WAT WAH POO KAEW
MEANING OF NAME: "Crystal Mountain monastery"
ADDRESS: Tambon Magluwamai, Amper Sungnoen, Nakhon Ratchasima
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
SIZE: monks and novices: 45-70
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not needed. Try to avoid arriving on religious
holidays, especially those on weekends, and during the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
* * * * * * *