Theravada Text Archives
The Thai Forest Traditions
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Selected teachers from the Thai forest traditions: 
Ajaan Sao and his student Ajaan Mun established the Kammatthana tradition. A true forest-dweller, Ajaan Sao left no written records of his teachings. Fortunately for us, another of his students -- Phra Ajaan Phut Thaniyo -- recorded Ajaan Sao's Teaching: A Reminiscence of Phra Ajaan Sao Kantasilo, which offers us a glimpse of Ajaan Sao's terse but powerful teaching style.
Ajaan Mun was born in 1870 in Baan Kham Bong, a farming village in Ubon Ratchathani province, northeastern Thailand. Ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1893, 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. He attracted an enormous following of students and, together with his teacher, Phra Ajaan Sao Kantasilo Mahathera (1861-1941), established the forest meditation tradition (the Kammatthana tradition) that subsequently spread throughout Thailand and to several countries abroad. He passed away in 1949 at Wat Suddhavasa, Sakon Nakhorn province. [Adapted from the Introduction to A Heart Released.]
For more about Ajaan Mun and the history of the Kammatthana tradition, see the essay "The Customs of the Noble Ones," by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
- The Ballad of Liberation from the Khandhas, by Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1995; 29k/9pp.)
This poem, composed sometime in the 1930's, is one of the few known written teachings left to us by Ajaan Mun.
- The Ever-present Truth: Teachings of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, by Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 21k/7pp.)
Eight short fragments drawn from Ajaan Mun's sermons given during the last two years of his life. These fragments were originally appended to the book A Heart Released as part of a commemorative volume distributed at Phra Ajaan Mun's cremation in 1950. The selections included here comprise all of the passages dealing directly with the practice of virtue and meditation.
- A Heart Released: The Teachings of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, by Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1995; 58k/19pp.)
Seventeen excerpts from Dhamma teachings delivered by Ajaan Mun in 1944-45.
Ajaan Thate was one of the most highly respected Buddhist monks of the Theravada school in Thailand and was internationally recognized as a master of meditation. In addition to his large following in Thailand, Ajaan Thate has trained many western disciples.
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
The Autobiography of a Forest Monk, by Ajaan Thate, translated by Bhikkhu Ariyesako and others (1996; 467k/155pp.)
A delightful reminiscence of a long life lived as a monk in the forests of Thailand. Highlights include: his encounters with various monks and seekers, ranging from scoundrels and charlatans to the great Ajaans, such as Ajaan Mun and Ajaan Sao; his descriptions of some of the wrong turns he made during the course of his meditation practice over the years; how he fulfilled his duties as a son by teaching Dhamma to his mother right up to the end of her life. The book is an enjoyable read, filled with some lovely gems of Dhamma.
Buddho, by Ajaan Thate, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1994; 46k/15pp.)
A simple and practical guide to the use of the meditation phrase, buddho, which is used to settle the mind to the point at which discernment can begin to arise.
Steps Along the Path, by Ajaan Thate, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1994; 42k/14pp.)
A short handbook on the practice of meditation, with tips and recommendations for new and experienced meditators. Of particular interest is Ajaan Thate's discussion of how best to respond when visions and signs arise during the course of meditation practice.
Ajaan Lee was one of the foremost teachers in the Thai forest ascetic tradition of meditation founded at the turn of the century by his teacher, Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta. His life was short but eventful. Known for his skill as a teacher and his mastery of supranatural powers, he was the first to bring the ascetic tradition out of the forests of the Mekhong basin and into the mainstream of Thai society in central Thailand. [From the Introduction to The Autobiography of Phra Ajaan Lee.]
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
- The Autobiography of Phra Ajaan Lee, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1991; 349k/116pp.)
Fascinating account of Ajaan Lee's life, which he dictated from his hospital bed a year before his death. Highlights include: Ajaan Lee's retelling of a long and elaborate fantasy he had as a young monk that erased, once and for all, any doubts about his choice to live as a monk; several compelling stories of the supranatural, often involving the mysterious appearance and disappearance of Buddha relics; and his poignant explanation of why he always preferred to live in the forest.
