Tantric Theravada?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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DarwidHalim
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by DarwidHalim » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:42 am

I actually quite curious about the role of tattoo in some of Thai monks. Some monks actually make a tattoo for the lay practitioner and other monks.

In the documentary movie "Buddha lost children", the monk is actually making a tiger tattoo for a child, to hope that The boy will be brave in the future.

Is it just a Buddhism teaching mixed with local culture or actually there is a specific esoteric teaching in Pali tradition?
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!

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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by Sylvester » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:56 am

It's called the sakyant.

Alleged uses range from invulnerability (krongkapan) to comeliness (metta mahasaneh (sexual) and metta mahaniyom (popularity)). Others include -

salika for the gift of the gab
lersi for protection and spiritual intuition (klaew klaad)
kow yok for career progress
jing jok (gecko) for wealth


Oddly enough, a source from Cambodia indicated that "saneh" (from the Pali/Skt sneha) was not really a device of amorous attraction. A monk sought saneh to make his dessanas to lay people more likeable and enjoyable.

I don't think the sakyant is traceable to the orthodox Pali teachings. "Yant" should give you a hint of its provenance, coming from the Skt "yantra".

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:36 pm

Some interesting articles in this paper:
Panel Abstract: Magic and Buddhism in Southeast Asia: A Critical Reassessment of the Field
http://www.globalstudies.gu.se/english/ ... /Reynolds/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


8. Kate Crosby, School of Oriental and African Studies, London University
Title: Yogavacara and Magic in Theravada Buddhism

Abstract:
This paper examines the issues of labelling practices and knowledge systems as ‘magical’ vis-avis ‘scientific’ in relation to the tantric-like yogavacara practices of non-reform Theravada. In
many 20th-century studies of Theravada we find various binary oppositions that are beginning be challenged in recent scholarship. Contrasts are drawn between elite virtuosi of religion
(among monks) and the superstitious masses; between the learning of monks and the assumed
inferior understanding of lay people; and between rational/reformed Theravada and irrational/
superstitious/traditional Theravada. The contrast between literary erudition, based on the Pali
canonical and commentarial traditions, and ‘magic’, somatic practices forms part of the
formulation of these binaries. In recent work on Shan Theravada literary traditions, Crosby and
Khur-yearn (Contemporary Buddhism May 2010) observed that expertise in the highly
sophisticated, lik luong genre of Shan literature – which draws extensively on Pali canonical,
commentarial and abhidhamma texts across the centuries – is arrived at through a combinationhard study and somatic empowerments, involving physical internalisation of learning and its
protection through tattooing. Progress as a Shan scholar thus entails two aspects of Buddhism
described as opposites on the rational-irrational spectrum. In Shan Buddhism the most highly
regarded scholars are also often sought out as the most highly regarded ‘magicians’ or traditionhealers. They perform traditional empowerments, including tattooing, as well as astrology and
healing. Since, thanks to relative independence and isolation as well as active resistance, Shan
Buddhism did not fully succumb to the centralising reforms of the 18th-20th centuries that
influence our understanding of Sri Lankan, Thai and Burmese Buddhism, we speculated that thmarginalisation of traditional somatic practices in more centralised forms of Buddhism parallelthe general capitulation of local technologies in such areas as medical and military science in
favour of both the perceived and the actually more effective (we might say, ‘powerful’) Westerknow-how in these areas. The tantric-like practices of non-reform Theravada, which I have
elsewhere termed the ‘yogavacara’ tradition, is another form of Theravada that appears to treat
somatic, cognitive and soteriological knowledge as parts of an integrated process of wisdom anpower acquisition. The soteriologcial and apotropaic forms of Theravada that relate to
yogavacara entail the internalisation or physical incorporation of Buddha/Dhamma qualities thotherwise appear to be quite orthodox in abhidhamma terms. Yogavacara continued to receive
court sponsorship in the 18th-19th centuries, yet appears to have been marginalised during the 1century, partly – I speculate - through this same overarching trend for Western physical culture
to be hegemonic. Unattested in the Pali canon, yogavacara then became particularly vulnerable
during the reforms of Sri Lankan, Thai and, later, Cambodian Buddhism. In this paper I shall
explore the extent to which the non-canonical elements of yogavacara may be seen as reflectintechnologies of directed transformation observed in pre-19th century pan-Asian medical and
mathematical models. I shall look at possible parallels in ayurvedic obstetrics and combinatoricI then suggest that to regard somatic and intellectual/soteriological mastery of knowledge as
opposites on the ‘rational’-‘irrational’ axis reflects very specific colonial (or Orientalist) attitudof the 19th-20th centuries. Indeed for knowledge to be only intellectual and not somatic surely
undermines the possibility of a viable soteriology. To what extent have we, in a modern
knowledge system, identified pre-existing/competing knowledge-systems as ‘magic’ as part ofpower statement ? Does our picture of traditional/reform Theravada make better sense if we
rather see the technologies of transformation that constitute Buddhism as developing in tandem
with other technologies? Does yogavacara reflect scientific developments undreamt of in the
canonical period and unrecognised in the modern ? Does this explain its apparent similarities to
the types of tantra preserved in Himalayan Buddhism ? Is ‘magic’ a label applied to a science
that the observer cannot recognise or acknowledge ?
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:46 pm

