An Eulogy for Phra Maha Oath by Montra

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 An Eulogy for Phra Maha Nutthanit (Oath) Manathat

Montra Leoseng

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Phra Maha Oath's habit of mind to find an ultimate happiness 

 

 

To a scholar, a practitionner, a supporter and a Kalyāṇa-mittatā of my youth, 

who devoted his life to bettering the lives of others

 and to those routes of happiness and dedication where we went,

though can not come again. 



With great respect.

 

 

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 On a joyful day at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, May 2008

 

I don't remember for certain what it was that brought me to work with Phra Maha Nutthanit for more than a decade after graduation, but it was probably an incident that I had to arrange a visit to temples in Ayutthaya for delegates for the first time (in 2008). They were mainly Buddhist Leaders, Scholars and Embassadors from different countries around the world and Wat Yai Chai Mongkol was known to be one of the best spots in Thailand.

I am ashamed to say that I did not recognize Phra Maha Nutthanit immediately due to his shaved head and yellowed robes; quite differed from an old friend I have known in secular life. To be honest, I did not known him at all. As far back as 1991, we were technically in the same batch (School of Economics, Kasetsart University), same generation (born in 1974) but what lied between us was a feeling of emptiness. It never occurred to me that I will ask for his help one day. Phra Maha Nutthanit, at last, became "a notable hostess" who had helped giving my distinguished guests a good time (at Wat Yai Chaimongkol) and it was the beginning of a friendship.

 

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit was a revered teacher of Vipassana meditation. Beyond being a famous meditation master of Ayutthaya, Phra Maha Nutthanit was an outstanding teacher, a researcher who was heavily involved with student mentoring and undergraduate research activities, and a good speaker in public talks with the charisma and message of liberation. Phra Maha Nutthanit had served as thesis committee members to nearly 15 undergraduate students. He had also demonstrated a deep interest in and capacity for driving new initiative and development. Phra Maha Nutthanit was a writer of more than a hundred online articles published under his name. However, his spiritual practice and religious duties came before everything else; prostrations (morning and evening chanting) and meditation took Phra Maha Nutthanit at least three hours a day.



 

1. Enroute to Becoming the Meditation Master

 

Phra Maha Nutthanit's first step in this direction was to embark on Pāli Studies in order to gain access to Buddhist scriptures. The specialized learning at the third level of Pāli Studies in the Sangha’s Ecclesiastical Education system had deepened his understanding on the content of Pali chants and Pali doctrinal texts. Phra Maha Nutthanit had completed the forth level in a short period with the entitlement of "Phra Maha".

With a unique interest, diligence, and determination in meditation, Phra Maha Nutthanit joined a meditation master training course for four months and became a well-known meditation master. The insight from liberation inspired him to spend his early five years after ordination, practicing meditation and wandering through the countryside. Following an austere  lifestyle allowed Phra Maha Nutthanit practiced mindfulness under all conditions.

When embracing ascetic austerities and discipline as a forest meditation Bhikkhu, Phra Maha Nutthanit chose to meditate in untouched wilderness of Chiangmai for several months where a number of tigers call this area home. It is known as "Soblarn"

Residing in the deep forest of Soblarn is a little village of Karen Hilltribe, situated near an impressive stream of "Mae Khan (A stream of tiger)" that flows through the heartland of the forest, and surrounded by rushing waterfalls as well as steep hills hinding in the midst. It is one of the most beautiful sights you would wish to see. Phra Maha Nutthanit, therefore, decided to build a temple on top of one of the many hills that abound in Soblarn on his second visit. He called this very special place that "Dharmmasom Soblarn".

Building "Dharmmasom Soblarn" had drawn much admiration and appreciation from Karen tribesmen and their children for it gave them a chance to engage in Buddhist practice and an aspiration for enlightenment. Dharmmasom Soblarn can be used for educational purpose as a part of a Karen Hilltribe Community Education Center, supported by Arsomsilp Institute of Arts, in order to promote an alternative education. The center strongly emphasizes the rich cultural diversity of the Karen tribes and their moral wisdom.

 

 

  

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     Dharmmasom Soblarn was an enchanting shelter on the top of the steep hill, far from the village, in the midst of forest. I have no idea how Phra Maha Nutthanit managed to live there alone for several months.

 

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     To Karen people, building Dharmmasom Soblarn was an auspicious beginning for they can engage in Buddhist practice.

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit, the only chanting master, played the ritual role by chanting in an uninterrupted and permanent way for nearly 2 hours during the opening ceremony of Soblarn's Karen Hilltribe School. It was held in 2009 with the presence of the President, Faculty Members, master and other students of Arsomsilp Institute of Arts as well as executives and teachers from Roongaroon School.

