It’s been seven years since Luang Por Sumedho last visited Dhammapala – on the occasion of the consecration of the Abhaya-Buddha statue in the monastery garden. It was also in the same year that he passed on his abbot duties and responsibilities at Amaravati Monastery to his successor, Ajahn Amaro, and since then he has been living in relative seclusion at Ratanawan Monastery in the Thai province of Korat.
We were particularly delighted with his visit, as he had taken the time to stay with us for nine days even though his travel itinerary was pretty dense. We had promised before his arrival that we would happily offer him plenty of time for rest and recuperation, as he had led a ten-day retreat at Amaravati with around 360-400 participants just before coming over to Switzerland. Admittedly he didn’t lead the retreat in the old familiar style, where he would attend each meditation session personally; but nevertheless he offered extensive Dhamma teachings once a day to the whole assembly.
Also at Dhammapala a large number of people had the opportunity to listen to his reflections during a Saturday night talk ( you can find the talk on our Audio page under: Pure awareness and the Four Noble Truths). Besides that, we completely attuned to his overall physical and mental energy and tried to accommodate his immediate needs. There was time for two short outings, walks to the Kander river, teatime sessions with the monks, and opportunities for guests and visitors to greet Luang Por before the main meal. It was clearly visible to everyone that Luang Por Sumedho had aged quite a bit since his last visit. He needed support while walking and getting up from his seat and also his seeing and hearing abilities seemed to have declined. But as soon as the theme of conversation turned towards the Dhamma, one noticed a mental power manifesting within him, which seemed to be independent of his physical wellbeing. A proof and an encouragement for everyone present, who might still harbour doubts about the fact, that it is possible to live peacefully – even joyfully – with the shortcomings of one’s own ageing body.