A Biography of Luangta Maha Bua Nanasampanno

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A Biography of Luangta Maha Bua Nanasampanno

Family Background


Luangta was born into a farmer's family with the last name “Lohitdee" in the village of Baan Taad, city district of Udon Thani, Udon Thani Province on Tuesday 12th August 1913. This date falls on the 11th night of the waxing moon 9th month, the year of the Ox. His father's name is "Mr Thongdee", his mother's name is "Mrs Phaeng". His parents gave him the auspicious name "Bua" (which leans lotusflower).

Childhood


When his mother was pregnant, she mentioned to the family and Natives that "naturally when a baby in the womb grows, it will move round and the mother will be able to feel this. However, the nature of this child differs from others for it stays still, very quiet as if there no life. His mother often thought and worried why is the baby not moving, why is it so unusually quiet, can it be that the baby is already dead?". However when the baby did move, it also moved around more than other babies, it really thrashed around inside her, and his mother felt very intense pain in her stomach. When the birth drew near, his mother felt the birth pangs for 3 days but there was no sign of birth. While in such a great pain for so long, she thought die was going to die, but then suddenly the baby inside her again became so quiet that again she thought that the baby had already died again. Then the baby started wiggling again..."

His grandfather predicted the character of the baby in the womb like this, "If it is a boy, whatever he desires, he will be very firm about it, with great determination and seriousness about everything he does. He will not be ambivalent or half-hearted". When the baby was finally born, the placenta was thrown over his shoulder. When grandfather saw that, he said "alms-bowl strap" and predicted three things:

1. Alms-bowl strap: "If he becomes a philosopher, he will shake the earth.
2. Robust strap: "If he becomes a hunter, his shooting skills will shake the forests".
3. Chain strap: "If he becomes a thief, there will be no prison that
is able to lock him up.

Education


Luangta was an intelligent child, diligent, patient and very re¬sponsible. This is reflected in his excellent school grades. He was ranked second in Primary 1, and when he was in Primary 2 and 3 he was ranked first in both. When he finished Primary 3 which was the highest compulsory education level at that time, he did not continue education at any level.

Character


Luangta's character was honest and determined. Whatever he did, he did with great determination and sincerity. When he worked, he did not want people to see or know. Even though he had been ordained as a monk, when he was practicing, he did not want anybody to see him. So when he was doing walking meditation he hid in the forest. At night, he would wait for everybody to go back to the monk's dwellings, before he started doing his walking meditation. His outstanding trait was his immense determination and patience. This could be inferred from his working style, as he would continue working until his work was completely done. If it was not too dark, or it was lunch time, he would not quit his work until his siblings complained to his parents saying, "If you do not go and work as well, our older brother will not stop working, and he does not let us stop working, as if we his siblings should have to work until we die".

Reason for Ordination


Among all his children, his father wasn't interested in any of them except Luangta. Luangta was the only one he really could depend on. His father praised Luangta, saying that whatever Luangta did he could trust and depend on him. That even he himself could not achieve the level of skills of Luangta.
When Luangta was old enough to ordain as a monk, his father raised the subject of becoming a monk while having dinner. "I have many sons, but none even thinks about ordination for the well being of their Father. I really want to see one of you in the yellow robes before I pass away, because then I can pass away peacefully and without any worries. But when his father asked Luangta to ordain, he stayed quiet and did not reply, as if he did not have any ears, or a mouth with which to speak. His father said that if he passed away,there would be no one able to lift him out of hell. That if he could not depend on Luangta, there was no hope, for of all his sons, he could only depend on Luangta.
"After his father said this, he instantly broke out in tears. When his mother saw her husband crying she also started to cry. When Luangta saw this, he felt terrible and could not stand it. He instantly left the dinner table and fled into his room. This was the reason for him to become ordained.

