Kru (Guru) Treetar Niamkham
Kru Treetar Niamkham
Chairperson of Luang
Por Wat Paknam’s
Alumni (Disciple) Association
Kru Treetar (Kru is a Thai word which means ‘guru’) was one of the members of Luang Por’s meditation workshop. By that time, she was only thirteen year old, the youngest member. After she attained Dhammakaya, Luang Por requested her parents, Mr. Duang and Mrs. Poom, to have Treetar ordained as a Buddhist nun at Wat Paknam. During that time, Luang Por would ask all the ladies who lived at Wat Paknam to study and practice meditation to become Buddhist nuns or observe eight precepts because the precepts observance would enhance and promote their meditation practice and good discipline. As a result, Kru Treetar did not return to live at home in Bangbor, Samutprakarn Province again, except that she paid visits occasionally.
When Kru Treetar was a girl, she found that her mother always got sick and had a skinny and weak body. Her mother could not eat much and was unable to sleep well whereas the cause of illness was unknown. The doctors did not know the cause of her sickness, so they did not know how to treat her. Kru Treetar’s father had tried looking for a good doctor for many years, but it was hopeless. The medical technology by that time was not modern yet, so there was no tool for researching the true cause of her mother’s symptom. When someone recommended a good doctor or costly medicine, her father would try it regardless of the price until her mother became discouraged.
Later on, Aunty Cheun who was one of her kin had recommended that there was a capable monk at Wat Paknam, Bhasicharoen District,Thonburi Province. She said this monk could cure every disease with insight power from meditation, and there was no need to take medicine or pay money. That was what Aunty Cheun said. Kru Treetar’s father got interested, but her mother was indifferent as she was tired of medical treatment because she had tried many expensive medicines already. She wondered how she could recover if the monk did not give her any medicine. So, her mother made an excuse for not going that she did not want to leave her home as her child was still young and had to go to school. Finally, her father agreed and was willing to wait for their only daughter, Treetar, to finish the final examination at school first. Then, they would go together.
In 1939, Kru Treetar was 13 year old. Her father prepared to leave his home in Bangbor, Samutprakarn Province, to Wat Paknam, Pakklong Sub-District, Bhasicharoen District, Thonburi Province (presently a part of Bangkok). It that time, it was unlike the present days that we can take the express way for less than an hour to get to Wat Paknam. In 1939, the distance was far and difficult to commute. It was necessary to find a boat for transporting. Without relatives or siblings living on the way, one needed to stay overnight in one’s boat. Fortunately, Wat Paknam was next to Dan canal and Bangluang canal, boats could reach as far as the pier in front of the temple. Kru Treetar’s father had to borrow a boat and its engine from Aunty Cheun and prepared rice and food stock because he did not know for how long he would have to stay in the boat.
Kru Treetar, her father, and her mother left home early in the morning whereas her elder and younger brothers were at home. Her father hired a tug boat to pull his boat to Samroang Water Gate in order to speed up and save energy. In the afternoon, they got to the pier in front of Wat Paknam. After her father docked the boat, he brought his wife and daughter to see Luang Por. By that time, Luang Por was titled at the ecclesiastic order of Phrakru Samanadhamsamatarn. When Kru Treetar saw the white Buddhist chapel of Wat Paknam, she was astonished and cried saying that “Daddy… daddy… here is the place I saw in my dream.”
Earlier, Kru Treetar dreamed that there was a terrible storm which blew herself into the air. In the beginning, she grabbed the balustrade of her house tightly, but she could not withstand the force so she had to let herself blown into the air as if she could fly. The gale dropped her at a square in front of a white Buddhist chapel. In front of this chapel, there was a big Pra-Du tree which can be embraced by two persons or more. At the sides of the chapel, there were many pagodas. By that time, there were two rows of Pra-Du trees planted in front of Wat Paknam. The first row was in front of the chapel, and the another row was on the bank of the canal. Later on, Luang Por had them cut down in order to make firewood for cooking rice and food for monks. During that time, a large wok was used to cook rice. There was no propane, only firewood was used. Thus, it was necessary to bring wood remains from furniture factory to the temple’s kitchen for cooking.
