Journey to Enlightenment

A Thai woman's long path to ordination Bhikkhu Silaratano

Article Preview

To access this entire article and all other member-supported
content, join Tricycle as a Supporting or Sustaining Member

Mae Chee Kaew was a Thai villager who overcame enormous obstacles to leave home and follow the Buddha’s path, and went on to be recognized as one of the few known female arahants of the modern era. As Bhikkhu Silaratano recounts in Mae Chee Kaew: Her Journey to Spiritual Awakening and Enlightenment, before she died in 1991 at the age of 90, Mae Chee Kaew had the good fortune to meet Thailand’s most renowned 20th-century meditation masters. Here, in a brief biography adapted from his book, Bhikkhu Silaratano traces Mae Chee Kaew’s determination to ordain and to cultivate a mind of clear awareness.



From time to time in the dry and hot seasons of the year, wandering forest monks passed through Mae Chee Kaew’s farming village, Baan Huay Sai, searching for places to camp and meditate in solitude. The mountains and forests surrounding the village were areas of vast wilderness, forbidding and inhospitable, where wild animals roamed freely and malevolent spirits were said to hold sway. Out of fear, the villagers stayed away, making it an ideal place for the monks to practice their ascetic way of life in seclusion.

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.

Become a Supporting Member

*With Autorenew

  • You Get
  • Tricycle | The Magazine - a one-year subscription to premier Buddhist quarterly
  • Tricycle Retreats - a new online video teaching every every week by a contemporary Buddhist teacher
  • Tricycle | The Digital Edition - web based edition of the magazine
  • The Wisdom Collection - nearly two decades of teachings by the world's most compelling teachers, from the pages of Tricycle
  • Tricycle Gallery - the best in Buddhist art to download and share with friends
  • Tricycle Book Club - online discussions with leading Buddhist authors
  • Tricycle Discussions - teacher-led explorations of dharma in daily life
  • The Tricycle Blog - our diary of the global Buddhist movement
  • Daily Dharma - heart advice delivered direct to your inbox
  • The Tricycle Newsletter - the latest news, teachings, events, and more, every Monday

Become a Supporting Member

Become a Sustaining Member

*With Autorenew

  • You Get
  • Tricycle | The Magazine - a one-year subscription to premier Buddhist quarterly
  • Tricycle Retreats - a new online video teaching every every week by a contemporary Buddhist teacher
  • Tricycle | The Digital Edition - web based edition of the magazine
  • The Wisdom Collection - nearly two decades of teachings by the world's most compelling teachers, from the pages of Tricycle
  • Tricycle Gallery - the best in Buddhist art to download and share with friends
  • Tricycle Book Club - online discussions with leading Buddhist authors
  • Tricycle Discussions - teacher-led explorations of dharma in daily life
  • The Tricycle Blog - our diary of the global Buddhist movement
  • Daily Dharma - heart advice delivered direct to your inbox
  • The Tricycle Newsletter - the latest news, teachings, events, and more, every Monday

Become a Sustaining Member