If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

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Subharo
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If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Subharo » Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:17 pm

I found the topic "What tradition do you follow?"http://dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=10641 to be highly interesting, as I'm a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition. That tradition seemed to be way ahead in the poll (other than the general category of Theravada itself).

The responses below the poll were scant on details as to why it was their favourite. I would find it very interesting and enriching to hear why it is people's favourite (for those do do consider it their favourite). What do you perceive to be the "special sauce" (as it were) of your favourite Thai Forest traditions? Positive anecdotes would also be appreciated. :D

I should also add the disclaimer that I'm not formally representing the the Thai Forest Sangha by asking this question, but I'm asking in an informal sort of way. I'm not looking to either attack of defend any tradition, but rather I would like to look upon people's responses with equanimity, and perhaps it will also be a source of inspiration. In that sense, I will let people's comments speak for themselves. Perhaps some constructive, mature, carefully phrased, grounded criticism will also come to light, and no particular egos will get wounded. :)

I hope that the results of this Topic will be one that has a "net positive" result, and that people do not fall into squabbling and "stabbing each other with verbal daggers". :smile:

:thanks: :anjali:
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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samseva
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by samseva » Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:29 pm

I find the Thai Forest Tradition to be closer to the teachings of the Buddha (although with some exceptions). The way the Buddha and monks lived at that time is emphasized, as well as meditation. The Vinaya is also followed adequately, which I consider something important.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by cooran » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:05 am

I also find that the bhikkhus of the Thai Forest Tradition here in Brisbane also follow the way the Buddha and monks used to live as closely as possible. Especially at Dhammagiri Forest Hermitage. :hello:
http://www.dhammagiri.org.au" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by A fool from HK » Mon Sep 14, 2015 1:50 am

They observe the rules strictly and pay a lot of effort in meditation. They tend to realizing the truth by direct experience instead of aligning themselves to what is written on the text. (Especially for abhidhamma and commentaries. I remeber Ajahn Chah even criticised the Visudhimagga.)
But the disadvantage is that some of the forest monk seems under-estimate the importance of understanding the content of the sutta. I know a senior monk that has difficulties in elaborating what is right view.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by SarathW » Mon Sep 14, 2015 2:42 am

There are some Arathants who does not know Buddhism in details.
There is a Dhammapada story which I cant locate right now.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

jrl
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by jrl » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:40 am

After reading some teachings of ajahn chah, Buddhism seemed to make more sense

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Aloka
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Aloka » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:31 am

When I first read the teachings of Ajahn Chah I was completely "hooked" by their simple and direct message.

in the last few years, going to hear Ajahn Sumedho & Ajahn Amaro give talks at Amaravati Monastery UK (and speaking to them in person) has been a wonderful and very helpful experience. They have also frequently refered to the suttas for reference and this has enabled me to do further study later.

:anjali:

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by A fool from HK » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:08 am

Aloka wrote:When I first read the teachings of Ajahn Chah I was completely "hooked" by their simple and direct message.

in the last few years, going to hear Ajahn Sumedho & Ajahn Amaro give talks at Amaravati Monastery UK (and speaking to them in person) has been a wonderful and very helpful experience. They have also frequently refered to the suttas for reference and this has enabled me to do further study later.

:anjali:
After listening to Ajahn Chah's story and teaching, I turned my back to Mahayana.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Coyote » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:19 am

I don't consider myself a follower of the Thai forest tradition(s), but I am inspired by their adherence to the monastic code, their focus on meditation, and their forest-dwelling practices.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Alobha
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Alobha » Mon Sep 14, 2015 6:29 pm

Coyote wrote:I am inspired by their adherence to the monastic code, their focus on meditation, and their forest-dwelling practices.
Those are the reasons why I'm more into the Thai Forest Tradition than into other schools or branches or general: they live as closely to the Buddha's teachings as they can. Personally, I also feel that Ajahn Chah set a great example and revived a standard of practice that easily gets lost when people lack the inspiration to practice (both the sangha and laity). Not only that, but the way I see it, he had the exceptional skill to teach in a way that many of his disciples turned out to be great monks and inspirations to others themselves (LP Khemadhammo, LP Sumedho, Ajahn Brahm,..). As a consequence, I have great respect for what Ajahn Chah and the Thai Forest Tradition did in general to preserve the Dhamma as a living tradition for future generations.