The chanting would normally be performed by a group of monks to harmonizing their voices. I was not aware of having heard any monk has chanted this chapter alone before. Because of the inspiring and highly spiritual atmostphere created by his sound, he became known for his chanting talents and this moment still presents in our hearts. 

   

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Collecting alms in the cool of early morning, through a very steep hill, is still his most cherished duty for he knows that Karen people in the remote area have a rear opportunity to make a merit. The whole village was and is worshiping him.

     

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For Surachart, a young boy at Soblarn, Phra Maha Nutthanit was remembered as the most dedicated teacher who helped him born into a new frontier of learning, a new world of Dhamma practicing, a new generation of children of Karen tribe.

 

 

 

Phra Maha Nutthanit offered an unparalleled perspective on impermanence and liberation (Ploy Laew Whang, Wang Laew Baow) to help people turn suffering into a path of liberation. His teachings have been influential in bringing mindfulness practice to stress reduction science. Unfolding life beyond our ordinary way of looking at things and showing a different way of being had enriched the way we live our lives. His teachings incorporate traditional explanations of the origial Pali text and also bring forth a deep understanding of various aspects of chants. 

Phra Maha Nutthanit focused on Buddhism promotion efforts from earlier chapters in monastic life until the very end of his time. He, firstly, presented the Buddhist teachings at vipassana meditation retreats of Wat Yai Chaimongkol. Phra Maha Nutthanit, much loved by his students, contributed immensely to the Buddhist education of the young Buddhist monks in Pali Studies School and Dhamma Studies School.

He was responsible for numerous education programmes on meditation including "Samanen Pak Rudooron" Novice Monk Ordination During the Summer at Wat Yai Chaimongkok and year-round meditation workshops for a much larger group of people - executives from different ministries, employees of various banks, children in primary schools, university students and several others. People of every race and walk of life benefit from his achievement. Within a passing decade, Wat Yai Chaimongkol developed into a retreat centre for people from all over the world. 

Phra Maha Nutthanit shared his insights and perspectives to many meditation retreats outside the temple, e.g., Jitprapatsorn group. He also provided learning opportunity for people in prison, children in the orphanage, and disadvantaged hilltribe people.



   

 

 

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2. Simple Living

 

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit offered not only a simple philosophy of life but an embodiment of it in his daily living.

I remembered an incident that he sprained his ankle on the way back to his residence on the hilltop (Dharmmason Soblarn) while carrying an alms. It happened in the cool of the morning after collecting alms

As soon as news was received, I brought and offerred him hiking sandles "่Just Wear It" made with sticky rubber and adjustable strap at the largest size. Phra Maha Nutthanit used it for heading to the forest until it was worn down. After the third attempt to fix it, it was completely unwearable. I would offer him a new pair of hiking sandles if he do not mildly remind me that "I accept any difficulties I may find for I chose to be a monk. It might slow me down but I will reach the hilltop in the end."

He insisted that he would not want to rely on it (comfortability) any longer and can not afford to buy this expensive shoe. With this amount of money, he can spend it for Karen Hilltribe children to continue their education at higher level or procuring food for school lunch, or building a new residence for the monk in the forest.

His answer illuminated my soul. I, therefore, replied him with a feeling of respect that "Sadhu".

Two years before he passed way, I observed that Phra Maha Nutthanit tackled the rugged trail in great difficulties due to his health and, of course, sandals of less than a 100 baht. He was proud of that simple but effective footwear as an item from Sangkatarn. 

 

 

 

 

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Surprisingly, what I found when digging through piles of old stuff in my computer was a photo of sandals I offered. I took a snapshot of it in order to check the color, style and size. Sandals must have been very simple but durable.

 

 

 

 

3. Sustained Development Efforts

 

Later on Phra Maha Nutthanit had already made determined efforts to get involved in different activities to bring change to society, notably website development for temples, schools, and different organizations, which in those days was new, as well as publishing online articles (www.exteen.com) and academic journals. 

Website development, in the last decade, marked a notable growth in the visibility of Buddhist temples and the availabiltiy of the online dharma to the wider public. 

 

 

Website development were unexpected work addition to many other works we had done at that time. In a small team of volunteers, Phra Maha Nutthanit made all arrangements including financial donation, technical contribution, communication and coordination while I had become involved in writing up and translation work of some projects. Due to his serious dedication and IT talents, it was no surprise to me that in the end Phra Maha Nutthanit was able to develop nearly 40 - 50 websites/media free of charge for temples and working groups across Thailand. 

