"The mindful ones exert themselves,
They are not attached to any home;
Like swans that abandon the lake,
They leave home after home behind."
During my trip to Udon Thani & Nongkhai in January this year, I've travelled to many of the Forest Monasteries in the region. These monasteries are all started by Dhutanga Bhikkus belonging to Ajarn Mun's (above) lineage, places which tourists normally do not visit. On the last day of my trip I decided to follow a Singaporean friend (whom I met in Udon) to Luangta Mahabua's monastery, Wat Pah Ban Tad. This friend of mine stays there for 2 - 3 mths at a time for his meditation retreats. As those of you familiar with Ajarn Mun's forest tradition will know, LT Mahabua is one of his most famous disciples, widely believed to be an Arahant himself. He is also responsible for the various enlightening Forest Dhamma books on Ajarn Mun's life & teachings, as well as the Dhutanga practices. Having read those books, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of this living Buddhist Saint; but my friend told me it was not so easy as not everyone who came to visit can see him. Some people came many times, yet still did not manage to see LT Mahabua. So I did not make any special wish to do so, choosing rather to just let things take its natural course.
Inside the shrine room are also displayed other gifts of recognition to LT Mahabua from the country's highest institutions & the royal family. But of course, these are of little use to a forest monk.With that I finished my tour of the Sala. Just as I came down the stairs, a van drove in and stopped some distance ahead of me. I did not know who was inside, but seeing that 2 Thai aunties near me were kneeling down in its direction, I immediately realized who it was. I quickly kneel down as well. True enough, it was LT Mahabua (above) who came down from the van! He turned and smiled in the direction of the 2 aunties & me before walking into the forest path that leads to his kuti. I bowed towards this living Arahant. To me, managing to see him is like striking the lottery.. which seemed to link up with many of the coincidences that I encountered during this whole trip. Is this called 缘份 or affinity?I then followed my friend to his kuti, where another Singaporean guy also resided in. The living conditions are pretty tough, but they seemed content with it. I supposed these conditions are conducive to restraining the senses & would therefore help in their meditation. After chatting with them for a while, I bade my friend farewell & wished him good luck. With a satisfied heart I made my way back to Udon Thani city. The next morning I embarked on the return flight to Singapore. On the plane I thought to myself that although my tour to Udon Thani had ended, I know in my heart that my affinity with the Forest Tradition would go on long after the trip was over. Until the next time we meet, may they be well & happy.