It also goes back even further than Ajahn Chah - What little I know from the earlier Forestmasters like the Khru Ba Ajahns (Luang Por Dun Atulo, LP Chob Thanasamo, LP Khao Analayo, Luang Por Wän Sucinno, Luang Por La Khemapatto, LP Man, LP Sao, ...) instills me with a deep sense of gratitude and admiration for the whole tradition. There have been so many exceptional people in the Thai Forest Tradition who practiced and walked the way despite the situations they faced (which were less than romantic in the very early days: wild elephans and buffalos, drugsmugglers who killed monks if they suspected he could be a DEA-Agent, cannibals, malaria and no medicine around other than samadhi,... and many of those monks still lived almost all their life in the forest!).
Although the forest tradition seems to lose it's wild forests, many monastics in the tradition still practice with honest intent from what I can tell. And that's what's the most important to me :smile:

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by SarathW » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:39 pm

This idea ,Thai Forest Tradition is the only good tradition is a result of group mentality.
This is no difference than to think that Buddha is the only teacher who taught wholesome behaviour.
I evaluate each teacher on their own merits hence I have many teachers from many traditions.
In summary I would say I follow the Buddha's tradition.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by DNS » Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:15 am

I don't adhere to any specific tradition, but like the emphasis on Suttas -- Suttanta approach which is similar to Thai forest. Some things I especially like about Thai forest tradition:

1. Ajahn Chah (never met him, but like his teachings, bio)
2. Ajahn Brahm (enjoyed the time he came to my place and taught and like his teachings)
3. Ajahn Sujato (haven't met him, but like his teachings)
4. Adherence to Vinaya
5. Emphasis on Suttas
6. Acceptance of bhikkhunis
7. Ordination of bhikkhunis

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Mr Man
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Mr Man » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:02 am

David N. Snyder wrote:I don't adhere to any specific tradition, but like the emphasis on Suttas -- Suttanta approach which is similar to Thai forest. Some things I especially like about Thai forest tradition:

1. Ajahn Chah (never met him, but like his teachings, bio)
2. Ajahn Brahm (enjoyed the time he came to my place and taught and like his teachings)
3. Ajahn Sujato (haven't met him, but like his teachings)
4. Adherence to Vinaya
5. Emphasis on Suttas
6. Acceptance of bhikkhunis
7. Ordination of bhikkhunis
David 2, 3, 5, 6 & 7 are not characteristic of the Thai forest tradition.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by acinteyyo » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:18 am

I came in touch with the Theravada through a local forestmonastery in Germany. The Bhikkhus there all come from the Thai Forest Tradition (one of them nursed and helped Ajahn Chah during his illness before he passed away) and so I learned about the lives of the "Kruba Ajahns". The lives of Ajahn Maha Bua Ñāṇasampanno, Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta and many others. The highly inspirational lives, strict adherence to the practice and the personal stories as well as the talks on Dhamma given by the local sangha have been a great source of faith for me.

best wishes, acinteyyo
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subaru
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by subaru » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:48 am

Dear Venerable Subharo,

I am a Buddhist householder aspiring to hold 8 precepts soon, perhaps more percepts, if I can find the wisdom .

I suspect I have benefited a lot from Ajahn Chah's teaching, I often find less excuses to cultivate my mind ever since I listened to his teachings and read his books. In Ajahn Jayasaro's videos on his teachers biography, I learn that when he was young he struggled with temptations, attachments to worldly possessions, sexual desire, fear and other very real experiences that I often struggle with. These stories are inspiring to me because now I know a wise & accomplished monk was once just like me.

