Ajahn Sao Kantasīlo

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Phra Khru Vivekbuddhakij
(Sao Kantasilo)
Religion Buddhism
School Theravada, Dhammayutika Nikaya
Lineage Thai Forest Tradition
Other names Ajahn Sao
Luang Pu Sao
Dharma names Kantasilo
Personal
Nationality Thai
Born (1859-11-02)November 2, 1859
Ban Kha Khom, Tambon Nong Khon, Amphoe Mueang Ubon Ratchathani, Ubon Ratchathani Province, Siam
Died February 3, 1941(1941-02-03) (aged 81)
Wat Amatayaram, Amphoe Wan Waithayakon, Champasak Province (under Thai rules)
Senior posting
Title Luang Por
Religious career
Students Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta

Phra Ajahn Sao Kantasilo Mahathera (1861–1941) was a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism. He was a member of the Dhammayuttika Nikaya. Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta Mahathera was one of his most well-known students.

After his cremation, his bone fragments were distributed to people around the Thai provinces. According to his followers, they transformed into crystal-like relics (Pali: Sarira-Dhatu) in various hues.[citation needed]

Here is an example of Ajaan Sao's Teaching - transcribed from a talk by Phra Ajaan Phut Thaniyo:[1] and released under CC by SA

In our day and age, the practice of going into the forest to meditate and follow the ascetic dhutanga practices began with Phra Ajaan Sao Kantasilo, the teacher of Phra Ajaan Mun and, by extension, Phra Ajaan Singh and Phra Ajaan Lee. Phra Ajaan Sao was inclined to be, not a preacher or a speaker, but a doer. When he taught his students, he said very little. And those who studied directly under him are now elders who speak very little, who rarely preach, having picked up the habit from their teacher. Thus, as Phra Ajaan Sao was not a preacher, I would like to tell a little of the way in which he taught meditation. How did Phra Ajaan Sao teach? If it so happened that someone came to him, saying "Ajaan, sir, I want to practice meditation. How should I go about it?" he would answer, "Meditate on the word 'Buddho.'" If the person asked, "What does 'Buddho' mean?" Ajaan Sao would answer, "Don't ask." "What will happen after I've meditated on 'Buddho'?" "Don't ask. Your only duty is simply to repeat the word 'Buddho' over and over in your mind." That's how he taught
no long, drawn-out explanations.
Now, if the student was sincere in putting the Ajaan's instructions into practice and was persistent in practicing the repetition, if his mind then became calm and bright from entering into concentration, he would come and ask Ajaan Sao
"When meditating on 'Buddho' my state of mind becomes such-and-such. What should I do now?" If it was right, Ajaan Sao would say, "Keep on meditating." If not, he would say, "You have to do such-and-such. What you're doing isn't right."
For example, once when I was his attendant novice, a senior monk of the Mahanikaya sect came and placed himself under his direction as a beginning student in meditation. Ajaan Sao taught him to meditate on "Buddho." Now, when the monk settled down on "Buddho," his mind became calm and, once it was calm, bright. And then he stopped repeating "Buddho." At this point, his mind was simply blank. Afterwards, he sent his attention out, following the brightness, and a number of visions began to arise
spirits of the dead, hungry ghosts, divine beings, people, animal, mountains, forest... Sometimes it seemed as if he, or rather, his mind, left his body and went wandering through the forest and wilderness, seeing the various things mentioned above. Afterwards, he went and told Ajaan Sao, "When I meditated down to the point were the mind became calm and bright, it then went out, following the bright light. Visions of ghosts, divine beings, people, and animals appeared. Sometimes it seemed as if I went out following the visions."
As soon as Ajaan Sao heard this, he said, "This isn't right. For the mind to go knowing and seeing outside isn't right. You have to make it know inside."
Phra Ajaan Sao answered, "When the mind is in a bright state like that, when it has forgotten or abandoned its repetition and is simply sitting empty and still, look for the breath. If the sensation of the breath appears in your awareness, focus on the breath as your object and then simply keep track of it, following it inward until the mind becomes even calmer and brighter."