- Basic Themes, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1982; 103k/34pp.)
This essay primarily concerns the practice of breath meditation, and provides valuable advice on responding skillfully to the pitfalls that may be encountered along the way. The Prologue and Introduction to the essay include handy summaries of many key doctrinal points in the Buddha's teachings, as well as Pali chants and procedures that can be useful to prepare the mind for meditation practice.
- Consciousnesses, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 42k/14pp.)
This talk, given in the last year of Ajaan Lee's life, is one of the nine for which we have transcripts from the tapes -- and one of the four for which the tapes are still extant. It's a very unusual talk, showing his distinctive humor and style, and providing a lively discussion of the ways in which the concepts of "self" and "not-self" actually function in practice.
- The Craft of the Heart, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1988; 332k/108pp.)
Ajaan Lee's first book, with teachings spanning the full range of Dhamma practice, from the five precepts to the attainment of total liberation. This book is a rich source of instruction suitable for beginners and seasoned practitioners, alike; take whatever is useful to you.
- Crossing the Ocean of Life, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 30k/10pp.)
A talk given the last day of the celebration of the new ordination hall at Wat Asokaram. This was the last talk that Ajaan Lee gave to his assembled students, supporters, and friends.
- Demons of Defilement (Kilesa Mara), by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 31k/10pp.)
Ajaan Lee explains how the secret of developing wisdom lies in learning to use our defilements to our advantage. "An outstanding person," says Ajaan Lee, "takes bad things and makes them good."
- Duties of the Sangha, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1995; 65k/21pp.)
During the rains retreat of 1960 -- his last -- Ajaan Lee gave this exhortation to the monks and novices, calling on them to fulfill their duties as monastics. While acknowledging that the Thai ecclesiastical system spells out specific practical monastic duties, Ajaan Lee here elevates those duties to a higher goal: the training of the heart. (Originally published with Frames of Reference.)
- The Eye of Discernment: An Anthology from the Teachings of Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, selected and translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 130k/43pp.)
This anthology serves as an excellent starting point for newcomers to Ajaan Lee's teachings.
- Food for Thought: 18 Talks on the Training of the Heart, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1989; 137k/45pp.)
These are short (2 or 3 page) excerpts from Ajaan Lee's talks, offering introductory reflections on the ultimate meaning and worth of Buddhist practice.
- Frames of Reference, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1987; 69k/23pp.)
An introduction of the four foundations of mindfulness from the perspective of breath meditation.
- Handbook for the Relief of Suffering, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1995; 27k/9pp.)
Three short essays on practice composed during Ajaan Lee's hospital stay about a year before his death. They were intended as food for thought for hospital patients to ponder while undergoing treatment, but are equally inspiring to those of us who are temporarily healthy.
- Inner Strength, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 169k/56pp.)
These sixteen short pieces were reconstructed from notes taken by a lay disciple who attended Ajaan Lee's talks. Most deal with some particular aspect of breath meditation, some deal with the underlying values of practice, and all offer valuable advice to the student of meditation.
- Keeping the Breath in Mind and Lessons in Samadhi, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2000; 120k/40pp.)
A complete handbook for breath meditators, full of detailed practical instructions for the development of concentration and insight.
- Knowledge, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 41k/13pp.)
This was transcribed from one of Ajaan Lee's few tape recorded talks, delivered six months before he passed away, and covers the eight classical forms of knowledge and skill (vijja) that come from the practice of concentration. This is vintage Ajaan Lee, with some wonderfully colorful images to illustrate his points. For example: If you can't grasp the Dhamma, it's because your ears -- and your heart -- are full of earwax. Clean 'em out!
- The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 109k/36pp.)
This essay offers a detailed analysis of the Eightfold Path, with practical applications to breath meditation. (Originally published with Basic Themes.)
- A Refuge in Awakening, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 27k/9pp.)
