Searching for the source of a story regarding a Thai monk

Hi, I am trying to find the source of a story I remember encountering but now cannot find despite my attempts to do so. The story, as I recall it, regards a Thai bhikkhu, I believe LT Maha Boowa, who got into a fight or argument with LP Mun and after the fight was so upset that they could no longer obtain samadhi. I believe they then went on to make a comment like “if it had been anyone other than Ajahn Mun [who made me lose my samadhi], I would have killed them.”

I’ve done my best to search through the books of Maha Boowa I’ve read before but can’t seem to find it. Perhaps I’m just imagining the story, or I just have somehow overlooked it.

Many thanks to anyone who can help me located it!!! :pray::pray::pray:

Perhaps you’re looking for the wrong Bua. Ajahn Mun actually had two disciples of this name:

Luang Pu Bua Siripuṇṇo (1888-1975)
Luang Ta Mahā Bua Ñāṇasampanno (1913-2011)

I don’t think much has been written in English about Phra Siripuṇṇo. For example, J.L. Taylor in Forest Monks and the Nation-state only gives him a couple of paragraphs. He ordained in his fifties – an extremely late age for an Ajahn Mun disciple – after marrying and raising six children. He never went to school and was a lifelong illiterate, but in his youth he had trained successfully in several folk magic traditions and then in lay life made his living as a village sorcerer and exorcist.

Luang Pu Thui, abbot of Wat Pa Daan Wiwek in Nongkhai, was a disciple of both Buas, spending nineteen years with Siripuṇṇo. According to his account, after ordaining Siripuṇṇo was conceited about his skills in magic and on meeting Ajahn Mun engaged him in a psychic power contest, pitting his alleged folk magic powers against Ajahn Mun’s alleged abhiññā. Apparently he lost.

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This is very interesting history, but I’m not sure this is the solution to my question because I distinctly remember hearing this story told in the first person in English.

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As Ven @Dhammanando says, that would most likely be Luang Ta Mahā Bua Ñāṇasampanno (1913-2011).

I have heard a story about him that was similar but slightly more nuanced. I’m not sure if it was in one of his books or in a talk by someone else.

My recollection, which may well be faulty, was that LP Mun decided that LT Maha Boowa was getting too attached to samadhi, so he made some comment designed to irritate him or question himself enough that he could not obtain jhāna for some time. LT Maha Boowa was initially annoyed, but soon realised that it was a valuable lesson.

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Yes! That is exactly the story I’m thinking of. Now I just need to figure out the source.

Ah, well if that’s the one you had in mind you’ll find it in the Ajahn Mahā Boowa chapter of Jack Kornfield’s Living Buddhist Masters. But the author describes it as “very stern lecture”, not a fight.

It is told that Ajahn Mahā Boowa as a student had, after long practice, mastered some of the Buddhist concentration meditations, and spent his time sitting in much bliss before he went to see Ajahn Mun. This mastery alone is quite an attainment. Ajahn Mun on meeting him gave a very stern lecture on the difference between bliss and the wisdom of enlightenment and sent him off to the forest to practice more. For many years following this chiding, Ajahn Mahā Boowa was unable to enter into high and blissful concentration states. But when he again finally mastered them, it was with great wisdom and insight.

https://www.bps.lk/library-search-select.php?id=bp507s

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This story is presented several times in the compilation of desanas, Sanditthikho Dhamma, by Luang Dta Maha Boowa. However, none of these recollections refer to killing anyone.

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No, that’s the wrong way round. The word “fight” led me to discount Luang Ta Mahā Bua, since he was über-deferential to all his teachers. Luang Pu Bua, on the other hand, was a sort of modern-day Pilindavaccha – notoriously (and sometimes scandalously) rude and confrontational towards people.

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Here’s a short version of the story in first person from Forest Desanas Volume 1 (page 82 in the PDF):

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Im not sure this is it. Perhaps I’m combining two stories or something but I definitely remember that the monk stopped being able to obtain samadhi for a time after the interaction.