I have also benefited from several Sayadaws and Bhantes from Mahasi lineage. The structured and often holistic way they teach the Suttas and the Abhidhamma left me with the impression that if there are mental phenomena or doubts that I encountered during mental cultivation, I can always rely on the learned Sayadaws to guide me to the right path and they would instill faith in me by appropriately referencing to the sacred text.

I also had the privilege to meet and learn from monks from Sri Langkan tradition when I started investigating Buddhism many years back. The weekly sermons I attended on how Buddhism can be apply to daily life for a householder is invaluable to me.
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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by DNS » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:33 pm

Mr Man wrote: David 2, 3, 5, 6 & 7 are not characteristic of the Thai forest tradition.
Why not? Do you mean that it is not in your opinion because WPP excommunicated Ajahn Brahm for performing bhikkhuni ordinations? As far as I know, Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato still consider themselves part of the Thai forest tradition.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Mr Man » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:42 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Mr Man wrote: David 2, 3, 5, 6 & 7 are not characteristic of the Thai forest tradition.
Why not? Do you mean that it is not in your opinion because WPP excommunicated Ajahn Brahm for performing bhikkhuni ordinations? As far as I know, Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato still consider themselves part of the Thai forest tradition.
Hi David,
Well 5, 6 & 7 are certainly not the norm for the Thai Forest Tradition. I don't know for sure but I doubt that Bhante Sujato would see himself as part of the Thai Forest Tradition, even if that is where his monastic life started. I think it is fair to say that there has also been a break between Ajahn Brahm and that tradition. His style of meditation practice also seems to be routed elsewhere (Samatha Trust).

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:09 pm

I'm often not sure what people mean by "Thai Forest". Some use it for just the Ajahn Chah group, others for the much larger range of Thai Forest Ajahns, which would include Ven Thanissaro's teachers, the groups associated with Ajahn Maha Bua, Ajahn Buddhadasa, and so on. And of course Ajahn Brahm. Not being part of the Ajahn Chah group anymore has nothing to do with "Thai Forest" in the larger sense.

Personally, I've had some good interactions with some Ajahn Chah students, particularly Ajahn Tiradhammo, who lived in New Zealand for several years, but, sadly, could not stay permanently.

The Thai Forest Ajahns seem to teach a huge variety of meditative approaches. Ajahn Tiradhammo taught in a similar way to the Mahasi-style teachers that have been my main source of instruction. Not surprising, since he lists the book "The Heart of Buddhist Meditation" (Nyanaponika Thera) as an early influence. Some others, such as Ajahns Brahm and Maha Bua, teach a Vissudhimagga-strength jhana approach. Variety is good, since I have learned from discussing with various friends that different approaches work well for different people.

What always completely puts me off is any suggestion that there is one "right group", or "right interpretation". Ajahn Tiradhammo certainly never gave that impression, so I rate him highly among my Thai, Canadian, American, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, and New Zealand teachers.

:anjali:
Mike

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by Anagarika » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:29 pm

One aspect of the Thai Forest tradition is its focus on removal from city and town life. Ther's the Sutta that described a monk that was a very strong meditator, and the Buddha passed him on the way out of a town after alms rounds. The Buddha commented that he was disppointed with that monk, though as good a meditator as he was, he was too close to the town. He has not removed himself from the distractions present in the town life, and thus, was not meditating in the way that the Buddha taught. So, while there are great city monks, and very good reasons for monks and nuns to be in the towns and cities, it may be true that the monks that remove themselves to the forest really have the environment for the deep meditations. As others have noted, these forest monks and nuns can be great exemplars of the Buddha's prescription for monastic life.
Last edited by Anagarika on Sat Sep 19, 2015 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If the Thai Forest Tradition is the one you "follow", then why?

Post by mikenz66 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:00 pm

This seems to me to be a false dichotomy since most monks I've had good instruction from, whether they identify as "Forest monks" (Thai or otherwise), or currently live in cities or the outskirts of cities (as the Ajahn Chah monks I've known in New Zealand do) have spent a lot of time in isolated conditions.

The quality, not the label, is the important thing.

:anjali:
Mike

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