Phra Ajaan Keng Khemako was ordained on 29 July 1987, so he has been a monk for the past 26 years.
He received his early monastic training under the mentorship of Phra Ajaan Thanissaro Bhikkhu at Wat Dhammasathit, in Rayong, Thailand. He spent the first three years of his monastic life in Wat Dhammasathit, learning the Dhamma-Vinaya and meditation.
After the first three years of monastic and meditation training, he felt that he had gained sufficient spiritual strength and grounding in Dhamma-Vinaya and was ready to undertake the dhutanga practices (tudong) and to go on pilgrimage in the deep forests for even more intensive training in meditation.
This first tudong experience gave him the confidence and conviction that newly ordained monks should live in forested areas to develop their meditative skills.
Since then, he spent the next five years in the deep forests of Mae Sot and Chiang Mai, living on the kindness and support of the hill tribes.
He then went to live at Metta Forest Monastery, San Diego county, USA, on the invitation of Phra Ajaan Thanissaro.
Phra Ajaan Keng spent three years in Wat Metta, assisting Phra Ajaan Thanissaro in teaching the members of the growing Sangha and lay community.
Upon returning from the USA, Phra Ajaan Keng spent time in Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. With a growing following of monastic and lay supporters, he founded Santi Forest Monastery in the Ulu Tiram area of the State of Johor, Malaysia.
While working on the project to set up Wat Santi, he continued to look for secluded forests in Thailand to continue his practice. This took him to the Karen hill tribe village of Omkoi, in the Chiang Mai region. After four years of spending time in this area, he decided to help the villagers by setting up a monastery there.
Although he had been keeping to the forest contemplative lifestyle, preferring to dwell in forests and caves, Phra Ajaan Keng was still active in propagating the teachings and practice of Buddhism to the peoples of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He had acted as a mentor and guide to other monks from Singapore and Malaysia. Over the years Phra Ajaan Keng has helped about 150 men obtain ordination in the Thai Buddhist Sangha and is continuing to do so.
The conferment of the ecclesiastical title of Chao Khun on Phra Ajaan Keng is a further recognition of his deep devotion to the practice of the Buddhist path, leadership of both ordained and lay members of the Buddhist community, his mentorship & support to his fellow monks, and propagation of Buddhist to the lay community as a whole.
Phra Ajaan has indeed been living for the welfare and benefit of devas and human beings and it is our sincere wish that he enjoys good health and strength to carry on his Dhamma work for many more years to come.
Credits: Wat Palelai (Singapore)