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The Teacher: Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu founded Suan Mokkh after giving up on the monastic system in
Bangkok. He found the Wats (temples) there dirty, crowded, and corrupt, nothing like the
purer, more simple Buddhism of his birthplace. Thus, returned to the South and moved
into an abandoned temple near his hometown. At first living alone, then with others as
news of his experiment spread, he took a radical look into the sources of Theravada
Buddhism and dedicated his life to following the pristine Dhamma and correcting the
numerous mistaken beliefs and practices that had crept in over the centuries. Some hated
him, others loved him. Why not see what he has to offer? See below for some of his
Click here for more information about the Life of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.
For some images of Tan Ajarn and his cremation, please click here.
Interested in the monastery he founded?

Updated © by Evolution/Liberation

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Servant of the Buddha) went forth as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk)
in 1926, at the age of twenty. After a few years of study in Bangkok, which convinced
him "purity is not to be found in the big city," he was inspired to live close with nature in
order to investigate the Buddha-Dhamma. Thus, he established Suan Mokkhabalarama
(The Grove of the Power of Liberation) in 1932, near his hometown of Pum Riang (now
in Chaiya District). At that time, it was the only forest Dhamma Center and one of the
few places dedicated to vipassana meditation in Southern Thailand. Word of Buddhadasa
Bhikkhu, his work, and Suan Mokkh spread over the years so that they are easily
described as "one of the most influential events of Buddhist history in Siam." Here, we
can only mention some of the most interesting services he has rendered Buddhism.
Ajahn Buddhadasa worked painstakingly to establish and explain
the correct and essential principles of what he called "pristine
Buddhism," that is, the original realization of the Lord Buddha
before it was buried under commentaries, ritualism, clerical
politics, and the like. His work was based in extensive research of
the Pali texts (Canon and commentary), especially of the Buddha's
Discourses (Sutta Pitaka), followed by personal experiment and practice with these
teachings. Then he taught whatever he could say truly quenches dukkha (dissatisfaction,
suffering). His goal was to produce a complete set of references for present and future
research and practice. His approach was always scientific, straight-forward, and practical.

Although his formal education only went as far as ninth grade and beginning Pali studies,
he was given five Honorary Doctorates by Thai universities. His books, both written and
transcribed from talks, fill a room at the National Library and influence all serious Thai
Buddhists in Siam. Doctoral dissertations are still being written about him and his legacy.
His books can be found in bookstores around the country and are favorites as gifts at
Progressive elements in Thai society, especially the young, were inspired by his teaching
and selfless example. Since the 1960's, activists and thinkers in areas such as education,
ecology, social welfare, and rural development have drawn upon his teaching and advice.
Most of the monks involved in nature conservation and community development were
inspired by him. He provided the link between the scriptural tradition and engaged
buddhist practice today.
After the founding of Suan Mokkh, he studied all
schools of Buddhism, as well as the other major
religious traditions. This interest was practical rather
than scholarly. He sought to unite all genuinely
religious people in order to work together to help, as
he put it, "drag humanity out from under the power
of materialism." This broadmindedness won him
friends and students from around the world,
including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

His last project was to establish an International

Dhamma Hermitage. This addition to Suan
Mokkh is intended to provide facilities for:
• Courses which introduce foreigners to the correct understanding of Buddhist
principles and practice;
• Meetings among Buddhists from around the world to establish and agree upon the
"heart of Buddhism";
• Meetings of leaders from all religions for the sake of making mutual good
understanding and cooperating to drag the world out from under the tyranny of
• He also left instructions for a small monastery in which foreign monks may train
as Dhamma-duta (Dhamma missionaries). It now functions under the name "Daun
Kiam" or Suan Atammayatarama.
• A similar facility for nuns, Thai & foreign, awaits the women who will make it
happen. He called it Dhamma-Mata (Dhamma Mothers, those who give birth to
others through Dhamma).

Ajarn Buddhadasa died in 1993 after a series of heart attacks and strokes that he kept
bouncing back from in order to teach. The final stroke occured as he was preparing notes
for a talk to be given on his birthday in two days (27 May). Suan Mokkh carries on in the
hearts and actions of all those who have been inspired and guided by his example and
words. Suan Mokkh is not so much a physical place as it is the space of liberation that we
all must discover in this very life.

An Old Friend: Panyananda Bhikkhu

Luang Por Panya has been a lifelong friend of Ajarn

Buddhadasa, ever since spending a formative Rains Retreat at Suan Mokkh when he was
a junior monk (1936). Over the years, they cooperated in a number of ways, Ajarn
Buddhadasa being the "older brother."
Since 1957, Luang Por has been based at Wat Cholapratan Rangsarit in Nontaburi a
suburb of Bangkok. From there, and with the help of younger monks from Suan Mokkh,
he has worked to disseminate Ajarn Buddhadasa's teaching in Bangkok and around the
country, having been Siam's most prolific Dhamma preacher for many years, until
recently slowed down by old age. He is now 85.

Images of Tan Ajarn & Cremation

Here are some images of Tan Ajarn Buddhadasa and especially from
the Cremation (13 September 1993). We will be adding more.
Tan Ajarn around the age of 79,
rather fat and with a bad heart ,
but still able to walk with the aid of a cane.

Another picture (along with the previous and following)

from Tan Ajarn's Eightieth Birthday
Remembrance Book,
a special gift he put together for long-time

Also from the Eightieth Birthday Remembrance Book.

After his physical death on 8 July 1993,

the body was put in this simple hardwood coffin
and lowered into a temporary huang sui
designed to let body fluids drain away without orders.

The cremation was held near the top of Golden Buddha Hill.
Five to ten thousand people attended, although
the afternoon cremation was only announced that morning.

Here, the coffin is about to burn away. Once it did,

we watched the body burn for the next three hours
and some kept a vigil throughout the night.
The remaining bone chips were collected around
once the coals had cooled down. They were put inside a marble
urn, which was later sealed in a small memorial within
the "Dhamma Proclamation Sala."

The Place: Suan Mokkhabalarama

Suan Mokkh was a forest monastery along the coast of Southern Thailand, 600 km from
Bangkok. It was founded in 1932 by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (see below) and grew to
become the most innovative and progressive Buddhist teaching center in Siam. Although
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu has passed away, much of his work continues. This WWW site is a
continuation of that work, one of many virtual Suan Mokkhs. As the true Suan Mokkh
can only be found within the nature of the silent mind, any attempt to speak of it is
virtual, whether in talks, books, or cyberspace. Here we attempt to extend the discoveries
of Suan Mokkh into the 84,000 virtual worlds. May the contents support you in the
realization of the liberation that is ever now within the nature of the mind that is
experiencing this "reality," virtual or what-have-you.
The Suan Mokkh of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu may be difficult to find in some of the
activities being carried out these days in his name. This should not discourage those who
sincerely seek what he sought & taught: the end of suffering through not attaching to
anything as "I" or "mine." To the degree we can put this into practice, we will
understand & discover "The Garden of Liberation" for ourselves, both within us and as
we help reveal it in whatever place we find ourselves. It isn't necessary to seek Suan
Mokkh in the place where Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once lived. Seek it wherever you are!
Santikaro Bhikkhu & some friends are starting to explore the possibility of establishing a
garden of liberation somewhere in the United States. We hope it will help keep the spirit
of the original Suan Mokkh alive & active in this world.
For more information on Suan Mokkh, click here.

Updated ฉ by Evolution/Liberation