Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Remembering Luang Pu Wat Paknam, Master of Vijja Dhammakaya

Photograph of Chao Khun Phramongkolthepmuni, Luang Pu Wat Paknam

Today marks the anniversary of the passing on 3rd February 1959CE of Chao Khun Phramongkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), the former Abbot of Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen, Thonburi in Thailand. This bhikkhu is widely credited with re-discovering the Middle Way as taught by the Buddha Gotama and the Buddhas before him. In so doing he attained to the Dhammakaya (lit. body of Truth or Reality), passing beyond the conditioned to the unconditioned and the deathless. The image above is a scan of a photo that was placed in the shrine of my mother, whose teacher was a disciple of the great Abbot. According to which generation you belong to, he is referred to as Luang Phor/Phaw or Luang Pu, which means approximately ‘venerable father’ or ‘venerable grandfather’ respectively.

There is an inspiring account of his life in The Life and Times of Luang Phaw Wat Paknam. According to this account, Luang Pu ordained in 1906 at the age of 22 and practised with total commitment, learning Pali until he could understand the scriptures and then devoting his energies fully to meditation. He travelled in search of the most skilled teachers and each time he learnt everything they had to offer until they invited him to come and teach alongside. Yet he didn’t find satisfaction and moved on. After a while he decided he had to try and practise by himself … and eventually he made the breakthrough in 1917, finding pathama magga, the primary path, the entry point on the Middle Way.

Luang Pu’s subsequent progress was rapid. Yet after years of developing his practice, he declared that one could spend a lifetime in dhammakaya meditation and not exhaust the possibilities of insight - vijja dhammakaya.

Today the tradition is alive and well, continuing under the guidance of Luang Phor Dhammajayo (Phrathepyanmahamuni) at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani, Thailand.