Luang Pu Tongrat Testing Out his Disciples

There were many occasions when Luang Pu Tongrat Kantasīlo would check out a disciple to see if he was still heedless.

For instance, Luang Por Uan Paguṇo has related: “One time, I had taken leave of Luang Pu Kinaree in order to go and study Dhamma with the Luang Pu Tongrat. Before leaving, Luang Pu Kinaree stressed to me, ‘Be careful! If you go see Luang Pu Tongrat you have to be careful; he’ll test you out – your moods, your mindfulness...’ When I got there, I paid respects to Luang Pu and introduced myself; Luang Pu told me to go cut some wood and bring it to him. At that time, he was doing daily chores. I had been well trained and already knew how to contend with things. I got a machete and went into the forest, cut some wood that was already dead and brought it back to the Luang Pu. When he saw the deadwood, he exclaimed, ‘Yes! This is in accordance with a disciple of the Buddha!’”

There were many similar occasions in which monks or novices, told to do something against the Vinaya but who then did them without any knowledge, created an occasion for getting a lesson they would never forget – that is, a long, stinging and fiery talk – because they saw him as their teacher but they didn’t give priority to Dhamma and Vinaya. As far as that goes, Luang Pu Tongrat would not abandon the lesser and minor rules of the Vinaya: he took them to have great importance for living the holy life. It was just this that caused Ajahn Chah to have a lot of respect for Luang Pu Tongrat. He thus took these foundations in Dhamma from Luang Pu and continued to teach them to his own disciples, especially emphasising all the duties and points of practise in a monastery. In Wat Nong Pah Pong monastery and its branches today, it is similar to the details of the style of practise that Luang Pu Tongrat would teach to his disciples while he was still alive, in almost every way.

From Ajahn Chah’s experiences with Luang Pu Tongrat, he saw that if a person was not very clever and astute, they couldn’t learn any Dhamma from him. That is, they would try to emulate him, not trying to learn from his example. For instance, the way Luang Pu spoke would often not be very composed, when walking on alms round he would continually be asking for things, and when he was fierce with the monks and novices at a meeting, he could be really fierce and intimidating... The monks and novices couldn’t truly emulate him because he had no moods or attachments behind it.

In truth, whatever he did or said was intended to teach Dhamma, not to teach the group of individuals. His intentions were never aimed at wasting time or effort.

(from a forthcoming biography of Luang Pu Tongrat)