Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

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Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Sati1 » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:10 pm

Hello,

Next month I will be visiting three Sri Lankan monasteries - Mitirigala, Na Uyana and Kanduboda -, each for one week, as a layperson. Does anybody have suggestions on what is particularly important to take to a monastery in Sri Lanka and to any of these three in particular, besides the recommended flashlight, umbrella, etc.? It will be my first time in Sri Lanka and my first time at an Asian monastery. I am also wondering if:

1-there will be time available to study (the Pa Auk website, to which Na Uyana is affiliated, says that yogis are expected to meditate for 17 hours per day, and Mitirigala apparently discourages reading too much)
2-one has to remain in noble silence the whole time or if there will be opportunities to meet other meditators
3-what the best mode of transport is in Sri Lanka (buses?)

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: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Nicro » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:36 pm

1.) of course you can study. A place may put an emphasis on meditation (just like any forest monastery) but the time is yours to do what you want with.

2.) you can talk in a monastery. If course don't waste your time gossiping and such but, yes, everyone can talk unless there is a reason not to.

3.) the best means of travel is easily hiring a car, but that of course is more expensive. Busses get the job done though they are uncomfortable. You will be able to take a taxi straight to meetrigala from the airport if that is where you are going first.
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Sati1 » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:03 pm

Hi Nicro,

Thank you, this is very helpful. Does it mean that the rules on their website (eg this link, page 5: http://www.nissarana.lk/wwwww/guideline.pdf ) are nothing but suggestions? Where would the line be between what is a must (eg upholding the 8 precepts) and the suggestions? Is there usually somebody to enforce the rules?

Many thanks again,
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: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Nicro » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:16 pm

Well that packet looks like it is for people on retreat, and as I understand you want to ordain? That makes it difficult to say because they may or may not expect you to follow those rules considering you will be there a week.
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Sati1 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:01 am

Hi Nicro,

Ok, that makes sense. And yes, I'm planning to go to learn about the monastic life in Sri Lanka to possibly move there afterwards for future ordination. It's a great relief to hear from you that monks do have quite a bit of freedom with how they spend their time.

: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: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Rob1980 » Sun May 04, 2014 10:19 pm

Hi there

I see you live in London. If you would like to meet for a cup of tea and discuss Sri Lanka monasticism, I would be happy to meet you. I was a monk there for 4 years (at Na Uyana), which was both a highly positive and rewarding experience, but in the end, I did become disillusioned with monasticism in general and disrobed just over 2 years ago. These are not mutually exclusive statements, and therefore not contradictory as some people in this forum have suggested.

If you want to meet me for a chat, drop me a line.

With metta

Rob
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby BlackBird » Mon May 05, 2014 4:34 am

Hey there

I spent 2 months in Meetirigala (Nissarana Vanaya), and one month at Ven. Pemasiri's Kanduboda (there's two, one old and one new)

I eventually got fed up with Meetirigala and the fact I was not only discouraged from reading - Nyanavira in particular, but the only English speaker for much of my stay was the abbot and Dhamma teacher, and he wasn't impressed by my interest in Nyanavira's writings and so there was a fundamental irreconcilable difference between us. I was also discouraged from writing to my family, that - Like my attempt to learn Singhalese was discouraged because the Venerable sir felt that it would detract from my meditation. I'm not passing judgement on that, just stating the fact.

There were many good points however, for an independent person who is interested in a Burmese style of meditation. It was (at the time of my visit) very good for solitude, talking was more or less discouraged, but not enforced. So if you wanted to discuss Dhamma with a fellow English speaker (if there are any staying there) you can. The food by Sri Lankan standards is pretty good, lots of fruit. As an eight preceptor you will go down the stairs and do some begging in a staged almsround type thing, there are lots of different spicy vegetable curries, red and white rice etc, there is usually dessert or candies at lunch - Lots of curd. Really good milk tea in the mornings - Still trying to learn how they made it there - So if you go there can you ask them for me and report back? I have a feeling it includes some kind of malt... Strange request, I know.

The kuti I stayed in was pretty spartan, the bed kept collapsing so eventually I just popped the mattress on the floor (it was the only innersprung matress I slept on the whole time I was in Sri Lanka, so if you find one, cherish it. The area is a rainforest, and there is no electricity in the kutis so you will need to get matches from the supply monk to light your candles/lamps at night, I would recommend buying a lighter in Colombo though as it's easier in the long run as matches go bad in the humid environs quite quickly and need to be stored in a glass jar. There were issues I had with monkeys, dogs, snakes, scorpions, spiders, ants, leeches, cockroaches and mosquitos, if you wish I can give you an interesting story about each one, but the fauna certainly wasn't a deal breaker, just something one needs to adjust to. The monks and on site lay attendees do not by and large speak any English, which has both positives and negatives. Overall actually, the monastery has a lot of positives and it's fair share of negatives - I would definately say one needs to be very independent and used to solitude. I wasn't, I was used to the style of the Ajahn Chah Western Sangha monasteries where the focus is definately on community living, and so the adjustment proved too much for me. But I really do feel that there are certain types of people that would find Meetirigala perfect.


