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Kammathana: Thai Forest Tradition

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  • Ong Yong Peng
    Dear friends, I agree with Rett, who said in a recent post (see msg 9645) that What makes Theravada Buddhism remarkable is its no-nonsense detailed analysis
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 25, 2005
      Dear friends,

      I agree with Rett, who said in a recent post (see msg 9645) that "What
      makes Theravada Buddhism remarkable is its no-nonsense detailed
      analysis of religious emotions, insights and techniques. Elements that
      are present in murky, mythological ways in other religions are placed in
      crystal-clear, sober, systematic order within the Theravada system."

      I do not know about others, but to me, it is not only the Theravada
      system but what the entire Buddha's teachings is all about. To me,
      there is no mystery, but understanding and the lack of it.

      Over the past months, we have seen arguments by members over methods of
      practice. In a response to Piya's latest post on Ajahn Maha Boowa (see
      msg 9638), I decided to do a little write-up on the Thai Forest
      Tradition, and so here it is...


      Kammathana: Thai Forest Tradition
      Uncovering its thin veil of mystery

      This short article aims to provide an overview of the contemporary Thai
      Forest Tradition. Although it has a well thought-out subtitle (laugh),
      I have to confess that there is little resources on my hand, and I am
      not an expert in the field of contemporary Southeast Asian Buddhist
      history either. I had only spent a few hours on Christmas Day browsing
      through the Web, and taking down points that I find relevant for this
      short introduction. I hope this comes as a nice little present for this
      festive season. Happy belated Winter Solstice!

      The forest ascetic tradition can trace its roots back to the Buddha
      2500 years ago. However, the contemporary Thai Forest movement is a
      recent establishment by Bhikkhu Mun Bhuridatto (1870-1949) and his
      teacher Bhikkhu Sao Kantasilo (1861-1941). It originated in northern
      Thailand, in the forests of the Mekong River Basin.

      Bhikkhu Bhuridatto was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1893. After his
      ordination, he spent the remainder of his life as a wandering monk in
      Thailand, Burma and Laos, dwelling for the most part in the forest,
      engaged in the practice of meditaion. He attracted an enormous
      following of students and, together with Bhikkhu Kantasilo, his
      teacher, established the forest meditation tradition that subsequently
      spread throughout Thailand and to several countries abroad. Today, the
      Kammatthana tradition is well established in Southeast Asia and several
      Western nations, including Thailand, the United States, the United
      Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

      I shall next give an account of some of Bhikkhu Bhuridatto's students,
      and living practitioners of the thai forest tradition, particularly
      those in the English-speaking world. Each shall be presented with a
      little lineage barline that is so common across all Buddhist traditions.

      ----------------------------------------------

      Lee > Fuang > Geoff

      1. Bhikkhu Lee Dhammadharo (1906-1961): One of the foremost teachers in
      the kammathana tradition, and the first to bring the forest tradition
      into the mainstream of Thai society in central Thailand.

      2. Bhikkhu Fuang Jotiko (1915-1986): The most devoted student of
      Bhikkhu Dhammadharo, and an outstanding forest monk.

      3. Bhikkhu Geoff Thanissaro (1949- ): Born in America, and studied in
      the forest tradition for twenty years in Thailand under Bhikkhu Jotiko.
      Bhikkhu Thanissaro is popular for his sutta translations, which are
      available on the ATI website. He has also translated into English many
      books by masters of the Thai forest kammathana tradition. He is
      currently the abbot of Wat Mettavanaram (Metta Forest Monastery) near
      San Diego, USA.

      ----------------------------------------------

      Chah > Liem/Sumedho/Pasanno/Amaro/Brahmavamso/(Kornfield)

      1. Bhikkhu Chah Subhaddo (1918-1992): The most widely known adherent of
      the Thai forest ascetic tradition, he is affectionately known as Ajahn
      Chah, and was conferred the title of Chao Khun Bodhinyana by the King
      of Thailand. Ajahn Chah's books has been translated into many Asian and
      European languages. He teaching style had a special appeal to
      Westerners, so much so that he set up Wat Pah Nanachat in 1975 to cater
      specially to Westerners.

      2. Bhikkhu Liem Thitadhammo (?- ): A prominent student of Ajahn Chah
      and the current abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong, the head monastery
      established by Ajahn Chah.

