Dethroning the Ghosts
Extract from biography of Venerable Phra Acharn Mun
Compiled by Ven. Phra Acharn Maha Boowa Nyanasampanno
One night a group of hill tribes people said that now that there was a great Acharn dwelling with them, they wondered if he had any gatha [verse from the scriptures] to give them as a protection against ghosts and demons. They decided to go and as him about it the following morning. The Venerable Acharn, by means of his clairvoyance, knew this and about told the bhikkhus about what he had heard.
The following morning the villagers came to see him and asked for the gatha which would protect them from ghosts and demons. He told them to recite the words buddho, dhammo or sangho mentally, saying that no ghost or demon would be able to withstand the power of these words. They followed his instruction faithfully, not knowing that it was his ingenious method for practicing meditation. The result was not long in coming, for the next morning they hastened to see him and reported what had happened to them the previous night when their minds were able to withdraw into the slate of one-pointedness. He confirmed that what they were doing was correct because the ghosts and demons, being greatly frightened by the power of these words, would be trying to escape.
'From now on you mustn't be afraid of ghosts and demons,' he said. 'They have run away. And even for those who have not achieved such results, ghosts and demons were also frightened the minute they heard these words.' He advised them to carry on such a recitation every day from them on.
These hill tribes people were by nature honest and docile. There followed amazing results to such an extent that their minds became brilliant and enabled them to know others' minds, including those of the bhikkhus in the monastery where the Venerable Acharn was staying. The same thing had already happened to the man in the village of the 'disguised tigers', as has already been told. They soon came to the Venerable Acharn and told him of their wonderful results. This took some bhikkhus by surprise* who were afraid that those lay devotees would be able to read their minds, especially knowing that sometimes they couldn't help thinking about something which was not appropriate as far as the bhikkhuhood was concerned. They then asked those hill tribes people in. detail about their achievements, more out of fear that they would steal into their minds than in the desire to know about the technique of their achievement. Being sincere and unsophisticated, they spoke frankly to the bhikkhus and did not bother to mince words. Unlike townspeople, they did not like concealing the facts and putting on a show to disguise their feelings in order to be polite. This became the irrefutable proof of their achievement' since it served to convince the bhikkhus whose minds were read tee night before beyond a doubt. The hill tribes people also spoke frankly to the Venerable Acharn, saying that they knew well the condition of his mind, since they had read his before any of the others. Asked what it was like and whether or not it was afraid of ghosts, they smiled and said, 'His mind is above the world. It is not afraid of any- thing. It is supreme.'
From that time onwards, ghosts and demons became meaningless and all the people of that village turned to the Venerable Acharn and tee dharma for their refuge. Those who had made any attainment told their tribe about it and all were faithful and obedient to the Venerable Acharn's instructions. _ When it was time to offer alms-food in the morning, they would gather together in tee same place and on having done so, the Venerable Acharn would tell teem to utter their word of sadhu [in appreciation of each others' merit] loudly and to a man. This was so teat the invisible beings would also rejoice in their good deeds and share in tee merit they had done. This they gladly did every day.
*Footnote: A similar story is also reported in the time of the Buddha in the Dhammapada, where it is mentioned that a woman lay disciple, was able to read others' minds. Some bhikkhus were afraid that she would be able to read their minds because they knew that sometimes they couldn't help thinking indecent or obscene thoughts. It appears that lay disciples, or those with little academic knowledge but much obedience and faith, are better able to develop psychic abilities than bhikkhu or learned men with academic distinction. Their intellectual knowledge seems to stand in (he way of their own attainment of these special powers. Even in the attainment of insight meditation, they often proved to be no match for the humble, unsophisticated lay devotees. Examples of this still abound in Thailand today.