:question:

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What I’m remembering, it’s the conversation itself that created the problems with getting samadhi, not an interest in vipassana. But I might as well stop sending others on my wild goose chase.

I initially found this comment confusing. Obviously Kornfield’s chapter is about Luang Ta Mahā Bua, as he gives the birth year 1913. I presume you mean that a story about Luang Ta Mahā Bua could not possibly have him fighting with Ajahn Mun?

This could be the conversation you were thinking of, taken from Sanditthiko Dhamma.

My behaviour was like this, I was genuine and committed right up to the point of being adventurous. Tan Ajahn Mun had to restrain me all the time. Whatever he said resonated with me immediately. He had to bring me under control. He had to yank me back. He had to slow me down because I was too intense. For example, I would sit until daybreak and so he had to temper my behaviour. If he had not done that, I would not have backed off. I saw the results here in my Citta. Things were unimportant. Whatever they were I paid no attention to them. The Citta was going full steam ahead. Now, Tan Ajahn understood this from all aspects; from the point of view of the Dhātu, the point of view of the Khandha and from the point of view of the Citta. He knew all there was to know. When I was spirited and adventurous, he would pull back on the reins.

Staying in Samādhi; he was quite serious in wanting me to give up this. He said, “You’re going to die in Samādhi, are you? Samādhi is a fool’s dilemma.”

He would scold me. “Are you’re going to lie down dead like that?”

This was the sort of thing he did with me. Anything that I didn’t understand I disputed with him. I argued purely for the sake of getting at the truth. If I did understand, the understanding was immediate. This genuinely was the way I went in search of the facts. Whatever he would say in his desana, I was on to in a flash and I would incorporate it into my practice.

In the case of sitting all night, he tempered my behaviour there. If he hadn’t done I would not have conceded. Even though my bottom would be breaking I would show no interest in it. If the Kilesa were not going to be broken then I wasn’t going to give in. This is why I say that my Citta was very active in investigating the physical elements and the Khandhas.

My stomach might have been out of order because I abstained from eating. This was no surprise. I would refuse to eat. This was because after eating I would be like a heavy haulage truck, which was not conducive to being active and nimble.

This means that, in each case, fasting has to be compatible with one’s character and behaviour. Whatever is right for your character and personality, latch onto that as much as you can. This was mostly the case with me.

The body is a means to re-enforce the Kilesa. It well and truly is a tool of the Kilesa. If the body has vitality, it re-enforces the Kilesa. It is for this reason that I had to push the body to its limits. Fasting meant pushing the body to its limits.

When I was on my own there was no one else to consider. I would eat when I wanted to. If I didn’t want to eat I could let it go for several days; living on my own. If two of us went, each would have to consider the other and so the situation wasn’t so conducive. If I went on my own, I got right into it. I would eat when I wanted to. If I didn’t want to eat, I could take it or leave it. This was a revelation. I’d go on alms round and then just eat from what I got.

It was like the body was weak but the Citta was sharp. One doesn’t match the other, you know.

Now, when I went to a village, before I got there I would nearly drop dead. I would have to sit down and rest half way. Just listen to this. I learnt that after I had finished eating I would be like a racehorse. I would spring back into shape immediately. There! The body easily snapped back into shape. On the other hand, it is difficult for the Citta to spring back into shape. It is for this reason that we have to be strict in regard to the heart. I was very strict.

I did a lot of fasting, quite a lot. I did so until I got diarrhoea in my tenth pansa. It all started in my seventh pansa. This was when I got really serious, when there was no messing around. When I reached my tenth pansa my stomach got out of order. I paid no attention to it. I only had one thing on my mind. This means to say that this practice was compatible with my character.

