- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Paraview Special Editions; Special edition (September 15, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1931044813
- ISBN-13: 978-1931044813
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Venerable Father: A Life with Ajahn Chah Special Edition
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"Paul has produced a real treasure. Many here felt that they got the message of Ajahn Chahs presence." -- - Ajahn Amaro, Amaravati Buddhist Monastery
"We are obliged to Paul Breiter for giving us A Still Forest Pool. This book will be a useful companion." -- - The Middle Way
From the Inside Flap
"Paul has produced a real treasure. Many here felt that they got the message of Ajahn Chahs presence for the first time." - Ajahn Amaro, Amaravati Buddhist Monastery
"We are already obliged to Paul Breiter, along with Jack Kornfield, for giving us A Still Forest Pool. This book will be a useful companion." - The Middle Way
"Pauls depictions of life at Wat Pah Pong in the early seventies were delightful and helped us develop a sense of the origins of many of the modes of practices and training that are carried on today. Also, Pauls sense of humor and numerous experiences with Ajahn Chahs fierce training were greatly enjoyed." - Fearless Mountain, Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery newsletter
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But seriously, this humble yet assured voice resonates throughout the book. Yes, it is the skill and compassion of Luang Por that is responsible for the quality of much of the book, but truly Breiter's frank evaluations of his experiences during and after life as a forest monk makes this much different from other, more traditional memoirs that I have read. I'm not saying that he's enlightened with a capital E, but during the course of the book the training (when fully followed, as Ajahn Chah taught) seems to automatically make the monks into more awake, more compassionate, less suffering people. The importance of even trivial-sounding Vinaya rules becomes apparent, and thus Chah's way is illuminated.
The sections of the book after he disrobes are even better. You can take the monk out of the forest (and his robes), but you can't take the forest out of the monk. These chapters were poignant and in some cases very funny indeed. Ajahn Chah's total intuitive understandng, and effortlessly devastating criticism, of Mahayana double-talk was especially amusing. For instance, to the Mahayana claim that we don't need to do anything to improve because our nature is originally perfect, when he says that's like saying if you put sh*t on a silver platter, you don't need to clean it before eating from it because the platter was originally clean! But all the time he is understanding totally how Mahayana, for all its linguistic troubles and even theological difficulties, is as dedicated to the path of freedom and compassion in its own very different way as is the Forest School.
This book is a gift. It gives us the feeling of sitting at Luang Por's feet -- the wonder and the horror of it, a highly (even totally) awakened master teaching each student to match his or her understanding, and a mischievous old man pushing his monks to the very edge of sanity, or a little beyond. I know I wouldn't want him tugging on my robes and laughing while I was trying to give a first Dhamma talk in Thai, but it would have been amazing to know and love this man. Venerable Father is as close as any of us will come to Ajahn Chah, and we have Paul Breiter to thank for it. I'm incredibly inspired to ordain, even more than before. Scared, too, of course, but living under the Vinaya sounds like a pure and productive way to live.
If you want to read Luang Por's words and get even more inspired, buy and read Being Dharma and Still Forest Pool, too!
NOTE: Be sure to buy this book in the Paraview edition. There are other, unauthorized reprints out there, and this is a beautiful volume.
I definitely recommend this book, to followers of Ajahn Chah, to Buddhists, to beginners and to those who have never before touched dhamma in their lives - this piece is truly a gem!
I would recommend a sequel volume by the author, One Monk, Many Masters (2012) to those who like the current volume.
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