The Significance of Khruba Sriwichai's Role in Northern Thai Buddhism: His Sacred Biography, Meditation Practice and Influence
Treesahakiat, Isara

Permanent Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/1895" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Date: 2011
Advisor: Sweetman, Will; Guthrie, Elizabeth
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Theology and Religion
Publisher: University of Otago
Subject: Khruba Sriwichai; Thai monk; meditation; Buddhist saint; Thai Buddhism; Buddhist charisma; northern Thailand; parami; Lanna
Research Type: Thesis

Abstract:
Khruba Sriwichai (1878-1938) was a well-known monk in Thailand and especially in the Lanna regions in the northern part of the country. His local fame spread throughout the country among a diverse group of followers. Many people know him for his opposition to the national Thai Sangha and his construction of the 12-kilometre road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. There have been many books written about Khruba Sriwichai which are mainly based on personal faith and respect for him. There are also works in English on the life of Khruba Sriwichai by Tambiah, Swearer, Cohen, and Thompson which are mainly concerned with the analysis of his role of ton bun, his charisma and his political activities.

Few scholars today describe Khruba Sriwichai as a Buddhist teacher, or as a practitioner of meditation. However, it is clear from contemporary accounts of Khruba Sriwichai that during his lifetime his Buddhist charisma was founded on his spiritual practice and his reputation as a meditation master. His level of Buddhist attainment is reflected not just by his ability to challenge Bangkok (and survive) but also by his revival of northern Thai Buddhism.

The thesis looks at an important key for understanding Khruba Sriwichai and the source of his Buddhist charisma. This key is the investigation of his monastic lineage, his Buddhist teachings, his Buddhist practice, and cult which are based on many primary and secondary resources in Thai and English, as well as information gathered during field research in northern Thailand. In addition to histories and biographies in Thai and English, and contemporary materials about Khruba Sriwichai preserved in the Thai media and Royal Gazettes, there is also a tamnan (history) composed in 1878 in Lanna Tai language concerning his life and teachings.

The investigation of these aspects of Khruba Sriwichai shed some light upon the understandings of the reason for his enduring importance for Thai history. Khruba Sriwichai was not a charismatic Buddhist saint because he challenged Bangkok, or appeared on the covers of political magazines. He was a Buddhist saint because of his accumulation of pāramī.

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Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Bankei
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by Bankei » Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:15 pm

Thanks for all the links Bhante

There is also an interesting interview available with Dr Justin McDaniel about his book
http://newbooksinreligion.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
(there are a few good Buddhist scholars interviewed there too).

He makes some interesting comments about what Buddhism 'is'.

bankei
-----------------------
Bankei

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Tue Jan 10, 2012 5:51 am

http://newbooksinreligion.com/2011/12/0 ... ress-2011/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

This is the link where one can download the interview with Justin McDaniel (mp3).
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Tue Jan 10, 2012 5:55 am

And here he writes more about the historical reasons for covering up these "unorthodox" aspects of Thai Theravada, and replacing them by state-sponsored reformed Buddhism also influenced by Western scholarship of the 19th century:


In 1902, around 80,000 monks became subject to the law of the royal government of Siam who controlled their admission to monkhood, the right to ordain, the size and status of monastic ground, and the ranking of monks. There was certainly sporadic resistance in the form of renegade monks in the north like Krupa Siwichai and rebellions of holy men in the northeast until 1924. There was also Western influence on Thai Buddhism. King Chulalongkorn was quite impressed by western scholars of Buddhism and sought to reform the canon and teaching of Buddhism in Thailand based on a strict historical and canonical understanding of Buddhism.

