Thursday, May 31, 2012

British Monk Honoured by Thai King

Ven. Phra Bhavanaviteht 
(Luangpor Khemadhammo)

Bangkok Post, Feb 16, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- When he first visited Thailand in December 1971, he went to the Grand Palace on the night of the King's birthday and stood outside taking pictures, hoping to catch a glimpse of the King.

British-born monk, the Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo, was recently honoured with the ecclesiastical title of Chao Khun Bhavanavitayt for his Dhamma work. Recognised for teaching Dhamma in English prisons.

Exactly 33 years later to the day, British-born monk the Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo again found himself at the Grand Palace. This time he was inside to have a royal audience with His Majesty. In a royal ceremony, the King conferred on him the ecclesiastical title of Chao Khun Bhavanavitayt, the second foreign-born monk ever to receive such an honour.

It is an honour he adds to his other royal appointment, the Order of the British Empire, bestowed on him by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II last year.

The decorations recognise his 27 years of compassionate work offering Buddhist spiritual guidance to prisoners in the UK.

Ajahn Chan Subhatto
(Chao Khun Bodhinyanathera)

After being ordained in the forest monk tradition of northeastern Thailand and training under the late meditation master Luang Por (Ajahn) Chah Subhatto (Chao Khun Bodhinyanathera, at Wat Nong Pah Pong) for six years, he returned home to found Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation. Named after one of Buddha's enlightened disciples who had previously been a murderer, the organisation has a team of some 50 volunteers who currently reach 140 prisons throughout England and Wales.

In his soft, measured voice, at once gentle but firm, Phra Ajahn Khemadhammo says with conviction, "Prison is not easy." While people may point, often with resentment, to the TVs, recreational activities and educational opportunities prisoners are given, he maintains that "It's a terrible thing to lose your freedom.

"These people can't go home. They can't go to see their children, mothers, husbands, wives." One prisoner, he remembers, kept a picture postcard of a cell door with no handle on the inside pinned to his wall — a gripping image of the prison experience.

In English prisons, moreover, inmates are kept in small cells unlike the dormitory-style rooms in Thai prisons. "So you're locked up in a very small room with two or three other prisoners, for 23 hours a day, with just yourself and your unhappiness, your anger, everything."

It is an experience that in fact has many parallels with a monk's life. While monks have some freedoms, at the same time their lives are also quite restricted. "You spend your time facing yourself and your kilesa [greed, hatred and delusions]," says the monk.

But unlike monks, prisoners are not taught the skills to deal with the situation, or to put it to constructive use. "So for them, it's just horrible," he says, citing the high suicide rate among British prisoners.

Bringing Dhammic teachings and instruction in Buddhist meditation to the prisoners is a way to help improve their coping skills.

It is not, however, aimed at "rehabilitating" them, he stressed. "I don't think anything like that. Somehow it's not right to. Because if you do, you have a desire for that person to be a certain way. And that is kilesa, actually. And it never works."

The way he teaches prisoners is thus no different from the approach he uses with anyone else and he sees no distinction between his work inside and outside the prisons.

He says his teaching method is heavily influenced by his own master, Ajahn Chah, who would astutely adapt his teaching style to suit each individual. "I watched how he would patiently listen for hours to people who came to the temple. Some of it was boring, trivial stuff. But whenever there was an opportunity to teach people the Dhamma from their own experiences — whoosh, he was like a swordsman. Straight there."

Similarly, Ajahn Khemadhammo draws on the prisoners' real-life experiences to teach them dharma. If they complain about how they are being treated by the prison guards, he uses it as an opportunity to teach them about metta or loving kindness. "I try to get them to consider how others, how the prison guards feel. I try to point out how these men are doing a very hard job, they could be stabbed or killed any day. Even if they aren't, prison guards actually don't have a very long life expectancy, because they're so tense, having to be on guard all the time." He then suggests the prisoners try being nice to the guards which might well change their behaviour.

On the flip side, Ajahn Khemadhammo encourages people in society to empathise with prisoners. Right now, in England, he sees the attitude towards criminals is one of revenge. "What they call 'justice' is an expression of revenge. That just creates more conflict in society."

The key is to see prisoners as humans, not just as criminals. He says, "I see a very good side to them. They've been incredibly generous to me. They send me money. They bring me things. And they're very generous to each other."

