Buddhism, Forest Path, Ajahn Chah, Thailand

Forest Path is a collection of talks, essays, and accounts from the community at Wat Pah Nanachat. You can download this and all other books as PDF files from Forest Sangha Publications.  I have admired the local community that supports the Sangha at Nanachat since I first arrived there some 20 years ago. No opulence, no fancy buildings, just the Dhamma as taught by Ajahn Chah

REFUGE IN THE SANGHA


Two local lay supporters talk about their relationship to the wat. Many people in Thailand have ties to Wat Pah Nanachat. The villagers of Ban Bung Wai, even those who rarely go to the wat except for funerals, see the monastery as‘theirs’. They feel a sense of pride about it, and a sense of responsibility. Then there are the people from surrounding villages, the local town of Warin and the city of Ubon who regularly come to make merit, keep the Eight Precepts on Wan Phra days or practice in the monastery for longer periods. Lay supporters from Bangkok and other provinces may also come up to stay in the wat during their holidays. This section consists of the words of Mae Samlee, a village woman living in a house in the fields outside the monastery, and Por Khroo, a primary school teacher from Ubon. Mae Samlee ‘The pain’s not been so bad really. My husband ordained as a monk for fifteen days to make merit for me [she smiles at him warmly], and I’ve been feeling better ever since. It’s just the past three or four days that have been a bit more difficult.’
Mae Samlee is 55. She has cancer of the spleen which is metastizing. She has spent many months in hospital over the past year and had two operations. Now she is back at home in her house among the rice fields between the monastery and the main road. ‘I’ve been going to monasteries for as long as I can remember. When I was a young girl my mother would always take me with her when she went to make merit. After I got married I used to go to Wat Pah Pong on Observance Days. I loved it so much: making food for the monks, listening to Dhamma talks, meditating. Then we moved to Kanchanaburi and stayed there for six years. It was a rough place. My husband became the village headman and everywhere he went he had to carry a rifle and a pistol, he said one weapon wasn’t enough. Then he read a talk by Luang Por Chah and we decided to come back to Ubon. My brother-in-law lives in Bung Wai. He wantedus to come here and said he’d look around for some land for us. I said, “I don’t care how expensive it is, please find us land close to the monastery, so that I will be able to go every day, even when I’m old.” Everything worked out: we got this plot of land right in front of the wat, we built a house on it and now [she smiles widely] it looks like I’m not going to have an old age after all. I must admit that sometimes I wish I had accumulated more merit in my life. ‘I meditate whenever I can, when ever the pain is not so bad. I chant in the morning and evenings. Actually, these days I often do the evening service at three o’clock in the afternoon! The pain usually comes on in the evening, you see, and I’m afraid it will stop me from chanting. But today, I’ve been so excited all day waiting for Ajahn Jayasāro to come to visit that I’ve felt fine all day. ‘I felt homesick when I was in the hospital in Bangkok having my operation. It all took such a long time. On the days when I could sit up, I did the morning and evening chanting normally. When I couldn’t sit up, I chanted as best I could lying down. Then that first time Ajahn Jayasāro walked into the ward I felt so happy! It was such a wonderful surprise. And he brought me a little picture of Luang Por Chah, too, to put on the table by my bed. After he’d gone the other patients were really curious. “Who is that Western monk? Where does he come from? How do you know him?” I felt much better after he came. Things didn’t seem so bad. I remembered the things he taught me and they were a refuge to me. I always kept in my mind the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. ‘Next Wan Phra, if I’m feeling any better, I hope I will be able to go to the wat. I don’t want to miss the morning talk. It’s another few days yet. I hope I’ll feel a bit better by then.’

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