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«Alle Medien auf Theravada Dhamma sind ein Geschenk des dhamma und somit ausschließlich zur kostenlosen Verteilung. All media on Theravada Dhamma are ...»

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Alle Medien auf Theravada Dhamma sind ein Geschenk des dhamma und somit ausschließlich zur kostenlosen Verteilung.

All media on Theravada Dhamma are for free distribution only – as a gift of Dhamma.


The Autobiography of a Forest Monk


Venerable Ajahn Thate

Phra Rajanirodharangsee Translated from the Thai by Bhikkhu Ariyesako.

August 23, 2010 Access to Insight ©1996–2010 ©1996 Wat Hin Mark Peng     Contents Foreword Translator's Note Preface to the First Edition Preface to the Twelfth Edition The Autobiography of a Forest Monk Parents' Life Story An Auspicious 'Dream' and A True Perception of my Youth

1. Oppressive Times and Its Effect on People

2. Meeting Venerable Ajahn Singh Khantayaagamo

3. Leaving Home for a Second Time (Following after Ven. Ajahn Singh)

4. Receiving the Going Forth as a Novice (Further Studies)

5. A Novice Becomes Government Millionaire

6. Ordination at Wat Sutat-narahm

7. First Taste of Yearning

8. A Group of Tudong Monks Leaves Ubon

9. Meeting the Venerable Ajahn Mun for the First Time

10. Second Rains Retreat, 1924 (at Nong Laht)

11. Third Rains Retreat, 1925 (at Nah Chang Nam)

11.1 Returning Home to Assist my Mother, Uncle and Brother

12. Fourth Rains Retreat, 1926 (in a Cemetery North of Ahgaht Amnoy District)

12.1 A Formula for Sleeping or not Sleeping

13. Fifth Rains Retreat, 1927 (Again at Nah Chang Nam Village)    

14. Sixth Rains Retreat, 1928 (at Phra Nah Phak Hork Cave)

14.1 The Affair of Luang Dtah Mun

14.2 Concerning Luang Dtee-a Tong In

14.3 Staying with the Venerable Ajahn Sao

15. Rains Retreat, 1929, at Nah Sai Village

16. Eighth Rains Retreat, 1930 (with Ajahn Maha Pin at Phra Kreur Village)

17. Ninth Rains Retreat, 1931 (in the District of Phon)

18. Tenth Rains Retreat in Korat, 1932

18.1 Reflections and Anxieties that are not Dhamma

19. Eleventh Rains Retreat, 1932 (at Wat Araññavasee in Tah Bor)

19.1 Risky Encounters of the Monk's Life

19.2 Following Ven. Ajahn Mun into Burma, 1933

–  –  –

21. Thirteenth Rains Retreat, 1935 (at a Moo-ser Village (Bahn Poo Phayah))

22. Fourteenth Rains Retreat, 1936 (The Same Location with Three Monks)

–  –  –

23. Fifteenth Rains Retreat, 1937 (Bahn Pong in Maer Dtaeng District)

24. Sixteenth Rains Retreat, 1938 (in Nong Doo Village, Pah Sahng District,

–  –  –

26.2 First Visit to Phuket Island and a Dangerous Encounter

27. Twenty-eighth Rains Retreat, 1950 (Koke Kloi, Phang-nga Province)

28. Twenty-ninth to Forty-first Rains Retreat, 1951-63 (in Phuket)

–  –  –

30. Forty-third to Fiftieth Rains Retreat, 1965-72 (at Hin Mark Peng)

31. Fifty-first and Fifty-second Rains Retreat, 1973-74 (Establishing Wang Nam

–  –  –

Appendix B: The Dhamm' Characters as Written by Venerable Ajahn Fan Aacaaro Appendix C: The Buddhist Order of Monks in Thailand Appendix D: More Building Projects Celebrating HM The King's Fifth Cycle Anniversary

–  –  –

Foreword Since the time of the Buddha, more than two thousand five hundred years ago, monks have retreated into the depths of the forests, mountains and caves, seeking physical isolation to aid them in the development of meditation and realization of Dhamma, the truth of the Buddha's Teaching. Whether in solitude or in small groups, such monks live a life of simplicity, austerity and determined effort and have included some of the greatest meditation masters since the Buddha himself. Far from cities and towns, willing to put up with the rigours and hardships of living in the wild for the opportunity to learn from nature, and uninterested in worldly fame or recognition, these forest monks often remain unknown, their life stories lost among the jungle thickets and mountain tops.

This book is the autobiography of one such monk. Venerable Ajahn Thate recorded his own life story — it was first published for his seventy-second birthday celebration — so that it might be of benefit to those monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen following him. He recounts his life from his boyhood encounter with forest monks to his final status as one of the great masters of the modern era. Venerable Ajahn Thate passed away in 1994 aged ninety-two.

In his Autobiography, the author also takes the opportunity to record his gratitude to all those people — whether monks or lay — who had helped him over those years.

Much of this is directed towards the ordinary rural villagers of the Northeast of Thailand who are Ven. Ajahn Thate's own stock. Although it is the poorest and most underdeveloped region, the people there are particularly devout Buddhists and it is from them that most of the Thai meditation masters have arisen. In later years, this Northeast-based Forest Kammatthana (Tudong) Tradition started to attract the interest of sophisticated city folk and he also describes and acknowledges this trend.

This book is not intended only a description of Ven. Ajahn Thate's experiences but is a narrative of a personal spiritual quest and contains advice and reflections on Buddhist meditation and practice. It also, incidentally, offers a unique, grassroots perspective on rural life spanning a period of unprecedented change in Thai culture.

