The New Ajahn Chah Biography
Ajahn Pasanno
Upāsikā Day, Apr. 21, 2018
Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California
3 sessions, 34 excerpts, 2:33:56 total duration

After playing a compilation of video footage of Ajahn Chah from the BBS documentaries, Ajahn Pasanno reads from Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, the newly published biography of Ajahn Chah. He focuses on the chapter "Out of Compassion" which describes Ajahn Chah's teachings to the lay community.

External website

Session 1: The Ajahn Chah Compilation Video

Session 2: Readings with Q&A Part 1

Session 3: Readings with Q&A Part 2


Session 1: The Ajahn Chah Compilation Video – Ajahn Pasanno – Apr. 21, 2018

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[Session] Ajahn Pasanno introduces the Ajahn Chah Compilation Video and Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro. [Ajahn Chah] [Dhamma books] // [Goodwill] [Compassion] [Personal presence] [History/Western Buddhist monasticism]

Reference: The Ajahn Chah Compilation Video on YouTube

Reference: The Buddha Comes to Sussex (BBC, 1979) on Youtube [History/Western Buddhism] [Cittavivieka]

Reference: The Mindful Way (BBC, 1977) on YouTube [Wat Pah Pong]


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1. [2:08] Quote: “One of the main characteristics of Luang Por Chah was his loving kindness and compassion.” — Ajahn Liem [Ajahn Liem] [Ajahn Chah] [Goodwill] [Compassion] // [Personal presence] [Equanimity]


Session 2: Readings with Q&A Part 1 – Ajahn Pasanno – Apr. 21, 2018 Download audio (1:26:53)
[Ajahn Chah]

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1. [0:00] Reflections on the origins of Ajahn Chah and his teachings. [Culture/Thailand] [Geography/Thailand] // [Thai Forest Tradition] [Poverty] [Human]


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2. [5:05] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 40-41: Ajahn Chah's father's dying request [Family] [Death] [Monastic life/Motivation] // [Culture/Thailand] [Meditation]


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3. [10:07] Reflection: Establishing relations with family and friends in Dhamma. [Family] [Spiritual friendship] [Dhamma]

Recollection: Ajahn Chah would sometimes allow Westerners to ordain without their parent's permission. [Ordination] [History/Western Buddhist monasticism]


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4. [15:25] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 582: "Out of Compassion" [Compassion] // [Gratitude] [Mutual lay/Saṅgha support] [Teaching Dhamma] [Family]


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5. [19:34] “Are there criteria you need to fulfill before the Saṅga will let you form your own monastery?” [Saṅgha decision making] [Sequence of training] [Monasteries] // [History/Thai Buddhism] [Teaching Dhamma]

Quote: “You don't have to worry about that, Dad. Thai Buddhism isn't organized.” — Ajahn Siripañño [Culture/Thailand]


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6. [22:40] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 588-591: "Observance Day" [Lunar observance days] // [Abhayagiri] [Eight Precepts]


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7. [31:05] Comment: The essence of Ajahn Chah's teaching was virtue and Right View. [Teaching Dhamma] [Virtue] [Right View] // [Meditation] [Mindfulness] [Concentration]


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8. [37:58] “Kataññu-katavedi refers to receiving kindness and the recognition of the gift of kindness. How are w to understand cultivating the intention to offer kindness to others?” [Gratitude] [Compassion] [Generosity] // [Happiness] [Mindfulness of feeling] [Aversion] [Contact] [Spaciousness] [Direct experience]

Story: Villagers ask Ajahn Chah how he can teach Westerners when they don't speak Thai. [Culture/West] [Language]

Quote: “Dhamma is the language of experience.” — Ajahn Chah [Dhamma]


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9. [45:40] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 612-614 "Faith in the Triple Gem" [Faith] [Three Refuges] // [Buddha] [Dhamma] [Truth] [Teaching Dhamma] [Lay life] [Recollection/Dhamma]

Simile: Digging a well — Ajahn Chah Subhaddo. [Right Effort] [Liberation]


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10. [56:10] “Did you mention what the trancendent truth of the Saṅgha was?” [Saṅgha] [Truth] [Three Refuges] // [Eightfold Path] [Stages of awakening] [Conventions] [Chanting] [Recollection/Saṅgha]


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11. [59:15] “Is refining the Five Precepts sufficient for lay practice to be transformative?” [Five Precepts] [Lay life] // [Vinaya] [Mindfulness] [Right Intention] [Relinquishment] [Compassion] [Truth]


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12. [1:02:55] “What can you offer dying people who didn't have the opportunity to engage in Buddhist practice?” [Death] [Compassion] // [Listening] [Patience] [Tranquility] [Equanimity] [Fear] [Right Speech] [Chanting]


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13. [1:10:21] “Can you talk about evolution and growth in regards to the precepts as opposed to just following rules?” [Five Precepts] [Precepts] [Attachment to rites and rituals] // [Pāli] [Etymology] [Learning] [Suffering] [Doubt] [Self-identity view]


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14. [1:14:34] “When you find happiness, there's the hope that you won't lose it and the fear that you will. How do you peel away the hope and the fear and bathe in happiness?” [Happiness] [Desire] [Fear] [Impermanence] // [Suffering] [Learning] [Relinquishment]


