LEARNING HOW TO DIE
Sayadaw U Uttamasara
(Hill Tracts Missionary Sayadaw)
(From 'The Buddhist Way of Life', 1989), Translated by Saya Ba Kyaw/ DHAMMA GIFT)
Just as you need to know how to live, it is important to learn how to die. Everybody should have recourse to something in facing death. In Buddhism there are many instructions of how to confront the king of death.
The only thing every being owns is their actions - kamma. Their daily lives are dependant on their own actions - thoughts, words and deeds. No one creates them.
They create only whatever they wish. Everybody should create their Kamma in accordance with their own wishes: it is possible; keep this fact in mind.
"HOW TO DIE" is more important than "HOW TO LIVE"
No one knows when the samsaric journey starts nor when it stops. In the Samsaric circle, we all making an endless journey being low or high, inferior or superior - to reach superior realms, we have to establish good kamma; day after day we should practise to make ourselves more noble, more pure and more excellent.
In travelling through the samsaric journey Metta is the best companion which cannot be compared with anything else in this world.
I have told you of Kamma and Metta. They are the only reliable methods of how to live in this existence.
Life is ceaseless; it does not mean just living; it is also associated with death - the temporary termination of life. Everybody has to face death one day; but it is not a frightful thing; being frightened won't overcome it. If you live properly, you will be able to face death systematically. Nevertheless, I will tell you of how to die so as to gain a proper method. Indeed, I'll teach how to die.
There are so many schools in this world; but I have never heard of a school where the method of 'how to die' is taught. If such a school were opened, no one would attend it.
But it is more important to know 'how to die' than 'how to live'.
There is a Myanmar Saying, "Death is one thing and life is another; the coffin is beautiful only if the society is good." It appears to mean that the mourners who escort the coffin are like make-up and lipstick to a woman. When monks die, the funeral ceremony is even more grand. The coffin is placed on beautiful towers made of bamboo, decorated with paper and honoured by dramatic troupes and stage-shows. Some Venerable Sayadaws said that it was a worry as to whether the coffin will actually fly, or whether it will dive into lesser realms. (In this case, there is a Burmese word; "Phonegyibyan". 'Phonegyi' means 'monk' and 'byan' means 'deceased', 'passed away' or 'flying to the higher realms'. Monks are naturally high in moral character, and thus he may reach the higher realms. Therefore, when the monk is dead, devotees say, "Our Venerable monk is now flying to the higher realms of existence'; they don't say 'Our monk is dead.')
Some can be saved and Others cannot be.
Everybody whether he is a monk or a lay-man, educated or uneducated whether he performs many meritorious deeds - if at the point of death there arises in his mind one bad thought, it will not be easy for him to reach the realm of gods. The meritorious actions which he performed through his life will produce their good results in certain future. But if he cannot control his mind to consider these meritorious deeds and objects, he becomes subject to bad effects. He has no time to say, 'Excuse me !'
As I am an old man I have heard stories and personally experienced bhikkhus and lay-men at the point of death suffering because they did not know the right method. Some can be saved and helped but some cannot. If a person accidentally arises in the abode of Peta, spirits or ghosts, it is possible for him to be saved; but if some one reaches the realm of animals and hell, he cannot be saved at all. Indeed, they themselves have created their Kammas.
I have told you of my pupil, Kappiya Twam-hmon, the Chin national, who transferred from one animal life to another within few months. I will tell you of another exciting story I experienced. My own mother was not able to concentrate her mind on good objects when she was at the gate of the death. Before this story, I will explain you what happens at death.
Break the Chains of Attachment
Just like a drowning person grasps onto whatever he can reach so also a dying person's mind may be inclined to whatever object he is attached. He clings to it passionately. It is very important to break these chains of attachment.
It is very hard for men to forsake the properties he has earned through his life. Some have strong attachments to their homes. It is most difficult to cut the attachment with parents, sons and daughters, teachers and relatives who have lived together with one through life. Think it over. Is it not difficult to break these chains? These chains are the things which will make you descend to lower abodes.
In fact, life is just a tiny moment of the samsaric circle. Sons and daughters, husbands and wives, teachers and relatives temporarily meet one another in this human world. You must be dutiful but should not be attached to them. Everybody is on his own way through countless samsaric journeys. Be pure in your mind!
The Bridge between the two Existences
As the journey is endless you should, beforehand, establish the bridge between two existences. In your mind, there should be a clear way to your goal: - "What support should I get?" "What can I rely on?" "How will I confront death?" Dana (charity), Sila (morality) and Bhavana (meditative Insight).
You should draw up a plan before your death: 'What sort of Dhamma-object should I concentrate on?' How should I go to another existence? How should I face death?' To reaffirm it, you should often think it over. Be in the habit of conjuring up a good Dhamma object of concentration - Asannakamma, so that you are always prepared.
If Acinnakamma is systematically controlled, the Asannakamma (the object which appears in the mind at death due to frequent practice) will arise as one wishes. In fact, Acinnakammais one's daily effort and Asannakamma is one's object of mind appeared in dying moment.
My mother, age 87, left me.
My mother, when she was living, undertook many charitable deeds, observed precepts and practised meditation on suitable occasions with the help of her teachers and I.
Nevertheless, when dying, she could not control her Asannakamma and went to the realm of Peta-Demon-ghost. My mother, Daw Thay Tar, passed away calmly in her village on Friday, 8th Waxing day 1314 M.E. At that time I was on my missionary tour in Hu-Khaung Valley, Chin hills. Only when I had completed my tour programme and got back from Myitkyina to Yangon, I was told of her death by telegrams.
Indeed, it is just another good-bye after meeting in a turn of the Samsaric circle. Only one's Kamma is effective? Every body makes his own way and has to continue his own journey.
Maternal Love, Maternal Attachment
When I got back to my permanent residence on Chin Hills after a tour to Assam, on the Indian border, I heard all about how my mother passed away; When she was near death she lost all of her appetite and did not eat or drink. She would just lie on her bed staring at my photograph hanging at the head of her bed, put her hands on her breast and sob continually. Although my elder sister Daw Yu and family persuaded her not to cry and attended to all her needs, she was morbid and depressed. When the southern wind blew and the monsoon rain came in June and July, she would cry, "Oh! where is my elder son?"
I think that my mother when dying was preoccupied, thinking, 'I may never see with my elder son again.' How deep and how great parental love is!
Mother as a demon ghost
When I arrived at my residence, I passed my precious time by performing noble religious duties. Many years after the death of my mother, I had a dream. In the dream my mother with a despondent and melancholy face came and stood in the grounds in front of my monastery, and said, "My son, young bhikkhu, please give me a set of robes if you can!"