On that day, it was Thursday which Thai people deemed it to be the ‘teacher day.’ Many people were waiting for Luang Por. It was around two o’clock in the afternoon, which was time for Luang Por to teach meditation. Kru Treetar’s father went to pay respect to Luang Por and told him about his wife’s symptoms. After Luang Por listened to him, he asked Kru Treetar’s father to fill-in a report form and drop into the box four times every day.
Then, Luang Por turned to Kru Treetar and questioned “Do you love your mother?” She replied “Yes sir, I do.” He asked further that “Do you want your mother to recover?” Kru Treetar said “Yes.” Then, Luang Por said “If you wish your mother to recover more quickly, you have to meditate. If you attain the superknowledge of Dhammakaya, you will be able to help curing disease for your mother. Your mother will recover from illness when her child attains the superknowledge of Dhammakaya.”
Kru Treetar said it was the first time in her life to hear the word ‘Dhammakaya,’ but she did not even know what it was and did not think if her mother would really recover or not due to her innocence. She was from a remote area where there were no electricity, water work, telephone, and television. She did not enjoy playing far away, but she stayed home with her parents and siblings. What she was afraid of the most was the death of her parents. She did not know how to survive if her parents passed away. She saw her mother always got sick, and she wished to help by studying well, so she could become a doctor to treat her mother. Some people told her that if one did not study well, one would not be able to study at a medical school. So, Kru Treetar wished her mother to live longer and wait until she graduated from a medical school, and she would be the one who cure her.
When Luang Por said that meditation practice could help curing her mother, Kru Treetar became joyful that she did not have to wait until graduating from a medical school which would take several more years. After she heard Luang Por’s words, she had a determination to meditate until attaining the superknowledge of Dhammakaya and being able to cure her mother. She thought that submitting the symptom report forms everyday to Buddhist nuns who practiced advanced Dhammakaya meditation was like walking by borrowing others’ shoes. It would not be comfortable as one’s own shoes.
Paying Homage to the Teacher
On every Thursday at 2.00 pm, Luang Por led meditation instruction by himself at the Dhamma Hall. There were numerous monks, novice monks, Buddhist nuns, laymen, and laywomen, both from inside and outside Wat Paknam, who studied with him. Each of them would prepare a tray containing flowers, candles, incense sticks and offerings to pay homage to Luang Por who was their meditation instructor. These offerings were also prepared by Buddhist nuns at the price of 10 satang (approximately 10 cents) per tray. When there were more people who studied meditation, Luang Por disallowed them to pay homage privately, so they had to pay homage altogether and combined their offerings. Luang Por would be the one who lighted candles and incense sticks, bow to the Lord Buddha, and chanted in homage to the Lord Buddha. So, the process took less time.
Since Kru Treetar loved to study. She would study something thoroughly in advance prior to working on it and completed it before others. On the first day that she studied meditation, she rushed to buy a set of offerings from a Buddhist nun and took her seat earlier than anybody. It was peculiar that she chose to sit in the middle of the hall, and she waited for Luang Por’s arrival.
On that day, Luang Por walked in from the back of the hall, through the Western wing. Kru Treetar saw his body in saffron robes shining brightly and beautifully while he was walking. She learned later on that Luang Por normally had clean and clear complexion. But his complexion was outstandingly bright and clear on that day until it caught her eyes without knowing why Luang Por appeared to be like that.
Then, Luang Por headed toward a Buddha statue and bowed, and he continued to the monks’ seat. After he took his seat, he greeted his disciples who frequently visited him and asked them about meditation experience for a while. Thus, he led everyone to pay homage to the Triple Gem, chant, and explained about meditation method.
On the day that Kru Treetar went to meditate with Luang Por, she followed Luang Por’s instruction accordingly without any hesitation. She did not question in mind whether it was right or wrong. Upon the end of Luang Por’s meditation instruction, Kru Treetar could see a crystal clear sphere appearing at the center of her body. The sphere was as large as a full moon. Luang Por called it the ‘Pathamamagga Sphere’ (Initial Path Sphere) or ‘Dhammanupassanasatipattana Sphere’ which is the initial path leading to nirvana.
