This is to let you know that one of our dear Sangha friends in Sydney, Bhante Santitthito, has passed away.
Bhante Santi has been a friend and mentor of mine for the past ten years or so, since I arrived in Sydney. He was one of those monks who lives quietly and simply, and who inspires by their presence as much as anything else. I remember him for his warmth, and his big, big heart.
I don’t know too much about his history—so please feel free to correct me or to add your own stories of him—but he was a German monk, who ordained in Thailand over 40 years ago. He was a student in the tradition of Ajahn Buddhadasa and Luang Por Paññananda. When I was in Thailand he was living at Wat U Mong, a secluded monastery on the outskirts of Chieng Mai.
But I didn’t meet him until later, when I came to Australia in 2003. At that time he was living with the Lao Sangha at Wat Buddhalavarn on the outskirts of Sydney, where he stayed until his death.
Bhante Santi was not someone to get hung up on petty differences. He had a big, philosophical, mind, and would always be looking to what drew people together. His Dhamma, while firmly rooted in the Theravadin traditions within which he practiced, reminded me of universalist flavor of the German Romantic tradition. In his Dhamma talks he would always be challenging us to raise our sights beyond our own little stories and sufferings, and see the grander vision that was so clear to him.
There’s an incident I remember in a book I read as a child; I can’t remember the author or title. There was a family, with children who lived with their mother, and one day they were visited by their aunt from the city. They all busied themselves with preparations for their special guest, cleaning and making everything nice. Then someone said, “Why is it that we do this for a visitor, but we don’t show the same love and respect for our own mother, who looks after us every day?”
Looking back, I feel so much gratitude for Bhante Santi, for his presence and his quiet support for us in all that we did. He visited Santi Monastery many times, and was especially supportive of the nuns. In fact we discussed several times the possibility of building a hut for him there, although events overtook us and it never happened. I wish I had taken more time to let him know that he was indeed special. Times have moved on, and we won’t have another like him.
Bhante was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer, and stayed in his monk’s hut, where he continued to inspire people with his peaceful acceptance of his coming death. He was cared for by the monks and community at the monastery.
Bhante Santitthito passed away in Campbelltown hospital on 29-08-2014 at 4.40am, at the age of 74.
The public is invited to his funeral, which is being organized by Wat Buddhalavarn.
Date: Thursday, 4-9-2014
Place: Leppington Crematorium, Camden Valley Way, Leppington.