Cover image for Food for the heart : the collected teachings of Ajahn Chah.
Food for the heart : the collected teachings of Ajahn Chah.
Phra Phōthiyānathēra (Chā)
Publication Information:
Boston : Wisdom Publications, 2002.
Physical Description:
427 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ4190 .C53 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Renowned for the beauty and simplicity of his teachings, Ajahn Chah was Thailand's best-known meditation teacher. His charisma and wisdom influenced many American and European seekers, and helped shape the American Vipassana community. This collection brings together for the first time Ajahn Chah's most powerful teachings, including those on meditation, liberation from suffering, calming the mind, enlightenment and the 'living dhamma'. Most of these talks have previously only been available in limited, private editions and the publication of Food for the Heart therefore represents a momentous occasion: the hugely increased accessibility of his words and wisdom. Western teachers such as Ram Dass and Jack Kornfield have extolled Chah's teachings for years and now readers can experience them directly in this book.

Author Notes

Ajahn Chah (1918-92) was part of a movement to establish simple monastic communities in the remote forests of Thailand. At this date over one hundred forest monasteries have been established that look to his teaching as their inspiration. Ajahn Chah's simple yet profound style of teaching has a special appeal to Westerners, and in 1979 the first of several branch monasteries in the West was established in England, and there are now more than ten monasteries in the United States, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Ajahn Amaro is abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in southeast England and author of numerous books and articles on Buddhist themes across traditions. Born in England in 1956, Ven. Amaro received his BSc. in Psychology and Physiology from the University of London. He studied Buddhism in Thailand in the Forest Tradition and was ordained as a bhikkhu by Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah at Wat Pah Nanachat in 1979. He returned to England and joined Ajahn Sumedho at the newly established Chithurst Monastery. He resided for many years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England, and in 1996 he established Abhayagiri Monastery in Redwood Valley, California. He lived there until 2010, when he was called back to Amaravati to assume the duties of abbot.

Jack Kornfield co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1975 and later the Spirit Rock Center in Woodacre, California. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology. His books include After the Ecstasy, the Laundry and the national bestseller A Path with Heart .

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Buddhism practiced and preached at the monastery at Wat Pah Pong in northeast Thailand has grown in popularity in part because of its gifted leader and speaker, the late Ajahn Chah. This compilation of talks given by Ajahn (acharya or teacher in Sanskrit) Chah extols the virtues of practice over pedantry, and makes judicious use of the technical vocabulary of Buddhism, which can be daunting to casual readers. But even without the full glossary of terms and explanatory notes, Ajahn Chah' s humorous, analogy-laden narration of his tradition' s Buddhist practice a practice that is basic and almost reductionistic, similar to modern Zen makes these teachings accessible to beginners and appealing to serious practitioners. More troubling is the lack of context for Ajahn Chah' s talks: no dates or details are given. For instance, readers who encounter the injunction to renounce familial ties alongside a consideration of how spousal sexual relations may conform to the Four Noble Truths may be perplexed if they do not know that Ajahn Chah tailored his talks to the needs of both monastics and lay practitioners on quite separate occasions and in varying contexts. Also, there is very little introductory material about what distinguishes the Thai Forest tradition, other than a definition of tudong (forest pilgrimage and meditation) and the fact that it belongs to Theravada, the minority of the two great doctrinal divisions within Buddhism. However, this is a valuable collection of the Thai Buddhist master' s thoughts. (Sept.) Forecast: In a market saturated with new Buddhist releases, this solid exposition of basic Buddhist practice is a welcome addition, particularly since some of the Thai leader' s teachings are available here in English for the first time. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Jack Kornfield
Forewordp. 7
Introductionp. 9
1 About This Mindp. 41
2 Fragments of a Teachingp. 43
Part 1 Conduct--Virtue and the World of the Senses
3 Living in the World with Dhammap. 53
4 Making the Heart Goodp. 61
5 Sense Contact--the Fount of Wisdomp. 69
6 Understanding Vinayap. 81
7 Maintaining the Standardp. 93
8 Why Are We Here?p. 101
9 The Flood of Sensualityp. 111
10 The Two Faces of Realityp. 119
Part 2 Meditation
11 A Gift of Dhammap. 135
12 Inner Balancep. 141
13 The Path in Harmonyp. 147
14 The Training of the Heartp. 153
15 Reading the Natural Mindp. 163
16 The Key to Liberationp. 179
17 Meditation (Samadhi Bhavana)p. 219
18 Dhamma Fightingp. 227
19 Just Do It!p. 231
20 Right Practice--Steady Practicep. 239
21 Samma Samadhi--Detachment Within Activityp. 249
22 In the Dead of Nightp. 257
Part 3 Wisdom
23 What Is Contemplation?p. 275
24 Dhamma Naturep. 279
25 Living with the Cobrap. 287
26 The Middle Way Withinp. 291
27 The Peace Beyondp. 297
28 Convention and Liberationp. 307
29 No Abidingp. 313
30 Right View--the Place of Coolnessp. 319
31 Our Real Homep. 323
32 The Four Noble Truthsp. 333
33 "Tuccho Pothila"--Venerable Empty Scripturep. 341
34 "Not Sure!"--the Standard of the Noble Onesp. 351
35 Still, Flowing Waterp. 363
36 Transcendencep. 373
37 Toward the Unconditionedp. 383
38 Epiloguep. 395
Glossaryp. 397
Notesp. 403
Sources of the Textp. 409
Indexp. 415