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The First Test as a Newly Ordained Monk

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发表于 2021-2-19 10:56:52 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
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Ajaan Suchart Abhijāto: Dhamma for the Asking

“The First Test as a Newly Ordained Monk”

- - -
“I had chosen to go to Wat Pa Baan Taad upon the recommendation of a foreign monk. I had no intention to stay there for long, but I just wanted to see what Wat Pa Baan Taad was like and whether I would like the place. At the same time, I also understood that even if I liked it there, I could not be able to stay if I was not granted permission. I did not have much expectation. I was simply seeking a quiet place that allowed me to have time to practice to the fullest—my only goal. Furthermore, at first, I did not think that having a teacher was essential and assumed that Dhamma books would be sufficient to guide me in this path.

All I knew was that I had to go there. I did not know any highly respected teachers in Thailand or how to find them because I had never read books about the practice of Dhammayuttika-nikāya monks. Most of the books I read were about Bhikkhus (Buddhist monks) mentioned in the Tipiṭaka (Buddhist Pāli Canon).

When I arrived, I went directly to the meeting hall, and it was time to go for alms round. Luangta had just come down and I went to pay respect to him. Luangta then said that I could not stay there for long. I could only stay temporarily because the Kuṭīs (monks’ dwellings) were all occupied. Luangta did not say anything else. I quickly prepared my requisites and left for morning alms round.

I felt like a newborn baby who had just been introduced into the new world of monkhood. On the first day of my arrival at the monastery, I realized how incapable I was. At Wat Pa Baan Taad, the walking pace on the way to the village was relaxed, but after alms round it was very fast. I had never walked that fast before. On the way back, as soon as we went past the last devotee’s home, a monk would immediately help carry Luangta’s alms bowl, and everyone else would then speed walk back to the monastery. It was like a speed-walking competition in the Olympics. I walked with alms bowl full of sticky rice and it was very heavy. Furthermore, the bag sling for my alms bowl was not tightly secured, and it fell off halfway along my way back to the monastery. I also had to secure my main robe as it had also slipped off my shoulder. I was so disordered that by the time I reached Sālā (meeting hall), everyone else had already started arranging the food collected from the alms round.

Luangta must have noticed my disorderliness, yet he showed Mettā (loving-kindness) and did not make any comments. For those who were new in the monastery, Luangta appeared to be lenient, even pretending to be indifferent. Only when a new monk seriously misbehaved would he reprimand directly. Luangta’s attention was on the monk’s determination to practice. For other matters such as being slow but still being able to perform one’s duties correctly, Luangta would not say anything.

Typically about one month before the beginning of Vassa, or the rains retreat, Luangta would decide which monks would be the Vassa residents, that is, who would dwell permanently throughout the three months of the rainy season. He would usually accept about fifteen to sixteen monks. When it came to my turn, Luangta asked me, “You remember, on your first day here, you agreed that you could not stay here for long, that your stay was only temporary, therefore, you would not be allowed to spend the Vassa here?” After hearing Luangta’s words, I did not know what to do. I did not say anything and was undecided about what to do next.

After that Luangta gave a Dhamma talk for almost two hours. When it ended, all monks paid respect to the Lord Buddha all together.

Then, Luangta surprised me by turning to me and giving me his permission to stay. He announced, “For the monk who came from Wat Bowon, if you would like to stay here, you are allowed to do so.” All other monks who had been staying there started to congratulate me because Luangta did not accept monks to stay with him easily. There were many monks whom Luangta did not permit to stay at the monastery. Luangta wanted us to see the value of being allowed to stay with him. He wanted us to have the determination to practice meditation. For anything that is easily obtained, we have the tendency to take it for granted, and for anything that is obtained with difficulties, we would have a greater appreciation. For this reason, I was allowed to continue to stay.

