The Origins and Development of Sammā Arahaṃ Meditation
: From Phra Mongkhon Thepmuni (Sot Candasaro) to Phra Thep Yan Mongkhon (Sermchai Jayamaṅgalo)

  • P Cholvijarn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This dissertation examines Sammā Arahaṃ meditation from its origin in the figure of Phra Mongkhon Thepmuni (Sot Candasaro), the late abbot of Wat Paknam, Thonburi, as well as its transmission to Phra Thep Yan Mongkhon (Sermchai Jayamaṅgalo), the late abbot of Wat Luang Pho Sot Thammakayaram, Ratchaburi, in the context of the history of Theravāda Buddhist meditation practices.

The second chapter of this dissertation analyses Luang Pho Sot Candasaro’s autobiography, his sermons, the teachings of two of his meditation teachers, namely Luang Pho Niam Dhammajoti (Wat Noi, Suphanburi) and Luang Pho Nong Indasuvaṇṇo (Wat Amphawan, Suphanburi), and the meditation traditions of Saṅgharāja Suk Kai Thuean (Wat Ratchasittharam, Thonburi) and Wat Pradusongtham (Ayutthaya). It confirms that Luang Pho Sot has taken and adapted aspects of these teachers’ and traditions’ meditation practices and incorporated them into Sammā Arahaṃ meditation. The second chapter also seeks to clarify further the relationships of Luang Pho Sot’s Sammā Arahaṃ meditation to the so-called borān kammaṭṭhāna tradition such as the meditation manual of King Taksin of Thonburi and other manuals preserved in the anthology, Phuttharangsi Thritsadiyan book of samatha and vipassanā meditation of the four reigns.

The third chapter accounts for the development of various lineages, networks and centres of Sammā Arahaṃ tradition after the death of Luang Pho Sot, with an emphasis on Achan Sermchai and Wat Luang Pho Sot Thammakayaram. The chapter also considers two meditation masters whose teachings and practices were influenced by Luang Pho Sot and Sammā Arahaṃ meditation, namely Luang Pho Ruesi Lingdam, the founder of the Manomayiddhi meditation tradition, and Bhikṣuṇī Voramai Kabilsingh, who and taught Sammā Arahaṃ along with four other meditation systems.

The fourth chapter examines and analyses Achan Sermchai Jayamaṅgalo’s works. The dissertation argues that Achan Sermchai’s works provide a defence of the thought and practice of his tradition, which consists of demonstrating that they conform to Theravāda canonical and commentarial tradition. In his elaboration of Luang Pho Sot’s teachings, Achan Sermchai’s works can also be characterized as an attempt to reinterpret and systematize Sammā Arahaṃ meditation. Moreover, in the fourth chapter, I gather opinions and discussions from different lineages of Sammā Arahaṃ tradition regarding two particular issues: 1) the existence of a prior five-body system in Luang Pho Sot’s teaching; and 2) the practice of offering food to the Buddha in (āyatana) nibbāna. This is to demonstrate that among the various lineages of Sammā Arahaṃ tradition, there are differing interpretations regarding aspects of Sammā Arahaṃ practices. This section also includes my interview with mae chi Wanchai Chukon, founder of the Suan Kaeo Meditation Centre, Ratchaburi, and one of the few living direct pupils of Luang Pho Sot.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorRupert M L Gethin (Supervisor)


  • Buddhism
  • meditation
  • Theravada
  • Thailand
  • Yogavacara
  • Phra Monkgkhon Thepmuni
  • boran kammatthana
  • Sot Candasaro
  • Wat Paknam

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