Ajahn Chah

For the visually impaired: the above image shows a series of four pictures of Ajahn Chah, a Thai monk.He is sitting on the floor, probably preparing for a talk. He is wearing orange robes and has a shaved head. In the first three pictures, he appears to be stretching his hands. He does not appear to be looking anywhere in particular. He has a contemplative look. In the last picture, he smiles to someone behind the camera.

Every time I look at these pictures, I smile. The monk in the photos, Ajahn Chah, just seems to be radiating loving kindness, or metta.

This post is mainly about giving you a picture to smile about. It’s amazing how some people, animals, events, moons, scenery, can just make you smile. For me, it feels like my heart just opens up. Like I’m suddenly somehow connected to the world in a new way.

It’s a great feeling.

In case you want some extra bonus cool information, Ajahn Chah was a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism. There’s a website about the Thai Forest tradition, including some free teaching materials, here.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted Ajahn Chah as my teacher. He certainly did the whole “confront-your-suffering-head-on” approach when teaching monks. I do that intermittently, mainly when I’m having a pain flare up. I haven’t chosen to follow some of his more stringent teachings on Buddhist practice.

There’s a really interesting story (followed by stringent teachings on Buddhist practice) written by Ajahn Chah on the Forest Sangha website. It’s about some time he spent meditating in a graveyard, alone, at night. He describes feeling as though there is a being sniffing around him at night, which he fears is the spirit of the dead corpse that had been cremated that night.

I sat as if I wasn’t even touching the ground and simply noted what was going on. The fear was so great that it filled me, like a jar completely filled with water. If you pour water until the jar is completely full, and then pour some more, the jar will overflow. Likewise, the fear built up so much within me that it reached its peak and began to overflow.

”What am I so afraid of anyway?” a voice inside me asked.

”I’m afraid of death,” another voice answered.

It’s a really good read, I don’t want to spoil it any further. If you like ghost stories, insight, Buddhism, or experience a fear of death yourself, you should check it out.

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