Buddhism, Uncommon Wisdom, life and teachings of Ajaan Pannavaddho, Preface

imageIt is important that Venerable Paññāvaḍḍho’s biography is being
written and published due to the efforts of Tan Ajaan Dick who
has been close to this most venerable and reclusive monk. Ajaan
Paññāvaḍḍho spent most of his monastic life at Wat Pa Baan Taad,
a remote forest monastery in Udon Thani, North-East Thailand.
He trained and practiced under the guidance and support of one of
Thailand’s most respected bhikkhus, Tan Ajaan Mahā Boowa—now
generally best known in Thailand as “Luang Dtaa Mahā Boowa.”…..

I arrived in Thailand at the New Year of 1966 after serving in the
American Peace Corps in Sabah, Malaysia, for two years. At that time
there were very few western men taking ordination in Thailand. I came
to Thailand with the deliberate intention of ordaining and to receive
teaching and instruction in Buddhist meditation. I lived my first six
months in Bangkok, investigating the possibilities for ordination and
beginning my initial efforts in meditation at a Buddhist temple in
Bangkok. At this time, I met Tan Ajaan Mahā Boowa at Wat Bovornives
and was told about his disciple, Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho. However, I did not
have the opportunity to meet him until three years later, when Luang
Por Chah took me on a tour in order to meet some of the respected
“Krooba Ajahns” in North-East Thailand. We came to Wat Pa Baan Taad to meet Tan Ajaan Mahā Boowa. During this time, I had the opportunity to meet Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho for the first time.
I went to see Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho several times during the follow-
ing years. Then, in 1976, my parents who lived in California requested
me to visit them. I was given an air ticket on the Thai International
Airline for returning to Thailand from London, since Thai Inter had
not established air routes in the United States as yet. So, in the summer
of 1976, I spent several days in London waiting to take the return flight
to Bangkok. Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho had given me the name and telephone
number of George Sharp who was the acting Chairman of the English
Sangha Trust in London.
Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho was closely associated with the E.S.T. Before
going to Thailand, he had lived in the premises of the E.S.T. in London.
He had been active in teaching Dhamma in England. Those were the
early years when there was a growing interest in Buddhism in the
Western world and especially in England. He had many friends and
students of Buddhism who assumed that one day he would return to
the U.K. to share his acquired knowledge with them. He was very much
respected by many. However, he did not have the intention to return.
And I eventually went to England to establish a forest monastery for
the teaching and training of bhikkhus. Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho encouraged
me to do this. He spent the rest of his life at Wat Pa Baan Taad with
his teacher Luang Dtaa Boowa. He became very well-known and re-
spected by many in Thailand. He passed away in 2004.
The generation of Buddhists in England that remember him is now
very old or dead. I spent thirty-four years in England and established
several monasteries there—the main one being Amaravati Buddhist
Monastery in Hertfordshire. I personally feel so much gratitude to
Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho who was a source of inspiration and one of the
early pioneer teachers in the West. He is now better known in Thailand
than in the U.K
I feel that it is important to acknowledge this fine teacher and
monk. Therefore, I am having a portrait painted to be placed in the
Uposatha hall at Amaravati. This event comes together with this biog-
raphy that Ajaan Dick has written.
Theravāda is a very ancient tradition. And, “tradition” means that
we acknowledge the predecessors—from the Buddha who established
the tradition 2557 years ago in India, to the present day. Tan Ajaan
Paññāvaḍḍho is regarded as one of our predecessors in the lineage of
Tan Ajaan Mun, Tan Ajaan Mahā Boowa, and Tan Ajahn Chah. This is
generally referred to as “The Thai Forest Tradition.”
Those of us who have had the wonderful opportunity to live, train
and practice within this tradition realize that the universal wisdom that
the Buddha pointed to, through the original teaching of the Four Noble
Truths, has now been discovered and appreciated by the Western
world. Tan Ajaan Paññāvaḍḍho is one of those who discovered and
realized the profundity and efficacy of this way. He is a contemporary
Westerner who actually developed the practice of meditation through
this ancient tradition. Through his example, we can increase our faith
and determination to do the same.
Ajahn Sumedho
May 2014

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