This is Ajaan Lee's last recorded sermon, dictated shortly before his death in April, 1961. Here Ajaan Lee teaches the importance of making the Dhamma -- and oneself -- one's refuge by practicing mindfulness of the four frames of reference.
- Shelter, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2000; 25k/7pp.)
In this short (and occasionally hilarious) talk, Ajaan Lee offers some encouraging advice on how to turn the mind into a dwelling that's truly worth living in. Reconstructed from notes of a talk given on September 28 1958.
- The Skill of Release: Teachings of Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo compiled and translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1995; 184k/61pp.)
A fascinating and wide-ranging collection of short talks and fragments of talks given by Ajaan Lee to his disciples. Many of these talks have never before appeared in English translation. These passages span the full territory of meditation practice -- from basic moral conduct to final release -- and tend to orbit around the two general themes which recur through all of Ajaan Lee's teaching: that Buddhist life is a skill to be cultivated, and that breath meditation is a superb tool for cultivating that skill. Although the passages are arranged thematically in this book, some readers may prefer simply to open to a page at random and savor whatever gem is discovered. Highly recommended for students of all levels of experience.
- Starting Out Small: A Collection of Talks for Beginning Meditators, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2000; 156k/52pp.)
This collection of fourteen short talks provides an excellent introduction to Ajaan Lee's approach to breath meditation. Although the talks make for great reading, they make for even better listening. If you meditate with a group of friends, try arranging for one member of the group to read a passage while the others are meditating. In that way you can best recreate the context for which the talks were originally intended.
- Visakha Puja, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 23k/7pp.)
A talk given at Wat Asokaram in 1956 on Viskha Puja, the observance day that commemorates the birth, Awakening, and final passing away of the Buddha.
- What is the Triple Gem?, by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 109k/36pp.)
Here Ajaan Lee discusses the nature of the Triple Gem and explores in detail how going for refuge serves to develop the factors in the heart that are necessary for Awakening. (Originally published with Basic Themes.)
Ajaan Khamdee was born into a farming family in Khon Kaen province in northeastern Thailand. At the age of 22 he ordained at the local temple in line with Thai custom, but was dissatisfied with the type of practice customary at village temples. As a result, in 1928 he reordained in the Dhammayut sect, and in the following year became a student of Ajaan Singh Khantiyagamo, a senior disciple of Ajaan Mun. Taking up the life of a wandering monk, he sought out quiet places in various parts of northeastern Thailand until coming to Tham Phaa Puu (Grandfather Cliff Cave) in Loei province, near the Laotian border, in 1955. Finding it an ideal place to practice, he stayed there for most of the remainder of his life, moving down to the foot of the hill below the cave when he became too old to negotiate the climb.
Well-known as a teacher of strong character and gentle temperament, he attracted a large following of students, both lay and ordained. By the time of his death, a sizable monastery had grown up around him at the foot of Grandfather Cliff.
- Making the Dhamma Your Own, by Ajaan Khamdee Pabhaso, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 36k/12pp.)
A collection of short passages excerpted from talks printed in a book distributed at Ajaan Khamdee's funeral in 1985.
Looang Boo Sim Buddhacaro was born on the 26th November 1909 in Sakhon Nakhon Province, North-East Thailand. His parents were farmers and dedicated supporters of the local monastery. At the age of 17 Looang Boo Sim took novice ordination and shortly afterwards became a disciple of the great Ajaan Mun. Looang Boo Sim stayed with Ajaan Mun and various of his senior disciples for many years, taking full ordination at the age of 20 at Wat Sri Candaravasa, Khon Kaen.
In later years he was the Abbot of a number of monasteries in various parts of Thailand and was given the ecclesiastical title of Phra Khroo Santivaranana in 1959. In 1967 he established a monastery in the remote mountains of Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai province that remained his residence until his death in 1992. [Adapted from Simply So.]
Simply So, by Ajaan Sim Buddhacaro, translated from the Thai by Jayasaro Bhikkhu (1995; 43k/14pp.)