A rule practiced at the monastery was that monks who had less than five rains retreats were not allowed to go anywhere, except for emergency reasons. According to the Vinaya (Monastic Code of Disciple), new monks are not allowed to be without a teacher’s guidance. Luangta would not allow monks to travel here and there, unless the five-year rule was completed. For example, a monk with a two-year rains retreat wanted to go for Dhutaṅga wanderings. In addition to evaluating the suitability of the proposed wanderings, Luangta would consider whether it was beneficial to do so. If he felt that it was not beneficial, Luangta would not give permission to go. There was a monk with two to three rains retreats who wanted to go for Dhutaṅga wanderings, and had asked for permission several times, but Luangta did not allow him to go. When he asked again for the last time, Luangta told him that if he went, he would not be allowed to come back.

Luangta considered the mind of each monk to be more important than the number of Vassas he spent. Sometimes, a monk, after spending five years of rains retreat, wanted to leave the monastery, but Luangta thought that it was inappropriate for him to go. His practice might deteriorate, or he might even leave the monkhood. If this was the case, Luangta would try to hold him back. At least, if he stayed in the monastery, he could continue to learn from the Teacher.”

“My Way.”

By Ajahn Suchart Abhijāto

http://www.phrasuchart.com

Latest Dhamma talks on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi_BnRZmNgECsJGS31F495g



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 楼主| 发表于 2021-2-19 11:02:56 | 显示全部楼层
"Starting My New Life as a Monk.”

- - -
“On the day of the appointment, I took my parents to meet Somdet Phra Yannasangvorn at Wat Bowonniwet Vihara (Wat Bowon). Somdet discussed my decision with my parents and scheduled the date for the ordination on February 19, 1975. Also, he would be my preceptor. In the ceremony, I would be ordained together with the son of a general who had recently finished his Master’s degree from the U.S. His ordination was to be temporary: only for 15 days.

There was 3,000 baht left in my savings which was just exactly the right amount of money to buy the eight requisites for monks consisting of the upper robe, the lower robe, the outer robe, an alms bowl, a razor, a needle, thread, a belt, and a water strainer. Thus, I didn’t need to ask my parents for the money.

On the ordination day, approximately 100 attendants of the other family went to the ceremony. In contrast, only four of my family members which included my parents, my sister, and my cousin attended because I didn’t tell other people about this. I liked to keep things  low-keyed, with as little fanfare as possible. I didn’t even let anybody know when I was resigning from my job. Moreover, during a year of meditating alone at home, I didn’t tell anyone about it either. I didn’t see any reason to tell other people about my private life and this also helped me avoid being bothered by others. Literally, there was one other person who knew about my ordination— a fellow who sent me a telegram asking me to come to work for him. I declined, explaining that I was about to take my vows as a monk.

During my stay at Wat Bowon, there were some Western monks heading to Wat Pa Baan Taad who told me about the existence of some well-known Thai Forest Tradition monasteries in the Northeast of Thailand, which included the monasteries of Luangta Mahā Boowa, Luangpu Thate, and Luangpu Fan. They reinforced what I had read in Kornfield’s book of these respected Forest Monasteries, and I planned to make a trip to those places starting with Wat Pa Baan Taad of Luangta Mahā Boowa.

As I didn’t know anyone there, a Western monk told me that it was required to write a letter to Ajahn Paññā for permission in advance before going there. Ajahn Paññā was a British monk, so foreign monks would approach him when contacting the monastery. He then would inform Luangta of the request for permission to stay in the monastery. If Luangta gave his consent, they were eligible to go.

I, therefore, wrote a letter to Ajahn Paññā. He took my request to Luangta, and Luangta then gave me the permission to stay.

But first there was my training. Throughout the six weeks of my monastic life at Wat Bowon, I was instructed on the correct way to wear the main robe, walk alms round, handle my requisites, and travel without being uncomfortable or concerned about wearing the robe. When I talked to Somdet regarding my departure and asked for his approval to stay with Luangta Mahā Boowa at Wat Pa Baan Taad, he approved my request, but said it really depended on Luangta whether or not he would be allowing me to stay there. And, since I had already gotten approval, I prepared to leave.

My departure from Bangkok was in early April, a couple of days before the Chakri Memorial Day. Traveling by train in the evening, I arrived at the destination in Udon Thani very early in the morning. Luckily, with the help of the monastery, a Buddhist devotee picked me up at the railway station and drove me to the monastery.”

“My Way”
By Ajahn Suchart Abhijāto

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