FOREST SANGHA
newsletter
Juanuary             2008                             2551                      Number     82
The Forest Sangha is a worldwide Buddhist monastic
community in the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Chah


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Luang Por Paññananda
1911–2007



temple

 

 

Do not ignore the effect of right action
saying, ‘This will come to nothing.’
Just as by the gradual falling of drops
the water jar is filled,
so in time the wise
become replete with good.

 


Tan Chao Khun Paññananda Bhikkhu
, born May 11, 1911, passed away on October 10th. Revered throughout Thailand, he was also a key figure in the evolution of our community in the UK.

Luang Por Sumedho offers a few memories…

Tan Chao Khun Paññananda’s life resonated with a kind of purity. He was one who had the tendency from an early age to become a monk. Intuitively, one always felt that he was a man of integrity, and trustworthy in every way. He was quite sophisticated. He could speak English, had travelled in the West and took a great deal of interest in spreading the Dhamma abroad. He has a number of branch monasteries in America.

I first met Luang Por Paññananda when I was still a layman practising meditation in Bangkok in 1966, but only briefly. Later on he came to Wat Pah Pong sometimes to see Ajahn Chah, and I got to know him as a respected monk associated with Ajahn Buddhadasa, one of the most famous monks in Thailand. He was always very welcoming and friendly. He had great regard for Ajahn Chah’s monks and style of teaching.

When Luang Por Chah became ill and couldn’t really teach or travel any more, Tan Chao Khun Paññananda was very helpful. He filled in as an elder Thai monk to whom I could go and who was interested in what we were doing in England. He was supportive both spiritually and also financially. He would raise money in Thailand to help support our monasteries in England as we were becoming established here. Over the years he would come and stay with us; he was one of the references we had for the Thai Sangha. Every time I went to Thailand I’d try to visit him at his temple, Wat Cholpratan.

He could express strong opinions, and was a monk who was trusted by the Thai people because he had a reputation for being impeccably straight. I remember several times he was banned from radio and television. What he said was honest and forthright but perhaps threatening to the existing government.

One time I heard he’d been banned from his regular Sunday television programme. When I went to see him he was smiling and joking about it; he didn’t seem to take it all that seriously. But that’s why he was generally held in such high regard by Thais: because he would tell the truth to the people. Sometimes with other monks in leadership positions – it’s not that they intentionally deceive, but they don’t say anything about obvious things that are wrong in the society or the government. He was fearless in that respect. The Thai people had a great love for him.

He seemed completely selfless, always working for others. When the area around his monastery had grown considerably and the local people no longer had adequate medical facilities nearby, Tan Chao Khun Paññananda offered to raise the funds to build a hospital. When people found out that he was in charge of building it the money kept flowing in. He determined not to travel during that time, and for several years he stayed in his residence at Wat Cholpratan to receive people. For every person who came, if they wanted to give something for the hospital he’d write out a receipt for them personally – whether it was for one baht (Thai currency) or a million – so that the poorest Thai was treated with equal respect to the wealthy. He raised an enormous amount of money and built a six story hospital furnished with all the equipment a modern hospital needs. This was because people trusted him. They knew there would be no corruption.

It impressed me enormously, how important the Buddhist Sangha is in a country like Thailand where the people tend to mistrust the police and politicians and look to either the King or the Sangha for those that they can trust. Throughout his entire life Tan Chao Khun Paññananda was considered somebody worthy of trust and respect, from the time he was young until his passing away.

sumedho

 


 


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