On a more general note:
You will need an umbrella, rain can come on very very quickly and disappear just as fast, but when it rains in Lanka, it pours! Also, when you go to Meetirigala you will need to bring white cloths, I would recommend getting some white sarongs at a shop in Colombo, as they're much more comfortable in the humid hot weather than pants.

As far as getting around the country goes, some basic Sinhala will come in handy in general - Basic travel stuff like 'I want to go to X'. You're easiest method for short distances is tuk tuks, Buses are mostly all written in Sinhalese script so you will need to ask English speakers for what bus to catch, if you're lucky they may have a subtext in English script.

I can give you some info on Kanduboda if it's indeed Ven. Pemasiri's one and not the original Kanduboda.

Hope that helps for a starts

metta
Jack
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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby SarathW » Mon May 05, 2014 4:58 am

Hi BB
Good to see you back in the forum.

This is how you make a good tea:
a)Full boil the water. Make sure it is full boil
b)If using milk warm it up. Do not boil
c)Pour water in the cup with a tea bag and leave for few minutes. Dilma tea is the closest Sri Lankan tea you can by in a super market. Tea leaves are the best.
d) Add Nestamalt, few tea spoons if you wish and add milk
e)Add sugar if need.
f)Air it using another cup for best mix.
There are lot of videos in You Tube.
:hello:
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby BlackBird » Mon May 05, 2014 5:02 am

MY HERO.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby SarathW » Mon May 05, 2014 5:08 am

PS:
They use condensed milk as well!
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby melancholy » Mon May 05, 2014 6:51 am

BlackBird wrote:Hey there

I spent 2 months in Meetirigala (Nissarana Vanaya)


when you were at meetirigala, did u meet rev. jotiko? he is one vassa american bhikkhu from wpn.

BlackBird wrote:I eventually got fed up with Meetirigala and the fact I was not only discouraged from reading - Nyanavira in particular, but the only English speaker for much of my stay was the abbot and Dhamma teacher, and he wasn't impressed by my interest in Nyanavira's writings and so there was a fundamental irreconcilable difference between us.


at least he did not look down or laugh at you for following nyanavira. usually sri lankan senior monks condemn nyanavira due to his suicide.

regards!
Power can make things disappear, so does me :D

Then the Blessed One said to Ven. Ananda, "Now, if it occurs to any of you — 'The teaching has lost its authority; we are without a Teacher' — do not view it in that way. Whatever Dhamma & Vinaya I have pointed out & formulated for you, that will be your Teacher when I am gone.

-Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Sati1 » Tue May 06, 2014 3:50 pm

Hi Blackbird,

Thanks for your advice, it will come in handy when I go to Meetirigala on Saturday. I wasn't aware that there would be restrictions on reading and communicating with your family.

Best,
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: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby Ananda26 » Thu May 08, 2014 3:15 pm

Sati1 wrote:Hello,

Next month I will be visiting three Sri Lankan monasteries - Mitirigala, Na Uyana and Kanduboda -, each for one week, as a layperson. Does anybody have suggestions on what is particularly important to take to a monastery in Sri Lanka and to any of these three in particular, besides the recommended flashlight, umbrella, etc.? It will be my first time in Sri Lanka and my first time at an Asian monastery. I am also wondering if:

1-there will be time available to study (the Pa Auk website, to which Na Uyana is affiliated, says that yogis are expected to meditate for 17 hours per day, and Mitirigala apparently discourages reading too much)
2-one has to remain in noble silence the whole time or if there will be opportunities to meet other meditators
3-what the best mode of transport is in Sri Lanka (buses?)

Many thanks,


The first time you go to visit Asia, it may be a good idea to read like a travel book, section about warnings in the climate since these are new to you in Southern Asia.

I like taking the train in Sri Lanka, but you may need to the bus to visit some places or a combination of the train and bus with some destinations.

Its a good idea to study ahead of time and prepare for your meditation. In case it feels as if you have been left on your own sometimes it is good to be prepared to make good use of your time.

A warning, I think one of the meditation places in Sri Lanka had a bad reputation for theft. They asked people to leave their money supposedly to the management to take care of, but I heard a number of reports, of the money being stolen when it was suppose to be left to the responsibility of the management.

There is a good monk from Sri Lanka, Bhante G now residing in High View, West Virginia, U.S.A. When I was visiting Sri Lanka, I saw him honoured for preaching Dhamma in the United States. They have a regular schedule of meditation retreats.

If you like to do some Buddhist tourist type activities also, Kandy has the temple of the tooth, and the more recently open International Buddhist museum conviently located close by. There are also 3 Sacred Cities in Sri Lanka.
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Re: Visiting Sri Lankan Monasteries in May - advice?

Postby BlackBird » Thu May 08, 2014 9:28 pm

Sati1 wrote:Hi Blackbird,

Thanks for your advice, it will come in handy when I go to Meetirigala on Saturday. I wasn't aware that there would be restrictions on reading and communicating with your family.

Best,


You're only there for a week, it won't be an issue. You're allowed to read, I think it's just gonna be discouraged - The way Bhante saw it when I was there: You spend a couple of hours reading - That's a couple of hours you could have been meditating.

metta
Jack
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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