 

  

What made those on-line articles special was that it provided the Buddhist learning space with an alternative interpretation of Buddhist teachings to wider audience, particularly a young generation. 

"How to Prepare the Package of Sangha Offering Items (or "Sangkatarn" in Thai)" was known to be one of the best articles for it was simple and practical. In a fundamental sense, this article was different when addressing the importance of cloth clamps, blade and shampoo above the beautiful packaging and social norms. 

Phra Maha Nutthanit had been one of Thailand's best-known cartoonists in Buddhist teachings. He set his work, the colorful Luangpee Oath Cartoon, apart from others with unique entertainment value and morals. Both online articles and Luangpee Oath cartoon allowed for the dissemination of new ideas, always with the idea of moving toward simplicity to confront the challenges of a changing world. 

 

 

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His indispensable articles had come at a timely moment, when the subject of value of lives and changed society has been in discussions. Phra Maha Nutthanit was invited to deliver lectures and speeches on Buddhist Economics, Ecology and Buddhism, and other topics at Silpakorn University, Rajabhat Chandrakasem University, Arsomsilp Institute of Arts, and Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalalya University to name a few. Phra Maha Nutthanit accepted all invitations and would be able to take it on at a moment's notice, sometimes less than 2 hours! 

All I remembered was Phra Maha Nutthanit's lectures gave students the opportunity to gain insight into current developments in the local economy, society, and technological science. He gave a concise and clear answer, in a thoughtful and deliberate way, followed Buddhist Teachings. 



 

 

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit delivered a lecture on Buddhist Economics at Silpakorn University, Petchburi Campus. I still remember he admired what looked like being a really spectacular sunset over Ta Now Sri mountain range before leaving the campus. He told me that if I were you, I would rather live and teach here than anywhere else in the world.

 

 

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit was invited to participate in Education for Change Forum, a national forum organized by Arsomsilp Institute of Arts in 2011, as a Buddhist Scholar and a renowned Development Expert.

 

 

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Nives Bhawana at Soblarn

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Phra Maha Nutthanit delivered a lecture on a Spiritual Tourism: A New Role of Wat Yai Chaimongkol to university students from Rajabhat Chandrakasem University. 

 

 

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Phra Maha Nutthanit joined the Man and Society class of Faculty of Buddhism (International Programme) of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University as a guest lecturer for the Fourth time in 2010. There were 29 monk students, including a female student, from 7 countries participating in the field visit to Wat Yai Chaimongkol.

 

 

The topics of discussion covered curriculum development, Buddhism education and development project, community participation, social unity, government subsidy and support from Wat Yai Chaimongkol. MCU Students learned various issues about game addiction, domestic violence, social discrimination. We also explored several classes, laboratories and the new library.



 

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Namassakara,

I create this webboard topic for MCU's Man and Society Class after joining a field study at Wat Yai Chaimongkol and Wat Yai Chaimongkol School on Monday 30 November 2009. You all could share your experiences and opinion by sending your reply to this topic. Hope to hear from everybody. Sadhu. Venerable Phra Maha Nutthanit Sumano.

  

 

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Reflections from the students  - Phra Shilarakkit from Bangladesh

In my educational field to Ayutthaya, I have noticed that this people of this city having a great and historical social structure. As Thailand is a historical Buddhist country, the people of Ayutthaya followed a Buddhist social way. We can prove it by visiting the temple of Ayutthaya, Wat Yai Chaimongkol and the school. These social service centers show us the unity and their strategies on human protection.

The most important way of social structure is the connection of the family, the school, and the temple. The temple provides physical and mental supports to the school through funding and Dhamma Talk for students. It helps the school improve the quality of education for children with materials and practices. The meditation center has helped people to find the wisdom. We withnessed the collaboration among the monks, nuns, novices monks, workers, visitors.

In conclusion in Buddhism emphasize on three main Buddhist ethics donation (Daana) morality (sila) meditation (Bhavana). In Ayutthaya, Wat yai chaimongkol has these three co-factors. This temple is donating money for the benefit of children and for the society. And they live their lives following five precepts (panca sila). The monks, nuns and novices follow precepts and practice Buddhist meditation seriously. That is Buddhist way of life.

 

 

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Reflections from the students  - Miss San San Yee from Myanmar

Hello.....

Last year" 30 November", I have been a chance to visit to Wat Yai Chaimongkol to study about Thai society and the history of Wat Yai Chaimongkol. I learned a lot of social structure/order, culture point of view, the value of human diversity and  the transformation of the agricultural society to the industrial society, the organization of social institution and the general direction of Buddhist social thinking.

I also learned about the modern society as well as human diversities and Buddhist ethics. If I have a chance against I also would like to visit to another field trip for my education and knowledge. 

