A Guide to Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation Centres in Thailand

CONTENTS:
Credits | Forward | Preface
Introduction:
Advantages Of Practice In Thailand | Choosing A Wat Or Meditation Centre | Living At A Wat Or Meditation Centre | Thailand Practicalities | Meditation Techniques | The Four Noble Truths | Going For Refuge | Taking The Precepts | Helpful Hints On Using The Listings
Bangkok | Central Thailand | Northern Thailand | Southern Thailand | Penang Island | Some Questions and Answers | Ordination as a Monk | On Becoming A Nun | Recommended Reading | Postscript


Electronic edition:
1994, 1998, DharmaNet International
3115 San Ramon Road, Concord CA 94519.
Transcribed and formatted by Barry Kapke

Originally published by the
World Fellowship of Buddhists
33 Sukhumvit Road (between Soi One and Soi Three)
Bangkok 10110, THAILAND
Tel. 251-1188, -1189, -1190

Third Edition
Copyright 1991

Contact The World Fellowship of Buddhists for distribution information and for reprinting rights.

Previous Editions
First Edition: by Sunno Bhikkhu (Jack Kornfield);
published by the World Fellowship of Buddhists in 1978.
Second Edition: by a committee of the National Identity Board
(Prime Minister's Office); published by the National Identity Board
in 1988.

WFB Book Series -- No. 44

Back to Top of Page

 


FOREWORD

In 1978 the World Fellowship of Buddhists published a booklet titled A Brief Guide to Meditation Temples of Thailand. It is now out of print, so the W.F.B. is publishing this new one. Since the publication of the first booklet, many changes have taken place.

In publishing this new revised booklet, we have been able to include updated information on monasteries and meditation centres in this country through the painstaking efforts of Mr. Bill Weir. He spent several months in Thailand travelling to various parts of the country visiting monasteries and meditation centres, seeking information on their current meditation practices and instructions. Apart from collecting information on good places for meditation, Mr. Weir has also made some observations in his introduction on the practices in those monasteries which will be of interest and use to foreigners.

We are very grateful to Mr. Weir and, as mentioned in his preface in this booklet, "to the abbots, vice abbots, and teachers who so patiently supplied the many details" and have rendered assistance and courtesy to Mr. Weir.

-- The Secretariat
World Fellowship of Buddhists

Back to Top of Page

 


PREFACE

The first edition of this guide came out in the 1970s due to the efforts of Jack Kornfield, then a monk under the name Sunno Bhikkhu. His A Brief Guide to Meditation Temples of Thailand, published by the World Fellowship of Buddhists, well served foreigners who came to Thailand to learn and practice meditation. Much has changed since Jack researched the first edition. New monasteries, meditation centres, and teachers have become popular, while others are no longer frequented by foreigners. Perhaps the biggest change has been the emergence of a senior western sangha. A fair number of western monks in Thailand and other countries now have 10, 20, and more years in robes; some serve as abbots and vice abbots. Recent years have seen increasing numbers of Asians coming from such countries as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia to practice in Thailand -- adding a more international flavor to many monasteries and meditation centres.

A committee of the National Identity Board (Prime Minister's Office) authored a second edition of the book in the 1980s with the title, A Brief Guide to Buddhist Meditation Centres in Thailand. Much has changed since publication of that guide too. Now it's time for yet another edition.

Many people have helped in the research of this third edition. The author is indebted to the abbots, vice abbots, and teachers who so patiently supplied the many details. And, of course, you'll find good information retained from the earlier editions. The World Fellowship of Buddhists provided computer time and arranged the publication. Horatanachai Press, also of Bangkok, printed this guide.

The World Fellowship of Buddhists and the author hope that this little volume will be as useful to those on the "spiritual path" as the previous editions! The author has visited every monastery and meditation centre detailed within. Still, mistakes can happen -- and changing conditions are guaranteed! So use this book just as a "pointer of the way." Opinions and viewpoints are the responsibility of the author. (Except that references to Thai Buddhist sects have been deleted at the W.F.B.'s request.) Please write a note if you have suggestions, corrections, or new information that you'd like to pass on to other readers:

Bill Weir
c/o World Fellowship of Buddhists
33 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110
THAILAND

Back to Top of Page

 


INTRODUCTION

The Buddha invited all to come and investigate his teachings. For the Buddha not only found a way to the end of suffering, but he actually taught a way which we can choose to follow. He observed how all human beings sought happiness and how nearly all failed to find lasting contentment. So, out of compassion, the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths -- of the way things are and how we can develop the mind toward Nibbana, the highest happiness, the most perfect peace. To do this, we need to obtain instructions through teachers and books, then apply the teachings to our lives. The Buddha presented different methods of practice to suit the varied personalities of his students. All methods, however, involve a foundation of virtuous conduct, application of mindfulness, development of concentration to focus the mind, and growth of wisdom through investigation and reflection. The key point to remember is that the Buddha could only point the way; we must do the practice in order to progress toward realization of Nibbana.

Back to Top of Page

ADVANTAGES OF PRACTICE IN THAILAND

To visit Thailand is to experience Thai Buddhism -- for the culture and religion cannot be separated. Thais have followed and supported the Buddha's teachings for more than a thousand years. Much of Thai life centers around the local wat (temple or monastery) where people come for worship, sermons, advice on family matters, meditation, schooling for children, and traditional medicine. Many boys and men take on robes as novices or monks for short periods in order to fully immerse themselves in the Buddha's way of life. Men who choose to spend all their lives in robes receive great respect. Thais also welcome foreigners to come and practice the Buddha's teachings. The extremely supportive environment of a good Thai wat or meditation centre provides inspiration and opportunity for spiritual development that's rare in the world today.

Thais believe the Buddha's teachings to be priceless; no money is asked or expected in return for meditation instruction. In nearly all cases, such things as accommodations and food are free too. Generosity of the laypeople enables the wats and meditation centres to function in this remarkable manner. Some meditation centres do charge a fee for room and board, but this is miniscule compared to charges at retreats in western countries. For stays of a few months or more, one can have the benefit of practice in Thailand for less cost than a retreat in one's home country, even after paying airfare. But of the thousands of wats and meditation centres in Thailand, which one to choose? This book was written to help you get started and to assist in an enjoyable stay. The wats and centres described in these pages represent some of Thailand's best meditation traditions. All welcome foreigners; usually some English is spoken or a translator can be found. Many more excellent teachers and places to practice exist too. You'll hear about some of these during your stay.

Back to Top of Page

CHOOSING A WAT OR MEDITATION CENTRE

Because different Thai wats and meditation centres offer so many practices and environments, one may wish to carefully consider which place will be most suitable. At most wats, monks devote the majority of their time to ceremonies and to study of Buddhist scriptures. Noise, many people coming and going, and lack of a suitable teacher can make meditation practice difficult at these places. A small percentage of wats, however, do offer very supportive conditions for meditation. These wats typically have a peaceful environment, teachers who can help with difficulties, and freedom for one to choose the meditation technique that works best. Some of Thailand's forest wats follow a "Way of Life" in which the monastic discipline and daily routine receive equal emphasis with formal meditation techniques. Meditation centres specialize in practice -- either a particular meditation system or one of the meditator's choosing, depending on the centre. These centres have minimal or no chanting and ceremony so that maximum time can be devoted to formal practice.

If you're new to Buddhist meditation, consider the 10-day retreats offered at Suan Mokkh and Wat Kow Tham in southern Thailand; western teachers conduct the retreats, so you don't have to worry about language or cultural misunderstandings. Frequent talks and interviews allow one to get a good basic understanding of practice and to clear up any doubts about the meditation techniques.

Because Thais traditionally do temporary ordinations during the 3-month Rains Retreat, from mid- or late July to October, expect more crowded conditions at some places then. This can be an especially good time to stay, however, as many wats place extra emphasis on practice. Monks take up residence in their chosen monastery, so there's much less coming and going. Meditators would be wise to check in by early June to make arrangements to stay for the Rains Retreat.

Teachers

Whether one is new to meditation or has done many years of practice, a teacher or "good friend" can be of great help. The teacher also sets an example for the wat or centre and determines the discipline. Monks traditionally devote 5 years to their first teacher.

Daily Schedules

Some wats and centres expect laypeople to participate in group activities. Other places let them make and follow their own schedule. A few meditation centres offer only intensive individual practice -- sitting, walking, meals, and other activities take place in or near one's room in solitude. Residents of most wats begin the day early, typically 3-4 a.m. in forest monasteries and 5 a.m. in towns, with meditation and chanting. Meditation centres expect early rising too, with sleep limited to 4 to 6 hours. Monks and novices go on pindabat (alms round) at daybreak, then eat once or twice in the morning, depending on the custom of the wat or centre. You may also see maechees (8-precept nuns) on pindabat in central and northern Thailand and pakows (anagarikas, 8-precept laymen) in the northeast. Most wats have another period of meditation and chanting in late afternoon or evening. The rest of the day is used for meditation, work projects, and personal needs. At some intensive meditation centres you will be encouraged to practice 20 hours a day.

A typical daily routine has been listed for many places; expect changes at many wats, however, on wan phra, the Buddhist holy day that falls on the full, new, and half moon (every 7 or 8 days). Many laypeople come to make special offerings, hear sermons, chant the refuges and precepts, and practice meditation. Some visitors may stay at the wat all day and night, sleeping as little as possible. Additionally, monks gather on the full and new moon for a recitation of the Patimokkha, the 227 rules of discipline for the order.

Back to Top of Page

LIVING AT A WAT OR MEDITATION CENTRE

Greeting People

Thai wat etiquette, which stems largely from the monk's code of discipline, forms the national ideal of polite behavior in many ways. By following Thai customs, foreigners can show appreciation to the Thai people and ensure a welcome reception for future visitors. Gestures of respect also help to develop kindness and sensitivity to others. The anjali (wai or pranom) of raising hands to the chest with palms together is used for (1) Greeting other people; (2) When speaking with a monk; (3) After offering something to an ordained person; and (4) Before receiving something from an ordained person. (Laypeople return the anjali but ordained people are not supposed to return one from a layperson.) Thais address senior monks as Ajahn, other monks as Tahn, novices as Nayn. The title can be used by itself or preceding the Pali name; it's impolite to use the Pali name without a title.

Body Language

Thais place great importance on body posture when around monks, especially if the monks are teaching Dhamma. Laypeople stoop slightly when walking past a seated monk. If walking with a monk, they try to walk a little behind. Laypeople never talk or listen to monks from a higher position; they sit or at least squat down before addressing a seated monk. When listening to a sermon or talking with a monk, women usually sit in a "mermaid" posture; men more often sit with one leg crossed in front and the other tucked behind; the kneeling position is polite for both sexes. Cross-legged positions are less polite and they're normally just used in meditation. Avoid sitting with arms clasped around the raised knees (impolite). In a chair, sit erect and attentive. Laypeople never sit on the asana (raised seat for monks and novices), same seat or mat as a monk, or on a monk's robes.

Bowing

Thais have many variations on the kraap (bowing), but it's always done 3 times in respect for the "Triple Gem" of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Follow the example of Thai laypeople around you as to when to bow; usually one bows before being seated in a hall with a Buddha image or when meeting with a monk and again before getting up and leaving. Bowing can be done as a meditation and reflection on each part of the Triple Gem. Bow slowly and mindfully, bringing the forehead all the way to the floor, keep buttocks on the heels, elbows near the knees, and thumbs near the eyebrows.

Offering

Giving of the monks' requisites develops respect and generosity. Thais traditionally bring flowers, candles, and incense when they visit a wat, though any small gift is appreciated by the monastic community. Come up with head bowed in a kneeling or squatting position to within arms' reach of the monk, then use both hands to place an offering into the monk's hands. Women must place items on a cloth laid in front by the monk or have a layman pass them; similarly, men should respect women with shaved heads who may not want to receive or hand anything directly. Both men and women place food directly into the monk's bowl during pindabat. After presenting an offering, make the anjali. Offerings of money should be placed in a donation book or given to a designated layperson.

Other Important Customs

(1) Women need to understand the monks' discipline of not touching or being alone in a closed room with a woman. Women should try to avoid entering a library or other room where this could happen. (2) Men and women sometimes sit in separate areas during group meetings; you can observe and follow the Thais of the same gender. (3) Thais use feet for walking and standing, then tuck them away at other times; be especially careful never to point out or stretch out one's feet in the direction of a Buddha image or monk. (4) Shoes are generally taken off before entering a room with a Buddha image or in any residence. (5) Sleeping pillows should only be used to rest the head -- considered sacred by the Thais -- and never for sitting on. (6) Food and drink are consumed in a seated or squatting position. (7) A bathing cloth must be worn when using outdoor bathing areas, common in rural areas (Thais are extremely modest).

Back to Top of Page

THAILAND PRACTICALITIES

Food

Thai food may take a bit of getting used to, as some dishes are highly spiced. Generally you'll find the cuisine tasty and varied with plenty of both spicy and nonspicy dishes to choose from. Meals have white rice (sticky rice in the northeast) with meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and sweets. Food offered in remote forest monasteries tends to be simpler and less varied, though is usually quite good. A few wats and centres (mentioned in the individual descriptions) offer vegetarian food. Like the monks and nuns, lay visitors normally eat only between sunrise and mid-day. This rule of the Buddha's makes the monastic community easy to support and contributes to moderation in eating. (If needed for medical reasons, food can also be taken after mid-day at most places.)

Clothing

Thais always wear modest clothing that's clean and neat to a wat or meditation centre. They avoid tight-fitting or bright-colored clothing that might be distracting to others. Shirts and blouses have sleeves. Men wear long pants; women use skirts that come below the knees. Some wats and centres ask that men wear white clothing and that women wear either all white or a white blouse and black skirt. Clothing can occasionally be borrowed or you can outfit yourself in a local shop at low cost. Even when not required, the wearing of white serves as a reminder that one is undertaking a spiritual life.

Climate

Thailand has 3 seasons, the cool from Nov. through Feb., hot from March through June, and the rainy from July through October. (The rainy season in the south lasts through January.) Pronounced variations can occur from region to region and year to year. The northeast has the most distinct seasons; lows can get down to 0-15 degrees C (32-59 degrees F) in the cool months; hot-season highs can exceed 40 degrees C (104 degrees F). The north has a similar climate, but doesn't get as hot. Central Thailand stays warm to hot year-round. The south has a tropical climate; the region rarely sees extremes of heat or cold. South and central Thailand have high humidity, which decreases as one moves inland to the northern and northeastern regions. Any season can be fine for a visit to Thailand -- just be prepared with warm clothes for the cool season in the north and northeast, umbrella or poncho for the rainy season, and light-weight cotton clothing for the hot season. People from cool climates will have an easier time adjusting to the climate if they arrive in the cool or rainy seasons.

Health

You're likely to stay healthy in Thailand, thanks to high standards of hygiene and medical care. Malaria does exist in some outlying areas; current advice urges people to use netting and repellent from dusk to dawn, when disease-carrying mosquitos bite, rather than rely on preventative pills. The pills can have bad side effects; also, they don't protect against all malaria strains. If you get an unexplained fever, especially a recurrent one, obtain a blood test right away; a doctor can then determine the most effective treatment.

Getting There

You can reach Thailand easily by air from most major cities in the world and by land from Malaysia and possibly from Laos. Sorting through all the fares and restrictions of airlines can be difficult, so let a good travel agent do the work for you. The best deals can often be found in cities with large Asian populations; check ads in the Sunday travel section of newspapers of these cities. Discounted fares from agents specializing in Asia can be hundreds of dollars less than the cheapest fare the airline will quote directly. Carefully check restrictions -- cheap (and some not so cheap) tickets won't be refundable and generally don't allow route changes. Some roundtrip tickets allow only short visits of 45 days to 6 months; shop around for a one-year fare or just buy a one-way ticket if you might want to stay longer. Bangkok travel agencies have great deals on international flights, though be sure to stick to well-established agencies.

Getting Around

Thailand has a well-developed public transport system of train, bus, and air routes. Getting around is easier, more efficient, and less expensive than in most western and Asian countries. Taxis offer good value too, though one often has to bargain. A little Thai helps a lot with local transport. The Lonely Planet book Thailand; a travel survival kit by Joe Cummings has good information on getting to and around the country, as well as details on the sights and culture.

Visas

Check visa requirements before you come. Most people obtain a Tourist Visa (good for 2 months and extendable one month more). Longer-term visitors can try for a Non-Immigrant visa (good for at least 3 months and possibly extendable); a stay of more than 3 months can get complicated with various sponsorship letters required; ask advice in Thailand. Often it's easiest to zip down to the Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia, for a new visa, then return for another 3 months; this consulate issues Non-Immigrant visas more easily than most if you have a good reason (such as meditation practice).

Language

Ability to speak Thai will allow you to communicate directly with all of the teachers in Thailand, most of whom speak little or no English. You'll also benefit from the many Dhamma talks in Thai available on cassette recordings. The language has very simple grammar, so most of the effort in speaking Thai goes into learning vocabulary and the all- important 5 tones. The written alphabet can be learned along with the vocabulary or studied later. One or 2 months of intensive language study will enable you to understand basic meditation instructions and much of the material presented in Dhamma talks. Bangkok has some good language schools.

Back to Top of Page

MEDITATION TECHNIQUES

The Buddha taught many ways of investigating the nature of mind and body. A look through the monastery and meditation centre descriptions will give you an idea of the meditation systems practiced in Thailand. Ideally, meditation should begin from the first moment of awakening in the morning until the last moment before sleep at night. Besides the classic postures of sitting, walking, standing, and lying down used in meditation, one can also perform such activities as eating, talking, washing clothes, taking a bath, and using the toilet with equal care and mindfulness. An experienced teacher or "good friend" will be valuable for any student. Meditation techniques fall into the broad categories of either samatha (calm) or vipassana (insight), though some of one will generally be present with the other.

Samatha

Development of samatha techniques can lead to increasingly focused states of mind until the mind becomes one-pointed or absorbed in jhana states. Concentration can be developed from anapanasati (mindfulness with breathing), from visual objects, and from mantras (repetition of phrases). The traditional list contains 40 objects of meditation; you can read about them in The Path of Purification (Visuddhi Magga) translated by Nanamoli Bhikkhu and in other books. The Buddha recommended mindfulness with breathing as being suitable for everyone to establish and develop concentration. Other objects of meditation can be useful in our lives too. Metta (loving kindness) generates feelings of goodwill and happiness toward ourselves and other beings; metta practice serves as an antidote to ill-will and fear. Meditation on the parts of the body -- none of which is attractive in itself -- results in a lessening of attachment to our own bodies and those of others; a reduction of sensual desires occurs; another benefit is that unpleasant sensations can be more easily endured. Meditation on death, when properly done, brings to mind the body's impermanence and lack of ownership; a person who practices this will always be watchful and, at life's end, die without fear or confusion.

Vipassana

Once some concentration has been developed, the mind can be turned to observation of the physical and mental factors that rise and fall in one's consciousness. Through continued practice, the Three Characteristics of anicca (transitory nature of all conditioned phenomena), dukkha (inherent unsatisfactoriness of all conditioned phenomena), and anatta (no permanent, abiding self can be found in any conditioned phenomena) will become deeply known. As the mind directly experiences these truths, the desires and attachments that cause so much suffering begin to drop away. Even a little vipassana practice can bring greater wisdom and peace to our lives.

