Most aspirants come seeking peace and happiness or relief from tension, and they find it. Beyond this, however, most find undreamed of treasures – self knowledge, heavenly joy, insight into reality, and possibly, even temporary experience of Nirvana. Such meditation can provide a road map for altruistic living which brings happiness for both oneself and others throughout life.
Wat Luang Phor Buddhist Meditation Institute (BMI) teaches the Samatha-Vipassana (Concentration-Insight) Meditation technique, also called Dhammakaya Meditation, rediscovered by Phra Mongkol-Thepmuni, Luang Phor Wat Paknam, in 1916. This is direct implementation of Lord Buddha’s key meditation instruction given in the Greater Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. It has proved extremely effective and efficient. The technique integrates concentration into trance states of absorption (Jhana) with development of transcendental insight (Vijja). The meditator stops still at the center of the body, delving deeper and deeper inside, climbing higher and higher up a ladder of more and more refined inner bodies, feelings, minds, and Dhamma, transcending to Dhammakaya (Truth Bodies) and advancing through Noble Disciple states to experiencing Nirvana.
Samatha-Vipassana is guided, sitting meditation. The teacher provides spoken guidance during meditation. MP3 players are used for individual practice. BMI teaches meditation in English in two ways: (1) Meditation Guidance (Semi-private tutoring), and (2) Meditation Retreats
At BMI, international meditators take the middle path, adopting resolutions and procedures that demonstrate serious commitment and facilitate meditation progress, while eschewing excessive self-torment which can impede development. For example, participants take eight precepts [NO killing, stealing, sex, lying, intoxicants, eating after noon (just two meals per day), entertainments or luxurious beds]. No smoking is permitted at the temple, and meditators dress in simple white clothing (available at the temple store) to signify their commitment to self-purification. But, everyone sits comfortably, either cross-legged or on a chair, according to personal preference. And, we do not practice Noble Silence. Serious meditators just naturally become less talkative, but helpful exchanges among fellow students can be productive. The meditation technique attracts practitioners directly to more refined, purer and happier states.
BMI offers Meditation Guidance or semi-private tutoring in English all year round, starting whenever you choose and lasting as long as you like. If you have the time, please try to come for 10 days to two weeks for the best result. It generally requires 5-7 days to develop the inner calm necessary for rapid progress. But, individuals vary greatly, so all are welcome for either longer or briefer periods.
The program has many options, so each meditator can adapt it to his or her own preferences. Breakfast is at 06:30 and lunch at 11:00. We practice 8 precepts, which implies no eating after noon. The core of each day is either three or four meditation sessions, depending on how long one can stay. Meditations average 45 minutes. They are usually intimate, with not more than 5-10 participants. Meditations are recorded on MP3 for individual practice, and provided on CD to take home (Group A at 07:00, 09:00, 01:00, & 03:00. Group B at 08:00, 10:00, 14:00 and 16:00.) Serious Buddhists often add Morning or Evening Chanting and Meditation, held everyday at 05:30 and 19:30. Even casual visitors enjoy attending once as a memorable experience. At Evening Chanting, meditators can be taught personally, in English, by the revered Meditation Master, Dr. Phra Rajyanvisith.
Other memorable experiences include going along on the morning alms round at 6:00 AM and practical “how to live a good life” discussions with Phra Bill. For those who volunteer to teach, perhaps most memorable are the fun interactions with monks and novices eager to learn and practice English (Daily 12:30-14:00). Participants interested in learning more about Buddhism can do this through directed readings and discussion. Finally, most unforgettable for those who can scale the heights, is the indelible experience of the most lovely, most serene state ever experienced – Nirvana.
The meditation atmosphere is the middle path — serious, but not overly harsh, with considerable flexibility in accordance with each participant’s preferences. Meditators wear simple, white clothes to signify purity. Some white clothing is available free and top quality new outfits are available at the temple administration office for 490 or 990 Baht per set. Meditators take eight precepts — no killing, stealing, sex, improper speech, intoxicants, eating afternoon, partying or entertainments or ornaments or makeup, and no high or luxurious beds. Sleeping is generally on thin mattresses on the floor under mosquito nets. Tents are available for those seeking more seclusion. There is no smoking on the Wat campus.
|05:30 Morning Chanting (Opt)
09:00 Opening Ceremony
12:00 Orientation, Tour & First Lecture
16:00 First Meditation
19:30 Evening Chant (Opt)
||05:00 Morning Chanting (Opt)
07:00 Beginner Meditation #1
08:00 Intermediate & Advanced #1
09:00 Beginner Meditation #2
10:00 Intermediate & Advanced #2
12:00 Rest or Teaching English1930
14:00 Beginner Meditation #3
15:00 Intermediate & Advanced #3
16:00 Beginner Meditation #4
19:30 Evening Chant (Opt for beginners)
||05:00 Morning Chanting (Opt)
09:30 Last Meditation
10:30 Group Photo
11:00 Lunch: Final Banquet
12:30 Graduation Ceremony
14:30 Bus to Bangkok
BMI offers three intensive retreats per year, May 1-14, August 1-14, and December 1-14. Retreats are similar to guided meditation, but more intensive, with a sunrise meditation at 05:30. They usually involve 20-30 international meditators. Several hundred monks and laity attend the Thai retreat simultaneously in May and December. During retreats there is more access to the venerable Meditation Master in joint Thai-English sessions. This is especially useful for those who become advanced. There is also more chance to study Buddhist practices, Vinaya, Dhamma and Chanting. The large number of participants necessarily implies less silence.
Retreats promote the simple life in a beautiful refuge. Participants wear plain white clothes available at the Wat Mini Mart which also sells essentials and snacks. Beds are board frames topped with thin mattresses. Bathrooms are separate buildings with both Thai and Western toilets and showers in some stalls. The kitchen serves good Thai food – simple, but varied and often spicy. Most dishes are non-vegetarian – choose what suits you. Vegetarian food can also be provided, if the kitchen is given advance notice. Please complete the online registration form and indicate any special needs. Although the environment promotes solitude, one is not cut off. The Wat’s university library (Mon-Fri 8:00 am -6:00 pm) has Internet and is air conditioned. The local town, Damnoen Saduak, is only 15 minutes by Song Thaw (2 bench) buses that pass the Wat gate every 10-15 minutes. (One finds ATM machines and banks in the town, but the best exchange rate is at the airport upon arrival.) Buses to Bangkok (a 2-hour ride) stop at the Wat gate every 20 minutes. There are no taxis nearby. Participants wash clothes by hand.
For Meditation Guidance, women usually stay in the women’s dormitory or in the screened traditional Thai Sala on the lake shown. Men stay in the men’s dormitory, under the information center. Sleeping is generally on the floor on thin mattresses, under mosquito nets. All facilities have clean restrooms. Those seeking more complete escape from civilization can also stay in tents.