The Dark Side of Ajahn Mun

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Ajahn Mun

Venerable Ācariya Mun Būridatta Thera is one of the most revered forest masters of the 20th century. He is the root guru of both the Dhammayut and Ajahn Chah monasteries. He popularized the monastic practice of living under an umbrella in the forest and his relentless energy is fascinating and inspiring.

One day I tried to read the biographical book on this great forest master which some regard as the Thai Forest Bible, written by Venerable Ācariya Mahã Boowa Ñãṇasampanno, the heir and leader of the Dhammayut sect who passed away not so long ago. He was a direct disciple of Ajahn Mun and publicly claimed to be fully enlightened. Below is a quote from Ajahn Mun which prevented me from finishing the book. If you know anything about Buddhism, brace yourself:

On the nights subsequent to Ãcariya Mun’s attainment of vimutti, a
number of Buddhas, accompanied by their Arahant disciples, came to
congratulate him on his vimuttidhamma. One night, a certain Buddha,
accompanied by tens of thousands of Arahant disciples, came to visit;
the next night, he was visited by another Buddha who was accompanied
by hundreds of thousands of Arahant disciples. Each night a different
Buddha came to express his appreciation, accompanied by a different
number of Arahant disciples. Ãcariya Mun stated that the number of
accompanying Arahant disciples varied according to each Buddha’s
relative accumulation of merit – a factor that differed from one Buddha
to the next.

This quote is complete fantasy and it is impossible according to real Theravāda Buddhism. Ask anyone outside the Thai Forest Tradition. I have explained this already in the article here:

We are left with only two possible theories about this passage.

1) Ajahn Maha Boowa has wrong view and consciously lied profusely about Ajahn Mun to save his own overestimated claims to Enlightenment.

2) Both Ajahn Mun and AjahnMaha Boowa have wrong view and are not even close to Enlightenment.

Theory #1 leaves the legend of Ajahn Mun being an Arahant intact. Calling Ajahn Mahaboowa a fibber is popular among the Western Ajahn Chah followers because Ajahn Mun is the root teacher of their Thai Forest Tradition. However, Ajahn Chah has never (in English) been known to speak in the same terminology because he was a scholar and knew the proper textual Dhamma.

As for the theory of Ajahn Maha Boowa lying. I don’t think so. I’d like to give Ajahn Maha Boowa more credit than others. I believe that he believed he was telling the truth. I met him once and this teaching is still used today by other living and newer senior monks of the Thai Forest (Dhammayut) Tradition today. (see Ajahn Martin link at bottom).

Theory #2 which assumes that the account in this book is from the actual words of Ajahn Mun sort of strikes a chord though. Ajahn Mun is very well worshiped around the world by the millions and he has been so inspiring with his forest life and the lineage and legacy he has left behind. The book can be really inspiring if you have no knowledge of what Buddhism is. For instance, if you read further, there are “inspiring” Dhamma talks by so called Sāvaka Arahants living In Nibbāna too. I really tried to finish this book, but it just had more and more of this “inspiring” stuff like that. The problem is that many people today want to get to a Nibbāna where Buddha(s), Sāvaka Arahants, and now Ajahn Mun live today. They want to live forever and ever and never die. This is wrong view according to proper Theravāda Buddhism. Again, you can read my previous article, “Does the Buddha Live in Nibbāna?”

Another theory comes to mind:
Theory #3.
You might want to read this brief web article when you get a chance:
Have you ever had a lucid dream, or OBE? More specifically, have you had a false awakening where you were late to school or work only to wake up in your bed again? I have. The more disturbed your sleep, the more likely vivid dreams will happen. And if you are sitting up all night and trying to meditate, dreams can seem like “visions” or “realm travel.” If you try to meditate all night long, you will likely nod-off. Sometimes you know it. Sometimes you don’t. When you are alone in the forest, the dreams can be quite vivid. Sound sleep in the open forest is not easy, and that is half of the purpose. Vivid dreams and false awakenings are more plentiful with these conditions.

The link given above (and again at the end) speaks about the prophets of the Biblical days. They had no tents or mosquito nets and only faith in God and angels to protect them. Being focused on God and angels before falling asleep, they saw God and angels in their dreams or false awakenings. The passages given specifically say that they (the prophets) had nodded off when an angel or God came to “visit and speak” with them. It was an interesting read that quotes directly from the Bible. When I tried successfully to practice lucid dreaming, false awakenings were common. I used these false awakenings to “re-enter” dreams with full awareness. These conditions are best at the end of sleeping sessions, during “The Twilight Zone”. So with these conditions of “camping out” in the Forest, it is possible that The Buddha(s) can visit and congratulate you on your attainments (while you are dreaming).

Links Below:
1. Does the Buddha Live in Nibbāna?
2. article on biblical dreams of prophets
3. Ajahn Martin says, “Yes, you can talk to Buddhas”
4. General discussions about the “citta.”
5. Link to quoted text p.172 Venerable Ãcariya Mun Bhýridatta Thera: A Spiritual Biography by Ãcariya Mahã Boowa Ñãõasampanno.

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Article by Bhikkhu Subhuti

Bhikkhu Subhuti is an American Buddhist Monk with roots in both Sri Lanka and Myanmar Forest Traditions. He currently resides in Myanmar but his heart sometimes floats back to Kauai, HI where he spent six months in 2015.

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