I realized that my mother had become a demon ghost due to the improper object of concentration at death and now she was ready to be released from that unwholesome life. So, I shared the meritorious deeds I performed particularly for her benefit.
Besides this, I sent a set of robes to my eldest sister, Daw Yu, to offer together with meal to the Sayadaw of our village. In my letter I gave instructions to invite our deceased mother to the robes-donation ceremony and to share the merit with her. We can serve our parents with food and several fruits when they are still living, but when they die, this is the only way to serve and respect them.
The Duty of Sons and Daughters
According to my advice, my eldest sister made a donation during Lent and shared the merit with my deceased mother. But in the early morning of the next day my sister had a dream: In her dream she saw mother sitting beside the house and said to her, "Are you here, mother? Yesterday, I had offered food and robes and shared merit, Haven't you got it?"
"You did not invite me when you went to the monastery; how could I go along with you?" replied mother. So, my sister made another donation exactly as the day before, inviting my mother going to the monastery. After pouring libation water, my sister shared merit calling our mother by name. From that day, she never dreamt again of her mother.
In the rounds of rebirths, I was very happy to have the chance to fulfill my duties to my parents with deep gratitude. You have to understand the following five duties of sons and daughters towards parents!
(1) Serving the parents with food and drinks
(2) Attending to the parents;
(3) Being worthy of parents' inheritance;
(4) Donating and sharing merits with parents after their death, and
(5) Maintaining a good lineage.
A new Existence by the chains of attachment still remain
Due to the Strength of her worldly attachments my poor mother was reborn in our family again, as a daughter of my eldest brother U Bo Tin. She was Mi San by name, a grand daughter of my mother, Daw Thay Tar. Even since she could talk Mi San could explain in detail the life of her grandmother. When she talked with me she used to shed tears. One day, when she went to fetch water from the well with her girl friends, they agreed to go and see the tomb of Daw Thay Tar. On seeing the words on the tomb. Mi San sobbed her heart out. How fearful the rounds of rebirths is until we attain Ariyahood. Although we reach a new life, the fetters are still firm and strong.
At present Mi San is about 26 years old. Whenever I returned to the monastery of my native village, Ngwe-twin-Kon, she cooks and brings food to me. She pays homage to me, sitting near me and gazing at my face.
The fetters of existence are very strong and it is very difficult to be released from them. We all have to endeavour utmostly in this present existence, having the intelligence and insight to do so. Only the Buddha's teaching is reliable in the sufferings of mundane world.
Though my mother become a Peta-Demon ghost, she had the chance to be saved. It is not easy to have such a chance; though it is easy, it is unsafe to rely on others.
Then so, let us draw a plan of how to die - the plan of Asannakamma. Everybody should have a recourse in confronting with the King of death. A cannibal, Porisada was preparing to eat the flesh of the king, Maha Sutasoma, but at that moment the king was not afraid at all, nor did he feel depressed even a little. Therefore, Porisada asked Maha Sutasoma, 'Why are you not afraid of being killed, Maha Sutasoma ?" "I have done so many meritorious deeds; I have saved my parents, relatives and friends; I have donated offerings to the bhikkhus and noble Persons; these noble actions have already cleared the way I have to travel; therefore I am not afraid of being killed." replied Maha Sutasoma.
Therefore, of charity (Dana), morality (Sila) and meditation (Bhavana) - what shall we depend on? Most Myanmar Buddhists do charitable deeds. These deeds may be inferior, or superior, expensive or inexpensive but you have to think it over and recall one with which you were fully satisfied. You must repeatedly recall it (Caganussati) so that it will be in your mind when you die. In this way you will reach a higher abode after death.
U MYU, donor of a monastery, who died supported by his good deeds
Here I'll give you a remarkable example. In my native village, Ngwe-twin-kon, there was a donor of monastery, U Myu, by name. As a novice I was used to chat with U Myu. By order of my teacher-Sayadaw I had to preach Dhamma on Sabbath days in Lenten season. He always sat near me in front of the audience and respectfully listened to my Dhamma- talk . After The Dhamma Assembly he used to remark, "My novice is very clever at teaching the Dhamma." He taught me from his personal experience.
As a boy he was not a good learner, so he could not read the Dhamma Texts in his old age. He spoke little. When he was young he did not go hunting and killing animals. So, he was healthy up to age of over ninety.
When I came back from India and arrived at my native village I was very happy to see old men and women living with peace and calmness. I myself served them with Horlicks and milk and at that moment I asked U Myu, "How do you live in peace?" He explained in detail: -
Preparing for Death by sitting on an Ox cart
After the death of his wife, Daw Nwe, he lived together with his daughter, Daw Lon Mi and her husband, U Chit Maung Who attended the old father with true love. He did not need to care for anything in his old age, nor worry about his livelihood. When he could not work properly he was speechless. Making his mind purified, he lived in peace. It may be said that be was preparing for his calm death so as to transfer his present life to another noble existence.
There was an ox cart in his compound, not far from his house. Only a lane divided the monastery which he had donated and his own house. The old man, U Myu spread the rough mat on the cart and used to sit or lie on it after his meal. In the past, he had constructed a big monastery with seven spires and donated it to the presiding Sayadaw. While laying or sitting on his cart, he would gaze at that great building and was satisfied with his noble deeds. In fact, he was practising Saganussati, the recollection of charitable deeds. It is sure that he has reached higher abodes.
The King who did not eat without offering meal to Sangha.
About two thousand years ago (about one hundred years B.C.) there was a king whose example should be followed. He was very popular due to his generosity. His name was king Dutthagamani from Sri Lanka. He was well-known for his missionary works. He even fought wars, not to capture Kingdom, but to spread religion . His charitable deeds were also very famous and exemplified. He never ate without offering to a member of Samgha.
Once, he uninnocently ate a chilli while he was fighting battle. When he had gained the throne, as if to punish himself. he constructed aCeti, 60 feet high and 560 feet in girth. It cost altogether nineteen crores. The Ceti was named, "Maricavatti" a round chilli pod.
Over One Hundred Crores Donated
The worriers, Dutthagamani , Abbaya, etc, together with their soldiers had been fighting against the rebel. Damilha for Sasana in 29 battles over two years. Finally they overwhelmed the island of Sri lanka. and Dutthagamani became King. Having won the throne, the king's right-hand man, the warrior Abhaya went into retreat, exchanging the mundane world for the internal battle against Kilesa-defilements. Soon, he became an Arahanta who possessed of supernormal powers and Jhanic trance.
During a reign of 24 years. The king Dutthagamani constructed religious stupas such as Maha Ceti of 120 cubits high with steeples and nine spires roofed with bronze plates, ninety nine monasteries, etc. Over 1049 crores in cash were donated but the jewels decorated in those buildings were uncountable.
