…is an English Buddhist monk of the Theravadin Thai Forest Tradition living and practising at the Forest Hermitage in Warwickshire.
It all began on a fateful day in April, 1981. Life wasn’t too bad until I reached the age of about nine, when life began to lose its shine. Up until then I’d quite enjoyed playing tig in the playground and tennis with those squidgy yellow balls and chunky red rackets. But then, well, what can you say? Dukkha.
I think I was eighteen when I first practised meditation. I’m not exactly sure why but I went to my local library to see if they had a book on it. I found one called ‘How to Meditate’, went home, read the instructions – a paragraph on mindfulness of breathing – and assumed that most traditional of postures: I lay on the couch. I then focused on the breath and my life was never the same again.
A month or so later my mother (of all people!) discovered an advert in a local newspaper: meditation at the Forest Hermitage. It was a moment that came back to haunt her. So, I went there and found myself returning at least once a week, all the while trying to meditate at home at least twice a day, as well as on the bus and during free moments at college.
Then, one evening, during the tea after the meditation session at the Hermitage, Luangpor asked a young man who had been intending to become a novice when he was going to ordain. Hardly had that young chap answered when my mouth burst open: “How do you become a novice?”
A few months later I was in robes. It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. In May 2001 I received full ordination as a bhikkhu under Luangpor Khemadhammo and I’ve been training at the Forest Hermitage ever since.
I’m often asked, especially at the schools, why I became a monk. For two reasons, I say:
1. Because I want to be FREE FROM SUFFERING; and
2. I want to KNOW.
And I realise my time in which to find them is passing quickly.
In June 2006 the retreats at Bhavana Dhamma started and since then they’ve become an important part of my life. For a start I enjoy teaching. But it’s the results that you see people experiencing that makes them so worthwhile.
I know my life would be very different if it wasn’t for Buddhism. And I realize that having access to Ajahn Chah’s teachings is a great privilege. When reading his words I feel like a weary man who has been stumbling through the desert and finds an oasis: he drinks and is refreshed; every sip is precious.
I’m deeply indebted to Luangpor at the Hermitage as well. He is a tremendous role model in many ways: his determination, sincerity, integrity, and strength of mind are second to none. I bow to the Buddha, Ajahn Chah and Luangpor.