four years old and is about to get married. Can you recall it?

“I cannot remember Sir.”

“The taxi-boat accident that happened when your daughter was as yet unborn. You vowed that you would ordain as a Buddhist monk, but you have never ordained. Now your daughter is twenty-four years old. Why didn’t you keep your promise? You do not keep your word. This is the Law of Karma. The boss ordered us to take you away.”

“Please do not take me because my children are still young. Only my first child has graduated. The rest are students and need support from me. Please be kind to us,” he cried.

“No, we must take you.”

However, one divine being who was dressed in red and had a white scarf took pity on him.

“Gru, I feel sorry for you, since your children are young. Can you ordain within the next two years? If you can do that, I will not take you away.”

“I cannot ordain because my father is a monk. I am his only son, so I have to look after my family. If I ordain, people will accuse us of living on temple charity,” Gru said.

“It is up to you, but you must ordain within these two years. If you do not, you will die from a broken neck in a car accident. As a matter of fact, if you are a monk, you will have no chance to drive any vehicle.”

Gru woke up and came to see me, crying and telling his dream. I suggested to him to ordain.

“Gru, you should ordain as a monk.”

I also took notes of his event. One year passed by and he did not ordain. He continued driving for us. One night, he dreamed that he had terrible pain in his liver. It seemed so real that he woke up feeling pain.

A few days before his daughter’s wedding, he dreamed again.

“Your daughter is twenty-four years old and is going to get married. You must be forty-eight years old. You will die painfully because you have not kept your vow,” a divine being said in Gru’s dream.

Dear friends, no one is going to break his neck, but it is the Law of Karma, the result of his broken vow.

He heartily made the vow but he broke it.

I noted that his daughter got married on August 9, 1974 and Gru did not ordain. I told him to ordain, but he refused.

“Luang Nah, this is the rains retreats. No one can ordain at this time. People will gossip because I have family. I have a lot of burdens to carry. My children are young and do not have jobs. Moreover, I borrowed forty thousand Baht from my mother to buy a car, but I have returned only twenty thousand Baht to her, so I still owe her twenty thousand Baht. I can not ordain.”

I tried to persuade him to ordain before August 9, 1975 otherwise he would die. I even prepared all the Buddhist monk requisites for him, such as the tree robes and an alms-bowl. I planned to invite Chao Khun Phra Prommoli to be his preceptor.

“I will not ordain,” Gru said.

He also asked me not to tell his mother and his wife about his dream. I had to agree to his request.

“Luang Nah, please do not tell my bad dream to Chao Khun Prommoli either,” he also asked.

“Well! O.K.,” I kept my promise.

Mr Noon Tamnong, the former principal of the School of Wat Klangtanarin, was listening to his story and also took notes.

Seven days before the two years were up, Gru invited me to have lunch at Wat Klangtanarin every day. On the seventh day, he talked to me.

“Luang Nah, today I cannot drive for you because I have to drive to wedding at Amphur Tatago in Changwat Nakornsawan.”

He paid respect to me and his mother and left. On that day, I had forgot about his two years time. I went with Chao Khun Wat Klang to Tambon Ban Moa in Amphur Promburi and returned to Wat Ambhavan at 2 p.m.

Mrs. Lee, a goldsmith from Singhburi visited me.

“Luang Poh, is Mr. Gru here?” she asked.

No, he is not. He drove to a wedding in Amphur Tatago.

“Oh! No, it must be him whom my employee saw. He is dead!”

“How come!”

“One of my employees has just come back from Nakornsawan. On his way back, he saw Gru’s truck in an accident at Amphur Manorom. He helped the victims and saw that Gru was died from a broken neck. Others survived.” I asked her and other people for more details of the accident. Here they are:

A man and a woman were on a motorcycle and made a sudden turn in front of Gru’s truck. They did this on purpose because they wanted to cause an accident, so they could collect some valuables from the injured people in the truck. Gru saw the woman on the motorcycle. He decelerated and decided to pass the motorcycle by accelerating his truck. But they make a sudden turn just in front of his truck. He forcefully put on the brakes and he also stuck his head out of the truck in order to warn the passengers sitting in the trunk. The truck turned over and broke his neck. Gru died instantly on the 9th of August 1975, exactly two years after his dream.

