The Way It Is

Ajahn Sumedho

Venerable Ajahn Sumedho is a bhikkhu of the Theravada school of Buddhism, a tradition that prevails in Sri Lanka and S.E.Asia. In this last century, its clear and practical teachings have been well received in the West as a source of understanding and peace that stands up to the rigorous tests of our current age.

Ajahn Sumedho is himself a Westerner having been born in Seattle, Washington, USA in 1934. He left the States in 1964 and took bhikkhu ordination in Nong Khai, N.E. Thailand in 1967. Soon after this he went to stay with Venerable Ajahn Chah, a Thai meditation master who lived in a forest monastery known as Wat Nong Pah Pong in Ubon Province. Ajahn Chah's monasteries were renowned for their austerity and emphasis on a simple direct approach to Dhamma practice, and Ajahn Sumedho eventually stayed for ten years in this environment before being invited to take up residence in London by the English Sangha Trust with three other of Ajahn Chah's Western disciples.

The aim of the English Sangha Trust was to establish the proper conditions for the training of bhikkhus in the West. Their London base, the Hampstead Buddhist Vihara, provided a reasonable starting point but the advantages of a more gentle rural environment inclined the Sangha to establishing a forest monastery in Britain. This aim was achieved in 1978, with the acquisition of a ruined house in West Sussex subsequently known as Chithurst Buddhist Monastery or Cittaviveka.

With the foundation of a proper monastery, the Sangha began to grow in numbers quite steadily and also took on a training for women as Buddhist nuns (siladhara) The increase in the numbers of people wishing to live the monastic life, or to help support it, made it possible to set up branch monasteries in Britain and also overseas; it also helped to bring about the establishment of a large-scale teaching centre, Amaravati Buddhist Centre, in 1984. This is where Ajahn Sumedho customarily resides and many of the talks included in this book were given there.

Amaravati Buddhist Centre is just outside the village of Great Gaddesden near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. It is both a monastery and a retreat centre and welcomes those who are interested in the teachings of the Buddha. Visitors may stay as guests of the monastery if they are interested in living in a community and training in terms of morality, awareness and service. This publication is part of the service that Amaravati undertakes and has been made available through voluntary efforts and donations.

Amaravati has produced several other books of teachings by Ajahn Sumedho, and also distributes books by Ajahn Chah and other Buddhist masters. For a current list, please send a SAE to Amaravati Publications, Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP1 3BZ, England.