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.
Bhikkhu Silaratano (Richard E. Byrd, Jr.) was ordained as a novice Buddhist monk in 1975 in Bangalore, India. He then moved to Sri Lanka, taking full bhikkhu ordination at Sri Vajiragnana Dharmayatanaya in Maharagama in 1976. In 1977 he was ordained into the Dhammayut Order at Wat Bovornives Vihara in Bangkok. Bhikkhu Silaratano’s other books include his translation of Ajaan Maha Boowa’s Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera: A Spiritual Biography and his compilation of Ajaan Maha Boowa’s dharma talks, Arahattamagga Arahattaphala: The Path to Arahantship.