Indeed, he says, we must realise that all our lives are mixtures of both good and bad karma. A person may do something really bad, but that may be the only seriously bad thing he does in his life. The rest of his life he may actually be doing quite good things. The goal is to draw out and promote the good karma, which is what he tries to help prisoners do.

One might think teaching prisoners must be especially challenging, but Phra Ajahn Khemadhammo chuckles, "I much prefer teaching prisoners. It's easier to teach prisoners about Buddhism, because they understand suffering," he says.

Perhaps partly due to cultural barriers, he found that when teaching normal English people, many didn't understand his talk of suffering and insisted they didn't suffer. "[But] in prison you have a very powerful experience of suffering. When we talk about the cause of suffering, it's much clearer."

Of course, in reality, people outside prison also suffer, and are actually "imprisoned" in many ways by their views. They are simply not as aware of it as prisoners.

The prisoners' acute suffering gives them a strong motivation to find a way out of it. The way Buddhism puts responsibility for doing so "right back where it belongs", on the prisoners themselves, also challenges them, strengthening their motivation to bring about change. To do so, Buddhism provides highly practical guidance. "It teaches you how you can change by doing this or that, by practising in this way. So suddenly, the huge gap between reality and aspiration — there's a means of closing the gap," he explains.

Have Buddhist teachings proven effective in changing the prisoners? Ajahn Khemadhammo says he has seen that they do become less likely to return to prison once released. Admittedly, many do come back, because it is hard for those who have been in prison for a long time to integrate back into society. They often end up associating with criminal elements and getting drawn back into crime.

"Still, their volition is weakening. But it's like a train. It doesn't just stop. You have to apply the brakes a long way before you get to the station."

One case in point is a notorious criminal who had through the prison gates many times. But the last time he came in, he was in a really bad state and felt he really needed to do something to change his life, recalls Ajahn Khemadhammo. It was then he became interested in Buddhism.

"I gave him a book on Luang Por Chah. He read it three times, straight off. He can quote it to me, he knows it better than I do! He has changed out of all recognition," says Ajahn Khemadhammo, his face beaming at the memory.

In teaching Buddhism, however, he is careful not to be pushy. He teaches only those who express interest, being critical of religious programmes that try to force themselves on those of different faiths.

One new dimension to his work has been participation in an inter-faith Chaplaincy Council where all major faiths are represented. "It's important that we are able to listen to others even if we don't agree with their views. And it's so important now, not just in prisons but in the world at large."

While the world beyond the prison walls has taken notice of his work, Phra Ajahn Khemadhammo says the honours he received reflect a more open attitude towards the prisoners.

"I know the prisoners will be very, very thrilled by all this. Because somehow, it is something for them as well. They will be very pleased that there is some attention being given to a very dark and unpopular corner of society."

More About Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo

Phra Bhavanaviteht (Ajahn Khemadhammo) is the Abbot of Wat Pah Santidhamma, The Forest Hermitage in Warwickshire, England. He has been active in prison chaplaincy and the Buddhist chaplain to a number of prisons in England over the past 35 years. He is the Spiritual Director of Angulimala, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation that he and others founded in 1985. He sits on the Prison Service's Chaplaincy Council and is the Buddhist Adviser to H.M. Prison Service and NOMS (the National Offender Management Service). He is also Chairman of TBSUK (Theravada Buddhist Sangha in the UK). He sits on the SACRE (Standing Advisery Council for Religious Education) in both Warwickshire and Coventry and has led Warwick University Buddhist Society for a number of years.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Brother Visu concluded his series of talks on the Satipatthana Sutta with the assurance from the Buddha himself:

"If anyone should develop these 
four satipatthanas in such a way 
for seven years …. 
even seven days,
one of two fruits could be 
expected for him,
either final knowledge here and now, 
or if there is a trace of 
clinging left, non-returning."

Wow .. what an encouragement from the Buddha himself!

When we find the path "going no where" Brother Visu reminded us that the path of practice is one of a gradual practice, a gradual training and a gradual progress.

When we are too eager —
"When can I be enlightened?"
or having doubts
"Why am I still having 
so much defilements?" —
precisely it is the expectation
that gets in the way.

