40. Monks who victimize spirits

Generally speaking, Luang Pu liked to encourage monks and novices to take a special interest in the practice of wandering in the forest to meditate and observe the ascetic practices. Once, when a large number of his students—both senior and junior—came for a meeting, he encouraged them to search for seclusion in the wilderness, living on mountains or in caves for the purpose of accelerating their practice. That way they’d be able to release themselves from their lower states of mind.

One of the monks said thoughtlessly, “I don’t dare go to those places, sir. I’m afraid that spirits might victimize me.”

Luang Pu shot right back,

“Where have there ever been any spirits who victimize monks? There are only monks who victimize spirits—and they make a big production of it to boot. Think about it. Nearly all the material things lay people bring to donate are for the sake of dedicating the merit to the spirits of their dead ancestors and relatives: their parents, their grandparents, their brothers and sisters. And do we monks behave in a fitting way? What mental qualities do we have that will send the merit to those spirits? Be careful that you don’t become a monk who victimizes spirits.”