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
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
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
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
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;
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
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
SIZE: monks: 90-140
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
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
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
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary. It's good to have a letter of
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
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.
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
SIZE: monks: 30-60
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
LANGUAGE: One should speak good Thai in order to take advantage of
the teachings here. Some monks and nuns can speak a
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
laymen: about 10
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
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
LANGUAGE: Phra Ajahn Yantra and a few other monks can speak some
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
nuns: about 30
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
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
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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