Friday, August 16, 2019

Thai king honors Western monks (Tricycle)

Cara Dibdin (; Ellie Askew, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Ajahn Chah feeds a wild forest deer.
Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) recently invited four senior Western monks in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism to receive royal titles in honor of their contribution to Buddhism in Thailand and around the world.

While the event was part of a long-standing tradition, it also marked a new development for Buddhism in the country.

Thai Forest monks historically have disregarded social status and authority systems, preferring to focus on meditation practices in remote forests and caves, as the Buddha and his first disciples once did.

Yet, despite its often-secluded practices, the Thai Forest Tradition [made famous by Ajahn Chah] has had a tremendous impact since its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century.

The school’s dedication to meditation, commitment to renunciation, and de-emphasis of ritual and ceremony held great appeal for Buddhists in the West, where disciples have established hundreds of Thai Forest Tradition monasteries.

In honor of the Western teachers’ contributions to the proliferation of Thai culture, the king invited the monks to receive the royal titles on July 28 as part of his birthday celebration. The invitees were:
  1. Ajahn Sumedho, the retired abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in southeastern England (Ven. Sumedho was unable to attend);
  2. Ajahn Amaro, the current abbot of Amaravati;
  3. Ajahn Jayasaro, an author and teacher who lives in a hermitage near Khao Yai Mountain, about two hours outside Bangkok; and
  4. Ajahn Pasanno, former abbot and guiding elder of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California.
To better understand the significance of this event, Tricycle spoke with Ajahn Pasanno about the title he received, Chao Khun, its history, and what it means for his tradition in Thailand and the West. More

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