Phanganist was honoured to be invited to go and meet Phra Olarn Thanawuttho at Wat Samai Kongka.
He spoke with us about life as a monk and the lessons and guidance that he is spreading to other people.
After being a monk for eleven months now after leaving his duties as the owner of Loyfah Resort, Phra Olarn Thanawuttho now feels he is ready to share his knowledge with all and it is time for him to give.
We will let Phra Olarn Thanawuttho explain his message in his own words.
Why is Koh Phangan such a special island?
It’s a magic place, It goes back to when King Rama V visited, this is what makes it so special
We already have the nature but we have to give a lot first to receive this energy.
The important part is ourselves, how we develop the information we are given, we should develop before we consume, then we don't have problems, it’s not about religion but about peace in ourselves.
Buddhists teach this, to be aware of the self then you start to understand that when you are aware you can start to see, your memory comes.
We need to use only a little material, we need only little but we try to get maximum, we believe it ‘belongs to me’.
When we die we have nothing.
We have to accept that everything comes and goes, the car may be new but in a few years it's broken.
We use it then we throw away, we feel loss and this is the problem, we cannot separate ourselves from material things but Buddhists learn deeper to separate the mind from the body. To talk of it you cannot understand but to do then you will.
When we start to be more relaxed and open then we can have more understanding and then can be totally happy.
Phra Olarn Thanawuttho is a successful business man, what made him make the change in his life to becoming a monk?
Everything we can take, we think too much about material but that supports only the body, happiness is inside.
When you have a good thing you want to share, I think for me now I want to help people, to help for free.
At a time in the world where we have so much trouble we need someone to spread life and to help, what would we want to get more?
How would a normal person begin to make these changes?
The first step is you have to understand, to listen then secondly to take action, it’s something simple, even children can do.
We complicate ideas but it is very simple, when we live with something simple we are happy, even with loads of material possessions you will not find happiness, you can only fill one stomach, live in one house or sleep in a little hut or a big house but you can only sleep when you need sleep.
People are complaining about their little hut, they want a big palace but you can still only sleep when you’re tired.
Buddha had three palaces, but he did not want them, he wanted only something simple, how to be free from suffering.
Once we are aware of creation then comes memory and emotions and we can live long then start to be at peace, the peace comes as the inside has no more stress, you clean and clear yourself
Phra Olarn Thanawuttho has been at Wat Samai Kongka for eleven months and has made it a space for all people to come and be spiritual.
‘I have been training myself and now I have enough power to give this to the people, the right time is now.
Wat Samai Kongka is the second temple built on the island more than three hundred years ago.
Can anyone come along to the temple to learn?
Yes, anyone can stop by Wat Samai Kongkha, spend their time having a conversation with me and I will let them first start to walk as walking meditation and when they meet the right state, they will be allowed to start seated meditation.
Why walking meditation?
As soon as you stand up in the day you are already stressed but when you are aware you can relax anywhere, you can sit under a tree, on a bike, you are clean and clear, sometimes we walk for two or three days before I let them sit.
It can be hard work and very intensive, some vipassana centres walk only for one hour but it takes a long long time, when we walk five hours they switch off everything.
You can see their face is clear, when you are clear from the inside you are clear outside, the quality of life for them is better, family is better, work is better as you have no more dirt inside, like a program for scanning for a virus and you can clean yourself!
Sometimes it is hard to make the opposite, you feel you need to have everything to make yourself happy but the reality is for what? Try to be happy with the minimum not the maximum.
It is very simple, I like to take four or five hours, I like to be in normal life as much as I can so people can have a normal life and then if they live in London or Paris and they can still be happy and that makes me happy, when they smile, wow, for me that is wonderful, you cannot pay for this.
The main building at the temple is used for ceremonies, when it is a big Buddha day everyone will go to the main room and have prayer and give thanks.
For a new monk to come we have a special area that belongs to the main building and allows for this process to be new monk coming.
Pray and meditate, Buddhism is about self not religion, in Buddhism we understand but with ‘no cake or no champagne!’ I would like to make change, to help people understand about this way of life, for people to have a good journey, be peaceful with their family and children and learn how to grow.
You have lots of time, this is your insurance. What is most interesting is why we are born to then work and run, all this running with empty hands.
We have too many activities and for what? The life comes to us and the reason for the life is to learn to be in a social community and to share.
Buddhists learn that you do not run away from this community, you live and be peaceful, with family, friends and love with a positive energy and respect, this is very important.
The world today has minimum respect, we are becoming robots slowly, we build robots to be people but we build people to be robots, without any feeling, we cannot support to live in this situation.
There are many sicknesses to have come from this stress, unhappiness and suffering, there’s too much today. In the world everyone is putting too much pressure on themselves, this is an unbeautiful life and very sad for human beings.
We don’t have the right food for the mind and heart, only the negative. We do not observe ourselves, everybody is just comparing this kind of action to a normal day. The feeling of having something special whether you need something or not.
Everything that Phra Olarn Thanawuttho spoke to us of resonated with us, the simple way of being, being thankful for what you have and spreading this simple way of life.
Interested? Go and find out yourself. Phra Olarn Thanawuttho invites you to come and rediscover your self while developing your mind with meditation and Buddhism lesson at Wat Samai Kongkha. Your holiday will be a more memorable one.