Two short talks on the practice of meditation: The first describes the use of the meditation-word "Buddho" to develop mental tranquillity; the second reminds us of the urgency of meditation practice and offers advice on how to resist the mind's many tempting tricks that might lure us away from practice.
Venerable Ajaan Maha Boowa was born in Udorn-thani, North-east Thailand in 1913. He became a monk in the customary way at a local monastery and went on to study the Pali language and texts. At this time he also started to meditate but had not yet found a suitable Teacher. Then he caught sight of the Ven. Ajaan Mun and immediately felt that this was someone really special, someone who obviously had achieved something from his Dhamma practice.
After finishing his Grade Three Pali studies he therefore left the study monastery and followed Ven. Ajaan Mun into the forests of N.E. Thailand. When he caught up with Ven. Ajaan Mun, he was told to put his academic knowledge to one side and concentrate on meditation. And that was what he did. He often went into solitary retreat in the mountains and jungle but always returned for help and advice from Ven. Ajaan Mun. He stayed with Ven. Ajaan Mun for seven years, right until the Ven. Ajaan's passing away.
The vigor and uncompromising determination of his Dhamma practice attracted other monks dedicated to meditation and this eventually resulted in the founding of Wat Pa Bahn Tahd, in some forest near the village where he was born. This enabled his mother to come and live as a nun at the monastery.
Ven. Ajaan Maha Boowa is well known for the fluency and skill of his Dhamma talks, and their direct and dynamic approach. They obviously reflect his own attitude and the way he personally practiced Dhamma. This is best exemplified in the Dhamma talks he gives to those who go to meditate at Wat Pa Bahn Tahd. Such talks usually take place in the cool of the evening, with lamps lit and the only sound being the insects and cicadas in the surrounding jungle. He often begins the Dhamma talk with a few moments of stillness -- this is the most preparation he needs -- and then quietly begins the Dhamma exposition. As the theme naturally develops, the pace quickens and those listening increasingly feel its strength and depth.
The formal Dhamma talk might last from thirty-five to sixty minutes. Then, after a more general talk, the listeners would all go back to their solitary huts in the jungle to continue the practice, to try to find the Dhamma they had been listening about -- inside themselves. [From the Introduction to To the Last Breath.]
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
The Dhamma Teaching of Acariya Maha Boowa in London translated from the Thai by Bhikkhu Paññavaddho (1980; 324k/108pp.)
A wide-ranging collection of formal Dhamma talks and informal question-and-answer sessions, directed to a group of lay followers in London. Here you will find this memorable exchange, among many others: A questioner asked, "I would like to ask if people can practice meditation in a city like this [London]?" Maha Boowa replied, "Only the dead cannot practice meditation."
Straight from the Heart: 13 Talks on the Practice of Meditation, by Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1996; 466k/155pp.)
This collection of talks was originally given for the benefit of a lay disciple who had come to Ajaan Maha Boowa's monastery to receive guidance as she faced her approaching death from bone marrow cancer. These talks offer important lessons about how to learn from pain, illness, and death, by seeing through to their ultimate nature.
Things as They Are: A Collection of Talks on the Training of the Mind, by Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1996; 391k/130pp.)
These extemporaneous talks were delivered to the monks living at Ajaan Maha Boowa's monastery. There is much valuable Dhamma teaching here for all meditators, monastic and lay alike. In these talks Ajaan Maha Boowa often recounts conversations with his teacher, Ajaan Mun, that reveal the power and depth of Ajaan Mun's teachings and of the teachings of the forest tradition in general.
To the Last Breath: Dhamma Talks on Living and Dying, by Maha Boowa Ñanasampanno & Upasika Kee Nanayon, edited by Bhikkhu Ariyesako (1992; 421k/140pp.)