Similarly I tried refraining from lying down. This is Nesajji in the 13 Dhutanga practices. I gave this a go. As I refrained from lying down more and more, instead of my heart becoming light and bright it reverted back to being dull. If I abstained from lying down for several days the dullness increased exponentially. So, this was not right. Looking at the results, they did not match the results I should have obtained.

The more I abstained from laying down the duller my heart. I stopped and gave away this practice. I came to the conclusion that fasting was compatible with my personality.

Going anywhere on my own meant that I would fast; not just reduce my food. If I stayed with friends and colleagues a lot, such as when I stayed at Wat Norng Phue, I reduced my food intake throughout. On no occasion did I allow myself to be full. The reason being that I had to be involved with my friends and the group of monks that had come to stay with Ajahn Mun. I was someone who watched over them, advised them and cautioned them so that their inappropriate ways did not offend Tan Ajahn.

Because I had done this off my own bat, Tan Ajahn didn’t invite me to come and see him. If I did go to see him, it was because I was concerned about something that should not have concerned me at all. I had to be interested in his take on how to get the monks and novices to practise properly in every way.

It was true that he was the one thing that the monks and novices feared most but he seldom got too involved with them. I was the second one that they were scarred of and then I took over the mantle of number one because I was always on at them, wasn’t I?

When the monks and novices saw me they were like mice looking at a cat. That’s how it was. I was really serious with them. I was always on the lookout for those that weren’t up to much and then I would call them out and remind them of what was what. My practice toward Ajahn Mun made things as easy as possible for him. I never departed from this approach. I refrained from fasting and ate about sixty percent of normal and that was appropriate. I calculated that that was sufficient to allow my practice to remain at ease.

I couldn’t go hell for leather like I wanted to because there were lots of monks around and they had various problems. It was as if they had all come to stay with me, every last one of them. I kept an eye on these monks and novices. It was because of this that I just restricted my food intake.

If I stayed with Ajahn Mun, I always restricted my food intake. I never allowed myself to feel full but I never fasted. As soon as I was off, away from Tan Ajahn, I was immediately back into fasting. That’s the way things were.

Speaking about my teacher, the one who coached and educated me, Luang Poo Mun was the one who tempered my behaviour. I was very daring and adventurous so he had to rein me back. He was always right. He was never mistaken about anything he taught. For example, me sitting until dawn. He never showed any interest in this you know. All I got was, “If that’s what you want to do, then fine. Get on with it ’til you die.”

He would listen for quite a while and then I would get a scolding. This is what I mean. To put it in everyday language, what I was doing wasn’t bringing contentment. I’m telling you, he knew my personality. Where I was concerned, if we switched to discuss Dhamma he would turn on immediately and go backwards and forwards over the subject. In ordinary language we were like father and son having a discussion on Dhamma. However, as soon as the discussion turned to Dhamma he would implore me passionately every time, without fail. This was because he understood my character, a character that was committed, genuine and bold.

For example, he was scathing about me abstaining from lying down and sitting until dawn. He referred to the example of a horse rider training his mount. There is this horse rider simile in the scriptures and I’d already seen it. He had no sooner raised this example than, whoosh, I understood immediately because I had studied this simile before.

A horse that is very high spirited, exuberant and bold, this is what he brought up. As soon as he did, it hit me. A rider has to train a horse that is bold and high spirited with a very firm hand. When it’s not the time to eat grass then the horse shouldn’t eat. When it not the time to drink then the horse shouldn’t drink. It should just be training, that’s all. As the horse’s bucking and bounding subsides, so too the training is reduced, until it is able to be put to work. At that time, normal training can be applied. That’s all he had to say, a rider training a horse.

I still regret that Tan Ajahn Mun didn’t come around to visit me.

“Oh, what kind of training is this dog doing?” he would say.

I wanted to say that I was training as he said and that I was doing it to my heart’s content. But he didn’t say anything. I had come to understand everything.

From that point on, I never again sat right through the night. That’s how it was. I conceded and, let’s face it, I had to concede.

