Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dealing with temple 'politics'

When we are trying to practice in a temple or monastery, we are bound to encounter some friction or issues while staying with other practitioners. Even though rightfully those who chose to stay and practice in the monastery should cultivate attitudes of goodwill (metta), compassion (karuna), symphatetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha), it is not often the case.

You may find that one or more people do not like you and treat you with ill will. There may not be any help or assistance when you need it. And if the teacher seemed to have a soft spot for you, it may trigger feelings of envy or jealousy.

If you reflect on it, this situation- you can see that it exists everywhere- in your home, office and any environment that you frequently find yourself in.

I used to tell some of my closer friends (who know of my long stay in monastery) that it is so much easier to deal with issues in the corporate world. Dealing with back stabbers, people who play politics, bullies and those who are out to get you. I have no issues dealing with them because if I could lose my cool, raise my voice and exert myself.

But when you stay in a monastery, it is very different- you need to deal with the situation very differently. I like what Ajahn Suchart (who have practiced with Luangta Maha Bua for 9 years at Wat Pa Baan Taad) say in his autobiography (pg 179):

"Nowadays there is confusion in our society because
of the lack of religion in people’s hearts. Religion has its
presence in temples, in various objects, but people do
not embrace religion in their hearts. Their hearts are
filled with defilements and cravings. They go to the
temple to argue or to fight with each other. If you want
to go to the temple, you must go in peace, go with
the intention of not causing problems for others.
The ultimate aims of going to the temple are to practice
Dhamma, to improve oneself through meditation,
and to observe the precepts. Do not pay attention to
other people’s opinions or viewpoints. It is better to
behave like a small mouse, rather than a big lion. A big
lion might get into a fight whereas a small mouse will not
run into a problem. As a result, you will have time to

The book (available online in English and Mandarin) is really a very inspirational book. I learned about Ajahn Suchart through reading his book Mountain Dhamma (the list of his books are available here).

Even though I could act out my emotions when I was working, and at the same time getting a steady paycheck each month, I must say that it really does not make me a happier or better person. I was stressed, constantly live in pressure to maintain my standards and sometimes find myself having to support things that I personally do not agree on but it is for the company's profit bottomline and to make the shareholders happy. You wonder, that is what most people do anyway right? Most people work in jobs that they do not like to earn the paycheck and then they go out and 'console' they heart through indulgences (eg in food and retail therapy) or entertainment. They numb themselves through the array of stimulating entertainment found in TV, Facebook and YouTube. They need not deal with the emotions or unhappiness in them.

In the monastery,  you would meet with valuable mentors who could guide you, as well as some people who you may not see eye to eye with. Rather than acting out on your emotions and leaving, if you have the opportunity and made the choice to stay in the monastery, my sincere advice is to stay on.... to use this as an opportunity to battle your defilements.

If you find yourself being upset, angry or discouraged, then it is time to study your own emotions. After all, we are at the monastery to cultivate and win the battle against our defilements. These defilments have been latent and hidden for possibly aeons and uncountable lifetimes. In a way, you need to be thankful to disagreeable people to help raise the defilements up to the surface so that you can deal with them.

Currently I am staying at a monastery. There is a friend whom have ordained whom I have known for a long time. She was once someone who was not treated fairly and was in fact being 'bullied' by some of her fellow nuns. I've known her for more than 10 years already.

Fast forward 10 years later, with time she has become 'established' due to tenor, knowing the people and language. Those who have bullied her have left, as according to my teacher, a person who does not practice accordingly would not be able to remain at her temple for long.

I was very surprised when I came back to see the change in her. For some reason, I sensed that she did not really like me to be in the temple which shows in the behavior and non verbal cues. She also exerted similar behaviour towards others whom she felt is at fault in something.

It was quite unexpected. And it would have upset or discouraged some people. But for me, I remind myself that I am not here because of her but I am here to follow and learn from the teacher who is competent.

I find the experience as useful because my reaction towards her behaviour helped me to watch over myself and my defilements. Why should anger arise when it is each and every one of our practice.... that we are the owners and only we reap the results of our practice. If we do good and practice, it would be good. Her behaviour also tested my level of ego and attachment- do I get angry and worked up when I was treated rudely? I use it to watch myself.

At the same time, she also become a reminder for me not to be heedless for a longer duration of practice does not mean one would progress or stay the same. If one is not mindful and have wrong views, one would regress in one's practice and it is a real pity. Such type of persons used to drive me nuts and get me very worked up but having been through quite a lot in life over these past years, it has really build in the resilience and patience.