Many Charitable Deeds Not Remembered
I would like to say here that king Dutthagamani was very afraid to face death because he did not remember the charitable deeds he had performed. He cried remembering on the past. The only object of his memory was his best and intimate friend, the worrier, Abhaya.
He entertained such a thought: -
"The rebel Damilha and his followers fought bravely against me, but now since they realize that they will be defeated beforehand, they will not fight against me again".
In fact, he remembered nothing helpful!
You should notice here that we are all likely to forget the importance of self-reliance when we encounter hardships.
Nevertheless, the Maha Thera Abhaya saw this situation by the power of his Divine Ear, and he came to the King and stayed at the head of his bed. The King, as he thought about his friends, supplicated to the Maha Thera Abhaya.
A Good Choice
The Thera taught the king how changeable and transitory the conditioned things were and comforted him. He explained how to meditate on the nature of mentality and materiality, and how to develop Bhavana. But the king could not follow the lecture. As soon as the Maha Thera noticed his weak-point, he changed his teaching method:-
"Oh Noble King! You've done so many meritorious deeds in this samsara; Recollect all these one after another repeatedly and choose one which pleased you most. Then, recollect only that repeatedly. A little bit of charity can make you reach to the higher realm; there is no need to speak of your numerous meritorious deeds!"
According to the Maha Thera's instruction, the king made his registrar recount the list of his charitable deeds, in his presence. The registrar cited all the items of the lists to the king, including bronze monastery of 30 crores, the cost of Maha Ceti, 99 monasteries and others but the king did not seem to be pleased with his great donations
The registrar continued to recount the list of lesser worth. One item of little amount fully satisfied him and he showed his satisfaction with gleeful words.
The item that satisfied the king was:- While he was wandering about in a dense mountainous forest during the war between two brothers, he donated a Maha Thera all he had to eat, and also at the time of food scarcity he sold his royal ear-rings and served Five Maha Theras with poor alms-food.
In short, the king Dutthagamani, though he had unaccountable meritorious deeds, died with the thought-process including towards those acts of merit and went up to the abode of Tavatimsa. This is the example of being able to reach higher realms only with the mind of charity in dying moment.
To Die with Morality and Importance of Repeated Performance
Here I will show you of how to die with morality. The kamma-actions performed mentally, verbally and bodily at the gate of the death are called Asannakamma. When near death, the body is weak and only mental actions are prominent. Therefore, we have to depend only on them.
As the dying moment only comes once, it is very important to be exact and perfect in whatever one, does. So, I emphasize this fact.
Remembering the donation of robes only when seeing the red flames of Hell.
Some one may have done numerous meritorious deeds; however numerous they are, if he inclines his mind towards unwholesome objects when dying, he may reach to the lower abodes; the thought moment at death determines his destination. If the meritorious deeds he has done through his life are out of his thoughts, they cannot come into his thought-process when dying. The good results may arise later, but the unwholesome objects at that instance, will produce bad effects.
In the life-time of the Buddha, a dying devotee who had offered a set robes had vision of such objects of hell as flames, waiters and cauldrons on account of his demeritorious deeds done through his life. Fortunately, he remembered his donation of robes when he saw the red hell-fires.
At that moment, the hellish objects disappeared from his thought-process and objects of heaven lined lately appeared. Thus, he went up to the higher Deva Lokas due to the immediate remembrance of the donation of robes at the dying moment. Keep that fact in your mind.
Therefore, the Buddha expounded Silanussati and Caganussati - the repeated recollection of one's own morality and the repeated recollection of one's own charity.
Asannakamma Similar to an old Ox
In Buddhist texts, Asannakamma is compared with an old ox. The one who raises cattle opens the gate of his cow-pen to let cattle go out every morning, drives them to pasture and watches them on the grounds. When evening comes, he drives them back to their pen and shut them in.
On their return way, they jostle with one another at the gate of the cow-pen. Of these, the stronger cattle enter ahead and the weaker ones follow later. Thus the old ox moves aside to let the stronger ones enter first and have to follow later. When the old ox gets into the cow-pen, there are only soggy areas left because the stronger and younger ones have already taken good places. So, it has to take the place near the gate of the cow-pen where cow-dung and rubbish are piled.
It really had to enter later and stays at the entrance of the cow-pen. But, when morning comes and the cow-herd opens the gate for their pasture, who will come out first? The stronger ones? or the old ones?
This example is vary notable. No matter how many stronger ones there are, when coming out of the cow-pen, the oldest and weakest will be first. In the similar way how many notable meritorious deeds through the life, a little bit of merit or good thought-process done at the gate of death will first effect the next existence. The last one in is the first one out.
From Acinnakamma to Asannakamma
In brief, perform meritorious deeds as routine and always remember them. Such a bit is called Acinnakamma- regularly practised kamma. As the object regularly practised many times becomes habitual action, it can never be forgotten even at the time of dying when one is distracted by pain.
U Koe ends his life with Morality
I will now tell of U Koe who ended his life with morality. He live in my native village Ngwe-twin-kon. U Koe was a donor of a Marble Buddha Image which was bought from Mandalay to be donated in the village monastery. U Koe and U Myu lived in the same village. U Koe was toddy tree climber and U Myu was a farmer. They each had ten children. They were of the same height and both of them were widowers, But U Koe with beautiful moustache, was younger and more handsome than U Myu.
U Myu lived with his eldest daughter, receiving her gentle care bit U Koe lived alone in his own house when his wife Daw Nwe, died. Both were happy and peaceful. U Myu depended on others but U Koe led an independent life, and was more free than U Myu.
Regular Observance of Precepts
U Koe always took precepts daily and went to the village monastery every morning and again in the evening. When he got to the monastery, he would go to the hall of Buddha Images and said prayers squatting before the image he had donated. And then, he took precepts. Sometimes he would sit in the shade and would read Buddhist literature such as Biography of Buddha (Jinatthapakasani) and stories of Dhammapada. At other times he would perform monastic duties and count beads. Indeed, he passed his time by doing good deeds!
Seeking the Way to Peace after Wiping Tears
In the War-time I returned to my native village and met with U Koe. It seemed that I reminded him of his sons and daughters who were living in Yangon. He said, "Before my death, I would like to see my sons and daughters again; I fear that I may not see them again in such a abominable age!" That is indeed the strong attachment of parents to their children."
I said, Sons and daughters are, indeed, like the extra carriage of a train in this Samsaric circle; you need not to be overwhelmed with the anxiety of them. Note that it is very important that the journey to the next existence be good!"
Then U Koe wiped his tears as he realized the nature of Dhamma and promised, "I detach myself from the bound of my children"
From that time onwards, he performed his noble routine regularly and ended his life in peaceful state without any pain. It is sure that U Koe being replete with the regular observance of precepts and putting his mind in a good state may reach to higher realms of abodes.
