Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

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

Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:25 am

I plan to seek out the going forth, training and ordination in Thailand. I plan to leave early in April. I want to become a bhikkhu and live like that from now on regardless of my progress on the path. I have been preparing for that transition consciously for about a decade especially since taking it on in a preliminary way once before. I find it entirely appealing and I would like to start out in Thailand if this works out well. I have put my worldly affairs in order and have the opportunity and the means to do this now. I have been learning the Thai language some and trying to find out the best places and people to see about receiving the going forth, training of various kinds and eventual ordination. Any insightful experience, suggestions or contacts from anyone here would be welcomed.

Not sure what forum is best for threads like this. Please move it to wherever it makes the most sense. There are some people here who I know have great perspectives to offer. I'm not ever going to feel too ready to go. So please feel free to present as much info and advice as is available elsewhere in an updated form here at Dhamma Wheel.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:34 am

a good question to answer would be are you the go it alone type (kinda like our own dhammanando) or the buddy buddy type (like the ajahn chah monks)
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:53 am

jcsuperstar wrote:a good question to answer would be are you the go it alone type (kinda like our own dhammanando) or the buddy buddy type (like the ajahn chah monks)
Easy come easy go. I gravitate towards a quality education when it comes to making long term commitments. I think I will focus on Thai language skills in Bangkok for a few weeks, something Ven. Dhammanando recommended at one time, and then I am going to see if there is any opportunity for Pali and Abhidhamma education as part of a group with good vinaya and perhaps if possible some Burmese lineage meditation practice influences, if there is nothing more suitable I think the Ajahn Chah scene is a good fallback. I would like to look around a bit but not waste any time either. I think after Bangkok I will mostly be exploring the north and east. Maybe also quick trip down to Phuket as I have had a wonderful invitation to visit there.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Snowmelt » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:03 am

Perhaps you have already heard of Wat Pah Nanachat? It is a monastery established by Ajahn Chah for monks from countries other than Thailand. I have heard good things about it. The website appears to be down at the moment, but Wikipedia has this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pah_Nanachat
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:23 am

Wat Pah Nanachats site is just for information I think, it has been a while since I last went on though?

Have you thought about doing the preliminary stuff in the country you are in? there are several places in the UK and Americas as well as the rest of the world which do this, and this may be easier in the short term to adapt and learn to the life.

Good Luck with your Path
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:26 am

Snowmelt wrote:Perhaps you have already heard of Wat Pah Nanachat? It is a monastery established by Ajahn Chah for monks from countries other than Thailand. I have heard good things about it. The website appears to be down at the moment, but Wikipedia has this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pah_Nanachat
Yes I am aware of the Sangha there and I know some of the affiliated forest monks in the west. I am less familiar with Theravadans in the Burmese meditation lineages but I imagine there are quite a variety of conditions and circumstances available in Thailand. It will have to be a bit of an exploration naturally. So I am not making any commitments before I get there and see things.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:30 am

Manapa wrote:Wat Pah Nanachats site is just for information I think, it has been a while since I last went on though?

Have you thought about doing the preliminary stuff in the country you are in? there are several places in the UK and Americas as well as the rest of the world which do this, and this may be easier in the short term to adapt and learn to the life.

Good Luck with your Path
Opportunities are limited here and there are many deserving people. I have some experience of this monastically here. I would like some considerable additional experience there now. This is underway so I am not doing something else, other considerations have all been made already.

What would be great is if Ven. Dhammanando can update his list of suggestions given elsewhere. Any up to date info on Thai language classes. Pali and Abhidhamma studies and recommended monasteries and preceptors would be great. Anything from anyone along those lines would be very welcome. Thanks, I recognize Wat Pah Nanachat is a great place to go. I hope to look into it directly. Anywhere else that is worth looking up as well by someone who is serious and sincere about doing this would also be of great interest. Thanks for participating in the adventure. :clap:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:39 am

nathan wrote:Opportunities are limited here and there are many deserving people. I have some experience of this monastically here. I would like some considerable additional experience there now. This is underway so I am not doing something else, other considerations have all been made already.


