My father, my brothers, and family
“Wherever you go and wherever you are, get an education. Study hard for your future, then serve others,” advises my father to my brothers and me.
Lok Pa…forgives me for any offenses. As I grow older, I come to appreciate what I have understood as a child. The compassionate man has raised me; a person of wisdom, dignity, courage and grace, I have ever known. I respect him very much.
My father has been a monk since 1981. He presently lives at Wat Onalum. He turns 92 this April 2009, and the gathering at his ‘Chet Day’ (stupa) at Oudong Pagoda with all vipassana students, family members, my two brothers and me is a birthday present for him. He is the consummate Buddhist, teacher, leader and a true pioneer of Cambodian Vipassana. As a son of a poor farmer himself, he wants to give back to the society. His greatest joy is giving and sharing his finding and learning to others. His greatest gift is straight talk and boldness. I really think he gets his energy from doing it.
After introducing Vipassanã (insight ‘seeing as they really are’) to the people of Cambodia in 1993, he has devoted himself to help others ended their suffering through the method of mental purification which allows one to face life’s tension and problems in a calm, balanced way. He shows that Dhamma teaching and personal integrity are inseparable. Vipassanã is the art living. It has been tested and proven to be wholesome and beneficial to all. By practicing Vipassanã, wisdom (pannã) and compassion (karunã) will be developed. It requires some work and commitment on our part. Real change, drastic change will have to come from the inside. It will not come from outside. Vipassanã gives people real peace, harmony, and happiness. I value his understanding and sharing his art of teaching Vipassanã and marvel his work ethics. He is the spark and flame of all my continued learning.
He has undeniable strengths. At 92 years old, he still spends his limited time lecturing about the five precepts (abstain from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and all intoxicants), translating Paccaya (cause or condition) in Buddha Abhidhamma (Ultimate Science), planting trees in different pagodas, teaching “one day” Vipassanã to his former students, visiting ailing people in hospital, giving out Dhamma books to students, building wells and irrigation for the poor, helping the most vulnerable, and perform many more societal myriads activities. What I have discovered about his legacy is people still praise and profit from his undeniable and unselfish works.
He possesses a unique personality: a combination of toughness and great caring for his family and people. He practices ascetic and austerity; clear, non-dogmatic, realistic and practical spiritual path that emphasize moral integrity, mental purification and personal insight into the basic truths concerning the human condition. He believes in himself. He helps raise countless family members faithfully. He donates his times and skills for the benefit of others. His remarkable teachings were given with the deepest kind of compassion for the welfare and the wellbeing of others. His life has been a gift to all who came to meet him. He leads by example. He has gained more than he has given. I respect his wisdom and his uncompromised commitment to make me a better person by following his footstep. He insists that only practice, hard works, commitment, and perseverance can gain liberation never by theories, and mere discussion. He plays a big role in my life. He is the mentor, inspiration and best role model for my brothers and me.
I’ve served him as best as I can. I regret I cannot be with him sooner. I want to tell him no son ever had a wise father. He plays a very important role in forming the foundation of my life and my brothers’. He was very hard on me and on all his children. I didn’t like it, but he knew that if he left me on our own I wouldn’t do it. He pushed me to work harder and he has done anything to make me better. Most importantly, he taught me Vipassanã, the art of living at the experimental level. It applies how I live my life. I have found it to be very helpful and beneficial to me. He instills in me the important difference to waking up for a reason and not having a reason to wake up. He makes me what I am today. I will never forget what he has done for me.
After attending two Vipassanã classes with my father, ordaining to be a monk, serving Satipatthana (establishing awareness) and completing Vipassana Children’ Course Teacher training workshop, I have learned, experienced and reinforced the true nature of impermanence (anicca), suffering (dukka), selflessness (anattã) within myself. Since life is a terminal condition, I have observed my father has prepared himself for his death by eradicating all material and emotional attachments as much as he can. He values people who they are rather than what they have. I admire him for that. No matter how many times, I am with him, he always leaves me thinking he is unlike anyone I have met along the busy, challenging road of life. He is my spiritual guide. He inscribes such a positive influence in me that I will try to pass it on to others. He gives me internal peace. He shapes my life. I’ve never known a more unselfish person than him.
I am blessed and grateful to have him as my father. If I have become who I am today, it is because of him. I will cherish what he has done for my brothers, family, all his Vipassanã students and me. I will take his fatherhood advice and will pass this on to others: “Wherever you go and wherever you are, get an education. Study hard for your future, then serve others.” After all, he always says the best contribution one can make to humanity is to improve one-self.
Lok Pa...Happy ‘92’ Birthday and thank you, you have blessed my life in more ways than I could ever express.