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AJAHN KARUNIKO

Question: Because I never met Luang Por Chah, I would like to get some experience, some feeling from someone who had the great opportunity to meet with him. You are one of those people. I would like to ask you what impressed you most about Luang Por Chah and, if possible, I would like to have an example according to your experience.

Answer: I met Luang Por Chah in England. He came to the Hampstead Vihara in 1979, and I was a layman. One of the things was just the sense of happiness of Luang Por Chah, his joy and happiness, and the effect that had on my mind. It made me feel very happy being around him. One of the most interesting things about that time when I used to go to this vihara in 1979 -- I had been meditating for maybe eighteen months and it was very difficult -- pain, restlessness... Then Luang Por Chah turns up at the Vihara and my mind was very calm and peaceful. So I'd go every night because the mediation was very good when he was there for me. That was very interesting -- just the power of his presence and my mind went calm. Usually it wasn't calm, because in my early days of meditation it was just pain and restlessness. Even sittting was easy; it was easy to sit when he was there. Then I think just the power of his metta effected me -- this nice feeling in the heart. So I really enjoyed just being around him. It was a very special time that week he was there; I'd go every night. It was interesting too that even if he was downstairs in the Vihara, still my mediation was good -- even when he was downstairs and not in the room. But then when he left to go back to Thailand..! Incredible.

He used to tease people -- ask people questions and tease them a little bit. So when I sat there -- and I was just in awe of him then -- I was at his feet just in awe of this wonderful man and he looked down at me and said, "What do you think it would be like to sit there for one whole hour without one thought coming into your mind?" I thought, "Oh, very enlightened!" and he said, "Like a stone!" and I couldn't answer that! I thought, "I'm not going to get into that -- I'm out!" That was a very wonderful expereince being around him and that's more or less the only time I really was around Luang Por Chah when he was well, when he came to the Hampstead Vihara when I was a layman.

Question: You met him again?

Answer: Well, after he went away to the States, I saw him at Oakenholt; they had a big ordination at Oakenholt. I went up to say Hello, and he held my hand and talked to me a little bit -- very friendly. That's how I saw him, and then he went away. The next time I saw him I was a monk. I saw him at his kuti when he was in this wheelchair, and I pushed his wheelchiar around the kuti. That was the last time I saw him.

Question: How did you feel when you saw him and he couldn't speak, couldn't talk?

Answer: Well, it was interesting, because from the front, his mouth was like this (illustrates physically), but when I was pushing him around, from the back it was as though -- it felt like he was smiling. The feeling was, if you didn't know, you'd think there was a smiling face -- somehow, something about the feel of it was that there'd be a smiling face on the other side of that head. That was a wonderful feeling just to be able to push him around the kuti. I was very grateful to Ajahn Jayasaro for inviting me. He said, "Come on, you can push him around the kuti". I was so grateful to give something back. That was a very inspiring time for me, meeting him. I was very new to many things in meditation, and just meeting someone like him was a very big inspiration.


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