Short Biography of Luangta Maha Bua Yannasampanno
Wat Pa Baan Taad, Udon Thani, Thailand
Luangta was born into a farmer’s family with the last name “Lohitdee” in the village of Ban Tad, Amper Munag District,Udorn Thanee Province on Tuesday 12th August 1913 . This date falls on the 11th night of the waxing moon 9th Month , the Year of the Ox. His Father’s name is “Mr Thongdee”, his mother’s name is “Mrs Pang”. His parents gave him the auspicious name “Bua” (which means lotusflower).
When his Mother was pregnant, she mentioned to the family and relatives that “The nature of the baby in the womb as it grows, it will move and this the mother will be able to feel. However, the nature of this child differs from others for it sleeps and stays still, very quiet as if there is no breathing. The Mother often thought and worried why is the baby not moving, why is it so quiet, can it be that the baby is already dead?”. However when the baby did moves, it also moved around more than other babies, it really trashed inside her and his Mother felt very intense pain at the stomach. When the birth drew near, the Mother felt the birth pangs for 3 days but there was no sign of birth. While in such a great pain she thought she is going to die, but then suddenly inside her it became again so quiet that she thought has the baby already died? Then the baby starts wriggleling again...”
His grandfather guessed the character of the baby in the womb like that: “If it is a boy, whatever he desires, he will be very firm about it, with great determination and seriousness about everything he does and not being ambiguent”. When the baby was finally born, the placenta was thrown over his shoulder. When grandfather saw that, he said “ alms-bowl strap” and predicted three things:
- alms-bowl strap: if he becomes a philosopher, he will shake the earth.
- robust strap: if he becomes a hunter, his skills will shake the forests.
- chain strap:if he becomes a thief, there will be no prison that is able to lock him up.
Luangta is an intelligent child, diligent, patient and very responsible. It is reflected in his excellent school grade. He was ranked second in Primary 1 and when he was in Primary 2 and 3, he ranked first in both. When he finished Primary 3 which was the highest compulsory education level at that time, he did not continue education at any level.
Luangta’s character is honest and determined. Whatever he does, he does with great determination and sincerity. When he works, he does not want people to see or know. Even though he has been ordained as a monk, when he was practicing, he would not allow anybody to spot him easily, so when he was doing walking meditation he hid in the forest. At night, he waited for everybody to go back to the monks’ dwellings, before he started doing his walking meditation. His outstanding point is his immense patience. It could be inferred from his working style, that he will continue working until his work is completely done. If it was not too dark or it was time to eat, he would not quit his work until his siblings complained to his parents “If his parents do not go and work as well, our older brother will not stop working, and does not let us stop working as if we his siblings should have to work until we die”.
Reason for Ordainment
When Luangta was old enough to ordain as a monk, his Father raised the subject of becoming a Monk while having dinner: I have many sons but none of them even thinks about ordination for the well being of his Father. I really want to see someone in the yellow robes before I pass away, because then I and can pass away peacefully and without any worries. Among all his children, the Father wasn't interested in any of them except Luangta. Luangta was the only one he really could depend on.
The Father praised Luangta that whatever Luangta does he can trust and depend on him – even he himself cannot achieche the level of skills of Luangta. Whenever his Father asked him to be ordained, he stayed quiet and did not reply, as if he did not have any ears and a mouth to speak. The Father told that if he passed away, there will be no one able to lift him out from the hell. His father said, that if he cannot depend on Luangta, there is no hope, for under all his sons, he can only depend on Luangta.
“After his Father said this, he broke instantly out in tears. When his Mother saw her husband crying she also started to cry. When Luangta saw this, he felt terrible and could not stand this. I instantly left the dinner table and fled into his room. This was the reason for him to become ordained ……………….....”