She, then, opened her eyes to look at Luang Por and found that Luang Por still closed his eyes meditating. So, Kru Treetar closed her eyes to meditate again, and she could still see the clear sphere. She opened her eyes again, but the sphere was still there whether she opened or closed her eyes. By the end of the meditation session, Luang Por led everyone to pay respect to the Lord Buddha.
After the end of meditation session, Luang Por asked some of the practitioners about their meditation experiences. He also pointed to Kru Treetar and said “Come here, Lek!” (Lek is Kru Treetar’s nick name). Then, Kru Treetar moved closer to Luang Por. He asked her “You saw it already, right?” Kru Treetar was both surprised and amazed that Luang Por could know her meditation experience. She dared not to question anything, and Luang Por said “You made it now. Your mother will not die. You have to continue further [to the higher level of meditation]. Once she heard that her mother would not die, she had a goose bump full of delightfulness. She thought “Mom! I can make it. I can help you now. I will cure you to be healthier, so you can live with me for a longer time.”
As Kru Treetar saw the initial path sphere, Luang Por had her meditate further with Maechee (Buddhist Nun) Boonchuay in order to reach the more advanced level. Finally, Kru Treetar attained the superknowledge of Dhammakaya meditation (Vijja Dhammakaya). Soon after that, Maechee Boonchuay passed away. So, Kru Treetar studied furthermore with Maechee Yanee Sirivoharn.
After Kru Treetar attained the superknowledge of Dhammakaya Meditation, she could cure the disease for her mother who had a chronic unidentifiable disease for twelve years. There was no doctor who could cure her successfully, either the Western or traditional doctors. However, her mother could recover and get well after she came to have treatments with Luang Por for 13 months. In addition, she did not have to take any medicine. Since then, she could live her life normally as in the time before she got sick, and she could live as long as twenty four more years after that.
Kru Treetar’s original name was ‘Pin,’ but Luang Por renamed her to be ‘Treetar.’ The new name is weird and smart as it is easy to pronounce and not outdated. It also has a good meaning and does not signify a gender. This name can be used with either a male or a female. If there is no gender title in front, it would be difficult to know whether such person is a male or a female. When Pin knew for the first time that she was renamed, she was not quite delightful because she was unfamiliar with the name ‘Treetar’ which sounded bold like a man’s name. In addition, female’s names in that time are usually long and ended with a vowel sound like ‘sri’ such as ‘Banjongsri’ or ‘Prayounvadi.’ So, when Treetar met with her parents, she mentioned to them about her new name. When Luang Por heard about this, he smiled and asked “Don’t you like this name? This name is good. There is only one.” In that time, there was only one person who used this name. But there could be several people in the modern days, but it all started from Kru Treetar. Many people went to ask for permission from Kru Treetar to name their descendant as ‘Treetar.’
Luang Por managed for Kru Treetar to study Buddhism through the Dhamma study curriculum altogether with meditation practice at the workshop. Finally, Kru Treetar could complete the advanced level of Dhamma study. In that time, the examinees had to attend the examination at Wat Prachetupon. Luang Por took Kru Treetar to Wat Prachetupon by boat. During the examination, Luang Por waited by conversing with other monks at the temple.
Upon completion of the advanced level of Dhamma study, Luang Por had Kru Treetar studing highschool with distant learning until she completed grade 9. Luang Por thought that it was enough for a Buddhist nun because he did not wish his students to continue the secular education too far as they would be required to memorize, research, and join activities with many friends. These might affect their meditation level to become inferior.