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15. [1:16:42] “What qualifies as helping a parent make progress on the path?” [Family] [Gratitude] [Eightfold Path] // [Learning] [Happiness] [Contentment] [Teaching Dhamma]


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16. [1:19:28] “Can you speak about regret?” [Conscience and prudence] [Restlessness and worry] // [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Determination] [Skillful qualities] [Culture/West] [Kamma] [Goodwill]

Story: Ajahn Pasanno can't translate guilt into Thai. [Ajahn Pasanno] [Thai] [Suffering]


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17. [1:25:27] “Is there a special way to develop lovingkindness?” [Goodwill] // [Heart/mind] [Forgiveness] [Mindfulness of feeling]


Session 3: Readings with Q&A Part 2 – Ajahn Pasanno – Apr. 21, 2018 Download audio (1:12:54)

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1. [0:18] Quote: “Ajahn Chah tried to make practice into everything we were doing, whether we were monastics or laypeople.” [Ajahn Chah] [Continuity of mindfulness] [Monastic life] [Lay life] // [Work]


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2. [1:40] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 427 "Work is Dhamma Practice" [Ajahn Chah] [Work] [Eightfold Path] // [Everyday life] [Aversion]


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3. [6:54] Comment: I'm trying to move away from the concept of formal and informal practice. It's just how I'm practicing in practice this moment. [Continuity of mindfulness] [Meditation] [Present moment awareness] [Everyday life]

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Ardency] [Tranquility] [Middle Path] [Eightfold Path]


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4. [10:22] “How can we skillfully take apart our preconceived notions and assumptions without undermining our ability to think?” [Delusion] [Knowledge and vision] [Directed thought and evaluation] // [Noble Truth of Suffering] [Cause of Suffering] [Proliferation]


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5. [14:15] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 533-535 "A Snake in the House" [Ajahn Chah] [Similes] // [Relinquishment] [Cessation] [Saṃsāra] [Nibbāna]


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6. [21:27] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 646-647 "Por Buapah" [Ajahn Chah] // [Death] [Grief] [Personal presence]

Story: Por Buapah did the cement work for the original shine at Wat Pah Nanachat and the bell tower at Wat Pah Pong. [Stupas/monuments] [Wat Pah Nanachat] [Wat Pah Pong]


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7. [27:41] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 647-648 "Por Am" [Ajahn Chah] // [Right Livelihood] [Views] [Intoxicants]

Story: Ajahn Chah teaches Por Am herbal medicine so he can avoid killing animals. [Culture/Thailand] [Food] [Precepts] [Medicinal requisites] [Ajahn Pasanno] [Health care] [Lunar observance days]

Quote: “It's not possible to defeat the Dhamma, you know, and that's why you fainted.” — Ajahn Chah to Por Am [Dhamma]


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8. [34:50] Comment by Ajahn Ñāṇiko: But in a sense Por Am had wisdom, questioning Ajahn Chah from every possible angle. [Ajahn Chah] [Questions] [Discernment]

Reflection: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 647

Response by Ajahn Pasanno. [Thai] [Wat Pah Pong]


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9. [36:41] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 654-655 "Scientists and Academics" [Ajahn Chah] [Science] [Learning]


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10. [41:27] Reading: Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 662-664 "Por Puang" [Ajahn Chah] // [Temporary ordination] [Wat Pah Pong] [Generosity] [Recollection/Death] [Sickness] [Death] [Mutual lay/Saṅgha support] [Three Refuges]


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11. [48:42] “What is the best way to navigate the people that we love that have unskillful behaivors but we don't want to cut out of our lives?” [Family] [Spiritual friendship] [Unskillful qualities] // [Compassion] [Patience] [Truth] [Aversion] [Admonishment/feedback]


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12. [52:32] “The duty in regard to the First Noble Truth is to understand suffering. How do you do this?” [Noble Truth of Suffering] [Suffering] // [Fear] [Pāli] [Characteristics of existence] [Aversion] [Postures] [Direct experience] [Conditionality] [Relinquishment]


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13. [58:38] “Stillness Flowing by Ajahn Jayasaro, p. 682 "Dhamma Practice"” [Ajahn Chah] [Dhamma] [Practicing in accordance with Dhamma] // [Characteristics of existence]


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14. [1:02:22] Story: Ajahn Chah has all his teeth pulled out. [Ajahn Chah] [Health] // [Suffering]


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15. [1:04:42] “When you have completed the practice, does everything become 'down time?'” [Stages of awakening] [Recreation/leisure/sport] // [Clinging] [Almsfood] [Culture/Natural environment]

Quote: “It's because we reflect on these 'serious things' that we can hold things lightly.” [Recollection]

Suttas: MN 2.13: Reflection on the requisites; AN 5.208: Benefits of chewing toothwood


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16. [1:09:47] “These readings give the sense that the Northeastern Thai Isan culture is the soil that supports the living tradition. Are there cultural attitudes or ingredients that would be helpful for laypeople in addition to the key things of sīla and Right View?” [Culture/Thailand] [Thai Forest Tradition] [Culture/West] [Virtue] [Right View] // [Generosity] [Meditation] [Precepts] [Guilt/shame/inadequacy] [Happiness]