Back to Top of Page

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

We can experience these truths, which lie at the heart of the Buddha's teachings, through direct experience. They can be viewed as (1) Diagnosis of an illness; (2) Prognosis; (3) Recovery; and (4) Medicine to cure the disease. The first 2 truths deal with the way things are; the last 2 point the way to freedom from suffering.

1. The Noble Truth of Suffering
Besides "suffering," other translations of the Pali word dukkha include unsatisfactoriness, dis-ease, and instability. All these words point to the fact that no conditioned phenomenon can provide true (lasting) happiness in our lives. The first step in a spiritual life is to look very closely and honestly at our experience of life and see that there is suffering. We tend to overlook or ignore or just blindly react to the unpleasant, so it continually haunts us. Yet although physical suffering is a natural aspect of our lives, we can learn to transcend mental suffering.

2. The Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering
Through a lack of understanding of how things truely exist, we create and recreate an independent self entity called "me." The whole of our experience in life can be viewed through this sense of self. In consequence, various cravings govern our actions. Cravings arise for sense experiences, for "being" or "becoming" (e.g. rich, famous, loved, respected, immortal), and to avoid the unpleasant. These cravings are the root cause of suffering.

3. The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
The mind can be purified of all the mental defilements that cause suffering. Nibbana, the ultimate peace, has been compared to the extinction of a three-fold fire of lust, ill-will, and delusion. One who has realised cessation has great purity of heart, ocean-like compassion, and penetrating wisdom.

4. The Noble Truth of the Way to the Cessation of Suffering
The Way leading to cessation contains a thorough and profound training of body, speech, and mind. Traditionally it's outlined as the Noble Eightfold Path: (1) Right Understanding; (2) Right Intention; (3) Right Speech; (4) Right Action; (5) Right Livelihood; (6) Right Effort; (7) Right Mindfulness; and (8) Right Concentration. On the level of morality (sila), the Path entails restraint and care in speech, action, and livelihood. The concentration (samadhi) level requires constant effort to abandon the unwholesome and develop the wholesome, to increase mindfulness and clear comprehension of the mind-body process, and to develop mental calm and stability. The wisdom (panna) level entails the abandonment of thoughts of sensuality, ill-will, and cruelty; ultimately it penetrates the true nature of phenomena to see impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and impersonality. When all 8 factors of the Path come together in harmony to the point of maturity, suffering is transcended.

In summary, the Four Noble Truths can be thought of as that which is to be (1) comprehended, (2) abandoned, (3) realized, and (4) developed.

Back to Top of Page

GOING FOR REFUGE

While visiting or living at a Thai wat, you'll soon become familiar with the Pali intonation of the Three Refuges.

Buddham saranam gacchami (I go to the Buddha for refuge)
Dhammam saranam gacchami (I go to the Dhamma for refuge)
Sangham saranam gacchami (I go to the Sangha for refuge)

In going for refuge, we seek safety and stability in a changing and unpredictable world. We can reflect on the meanings of each phrase, then use them to guide our lives. When we take refuge in the Buddha, we have faith both in the historical Gotama Buddha's enlightenment and in his qualities of supreme wisdom and compassion that we can aspire to. Refuge in the Dhamma, the ultimate truth or reality, invites us to turn the mind to experience the here and now, the way things are. Refuge in the Sangha refers to a group of people which lives with high standards of conduct in bodily action and speech; the group can refer to the "Awakened Ones," the order of Buddhist monks, or all the people who are following the Buddha's path to liberation. We take refuge in the virtues of generosity, kindness, compassion, goodness, and let go of those thoughts which lead to harm.

Back to Top of Page

TAKING THE PRECEPTS

The Buddha's path to liberation begins from a foundation of moral discipline (sila). Taking care of our actions through restraint allows the mind to readily develop concentration and wisdom. A basic moral discipline also brings happiness, self-confidence, and self- respect.

Five precepts -- guidelines to good conduct -- can be undertaken by everyone: (1) Refraining from taking life; (2) Refraining from taking what is not given; (3) Refraining from sexual misconduct; (4) Refraining from false or harmful speech; and (5) Refraining from intoxicants. As with other teachings of the Buddha, the precepts invite reflection, wisdom, and compassion in their application. The precepts provide a standard of behavior that has great power. Standing by the precepts prevents the harmful actions and speech that might otherwise occur when strong feelings of hate, greed, or sexual desire beset the mind.

Laypeople visiting a wat on wan phra (full-, new-, and half-moon days) or anytime for meditation may choose to observe 8 precepts; these include the 5 precepts (#3 changes to refraining from any sexual activity) with (6) Refraining from eating solid food after mid-day; (7) Refraining from dancing, singing, music and shows, garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, and adornments; and (8) Refraining from luxurious and high seats and beds. The 8 precepts may at first appear difficult, but in a monastic environment they help direct one's mind toward spiritual development.

Back to Top of Page

HELPFUL HINTS ON USING THE LISTINGS

Names and addresses have been written in Thai script as well as English for this edition. [NOTE: the Thai script is not available in the online edition] The Thai will help convey your destination to bus, songtaew, and taxi drivers. Many characters of the Thai alphabet have no precise English equivalent; if you can read or have someone pronounce the names in Thai, you'll know how to say them correctly.

Thailand has 74 provinces (jangwat), which are divided into districts (amper or amphoe), and subdivided into precincts (tambon or tambol). The word ban means "village." If you see amper muang in an address, that means it's in the capital district of that province (provinces take the same name as their capital).

Many wats and meditation centres in Thailand have telephones, but you're not likely to get someone who speaks English; try to have a Thai friend call for you if you don't speak Thai. Telephone area codes, in parentheses, are used only if calling from another area code.

Some wats and centres, as noted in the "Write in Advance?" section, prefer that you write ahead with your plans to visit; but even if not required, an advance letter will always be appreciated.

Back to Top of Page

 


BANGKOK

Thailand's capital has many famous wats and some highly respected teachers. Meditation practice can be difficult, however, due to crowded conditions, noise, air pollution, and lack of English. The city may best serve as a place for information before one heads out to the countryside. Unless you're a resident of Bangkok, there's no reason to stay here since wats and meditation centres in other parts of Thailand can be reached in as little as an hour's bus ride away; even most distant provinces lie only an overnight bus or train ride away.

The World Fellowship of Buddhists (W.F.B.)

The W.F.B. works to bring Buddhists of the world closer together by helping to exchange news and views of groups in different countries and by promoting ways to bring greater peace and happiness to the world. Since the W.F.B.'s founding in 1950, more than 100 organizations in 37 countries around the world have joined as regional centres. The headquarters in Bangkok offers a free talk and meditation class in English from 2 to 5:30 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, provides information on places to learn and practice meditation in Thailand, and distributes some English and Thai books. The headquarters publishes a quarterly journal, the "W.F.B. Review," which has wide-ranging articles on Buddhist topics. A library has many English books on Buddhism, including some hard-to-find titles. The office is open Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. at 33 Sukhumvit Rd. (between Soi 1 and Soi 3), Bangkok 10110; tel. 251-1188, 251-1189, or 251-1190.

International Buddhist Meditation Centre (I.B.M.C.)

Vorasak and Helen Jandamit founded this organization in association with high-ranking monks of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University to provide information on Buddhism and Buddhist meditation for English-speaking people. A "Buddhism and Philosophy Discussion Group" meets on Saturdays from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Dharma Vicaya Hall; it's led in English by Miss Seonai (Sona) Gordon and is very popular. Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University conducts Budddhist study courses; register at the Dhamma Vicaya Hall. Current information about places to learn and practice meditation is available too. This is probably the best source of information for finding out about good teachers in the Bangkok area. The I.B.M.C. publishes and distributes books about Buddhism, has a list of meditation centres, and puts out a newsletter. Contact Vorasak and Helen c/o T.E.L.S., 26/9 Chompol Lane, Lardprao Lane 15, Bangkok 10900; tel. 511-0439 or 511-3549.

 

                             WAT MAHA THAT

MEANING OF NAME: "Temple of the great element" (refers to a famous
                copper pagoda)
ALSO SPELLED:	Wat Mahadhatu
ADDRESS:	Tha-Phrachan, Bangkok 10200
DIRECTIONS:	Located west of Sanam Luang (parade grounds) and south
                of the National Museum and Thammasat University. Main
                entrances are on the west side from Maharaj Road. Many
                city buses pass by.
TELEPHONE:	(02) 222-6011 (Section 5)
		(02) 222-4981 (Section 5 secretary)
		(02) 222-2835 (Dhamma Vicaya Hall)
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana using techniques similar to those taught by
                Mahasi Sayadaw. Based on Four Foundations of Mindfulness
                described in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta. Concentration
                is developed on the rise and fall of the abdomen, then
                awareness is directed to physical and mental sensations.
TEACHING METHOD: Individual daily interviews. Weekly lectures in Thai
                (usually on Sundays). Most meditation instruction and
                practice takes place in Section 5.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Maha Sawai Nanaviro (Thai; age 35)
		Ajahn Phramaha Boonchit (Nanasangvaro) (Thai; age 34).
		Other experienced monks and laypeople assist.
		Ajahn Phramaha Suphap Khemarangsi (Thai; age 45) is head
                of Section 5.
LANGUAGE:	Teachers and some assistants in Section 5 can speak a
                little English, though instruction is normally given in
                Thai. If no one speaks English when you visit, ask at
                the Dhamma Vicaya Hall.
DESCRIPTION:	Large, busy temple of 50 rai (20 acres). Founded in the
                18th century, Wat Maha That serves as an important
                center for Thai Buddhism. Many of the monks attend
                Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University here. Crowds of
                worshippers visit the various viharns, shrines, chedis,
                and Buddha images on the grounds. Monks in the Dhamma
                Vicaya Hall sometimes speak English and can answer
                questions; scheduled talks are given here. Meditation
                takes place in Section 5; you're welcome to join in on
                the group sitting and walking sessions.
SIZE:		Monks: 300-400 (one of the largest populations in
                Thailand during the Rains Retreat)
		(30-50 monks in Section 5)
		Novices: 50-70 (about 10 in Section 5)
		Nuns: 10-12 (about 8 in Section 5)
		Laypeople: about 500 (30-40 in Section 5)
DAILY ROUTINE:	In Section 5: 6:30 a.m. breakfast; 7-11 a.m. morning
                chanting (about 30 min.) and sitting and walking group
                meditation; 11:30 a.m. lunch; 1-4 p.m. sitting and
                walking group meditation; 4 p.m. drinks; 6-8 or 9 p.m.
                evening chanting (about one hour) and sitting and
                walking group meditation.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety. A simple breakfast in early
                morning, then the main meal in late morning; drinks are
                served in the afternoon. Meditators can also arrange for
                food, including vegetarian, to be delivered from shops.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Laypeople usually stay in dormitories, separate
                for men and women; conditions tend to be crowded. Monks,
                novices, and some laymen have individual rooms.
                Electricity and running water. Bathing is from jars or
                showers; Asian-style toilets.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary.
ORDINATION:	Possible as monk, novice, or maechee. First ask chief of 
		Section 5, who will inform the abbot. One then has an
                interview with the abbot. Longer ordinations of 1-2
                years or more are preferred.
OTHER INFORMATION: Laypeople follow 8 precepts and normally wear white 
		clothing. Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University
                Bookstore, facing the street on the north side of the
                wat, has some English books on Buddhism; other Buddhist
                bookstores are on the same street.

                         WAT BOVORNIVES VIHARA

MEANING OF NAME: "Temple of excellent abode"
ALSO SPELLED:	Wat Bovoranives, Wat Bovorn, Wat Bowonniwet, Wat Bowon.
ADDRESS:	248 Phra Sumen Rd., Banglampoo, Bangkok 10200
DIRECTIONS:	On Phra Sumen in Banglampoo district, 2 blocks north of
                the Democracy Monument. Many city buses pass through the
                area.
TELEPHONE:	(02)	280-0869 or 281-2831-3
MEDITATION SYSTEM: No formal teachings or meditation instructions are
                currently offered. The teacher is very busy with duties.
                This temple is mentioned because it's an important
                center for Thai Buddhism. Usually a few foreign monks
                are in residence who can answer questions.
TEACHERS:	His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyansamvara, the Supreme
                Patriarch (sangharaja) of Thailand (Thai; age 78).
DESCRIPTION:	Thirty-one rai (12.5 acres) in an urban setting with
                some trees and a few open spaces. Small canals criss-
                cross the grounds. Some of the buildings have notable
                Thai or European architecture. The Great Chedi,
                glittering with gold-colored tiles, towers more than 50
                meters; relics of the Buddha lie inside within a small
                metal chedi. If you're here on a Sunday afternoon, you
                can visit the Dhamma Museum in the tall building near
                the street; exhibits include Buddha images, temple
                paraphernalia, skeletons and other meditation objects,
                and "cremation books" (given out on cremation
                occasions). Resident monks engage primarily in Dhamma
                studies; Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Buddhist University is
                on the east end of the grounds.
SIZE:		monks: 100-160
		novices: 20-25
		nuns: 0
		laypeople: (just schoolboys and workmen)
DAILY ROUTINE:	Not generally available or recommended for meditators.
ORDINATION:	Foreigners occasionally ordain here but few stay;
                contact the secretary for details.
OTHER INFORMATION: A small English library is available at Gana Soong
                (International Section). Mahamakut Bookstore, on Phra
                Sumen across from the wat, has many Buddhist books in
                English; publishers represented include Buddhist
                Publication Society, Pali Text Society, and Mahamakut
                Rajavidyalaya Press; closed Sunday.
		The temple has had a long and glorious history. In
		1836, King Rama III, in a boat procession, invited
                Prince Bhikku Mongkut to become abbot of Wat Bovornives
                Vihara. Prince Mongkut was a scholar of Pali Buddhism
                and the first Asian king to speak English fluently. On
                the death of Prince Mongkut's half brother King Rama
                III, he left the Order to become king, being known in
                the West as King Rama IV. In 1956, King Mongkut's great
                grandson, H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the present king
                of Thailand, was ordained and resided at Wat Bovornives
                for a period. The royal history continues with the
                ordination of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and several of
                his children who, after ordination, resided here.

                              WAT PAK NAM

MEANING OF NAME: "Monastery at the mouth of the river"
ADDRESS:	Therdthai Rd., Amper Phasicharoen, Bangkok 10160
DIRECTIONS:	Located west across the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi,
                part of metropolitan Bangkok. Easily reached by city
                buses #4, 9, or 103. If you don't mind some spray (the
                water isn't too clean), you can take a long-tailed boat
                to the wat from Rajinee (Rachini) and Saphan Phut
                jetties north of the Memorial Bridge on the east side of
                the Chao Phraya.
TELEPHONE:	(02)	467-0811
MEDITATION SYSTEM: The technique begins by concentrating on a point
                inside the body in the center of the abdomen, 2 finger-
                widths above the navel. This point is said to be the
                place where consciousness has its seat. The words "Samma
                Araham" can be repeated mentally to aid initial
                development of concentration. A luminous nucleus appears
                at the center point, then develops into a still and
                translucent sphere about 2 cm in diameter.  Within the
                sphere appears another nucleus which emerges into a
                sphere. The process continues with increasingly refined
                spheres or forms appearing in succession. The high
                levels of concentration achieved are used in vipassana
                to develop penetrating insight. A qualified teacher is
                important in this practice. The late abbot Ven. Chao
                Khun Mongkol-Thepmuni (1884-1959) popularized this
                meditation system. The wat has a book in English, "Samma
                Samadhi" by T. Magness, that explains the technique in
                detail.
TEACHING METHOD: Individual interviews as needed. Talks in Thai by a
                monk or a tape recording of Ven. Chao Khun Mongkol-
                Thepmuni are given 2 or 3 times a day at group sittings
                in the meditation hall.
TEACHERS:	Chao Khun Bhawana Kosol Thera (Thai; age 72); he speaks
                English and Japanese.
		Ven. P.K. Bhavananuwat (Thai; age 77); he speaks a
                little English.
LANGUAGE:	Teachers speak some English and people are usually
                around who can translate. Easiest for one who can speak
                Thai.
DESCRIPTION:	The "bot" and many large, multi-story buildings are
                tightly packed on the 17-rai (7-acre) grounds. Urban
                setting. Large crowds of worshippers come on weekends
                and Buddhist holidays. The wat dates back to the early
                18th century in the Ayuthaya Period.
SIZE:		monks: 200-400 (one of the largest populations in
                Thailand during the Rains Retreat)
		novices: 80-90
		nuns: 200-300
		laypeople: about 100 (half practice meditation)
DAILY ROUTINE:	Meditators can practice individually or attend group
                sessions.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety; offered in the temple at
                daybreak and at 11 a.m. Monks and novices can go on
                pindabat if they wish. Laypeople eat after monks and
                novices.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Monks and novices usually stay in individual
                rooms, some with attached Thai- or western-style
                bathrooms. Nuns have shared rooms. Laypeople may be able
                to stay except during the Rains Retreat.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary.
ORDINATION:	Men spend a minimum of one month as a layman, then 3
                months as a novice before full ordination as a monk.
                Women can request maechee ordination, though no
                westerners have done so.
OTHER INFORMATION: Ven. Chao Khun Mongkol-Thepmuni revived this system
                of meditation, sometimes called "Dhammakaya." He's very
                highly venerated by the Thais. A shrine room in the wat
                contains his coffin and a life-like wax statue.
                Laypeople practicing meditation normally follow 8
                precepts and wear white clothing; visitors staying a
                week or two can follow 5 precepts and wear regular
                clothing.
Back to Top of Page

 


CENTRAL THAILAND

 

                          WAT PHRA DHAMMAKAYA

MEANING OF NAME: "Temple of the respected body of the Dhamma"
ADDRESS:	Khlong Sam, Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani 12120
DIRECTIONS:	Located 40 km north of Bangkok in neighboring Pathum
                Thani Province. On Sundays and major Buddhist holidays,
                the best times to visit, free chartered buses to the
                temple depart from near the Victory Monument in Bangkok
                between 7 and 8 a.m.; the buses won't likely have
                English signs, so look for passengers dressed in white
                clothing. Temple buses depart for the return to the
                Victory Monument between 3:30 to 5 or 6 p.m.
                    By public bus, go to Rangsit (buses include air-
                conditioned #3, 4, 10, 13, 29, and 39; non-air include
                #29, 34, 39, 59, and 95). From the market area in
                Rangsit (one block south of the main bus stop), take a
                bus #1008 to the temple.
TELEPHONE:	(02)	516-9003 to 516-9009
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Dhammakaya meditation in the tradition taught at Wat
                Pak Nam. The system is said to be an efficient way to
                purify the mind. One begins by bringing the attention to
                a point in the center of the body. A crystal ball or
                Buddha image is visualized as a //nimitta// (mental
                image); a mantra such as "Samma Araham" or "Buddho" can
                be used to further reduce mental chatter. As the mind
                becomes clearer, the wisdom inherent in the mind will
                manifest itself. It is this wisdom that's called
                "Dhammakaya."
TEACHING METHOD: Teachers give instruction in Thai during meditation
                periods. Some monks can also give instruction in
                English. A cassette tape sold at the Information Centre
                has fairly complete instructions in English; literature
                is available too. Meditators write down their
                experiences daily for the abbot, who makes comments for
                progress.
TEACHERS:	Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikkhu, abbot (Thai; age 47)
		Ven. Dattajeevo Bhikkhu, vice abbot (Thai; age 50)
LANGUAGE:	The vice abbot speaks some English. Some teaching monks
                speak good English and one speaks Mandarin Chinese.
DESCRIPTION:	The central area has beautifully landscaped parklands of
                lakes, trees, and grass; the //bot//, Information
                Centre, and monks' residences are here. Group meetings
                take place in large pavilions or in the open air. Vast
                areas to the west host major gatherings. Total area is
                2,500 rai (1,000 acres).
SIZE:		monks: 130-200
		novices: about 200
		resident laymen: about 90
		resident nuns and laywomen: about 160
		visiting laypeople during week: about 150
		visiting laypeople on regular Sundays: about 2000
		visiting laypeople on first Sun. of month: about 8000
		visiting laypeople on major Buddhist holidays (Magha
                Puja, Vesaka Puja, and Kathina): about 40,000
DAILY ROUTINE:	4:30 a.m. begin day; 5-6:30 a.m. morning chanting and
                meditation session 1; 6:30 a.m. give alms to monks or
                help clean temple grounds; 7 a.m. breakfast; 9-11 a.m.
                meditation session 2; 11 a.m. main meal; 1-4 p.m. Dhamma
                talk and meditation session 3; 4:30 p.m. drinks; 6:30
                p.m. evening chanting; 9 p.m. meditation session 4; 9:30
                p.m. sleep.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety supplied by temple. Meditators
                and laypeople eat twice a day in morning. Monks and
                novices go on pindabat within the temple; laypeople can
                bring food or purchase it in the temple to offer. Drinks
                are supplied in the afternoon.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Very simple. Meditators stay in palm-thatch housing or
                sleep in the open in the //dhutanga// tradition with a
                //klod// (special umbrella with mosquito net). Men and
                women live in separate areas.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. Best is to make a day trip on a Sunday.
                You can talk with people and determine if you'd like to
                apply to join a retreat group.
ORDINATION:	Can be requested. One must speak fluent Thai.
OTHER INFORMATION: The Information Centre has a series of short English
                videos, shown on request, that introduce the aims and
                way of life at Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Books (also one in
                Chinese), a meditation tape, videos, and the newsletter
                "The Light of Peace" are available in English. Many Thai
                publications have been produced. A small library has
                some English books.
                    The very dynamic and outgoing style of Buddhism
                practiced here makes the temple unique in Thailand. (The
                emphasis on fund-raising and attracting large numbers of
                followers resembles the style of evangelical Christian
                churches.) Sundays are "open days" at the temple, the
                best time to visit; members make a special effort to
                attend on the first Sunday of the month. Most major
                cities in Thailand have a branch meditation centre;
                Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok also have retreat centres.
                    Only group practice is offered here -- you cannot
                come and do an individual retreat. Visit (best) or write
                ahead for information on suitable dates that you can
                join a group. Laypeople follow 8 precepts and wear white
                clothing. 