This book is really two books in one. The first part contains a collection of talks by Ajaan Maha Boowa (many of which were previously published in the book Amata Dhamma). Most of these talks were given for the benefit of an ill lay disciple of Ajaan Maha Boowa, Mrs. Pow-panga Vathanakul, and thus touch on many aspects of Dhamma practice concerning life, illness, and death. The second part of the book is a collection of Dhamma talks by Upasika Kee Nanayon, an extraordinary woman who was renowned for the depth of her meditation practice and her unwavering commitment to the Dhamma. These talks have been published previously as Directions for Insight and Directing to Self-penetration; the last four of them have recently been retranslated and published in the anthology, An Unentangled Knowing. The present book stands as a powerful reminder of the universality of the Dhamma, a reminder that the door to liberation awaits all those who would put forth the effort, without regard to race, age, or gender.
Ajaan Fuang was one of Ajaan Lee's most devoted students, spending some 24 rains retreats in the company of his renowned teacher. After Ajaan Lee's death, Ajaan Fuang continued on at Wat Asokaram, Ajaan Lee's bustling monastery near Bangkok. A true forest monk at heart, Ajaan Fuang left Wat Asokaram in 1965 in search of greater solitude more conducive to meditation, and ultimately ended up at Wat Dhammasathit in Rayong province, where he lived as abbot until his death in 1986.
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
- Awareness Itself, by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, compiled and translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 148k/50pp.)
This book contains a delightful and inspiring collection of anecdotal stories retold by an American monk who lived under Ajaan Fuang's tutelage for the last decade of Ajaan Fuang's life. These anecdotes reveal a teaching style that adapted readily to the particular needs of the listener at the moment. Collectively they bear the unmistakable mark of a masterful teacher with a profound grasp of Dhamma, offering valuable lessons for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike.
- A Single Mind, by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 13k/4pp.)
Encouragement and ammunition for those who would rather live a single, celibate life.
- Timeless and True, by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 15k/5pp.)
Encouragement and advice for people getting started in concentration practice.
Ajaan Chah was born in 1918 in a village in the northeastern part of Thailand. He became a novice at a young age and received higher ordination at the age of twenty. He followed the austere Forest Tradition for years, living in forests and begging for almsfood as he wandered about on mendicant pilgrimage.
He practiced meditation under a number of masters, among whom was Ajaan Mun, a highly respected and accomplished meditation teacher of the time. Ajaan Mun had an indelible influence on Ajaan Chah, giving his meditation the direction and clarity that it lacked. Ajaan Chah later became an accomplished meditation teacher in his own right, sharing his realization of the Dhamma with those who sought it. The essence of the teaching was rather simple: be mindful, don't hang on to anything, let go and surrender to the way things are.
Ajaan Chah's simple yet profound teaching style had a special appeal to Westerners, and in 1975 he established Wat Pah Nanachat, a special training monastery for the growing number of Westerners who sought to practice with him. In 1979 the first of several branch monasteries in Europe was established in Sussex, England by his senior Western disciples (among them Ajaan Sumedho, who is presently senior incumbent at the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, England). Today there are ten branch monasteries in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Ajaan Chah passed away in January, 1992 following a long illness.
[These biographical notes were adapted from A Tree in a Forest (Chungli, Taiwan: Dhamma Garden, 1994) and Bodhinyana (Ampher Warin, Thailand: Bung Wai Forest Monastery, 1982).]
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
Bodhinyana: A Collection of Dhamma Talks, by Ajaan Chah, translated from the Thai by the Sangha of Bung Wai Forest Monastery (1982; 203k/68pp.)
Nine talks -- some delivered to lay followers, some to monks -- on the practice of meditation.
Food for the Heart, by Ajaan Chah, translated from the Thai by the Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat (1992; 287k/95pp.)
These ten talks were given to bhikkhus at Ajaan Chah's monastery in Thailand and contain a wealth of insight and humor into all aspects of Dhamma practice. Much of this material, however, is probably more accessible to long-term students, rather than to newcomers to meditation.
Living Dhamma, by Ajaan Chah, translated from the Thai by the Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat (1992; 225k/75pp.)