Entering the Monkhood
He ordained as a monk at the Monastery of Yothanimit in the village of Ban Nongkonkwang, sub district of Nongbua , district of Udon Thanee, in the Province of Udon Thanee. He ordained on Tuesday 12th May 1934, which falls on the 9th Night of the Waxing Moon, 7th Month, the Year of the Dog. His preceptor was Lord Abbot Prathammajedi (Jum Panutulo), Monastery of Pothisomporn, Muang District, district of Udon Thanee, in the Province of Udon Thanee. He received as his ordination name the name “Yannasampanno” which means “accomplished with insight”
As his personal character was a to be determined and sincere, he thought to himself, “that after being ordained, I will be ordained completely and stay within Dhamma Principle and the Discipline that no one will be able to criticize me. I will be earnest and serious until the day I leave the monkhood which is probably in about two years time. I will fulfill my duty as a monk as best as I can and if that means to study, I will do my best to accomplish my duty”.
Despite of Studying Buddhism, he did not forsake to practice meditation.
Luangta asked his Teacher about the practice of meditation. “Dear teacher I would like to practice, can you tell me how I can do this?” He replied: “Hmm! Well, the practice of Buddho, I do the same sort of practice. Luangta practiced diligently. In the beginning, his mind would not calm down much. However, after practicing often and repeatedly, his mind started to calm down respectively until one day he saw the wonder of the citta (mind -heart).
“When I study the Dhamma, it makes me, since my training as a Novice in the Monks Teachings, which is the basic education background, wonder and it strikes me. After I have read the Buddha’s biography, I felt depressed, because I pitied our Lord Buddha when he faced hardship. He seems to torture himself for His Enlightenment until my tears were running continuously. When I have finished reading, I was so inpired by the Lord Buddhas perseverance. He was a Prince who abandoned a kingdom to become a monk. He became a so-called beggar. At that time, there was not any religion. In the sense terms such as to give to receive this kind of merit, to maintain the precepts will yield that kind of merit. This did not exist at that time. Siddhartha was impoverished and had to beg directly. For six years he trained is mind and body through his own abilities in every sort of way until he became enlightened to become the Lord Buddha.”
While Luangta was reading the Lord Buddha’s biography of his Enlightenment, he felt so amazed and wonderful until he brake out in tears. At the same time, when Luangta also read the biographies of the many Buddhist Arahants at the time of the Lord Buddha, who were from different family background, e.g. from royality, millionaires, well-to-do, traders, public as well as normal people, he told himself:
“...after anyone from any kind of family background has listened to the Buddha’s Teachings, they went into the forests to practice seriously. Then one by one succeeded to become an Arahant at that forest, or this mountain, that cave or that place. These were always quiet places. Faith arouse in him and mis mind startet to ponder about these matters and slowly the outside(worldly) matters disappeared…….”
“...In the beginning, I thought I would like to go to heaven and the Brahma worlds, but the more I read the biographies of His disciples, I did not want to go to these places anymore, instead I wanted to attain Nibbana. In the end, I desired only alone to attain Nibbana. I only want to become a Buddhist Arahant. That is my sole intention. Now my mind settled only on this one option. My original intention to become a monk for only 2 years dissipated slowly. On the contrary I became more and more pleased with being a monk. I got more and more absorbed into the Dhamma and this also changed my mind…………”
As a result of this, he left the village of Ban Tad later to study in different places. He swore to himself, that “When I have graduated the from the Buddhas Teaching level 3 , I will practice only, without any excuse or condition, because I want to be free from dukkha (dissatisfaction), I want to become an Arahant.”
Nevertheless, he was doubtful at that time “Is in this time and day, the attainment of Nibbana still possible, just like in the time of the Lord Buddha?” He kept this doubt deep in his heart burried, for he could not express this to anyone else. This is the reason why he wanted to meet Than Acharn Mun Buridattho. He had heard of his fame for a long time. Luangta felt deeply in his heart that Than Acharn Mun Buridattho will be able to resolve his doubt.
In 1941, Luangta graduated in from the School of Buddhist Scriptures in the monastery of Chedi Luang. It was his seventh year as a monk. He passed the Doctor of Teaching and Buddhist Teaching - level 3 – (there are 9 levels) that same year. He said that “While I am studying the Buddhist Scriptures for 7 years, I could not practice wholeheartedly. I could only be peaceful for a short periods of time. Only three times in these years was I able to go deep into meditation, my mind became extremely quiet, until everything around me, the world, my body disappeared from my awareness, the only thing left was “knowingness” (this state of meditation is also known as appana samadhi) …..”