                              WAT ASOKARAM

MEANING OF NAME: "Monastery of no sorrow"
ADDRESS:	Sukumvit Road, Samut Prakan 10280
DIRECTIONS:	Located 32 km south of Bangkok off Hwy. 3. Many city
                buses in Bangkok (including air-conditioned #7 and 8,
                and non-air #25, 142, 145) go to Samut Prakan; from here
                you can take either of 2 local buses or a taxi 6 km
                farther to the temple. Some buses between Bangkok's
                Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal and Chonburi go via Samut
                Prakan; ask to be let off at Wat Asokaram (between
                KM 31 and 32 posts on Hwy. 3), then walk or take a
                samlor about 1 km south. You can see the spires and
                multi-tiered roof of the viharn from the highway.
                (People often use the name "Pak Nam" for Samut Prakan.)
TELEPHONE:	(02) 395-0003
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati is the main technique taught, though
                meditators are free to choose their own techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: Discourses are given each evening. (Meditation practice
                receives much emphasis in the Dhamma talks.) Teachers
                are available for questions.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Tong (Phra Khru Suvandhammachote), abbot (Thai;
                age 58)
		Other senior monks assist. Phra Ajahn Bunku Anuvathano
                (Thai; age 62) speaks good English.
LANGUAGE:	A few monks and nuns can speak English; the abbot does
                not.
DESCRIPTION:	Rural setting on the coast; 120 rai (50 acres). Many
                species of birds, some nesting, inhabit the trees on
                shore and on the tidal flats. Lots of crabs, mud
                skippers, snakes, and mosquitos live here too. Fairly
                quiet (except for the birds). Main buildings, such as
                the //viharn// (main hall), //chedi// (stupa), //bot//
                (uposatha hall), women's chanting hall, and kitchen are
                on the shore; most //kutis// (huts) sit atop pilings out
                over the tidal flats. The magnificent viharn contains a
                large Buddha image, paintings, and carved wooden doors;
                large group meetings and monks' chanting take place in
                the main (upper) hall, smaller meetings are held on the
                middle level, and the monks' eating area is on the lower
                level.
SIZE:		monks: 90-140
		novices: 10-15
		nuns: about 130
		laymen: about 15
		laywomen: about 60
DAILY ROUTINE:	About 7:15 a.m. pindabat; 8 a.m. the meal; 9:15 a.m.
                morning chanting; 4 p.m. afternoon chanting; 8-10 p.m.
                evening chanting, discourse, and meditation. On //wan
                phra// and day before and after, meditation is also held
                3-5 p.m.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety. Monks and novices have one
                meal in morning; nuns and laypeople eat once or twice in
                the morning. Monks and novices can go on pindabat inside
                or outside the temple; the kitchen and supporters supply
                most food.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Monks, novices, and laymen stay in kutis on the west
                side; nuns and laywomen have kutis on the east side.
                Most kutis have screens and a bathroom with running
                water (some western-, some Thai-style); all have
                electricity.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary. It's good to have a letter of
                recommendation, however.
ORDINATION:	Men can request ordination, learn chanting and rules,
                then ordain as a monk. Women can similarly request
                ordination as a maechee.
OTHER INFORMATION: A temple built in ancient India by Emporer Asoka
                inspired the name of Wat Asokaram. Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo
                (1906-1961), a disciple of Ajahn Mun, founded the temple
                in 1955. At the request of lay followers, the uncremated
                remains of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo have been kept in a
                coffin in the glassed-in shrine area upstairs in the
                viharn. A ceremony dedicated to the former abbot
                attracts many people to the wat on 24-26 April; teachers
                present discourses on mind training in the Ajahn Mun
                tradition.
		    Some of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo's talks have been
                published in English and are available here by free
                distribution. A small library has some English books.
                    Two new books in English present wisdom from great
                teachers of the forest tradition: //The Autobiography of
                Phra Ajahn Lee// contains incidents from his life that
                provide both good reading and good lessons; 1992, 190
                pages. //Awareness Itself: The Teachings of Ajaan Fuang
                Jotiko// contains short, to-the-point advice to guide
                students past the pitfalls of meditation practice;
                (Ajaan Fuang helped establish Wat Asokaram and was
                expected to become abbot after Ajaan Lee's death.
                Instead, he left and spend the last 15 years of his life
                at Wat Dhammasathit, a small, out-of-the-way place in
                the hills near Rayong); 1993, 77 pages. Phra Geoffrey
                Thanissaro translated and edited both books; they're
                available for free distribution.
                    Eight precepts and white clothing are recommended
                for long-term meditators.

                               WIWEK ASOM
                      VIPASSANA MEDITATION CENTRE

MEANING OF NAME: "Quiet dwelling place"
ALSO SPELLED:	Vivekasrom Vipassana Meditation Center
ADDRESS:	Tambon Ban Suan, Ampher Muang, Chonburi 20000
DIRECTIONS:	Located just outside Chonburi on the road to Ban Bung.
                Buses leave frequently from Bangkok's Eastern (Ekamai)
                Bus Terminal for the one-hour trip. Get off at Ban Bung
                intersection in Chonburi, then walk or take a samlor to
                the meditation centre.
TELEPHONE:	(038) 283-766
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana based on the Four Foundations of
                Mindfulness as described in the Buddha's satipatthana
                suttas. The techniques of Mahasi Sayadaw are used. The
                meditator establishes concentration on the rise and fall
                of the abdomen; mental noting helps focus attention on
                bodily sensations and mind objects as they come into
                consciousness. Sitting periods alternate with walking.
TEACHING METHOD: Daily interviews with the teacher
TEACHERS:	Phra Ajahn Asabha (Dhamma Chariya) (Burmese; age 79)
		Phra Ajahn Charlee Jaruvanno (Thai; age 54)
		Phra Ajahn Pramuan (Thai; age 60)
LANGUAGE:	Phra Ajahn Asabha speaks only Thai and Burmese, but a
                translator can be arranged. The other teaching monks
                speak some English.
DESCRIPTION:	Shaded, fairly quiet location on the edge of Chonburi.
                Simple, modern architecture. Kutis are fairly close
                together. Separate living and practice areas for men and
                women.
SIZE:		monks: 30-60
		novices: 3-7
		nuns: 20-30
		laypeople: 20-30
DAILY ROUTINE:	Meditators practice in meditation halls or in rooms
                according to their own schedule. Continuity of practice
                is stressed. Everyone is encouraged to meditate 20 hours
                a day. One should avoid socializing, reading, and
                leaving the centre during one's stay. 
FOOD:		Very good quality and variety. Monks and novices go on
                pindabat, then eat mindfully in their kutis. Laypeople
                can eat in the kitchen or take food to their rooms. A
                simple breakfast is served early morning, then the main
                meal in late morning. Laypeople can arrange for food,
                including vegetarian, to be ordered from shops and
                delivered to the centre. 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual rooms or kutis with screens, electricity, and 
		Thai-style bathrooms with running water.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. All rooms may be occupied during the
                Rains Retreat and some other periods.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: One should come with the intention of staying at
                least 2 weeks. Meditators follow the 8 precepts but may,
                if needed for health reasons, take food after mid-day.
                Phra Ajahn Asabha came to Thailand in 1953, after the
                Thai government extended an invitation to the Burmese
                government to send vipassana teachers.

                     SORN-THAWEE MEDITATION CENTRE

MEANING OF NAME: "Sorn" is the person who donated the land; "Thawee"
		is the founder and head teacher at the centre.
ALSO SPELLED:	Samnak Vipassana Sorn-Thawee
ADDRESS:	Bangkla, Chachoengsao 24110
DIRECTIONS:	From Bangkok, take a bus to Chachoengsao from either
                Northern (Moh Chit) or Eastern (Ekamai) bus terminals.
                Then take a bus toward Bangkla; get off after about 25
                min. (just past KM post 17) where the bus turns left at
                Bangkla Crossing; walk across the highway and follow the
                intersecting road south 300 meters, then turn right
                another 300 meters at the sign.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana, practice of the Four Foundations of
                Mindfulness. Techniques using the tool of mental noting
                are similar to those taught by Mahasi Sayadaw. Formal
                sitting and walking meditation is done 8-12 hours a day.
                Mindfulness is applied to all of one's daily activities.
                One must practice systematically through waking hours in
                order to develop the concentration needed for effective
                insight meditation.
TEACHING METHOD: Daily individual interviews are considered essential.
                Meditators report previous day's experiences, then
                receive instruction and guidance.
TEACHERS:	Phra Ajahn Thawee, abbot (Thai; age 76) and a Western
                nun (Austrian) teach foreigners.
LANGUAGE:	English and German are always available.
DESCRIPTION:	Attractively landscaped grounds of 24 rai (10 acres)
                with ponds, trees, and colorful shrubs. Rice fields
                surround the centre.
SIZE:		monks: 15-22
		novices: usually 0
		nuns: 20-30
		laypeople: 40-50
                A new Dhamma Hall has 70 rooms for meditators.
DAILY ROUTINE:	4 a.m. wakeup; 6:30 a.m. breakfast; 7:30 a.m. individual 
		interviews begin; 11 a.m. lunch. Day is spent in or near
                one's kuti doing intensive individual practice.
                Meditators should not sleep more than 6 hours. No group
                practice is offered.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety; vegetarian is available on
                request. Two meals are served in the morning. Meditators
                eat mindfully in their kutis. The community eats as a
                group on special occasions. 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual kutis with screens, fans, electricity, and
                attached bathrooms with running water. Older kutis have
                Thai-style bathrooms; newer kutis have western-style
                facilities.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Yes, necessary to arrange accommodations.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: Only individual (solitary) practice is offered at
                present; this isn't for everyone as some people feel the
                need for the support of group practice. A Dhamma hall
                under construction is expected to open in 1993; check
                with the centre then to find out if group practice will
                be offered.
                    The usual retreat duration is 50 days; 20 days is
                the minimum recommended stay. Visits of less than 2
                weeks don't allow enough time to develop insight and
                won't be allowed.
                    Meditators observe 8 precepts, keep noble silence
                (especially not to talk about one's meditation
                experiences with others), wear loose-fitting, modest
                clothing, and abstain from reading, writing, or
                listening to radios. A blanket or light sleeping bag is
                needed in the cool season. A 50 baht (US $2) daily fee
                covers running expenses. 

                    BOONKANJANARAM MEDITATION CENTER

MEANING OF NAME: "Boon" Charoenchai and his wife "Kanjana" donated the
                land in 1963 for an //aram// (wat).
ADDRESS:	Pattaya, Chonburi 20260
DIRECTIONS:	Located in Jomtien Beach, 5 km south of Pattaya. From
                Bangkok, take a bus from the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus
                Terminal to Sattahip and get off at Wat Boonkanjanaram,
                just past KM post 150, then walk down Wat Boon Road
                alongside the wat; entrance to the meditation center is
                a short way beyond the wat grounds. If you take a bus to
                Pattaya, hire a songtaew to the center.
TELEPHONE:	(038) 231-865
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana, based on the Four Foundations of
                Mindfulness using techniques taught by Ajahn Naeb.
                Unlike other vipassana systems that begin with
                mindfulness of breathing, the method taught here
                proceeds directly to mindfulness of the Four Foundations
                (//satipatthana//): body (//kaya//), feeling
                (//vedana//), mind (//citta//), or mind object
                (//dhamma//). The body (//kaya//) makes the best object
                to start with for nearly all people because of its
                gross, easily observed qualities. The meditator applies
                steady mindfulness to his body in the 4 basic positions
                of sitting, standing, walking, and lying and in the
                minor positions. The purpose of the meditation is to
                destroy wrong views about self, eliminate liking and
                disliking, realize the Four Noble Truths, and end
                suffering. When pain is noticed, the position is changed
                and the pain is followed into the next position. As
                practice becomes more proficient, the Three
                Characteristics of impermanence (//anicca//), suffering
                (//dukkha//), and not self (//anatta//) will become more
                evident. //Rupa// and //nama// (material and mental
                factors) are seen as impermanent because they cannot
                stay the same. Rupa and nama are seen as suffering
                because the position is suffering. Rupa and nama are
                seen as not self, because whatever is impermanent and
                suffering is without self. As practice deepens it is
                seen with insight that rupa and nama are not self, not
                "me." This wisdom can have a very strong effect. When
                the Three Characteristics are seen in rupa and nama,
                wisdom is going to feel disenchantment with rupa and
                nama. This is the path to realize nibbana according to
                the meditation system.
                     Before one begins practice, one must understand
                some theory. This requires more study than most
                meditation techniques. The meditation system taught here
                also has a reputation for being more difficult than
                breathing-based systems.
TEACHING METHOD: Interviews with teacher. A single beginning student
                would be taught alone; if more than one beginner is at
                the center, they would be grouped together. Beginners
                usually have daily interviews at first, then less often
                as determined by the teacher. Although instructions are
                in book form, it is considered valuable to have a "good
                friend" or teacher.
TEACHERS:	Mr. Chua Jantrupon (Thai; age 86) assisted by Miss
                Vitoon Voravises (translator) and Frank Tullius (a long-
                time American practitioner at the center).
LANGUAGE:	English translation is available (the teacher does not
                speak much English). Frank Tullius also can provide
                instruction and advice. The book //Vipassana Bhavana//,
                published by the center, has detailed information on
                theory, practice, and result of the meditation system
                used here; the book is sold at the center (by mail order
                too) and at some bookstores in Bangkok and Chiang Mai; a
                French edition is available at the center.
DESCRIPTION:	The meditation center covers 22 rai (8.5 acres) in an
                old coconut grove with grass, bamboo, and a variety of
                trees. Facilities include 51 kutis, a small temple, a
                dining area for monks, and a kitchen. The center
                operates independently from nearby Wat Boonkanjanaram
                for the most part.
SIZE:		monks: 5-15
		novices: occasionally a few
		nuns: 5-15
		laypeople: 4-8
DAILY ROUTINE:	None, except for meals and interviews. Practice schedule
                is left up to meditator.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety; vegetarian is available on
                request. Food is brought to kutis at 7 a.m., 11 a.m.,
                and 5 p.m. (people on 8 or more precepts just take the
                morning meals); an afternoon drink is offered too. Monks
                and novices go on pindabat. Normally everyone eats
                mindfully at their kuti; monks and novices sometimes eat
                as a group when food is specially offered. 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual kutis with screens, fans, electricity,
                porches, and Thai-style bathrooms (some have western-
                style toilets) with running water. Moderately well
                spaced.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Yes, needed in order to arrange accommodations.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: Ajaan Naeb (1897-1983), a Thai laywoman, had a deep
                experience of no self at the age of 34. She then sought
                out someone who could teach her //vipassana-
                kammathana.// She practiced under the Burmese monk
                Pathunta U Vilasa and realized nibbana. She then turned
                her attention to study of abhidhamma and became an
                expert on Buddhist philosophy. For 40 years she taught
                vipassana at many centers, including Boonkanjanaram.
                     No group practice is offered. Meditators must be
                highly self-reliant and motivated to practice
                successfully. They are advised to keep noble silence
                with each other and abstain from reading (other than
                about practice) and listening to the radio. Two weeks is
                the recommended minimum stay. Six other centers in
                Thailand teach the same meditation system, though
                usually only in Thai. A 50 baht (US $2) daily charge
                is made for running expenses.