So I would like to express my appreciation to Ven.Phramaha Nutthanit Sumano and Mae Ji Marko from Way Yai Chaimongkol, also my respect teacher Dr. Montra Leoseng and Phra Maha Duangdee from Faculty of Buddhism to arrange this field trip to Wat Yai Chaimongkol.



May your all  be peace and happy,

San San Yee 

 

 

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Reflections from the students  - Venerable Pa Thach from Southern Vietnam

 

Hello everyone!!!

My name is Ven. Pa Thach, I come from southern Vietnam.

First of all I would like to say thank you to teacher Dr. Montra Leoseng, Phra Maha Duangdee, Ven. Phramaha Nutthanit Sumano and Mae Ji Marko from Wat Yai Chaimongkol for have been helped us to have a field trip at Wat Yai Chaimongkol on Monday 30 November,2009. Because I have been learnt quiet a lot of knowledge from this field trip. So, the kinds of knowledge that I have been gain from that field as following.

First is the very good Education Structures of Wat Yai Chaimongkol School. There are nine level for who come to study in this school, and they have the meeting hall for their meeting once a month, the rooms for training children how to communicate each other in the right way and learn how to chanting, they teach how to work as a group for them, the traditional music room for them learning once a week, the computer rooms for studends from great 4 to great 9 studies, one library for students to search for their knowledge, they have free lunch and uniform for students and the students can get the scholarship from Maeji three persons a room. Specialy the students  have to be nuns teen days a year when summer come.

And the most  important structure is the relationship between families, temple, and the school together to be one system, so that easy to train children, that is the change of this society, because before there is no system like this. So we can say this school is the center of this society.

The second is the very good structure of Wat Yai Chaimongkol Temple. It is combined so manything overthere as Monks life, Mechee life, Buddhist the ways of life, Buddhist social thinking, sellers, workers, tourists, history and so on. But the one important thing is they divided the time for each group to work peacefully, this temple also the place for people to make merit according to the way of Buddhist thinking. Specialy thing is they have the Meditation in the afternoon from 1pm  to 4pm for monks and mechee here, and after evening chanting is the Dhamma talk according to Buddha teaching and teach how to apply that teaching to our present life.

During the field trip at Wat Yai Chaimongkol Temple, I was found that Wat Yai Chaimongkol Temple and Wat Yai Chaimongkol School are very useful for this society, and should be the exemplary for another society to learn and follow. Because overhere impart to people so many kinds of knowledge and training people to be good persons in the society.



Good luck to everyone!



 

 

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 4. Sharing

 

One important aspect of Phra Maha Nutthanit worldview was "sharing". Phra Maha Nutthanit worked hard and long during the last decade on promoting the quality of life and organizing a number of charitable relief activities. He played multiple roles as a spiritual leader, philosopher, and humanitarian. 

Sharing Dhamma and supplies to hilltribe people is a good example. They were living behind closed doors and to reach them was very difficult. Some of these villages were impossible for ordinary people to visit at all. When meeting up with Luangpee Cherry (Phra Akkarakitt Dhammasaro), a schoolfriend from Saint Gabriel's College who introduced Phra Maha Nutthanit to the world of Karen Hilltribe and humanitarian woks, the extraordinary task started.  



  

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Phra Maha Nutthanit dedicated himself to bettering the lives of Karen people living in the forests along the border.

 

 

I remember joining the first trip Phra Maha Nutthanit arranged for the first time in 2008. We planned to visit Toh Heir, an isolated village in an inaccessible cornor of Mae Hong Son  up on the hills. We had to travel around the above 300-feet mountains, some 60 kilometers from Sobmaei along a stretch of edgeless road that was a mere ledge on the side of a cliff. At certain points, we had to slow down to a crawl, if otherwise, find a place safe enough to alllow a car pass us. All traffic coming up from the plains having the right-of-way over those coming down and both sections of road were being equally perilous.

We drove for 6 hours, jolting and bouncing back on widing dirt and petrifying road up a mountain and were subsequently covered with dust and sweat. As far as I knew the road was built a week ago to facilitate the supplies to these remote hill villages. It was the only lifeline of Toh Heir village. 

A famine of considerable magnitude used to occur in Toh Heir with an interval of every 3 - 5 years. By the time we visited their village, we withnessed it caused hardship to the people as they had to seek helps from neighbors with the closet a six-hour walk. Once the truth had been told, Phra Maha Nutthanit contributed about THB 150,000 for the construction of monk residence at Toh Heir, and donated food stuff and supplies, as well as provided scholarships to a number of squalid children. He was full of emphathy, compassion and able to see things through their eyes. 