Keep us all up to date with how things are going as time allows!

but on the Burmese tradition, there is a good site in texas which is updated more regularly than the main sites http://www.sitagu.org/home/ I have met the founder and have had corespondance with one of his students (westerner). his teaching that night I met him was very similar to some of Ajahn Chahs, both belonging to the smaller more conservative sects in their respective countries.
just sharing this as I know his group does ordination, training and teaching in English as well as Burmese which you may find worthy of consideration
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:43 am

Manapa wrote:
nathan wrote:Opportunities are limited here and there are many deserving people. I have some experience of this monastically here. I would like some considerable additional experience there now. This is underway so I am not doing something else, other considerations have all been made already.


Keep us all up to date with how things are going as time allows!

but on the Burmese tradition, there is a good site in texas which is updated more regularly than the main sites http://www.sitagu.org/home/ I have met the founder and have had corespondance with one of his students (westerner). his teaching that night I met him was very similar to some of Ajahn Chahs, both belonging to the smaller more conservative sects in their respective countries.
just sharing this as I know his group does ordination, training and teaching in English as well as Burmese which you may find worthy of consideration
That sounds interesting. In Thailand, Texas or both? Post or PM whichever is more appropriate. I haven't gone and got the visa yet. Any updates on the visa situation would be good. I will have to do it soon but not sure how soon to do it. I don't want to waste any time once I have it and there is a Thai office, consulate or something, a days travel away. This looks like Myanmar/Burma and Texas:
http://sitagu.org/burma/
Any affiliations inside Thailand?
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby gavesako » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:05 pm

I spoke with the (German) abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat a few days ago when he popped in for a visit. The scene there at the moment is not so easy for him as there are many junior monks and novices to take care of, and only a couple of reasonably senior experienced monks (12 Rains or so) to guide them. They are also unduly burdened by administrative issues like visa renewal etc. Now most of the monks are not at WPN but in Dtao Dum, a retreat place in the jungle on the Burmese border (for the hot season). 30 temporary novices from the local village will take over WPN for a few weeks soon, as a way of introducing them to the monastic life (this is an experiment only). You will have a chance to use the well-equipped library at WPN, but it will mostly be self-study with the exception of the Vinaya classes and some Sutta classes. Pali is something that those interested study by themselves. There will be some instruction in Thai language as well (mainly during the Vassa).

Then there is another associated monastery called Wat Mab Chan in Rayong, see www.watmarpjan.org , where about 8 Western monks live and one can also ordain there under a Thai teacher.

I am not so well informed about the other places outside the Ajahn Chah tradition, though there are some in the Dhammayut lineage which might be good. Some big Mahanikaya temples in Bangkok might also offer more opportunities for study (but if you ordain with the Dhammakai group, they won't later accept you at WPN, you would have to disrobe and re-ordain).
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:27 pm

Hi Nathan,

nathan wrote:What would be great is if Ven. Dhammanando can update his list of suggestions given elsewhere. Any up to date info on Thai language classes. Pali and Abhidhamma studies and recommended monasteries and preceptors would be great.


In the five years since I returned to Thailand I haven't felt any interest in travelling around to check out new monasteries or teachers, but have been content to stay in one place, with just occasional trips to the north for meditation retreats. Consequently, as far as monasteries go I don't have any new recommendations to add to those I posted to E-sangha.

Likewise with Thai language studies, I'm completely out of the loop now and have no idea what's available. The forums at http://www.thaivisa.com would be the place to ask about this.

For Pali study I don't know of any better place than Wat Tha Ma O, Sayadaw Dhammananda's monastery in Lampang, though Buddhaghosa College in Nakhorn Pathom will probably be just as good (the ajahns there are all former students of the sayadaw).

For Abhidhamma study, all of the schools that I've visited had pretty impressive and capable teachers, with a high level of faith, energy and enthusiasm prevailing. So there's no particular Abhidhamma school that I would recommend more than the others. My reason for choosing Wat Rakhang is chiefly that the classrooms are air-conditioned. :smile:

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:32 pm

Hi Bhante,

gavesako wrote:Some big Mahanikaya temples in Bangkok might also offer more opportunities for study (but if you ordain with the Dhammakai group, they won't later accept you at WPN, you would have to disrobe and re-ordain).