He died this way because he did not keep his vow. I helped organize his funeral because his wife, Mrs. Hoon, did not know all his friends, and she could not invite them to the funeral. I presented all the requisites and the three robes I had prepared for Gru, to the monks who chanted at his funeral. I dedicated the merit to Gru in the world of the dead, so he could ordain there.

It is clear that making his vow did not cause his death, but breaking his vow was the cause of it. People who break their vow mostly ended up dying this way. Some die from falling and hitting their head. There are several examples of this case.

This is the sign of death of Mr. Gru Sapthong, who was my follower and died according to his dream. I have evidence and witnesses, such as Mrs. Hoon, who is still alive.

If Gru had ordained as I suggested, he would not have died because he din not have to drive. At his funeral, I told his story to the abbot of Wat Klang. He said that I should have told him and Gru’s family.

“Gru had heartily forbid me to tell you and his mother, and I cannot break my promise,” I said.

Mr. Noon Tamnong, the former principle of the School of Wat Klangtanarin, knew his story but not in details. He told Mr. Noon some part of his story. He asked me to keep some details. I disclosed all the information to Mr. Noon after Gru’s death.

This is an example of the sigh of death. Everybody has this sign or nimitta of death that signifies how he is going to die, but he may not pay attention to it. Gru did not pay attention to it and he died the way his sign indicated.

Finally, may all of you who behave morally be blessed with happiness, long life, healthy, fair complexion, mindfulness and wealth. May all of you accomplish what you wish.

Note from Gru’s Friend, Mr. Noon Tamnong

It is the law of nature that we all have to die. Some do not know when they are going to die. Some forget that they will die some day, so they misbehave. Sometimes we have just talked to someone, and learn later that he died not long after our meeting. Some want to know when they are going to die, so they make a lot of merit. If they do not know, they will leave life day by day. This is careless. Some do not accept this fact of life, so they are very sad when they know that they are going to die. They will be deeply sad because they have to leave everything they love behind: spouse, children, parents and wealth.

We do not nomally know when we are going to die. We still cannot accept it. There are several things that we cannot leave behind. However, some people who have purified their mind and have little defilement, can know when they are going to die, the date and time of death. They accept the law of nature. They have behaved morally all their lives or they are Buddhist followers. They normally make merit, pray, donate and practice vipassana meditation. They are not afraid the death because they know that the mind arises and ceases continuously all the time. There are teachings, such as “thinking of death at lease once a day” or “thinking of death at every breath”. On the other hand, if those with dense defilements somehow know their death-time, they will be deeply sad and fearful. When they die, their spirits will go to an unhappy existence.

I have some experience that I learn from my friend who had told me his story before he died. My friend was five or six years younger than I. We were close friends, who lived next door. We traveled together, discussed our problems and helped each other. He was a kind and polite man with good manners. He used his pick-up truck to service the community free of charge in charitable activity. Sometimes people hired him. Sometimes he did not get paid. He had patience and never disputed with his passengers.

My objective is to write about my friend’s dream and how it came true, but I cannot resist mentioning how nice he was. Pelase read and think about it. I myself think that it is quite terrible if you face it yourself, especially when you cannot accept the law of nature. I called his story “The Sigh of Death”. Here is the story.

My friend, Gru Supthong, owned a convenience store at the town of Ban Paeng is Amphur Promburi, Changwat Singhburi. His business was good and prosperous. He bought his goods in Bangkok and transported them via the “Bangkok – Singhburi” taxiboat, sailing along the Chao Phraya River. On the 9th of April 1974, he told me the terrible dream he had the night before. He dreamed that his liver was black and rotten, and later he died. He woke up and felt very sad. He then recalled an event that had happened twenty-four years before.