After his graduation, Luangta thought about his oath he undertook in the beginning, so he traveled to Bangkok to bid goodbye to his senior monk, his Teacher. But his teacher was invited to a rural province, therefore, he went to pay his respects to the Supreme Monk Maha Weerawong (Tisso Uan), who was at that time the Abbot of the monastery of Baromnivat. So he went to pay respects and asked for permission. The Supreme Monk Maha Weerawong was glady giving Luangta the permission to leave.
Practicing seriously and
putting his life at the stake of Dhamma
Luangta traveled to Nakorn Rachasrima Province and carried only the book of the monastic discipline (the 227 Rules for the monk) in his shoulderbag. He stayed for the rainsretreat at a monastery in the Jakkarat District. This is now the eighth year of his monkshood. He practiced diligently day and night since the first moment and throughout the rainsretreat.
“This time I will practice earnestly and to full measures so as to obtain good result, no matter if I will stay alive or die. I don’t hope for any other things except to be free from dukkha. This very life I will make it sure to transcend dukkha! I only ask that somebody will help me to explain if there is a way to Nibbana for real. Then I will give my whole life to that person and will devout body and mind to the essence of Dhamma. I will not ask for anything else than to put everything into my practice, no matter if I am going to die. If I die I want to die practicing the Dhamma, I don't want to die while retreating from my practice, or die with a deteriorated mind or a broken spirit .”
Luangta traveled from Nakorn Rachasrima Province and headed towards Udon Thanee Province. He intended to stay the rainsretreat with Than Acharn Mun at the the forest monastery of Nonniwet Temple. However, Luangta could not catch up with him, for Than Acharn Mun has been invited to go to the Sakon Nakorn Province. Therefore, Luangta went to stay at the monastery of Tungsawang in Nongkai Province. At the same time, there was a monk from the monastery of Ban Koknamon that told him: “Than Acharn Mun is very fierce, he is not only fiercely admonishing us, but if necessary he will kick us out as well.”
After Luangta heard this, he felt a conviction in his heart about the determination of Than Acharn Mun and thought to himself: “.. This Monk will become my Teaching Master. I must go and see for myself about how fierce he is. It is not possible that such a famous Teaching Master, who is well-known all over Thailand, scold us and chase us away without any reason....”
Meeting with Than Acharn Mun
Luangta stayed at the monastery of Tungsawang for 3 months. In May 1942, his 9th year of being a Monk, he traveled out of Nongkai to Sakon Nakorn and headed towards Than Acharn Mun, who stayed at the Bankok, Tongkob Sub-District, city-District of Sakon Nakorn, Sakon Nakorn Province.
Luangta asked the direction to the monastery from the villagers and walked along the path until he arrived there at the start of night. When he saw a pavilion, he became suspicious: “If this is a saala (meetinghall), then this is too small but if it is a monk’s dwelling, then this is too big.” Than Acharn Mun happened to be walking in meditation at the side of the saala. Luangta walked up to meet Than Acharn Mun on the meditation path. Than Acharn Mun then asked “Who has come?” Luangta replied: “Pom krab (It’s me.) ”. Than Acharn Mun scowled and replied immediately with wit “Even a bald head person has also pom (hair), not to say a person with hair….(pom in thai means hear and I)” When Luangta heard that, he knew he has made a mistake and therefore replied again “My name is Maha Bua” Than Acharn Mun replied: “Yes, just introduce yourself properly like that, so that people understand. When you only mentioned “pom” (I), everyone has pom(hair) on their head.”
Then Luangta had the opportunity to explain to Than Acharn Mun about his background and where he was coming from, where he stayed and asked for permission to stay with him. But within his heart he was a bit worried “I don’t want to hear that this place is full and cannot accept any more. I cannot take this, I will be heart broken…..” After a while, Than Acharn Mun said that “ Today, the Monk Nate happened to leave this temple and you Maha Bua came today, otherwise you could not have stayed, for a monk’s dwelling would not have been available.” Than Acharn Mun said this with a normal voice. Even though he already out of his compassion accepted Luangta to stay, nevertheless, Luangta could not help to fear that he would not be accepted to stay.
