Master Nun Tanom Asawai
Reverend Maechee Tanom Asawai is the eighth child among nine children of Mr. Reuy and Mrs. Thongkam Banyonk. She was born at Bhosa Sub-District, Mueang District, Angthong Province, on Saturday, November 1900. When she was young, she was an unhealthy child. When she was 19 year old, she married Muean Sawad (Tob Asawai) who was 5 years older than Tanom. Tob was a doctor of the Ranger Unit who provided security to His Majesty King Rama VI. So, Tob had to follow the King to different places.
After Tanom’s father passed away, she followed her husband. Later on, she became a retinue of His Majesty the King’s paternal grandmother who was a royalty. So, Tanom had to move to live at Srapathum Palace and also at the Wet-Nurse Dhat’s residence. Wet-Nurse Dhat was a Wet-Nurse of His Majesty King Rama VI. Tanom lived with her husband at Srapathum palace happily for 25 years, and they had 7 children.
Meet Luang Por:
Muean Sawad (Tob) loved to study Dhamma, and he was very faithful upon Luang Por Wat Paknam (Phramongkolthepmuni), the past abbot of Wat Paknam. Thus, he practiced meditation according to Luang Por’s guidance. Later on, he brought Tanom to Wat Paknam Temple in 1934. Tanom got interested as she saw many people practicing meditation at the Dhamma hall of Wat Paknam. She learned that Luang Por taught meditation to people from all walks of life without no restriction on gender, age, and education. Luang Por wished them to practice righteously and attentively with good perseverance.
Thereafter, Tanom frequently visited Wat Paknam to study kammathana or meditation with Luang Por Wat Paknam. When she returned home, she continued her meditation practice.
Months after that, one day, when Tanom was meditating, her mind calmed down and she could see the golden brilliant light of her inner bodies. She also saw an exceptionally beautiful crystal clear Buddha image in her abdomen. After she finished her meditation session, she told her husband about her inner experience.
When she visited Wat Paknam again, Luang Por asked her to further her meditation study with “Aunty Pook” or Reverend Maechee Pook Muiprasert who was a virtuous and competent instructor of Dhammakaya Meditation. On that very day, Tanom attained the 18 bodies. Then, she furthered to the step of ‘Superknowledge of Dhammakaya’ or ‘Vijja Dhammakaya’ with Luang Por.
Soon after, Muean Sawad also practiced meditation until he attained Dhammakaya. The couple always went to practice meditation with Luang Por Wat Paknam. Muean Sawad passed away in 1944, so Tanom asked Luang Por Wat Paknam to grant her ordination as a Buddhist nun. By that time, she was almost 45 year old. Luang Por assigned Reverend Maechee Tanom to practice ‘advanced Vijja Dhammakaya’ at the meditation workshop. Reverend Tanom followed Luang Por’s guidance and instruction strictly.
Advanced in Vijja Dhammakaya:
When practicing the advanced Vijja Dhammakaya at the meditation workshop, Luang Por would supervise Vijja or koom Vijja whereas Buddhist monks and novice monks meditated in front of Luang Por. On the other side of the room which was partitioned by a wall that prevented meditators from the two sides to see each other, but being able to hear the voice, there were Buddhist nuns who practiced advanced meditation. There were four Buddhist nuns who were supervisors. Each supervisor would be assisted by three other Buddhist nuns who were experts in Dhammakaya meditation.
When Luang Por gave instruction or Sung Vijja, each member of the meditation workshop would do his or her own part at different speeds or promptness. This solely depended on the level of merit energy or perfections of each meditator which enabled different levels of insight power. The Buddhist nuns who practiced advanced Dhammakaya Meditation were divided into shifts. Each shift took four hours. So, the practice of advanced Dhammakaya Meditation went on continuously 24 hours a day. Between each shift the advanced meditators would pass on the knowledge and insight gained from the previous shift to the next shift.
