http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books2/Acari ... al%20Years
AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAIN, where the path to the Sarika Cave began, stood a vipassana meditation center, the residence of an elderly monk who was ordained late in life, after having had a wife and family. Thinking of this monk one evening, Acariya Mun wondered what he was doing, and so, he sent out his flow of consciousness to take a look.
At that moment, the old monk’s mind was completely distracted by thoughts of the past concerning the affairs of his home and family. Again, sending out his flow of consciousness to observe him later that same night, Acariya Mun encountered the same situation. Just before dawn, he focused his citta once again, only to find the old monk still busy making plans for his children and grandchildren. Each time he sent out the flow of his citta to check, he found the monk thinking incessantly about matters concerned with building a worldly life now, and untold rounds of existence in the future.
On the way back from his almsround that morning, he stopped to visit the elderly monk and immediately put him on the spot:
“How is it going, old fellow? Building a new house and getting married to your wife all over again? You couldn’t sleep at all last night. I suppose everything is all arranged now so you can relax in the evenings, without having to get so worked up planning what you’ll say to your children and grandchildren. I suspect you were so distracted by all that business last night you hardly slept a wink, am I right?”
Embarrassed, the elderly monk asked with a sheepish smile: “You knew about last night? You’re incredible, Acariya Mun.”
Acariya Mun smiled in reply, and added: “I’m sure you know yourself much better than I do, so why ask me? I’m convinced you were thinking about those things quite deliberately, so preoccupied with your thoughts you neglected to lie down and sleep all night. Even now you continue to shamelessly enjoy thinking about such matters and you don’t have the mindfulness to stop yourself. You’re still determined to act upon those thoughts, aren’t you?”
As he finished speaking, Acariya Mun noticed the elderly monk looking very pale, as though about to faint from shock, or embarrassment. He mumbled something incoherent in a faltering, ghostly sounding voice bordering on madness. Seeing his condition, Acariya Mun instinctively knew that any further discussion would have serious consequences. So he found an excuse to change the subject, talking about other matters for a while to calm him down, then he returned to the cave.
Three days later one of the old monk’s lay supporters came to the cave, so Acariya Mun asked him about the monk.
The layman said that he had abruptly left the previous morning, with no intention of returning.
The layman had asked him why he was in such a hurry to leave, and he replied: “How can I stay here any longer? The other morning Acariya Mun stopped by and lectured me so poignantly that I almost fainted right there in front of him. Had he continued lecturing me like that much longer, I’d surely have passed out and died there on the spot.
As it was, he stopped and changed the subject, so I managed to survive somehow. How can you expect me to remain here now, after that? I’m leaving today.”
The layman asked him: “Did Acariya Mun scold you harshly? Is that why you nearly died, and now feel you can no longer stay here?”
“He didn’t scold me at all, but his astute questions were far worse than a tongue-lashing.”
“He asked you some questions, is that it? Can you tell me what they were? Perhaps I can learn a lesson from them.”
“Please don’t ask me to tell you what he said, I’m embarrassed to death as it is. Should anyone ever know, I’d sink into the ground. Without getting specific, I can tell you this much: he knows everything we’re thinking. No scolding could possibly be as bad as that. It’s quite natural for people to think both good thoughts and bad thoughts. Who can control them? But when I discover that Acariya Mun knows all about my private thoughts – that’s too much. I know I can’t stay on here. Better to go off and die somewhere else than to stay here and disturb him with my wayward thinking. I mustn’t stay here, further disgracing myself. Last night I couldn’t sleep at all – I just can’t get this matter out of my mind.”
But the layman begged to differ: “Why should Acariya Mun be disturbed by what you think? He’s not the one at fault. The person at fault is the one who should be disturbed by what he’s done, and then make a sincere effort to rectify it. That, Acariya Mun would certainly appreciate. So please stay on here for awhile – in that way, when those thoughts arise, you can benefit from Acariya Mun’s advice. Then you can develop the mindfulness needed to solve this problem, which is much better than running away from it. What do you say to that?”
“I can’t stay. The prospect of my developing mindfulness to improve myself can’t begin to rival my fear of Acariya Mun: it’s like pitting a cat against an elephant! Just thinking that he knows all about me is enough to make me shiver, so how could I possibly maintain any degree of mindfulness? I’m leaving today. If I remain here any longer, I’ll die for sure. Please believe me.”
The layman told Acariya Mun that he felt very sorry for that old monk, but he didn’t know what to say to prevent him leaving: “His face was so pale it was obvious he was frightened, so I had to let him go. Before he left, I asked him where he’d be going. He said he didn’t know for sure, but that if he didn’t die first, we’d probably meet again someday – then he left. I had a boy send him off. When the boy returned I asked him, but he didn’t know, for the elderly monk hadn’t told him where he was going. I feel really sorry for him. An old man like that, he shouldn’t have taken it so personally.”
Acariya Mun was deeply dismayed to see his benevolent intentions producing such negative results, his compassion being the cause of such unfortunate consequences.
In truth, seeing the elderly monk’s stunned reaction that very first day, he had suspected then that this might happen. After that day he was disinclined to send out the flow of his citta to investigate, fearing he might again meet with the same situation. In the end, his suspicions were confirmed. He told the layman that he’d spoken with the old monk in the familiar way that friends normally do: playful one minute, serious the next. He never imagined it becoming such a big issue that the elderly monk would feel compelled to abandon his monastery and flee like that.