                              WAT SAI NGAM

MEANING OF NAME: "Temple of beautiful banyan trees"
ALSO SPELLED:	Wat Trai Ngarm
ADDRESS:	Tambon Donmasang, Amper Muang, Supanburi 72000
DIRECTIONS:	From Bangkok, take a bus from the Northern (Moh Chit)
                Bus Terminal to Supanburi, 100 km to the northwest, then
                take a local bus northeast 15 km on the road to Ang
                Thong. The wat is 0.5 km in.
TELEPHONE:	(035) 522-005
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Ajahn Dhammadharo developed a vipassana technique
                using hand movements that gave good results in his
                practice. After 9 years of using this method, he felt
                confident in teaching it to others. Sitting meditation
                typically begins with some metta practice (benefits
                include helping to clear the mind of hindrances)
                followed by anapansati (to calm the mind). One then
                begins the prescribed hand and finger movements, using
                either arm, while directing attention to the palm or
                fingers. Sensations arising in the hand, then extending
                along the arm to the chest, back, and head are used in
                development of clear comprehension leading to
                penetrating insight. Touch-point sensations are used
                too. The meditation system instructions have been
                translated into English in the book //The Manual of
                Insight Meditation; Practising Clear Comprehension in
                Accordance with the Maha Satipatthana Sutta// by
                Pannavuddho Bhikkhu; this book should be available at
                the wat.
TEACHING METHOD: Lectures (occasionally by Ajahn Dhammadharo) and by
                asking questions. Books and tapes in Thai can be
                purchased, as can the English book by Pannavuddho.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Dhammadharo, abbot (Thai; age 78) assisted by
                senior monks.
LANGUAGE:	One should speak good Thai in order to take advantage of
                the teachings here. Some monks and nuns can speak a
                little English.
DESCRIPTION:	A large temple of 70 rai (28 acres) surrounded by rice
                fields. Trees shade the central area. On arrival at the
                main entrance, you'll find the office in the raised
                building on the left just past the abbot's house; the
                large sala ahead, also on stilts, is used for eating and
                meditation; turn left at the junction and follow the
                path for the //bot//, exceptionally beautiful even by
                high Thai standards. The Buddha image inside sits in a
                teaching pose under a large artificial tree.
SIZE:		monks: 150-200
		novices: 15-20
		nuns: 80-100
		laymen: about 10
		laywomen: 20-30
DAILY ROUTINE:	4 a.m. chanting in "bot;" 5 a.m. monks and novices leave
                for pindabat by bus; 8 a.m. first meal; 11 a.m. second
                meal; 2-4 p.m. sitting and standing meditation; 4-5 p.m.
                walking meditation; 5 p.m. drink; 6:30 p.m. sitting and
                standing meditation; 8 p.m. lecture; 9-10 p.m. walking
                meditation.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety. Monks and novices take a
                temple bus to Supanburi, Ang Thong, or other nearby town
                for pindabat; laypeople are welcome to come along and
                help collect food. Two meals in morning; nuns and
                laypeople eat after monks and novices. 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Monks and novices stay in individual kutis of stone or
                wood; fairly close together. All have electricity and
                running water; newer kutis have Thai-style bathrooms.
                Laymen have shared rooms or dormitories; nuns and
                laywomen usually share rooms.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary
ORDINATION:	Can be requested for novice, monk, or maechee.
OTHER INFORMATION: Ajahn Dhammadharo began teaching about 1954. His
                first center was Wat Chai Na (Wat Tow Kote) in Nakhon
                Sri Thammarat Province in the south. In the 1970s he
                moved to his home province and founded Wat Sai Ngam.
                     Discipline is left mostly to the individual.
                Laypeople observe 8 precepts and wear white; they also
                wear a white sash over their shoulder. The sash (//pah
                sabay chieng//) can be purchased in the temple shop.
                Unless entering or leaving the temple grounds, residents
                walk barefoot everywhere.

                      SUNNATARAM FOREST MONASTERY

MEANING OF NAME: "Pure mind forest monastery"
ALSO SPELLED:	Samnak Pah Sunyataram
ADDRESS:	Ban Kroeng Kra Wia, Tambon Prang Phea, Ampher Sangkhla
                Buri, Kanchanaburi 71180
DIRECTIONS:	Located 302 km northwest of Bangkok. Take a train (from
                Bangkok Noi Station) or bus (from Southern or Southern
                AC bus terminals) west 128 km to Kanchanaburi, then hop
                on a bus or minibus bound for Sangkhla Buri; ask to be
                let off at the monastery, which is 174 km from
                Kanchanaburi and 42 km before Sangkhla Buri, between KM
                posts 32 and 33 on Hwy. 323. The monastery is just east
                of the highway.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati and metta
TEACHING METHOD: Dhamma talks by Phra Ajahn Yantra and other senior
                monks. Tapes of Phra Ajahn Yantra are often played
                during the evening meditation period. He and other
                senior monks will answer questions.
TEACHERS:	Phra Ajahn Yantra Amaro (Thai; age 40) and senior monks.
                The teacher travels extensively and may be gone most of
                the time. He is highly respected for his metta and skill
                at teaching meditation. People also look up to him as a
                good example of how one can be happy despite life's
                difficulties.
LANGUAGE:	Phra Ajahn Yantra and a few other monks can speak some
                English.
DESCRIPTION:	The monastery covers 280 rai (112 acres) in a beautiful 
		forested valley enclosed by steep mountains. This karst
                area has many sinkholes, caves, and strange-shaped
                rocks. Phra Ajahn Yantra discovered the site while on
                tudong, then founded the monastery in 1984. A small
                river flows through the valley, separating the women's
                and sangha areas. On entering the monastery, you'll pass
                the women's area on the right, then cross a bridge to
                the sangha area; monks greet visitors at a small
                sala just past road's end. Except on //wan phra//, the
                rest of the sangha area is normally closed to
                nonresidents. Phra Ajahn Yantra's kuti is perched high
                atop a rock pinnacle; ask if you can visit. Caves near
                the monastery can be used for meditation.
SIZE:		monks: 10-100
		novices: 5-20
		nuns: about 30
		laywomen: 30-50
		laymen: 5-10
DAILY ROUTINE:	3:30 a.m. wakeup; 4-6 a.m. chanting and meditation;
                about 6 a.m. monks and novices go on a long, 6-km
                pindabat; 8:30 a.m. monks and novices go on a second
                pindabat within the monastery; 9 a.m. chanting
                (reflection on food) and meditation for about 30 min.,
                followed by the meal; 3 p.m. work period; about 4 p.m.
                drink; 6-8 p.m. chanting (about one hour) and meditation
                (a recording of a Dhamma talk by Phra Ajahn Yantra is
                often given during the first half of the meditation
                period); 8 p.m. sometimes a senior monk gives a talk. 
FOOD:		Vegetarian of good quality and variety. Monks and
                novices go on pindabat for rice; laypeople at the
                monastery reoffer the rice and offer food prepared in
                the kitchen. A large garden beyond the women's kutis
                provides much of the community's requirements. Unusual
                for Thailand, the monastery and its branches take only
                vegetarian food as part of a metta practice.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual kutis of various sizes and materials in both
                the sangha and womens areas; some have screens. When
                many visitors are expected, as during the Rains Retreat
                and when Phra Ajahn Yantra stays, simple bamboo kutis
                are built. Laypeople can stay in kutis, if available.
                Laymen who follow 8 precepts can stay in the sangha
                area. Only larger buildings have electricity and running
                water. Thai-style bathrooms (men can also use a bathing
                stream in the sangha area); Asian-style toilets.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary. Expect crowded conditions during the
                Rains Retreat and when Phra Ajahn Yantra is in
                residence; it's a good idea to visit a month or more
                ahead of these times to arrange accommodation. Groups
                should write in advance any time.
ORDINATION:	Men practice as 8-precept laymen to learn Vinaya and
                chanting; when the community feels the person is ready,
                he can ordain as a monk (no need to be a novice first if
                20 or more years old). No ordination ceremonies take
                place here; foreigners usually ordain at Wat Bovorn in
                Bangkok. Women can apply to stay as a maechee but must
                ordain elsewhere.
OTHER INFORMATION: Malaria exists here, so it's important to use netting
                and insect repellent.  A small library has some English
                books. Laypeople who follow 8 precepts wear white
                clothing. The monastery welcomes all traditions of
                Buddhist monks and laypeople. Visiting monks who follow
                strict Vinaya can sit with resident monks for eating and
                daily chantings.
                     Residents follow a strict forest tradition
                practice. Nearly all monks go on tudong after the Rains
                Retreat ends; some monks make a resolution to travel
                only by foot for a certain time. Populations at this
                monastery and its branches fluctuate greatly because of
                the tudong practice.
                     Branch monasteries offer excellent conditions for
                meditation practice too; they can usually accommodate
                small numbers of visitors. Some English may be spoken at
                Tham Wua and Wat Sab-Chan.
                     KOW KAEW SUNNATARAM on an island in nearby Khao
                Laem Reservoir offers much solitude; first ask
                permission to stay from the main monastery.
                     In northwestern Thailand, THAM WUA SUNNATA has
                caves and a spectacular setting beneath sheer limestone
                cliffs; it's located about 45 km north of Mae Hong Son,
                then 1.5 km in by dirt road or trail (Ban Mae Su Ya,
                Tambon Huai Pha, Amphoe Muang, Mae Hong Son 58000).
                     In eastern Thailand, WAT SAB-CHAN (SUNNATARAM) lies
                in a valley surrounded by fruit orchards and forested
                hills 27 km west of Chanthaburi, then 2 km in by road
                (Tambon Na Yai Arm, Amphoe Tha Mai, Chanthaburi 22160).
                     In central Thailand, DHAMMALEELA MEDITATION CENTER
                is surrounded by a golf course 40 km northeast of
                Bangkok (Klong 14 Rangsit, Tambon Bang Pla Kot, Amphoe
                Ongkharak, Nakhon Nayok 26120).


[NEW LISTINGS IN 1994]

DHAMMA KAMALA: Meditation courses orgnized by students of S.N. Goenka 
take place occasionally; contact Mrs. Sutthi Chayodom, 65/9 Soi 1 
Chaengwattana Road, Bangkhen, Bangkok 10210; tel. (02) 521-0392 or 552- 
1731. These intensive vipassana courses follow the tradition of the late 
Sayaghi U Ba Khin of Burma.

WAT LUANG PHOR SODH DHAMMAKAYARAM: This temple in Rajburi Province 
offers teaching in the Vijja Dhammakaya meditation technique, as taught 
by the late abbot of Wat Pak Nam (affectionately known as Luang Phor 
Sodh) in Bangkok. Distinctive white temple buildings stand in a 
landscaped park area. The abbot, Phra Ajahn Maha Sermchai Jayamanggalo 
(Thai; age 65), gives instruction in Thai and English during the 
meditation periods; some other monks can also give instruction in 
English; tapes and literature are available, too. Resident monks number 
30-35 (35-60 during the Rains) with 25-30 novices, 10-12 nuns, and 10-15 
laypeople. Large numbers of laypeople visit on the first Saturday of 
each month and on major holidays; large retreats take place in April 
(for youths), May, and December. Writing in advance is recommended to 
make sure that the abbot is in residence, as he is the main English- 
speaking teacher. The temple is 94 km southwest of Bangkok; from 
Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal, you can take an ordinary bus 78 and ask 
to be let off at the gate; or take an air-conditioned bus to Damnoen 
Saduak Bus Terminal, where you can catch a yellow songtaew to the 
temple. Address: Damnoen Saduak District, Rajburi Province 70130; 
telephone/fax (032) 254650. (Information provided by temple secretary; 
the author has not visited here.
Back to Top of Page

 


NORTHEASTERN THAILAND

 

                            WAT WAH POO KAEW

MEANING OF NAME: "Crystal Mountain monastery"
ADDRESS:	Tambon Magluwamai, Amper Sungnoen, Nakhon Ratchasima
                30140
DIRECTIONS:	Located 230 km northeast of Bangkok and 50 km before
                Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat). Take a bus on the Friendship
                Hwy. (Hwy. 2) from either city and ask to be let off at
                Wat Magluwamai (between KM posts 215 and 216); take a
                songtaew from the junction here south about 15 km to Wat
                Wah Poo Kaew. From Bangkok, it may be easier to get off
                at the junction for Sikhiu on the Friendship Hwy. and
                take a songtaew. Buses in Bangkok leave from the
                Northern (Moh Chit) Bus Terminal. Some trains stop at
                Sikhiu.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati combined with mental repetition of mantra
                "Buddho." All-around awareness of mind and body is
                emphasized. Meditators are free to use their own
                techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: Ajahn Sutji Anutaro (Thai; age 47) is now the abbot.
                Retreats for students (mostly high school) take place 2-
                3 times a month, lasting 4-5 days; frequently senior
                monks from surrounding provinces will teach. These
                retreats increase the noise level, but you can continue
                your individual practice during them. 
TEACHERS:	Luang Paw Pudt (Phra Phawanaphisal Thera) (Thai; age 70)
		Ajahn Sutji Anutaro, abbot (Thai; age 47)
LANGUAGE:	Lectures and instruction are given in Thai. Visitors
                must speak at least basic conversational Thai. The
                teachers and most monks do not speak English.
DESCRIPTION:	Spread out across a lightly wooded hillside with open
                areas. Small farming villages occupy the valley below.
                The wat has 15 rai (6 acres) plus 1,000 rai (400 acres)
                of government deforested land entrusted to the care of
                the wat; this land is being replanted in trees. A wooden
                sala used by the abbot to meet visitors and as the
                monks' eating area is just inside the entrance. Winding
                paths lead up the hillside to a large sala where
                chanting and group meditation take place. Luang Paw Pudt
                stays in the house farther up the hillside when he
                visits here. A waterfall is about 2 km from the wat.
SIZE:		monks: 15-35
		novices: 3-15
		nuns: 0 (no living quarters for nuns)
		laypeople: a few
DAILY ROUTINE:	4-5:30 a.m. chanting (30 min.) and group meditation; 6
                a.m. pindabat for monks and novices; 7:30 a.m. the meal;
                3-4 p.m. work period; 4 p.m. drinks; 6-8 p.m. chanting
                (1 hour) and group meditation. Most of the day is free
                for individual practice. People try to practice all
                night on "wan phra."
FOOD:		Very good quality and variety; supplied by pindabat,
                kitchen, and visiting supporters. One meal is served in
                the morning; laypeople may keep food for later in the
                day if they need to. People in this region of Isaan eat
                mostly white rice, bringing out sticky rice on special
                occasions.
ACCOMMODATIONS: The monastery has about 34 kutis, well separated, and 10
                large dormitories; nearly all have screens, Thai or
                Western bathrooms, running water, and electricity. A
                large, open sala on the hill now serves as the
                meditation and eating area.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary; there's usually room.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: Local villagers asked a tudong monk staying at this
                site to establish a monastery. Luang Paw Pudt, the abbot
                of Wat Pah Sarawan in Nakhon Ratchasima, offered to
                help. Construction began in 1980 on land donated by a
                villager. The Forestry Department donated additional
                land in 1987 and the monastery became official the
                following year.
                     Very suitable for experienced meditators who wish
                to practice in a quiet monastery environment. Laypeople
                normally observe 8 precepts. Information about Wat Wah
                Poo Kaew can be obtained from the main monastery if
                you're in Nakhon Ratchasima. Wat Pah Sarawan, once
                surrounded by jungle, is now enveloped by the city; it's
                located south of the railway station; easiest way there
                is by samlor.

                            WAT PAH NANACHAT

MEANING OF NAME: "International forest monastery"
ADDRESS:	Ban Bung Wai, Amper Warin, Ubon Ratchathani 34310
DIRECTIONS:	Located outside the city of Ubon Ratchathani, about 600
                km northeast of Bangkok. From Ubon, go southwest 12 km
                to Ban Bung Wai on the highway to Si Saket, then follow
                signs west one km through rice fields to the forest and
                wat. You can take a Si Saket bus from Ubon and ask to be
                let off at Wat Pah Nanachat or you can take a city bus 2
                km south across the Mun River to Warin and get a
                songtaew from the market area. Trains arrive in Warin;
                walk 20 minutes east into town to catch a songtaew.
                Easiest of all is just to take a tuk-tuk or taxi at
                the train or bus stations or airport.
                     Several fast trains provide daily service from
                Bangkok, including an overnight express which offers
                comfortable 2nd class sleepers. Many air-conditioned
                buses with reclining seats depart Bangkok's Northern
                (Moh Chit) Bus Terminal for the day or overnight
                journey.
                     THAI offers a daily flight from Bangkok to the
                airport in the northern part of Ubon Ratchathani.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: No single technique predominates. One is creative,
                using a variety of appropriate meditations and
                reflections from the Theravadan tradition.  Mindfulness
                with breathing forms the basis for most formal
                meditation.  Teachers hold that samatha and vipassana
                cannot be separated. Sila, conduct of body and speech,
                along with monastic discipline forms a fundamental part
                of the training. One tries to maintain mindfulness in
                all postures. The monastery environment provides not
                only an ideal environment for meditation practice, but
                the opportunity to learn from and reflect on the customs
                and traditions honored here.
TEACHING METHOD: No formal instruction is offered. The teachers will
                answer questions. A library has a good selection of
                English and other foreign-language books on meditation
                practice. Some books about practice in the Ajahn Chah
                forest tradition are available by free distribution.
                Dhamma talks on audio tapes by Ajahn Sumedho and other
                teachers can be borrowed or copied.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Pasanno, abbot (Canadian; age 41)
		Ajahn Jayasaro, vice abbot (English; age 33)
		Senior monks teach men too. Women only meet with the
                abbot or vice abbot. Teachers usually talk with
                laypeople in the morning; the rest of the day is
                reserved for instructing monks and novices.
LANGUAGE:	English is the medium of instruction. Most monks can
                speak some Thai and perhaps other Asian or European
                languages. The abbot and vice abbot speak fluent Thai;
                they give advice and Dhamma talks to local people much
                as abbots do at any monastery in Thailand. 
DESCRIPTION:	Nearly half of the 250-rai area (100 acres) is in thick
                forest. The main sala, where most of the Buddha images
                are, serves as the dining area and as the place for
                visitors to meet the abbot. Local villagers hold
                cremations at a site nearby. The //bot// has a marble
                and wood interior of modern design. A large meditation
                sala lies a 5-minute walk through the forest. 
SIZE:		monks and novices: 15-20
		nuns: 0 (no living quarters for nuns)
		laypeople: 5-10
DAILY ROUTINE:	Group meetings and work periods have equal importance
                with formal meditation in the monastery. Laypeople are
                invited and expected to join the activities: 3 a.m.
                wakeup; 3:30-5:15 a.m. chanting and meditation; 6-7 a.m.
                sweeping or help out in the kitchen (pindabat for monks,
                novices, and pakows); 8 a.m. offering food to the monks;
                about 8:30 a.m. the meal, followed by cleanup; 3-5 p.m.
                work period of hauling water, cleaning buildings, and
                other projects; 5 p.m. drink at abbot's kuti; 7-9:30
                p.m. meditation, chanting, and Dhamma talk (or a
                reading). Other time is free for individual practice.
                The daily schedule changes during times of retreat and
                on Buddhist holy days (//wan phra//). On //wan phra//,
                the community and some visitors make the effort to stay
                up all night without lying down and practice meditation
                until 5 a.m.
FOOD:		Very good quality and variety, including vegetarian
                dishes. Sticky, white, and (usually) brown rice are
                offered. Monks, novices, and pakows go on pindabat for
                rice; most food is donated to or prepared in the
                kitchen. Laymen and women with shaved heads eat with the
                monks. Other laypeople eat in the kitchen. Everyone
                adheres to the one-meal-a-day standard; a drink and
                sweets are usually offered in the afternoon. 
ACCOMMODATIONS: Monks, novices, and laymen live in well separated kutis,
                most with a walking path. (Laymen visiting for short
                periods stay in a dormitory above the kitchen.) Women
                have their own building with individual rooms (can be
                shared) upstairs and western-style bathrooms downstairs.
                Men have communal facilities (bathing from tanks or
                showers; mostly Asian-style toilets). Bathrooms and
                large buildings generally have electricity and running
                water; kutis do not. Blankets and mosquito nets can be
                borrowed from the monastery.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Yes, be sure to write ahead with a request to stay,
                or you might be disappointed on arrival. The monastery
                can only accommodate a small number of guests.
ORDINATION:	Wat Pah Nanachat is primarily a training center for non-
                Thai nationals preparing to take ordination. A sincerely
                interested layman first becomes a pakow (anagarika)
                wearing a white robe and taking an alms bowl. After 3
                months he can take the going forth as a novice and wear
                orange robes. Full ordination can take place about one
                year later. Anyone considering //bhikkhu// ordination
                will benefit from a stay at Wat Pah Nanachat, whether he
                plans to ordain here or not. Unless fluent in Thai, one
                isn't likely to find this situation of thorough training
                combined with ease of communication elsewhere in
                Thailand.
OTHER INFORMATION: A visit provides a great opportunity to experience
                and participate in a monastic community of the forest
                tradition. The way of life here will be unfamiliar even
                to most visitors with a Buddhist background, hence an
                importance of being willing to adapt and learn. For best
                results, plan on staying a minimum of 1-2 weeks. If
                you're not keenly interested in the monastic life-style
                or if you simply prefer doing your own retreat, other
                places will be more suitable.
                     Men staying for more than a few days must shave
                their heads, including beards and eyebrows; this shows a
                spirit of commitment and renunciation.  Women aren't
                expected to shave, but they need to have an
                understanding and appreciation for the monks rules;
                women who have been here awhile will explain.
                     Laymen dress in modest white clothing. Women
                usually wear white blouses and black skirts, or they can
                wear all white.  Clothing for men and women can be
                borrowed from the wat.
                     All laypeople observe the 8 precepts. Some talking
                and socializing is allowed, but not between men and
                women. Conversations should be related to Dhamma
                practice (avoid the temptation to talk about travel or
                politics as they can agitate the mind!)
                     Ajahn Chah established Wat Pah Nanachat in 1975 as
                a place where his western disciples could live and train
                in the Dhamma-Vinaya. Ajahn Sumedho, an American, served
                as the first abbot; after 2 years he went to England and
                founded monasteries there. Ajahn Pabhakaro, the second
                abbot, now assists with running the monasteries in
                England. Ajahn Jagaro then took over; he later
                established a monastery in western Australia just
                outside Perth. The current abbot, Ajahn Pasanno, has
                been in charge since 1982. Originally mostly westerners
                and the odd Thai trained at Wat Pah Nanachat. In recent
                years, however, a variety of Asians have added to the
                international atmosphere. Today the monastery is one of
                more than 100 branch monasteries in Thailand and around
                the world of Ajahn Chah's Wat Nong Pah Pong.

