Recording of the talk


This is a transcript from a talk by Ajahn Ganha, given during the funeral service of a leader of the Thai Communist Party. In his later years, the leader had become much more focused on the Dhamma.

The talk had been given by Ajahn Ganha to the monks in the morning; the talk was then transcribed, and read out by Ajahn Maha to the lay community. Ajahn Tillo provided the translation into English. I used Gladia to transcribe the audio recording of this talk into the transcript below: any errors are mine. highlights in bold are my notes for emphasis


It’s just counting of who’s sitting here, the Sangha sitting here. the family sitting here. Also his old friends, one of them was a philosopher, and all his old friends, his old companions are still alive. They are also here today. That’s why we are all here, that he has enough merit that we can send to him.

The monastery is next to Khao Yai. It was one of the places that was a good resource to practice in the Dhamma for people who want to practice over here. Everybody who is coming here really aims for Nibbana. Nibbana is their basic goal in life. It’s not only good when you have a good order, also others appear at ease. So.

We know it starts again (with his birth). So he comes from a good family, which took rightness and correctness to lead their life. His dad was appointed to be the leader of a village over there. He was somebody who has wisdom and knowledge. So that’s why he was able to be a leader.

So now he starts where he studied. That’s why his parents saw that his study is not enough, so you also have to get right view, right understanding. We need Samadhi. Because when you have wrong view, wrong understanding, your whole practice, how you lead your life will be wrong. So when we don’t understand the Dhamma, our life will go in the wrong way.

So that’s why they sent him to Bangkok in the monastery to Bangkok. So he studied over there in the monastery. So with old times it was not so convenient like nowadays. So everybody will wear the brokers go on in his life. They have to stay in the monastery (as) monastery boys, so that’s why people who come to study all the time, there were many many people at the time who studied in the monasteries. So he was a good person somebody as well

Sometimes there was not enough food, sometimes he was satisfied. Sometimes he was too hungry. So it’s not so easy time like nowadays. So at this time, in the old times, the studies happens in the monasteries. So nowadays, the women and the girls and the boys, study together. But in the old times, it wasn’t like with the boys study for them and the girls studied in another school.

So his first name actually is not Phoom, his first name was Thiap Chai Dee, the ‘good heart’. So he, right from the start, he took the Dharma as principle in his life, to guide his life. That’s why his name is a play with words: so he is somebody who was built for the benefit, for the land, for the country, for the people. When you can be something like this, when you can be ‘Chai dee’, when you’re good hearted and you could have a convenience in your life, you’ll be at ease.

So 60, 70 years ago, Thailand wasn’t developed at all at the time. When this time now you can see the technologies are so far developed, as the development goes really very, very fast, but we also have to develop our mind at the same time.

But when we have wrong view and we don’t understand and our practice is wrong and we are self-centered, then we don’t understand these Four Noble Truths. This is the basis for the new generation, where we have to come from. Yes, the technologies are developed, but also we have to come to develop their minds, so that we get right view and understand these Four Noble truths, so this country really can go on.

You can see with democracy, it’s really not perfect. It’s not the right thing to do, because it’s still different egos with a sense of self. So you can see there are many, many rich people, there are many poor people, because we have a lot of corruption. At the time, they just studied, everybody studied for themselves, just for their own ego. So nobody took the Dhamma as principle in their life. Nobody was starting to be selfless. That’s why if you want to go on in your life, you have to develop technologies and you have to develop the mind together so that you know how to live your life.

First he went to study in Bangkok. In the beginning he didn’t like the studies that much, but he forced himself to study. And later on when he finished the studies and came out of the monastery, then it was clear for him that he has to live his life for the benefit of the country, for the benefit of the people. His life has to be a beneficial one.

So,just he goes through his biography. First he was somebody just serving in the house as a house boy, and later on he became a chef. So… When there was a time when he saw all this poverty, there was a problem in the Issan and Thailand.

(Time stamp 9:43) That’s why he threw all this country completely away and went in the forest to lead the communists. He was almost dead five times. When the time of communism was over and when he decided to go out of the forest and go back to the country, come back to the capital, when he was defending democracy, he was defending. (It just goes through his biography, there’s not much Dhamma about it.)

(Time stamp 11:00) In the beginning, Phoombai himself was also for the material world. Actually, you can say he was for the rubbish. This time, the people were just fighting for the rubbish, and Phoom was one of them.

The King Rama IX, he was a very special person. For him, was only the Dhamma the leader of the life. This time, the time the country was changing very dramatically, very fast. The change in the democracy. But it wasn’t a long time democracy. So many times the soldiers they just kicked in and took over. You could say it was just a half democracy most of the time. So always more or less the soldiers actually govern the country.

