< Bibliography

Abhayagiri 2014 Winter Retreat

Our Roots in the Thai Forest Tradition

Ajahn Pasanno and the Abhayagiri Community

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, Redwood Valley, California

January 1 to March 31, 2014

Monastic Titles


Internet Links



Monastic Titles in the Thai Forest Tradition

The most basic form of address is “Tan” for junior monks and “Ajahn” for senior monks. Monks in the Ajahn Chah Sangha are called “Ajahn” after completing their tenth rains retreat. Monks are given a Pāli name at ordination. Thai monks typically go by their birth names, but Western monks ordained in the Ajahn Chah Sangha use their Pāli name. Thus we speak of Ajahn Chah instead of Ajahn Subhaddo, but Ajahn Sumedho instead of Ajahn Robert.

Other titles and forms of address

Bhikkhu (Pāli: monk, literally one who eats almsfood): A fully-ordained Buddhist monk.

Phra (Thai: Venerable): A respectful formal salutation used for any monk.

Luang Por (Thai: Venerable Father): A term of veneration used for very senior monks.

Luang Pu (Thai: Venerable Paternal Grandfather): Even more senior than Luang Por.

Luang Ta (Thai: Venerable Maternal Grandfather): Usually used for elderly monks who went forth late in life. Since many such monks have difficulty adapting to their new training, the term often has pejorative connotations. Ajahn Mahā Boowa humbly referred to himself as “Luang Ta” for decades and is now known by this title.

Mahā (Pāli: great): A prefix added to the name of a monk who has completed the third degree of Pāli studies.

Chao Khun (Thai): A title given to monks selected by the Thai Sangha authorities to acknowledge special past acts of service. The King of Thailand bestows these titles himself.

Sāmaṇera (Pāli) / Nehn (Thai): A novice monk. Most Thai sāmaṇeras are young boys, as men older than twenty take full bhikkhu ordination directly. However, Ajahn Chah instituted a period of sāmaṇera training before granting full ordination.

Mae Chee (Thai): A white-robed nun who keeps eight precepts.

Pakow (Thai) /Anāgārika (Pāli): A white-robed male monastery attendant or postulant who keeps eight precepts.

Upasaka (male) / Upasika (female) (Pāli: one who draws close): A committed Buddhist lay disciple.


This short glossary emphasizes terms specific to the Thai Forest Tradition. The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah contains a more extensive glossary. Definitions adapted from this source are marked *.

Buddho (Pāli): Used in the literal sense, its meaning is “awake”, “enlightened”. It is also used as a meditation mantra, internally reciting BUD- on the inhalation, and -DHO on the exhalation. Often associated with “being the one who knows (poo roo).”*

Citta (Pāli): Mind or heart. The usage of this term differs among the Thai Forest teachers.

Dhammayut: A reform sect of Thai Buddhism founded by Prince Mongut in the Nineteenth Century. Although comprising less than ten percent of all Thai monks, Ajahn Mun and most of his disciples belong to this order.

Dutagha (Pāli): Voluntary ascetic practices that practitioners may undertake from time to time or as a long-term commitment in order to cultivate renunciation and contentment, and to stir up energy. For the monks, there are thirteen such practices: (1) using only patched-up robes; (2) using only one set of three robes; (3) going for alms; (4) not by-passing any donors on one’s alms path; (5) eating no more than one meal a day; (6) eating only from the alms-bowl; (7) refusing any food offered after the almsround; (8) living in the forest; (9) living under a tree; (10) living under the open sky; (11) living in a cemetery; (12) being content with whatever dwelling one has; (13) not lying down. See tudong.*

Kilesa (Pāli): Defilement – passion, aversion, and delusion in their various forms, which include such things as greed, malevolence, anger, rancour, hypocrisy, arrogance, envy, miserliness, dishonesty, boastfulness, obstinacy, violence, pride, conceit, intoxication, and complacency.*

Korwat (Thai): Monastery standards and rules.

Krooba Ajahn (Thai): A senior teacher of the Thai Forest Tradition.

Kuṭī (Pāli / Thai): A small dwelling place for a Buddhist monastic; a hut.*

Mahanikaya: A term for the majority of Thai monks who do not belong to the Dhammayut order.

Paipadā (Pāli): The path of practice described in the fourth noble truth.*

Pindapat (Thai): Monk's morning almsround traditionally practiced throughout Southeast Asia.

Poo roo (Thai): The one who knows, often given as a definition or description of Buddho. The usage of this term differs among the Thai Forest teachers.

Tudong (Thai): The practice of wandering in the country and living on almsfood. See dutaṅgha.*

Upatakh (Thai): The junior attendant of a senior monk.

Internet Links

Information about the Thai Forest Tradition

Access to Insight, Selected Teachers from the Thai Forest Tradition

Wat Marp Jan, Books and CDs in English

Hosts The Mindful Way and The Buddha Comes to Sussex, two BBC documentaries containing footage of Ajahn Chah, as well as books and Dhamma talks by Ajahn Anan.

Forest Dhamma

Forest Dhamma is committed to the free distribution of teachings of the Thai Forest Tradition by Venerable Ajaan Mahā Boowa.

Forest Sangha Publications

Dedicated to the free distribution of teachings in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Venerable Ajahn Chah.

Thai Forest Monasteries in the West

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery

Redwood Valley, California. Abbot: Ajahn Pasanno


The portal page for international monasteries in the tradition of Ajahn Chah. It lists monasteries in Thailand, Great Britain, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and Italy.

Metta Forest Monastery

North of San Diego, California. Abbot: Ajahn Geoff Ṭhānissaro

Forest Dhamma Monastery

Rockbridge County, Virginia. Abbot: Ajahn Dick Sīlaratano


The Winter Retreat 2014 readings and Dhamma discussions are inseparable from the retreat itself, which was supported by a truly remarkable retreat crew: Michael Dries-Coons, Kevin Fuglseth, John Nishinaga, Jeff Miller, Jeanie Daskais, Jeed Chaiboonruang, Sonia Espinoza, and Michael Wisner. The dedication and commitment of this team can best be explained with an example. The Abhayagiri resident community observes a meditation vigil until 3:00 am on the weekly lunar observance days, but this practice is optional for guests and retreat crew members. Not only did the retreat crew enthusiastically participate in these vigils, often staying awake the entire night and cooking the meal the next day, in early March they asked Ajahn Pasanno if they could hold an additional mid-week vigil, which would be optional for the residents! Permission was granted, and the mid-week vigil continued for the remainder of the retreat.

2014 Winter Retreat group photo

This DVD would not have been possible without the cheerful assistance of many people. Michael Dries-Coons provide valuable audio recording advice before the retreat, and Sāmaṇera Suhajjo operated the digital recorder. John Nishinaga and Neil DiBernardo edited the recorded audio readings. Beth Steff spent many hours transcribing questions, and Tan Kaccāna and Sāmaṇera Suhajjo assisted with this task. Tan Kovilo provided valuable Thai language support, and Anāgārika John (Nishinaga) did final html editing and link checking.


We dedicate this DVD to Iris Landsberg (1949-2014), Sanghapāla Foundation board member and devoted supporter of Abhayagiri Monastery.