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  1. #1
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    Thai Forest Meditation Retreat

    Ever thought about meditation in a Thai forest? Living amongst the beasts and animals whilst learning to meditate, well I found a place near Kanchanaburi, got monks, got women monks, laymen and all other sorts all learning to meditate.

    The ladies area is separated from the other areas to stop any thoughts of hanky panky.

    Not sure the laymens living area is up to the standard of the ladies area, ie huts and things, well, thats not strictly true as there website says it isn't so it's going to be pretty awful, Thai squat toilets maybe considered a luxury there.

    Should also mention no meat, vegetarian only, but clearing the system of all the crap in it is also good for you, you got to look on the bright side of these things .

    The place is called Sunnataram Forest Monastery, visitors are welcome, and farangs are welcome to learn to meditate there amongst some of the most famous monks in Thailand.

    Anyway if you decide to learn to meditate in the forest take your camera and post the photos here, pretty sure it will make an interesting thread from a pretty unusual experience. Can't imagine many farangs have meditated in the forests of Thailand.

    From the web.


    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 senior monks. Tapes of Phra Ajahn Yantra are often played during the evening meditation period. He and other senior monks will answer questions.

    TEACHERS :


    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 :


    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 highatop 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;
    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.

    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).

  2. #2
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    Firstly, thank you for all this great information.

    I've been on the fence about participating in monkhood etc. mostly due to two reasons, the diet (no meat) and fear of illness (malaria). But also, some places the rules differ than others, some are strict and some aren't. What are some of the rules one might not expect? Are they bossy? Authoritative? Are there other western monks there? (I've been to some temples where they did not make a westerner feel welcome)
    Does this group of vegetarians allow for eating eggs if so that would be a huge plus. For sleeping quarters, I've always prefered a hammock and mosquito net, would they allow a monk to sleep this way?
    Sorry for so many questions...but thank you if you can help with any of them.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluecowry View Post
    F
    Sorry for so many questions...but thank you if you can help with any of them.
    Doubt he can be of much assistance, as he died years ago.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat Thai3's Avatar
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    Monks eat plenty of meat what makes you think they don't? We have a forest retreat next to our place, well 400 yards up the road. They can be seen playing about on their phones just like anyone else, they have their own little huts. If sweeping up leaves and chanting away in Pali that neither they nor you understand appeals then go for it

  6. #6
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    Go for it and keep us up dated on how you have found inner tranquility.
    Years ago I read a paperback called "Friar Farang" so you won't be the first monk from outside the country.

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat Thai3's Avatar
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    Richard Randall did it in 1951, wrote about driving through villages and rice fields from the airport into Bkk!

  8. #8
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    Why would you go sit in a forest to learn to meditate?

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat Thai3's Avatar
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    They are not actual forests, less distraction is the reason

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton
    Doubt he can be of much assistance, as he died years ago.
    Are you serious?


    Quote Originally Posted by Thai3
    They are not actual forests, less distraction is the reason
    Less temptation is more correct. Distraction can come in any form but temptation are oftentimes more specific to a place.


    Quote Originally Posted by tunk
    Why would you go sit in a forest to learn to meditate?
    You don't have to, I often sit in my bathroom, the place is less important than the intent.
    However, for me personally I find nature and forests a splendid wonder so I don't go there to just get away, I go to see everything I'm missing. Watching ants march in their lines might seem boring to some, but I find it enjoyable.

  11. #11
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    [quote=bluecowry;3501669]
    Quote Originally Posted by Davis Knowlton
    Doubt he can be of much assistance, as he died years ago.
    Are you serious?


    [Yes.

  12. #12
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    Temptation of each individual participant is and remains in the mind only.

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat Thai3's Avatar
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    we have a forest retreat just up the road, the bastards have been pumping out music since 5 AM this morning, making a fuking merit or some such nonsense i expect

  14. #14
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    Why do you want to become a monk just to go into a forest ?

    Most of these so called forest temples or meditation retreats are not actually in forests the ones that are have mostly encroached on national parks and some are now being booted out.

    There are hundreds of national parks in this country where you can get into forests and see a lot more than ants. There are national parks within easy reach of most cities as well as more remote ones where you can get away from tourists and crowds.

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