The heart of what Luang Por was teaching, the two things he was stressing above all else, were the Vinaya and meditation practice. The monastic regimen was not to be discarded or interrupted under any circumstances. If it wasn’t absolutely necessary then there was no break from group meetings. He laid great emphasis on meditation practice. You were told to do walking and sitting meditation, to put forth effort frequently: morning, noon and night. If you had some task to perform then you were to see to it and then return to your meditation.
The monks weren’t interested in chatting or playing around. Everyone kept to themselves and did their practice. The laypeople who went to the monastery did the same. They listened to talks and learned about the Dhamma. They took meditation practice seriously and applied themselves to it at the appropriate times. Sometimes we’d practice until eleven or twelve at night before he’d let us go back. That would give you two hours of rest. How could you go to sleep for two hours? You just ended up sitting propped up against a wall or a tree somewhere near the meditation hall. You’d never be in time to ring the bell: Luang Por would always be there first. We tried our best but who could make do with as little sleep as him? He endured great physical pain, but the results appeared.
The first thing he told us to do was to establish stable mindfulness: to make it continuous, not to get lost or distracted or let it be cut off. He taught us to establish mindfulness, nurture our faith, incline our minds towards the Triple Gem of Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. He himself had genuine reverence and he taught that reverence to us too.
- A reflection by one of Ajahn Chah’s disciples on the early days at Ajahn Chah’s first monastery, Wat Pah Pong