Speaker 0 | 12:47.473 So they could see even with democracy or even with their socialism, all of this would still be combined with a sense of self, still with the ego, so it would still not fix the problem of the country. So you had some people around him, somebody was like, took philosophy, so he had thousands of people who were supporting his system.

So if you have a sense of self, if you have an ego, this actually destroys the country. The sense of self, the ego, this is just living in darkness.

(Timestamp 13:23) That’s why King Rama IX, he was really good. Because he wasn’t fighting with anybody. The only fight he was fighting was with his own wrong view, with his own wrong understanding. And then he was fighting against the poverty of the people in his own country, so he was looking for solutions to help them. But when we have wrong view, wrong understanding, then we always will try to fix and correct other people, because we think they are wrong. King Rama IX, he was very, very, very special. No king in this world could compare with him. He was really a leader who took the Dhamma as principle in his life. That’s why the people in Thailand, we all miss him.

Timestamp 14:29.952) So there was one person, I don’t know who it is. They could see, but if somebody who is leading the country still has a sense of self, if he has an ego, he can’t be a really good leader. The country will go to ruin. This is not the good way.

That’s why it’s so important to have right view and right understanding. So you have to be both, you have to be a good person, somebody who has wisdom and knowledge. You cannot just be a good person: this is not enough. You can’t be just be just a wise or smart person. Both have to go together, you have to be smart and good.

So Toed Phoomi went to study in Russia and in China. So he wanted to actually bring Thailand to communism. But he couldn’t compete with the Buddha’s teachings.

Because the Buddha and also the King Rama IX, they developed the mind together with the technologies, the material world, so that we have actually the middle way. You have to go in the middle, you have to develop both sides. This is what we call the middle way.

So his wife, he’s been fortunate that he had a good wife because she wasn’t just going with communist stuff, but she was also taking a Buddha as principle in life. And her sons actually were more educated by her mother. So they didn’t have that much influence from his dad. So his son, his son is kraeng, somebody who takes care of other people, or is concerned about other people.

But we all have to understand, our body will not last longer than 100 years. After 100 years latest, we have to leave this world. So at the last stage of his life, when he really took the Dhamma as principle in his life.

But if you have a strong sense of self, a strong ego, what do you like to do? You like to study, you like to learn, and you like to listen to the Dhamma. You have to know the knowledge, you have to know the understanding, but you also have to put, this cannot be just a philosophy or a science, you have to really put it into practice. You cannot just take the sense of self, the ego, it will not work. So you have to take the science, technologies and the Dhamma all together. So it has to be combined. You have to put it into the practice.So all we study in this world, when we go into kindergarten up to the university, always just to get the right view and the right understanding about this material world. So once we understand this, when everything can be beneficial to us. But if you just take our mind, our heart,…then we also have problems. It will also not work when you have nothing to eat. So once we develop the mind, technology together, then we can end the suffering with our body and this material world and the suffering in our mind. But when we find our happiness just in developing Samadhi, our happiness in sitting Samadhi, this will also not work because you still will not develop the right view, because you will not understand these four noble truths.

That’s why the Buddha wanted us to understand the monk is somebody who has right view, right understanding and right practice. But before we didn’t understand, that’s why we couldn’t progress.

Speaker 1 | 18:40.680 So all what you have to understand,

the monk, you have to understand what a monk is. A monk is just somebody who has right view, right understanding, and right practice. And this is in everybody of you, in every single person. Everybody can be a monk. You have to understand what a monk is. A monk is never as in the teachings of the Buddha. A monk is nothing else other than right view, right understanding, right practice. That’s why you have to do technologies and the mind together. If you have a sense of self, if you have an ego, you can’t be a monk. So once you have an ego and sense of self, you have no sila, you have no samadhi, you have no wisdom. You can’t be a monk. You can just appoint ourselves, you can take the robes, you can say, oh, I’m a monk, oh, I’m a monk. But you’re not. You just decorate yourself as a monk, but you’re not a monk. You just have the costume of a monk.

So everybody has to do his own job. Everybody has his own business. So we have to adjust ourselves to the Dhamma and to the time. So when the Buddha realized enlightenment, he didn’t get any appointments or any positions from everybody, but the Buddha never received something like this. So everybody who received the teachings from the Buddha, they really put it into practice, they practice by themselves to develop themselves, to have right view, right understanding, right practice.

So whatever position you are in, this position you are in, this is just a position for you to be selfless, giving, serving. And you develop your mindfulness and your wisdom. If we don’t do this, when we are all deluded, when we just follow our instincts and our superstitions. Why is this when you take your sense of self, your ego, business goal, when you follow superstitions and your instincts? So everybody who is in a government position or something like this, this is a place where we really have to be selfless, then you can be really a government official or some politician. If you’re not(selfless), you’re just a thief.

Speaker 0 | 20:58.575 So that’s why in our daily life, you all need the Buddha within us. And after you have a Buddha within you, when you have right view, right understanding,right practice.

