My 1st meditation teacher was a layman with a huge reputation of great psychic power. Many fantastic stories were shared amongst his group of followers. For example, one just need to pray to his photo and he will get in touch with you right away. That was the time before mobile phone. How convenient right?
Being a restless and rebellious teen, he was the one who managed to make me stay home and sit in meditation for an entire day because of a dare.
It was a hellish experience because my legs felt like they were going to snap. I could barely stand up after the “self-torture”, for my effort, he gave me a meditation manual.
Now that I am writing this, maybe it was a ploy between him and my parents to make me stay away from bad company during weekends.
As in all Thai occult tradition, I have to abstain from eating star fruit. I was simply told that a star fruit landed in front of Buddha while he was an ascetic suffering from starvation. He was saved as a result of eating that star fruit. Therefore, disciples of Buddha abstain from eating star fruit out of gratitude. The rebellious me have a thousand Buts. The obedient me says shut up and just follow the instruction. ‘Won’t die if you don’t eat star fruit.’ Did I mention it was my favourite fruit?
The training I received was short. But the moment was magical to me. As I listened to him, it seems like knowledge of ancient masters were being conveyed to me. At that moment, it wasn’t just an ordinary man teaching. That man represents generations of meditation masters, their instructions passed down through the generations, beginning from the Buddha’s time. Words that were said or unsaid. In a way, it is the Buddha teaching me. Believing in karma means that, that moment is not coincidental, but the seed of a karmic event sprouting.
Okay! I have great imagination and an inflated sense of self-importance.
Unfortunately, as the years passed, his reputation began to decline. First there was the drinking episodes. Previously, he was strictly against alcohol because it transgressed the 5 precepts. Later on in life, he had taken a liking to drinking. Then there were rumours of womanizing when his wife filed for divorce. Police reports of domestic violence were filed by his son. Coincidentally, his psychic abilities also seemed to diminish. He avoided everyone in the end.
I am not sure about his other followers, but I still honour that pledge to abstain from star fruit.
That magical moment of training will never change in my heart.
This is because the message heard at that point in time were priceless Dharma. It had a positive impact on me. I had contemplated and analysed what was taught. I had practiced and tried it out. I have strong faith that the teaching is true.
Therefore, that man, at that moment, in that assembly, represented the entire lineage of ancient wisdom. That memory had become immortal in my mind.
My confidence in the training is based on the confidence of the lesson learnt. I am grateful for everything that happened at that magical moment. My teacher had been immortalised in my mind. Forever perfect.
What is being said above doesn’t mean that we blindly follow religious teacher who managed to tug at our heart string to create that magical moment.
The Buddha already taught us that a person becomes worthy of respect when their conduct is faultless. Buddha never taught blind faith.
Therefore, if a Dharma teacher is no longer worthy of reverence, it is wiser to leave them. However, that doesn’t necessarily negate all the wonderful lessons.
When we recollect that magical moment, we do not have to blur out the face of the teacher whom we received teachings from. That moment is perfect. That teacher is perfect. That spiritual euphoria is perfect. That lesson was perfect. That time is perfect. That is thatness. Perfect.
In that way, we do not taint our memory with any ugliness. It remains previously perfect.