Mae Chee Kaew - Her Journey to Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment
All realms of consciousness, and all living beings
originate from the mind. Because of that, it’s far
better that you focus exclusively on your own
mind. There you will find the whole universe.
Ghosts of the Mountain
Under Ajaan Khamphan’s leadership, the monastery at Phu Gao Mountain developed into a vibrant spiritual environment where monks and nuns focused diligently on their meditation practice. Ajaan Khamphan had lived under Ajaan Sao’s tutelage for several years, and he directed monastic affairs in the same spirit that his famous mentor had. At Phu Gao Mountain, a harmonious sense of fraternity prevailed, everyone living together in unity. The sight of the monks peacefully walking to the village for alms each morning was impressive. The nuns would remain at the monastery, gathered in the open-air kitchen to cook rice and prepare simple dishes to augment the food from the monks’ daily alms gathering. The villagers had constructed a long bench at the monastery’s entrance. Here the nuns stood and placed the food they had prepared into the monks’ bowls on their return from the village. Back in the monastery, at the main sala, the monks ate together in silence, seated according to seniority. Having received a blessing, the nuns retired to their quarters to have their meal — also in silence and according to seniority. When the monks finished eating, each monk washed his bowl, dried it thoroughly, replaced its cloth covering, and put it neatly away. The women washed the dishes and the cooking utensils, put everything neatly away and swept the kitchen area clean.
Once the morning duties were complete, all the monastics returned to the secluded environment of their small huts, where they concentrated on meditation, either walking or sitting. The monks and nuns remained in the forest until four p.m. when the afternoon chores began. Upon returning from the forest, they first swept the monastery grounds. When sweeping was finished, they worked together to carry water from the nearby pools to fill the various water vessels: water for drinking, water for washing feet, and water for washing alms bowls and cooking pots. After a quick bath, they resumed their meditation. On nights when no meeting was scheduled, they continued to practice late into the night before retiring.
Normally, Ajaan Khamphan called a general meeting of the monks and nuns once a week, on lunar observance days. Convening at dusk, the whole assembly chanted in unison, intoning sacred verses in praise of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. After the soft resonance of their voices receded, Ajaan Khamphan delivered an inspiring discourse on meditation practice. When he finished speaking, he addressed any questions or doubts expressed by his disciples, and advised them about how they could move their meditation forward. If pressing questions arose on other days, they could seek his personal advice at any convenient time.
Ajaan Khamphan maintained an exemplary mode of practice that inspired reverence in his disciples. He was gentle and gracious, possessing an unassuming manner that was always simple and down-toearth. His spiritual practice and virtuous conduct reflected a truly calm and peaceful frame of mind. He was highly skilled at attaining states of deep meditative calm, and very knowledgeable about the diversity of phenomena that could be experienced in samādhi. Because of this, his meditative skills were compatible with Mae Chee Kaew’s own innate abilities. His mind converged into states of deep samādhi with consummate ease, resulting in extensive contact with beings of the spirit realm. Mae Chee Kaew was able to take advantage of his expertise to further her own skills in the many unusual aspects of samādhi, and was grateful for Ajaan Khamphan’s guidance.
The years Mae Chee Kaew spent living at Phu Gao Mountain were a fruitful time for her meditation practice. With each new foray into the invisible world of sentient spirits, she gained increased expertise in the realms of nonphysical existence. With Ajaan Khamphan’s assistance, she strengthened her ability to explore varieties of phenomena within the many lowly but subtle nonhuman states of existence that lay beyond the range of normal human perception. These experiences were so many, and varied, that she never tired of exploring the spiritual universe. To her surprise, she discovered that some types of ghosts live in organized communities just as humans do. Contrasting sharply with the vagrant variety, these communities are governed by a leader, who supervises social activities and endeavors to keep peace. Due to the untimely fruition of previous bad kamma, some beings, having accumulated a wealth of virtue, are nonetheless reborn into the realm of ghosts. Because their virtuous characters remain, they are able to exercise great moral authority, garnering respect from their peers, who because of their own spiritual poverty, stand in awe of those possessing moral power and authority. In the ghost communities, Mae Chee Kaew found proof that the fruits of goodness were Always more powerful than the effects of evil. By the power of virtue alone, one individual is capable of governing a large community.