Indeed, these people are not rich and literate but their simplicity and attitude towards their religious life are very notable and remarkable.
Seven Hundred Sailors in Life-time of Buddha
Here I would like to tell you of how to face the death being embedded in noble precepts.
It was the time when the Buddha resided at the Jetavana monastery of Savatthi. A crew of Seven hundred Sailors went out for trade in their vessel which was as swift as an arrow. After seven days, they unexpectedly ran into a strong storm and great waved swamped over the deck and floundered the bilge of the vessel. The water was rising and whole vessel was gradually sinking.
Fearless State in Pure Mind
At that moment, the sailors were crying for help, running to and fro in terror on the deck. Some said prayers, calling the respective names of the spirits they worshipped, clasping their bundles of possessions, sought refuges. The whole vessel was floundering filled with cries and all the crew in helpless chaos. But a Buddhist devotee, at that instance, was cool and calm as the waves crashed over him; he sat with his eyes closed, not seeing or hearing anything. Indeed, he was calmly sitting!
It is natural for men to be worried and panic when confronting hardship. How unendurable it is to face death. It is very important to face hardship calmly, with the mind purified. That Buddhist sailor had already determined to face the present situation, and had courageously faced the king of death just like the king, Maha Sutasoma. Therefore, he could fearlessly sit cross-legged with firm resolution.
How to Live in Fearless State
Those sailors who noticed his strange manner asked him in surprise "My friend, aren't you afraid in such fearful conditions? Why are you sitting here in such a fearless manner?" He replied calmly, "My friends, let me explain: - it is useless and fruitless to be afraid of facing danger; as for me, I prepared my refuge, first; on the day I boarded the vessel, I offered a meal to the Bhikkhu Samgha, undertaking the five precepts together with the three refuges, tisaranas. My precepts are still maintained; at this present moment, I am recollecting these precepts together with the three refuges. Therefore, I'm not afraid of this dangerous situation.
Indeed, he was recollecting his pure precepts: - Silanussati as he was more interested in his precepts than his noble donation - Caganussati. This is one of the Forty Subjects of Samatha Kammatthana - a task which develops one's own merits.
"Let us ask you, please, my friend; can others undertake the precepts together with the three refuges?
"Yes, of course, you may do whatever I do." Therefore, the sailors asked him for the method of how to live in fearless state.
Observance of Precepts in Sinking Vessel
At the time of adversity, these precepts and refuges are dependable. Thus the seven hundred sailors were divided into seven groups- one hundred in each. In the sinking vessel, each group undertook five precepts together with the three refuges. They did it as quickly as they could, but -
While the first group was observing the precepts, the water in the vessel sank up to their ankles;
The second group, up to the knees;
The third group, up to the waist;
The fourth group, up to the navel;
The fifth group, up to the pith of the stomachs
The sixth group, up to the oesophagus; and
The seventh group, up to the mouth and they swallowed the salty water of the sea so that they had to follow the words of the devotee with garbled voice.
After they all had undertaken the precepts, the Buddhist devotee called out to them, My friends, stay calm with recollection of your precepts. Not long after, all were drowned.
Due to the immediate observance of precepts, all the sailors reached the the higher abodes of Tavatimsa , living in golden mansions peacefully and happily.
As soon as they reached to the Tavatimsa abode, they thought over why they were there and knew that it was due to the friendship of a Buddhist devotee sailor in their previous existence. They assembled together, went forth to the Buddha and supplicated their gratitude to the devotee.
Uncountable Gratitude of the Noble Ones
It is very pleasant to know that the six deities on behalf or the seven hundred, supplicated one by one the uncountable gratitude of the devotee to the Buddha. The first deity supplicated:
(1) Sabbhi reva samasetha
Sabbhi Kubbetha Santhavam
Satam saddhamma mannaya
Seyyo hoti na papiyo
-Live with the noble one; befriend with the noble one:
knowing the ethical practice of the noble one, a person can increase his status, but not decrease. The others supplicated in similar phrases; 'Knowing the ethical practice of the noble one" - only the last sentence was different: -
(2) The second deity specifically supplicated: "A person can achieve the wisdom which cannot be attained from the foolish."
(Just like only the sesamum oil is crushed into oil but grains of sand cannot be done so.)
(3) The third deity supplicated: -
"A person who is associated with noble ones can live in peace and happiness among panic and chaos."
(4) The fourth deity supplicated: "A person associated with noble ones is processed of glory among his relatives."
(5) The fifth deity supplicated: "Those who are associated with noble ones may reach the wholesome abodes."
(6) The sixth deity supplicated: "A person associated with noble ones has eternal blissful peace."
Note Worthy Facts for Seaman
After the supplications, one of the deities supplicated again, "Your Venerable Sir, whose is the most truthful and excellent?"
The Buddha replied, " All of your supplications are truthful and excellent. But, you all have to listen to my notable words: -
Sabbhi reva Samasetha
Sabbhi Kubbetha santhavam
(Meaning: Knowing the ethical practice of the noble ones by associating with them and following their practice, not only can you gain the achievements that you all have supplicated, but also you can be released from all sorts of sufferings, attaining the noble achievement of Arahatship.)
How beneficial and fruitful the association with noble ones is!
If the seven hundred sailors had not had the fortune to meet the devotee sailor, most of them would have gone down to the unwholesome state of hell. Now they may achieve the blissful peace of higher abodes. Therefore, depending on their inclinations, they supplicated the Buddha in the above-mentioned manner. You have to understand that the benefit of the union of noble ones can completely be known only by the fully enlightened Buddhas.
The deities, after uttering solemn words, Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu, flew up to their abode - Tavatimsa Deva Loka. This story is retold in Devata Samyutta of Samyutta Pali. Those sailors who have to risk their lives in the sea should take note and follow this example.
Bear in your mind with firm confidence that even those who were not genuine Buddhists can achieve such benefits due to the immediate observance of five precepts when facing death. Especially, recollect your regular practised precepts through your life at the time of dying. Just like the devotee sailor in the story, you should firmly observe your precepts to be happy to see your pure precepts.
Four Methods of Death
Since you are healthy, you have to consider how to face death. I have already explained two methods of death, the one with charity and the other with precepts.
Now, I have to explain the one with Bhavana but I will touch it later. In conclusion of the one with precepts I will go on touching with Saranagamana - the three refuges.
When a dying person cannot open his eyes, nor raise up his head, and his consciousness is blurred and can only grasp vague objects, at that time he can do nothing - neither recollect the precepts and his donations, nor even the development of Bhavana meditation. What should he do at this important moment? He should recite the words, " Buddhaim saranam gacchami; Dhammam Saranam gacchami; Samgham Saranam gacchami - I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, and I take refuge in the samgha. Each should be recited three times. He should practise it when he regains consciousness.