When I was previously in the corporate world, I had some talented colleagues who were being bullied, sometimes being almost managed out at work. I know them and their work.... they are competent and hardworking. But I know because of their work ability, they made their bosses and some co workers feel insecure. I spent hours consoling them... not to give up and that it is very stupid to give up and resign just because of people with bad intention who by right are not worth for you to pay such a high price for. And they have financial commitments and bills to pay- hence if they go without a job and cannot find another job, they would be in dire financial straits.

I told them that I saw it as an opportunity for them for personal growth to develop real leadership. One of the qualities of being a leader is endurance and to be able to relate to any type of personality.  And 'bad people' come to your help to 'teach' you how to develop these qualities.

No books or talks can each you effectively and can embed the understanding in your heart as good as direct experience. Yes, it can be very tough to face it but you would gain something valuable if you stay on and find skillful means to face it.

For my friends who are able to pass through it, they would be successful. To endure, not to react when being triggered (because it is just what these people are hoping for), to detach from them and focus on the job and task at hand.

But if they give up, run away to another job, they most probably would find the problem coming to back to haunt a greater scale and at a less favourable environment (since at a new company one have to learn new things whereas at the existing company, one is already knowledgable about the work).

It is the same for me at the monastery where I am staying now because in any place where there are people, they would be friction. I focus on my practice and do not get worked up with others attitudes because I understand that good or bad, we are the heir of our own deeds. The scale of the issues I am encountering is much lesser than 10 years ago... perhaps because I have changed and the challenges in life (which many I have chose to face instead of running away from) have helped me build the detachment, understanding and patience.

Time in a monastery is very precious to practice....because we do not know how long we have. Like in the case of my friend who stayed in the monastery for a decade and have changed, it is a reminder for me not to lapse in my practice. Avoid talking or mingling too much as it would mess with our mind and the mindfulness that we are trying to cultivate.

I noticed it is where the starting point of many who have regressed in practice.... either starting to spend too much time on the internet and neglecting meditation/chanting, and/or talking with others over frivolous matter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Greetings again

Hi...I hope you all have been well.

I know it has been years since I have posted. So sorry as there were many things that happened in the span of these few years. However, I have not abandoned my practice, in fact, through the help of an excellent teacher I have managed to incorporate into my daily life.

In 2002, after reading the Spiritual Autobiography of Ajahn Mun that had changed my life, it took me 2 years before I was able to find my way to Wat Pa Baan Taad in Udon Thani to meet Luangta Maha Boowa who was Ajahn Mun's disciple. 

Like many who first meet the teacher and filled with awe, what happens after the worship period is over? We would then go back to the reality of our own practice ....and for some people get stuck. No doubt, when you first discover and get inspired by a great teacher...and you come all starry eye but would discover that the real practice is not as easy as it was supposed to be.

When staying in Luangta's temple in 2007, I met a lady from came from an European country.

She had wanted very much to experience the life of tudong. She got the chance to experience it through the help of a nun who have previously undergone the practice. However, by the 3rd day, she had more or less given up. Apparently, the tudong lifestyle was totally not what she had imaged- it is not walking to enjoy beautiful scenery and see animals like elephants roaming around. But in reality, you had to go light and carry limited supplies, and depend on the kindness of villagers for pindapat.

She had to walk long distance carrying her backpack. Beginning she was worried there would not be enough food and drink hence she loaded a lot of stuff in her backpack and needless to say had a tough time carrying it. The weather was in December and they were hiking around Mae Hong Son so the weather was freezing cold. The main food was based on what that were received during almsround.

Basically by the 3rd day she had more or less given up. It was a pity because had she held on longer, she would have a better understanding and insight.

Over the years, similar to what happened to the lady also happened to me. Well not literally going for tudong.

During the beginning after the 'honeymoon' aka period of awe is over, we are back into reality of the practice. And it is no fairy tale. It takes the guidance of a good teacher to be able to help us along and drag us up from the depths of hopelessness.

It also depend on us to continue to fight and to be willing to receive the help of our teacher.

Over these years, I've struggled to integrate the Dhamma in my daily lay life, to apply to work and family. I do not wish to be a hypocrite, ie someone who only could talk but not walk the talk. Fortunately with the guidance of a good teacher that I have met, I am able to continue on and ask questions when I am in doubt.

It has been quite a roller coaster journey of ups and downs. Now, I am more aware of the route that I would be taking in the future. In time to come, I shall write about it.

Take care and do not give up in the Dhamma. It is truly wonderful- during the beginning it can become a struggle and you would feel you are swimming upstream. If you have not found someone who could guide you, make the aspiration in front of the Buddha that may you find a good teacher who could point you to the true path of the Dhamma.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recorded talks of Ajahn Fan Acaro (in Thai)

Different web page spells Ajahn Fun's name in English differently: Some spell as Luang Pho or Luang Phor Fan, Fann or Funn.

