Venerable Ajahn Maha Bua (alternate spelling: Maha Boowa), a master of the Thai Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism, has passed away at the age of 97.
He was the student of Venerable Acariya Mun, one of the founders of the revived Thai Forest tradition, and would himself become founder of Baan Taad Forest Monastery in northeastern Thailand. As a young man he had had at first no intentions of being a monk for life, but as is recounted in this downloadable biography, he became aware of the teachings of Ajahn Mun and soon “devote[d] both his heart and his life to Ãcariya Mun and his way of practice.” Upon meeting Ajahn Mun, Ajahn Maha Bua became convinced that he had found the right path and teacher, and he stayed with him until Ajahn Mun’s death in 1949.
Subsequent years would find Ajahn Maha Bua continuing his dedication to practice and community, as manifest, physically, in the establishment of new monasteries. Eventually, in 1955, a donation of land would allow him to build Wat Pa Baan Taad, or Baan Taad Forest Monastery. (The biography linked to above goes into great detail about the creation and layout of the monastery.) There the monks have been trained as per the teachings of Ajahn Mun. (See Ajahn Maha Bua’s 1962 teaching, “To Be An Inner Millionaire,” for extension reflections upon Ajahn Mun and his teachings.)
In addition to his dedication to teaching in the monastic setting, he traveled to lecture occasionally and founded the Help Thai Nation Project. He published a sermon in a Thai newspaper in 2005 that would become controversial and notable for the way it criticized Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, in extremely frank terms, for being power-hungry. (The newspaper was sued and the case dismissed.)
Reporting on his passing, Thailand’s The Nation writes: “Early yesterday morning Thailand lost its most revered monk. Luangta Maha Bua was known for his immense influence, his mammoth works of charity and his role as a sort of saviour when society was in crisis — by leading a national fundraising campaign to restore the country’s national reserves after they were depleted by the 1997 financial crisis.”
Ajahn Maha Bua’s books Wisdom Develops Samadhi, A Life of Inner Quality, Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera – A Spiritual Biography, and others, are available for free download from ForestDhammaBooks.com. Still others, including Things as They Are: A Collection of Talks on the Training of the Mind and To the Last Breath: Dhamma Talks on Living and Dying, are available from Access To Insight (also free).