Unusual Questions, Enlightening Answers
Question: “I understand that you maintain only one rule instead of the full 227 monastic rules that all other monks keep. Is that true?”
Ãcariya Mun: “Yes, I maintain only the one rule.”
Question: “Which one do you maintain?”
Ãcariya Mun: “My mind.”
Question: “So, you don’t maintain all 227 rules?”
Ãcariya Mun: “I maintain my mind by not allowing any wrong thoughts, speech, or actions that would violate the prohibitions laid down by the Buddha, be they 227 in number or even more than that. Those who doubt whether or not I maintain the 227 monastic rules can think and say what they please. As for me, from the day of my ordination I have always maintained strict control over my mind, as it is the master of body and speech.”
Question: “You mean we have to maintain our minds in order to maintain the moral precepts?”
Ãcariya Mun: “What else would you maintain to develop good moral virtue, if not your mind? Only the dead have no need to look after their minds, much less their actions and speech. The wise have never claimed that dead people have a moral bias, it being impossible for corpses to show willful intent. If corpses did have morality, then it would be a dead and useless one. But I am not a corpse, so I cannot maintain a dead man’s morality. I must do what befits one fully endowed with both good and evil tendencies – I must maintain my mind in moral virtue.”
Question: “I’ve heard it said that keeping our actions and speech in good order is called morality, which lead me to understand that it’s not really necessary to look after the mind. That’s why I asked.”
Ãcariya Mun: “It is quite true that morality entails keeping our actions and speech in good order. But before we can put our actions and speech in good moral order, we must consider the source of moral virtue. It originates with the master of body and speech – the mind – which makes them behave properly. Once we have established that the mind is the determining factor, we must ascertain how it relates to action and speech so that they stay in good moral order that is a source of comfort to us and others alike. It’s not only moral virtue that the mind must deal with. The mind supervises the performance of every activity we engage in, making sure that it’s done in a proper, orderly fashion to produce excellent results each time.
*This reflection by Ãcariya Mun is from the book, Acariya Mun, A Spiritual Biography, p. 288-289.