      3. Bhikkhu (Robert) Sumedho (1934- ): A widely venerated monk, and one
      of the most senior Western disciples of Ajahn Chah, and probably the
      longest ordained Western monk today. Bhikkhu Sumedho was born in
      America, and is currently the abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in
      Hertfordshire, England.

      4. Bhikkhu (Reed) Pasanno (1949- ): Bhikkhu Pasanno was born in Canada,
      and is currently the co-abbot of the Abhayagiri Monastery in
      California, USA.

      5. Bhikkhu (Peter) Brahmavamso (1951- ): Better known as Ajahn Brahm to
      followers in Southeast Asia, Bhikkhu Brahmavamso was born in England,
      and is currently the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery (which was named
      after his teacher, Ajahn Chah) in Perth, Australia.

      6. Bhikkhu (Jeremy) Amaro (1956- ): Bhikkhu Amaro was born in America,
      and is currently the co-abbot of the Abhayagiri Monastery in
      California, USA.

      7. Jack Kornfield, Ph.D.: Lay Buddhist, cofounder of Insight Meditation
      Society in Massachusetts, USA, and founding teacher of the Spirit Rock
      Meditation Center in California, USA. Author of several books on
      meditation and the forest tradition.

      ----------------------------------------------

      Boowa

      1. Bhikkhu Boowa Nanasampanno (1914- ): Probably the only living
      student of Bhikkhu Mun Bhuridatto, the founder of the kammathana
      ascetic tradition. Bhikkhu Nanasampanno is well known for the fluency
      and skill of his Dhamma talks, and their direct and dynamic approach.
      He is currently the abbot of Wat Pah Bahn Tahd in Udon Thani, Thailand.



      with metta,
      Yong Peng.
    • Harry Liew
      Dear Yong Peng and friends, In 1997, an ajahn at Bodhinyanarama Monastery in Wellington told me that the forest tradition along Ajahn Chah lineage was closer
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 25, 2005
        Dear Yong Peng and friends,

        In 1997, an ajahn at Bodhinyanarama Monastery in Wellington told me that the forest tradition along Ajahn Chah lineage was closer to Chan/Zen than "traditional practices".

        Please may the hornet nest be released for better understanding.

        Thank you.

        Metta,

        Harry

        Ong Yong Peng <yongpeng.ong@...> wrote: Dear friends,

        I agree with Rett, who said in a recent post (see msg 9645) that "What
        makes Theravada Buddhism remarkable is its no-nonsense detailed
        analysis of religious emotions, insights and techniques. Elements that
        are present in murky, mythological ways in other religions are placed in
        crystal-clear, sober, systematic order within the Theravada system."

        I do not know about others, but to me, it is not only the Theravada
        system but what the entire Buddha's teachings is all about. To me,
        there is no mystery, but understanding and the lack of it.

        Over the past months, we have seen arguments by members over methods of
        practice. In a response to Piya's latest post on Ajahn Maha Boowa (see
        msg 9638), I decided to do a little write-up on the Thai Forest
        Tradition, and so here it is...


        Kammathana: Thai Forest Tradition
        Uncovering its thin veil of mystery

        This short article aims to provide an overview of the contemporary Thai
        Forest Tradition. Although it has a well thought-out subtitle (laugh),
        I have to confess that there is little resources on my hand, and I am
        not an expert in the field of contemporary Southeast Asian Buddhist
        history either. I had only spent a few hours on Christmas Day browsing
        through the Web, and taking down points that I find relevant for this
        short introduction. I hope this comes as a nice little present for this
        festive season. Happy belated Winter Solstice!

        The forest ascetic tradition can trace its roots back to the Buddha
        2500 years ago. However, the contemporary Thai Forest movement is a
        recent establishment by Bhikkhu Mun Bhuridatto (1870-1949) and his
        teacher Bhikkhu Sao Kantasilo (1861-1941). It originated in northern
        Thailand, in the forests of the Mekong River Basin.