Just like the handle of an axe,
we cannot measure how much
the handle has worn out,
likewise a meditator after
repeated practice can only
realise that the defilements 
are growing weaker.

Our job is to water the seed. It is the job of the plant to grow.

This concludes the series on Satipatthana Sutta by Brother Visu. All the 17 talks on Satipatthana Sutta can be accessed from — a trusted edition of this very important sutta.

This coming Thursday, Brother Visu will talk on the Four Brahma Viharas to complement our Vipassana practice. 

Do join us on Every Thursday 8 − 10 pm @ Inward Path (14, Phuah Hin Leong Road) as we explore deeper into this wonderful sutta. 

This week will be the last Dhamma Talk by  Brother Visu as he will be traveling to share Dhamma to other parts of the world before coming back end of the year.

This ONE PAGE DHAMMA and Dhamma Talk 
will be available at 

You may also access other Dhamma talks at  

Swas Tan

"Smiles on Faces, Gratitude in Mind."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Health Talk


Fatty liver, high cholesterol, skin allergies, blood pressure, diabetes, gastric, stomach wind problem, arthritis, unknown pain (doctor can't find out reason) etc can be healed by liver/gallstones detox.

As liver & gallbladder are our main detox organs, it is very crucial to maintain the health of liver / gallbladder. You must try out for better health as many diseases seem not relevant with liver / gallbladder but after doing the liver/gallbladder detox,  the diseases' symptom improved amazingly.
H e a l t h    T a l k
@ House of Inward Journey
8:00 evening
22nd May 2012

by Lim Chun Chin
Chinese Physician cum Pharmacist
Lecturer of Penang Chinese Medical Research Institution 
HK International Rheumatism Speciality (Chinese Medicine) College (Cert)
China Xiamen University (Bachelor of Traditional Chinese Medicine)
_/|\_  _/|\_  _/|\_
The Story of King Pasenadi of Kosala

While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (204) of this book, DHAMMAPADA, with reference to King Pasenadi of Kosala.

One day, King Pasenadi of Kosala went to the Jetavana monastery after having his full morning meal. It was said that the king had eaten one quarter basket (about half a bushel) of rice with meat curry on that day; so while listening to the Buddha's discourse he felt very sleepy and was nodding most of the time. Seeing him nodding, the Buddha advised him to take a little less rice everyday and to decrease the amount on a sliding scale to the minimum of one-sixteenth part of the original amount he was taking. The king did as he was told and found that by eating less he became thin, but he felt very much lighter and enjoyed much better health. 

When he told the Buddha about this, the Buddha said to him,

Health is the greatest gift,
Contentment is the greatest wealth,
A trusted friend is the best relative,
Nibbana is the greatest bliss.

Monday, May 14, 2012




Just as you look at your image in
the mirror daily and tidy yourself,
so you should read this treatise and
reflect on yourself every day.
 ~ Ashin Janakabhivamsa

This book “Abhidhamma in Daily Life” is written for the welfare of people, with a view to assist them in acquiring good conduct. The author’s aim can be summarised as follows:
  1. For the readers to develop rightful attitude regarding the circumstances he or she encounters, to be always broad-minded, to live the way of noble living (Brahmavihara) and to conduct a harmonious life.
  2. For the readers to be always in good mood, to develop an unwavering attitude toward life and to be able to live grace whether they are wealthy and happy being successful and prosperous, or whether they are poor and unhappy meeting with failure and calamity. 
  3. For the readers to be those who are making effort to fulfill the Paramis (Perfections) such as dana (charity), sila (morality) etc; in this existence so that they may elevate themselves gradually from the next existence till the attainment of Nibbana.
~ from Preface by Ashin Janakabhivamsa

Abhidhamma in Daily Life 
has been acclaimed as 
the best introduction to 
Buddha’s Noble Teaching, 
especially as a useful guide to 
the knowledge of Abhidhamma. 
The Venerable Sayadaw 
had written in a clear, 
effective style for the benefit 
of lay readers as well as 
for serious scholars. 
This English version, I hope, 
will provide basic Buddhism, 
not only for academic knowledge 
but also to help one to become 
a good person in daily life.