In order to suppress rebellions against central Thai authority in these regions by local "holy men" ( phu mi bun ) the Siamese king ordered local manuscripts of jatakas and stories of these holy men burnt and the enforcing of the central Thai Sangha authority under the king. Prince Wachirayan also believed that reform was necessary to ensure that Siamese Buddhism could purify itself. He believed, as did the king, that Buddhism was simpler and more pure in the distant past."True Buddhism" was that designed by the Buddha himself in India 2400 years earlier. The state-centered and sponsored reform movements of King Mongkut, Prince Wachirayan, King Chulalongkorn, Prince Damrong among others portrayed Thai Buddhism as overly corrupted by those claiming magical and fortune-telling powers and, thus, in need of renewal. Prince Wachirayan in particular believed that there was an ideal past when Buddhist practice did not involve protective magic, when all monks studied Pali for many years, and when the Buddhist ecclesia and benevolent Buddhist kings worked together for the common people.

Besides administrative organization, the most significant feature of the 1902 reforms was the examination system for monks and novices. The Prince publicly stated that the Pali canon was the most important source of Buddhist ethics, law and history. However, when formulating his exams and writing his textbooks for monks the canon actually played very little role. In fact, there was very little real difference between the examinations and texts used before Wachirayan and after.

The canon and the 1902 reforms seemed to have not ushered in the modern era (at least not in monastic education) that Ishii, Wyatt, and others suggest they did. There is little evidence that the Pali Canon was available and accessible to the majority of Thais previous to 1902. The canon was rarely found as a set in one monastery and the authoritative parts of the canon were not commonly agreed upon at any time in Thai history. Ideally, Wachirayan wanted to make the canon more prominent, to facilitate this goal, he promoted the study of Pali grammar. He composed six volumes of Pali grammar, as well as several guidebooks for students, including the still standard Navakowat, outlining what he saw as basic Buddhist ethics; the Buddhasasanasubhasit, a selection of short pithy Buddhist proverbs from the canon; a Buddha biography; and a guide to the Vinaya . These textbooks, all written in simple and straightforward Thai, began to form, ideally, the standard curriculum for monks in Siam . Monks in both monastic universities were encouraged to take examinations in Pali and Thai designed by the prince and based on these and other anthologized Buddhist texts. Therefore, in the early twentieth century these textbooks were the basis for the new "nak dham" Buddhist examinations. The prince instituted three grades of "nak dham" (student of the Dhamma) which remain relatively unchanged today. These examinations are in Thai and were pre-requisites for the Pali examinations. Interestingly enough, most of the examinations were on commentarial texts like the Dhammapada-Atthakatha , Mangala-atthadipani, and the Visuddhimagga , and Thai handbooks and anthologies , not on canonical texts themselves. While these nak dham examinations and essays do not involve exact word-for-word translation or memorization and are not based on Pali language texts (mostly Thai translations) the Parian examinations involves the "literal reproduction of an original Pali text" (again, not canonical texts) from the Thai and vice-versa. The Brayok level eight examination involves over 160,000 words of memorization.

Comparing texts to those used by King Rama II in the early nineteenth century we see little change. First, commentaries, and even commentaries and histories composed in Northern Thailand , constituted the textual material for most of the examinations, not canonical texts. Second, narratives from the Dhammapada-Atthakatha which are very similar in style and subject matter to narratives from the Jataka-atthakatha , which King Chulalongkorn had claimed were"full of nonsense" were an important source for the exams. In fact, King Chulalongkorn himself wrote an introduction in Thai (largely copied from the British scholar, Rhys-Davids' English introduction) to the Jataka-atthakatha in 1903 and therefore his judgment of the texts in 1886 seems to have been either rash or based on his assessment that these stories inspired rebels. Despite royal rhetoric about the purity of the canon and a lauding of the Westerner's help in discovering and preserving the canon, extra-canonical narratives and translocal and local commentaries still played a dominant role in the state's new monastic curriculum and examinations. Third, very few monks, nuns, or novices ever actually sit for these examinations (as we will see below) and less than a handful every year ever take the highest levels of the examinations. Most of the students who do actually take the examinations take the lower levels and hence study the Dhammapada-Atthakatha and anthologies more than Pali canonical texts.