Mae Chee Kaew also found that the ghost communities were not segregated into groups or castes. Instead, their social hierarchy adhered strictly to the order dictated by the specific consequences of each ghost’s kamma, making it impossible for them to hold the kind of prejudices that people do. The nature of their ghostly existence, and their social status relative to one another, was always the appropriate retribution for their past misdeeds.
Occasionally, the chief ghost guided Mae Chee Kaew on a tour of his domain, and described the living conditions of different types of ghosts. She was informed that the ghost world has its share of hooligans, too. Bad characters, who cause caused disturbances, were rounded up and imprisoned in an enclosure that humans would call a “jail”. He emphasized that the imprisoned ghosts were mean-hearted types, who had unduly disturbed the peace of others, and were sentenced and jailed according to the severity of their offenses. Those who behaved well, lived normal lives as far as their kamma allowed. The chief ghost reminded her that the word “ghost” is a designation given by humans. Ghosts were actually just one type of conscious life form among many others in the universe that exists according to its own karmic conditions.
Deva consciousness is another form of sentient existence governed by the laws of kamma. Mae Chee Kaew’s samādhi meditation introduced her to a rich spectrum of otherworldly experience. Sometimes her consciousness separated from her body and wandered to explore the heavenly realms, or the different levels of the brahma world. She visited the various types of subtly formed beings, called devas, who exist in a divine hierarchy of increasing subtlety and refinement — beings who have arrived at a fortunate and happy condition as a result of their good kamma. She met terrestrial devas — luminous deities dwelling in forests, groves and trees — who are born there because of their strong natural affinity to the earthly plane. Although their visible presence existed beyond the range of human senses, they were clearly visible to Mae Chee Kaew’s divine eye. She viewed them as beings of contentment whose blissful lives were often preoccupied by sensory pleasures. These enjoyments were the rightful rewards of accumulated virtue. As human beings, they had amassed a store of merit by practicing generous giving, moral restraint and meditation. It propelled them to rebirth in a spiritual heaven, where they lived a blissful existence, enjoying a variety of pleasurable sensory experiences.
Despite the devas’ virtue, their passive nature gave little chance to actively generate additional good kamma to extend their celestial stay. Therefore, once the devas exhausted their virtuous capital they could expect to be reborn into the human world, where hopefully their virtuous tendencies would allow them to replenish their supply of merit. In contrast to the ghostly spirits, who are trapped in a cycle of evil and wretched rewards, the devas enjoyed an upswing in their karmic fortunes. However, the devas do share one thing in common with all sentient beings: the burden of emotional attachments that cause them to be reborn over and over again — without any end in sight.
It’s important to understand that these realms exist as dimensions of consciousness and not as physical planes. By characterizing the celestial realms as being progressively “higher” and more refined levels of existence, and the ghostly realms as being correspondingly “lower”, the purely spiritual nature of consciousness is erroneously given a material standard. The terms “going up” and “going down” are conventional figures of speech, referring to the movement of physical bodies. These terms have very little in common with the flow of consciousness, whose subtle motion is beyond temporal comparisons. Physically moving up and down requires a deliberate exertion of effort. But when the mind gravitates to higher or lower realms of consciousness, direction is merely a metaphor and involves no effort.
When saying that the heavens and the brahma worlds are arranged vertically in a series of realms, this should not be understood in the literal sense — such as, a house with many stories. These realms exist as dimensions of consciousness, and ascent is accomplished spiritually, by attuning the mind’s conscious flow to a subtler vibration of consciousness. They are ascended in the figurative sense, by a spiritual means: that is, by the heart which has developed this sort of capability through the practices of generosity, moral virtue and meditation. By saying that hell is “down below”, one does not mean going down, physically, into an abyss. Rather, it refers to descent by spiritual means to a spiritual destination. And those who are able to observe the heavens and the realms of hell do so by virtue of their own internal spiritual faculties.
For those skilled in the mysteries of the samādhi, psychic communication is as normal as any other aspect of human experience. Arising from the flow of consciousness, the essential message is transmitted in the language of the heart as fully-formed ideas, which the inquiring individual understands as clearly as if they were words in conventional language. Each thought current emanates directly from the heart, and so conveys the mind’s true feelings, and precise meaning, eliminating the need for further clarification. Verbal conversation is also a medium of the heart; but its nature is such that spoken words often fail to reflect the heart’s true feelings, so mistakes are easily made in communicating its precise intent. This incongruity is eliminated by using direct heart-to-heart communication.
http://www.forestdhamma.org/ebooks/engl ... e_Kaew.pdf
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