When Ajaan Khao could no longer eat, his physical condition deteriorated rapidly, which was quite visible to everyone around him. When asked about how he was and whether he would depart from the world, he gave the most impressive exposition of the nature of his condition, saying:
What is there to this body? When it dies, I’ll feel no concerns and no regrets at all. All I can see in this body is a lot of earth, water, air and fire, which are the constituent elements that make up the physical aggregate. That’s all there is. When the ‘one who knows’ – which is the heart – departs entirely, this body will immediately start to break down into its original elements of its own accord.
If I were not concerned for the welfare of my Bhikkhu disciples and for the lay people who have come here, I would have no qualms at all about dying at this moment. I would then come to the end of all acknowledgement and responsibility straightaway, so there would be no further burden for me to carry on my shoulders.
The word Anãlayo which has been my name since my ordination, would then represent the truth, for the ‘true- one’ would arise then perfect and complete. At present my Anãlayo is not perfect because the conventional aggregates (sammuti khandha), the five groups which form the body and mind (pañcaka khandha), require my attention, so I must take full responsibility for them. In other words, I must constantly direct them in living, in eating, in sleeping, in urinating, in excreting, and in changing bodily postures and moving about, like an electric fan spinning constantly round and round.
Since when did sammuti (the relative world of supposition) ever become peaceful, still and satisfied? It’s bound to whirl around all the time. Both the external world and the internal world are constantly whirling. How can we ever hope to gain happiness and harmony from things which are always whirling about?
Anyone who hopes to gain happiness and harmony from these khandhas, which are a deep well of suffering and anxiety, will always be disappointed, for none of the khandhas will ever fulfil his desires. I have been carrying these khandhas about for eighty years already and I haven’t seen anything truly satisfying coming from them. What stands out all the time is just dukkha – discontent – that’s all; both minor discontent and major suffering, which in one way or another are there all the time.
I’ve never seen calm and happiness arise in the khandhas in a way that I could experience it clearly. Even at normal times, when I don’t have fever or sickness, dukkha still appears throughout the khandhas, such as the aches and pains occurring throughout the various parts of the body. I have never experienced pleasure (sukha) in the khandhas.
This excerpted reflection by Venerable Ajaan Khao Anãlayo is from the book, Ajaan Khao Anãlayo—A True Spiritual Warrior, (pdf) pp. 176-177, translated into English by Venerable Ajaan Paññãvaððho.