Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby Sati1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:13 pm

Hello,

After experiencing a substantial and continuous intensification of samvega over the last year, I decided last week to finally book a ticket to Sri Lanka to visit a few monasteries as potential places to ordain at. The plan is to visit Meetirigala, Pothgulgala and possibly Na Uyana for 3 weeks total to find out what monastic life in Asia is like and see if this path is really right for me, come back to England, and then possibly return next year with the goal of ordaining. Then after visiting Amaravati (near London) last weekend, I thought that perhaps Thailand, specifically Wat Pah Nanachat, ought to also be considered as an option. Is anybody familiar with the differences with regard to monastic life between the two countries? As far as I found out online, in Sri Lanka there is more emphasis on study, one cannot re-ordain, and there seems to be more austerity than in Thailand. Are there other significant differences? Would it in your opinion be enough to visit a few monasteries in Sri Lanka only rather than to "shop around" various countries? Specifically, I am concerned about getting by as someone who doesn't speak the local language, how stable the monastic systems are in the two countries (i.e. resiliency to political instability), and how the ordination procedures and rules & daily schedules compare.

Many thanks,
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby Nicro » Mon Apr 07, 2014 2:36 pm

I am writing this as someone who was ordained in Sri Lanka for a short time and is planning to go back, most likely will ordain again. I spent a very short period of time in Thailand after I disrobed which I spend in Wat Pah Nanachat. Also, I am typing this on my phone so please forgive any grammar mistakes, etc...

First I want to address the places you are wanting to see.

While in Lanka my teacher at the time and I walked to meetrigala twice. The first time to pay respects to Bhante Dhammajiva and the second time to catch a ride with him to Pothgulgala. So, I never actually stayed there, all I can tell you is the general feel that I got from it.

For one, I was somewhat impressed. As you arrive you walk around a gate to this lower area for the women as no women are allowed into the actual monastery. Then you walk up a stairway to a path going through the jungle which eventually leads to the main Sala and everything else. It takes you about 5 minutes to realize the place has a serious monkey problem. You may think no big deal, but believe me when they try to steal your pindapat food while bearing their teeth and screaming you won't be so confortable.

Bhante Dhammajiva was nice though he seemed like a busy man. The place seemed very well supported for Sri Lankan standards. It has a nice big Sala for meditation and walking paths around it. I never got to see what the kutis were like though. Maybe blackbird will chime in though (if he still posts)? I know he spent a good little while there.

Personally I wouldn't ordain here as the focus is on a modified type of mahasi method which seemed like you would be expected to practice there. That is one of the main reasons I ended up leaving the robes in the first place, having to practice in a way I didn't wish to.

I can't say much about Pothgulgala, other than I doubt you will be able to stay there and I really really doubt you would be able to ordain there. The place is very nice though, good area with cave kutis which are quite ancient. There are still carvings and writings on some of the rocks, all very interesting. And of course Bhante Nanananda is a excellent person to be around.

I haven't been to Na Uyana but it is where I am planning on going this time. It is Galduwa (as is Meetrigala) which is the Sri Lankan forest tradition so you can expect very good Vinaya.

I really do suggest spending more than three weeks if you can though, as you haven't even got your hair wet at that point.

In regard to Nanachat, personally I didn't care for it too much . I would only go there if I couldn't find somewhere else suitable.

In regard to differences in Thailand and Sri Lanka, I definitely felt monks in Thailand had it far more luxurious (in monk standards of course). Honestly I wouldn't worry about getting by, you will.

Sorry for the long post but hopefully it helped.
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Re: Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby James the Giant » Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:07 pm

Wow Nicro, you typed that all on your PHONE? You are dedicated.

Sati1, I highly recommend shopping around widely, but then making a firm decision.
I stayed at... Hmm, I think it was seven, no, eight monasteries, before I finally chose the right one for me. It was really great to see the differences and similarities.

I'll leave your other questions to people who know what they're talking about.
Best of luck!
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby Sati1 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:01 pm

Dear Nicro and James,

Thank you very much for your advice. This is very helpful. It's a great suggestion that there actually isn't a need to commit to a monastery immediately. I guess I can "shop around" a bit longer before commiting for good to one place. This evening I visited the London Buddhist Vihara, where I met with Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala. He was extremely friendly and took a whole ~40 minutes to chat 1:1 with me. He suggested Meethirigala, Pothgulgala and Kanduboda and gave a number of good ideas on how to go about considering an ordination. I really liked how accessible he was, as well as the emphasis placed by Sri Lankan monks on studying the scriptures. The plan now is to visit only Sri Lanka in June/July and then see what happens...

:anjali:
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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Re: Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby SarathW » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:24 pm

You said:
"I am concerned about getting by as someone who doesn't speak the local language"
=====
Do not worry, many young people speak English and they are very helpful.
If you need a peacefull place go to Ruwangiri Kanda. You have to go to Narammala first. (Please see the map in my link - Kurunagala)
(Three hours trip from the bus) then take a cab from Narammala.
I don't know how capable the monks are though.
:)
http://www.stefan.gr/buddhism/books/sou ... 08-jan.pdf

http://www.stefan.gr/buddhism/
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Re: Differences Sri Lanka - Thailand

Postby Sati1 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:21 am

SarathW wrote:If you need a peacefull place go to Ruwangiri Kanda.


Thank you for the suggestion, SarathW. Is that a monastery that you stayed at? They don't seem to have much information available online. Do you by any chance have their contact info?

:anjali:
Sati1
London, UK

----
"I do not perceive even one other thing, o monks, that when developed and cultivated entails such great happiness as the mind" (AN 1.10, transl. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi)
"So this spiritual life, monks, does not have gain, honor, and renown for its benefit, or the attainment of moral discipline for its benefit, or the attainment of concentration for its benefit, or knowledge and vision for its benefit. But it is this unshakable liberation of mind that is the goal of this spiritual life, its heartwood, and its end," (MN 29, transl. Ven Bhikkhu Bodhi)
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