In a recent interview I was asked a compelling question
‘Tell me a non-work related fact that I couldn’t find out about you from your LinkedIn profile’
The floodgates could have opened here, however I had to compose myself and think of one of my more interesting facts.
‘My uncle is a the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia’
Well that a conversation starter if ever I heard one – I assume I have your attention.
Yes my uncle is a famous Buddhist abbot named Ajahn Brahm, or to us Peter Betts aka MONKLE! Today Ajahn resides in the forests of Serpentine (an hour from the city of Perth), in a monastery he helped build from scratch. He is an acclaimed author, teacher and spiritual leader in his field and has dedicated his life to the Buddhist arts.
Having studied Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University in the 1960’s, he joined the universities Buddhist society. Here he found his calling, and soon travelled to Thailand to train as a Monk. He trained under another famous Buddhist teacher named Ajahn Chah, and soon established himself as a valued teacher. He was invited to Western Australia, where the Buddhist Society purchased the land that would become the Bodhinyana Monastery. He continued his leadership and work and notably was given the title ‘Tan Chao’ by the King of Thailand which is the equivalent to a UK Bishop.
Ajahn’s list of achievements go on and on and recently has been fighting on the side of gender equality in religion among other injustices. How’s that for an uncle?
Unfortunately we do not get to converse with Ajahn very often, however visits when he is in country have become increasingly frequent. I have also been lucky enough to visit him in Perth twice, and spend some time with him in Sydney. The Bodhinyana Monastery is a haven of peace and tranquillity and I implore anyone interested to visit the Jhana Grove retreat centre. Megan and I were very dubious at first but soon experienced the serenity for ourselves and would return in a heartbeat. I have also attended a meditation class held by Ajahn directly and although previously having never been able to meditate in any class, I attest to that being the closest.
One of our fondest memories is of him is a surprise appearance at our wedding, where he appeared just prior to the bride and ran down the aisle himself. There’s nothing like seeing a barefoot monk running down the aisle while you are waiting for your bride!
Although notably famous in certain circles, Ajahn’s humour and kind spirit are attributes that have never waned. He continues to be a very interesting character in our family.