Extracts from 'The Great Discourse on The Wheel of Dhamma'
The reason why we bring out these evidential stories of modern times is because there are some people who maintain that there is no such thing as afterlife. Some are undecided and perplexed, not being able to conclude whether there is afterlife or not. In spite of clear accounts of renewed existences in the scriptural literature, many are sceptical of what was written of ancient times. In order to provoke faith in kamma and its resultant effects and belief in afterlife and to remain steady with such conviction, we have brought out these stories. Similar stories abound, which we can produce, but enough has been said to accomplish our aim.
A DHAMMA TEACHING SAYADAW
From 1291 to 1301 B.E. we were resident at Taikwine Taikkyaung monastery of Moulmein. At that time there was a dhamma-preaching Sayãdaw of great repute. At the traditional feeding ceremony, a week after the death of a lawyer donor of his, he gave the following sermon at the merit-sharing service for the departed one.
"This life of mine is transitory, but my death is truly permanent. I must die inevitably. My life will end only in death. Life alone is impermanent; death, on the other hand, is definitely stable, permanent."
This contemplation on death was used as the theme of his sermon. We were present on the occasion of that ceremony and had heard his sermon personally. Within a few days after this event, we heard the sad news of the demise of the dhamma-preaching Sayãdaw. We had thought then that he would have passed away contemplating on death as he had preached only a few days ago. We heard that the Sayãdaw had met a violent death at the hands of assassins who had stabbed him with a dagger.
About three years later, a certain young boy from Mergui came to Moulmein accompanied by his parents. He had been worrying his parents, asking them to take him to Moulmein. On arriving at the monastery of the former Sayãdaw, the boy informed his parents that in his previous existence he was the presiding Sayãdaw of that monastery. He could tell every thing about the monastery and whatever he said was found to be true. He remembered all the leading monks from the nearby monasteries and addressed them by names he had used to call them previously.
When he was asked by mentioning the name about a certain man, who was a close disciple of the late Sayãdaw, the boy replied, "Afraid, afraid." When questioned what he was afraid of, he recounted how that man in association with some persons had stabbed him to death, how he had run away from them, and coming to the river bank and finding a boat, he made his escape riding on the boat. Later, arriving at the village on the Mergui coast, he said he entered the house of his present parents.
The visions he saw of how he had fled from his assassins, how he found a boat on the river bank, how he took a ride on it and came to the house of his parents, were all gati nimittas (signs of destiny) which had appeared to him at the approach of death. This is also a notable incident which confirms the fact that attachment brings forth new existence.
BORN A BUFFALO FOR THE SUM OF 40 KYATS?
In a certain town in Monywa district, there lived a man who was engaged in the business of money-lending during the British regime. He asked for the return of a loan from a certain farmer who replied he had already repaid the money he had borrowed. The moneylender repeatedly insisted that the farmer had not yet repaid the loan. Finally, he declared, "May I become a buffalo in your house if I had really asked for a double payment of the forty kyats which you said you had already returned." With this oath, he pressed again for the return of his loan. The poor farmer was thus forced to make knowingly a double settlement of the loan he had taken.
Soon after, the moneylender passed away. And there was born in the house of the farmer, who had made a double payment of his loan, a young buffalo. Guessing that the moneylender had made a rebirth in his house as a buffalo, the poor farmer called out to the young buffalo, "Sayã, Sayã, please come,' in the same way he used to address the old moneylender. The young buffalo answered his call and came to him. Believing now that the old moneylender had really become a buffalo in his house according to his oath, the farmer started to talk about this incident. Thereupon, the daughter of the departed moneylender went to court suing the poor farmer for defaming her father.
The judge who heard the case sent for the appellant, the defendant and the young buffalo together with witnesses for both sides. In the court, the farmer called out 'Saya, Saya, please come' to the buffalo in the same way he used to address the moneylender. The buffalo responded to his call by coming to him. The moneylender's daughter used to address her father as 'Shi, Shi'. In the court when she said 'Shi, Shi', the buffalo went to her. The judge came to the conclusion that the poor farmer was making an honest statement (without any intention of defamation) and accordingly discharged the case.
From this story it is not hard to believe that a human being may be reborn a buffalo. It is plain, therefore, that tanhã will cause rebirth. It should be observed also that swearing a false oath is liable to land one in dire calamity.
NGA NYO'S SMALL MEASURE OF RICE
There was a
village of about 400 houses called Chaungyo, ten miles north-west of
Taungdwingyi. Two young men of the village, Nga Nyo and Ba Saing, who were
friends earned their living by going round villages selling betel leaves.
Coming back one day from the rounds, Ba Saing went short of rice on the way. He
borrowed a small measure of rice from Nga Nyo to cook his dinner. After dinner,
while they made their way back to the village leisurely in the moonlit night,
poor Ba Saing was bitten by a poisonous snake and met instant death. It was
sometime between 1270 and 1280 B.E. when the two friends were about the ages of
twenty or so.
The poor cock died afterwards and took conception in the womb of the cow. When the calf had grown up considerably, it was bought for four kyats by his friends for a feast which Nga Nyo would also join. While they were butchering the calf and cutting up the meat in preparation for their feast, a couple from Taungdwingyi, a clerk and his wife, happened to arrive on the scene. Expressing her sympathy for the calf, the clerk's wife said, "If it were my calf, I wouldn't have treated it so cruelly. Even if it had died a natural death, I wouldn't have the heart to eat its flesh. I would just bury it."