http://tdm.ucr.edu/monastery/life_education.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:reading:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:00 am

The northern Thai (Lanna) Buddhism -- similar to Shan Buddhism in Burma -- has some tantric features. One of them is the ritual of entering Nirodha-kamma (พิธีนิโรธกรรม).

In the Tipitaka it is written that only arahants and anagami can enter "nirodha" (cessation of perception and feeling) for up to 7 days, like the Buddha did, and the body system slows down so they don't have to eat or drink or go to toilet -- just sit there, not see or hear anything, just like a temporary coma state. But when they come out again, people think that they must be definitely ariya (enlightened) and they will get lots of merit by offering them things (apparently you will become a millionaire within 24 hours). So they display big billboards in north Thailand to announce that "Kruba so-and-so will come out of Nirodha-kamma on this day: come and make merit!" They build them a special straw hut to sit in which is then closed. (Looks similar to the Buddha boy in Nepal who is sitting without moving under a tree.)

The Yogavacara monk recites some Pali words at the beginning, I could hear the 3 stages of concentration (khanika samadhi, upacara samadhi, appana samadhi) and then he makes a determination to enter nirodha-samapatti ("aham nirodhakammam adhitthami"). Afterwards they chant the Metta Sutta in the distinctive northern Thai style without breaks, and some other blessing chants.

http://youtu.be/r8uL8kENYG4" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
พิธีนิโรธกรรม

:buddha2:
Last edited by gavesako on Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by Cittasanto » Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:47 am

Hi All,
Not necessarily 100% related but I do know this topic came up along the course of this thread!

In relation to the practice of reciting Buddho, dhammo, or sangho, to assist in one way or another as initially brought up on page one here. It seamed to me to be related to the Koan (hwadu) practices, found in Zen, but this morning as I was looking through a Korean Buddhist site came accross a Master who actually promoted a very similar practice in Korea, which can be seen as a close cousin to what Tan Ajahn Mun taught, and wouldn't be far fetched to see how this comes from a longer line from a more tantric practice. but I am no expert on Tantric practices of the Vajriyana schools, although believe it is found within them.
http://www.koreanbuddhism.net/master/priest_view.asp?cat_seq=10&priest_seq=27&page=3 wrote:His contribution to modern Korean Buddhism was to suggest "Seon with recollecting Buddha's name" in an atmosphere tending toward hwadu meditation. He claimed "the Buddha's name, for example Amitabha Buddha or Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, is a hwadu itself that the Buddha shows us. This new way of practice is in harmony with personal spiritual capacity, without opposing hwadu meditation. It makes you find that you and Buddha are not two, to recollect Buddha's name repeatedly while praying for what you wish."
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But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:22 am

Review of The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk by Justin McDaniel

Reviewed by Erick White.

Few scholarly monographs in recent years have risked making large arguments about the breadth and depth of Thai Buddhism as a whole. Fewer still have critically reflected on the various long-standing assumptions and models which have shaped the academic study of Thai Buddhism. Justin McDaniel’s The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand pursues both of these challenges, and does so with passion, wit, insight and care. McDaniel explicitly seeks to upend established descriptions, interpretations and theories regarding the character and dynamics of Thai religiosity in the present and the past. This ambitious rethinking is, moreover, solidly grounded in a broad and deep substantive knowledge of Thai Buddhism, as both a textual tradition of scholasticism and a living tradition of practice, as well as an impressive familiarity with the wide scope of existing academic studies in English, Thai and other languages. As a result, this monograph will likely serve for years to come as a benchmark in the study of Thai Buddhism, and McDaniel’s arguments, claims and interpretations will be advanced, debated and critiqued by future scholars seeking to elucidate Thai Buddhism with the same care and insight he has displayed. ...

