Her Journey to Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment
Wisdom from the Venerable Mae Chee Kaew
This article presents the wisdom from a life and practice of a woman who reached the pinnacle of Buddhist practice in her lifetime. She was known as Mae Chee Kaew. Mae Chee Kaew felt the calling to a spiritual life at an early age. Blessed as a girl with the good fortune to meet some of the most renowned meditation masters of her era, including the Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera. She took their teachings on meditation to heart and, with youthful enthusiasm, earnestly put them into practice. Due to a favorable disposition, she soon developed into a child prodigy, skilled in the art of samādhi meditation. Her mind easily became absorbed in deep concentration for many hours, and was witness to many strange and wonderful occurrences.
When familial circumstances intervened to prevent her from un- dertaking a religious vocation, she bided her time patiently, waiting to take advantage of the earliest opportunity. After twenty years of unsatisfactory marriage, a door finally opened for Mae Chee Kaew and she stepped through, entering a life of renunciation. As a nun, she spent many years living and practicing with teachers of great renown. They often praised her for her extraordinary skills in medi- tation, especially her adeptness with psychic phenomena. Very few of them could equal her prowess in that field of perception. More significantly, however, she succeeded in overcoming her attachment to the conventional world with its ever-changing conditions, and thus attained the unconditioned state of total freedom. Being one of the few known female arahants of the modern era, she became living testimony that the Buddha’s goal of supreme enlightenment is possible for everyone, regardless of gender, race or class.
Mae Chee Kaew
Having been born, we attach importance to the passing days, months and years; we believe in the importance of our lives and the lives of others. For that reason, our minds are constantly concerned with pain and suffering.
Don’t doubt the value of meditation or under- estimate your abilities. Be content with whatever progress you make because it reflects a part of the truth you are seeking. As such, it is something you can rely on.
Cultivate your mind, as a farmer cultivates his fields. Gradually clear the land; prepare the soil; plough the rows; sow the seeds; spread the manure; water the plants and pull the weeds. Eventually, you’ll reap a golden harvest.
Your body, your mind, your life — these don’t belong to you, so don’t depend on them to bring true happiness.
My senses are continually bombarded: the eye by forms, the ears by sounds, the nose by aromas, the tongue by flavors and the body by contact. All of these things I investigate. In that way, each of my sense faculties becomes a teacher.