Saturday, August 13, 2011

My teacher Ajahn Brahm

How I met my teacher Ajahn Brahm

There I was sitting in meditation.  The pain was immense.  I did not however, stretch my legs even though the pain in the knee was huge.

Then suddenly, I was absorbed into a most beautiful state. It was like being inside a fluorescent bulb, nay the bulb is no match to the state I was in ….because the light is intense in a fluorescent bulb…true  I was absorbed in intense light but it was not harsh like the intense light of a florescent bulb,  the state I was in was extremely mild like the moonlight… so …so nice. It is very hard to describe. This is not imagination …. nor wishful thinking.  This is my own experience.  I was like… wow.. what’s this!  I could not feel my body anymore, nor could hear anything.  I was stuck in a most blissful state in the world !!! ...something like being inside a light extremely peaceful.

But then… soon I felt this blissful peace of mind waning.  Then I was like …Oh don’t let it go!  But then again the blissfulness was too much to bear…!   It soon waned off and I came back into myself …in my body…  There I was sitting inside the hall of the International Vipassana Centre at Wijerama Road, Colombo 7... what on earth was that state of mind.  Except.. that I recalled,  that I"ve experienced the same thing before at the Kanduboda Meditation Centre about 20 years ago.  

This experience left me baffled.  I remembered that I had the same experience when I went to learn meditation for the first time at the Kanduboda Vipassana Centre. Then after a very very long time later once again, I came to somewhat close to this state ...one morning,  while meditating at home before leaving for work.   

I was extremely happy after the experience but completely confused….because if this happens again I knew, there is nothing I can do.  Once I get stuck in this state, I could only be there stuck!!!  However blissful, I knew this is not Nibbana.. and I thought,  if I get stuck like this I cannot go further.   I could fathom that “this” blissful state is the pure mind.. in its pristine form, but that’s it. There was no one to confirm it nor help me with proper advice.

One day, while  I was at Nillambe meditation centre, I happened to go through a very small book called “Basics in Meditation”.  As it said “basics”,   I who prided myself as a good meditator (!!) was not inclined to even read it.  However, on the last day of my stay there, I had some spare time and for want of a thing to do, I just took it and started reading it. Goodness, this is not just another book on meditation!  It was so very interesting and written in the simplest of the English Language, but took you step by step through mediation.  ….and stopped at the place where one reaches the blissful state I’ve experienced.  And the author calls this “basics”.  I looked at the author at the back cover page… His picture was there, a western monk,…. I realized that he is the one that I should meet,   to discuss my meditation practice with him. Then again I thought... no ....I rather go to Myanmar........ than go to a western monk, , go to the monastery of  most famous monk Venerable U Panditha, the disciple of Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, in Myanmar.

So many things have come and gone since then.   So many things including a Tsunami to Sri Lanka, a country that never experiences such things..  Even though the Tsunami is a horrible thing… it turned out that I had fortune turned my way because of this awful ocean wave. All due to this awful tsunami, people the world over came forward trying to help the tsunami affected people of the ravaged land.  Such was their sympathy and concern that they wanted to do the best they possibly can. Some Smart Singaporeans, namely the Buddhist Fellowship of Singapore, thought, the best they could offer  is to bring blessings for the ravaged country to make a turn around back to normal. To accomplish this task they brought Ajahn Brahm with his “Mega Mettha” to this island along with a huge donation to rebuild houses of the people who lost theirs due to the tsunami.

Baby Prince Siddhattha

The Baby Prince

King Suddhodana and all the other Shakyan princes were given their education by a very virtuous and wise Brahmin called Asita. He was a sage who lived in the jungle close to the Himalayas.  He spent his time meditating in a kuti there, when one morning he saw and heard the Devas singing and dancing in rejoice.  On inquiring he found out that a baby son has been born to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya and that this boy prince  would one day become the perfectly enlightened one surpassing all beings. When he heard this Asita the sage became delighted and hurried to Kapilawastu pura to see the King.

When King Suddhodana saw him he was very happy that his wise old teacher has thus come to see his baby son, even before he could send message informing him about the birth of his first born.  He brought the little baby prince to show him to the wise old sage, also for the sage to examine and predict his little one’s future. However, when he thus held the baby his little feet touched the Jathah (head dress) of the Brahmin. 

Surprised at this the sage took hold of his little feet and saw by the layout of the lines of the little soles that this baby will definitely be the perfectly enlightened one. He was so happy at this and got up from his seat and holding his hands in anjali, paid respects to the little baby. When the King saw this teacher thus venerating the baby, he too held his hands together and venerated his baby son. (This was the first time the King, the father of the Buddha to be, thus paid respects to his baby son.) However, Asita’s delight changed into sadness when he realized, that by the time this baby would become enlightened, he himself would have passed away from the human realm to the realm of “Neva-sagna na-sagna yathana” – the realm of neither perception nor perception[1].  So, a prediction was made that this baby boy will be the perfectly enlightened Buddha one day.  The little prince was named Siddhattha.  (Siddhartha in Sanskrit which literally means doing good to the world.)

On the seventh day of Prince Siddhattha’s birth his mother Queen Maha Maya passed away, and thereafter, her younger sister Maha Prajapathi who was King Suddhodana’s second wife, looked after the baby like her own son.

[1] The mind is so subtle in this realm that it cannot be perceived nor not perceived.  Extremely high practices of Samadhi (extreme stillness of the mind) brings about this situation.  However, The Buddha realized that  this is not Nibbhana.