This story relates to Pra Acharn Mun, a reputedly enlightened monk of our time; an Arhant. It occurred on the night when Acharn Mun gained enlightenment and how it was ‘witnessed’ by his disciple (another monk) who was meditating nearby. (another hill)
His disciple was deep in samadhi (read my post on Kevatta Sutta – jhana) when all of a sudden, it felt like the world had been blasted into atomic particles. There was a ‘boom’ and everything seemed to have disintegrated into light particles. All these descriptions cannot be taken at face value because it is describing something that is out of this world and experienced during deep meditative states. Thus, the author was using words that closely matched his experience.
Naturally, that cosmic boom jolted the meditating monk out of his samadhi. He discovered the world had not ended. When he ‘enquired’ what caused the boom, his wisdom mind indicated that it is related to his teacher (Acharn Mun). It was in the middle of the night and they were staying in forested mountains. Therefore, he decided to ‘investigate’ further by using his mind. He entered samadhi again and sent his mind towards his teacher.
Acharn Mun was brilliant and brighter than the Sun. The space around Him was crowded by an inconceivable number of celestial beings (angels). They were paying respect and homage to Acharn Mun. The spectacular ‘view’ was extraordinary, something he had never seen before. He decided to visit Acharn Mun physically when the day break.
The next day, he described what he ‘witnessed’ to Acharn Mun and Acharn simply replied that He had successfully ended the cycle of rebirth. Thus, the angels were there to congratulate Him and that ‘boom’ was their way of rejoicing. That celestial ‘shout’ (Hurray) resonated throughout the realms of existence. He couldn’t contain himself after hearing Acharn’s explanation and tears of joy started to stream down his face. He was kneeling there and crying with joy for nearly an hour. This was because, the state of enlightenment had just been verified as real by Acharn Mun.
If we think about the conversation between both highly skilled meditators above, it is apparent that their experience of reality is not limited to the physical ones that we are accustomed to. If we consider carefully, our eyes perceive a limited range of light wave and our ears hear a limited range of sound wave. There is an entire scope of reality that is beyond our human sensory perception. Beyond our senses, our mind is another mystery that many of us are ignorant of.
In the above story, it is amazing that both monks were discussing about angels as if angels are ‘normal’ beings that we get to see daily. Since they can hold a meaningful conversation and counter verify their meditative experiences with each other, their meditative experience of ‘seeing’ angels is a reality for them. Just like how we verify a cat on the street with someone next to us. For us, that experience of seeing a cat is a ‘truth’ because it can be perceive by another person next to us.
I find this story motivating because some of the things taught by Buddha may not be verifiable by an unenlightened mind. For example, out of the 6 realms of existences; we can only perceive the human and animal realms. However, that doesn’t mean heavens and hells does not exist. Therefore, it is good to keep our mind open as we explore meditation and the worlds of the enlightened.
May all be well and happy.