Almost 2,600 years ago in Northern India, a young prince left the luxuries of the palace and took up the life of a homeless wanderer in the forest in order to find freedom from the sufferings of the cycle of birth, ageing, illness and death. After six years of searching, he awakened to that freedom while sitting under a Bodhi tree. For the remainder of his life, he taught the way to this freedom, Awakening or Enlightenment to all those who were interested. By the time of his passing away - again in the forest - he had established a large body of teachings, as well as an organized community of disciples devoted to following the way to release and to teaching it to others.
History records his name as the Buddha, and his teachings as Buddhism. He himself, though, called his teachings Dhamma and Vinaya. Dhamma means the way of religious practice in accordance with nature so as to understand things as they are in and of themselves and - in particular - to realize the deathlessness which exists in the midst of the changes and sufferings of nature. Vinaya means discipline, the rules of right living which promote the harmony and well-being of the community of those devoted to the path of Dhamma.
Over the years, countess groups and individuals have made the effort to live in line with the Dhamma and Vinaya so as to realize freedom from the sufferings of the world. Many of them have left the life of ordinary society and gone into the forest so as to be closer to nature which formed the setting for the Buddha’s own search and provided the inspiration for his Awakening.
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahatto Sammasambuddhassa
Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Nanasampanno was born into the Lohitdee family on August 12th, 1914 in Baan Taad village which is located in Udon Thani province in the northeastern part of Thailand. He is one of 17 children from a family of rice farmers. As a child he entered school and received an education right up to the third grade level - the highest level available in his village at the time.
From the time of his childhood he was always sincere, truthful, resolute, and reasonable - characteristics which were to be of great help to him later in the practice of Dhamma. At the age of 21, his parents asked him to enter the monkhood in keeping with Thai tradition. Doing so shows one’s gratitude towards one’s parents. Eventually, he decided to ordain at Yothanimit monastery in Udon Thani province. He was ordained on May 12th, 1934 with Venerable Chao Khun Dhammachedi as his Preceptor. His Preceptor gave him the Pali name ‘Nanasampanno’ which means ‘one endowed with wisdom’.
He intended to ordain simply out of tradition and had no idea of remaining a monk as long as he has. After entering the monkhood, he studied the biographies of the Lord Buddha and his Enlightened Disciples, and became so impressed with their lives that there arose within him feelings of faith, confidence and the desire to gain the same attainments as the Enlightened Disciples of the Buddha. He decided to study first in order to understand the way of practicing the Dhamma which would in turn lead to Nibbana (Nirvana). However, he set himself the condition that he would not study past the third level of Pali studies for fear he would forget himself and the true goal. This was the oath by which he set to discipline himself.
During his Pali studies he sometimes passed and sometimes failed. So, too, he spent time studying Dhamma and Vinaya - Vinaya being the monastic rules of correct conduct. After a period of seven years he finally succeeded in passing the third level of Pali studies together with the highest level in Dhamma and Vinaya studies. After that, he aimed solely at the practice of Dhamma with hopes of studying directly with Venerable Acariya Mun, one of the most renowned meditation masters at that time. He had heard of Acariya Mun while still a youth, and now, since the time of his ordination, Venerable Acariya Mun’s reputation had grown even greater.
While Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa was in Chiang Mai, he had the chance to talk with those senior monks who had stayed with Acariya Mun. He heard of the practice and routines followed by Acariya Mun, and from what was said it was clear that Acariya Mun was not an ordinary monk but one of those Fully Enlightened. Acariya Maha Boowa’s heart thus became more intent towards his own personal practice. He determined to devote both his heart and life totally to Acariya Mun with the confidence that the Paths, Fruitions and Nibbana still existed. He then went in search of Venerable Acariya Mun, and when he finally met him he was pleased with his efforts because it seemed as if Venerable Acariya Mun already knew his desires, intentions, and doubts. All questions in his mind were clarified and set straight by Acariya Mun, who made clear to him that the Paths and Fruitions leading to Nibbana still existed. All doubts vanished, and he said to himself: "Now, I have come to the real thing. He has made everything clear and I no longer have doubts. It is now up to me to be true or not. I’m determined to be true!"
That was in 1942. From that time on, he entrusted himself to Venerable Acariya Mun. As a disciple of his, he studied and practiced with strong and earnest determination. He began to take his meditation practice very seriously. Living in the forests and mountains in peaceful seclusion and away from villages and people, He was determined that whether he lived or died, his heart would be directed solely towards the Paths and Fruitions leading to Nibbana.
While studying with Venerable Acariya Mun, he learned the methods of practice, including meditation, followed by Acariya Mun based on the principles of Buddhism and the code of Buddhist discipline. And he himself practiced until he had a firm and clear vision of his own heart without the least shred of doubt. Consequently, he has continued to follow these same methods of practice in both his own teaching and training of monks and novices. Owing to the deep respect and admiration he has for Venerable Acariya Mun - whom he has likened to a father and mother to his students - he was inspired to compose a biography of Venerable Acariya Mun which aimed at disseminating his methods of practice as well as documenting his exemplary character for the sake of coming generations. Furthermore, as testament to his reverence to Venerable Acariya Mun, he has written many books on the practice of Buddhist meditation, together with many recorded teachings on Dhamma in order that Buddhists will have a path to follow in the practice of meditation.
The first Rains Retreat he spent with Acariya Mun was at Khok village in Sakon Nakhon province. The Rains Retreat is a period of intensified practice lasting for a period of time from July into October. He stayed with him at this location for two years...