Ajahn Dhiravamsa Biography

Born in a remote village in North-eastern Thailand, Ajahn Dhiravamsa, Aggapandita grew up in a rather primitive world, helping his parents grow rice and rear animals. He joined the Buddhist Monastic Order at the age of thirteen. During those twenty-three years he became one of the well-educated and well-trained monks both at the Traditional Monastic Schools for Dharma and Pali Studies and at the Buddhist University, Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya. His accomplishments in the Thai Buddhist Monastery include attaining the position of Preceptor (Upajjháya), becoming Abbot of the Thai Temple (Wat Buddhapadípa) in London, England, and being appointed Chief of the Thai Buddhist Mission in the West and an International Insight Meditation Master. In addition, he achieved the appointment to the rank of Chao Khun (equivalent to Bishop) with the Royal Name of Phra Sobhana Dhammasudhí (the wise and beautiful in the Dharma,) a highly respected position in the Thai Monastic System when he was only thirty-two years old (1966). He is also a Vipassana Master.


Immediately after obtaining the First Degree in Buddhist Studies, Comparative Religion, and Modern Subjects, he was appointed an Instructor in Educational Psychology and in English language at the Mahachulalongkorn University.  Also here at his beloved educational institution he rendered special services for two years, establishing, administering, and teaching the First Buddhist Sunday School for Thai children and young people. Before accompanying his Principal Vipassana Master (the late Most Venerable Phra Dhammadhiraraj Mahamuni of Wat Mahadhatu, Bangkok) to Britain, 1964, he held the position of Headmaster of a private school in Prachinburi Province and raised the standard of education to the point where the Provincial Authority of Education at the Ministry of Education recognized it.


He began his psycho-spiritual work in the capacity of a Teacher/Helper in Britain in 1965. He gradually became internationally known, particularly in Europe and North America, where he rendered most of his services to those seeking psycho-spiritual advice and assistance. At the Chapter House in England, the spiritual/therapeutic community and retreat center was established under his personal advice and guidance. Also, he did a similar thing in the United States and established another Vipassana (Insight) Meditation Center on San Juan Island, Washington State to use for his psycho-spiritual work as well as his home base. Here he began to use extensively (1983) the Enneagram System of Personality to help him work more successfully with those coming to study and practice with him the Holistic Vipassana Meditation in which he incorporates the compatible Western Psychology (e.g. Jungian, Gestalt, and Humanistic Psychologies) and certain therapeutic techniques.


Dhiravamsa has lectured and taught Vipassana Meditation extensively in United Kingdom, on the Continent of Europe, in North America, and in Australia. He first visited the United States in January 1969, when he conducted a meditation workshop at Oberlin College and lectured at several colleges and universities. Since then he has regularly returned to Canada and to the States for periods of two to five months, invited by many universities and colleges including Swarthmore, Haverford, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Colgate, Amherst, Earlham, Carlton, Middlebury, Florida State, and Chicago Presbyterian Seminary.


In October 1971, Dhiravamsa gave up the robe after twenty-three years as a Buddhist monk. Since then he leads a simple, meditative life in the world and in the Dharma, continuing his work of teaching Vipassana Meditation and other related activities such as Vipassana Dream work, Active Imagination, and Holistic Healing. 


With regard to literary works he wrote and published several articles and books on the subject of Vipassana and self-growth, and some of which have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Dutch. 


In addition to teaching courses in meditation and related activities, he spends his time writing and living a married life. He travels a great deal to carry out his work in all the Continents of the Western world, including the Continent of Australia; and loves it with all his heart and mind. Methodically speaking, he has honored both Apollo (the god of light, order, and structure) and Dionysus (the god of ecstasy, experience, and play). It has proved wonderful for him to be able to leap up to the transpersonal realm of spiritual experience and yet, be grounded and firmly connected to the earthly realm. In other words, he balances heaven and earth within himself. On the physical plane he becomes king ...symbolically speaking ...and inwardly he is a sage. All these symbolic notions indicate the union of opposites on the energy level within human consciousness.   

On July 28, 2021, at the age of 86 and after a life dedicated to the dharma and all sentient beings, Dhiravamsa took his last breath with full consciousness and in his own words he was "quiet, calm and clear" ready to let go all aggregates. Dhiravamsa left this plane of existence giving a great example of love and wisdom.


With boundless love and Mettâ he was accompanied by hundreds of his students, disciples, friends and family from all over the earth in meditation and in his hearts.


May his teachings, understandings and his love continue to flow in all our hearts to walk along the wonderful path that the Buddha discovered and that Dhiravamsa has shown us, analyzed and that he himself has lived every second of his life including in his death, and thus honor his legacy and achieve liberation all.

Jutima Janine Harms

August 8, 2021 Santa Cruz de La Palma