Speaker 0 | 21:07.871 But if you don’t understand, our life will be, we’ll be running around as we’ll be knocked out by a box. We are dizzy. We don’t know really what’s going on. You can’t see clearly. All that we have is just our concepts. And all we’re trying to get is our convenience and comfort.

So … in this present moment, what happens right here, right now, you have to take it and see everything of our experience in the mirror of anicca and dukkha and anatta at all the time. So if you take the happiness, how can this be permanent? Is it permanent? How can it be? so if you see if you want to keep happiness, this still means you have a sense of self as an ego: you’re just an ordinary person, just a scalliwag, you never can be a noble one!

So we have to start up with virtue. So now he comes to Buddhadasa again: “So when you are a human, then you need to be somebody with a higher mind.” The mind is clear, the mind is bright (but I couldn’t fill up.) So a dirty heart is always living in darkness. You have no virtue. (That’s too fast.)

So if you have a self-centered life, all you get is delusion. You will be easy believer of other people. You will never understand the four noble truths. You will never understand the three characteristics. So everybody has to see the importance of the present moment. It’s very important. But if you don’t see the importance of the present moment because you are self-centered, you have an ego. You cannot be absorbed and immersed in the sensual pleasures. Or when we are in our aversion, we have to bring our mind out of the sensual pleasures and out of this aversion. So we have to see our thinking, we have to understand our thinking and our emotions coming from this. So when we take, When we have this kind of experience, we lift it up and see it in the mirror of Anicca, Dukkha, and Anatta, then we will not blur anymore. We will see clearly. We will not be living in darkness.

Speaker 0 | 23:56.866 So we don’t need to fight for people with other things. This is just our delusion to want to get things and fight for things. So we have to understand, you have to put the right causes in place. When this is, that will be. We are just causing the effect. So we have to put the right causes in place. So you can see like a drop of water leads up to the end, getting a river and then it comes to the ocean. So you can see in this world, we don’t have any really efforts. All we have is people who are getting controlled by our own emotions. So we have to understand our thinking process. We have to develop our thoughts. So we have everything to see in the mirror of Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta.

So we have to sleep at least six to eight hours, no more than eight hours. We cannot corrupt our sleeping time. So you can see that many people just like to play with a mobile, from young age up to the grandmothers and even ordained people, and maybe corrupt their own sleeping time. They played with a computer. They played with a mobile phone and then they forget to go to bed. That’s not correct, and what is not correct, you have to give up.

We have to know how to make your mind peaceful or let your mind become peaceful. Just you’re breathing in, you know “my breath is uncertain, is not sure, unreliable”, and the same if you out breath. And you Say my breath is going in “It’s not me. It’s not myself”. In this way you will really be somebody living in solitude. So in the morning one hour, in the evening one hour. This is enough. This is where you get the Buddha inside of you. This is where you find him.

(Timestamp 25:40) But the sense of self, the ego, will have always doubts and always questions. There is no end. So don’t look for the monk outside of you. You have to find the monk inside of you. So if you look outside of you, you will never ever find the real monk because the real monk is just inside of you. So you always have to find back to mindfulness and wisdom.

Once we have right view, right understanding, right practice, in this very present moment, we will not add anything, we will not cut anything out. This present moment is always perfect. Everybody who is still in training, we have to practice. When we study and we just do it to get something out of it, to achieve something, this will not work, so we have to stop wanting anything, getting anything, achieving anything.

This position, then, it’s just for you to give, to serve, to renounce the sense of self and ego. So if you just have a sense of self and ego to get something, to achieve something, then you’re just at the level you will still fight with other people, still argue with other people. This will not work. So you have to give up this ego.

That’s why in this world we have so many religions. Look at Ms Robert, everybody would have the same name. This would not work. That’s why we have also many, many different labels for religions. They are actually all the same.

When you just focus on Samadhi, it’s just like you put a rock on grass. But you can’t see any emotions. You can’t see any taste, any other five senses. Nobody blames you. This will never arise. So Samadhi is simply not enough. That’s why the Buddha is something that’s the most valuable thing in the whole world: he was somebody who had Right View, Right Understanding, right practice. So we all have to understand we need the Buddha in our heart in our mind, and we need the Buddha in the material world.

(Timestamp 28:00) So if you have a sense of self, if you have a sense of ego, we will never be in solitude.

So you have to understand, don’t look for the monk somewhere else. The monk is … about right view. This is where the monk is. You have to understand what the house outside is.

(Timestamp 28:30) So don’t know just the house outside of you. You have to know the house, your home inside. Your home inside is Nibbana. So you have to understand everything is just cause and effect. So everything, all the five khandhas, they are just doing their job, their duties, their business. So the body is doing its business, Vedana is doing its business, Sankara, Sannyana, Vinayana, they’re just doing their business. So everything, we’re just doing our own job, our own business. Our job is to understand these things.

