Nowadays, the world is highly developed technologically to the point where man can build satellites and rockets to the moon. Still, man cannot answer the question that has been asked from past to present. The question is whether man is reborn after death. What is the state of consciousness after death. Some people believe that life ends at death. This school of thought is called Uccheda-dit.t.hi. Another group believes that life is permanent. They are classified as Sassata- dit.t.hi. In Buddhism, both groups are classified as wrong view or Miccha- dit.t.hi. Buddhism believes that life will be according to karma, that is each person’s deeds. As for the question whether man is reborn after death and what is the state of consciousness after death, try to consider the answer from the following stories.
THE MIGHT OF A VOW
This is a true story which happened in front of this temple. There used to be a large tamarind tree now has since died in front of the lane that used to be a buffalo path. At that time I was not ordained yet. Uncle Come told me about this when I was a boy coming to play here.
There were two people. One lived near Wat Ambavana. The other lived further to the north. They loved each other. Their names are not to be mentioned because they have been dead for 60 years. They loved each other dearly.
They made a solemn oath pledging to each other that they would only have *one love* and would not love anyone else. At this point, I would like to leave this with you. Do not make an oath when you love someone, not even a vow.
The woman made an oath to the man. The man also pledged to the woman that they would marry each other. Not long after that, the woman died of fever. She was still concerned through the might of love. She was continuously concerned for that man, wanting to take him as her husband. Although she was dead, her desire was still the same because they had made a vow. Since they loved each other, when the parents did not give consent they decided to elope. It was harvesting time then. They went to reap the rice crop in Bangchan together. They agreed that the man would come for her at 8 o’clock in the evening at the tamarind tree in front of the temple. The woman agreed.
Coming back from reaping the rice crop, the woman got dressed and came to wait before 8 o’clock. When it was 8, the man arrived. It happened that the former fiancee had come instead. She asked why he was late. The man replied that he was on time. They hurried way. The dead fiance was disguised as the new woman that he planned to elope with. She intended to take this man as her husband.
Finally, the man said, “You go first.” The woman said, “No, let me follow because if you go in front and they come after us and shoot I will be in the rear and will die first.” The man was outwitted. So, he led the way. At that time, on both sides of the road it was woodland and a rough area. They ran together until they arrived at the forest at Wat Phra Gaew, north of Wat Ambavana. Peculiarity of this temple was that the Presiding Buddha image was in the Image Hall.
While running along, the man heard a funny nibbling noise. He asked, “Eh! What are you doing?” The woman said, “That’s all right. Hurry up, lest they follow.”
A while later, there was afunny nibbling noise again. He could not figure out what it was. So, he turned around. He saw the woman peeling off her own skin and picking up worms from underneath to eat. Her eyes were hollow sockets.
He ran for his life, lacking wits even to say “araham.” as protection. The ghost appeared as his late fiance blocking his way, saying “You shouldn’t have. Where will you run away from me?” The man remembered that it was his late fiance. He could not even think of the word “araham” or “Buddho”. He ran wild and jumped into Uncle Come’s house. The ghost stretched out her hand to clutch his neck and twisted. He died there and then. Uncle Come’s house was north of Wat Ambavana.
This is the “sightseeing” of life. That man lacked mindfulness because he had not practiced meditation, lacking mindfulness and clear consciousness. I leave it with all patrons. In the end he had to be her husband. But in this case I do not know if and how they become husband and wife in which existence.
Previously, Bangrachan Battleground manifested a lot of might. When anyone had fetched water from Ajahn Dhammajoti’s well, to put in their car radiator, it exploded. Anyone who had stolen anything from there had to return it. Anyone who had taken carved bricks from the area had to take them back.
But people still wanted the bricks to grind and mix with other material for making amulets. I was able to get a nine-mark brick when Mr. Pook Rikshkasem was the Governor of Singhburi Province.
Once, many years ago, the late Ecclesiastical District Officer of Dermbang Nangbuad District visited Wat Ambavana. He wanted some of the bricks. So, he spent a night here. In the morning, he rode out on the back of a motorbike to get the bricks and put them in his kitbag. I was not sure if he wanted to take them to make amulets or for something else. Just as he was about to cross Supanburi line, Dermbang Nangbuad District, they made a left turn to Ta Chang market. The motorbike skidded. He got a cut on the head. But he picked up the bricks and stayed the night at his sister’s house at a sugar cane farm. That night, there were loud mysterious cries heard. So, he had to return the bricks. This was a past incident.
