Saturday, February 27, 2010

Significance of Magha Puja Day

February 28 (Sunday)- Magha Puja (‘Sangha Day’)- It commemorates the spontaneous gathering of 1250 arahants, to whom the Buddha gave the exhortation on the basis of the discipline (Ovada Patimokkha). It will be a public holiday for Thailand (and some office may take Monday as a replacement day off)

Ovada Patimokkha:

Sabba-pāpassa akaraṇaṃ,
Never doing the least evil,

In virtue always ready,

Purifying one’s own heart,

Etaṃ buddhāna-sāsanaṃ.
These three are the teachings of the Awakened Ones.

Khantī paramaṃ tapo tītikkhā,
Patient endurance burns up defilments supremely,

Nibbānaṃ paramaṃ vadanti Buddhā,
All Englighten Ones say Nibbana is the Supreme,

na hi pabbajito parūpaghātī
those who destroy life are not the ascetic,

samaṇo hoti paraṃ viheṭhayanto
those who oppress others are not recluse,

anūpavādo anūpaghāto
not speaking evil, not doing harm,

Pāṭimokkhe ca saṃvaro
restraint within the Training Discipline,

mattaññutā ca bhattasmiṃ
knowing moderation in taking food,

pantañca sayan’āsanaṃ.
sleeping and sitting in secluded places,

adhicitte ca āyogo:
devoted in training for higher mentality,

Etaṃ Buddhāna-sāsanam.
These six are the Teachings of the Awakened Ones.

It is a short discourse but with very deep meaning. I chant this sutta almost every morning as part of my morning chanting.

Years ago, I was told by a nun who have underwent tudong (ascetic practice) that during a very difficult time when she was all alone in the forest, she asked the Buddha for guidance. She then heard an authoritative voice, "My teachings are all summarised in Ovadapatimokkha. " She then looked up the sutta and true enough, the answers to the questions that she was searching for was there. Tears came to her eyes.

Note: If you have read Ajahn Maha Boowa's biography, you would have read that devas, and sometimes Arahants who have passed away and even the Buddha come to teach monks and nuns who are practicing deep into the wilds. They appear as human form as it is a form that can be perceived and understood by a human being. Even though it is not logical, it happens to those who have achieved a level of purity in their hearts or have past affinities to be able to perceive them.
The nun also taught me that that we still need to be careful at forms or external knowledge that we are perceiving as the result of our meditation. All messages have to be examined and not to be believed blindly. If we choose to follow these forms, and gaining more ego because we thought we've attained psychic abilities, our practice will suffer. As our mind moves outward to perceive external objects, our mindfulness and concentration will weaken. The best is to direct that powerful skill back into observing our own bodies- the 32 parts of our bodies till we are able to achieve true insight and realization. If we are misled and our egos got bigger, our practice will not progress- instead, it will degenerate. The timely guidance of a good teacher is invaluable at this stage.

Teachers like Ajahn Mun and Luangta had been known to come down hard on students who have attained psychic abilities as a result of intense concentration and jhanas- and use it to perceive heaven, hells, read people's mind, etc. And students who listened to them eventually emerged as great meditation masters. Sadly, most of the first generation of meditation masters who practiced under Ajahn Mun (except Luangta Maha Boowa) have since passed on.

Decades ago, during the early years when he was a monk, Luang Phor Fan used to direct his attention outward but each time he sent his citta outwards, he would see Luang Phor Mun's face looking at him. This happened each time that he was sure that Luang Phor Mun did not seemed to sleep at all. Out of fear of being reprimanded by his teacher, Luang Phor Fan stopped sending his attention outwards- instead, he used his powerful concentration to focus inward by looking at his body and eventually saw through impermance, suffering and non self. Eventually he became a well-known vipassana teacher teaching disciples like Ajahn Suwat Suvaco. Ajahn Suwat taught Ajahn Thinassaro, who made the Thai Forest Tradition teachings known to the English speaking world through his translations.

Translating the teachings of Thai meditation masters is not about the mastery of Thai and English language, but the translations must be done from the heart. Teachers like Ajahn Thinassaro, Ajahn Panna and Ajahn Sumedho are able to capture the essence of the teachings and put it into English language. As the teachings are still available and we are able to experience the teachings of the Masters, let us not delay our practice. Start from wherever we are.... no matter how small, take a step.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Around Wat Ban Taad

The picture below is taken in 2007- during the rains retreat. The last time I was there was in 2008- it still look the same.

Luangta will have his morning meals at the sala behind. On the left is the picture of Luang Phor Mun, Luangta's teacher. On the right, is King Bhumibol, the current King of Thailand.

The picture above is taken from the more right side of the front view of Wat Baan Taad. Do you see a small entrance market with small wood fence (right side)? It is the entrance to Luangta's kuti. Luangta's kuti is still located in the middle of the forest but the kuti is not far inside. Luangta used to walk out on his own- taking morning and evening walks. But now, he needs to be taken around on a golf cart because his legs would give way when he was walking.

Below: basically I turn 180 degrees from the first picture to take this. It is little stalls set up and run by 8 preceptors- there are Luangta's pictures and CDs given away. Visitors can also choose to donate there. At the end is the gate entrance. The gate is closed at about 4 or 5pm, if I am not mistaken. You will not be able to enter through the gate if you come late but you can always sleep at the sala outside:

Bring along something that can help you to curb mosquitos like a tent or the mosquito tents like below (they are sold in some part of Thailand):

With just a cloth or mat, a person can sleep lengthwise in the tent. Since I do not know how to describe the type of tent, I enclose a picture here- this was the tent I slept in one of a cave. It's effective to ward off mosquitos but during the cold weather (around October to early February), it's cold. So using the normal camping tent that time would be more suitable:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Path to Arahantship by Luangta Maha Boowa

Following is the book, Path to Arahantship, taken from a transcribed talk delivered by Luangta Maha Bua and translated to English from Thai.
To read the book online, you can visit and scroll down to the book and click read online. Please note that you need Acrobat reader in order to read it.

As I have the physical book given to me by Ajahn Dick, I scan the picture taken from the book to share with you:

Please note that Luangta Maha Bua writes all his books as a gift of Dhamma. None of his books are ever sold for money as according to Luangta:
"The Dhamma should not be sold like goods in the market place. Permission to reproduce in any way for free distribution, as a gift of Dhamma, is hereby granted and no further permission need be obtained. Reproduction in any way for commercial gain is prohibited."

Sadly, I have seen books like the Autobiography being sold online. Luangta's books are all distributed free- if you are not able to obtain it online, you can go to or under Thai Forest Tradition sections.