Sometime afterwards, a son was born to the clerk's wife. The child remained without speech till he was seven when, one day his father told him, "Son, do utter some words and talk to us. Today is pay day. I'll buy and bring back some nice clothes for you." Keeping his promise, the father came back in the evening with some pretty garments for his son. He said, "Here, Son, these beautiful clothes are for you. Do speak to us now." The boy then uttered, "Nga Nyo's measure of rice."
The father said, "Son, just talk to us. Not only a measure, but a whole bag of rice we will pay back the loan for you." Thereupon the boy said, "If so, put the bag of rice on the cart. We will go now to settle my debt." After putting a bag of rice on the cart, they set off on their journey. The father asked the son, "Now, where to?" The child directed his father to drive towards the north of Taungdwingyi. Eventually they came to Chaungyo village when the son said, "That's it. That's the village," and kept directing his father through the village lanes until they came to Nga Nyo's house. Upon enquiring whether it was indeed U Nyo's house, U Nyo himself confirmed it by coming out from the house. As he approached the cart, the child hailed him, "Hey Nga Nyo, do you still remember me?" The elderly man was offended to be rudely addressed as 'Nga Nyo' by a mere child, the age of his son, but became pacified when the clerk explained, saying, "Please do not be offended, U Nyo. This child is under some strange circumstances."
When they got into the house, the boy began, "So, Nga Nyo, you don't remember me? We were once together going round the villages selling betel leaves. I borrowed a small measure of rice from you. Then I was bitten by a poisonous snake and died before I could return the loan. I then became a cockerel in your house. After winning three fights for you, I lost the fourth fight because my opponent was much stronger than I was. For losing that fight, you beat me to death in anger. Half dead, you threw me down near the water pot and a cow came and kissed me. I took conception in her womb and was reborn a cow. When I became a heifer, you all killed me to eat. At that time a clerk and his wife, who are now my father and mother, came nearby and had expressed sympathy for me. After my death as a cow, I was born as a son to my present father and mother. I have now come to repay my debt of the measure of rice."
All that the child recounted were found to be true by U Nyo who wept, feeling repentant for all the ill-treatment he had meted out to his former friend.
With this story we want to stress again that unless tanhã has been rooted out, repeated rebirths in new existences are unavoidable.
TERRIBLE LIFE NOW AS A DEMON, NOW AS A COW
About 1300 B.E., there was resident in the Payãgyi monastery of Mandalay a student bhikkhu called U Ar Seinna. He was of good build, clear complexion and full of faith in the dhamma. He was a good student, too, devoting himself wholeheartedly to the study of Pitaka literature. While washing the alms-bowl, one day, he addressed his colleagues, "I urge you to take care, Revered sirs, to be of good behaviour while you are living on the alms-food of the donors. I am living a heedful life, having had the personal experiences of three existences."
One of his colleagues was curious and asked him about his previous lives. He recounted thus, "I passed away from human life to become a female demon. I suffered terribly in that life, having scarcely anything to eat, no decent place to live in, roaming here and there to look for a resting place. From a female demon, I became a draught cattle. I was herded in the same pen with a team mate, whose nostrils were running with putrid nasal fluid. As its nasal smell was becoming unbearable, I goaded it to keep it away from me and the owner beat me up for it, thinking I was bullying the other cattle, domineering over it. When I passed away from that existence, I regained human life and becoming agitated with religious emotion, have now taken to the life of a bhikkhu."
This story also serves to emphasise the fact that as long as tanhã persists, rebirth is inevitable. It also shows what a horrible life is that of demon and how, handicapped by the inability to communicate, a cattle is liable to be misunderstood by man and could be subjected to maltreatment consequently. These accounts should serve to cause terror and incite religious emotions in us.
REGAINING HUMAN LIFE AFTER BEING A CATTLE AND A DOG
About 1310 B.E. the head Sayãdaw of a village monastery in Monywã district was shot to death by a rebel leader who accused the Sayadaw of 'ill-treating' his underling. The Sayãdaw is now in human existence, a bhikkhu again. We hear that he had even passed some of the scriptural examinations. This bhikkhu recounted, "I became a cattle after being shot to death, then a dog and now a human being again." To go down from the level of a bhikkhu in human life to that of a cattle, a dog, is very degrading, If tanhã remains uneradicated, it is possible to go down the ladder of existence further still. There is the instance of Bhikkhu Tissa who became a body louse in the time of the Buddha. Thus realizing that anyone with tanhã remaining uneradicated (ditthi and vicikicchã also still intact) is liable to be subjected to rebirths, it is essential to strive for complete eradication of tanhã or in the very least, to work for elimination of ditthi and vicikicchã.
EVEN REBIRTH AS A CROWING LIZARD IS POSSIBLE
In about 1323 B.E. there appeared in Pha Aung We village near Daiku, a strange young child who said that he was previously the presiding monk of the Ywã Waing village about two miles away. The child was intelligent with good retentive memory. When taken to the monastery which he said he was resident in, he appeared to know all the articles in the building and was able to identify each object by recalling the name of its donor. What he said was found to be all true. He said he had become a crowing lizard in the monastery when he died as the presiding monk. As the crowing lizard, he met his death when he leapt across from the monastery to a palm tree nearby. He missed the tree and fell to the ground breaking his thigh. The injury caused him death. When he died, he rode along on the cart of a farmer from Pha Aung village who had his field near his monastery and stayed in the house of the farmer. What he said about riding on the cart was the appearance of gati nimitta, sign of destiny as death approached.
This story should also cause the realization that with tanhã still lingering, fresh existence could arise and taking fright from this realization, one should develop ariya magga to rid oneself of tanhã.
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