1. Phra Varayanamethee
A Buddhist Monk Who Died But Re-Alived
My name is Phra Varayanamethee (Venerable Phra Maha Vorachat Visuddhipanyo).. from Wat Pa Kok-Krachai Temple in Bureeram Province. I was born Sir [Baron] Vorachat Burachat Na Ayudhaya. My father is Lieutenant General Lord [Viscount] Jamrus Burachat Na Ayudhaya, Thailand’s former Chief Army Commander of Region 3, and my mother is Assistant Professor Dr. Payunee Burachat Na Ayudhaya, a medical doctor at Ramadhibadi Hospital in Bangkok. I am the second son of my family. So far, I have been in monkhood for 28 years, as a novice monk for 8 years and as a fully ordained Buddhist monk for 20 years. My preceptor is the 17th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, His Holiness Somdet Phra Ariyawongsagatayan. My Buddhist masters are (1) Venerable Grand Master Wan Sujinno of Wat Doi Mae Pung in Chiengmai Province (2) Venerable Phra Kru Kasem Khemmago of Susan Trilak in Lam Pang Province (3) Venerable Phrarajabrahmayan of Wat Tha Sung in Uthaithani Province, and (4) Venerable Phrarajanirodha of Wat Hin Mak Peng.
Respectable Venerable Phra Kru Suttawaraporn, the chief monk of Nong Rawieng District, and all other senior monks who attend this Dhamma talk session. I would like to talk about my roaming to heaven & hell during my passing away. May all lay people pay good attention. I welcome everyone who is curious about my story. I allow you to touch my body with good intention, but please do not rub. Please don’t touch me with lust. I allow everyone to touch me because people wonder if this is my real flesh or not. I never have a surgery for beauty like baby-facing. My nails now are the new nails replacing the fallen ones when I died last time. My eyes are real, and I never had a face-lift surgery. This is my real body which is 40 year old now.
After I died and came back to life again, I made more merits as I realized that merit, sin, and karma are real. If someone dies and becomes alive again, (s)he will be diligent in making merits. Some people take it for granted to take away groceries like soap and toothpaste at the Buddhist temple or some lay people plant trees such as mango trees at a Buddhist temple, and the lay people picked the mango fruits for eating when the abbot was not at the temple. Similar to groceries donated to the monks at temple, some lay devotee collected them for their own use. These people will reborn as hungry ghosts after they die, and we can regard them as the living hungry ghost as they are still alive. The Lord Buddha taught that a hungry ghost is not just dead people, but living people as well. Similarly, for those who would reborn as angels, we can notice from their behaviors when they are still alive. If one eats whenever, one is like an animal. If one eats like never be fulfilled, one is like an ogre. If one knows how to eat appropriately, one is like an angel or Lord Brahma. If one eats in a timely way, one is a human that does not harm others and behave appropriately. This is to have right livelihood.
On 17 February 2537, around 11 years ago, in the afternoon during my journey for austerity practice, I walked out from my shelter heading downhill in order to take a shower, the distance was around 300 meters. I brought with me a walking stick and a yellow bucket which contained soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste. The path was quite steep, and as I approached the foothill, he fell down with my face smashing the ground. Before I fell down, my spirit already left the human body. So, I did not feel the pain from smashing the ground. A human body has five aggregates comprising of form, perception, memory, thought, and cognition, but a spirit has only four aggregates which are perception, memory, thought, and cognition. The trees, this microphone, house pillars, and the roof have only one aggregate which is ‘form.’ They have no feeling toward cognition because they have only one aggregate. But a ghost has four aggregates. As the spirit departed human body, it no longer feels the pain that human body experiences. The dog that followed me kept barking at my dead body, so other monks ran to see me. They were Venerable Maha Boon Erb and a novice monk.
