Acharn Mun biography - and the debate between World fellowship of Buddhists and Nyanaponika

World Fellowship of Buddhists Magazine
VolXIII no1 (BE2519/1976)
From Nyanaponika Mahathera
Forest Hermitage Kandy, Ceylon
Commenting on the bio of A.Mun.

"…the shock I felt when reading the statement in the 4th section (p.135) that “a number of Buddhas togther with their arahant disciples” had paid a visit to the Acharn to “offer their congratulations upon his achievement”. The controversy that understandably arises upon such a statement can I think be conclusively and decisively settled…[he then quotes sutta passage ] Obviously , the statements abscribed to venerable Acharn Mun are in contradiction with the afore quoted sutta passage. There are also conflicts with other well-known utterances of the Master on the nature of Tathagatha, on Nibbana, and the khandhas…Admirers [of acharn Mun] will have to face the dilemma and solve it for themselves, honestly without misinterpreting the Buddha- word.

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The World Fellowship of Buddhists (in Sukhumvit road) were distributing A. Muns
biography and they serialized it. They were not at all happy with Venerable Nyanaponika’s criticism of A. Mun.
The editor published a lengthy reply and below is an except:

"To Ven. Nyanaponika mahathera, Forest Hermitage, Kandy
I have received your letter dated December 1975 strongly criticising the biography of the venerable meditation master Phra acharn Mun Bhuridatto. It did not come as surprise that the English version should be no less controversial than its Thai counterpart… [it was]strongly criticised by a number or readers who could not tolerate what was contradictory to their former belief. Some of them I dare say did so out of sheer jealousy and to flatter their own egotism and vanity rather than out of genuine doubt. To such people no amount of reasoning or explanation will help. They are not seekers after Truth but are like Sanjaya and the six teachers (makkhali Gosala and others), and cannot bear to see others stand out more prominent than they do. AS far as your letter is concerned I would say that your viewpoints expressed therin are, to say the least, too strong and intolerant. <…>

I do not understand why so many Buddhists prefer to idolize the concept of Absolute Nothingness or Total Loss like that of the materialists and attribute it to teh cessation of suffering or Nibbana. What benefit is there in clinging to the nihilist idea of nothingness, hoplessness or bleakness like that? To be well versed in the Tipitaka is never enough. That is only pariyatti, which could become a hindrance and even a snake killing whoever makes a religion or God of it. This attitude towards book- learning, unsupported by firsthand experience through practice, is called agaladdupara pariyatti. It can be another Net of Wrong View. The pariyatti or book learning may earn the students such grandiose terms as Maha, pandita etc, yet it is memory work, speculation, imgination, anything but firsthand experience or attainment. Such being the case who is in a position to misinterpret the Buddha’s word. Those admirers[of book study] will have to face the dilemma and admit the incompleteness of such book-study and the delusion of high-sounding titles such as Maha, pandita ect."

<…>Nibbana, unlike the materialists death, does not end all. If acceptance of this fact should bring the Theravdins a bit closer to the Mahayanists then it is to be willingly accepted. After all it is better than a concept that brings us closer to the materialists isnt it."

I love how they “hold their guns” and defend such things as Buddhas living in Nibbāna as a way to avoid Nihilism. In short. Nihilism is when there is no kamma playing any effects. You live you die… finished, or you live 100 or x amount of lives and then you finish. This is Nihilism (in brief).
The goal is to remove the cause for rebirth, so there is no longer a rebirth to take place. The living (kamma caused/born) material and mind arise and pass again and again. After the death moment, there are no more new mind moments, nor living material.
There is no “being” that dies, but there is mind and matter that passes does not arise anew because there are no more causes (for the fully enlightened). It passes away without remainder.


That’s true Bhante. Some in Thai Buddhist community sometimes misunderstood Nibbāna as Mueng Kaew aka physical Crystal City. A supreme realm away from 31 planes of existence.


A book by the most senior western Monk who ordained under Mahaboowa.

Ajahn Paññāvaddho

However, the superficial citta is always grounded in something
we call the “original citta,” or the “primordial citta.

This superficial citta has qualities and faculties that are changing all the time. It is never without change. When the citta is associated with the aggregates of body and mind, it is bound up with the world of constant change. The citta changes because it must change. Because the aggregates are part of the world, they are inherently impermanent; so the citta cannot remain fixed in that situation.

However, the superficial citta is always grounded in something we call the “original citta,” or the “primordial citta. ” Unlike the ordinary citta, the original citta is something which is vast and unfathomable. It is like the depth and breadth of the ocean, as opposed to wave-like sensations rippling on the surface. The waves are not separate from the ocean, but they do not really affect the ocean either. At the same time, the waves can be quite turbulent and full of motion. They are never still. The basic condition of waves on the ocean’s surface is con-stant change. The depths, however, always remain as they are: still and unchanging.

Consciousness is necessary to experience the duality of subject and object, but it is completely extraneous and unnecessary to the original citta. So from the point of view of the reality of the knowing-ness which is the true citta, consciousness is superfluous because the true knowing is always present in the citta, even after all the physical and mental aggregates have disappeared. Because of that, we cannot really say anything definitive about the original citta at all. Although its scope is immeasurably large, it remains for us a mystery, an unknown quantity.

The citta is the active one. It creates the five aggregates of body and mind; it creates vedanā, saññā, saṅkhāra and viññāṇa. It creates everything. You mustn’t think of the five aggregates as being five dif-ferent rooms that the citta enters one after another. It’s not like that.
The citta creates a moment of viññāṇa, which then dies away. Then it creates vedanā, and that dies away. Then it goes to saññā, and that dies away. Then saṅkhāra, then viññāṇa again. It performs the duties of feeling, memory, thought and consciousness. They’re all the jurisdic-tion of the citta, the whole lot. It performs multiple tasks.

The citta, on the other hand, is the exception to the rule. Existing separately from the five khandhas, the citta is comparable to the un-fathomable vastness of space. Just as space is the medium without which nothing could come into being, the citta is the stable conscious continuum without which nothing in the realm of the five aggregates or the six sense bases could come into being. The citta is the unchang-ing reality in which everything in the world arises and then ceases.

Because the citta does not change, it does not exist—but it is real. Being awareness itself, it is that all-encompassing presence in which arising and passing are known.

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@RobertK , This quote (which I assume comes from the posted book) is very strange for me. It is no wonder to me why the commentaries are generally rejected by the Thai Forest tradition such as what comes from this book. However, it appears that a completely new commentary has arisen about “The Citta” or original mind as they call it.

I’m so glad I am not part of this tradition and taught that “this” is the “truth”. In the context of Classical Theravada, this is complete fiction. In the context of ForestDhamma organization, this is the bible and propagated. The propagation has worked well and unfortunately, the majority of the English Dhamma Community accepts this as the “truth”.


I don’t see any Suttas or Gathas in Pali canon taught about this original citta or primordial citta though. Definitely not Theravada.