Becoming a Supervisor:
Not so soon after Reverend Maechee Tanom was allowed to attend the advanced meditation sessions, she was appointed by Luang Por to be one of the supervisors. As she researched more and more with her insight, her knowledge widened infinitely. She was able to see the Primordial Buddha(s) or Ton Dhat Ton Dham, Nirvana or Nibbana, heaven and hell realms, and the enlightened noble Buddhist disciples, as well as other causalities which she witnessed by herself. These were profound issues affirmed by Luang Por Wat Paknam.
Reverend Tanom was admired by other advanced Vijja Dhammakaya meditators that she was one of the most advanced, progressive and competent in Vijja Dhammakaya who studied meditation directly with Luang Por. However, no matter how outstanding she became, Reverend Tanom was not reckless. She always reminded her students and followers that “Don’t spoil yourself in eating, sleeping, dressing, and clothing.” In addition, she taught them to “stop [the mind] deeper and deeper” in order to purify oneself or dhatdham as a way to clean both internally and externally. Moreover, she told them not to be over possessive of Vijja.
The Beloved One:
Anyone who met Reverend Tanom would witness by themselves that she was very strict in obeying Luang Por’s orders. She was a respectable, gentle, kind, and compassionate person who understood the problems and solutions very well. For example, she gave an opinion that all the Buddhist nuns who achieved advanced Dhammakaya meditation should have necessary allowances, and Luang Por agreed with her. So, Buddhist nuns who practiced advanced Dhammakaya meditation have been given allowances since then until the present.
Researching Dhammakaya Meditation:
Reverend Tanom was a senior Buddhist nun whom Luang Por trusted and assigned her to research the ‘advanced Vijja Dhammakaya’ frequently. She would meditate at the meditation work shop and did the research according to Luang Por’s instruction from 8 o’clock in the morning until noon. In the afternoon, she taught her students or did the errands according to Luang Por’s orders. In the evening, she returned to meditate at the workshop. She had continued this practice for 15 years of her living at Wat Paknam in Bangkok, when Luang Por was still alive.
When Luang Por Passed Away:
On 3 February 1959, Luang Por was seriously ill. All the students tried their best to meditate in order to solve Luang Por’s illness. Until noon, His Holiness Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakotyan (Poon Poonasiri Mahathera) when he was in the ecclesiastical order of Phra Dhammavarodom (the abbot of Wat Phrachetuphon) had arrived to visit Luang Por Wat Paknam. Reverend Tanom was meditating advanced Dhammakaya Meditation at the workshop, and she was asked to see Luang Por who was unconscious at Mongkolchandasara Building.
Reverend Tanom, then, investigated with her insight and checked the process of Luang Por’s passing away. She found that everything was ready for his afterlife. After the celestial things were well prepared for Luang Por, he stopped panting. Once His Holiness noticed that, he asked Venerable Phramaha Narong Thitayano about the Buddhist nun or Reverend Tanom as he was curious about her. Thus, His Holiness asked Reverend Tanom to meet and converse with him. Soon after, Luang Por passed away peacefully whereas Reverend Tanom was investigating with her insight. What she saw with her insight made her feel so much grateful and indebted to Luang Por Wat Paknam.
For one hundred days after Luang Por passed away, Luang Por’s disciples organized a merit making memorial ceremony for him. After the ceremony, Reverend Tanom asked Luang Por for permission to propagate Dhammakaya Meditation at her hometown in Angthong Province where she led her students to establish a meditation center.
Photo from http://group.wunjun.com/khunsamatha/topic/302078-8828
Translated from the Thai version of Maechee Tanom’s biography
Biography, Work and Sixty Three Sermons of Luang Por Wat Paknam
Released on the occasion of Luang Por Wat Paknam’s Centennial Anniversary
Published by the Buddhist Meditation and Vijja Dhammakaya Foundation,
Second Edition, Year 1985, 1500 Copies
Wat Sraket, Bangkok, Thailand