Dhamma Video Conference Talk and Q & A with Ajahn Anan – August 4th, 2017
L uang Por Anan: Welcome to everyone.
Last week, we spoke about the wolf, Romeo. This was an example about how one should not judge others based on their outer appearance. One can have a fierce outside like the wolf, Romeo, but have a tender and kind heart inside.
It took a man with intelligence and wisdom to see the goodness in Romeo, the man Nick Jans. Romeo was eventually killed by hunters who could only see his external, frightening appearance. Many people in the world are like this, reacting only to outer appearances.
Let us look at more examples in this video of how one should not judge others based on external appearance.
At a famous Mercedez Benz show room in Bangkok a man walked in wearing old and beaten up looking clothes. The staff at the store gave him strange looks and treated him rudely. They asked “Do you need some help?” in a rude tone of voice. The man was calm and composed enough not to react out of anger at their behaviour. He saw, perhaps, that reacting out of anger could get this staff punished or fired. He calmly replied, ‘’I’m here to pick up my car”’. Immediately the staff’s behaviour changed and they treated him with respect, bringing him to a nice waiting room and serving him a nice drink, even the manager came out to greet him. Once the staff knew more about this man, instead of only judging him based on his clothes, their behaviour completely changed.
Another example of this is a man who went to a bank to withdraw 3,000 Baht from the counter inside. The staff there treated him roughly, saying with annoyance that one had to withdraw at least 50,000 Baht to use the inside counter. They said that he had to use the ATM outside. The man replied that, in this case, he would like to withdraw all his money. The staff saw his account had 15 million Baht in it. After seeing this, their behaviour completely changed—they became very kind and respectful towards this man. They told him they didn’t have that much money with them, only 3 million. He had to give advance notice for them to arrange that much money in cash. He replied that he would take 3 million then. The manager came out to look after this man, giving him a nice seat and good treatment, as the staff arranged his 3 million Baht. After receiving the 3 million, he took out 3,000 Baht and told the staff to count the rest of the money and deposit it back into his account.
So, we must train in this way, to not judge others based on outer appearance. We should train our hearts in metta constantly, to abandon ill will and judgement. Then our hearts can be beautiful like real, fully human human beings, or like devas.
Really make the heart full of metta and do your best to understand your own mind. Of all the subjects in the world, all the sciences, history, or knowing how others’ minds work, out of all of these understanding our own heart and mind is the most difficult.
However, knowing one’s own heart and mind is also the most worthy and highest thing one can do. It is worth the difficulty. By knowing oneself one then understands the minds of others and how things work in this world.
So train in knowing your own mind.
Questions and Answers:
Q: Luang Por Sumedho said that some personality traits do not change with enlightenment, and that we should not judge another’s level of awakening based on their outer personality. Can Tan Ajahn comment on this? Is this true?
Luang Por Anan:: Personality is dependent on past training, how many lifetimes we have been practicing and cultivating parami, so it varies. What Luang Por Sumedho said is true.
Keep practicing, building parami and merit, doing chanting, and listening to Dhamma. Deep down we all want happiness and do not want suffering. So have metta for all beings and oneself.
Luang Por Anan: Let me tell you all another story about judging based on outer appearance. In the Buddha’s time, there was a group of monks who met a young novice as they were traveling to go see the Buddha. They thought the novice was very cute, and played with him, pulling his limbs and touching his head and various playful things. They though the novice was just a cute little kid.
Once they met the Buddha, the Buddha saw that these older monks would make bad kamma by treating the novice in this way, since the novice was actually an Arahant. So the Buddha devised a way to get these monks to change their view. He asked for water from a special river to wash his feet. The monks could not access the water. But the novice could use his exceptional psychic powers to retrieve the water and offer it to the Buddha. The other monks were impressed and realized this young child was no ordinary child, he was a fully enlightened disciple of the Buddha, though only a 7 year old novice. The Buddha then gave the novice full bhikkhu ordination due to his advanced realization.
From this we see that using wisdom is better than judging based on outer appearance.
Q: Do solitary Buddhas teach the Dhamma and people don’t understand, or do they not teach at all?
Luang Por Anan: They do teach, but people at that time and place do not have enough parami to understand the teaching to levels of awakening such as sotapanna or higher levels of Dhamma realization.
Q: I’ve been practicing daily, sometimes seeing body parts in the mind during meditation, been keeping the 5 or 8 precepts.
Luang Por Anan: Keeping sila gives energy for the practice. It all sounds good, and I rejoice for you.
Q: I meditate 3 times a day for 60-90 minutes each time. Sometimes while sitting pain in the body turns into piti and sukha. Any comments or advice?
Luang Por Anan: When the mind is peaceful then piti and sukha can arise. This is good, keep going.
Not pushing away or grasping after experience, practicing continuously, daily, then you can develop quickly in your practice.
Q: I visited a sacred cave that is supposed to have relics and meditated there. I smelled a very pleasant smell for some seconds at one point. Can you explain this?
Luang Por Anan: Devas look after sacred objects in caves or other places. Sometimes I’ve seen them as people dressed in white who spontaneously show up in these caves. There is sometimes a door that one cannot normally see. If one sees it you can enter the doorway and there are communities of heavenly beings inside.
Before, on tudong, another monk would eat vegetarian for some days, (since the smell from eating meat would prevent entry into the deva community area) then would go to a certain cave and disappear into such a doorway for 15 days at a time.
Q: Sometimes while meditating I feel sleepy and tired, then an energy sweeps through the body and mind. This happened many times already. Can you explain it?
Luang Por Anan: This is good energy from one’s character or parami. Very good.
Q: I would like to share a story from when I went to get acupuncture in Chonburi province. I was going to get acupuncture, and at one point the mind of Kuan Yin entered and occupied the body of someone. Kuan Yin spoke through this person and said to look at the Kuan Yin statue on the shrine at the acupuncturist’s office. We went to look and saw that water was coming out of the vase that Kuan Yin was holding in her hand. This statue has an upside down vase. Now the water that comes out of this ceramic statue, which seems to be blessed with Kuan Yin’s parami, is used for healing people’s illnesses.
Luang Por Anan: Anumodana. Anumodana.