Nine Gathas without ei' sound
All Buddhists have always recited the above- mentioned nine gathas. While you are healthy or you are conscious when ill, you should always make it a habit to recite them. Bearing their meanings in mind, you should practise it in advance.
If it is practised while walking, going, living, sitting, it becomes a habitual action. There will be no danger nor hardship on your journey by reciting it. For everyone it is very beneficial to do so. Therefore, the old teachers say, "Nine Gathas without 'ei' diphthong." It is also called, "sabbamangala Gatha as it can carry all auspicious things.
Whenever you are on a journey, you should recite it. By doing so, it may be said that you have two benefits: You do not meet with danger and you are already prepared for your dying moment.
Ariyasavatti Gatha and Three Anussatis
Do not think of it as little value because every body learns it by heart. It is more beneficial than other kinds of gathas because it is a genuine teaching of the Buddhas and fundamental to a Buddhist. It raises a man up to the life of a genuine Buddhist and so it is called in Buddhist texts, "Ariyasavatti Gatha." Anyone who does not recite these three gathas may not be called a genuine Buddhist,"
When your recitation improves day by day the clear outlook of a Buddhist and the pure sentiment in its meaning may gradually arise in your mind.
You will definitely realize Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha how noble they are, how reliable they are, in the whole world. And, according to the scope of your knowledge and realization, you may already have recollected the three kinds of recollections on Buddha, Dhamma, and Samgha Order - Buddhanussati, Dhammanussati and Sanghanussati. Such noble ones as Buddha, Arahanta, etc., as they fully realized their value, urged devotees to recite and recollect them for ever. Therefore you should follow their noble instruction repeatedly
Corporal U Hla Shwe, going to Higher Abodes with the Three Refuges
I will tell you about U Hla Shwe who went up to the higher abode after ending his life with the three refuges. He was no other than my intimate pupil Kappiya, U Hla Shwe, then corporal.
In the afternoon of the 4th Waxing Day (Wednesday) of the month Tagu, 1341 Myanmar Era, I was washing the spitting basin in the stream at the west of my permanent residence. At that moment my pupil Maung Chit Shwe came to me and said, "Your Venerable Sir, a man from Pakokku is waiting to see you in your monastery."
"Let him come to me", I replied and continued my work.
Light-living as Pacceka Buddhas
The guest was smart and immediately came to see me and paid homage to me respectfully. After that, he said to me, " Your venerable Sir, let me wash your spitting-basin" , but I did not give it to him. As I was used to living in the forest, I did not want to depend on others.
Following the noble examples of the ancient Pacceka Buddhas dwelling in the Gandhamadana of Himalayan mountain ranges, I myself wash my robes and bowls.
When I returned to my monastery he followed me. He was shorter than I and I had to look down to him. His nose was pointed and he wore a short moustache. Indeed, he was handsome with this bushy moustache.
Arriving Here By Admission Letter
Sitting on a chair, I asked, "Are you Corporal Hla Shwe as you come from Pakokku?". He said "Yes, of course, I came from Pakokku, via Gan-gaw and Kalay." He brought only a small bundle of his own property - an old military bag and an ewer as he was an ex-army man. He also brought gifts for me a pair of slippers, four packages of soured peas and a rice bag containing about four pyis, which he had brought from Kalaymyo.
I allowed him to stay with me as he wanted to attend to me and perform meditation works. Before he arrived, he had written to me twice, asking for my permission.
It was the hot season when he arrived but the climate on Chin hills is usually cold at night, as the rain falls occasionally. He could not sleep at night with one thick blanket and I had to give him another woolly blanket.
At that time, I had two Kappiyas* in my monastery: U Chit Twe of about 70 and his pupil, Ko Chit Shwe of about 30 who came from Shwebo. Now, Ko Hla Shwe had come to live together with them; their diet became a bit difficult. The breakfast was rice gruel and the morning meal before noon was rice with vegetables.
Once a month, they had to go to Falam to buy rice in the Co-operative shop but only a quota could be bought. Due to rice-scarcity they could only eat rice-gruel in the evening. U Chit The did not take food afternoon as he undertook eight precepts. There was no village where we had to go alms-rounds, nor any person who would send something to have. Nevertheless, the alms-rice was sent from Kalaymyo regularly and we had enough alms-food with vegetable curries.
Collecting Vegetables and Woods, and Daily Reading and Meditating
The daily routine of my three Kappiyas was hearing Dhamma lectures and reading Dhamma texts at mid-day, and meditating with me in the afternoon.
Their Kammatthana was breath-in and breath-out meditation-Anapana. Once every week, they went to the post office of Falam Township and brought necessary provisions such as salt and vegetables.
In this way, Ko Hla Shwe was happy to lead a solitary life in the dense forest and high mountainous regions for over three years.
Ko Ha Shwe became intimate friends with some Chin nationals and Gurkha devotees of near-by villages. He was a man of industry and perseverance; he did not waste his time. Not long after he arrived, he cleared the whole monastery compound which was covered with grass. I did not ask him to do so for he did it with good cetana, voluntarily.
When the hot season came, U Chit Twe and he carried dry wood from the forest to the monastery. Occasionally they collected vegetables from the forest to eat. He became accustomed to the seasonal weather, lived for about four years in the forest. Once a year, he went to his native place, Gan-gaw, in the winter.
A New Life of Ko Hla Shwe
Ko Hla Shwe had great rewards living with me. As a Myanmar Saying goes: "In association with the noble ones, a person may become a noble one., he become a pure-minded person and he lived a noble life, being gentle in all verbal and bodily actions. He refrained from doing evil deeds and observed the nature of noble ones. In comparison with his past events which he himself personally admitted, I can evaluate his status of personal qualities.
As a matter of fact, he may have fulfilled perfections in his past existences. After reading my articles in the Dhammabyuhar series, he decided to live with me in the dense forest and follow my way of living in order to gain the life he longed for and to improve his health. He was, in deeds a clever one who put to effect that he was determined to do.
He had been a drunkard when he was in the army. When he lived with me, he stopped drinking and restrained from eating meat. He persuaded others not to eat meat, explaining how detestable and undesirable it was.
As A Dullabha Bhikkhu
Every night, we all were sitting in meditation in my monastery. They read different kinds of Dhamma literature such as Dhammapada stories, Five Hundred and Fifty Jataka Stories, etc. My Ko Hla Shwe always read the book, "Arahanta and other Noble Ones" written by Dhammacariya U Htay Hlaing and revered the ancient noble ones wholeheartedly. Therefore, I urged him to be ordained a Dullabha bhikkhu and he agreed.