One night he was traveling on the taxi-boat carrying his goods from Bangkok. While he was sleeping, the boat sank. Before he run out of breath, he vowed if he could survivi, he would ordain as a Buddhist monk for three months. At that moment, he could find his way out and exhaustedly swam to the shore. He lost all his goods, but felt as if he had been reborn.

Afterwards he continued his business, buying goods from Bangkok and selling them in Singhburi. His business prospered for the following twenty-four years. One night he had a dream that reminded him of his past: the boat accident, his being trapped under the boat, his vow, and his survival. He felt such a terrible pain in his liver that he had to rub on some balm. He said he had never felt such pain before. He looked very worried and sad. Normally, he was happy and could tell funny stories that made all his friends laugh. He also told me about the event happened twenty-four years ago, when he was twenty-four years old.

“It may be your guardian angle who warns you to ordain as you had vowed,” I said.

“How can I ordain when my family still needs my support. My mother is old and my children are in school. Who will take care them and my two trucks? If I ordain, my family will have a hard time. Who will arrange my daughter’s wedding in August 1974”, he said.

“If we start my job, it will eventually be finished. If you ordain, you still can bless your daughter,” I said.

“If I ordain, I have to sell my trucks,” he said.

We then discussed his responsibilities and how it could be remedied and how friends and family could help. Two other friends were listening to our conversation.

The following day, the 10th of April 1974, at 4 p.m., Gru visited me and said,

“Last night I could not sleep. I thought a lot and could not tell my worry to my wife and my mother. I had to smoke and thought about how my mother and my wife would have a hard time if I ordained.”

I noticed that he was very worried and sad. He rubbed medicine on his body at the liver position all the time. I tried to help solve his problem.

“We should ask Phra Kru Bhavanavisuddhi for his suggestions”, I said.

Gru agreed because he was acquainted with Luang Poh and normally drove Luang Poh to his religious activities. He also regularly helped at Wat Ambhavan.

At 7:00 p.m., we drove to Wat Ambhavan. We paid respect to Phru Kru Bhavanavisuddi and started a conversation. Gru said nothing about himself. So I told his dream to Luang Poh. Gru still did not say anything. He might have been afraid or sad or did not have self-confidence. He was crying and drinking medicine. Phra Kru Bhavanavisuddhi (Now Phra Rajsuddhinanamongkol) listened to the story and was quite for a while. Then he said,

“Gru you should ordain as a Buddhist monk.”

How can I? Who is going to organize my daughter/s wedding and take care of my family?, Gru asked.

“Don’t worry. You are a friendly man who has a lot of friends. They will help you. Three months is not so long.”

Phra Kru Bhavanavisuddhi said that he would help Gru by providing him the Triple Robe for ordination. We had a long discussion about the way to relieve Gru’s worries. He decided to ordain in September after his daughter’s wedding. At 11:00 p.m., we left Phra Kru Bhavanavisuddhi of Wat Ambhavan.

His daughter’s wedding on the 9th of August 1974 passed. Everything went smoothly on her wedding day. Gru did not ordain. One year passed. Everybody forgot about his dream and his promise. On the 9th of August 1975, he was driving his truck and had accident at Amphur Manorom, Changwat Chainart. He died in that accident because the truck turned over on him. This event made me think about the cause of his death. Was it because he did not ordain or he broke his promise or the enmity who warned him in his dream?

His daughter’s wedding was on the 9th August 1974, he did on the 9th of August 1975 from the road accident. He was twenty-four years old when he almost died from a boat accident, but he continued living for the following twenty-four years and died at the age of 48. After his death we told his strange dream to his mother and his wife. The all said if they had known it, they would have requested him to ordain. Dear readers, please consider carefully what the truth is!

Mr. Noon Tamnong
Formal Principle, The School of Wat Klangtanarin
Tanbon Bang Paeng, Amphur Promburi,
Changwat Singhburi.

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