We cannot take with our feelings, oh, I am this, I am that. We cannot trust our perceptions. We cannot trust this is me, this is mine, this is myself. We can’t trust these things. They are wrong.

So we have to also understand our five sense bases. We have to understand these things. They are there for our understanding.

So once we understand these things, then this world can cool down and be at ease. Because we arrive at right view. And then we develop the mind and the science together.

But (if) we are not, we don’t love ourselves. We are just deluded by ourselves. We don’t have pure kindness, we don’t have pure compassion. It’s just combined with delusion.

So doing good things so that we can send the merit to the descendant, that’s a very good thing to do. We all have to die. And we all have to get separated from things we like. So once we’re born and have this noble life as a human being, we really have to make the best out of this human life. So we have to be somebody who is selfless, who is giving. And we have to practice. We have to practice sila, samadhi, and panna. Why we are doing this? Just to abandon our ego.

we have to understand our body. Our body is just like this.

So when we understand these things, then we really have a HUGE benefit for all the others. So everybody who is really perfect to send the merits to the descended ones, this is just somebody like the Buddha or their life beings, because their mind is pure. They can send the merits to the descended ones. they can send them up to the heavenly realms and up to nibana.

wherever you are, you cannot just practice in the monastery in your village or wherever you stay, you have to practice and all you have to do, you have to live in harmony. The harmony is very important. Tomorrow at 8 a.m. we send the merits the last time to Thet Phoom. Everybody has to come together to pay respect to the Triple Gem and to observe precepts. So it’s just all for harmony and unity. And then when we burn it, it’s just the ceremony, the last ceremony we are doing.

So people who are still alive, we have to take the Dhamma as our principle in life, as guideline. So once you’re still alive, you have to have right view, right understanding, right practice. So you have to understand your life is a very noble one, it’s very sublime one, make the best out of it. So that’s why we need mindfulness and wisdom. So you’re breathing in, be happy when breathing in, you’re breathing out, be happy when breathing out.

(timestamp 32:23) so always, the past, make it zero: delete it. and the future is not here, so don’t be concerned about the future: make your future zero. all you need is mindfulness and wisdom this very present moment. don’t take the sense of self, don’t take the ego: this is where the past and the future are. if you give up a sense of self, you give up the ego, then you have sati sampajanna (mindfulness & wisdom). Then you are a winner, then you take victory.

but if you have a sense of self and ego, then you will have no mindfulness: you will just live in with your instincts and with your superstitions.

so we have to understand, everything is just like it is: what’s gone is gone; let bygones be bygones; don’t need to worry about anything.

Everything just investigate in the mirror of Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. So you have to understand everything is not sure, unreliable, uncertain, everything is without a self! And if you don’t know that you are suffering. So if you hear something, if you taste something, whatever it is, everything just falls under these three characteristics. Everything with your experience is just anicca, dukkha, anatta.

So you have to develop yourself: you have to really come to get to mindfulness running. And this mindfulness is just there for you to abandon your ego. If you’re not able to abandon your ego, you will never have sati.

Once we are able to let go of the sense of self, let go of this ego, then we will be at ease. We will have no concerns anymore. We live very well. This is what we really can call a sacred life, a holy life.

So you have to really understand your ego, your sense of self, this makes you not understanding this fundamental truth. So once you give up a sense of self, once you give up this ego, then wisdom will arise for you, Nibbana will arise for you, and then you have no problems anymore, it’s the end of all problems. So that’s why people with wisdom, who will have mindfulness, they may know both they know their mind and they know their body and their mind, and this mindfulness is perfected. and their samadhi will be very strong, very solid.

(Timestamp 35:00) Once you have strong mindfulness, strong sati in this very present moment, then you can see cause and effect, then you will understand it. And then the wisdom will arise. But the sense of self, the ego, this makes you not understanding, not seeing.

So once you see things as they are, then you are a big benefit for everybody, for the people, for your workplace, wherever you are. So you will not be angry anymore, you will not be depressed anymore, you will not be lazy anymore. This is when you have really big, big, big, great mindfulness. So when you have really big, great mindfulness, then you can see the real truth of your body, the real truth of your mind. So that’s why the mindfulness is very basic, very important.

So all that we have to do, we have to really perfect our mindfulness and our wisdom. So whatever we are doing, this will always happen just in this very present moment. Once you’re doing this, whatever you’re doing in this world, there will always be benefit. It will always be a good thing that you’re doing. We have to develop our mind, our body at the same time, until we really destroy all the kilesas(defilements) up to the end, all kileas (defilements) are finished …

(Rest of the recording is about Ajahn Tillo talking to someone about a sound system issue)