 

 

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 A snapshot at Wat Yai Chaimongkol before leaving for the hills and Toe Heir in Mae Hong Son in 2008. I also joined a team of drivers for 700 kms from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son city. When coming to the hills, I left it to (Former) Luangpee Cherry and Khun Wit (P' Cheery's close friend from Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University).

  

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As I learned of the dedication of the monks to these people and the struggles taking place in this remote land, it stirred something in me. This visit woke me up to my responsibilities to others and it set me on a journey to work for Karen Hilltribe people along the border in the following year. 

When getting back to Wat Yai Chaimongkol, Phra Maha Nutthanit mobilized assistance for the distressed. Handling humanitarian activities were possible when you forget yourself and focus on reaching out to others.

Phra Maha Nutthanit spent many of his days on several trips to Karen Hilltribe villages along Thai-Myanmar border in Chiangmai, Mae Hong Son, Tak and Karnjanaburi. He kept the Karen Hilltribe issue alive for a decade.

Phra Maha Nutthanit and Luangpee Cherry bonded over their love for Karen people. They shared the hopes and dreams that they had for these disadvantaged people. The acts of courage were acknowledged by people along the border of Thailand for his generosity contributed to the prosperity of hilltribe peoples, particularly education promotion and community development.

 

 

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He encouraged progress by seeking out ideas and partnership with School of Economics, Kasetsart University Alumni to make things happen. Phra Maha Nutthanit and a number of other friends paid several visits with a convoy of so heavily loaded off-road vehicles. They were full of food stuff, books, building materials, Buddha images, funding and several other things for hilltribe people. To my knowledge there would have been nearly 30 trips altogether. 

From these trips, he had seen the beauty of the world and used this knowledge to better others. Phra Maha Nutthanit liked to share his wishes and hopes about his work of building a community, food programme for people in need, new technological innovation he found, management challenges, teaching and the movement he led along the way. 

I composed a poem for him right after hearing the loss to celebrate a life unlike any other. One phase was written about his humanitarian works that "every breathe he takes just to bettering the lives of others". 

The world will long remember him as the soul of Karen Hilltribe and the spirit of Kalyāṇa-mittatā

 

 

 

 

 

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 5. Kalyana-mittata 

 

To me, Phra Maha Nutthanit was one there who always stepped into the breach and gave me a helping hand. Among so many cherished memories, I shall never forget the first time Phra Maha Nutthanit had helped me in developing a website for Sustainable Community of Silpakorn University and the time he provided a huge support when I started my work as a part-time teacher at the Buddhist University (Mahachulalongkornrajavidlayala University). 

 

  

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At Silpakorn University, I had other ideas of promoting academic excellence by sending my students to different countries; nearly 20 of them attending the international workshops and presenting research papers. In the end, there were more than 10 trips to Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Solovakia, Austratia, and Canada. In order to promote contribution and community across all of faculties and universities, we decided to develop a platform namely "Sustainable Community of Silpakorn University". Phra Maha Nutthanit kindly helped create our dream webpage and trained my students. With his support, all papers and experiences were widely shared.    

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/mahaoath/Home/mahaoath-talking?offset=10

 

  

In 2008, teaching international monk students required considerable courage for I have no knowledge in Buddhism or related fields. My background was environmental sciences, urban development and environmental engineering. I was assigned to deliver lectures on supplementary subjects like Research and Statistics, Buddhism and Economics, Buddhism and Ecology, and Man and Society. Seeing the monks  from different countries, mainly Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Sri Langka, Lao PDR, China and India made me felt that I was in a different world. 

 

 

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A whole new world - This is just one class of 1st year monk students (International Course, Bachelor Degree) from 8 countries. 

  

 

I should never have handled all classes without the help provided by Phra Maha Nutthanit, who gave me good advice along 9 years of teaching. He kindly helped supervised and guided monk students during forest surveys, delivered lectures as a guest speaker, shared his views in group discussions, sometimes made all arrangements for a number of research surveys at Wat Yai Chaimongkol or any other places in Ayutthaya, and involved in research activities as the development expert.

Phra Maha Nutthanit helped conduct a number of research projects in Bangkuntien, Saraburi, Chonburi, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Trang and lately Kyainge Tong in Myanmar. 



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Phra Maha Nutthanit's research group of 20 monk students from 5 countries measuring soil temperature at the Jed Kod Pong Kon Saow National Conservation Forest in Saraburi province in 2010. 

  

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The most memorable time was when carrying out the multi-million research project in 2008 - 2009 in 12 provinces and later in 2015 at Kyainge Tong, Myanmar. 

