“The Ways of the peaceful” is one of the many possible renderings of the term “Samana-Dhamma”, an expression that summarizes the whole lifestyle of a Buddhist monk. Samana” means somebody who is peaceful. Generally in the time of the Buddha all kinds of recluses, ascetics, contemplatives, and members of ordained communities living the life of a homeless practitioner (anagarika) were referred to as “Samanas”. The Buddhas disciples were often called the “Samanas of Gotama” or the “Samanas of the Sakyan clan”, using the Buddhas family and clan names. Whenever the aspect of celibacy of these religious practitioners is stressed, the term “brahmacariya” is used, which translates in short as “Holy Life”. The Buddha himself called his monks “Bhikkhus-. This literally means beggars, but especially in the Thai Forest Tradition a second translation is popular “Those who see the danger in the round of rebirth”. Besides the specific monastic code that the Buddha established for his monks (the “Vinaya”, with its 227 major training rules and countless minor rules), that spells out the conduct of a Buddhist monk in great detail, there was a general understanding of the etiquette, the virtues and qualities of a Samana, a peaceful ascetic. This is the “Samana-Dhamma”. It refers to these general virtues more than to the details of the traning rules, but in fact the daily life of a monk is always a combination of both, in the same way as the Buddha always used the words Dhamma and Vinaya as a pair when he talked about his dispensation.
This compilation of teachings circles around the routines, practices and aspirations that form the life of a monastic community, (Sangha) as practised in the Thai Forest Tradition in the present day and age. Luang Por Liem Thitadhammo is one of the living teachers of this tradition. He was entrusted the leadership of the famous forest monastery Wat Nong Pah Pong in IJbon Rajathani in Northeastem Thailand by Luang Pu Chah, who is well
known in Thailand and abroad for his unique style of teaching this all’ encompassing way of life and meditation to both Thai and western monks .Presently, Luang Por Liem keeps this emphasis on training monks alive,
ranging from mastering the details of daily life to very profound insights into the universal truths about life that the Buddha taught.
In this book, besides general outlines Of monastic aspiration and its practice in daily life, some material on the ceremony of ordination, called the “Going Forth” from the household life to the homeless life is included. In comparison with the Thai edition called “Samana-Dhamma”, some talks have been shortened, as some parts are only of interest to those who know Thailand well.
We hope that the teachings put together in this volume serve those who are not yet familiar with Buddhist monastic culture as an introduction to areas of Dhamma practice that are usually only accessible to monks and inspire those that are interested in taking up monastic life to do So, and those who are already monks, to continue to train themselves in the Ways of the Peaceful.
With best wishes in the Samana-Dhamma,
(wat Nong pah pong, June 2550 (2007))