However, Ven. Ajahn Thate did not just stay in his native region, for he wandered through the forests to all corners of Thailand and even across its borders. He gives us therefore also glimpses of Laos and the Shan States, and notes that would be     interesting even to the anthropologist. The descriptions of his journeys to Singapore, Indonesia and Australia are mainly for his Thai readers but even so they give a new reflection on 'developed countries'.

Lay disciples have sometimes written biographies of deceased meditation masters not knowing all the influential events in their teachers' lives. Some biographies have been idealized out of respect for the teacher. Ven. Ajahn Thate, however, writes with straightforward frankness, honestly relating the events that affected him most deeply and were instrumental in shaping his life. Ven. Ajahn Thate lived into his nineties and in the later years of his long life he was considered the most senior disciple of the 'fathers' of the contemporary forest tradition of Northeast Thailand, Ven. Ajahn Bhuuridatta and Ven. Ajahn Sao Kantasiilo. During his early years of practice he had enjoyed a privileged intimacy with these great teachers.

In writing his autobiography, Ven. Ajahn Thate assumes a familiarity with the Thai forest tradition and its ways of practice, so the following brief explanation of the lifestyle and its purpose may be helpful.

In former times, the monasteries in the villages and towns of Thailand were usually the principal centers of learning. The village monastery provided a spiritual center for the village, where rites and ceremonies could be performed and where local boys could become monks, learn to read and perhaps start to study the Buddhist scriptures. (Traditionally, all the boys in a family were expected to become novices or monks for at least one three-month Rains Retreat period.) In the more isolated rural areas, however, knowledge of the Vinaya (the monks' training rules laid down by the Buddha) was often only rudimentary and therefore standards were not very strict.

Young monks who were interested in furthering their Buddhist studies could transfer to a monastery in a local market town, provincial center or even Bangkok. The programme there, however, would more usually be dedicated to scholastic study than strict observance of the monk's rules or meditation.

The revival of the forest tradition in Thailand during the last century was a grassroots movement to return to the lifestyle and training that was practiced in the time of the Buddha. Some monks abandoned the busy village and town monasteries for the peace and quiet of the forest. They followed the Vinaya Rule more strictly, emphasizing the importance of every detail. Such monks lived without money, living     frugally on whatever was offered and patiently enduring when necessities were scarce. They integrated the extra austere practices (tudong) recommended by the Buddha into their lifestyle. For example, eating only one meal a day from their alms bowl, wearing robes made from discarded cloth, and living in the forest or in cemeteries — often using a krot (a 'tent-umbrella' with mosquito net) for shelter.

These forest monks would often wander barefoot through the sparsely settled regions — Thailand's previously small population was scattered over quite a large country — seeking places conducive to meditation.

The very heart of the forest tradition is the development of meditation. By cultivating deep states of tranquillity and systematically investigating the body and mind, insight can arise into the true nature of existence. The forest masters were noted for their creativity in overcoming the problems, hindrances and defilements of the mind, and for their daring determination to realize Nibbana, enlightenment, the fulfillment of the spiritual path taught by the Buddha.

The reader is asked to remember that this work was written by a Thai for a Thai audience, with no thought of its being translated into English. It depicts and represents the lifestyle, social values and gender roles of a rural Asian culture at the beginning of this century. The experience of ultimate reality must necessarily be expressed through the conventional modes of a particular time and place.

Furthermore, the author often wrote specifically for young monks, giving advice and warnings. Nonetheless, the timeless truths of Ven. Ajahn Thate's wisdom shine forth, bound neither by era nor culture.

Nearly all the tropical forest Ven. Ajahn Thate walked through and described had been destroyed during his lifetime. In an attempt to slow this destruction and save such forest as remains, forest monks have often been in the forefront of raising social awareness of environmental issues. In many areas the only patches of forest left are those protected behind forest monastery walls.

This book also includes two other examples of Ven. Ajahn Thate's Dhamma

teachings, for those who want a practical guide on the path to serenity and insight:

Steps Along the Path and The Meaning of Anatta, both translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. (Other English translations available are: Only the World Ends (translated by Jayasaro Bhikkhu) and Buddho (translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.)     Ven. Ajahn Thate dedicated his life to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and from great compassion he taught and trained his followers in the practices leading to Nibbana. It is our sincere wish that the readers of his autobiography find it to be a source of inspiration and that they experience the deep peace, joy and wisdom that are the fruits of the Buddha's path.

Translators Translator's Note Due to this memoir's uniqueness and importance, I have aimed for an accurate translation even at the cost of losing some of the original's spirit and inspiration.

However, in some places with a wholly Thai context, material has been condensed and this is shown by ellipses (...).

All (parentheses) are from the original, [brackets] and footnotes have been added by the translators. The author had brought the book up to date with additions and the translation has kept to that structure, the section numbering therefore comes from the original. ???

Please see the Glossary for an explanation of many words and terms. (Note that there is a separate glossary for Steps Along The Path.) ??? Transliteration of Thai names and terms into the meager twenty-six letters of the English alphabet must always involve a compromise between consistency and readability. Pali names and terms are problematic because of type and diacritical restrictions in this electronic format. We have at least tried to show some long Pali vowels by following the convention of doubling up the English vowel, e.g., "Paatimokkha". The 'n tilde' is shown by an "ny". The glossary has extra indications where a 'period' indicates that there is a dot under\over the following letter, e.g., "Kamma.t.thaana". ???

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