He was born into a Lao-speaking family. He was the eldest of nine children: eight boys and one girl. Mun was first ordained as a novice monk at age As a youth, he studied Buddhist teachings, history and folk legends in Khom, Khmer and Tham texts stored in the monastery library. He was fully ordained as a monk at age 22, on June 12, , at Wat Liap monastery in the provincial city of Ubon Ratchatani.
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After finishing his basic schooling, he spent three years as a novice before returning to lay life to help his parents on the farm. In his fifth year his father fell seriously ill and died, a blunt reminder of the frailty and precariousness of human life. Feelings of disenchantment set in, and finally, in he abandoned his studies and set off on mendicant pilgrimage.
He walked some km to Central Thailand, sleeping in forests and gathering almsfood in the villages on the way. He took up residence in a monastery where the vinaya , monastic discipline , was carefully studied and practised. While there he was told about Venerable Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta, a most highly respected meditation master.
Keen to meet such an accomplished teacher, Ajahn Chah set off on foot for the Northeast in search of him. At this time Ajahn Chah was wrestling with a crucial problem. He had studied the teachings on morality, meditation and wisdom, which the texts presented in minute and refined detail, but he could not see how they could actually be put into practice.
Ajahn Mun told him that although the teachings are indeed extensive, at their heart they are very simple. With mindfulness established, if it is seen that everything arises in the heart-mind, right there is the true path of practice. This succinct and direct teaching was a revelation for Ajahn Chah, and transformed his approach to practice. The Way was clear. For the next seven years Ajahn Chah practiced in the style of the austere Forest Tradition, wandering through the countryside in quest of quiet and secluded places for developing meditation.
He lived in tiger and cobra infested jungles, using reflections on death to penetrate to the true meaning of life. On one occasion he practised in a cremation ground, to challenge and eventually overcome his fear of death. While he was in the cremation ground, a rainstorm left him cold and drenched, and he faced the utter desolation and loneliness of a wandering homeless monk.
In , after years of wandering, he was invited back to his home village. Despite the hardships of malaria, poor shelter and sparse food, disciples gathered around him in increasing numbers. With time branch monasteries were established at other locations. In an American monk came to stay at Wat Pah Pong. Although his efforts had borne some fruit, Venerable Sumedho realized that he needed a teacher who could train him in all aspects of monastic life.
Upon hearing about Ajahn Chah, he asked to take leave of his preceptor, and went back to Wat Pah Pong with the monk. Ajahn Chah willingly accepted the new disciple, but insisted that he receive no special allowances for being a Westerner.
He would have to eat the same simple almsfood and practice in the same way as any other monk at Wat Pah Pong. The training there was quite harsh and forbidding. Ajahn Chah often pushed his monks to their limits, to test their powers of endurance so that they would develop patience and resolution.
He sometimes initiated long and seemingly pointless work projects, in order to frustrate their attachment to tranquility. The emphasis was always on surrendering to the way things are, and great stress was placed upon strict observance of the vinaya. In the course of events, other Westerners came through Wat Pah Pong. By the time Venerable Sumedho was a bhikkhu of five vassas, and Ajahn Chah considered him competent enough to teach, some of these new monks had also decided to stay on and train there.
In the hot season of , Venerable Sumedho and a handful of Western bhikkhus spent some time living in a forest not far from Wat Pah Pong. The local villagers there asked them to stay on, and Ajahn Chah consented.
In , Ajahn Chah was invited to visit Britain by the English Sangha Trust, a charity with the aim of establishing a locally-resident Buddhist Sangha. Seeing the serious interest there, he left them in London at the Hampstead Vihara, with two of his other Western disciples who were then visiting Europe.
He returned to Britain in , at which time the monks were leaving London to begin Chithurst Buddhist Monastery in Sussex. He then went on to America and Canada to visit and teach. As his illness worsened, he would use his body as a teaching, a living example of the impermanence of all things.
He constantly reminded people to endeavor to find a true refuge within themselves, since he would not be able to teach for very much longer. However, the procedure did little to improve his condition. Within a few months he stopped talking, and gradually he lost control of his limbs until he was virtually paralyzed and bedridden.
From then on, he was diligently and lovingly nursed and attended by devoted disciples, grateful for the occasion to offer service to the teacher who so patiently and compassionately showed the Way to so many. Ajahn Chah. Dedication Biography Teachings Gallery.
He was widely revered and respected during his lifetime for the extraordinary courage and determination … Read More. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies.
Ordained as a monk in , he spent the remainder of his life wandering through Thailand , Burma , and Laos , dwelling for the most part in the forest, engaged in the practice of meditation. Ajaan Mun's mode of practice was solitary and strict. He followed the vinaya monastic discipline faithfully, and also observed many of what are known as the 13 classic dhutanga ascetic practices, such as living off alms food, wearing robes made of cast-off rags, dwelling in the forest and eating only one meal a day. Monks following this tradition are known as thudong , the Thai pronunciation of this Pali word. Searching out secluded places in the wilds of Thailand and Laos, he avoided the responsibilities of settled monastic life and spent long hours of the day and night in meditation. In spite of his reclusive nature, he attracted a large following of students willing to put up with the hardships of forest life in order to study with him.