The research in 2008 happened to be a fairly large project during the course of 12 months and I was badly in need of greater support on IT and video production for a research tool. It was often a work of 3 days 3 nights long to capture important shots from various sources for a movie production. I was too occupied with many affairs to realize what Phra Maha Nutthanit was up to. 

I remembered it when, much later on (after 10 long years), I had to compile his writings and producing a page layout in Ndesign programme for the Book of Memories for his funeral ceremony within the shortest possible time of 3 days. I would have said it was almost impossible. After spending 2 nights and 3 days in front of my computer, I abruptly came to realize an unforgettable kindness of him. 

The production of the book had been finished just in time with a great help from friends and Alumni. While I was going through Eulogies inside the Book of Memories, I found that Phra Maha Nutthanit had received enormous compliments from the President and other colleagues due to his serious dedication to this work.

 



What remaining in my memory was Kyainge Tong trip in 2015.

 

 

Mindfulness

  

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During the research survey in Kyainge Tong Myanmar, when we, me and my students (with 2 Tai Yai students from Kyainge Tong), were engaging in the in-depth interview with a government officer and asking for an official permission, at the right corner, Phra Maha Nutthanit was practicing mindfulness for nearly two hours.

 

    

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Phra Maha Nutthanit had a habit of mindfulness practicing to find his way to wisdom and ultimate happiness. 

 

 

It Is The Wrong Way!

 

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It was late in evening that we lost the way back to the city. We can not find the last case study but the next worst was the van got stuck in a dried river bed. I do not need to describe what happened, you can visualize it for yourself from these video clips.

  

  

   

 

Household-based Hydro Power Generation System 

Before reaching Kyainge Tong city, we took time to survey Wan San Hilltribe Village and study river engineering and renewable energy technology (hydro power). I found it was very interesting.

 

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Whatever happened here was under the leadership of a community leader. Phra Maha Nutthanit interviewed him for nearly 2 hours.

 

 

 

Community Survey

 

Conducting a community survey in the sea of mountains.

 

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Off-road

At the waterfall, we accidently found a truck crossing a stream and climbing the sheer mountain side to the Hydro Power Generation Construction Site of Kyainge Tong city. Phra Maha Nutthanit captured this moment and explained how harder these frontline workers had to try, through other people's eyes, merely a laborious task. This video revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding. When he said that they were working deliberately and selfishless for disadvantaged people in Kyainge Tong, he meant it so deeply. 



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Clean Energy for A Rice Mill

 

I remember Phra Maha Nutthanit being facinated by a small-scale rice husk gasifier system for electricity generation for rice mill usage. The owner had unexpected brought it a year ago during their short trip to China. With this technology, the rice mill has improved access to reliable and affordable electricity. In the last 3 years (in 2015), renewable technology was quite new to local people in Kyinge Tong. We, perhaps, were the first group who came to study their system. 



 

 

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We were a bit confusing and trying to figure out where the furnance and combustion chamber would be. 
 

 

After a survey and discussion, Phra Maha Nutthanit finally found a rice-husk gasifier-based power generation model the rice mill in Kyainge Tong Myanmar employed. Phra Maha Nutthanit tried to explain its function as well as "nitrous oxide" to my students from Mahachulalongkorn University (Wat Raikhing Campus) who were studying in the field of public management and the other 2 monks from the international programme of Faculty of Humanities. Having seen their faces made me roar with laughter. 

  

       

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Energy Saving - Roti Seller at the Morning Market



 

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 Champs-Élysées Avenue

By the time we visited Kyainge Tong, very little of it spoke of the twentieth century but a great deal of the past. As we wanted to do some planning before heading to the field, we went to a great small coffee shop near its center for a brief meeting. Phra Maha Nutthanit suggested outdoor seating for this fabulous location would give us a similar sense of sitting on Champs-Élysées Avenue in Paris. We ended up with sitting in bright  sunlight of the mid-morning for an hour.

 

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 5. Father and Family

 

 

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Phra Maha Oath's father giving a welcoming address to faculty members and university students during a study visit to Ayodhara Village in 2008

  

  

We all know that a lot of what made Phra Maha Nutthanit the way he was was just how much he loved and admired his father. Phra Maha Nutthanit studied economics because his father worked for the Bank of Thailand. He dedicated himself to support volunteering activities, like his father, by giving scholarships of THB394,000 to 40 development clubs/groups every year for 10 consecutive years. Phra Maha Nutthanit strongly believe that these students will help him promote well-being and Buddhism to disadvantaged people. 