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandal ... rev-xxxix/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:reading:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:45 pm

Thank you Bhante,

That sounds like a very interesting study, and perhaps statements such as this should serve as a warning for anyone tempted to generalise about Buddhism (Thai or elsewhere) on the basis of a few particular commentators, and scholars:
The book’s arguments consistently privilege and emphasize the assumptions and statements of Thai informants over scholarly theoretical and explanatory models, regardless of how much the former fail to conform to the expectations of the latter.
:anjali:
Mike

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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:26 pm

Yes indeed. See also this related book "How Theravada is Theravada?" with some interesting contributions.

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=12929" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:57 pm

Another interesting text:

The Sutta on Understanding Death in the Transmission of Borān Meditation from Siam to the Kandyan Court

Kate Crosby ◦ Andrew Skilton ◦ Amal Gunasena
Journal of Indian Philosophy, 40: pp. 177 – 198, © Springer 2012

http://www.scribd.com/doc/102444717/The ... a-JIP-2012" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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gavesako
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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:33 pm

Esoteric Teaching of Wat Phra Dhammakāya
Mano Mettanando Laohavanich


Abstract
Thailand’s controversial Wat Phra Dhammakāya has grown exponentially. In just three decades, it has come to have millions of followers in and outside of Thailand and over forty branches overseas. The esoteric teaching of meditation taught by the leaders of the community has inspired thousands of young men and women from various universities to sacrifice their lives to serve their Master, something that has never been seen before in Thailand or elsewhere in the Theravāda world. What is the nature of this esoteric teaching? Why is it so appealing to these young minds? These questions are discussed and analyzed by the author, who was one of Wat Phra Dhammakāya’s founding members.

http://www.inebnetwork.org/news-and-med ... -dhammakya" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:jawdrop:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Tantric Theravada?

Post by gavesako » Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:42 am

This website is dedicated to the memory of the Great Meditation Master Luang Phor Mongkol-Thepmuni, the late venerable Chao Khun (Abbot) of Wat Paknam, Basicharoen, Bangkok and his Teachings of the Vijjā Dhammakāya and its Method of Meditation. Luang Phor (Venerable Father) re-discovered this unique Method of Meditation in the 11th year of his monkhood after it was lost in the mist of time since the MahāParinibbāna of Lord Buddha Gotama.

Soon after becoming a monk, he realised that there were very few accomplished meditation and Dhamma teachers. He felt that without knowing what the Buddhas behold, his life as a monk would be wasted. On a full moon night of September 1918, he staked his life in one superhuman effort to attempt to plumb the depths of the Sublime Dhamma. He was triumphant and discovered the Vijjā Dhammakāya used by Buddhas to attain to Enlightenment and Nibbāna. Thereafter, for more than 43 years, he tirelessly expounded the Dhamma in its original condition and pristine purity preserving the unity of the Dhamma without differentiating whether it was of the Mahāyana or Theravāda traditions.

The Vijjā Dhammakāya is Luang Phor’s eternal priceless legacy to all but for non-Thais, that legacy could be claimed only from 1960 in English when the first translations of his Teachings appeared. Mr. T. Magness, (Venerable Suratano Bhikkhu) who became a lay disciple of Luang Phor in 1958, undertook the earliest translations in English. The author ordained as a bhikkhu in Wat Doi Suthep, Chiangmai, 12 years after meeting Luang Phor himself. A year or so after his ordination he was based in Wat Paknam and remained there for some years. The venerable author is known simply to his disciples as Phra Terry. (Note: He just died at the age of 84.)

The following list of books represents those that have published by Phra Terry (Suratano Bhikkhu) since 1960: can be downloaded --

1. The Life and Teaching of Chao Khun Mongkol-Thepmuni and The Dhammakāya
2. Vistas – Buddhist Insights into Immortality (previously titled Sammā Samādhi)
3. Sammā Samādhi II – An Exposition of Attainments derived from Samatha Vipassanā
4. Sammā Diṭṭhi – A Treatise on Right Understanding
5. Altitude and the Buddhist Experience
6. The Long View – An Excursion into Buddhist Perspectives

http://www.triple-gem.net/BookList.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:reading:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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