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Friday, September 7, 2012

Seeing the Way Gratitude to Ahahn Chah

While in Ubon at Wat Pa Nanachat collecting Thai language Dhamma books Ajahn Kevali was kind enough to offer a number of real English language books, those ones made of paper, to me. One of those which is available in PDF format is "Seeing the Way" volume 2 2011. The 1st volume was printed in 1989 and holds the collected works of senior monks from that era. This edition includes some of the "old timers" that I remember and a number of new additions.
I decided to reprint in posts sections of the Dhamma books in blog posts periodically in gratitude to Ajahn Chah and the many others of the Ajahn Mun tradition and to give people, in little bitty steps to get a flavor for real buddhism at a time that it seems to be disappearing in much of Thailand.
The following is the first part of the Introduction.

Rare in this world it is to find a being who has so completely arrived at unshakeable peace and remains so consistently true to his tradition. From the day he ‘went forth from home to homelessness’, as it says in the traditional Buddhist scriptures, Ajahn Chah lived a life of simplicity and discipline. Although he became well known throughout Thailand, and later around the world, he was uncompromising in his respectful adherence to the modest ways of the Theravadan forest tradition of which he was a part. Throughout, he maintained a dignity that was at the same time beautiful and inspiring. This orthodox approach did not mean he shied away from making radical decisions if they were called for, or that he would avoid unfamiliar situations just because they were uncomfortable. His years of austere, solitary, forest practice attested to his ability to turn frustrations into fuel for progress towards the goal. Once when Ajahn Chah was asked what made him different from so many other monks he said it was that he was daring. He dared to go against habits that didn’t accord with Dhamma, while others simply went along with the status quo. Even if at times the path appeared overgrown, if he saw that it led to liberation he followed it. This was how he practised and this was how he taught. He didn’t offer a doctrine or technique and insist we go with it.
Truly he didn’t mind if we agreed with him or not. He had nothing to sell and nothing to advertise. On one occasion he spoke about how the sangha should only advertise itself by way of inner stillness. On another occasion he referred to himself as a grand old tree that still produced some berries. The birds that came and ate of these fruits gossiped about whether they were sweet or sour, agreeable or not, but for him it was all just the chattering of the birds. What mattered was how to help beings be free from suffering, not whether he was approved of. He sought to open the hearts and minds of those beings still caught in the vortex of self-perpetuating delusions. Hiswords and his example consistently pointed in one direction: the heart of clarity and kindness.