Entering the Monkhood

Luangta ordained as a monk at the Monastery of Yothanimit in the village of Nong Khon Kwang, sub district Nongbua, city district of Udon Thani, in the Province of Udon Thani. He ordained on Tuesday the 12th of May 1934,which falls on the 9th night of the waxing Moon, in the 7th month of the 'year of the dog'. His preceptor was the Venerable Chaokhun Phratham Dhammachedi
(Jum Phanthulo), the Abbot of the monastery Bodhisomphorn, city district of Udon Thani, in the Province of Udon Thani. He received as his ordination name the name "Nanasampanno" which means accomplished with insight"

As his personal character was determined and sincere, he thought to himself, "that after being ordained, I will be ordained fully and stay within the Dhamma Principle and the Discipline so that no one will be able to criticize me. I will be earnest and serious until the day I leave the monkhood which is probably in about two years time. I will fulfil my duty as a monk as best as I can and if that includes study, then I will also do my best to accomplish this".


Despite Studying Buddhism, he did not neglect to practice meditation.


Luangta asked his venerable Teacher, about the practice of meditation. "Dear teacher, I would like to practice, can you tell me how  I can do this?" His venerable Teacher replied, "Hmm,well just practice using the parikamma[1] of buddho, by mentally repeating the word "buddho"; I do the same sort of practice". So Luangta practiced relentlessly. In the beginning, his mind would not calm down much. However, after practicing often with determination, his mind gradually started to calm down until one day he saw the wonder of the Citta.
[1] Parikamma is the meditation object, the object the mind focuses on.

"Whatever Dhamma I studied, I studied it continuously, ever since the book “Nawagowoat", which was part of my basic education background, caught my attention. After I had read the Buddha's biography, I felt depressed, because I pitied our Lord Buddha when he faced hardship. He seems to torture himself in his search for Enlightenment until my tears were running continuously. When I had finished reading, I was so inspired by the Lord Buddha's perseverance. He was a Prince who abandoned a kingdom to become a wandering holy man, a so-called beggar. At that time, there didn't exist any religion in the sense that; if you are giving in charity you will receive this kind of merit, or that maintaining the precepts will yield that kind of merit. This did not exist at that time. The Prince, now impoverished, had to beg to sustain his life. For six years he trained his mind and body through his own abilities in every sort of way until he became enlightened to become the Lord Buddha".

While Luangta was reading the Lord Buddha's biography, and the story of his Enlightenment, he felt so amazed and wonderful that he broke out in tears again. At the same time, when Luangta also read the biographies of the many Buddhist Arahants at the time of the Lord Buddha, who were from different family background, e.g. from royalty, rich families, merchants, ordinary people, poor people, and so on, and he thought to himself... "after any of these monks from any kind of family background had listened to the Buddha's teachings, they went into the forests to practice seriously. Then one by one they succeeded in becoming an Arahant; at that forest, this mountain, that cave, or that place. All of these were really quiet places. Faith arose in mc, and my mind started to ponder about these things, and slowly outside worldly matters faded from my thoughts..."



"...at first, I thought that I would like to go to heaven, to the Brahma worlds. But the more I read the biographies of the Savaka (The Buddha's enlightened disciples), the more I did not want to go to these places anymore, instead I wanted to attain nibbana. In the end, I desired only to attain nibbana. I only wanted to become a Buddhist Arahant. That was my only intention. Now my mind fixed only on this one option. My original intention to become a monk for only two years, and then to leave the monk-hood, disappeared slow but continuously. Instead, I became more and more pleased with being a monk. I got deeper and deeper into the Dhamma and this also changed my mind..."

As a result, he later left the village of Baan Taad to study in different places. He vowed to himself that, "When I have graduated from the Buddha's Teaching level 3 as soon as I have finished the third grade of Pali Studies; I will practice only, without any excuse or condition, because I want to be free from dukkha, I want to become an Arahant."




Nevertheless, he had doubt. "Is the attainment of nibbana still possible in this day and time, just like in the time of the Lord Buddha?" He kept this doubt buried deep in his heart, for he could not express this to anyone else. This is the reason why he wanted to meet Acharn Mun Bhuridatto. He had heard of his fame for a long time id felt in his heart that Than Acharn Mun Bhuridatto would be able to resolve his doubt.