                           WAT NONG PAH PONG

MEANING OF NAME: "Forest monastery of marsh and pong" (pong is a type of
                high grass)
ADDRESS:	Non Peung, Ban Gor, Amper Warin, Ubon Ratchathani 34190
DIRECTIONS:	Located 12 km southeast of Ubon Ratchathani or 10 km
                southeast of Warin. See Wat Pah Nanachat directions
                above for transport to Ubon. From Ubon, you can take a
                pink bus to its terminus in Ban Gor, then walk or take a
                tuk-tuk 2 km west to the monastery. You can walk to Wat
                Nong Pah Pong from Wat Pah Nanachat in 1-1/2 hours on a
                series of dirt roads and foot paths; ask to see the map
                at Wat Pah Nanachat.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat.
TEACHING METHOD: Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat, except that women have
                very little contact with monks.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Leeam, abbot (Thai; age 50)
LANGUAGE:	Instruction is given in Thai; the teacher doesn't speak 
		English. Sometimes western or Thai monks can translate.
DESCRIPTION:	Forest and open areas total 350 rai (140 acres).
                Originally this was a cremation site thought to be
                inhabited by ghosts. Much construction work has taken
                place in recent years. Arriving from the east you'll
                first see a 3-story museum. Exhibits inside include a
                life-like statue of Ajahn Chah, his robes and other
                memorabilia, archaeological finds, Buddhist art, and
                area crafts; bas-reliefs illustrate important events
		of Ajahn Chah's life, including his visits to England;
		skeletons on display can be used as meditation objects.
		Continuing into the monastery, you'll arrive at a new
                sala, an ornate concrete bell tower (monks cast the
                bell), Ajahn Chah's old kuti (he used to sit downstairs
                in a chair to meet with visitors), and a //bot// of
                modern architecture.  A  circular mound to the north is
                used as a meditation area; a chedi on top contains Ajahn
                Chah's ashes.
SIZE:		monks and novices: 45-70
		nuns: 45-50
		laypeople: Often a few laymen preparing for ordination.
                Lay disciples frequently visit for short periods.
DAILY ROUTINE:	Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat. This is also a good place
                to combine one's own practice with group activities in a
                monastic environment.
FOOD:		Adequate northeastern fare with sticky rice; one meal a
                day and an afternoon drink.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Monks, novices, and laymen stay in well-separated kutis;
                most have no water or electricity. Laywomen stay with
                nuns in a separate area of the monastery; laywomen must
                speak Thai. Women will find better conditions at Wat Pah
                Nanachat. Most bathing is done in shower blocks; toilets
                are Asian- and western-style.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary
ORDINATION:	Possible if one speaks fluent Thai. Most non-Thais find
                Wat Pah Nanachat more suitable for initial training.
                Women interested in ordaining as a nun should first
                contact Wat Pah Nanachat.
OTHER INFORMATION: One should speak Thai or be willing to learn. Long-
                term laymen shave their heads and wear white.
                    Much of the western Theravadan Sangha originated
                here with the encouragement and support of Ajahn Chah.
                In Thailand, Ajahn Chah earned fame by his skill at
                training monks in high standards of Dhamma-Vinaya. He
                was one of the most influential monks of Thai Buddhism.
                Born in nearby Ban Gor in 1918, Ajahn Chah took robes as
                a novice at age 13. He ordained as a bhikkhu when he was
                21. In 1946, following his 8th Rains Retreat, he set out
                as a //phra tudong//, wandering the forests and
                practicing meditation in lonely places. Teachings of
                Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Ginaree influenced him during this
                period. In 1954, Ajahn Chah accepted an invitation by
                his mother and villagers to return to Ban Gor to
                establish a new monastery -- Wat Nong Pah Pong. After
                many years of teaching, his health began to deteriorate,
                resulting in an operation to relieve cranial fluid
                pressure in Nov. 1981. Unfortunately, his condition
                worsened in mid-1982; by the end of the year, Ajahn Chah
                had become bedridden and unable to teach. His monks
                continued to lovingly care for him.
                     Ajahn Chah died here on January 16, 1992 at age 75.
                His life and teachings inspired a great many people
                around the world. At his funeral, which took place
                exactly one year later, the king and thousands of monks,
                nuns, and laypeople gathered to pay their respects.

                         WAT PAH WANA POTIYAHN

MEANING OF NAME: "Forest monastery of enlightened wisdom"
OTHER NAMES:	Wat Keu-an ("Dam monastery")
		Wat Koh ("Island monastery")
ADDRESS:	Dtumbol Nikom #1, Amper Phibun Mangsahan, Ubon
                Ratchathani 34110
DIRECTIONS:	Located on a peninsula on the northeast shore of
                Sirindhorn Reservoir about 70 km east of Ubon
                Ratchathani and only 5 km from the Laotian border. (This
                large reservoir is named after the king's daughter, the
                crown princess.) From Ubon, take a bus east 45 km to
                Phibun Mangsahan (a "tour" bus from Bangkok also goes
                here), then take a songtaew east 20 km to Nikom #1; get
                off at Wana Potiyahn boat landing (ask in advance to be
                let off here -- you can't see the landing from the
                road). Ask to be taken across the lake to the monastery
                (give the boat boys a 20-baht tip), then follow a road
                3/4 km to the central area.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat.
TEACHING METHOD: Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat.
TEACHER:	
LANGUAGE:	This is a Thai monastery. The abbot gives Dhamma talks
                and instruction in Thai. He recommends that visitors
                know or be willing to learn the language. He will answer
                questions in English.
DESCRIPTION:	A dense growth of dry tropical forest covers most of the
                monastery's 2,500-rai (1000-acre) area. The forest is
                one of the finest of its type in the region. Monks have
                taken an active role in conservation and protection of
                the plant and animal life. Denizens of the forest
                include wild boar, langur (a type of monkey), mouse
                deer, forest fowl, pheasant, many other birds, and many
                species of snakes (though rarely seen).
                     Wat Pah Wana Potiyahn is a branch of Ajahn Chah's
                Wat Nong Pah Pong. A sala, kitchen, scattered kutis, and
                a boat house are the main buildings.  All water has to
                be hauled from wells. Solar cells power a lighting
                system for the common areas.
SIZE:		monks and novices: about 10
		nuns: 0
		laypeople: a few
DAILY ROUTINE:	Similar to Wat Pah Nanachat
FOOD:		Good northeastern fare. Supplies may be limited,
                especially in the hot season. Visitors can also supply
                their own food and prepare it in the kitchen. The
                community eats one meal a day.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Individual kutis for monks, novices, and laypeople.
                Bathing is done at wells; toilets are Asian-style.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: A good place to practice if you are looking for
                solitude in a remote forest monastery. Visitors need to
                have their own practice, be self-reliant, and be willing
                to learn Thai. Some malaria exists here, so take care to
                use repellent and netting. Because this is a frontier
                area near Laos, women should only come and stay in
                groups of 2 or more. Laypeople observe 8 precepts.
                Laymen must shave their heads after 3 days. Ajahn
                Puriso, the former abbot, has left the monkhood.
                Conditions may or may not be suitable for Westerners
                now. Ask first at Wat Pah Nanachat.

                          WAT DOI DHAMMA CHEDI

MEANING OF NAME: "The hill monastery of the Dhamma Chedi"
ADDRESS:	Tambol Tong Khob, King Amper Khok Sri Suphan, Sakhon
                Nakhon 47280
DIRECTIONS:	Located 676 km northeast of Bangkok, 263 km north of
                Ubon Ratchathani, and 29 km southeast of Sakhon Nakhon.
                (Buses connect Sakhon Nakhon with Bangkok and most
                northeastern cities.) From Sakhon Nakhon, take a local
                bus or songtaew southeast 23 km on Hwy. 223 toward That
                Phanom; ask to be let off at Khok Sri Supan. Buses from
                Ubon Ratchathani to Sakhon Nakhon can also let you off
                here. Arrange transport south 6 km to Wat Doi Dhamma
                Chedi. Nearing the wat, you'll see rocky hills, then a
                concrete road that leads inside the grounds.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Ajahn Baen has experience with many systems. He most
                often teaches anapanasati or mental repetition of
                "Buddho" to establish concentration; one then
                contemplates the body and mind. Meditators are free to
                use their own techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: Occasional lectures and by asking questions.
TEACHER:	Ajahn Baen, abbot (Thai; age 63)
LANGUAGE:	Visitors must speak good conversational Thai. The
                teacher and most other monks do not know English.
DESCRIPTION:	The wat is built on and around a small wooded hill with
                views across the Maekhong Plain. The many sandstone
                boulders and outcrops add to the beauty. The main sala,
                at the end of the road, has an upstairs room used for
                meetings and eating; Ajahn Baen talks with visitors in
                the open area downstairs. Follow trails up the hill to
                see a large reclining Buddha and the //bot//. 
SIZE:		monks: 20-45
		novices: 3-5
		nuns: sometimes a few visiting
		laypeople: sometimes a few visiting
DAILY ROUTINE:	Mostly left up to individual. Ajahn Baen encourages
                everyone to practice diligently. Regular group
                activities include pindabat, the meal, an afternoon
                drink, and work periods. Ajahn Baen holds meetings when
                appropriate, most often during the Rains Retreat and
                other occasions when new monks arrive. Chanting and
                group meditation take place during the Rains Retreat in
                mornings and occasionally in evenings (if a meeting is
                held).
FOOD:		Very good northeastern style. Monks and novices go on
                pindabat; other food comes from the kitchen and donors.
                The community has one meal in the morning, served and
                eaten with the fingers. Monks, novices, and pakows eat
                upstairs in the main sala. Laypeople eat above the
                kitchen.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Monks and novices stay in kutis tucked around rock
                outcrops in the central area or scattered in the
                surrounding woods. Laymen can stay in kutis if
                available. Laypeople have 2 large buildings east of the
                main sala; one for women and nuns, the other for men.
                Women may feel more comfortable if arriving and
                staying in groups of 2 or more. Bathrooms, separate for
                men and women, have showers and Asian-style toilets.
                Bathrooms and large buildings have electricity; most
                kutis do not.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. The abbot likes to know such things as
                your name, country, and profession.
ORDINATION:	Can be requested. One normally spends some months as a
                pakow before ordination as a novice or monk.
OTHER INFORMATION: Ajahn Baen places strong emphasis on practice.
                Disciplinary code and temple rules are of great
                importance too. Laypeople observe 8 precepts and dress
                modestly. One should avoid unnecessary conversation or
                wandering about too much.

                            WAT PAH BAN THAT

MEANING OF NAME: "Forest monastery of Ban That"
ADDRESS:	c/o Songserm Service, 89 Phosi Road, Udon Thani 41000
DIRECTIONS:	Located 564 km northeast of Bangkok and 16 km southwest
                of Udon Thani.  Take a songtaew, local bus, or taxi from
                Udon Thani south 8 km to Ban Gum Kling, then turn
                southwest 7 km to Ban That and continue one km to the
                wat. Some songtaews go direct to Ban That from Udon and
                may even drop you off at the wat entrance. Samlor
                drivers in Udon usually know where the songtaews depart.
                     Several fast trains provide daily service to Udon,
                including an overnight express which offers comfortable
                2nd class sleepers. Many air-conditioned buses with
                reclining seats depart Bangkok's Northern (Moh Chit) Bus
                Terminal for the day or overnight journey. Ubon
                Ratchathani and other northeastern cities also have good
                bus connections with Udon.
                     THAI offers a daily flight from Bangkok to the
                airport just south of Udon.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati, mental repetition of "Buddho" (or
                "Dhammo" or "Sangho"), or contemplation of a part of the
                body is used to gain calm. The practice of samadhi has 3
                levels. First level is characterized by short periods of
                calm. Second level has mental images (//nimittas//)
                during longer periods of calm. The real level of samadhi
                -- the deep stage which is necessary -- is the third.
                The mind (//citta//) drops down to the level of the
                heart; there is then the experience of knowing, but
                having no specific object present. This is one of the
                happiest states one will ever find one's life, if the
                state can be attained. From this level of concentration
                one comes out of it and directs the mind toward
                contemplation of the body.
                     The object is to overcome //kilesas// (defilements)
                which lead us to do the wrong things. We overcome the
                kilesas by seeing them. However, only a well-
                concentrated mind can provide the basis to see deep-
                rooted kilesas. A teacher is valuable in developing the
                proper level of concentration. Self-reliance, minimal
                socializing, and observance of monks and temple rules
                receive emphasis in the practice here.
TEACHING METHOD: Ajahn Maha Bua rarely gives talks due to his age but he
                does meet with visitors in the morning and answers
                questions. Some of his talks have been translated into
                English and published in a series of books available at
                the wat; //Forest Dhamma// has a fairly complete
                description of the meditation instructions in English.
                Guidance in this meditation system of Ajahn Maha Bua is
                provided primarily by Ajahn Pannavaddho, probably the
                most senior western monk in Thailand.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Maha Bua, abbot (Thai; age 77)
		Ajahn Pannavaddho, vice abbot (English; age 65)
LANGUAGE:	Ajahn Maha Bua speaks a little English. Ajahn
                Pannavaddho speaks English and Thai.
DESCRIPTION:	A quiet, forested area of 160 rai (64 acres). Ajahn Maha
                Bua has chosen to keep the wat simple with a large
                wooden sala as the only major structure.
SIZE:		monks: 35-45
		novices: about 5
		nuns: occasionally a few
		laypeople: 5-30
DAILY ROUTINE:	Besides pindabat and the morning meal, the community
                gets together for cleaning in and around the sala in the
                morning, then for sweeping and water hauling in the
                afternoon. Each person practices on his own for most of
                the day. The only regular group meeting is the
                fortnightly //Patimokkha// for monks.
FOOD:		Very good northeastern and Bangkok styles. Monks and
                novices go on pindabat in Ban That, then eat one meal.
                Additional food comes from the kitchen and visiting
                supporters. Resident laymen can eat in the main sala
                with the monks and novices. Women eat in the women's
                area. Drinks and sweets are served in the early
                afternoon.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Everyone stays in well-separated kutis or in a //lan//
                (small roofed platform in the forest). Women live in a
                separate area of the wat. Some kutis have attached
                bathrooms or one can bathe at wells. Toilets are Asian-
                style. Generally no running water or electricity is
                available.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not needed. Try to avoid arriving on religious
                holidays, especially those on weekends, and during the
                Rains Retreat.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: The popularity and renown of Ajahn Maha Bua and his
                wat, together with limited space, make long-term stays
                difficult. Laypeople usually can stay up to 2-3 weeks;
                extensions can be requested. Monks and novices can visit
                only for short periods too. You can get directions to
                other wats that use the same meditation system; you'll
                need to speak Thai at these. Ajahn Maha Bua practiced
                under the meditation master Ajahn Mun for 9 years; he
                later wrote a biography of his teacher (see Recommended
                Reading).

