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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. * * * * * * *


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