Mokkh is about 640 km south of Bangkok and justwest of the Asian Highway
(Hwy. 41); Surat Thani, 53 km southeast, is the nearest city. From
Bangkok, take any southbound Rapid train and get off at Chaiya, about
40 km north of Surat Thani's Phun Phin station, then take a songtaew
to Suan Mokkh. Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal is on the Buddha-Monthon
Road in Thonburi; both air-conditioned and non-AC buses depart here
for southern Thailand. Take a bus bound for Surat Thani or Nakhon
Si Thammarat and ask to be let off at Suan Mokkh; buses will either
let you off directly in front (KM post 71) or at the Shell station
1 km north.
From the south, take trains that stop in Surat
Thani (Phun Phin) or Chaiya. At Phun Phin station, ask at the bus
stop in front for a bus going by Suan Mokkh. (Phun Phin, Surat Thani's
train station, is 14 km west of the city.) Buses from Surat Thani
bus station depart about hourly during the day. THAI flies direct
to Surat Thani from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket,
and Trang; the airport is 27 km south of Suan Mokkh and 2 km west
of he highway.
Anapanasati (mindfulness with breathing)
according to the Buddha's Anapanasati Sutta. New students first
learn some theoretical background and the purpose of Dhamma practice,
then the preparations for and the 16 lessons (objects of investigation)
which make up mindfulness with breathing. Walking meditation is
also done using mindfulness with breathing; if one has difficulty
doing this, one can observe sensations in feet or legs. One practices
the first 4 lessons (the body foundation of mindfulness) to calm
one's breathing and body and to stabilize the mind. Then one refines
both thecalmness of the mind and one's understanding of how it works
by working with lessons 5-8 (the feelings foundation of mindfulness)
and 9-12 (the mind foundation of mindfulness). At any time that
the mind is sufficiently calm and stable, while practicing with
right understanding and motivation, insight can take place, even
during the first lessons. Lessons 13-16 (the Dhamma foundation of
mindfulness) further develop and perfect insight into right knowledge
(vijja ) and liberation (vimutti ). The goal
of this practice is to realize the voidness-emptiness of the 5 skhandhas (body, feelings, memory, thought, and sense awareness), that
there is nothing worth attaching to as "I" or "mine."
To aid the development of right understanding
(sammaditthi ), the Buddha's teachings on anatta (not-self) andpaticcasamuppada (dependent origination) are
examined in detail and depth. The study and investigation of these
principles are considered essential at Suan Mokkh.
instruction is given only during monthly 10-day retreats; at other
times interviews, books, and tapes are available. Retreats feature
Dhamma talks, interviews, group sittings, walking meditation, and
morning hatha yoga.
Poh, abbot (Thai; age 60) (Foreign monks and nuns do most of the English
is the medium of instruction for foreigners.
MOKKH STYLE :
The purpose of Dhamma practice here
is to get free of the tyranny of ego in order to live peacefully
(inrealization of Nibbana) and usefully (in service to Dhamma and
humanity). Thus residents try to practice unselfishness in everything
they do -- meditation, study, work, talk, sleep, and whatever life
asks. Suan Mokkh is not a "meditation center" per se where
people come only to "meditate." This is a Garden of Liberation,a
place to study and practice Dhamma in a wholistic way.Study and
investigation of Buddha-Dhamma given in the Pali suttas is an essential
foundation for practice. Joyful service for others is the context
of practiceThus cultivating RightUnderstanding and Right Aspiration
with the path of samatha and vipassana becomes liberation now. Each
person integrates the three as pects of study, service, and meditation
in the way that works for them. With growing mindfulness and wisdom,
temporary liberation blossoms into the perfect voidness empty of
"I" and "mine," full of wisdom and peace.
novices sometimes a few
laypeople 15-20 Thai, 15-25 foreign; (numbers increase greatly during
retreats and conferences)
schedules change through the ten-day period according to the teachers,
but wakeup time is 4 a.m., breakfast 8 a.m., and lunch 1230 p.m. A
typical schedule for meditators staying "between" retreats
is 4 a.m. wakeup; 5 a.m. meditation; 6 a.m. yoga or other exercise
(optional); 8 a.m. breakfast; 9 a.m. chores; 1130 a.m. meditation;
1 p.m. lunch; 430 p.m. meditation; 530 p.m. drinks; 7 p.m. tape or
talk; 8 p.m. meditation; 9 p.m. individual practice; 10 p.m. lights
10-day retreats have been very popular. They provide a unique opportunity
to experience the anapanasati technique in a retreat setting. (Most
other meditation centres in the Theravadan tradition teach the vipassana
system based on Mahasi Sayadaw's techniques.) Retreats begin on the
first of every month; you must register in person a day or 2 in advance.
Sometimes the 110-person capacity of the retreat cannot accommodate
everyone who comes, hence the importance of coming beforehand. Upon
acceptance, one must follow instructions given and be committed to
staying the entire 10-day course. Late arrivals aren't possible. Retreats
take place at the International Dhamma Hermitage 1.5 km east across
the highway from Suan Mokkh. Foreign visitors cannot be received easily
at Suan Mokkh when retreats are under way, so plan arrival after the
11th of each month. Participation in community activities is expected.
One is encouraged to practice in the Suan Mokkh style. Experienced
meditators who have done a retreat here before may request permission
for long-term stays.
retreats at the International Dhamma Hermitage, meditators have small
individual rooms; separate buildings for men and women. Bathing is
Thai-style from tanks; toilets are Asian-style. Other times visitors
stay at Suan Mokkh; men have small dormitory rooms; women stay in
individual rooms or dormitories; Thai-style bathing from tanks (most
men's areas are in the open); mostly Asian-style toilets. Monks and
novices stay in individual kutis scattered through the forest or in
monk's dormitories if all kutis are occupied (they often are). Most
buildings and kutis have electricity.
IN ADVANCE? :
Retreat registration has to be done in person.
Suan Mokkh prefers not to make rules, it is much appreciated when
visitors dress and behave within the rather conservative traditions
of Thai forest wats. Laypeople observe 5 precepts. A daily charge
of 50 baht (US $2) covers food and accommodation expenses during and
Buddhadasa Bhikkhu founded Suan Mokkh in 1932 and
moved it to its present location about 10 years later. He has sought
to provide a natural setting where visitors can forget "themselves"
and study, practice, and realize the Dhamma. His many books, some
translated into English, skilfully explain anapanasati meditation
and other aspects of the Buddha's teaching. Ajahn Buddhadasa died
at Suan Mokkh on July 8, 1993; He was 87 years old.
The "Evolution/Liberation" newsletter
comes out once a year with articles and news; it's available free
by mail or at Suan Mokkh; donations support publication and distribution.
The foreign library at Suan Mokkh has a variety of books on Buddhist
and related topics. Most are in English, though German, French, and
other languages are represented too.