A Meditator who changed her next Rebirth

From the Autobiography of Ajahn Mun (1870 – 1949)

This story from the Autobiography of Ajahn Mun shows that it is possible for an advanced meditator to see his next rebirth and even change it.

While Ãcariya Mun lived at Ban Nong Pheu monastery, an elderly, white-robed lay woman from the local community, who had great respect for him, came to the monastery and told him about an experience she had in meditation.

meditation auraAs she sat in meditation late one night, her citta (mind) ‘converged’, dropping deeply into samãdhi. Remaining absolutely still in that state for a time, she began to notice a very fine threadlike tentacle flowing out of her citta and away from her body. Her curiosity aroused, she followed the flow of her citta to find out where it had slipped away to, what it was doing, and why. In doing so she discovered that this subtle flow of consciousness was preparing to reserve a new birthplace in the womb of her own niece who lived in the same village – this despite the fact that she herself was still very much alive. This discovery shocked her, so she quickly brought her citta back to its base and withdrew from samãdhi. She was greatly troubled for she knew that her niece was already one month pregnant.

The next morning she hurried off to the monastery and related the whole affair to Ãcariya Mun. Listening quietly, many of the monks overheard what she said. Having never heard anything like it before, we were all puzzled by such a strange tale. I was especially interested in this affair and how Ãcariya Mun would respond to the elderly lady.

We sat perfectly still in breathless anticipation, all eyes on Ãcariya Mun, waiting to hear his reply. He sat with eyes closed for about two minutes and then spoke to the elderly lady, telling her precisely what she should do.

“The next time your citta ‘converges’ into calm like that carefully examine the flow of your citta. Should you notice that the flow of your citta has again gone outward, then you must concentrate on severing that outward flow with intuitive wisdom. If you succeed in completely cutting it off with wisdom, it will not reappear in the future. But it’s imperative that you carefully examine it and then fully concentrate on severing it with wisdom. Don’t just do it half-heartedly, or else, I warn you, when you die you’ll be reborn in your niece’s womb. Remember well what I’m telling you. If you don’t succeed in cutting off this outward flow of your citta, when you die you will surely be reborn in your niece’s womb. I have no doubt about this.”

Having received this advice, the elderly lady returned home. Two days later she came to the monastery looking bright and cheerful. It didn’t require any special insight to tell from her expression that she had been successful. Ãcariya Mun began questioning her the moment she sat down.

“What happened? Did you manage to prevent yourself from being reborn within your niece’s womb despite being very much alive?”

“Yes, I severed that connection the very first night. As soon as my citta ‘converged’ into a state of complete calm, focusing my attention there, I saw exactly what I had seen before. So I concentrated on severing it with intuitive wisdom, just as you said, until it finally snapped apart. Again last night I examined it thoroughly and couldn’t find anything – it had simply disappeared. Today I could not wait any longer. I just had to come and tell you about it.”

“Well, that is a good example of how very subtle the citta can be. Only someone who practices meditation can become aware of such things – there is no other way. You nearly fell prey to the kilesas, which were preparing to shove you into your niece’s womb without you being aware of it. It’s a good thing you uncovered it in your meditation and managed to correct it in time.”

Shortly after the flow of her aunt’s citta to her womb had been severed, the woman’s niece had a miscarriage, thus cutting that connection for good.

Soon the monks in the monastery began pondering two questions related to that incident: one to do with the rebirth of a person who has yet to die, the other to do with miscarriages. The old woman never told anyone in the village about what happened, so no one else knew about it. But having heard the whole affair as it was related to Ãcariya Mun, the monks were well informed about the incident. This prompted several questions, so the monks asked Ãcariya Mun for an explanation.

To the question: “How could a person who has not yet died begin to take birth in a womb?”, he answered as follows:

“She was merely preparing to take birth, the process had not been completed yet. It’s quite common for preparations to be made before the work takes place. In this case, she was making the preparations but she had yet to finalize them. So it would be incorrect to say that a person can be reborn while she is still alive. But had she not been so perceptive, she would certainly have established a new home in her niece’s womb.”

To the second question: “Isn’t severing the flow of the citta, connecting the elderly lady to her niece, tantamount to destroying a human life?”, he answered as follows:

“What was there to destroy? She merely severed the flow of her citta. She didn’t cut off the head of a living being. The true citta remained with that woman the whole time; it simply sent a tentacle out to latch on to her niece. As soon as she realized it and cut the outward flow of her citta to break that connection, that was the end of the matter.”

This story is very intriguing because there was in fact a good reason why her citta flowed out to her niece. The woman said she had always been very fond of her niece, keeping in constant touch and always doting on her. But she never suspected that anything mysterious lurked in their relationship, waiting to sneak out and cause her to be reborn as her niece’s child. If Ãcariya Mun had not helped to solve this problem, she would have ended up in that young woman’s womb for sure.

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