Who Was Buddhadasa Bhikku?

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Top of hill at Buddhadasa Bhikku’s Buddhist Temple in Thailand – Suan Mokkh

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (Slave 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, 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.

At that time it was the only Forest Dhamma Center, and one of the few places dedicated to vipassana (mental cultivation leading to seeing clearly into reality) 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 more interesting services he has rendered Buddhism.

Ajahn Buddhadasa has worked painstakingly to establish and explain the correct and essential meaning of original Buddhism. That work is 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. He teaches that whatever he can say truly quenches dukkha. His goal has been to produce a complete set of references for present and future research and practice. His approach has always been scientific, straight-forward, and practical.

Although his formal education only went as far as ninth grade and beginning Pali studies, he has been given seven 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.

Progressive elements in Thai society, especially the young, have been inspired by his teaching and selfless example. Since the 1960’s, activists and thinkers in areas such as education, social welfare, and rural development have drawn upon his teaching and advice. Since the founding of Suan Mokkh, he has studied all schools of Buddhism, as well as the major religious traditions. This interest is practical rather than scholarly. He sought to unite all genuinely religious people in order to work together to help free humanity by destroying selfishness. This broadmindedness has won him friends and students from around the world, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.

Now he focuses his energies on his latest project, establishing an International Dharma Hermitage. This addition to Suan Mokkh is intended to provide facilities for:

Courses which introduce friends, foreign and Thai to the natural truth explained in the Buddha’s teachings, and start them in the Buddha’s system of mental cultivation

Gatherings of representatives from the different religious communities of Thailand in order to meet, develop mutual good understanding, and cooperate for the sake of world peace

Meetings among Buddhists from around the world to discuss and agree upon the “Heart of Buddhism”

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This piece came from the back of the Buddhadasa book, “Mindfulness with Breathing” and was written by Santikaro Bhikku, an American monk that spend nearly two decades with Buddhadasa at Suan Mokkh Buddhist temple.

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