The Teachings of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera
by Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera | 1995 | 9,299 words
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu Copyright © 1995 Metta Forest Monastery PO Box 1409, Valley Center, CA 92082 For free distribution only. You may reprint this work for free distribution. You may re-format and redistribute this work for use on computers and computer networks provided that you charge no fees for its distribution or us...
Why is it that wise people -- before chanting, receiving the precepts, or performing any other act of merit -- always take up namo as their starting point? Why is it that namo is never omitted or discarded? This suggests that namo must be significant. If we take it up for consideration, we find that na stands for the water element, and mo for the earth element -- and with this, a line from the scriptures comes to mind:
When the generative elements of the mother and father are combined, the body comes into being. When it is born from the mothers womb, it is nourished with rice and bread, and so is able to develop and grow. Na is the mothers element; mo, the fathers element. When these two elements are combined, the mothers fire element then heats the combination until it becomes what is called a kalala, a droplet of oil. This is the point where the connecting cognizance (patisandhi vinnana) can make its connection, so that the mind becomes joined to the namo element. Once the mind has taken up residence, the droplet of oil develops until it is an ambuja, a glob of blood. From a glob of blood it becomes a ghana, a rod, and then a pesi, a piece of flesh. Then it expands itself into a lizard like shape, with five extensions: two arms, two legs, and a head.
(As for the elements ba, breath, and dha, fire, these take up residence later, because they are not what the mind holds onto. If the mind lets the droplet of oil drop, the droplet of oil vanishes or is discarded as useless. It has no breath or fire, just as when a person dies and the breath and fire vanish from the body. This is why we say they are secondary elements. The important factors are the two original elements, namo.)
After the child is born, it has to depend on na, its mother, and mo, its father, to care for it, nurturing it and nourishing it with such foods as rice and bread, at the same time teaching and training it in every form of goodness. The mother and father are thus called the childs first and foremost teachers. The love and benevolence the mother and father feel for their children cannot be measured or calculated. The legacy they give us -- this body -- is our primal inheritance. External wealth, silver or gold, come from this body. If we didnt have this body, we wouldnt be able to do anything, which means that we wouldnt have anything at all. For this reason, our body is the root of our entire inheritance from our mother and father, which is why we say that the good they have done us cannot be measured or calculated. Wise people thus never neglect or forget them.
We first have to take up this body, this namo, and only then do we perform the act of bowing it down in homage. To translate namo as homage is to translate only the act, not the source of the act.
This same root inheritance is the starting capital we use in training ourselves, so we neednt feel lacking or poor when it comes to the resources needed for the practice.