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Phra Ajarn Sao
Phra Ajarn Sao was born in Tambon Nong Khon in 1861. He was also known by the names of Luang Pu Sao and Phra Kru Vivekhuddhakij. He was a highly revered and respected monk of the Thai Forest tradition and a member of the Dhammayuttica Nikaya that also had the Supreme Patriach Somdet Suvaddhana as a member.
Ajarn Sao spent most of his monastic life wandering the forest and living a simple life. He belonged to an ascetic group of monks who lived in the forest dressed in little more than rags and who lived off the land with no money and no personal belongings. Ajarn Sao and his student Ajarn Mun established the Kammatthan Forest tradition of meditation. Ajarn Sao left no written record of his teachings but his student, Phra Ajarn Phut Thanyo, recorded some of them in a book he wrote called “Ajarn Sao’s Teaching: A Reminiscence of Phra Ajarn Sao Kantasilo.” In it, he said that the forest tradition was established to realize the inner peace of the Dhamma and the simple life – lived without money or possessions.
Together Ajarn Sao and Ajarn Mun founded the Sao Kantasilo school of meditation for monks in the forest traditions. Ajarn Sao was well known for saying very little, and he had an abrupt manner when it came to teaching his students. He would tell the student monk to go and meditate on a certain word in the forest. When they came back to him to ask what the word meant, he would tell them not to ask him what it meant and send them away again. If they asked what to do next, he would tell them to keep meditating, or sometimes he told them they had done it wrong so had to start again at the beginning.
A senior monk told Ajahn Sao that when his mind went blank he would leave his body in the forest and would go on adventures, meeting animals, ghosts, spirits, demons, and divine beings. He was told that it was not right and that he should start again, as a beginner in meditation.
Ajarn Sao taught that the heightened mind led to Abhinna, which means heightened knowledge and insight, and continually told his student they must look inside for that knowledge and insight and not outside the mind and body.
Ajarn Sao died in 1941 on February 3rd. After his cremation, his bone fragments were distributed to many provinces in Thailand. It was said that they transformed into crystal-like Buddhist relics that are known as Sarira-Dhatu. They are much prized as holy relics in Buddhism.
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