Saturday, February 28, 2009

LP Pae of Wat Pikunthong

After visiting Wat Pho Kao Ton, I went to Wat Pikunthong to pay homage to LP Pae (1905-1999), arguably the most respected monk of Singburi province. He was a master of wicha who created many batches of famous amulets, especially Somdej amulets. Outside the LP Pae memorial hall are black bronze statues of the master, encased in glass.
Inside the memorial hall is a very "live" wax image of LP Pae. Behind the image is the ornate stupa containing his relics.
A portrait of LP Pae at the side.
A closer shot of LP Pae's wax statue.
LP Pae's rainbow-colored Somdej amulets chanted in 2539 (1996).
Crossing the road I approached the famous giant Buddha image of Wat Pikunthong - Phra Buddha Suwanmongkon Mahamuni.
The Sala below the Buddha image.
The Vihara on the right side LP Tuad, Somdej Toh and LP Pae.
The Somdej Toh image. The Katha taught here is again different from other temples:
Namo Tassa (3x)
Tohsentoh Waratham Mena
Tohsatthane Sire Ware
Tohsang Akasi Chantoonang
Tohlachittang Namamihang.The LP Pae image. The Homage Katha is:
Namo Tassa (3x)
Imina Sakkarena Kemankara Therang
Apibuchayami (3x).

A video of Phra Buddha Suwanmongkon that I took.
A close up shot of the golden Buddha. A long straight road leads straight towards the Buddha image. This is called "road clash" in Fengshui terms. There's also no guardian deities or Singhas to ward off the negative chi at the entrance. I wonder why they built it this way.
The Sangkachai shrine some distance away. This is the smaller image below. The Katha is:
Namo Tassa (3x)
Kajjayana Mahathero
Sapphasantha Phawathito
Sapphawera Mathikantho
Sappatha Samana Sampanno
Sitthi Buddho Sattha Wepawa
Hitaya Thanasukhang Hotu Tassa
Mahakajjayana Mahatherassa
Sapha Ja Mahalapho Ja
Upanno Hotu Sappatha.
After praying to the giant golden Sangkachai statue, I made my way back to Bangkok.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wat Pho Kao Ton - Temple of Heroes

One of the temples I visited in Singburi last month was Wat Pho Kao Ton (Temple of the 9 Bodhi Trees), the temple that was built in 2519 (1976) to commemorate Ajarn Thammachot and the Bang Rajan heroes.
The Sacred Pond where Ajarn Thammachot made holy water to bless the village fighters.
The pond had since became a pool of stagnant water.
This is the old Vihara where Ajarn Thammachot used to do chanting.
A tree that grew right next to the pond.
The new Vihara that venerates the statue of Ajarn Thammachot.
The signboard outside the Vihara says that the statue was forged from 1970-1972.
Inside the Vihara, the altar to the spiritual leader of Bang Rajan.
A closer view of the statue.
The Sala venerating Somdej Toh as well as LP Tuad. The King Taksin shrine. One could say that King Taksin avenged the Bang Rajan heroes as he succeeded in recapturing Ayuttaya and driving the Burmese out of Siam.
The spirit house built for the heroes. Actually it is no longer necessary as they have since been liberated from the ghost realm through HM the King's merit.
The gate of the reconstructed Camp Bang Rajan fort.
The Ubosot of Wat Pho Kao Ton.
The Sema stone laid by HRH the Crown Prince.
Roop Lor amulets of Ajarn Thammachot.
Kongkapan waist takruts from the temple.
The signboard outside the Bang Rajan monument park. The Bang Rajan monument right opposite Wat Pho Kao Ton.
The 11 leaders of the Bang Rajan resistance (excluding Ajarn Thammachot) are depicted in the monument.
Behind the monument there is a diagram stating who are the 11 heroes depicted here. Looking down from the monument, one can see Wat Pho Kao Ton in the distance. Both the temple and the park are very educational places to visit.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Mystical Wind-Rhythm of LP Jarun