On the full-moon day of Kason, the Buddha Day, 1345 Myanmar Era, the Falam Buddhist Association held and annual Ordination and Noviciation Ceremony and Ko Hla Shwe was fully ordained a Dullabha bhikkhu by an epithet of U Revata. I was satisfied with this auspicious event and he was very pleased with it, too.
Ko Hla Shwe was a good attendant and he knew how to assist his teacher. When I was unwell, he tenderly looked after me and when he was in ailment, too, I returned his tender care. We may have been life - partners in a certain past existence and therefore, I led him to the peaceful way of life in this short turn of the samsaric wheel.
The Full Realization of How to Live
Basically I taught him how to live in peace and happiness with loving-kindness. Apart from this, I showed him other different kinds of ways of living: - how to develop breath-in and breath-out meditation ( Method of Anapana Kammatthana) to make a swift release from Samsaric suffering; how to recollect the great virtues of the Buddha ( Method of Buddhanussati Kammatthana) to live in higher status of Samsaric circle; how to scrutinize the world of beings who are making rounds and rounds of Samsaric Existence; how to incline the mind towards the weary nature of the lives seeing into beginningless and endlessness of Samsaric circle; how to contemplate one's own body as a detestable and abominable formation (Asubha Kammatthana) in order to eradicate egoistic views etc., etc.
I think, he, living together with me in forest, knew the different ways of living between the two lives: the Secluded life of a holy person and the worldly pleasures of an ordinary human being. At least he may peep at these differences through his eyes of wisdom.
Tracking His Past Life
Ko Hla Shwe was born in Pakokku, descended from lineage of boat-man. His father died when he was an infant. At about 18, while he was in school, he joined he army and wandered in different regions of Myanmar; Shan State, Mon State, Karen State, Irrawaddy Division, etc. After about twenty years of Service his ear was hurt by a bomb on a local Hinzada train and at bout forty, he left the army. He returned to live with his mother at Pakokku. After his mother's death, he moved to Gan-gaw.
One year after his arrival, Ko Chit Shwe returned to his native village and there were only two kappiyas left, Ko Hla Shwe and U Chit Twe. When U Chit Twe went to Central Myanmar, Ko Hla Shwe was alone in my monastery. He occasionally said, Your Venerable sir, gets older and should have a permanent attendant Kappiya; I shall not, I think, live with you much longer."
In his youth, he had married a Mon lady and had a child.
While he was stationed at the front the mother and the child were killed in a battle. Intending to remarry, he moved, to other places.
The Aim of Permanent Stay at Kalaymyo.
"Your Venerable Sir, I think I am still young enough to get married; to earn a good livelihood, I want to move and live in Kalaymyo permanently ", he said to me openly. As I had taught him how to live in peace and happiness, I easily allowed him to do so.
He seemed to be satisfied with his life of a Dullabha bhikkhu and thought that he could achieve a perfect manhood.
Having returned to the life of layman, he moved to Kalaymyo, and earned his living making sandals. His business prospered. While he was travelling to Gan-Gaw on business, he came down with a fever on the boat. As he had already had malaria, he was severely ill but managed to get back to Kalaymyo.
Unexpected Final Departure
As his fever was very serious, he was sent to Kalaymyo hospital by his landlord, U Than Tun. Doctors and nurses gave him intensive treatment but seven days after admission, he died at about 3 p.m. on Saturday, 3rd Waning day of Tawthalin, 1345 M.E. The next day a funeral ceremony was conducted by the War Veterans Association of Kalaymyo.
Finding one hundred Kyats** in his pocket, it was used for his funeral ceremony. His body was buried in cemetery, east of Kalaymyo. Some of his friends did not know of his death. Whenever I talked about him, I felt sorry for him, I remembered his words; " At my youthful age, I have to earn money like others and lead a settled life at Kalaymyo; after that I will come back to you, Venerable Sir!" In fact, he unexpectedly left this life when still youthful!.
Pleasure and Sorrow
To say the truth when I heard that Ko Hla Shwe had died I felt so sorry for him that I did not want to talk. Whenever I saw the things in my monastery which he himself had done, I remembered him and sometimes tears welled up in my eyes. It reminded me of my weak point to be improved, although I was living in peace of Dhamma; this remorseful thought forced me to endeavour in higher mindfulness, perseverance and enlightenment coming to be a benefit out of loss. I was glad to know that he followed my instructions with firm belief and achieved his success.
Being a Deva, by a Fair Death
I arrived at Kalaymyo on Saturday 1st Waning day at Tabaung, 1345 M.E. U Than Tun's family and Ko Hla Shwe were intimate friends.
The eldest son of U Than Tun supplicated, " Ko Hla Shwe is a man of good nature; he said that he would return to Gan-Gaw and enter the life of bhikkhu if he recovered from his illness and he would give all of his tools to me; he can admonish all of our brothers and we all love him is if he were a blood- relative; indeed he is the best friend of our family. He looked after Ko Hla Shwe through his illness and thus knew about his death. He continued to supplicate, "You Venerable Sir, I lived with him when he was healthy; when he was unwell, too, I accompanied him to the hospital. As his fever was very severe, he was unconscious in hospital almost all the time; when he regained consciousness, he never talked but was always making a low recitation. As I wanted to know about what he was whispering, I listened to him and heard these words
1. Buddho mayham Sukham detu, Samsara Vattadukkhato mocanathava, Buddham Saranam Gacchami.
"The sclera of his eyes; turned upwards occasionally while reciting but when he was conscious of the words, he whispered again. Sometimes he would do it in a very very low tone. I recognized the verse as he had taught it to me. On the day he died, I was not there."
It was very gratifying to know the detailed facts and I was also proud of his noble activities even when he can battling against death.
While living together with me on Chin Hills I taught him how to face death repeatedly. I often said to him, " If a person recites the three refuges at the time of death he can reach to the spiritual world of Catumaharajika devas at least."
I gave him a booklet : " The Benefits of the Three Refuges", preached by the Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Tawya Sayadawgyi and taught him how to read it. 'The Benefits. of the Three Gems", written by Dhammacariya U Htay Hlaing was his manual, too. Maung Ne Lin, the younger son the U Than Tun gave more facts about Ko Hla Shwe and I was more glad to hear them. The time he lived together with me seemed to be a training course in how to die. It may be said that he achieved a perfection during the rare chance to be a human being. Note that you can attain a perfection of human life if you died with the noble three refuges. Maung Ne Lin said, "Your Venerable Sir, not long after U Hla Shwe's death, I had a wonderful -dream: U Hla Shwe recovered from his ailment- and was happily playing with children; he wore the crest of deva on his head and was very handsome and glorious to behold; his appearance was totally different from that in human's life; he disappeared while I was looking at him."
