Luang Phor Baer

Luang Phor Baer

by Jun Wei

“Baer” is actually a nickname as Luang Phor Baer’s full name is Phra Kru Thamatorn SomSong ThammaTinNo. Before Luang Phor Baer ordained, his parents gave him the name “SomSong”, and his family name was Detchinda. He was born on 11th January BE 2501 in the village of Barn PakKraTha , located in Ampur Nakorn Chai Sri, Changwat Nakhon Pathom. Luang Phor Baer was the 3rd child in the family as he had 2 elder brothers and 1 younger brother. As a child, he lived with his parents, and showed great enthusiasm for Buddhism. His father had earlier ordained as a monk, and related many of the teachings and stories of Buddhism to him. His father had completed 10 Rain Retreats, and subsequently disrobed to work as a civil servant. He did however, send his children to the temple to learn the ways of Buddhism. After he retired from his job, he also returned to the Sangha, remaining there until his passing.

Luang Phor Baer had his primary education at a private school  in the vicinity of his home called Santad Wittaya , located at Tambon Ngiu Rai, Ampur Nakhon Chai Sri . He continued his studies there until primary 3, when the school was shut down. He then went to the school at Wat Klang Bang Keaw , Perm Wittaya Moolnithi to continue his formal education. Luang Phor Perm Wat Klang Bang Kaew had earlier built this school to serve the children of the area. This school is presently under the purview of the government of Thailand.

Luang Phor Baer managed to finish his primary school education at Perm Wittaya. During his secondary 1, he had a chance to meet with a Tudong monk that sparked his interest in Gammatan (meditation). At that point of time, he was playing with his friend near the area of a cemetery at Nakhon Chai Sri, and saw a monk doing his Sīvathika meditation (cemetery meditations). After seeing it, Luang Phor Baer went to approach the monk to pay his respects. The monk took a liking to him, as he sensed that the young Luang Phor Baer had a strong affinity with the teachings of Buddhism. In the end, it turns out that both the monk and Luang Phor Baer would often meet up. Many of the time would be spent on talking as the monk related stories of his experiences from his Tudong. The monk had wandered from the Songkra, Ampur SaTing Phra in the Southern Part of Thailand, and was in the midst of journeying North, before finally aiming to head East. Luang Phor Baer was deeply inspired by these stories, and made up his mind to learn meditation. He aspired to be like the monk, developing himself in Samadhi. The monk advised him to only embark on Tudong after he had reached the age of an adult, as the jungles were full of unpredictable dangers. To satisfy his thirst for learning, the monk taught him meditation after each of their near-daily conversations. When Luang Phor Baer first learnt meditation, he was unable to still himself. But through repeated instruction from the monk, he learnt to fully enjoy his meditation sessions. He loved it so much that he stopped playing with his friends, opting instead for the stillness of mind it brought. One day, it was time for the monk to continue his journey. Before he left, he taught Luang Phor Baer a form of meditation called Asu Pa Gammatan (contemplation on death and impermanence). During that period of time, Luang Phor Baer was terrified of ghosts, and the monk taught him this meditation and contemplation exercise to help him overcome his fear and prepare him for his eventual Tudong. When Luang Phor Baer first attempted this form of meditation, he was terrified and even nauseated by the sights he was presented with. After repeated practice however, he came to fully grasp the impermanence of the human body. He understood that since humans have no control over anything, even their own bodies, he realized that nothing could do him more harm than his own mind.

