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Deep deep deep inside the rubber plantations of the ancient kingdom lived the wise old monk. He wanted little out of life though many wanted much from him, his wisdom, his kindness, his teaching – none of which he begrudged. His world was small, his needs were small, but his understanding was great. His was the sort of knowledge that ought to belong to a world leader of the world were not so distant from what Gaia (idappaccayata) intended. If such an unusual transposition were to happen he would not be understood, and all the wealthy who profited from the world as is would continually put him down.

All of this the wise old monk knew, and he knew there was little to be done to change this although of course he tried – without stress; he did the best he could. He meditated, he studied, he helped those who came his way; he was here to learn what is and he did his best to learn. There was his kuti but you had to know where to look for it. As a building there was nothing special but it had a magic about it a magic that as created by his being there.

He loved his villagers, and they he. Early every morning after meditation he would walk the 5 km to the village where he was greeted fondly and there was always food for him. And the villagers had a day for him, Mashabi day. Mashabi day was special for the village, it was a day they looked forward to and they put on a special feast. But the day was always shrouded in mystery because during this day the villagers always felt better …. noticeably better, without knowing why.

For these kind villagers any day of celebration always focussed around a feast, and the feast on Mashabi day was only slightly different, it started at 11 so that the feasting would be finished before noon to fit in with the monk’s code. In fact over the years feasting went o into the night but this would be after the procession to take the old monk back to his kuti.

Mashabi day began early. The old monk would arrive at 6.00 am – as he did every day, but on Mashabi day the village temple had been prepared for him. In the Dhamma hall the podium had been prepared .… modestly as the wise man had insisted on little pomp. But his place was prepared beneath the statue of the Buddha that the temple monks all bowed to every morning.

But on Mashabi day instead of the Abbott leading the meditation it was always the old monk. His routine was always the same. They would start with meditation – and he would lead them into focussing on the breath. His routing was the same each year:-

At 6.30 he would start, the previous half an hour being taken up with quiet words with the villagers and those who thought themselves self-important. Exactly 6.30 he would stand, turn around and bow three time before the Buddha – on the first bow the word Buddha only, the second Dhamma, and the third Sangha; he was not a monk for chanting.

He sat down again, and told the gathering “Now we will breathe”. Watch your breath. Breathe in and feel the breath as it touches the tip of your nose. Follow it down the channel of your nostrils, down through the throat, down deep into your stomach and feel it touching your tan tien. Hold for a count of five, and slowly let the breath out again. Follow it up the body line up through the mouth feeling the breath gently touching your lips on the way out. Hold for a count of five.

Breathe in again hold, breathe out hold and again. Now we will sit in silence focussing on the breath.

After breathing usually no more than 10 minutes he would speak again. This year we will speak of …. whatever, and the villagers listened with great intensity and anticipation. It was through his words they assumed that their mysterious good feeling occurred, but they never remembered what he did say.

He began his talk and they wanted to learn so they were concentrating on listening. The old man just talked and they tried to hang on his every word. But the words were no different to any words spoken within this temple, and slowly they began to get tired. But their expectation gave them energy and they tried to listen fervently. And the old man watched as the heads dropped so he would raise his voice almost in admonition “do not sleep”. His voice droned on and on, and the people tried again to listen but more and more the heads dropped.

And now the old man knew it was time for the Dassaman breath. He began with the words “Remove me and mine from the 5 khandas”, he breathed in and then as he breathed out his breath would separate and just a small wisp would rest on the tip of the nose of all the villagers gathered there. But now this breath would be special for the villagers. There was no focus on the breath for they were almost asleep, and as they breathed in out came the Dassaman. Almost in unison the villagers were one moment trying to stay awake listening to the old man, and the next inside their stomach was Dassaman slashing away with the sabre of insight seeking out the khandas looking for attachment. And at each khanda the sabre would seek the consciousness and see its pure light darkened by the attachment almost forming roots within its victim. And the sabre would slash away until all that touched the khandas was a gentle consciousness and for the rest of the body the out breath would take out the egos and selves that consciousness had become in its attachment. And out they would breathe Dassaman, and the breath would reform with the old man. They would all breathe again, and this time the inner empty worlds would fill with the emptiness that was full that was all around.

Then the old man would prepare a second breath, and this time he said “there’s just a stream of conditions”. And with this second breath inside each of the villagers Dassaman sought out events that had been attached to. The sabre of insight sought out the suffering, found its source, slashed away at the desire and clinging that was causing the obstruction leaving only a feeling that dissipated. And as they breathed out came all these selves which the villagers had mistakenly brought to life. They would all breathe again, and this time the inner empty worlds would fill with the emptiness that was full that was all around. And as this Dassaman breath left it left a small contact on the tip of the nose that might help the villagers when the next conditions arose.

The old monk stood and this was a sign for the villagers to bow before the Buddha three times – Buddha Dhamma Sangha. As usual they felt perplexed. The old man had almost sent them to sleep yet now they felt so much better …. so much better.

It was before 11 but they still sat to ate, content – some even happy.