Upasika Kee Nanayon

Introduction (excerpt from An Unentangled Knowing by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)
Upasika Kee Nanayon, also known by her pen name, K. Khao-suan-luang, was arguably the foremost woman Dhamma teacher in twentieth-century Thailand. Upasika Kee was something of an autodidact. Although she picked up the rudiments of meditation during her frequent visits to monasteries in her youth, she practised mostly on her own without any formal study under a meditation teacher.

Her aunt and uncle, who were also interested in Dhamma practice, had a small home near a forested hill, Khao Suan Luang (Royal Park Mountain), outside of Rajburi, where she often went to practise. In 1945, as life disrupted by World War II had begun to return to normal, she gave up her business, joined her aunt and uncle in moving to the hill, and there the three of them began a life devoted entirely to meditation. The small retreat they made for themselves in an abandoned monastic dwelling eventually grew to become the nucleus of a women’s practice centre that has flourished to this day.

Life at the retreat was frugal, in line with the fact that outside support was minimal in the early years. However, even now that the centre has become well-known and well-established, the same frugal style has been maintained for its benefits in subduing greed, pride, and other mental defilements, as well as for the pleasure it offers in unburdening the heart. The women practising at the centre are all vegetarian and abstain from such stimulants as tobacco, coffee, tea, and betel nut. They meet daily for chanting, group meditation, and discussion of the practice. In the years when Upasika Kee’s health was still strong, she would hold special meetings at which the members would report on their practice, after which she would give a talk touching on any important issues that had been brought up. It was during such sessions that most of the talks recorded here were given.

This introduction was excerpted from another written by Ajahn Thanissaro, who translated the following three teachings (The Practice in Brief, The Pure Present, and Opening the Way to the Heart) from the Thai, and which can all be found in the book An Unentangled Knowing, available at www.accesstoinsight.org and for free from Dhamma Dana Publications.

 

Perspective: Maechee
One of the nuns staying at Amaravati this Vassa is visiting from Thailand, where she has been practising in nunneries for some years. While she would rather her name is not published, Maechee (which means ‘nun’ in Thai) as we shall call her, agreed to share some of her experiences with the FSN.

Maechee was born in Rajburi Province, not far from one of the most well-known nuns’ communities in Thailand, the nunnery of Upasika Kee Nanayon, a much revered practitioner and teacher of Dhamma. While Upasika Kee herself had passed away in 1978, Maechee’s mother knew the later abbess, and Maechee was thereby introduced at an early age to the nunnery at Khao Suan Luang. Later, when her education took her to university in America, Maechee used to spend long periods staying and practising at Khao Suan Luang whenever she returned to Thailand between terms.

After university the good memories of her time at Upasika Kee’s nunnery eventually helped lead her to seek out places to dedicate herself fully to Dhamma practice. She spent time practising in nuns’ communities, especially at the monastery of Ajahn Buddhadasa, where her teacher was the highly respected nun Ajahn Runjuan, and also spent time at Wat Pah Nanachat. Maechee came to Amaravati a few years ago and became an anagarika, staying a year with the community here before returning to Thailand where she has continued to live as a nun in a remote nuns’ community.

On the following pages are three teachings from Upasika Kee Nanayon, translated by Ajahn Thanissaro, which provide a taste of her guidance: The Practice in Brief, The Pure Present, and Opening the Way to the Heart.

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