The Forest University Chapter in Patipada, The book is a translation of the Dhutanga Kammaṭṭhāna practices of Venerable Ajaan Mun Bhūridatta Thera, and it was written by Venerable Ajaan Mahā Boowa Ñāṇasampanno Thera as a companion volume to the biography of Venerable Ācariya Mun.
It like many others can be found at Forest Dhamma Books, along with a number of addition resources. This is not the entire chapter, but I hope that if interest arises in reading this you read the entire chapter, if not all of Patipada
Places such as forests, hills, caves, overhanging cliffs, charnel grounds, jungle and remote hill forests where the natural environment remains undisturbed far away from any villages, are the places which bring mindfulness, wisdom, knowledge and skill to the Bhikkhu whose interest is in Dhamma, with the aim of attaining freedom for himself…
Such a Bhikkhu does not like the distraction and turmoil associated with anything which is an obstacle, an enemy, hindering his progress towards freedom from Dukkha. In Buddhism, such places have always been favoured, right from the beginning when the Lord Buddha was the courageous leader undaunted in the face of death who practised for his own development in such places, before he became fully enlightened in the highest Dhamma, and then went out to teach those who were fit to receive the teaching. All the Sāvakas who heard the Dhamma teaching and learnt from the Lord about those places which were suitable for them, variously went off and practised the way. They followed in the footsteps of the Buddha until mindfulness, wisdom and skilfulness arose which were equal to the internal tricks (of the kilesas) which had deceived them and led them down to hell in past lives both short and long through countless ages. Then they shook off and entirely got rid of all that was filthy and loathsome in their hearts, and this they did in this forest, or on that hill, or in a cave over there, or under an overhanging cliff in that district, in a charnel ground, a deserted house, or under the shade of a tree while living in a remote district in this forest or that hill. These are the places where Dhamma was planted and cultivated in the hearts of those who practised the way, giving them an unshakeable root principle within them, and this has continued right up to the present day. If one compares this with modern institutions, it is analogous to those large and well known Universities where students may work for their Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor’s degrees, or whatever other scholarly distinctions there are, so that those students who are interested in learning all that they need to know to finish the course may return home and be of value in developing their own country and people. All of the above places were considered important at the time of the Lord Buddha and since then throughout the ages right up to the present for the “students” practising Dhamma at various levels of development. In these places they did everything to the utmost of their mindfulness and strength in the various stages of skill which they should aim for and attain in such a “forest university”. In other words they attained their “degrees” at their various levels of development until they reached the topmost level. The levels of Dhamma which they learnt and practised in those places, which we have likened to a university, are those of the Path and Fruition of Sotāpanna, the Path and Fruition of Sakadāgāmī, the Path and Fruition of Anāgāmī and the Path and Fruition of Arahant with, at the same moment, the attainment of the one Nibbāna. At this final stage the student becomes a great Master because whoever reaches this final level is a perfect “field of merit”, both to himself and for others, and there is no grade of learning which is higher than this throughout the threefold Universe. So, as to accord with the world, which has always been a pair with Dhamma, the forest hills, jungle and other such places may be called the University of the Great Master, the Lord Buddha, the founder of the religion. The Lord prescribed such places right from the beginning when he first formulated our religion by his teaching, which he bestowed on the Bhikkhus and others from that time on with such brief injunctions as “Rukkhamūla–senāsana” (dwelling at the foot of a tree). Afterwards he gradually increased the number of Dhutangas up to thirteen which also includes the Rukkhamūla–senāsana Dhutanga. These “universities”, are where the Bhikkhus at the time of the Lord Buddha liked to stay, to learn and practise the way truly and to their utmost with complete dedication until they attained the first, second and third grades and finally the fourth which was their Master’s degree. Then they brought the pure and true Dhamma to their associates and taught it in place of the Lord, the Great Teacher, so as to lighten his burden to some extent. So Buddhism developed and prospered and spread out to countless numbers of people because it relied upon the “university” of forests and hills and other such places which were so favourable. For they proved to be of the greatest value both to the Great Teacher and to all his “Sāvaka” followers who reached the final stage of learning. They became “Masters” to whom the world bowed in homage as their ideal, both in behaviour and in what concerns the heart. This has continued through the ages right down to us who are here now and who uphold them as the guiding line of our lives and hearts and practise the way following their example, enough to know the significance of being a person at a level of what is generally accepted as that of a “genuine human being”. When we think of the Dhutanga observances and make comparisons with the places where universities should be established, what course of study should be provided and what syllabus should these universities in the world have? A good guide may be found in the thirteen Dhutanga observances and the fourteen Khandha observances as taught in Buddhism. These can give an indication of a suitable location to set up the “university” and the basic principles of such a Buddhist University. Thus, some of the Dhutanga observances give a good indication of the kind of places that would be suitable for their practice, such as the injunctions to “live in the forest”, to “stay under the shade of a tree”, to “live in a charnel ground”, to “visit a charnel ground”, to “accept whatever place to stay is arranged by other people”, to “live out in the open without any shelter”, and to live in any other appropriate and suitable place, such as, a cave, an overhanging cliff, or an empty building where nobody is staying. As for getting some indication of the principles of the curriculum — which is the way of practice — in such a university, the Sangha is able to give some