His love to father is still, with much else, a glittering fragment that remains clear and bright in my memory. I remember that after joining a week-long forest meditation (Nives Bhawana) in 2009, we together with 3 master students were terribly tired. Once got back to Chiangmai city, we tried to figure out how to go to the Bus Station and decided to call a Song Taew taxi. The fee would not exceed a 100 Baht.

Phra Maha Nutthanit suggested us to walk because it was not far from here. He won! His father studied at Chiangmai University so he would have known Chaingmai better than us.

Five of us ended up with walking down the street, while carrying heavy hikking backpacks and bags. When Phra Maha Nutthanit taking us on an exploration of the city, he enjoyed the whole thing Chiangmai has owned and offered enormously including the sight of morning fresh markets, train station, street foods, grocery shops, bridges and even the heat of the sun. After we have done crossing many streets and canals, we stopped  by for some drinks at a coffee shop and, later, a park before reaching the final destination. The fact was that we might have done nearly 10 kilometer walk! I, correspondingly, took a mental note of his love to father and his father studied at Chiangmai University.

 

 

 

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As far as I can remember, I used to asked Phra Maha Nutthanit about wearing a monk's yellowed, hand-knitted hat everytime when travelling. He replied unexpectedly that "ํYou know whose son I am. Look at my father, he wears a hat for almost all of his public appearances."

As for me, it means wearing a hat symbolizes a love to his beloved father and that is why he quite likes to wearing a hat most of the time until his last time on earth. When attending his funeral to pay respect, asking for forgiveness and cleansing, I had seen his head was covered with that hat. That was why we saw a slight smile on his face. 

 

 

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Wearing a yellowed hat is considerred as one of basic neccessities for the monk when travelling, surveying in the deep forest, or living in cold climate like Kyainge Tong in Myanmar.

     

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In order the help the Hilltribe seller in Myanmar during my research survey, I have brought their hand-made products (handbag) and offered them to Phra Maha Nutthanit, my monk students from Kyainge Tong, and the whole team as a token of appreciation. Both of them were teasing me by carrying it instantly and somebody just captured this very moment in time. Of course, Phra Maha Nutthanit was also wearing a hat.

 

     

 

 

 

 

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7. Wat Phu Kao Thong

 

  

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Wat Phu Kao Thong Pagoda as the sun sank down towards the horizon and the sky above turned blue. Photo was taken by Maha, one of Phra Maha Nutthanit's close friend from Kasetsert University on a surprised visit.

    

The most interesting happening of the later years (2015 - 2016) was Phra Maha Nutthanit was asked to take up the position of the Deputy Abbot of Wat Phu Kao Thong. Phra Maha Nutthanit has started his work by joining "Wat Bandarnjai project", a development project initiated by Arsomsilp Institute of Arts.

Phra Maha Nutthanit was well aware that the project would turn Wat Phu Kao Thong from a very quite and almost deserted temple into a new-found spiritual center of Ayutthaya within a few years. The Abbot together with Phra Maha Nutthanit spearheaded the renovation of the temple and the restoration of the war-damaged pagoda. In the couse of restoration, I observed new technique of painting they applied and new buildings arose. 

Phra Maha Nutthanit also involved in many hard physical works - choping down trees, cracking cement floors, moving debris, cleansing canals and other landscape improvement activities with considerable enthusiasm. He showed us the power of action.

During the course of development, Phra Maha Nutthanit discovered several incremental changes both Siam monarchy and Burmese army made to Phu Kao Thong Pagoda. The history of Wat Phu Kao Thong was sent to me for translation. I had been charmed to discover that it had been created by the King of Ayutthaya and later the Chief of Burmese Army and their troops during Siam's turbulent past, and later maintained by the Siamese monarch until the present day.

The temple and monastic community have grown so fast and so swiftly coincided with the collapse of Phra Maha Nutthanit's health. Pulmonary Fibrosis, a chronic and progressive lung disease, that had affected him for years became suddenly worse. However, a day before his admission to the hospital, he still drove a golf cart carrying a portable oxygen tank to collect alms in early morning and to perform a monitoring work during a convenient time of the day. 

I would say Phra Maha Nutthanit was doing an extraordinary job as one to the finest Buddhist scholars of Ayutthaya have ever had.

Phra Maha Nutthanit observed the monastic rules (Sila) until his last breath. The rejection of excesses of asceticism in his attitude toward food had made his body rejected any meal after lunch, even it was needed for effective medication.

