This page focuses on the richness of the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism, with the aim of presenting some of the foundational influences of the tradition, along with lesser known dimensions of the characters, teachings, stories and lives of some of the greatest saints of modern times.
Click through to see rare photos from the Thai Forest Tradition.
This page replaces the Google site "Wide Angle Lens", which was begun on April 10, 2013. If anyone happens to come across it, you are welcome to poke around and download anything you like, but keep in mind it is pretty small and simple. The idea is for it to slowly grow with translations, teachings, stories and other information related to the Thai Forest Tradition of Luang Pu Sao and Luang Pu Mun. What has been translated and brought to the attention of English speaking audiences to this point is just a drop in the bucket of the wealth of this tradition available in the Thai language. Really only a handful of Ajaans are known to Westerners, and even then often a very different picture of these Ajaans can be found in the perceptions of Thai people.
Luang Pu Mun himself had literally hundreds of direct disciples who were recognised for their accomplishments in Dhamma - men and women - and they ranged every spectrum of character, disposition and temperament. What they had in common was their integrity and their sincerity in practising Dhamma, and that the Forest Tradition in Thailand has had both the maturity and the generosity to be able to grant a place to all of them. The result was unarguably the greatest spiritual flowering of modern times.
Nowadays, the Forest Tradition – its monks and nuns, its teaching and its example – is everywhere regarded as the 'crown jewel' of Thai Buddhism. It wasn't always that way. In the early days, they had to overcome every obstacle imaginable, both internal and external. The authorities in Bangkok had Luang Pu Sao's dwelling burned to the ground on more than one occasion...
The simple story of the Thai Forest Tradition comes across as the legend of Luang Pu Sao and Luang Pu Mun. For all their greatness, I don't think they would be comfortable accepting all of the credit. In a 'wide angle lens', many other great characters can be seen, in the wings or in the background, helping to make this tradition what it has been.
The underlying questions behind my wider interest in this tradition are:
1. What were the conditions that fostered a suitable atmosphere for people like Luang Pu Sao and Luang Pu Mun to emerge?
2. How did it grow into a tradition that flowered with extraordinary spiritual and cultural power?
The answers to these questions lie beyond the ambitions of this page. But for Westerners, who are increasingly looking towards the Thai Forest Tradition for inspiration and a model for developing an authentic culture of liberation, I think these things are worth reflecting on.