What is Wind-Rhythm, or Assasa Passasa (Pali: As-Pas for short)? It is actually the method of standing meditation taught by LP Jarun of Wat Ampawan to all his followers. This is the method where you breath in deeply and observe with mindfulness your own body from the top of the head down to the tips of your toes; then breath out deeply observing from the tips of the toes up to the top of the head. If you can breath deeply with mindfulness, your mind will not be distracted and it will become wholesome. Those who have bad tempers will gradually become calm and those who have illnesses will also gradually get better.This method of combining mindfulness of the body with the breath is the same method used by yogis and mystics, and it is also the same method practiced by the Buddha himself. It is said that in the 2nd week after the Buddha's Enlightenment, he stood in meditation under the Bodhi Tree for the whole week in appreciation of the shelter it provided during his struggle for enlightenment. This event is represented by the Sunday Buddha image, or Phra Pang Tawai Net. This As-Pas method also corresponds to the 5 basic objects of meditation on the body taught by the Buddha; which is Kesa (head hair), Loma (body hair), Nakha (nails), Danta (teeth) and Taco (skin). These are the very fundamentals of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness. Every newly ordained monk must learn them by heart, yet not many understand the true significance of reciting these 5 parts of the body. When a yogi practices standing meditation, observing the body up and down 5 times, these 5 bodily parts are the objects to apply mindfulness to. Once mindfulness and concentration reach a certain level, the true nature of the body would reveal itself to you. This is the most important practice and basis of life. LP Jarun took 10 yrs to master the As-Pas method of standing meditation. He used to ask many teachers how to practice it but those who did not understand could not answer him correctly. In the past LP studied under many great guru monks. At one time he was learning the Wicha of making magic oil under LP Jong of Wat Natangnok, Ayuttaya. However he tried for one month without success as there was no manifestation of magic. The incantation that LP Jong taught him to consecrate the oil was to recite the Buddhaguna (Virtues of the Buddha) 108 times followed by the Bahum Mahaka (Verses of the Buddha's Auspicious Victories and Victory protection), or to recite the 9 Virtues of the Buddha as well as OM in abbreviation. This mystical formula is as follows:

A = Arahang, the accomplished one, worthy of offerings.

Sam = Samma Sambuddho, the completely self-enlightened.

Vi = Vijja Carana Sampano, perfect in knowledge and practice.

Su = Sugato, the well-gone one.

Lo = Lokavidu, knower of the world.

Pu = (Anuttaro) Purisa Dammasarathi, incomparable leader of men to be tamed.

Sa = Satta Devamanussanang, the teacher of gods and men.

Bu = Buddho, the Awakened.

Bha = Bhagavati, the world-honored one.

Ma = M, passing away.

A = A, arising.

U = U, staying.