And so the monk followed the Ajaan's instructions until finally the mind settled down in threshold concentration (upacara Samadhi), following which the breath became more and more refined, ultimately to the point where it disappeared. His sensation of having a body also disappeared, leaving just the state in which the mind was sitting absolutely still, a state of awareness itself standing out clear, with no sense of going forward or back, no sense of where the mind was, because at that moment there was just the mind, all on its own. At this point, the monk came again to ask, "After my mind has become calm and bright, and I fix my attention on the breath and follow the breath inward until it reaches a state of being absolutely quiet and still - so still that nothing is left, the breath doesn't appear, the sense of having a body vanishes, only the mind stands out, brilliant and still
When it's like this, is it right or wrong?"
"Whether it's right or wrong,"the Ajaan answered, "take that as your standard. Make an effort to be able to do this as often as possible, and only when you're skilled at it should you come and see me again."
So the monk followed the Ajaan's instructions and later was able to make his mind still to the point that there was no sense of having a body and the breath disappeared more and more often. He became more and more skilled, and his mind became more and more firm. Eventually, after he had been making his mind still very frequently - because as a rule, there's the principle that virtue develops concentration, concentration develops discernment, discernment develops the mind - when his concentration became powerful and strong, it gave rise to abhinna - heightened knowledge and true insight. Knowledge of what? Knowledge of the true nature of the mind, that is, knowing the states of the mind as they occur in the present. Or so he said.
After he had left this level of concentration and came to see Ajaan Sao, he was told, "This level of concentration is fixed penetration (appana samadhi). You can rest assured that in this level of concentration there is no insight or knowledge of anything at all. There's only the brightness and the stillness. If the mind is forever in that state, it will be stuck simply on that level of stillness. So once you've made the mind still like this, watch for the interval where it begins to stir out of its concentration. As soon as the mind has a sense that it's beginning to take up an object - no matter what object may appear first - focus on the act of taking up an object. That's what you should examine."
The monk followed the Ajaan's instructions and afterwards he was able to make fair progress in the level of his mind.
This is one instance of how Phra Ajaan Sao taught his pupils - teaching just a little at a time, giving only the very heart of the practice, almost as if he would say, "Do this, and this, and this," with no explanations at all. Sometimes I would wonder about his way of teaching. That is, I would compare it with books I had read or with the Dhamma-talks I heard given by other teachers. For example, Phra Ajaan Singh wrote a small handbook for the practice of meditation, entitled, "Taking the Triple Refuge and the Techniques of Meditation", and in it he said that in practicing meditation you must, before all else, sit with your body straight and establish mindfulness directly in front of you. That's how he put it, but not how Ajaan Sao would put it. Still, the principles they taught were one and the same, the only difference being that Ajaan Sao was not a preacher, and so didn't make use of a lot of rhetoric.
As he explained to me
"When we make up our mind to repeat 'Buddho,' the act of making up the mind is in itself the act of establishing mindfulness. When we keep thinking 'Buddho' and are not willing to let the mind slip away from 'Buddho,' our mindfulness and alertness are already healthy and strong, always watching over the mind to keep it with 'Buddho.' As soon as our attention slips away, so that we forget to think 'Buddho' and go thinking of something else, it's a sign that there's a lapse in our mindfulness. But if we can keep our mindfulness under control and can think 'Buddho, Buddho' continuously, with no gaps, our mindfulness is already strong, so there's no need to go 'establishing mindfulness anywhere. To think of an object so that is coupled with the mind is, in and of itself, the act of getting mindfulness established." That was how he explained it to me.
This was one instance of how I saw and heard Phra Ajaan Sao teaching meditation, and should be enough to serve us all as food for thought.