No more suspicion about Attainment of Nibbana
Than Acharn Mun said, as if he could read Luangta’s thought, directly on the first night:
“.. . You have come to look for attainment of Nibbana. Where is nibbana? Soil is soil, water is water, wind is wind, fire is fire, weather is weather, and the elements they are made out of exists on themselves. These things are not path fruit and Nibbana and they are not the kilesas (defilements).”
“The real kilesas, and the real path fruit and Nibbana is in the heart. You should fix your awareness at your heart and then you will see the movement of Dhamma and kilesas in the heart. At the same time, you will also see the path fruit and Nibbana respectively..........”
Than Acharn Mun explained him about the attainment of Nibbana from the bottom of his true heart. Luangta then felt confident and believed that the attainment of Nibbana still exists. His former suspicion on this matter, that stayed in his heart, now totally disappeared..
Discontent because of a not concentrated Mind
Luangta’s meditation began to deteriorate because he fixed his umbrella, that also serves as a small tent. “...
It is the condition of the mind, that cannot concentrate enough to make the citta stable enough, like he had experienced before. Sometimes he could concentrate enough to make the mind calm, sometimes not. His practiced deteriorated in a way, that he thought he is going to die real. Therefore he experienced heavy dukkha, for he has tasted the great value of deep concentration. However, his meditation has deteriorated and he felt restless all the time as if his heart was burning alight day and night, standing or walking, sitting or sleeping. This is really extreme dukkha , for he wanted to have that kind of samadhi (concentration) again, that he had experienced before.”
However, Luangta put up his resoluteness and determination to fight the kilesas. He always says that “If the kilesas do not die, I will die. They cannot stay together, kilesas and me! This is unacceptable.” He has received a trick from Than Acharn Mun: Don't think that your mind deterioated, just think Buddho. Replace every thought about it repeatedly with Buddho.. After repeating Buddho continuously, the concentration will come on its own. If the mind concentrates and you loose Buddho, then it will deterioate, for the mind has nothing to concentrate on. Concentrate on the “Buddho” and your mind becomes stable again.”
The 9th year of his monkhood is the first year that Luangta stayed during the rainsretreat with Than Acharn Mun at Ban Kok, Sakon Nakorn Province. He promised himself that “……….I must use the meditation word “Buddho” to control my citta all the time regardless whether I am meditating or not or wherever I am. Even though I am sweeping the monastery grounds or do other daily activities, I will not let my mind slip out of the “Buddho”….” Because of Luangta’s determination, his citta came to peace and did not deteriorate again!
Practicing diligently and meditating all Night long
The 10th year of his monkhood he spend at Ban Namon, Sakon Nakorn Province. This is the second year that Luangta stayed with Than Acharn Mun. During that year, he practiced more diligently and with all his might, than before both concerning the mind and body. He did not sleep at all during daytime except for the days he sat meditating through the night (6p.m. til 6.a.m.). Then he would take a rest during the day. Otherwise when he practiced normally he would not rest at all during the day. On the night that he meditated through the night, he would not change his sitting position nor move his legs. The dukkha tormentation, that he experienced because of this he would explain as follows:
“...as if the whole buttock was swollen up, my bones felt like broken every piece and at every joint and even the wrist felt like it was in two pieces. Feelings of dukkha and very painful feelings when they occurred, then everywhere, at each location at each point within the body …...”
His diligence in meditation through the night for nine or ten nights like this let his buttock swell up and the skin burst and stained the robe. But because of this sitting through the night and sitting through painful feelings he did experience the wonder of the citta. Therefore and because he was able to investigate thoroughly through painful feelings, through the the nature of body and the mind, he was able to experience the heartfelt Dhamma.
