Renowned for the beauty and simplicity of his teachings, Ajahn Chah was Thailand's best-known meditation teacher. His charisma and wisdom influenced many American and European seekers, and helped shape the American Vipassana community. This collection brings together for the first time Ajahn Chah's most powerful teachings, including those on meditation, liberation from suffering, calming the mind, enlightenment and the 'living dhamma'. Most of these talks have previously only been available in limited, private editions and the publication of Food for the Heart therefore represents a momentous occasion: the hugely increased accessibility of his words and wisdom. Western teachers such as Ram Dass and Jack Kornfield have extolled Chah's teachings for years and now readers can experience them directly in this book.
The Buddhism practiced and preached at the monastery at Wat Pah Pong in northeast Thailand has grown in popularity in part because of its gifted leader and speaker, the late Ajahn Chah. This compilation of talks given by Ajahn (acharya or teacherin Sanskrit) Chah extols the virtues of practice over pedantry, and makes judicious use of the technical vocabulary of Buddhism, which can be daunting to casual readers. But even without the full glossary of terms and explanatory notes, Ajahn Chah's humorous, analogy-laden narration of his tradition's Buddhist practice a practice that is basic and almost reductionistic, similar to modern Zen makes these teachings accessible to beginners and appealing to serious practitioners. More troubling is the lack of context for Ajahn Chah's talks: no dates or details are given. For instance, readers who encounter the injunction to renounce familial ties alongside a consideration of how spousal sexual relations may conform to the Four Noble Truths may be perplexed if they do not know that Ajahn Chah tailored his talks to the needs of both monastics and lay practitioners on quite separate occasions and in varying contexts. Also, there is very little introductory material about what distinguishes the Thai Forest tradition, other than a definition of tudong (forest pilgrimage and meditation) and the fact that it belongs to Theravada, the minority of the two great doctrinal divisions within Buddhism. However, this is a valuable collection of the Thai Buddhist master's thoughts.