 

 

 

8. Messages of Condolence

 



 

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A 3D Luangpee Phra Maha Oath Cartoon revealed the best simple and short condolence message made by Jo, Chatchai Jitraksingh, one of Phra Maha Nutthanit's close friend from Kasetsart University (KU51)

 

 

Phra Maha Nutthanit completed 15 years of monastic life and died peacefully in his sleep due to COPD on 6 July 2018 at the age of 44. Messages of condolence continued to pour in on facebook since 4 July. Many people wrote that it was their good fortune to have known him and have him as a spiritual leader who spent his entire monastic life for helping people and development.

 

 

 

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Her Royal Highness Princess Aditayathorn Mahidol sent a gift of royal wreath as well as Her Representative to honor Phra Maha Nutthanit on the occasions of his funeral and cremation. 

 

 

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The funds for the publication of the Book of Memories for Phra Maha Nutthanit were made available through the generosity of the School of Economics Alumni from Kasetsart University, especially acknowledging the support of Kedkaew Bosri (Ked), Alisara Sidhikesorn (Gib), Kaewkan Jamjaras (Kaew), Nisa Wattanasri (Ning), Vorapoj Wanasin (P'Num), Dr. Ilada Sookknak (Ice), Passawoot Pattanapanithipong (Maha/Joont), Chatchai Jitraksing (Jo), Nattawat Srihirant, Pisoot Thaipraneet, Thanasith Moolviriyakij, Akkarakitt Panijayanon (Former Luangpee Cherry), and Pruchaya Kidkien.

 

 

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 สิ้นสุริยนโศกเพี้ยง คืนหนึ่ง 

สิ้นสิ่งรักผ่านเดือน ผ่อนผัน

สิ้นญาตินานจึ่งค่อย จรรโลง 

สิ้นสหธรรมมิกะ โศกา ชั่วกาล

 

RIP มหาโอ๊ต ๒๐.๒๐น. ๖.๗.๖๑     #หลับให้สบายท่านเหนื่อยมานาน 

 

Akkarakitt Panijayanon

 

 

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Taking a photo with Khun Wit, Khun Nui, and P'Cherry (Akkarakitt Panichayanon) and  Luangpee Phra Maha Oath one last time.



 

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9. His Teachings

 

The presence of a large number of Provincial Sangha Chief and Committee, Buddhist monks, nuns, practitioners, followers, family members, friends and colleagues at his funeral was a reminder of Phra Maha Nutthanit's dream of simplicity, human dignity and liberation that should stay alive. 

 

 

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In our heart of hearts, we knew that a very special time had ended; and that however much fun and happiness we might have had in the future, it could never be quite the same as this time because "once upon a time" never comes again. 

 

 

 

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What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with mindfulness, forgiveness, sharing, and simplicity as we learn from the memories Phra Maha Nutthanit left, the good Phra Maha Nutthanit did, and the dream Phra Maha Nutthanit kept alive.

 

 Last but not least Luangpee, .....

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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Day 1 (210818) - Note 1

Phra Maha Oath, I can't believe that, in the end, I have to compose an eulogy for you after (you were undergoing) a five-week stretch in hospital. A one day health check up should not have been a sad occasion at all. I can honestly say, it is extremely difficult and doubt that how P' Cherry (Former Phra Akkarakitt) could have done it (an eulogy) within a short time. For me, it will take several days or weeks, but let me try.  

Day 5 (290818) - to be continued, let's hop for Domino Pizza!

Day 6 (010818) - Not yet done. 

Day 7 (050818) - It's time to celebrate 2 million views from a site counter without knowing who they are  ^___^. The admin of this website would have been proud of his work (having received attention from the public at higher rate). Though it was too late but I just want you to know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Day 8 (080818) - A debt of gratitude 

I owe Phra Maha Nutthanit a debt of gratitude for he took a lead in developing this website (www.montra.in.th). The reason he gave was "it would be needed some days". I told him my life was not so interesting and I would like to live in a small peaceful world. In absence of my agreement, a number of my writings were uploaded by him. I kept on looking the way he did and wondered how he could possibly do or how this website can be sustained.  

In the following year, it happened that I had to publish 20 articles I wrote and published earlier at Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre website so I used a large space of montra.in.th. It was the time I realized the value of having it. 

Phra Maha Nutthanit also helped sign me into different websites, facebook, and other social media that he thought it would be needed. At one stage, he informed me a number of websites with usernames and passwords he set but I completely lost and later forgot all of them. 

Just yesterday I found that I have already had an account on Youtube too! I know instantly it must be him who did that long time ago. I, therefore, tried to upload video clips (Kyainge Tong Field Survey) as you may find below and it was the first time. 

For this reason, I would then like to do something for him in return in his absence. I, therefore, started writing an eulogy for him. The real intention was to reveal all of his works following the guideline from his resume that I can not put it in the Book of Memories due to limited pages. 

 

  

 

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