Most common people try to achieve higher education because they wish to earn more for living. But for Kru Treetar who attained superknowledge of Dhammakaya since her early teen, Luang Por wished to spare her time for learning the advanced superknowledge of Dhammakaya meditation. This is because Luang Por knew well that he was running out of time in his life, so he wished to find the right persons to be his Dhamma heirs. Kru Treetar used to mention that she should have had studied medicine, but Luang Por explained to her that she should be diligent in practicing meditation until gaining expertise as it would enable to gain whatever she wished, and even the medical doctors would become her student. Since Kru Treetar was still young, she did not quite believe Luang Por, and she also told her friend that she disbelieved him. But as time flies by, it has proven that Luang Por’s words are true and beneficial.
Luang Por organized six shifts of advanced meditation session each day. Each shift took four consecutive hours and supervised by a meditation supervisor who would replace Luang Por when he was not present. Kru Treetar was also chosen to be a supervisor of the advanced meditation session at the meditation workshop. So, she became the youngest supervisor who was only 14 year old. However, there was no problem with age since Luang Por recognized her, so do others. In addition, age was not considered to be an important factor, but the level of meditation attainment. So, there were some other older people addressed Kru Treetar as ‘Kru’ (Guru or master) even though they never studied meditation with Kru Treetar.
Presently, the meditation workshop has been relocated to a small hall at the back of the hall where Luang Por’s coffin is enshrined. Buddhist nuns who attain Dhammakaya still meditate there 24 hours a day, similar to the time when Luang Por was alive. This practice has been carried on for more than 90 years. When Buddha amulets are produced, the space at the entrance of the workshop hall is used for convenience in blessing the amulets at the meditation workshop.
- Secular education: Grade 9
- Buddhist education: Advanced Dhamma Study
- Received an honorary doctoral degree in Social Work from Chulalongkorn University
1939 – Became a resident of Wat Paknam under the guidance of Luang Por when she was 13 year old
1940 – Ordained to be a Buddhist nun when she was 14 year old in order to study Dhamma doctrine and Dhammakaya meditation until she mastered
1951 – Disrobed from nunhood when she was 26 year old due to a health problem and continued to practice meditation and assist Luang Por at Wat Paknam
Works & Achievements
- Assisted His Holiness Somdet Phramaharatchamangkhlachan, the present abbot of Wat Paknam, to continue many projects which were established Luang Por in term of education, meditation practice, building of facilities and infrastructures, as well as the project to cater meals to monastic members of Wat Paknam
- Supervised the advanced meditation practice at the Meditation Workshop
- Offered and managed the offering of annual royal Kathina robe at Wat Paknam since 1961
- Served as the chair person of Luang Por Wat Paknam’s Alumni (Disciple) Association since 1977
- Built a meditation hall at Wat Paknam
- Built two million pieces of Buddha Amulet Series 5 where a part of them was encapsulated and enshrined at the meditation hall of Wat Paknam
- Instruct meditation on weekends and holidays at the meditation hall of Wat Paknam
- Saved many cattle from the slaughterhouses and donate them to poor farmers according to the Cattle Bank Project initiated by His Majesty the King. From 1981 – 2008, as many as 28,855 cattle have been released and donated.
- Casted numerous Buddha statues and statues of Luang Por Wat Paknam and donate them to different temples and organizations both in Thailand and abroad. So far, more than a thousand statues have been casted and donated.
- Produced the Buddha amulet series 6 totaling 3,370,660 pieces to be presented to contributors who donated for the construction of the Buddhist Scripture Inscription Marble Hall as gifts
- Produced the Buddha amulet series 7 totaling 5,640,000 pieces to be presented to contributors who donated for the construction of Buddhist Library at the Buddha Mandala in Nakorn Pathom Province, Thailand
- Built a big bronze Dhammakaya Buddha image which is approximately 9 meters in width and 14 meters in height, at Buddhadhivas Temple in Betong District, Yala Province. The project was sponsored by Mr. Prayoon – Mrs. Kesinee Panichyanond.
- Built a three storey school building with 18 classrooms altogether with a hundred meters long fenced dam at Wat Bangbor School in Samutprakarn Province in 1998. The classrooms were fully furnished and equipped.
- Built many facilities and objects for the benefit of Buddhism and perform many other charitable deeds.
- Catered meals to the public for free on special occasions