How beneficial and fruitful it is to live by the teachings of Buddhas and to associate with the noble ones!
Attaining Arahatship With the Help of the Three Refuges
In the life time of the Buddha devotees knew the benefits of the three refuges and some women would recite the three gems in pregnancy not only for themselves, but also for the embryo in their wombs.
During the life time of the Buddha, a person called, Saranagamana Maha Thera attained Arahatship by means of firm belief in the Three Refuges. Throughout the lives of the sixteen Buddhas, starting from that of Padumuttara Buddha, he never heard the four worlds of hell and lived in higher abodes such as human and deva abodes-.
Everyone Having Respective Past Causes:
There was a boy of seven years of age in Savatthi. The boy while playing with his friends went into the compound of the monastery - An Arahanta residing there, warmly welcomed them. He taught them the Three Refuges and preached suitable teachings to them.
As soon as he recited the word, "Buddham saranam gacchami", the boy was overwhelmed by ecstatic delight and it was for him like an abrupt awakening from a sound sleep; his intellectual quality, like alive coal covered with ashes, immediately achieved enlightenment. Due to this observance of the Three Refuges, he developed insight-meditation and attained an Arahatship there at once.
Every being has their own respective past causes; a repeated performance - in a certain intellectual life can be conducive to certain benefits in the whole rounds- of Samsara. Therefore, you should not think of it as a little value.
The One who Served Blind Parents
That boy was the one who served his blind parents in Bandhumati in the life time of Vipassi Buddha. He envied the life of bhikkhu whenever he saw them. He often thought to himself, "I have a duty to serve my blind parents; but how excellent my life would be if I were free of duty like others". Finally he gave up his wish and decided to take firm refuge in the Three Sarana-gamanas, "it is fruitless to long for what cannot be obtained; to die with the three refuges I may release from all of these sufferings". He approached an Aggasavaka, Nisabha Mahathera and took refuge in them in his presence. After his death, he was reborn in Tavatimsa abode.
Easy to Attain Spiritual Life
Through the lives of the Seven Buddhas, Vipassi, Sikhi, Vessabhu, Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, Gotama, he wandered in higher abodes due to his unwavering observance of the Three Refuges. As I said earlier he was reborn in the richest family of Mahasala clan in the life time of Gotama Buddha and immediately attained Arahatship even at the age or seven. How fabulous his life is!
Therefore, live and die with the Three Refuges! You may be guaranteed not to fall into the hellish worlds. There is no more excellent stanza than that simple one. Don't follow the strange ( modernized) stanzas which are not the Buddha's teachings, with the hope of being released from dangers and gaining specific goals. Indeed, the stanza Buddham Saranam Gacchami is called Sabbamangala Gatha meaning the stanza with is replete with all sort of auspicious glories
Saranagamana, Protecting Immediate Death.
Concerning the Saranagamana, there are so many things to be talked about. Just as dying with the Saranagamana as a sure way to the higher spiritual worlds so also a person who has resolutely observed Saranagamana will not meet any sort of untimely death.
I will tell you an example from my own experience.
It was during the days of World War II. the Japanese rule in Myanmar. There was a village called Kyun-yin, Depayin Township, Shwebo district. The presiding Sayadaw in the village monastery was U Vayama. It is difficult to be a good bhikkhu, to be simple and honest, and show the right way of living to the lay-men. U Vayama was replete with these qualities and his monastery was prosperous.
In those days, as chaos reigned in the country, robberies and thefts were numerous everywhere; evildoers even robbed from holy persons without remorse.
One night by the light of the moon, a group of armed robbers entered the monastery of U Vayama. As soon as they got inside, they tied the bhikkhu tightly with ropes and took him to a forest.
Observance of Saranagamana at a rim of pit
Arriving at a clearing, he found that he was near the rim of deep pit which had been dug - The bhikkhu asked, What will you do to me?'
"We'll kill you and bury you in this pit", promptly replied the robbers.
"Ah! you may kill me; If I have a bad kamma I have to accept such a death - but wait for a moment; let me worship the Buddha", replied the bhikkhu courageously.
As Ven. U Vayama had already observed the Three Refuges resolutely - he was not afraid of death and dared to face it. As soon as he got permission from the robbers, he squatted at the rim of the pit, put his hands on his forehead and concentrated on the Buddha, saying in his mind:
"Aham Buddham Saranam gacchami,
Aham Dhammam saranam gacchami,
Aham Samgham saranam gacchami,"
Another Wonderful Event
The robbers were watching the Bhikkhu pray in the bright moon light. Suddenly a heavy rain storm fell unexpectedly and it became so dark that nothing could be seen and the robbers fled in terror. U Vayama himself was astonished to experience such a marvellous event and realized that all the ropes tied around his body had automatically loosened. Thinking deeply of the benefit of the Three Refuges, he went back to his monastery safe and sound.
Had U Vayama been killed in that situation, he would have reached the higher realm of Deva Loka spiritual World.
Property is Enemy
U Vayama thought it over again and again; he had no enemy; he did not argue, nor fight with anyone; finally he found the solution to the present question:
Indeed, the properties in his monastery were the true enemies- the prime cause. In such a time of collapse, these properties he owned were harmful to him. He was able to differentiate friend from foe
Therefore, he took only his requisites and went to reside in Vaso Monastery of Ye-U, Shwebo district - Two years later he moved to the monastery in Thayetpinsu Village by invitation of the village devotees. He died there recently
In brief, do not look down the Three Refuges; even the bhikkhu have to rely on them; notice that Taungpulu Tawya Sayadawgyi himself emphasized the THREE REFUGES.
Transferring of Life with Bhavana
Let's continue to talk about the transferring of life with the help of meditation-Bhavana. Some think that it may not be possible; it may be out of their reach. Some also presume that meditation should be done only in old age. Neither is true. It is not difficult to meditate. Indeed, it is only too easy to perform it.
You need to repeatedly practise any sort of meditation you like in preparation. Your repeated practice may become Acinnakamma. For instance - when dying you most be able to practise the meditation you have engaged in beforehand, breath-in and breath-out meditation (Anapana), repeated recollection of the virtues of Buddha (Buddhanussati), the meditation on Loving-Kindness or whatever you like to practise.
You'd better perform meditation daily and if it is done so, you will easily get control of yourself when the occasion arises
To Practise Overwhelming Feeling
Old-age, disease and death is a serial order. Death arises due to painful sensation of a certain disease. So, you have to prepare for a painful disease which will bring you to death. In order to overwhelm such a painful sensation of death you must be well practised in your meditation beforehand. Even when you are healthy you may have painful diseases. You need to overcome the pain of the disease whatever it is. There is a Myanmar Saying, "Before you enter the competition area, you have to practise outside strength". It is a custom of meditation teachers these days to urge their followers to overcome painful sensations.