People who die while angry, die on the battleground by the power of anger, became ferocious demons. No one can take anything from that place. I told Mr. Pook Rikshkasem that if he built a fortress and a temple and set up a bridge construction project, ferocity could be reduced. The construction was gradually completed step by step. His Majesty was invited to celebrate the completion of the fortress. HRH the Crown Prince was invited to install the temple’s boundary markers. After His Majesty made merit, souls of the demons were born. Ferocity has been reduced. This may be true according to Buddhist principle: those who die while angry become ferocious.
If a person dies while in good temper and with a meritorious mind, he cannot be very fierce. If he dies while angry, he stays there and is fierce.
Take the example of a couple who dropped by this temple. The man accused his wife of committing adultery. Driving his Mercedez-Benz out of the temple, they went on quarreling with each other. When they arrived at Bang Pa-In, he thought, “Let’s not live any longer.” So, he drove into the rear end of a truck carrying logs. They died on the spot through the power of anger. The place has had a ferocious atmosphere to this very day.
The story of the tamarind tree in front of the temple is similar. It manifested magical power. When the well was dug up and the cremation ceremony was arranged to transfer merit to the deceased, the tree there died. The place has become clear. A meditation training institute was set up. And there is no sign of ferocity like before. I leave this as food for thought. There is clear evidence.
THE POWER OF GREED
I have often told the story about one person who observed Uposatha precepts for more than 30 years, presented more than 100 kathina robes and unceasingly presented forest robes. Yet she became a hungry ghost after death. That was because her mental state was not good. It did not separate. It was still attached to her possessions, through the power of greed with a lot of ignorance.
That old lady was more than 80 years of age. She was very rich. She divided her assets and gave a part to each child. She loved the youngest daughter a lot. So, the portion to her was large. The eldest son did not get much. But he moved up to Chiangmai, established himself and became rich. He kept his legacy. But the sister got married. Her husband squandered the assets away in gambling. The mother was afraid that her daughter would be in trouble. So, she asked for the legacy back from the son, through the power of greed. Having received the assets, the youngest daughter gave them to her husband to gamble away also. The mother died of grief. Through the power of karma, her mind was tarnished and as merit did not help, she had to go to hell first.
She is still a hungry ghost and cannot find any place to be born yet. She has to serve her time as a hungry ghost until the end of the karma. Then she will be born in heaven because she presented more than 100 kathina robes and plenty of forest robes. She has to undergo the result of the karma that she did first. The karma was asking for the legacy from the elder son and giving it to the younger daughter, enabling her to give it to her husband in turn to gamble away.
This is a sin. Her mind was attached to it. She could not separate form and name because she had not meditated. Her wisdom was at the mundane level only. Moreover, her wisdom was clouded by ignorance. When she died she went to hell. Now she is a hungry ghost through the power of greed. She continues to come to possess people and has not gone elsewhere.
At Wat Ambavana there are 4 or 5 former monks who have become hungry ghosts and come to receive the merit transferred on every Buddhist holy day. I am not sure if any of you have seen them. I asked, “Aren’t you reborn yet?” They said, “No, sir. My karma has not ended.” They come to beg around here, Luang Tah Fueng for one. Another one is called Luang Tah Gao. He is still around and comes every Buddhist holy day. His place is yonder, beside the Uposatha Hall. He comes to receive the share of merit from people who offer sanghadana. He also peeks about the meditation hall to see if there is any practicer who has attained higher states. He then approaches to beg for a share of merit. Anyone who has not made progress has never been asked. Hungry ghosts do not go to the house of people without virtues and fortunes. A hungry ghost can enter any house like a beggar. Can a hungry ghost enter the Uposatha Hall? Yes! But demons cannot.
If we have virtues and merit in our house, there will be deities protecting us. Demons, ferocious giants or spirits cannot enter. There is no need to find protective gadgets, ask the monk to write magic script nor spread magic sand. They cannot enter. If we chant and pay homage to the Buddha every day, also regularly practice meditation and radiate loving-kindness, those spirits cannot come into our house.
The only type of spirit that can enter is a hungry ghost. The door to hungry-ghost land is greed. So, they are like beggars, who can enter anywhere to bow and beg for a share of merit.
When we practice meditation, our grandparents or ancestors who have become hungry ghosts normally come to ask for merit. Anyone who hears the cries of a hungry ghost can be sure that he is your relative. If you do not hear it, then he is not your relative. Those who hear the cries, prepare to radiate loving-kindness to him. He is sure to be your relative crying for a share of merit. So, transfer the merit to him.
Not every relative from any existence goes to heaven after death. I leave you thus.
Written by Phra Dhepsinghapucariya