Addiction to Samadhi for Five Years
During that period, his meditation was very solid and stable. He could determine to sit in samadhi(concentration) for as many hours as he liked and on top of it experienced a high intensity of happiness. He did not want to leave samadhi and be disturbed with anything whatsoever and was just satisfied to be able to firmly concentrate in onepointedness, in other words, just knowingness. Finally, he thought that this outstanding knowingness is nothing else than Nibbana. He got addicted to this kind of happiness arising from samadhi for 5 full years. Finally Than Acharn Mun had to use a trick to lure him out, by saying “Would you like to lie down and die like this? Do you know that the happiness in samadhi is like meat that gets stuck between your teeth?. Do you know the samadhi of the Lord Buddha? Samadhi must know it is samadhi and investigation must know it is investigation. You just take samadhi and think this is Nibbana. You are really crazy about samadhi. Samadhi, that looks like you are liying there dead, do you think that is Right samadhi?”
Through the power of the Dhamma scolding of Than Acharn Mun, Luangta came out of his samadhi. Once out he learned to practice investigation very fast. His mind turned around day and night and he did not sleep. And he even critizied his samadhi: “you just sleep and don't get anything from it!” Actually, practicing samadhi, when it is done properly, this is the way how to rest the mind and it is like a whetstone that sharpens the knife of wisdom. Hoiwever, when he turned to investigation he did not rest the mind, so Than Acharn Mun reprimanded him again and said “Now you are crazy of thoughts and you fall for them! You use too much thinking, falling from one extreme into the other. Then of course thoughts into worldly things. If you would use your thoughts of investigation appropriately, then this would be the way how to kill the kilesas!”
Investigation to overcome Sexual Desire
Luangta uses the contemplation of asubha (loathsomeness) of the body. He trains him to see people as a bag of bones wrapped in by skin. There is only red meat and skin. Because of this sexual desire did not appear in him. The sexual (sensual) desire slowly disappeared without letting him know the time and place of disappearance. There was something wrong here he thought, so he switched during walking meditation to see the beauty in things and sticked to beautify things. He took this kind of practice and practiced it for four full days. After the fourth day of this practice around 9.00 -10.00 pm,, suddenly something arose in his heart. He felt a bit restless as if he was still attached to beauty. Then he told himself, sensual desire is not yet over. Then he chose to do the practice asubha in front of his eyes. He concentrated down on this image and looked if it was stable or if it was moving here and there. He put all his attention on it, until he could discern that asubha itself came from his own mind. No matter if it is beautiful or loathsome, the citta is the one who decides on it and falls for its own decision perceiving it as beautiful or ugly! Once he had this insight the citta let instantly go of the external beauty and loathsomeness. It was gone now for good! And that is the way it should happen!
Great Awareness, Great Wisdom
Once the mind (had finished the investigation of the mind Groups) and was completely empty, knowledge arouse completely about the nature of the five groups: body, feeling, memory, thought and consciousness. It knew about everything already, there is nothing more to know about this. And the only thing left was this knowingness. There was something about this Knowingness, that sucks us in and make us drink it. Whatever has arisen in the citta, the moment it arose, it instantly fell away. At the time of the Lord Buddha this was called Great awareness and Great wisdom, but today we could call it automatic awareness and wisdom. This would be a proper description for the citta is very bright and outstanding. Luangta then went to see Than Acharn Mun and related this experience to him. Than Acharn Mun said loudly and pronounced : “Yes, that’ s right. Now you are experienced You have come to the right path and criteria. I myself achieved this stage at Sarika Cave, just the same as Maha (Bua). That is the correct way.”
Destroying Ignorance and getting rid of the Cycle of Rebirth
This is his 16th year of monkhood. It is the 9th year of practice and he is at the monastery of Doi Dhammmachedi. On Monday 15thMay 1950 which is the 14th night of waning moon, 6th month at exactly 11.00 pm Luangta successfully cleared the problem between the kilesas and Dhamma in his heart. Luangta compassionately said about his mind at that point:
When Awareness and Wisdom focused in on this kind of citta a strange knowledge arose in his heart: “Whether it is sorrow, brightness, happiness, suffering - all these are only worldly things and are not permanent” At this point awarness and wisdom knew that while the citta is hold in custody by ignorance, and all these things are impermanent, one should let go of this. One should not cling to this. After this knowledge arose and warned awareness and wisdom, the things responsible for investigation, it just took a second to realizeit so that the citta and sati panna could completely come to a halt in equanimity. They all stood dead still, nothing moved. The citta had no focus of attention and was just as still, wisdom was not working and awareness was just aware, not focused on anything. The citta, wisdom and awareness, are completely at peace. At this point the worldy elelements within the citta, with avijja as its sole disturber, exploded, broke apart and left from the heart. What remained was the liberated citta.