But this website contains the recorded talks delivered by Ajahn Funn Ajaro หลวงปู่ฝั้น อาจาโร  in Thai language.

These talks were delivered in the 1970s, prior to his passing away in 1977.

If you wish to search for his photos, you may use the search word หลวงปู่ฝั้น อาจาโร .
Ajahn Fan only have a Wikipedia page in Thai language:หลวงปู่ฝั้น_อาจาโร and if you choose the Google Translate, the translation is totally out.

Really wish that the teachings of this great teacher can be translated in English. If my Thai is proficient enough I would be glad to translate- but my understanding of the language is only very basic.

According to Ajahn Sumedho in his book "Now is the knowing", it is mentioned as follows (in page 6):

When I used to travel around the North-East of Thailand on tudong I liked to go and stay at the monastery of Ajahn Fun. Ajahn Fun was a much-loved and deeply respected monk, the teacher of the Royal Family, and he was so popular that he was constantly receiving guests. I would sit at his kuti [hut] and hear him give the most amazing kind of Dhamma talks, all on the subject of 'Buddho'- as far as I could see, it was all that he taught. He could make it into a really profound meditation, whether for an illiterate farmer or an elegant, western-educated Thai aristocrat. The main part of his teaching was to not just mechanically repeat 'Buddho', but to reflect and investigate, to awaken the mind to really look into the 'Buddho', 'the one who knows' really investigate its beginning, its end, above and below,
so that one's whole attention was stuck onto it. When one did that, 'Buddho' became something that echoed through the mind. One would investigate it, look at it, examine it before it was said and after it was said, and eventually one would start listeniing to it and hear beyond the sound, until one heard the silence. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teachings of Ajahn Suwat

Came across this page in . He is the student of Ajahn Fan Acaro (หลวงปู่ฝั้น อาจาโร).

Phra Ajaan Suwat Suvaco (1919-2002)
Born on August 29, 1919, Ajaan Suwat ordained at the age of 20 and became a student of Ajaan Funn Acaro two or three years later. He also studied briefly with Ajaan Mun. Following Ajaan Funn's death in 1977, Ajaan Suwat stayed on at the monastery to supervise his teacher's royal funeral and the construction of a monument and museum in Ajaan Funn's honor. In the 1980's Ajaan Suwat came to the United States, where he established four monasteries: one near Seattle, Washington; two near Los Angeles; and one in the hills of San Diego County (Metta Forest Monastery). He returned to Thailand in 1996, and died in Buriram on April 5, 2002 after a long illness.
  • Blatantly Clear in the Heart, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco
    A short talk on the development of virtue, concentration, and discernment. Keep practicing until these qualities become clear in your own heart!
  • To Comprehend Suffering, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco
    Meditation isn't about "getting" things; it's about letting go. We can't let go of the darkness and delusion in our minds; it has to be dispersed by light -- the light of clear-seeing discernment that we cultivate through meditation.
  • Disenchantment, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco
    A talk given at the start of a meditation session, in which Ajaan Suwat explains how to strenghten mindfulness and develop the disenchantment needed for discernment to arise. An excellent introduction to the contemplation of the 32 parts of the body.
  • A Fistful of Sand, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco
    These Dhamma talks and question-and-answer sessions were recorded during a two-week meditation retreat he taught at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts in 1990. This event marked a rare opportunity for an elder Thai ajaan to speak directly to Westerners in their home environment. With a disarming ease and clarity, Ajaan Suwat here illuminates a number of vital points of Dhamma that will help the reader develop the proper attitude towards the practice of meditation.
  • The Strategy of a Peaceful Mind, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco
    Viewing peace of mind as a skillful strategy helps the meditator settle the mind down into concentration. But its uses also extend to more advanced stages of meditation, by helping one disengage from all involvement with the aggregates, thereby bringing the meditator to the threshold of Awakening. In this remarkable talk Ajaan Suwat weaves together teachings for beginning and advanced meditators, alike.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Booklet in Thai distributed during Luangta Maha Bua's funeral

Herein is the booklet copy  written in Thai language. It was distributed during Luangta's funeral. The copy below which I received were reprinted through the generous donations:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The translated book that was published during Luangta's funeral

Dear all,

Sorry for not posting for a long time (a year exactly).

I was fortunate to have received a physical copy of the English translation of book "Paying Our Last Respects", the book published in commemoration of Venerable Ajahn Maha Boowa's funeral.

The book is published by Forest Dhamma of Wat Pa Baan Taad. I tried to search for the online pdf copy but found the links to that ebook was not working. Therefore, I thought of scanning and then converting into editable text to upload to this site- for the benefit of everyone.