                           WAT HIN MAAK PENG

MEANING OF NAME: It refers to 3 large rocks beside the river shaped like 
		measuring weights once used in Thailand.
ADDRESS:	Tambol Pra Putabat, Amper Si Chiangmai, Nong Khai 43130
DIRECTIONS:	Located on the banks of the Maekhong River, 655 km
                northeast of Bangkok. The temple is 68 km west of Nong
                Khai, the provincial capital. The town of Si Chiangmai,
                18 km east of the wat, has bus connections with Nong
                Khai, Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, and
                Bangkok. The overnight tour bus from Bangkok run by
                Baramee Tour goes all the way to the wat if there are 8
                or more passengers headed there. You can also take
                trains to Nong Khai or fly to Udon Thani (91 km from the
                wat). Songtaews go to Wat Hin Maak Peng from Si
                Chiangmai; other songtaews and local buses can drop you
                off at the gate, then it's half a kilometer walk in.
TELEPHONE:	(042) 451-110
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati (mindfulness with breathing), mental
                repetition of "Buddho," or //maranasati// (recollection
                of death) is used to develop concentration along with
                mindfulness. One then uses this "mind strength" to
                investigate the body and know its true characteristics.
                From this knowledge, the mind becomes free from
                clinging.
TEACHING METHOD: Everyone is free to follow their own meditation system. 
		Instruction is available mainly through books and tapes.
                Luang Poo Tate and other senior monks will answer
                questions. Mindfulness and observance of disciplinary
                code and temple rules are important in practice. 
TEACHER:	Luang Poo Tate, abbot (Thai; age 89)
LANGUAGE:	The vice abbot, Ajahn Pichit, and a few other monks
                speak English; they can translate and answer questions.
                Luang Poo Tate meets with visitors and answers their
                questions in Thai. He no longer gives talks, but his
                books (in Thai and English) and recordings of Dhamma
                talks (Thai) are available.
                     //The Autobiography of a Forest Monk//, by
                Venerable Ajahn Tate, recently became available in an
                English version, edited by Bhikkhu Ariyesako. Luang Poo
                Tate conveys much wisdom to the reader through stories
                and lessons from his life. The 314-page book is in
                libraries and available for free distribution from the
                monastery.
DESCRIPTION:	Many large, attractive buildings perched on the banks of
                the Maekhong River, opposite Laos. Scenic and quiet
                location with trees and bamboo groves. On entering the
                wat, you'll come to guest houses for laypeople on the
                right, the //bot// (uposatha hall) on the right, the
                abbot's residence on the right, then the main sala on
                the left. Monks and novices stay in kutis beyond the
                main sala. Ask one of monks in the main sala if you
                would like to stay or if you have questions.
SIZE:		monks: 35-50
		novices: 5-12
		nuns: 6-20
		laypeople: 15-30
DAILY ROUTINE:	A typical daily schedule begins with a bell at 3 a.m.
                for individual meditation practice (optional); 6:30 a.m.
                monks and novices go on pindabat; 7:30 a.m. monks and
                novices chant (usually in uposatha hall); 8 a.m. meal
                for monks, novices, and pakows in main sala (laypeople
                sit opposite and chant); 9 a.m. laypeople eat; 3 p.m.
                work period (sweeping and other chores); 4 p.m. drink;
                4:30 p.m. work period (cleaning main buildings); 7 p.m.
                chanting in main sala; 8-10 p.m. meditation in uposatha
                hall.
FOOD:		Very good Bangkok-style. Monks and novices go on
                pindabat for rice; most food comes from the kitchen and
                donors. Laypeople eat leftovers after monks finish
                eating. (It's allowable for foreigners to set aside some
                leftovers before the chanting, as the Thai laypeople
                quickly scoop up everything in sight as soon as the
                chanting ends.)
ACCOMMODATIONS: Monks and novices have individual kutis, somewhat close
                together. Laypeople who come for meditation can stay in
                guest houses (shared rooms), separate buildings for men
                and women. Laymen can also ask for a kuti in the monks'
                area. Most kutis have screens, electricity, and attached
                bathrooms. Bathrooms have showers or tanks for bathing
                and Asian-style toilets.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. Write with your plans to stay and
                whether or not you speak Thai.
ORDINATION:	Foreigners usually ordain at Wat Bovorn in Bangkok.
                Ordination is possible at Wat Hin Maak Peng if one
                speaks fluent Thai. The usual procedure is to: (1) ask
                permission from Luang Poo Tate; (2) after acceptance as
                a layman, one learns chanting and the rules of conduct;
                (3) one takes the white robes of a pakow, continues
                training, and learns the ordination procedure; (4)
                bhikkhu ordination ceremony then takes place (novice if
                under age 20). Length of training depends on how quickly
                one learns; one year is average for Thai people.
OTHER INFORMATION: Luang Poo Tate practiced under the famous Ajahn Mun
                for 9 years. He later founded this monastery on a site
                that had been popular with monks on tudong. Almost all
                monks here spend time on tudong.
                     Some malaria exists, so one needs to be careful to
                use repellent or netting from dusk to dawn. Visiting
                monks and novices who plan to spend more than 14 days
                need a letter of permission from their monastery.
                Laypeople should observe 8 precepts, respect rules, be
                self-reliant and motivated, and be quiet (socializing is
                discouraged). Women stay in their area except for some
                group chantings, meeting with a teacher, making
                offerings (//dana//), or paying respect to monks. Women
                should speak at least a little Thai.
Back to Top of Page

 


NORTHERN THAILAND

 

                               WAT UMONG

MEANING OF NAME: "Monastery with tunnels"
OTHER NAME:	Suan Buddha Dhamma ("Garden of Buddha's teachings")
ADDRESS:	Tambon Suthep, Amper Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
DIRECTIONS:	Located 3.5 km west of Chiang Mai. Easiest way is by
                tuk-tuk or bicycle. Or, take a city bus #1 or songtaew
                west 2.5 km on Suthep Rd. (_not_ the same road to Doi
                Suthep Temple) to Wang Nam Kan, then follow signs south
                1 km to the wat.
                     Chiang Mai is 700 km north of Bangkok and the most
                important city of the north. Frequent bus, train, and
                air services connect Chiang Mai with Bangkok and other
                major centers.
TELEPHONE:	(053) 277-248 (call only from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati, similar to teaching at Suan Mokkh. One
                is free to use one's own meditation techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: Teachers are available for questions. Talks in English
                are given every Sunday 3-6 p.m. at the Chinese Pavillion
                near the pond. A library/museum has many books in
                English and other foreign languages.
TEACHERS:	Phra Khru Sukhandasila, abbot (Thai; age 56)
		Phra Santitthito (Santi) (German; age 50) is no longer
                at Wat Umong; he now takes care of a large forest center
                in Australia as abbot and resident teacher: Wat
                Buddhadhamma, Ten Mile Hollow, Wisemans Ferry, New South
                Wales.
                A Western monk is usually in residence at Wat Umong.
LANGUAGE:       One should be able to speak some Thai. Other senior
                monks, including the abbot, speak a little English.
DESCRIPTION:	Peaceful, wooded grounds of 37.5 rai (15 acres). You can
                feed the fish, turtles, and ducks in a large pond.
                "Talking trees" have words of wisdom in Thai and
                English. The wat is famous for its ancient tunnels and
                large stupa. Other attractions include a Buddha field of
                broken sculpture, a fasting Bodhisatva, a Spiritual
                Theatre of paintings similar to those at Suan Mokkh,
                reproductions of ancient Buddhist sculpture of India,
                and a library-museum. This last building offers many
                books on Buddhism and other philosophies as well as a
                collection of historic objects and Buddhist art.
SIZE:		monks: 45-75
		novices: about 10
		nuns: about 8
		laypeople: about 10
DAILY ROUTINE:	A bell is rung at 4 a.m. Monks and novices are
                encouraged (and laypeople welcome) to attend chanting at
                4:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monks and novices go on pindabat
                after morning chanting, then eat together in a wooden
                sala. Because discipline, practice, and schedule are
                left up to each person for the most part, self-
                motivation is especially important. Laypeople on a short
                visit can follow 5 precepts; longer-term visitors should
                observe 8 precepts.
FOOD:		Monks eat once or twice a day from food collected on
                pindabat. Nuns normally cook their own food. Laypeople
                can also arrange meals at nearby shops or take from
                monk's leftovers.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual kutis in separate areas for monks/novices,
                nuns, and laypeople. Kutis, somewhat closely spaced,
                have screens and electricity; some also have attached
                Thai-style bathrooms (Asian- and some western-style
                toilets) and running water.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Yes, write or enquire well in advance. Only a small
                number of kutis are available for laypeople.
ORDINATION:	Possible for both short- and long-term as novice, monk,
                or maechee. One has a personal interview with the abbot
                to request ordination. If approved, one usually trains
                at Wat Umong for at least one month before ordination.
OTHER INFORMATION: The monastery, one of the oldest in the Chiang Mai
                area, may date as far back as 1300 A.D. Legend tells
                that a king built the brick-lined tunnels for a
                clairvoyant but sometimes eccentric monk named Thera
                Jan; paintings dated to about 1380 once decorated the
                walls. You can enter the tunnels to see the small
                shrines inside (a flashlight is useful). The adjacent
                stupa was constructed about 1520 over an earlier stupa
                (1400-1500). The monastery eventually fell into disuse,
                though Japanese troops were said to garrison here during
                WW II. Since 1948, the Thai prince Jao Chun Sirorot, now
                in his 90s, has been active in rebuilding and
                reestablishing the monastery. In 1949 he invited
                Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (founder of Suan Mokkh in southern
                Thailand) to come and live here. Duties kept Buddhadasa
                Bhikkhu from coming. Instead he sent Ajahn Pannananda
                and other monks to help set up and run Wat Umong.


                             WAT RAM POENG

MEANING OF NAME: "Monastery in memory of" (King Yod Chiengrai
                established the monastery in 1492 in memory of his
                father.)
OTHER NAME:	Wat Tapotaram ("Monastery of ascetic practice") and
                Northern Insight Meditation Center
ADDRESS:	Tambon Suthep, Amper Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
DIRECTIONS:	Located 4 km southwest of Chiang Mai. Easiest way is by
                tuk-tuk or bicycle. Or, take city bus #1 or songtaew
                west 2 km on Suthep Rd. to Phayom Market (also called
                Suthep), then go south 2 km to the wat (can take tuk-tuk
                or songtaew). Wat Umong is only 1 km to the northwest. 
TELEPHONE:	(053) 278-620
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Intensive vipassana meditation based on the Four
                Foundations of Mindfulness. Mahasi Sayadaw techniques
                are used.
TEACHING METHOD: Instruction and advice are given during daily
                interviews. Dhamma talks in Thai are presented on the
                night before //wan phra//.
TEACHERS:	Prasuprommayanna Thera (Ajahn Tong), abbot (Thai; age
                68)
		Ven. Luang Paw Banyat Akkayano, vice abbot and head of
                foreign section (Thai; age 78)
		One or 2 English-speaking teachers assist.
LANGUAGE:	The vice abbot and assistants speak English.
DESCRIPTION:	Buildings are closely spaced on the 15-rai (6-acre)
                grounds, with some trees and grass. The central stupa
                dates back to the founding of the wat in 1492. The
                glittering new building serves as the Tripitika Library;
                it contains collections of the "Three Baskets" of the
                Theravadan scriptures in Thai, English, Sanskrit, Sri
                Lankan, Burmese, Mon, Korean, and Chinese languages.
SIZE:		monks: 60-70
		novices: about 20
		nuns: 60-70
		laypeople: 40-60 (roughly half are foreigners)
DAILY ROUTINE:	Meditators are encouraged to try to practice 20 hours a
                day, lying down to sleep only at night. Meditation
                generally follows a cycle of //kraap// (bowing),
                walking, and sitting. Individual interviews take place
                daily (except on //wan phra//) in early afternoon.
                Practice typically begins at the 4 a.m. wakeup.
                Meditators have freedom to determine the schedule that
                works best.
FOOD:		Adequate; vegetarian can be requested and is generally
                available. Rice porridge and a vegetable are served at 6
                a.m., then the main meal at 10:30 a.m. Monks and novices
                go on pindabat.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual rooms with electricity and Thai-style
                bathrooms (bathing from jars; Asian- and a few western-
                style toilets) with running water.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended, because the centre is often full. If all
                rooms are full, you can sign up on a waiting list.
                Alternate accommodations may be available too. Writing,
                or better visiting, in advance enables you to reserve a
                space. Busiest times are the tourist season (Oct.
                through March) and the Rains Retreat (3-month period
                beginning mid- or late July). Preference is given to
                those planning on staying at least 26 days for the whole
                course and those who have practiced here before.
ORDINATION:	Can be requested by committed meditators wishing to be
                monks or nuns.
OTHER INFORMATION: The course takes 26 days to complete; a stay of one
                month is a bit better. Because practice is individual,
                you can arrive and begin at any time. Meditators may be
                accepted for shorter periods if space is available.
                Eight precepts are observed. Traditional white clothing
                is worn. Teachers allow some socializing, though care
                should be taken not to talk about or disturb others'
                meditation.
                     A small foreign library has books in English and a
                few other languages, Dhamma talks on tapes, and books
                and tapes for learning Thai. The library is available to
                meditators who have finished the 26-day course and to
                outside visitors.
                     The wat is popular with both westerners and Thais.
                Like Wat Umong, this monastery fell into disuse sometime
                after its founding. During WW II, Japanese troops
                occupied and badly damaged the site. Reconstruction of
                the viharn began in 1971. In 1974, Prakrupipatkanapiban,
                the abbot of Wat Muang Mang and head teacher of a
                meditation school in Chiang Mai, came here and stayed;
                he's the current abbot and now has the name
                Prasuprommayanna Thera. Meditation courses at Wat Ram
                Poeng began in 1975.

                      THAM TONG MEDITATION CENTRE

MEANING OF NAME: "Tong Cave"
ADDRESS:	Tambon Ban Pae, Amper Chom Thong, Chiang Mai 50240
DIRECTIONS:	Located 86 km southwest of Chiang Mai. Take a bus from
                Chiang Mai toward Hot; ask to be let off at the stop for
                Tham Tong (23 km past Chom Thong, between KM posts 82
                and 83). Follow the gravel road 1.5 km west to Ban Pae,
                then turn left 2 km on a small paved road to its end at
                the meditation centre. You may have to walk in from the
                highway as local transport is infrequent.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana based on methods taught by Mahasi Sayadaw.
                The centre is a branch of Wat Maha That in Bangkok; the
                same meditation system is used. One can also use one's
                own techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: The teacher provides instruction for new arrivals, then
                interviews as needed.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Suchin Vimalo, abbot (Thai; age 52)
LANGUAGE:	The teacher does not speak English. Visitors need to
                know basic conversational Thai. A few nuns speak
                English, but may not be available (especially for male
                visitors).
DESCRIPTION:	The center covers about 30 rai (12 acres) on both sides
                of a narrow, wooded valley. A peaceful setting with
                running stream, caves, and mountains. The land and
                surrounding mountains belong to the Forestry Department. 
SIZE:		monks: 7-40
		novices: 3-10
		nuns: 15-25
                laypeople: 10-40
DAILY ROUTINE:	Wakeup bell is at 3:30 a.m.; the meal and some chanting
                is at 8:30 a.m. One also helps with sweeping and
                cleaning work. Except for the meal, the entire day is
                free for individual meditation practice in solitude. 
FOOD:		Adequate quality; one meal at 8:30 a.m. of food offered
                by the meditation centre. (Newcomers may also be offered
                a rice porridge earlier in the morning for the first few
                days.) Monks, novices, and nuns eat from alms bowls but
                do not go on pindabat. Laymen can eat with the monks and
                novices; laywomen and nuns have their meal together in
                an adjacent room.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Individual kutis (in most cases), fairly close together,
                or rooms; most have electricity, screens, and Thai-style
                bathrooms with running water (bathing from tanks; Asian-
                style toilets).
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. The centre is often full during the
                Rains Retreat and times of other retreats. 
ORDINATION:	Not available for novice or monk. Women can ordain as
                maechees; this centre appears to be an especially good
                place for the nun's life.
OTHER INFORMATION: This is a meditation practice center with strict
                discipline. Visitors must be highly self-reliant and
                self-motivated. Laypeople wear white clothing and follow
                8 precepts. Time should be devoted to meditation and
                all-around mindfulness. Socializing, reading, and
                writing are discouraged.
Back to Top of Page

 


SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

                               SUAN MOKKH

MEANING OF NAME: "Garden of liberation"
FULL NAME:	Suan Mokkhabalarama ("Garden of the power of
                liberation")
ADDRESS:	Amper Chaiya, Surat Thani 84110
DIRECTIONS:	Suan Mokkh is about 640 km south of Bangkok and just
                west of the Asian Highway (Hwy. 41); Surat Thani, 53 km
                southeast, is the nearest city. From Bangkok, take any
                southbound Rapid train and get off at Chaiya, about 40
                km north of Surat Thani's Phun Phin station, then take a
                songtaew to Suan Mokkh. Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal
                is on the Buddha-Monthon Road in Thonburi; both air-
                conditioned and non-AC buses depart here for southern
                Thailand. Take a bus bound for Surat Thani or Nakhon Si
                Thammarat and ask to be let off at Suan Mokkh; buses
                will either let you off directly in front (KM post 71)
                or at the Shell station 1 km north.
                     From the south, take trains that stop in Surat
                Thani (Phun Phin) or Chaiya. At Phun Phin station, ask
                at the bus stop in front for a bus going by Suan Mokkh.
                (Phun Phin, Surat Thani's train station, is 14 km west
                of the city.) Buses from Surat Thani bus station depart
                about hourly during the day.
                     THAI flies direct to Surat Thani from Bangkok,
                Chiang Mai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, and Trang; the
                airport is 27 km south of Suan Mokkh and 2 km west of
                the highway.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati (mindfulness with breathing) according to
                the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta. New students first learn
                some theoretical background and the purpose of Dhamma
                practice, then the preparations for and the 16 lessons
                (objects of investigation) which make up mindfulness
                with breathing. Walking meditation is also done using
                mindfulness with breathing; if one has difficulty doing
                this, one can observe sensations in feet or legs. One
                practices the first 4 lessons (the body foundation of
                mindfulness) to calm one's breathing and body and to
                stabilize the mind. Then one refines both the calmness
                of the mind and one's understanding of how it works by
                working with lessons 5-8 (the feelings foundation of
                mindfulness) and 9-12 (the mind foundation of
                mindfulness). At any time that the mind is sufficiently
                calm and stable, while practicing with right
                understanding and motivation, insight can take place,
                even during the first lessons. Lessons 13-16 (the Dhamma
                foundation of mindfulness) further develop and perfect
                insight into right knowledge (//vijja//) and liberation
                (//vimutti//). The goal of this practice is to realize
                the voidness-emptiness of the 5 //skhandhas// (body,
                feelings, memory, thought, and sense awareness), that
                there is nothing worth attaching to as "I" or "mine."
                     To aid the development of right understanding
                (//sammaditthi//), the Buddha's teachings on //anatta//
                (not-self) and //paticcasamuppada// (dependent
                origination) are examined in detail and depth. The study
                and investigation of these principles are considered
                essential at Suan Mokkh.
TEACHING METHOD: Formal instruction is given only during monthly 10-day
                retreats; at other times interviews, books, and tapes
                are available. Retreats feature Dhamma talks,
                interviews, group sittings, walking meditation, and
                morning hatha yoga.
TEACHERS:	Ajahn Poh, abbot (Thai; age 60)
		(Foreign monks and nuns do most of the English
                teaching.)
LANGUAGE:	English is the medium of instruction for foreigners.
SUAN MOKKH STYLE: The purpose of Dhamma practice here is to get free of
                the tyranny of ego in order to live peacefully (in
                realization of Nibbana) and usefully (in service to
                Dhamma and humanity). Thus residents try to practice
                unselfishness in everything they do -- meditation,
                study, work, talk, sleep, and whatever life asks. Suan
                Mokkh is not a "meditation center" per se where people
                come only to "meditate." This is a Garden of Liberation,
                a place to study and practice Dhamma in a wholistic way.
                Study and investigation of Buddha-Dhamma given in the
                Pali suttas is an essential foundation for practice.
                Joyful service for others is the context of practice.
                Thus cultivating Right Understanding and Right
                Aspiration with the path of samatha and vipassana
                becomes liberation now. Each person integrates the three
                aspects of study, service, and meditation in the way
                that works for them. With growing mindfulness and
                wisdom, temporary liberation blossoms into the perfect
                voidness empty of "I" and "mine," full of wisdom and
                peace.
DESCRIPTION:	Set on 300 rai (120 acres) of forest at the base of Nang
                A Mountain. Group meetings take place outdoors whenever
                possible. Two "ships" (one a meeting hall, the other a
                rock garden) can be visited, but the //bot// (uposatha)
                sits atop Golden Buddha Hill in the center of the
                monastery. This natural open-air setting under the trees
                probably resembles uposatha areas used during the time
                of the Buddha. A Spiritual Theatre, near the ships, has
                Buddhist paintings from many traditions. Reproductions
                of ancient Indian sculpture that depict the Buddha's
                life decorate the outside walls of the theatre and are
                scattered around the monastery grounds.
                     The International Dhamma Hermitage, 1.5 km east of
                Suan Mokkh, has been the site of meditation retreats
                since 1989. Ten-day retreats in English begin on the
                first of every month (one must arrive 1-2 days in
                advance for registration). Thai retreats take place mid-
                month of most months; retreats for monks are held
                occasionally too. The 120-rai (48-acre) site has coconut
                palms and small trees with many open areas.
                     A new forest monastery of about 70 rai (28 acres)
                lies beyond the hermitage; foreign monks and laymen come
                for very long-term study and practice in the Suan Mokkh
                tradition. English is the medium of instruction.
SIZE:		monks: 40-70
		novices: sometimes a few
		nuns: 15-25
		laypeople: 15-20 Thai, 15-25 foreign; (numbers increase
                greatly during retreats and conferences)
DAILY ROUTINE:	Retreat schedules change through the ten-day period
                according to the teachers, but wakeup time is 4 a.m.,
                breakfast 8 a.m., and lunch 12:30 p.m. A typical
                schedule for meditators staying "between" retreats is 4
                a.m. wakeup; 5 a.m. meditation; 6 a.m. yoga or other
                exercise (optional); 8 a.m. breakfast; 9 a.m. chores;
                11:30 a.m. meditation; 1 p.m. lunch; 4:30 p.m.
                meditation; 5:30 p.m. drinks; 7 p.m. tape or talk; 8
                p.m. meditation; 9 p.m. individual practice; 10 p.m.
                lights out.
RETREAT INFORMATION: The 10-day retreats have been very popular. They
                provide a unique opportunity to experience the
                anapanasati technique in a retreat setting. (Most other
                meditation centres in the Theravadan tradition teach the
                vipassana system based on Mahasi Sayadaw's techniques.)
                Retreats begin on the first of every month; you must
                register in person a day or 2 in advance. Sometimes the
                110-person capacity of the retreat cannot accommodate
                everyone who comes, hence the importance of coming
                beforehand. Upon acceptance, one must follow
                instructions given and be committed to staying the
                entire 10-day course. Late arrivals aren't possible.
                Retreats take place at the International Dhamma
                Hermitage 1.5 km east across the highway from
                Suan Mokkh. Foreign visitors cannot be received easily
                at Suan Mokkh when retreats are underway, so plan
                arrival after the 11th of each month. Participation in
                community activities is expected. One is encouraged to
                practice in the Suan Mokkh style. Experienced meditators
                who have done a retreat here before may request
                permission for long-term stays.
FOOD:		Laypeople eat 2 vegetarian meals a day at a foreign
                kitchen (at the hermitage during retreats, at Suan Mokkh
                between retreats). Monks and novices eat once or twice a
                day from food collected on pindabat and provided by the
                monks' kitchen (mostly nonvegetarian). 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	During retreats at the International Dhamma Hermitage,
                meditators have small individual rooms; separate
                buildings for men and women. Bathing is Thai-style from
                tanks; toilets are Asian-style. Other times visitors
                stay at Suan Mokkh; men have small dormitory rooms;
                women stay in individual rooms or dormitories; Thai-
                style bathing from tanks (most men's areas are in the
                open); mostly Asian-style toilets. Monks and novices
                stay in individual kutis scattered through the forest
                or in monk's dormitories if all kutis are occupied (they
                often are). Most buildings and kutis have electricity.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Don't. Retreat registration has to be done in person.
ORDINATION:	Can be arranged for men who have a serious interest in
                ordaining and practicing in the Suan Mokkh style. One
                should be committed to long-term practice (at least 3
                years). The training offered takes about 10 years.
                Normally one trains initially as a layman for 3 months
                or more, then as a novice for 6 months or more before
                full ordination. Ordination ceremonies take place at
                another temple.
OTHER INFORMATION: Although Suan Mokkh prefers not to make rules, it is
                much appreciated when visitors dress and behave within
                the rather conservative traditions of Thai forest wats.
                Laypeople observe 5 precepts. A daily charge of 50 baht
                (US $2) covers food and accommodation expenses during
                and between retreats.
                     Buddhadasa Bhikkhu founded Suan Mokkh in 1932 and
                moved it to its present location about 10 years later.
                He has sought to provide a natural setting where
                visitors can forget "themselves" and study, practice,
                and realize the Dhamma. His many books, some translated
                into English, skilfully explain anapanasati meditation
                and other aspects of the Buddha's teaching.
                     Ajahn Buddhadasa died at Suan Mokkh on July 8,
                1993; He was 87 years old.
                     The "Evolution/Liberation" newsletter comes out
                once a year with articles and news; it's available free
                by mail or at Suan Mokkh; donations support publication
                and distribution. The foreign library at Suan Mokkh has
                a variety of books on Buddhist and related topics. Most
                are in English, though German, French, and other
                languages are represented too.
                                                      
