Symbols, forms and conventions

by Ajahn Sumedho

‘When I look at my robe of saffron or orange — a colour that people would seldom wear — it impinges on my consciousness and reminds me of Buddhist monks, which in turn reminds me of sangha [Community of Buddhist monks or those on the path], which is also a reminder of wakefulness. ‘

'Symbols, forms and conventions'  by Ajahn Sumedho

‘Symbols, forms and conventions’ by Ajahn Sumedho

‘When you see a Buddhist monk or nun, … the form can be seen in terms of awakening — the shaven head, the robe, can be reminders of awareness.’

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[The above is from a talk given during a retreat at Amaravati in May 1999. Courtesy of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery.]

About Ajahn Sumedho:
Luang Por Sumedho was born in Seattle, Washington in 1934. After serving four years in the US Navy as a medic, he completed a BA in Far Eastern Studies and a MA in South Asian Studies. In 1966, he went to Thailand to practice meditation at Wat Mahathat in Bangkok. Not long afterwards, he went forth as a novice monk in a remote part of the country, Nong Khai, before receiving full ordination in 1967.

Ajahn Sumedho on Pindacara

Ajahn Sumedho on Pindacara

A year of solitary practice followed. Although fruitful, it showed him the need for a teacher who could more actively guide him. A fortuitous encounter with a visiting monk led him to Ubon province to practice with Luang Por Chah. He took dependence from Luang Por Chah and remained under his close guidance for ten years.

In 1975, Luang Por Sumedho, established Wat Pah Nanachat, International Forest Monastery where Westerners could be trained in English. In 1977, he accompanied Luang Por Chah to England and took up residence at the Hampstead Vihara, with three other monks.

Luang Por Sumedho was made an Upachaya (ordination preceptor) in 1981. Since then he has given upasampada (Bhikkhu precepts) to more than a hundred aspirants of many nationalities. Luang Por Sumedho was integral in establishing the Forest Sangha tradition in the United Kingdom. He was central in establishing Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and Chithurst Buddhist Monastery. He remained as senior incumbent at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in Hertfordshire until November 2010, at which time he handed over the duties of abbot to Ajahn Amaro. Luang Por Sumedho is now based in Thailand where his monastic life began in 1966.
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– Posted by CFFong