Nine talks by Ajaan Chah. Highlights: "Our Real Home" (also published separately as a BPS "Bodhi Leaf" booklet) and "Tuccho Pothila (Venerable Empty-Scripture)," a humorous and penetrating reminder that the real practice of Dhamma lies within.
- Our Real Home, by Ajaan Chah, translated from the Thai by the Sangha of Wat Pah Nanachat (1987; 30k/10pp.)
A stirring talk given to a lay disciple approaching her death. (From the Buddhist Publication Society's "Bodhi Leaf" series of booklets.)
- A Taste of Freedom, by Ajaan Chah, translated from the Thai by the Sangha of Bung Wai Forest Monastery (1991; 149k/49pp.)
A collection of ten talks delivered by Ajaan Chah in Thailand and England. These talks, given in Ajaan Chah's uniquely humorous and incisive conversational tone, span a range of Dhamma topics, from the cultivation of a balanced mind in meditation practice, to the overcoming of habitual ways of perceiving the world that obstruct the arising of liberating insight.
Ajaan Suwat ordained in 1939 at the age of 20 as a student of Ajaan Funn Acaro. He also studied briefly with Ajaan Mun. Following Ajaan Funn's death in 1977, Ajaan Suwat stayed on at the monastery to supervise his teacher's royal funeral and the construction of a monument and museum in Ajaan Funn's honor. In the 1980's Ajaan Suwat came to the United States, where he established four monasteries: one near Seattle, Washington, two near Los Angeles, and one in the hills of San Diego County (Metta Forest Monastery). He returned to Thailand in 1996.
- A Fistful of Sand, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 120k/40pp.)
These Dhamma talks and question-and-answer sessions were recorded during a two-week meditation retreat he taught at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts in 1990. This event marked a rare opportunity for an elder Thai ajaan to speak directly to Westerners in their home environment. With a disarming ease and clarity, Ajaan Suwat here illuminates a number of vital points of Dhamma that will help the reader develop the proper attitude towards the practice of meditation.
- Right Attitude, by Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (2001; 18k/6pp.)
In this short Dhamma talk, recorded in Thailand in 1991, Ajaan Suwat gives a concise summary of many essential points of meditation practice. This talk is remarkable in that it can serve equally well as a newcomer's introduction to meditation practice and as a refresher for experienced meditators. At every stage in meditation practice, success depends on cultivating the correct attitude of mind.
Upasika Kee Nanayon, who wrote under the penname, K. Khao-suan-luang, was one of the foremost woman teachers of Dhamma in modern Thailand. Born in 1901, she started a practice center for women in 1945 on a hill in the province of Rajburi, to the west of Bangkok, where she lived until her death in 1979. Known for the simplicity of her way of life, and for the direct, uncompromising style of her teaching, she had a way with words evident not only in her talks, which attracted listeners from all over Thailand, but also in her poetry, which was widely published.
The selections listed below are available in printed form in the anthology An Unentangled Knowing: Teachings of a Thai Buddhist Lay Woman, which is available from Dhamma Dana Publications.
Download the complete set of texts listed below.
- Breath Meditation Condensed, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 25k/8pp.)
In this short talk, Upasika Kee outlines in clear and simple terms the path of breath meditation, and describes how to put the classical teaching of breath meditation (Anapanasati Sutta) into immediate practice.
Going Against the Flow, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 110k/36pp.)
These are revised translations from the original Thai of four talks delivered by Kee Nanayon in 1970. Earlier translations of these talks have been published many times previously, under the titles Directing to Self-penetration and Directions for Insight. (See To the Last Breath/Directions for Insight.)
- A Good Dose of Dhamma for Meditators When They Are Ill, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 41k/13pp.)
For best results, read this before falling ill.
- Looking Inward: Observations on the Art of Meditation, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 80k/26pp.)
This collection of thirteen short talks covers many aspects of meditation and Dhamma, and includes a concise introduction to meditation practice to whet the appetite of beginners.
- Reading the Mind, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 52k/17pp.)