                              WAT KOW THAM
                    INTERNATIONAL MEDITATION CENTER

MEANING OF NAME: "Mountain cave monastery"
ALSO SPELLED:	Wat Kow Tahm
ADDRESS:	Abbot, Wat Kow Tham, Koh Pha-Ngan, Surat Thani 84280
DIRECTIONS:	Koh Pha-Ngan, an idyllic island with many beaches, lies
                just north of Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. Daily
                boats connect the islands with each other and direct to
                ferry terminals in the Surat Thani area. Bangkok Airways
                has daily flights between Bangkok and Koh Samui. Surat
                Thani has good bus, train, and air connections with
                Bangkok and other centers. On arrival at the pier in
                Thong Sala on Koh Pha-Ngan, take a songtaew or taxi
                southeast 4 km to the junction for Wat Kow Tham, then
                turn inland 1 km up a steep road to the wat.
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana similar to techniques taught by Mahasi
                Sayadaw. Primary concentration development is on the
                breathing and physical sensations; mental noting helps
                focus on moment to moment awareness. Teachers emphasize
                compassion as the basis of mental development and
                meditation practice. Compassion and loving kindness have
                a close connection and receive much attention. Standing
                meditation is taught as a formal practice along with
                sitting and walking postures. Wise reflections are
                encouraged on compassion-loving kindness, sympathetic
                joy, how fortunate we are, karma, death, dukkha, and
                impermanence.
TEACHING METHOD: During 10-day retreats, scheduled most months, teachers
                present a short Dhamma talk in the morning and a longer
                one in the evening. Further instructions are given
                during individual interviews. The teachers are often
                available for guidance between retreats too. The retreat
                talks can be purchased in a book and on audio tapes;
                people have found this material useful as an
                introduction before attending a retreat and a review
                afterward.
TEACHERS:	Steve Weissman (American; age 42)
		Rosemary Weissman (Australian; age 39)
LANGUAGE:	English; some German material is available. Teachers
                also speak Thai.
DESCRIPTION:	Beautiful island setting near the south coast. The wat
                covers 33 rai (13 acres) on a wooded hill; you can gaze
                out across the water to Koh Samui and other islands.
SIZE:		monks: 2-5
		novices: usually 0
		nuns: 4-6
		laypeople: Steve and Rosemary Weissman are resident
DAILY ROUTINE:	The day begins at 4 a.m. and is largely devoted to
                periods of (ON RETREAT) sitting, walking, and standing
                meditation. A morning exercise session aids in
                developing mindfulness of body and improving
                flexibility. Teachers give morning and evening talks.
                Everyone is expected to keep noble silence and to follow
                the schedule.
DAILY ROUTINE:  Guests are required to take part in 3 meditation
                periods, a (BTWN RETREATS) work time, and the meals.
FOOD:		Wholesome Thai vegetarian. The kitchen serves 2 meals in
                the morning. A light dinner in the afternoon is also
                available during retreats; hot drinks are served in the
                afternoon between retreats. Some nonvegetarian food may
                be served between retreats.
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Simple dormitories and some shared rooms; Thai-style
                bathrooms have running water. Buildings have
                electricity.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: A good idea to obtain retreat dates and registration
                information. Also, the wat closes occasionally when
                monastic retreats take place. Mail can be slow and
                unreliable, so it's best to visit in person in advance
                of your intended stay.
ORDINATION:	Not available
OTHER INFORMATION: Ten-day intensive retreats take place most months.
                They usually begin about midmonth (dates vary). The 40-
                person retreat capacity sometimes fills, so it's a good
                idea to preregister by mail or in person. A 90 baht (US
                $3.60) daily fee covers food expenses. Teaching and
                monastery facilities are offered freely.
                     Visitors are usually welcome to practice meditation
                here between retreats too. A simplified schedule is
                followed with more freedom for one to organize one's own
                time. Teachers may not be available, however. Note that
                the wat closes occasionally.
                     Two new programs have been developed for approved
                old students: an intensive 20-day retreat and a less-
                intensive 3-month work retreat scholarship; both are
                designed to help the student understand more fully how
                to incorporate their formal practice into their normal
                life. Much of the teaching centers on further
                development of //yoniso manasikara// (wise reflection)
                in developing Right Understanding and Right Intention.
                Attention is also given to the 10 //paramis//
                (perfections) and the 8 worldly conditions so that one
                can understand more clearly the difference between
                beneficial conditioning and unbeneficial conditioning.
                     A Thai nun, Maechee Ah Mohn Pahn, is in charge of
                the center (nuns rarely have such a position in
                Thailand). She speaks English but does not teach the
                foreigners.

AN ADDITIONAL MONASTERY IN THE SOUTH

Wat Tham Sua ("Tiger Cave Temple") in Krabi Province has a beautiful setting in a natural amphitheater enclosed by sheer limestone cliffs. Some shrines and monk's kutis lie tucked back in caves. Ajahn Jumnien, who receives great respect for his skill in teaching, has mastered a variety of vipassana and concentration techniques. He will talk with a new student and suggest the best method for that person.

Language and accommodations are the main difficulties for foreigners. The teacher doesn't speak English, nor can you expect to find anyone who can translate. You may be able to stay here, but space is tight. The author found the teacher friendly and very approachable, but other temple residents to be indifferent to visitors. (The wat may get too many tourists for the comfort of the monks and nuns.) A day visit is recommended for one who can speak fluent Thai (or can bring a translator along). From Krabi, go north 6 km to the Talaat Kao junction, east 8 km on Hwy. 4 (toward Hat Yai), then 2 km north to the wat. Songtaews and local buses will take you to the turnoff, where you can walk or take a motorcycle taxi. A songtaew could also be hired direct to the wat. Any bus between Hat Yai (or Trang) and Krabi will pass by the wat turnoff.

Steve and Rosemary Weissman, teachers at Wat Kow Tham International Meditation Center, visit Ajahn Jumnien regularly and find his advice extremely helpful. They also advise traveling meditators to go to Wat Tham Sua and visit him. Someone may be available to translate, though this cannot be relied upon.

Back to Top of Page

 


PENANG ISLAND, MALAYSIA

Many travelers come through this multi-cultured island to see the sights or to obtain a Thai visa. You can also stay and practice meditation here. Visitors of most nationalities typically receive a 3-month entry permit on arrival (no visa needed) in Malaysia. The country also has the advantage of easy access from Thailand (inexpensive if one comes by train or bus). English is widely spoken.

 

            MALAYSIAN BUDDHIST MEDITATION CENTRE (M.B.M.C.)

ADDRESS:	Honorary Secretary, Malaysian Buddhist Meditation
                Centre, 355 Jalan Masjid Negeri, 11600 Penang, MALAYSIA
DIRECTIONS:	Located in the southwest part of Georgetown, the main
                city on Penang Island. Taxis provide the easiest way to
                get here. Buses "Majlis Perbandaran Pulau Pinang" #5, 6,
                9, and 11 pass by from the ferry jetty.
			A short, inexpensive ferry ride connects Penang
                with Butterworth on the northwest coast of Malaysia. The
                train station is in Butterworth. Long-distance buses
                operate both from Penang (via a bridge) and Georgetown.
                The airport, on Penang Island, has connections with
                Bangkok, Phuket, and Hat Yai in Thailand and many other
                cities in Asia.
TELEPHONE:	(04) 872-534
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Vipassana, based on the Mahasi Sayadaw techniques and
                Four Foundations of Mindfulness. All meditators must
                adhere to this method while they are here.
TEACHING METHOD: Individual interviews and group Dhamma talks; frequency
                is determined by the teacher.
TEACHERS:	A monk experienced in teaching vipassana meditation (the
                teacher changes from time to time).
LANGUAGE:	English is the main language; translation for the
                Hokkien language used locally is available. If the
                teacher is not fluent in English, he will use a
                translator.
DESCRIPTION:	Look for a large 3-story building with an orange- and
                green-tiled roof. The office, group sitting and walking
                areas, and men's accommodations are inside. Women's
                accommodations are in a separate building behind.
                Kitchen and dining area are in front and to the side of
                the main building. Trees and grass in a suburban
                setting.
SIZE:		monks: 2-22
		novices: 0-9
		nuns: 0-5
		laymen: 0-22
		laywomen: 5-60
DAILY ROUTINE:	Day begins at 3:45 a.m. and ends after the 9:45 p.m.
                Metta chanting. Breakfast is at 6:30 a.m., lunch at 11
                a.m. Most of the day consists of alternating hour-long
                periods of sitting and walking meditation; beginners can
                start with shorter periods, then work up to one hour.
                Sleep should be limited to 4-6 hours a day. Continual
                mindfulness through the waking hours is emphasized.
FOOD:		Good quality and variety Malaysian food; vegetarian is
                sometimes available and can be requested then. Two meals
                are served in the morning. 
ACCOMMODATIONS:	Laypeople stay in dormitories, separate for men and
                women. Monks and novices have individual rooms but may
                have to share.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Recommended. Occasionally the centre fills,
                especially during school holidays, and staff can advise
                you.
ORDINATION:	Ordinations are not normally provided now. The centre is
                associated with the Panditarama Meditation Centre in
                Rangoon (Yangon).
OTHER INFORMATION: The centre, declared open in 1982, offers intensive
                meditation instruction and practice year-round. One can
                begin a retreat any time. This centre is connected with
                the Mahasi Meditation Centre in Rangoon (Yangon), Burma
                (Myanmar).
                     Meditators should plan on a minimum stay of 10-14
                days for best results. (One can come for a month or
                longer.) The centre requests that everyone observe 8
                precepts and abstain from reading, writing (except notes
                for interviews), and talking with other meditators about
                meditation experiences. Men wear white; women a white
                blouse and a long skirt (plain, no bright colors) or
                brown sarong. The centre appreciates your bringing a
                letter of recommendation. Donations support most costs
                of operation; a M$3 (US $1.10) daily fee is levied for
                food and accommodation.
Back to Top of Page

 


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Westerners tend to have many questions concerning the meditation practice. Following are some typical questions with their answers given by Ajahn Chah of Wat Nong Pah Pong and translated by Jack Kornfield.

Question: I'm trying very hard in my practice but I don't seem to be getting anywhere.

Answer: This is very important. Don't try to get anywhere in the practice. The very desire to be free or to be enlightened will be the desire that prevents your freedom. You can try as hard as you wish, practice ardently night and day, but if it is with the desire to achieve in mind, you will never find peace. The energy from this desire will be cause for doubt and restlessness. No matter how long or how hard you practice, wisdom will not arise from desire. So, simply let go. Watch the mind and body mindfully but don't try to achieve anything. Don't cling even to the practice or to enlightenment.

Q: What about other methods of practice? These days there seem to be so many teachers and so many different systems of meditation that it is confusing.

A: It is like going to town. One can approach from the north, from the southeast, from many roads. Often these systems just differ outwardly. Whether you walk one way or another, fast or slow, if you are mindful it is all the same. There is one essential point that all good practice must eventually come to. That is not clinging. In the end, all meditation systems must be let go of. Neither can one cling to the teacher. If a system leads to relinquishment, to not clinging, then it is correct practice.

You may wish to travel, to visit other teachers and try other systems. Some of you have already done so. This is a natural desire. You will find out that a thousand questions asked and knowledge of many systems will not bring you to the truth. Eventually you will get bored. You will see that only by stopping and examining your own mind can you find out what the Buddha talked about. No need to go searching outside yourself. Eventually you must return to face your own true nature. Here is where you can understand the Dhamma.

Q: Is it necessary to sit for very long stretches?

A: No, sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nest for days on end! Wisdom comes by being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fall asleep. Don't be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom.

Each person has his own natural pace. Some of you will die at age 50, some at age 65, and some at age 90. So too, your practices will not be all identical. Don't think or worry about this. Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course. Then your mind will become quieter and quieter in any surroundings. It will become still like a clear forest pool. Then all kinds of wonderful and rare animals will come to drink at the pool. You will see clearly the nature of all things in the world. You will see many wonderful and strange things come and go. But you will be still. Problems will arise and you will see through them immediately. This is the happiness of the Buddha.

Q: You have said that samatha and vipassana, or concentration and insight, are the same. Could you explain this further?

A: It is quite simple. Concentration (samatha) and wisdom (vipassana) work together. First the mind becomes still by holding on to a meditation object. It is quiet only while you are sitting with your eyes closed. This is samatha and eventually this concentration is the cause for wisdom or vipassana to arise. Then the mind is still whether you sit with your eyes closed or walk around in a busy city.

It's like this. Once you were a child. Now you are an adult. Are the child and the adult the same person? You can say that they are, or looking at it another way, you can say that they are different. In this way samatha and vipassana could also be looked at as separate. Or it is like food and feces. Food and feces could be called the same and they can be called different. Don't just believe what I say, do your practice and see for yourself. Nothing special is needed. If you examine how concentration and wisdom arise, you will know the truth for yourself. These days many people cling to the words. They call their practice vipassana. Samatha is looked down on. Or they call their practice samatha. They say it is essential to do samatha before vipassana. All this is silly. Don't bother to think about it in this way. Simply do the practice and you'll see for yourself.

Q: How can we overcome lust in our practice? Sometimes I feel as if I am a slave to my sexual desire.

A: Lust should be balanced by contemplation of loathsomeness. Attachment to bodily form is one extreme and one should keep in mind the opposite. Examine the body as a corpse and see the process of decay or think of the parts of the body such as lungs, spleen, fat, feces, and so forth. Remember these and visualize this loathsome aspect of the body when lust arises. This will free you from lust.

Q: How about anger? What should I do when I feel anger arising?

A: You must use loving kindness. When angry states of mind arise in meditation, balance them by developing feelings of loving kindness. If someone does something bad or gets angry, don't get angry yourself. If you do, you are being more ignorant than he. Be wise. Keep in mind compassion, for that person is suffering. Fill your mind with loving kindness as if he were a dear brother. Concentrate on the feeling of loving kindness as a meditation subject. Spread it to all beings in the world. Only through loving kindness is hatred overcome.

Sometimes you may see other monks behaving badly. You may get annoyed. This is suffering unnecessarily. It is not yet our Dhamma. You may think like this, "He is not as strict as I am. They are not serious meditators like us. Those monks are not good monks." This is a great defilement on your part. Do not make comparisons. Do not discriminate. Let go of your opinions and watch yourself. This is our Dhamma. You can't possibly make everyone act as you wish or to be like you. This wish will only make you suffer. It is a common mistake for meditators to make, but watching other people won't develop wisdom. Don't worry. Simply examine yourself, your feelings. This is how you will understand.

Q: Could you explain a little more about karma?