~ Professor U Ko Lay

This newly revised edition with 
new layout and design had been sponsored by
The Late Mr Ang Bah @ Ang Beng Sun

You can get this Free Copy @
30 Jalan Eunos  
Singapore 419495
Tel: 6744 4285 


The boy who was to grow up to become a celebrated teacher of Pali Scriptures and the Abbot of the famous Mahagandharama Monastery of Amarapura, Mandalay Division, was born on Tuesday the fourteenthth waning day of Tabodwe 1261, ME. (27 February 1900) of U Zaw Ti and Daw Ohn Hline in Tha-yine village, Wetlet township, Shwebo district, Sagaing Division.

In 1266, when he was five years old, he was sent to the local monastery and was initiated for the first time in accordance with traditional custom into the Order of the Samgha as a novice, samanera. Nine years later in 1275 when he was initiated for the second time into the Order, it was to spend his life-time as a disciple of the Buddha in His Dispensation.

At the age of eighteen in 1279 M.E. (1918) while he was still a samnanera, he passed the Government examination at the higher level Pathamagyi.

When he came of age he was ordained a full-fledged Buddhist monk with the title of U Janaka on the Full-moon day of Tabaung 1280 M.E. (1919). He had the distinction of being ordained thrice in his life, the second time on the Full-moon day of Nayon 1281 M.E. (1920) and the third on the Full-moon day of Tabaung, 1281 M.E. (1920).

His preceptor saw to it that he studied under the best teachers in the two most prominent centres of Pariyatti learning in Myanmar, namely, Mandalay and Pakhokku. The advanced courses in the Pali Canon, the Commentaries, Sub-commentaries, exegeses, and expositions were thoroughly learned from the most distinguished teachers of these centres where he was afforded the opportunity of acting as a probationary teacher himself under their guidance.

Thus to pass the Government Pathamagyaw examination in 1287, standing first, and to gain outright success in the specially difficult Sakyasiha-Lecturership examination in 1289 for the title of Pariyattisasanahita Dhammacariya were for him just matters of routine.

By that time he had already started launching his whole time job of writing books which were to be useful guides and manuals for his thousands of students who later gathered round him till he passed away. He also wrote many small manuals for lay Buddhists who have no opportunity to study the Teaching of the Buddha directly from the Pali Canon.

It was at the time when the rumblings of the World War II began to reach the shores of Myanmar and the Japanese forces began to appear at the eastern border that the Venerable Janakabhivamsa who had already become a noted teacher and writer began to settle down in his own monastery at Amarapura, about 6 miles south of Mandalay. It was an old monastery called Mahagandharama which belonged to his mentor the First Mahagandharama Sayadaw. There were only three dilapidated buildings with five resident monks including himself when he decided to settle down there and bring it up to be a prosperous monastic educational institution.

Mahagandharama or  
Mahagandayon Monestry at Amarapura, 
Mandalay MYANMAR (present time)

That he had succeeded in his endeavour even beyond his expectations was evidenced by the fact that when he passed away in 1977, there were over 500 bhikkhu and samanera disciples under his charge as residential students of Tipitaka, strictly following the Vinaya (Disciplinary) Rules as laid down by the Buddha, and 97 monastic dwellings donated by devotees. He had managed to provide residential accommodation for all his students and early morning meal for all of them. The midday meal was collected by the students by going on alms-round. He was among the first recipients of the title of Aggamahapandita, the Superior Learned One, bestowed by the first President of Independent Myanmar.

For full thirty five years between 1942 and 1977, he was intensely and incessantly active in the cause of purification and propagation of the Sasana, conducting courses of instruction in Pitakas, writing text books and sub-commentaries and many religious handbooks for lay people.

At the time of the Sixth Buddhist Council which was begun in May 1954, he was busily engaged in various committees: as an advisor, Chattha Sangiti Ovadacariya Samgha Nayaka; as Performer of various duties at the Sixth Council, Chattha Sangiti Bharanittharaka, as an editor of Pali Texts, Chattha Sangiti Palipativisodhaka; and a Reader of Texts which have reached the final stage of redaction, Osanasodheyyapattapathaka.

Throughout all these years while he was actively engaged in teaching, in administration of his fast growing monastery with attendant supervision of constructions and provision of accommodation and meals for increasing number of students and attending to duties incumbent upon being appointed a member of many committees of the Sixth Council, he never failed to continue writing books and managing their publication.

