“‘One day Ajahn Chah held up a beautiful Chinese tea cup, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.’” When we understand the truth of uncertainty and relax, we become free.”
Jack Kornfield in The Wise Heart
Chah Chotchuang was born into a family of subsistence farmers near Ubon Ratchathani in northeastern Thailand today, the 17th of June, in 1918.
When he was nine he was enrolled in a monastic school, where he stayed for three years, and received a rudimentary education, learning to read and write. At twelve he returned home. At twenty he entered formal Buddhist monastic life. At first he followed the conventional monastic practice of that time and place, which included learning Pali, one of Buddhism’s two liturgical languages, and formal studies. After a time he decided he lacked the deeper insight, and determined to find a deeper practice.
His principal spiritual inspiration during these years was Ajahn Mun. Ajahn Mun was a forest ascetic and meditation master. He kept a strict rule, eating only alms food once a day, his robes made from rags, and spending much of his time practicing meditation.
While Ajahn Chah only practiced with Ajahn Mun briefly, he was deeply moved by the old master’s admonition that once mindfulness is achieved everything will arise within the heart mind. Ajahn Chah adapted his style of practice, and is widely considered a spiritual heir to the older teacher.
After seven years of forest practice, Ajahn Chah was invited to settle in a grove near his home town. Gradually a community of practice grew around him, monks, nuns, and lay practitioners. Starting in 1966 Western seekers began to study with him.
He died in 1992
Among his successors are founders of Forest monastic communities in North America, England, and Australia. And among these successors and critically for the spread of Buddhist meditation in the west, is one time monastic and long time householder teacher Jack Kornfield.
Kornfield is co-founder of Insight Meditation Society, Barre, Massachusetts, USA and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, which together have become the principal training centers for Insight meditation teachers.