Now, when I went down the path of Paññā it was the same. Being in Samādhi, it’s like, wow, this is the Citta in Samādhi. It’s hard to make up that kind of thing. That’s what I reckon. I could stay all day long without thinking about a thing. Thinking was boring and happened sporadically. In the past, I couldn’t go without thinking. I would flick from one thing to another, concocting stories about all sorts of things. This was all driven by desire, by craving. It spewed out through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. It wanted to experience this and see that. That thing, this thing. Imagination ran wild.

Now, when Samādhi had calmed me down it was like water extinguishing the fire. Everything went quiet. There were no thoughts of anything external. Not only that, I didn’t even want to think. It disturbed the heart. See what I mean. Whereas before, it would have killed me not to think. Do you understand?

Now, at this time when I settled down, I could stay like that all day. I could go and stay anywhere with no problems. I didn’t bother thinking about anything. All there was was an unswerving “knowingness”. So much so that I mistakenly thought that Nibbāna was to be found here.

When he chased me away from this position, saying that Samādhi is a fool’s dilemma and it’s addictive, those mistaken thoughts started to diminish. After that I threw away the textbooks entirely and (turned) completely to the forest (practice).

He asked, “Do you understand that Samādhi, in all its glory, is nothing but Samudaya.”

That Samādhi was Samudaya was something that I had never heard before.

“Samādhi, in all its glory, is nothing but Samudaya. Are you aware of this? Well, are ya? Ay”

He came straight out with it.

Taking the same approach I answered straight back saying, “Ok, if Samādhi is Samudaya, where can I develop Sammā Samādhi?”

Do you see? This is how I used to debate with him.

There were still holes in this argument.

“Oh, all right then.” he’d say. “The Samādhi of the Lord Buddha, that was Sammā Samādhi. Yours is the other kind.”

Oops, I had to concede.

“Do you see what I am saying?” He’d say.

From that point onwards I set off in the direction of Paññā. He had chased me off in Paññā’s direction. You know, Samādhi isn’t the means to overcome the Kilesa. It’s Paññā instead that is the means to defeat the Kilesa.

Ajahn Mun used to say, “Samādhi is simply a means to quell sensory stimuli and emotions in order to build up energy for the journey of Paññā. If there’s no Paññā what else can be used? Samādhi, in all its glory is Samudaya.”

He would scold me, “Do you see this?”

As soon as I understood that what he taught was correct and I was wrong, I abandoned my position and took up his.

Now, if (my heart) came out (of Samādhi) I would let it because I would have had my fill of Samādhi. This is called the Citta having had its fill of Ārammana. Thinking about this and that, ruminating and imagining are the Ārammana of a Citta that wants to think and make up stories. So, when this activity ceases and Samādhi is still and steadfast, thought and imagination disturb the heart. This is what is meant by the Citta having had its fill of Ārammana.

The dilemma being that while Samādhi is good, embarking on the pursuit of Paññā is better, so when does one give up time in Samādhi (which one can be addicted to) for the pursuit of Paññā? Luang Ta likens Samādhi to a lump of pork on the chopping block instead of a live pig.

Meaning on the days that he wanted to but still between dawn and noon and therefore not in breach of the monks’ rules.

Having a lot of bodily energy tends to be a hindrance to mental sharpness.

As in lie about or falsify.

Knowingness refers to the ability of the Citta to “know”. It is not the knowing of anything specific but is the quality of knowing itself or the capacity to know. There is no adequate translation in English and so the translator has coined the term knowingness.

Literally: Its meat sticks to your teeth. In Thai this is a clever use of words because the slang word for a fool is the same as the word for a pig.

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Yes, that’s what I meant.

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That’s quite a statement!

It is quite a statement because it is true.

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Personally I would agree in this sense, for one who hasn’t completely eradicated avijja, samadhi is Punnabhisankhara(or anenjabhisankhara) . There is no Samadhi of outsiders that leads to escape from the round.