On January the 20th, early in the morning, we were extremely happy to welcome Luang Por Sumedho back to Amaravati, with the intention of him residing here for the foreseeable future.
Last year it had been scheduled for him to spend the Rains Retreat here but, with the incidence of the pandemic, that plan had to be changed. During the course of the summer, and following several discussions with Luang Por and with the encouragement of other Sangha members, it became clear that a more permanent move would be of great benefit and something that Luang Por was drawn to as well. Thus, in August, Ajahn Amaro made the invitation for him to return to dwell at Amaravati – an invitation that Luang Por was very happy to accept.
His arrival here had been expected in late November, almost ten years to the day since he had stepped down as Abbot of Amaravati and had handed the role on to Ajahn Amaro. That travel plan had been unexpectedly changed on account of Luang Por being given the unprecedented honour of being raised to the rank of Chao Khun Brahm, in the Thai ecclesiastical system, with the new name Phra Brahm Vajirañāṇa (พระพรหมวชิรญาณ).
The ceremony to bestow the new title took place in Wat Ratanawan in December. It then took a few more weeks to wrap up commitments, also needing to adjust plans on account of the spreading pandemic in Thailand, so it was not until January the 19th that Luang Por, together with his trusty attendant and secretary Ajahn Asoko, was able to board the plane to come to the UK.
Along the way every precaution necessary was taken to protect Luang Por’s health. Fortunately the flights from Bangkok to Singapore, and then on to London, had barely a dozen passengers on them and Heathrow was similarly almost empty at six in the morning. Luang Por is now comfortably resting in the Aroga Kuti, which was built with many of his particular health needs in mind; he is enjoying the cool winter weather and, once again, the opportunity to watch the gambolling of squirrels in the trees outside his windows.