Enlightened Masters are also teachers to Divine Beings

From the Autobiography of Ajahn Mun (1870 – 1949)

The following story from the Autobiography of Ajahn Mun (1870 – 1949), who was a Buddhist Enlightened Master, illustrates that enlightened masters not only teach their fellow human beings but also divine beings with subtler bodies.


In some of the northeast provinces, Ãcariya Mun would give Dhamma (Spiritual Truths) instructions to the monks late at night on special occasions. Visible to Ãcariya Mun, terrestrial devas (Divine Beings with astral bodies) gathered at a respectful distance and listened to his talks. Once he became aware of them he called off the meeting and quickly entered samãdhi, where he talked privately to the devas.

Their reticence on those occasions was due to the profound respect they had for monks. Ãcariya Mun explained that devas of all levels were careful to avoid passing by the monks’ dwellings on the way to see him late at night. Upon arriving they circled around Ãcariya Mun three times before sitting down in an orderly fashion.

Then the leader – devas of every plane have a leader whom they obey with great deference – would announce the realm from which they came and the aspect of Dhamma to which they wished to listen. Ãcariya Mun would return their greetings and then focus his citta on that aspect of Dhamma requested by the devas. As this Dhamma arose within, he began the talk.

When they had comprehended the Dhamma that he delivered, they all said “sãdhu” three times, a sound that echoed throughout the spiritual universe. This exclamation washeard by everyone with celestial hearing.

When his discourse on Dhamma ended, the devas again circumambulated him three times, keeping him on their right, and then returned to their realms in an elegant fashion – very different from we humans. Not even Ãcariya Mun and his monks could emulate their graceful movements. For there’s a great difference between the grossness of our bodies and the subtle refinement of theirs. As soon as the deva guests retreated to the edge of the monks’ area, they floated up into the air like pieces of fluff blown by the wind.

On each visit they descended in the same manner, arriving outside the monks’ living area and then walking the remainder of the way. Always very graceful in their movements, they never spoke making a lot of noise the way humans do when going to see an ãcariya they revere. This is probably due to the refined nature of their celestial bodies, which restrict them from behaving in such a gross manner. Here is an area in which human beings can be considered superior to devas – talking loudly.

Devas are always very composed when listening to a Dhamma, never fidgeting restlessly or showing any conceit that could disturb the speaking monk.

Ãcariya Mun usually knew beforehand when the devas would be arriving. For instance, if they were planning to come at midnight, by early evening he was aware of it. On some occasions he had to cancel a scheduled meeting with the monks for that evening. At the appropriate hour Ãcariya Mun left his walking meditation path and sat entering samãdhi until the time approached for the devas to come. He then withdrew his citta up to the access level, sending out the flow of his citta to see if they had arrived. If they had not arrived yet, he continued with his samãdhi practice before sending his citta out again to check.

Sometimes, the devas had already arrived or were just in the process of arriving. At other times, he had to wait, continuing his samãdhi practice for some time before they came. On rare occasions, when he knew that they would be arriving late – like at one, two, or three a. m. – he would practice for a while and then take a rest, getting up to ready himself just before the devas were expected to arrive.

Gatherings of devas, who came to see Ãcariya Mun, did not happen very often nor in very large numbers while he lived in the Northeast. They came only infrequently to listen in on his talks to the monks. But when they did, he would dismiss the monks as soon as he became aware of their presence, entering quickly into samãdhi to expound on Dhamma for the devas’ benefit.

After he finished and the devas had departed, he would lie down to rest, arising in the morning as usual to continue his normal routine of practice. Ãcariya Mun considered receiving devas a special responsibility. Since honoring one’s promises is very important to them, he was always careful to be punctual. They were likely to be critical of a monk who missed an appointment unnecessarily.

Discussions between devas and monks are carried on entirely in the universal language of the heart, bypassing the multitude of conventional languages used by human beings and other types of animals. Arising from the citta, the substance of the inquiries turns into questions in the language of the heart which the inquiring individual clearly understands as if they were words in conventional language. Each word or phrase of the respondent emanates directly from the heart, so the questioner in turn understands the reply perfectly well. In fact, the language of the heart directly conveys the true feelings of the speaker, eliminating the need for explanations to clarify further, as might be required in conventional languages.

Verbal communication is also a mechanism of the heart; but, its nature is such that spoken words often do not reflect the heart’s true feelings, so mistakes are easily made in communicating its true intent. This incongruity will remain so long as conventional language is used as a surrogate medium for the heart’s expression. Since people are unfamiliar with the language of the heart, their hearts cannot avoid using normal speech as a mechanism to facilitate communication, even though it’s not very accurate in expressing the heart’s true meaning. There is no possible way to solve this common dilemma – unless people learn the heart’s own language and expose its mysteries.

Ãcariya mun said that when he stayed in the forests and mountains of Udon Thani and Nong Khai, devas from the upper and lower realms occasionally came to hear Dhamma from him. Some groups came regularly every two weeks, others only once a month. Devas from that area did not come to see him nearly as often as those from Chiang Mai province.

Ãcariya Mun spoke of a huge city of nãgas (Intelligent dragons with astral bodies), located under the mountain west of the Laotian city of Luang Prabang. While he lived there, the chief of those nãgas regularly brought his followers to hear Dhamma, occasionally in large numbers. The nãgas tended to ask far fewer questions of him than the devas of the upper and lower realms, who always had many questions for him. All these groups, however, listened to what he had to say with equal respect.

During the time Ãcariya Mun lived at the base of that mountain, the chief nãga came almost every night to visit him. Only on special occasions did he bring a large following; and in that case, Ãcariya Mun always knew of their arrival in advance. Due to the remote location, he had little contact with people at that time, so he was able to be of particular service to the nãgas and devas.

The nãgas did not visit very late at night – they came at maybe ten or eleven p. m. – which was probably due to his remote location. As a sign of their profound respect, the nãgas invited Ãcariya Mun to remain living there out of compassion for them. They even arranged to protect him both day and night, taking turns to keep watch. They never came too close, maintaining a convenient distance always, yet close enough to observe anything that might happen.

The devas, on the other hand, usually came later than the nãgas – at about one or two a. m. If he was living in the mountains, far from a village, the devas sometimes came earlier, say ten or eleven p. m. There was never a sure time, but normally the devas came after midnight.

On rare occasions, the devas from the upper and lower realms all came to listen to Dhamma at the same time as the nãgas. This is not unlike various groups of humans all showing up to visit a teacher simultaneously. When this happened often, he scheduled their arrivals at different times for the convenience of all concerned.

According to Ãcariya Mun, even though he lived deep in the forests and mountains, he did not have much free time because he had to deal with so many groups of devas from different realms of existence. If on a particular

night no devas from the celestial realms came to see him, then there were bound to be terrestrial devas from one location or another; so, he had little free time at night.

Fortunately, there were few human visitors in those remote places. If he stayed near a village or a town, however, then human inhabitants from the area came to see him. He received these people in the afternoon or early evening, teaching the monks and novices afterwards.

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