Ajahn Chah's Birthday
The birthday celebrations at wat nong pah pong were a magnificent tribute to Luang Por. There were over six hundred bhikkhus and samaneras and a sea of white-robed nuns and lay people around his kuti on the afternoon of the 16th. Thanavaro, you will remember where you sat when Luang Por was brought outside in his wheelchair. That grassy area was almost entirely filled with the ochre robe.
We bowed in unison and then Ajahn Maha Amon led the chanting, "Maha There pamadena . . :' To my surprise Luang Pors voice answered back, (they played a tape over the public address system) "Yatha varivaha . . :' Luang Par continued to sit in his chair (he has no choice) and although I couldn't see his face clearly I'm sure he put tremendous effort forth to acknowledge our devotion and gratitude. All of this was of course very moving.
|After some time we once again bowed in unison and Luang Por was brought back to his bed of the past six years. In the evening we had chanting and discourses through the night. The sala was overflowing with lay people and bhikkhus, with many sitting outside. The North East of Thailand is a very special place where so many people still practise and live their religion with tremendous devotion and sincerity.|
|After midnight it started to rain and by the dawn there was water all around (it has been an exceptionally wet year). In the morning before pindapada there was a dana offering of bowl, grot, mosquito net and white cloth to all of the senior monks of over eighty branch monasteries. Just to make sure that there were enough sets of requisites, the lay people from Bangkok put together one hundred and eight sets. The abundance and volume of Buddhist devotion and generosity is astounding.|
After this maha sangha offering we had a pindapada around Luang Por's museum. The line of bhikkhus stretched from the old sala to the Museum. There was mud everywhere and a seemingly endless circle of lay people offering rice into our bowls. When the meal finally got under way there were six lines of monks and novices outside the length of the eating hall and a crammed two lines inside. After the meal there were a few more formalities, parting words and soon all the visitors began to return to their respective monasteries all over Thailand. This tribute was over and I wished you both could have been here with me.
|Luang Por's condition is uncertain although most people say he is weaker. The most notable difference from last year is in his eyes. The pupils are rolled upwards and there is no longer any attention in his eyes. One of the nursing monks said that sometimes he does focus his eyes and look at what is around him but this is more and more rare. Whatever his physical condition, the power of his practice and teaching is unmistakable. Equally impressive is the continuing dedication people have to his way. There is much work to be done, and Luang Por's impeccability forces one's attention inwards to the source of both freedom and suffering.|