Thus the full chant is "A Sam Vi Su Lo Pu Sa Bu Bha Ma A U U A Ma A Ma U", which was also to be recited 108 times. When LP was about to leave due to a lack of success, he contemplated hard on this and suddenly realized that this incantation was actually the same method as As-Pas. So he tried again one last time that night and finally succeeded. LP practiced standing meditation which was the wind rhythm before chanting the incantation. His mindfulness and concentration were very powerful in that state and the ordinary oil was transformed by that consecration into magic oil. Naturally, LP Jong was pleased with the success of his student. At another time he studied under LP Lee of Wat Asokaram in Samut Prakan. LP Jarun was fascinated with the story of LP Parn (Wat Bangnomkho) unlocking locks with his psychic power. Apparently LP Parn recited the mystic formula "Na Ma Pa Ta" and blew onto the locks, and they opened by themselves. LP Lee knew of this and asked LP Jarun whether he wanted to learn how to unlock locks by blowing them. LP Jarun replied he wanted to. LP Lee taught him to use his mind to unlock the lock. What did he mean? LP Lee said it was the same as when you encounter problems. One should use the mind to solve them, like one use the mind to unlock the lock. What was the key? The key was mindfulness. If one was mindful then one could succeed in solving any problem. There was no need to ask others or consult fortune-tellers. Those who ask fortune-tellers were unwise and would only end up with more problems. At that moment LP Jarun realized that LP Lee was using the story of unlocking locks as a metaphor to teach him the Dhamma. "Na Ma Pa Ta" actually represented the 4 Elements - Water, Earth, Fire and Wind. They are the elements that make up the physical body as well as the physical world. Blowing represented wind-rhythm, and in order to solve the problem of suffering one must apply mindfulness to one's own body! LP Jarun finally understood what As-Pas was about.
Therefore we should try to learn the wind-rhythm method, for there are many benefits to it. Firstly there is the health benefits. Those who have illnesses can recover faster through the practice of As-Pas. Most illnesses originate from the abdomen, which is the centre of the body or Dan-tian in Chinese. When the organs or the 4 elements of the body are not in harmony, it will manifest in the abdomen and we will fall ill. Practicing As-Pas in the sitting position, noting the rising and falling of the abdomen with mindfulness can help to balance the 4 elements and return our body to normal. Whoever that is very emotional, over sensitive, easily anxious or depressed should also practice As-Pas and note their moods by focusing on the solar plexus. Their minds will be unlocked and they will know how to solve their problems. Another benefit of As-Pas is telepathy. If you are thinking of a friend or relative and want to know how they are doing, practice As-Pas and then focus your mind on them. Your mind will immediately reach them no matter how far away they are. Wish them happiness and they will be able to receive your metta or loving-kindness. In the past when LP Mee of Wat Manwichai, Ayuttaya was in hospital and about to pass away, LP Jarun decided to go help him. LP Mee was also a disciple of LP Jong and a friend of LP Jarun. If he was to die, at least he should do so with mindfulness. So LP Jarun went to visit LP Mee in the ICU room of the hospital. LP Mee was unconscious and in a critical condition. LP Jarun practiced As-Pas and transmitted metta towards him. Miraculously, LP Mee opened his eyes immediately having received that powerful mental energy. That night one of LP Mee's lay supporters at Wat Manwichai dreamt that LP Jarun went to the hospital to massage him. LP Mee did recover from his illness and lived for quite a few more years, passing away in 2543 (2000) at the age of 88. Those who practice As-Pas well can also know a person's nature simply by looking at him or her with mindfulness. Just as one observes one's own body from head to toe and back, one can also observe the bodies of others in the same way. Is a person honest and trustworthy, or simply appear friendly, but is actually scheming to get something? Mindfulness will observe, Clear-awareness (Sampajana) will tell you the answer. Then there is also the benefit of protection from all dangers. In ancient times, mystics used As-Pas as an incantation of invulnerablity. It is said that when you recite "A Sam Vi Su Lo Pu Sa Bhu Bha Ma A U U A Ma A Ma U" and press your tounge firmly against your hard palate, bullets cannot harm you. One must do this with a concentrated mind for it to be effective. If the mind lacks concentration, then 10,000 incantations are also useless. One master who was expert at this was Kruba Siwichai of Wat Ban Phang, Chiangmai. He was also an expert in many other kinds of Wicha and the greatest Lanna monk in the recent era. Many are the applications of As-Pas. It is possible to change salty water into drinking water by performing As-Pas. It is the same way that LP Tuad miraculously transformed sea water into fresh water on the boat to Ayuttaya. As there was no more drinking water on the boat, LP Tuad sat in Samadhi and performed As-Pas before dipping his foot into the sea, drawing a circle in the water. The water within that circle actually became drinkable and everyone on the ship was saved from dying of thirst. This famous story is called "LP Tuad Yiab Nam Talay Jerd", and the temple famous for making images of LP Tuad dipping his foot into the sea is Wat Si Mahapo in Pattani. Another experiment that one can try is suggested by LP Jarun. Take 3 betelvine leaves. Practice the wind-rhythm breathing in and out deeply, then concentrate your breath on the leaves by blowing hard on them. The flavour of the leaves will change from being hot into sour. If one has very advanced concentration, one can even change it into a sweet taste. The more you practice, the stronger this ability becomes. The same applies to the other benefits of As-Pas mentioned earlier. It is very meaningful and I leave it for the consideration of the reader. May you be able to benefit from this Dhamma, sadhu.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wat Phra Non in Singburi

On 6.1.2009 I visited Wat Phra Non in Singburi, a famous temple with one of the longest Reclining Buddha statues in Thailand. At 46m long, it's the same length as Phra Buddha Saiyat in Wat Pho, Bangkok.
The Guanyin Shrine. There're many Chinese Guanyin images inside.
A Phra Sangkachai statue in the walkway.
Outside the Phra Non Vihara is this Phra Sivali statue, flanked by 2 dancing Pikanets.
A picture of the Phra Non statue.
Another larger portrait of Phra Non.
A display cabinet with many golden buchas and some amulets inside.
A shot of Phra Non's head.
Another shot of his head from a different angle.
The alley behind the Phra Non statue. There were many pottery and vases on display.
Buddha images at the head end of the Vihara.
Taking my photo with Phra Non.

A video clip I took showing the full length of the statue.
The archway leading to the courtyard. There's a Phra Prom shrine in the distance.
An 8" long bucha of Phra Non that I obtained from the temple, made of roof-tile material. Phra Non is also known as Phra Buddha Saiyat of Tuesday Buddha. The Katha is as follows:
Namo tassa (3x)
Ahang Buddha Seyyang Sirasah Namami
Kahpajow Kor Nob Nob Phra Buddha Saiyat Duay Sian Glow.