After Luang Phor Baer overcame his fear, his hunger for more knowledge and a desire to learn the skills of Wicha Saiyasart grew. He continued his practice, and his parents saw that he had an inclination towards religious practices. His father decided to further school him in the art of meditation. One day, a Thai traditional doctor named Mor SaNgiam , who had learnt meditation from Luang Phor Sodh Wat Paknam, arrived in his hometown. When Luang Phor Baer heard about this, he approached Mor SaNgiam, hoping to study under his guidance. Mor SaNgiam agreed. Following this, he sought further tutelage from Phra Ajarn Chareon . At that time, Ajarn Chareon was renowned for his skills in Gammatan, Tudong, Saiyasart and Horasart (fortune telling). Ajarn Chareon resided at Wat Mai Chareon Yod, a short distance away from Luang Phor Baer’s house, and had completed many years of Tudong acquiring knowledge from many guru monks along the way. Between the age of 14 and 15, Luang Phor Baer decided he wanted to focus on Saiyasart. It was at this time that he picked up fortune telling. His house was in fact located near a red light district named Dong Kluay. Being young and ignorant, he would often wander around the area. One day, he saw a crowd, and as he approached, witnessed a lady doing fortune telling. He became curious and decided to let the lady read his fortune. Afterward, he was amazed at the accuracy of the readings and decided that he too, wished to learn fortune telling. His parents recognized that he had an innate talent and disposition towards these skills, and sought a proper teacher to instruct him. He honed his skills till he was famous in his hometown for reading fortunes. One day, an indian who was skilled in the indian methods of fortune telling taught Luang Phor Baer the art of foretelling using charts. After acquiring that knowledge, he met Mor Yuak , who lived beside Wat Sai , not far from his house. Mor Yuak taught him fortune telling using numerology. Soon  Luang Phor Baer was adept in all 3 methods of fortune-telling.

In BE 2519, at the age of 18, Luang Phor Baer graduated from secondary school. Mor Yuak had also passed away. He was ordained as a novice monk at Wat Sai to make merit for his deceased teacher. His preceptor was Luang Phor Pian the abbot of  Wat Tookata . After his ordination, he wanted to embark on his Tudong journey, but Luang Phor Pian felt that Luang Phor Baer was not ready. A Tudong journey required substantial experience and skills, but Luang Phor Baer was not even a Bikkhu yet. Luang Phor Baer was impatient to advance his skills in Saiyasart, instead of meditation. Wat Tookata was famous for Saiyasart, and held plenty of Tamra for Wicha. Luang Phor Baer searched for the Samood Khoi and Khom Tamra of Luang Phor Boon’s and Luang Phor Ned’s Wicha, which was known to be very detailed in Saiyasart, Horasart, Palmistry and Physiognomy. Luang Phor Baer badly wanted to go for his Tudong journey, despite failing his Naktam Buddhist examination. He secretly embarked on the journey, afraid that the abbot would once again disapprove. He invited a junior monk by the name of Phra PreeCha PaPadSaroh to accompany him. They planned to travel to the south of Thailand, following in the footsteps of his first meditation teacher. He also wanted to see the sea and the beach, as he had not seen it before. Southern Thailand was also home to many guru monks who were well-versed in Wicha. They travelled to Ratchaburi , where Phra Preecha suffered a snake bite. Daunted by the experience, Phra Preecha decided to cut short his Tudong journey, and went back to Wat Tookata. Luang Phor Baer then proceeded alone to Chumporn where he met Luang Phor Song Wat Zhao Fah SalaLoi , and asked to learn Wicha from him. He also met a few monks who were also on their Tudong journeys, and travelled with them for a spell. They eventually parted ways at Nakhon Sri Thammarat. Thereafter, he went to see Luang Phor Kling Wat Thaloongthong , and studied Wicha from him. He formed a close bond with one of the monks from the temple and eventually set off on a Tudong with him. Along the way, whenever they heard about any special ceremonies or guru monks, they would travel there and ask to learn from them. Some readily accepted them, some did not. Due to the language barrier (Southern Senior monks speak their own dialect, and are not proficient in the national Thai language), Luang Phor Baer barely understood most of what was being taught. He returned to Wat Tookata before his third Pansa, as he had to report for the army. He was not, however, chosen for conscription and returned to monkhood. This time, he was qualified to be a sammanen. Luang Phor Baer once again embarked on Tudong, travelling to Wat Pradoochimplee, in Bangkok to study under Luang Pu Toh, Wat Tah Sung in Changwat Uthai Thani to learn from Luang Phor Lersi Lingdam, and Wat Palelai in Changwat Supanburi to seek out Luang Phor Tin. He went on to visit many more temples and the guru monks that resided in the temple,  seeking to further expand his skills and knowledge. In BE 2522, at Patha Sima (the Bot of) Wat Tookata, Luang Phor Baer, aged 21 ordained as a monk.  His preceptor was Phra Kru WiBoonSiritum, the abbot of Wat Tookata , his announcing teacher were Phra Ajarn Thongkum Suwanna Wat Tookata and Phra Kru Samu Jeua, Wat Klang Bang Keaw . He was given the name Thamma TinNoh. Luang Phor Bart then stayed at Wat Tookata and would travel to seek more knowledge of Wicha every time he heard about guru monks that are renowned for his Wicha. Before the Buddhist Lent Day in BE 2522, Phra Kru WiBoonSiritum sent him to Wat Sawang Arom (also known as Wat Kaew Theaw). Wat Sawang Arom back then had been deteriorating. Although the path to the temple was dilapidated, making travelling there difficult, many people still pay a visit to Luang Phor Baer. Luang Phor Ber has gained the respect of many, even though he was at the age of 21. The people then requested him to be the abbot of Wat Sawang Arom but he only agreed to be the acting abbot until such time that a senior monk could take over the position. He stayed there for 4 months before he was replaced and returned to Wat Tookata. After failing his 4th Buddhist exam, Luang Phor Baer remained at Wat Tookata, studying as intensively as possible for 2 Pansa, before finally passing the exam. He was asked to return to Wat Sawang Arom, and sought permission from the abbot of Wat Tookata to be the abbot of Wat Sawang Arom, He eventually travelled back to Wat Sawang Arom in BE 2524, when he was around the age of 23. It is required by Buddhist law in Thailand to complete 5 Pansa before being qualified to be the abbot. The committee in Wat Sawang Arom decided to instead place him in another position, temporary abbot of Wat Sawang Arom, intending to promote him after he had completed his 5 Pansa. Wat Sawang Arom had always been intended as a temporary stopover point for monks. The facilities in the temple were threadbare. There were only 2 living quarters for the monks. There was no toilet, no incense sticks and no cutlery. On the Buddhist Lent Day in BE 2524, only 4 to 5 people came for blessings, as it was an important Buddhist day, many felt that they would participate in blessing ceremonies in larger temples. To make matters worse, many believed that Luang Phor Baer would only stay for a short time, and then leave. Luang Phor Baer thought of an idea to refurbish the temple, in order to attract more devotees. His first decision was to allow people to become monks without paying requisites. A total of 20 people came for the ordination. These 20 monks stayed in the monkhood for that entire year. As more people frequented the temple, funds started flowing in and Luang Phor Baer was able to fully refurbish the temple. This practice of carrying out free ordination for willing monks endures to this day. The committee of the temple agreed to pool money to build a Hor Rakhang for Luang Phor Baer if he agreed to become the abbot. In BE 2529, he was promoted to Phra Kru Samu Somsong. Within a few years, he was again promoted to Phra Kru Thamatorn Somsong Thamma TinNoh.