In 1941, Luangta graduated from the School of Dhamma in the monastery of Chedi Luang with both certificates of Maha Parian III (3rd grade of Pali Language Studies; there are 9 grades) and Nak Dhamma Ek (highest grade in Dhamma Studies) in his 7th year asa  monk. He said that:
"While studying the Buddha-Dhamma for 7 years, I could not practice wholeheartedly. I could only be peaceful for short periods 'time. Only three times in these years was I able to go deep into meditation, diving right deep down into that fully miraculous moment when I got completely absorbed, when all sense objects just disappeared. At this time, the body completely disappeared and the only thing left was "knowingness[2]".
[2] This state of meditation is also known as appana samadhi, deep state of samadhi, or one-pointedness.

After his graduation, Luangta thought about the oath he took earlier, so he traveled to Bangkok to bid goodbye to the senior monk, his teacher. Because his teacher has been invited to a rural province, he then went to pay his respects to the Supreme Patriarch (Somdet) Phra Maha Viravong (Tisso Uan), who at that time was the Abbot of the monastery of Baromnivat, and asked for permission leave. The Supreme Patriarch Maha Viravong then gladly gave Luangta the permission to leave.

Practicing seriously and putting his life at stake for Dhamma


Luangta traveled to Nakhon Ratchasima Province, and carried only the book of Patimokha; the monastic discipline (the 227 Rules for the monk) in his shoulder bag. He stayed for the rains retreat at a monastery in the Chakkarat District. He practiced diligently day and night, from his arrival and throughout the rains retreat. This was now the eighth year of his monkshood.

"This time I will practice earnestly and to full measure so as to obtain good result, no matter if I will remain alive or die. I don't hope for any other thing except to be free from dukkha. In this very life I will make sure to transcend dukkha! I only ask that somebody will help me to understand that magga, phala, and nibbana really exist and are attainable. Then I will give my whole life to that person and will devote my body and mind to the essence of Dhamma. I will not ask for anything else than to put everything into my practice, no matter if I am going to die. If I die I want to die practicing the Dhamma, I don't want to die while retreating from my practice, or die with a deteriorated mind or a broken spirit".

Luangta traveled from Nakhon Ratchasima Province and headed towards Udon Thani Province. He intended to stay the rains retreat with Than Acharn Mun at Wat Pa Nonniwet. However, Luangta could not catch up with him, for Than Acharn Mun had been invited; to go to Sakon Nakhorn Province. So Luangta went to stay at the monastery of Thungsawang in Nongkhai Province. There was a monk from the monastery of Baan Khoknamon that told him; "Than Acharn Mun is very fierce, he is not only fierce when admonishing us, but if necessary he will kick us out as well."

After Luangta heard this, he felt a conviction in his heart about the determination of Than Acharn Mun and thought to himself: "This monk will become my Teaching Master. I must go and see for myself about how much he admonishes. It is impossible that such a famous Teaching Master, who is well-known all over Thailand for such a long time, scolds us and kicks us out without any reason..."

Meeting with Than Acharn Mun


Luangta stayed at the monastery of Thungsawang for 3 months. In May 1942, his 9th year of being a monk, he traveled out of Nong Khai to Sakon Nakhom and headed towards Than Acharn Mun, who was staying at the Baan Khok, municipality Tongkhob, city district of Sakon Nakorn, Sakon Nakorn Province.

Luangta asked for directions to the monastery from the villagers, and walked along the path until he arrived there at dusk. When he saw a pavilion, he became suspicious: "If this is a sala (mecting hall), then this is too small; but if it is a monk's dwelling, then is this too big." Than Acharn Mun was doing walking meditation the side of the sala. Luangta walked up to meet Than Acharn Mun on the meditation path. Than Acharn Mun then asked "Who's that?" Luangta replied: "Phom khrap" (It's me.). Than Acharn Mun scowled and replied immediately with wit; "Even a bald headed person has phom (hair), not to say a person with hair is not bald (phom in Thai means either hair or I)". When Luangta heard that, he knew he had made a mistake and therefore replied immediately, “My name is Maha Bua". Than Acharn Mun replied: "Yes, just introduce yourself properly like that, so that people understand. When you only mentioned "phom" (I), everyone has phom (hair) on their head."