        Bhikkhu Bhuridatto was ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1893. After his
        ordination, he spent the remainder of his life as a wandering monk in
        Thailand, Burma and Laos, dwelling for the most part in the forest,
        engaged in the practice of meditaion. He attracted an enormous
        following of students and, together with Bhikkhu Kantasilo, his
        teacher, established the forest meditation tradition that subsequently
        spread throughout Thailand and to several countries abroad. Today, the
        Kammatthana tradition is well established in Southeast Asia and several
        Western nations, including Thailand, the United States, the United
        Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

        I shall next give an account of some of Bhikkhu Bhuridatto's students,
        and living practitioners of the thai forest tradition, particularly
        those in the English-speaking world. Each shall be presented with a
        little lineage barline that is so common across all Buddhist traditions.

        ----------------------------------------------

        Lee > Fuang > Geoff

        1. Bhikkhu Lee Dhammadharo (1906-1961): One of the foremost teachers in
        the kammathana tradition, and the first to bring the forest tradition
        into the mainstream of Thai society in central Thailand.

        2. Bhikkhu Fuang Jotiko (1915-1986): The most devoted student of
        Bhikkhu Dhammadharo, and an outstanding forest monk.

        3. Bhikkhu Geoff Thanissaro (1949- ): Born in America, and studied in
        the forest tradition for twenty years in Thailand under Bhikkhu Jotiko.
        Bhikkhu Thanissaro is popular for his sutta translations, which are
        available on the ATI website. He has also translated into English many
        books by masters of the Thai forest kammathana tradition. He is
        currently the abbot of Wat Mettavanaram (Metta Forest Monastery) near
        San Diego, USA.

        ----------------------------------------------

        Chah > Liem/Sumedho/Pasanno/Amaro/Brahmavamso/(Kornfield)

        1. Bhikkhu Chah Subhaddo (1918-1992): The most widely known adherent of
        the Thai forest ascetic tradition, he is affectionately known as Ajahn
        Chah, and was conferred the title of Chao Khun Bodhinyana by the King
        of Thailand. Ajahn Chah's books has been translated into many Asian and
        European languages. He teaching style had a special appeal to
        Westerners, so much so that he set up Wat Pah Nanachat in 1975 to cater
        specially to Westerners.

        2. Bhikkhu Liem Thitadhammo (?- ): A prominent student of Ajahn Chah
        and the current abbot of Wat Nong Pah Pong, the head monastery
        established by Ajahn Chah.

        3. Bhikkhu (Robert) Sumedho (1934- ): A widely venerated monk, and one
        of the most senior Western disciples of Ajahn Chah, and probably the
        longest ordained Western monk today. Bhikkhu Sumedho was born in
        America, and is currently the abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in
        Hertfordshire, England.

        4. Bhikkhu (Reed) Pasanno (1949- ): Bhikkhu Pasanno was born in Canada,
        and is currently the co-abbot of the Abhayagiri Monastery in
        California, USA.

        5. Bhikkhu (Peter) Brahmavamso (1951- ): Better known as Ajahn Brahm to
        followers in Southeast Asia, Bhikkhu Brahmavamso was born in England,
        and is currently the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery (which was named
        after his teacher, Ajahn Chah) in Perth, Australia.

        6. Bhikkhu (Jeremy) Amaro (1956- ): Bhikkhu Amaro was born in America,
        and is currently the co-abbot of the Abhayagiri Monastery in
        California, USA.

        7. Jack Kornfield, Ph.D.: Lay Buddhist, cofounder of Insight Meditation
        Society in Massachusetts, USA, and founding teacher of the Spirit Rock
        Meditation Center in California, USA. Author of several books on
        meditation and the forest tradition.

        ----------------------------------------------

        Boowa

        1. Bhikkhu Boowa Nanasampanno (1914- ): Probably the only living
        student of Bhikkhu Mun Bhuridatto, the founder of the kammathana
        ascetic tradition. Bhikkhu Nanasampanno is well known for the fluency
        and skill of his Dhamma talks, and their direct and dynamic approach.
        He is currently the abbot of Wat Pah Bahn Tahd in Udon Thani, Thailand.



        with metta,
        Yong Peng.





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      • Ole Holten Pind
        Interestingly, the term kamma.t.thaana only occurs in Pali post-canonical writings beginning with the Vimuttimagga. It is
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 26, 2005
          < Kammathana: Thai Forest Tradition >

          Interestingly, the term kamma.t.thaana only occurs in Pali post-canonical
          writings beginning with the Vimuttimagga. It is entirely absent from
          Buddhist Sanskrit literature.

          OP



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