He wrote in all 74 books made up of 11 books on Pali grammar, 14 books on Vinaya, 14 books on Abhidhamma, 8 books on Suttanta Pitaka and 24 books on miscellaneous subjects dealing with all aspects of Buddhist Teaching and Sasana; he managed to publish 50 of them before he passed away.

He started writing books from the time he became a Thera of ten years standing at the age of thirty (1930) and continued to do so till 5 days before his death on December 1977. He had great desire to help the bhikkhu students of Pali Canon master easily the teachings of the Buddha including their expositions in the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries. He also had in mind to give as much Buddhist education to the lay disciples who are incapable of devoting entirely to the study of scriptures, by writing popular books such as this one, "Abhidhamma in Daily Life", for example. "The Last Ten Months of the Buddha" was another book written for the benefit of laymen. It was a strange coincidence that as the Revered Sayadaw was coming to an end of his discourse on the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Mahavagga of Digha Nikaya and its Commentary in December, 1977, eleven months away from his demise he started writing "The Last Ten Months of the Buddha".

It was also during these last eleven months that he compiled an autobiography "Tabhava Samsara" dealing with all aspects of his life, touching on his struggles, pains, hostilities, jealousies, triumphs and above all on his metta, karuna, cetana for all beings with the greatest kindness for Myanmar people. He managed to complete his autobiography up to 13 days before he expired, the last gap being filled and completed by his devoted disciple Bhaddanta Candobhasa.

The illustrious author, the Venerable Bhaddanta Janakabhivamsa passed away after a short illness, at the age of 78 on the 2nd waning of Nattaw, 1339 M.E., 27th December 1977, a great loss for all Myanmar and the Buddha Sasana.

~ from 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life', translated by U Ko Lay, 1999


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Simple Joys is a weekly series of reflections by Piya Tan, with the singular aim of inspiring us to look at the brighter side of life, to see our natural potential for inner and true happiness. At the same time, the reflections show that the Buddha Dharma, in its original teachings, is like the fresh air, and we need only to breathe it in, as we feel what we reflect on. The reflections are mostly in prose poetry, which is Piya’s favourite style of presenting the Dharma in his writings. 

Piya often quips: 
“If someone comes to you 
with a personal problem, 
and you feel it is a little too 
heavy for you, 
pass that person a copy 
of Simple Joys!” 

These reflections also aim to make us happy, so that we go on to joyfully sit in meditation, and spread our lovingkindness to others. 

Contents for the Book:
• Man, the Unfinished
• Minding Change, Changing Mind
• Your Mind: Use It or Lose It (Preventing Dementia)
• Living Buddhism
• Even a Donkey Can Be Wise
• Driving Meditation
• Truly Renouncing
• Keep What You Cannot Lose
• Small Change

The next time you think 
you cannot solve your problem, 
try observing a toddler 
who is learning to walk. 
He or she stands, 
tries to take a step, falls flat, 
stands again, falls again, and so on. 
But the toddler never gives up, 
and he or she is now able to 
walk very well. 
 That toddler was you!
 ~adapted from chp Living Buddhism

To best way to grow spiritually,
is to be willing and able let go of 
our old views and past conditionings,
even temporarily, and listen to our hearts.
There is always something to learn from listening.
That is why the Buddha's saints are called 
 ~adapted from chp Minding Change, Changing Mind


Friday, May 4, 2012


Jayasena Jayakody

 Translated to English by 
K.D. De Lanerolle

Launching of the Book 
High Commission of Sri Lanka

on Vesak Eve, 4th May 2012
@ Mahindarama Buddhist Temple
No. 2 Kampar Road, 10460 Penang

Get your free copy NOW

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Life Of The Buddha


This documentary covers the life of Siddhartha Gautama, a young prince from India who went out to find the reason for "Dukkha" [problems] of human life. He later found the reason of Dukkha and teached a way to live life. He was later known as the Buddha, the founder of "Buddhism". 

The religion with no God.

"If there is any religion  
that would cope with  
modern scientific needs it  
would be Buddhism."
 -Albert Einstein

Life of Buddha documentary is available with English, Greek and Catalan Subtitles.

Copyrights of the video belongs to BBC.