Really? Do you happen to know the reason for this policy?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:15 pm

Actually I am willing to disrobe/re-ordain within reason if it will further my overall education. Dhammayut or Mahanikaya is not an issue for me yet. It looks as if either one could be either good or bad depending on the people and the conditions. I have some minimum standards of my own clearly in mind but I will have to learn about the differences that actually exist in practice. A place may have good standards of some kinds but also be too overburdened as appears to be the case with many of the western forest monasteries worldwide. They are great guys but they provide a lot of service for the laity and I am sure there are a lot of requests for more training and ordination all the time. If I end up in the more globalized mix I would like to bring some other training and experience to that context. I am inspired by Ven. Dhammanando's accomplishments among others but I don't know just how things will unfold. One way or another. I will need more language assistance in the beginning but I am very independent, quiet (much quieter than maybe appears online!) and easy going. It looks like Chiang Mai and surrounding regions have the most to offer me overall so far if I can learn quickly enough to work with visa renewals etc. a bit more independently. I am collecting some good places and people to look up in the north but some kind of ongoing support with the visa thing is probably the pivotal issue regardless of how things go. Another reason to set things up from there, as far as I can see from here.

Thanks for the update on Wat Pah Nanachat Ven. Gavesako. I did kind of think we may as well have some threads like this here and anyone can use this one if it fits. One stop shopping and all that. I'll try to stay somehow wired to the bit...no, swee...no, equanimous end of it.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby phil » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:28 pm

Nathan, I really like the sense of purpose that comes through in your posts. It's a joyous thing to see someone on the verge of going forth. Those of us who can't go forth for one reason or another can be inspired to buckle down a bit more by your example.

Metta,

Phil
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby gavesako » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:38 pm

Dhammanando wrote:Hi Bhante,

gavesako wrote:Some big Mahanikaya temples in Bangkok might also offer more opportunities for study (but if you ordain with the Dhammakai group, they won't later accept you at WPN, you would have to disrobe and re-ordain).


Really? Do you happen to know the reason for this policy?

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Well, apparently it is because of the "duties to the preceptor" (upajjhayavatta) which are taken seriously at WPN, i.e. one should from time to time go and visit the senior monk that initiated one into the holy life, which for most of the WPN monks will be Luang Por Liem at the nearby Wat Nong Pah Pong. This is actually something rather ceremonial, more like keeping in touch, although he does give occasional formal instruction in Dhamma and Vinaya as well. If someone had been ordained by a Dhammakai upajjhaya (also part of the Mahanikai sect), they would not want him to maintain such contact (because Dhammakai is seen as a "suspicious" organization). Monks ordained elsewhere in Thailand and who have spent a couple of years in the robes already, would probably not be asked to disrobe and re-ordain.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:31 pm

Does all of this Mahanikai/Dhammakai stuff ever make sense?

Hi Phil, thanks for the kind words. I've had to bide my time and prepare slowly while other conditions changed and made this possible again so I know what it is like to want do this but not be fully able to do it as well. Things have finally all come together well more recently. I have been committed to this course of action and beginning in Thailand for about 4 months now. This is the final pre-Thailand stage now. Plans and steps for final departure and early arrival. I've managed to keep it relaxed, not too nervous or overexcited but looking forward to all of it immensely. :smile:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Dhammanando » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:38 pm

Hi Bhante,

gavesako wrote:If someone had been ordained by a Dhammakai upajjhaya (also part of the Mahanikai sect), they would not want him to maintain such contact (because Dhammakai is seen as a "suspicious" organization).


I see. Thanks for clarifying.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby PaulC » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:46 pm

Hi Nathan

I'm kind of surprised that people haven't mentioned Wat Bowon, as a possibility.

I was there in January visiting Phra Kevin, and he seems very well situated.

Paul
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby Dhammanando » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:09 am

Hi Paul,

PaulC wrote:I'm kind of surprised that people haven't mentioned Wat Bowon, as a possibility.


Wat Boworn these days is an asura realm. A very competitive, unfriendly and unhelpful community. If a westerner wants to be a Dhammayutt monk, the farang-friendly Wat Rama IX would be a much better option.

I was there in January visiting Phra Kevin, and he seems very well situated.


Probably just putting on a brave face. Kevin disrobed in February.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

    It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Ordination in Thailand Info & Advice

Postby PaulC » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:18 am

Ah! So I spoke too soon!

"Well-situated" as a staging ground for other things, perhaps ...

Thankyou, Bhante.

(And trusting you're in somewhat better health ...)

Paul
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