There are many books and publications written based on transcribed teachings of Luangta- but in Thai language. This book was one of the transcribed from the Thai version and contains a lot of content that was previously unavailable. I find this book to be very meaningful and it gave insight to the life of Luangta and on how he had met Ajahn Mun.

The book is about 178 pages long. I would do the scanning and posting the words in stages.

So far, the completed sections are:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Articles on Luang Phor Fan

Even though I have not known Luang Phor Fan หลวงปู่ฝั้น อาจาโร (of Sakon Nakhon) who had passed away in 1977, I have been deeply impressed by him.
Herein are resources I've obtained from other blogs that contained information on Ajahn Fan Ajaro which all currently all in Thai language except for the 1st link:


10 Series of Documentary on Luang Phor Fan (in Thai language) in YouTube:

Friday, April 1, 2011

An article about Luangta Maha Bua's early life

Recently I came across an article about the early life of Luangta Maha Bua. The following is an excerpt of the article that mentioned about Luangta's early life:

Luangta Maha Boowa, the abbot of Wan Pa Baan Taad in Udon Thani’s Muang district, came into the limelight when he initiated a fund-raising campaign to help the country recover from the effects of the 1997 financial crisis.

As of Jan 9 last year, he had handed over 967 gold bars weigh­ing 12 tonnes and US$10.2mil in cash to the Bank of Thailand. “When the economic crisis hit in 1997, I stepped in to help lift the nation from the depths of darkness, that is, from greed on one level of society and from poverty on the other. I wanted Thais to focus on the causes of the crisis so that, by knowing the causes, they could change their behaviour to prevent such an event from recurring. So I used the Help the Nation campaign not only to raise gold for the national treasury, but more importantly as a means to spread Buddha’s teachings to a broader section of Thai society in an age when many Thai people are losing touch with Buddhist principles,” said Luangta Maha Boowa in the booklet, Samana – Maha Boowa Memorial Book, which was distributed after his death.

Luangta Maha Boowa was born on Aug 12, 1913, as Bua Lohitdee to a wealthy farming family. He said he was told by his mother that of the 16 babies she had carried in her womb, he was the one who gave her the most to worry about. “I was either so still in her womb that she thought I must have died, or I was kicking so hard she thought I must have been on the verge of death.

The closer to my birth, the worse those extremes became. Just before I was born, my mother and my father each had an auspicious dream. My father dreamt that he had received a very sharp knife, pointed at the tip with an elephant tusk handle and encased in a silver sheath. My father felt very pleased.

“My mother, on the other hand, dreamed that she had received a pair of gold earrings which were so lovely that she couldn’t resist the temptation to put them on and admire herself in the mirror. The more she looked, the more they impressed her.”

He said his grandfather interpreted the two dreams to mean that the course of his life would follow one of two extremes. “If I chose the way of evil, I would be the most feared criminal of my time. My character would be so fearsome that I was bound to end up being an infamous crime boss who’d never allow himself to be captured alive and imprisoned, but would hide in the jungle and fight the authorities to the death.

“At the other extreme, if I chose the way of virtue, my goodness would be unequalled,” he said in the memorial book. He became a monk at the age of 21 and was a student of Luangpu Man Phurithatto, one of the most renowned Buddhist meditation masters in Thailand’s Buddhism of the Forest Tradition. His followers believe that he was an arahant, a living Buddhist saint.

It is well-known that Luangta Maha Boowa would always go without food as he said it helped with his meditation.
His thousands of disciples and followers see him as a diminutive, simple and humble monk who did not seek personal gain. To them Luangta Maha Boowa was also an arahant – one who has perfected wisdom and compassion like Bud­­dha and is no longer subject to rebirth.

In the memorial book, Luanga Maha Boowa said he had tried his utmost to help society: “Within my heart, I have no sense of courage and no sense of fear; no such thing as gain or loss, victory or defeat. My attempts to assist people stem entirely from loving compassion. I sacrificed everything to attain the Supreme Dhamma that I now teach. I nearly lost my life in search of Dhamma, crossing the threshold of death before I could proclaim to the world the Dhamma that I realised. Sometimes I talk boldly, as if I were a conquering hero. But the Supreme Dhamma in my heart is neither bold nor fearful. It has neither gain nor loss, neither victory nor defeat. Consequently, my teaching eman­ates from the purest form of com­­passion.”

Luangta Maha Boowa forbade his followers from spending extravagantly at his funeral. In the interview with Nanfa – The Tiger Temple Magazine (produced by Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi Province) in 2009, he said he did not want gifts donated to him for merit while his body was in a casket.

To read the full article, please go to The Star Online>
Thai monk revered in life, remembered in death by Foong Thim Leng