Hi all, I am posting this anonymously as I don’t want to be known. I was born in Thailand but my parents moved to Europe when I was a child, I was touched by Buddhism from a very young age and my parents being devout Buddhists visited Thailand quite frequently. I was lucky to meet world renowned priests during these visits, it was like I was destined to meet them. I was also lucky to meet Ven Ajahn Chah in the mid 70s.
From a young age, I think I had a keenness to learn and practice Buddhism and had a Samsaric habit to meditate. When I was 9-10 years old, I remember waking up in the early hours in the morning to meditate , often using reflections on death to penetrate to the true meaning of life. I developed a habit of meditating for long hours and on one night had a strange experience, I was floating around my bedroom, looking at my own body sitting in a meditative posture my bed, it was a petrifying experience at first, however with time, I understood that in a higher meditative state, I was in fact floating around with a mind made body. It was easier to reach such states with time and practice. However I started questioning the things that I saw, I saw different things & beings that seemed different to humans during my meditation, and also started hearing voices in my head, which was quite extraordinary, I couldn’t understand if these were just things I had imagined or really existed.
Then I spoke to a Buddhist priest, a meditation teacher whom I shared my experiences with , he said that they were different realms that I had been “experiencing” with a mind made body. But this didn’t let me clarify all my doubts. However I kept practicing meditation until I retired from my teaching career in Bergen two years ago. Then my wife and I decided to dedicate our lives to travelling to places like Taiwan, Thailand, and Burma seeking and learning more about Buddhism and also seeking more on truth of life.
During one of our family visits to California in 2015, I took part in a English program conducted by Lalith Ranatunga, it was a great eye opener to me, he was such a modest person and not only did his teachings were profound, but I came to understand my own abilities. His techniques were simply astonishing and soon I came to the understanding that I had attained the 6th and 7th Jhana Samapaththi at a very early age, which had allowed me in my childhood to reach higher states instantaneously, travel with a mind made body, and also recall previous lives ( I have only recalled one previous life). Lalith’s methods sharpened my ability to control my mind, and seek out beyond the human realm to see what was really out there. It’s an amazing experience, and really opened my eyes and made me understand that what the Buddha discoursed was certainly true and that this is a world that only we have created and is indeed a valueless volitional formation. Lalith’s teachings have really cleared things up for me. One should be very lucky to meet someone like him.
To the fellow Dhamma friends here, I can only say that it’s not only Lalith who can communicate with other “beings” in other realms, there are others, and some are gifted to have these abilities (Iddi) from a young age (being passed on from previous births) or some develop these by meditating as per correct methods and also by living a noble lifestyle. I have commented here only because I have seen a respected teacher’s image tarnished, especially by people who have not even met him. (Also I should state that he has never mentioned that hell is “behind a large mountain”. It’s easy to get fixated on things that cannot easily (or immediately) be understood or justified, and not the actual Dhamma content. As the Buddha once said with a fistful of Simsapa leaves, the things that he had known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous, than what he had taught.
Also I have noted that some have commented on priests characters. Yes we have to accept the fact that many priest are indeed corrupt, obviously there have been reports of sexual assault, extravagant lifestyles and even embezzlement all around the world. Not surprising considering the yearly donations in millions, mostly untraceable cash. Gone are the days of the great Ajahn Chah , or Ajahn Mun when priests went on their daily alms rounds, taking what was only given to them, gone are the days that priests set a good example of noble deed, noble speech and noble thoughts to lay people and fellow priests. It is a very unfortunate situation, like one other Dhamma friend had mentioned, gone are the days where priests live in seclusion and away from extravagant lifestyles..(not all though)….even if you think about it wisely, even to show an online presence, imagine the things a priest should possess, starting from a monastery (which can and is allowed to be donated),but then a phone line, internet connection, mobile phone etc. Have these been given by lay persons to the priests, without been asked for? Sadly this what the state of Buddhist priesthood is, and in my honest opinion there are lay buddhists who try to live according to the Buddha’s teachnings and lead a humble life. I have been married 42 years, and had only one child, 36 years of our married life has been a non-sexual relationship and we have both lived (and still live) a quiet humble life, like friends in the Dhamma under one roof, practising and learning the Buddha’s teachings whenever we could and it has given us great fortune and happiness. We never chased after fame or wealth. Righteousness has great power. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising the entire Sanga, but only the corrupt priests who are ruining the image of the Sanga. Whether it comes from a lay person or a priest, anyone, regardless of being in a robe or not, should be humble enough to accept criticism and correct his/her ways. At least then we can leave this great philosophy for our younger generations to follow. It’s not a “mislead” philosophy like another friend pointed out, it’s the people who are taking the reins without direct knowledge or moral conduct that are “misleading” others.