A: Karma is action. Karma is clinging. Body, speech, or mind all make karma when we cling. We make habits. These can make us suffer in the future. This is the fruit of our clinging, of our past defilement. All attachment leads to making karma. Suppose you were a thief before you became a monk. You stole, made others unhappy, made your parents unhappy. Now you are a monk, but when you remember how you made others unhappy, you feel bad and suffer yourself even today. Remember, not only body, but speech and mental action can make conditions for future results. If you did some act of kindness in the past and remember it today, you will be happy. This happy state of mind is the result of past karma. All things are conditioned by causes -- both long term and, when examined, moment to moment. But you need not bother to figure out past, present, or future. Merely watch the body and mind. You can then understand karma in yourself. Watch your mind, practice, and you will see clearly. Make sure, however, that you leave the karma of others to them. Don't cling to and don't watch others. If I take poison, I suffer. No need for you to share it with me! Take what is good that your teacher offers. Then you can become peaceful, your mind will become like that of your teacher. If you will examine it, you will see. Even if now you don't understand, when you practice, it will become clear. You will know by yourself. This is called practicing the Dhamma.

When we were young, our parents used to discipline us and get angry. Really they wanted to help us. You must see it over the long term. Parents and teachers criticize us and we get upset. Later on we can see why. After long practice you will know. Those who are too clever leave after a short time. They never learn. You must get rid of your cleverness. If you think yourself better than others, you will only suffer. What a pity. No need to get upset. Just watch.

Q: I have been meditating many years now. My mind is open and peaceful in almost all circumstances. Now I would like to try to backtrack and practice high states of concentration of mind absorption.

A: This is fine. It is a beneficial exercise. If you have wisdom, you will not get hung up on concentrated states of mind. It is the same as wanting to sit for long periods. This is fine for training. But really, practice is separate from any posture. It is a matter of directly looking at the mind. This is wisdom. When you have examined and understood the mind, then you have the wisdom to know the limitations of concentration, or of books. If you have practiced and understand not- clinging, you can then return to the books. They will be like a sweet dessert. They can help you to teach others. Or you can go back to practice absorption. You have the wisdom to know not to hold on to anything.

Back to Top of Page

 


ORDINATION AS A MONK

Although one does not have to be ordained as a bhikkhu (monk) to follow the path of the Buddha, the monastic life can be most conducive to the practice of meditation. It is a life relatively free from the worry of worldly cares and distractions. One has the opportunity and environment in which to live a life-style that the layman cannot experience.

Thai Tradition

Monks receive the greatest respect in Thai society, for ordination implies that the person has turned away from worldly desires and ambitions in pursuit of the highest wisdom and purification. Ordination is considered by Thai Buddhists the most worthy act a man can perform. So worthy is it, in fact, that most every Thai male will at some time in his life, generally after completing his studies and before marriage, spend a period in monkhood. Ordination traditionally takes place with much celebration before the commencement of the rainy season and the newly ordained monk remains in the monastery for a period of a week to a few months. During that time he learns to chant some Pali scriptures, studies the Buddha's teachings, and receives instruction in meditation. Upon completion of his time in robes, he reenters society as a layman, wiser for the experience, "ripe," and ready to fulfill his responsibilities as an adult. Some boys receive novitiate ordination as a child and remain novices throughout their youth before receiving higher ordination as a monk. Some men spend their entire lives draped in the saffron robes of the Buddhist order.

The Ordination

The sight of a foreigner ordained as a monk brings pleasure to the Thais. It's a sign that the foreigner accepts and respects their beliefs and wishes to experience what they consider to be a very important aspect of their lives. To wear robes means to place oneself as a symbol of the Buddhist way of life, thus it's essential to learn the proper behavior for a monk beforehand. This may take more time and effort for the foreigner than for the Thai who is "born" into Buddhist culture. Usually one spends a period at a wat as an 8-precept layman to learn the rules and some chanting. Laymen in some monasteries wear the white robes of a pakow (anagarika). Novices wear orange robes, follow 10 precepts (basically the same as 8 precepts except no money can be possessed), and have 75 training rules. Prior to full ordination as a monk, one must meet the requirements of being a man at least 20 years old, free of debt and government/military obligations, and have consent of immediate family. The ordination ceremony uses Pali language, which must be memorized. In the first part one takes the going forth as a novice; the second part, which can be done immediately following the first, comprises the higher ordination of a monk. Monks follow 227 rules of discipline (

Patimokkha).

Requesting Ordination

When one has made the decision to lead a monk's life and selected a wat, one approaches the abbot or his secretary for an interview. One is then accepted as a naga, an applicant for ordination and given training in rules, daily chanting, and the ordination procedure. Some abbots feel that a short-term ordination is worthwhile and readily grant permission. Others believe that one should try to stay in robes as long as possible (1-5 years minimum). Length of training before ordination can be one month or even less at some wats; at other wats the abbot might expect an applicant to spend at least 9 months as a layman and novice before higher ordination. As the famous Ajahn Chah put it, "Easy to ordain, easy to disrobe."

The Monk's Life

To become a monk requires conviction. To remain a monk requires patience and understanding. These attributes can be cultivated and will arise naturally with the development of meditation. The life of a monk has its highs and lows and requires constant effort. There are always periods of discouragement, but with the right attitude and a balanced view of one's emotional changes, one will learn from the difficulties that arise and gain understanding. Time spent as a monk will be a valuable and rewarding experience.

Back to Top of Page

ON BECOMING A NUN

When the religious order was first established, women were excluded. After several requests, and after carefully considering the social values of the day, the Buddha agreed to allow women to be admitted to the order. The first woman accepted into the Sangha was Paccabadi Gotami, the Buddha's stepmother, who was ordained by the Buddha himself. In establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha, the Buddha stipulated that future ordinations should be conducted with a fully ordained bhikkhuni present as a witness.

For over 1,400 years women sought and received ordination. In later years, however, the number of women seeking to live the holy life began to dwindle until the day came when there were no longer any fully- ordained bhikkhunis living in the world. Without a bhikkhuni present as a witness, ordination could not be given to female applicants and the Bhikkhuni Sangha ceased to exist.

Women have not been deprived of the opportunity to live the holy life. White-robed maechees can be found following ascetic practices in many temples throughout Thailand. In fact, in some temples they outnumber monks. Ordination for women in Thailand means undertaking to live by the 8 precepts, dressing in white, and shaving the head. A woman intending to stay for only a short period does not have to shave her head.

The life of a maechee in a wat or meditation centre follows much the same pattern as a monk's, but with a greater emphasis on service (i.e. cooking and cleaning). Maechees, although living and practicing in a separate area of the wat or centre, follow a daily routine which includes meditation and chanting sessions and interviews with the teacher. They usually do not go for alms rounds, however, and sometimes eat after the monks.

Maechees generally do not receive the same high degree of respect as monks, but as a foreigner, the reception will always be warm and welcoming wherever one goes. Women's liberationists may find plenty to support their cause, so to avoid conflicts, it's better to leave such thoughts at home.

Thailand offers a rare opportunity for women to experience and live the contemplative life. Foreign women have taken advantage of this opportunity to live the life of a Thai maechee, many quite successfully. Sometimes the struggle may become difficult, but with patience and understanding, and a sense of anatta (selflessness) and humor, all obstacles can be overcome.

Back to Top of Page

 


RECOMMENDED READING

(Entries marked * are by free distribution only; they're available in affiliated wats or meditation centres and in libraries.)
[Entries marked ++ are available in electronic editions via DharmaNet International, for free distribution.]

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. Buddha-Dhamma for Students. The Dhamma Study and Practice Group, 1988; 85 pages. Questions and answers to such intriguing questions as "What subject did the Buddha teach?," "What should a layperson study?," "Where can we find the Buddha?," "What is Nibbana?," "Where can we put an end to suffering (dukkha)?" From 2 talks given to university students in Bangkok. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu is probably Thailand's most famous monk. His straightforward explanations of Dhamma practice have made the Buddha's teachings available to many people. (See "Suan Mokkh" under Southern Thailand for a description of his monastery and practice style.)

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. Handbook for Mankind. Dhamma Study & Practice Group (Bangkok), 1989; 127 pages. This popular book presents Dhamma in very clear English. Topics include "The true nature of things," "Grasping and clinging," "The threefold training," "Insight by the nature method," and "Emancipation from the world."

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. Heart-Wood from the Bo Tree. Suan Usom Foundation (Bangkok), 1985; and Wisdom Books (Boston), 1991; 99 pages. Collection of 3 talks about the heart-wood (pith or essence) of the Buddha's teachings - the dwelling with an empty mind free of clinging to the feeling of "I" and "mine." The author explains how the principle of emptiness can be a wonderful tool in Buddhist practice.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu.

Mindfulness with Breathing: Unveiling the Secrets of Life. The Dhamma Study & Practice Group (Bangkok), 2nd edition, 1989; 174 pages. A well-written, step-by-step guide for the practice of anapanasati meditation. The author provides inspiration, advice on getting started, and guidance to the development of the highest benefits. A translation of the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta has been included in the appendix of the 2nd edition.

Buddhaghosa, Bhadantacariya. The Path of Purification (the Visuddhimagga). Translated by Nanamoli Bhikkhu. Buddhist Publication Society, 1956-1979; 885 pages. A systematic summary of the Buddha's teachings. Useful as a reference to Buddhist meditation techniques.

Buddharakkhita, Acharya. METTA; The Philosophy & Practice of Universal Love. Wheel Publication no. 365/366 of Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1989; 48 pages. The Buddha's "Karaniya Metta Sutta" (Hymn of Universal Love) in Pali and English, aspects of metta, techniques for doing the practice, and the blessings of metta.

Chaa, Ajahn. A Still Forest Pool. Edited by Jack Kornfield and Paul Breiter. Theosophical Publishing House, 1985; 192 pages. A collection of short pieces, full of wisdom and humor. Ajahn Chaa had great skill in training monks - both Thai and foreign - at his Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat (see descriptions under Northeastern Thailand).

Debvedi, Phra. Sammasati; An Exposition of Right Mindfulness. Buddhadhamma Foundation (Bangkok), 1988; 58 pages. An explanation of some of the facets of Right Mindfulness, the seventh factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. Meditators will find the information very helpful in understanding the process of wisdom development.

Dhamma Theerarach Mahamuni, Ven. Phra. The Path to Nibbana (An Introduction to Insight Meditation). Section 5 of Wat Maha That (Bangkok), 1989; 82 pages. A meditation guide for experienced students with practical advice, 16 meditation exercises, and a "Manual for checking your "vipassana kammatthana progress."" Vipassana practice as done in Section 5 of Wat Maha That (see description under Bangkok).

*Dhammadharo, Ajahn Lee. Food for Thought. Wat Asokaram, 1989; 85 pages. "Eighteen Talks on the Training of the Heart." Reflections on dealing with day-to-day difficulties and on the value of meditation practice. Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo (1906-1961) studied in the forest tradition with meditation master Ajahn Mun, then later founded Wat Asokaram (see description under Central Thailand).

++*Dhammadharo, Ajahn Lee. Keeping the Breath in Mind. Wat Asokaram, 1990; 82 pages. Descriptions of 2 techniques of mindfulness with breathing, followed by advice on development of the practice.

*Disciples of Ajahn Chah. Seeing the Way; Buddhist Reflections on the Spiritual Life. Amaravati Publications (Hertfordshire, England), 1989; 218 pages. "An anthology of teachings by English-speaking disciples of Ajahn Chah." A biography and teachings of Ajahn Chah appear at the beginning, but this book is really about the foreigners who ordained and trained in the forest tradition under him. In many ways these short pieces about and by these monks -- full of wisdom and humor -- portray the development of the senior western sangha. (All but Ven. Gavesako of Japan have come from western countries.)

Jandamit, Helen. The Way to Vipassana; A Guide to Insight Meditation. V.H. Publications (Bangkok), 1990; 57 pages. An illustrated introduction to vipassana meditation by one of the founders of the International Buddhist Meditation Centre.

Jantrupon, Chua. Vipassana Bhavana (Theory, Practice & Result). Boonkanjanaram Meditation Center (Pattaya, Thailand), 1988; 158 pages. Guide to the meditation system used at Wat Boonkanjanaram in Pattaya (see description under Central Thailand). Also good reading on Buddhist practice theory for those who use other techniques.

Khantipalo, Bhikkhu. Banner of the Arahants. Buddhist Publication Society, 1989; 229 pages. History and development of the Buddha's order of monks and nuns from the beginnings to the present age, presented in a Theravadan context. Good reading for anyone interested in ordaining. Explanations cover many of the practices done by monks today. The chapter on bhikkhunis and nuns probably has the best information available on women in the Sangha.

Kornfield, Jack. Living Buddhist Masters. Unity Press, 1977; and Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1989; 319 pages. Descriptions of the life and teachings of 12 prominent meditation masters, half from Thailand (Ajahns Chah, Buddhadasa, Naeb, Maha Boowa, Dhammadaro, and Jumnien) and half from Burma (U Ba Khin and Sayadaws Mahasi, Sunlun, Taungpulu, Monhyn, and Mogok). Jack introduces important aspects of the Buddha's teachings at the book's beginning. Although some of these teachers have died, their disciples and meditation centers carry on the traditions. Especially recommended for one seeking a teacher or tradition in Thailand.

*Magness, T. Samma Samadhi; The Method of Right Insight. Wat Pak Nam (Bangkok), 1988; 77 pages. A guide to developing very refined levels of concentration using a series of spheres and human forms as mental images. Vipassana then takes place from the concentrated mind. This meditation system, popularized by the late abbot Ven. Chao Khun Mongkol- Thepmuni, is taught at Wat Pak Nam (see description under Bangkok).

*Maha Boowa Nanasampanno, Phra. Forest Dhamma. Wat Pah Ban That (Udon Thani, Thailand), 1976; 172 pages. A collection of writings and talks on Dhamma practice from the forest tradition. The first part, "Wisdom Develops Samadhi" presents most of the fundamentals of the meditation system taught at Wat Pah Ban That (see description under Northeastern Thailand). Ajahn Maha Boowa practised under Ajahn Mun for 9 years, then spent much time in solitary practice and on tudong before founding Wat Pah Ban That.

*Maha Boowa Nanasampanno, Phra. Phra Acharn Mun. Wat Pah Ban That (Udon Thani, Thailand), 1982; 319 pages. A biography of the life and practice of meditation master Phra Acharn Mun Bhuridatto (1870-1949). This remarkable account presents much wisdom in the stories of the struggles, attainments, tigers, elephants, angels, and people encountered in Acharn Mun's life.

Mahasi Sayadaw. Practical Insight Meditation; Basic and Progressive Stages. Buddhist Publication Society, 1971; 56 pages. Instructions on how to begin vipassana meditation, then develop the practice toward Nibbana. The author's meditation system, based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness described in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta, has proved a powerful method of developing insight for many meditators.

Nanamoli, Bhikkhu (translator). Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati). Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1982; 124 pages. Bhikkhu Nanamoli translated and assembled the Anapanasati and related suttas from the Pali Canon with the relevant Pali commentaries. One can study the Pali teachings of this important meditation subject in one convenient source.

Pali Chanting - with translations. Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Press (Bangkok), 1990; 79 pages. The most commonly used Pali chants, including refuges and precepts, blessings, protections, recollections, suttas, and morning and evening chants. Pali and English translations are side by side.

Pannavuddho Bhikkhu, Ven. Phra. The Manual of Insight Meditation. Wat Sai Ngam (Supanburi, Thailand), 1988; 49 pages. Illustrated guide to the meditation techniques taught by Ajahn Dhammadharo Bhikkhu and senior monks at Wat Sai Ngam (see description under Central Thailand).

Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught. Gordon Fraser (London), 1959, 1978, and by other publishers; 151 pages. One of the classic introductions to the Buddha's teachings. The author has attempted to faithfully follow the ancient Pali texts in presenting "almost everything which is commonly accepted as the essential and fundamental teaching of the Buddha."

*Sumedho, Ven. Ajahn. Mindfulness: The Path to the Deathless. Amaravati Publications (Hertfordshire, England), 1987; 75 pages; previously published as "Path to the Deathless." Introduction to meditation -- what it is and how to do it -- and a reflection on the need for wisdom in the world. Ajahn Sumedho trained many years in the forest tradition of Thailand under Ajahn Chah.

Vajirananavarorasa, Somdet Phra Maha Samana Chao Krom Phraya. The Entrance to the Vinaya. vol. I. Mahamakut Rajavidyalaya Press (Bangkok), 1969; 246 pages. Monks discipline with detailed commentary; important reading both for laymen contemplating ordination and for monks.

Vajirananavarorasa, Somdet Phra Maha Samana Chao Krom Phraya. Ordination Procedure and the Preliminary Duties of a New Bhikkhu. Wat Bovornives Vihara (Bangkok), 3rd edition, 1989; 74 pages. An illustrated guide to the ordination ceremony used for novices and monks with complete Pali text and English translation; other chapters introduce the Vinaya, have morning and evening chantings with translations, and instructions for duties a new bhikkhu must perform.

*Yantra Amaro, Phra Ajahn. Heart Blossom. Dhammaleela Foundation (P.O. Box 24, Ratthewi, Bangkok 10400), 1990; 79 pages. Gentle advice on living happily through practice of Dhamma. Other books in Thai and English are available too, all by free distribution. Many people look up to Ajahn Yantra for his metta practice and skill at teaching meditation; he has several forest monasteries (see description of Sunnataram Forest Monastery under Central Thailand).

Back to Top of Page

 


AUTHOR'S NOTE: After traveling extensively in Thailand, Bill Weir now stays at a Thai forest monastery -- in southern California! The abbot, Phra Geoffrey Thanissaro (American; age 44), offers meditation instruction and advice. Visitors are welcome to meditate under the avocado trees: Metta Forest Monastery, P.O. Box 409, Valley Center, CA 92082, USA.
DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT

 

TITLE OF WORK: A Guide to Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation Centres in
     Thailand (Computer edition)
FILENAME: THAI_94.ZIP
AUTHOR: Bill Weir
AUTHOR'S ADDRESS: Metta Forest Monastery
     PO Box 1409, Valley Center CA 92082
PUBLISHER'S ADDRESS: World Fellowship of Buddhists
     33 Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok 10110, THAILAND
COPYRIGHT HOLDER: World Fellowship of Buddhists
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1978, 1988, 1991, 1994
DATE OF DHARMANET PUBLICATION: 1993, 1994
ORIGIN: DharmaNet International (www.dharmanet.org)
The copyright holder retains all rights to this work and hereby grants electronic distribution rights to DharmaNet International. This work may be freely copied and redistributed electronically, provided that the file contents (including this Agreement) are not altered in any way and that it is distributed at no cost to the recipient. You may make printed copies of this work for your personal use; further distribution of printed copies requires permission from the copyright holder. If this work is used by a teacher in a class, or is quoted in a review, the publisher shall be notified of such use.

It is the spirit of dana, freely offered generosity, which has kept the entire Buddhist tradition alive for more than 2,500 years. If you find this work of value, please consider sending a donation to the author or publisher, so that these works may continue to be made available. May your generosity contribute to the happiness of all beings everywhere.

DharmaNet International, P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley, CA 94704-4951

This resource is optimized for transmission speed and intentionally avoids graphics, frames, and applets. This page is owned and maintained by DharmaNet International. Please e-mail comments, corrections, updates to webmaster@dharmanet.org

Unless otherwise indicated, all material that appears on DharmaNet International's Gateways to Buddhism is Copyright 1991-99, DharmaNet International. All rights reserved.

| Top of Page | DharmaNet International |