Nine short excerpts from talks, concerning the development of skilfullness in reading and training one's own mind.
- Stop, Look, and Let Go, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1999; 21k/7pp.)
A talk covering a variety of topics, all concerning the need for being observant in watching over the mind. Memorable quote: "People who are intelligent and discerning prefer criticism to praise. Stupid people prefer praise to criticism."
- An Unentangled Knowing: The Teachings of a Thai Buddhist Lay Woman, by Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Dhamma Dana Publications, 1995; 120pp.)
This volume contains the most extensive collection of Kee Nanayon's teachings currently available in English. It includes an introductory essay that indicates her place within the history of Theravadin Buddhist practice. The contents of this book -- except the Prologue and Glossary -- are available online as separate booklets:
Copies of this book are available free of charge from Dhamma Dana Publications.
- Upasika Kee Nanayon and the Social Dynamic of Theravadin Buddhist Practice, by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1998; 25k/8pp.)
In this essay, Thanissaro Bhikkhu examines the social milieu in which Upasika Kee lived and practiced her life of Dhamma. As he points out, the true practice of Buddhism has always gone against the stream of popular culture; a woman following the Buddha's path faces a particularly strong counter-current. It is little wonder, then, that Upasika Kee is rarely mentioned in Thai histories of Buddhism, for her path, like that of many other great masters before her who practiced, taught, and died in the forest, is one that leads to a goal that cannot be measured or praised in conventional social terms. (This essay was originally published as the Introduction to An Unentangled Knowing: Teachings of a Thai Buddhist Lay Woman, published by Dhamma Dana Publications.)
Chao Khun Nararatana, prior to his ordination, was a member of King Rama VI's personal staff, and was so trusted by the king that he was given the rank of Chao Phraya -- the highest Thai rank of conferred nobility -- when he was only 25. After the king's death in 1926, he ordained at Wat Thepsirin in Bangkok, and remained a monk until passing away from cancer in 1971. From the year 1936 until his death, he never left the wat compound. Even though the wat was one of the most lavishly endowed temples in Bangkok, Chao Khun Nararatana lived a life of exemplary austerity and was well known for his meditative powers. He left no personal students, however, and very few writings.
- An Iridescence on the Water, by Chao Khun Nararatana Rajamanit (Tryk Dhammavitakko),
translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (1997; 14k/4pp.)
A synopsis of some very basic teachings given to lay visitors at Chao Khun Nararatana Rajamanit's monastery in Thailand. These teachings are especially suitable for young people.
1. The long names and titles of Buddhist monks sometimes bewilder Westerners who are new to these teachings. Once the basic principles and customs are understood, however, the names of Thai monks are easily grasped.
For more on the use of personal titles in Thailand, see "Part I: Personal Titles" in The Autobiography of Phra Ajaan Lee.
- Phra: "Venerable." An honorific that refers to a monk of any rank or seniority. (In informal situations Than ("reverend" or "venerable") is used.)
- Ajaan, Ajarn, Ajahn, etc.: "Teacher" or "mentor." A title that may be applied to monks and laypeople alike.
- Chao Khun: One of several ecclesiastical titles conferred upon certain senior monks by the King.
- Maha: A prefix given to a monk who has passed the third level of the standard Pali exams.
- Looang Boo or Luang Phaw: "Venerable father." A term of respectful affection applied to a senior monk.
- Upasika: A female lay-follower of the Buddha. Upasaka is the corresponding term for a male.
2. Kammatthana: Literally, "basis of work" or "place of work". The word refers to the "occupation" of a meditating monk: namely, the contemplation of certain meditation themes by which the forces of defilement (kilesa), craving (tanha), and ignorance (avijja) may be uprooted from the mind. Although every meditator engages in kammatthana, the term is most often used specifically to identify the forest tradition lineage founded by Phra Ajaan Mun and Phra Ajaan Sao. See the Glossary for more about the general meaning of the word.
Revised: Tue 27 February 2001