Before he was Phra Visuddho, he was Pisut Aungsupalee. In Thai “Pisut” means “purity”. When his master, Phra Upaseno ordained him as a monk, he took the Pali equivalent, “Visuddho”. Pali is the language of Buddhist texts.
Born in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown district, Pisut – who is Chinese-Thai – grew up helping his parents run their fruit shop on weekends. “If I needed to open the shop, then I would wake up at six in the morning.”
The long hours tending his parents’ shop fed Pisut’s young mind. Observing people come and go, he wondered what made them smile or frown.
“When I was nine I already thought about what it means to be happy. This is why I eventually wanted to become a monk, to understand happiness – not physical but eternal.”
At the age of twelve, he and his family moved to Nonthaburi Province in the countryside.
“Bangkok was dense and polluted, whereas Nonthaburi had forests. The air was fresh and it was not crowded.”
Even then, Pisut would drive back to Bangkok on weekends with his father to tend to the family business.
“I would wake up really early in the morning. This helped me prepare for life as a monk. As a monk I wake up before six for bintabaht.”
Monks usually start their day with bintabaht, the collection of food alms – Phra Visuddho doesn’t go a day without it. Photo: Hezril Azmin
Bintabaht is the collection of alms that make up a monk’s meal. “Before noon, I can eat. Afterwards, I can only drink water or juice.” Bintabaht isn’t a daily obligation for monks, but Phra Visuddho does not go a day without it.
In his last year of secondary school, Pisut made up his mind to study sociology.
“I wanted to study ourselves – as human beings – and about life.”
He ended up at Kasetsart University in Bangkok.
FULL ARTICLE FROM SCMP.COM