Now Luangta had the opportunity to explain to Than Acharn Mun about his background, where he was coming from, and where he had stayed. He then asked for permission to stay with him, and submit himself to become Than Acharn Mun's disciple. Once finished he still felt troubled within his heart, and said, "1 really don't want to hear that this place is full and cannot accept any more. I am not able to accept this, I'm afraid my heart will break". After a moment, Than Acharn Mun said that, "You’re  lucky, for Than Net just left here yesterday, and you just came today, otherwise you would not have been able to stay as there would be no kuti [3] available." Than Acharn Mun said this in a normal voice. Even though out of his kindness, he had accepted Luangta to stay; Luangta could not help but feel startled, and scared that he might not have be accepted to stay.
kuti [3]- Monks dwelling, or a hut for monks to live.


No more suspicions about magga, phala, and nibbana


Than Acharn Mun, as if he could read Luangta's thought, directly answered Luangta's question on the first night by saying; "You have come here to look for magga, phala, and nibbana. Where is magga,  phala, and nibbana? Earth is earth, water is water, air is air, fire is fire, weather is weather, and the elements they are made of exist in themselves. These things are not magga, phala, and nibbana; and they are not the kilesas."

"The real kilesas, and the real magga, phala, and nibbana exist in your heart. You should fix your citta with sati at the heart and then you will see the movement of Dhamma and the kilesas in your heart. At the same time, you will also see magga, phala, and nibbana  respectively".

From the bottom of his true heart, Than Acharn Mun explained to him about magga, phala, and nibbana. Luangta then felt confident and really trusted that magga, phala, and nibbana are still attainable. His former suspicion on this matter, which gnawed at his heart, now totally disappeared.

Discontent because of deterioration of his citta


Luangta's samadhi began to deteriorate because he fixed his klod [4]
(4] A klod is a large umbrella to give shelter from the sun, to protect against rain. In the evening it serves as a tent by hanging the mosquito net over the umbrella. It gives enough space to sit comfortable)

…."It was a condition where the citta could not focus properly into samadhi, like I had been able to do before. Sometimes I could concentrate enough to make the citta calm, sometimes not. My practice deteriorated in a way that I thought I was going to really die, for the dukkha was heavy. The reason I experienced heavy dukkha was, that I had tasted the great value of deep samadhi before. But now, because my meditation had deteriorated I felt as if nothing was left, and as if my heart was on fire day and night, standing or walking, sitting or sleeping. This was very extreme dukkha, because I really wanted to restore that kind of deep samadhi again. This was really extreme dukkha..."

However, Luangta had the resoluteness and determination to fight the kilesas. He always said that, "If the kilesas do not die, I will die. We cannot stay in the same place, the kilesas and I! This is unacceptable." When his citta deteriorated, he had received advice from Than Acharn Mun who said, "Let go of the thought about deterioration, just think buddho continuously and non-stop. After using your parikamma buddho, repeatedly and without lapse, the concentration will rush back on its own. Even if it comes back now, don't let go of the buddho, for if the kilesas have no sense food to eat, the concentration will come back to us."

The 9th year of his monkhood is the first year that Luangta stayed during the rains retreat with Than Acharn Mun at Ban Khok, Sakon Nakhorn Province. He promised himself that: "I must use the meditation word "buddho" to control my citta all the time, regardless whether I practice samadhi or not, or wherever I am. Even though I am sweeping the monastery grounds or do other daily activities, I will  not let my sati slip away from ‘buddho," Because of Luangta's determination, his citta attained samadhi again and did not deteriorate!

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