Everybody loves to listen to stories and I am sure it is the same with those of you present here. Today I will tell you some stories from this book that has been written by Luang Por Jaren. He was born in August 1928, making him 75 years old this year. Luang Por is a re-nowned meditation teacher at Wat Ambhavan in Singburi near Bangkok. He is a very famous monk because he is supposed to have psychic powers such as the ability to look into the past and read your mind just by looking at you.
In his book, Luang Por explains that when he was young, he was not interested in religion and was quite naughty and rebellious. There is an interesting section where he tells us about how he had to pay for the bad kammic deeds of his youth, although he had renounced and become a monk in later life.
When he was young, he didn’t like to look at monks or have anything to do with them. Once, when he was a teenager staying at his grandmother’s house, he was asked to take a tiffin car-rier of food as dana to the abbot of a nearby temple. On the way there, he met some school-mates who were playing truant. Since they were feeling hungry, they decided to finish up the food in the tiffin carrier. When questioned by his grandmother later, he lied and said that he had taken the food to the temple but had not given it to the abbot personally. He said he had instead passed the food on to the dek wat (these are the village children who have been sent by their parents to help the monks at temples and in return, they receive food, lodging and education—a tradition in Thailand in the past). His grandmother wisely advised him to offer the dana personally to the abbot in future and receive his blessing before returning home.
On another occasion when he was asked to offer dana, he again did as before. This time, when questioned by his grandmother, he lied that he had offered the food personally to the abbot and had received his blessings. However, unknown to him, the abbot was actually sit-ting in his house at that time as he had been invited for dana, thus letting the cat out of the bag! His grandmother admonished him strongly saying that such an action can result in his being reborn as a hungry ghost with a small mouth like a pinhole in the next life.
Luang Por recalled many occasions when he committed many unpleasant deeds and broke the five precepts frequently. There was an occasion, for example, when he tricked a boat operator and did not pay his fare for the boat ride. He would also steal padi from other people’s har-vest. Once he lied to his mother, telling her that he was going to school for extra tuition when in actual fact, he went to the forest with his teacher to hunt for wild ducks and birds. Each time he shot one, he would put it in his basket. However, there were occasions when the birds that were shot were half-dead only and would peck at him when he tried to catch them. He would then get very angry, break their necks and skin them alive. Once, when he had to chase an injured heron for a distance before managing to catch it, he broke its legs. Apart from these unwholesome deeds, he also boiled turtles alive to sell to drinkers.
Luang Por’s life began to change dramatically soon after he reached the age of 20, when, ac-cording to Thai tradition, he entered the novitiate programme to gain merits for his family. He agreed to become a monk for the four months of the rainy season before going back to main-stream working life. Just as he was about to disrobe, he heard a mysterious voice goading him to find out more about the Dhamma before disrobing. Eventually, this led him to stay on in the robes, seeking knowledge and training under various teachers. The most notable teacher was a mystical, forest monk who urged him to cultivate morality, concentration and insight.
He became the abbot of Wat Ambhavan when he was 29 years old, teaching and practising meditation. But the evil actions of the past soon bore fruit and caught up with him. Once dur-ing meditation, he heard a voice tell him that in six month’s time (a specific time was men-tioned, i.e. at 1245hrs on October 14, 1977), he would have to pay for his past bad deeds and die. Knowing this to be the truth, he proceeded to set his house in order in the available time he had left. He gave away his personal belongings and instructed his bhikkhus to elect a new abbot. Meditation retreats were organised, first for the female yogis and then later, for male yogis, so that he could impart his knowledge of meditation to them before he departed.
On the predicted day, after returning from a trip to the hospital to visit a sick devotee, the car he was in was involved in a nasty accident. Luang Por was thrown far out of the vehicle, broke his neck and all his limbs except for one hand and was scalped by the fall (repaying the kammic debt of breaking the necks and legs of herons he had shot and skinned alive).
He did not, however, die as he thought he would. On the way to the hospital he heard a voice say, “Good! You deserve this and more.” The radiator of the motorcar transporting him burst, spilling hot water all over him (repaying the kammic debt of boiling turtles for sale). As he went through the hellish suffering of both the accident and the scalding from the radiator fluid, he thought: “May I go off peacefully now after having paid for my past unwholesome deeds. Even if the unwholesome kammic debts have not been settled, may I settle them in my future lives.”
On top of that, as the male nurses were transporting him to the emergency unit, they tripped and Luang Por was again thrown out of the stretcher onto the floor. The doctors at the hospi-tal were truly amazed that such a badly injured person could have survived such an ordeal.
For 50 days he recuperated in the ICU, encased in plaster and immobilised. At times Luang Por felt like a hungry ghost as he had to be fed through a tube inserted into his mouth al-though an assortment of rich food offerings were laid in front of him (repaying the kammic debt of misappropriating food offerings meant for the Sangha). Miraculously he did manage to recover and at present is still practising and teaching in Thailand.
This story serves to warn us about kamma and its subsequent results. It demonstrates how heavy the result can be because of one’s evil deeds. Many of us chant the five precepts regu-larly but how many of us observe them conscientiously? How many of us realise the conse-quences of breaking the precepts or contemplate the results that will arise in due course? Even an excellent meditator like Luang Por still had to pay for the mistakes of his past and could not escape their consequences. We don’t know what unwholesome actions we have performed in our past lives; only what we have done in this present life.
Therefore, each time we meditate, we must learn to endure whatever suffering that arises and acknowledge that it may be part of our unwholesome kammic debts. We must also con-sciously try to avoid and abstain from wrong actions so that we do not have to suffer the re-sultant consequences. Only then can we continue to strive diligently and make good progress!