Introduction
Advantage of practice in Thailand
Choosing a Wat or meditation centre
Living on a Wat or meditation centre
Thailand Practicalities
Meditation Techniques
The four noble truths
Going for refuge
Taking the precepts
Helpful hints on using the listings

BANGKOK
Bangkok
Wat Mahatat
Wat Bovornives Vihara
Wat Pak Nam

CENTRAL
Wat Asokaram
Wiwek Asom Vipassana
Sorn-Thawee Meditation Centre
Boonkanjanaram Meditation Centre
Wat Sai Ngam
Sunnataram Forest Monastery

NORTHEASTERN
Wat Wah Poo Kaew
Wat Pah Nanachat
Wat Nong Pah Pong
Wat Pah Wana Potiyahn
Wat Doi Dhamma Chedi
Wat Pah Ban That
Wat Hin Maak Peng

NORTHERN
Wat Umong
Wat Ram Poeng
Tham Thong Meditation Centre
Chom Tong Insight Meditation Center
Wat Thaton
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

SOUTHERN
Suan Mokkh
Wat Kow Tham

 
A GUIDE TO MEDITATION CENTRES IN THAILAND
 INTRODUCTION

  LIVING AT A WAT OR MEDITATION CENTRE
  
  Greeting People
  Thai wat etiquette, which stems largely from the monk's code of   discipline, forms the national ideal of polite behavior in many ways.
  By following Thai customs, foreigners can show appreciation to the   Thai people and ensure a welcome reception for future visitors.   Gestures of respect also help to develop kindness and sensitivity to   others. The anjali (wai or pranom) of raising hands to the chest with   palms together is used for (1) Greeting other people; (2) When   speaking with a monk; (3) After offering something to an ordained   person; and (4) Before receiving something from an ordained person.   (Laypeople return the anjali but ordained people are not supposed to return one from a layperson.) Thais address senior monks as Ajahn, other monks as Tahn, novices as Nayn. The title can be used   by itself or preceding the Pali name; it's impolite to use the Pali name   without a title.
  
  Body Language
  Thais place great importance on body posture when around monks,   especially if the monks are teaching Dhamma. Laypeople stoop   slightly when walking past a seated monk. If walking with a monk, they try to walk a little behind. Laypeople never talk or listen to monks   from a higher position; they sit or at least squat down before  addressing a seated monk. When listening to a sermon or talking with a monk, women usually sit in a "mermaid" posture; men more   often sit with one leg crossed in front and the other tucked behind; the   kneeling position is polite for both sexes. Cross-legged positions are   less polite and they're normally just used in meditation. Avoid sitting   with arms clasped around the raised knees (impolite). In a chair, sit erect and attentive. Laypeople never sit on the asana (raised seat for monks and novices), same seat or mat as a monk, or on a monk's  robes.

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

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

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

  THAILAND PRACTICALITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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