'To overcome painful sensations' means to fix the concentration on the meditation object without being distracted towards the pain which arises. For example, if a person meditates on breath-in and breath-out, he should not incline his mind towards his pains, but only to the tip of his nose. This is the method of evading the painful sensation.
Attitude towards Meditating on Feeling
According to the method of Vedananupassana Kammatthana repeated insight-meditation on feeling, a person who meditates on the feeling, should be careful to direct his concentration towards it. Note this fact carefully. It is very important for a devotee who meditates on feeling to get it under control, with the hope of overwhelming it. But overwhelming it is not a main factor. You have to note it with detachment. Why?
Longing to overwhelm the feeling may result in irresistible state of mind, dosa-anger, lobha-longing, or mana, conceit arising out of the thought: how easy it is!
I can do it however it is! Therefore it is more important to meditate on the arising of feeling in a
Fruitless it is to never engage in Meditation
Here a brief outline is to have a regular repeated performance (Acinnakamma) in your respective meditation objects. In this golden age there are many meditation instructors and experienced meditators in Myanmar. This is the improvement to the Myanmar Sasana. I would like to urge those who have never practised meditation in such a golden time, that not to do so would make being a human fruitless.
In truth, the instruction to die with the recollection of Dana or Sila or Saranagamana is only for those who have never practised meditation. In fact, the recollection of dana, etc. is a sort of Bhavana - meditation but it will not be performed as proficient as an experienced meditator, the less concentrative power of the meditation, the less beneficial to the meditator.
Therefore, do not waste your time. Engage in any sort of meditation, following the proper methods.
Devas in Myanmar
As experienced meditators become numerous in Myanmar there are signs and stories of devas existing. Indeed, there are so many Myanmar Devas in higher abodes of spirits.
Undersiring Gifts out of two kinds of Concentration
We are glad to hear that meditation is widespread in the whole of Myanmar. It is certain that a regular meditator will go higher abodes. According to the Abhidhamma philosophy we know it clearly. If a meditator attains Upacara Samadhi the concentration near the gate of the first Enlightenment ( Sotapatti magga Nana), he may sure to reach higher deva realms. If the concentration becomes more powerful up to the stage of Upacara Samadhi, the concentration at the very gate of the Magga Nana, it can be definitely said that he would go to the brahma Abodes. - The Appana Samadhi is a very steadfast one-pointedness of concentration like a stone—pillar or a big stone rock. Upacara Samadhi may be attained by most meditators.
Therefore, the meditators, if they die with the object of meditation, they need not incline their mind' towards a wholesome state, for it will automatically arise. Do not forget the word, "to die with the object of meditation". In this age, there are so many true stories to be told about meditators who have already gone to the higher celestial abodes.
Those who have diligently practised meditation possess a clear knowledge of existence. Really, they do not want to reach higher abodes, whether deva realms or brahma abodes. It is not a hyperbole. They do not want to wander anywhere in the thirty-one planes of the universe. Their ultimate goal is to become a Ariya Individual, outside of the 31 planes of existence. If they cannot eradicate the fetters of longing for pleasure and longing for existence (Kamaraga and byapada), they will wander unwillingly in those 31 planes. If they cannot do it practically, they may even go down to the Hellish planes.
Deva Bhikkhu in Tavatimsa
Here I would like to tell you a story. A real meditator does not want to reach a celestial abode; if he dies with the object of meditation, though he cannot complete his meditation task, he will surely go to the celestial abode
In the life time of the Buddha, a man was ordained a bhikkhu. Five years after, he studied ways of living in accordance with Vinaya Disciplinary Rules. And then, he learned meditation method from the Buddha and went forth to the forest in order to meditate in seclusion of life. As he wanted to meditate diligently through day and night, he kept his bed and bedding in a place.
Since he lived in the forest, he was diligently engaged in meditation work without sleeping even at night and did not remember food and drinks. One day after another he became thinner with the body like a skeleton. One day while he was meditating in walking posture, he immediately fell down to the ground and died of anaemia. It is praised in the commentary that an honourable person who died only in work-site: So dhurasamim yeva' Kalamakasi.
Bhikkhu Deva Among Female Deities
Due to the power of his intensive meditation he was reborn in the Tavatimsa celestial abode, like a person who has just been awakened from sound sleep. He was very handsome in glittering of gold like a gold pillar at the gate of the great grand mansion in which one thousand female deities lived. They were very idle and longed for a new born male deity. When the bhikkhu-deva arrived there, they all came to him with musical instruments in their hands -
Nevertheless, the bhikkhu-deva did not realize that he had left the human world and was reborn. The female deities gathering around him, he thought they were all women-devotees wandering about in the campus of his monastery. So, he raised his right hand to his left shoulder to poll up his outer garment as if he robed, and bowed his head humbly.
Noticing his strange behaviour, the female deities realized that he was reborn there from the life of a bhikkhu. With gentle smiles, they said, "Oh Deity! This is a celestial world, not the place where bhikkhu performs meditations. Indeed, this is the place to be overwhelmed by sensual pleasures. "But the bhikkhu-deva did not move. Therefore, the group of female deities played their musical instruments so noisily that he would pay attention to them. Nay! he did not move.
They got an idea and and place a big mirror before him. When he saw his form in it, he noticed that his body was adorned with celestial ornaments. Seeing this, he was greatly disappointed.
Supplicating to the Buddha
Then he thought to himself; "I did not observe the morality of a bhikkhu in order to gain such sensual pleasures, but practised meditation to attain the noble Arahatship. It is not difficult to attain the celestial pleasures but it is very difficult to abide by the teachings of the Buddha". With this noble thought, he did not enter the celestial grand mansion but went forth to the Buddha, together with his female deities. He supplicated to the Buddha.
"Your Venerable Sir, these female deities, I think, are ugly ogresses; the pleasant Nandana garden is, indeed, a place filled with the smoke of sensual pleasures. How can I seek a release from this place; please, teach me only how to meditate.
The Buddha seeing the past lives, of the deity, taught the Noble Eightfold Path, so that it became like a chariot, and he attained the Sotapanna Ariyahood at one sitting. This is a brief story taught in Acchara Sutta, Devata Samyutta Pali.
Here I would like to draw a conclusion that a person who has regular practice of meditation may surely reach to the celestial abodes. Therefore if a person cannot put his effort to attain Arahatship in this existence, he should repeatedly develope hit strenuous exertion to establish a reliable bridge to another wholesome location.
Of the aforesaid four categories: dana, sila sarana-gamana and bhavana, you have to choose whatever you like and develop it diligently.
May you all reach to a certain wholesome abode at last!
* Kappiya: Attendant to the monks
** Kyats: Local Currency
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