A meditation teacher is essential when practicing samatha meditation. Meditation is a subtle and dynamic process full of pitfalls that someone who has already walked the path can point out to you.
Without a teacher you run the risk of imagining things in certain ways, of finding things important or beautiful that are not really so.
Or it turns out to be difficult to keep meditating with patient effort, without desire. Maybe you think that you can’t do it, that you won’t succeed or that further effort just doesn’t pay off. A teacher can then offer the necessary inspiration, a look at what is possible for you as well.
Sometimes you need a little push to get back on track and not wander off. In addition, experience shows that during meditation everything is magnified and there are experiences that you have never had before. It can be very nice to be able to discuss this with someone who knows what you are going through.
In the end you simply do not (yet) have the wisdom to see things as they really are, nor even to appreciate your own progress.
At the head of this meditation method stands our teacher Ahba, a famous meditation master and abbot of a large Buddhist monastery in Northern Thailand. In the Netherlands Herman Schreuder offers the necessary guidance. Our teachers apply a strict ethical code which is deeply interwoven with our buddhist practice itself.
The basis of this meditation lies in practicing it every day, by yourself. In the Netherlands it is also possible to join our meditation groups.
If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Ahba (‘Ahba’ is Burmese for father) came walking out of the forest near Taunggyi in Myanmar as a monk sometime in the 1950s. Ahba speaks little about his own past.
What we know is that he already enjoyed considerable respect during his participation in the sixth buddhist council meeting in Myanmar in 1954 because of his deep experience with samatha meditation (concentration meditation).
When there was speculation about meditation on buddho (the qualities of the Buddha) during the council meeting, he took the floor and it became very quiet in the room because there was no one else with the same level of experience.
In 1961 he stayed in Mukyawann and was soon known as the Mukyawann Sayadaw (Sayadaw is an honourable Burmese title for a high monk) because of his knowledge of all aspects of the Dhamma.
In 1969, as a prominent meditation and Abhidhamma teacher, he became abbot of a large monastery in Yangon with thousands of followers, including the first Dutch disciples Jaap and Maria Guijt (see Pictures of Ahba in Myanmar Around 1978 to get an impression).
Among the followers were some high government officials and his influence became an increasing threat to the (military) junta.
One night in 1981 he suddenly disappeared. Not a day too early as it soon turned out. The next morning the army knocked on the monastery doors to take him into custody.
Nobody knew where he had gone, until Herman found him in 1983 in the mountains of Northern Thailand, where he lived in a small wooden monastery without water or electricity.
In the present day his monastery has grown into one of the largest monasteries in Northern Thailand where he is known as Luang Por Opart (“Luang Por” means Honourable Father).
Once again, thousands of visitors find their way to his monastery every year, including many disciples from Myanmar who couldn’t find a teacher in their own country to match Ahba.
As an abbot he heads about 25 monks and 200 novices. The monastery is mainly a Buddhist school where Pali, the language in which the teachings of the Buddha are written, is studied.
Ahba’s school has been in the top three best Pali schools in Thailand for many years, and the monastic and lay community is in awe of how he has built that up from scratch.
Because this achievement is so special, Ahba has been awarded a royal decoration and his monastery has been named a royal monastery.
In addition, Ahba has received the unique permission to be abbot of both monks from the Mahā Nikāya and the Dhammayuttika Nikaya movement, in other words, his monastery has become an official meditation monastery as well as a Pali school.
Ahba teaches a small group of people, mainly from Myanmar and the Netherlands, in samatha meditation on buddho.
He explained that when it comes to gaining insight into the workings of your own mind, the main obstacle is the lack or absence of samādhi (concentration).
People want to progress far to quickly. They want insights without first developing a foundation of morality and concentration out of which wisdom can arise naturally.
Ahba emphasizes a patient meditation practice, slowly but surely, step by step, without desire. Then you will progress easily.
In 1983 Herman heard about Ahba’s existence for the first time and immediately felt the deep desire to find him, because at that moment Ahba had disappeared without a trace.
Together with his present day wife he travelled to Myanmar where a series of chance encounters led him from village to village and from Myanmar several hundreds of kilometres across the Thai border, to a small Buddhist monastery of Burmese origin, where he found Ahba.
Later, Ahba would indicate that he had called Herman because it was time to continue their work.
Since that first encounter, which made an indescribable impression on him, Herman has intensively practiced the meditation system that Ahba teaches.
In addition to daily meditation, he goes to Thailand almost every year for long meditation retreats to further purify and develop his mind.
In 1998 Herman was ceremoniously appointed as a meditation teacher by Ahba on the basis of his own acquired morality, concentration and wisdom.
Since then he guides everyone who is interested in samatha meditation on buddho, both on an individual level and during retreats.
When asked what he would like to do with the knowledge and experience he has gained, he answers:
“All these years my teacher has taken the trouble to explain the intricate workings of the medation system and the mind. He always helped me when I misstepped. I am intensely grateful for that.
From this gratitude and my involvement with my fellow human beings I feel the compassion to give the people in the Netherlands the opportunity to become acquainted with this wonderful meditation method, which has brought so much good to my life.
I give guidance to anyone who is sincerely interested in developing their own mind. This method focuses primarily on calming that wild forest monkey in our heads so that we can see things more clearly, as as they really are, and not how they appear to our overstrained mind.”
Herman is married and has two adult daughters and a grandson.
To renounce evil, to develop the good, to purify the mind – that is the teaching of the Buddha.Buddha, Dhp 183
Morality (sīla) is a fundamental aspect of the Buddhist path. The Buddha taught five moral precepts that underlie wholesome ethical behavior:
- Abstain from killing
- Abstain from stealing
- Abstain from sexual misconduct
- Abstain from wrong speech
- Abstain the use of intoxicants that cause inattention
Without concentration and wisdom it is impossible to guide a pupil in a truly profound and personal way. In the best case nothing more than acquired book wisdom is transferred, in the worst case one’s own unwholesome limitations.
We emphatically distance ourselves from, and condemn, teachers who are guilty of sexual abuse or other harmful misconduct.
By extension, we consider any form of sexual contact between teacher and desciple to be undesirable at all times, and inappropriate within the intimate spiritual relationship between teacher and desciple.
Above all, the teacher-desciple relationship must be safe so that one can engage fully in the practice without having to worry.