Question: What single thing most impressed you about Luang Por Chah with examples according to your experiences.
Answer: The first time I saw Luang Por Chah was when he landed in Britain, when he came through the arrivals at Heathrow Airport. There was a group of us monks, Ajahn Viradhammo, Ajahn Sumedho, and myself. Ajahn Pabhakaro was with Luang Por Chah. The first thing that I noticed about him was that he was quite small, particularly compared with Ajahn Pabhakaro, but he looked like a very very big man. He carried himself like a big man. Not aggressive, but completely confident. And here he was in a foreign country, he'd come from a long plane ride, couldn't speak the language and looked completely in charge. And he knew exactly where he wanted to be. He was not hurried. He was not anxious. He was completely in charge, completely balanced, and he looked warm, friendly. He wasn't in charge in a hard way, he was balanced in himself. Completely at ease within his environment, even though it was a foreign country, strange place, didn't know the language. And so that whenever we came to see him, he was just so gentle. He knew how to immediately receive people. He was like your favourite uncle, as if you'd just been talking to him and you'd known him all your life. Very easy and very warm. So that you immediately felt very relaxed. Normally when you meet somebody who's strange you think "better make sure everything's alright...". But you felt relaxed, because somebody loves you, immediately, with so much metta. So this is very very overwhelming in some ways, because almost everybody takes a little bit of time before they relax.
Then he stayed at the Hamstead Vihara, in London. The Hampstead Vihara is just a small town house. So compared with the big space of Wat Pah Pong, it had really narrow corridors, small rooms, and it was very crowded. He was very comfortable. He had women sitting quite close by to him, and it was no problem. People not doing things properly according to the Thai way of doing things, not deliberately, just not dong things in the proper way. And you could see some of the other monks were quite anxious, to make sure it was alright, but he was just very relaxed. And then when people asked him questions, he couldn't understand the words - he always had Aj Sumedho or Aj Pabhakaro translate, he was just looking at them. Just feeling. You could just see he was just checking you along. Then somebody would ask some very complicated question about Abhidhamma or something, then it would be translated, and would say something like, "thinking too much is not good for you". Or "sometimes it's like this and sometimes it's like that." Very simple answer that went underneath the question. It went straight to the heart, underneath the head. He never got fooled by any question. he always went straight to the heart. He could feel where people were coming from. He was very kind, not trying to put people down. Very gentle. Just very patient.
People would be affected by that. People could feel that immediate heart contact, and so immediately that's quite overwhelming. So the place would be crowded with people who'd sit there so they could just be there. They didn't have any questions, they just wanted to be there, just to feel that, because people were normally so nervous, tense and anxious. To be in a place where somebody is just so relaxed, with metta, you couldn't understand what he was saying, and you didn't even have anything to ask, you just wanted to be there. It would go on for hours. He never seemed to change his pace. He never hurried, he never hung back, always just flowing along. Everything just flowing. Never hurry, never stopping, and never moving back. Always flowing along. Just like the book "Living Dhamma", still flowing water. That image. That was like him, still flowing water.
And he seemed to be someone who had bigger space inside than outside. Inside he was like a huge space. Because when people would ask a question you see that it went into this space, and disappeared. It's like when somebody shoots a rocket into the sky, it just goes up in the air, and disappears. And there's nothing there to hit. So it was very impressive to see such a person. I'd never seen such a person like that before.
His sense of timing. The occasion when we asked him if he would go to the Buddhist Society to give the five precepts.
He said, "Well, maybe I will, and maybe I won't."
So we said, "But we've got to organise it!"
"Perhaps I'll go. But maybe I won't, I don't know really....If I don't go Sumedho will go."
So they didn't know what to do, so eventually they sent this car along. So he said, "Maybe I will go, maybe I won't go.... Sumedho , you go."
So Ajahn Sumedho got up to go, and he had just got in the car and Luang Por Chah came and said, "I'll go".
He'd left it until the last second. His teaching on uncertainty. His main teaching. People were trying to organise, and fix, and hold him to something, and he just refused to play. So that's where he seemed to keep his whole sense of balance, on present moment. Everything else is uncertain. So that's how he seemed to not get caught in anything, because he just held that principle so strongly, that nothing could catch him. And he wouldn't get pulled in, he wouldn't get pushed away. He'd always just be at that place. Very very beautiful.
I spent one interview with him, it wasn't really an interview. We were just in the car, he was in the front seat and I was in the back. We went to this Buddhist Centre where he was staying, so we all got out and people were carrying his bags, and I carried his bowl into his room. And just as I was about leave he said, "Ah, Sucitto." He wanted me to sit down. And I thought, "Oh dear..."
And he would just start talking. I can maybe speak twenty words of Thai, and he speaks maybe five words of English. And yet we talked together for an hour. Because it didn't really matter what he was saying, you could feel the metta. And I could get maybe one word, if he said something about food or meditation, or tudong or something. I'd just get a little bit. Mainly that he was trying to make me feel comfortable. He could see I was nervous. He could give each individual so much attention, just to make them feel comfortable. Very loving. That was very impressive for me.