After my spirit left the human body, a lady in white attire came to prostate upon me. When my spirit departed the human body, my spirit dressed the same way as my human body, with a robe over one of my shoulder whereas I still put on a one-sided vest and a blouse. Then, the monks took my dead body uphill, and my spirit followed them together with the stranger-lady leading me. I asked the monks where they would take my body to because I wished to take a shower. But the monks didn’t hear me at all. The lady in white attire asked me if I would continue to follow the monks or join her for a roaming. She didn’t speak by uttering and I myself didn’t as well, but we communicated with our mind.
Once the monks took my body uphill,
they spread a robe sheet and laid my body down.
Then, the Venerable Master told everyone that I was already dead. Upon hearing this word, I became regretful
that I didn’t have a chance to inform my parents. I didn’t know what to do, and the monks there
agreed to notify important persons such as the chief official of sub-district,
the villagers, and the sheriff. Thus, my
spirit left for roaming. First, I went
to Chaiyapoom Province. The areas that I
can remember are the Pakdeechumpon District and Lomsak or Lomkao District. These two districts are the places for
punishing demons who were sinful humans.
The realm is above the ground, approximately above our knee level. Our district also has some of them, but we
cannot see. It is the sphere or realm for
spirits whereas we live in the sphere of humans. We have physical forms, and we
can see the physical things. But they
don’t have physical form, so we cannot see them.
As my spirit was roaming, I looked here and there and returned. I wish to tell the story in details, but I can tell only something but not everything. I cannot tell you the name of the lady who took me for roaming, but I can tell you how she looked like. I was brought to one place, and a man there asked me if I could remember the meritorious deeds I did. I told him that I could remember things such as my contribution to building Buddhist chapels, halls, pavilions, stupas, and Buddhist temples as well as organizing ordination ceremonies for Buddhist monks, Buddhist novice monks, and Buddhist nuns. Once I talked about these, my spirit arrived the places immediately.
Then, two officials of the spiritual world dressing like government officials in the human world approached me. Their hair style looked like soldiers, and they put on leather shoes. They looked very close to humans. They accompanied me to see many things such as my hot meals or ambrosia which occurred as the result of food offering to revered Buddhist monks and catering provided to lay devotees. The foods I offered to Buddhist monks many years ago seemed to be my own warm ambrosia in the spiritual world. I asked the escorts if it was possible to eat them, they replied that I shouldn’t. So, I asked them why. They said that the condition of my spirit was superior to the condition of the meals, so I didn’t have to eat them except that I really intended to do it. This was because I could just think and I would feel fulfilled immediately without consuming them, and the food won’t be depleted. Also, I saw the celestial silver bowl which was my celestial property resulted from my offering of a silver bowl to Venerable Master Kasem Khemmago. The offered silver bowl had the engravement of my penname ‘Panya Bhikkhu.’ I didn’t know where the silver bowl was in the human world, but I saw the celestial silver bowl in the spiritual world as the consequence of merit.
After I roamed into the spiritual world looking here and there for ten to twenty minutes, it had been already four days in the human world. I was wondering if my breathless corpse was already cremated. Thus, the lady in white attire led my spirit to my house. She told me that my corpse was not cremated yet because my mom wished to keep the corpse for 100 days for daily Buddhist memorial service. So, my spirit returned to my house in the human world where the memorial service was organized for my corpse. I saw Buddhist monks and guests as well as foods placed next to my coffin as an offering. This is a tradition that relatives would place a set of savory dishes close to the corpse with the hope that the spirit would eat them.
As my spirit came back to my house in the human world, I tried touching the foods offered to my corpse by my mother, but I could not grab them. Then, I tried to touch my corpse, and I was able to feel it. So, I thought that my corpse had lymph and pus all over, but it was not rotten and my nails were not fallen yet. However, I didn’t know why my corpse was not rotten despite of the fact that my corpse was not yet formalined for preservation. I thought that I should not have died because I was not old yet. And I had a pity for my mom who cried everyday. I observed the memorial service until the Buddhist monks finished chanting, then I left. I returned to the spiritual world with an intent to look at the hell realm. Over there, I saw people whom I knew receiving punishment. Some of them became cock, buffalo, pig, and hungry ghost. Some of them were my friends. I felt so much pity upon them, and I didn’t know how to help them. So, I extended my compassion to them wishing them to be freed from suffering and become happy. But this was a little help as the heat during their punishment was lessened for a while only. It was the heat from their own karma. The more bad karma, the stronger heat during their punishment. I met so many people I knew during my visit to hell. After that, the lady in white attire convinced me to witness various punishments for different wrongdoings.