References

Historical people list

Historical people

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Masao Abe Robert Baker Aitken Ron Allen (playwright) B. R. Ambedkar Ananda
Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero Angulimala Aniruddha Mahathera Anuruddha Nauyane Ariyadhamma Mahathera
Aryadeva Asai Ryōi Assaji Atiśa Nisthananda Bajracharya
Benimadhab Barua Joko Beck Sanjaya Belatthiputta Charles Henry Allan Bennett Hubert Benoit (psychotherapist)
John Blofeld Bodhidharma Edward Espe Brown Polwatte Buddhadatta Thera Buddhaghosa
Acharya Buddharakkhita Marie Byles Ajahn Chah Rerukane Chandawimala Thero Channa
Chokgyur Lingpa Edward Conze L. S. Cousins Brian Cutillo 1st Dalai Lama
2nd Dalai Lama 3rd Dalai Lama 4th Dalai Lama 5th Dalai Lama 6th Dalai Lama
7th Dalai Lama 8th Dalai Lama 9th Dalai Lama 10th Dalai Lama 11th Dalai Lama
12th Dalai Lama 13th Dalai Lama Bidia Dandaron Alexandra David-Néel Marian Derby
Devadatta U Dhammaloka K. Sri Dhammananda Dharmaditya Dharmacharya Dharmakirti
Dharmapala of Nalanda Anagarika Dharmapala Dharmottara Dignāga Dōgen
Dongchu Dongshan Liangjie Khakyab Dorje, 15th Karmapa Lama Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, 16th Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, 3rd Karmapa Lama
Heinrich Dumoulin Düsum Khyenpa, 1st Karmapa Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Walter Evans-Wentz Family of Gautama Buddha
Frederick Franck Gampopa Gelek Rimpoche Gö Lotsawa Zhönnu-pel Gorampa
Maha Pajapati Mahapajapati Mahapajapati Gotami Rita Gross Gurulugomi
Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo Tsangpa Gyare Gendun Gyatso Palzangpo Jamgon Ju Mipham Gyatso Dolpopa
Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen Gyeongbong Han Yong-un Thich Nhat Hanh Walisinghe Harischandra
Eugen Herrigel Ernő Hetényi Marie Musaeus Higgins Raicho Hiratsuka Shin'ichi Hisamatsu
Hsuan Hua Huiyuan (Buddhist) Christmas Humphreys K. N. Jayatilleke 2nd Jebtsundamba Khutughtu
9th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu Jeongang Kadawedduwe Jinavamsa Mahathera Ken Jones (Buddhist) David Kalupahana
Dainin Katagiri Katyayana (Buddhist) Bob Kaufman Kaundinya Jack Kerouac
Bogd Khan Khema Ayya Khema Dilgo Khentse Dilgo Khyentse
King Suppabuddha Jamgon Kongtrul Kukkuripa Kumar Kashyap Mahasthavir Kunkhyen Pema Karpo
Drukpa Kunley Trevor Leggett Arthur Lillie Karma Lingpa Robert Linssen
Longchenpa John Daido Loori Albert Low Luipa Taizan Maezumi
Mahakasyapa Mahākāśyapa Mahamoggallana Mahasi Sayadaw Jyotipala Mahathera
Nagasena Mahathera S. Mahinda Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera Marpa Lotsawa Peter Matthiessen
Maudgalyayana Maya (mother of Buddha) Maya (mother of the Buddha) Gustav Meyrink Edward Salim Michael
Milarepa Mingun Sayadaw Sōkō Morinaga Hiroshi Motoyama Mun Bhuridatta
Myokyo-ni Nagarjuna Nagasena Soen Nakagawa Bhikkhu Nanamoli
Matara Sri Nanarama Mahathera Nanavira Thera Nanda Naropa Nichiren
Kitaro Nishida Gudō Wafu Nishijima Nyanaponika Nyanaponika Thera Nyanatiloka
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Paramanuchitchinorot Pema Lingpa Prajñāvarman Punna Rāhula
Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera Walpola Rahula Paul Reps Caroline Rhys Davids Sonam Rinchen (Buddhist geshe)
Hammalawa Saddhatissa Kazi Dawa Samdup Chatral Sangye Dorje Ajahn Sao Kantasīlo Sariputta
Sayadaw U Tejaniya Seongcheol Seungsahn Shantideva Shavaripa
Sheng-yen Zenkei Shibayama Takamaro Shigaraki Silabhadra Sīlācāra
Shin Maha Silavamsa Śrāvaka Subhashitaratnanidhi Subhuti Suddhodana
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