Luang Phor Baer learnt the knowledge of Phithi Arb Namman Wan from Phra Ajarn Chareon Wat Mai Chareon Yod. This Wicha is an ancient form passed down through old gurus living in the interior regions of Thailand. The knowledge of this ceremony is slowly fading away in modern times. To make the blessed oil, coconut oil must be brought to boil, a special blend of herbs is added, and a blessing is carried out by a monk seated within the pot. The health of the monk must be good for the potency of the blessings to be strong as well. Next the oil needs to be blessed by the guru monks for 3 or 7 nights, depending on the size and scale of the ceremony. The monks will also procure holy items such as Takrut, Mit Mor, Pra Kam, Mai Wai Sett , Phra Kreung and Kreung Rang to be added into the oil to further enhance its potency. Because the ingredients are difficult to find, and the ceremony is tedious, Luang Phor Baer only conducted it 3 times, each 3 to 5 years apart, depending on how fast each batch of oil was depleted. Because of his extended years of austere practices undertaken during his Tudong, Luang Phor Baer’s health has been waning over the years, and he has sought to pass the knowledge of this Wicha down to other temples. As the health of the presiding monk is of utmost importance in the ceremony, he is unable to perform this ceremony anymore, but does not want this Wicha to go extinct. Nowadays, Wat Sawang Arom is packed with devotees. In BE 2551, an incident occurred that allowed Luang Phor Baer to be known in other parts of South-East Asia, Luang Phor Baer gave 5-segmented peanut Takrut to a malaysian named Lit Han and a singaporean named Ho Kee Wong. It was said that their lives and luck improved dramatically. Another business man in the construction sector named Lee Yan, has become bankrupt at the age of 55. He sought the help of Luang Phor Baer, who gave him a similar peanut Takrut. He brought it home and prayed to it and witnessed his business miraculously taking a turn for the better. This has thus become one of Luang Phor Baer’s famous holy items in recent years.

 

 

 

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