Also, I met my grandparents who were celestial beings in heaven. Until the lady in white attire told me to return to the human world saying that I had not reached the end of my lifetime yet and I would be able to live about ten years longer. So, I asked for permission to converse with my grandparents in heaven and bid a farewell first. I can remember that there were eight of them in heaven. From my trip to heaven and hell, I found that people of different race, nationality, gender, and religion shared the same heaven and hell. The judges of purgatory or hell are the same to all people from all walks of life. Westerners who taste salt can feel the same saltiness similar to Africans and Asians. There is no difference. The places for punishment due to wrongdoings or bad karma are the same to all people of the world who commit similar kind of misdeeds.
When I went to the Buckingham Palace to give a Dhamma talk to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Majesty asked me to explain if people of different nations would head to the same or different heaven and hell according to their nationality. So, I gave an example to Her Majesty that if we managed to have ten people from different races and nationalities to taste salt, sugar, and chilly, and asked them to write down the results of their tasting.. please imagine whether they would write down the same taste experience for salt, sugar, and chilly. Certainly, everyone would write the same thing that salt is salty, sugar is sweet, and chilly is spicy. Likewise, if individuals commit the similar karma, they will end up receiving the similar karmic consequence including reward and punishment either in heaven or hell.
In the spiritual world, there were two locations of hell spheres for serious punishment at Pakdeechoompon District and Lomkao District. There were about six to seven boiling pots which were 16 kilometers in diameter and height. And the boiling pot was heated by flames caused by karmic force. As more sinful people were punished in the boiling pot, the hot flame became stronger and stronger. Each boiling pot could contain millions of hell beings.
Around seven p.m., I left the heaven where I met angels who were my grandparents. But it was not 7 p.m. in heaven because heaven does not have the same timing system as in the human world. As I left heaven, I headed to my house in the human world where the Buddhist monks were chanting for memorial service. I saw my breathless corpse and I wondered how I could return to my body and became alive again. So, I turned around trying to figure it out, but the lady in white attire cautioned me to return to my body as soon as possible because of the condition of my human body, and there was no more time for roaming. It was still possible to become alive again as my body was sustained with some kind of supernatural power. Finally, I decided to return. Actually, it was like a bird-eye view when someone looks down to earth from a airplane. It was quite a distance from heaven. Then, my spirit closed the eyes and stepped down at 7.07 p.m. Then, my human body could breath and gain consciousness again, and I could not smell the lymph and pus.
However, my human body had no energy to move. As I tried to move and come out from the coffin, I made a wish for all of my merit to enable and empower me to make others know that I already became alive again while the Buddhist monks were chanting loudly. So, I knocked the coffin with my hand, and this surprised the monks and people who were joining the memorial service. The monks stopped chanting and everyone became speechless. My younger brother told my mom that he heard the knocking at the coffin. So, I knocked the coffin louder. As a result, the monks and people started to run away from the ceremony. The lady in white attire who was still there with me told me to turn to one side and utter ‘uhh’ in order to make others hear me which I did. Thus, my mother was amazed thinking that I might become alive again. So, my coffin was opened and my re-alived human body was carried out for nursing. After I became healthy again, I told my mom and others about my experience in heaven and hell with a hope to raise awareness about the afterlife and the Law of Karma among Buddhists and all others.
Translated from the Dhamma Talk Given by the Most Venerable Phra Varayanamethee
By Pittaya Wong on 15 August 2018