First Practice yourself, then Train Others
This is following the Example of the Lord Buddha
Luangta Pra Maha Bua Yannasampanno is considered as an important figure in Buddhism who has greatly contributed to the Thai nation. His Practice and behavior is adorable and serves as a good example for the next generation to follow his footsteps. He practiced himself by achieving the highest level of Dhamma in Buddhism. His work has been finished. He is also compassionate towards his friends and relatives to the highest levels. Through his Dhamma instrauctions for the monks and novices and his mother. He trained his mother until she reached the noble land.
He Engaged in good deeds for the world. His compassion has spread widely such as donations to hospitals, government departments, schools, the Poor, victims of disasters, support Buddhism, establish a Dhamma radio network for the public. Most importantly, Luangta gave Dhamma Talks with the objective of how to attain Nibbana. This is the Riches of Dhamma of endless value that he gave to everyone of us.
Even at the last moment before passing to attain Parinibbana, Luangta’s compassion still shines and covers the whole of Thailand. For Luangta has said that “My corpse will be burned by firewood. The money (that is given) must be used to buy gold and put as national reserve in the Central Treasury” Have you ever heard anybody saying such things? You wont have heard such words ever before. However, Luangta despite of his old age, said this with openly and with firm conviction!
Luangta is a very senior monk who has made great contributions to his country. He has many disciples who highly respect him. Luangta is also a father (in Dhamma) to “Her youngest Royal Highness” Princess Chulaporn Valailuck. Therefore, at the worldly level how great the things might be, he can manage to accomplish these great things.
However, what now appears before our very eyes is the simple funeral pyre, but elegant and dignified. The sarcophagus where Luangta’s remaining body lays will remain as a beautiful picture in the memory of every disciple and draws attention to everyone who has seen it.
Luangta has used his body to make the hearts of the whole Thai nation to one single heart and thus become the sacred gold which is kept at the National Treasury. The gold shines in bright yellow rays. This is the last piece of gift: “The Golden heart” that he gives to his Thai brothers and sisters and help to protect the “National Treasury” to stay with the Thai nation forever.
Now, Luangta has passed away and entered Parinibbana, gone from all of us and will not return again. We have come here to send Luangta until the last point on the border, which is the borderline between the World and Freedom. Let us recall about some of Luangta’s words:
“When I’m living this life, I will do good deeds for the world as an example and have compassion for the world, because after this...when I die... will I not return to this world, nor will I be born in this world ever again”
This is such a courageous thing to say, just like that Roar of the lion king with great powers. This old aged monk has proclaimed Buddhism with great power and compassion towards all living things. This is like raining water from the sky to a dried out earth, so that the soil will become cool and moist.
Luangta is also Parents, Master and Teacher to every disciple. Luangta has been a huge and comforting shelter for all the disciples for a long time. It is difficult for us not to be saddened by his sudden passing away from us. We cannot stop our tears. We, his disciples, would like to pay respect and follow Luangta by trying our best to attain to Nibbana as well. Luangta who is like our Parents, Master and Teacher has passed away. His legacy of contribution remains in the hearts of the Nation. His great Dhamma has shone brightly in this world and the world has acknowledged him: Luangta Pra Maha Bua Yannasampanno, the great figure, the virtuous monk who has made great contributions to this world. Luangta Pra Maha Bua Yannasampanno he just cannot be compared to anyone else …………….
Birthdate : Tuesday 12th August 1913.
Passing Away: Sunday 30th January 2044 Time: 3.53 am.
At the Age : 97 years 5 months 17 days, 77th year of monkhood
Date of attaining Artahantship: May 15th 1950 Time: 23.00 pm.