Monk LifePa-Auk

Early Monk Pictures

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I recently turned 49 and I found some old pictures of myself that I thought I would share. It is very difficult to get older pictures of myself because it was before the digital picture revolution. In those days, we used to hire (through a helper) the man known as “photoman” who had a camera and would take one single picture and then sell the prints for about $1 each. It was very expensive for locals to develop a whole role of film and this was how it was done. The first picture exists only as a scan from a friend who had this on his website long ago. The second picture I still have (laminated) and the third picture was sent to me by a friend who spotted this picture frame hanging up at Sayadaw U Khundadhana’s monastery in Dawei, Myanmar.

The first picture might be one of the earliest pictures I have. It might be from 2001 which is shortly after I ordained. If you have been to Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw’s mountain kuti, you will notice that the path to it is not tiled, there is no covered walkway, the trees are extremely young (like myself) and … ehem, my robes are very sloppy and not even like in the second picture.

The second photo was in 2002 or 2003. Notice the ground is tiled and the trees are a little bigger.

The third photo might be from 2002 or 2003 as well. In this picture I am with Sayadaw U Khundadhana or “U Kho” as we called him back then (middle). His cousin is on the right too. Sayadaw U Khundadhana and Sayadaw U Candima helped make Pa-Auk Forest Monasteries what they are today. I am very grateful to both of them. I cannot tell who’s monk hut (kuti) it is. It is very similar to the one I stayed at. We now call these kuties as “black kuties” because they were all wooden and painted with old engine oil to keep the bugs out. They are some of the original forest kuties that still exist today. The newer kuties are made from bricks and very different.

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