Ordination in Thailand

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

Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Anagarika » Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:50 am

Beneath the Wheel:

Wat Sri Boen Ruang is a true Wat/Temple. It has on its premises a school for novices, a radio station, and all the elements of any well establish Thai Wat. Yes, full ordination is conducted at WSBR in the normal course. One of my teachers, Ven. Phra Fred, ordained there, and of course Thai samanera go forth for full ordination there.

The advantage to WSBR, in my opinion, is the presence of a young, gifted, and dynamic Abbot who speaks English well, along with Phra Fred and Phra Greg, both native English speakers.

I may at some point ordain; go forth. I would choose to ordain only at WSBR. It is my Dhamma home, in a sense. Now, if only my Thai and Pali would progress and improve..I might stand a chance at being considered for this ordination.....
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby gavesako » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:22 pm

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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Dec 25, 2011 1:36 am

sonictravels wrote:Hello,

Does anyone have any information about Wat Tha Ma O? I cannot locate a website which may suggest it wouldn't be easy to ordain there as an english speaker..

Thanks


The abbot of Wat Tha Ma O, Sayādaw Dhammānanda, is now nearly blind and too frail to teach. The de facto abbot now is a very talented Burmese-trained Thai monk, Sayādaw Gandhasāra. U Gandhasāra has undertaken a fair bit of international teaching (mostly leading retreats in Europe) and speaks English well. He is also an incredibly prolific translator, especially of Burmese treatises into Thai, and impresses me as a competent meditation technician.

Earlier this year I transcribed and translated Wat Tha Ma O's Pali evening chanting and confession formulas for another Englishman who was preparing to ordain there. As these are rather different from those in general use in Thailand I am uploading the file here for anyone who might be considering ordaining at Tha Ma O.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando
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    ...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

Postby mr.c » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:38 pm

Hi everyone.

This thread starts with a reference to the homonymous one from E-Sangha, that isn't available anymore. I "discovered" the old thread back in 2009. I was then. and still am. interested in ordaining. I was very eager to read it but it was rather lengthy, so... I made a print out of it! Until some time ago I forgot where it was or if still existed, but some months ago I found it by chance.

It has taken me some time to transcribe it into electronic form again (a few minutes every day), but here it is once more. It covers from its first post on 6/aug/2006 until 25/jan/2009.

I hope someone still finds it useful, or has some value as a "historical" document... :)

Best wishes!
MrC
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:24 pm

Thanks MrC!

(and welcome...)

:anjali:
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Apawang » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:37 am

It looks as if there hasn't been activity on this thread for a bit, but any relevant response is appreciated!

I am 44 years old and married with young(er) children. I'm waiting for my kids to grow up and finish school. I have always intended to ordain in Thailand since visiting there and doing retreats there many years ago. I recently read on WPN website that they have a age cutoff of 50. This is very disappointing since my kids won't be finished with school before I turn 50.

I'm confused about this because I was under the impression that it was common for laypersons to ordain after their children were grown. I had heard that this is common in many countries including Thailand. I also don't understand why the Sangha would turn their back on older people who want to ordain. This doesn't seem to be in keeping with stories I had read about the Buddha and his disciples.

At any rate, if I'm not able to ordain in one of the English-speaking Wats in Thailand, are there other good suggestions? I am trying to teach myself Thai at the moment but I'm not sure how that will progress without living in Thailand.

Thanks for your kind responses!
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Anagarika » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:47 pm

Apawang wrote:It looks as if there hasn't been activity on this thread for a bit, but any relevant response is appreciated!

I am 44 years old and married with young(er) children. I'm waiting for my kids to grow up and finish school. I have always intended to ordain in Thailand since visiting there and doing retreats there many years ago. I recently read on WPN website that they have a age cutoff of 50. This is very disappointing since my kids won't be finished with school before I turn 50.

I'm confused about this because I was under the impression that it was common for laypersons to ordain after their children were grown. I had heard that this is common in many countries including Thailand. I also don't understand why the Sangha would turn their back on older people who want to ordain. This doesn't seem to be in keeping with stories I had read about the Buddha and his disciples.

At any rate, if I'm not able to ordain in one of the English-speaking Wats in Thailand, are there other good suggestions? I am trying to teach myself Thai at the moment but I'm not sure how that will progress without living in Thailand.

Thanks for your kind responses!


Apawang:

I do not believe that there is a strict age restriction in Thailand. I believe that the requirements for samanera and Bhikkhu ordination depend on the preceptor and the abbot of the Wat where you would request ordination. I know of at least one retired gentleman from the US who has ordained as of last year, and is living as a monk in a Thai Wat, and very happy there.

Take a look at http://www.monkordination.com At Wat Sri Boen Ruang, you can go through training, study and temple living and then request to ordain as a samanera (novice) at the Temple. I do not believe that any age restriction is in place; there are other requirements that the Vinaya sets forth with regard to physical fitness etc. Ordaining as a novice is a step toward ordaining as a bhikkhu, and it allows one to fully experience the life of a bhikku (almsrounds, vinaya code) before going forth as a bhikkhu. I ordained as a samanera there. WSBR's Abbot is also a very good man, highly educated, speaks English, young, and a dynamic community leader.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby appicchato » Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:24 pm

I do not believe that there is a strict age restriction in Thailand.


There is none...WPN (probably) being the only (out of 35k) one that does...

Knowing more Pali than Thai would impress (as an aid to securing permission to ordain) a Thai abbot more...

Success to you...
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Dhammanando » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:58 am

Apawang wrote:I'm confused about this because I was under the impression that it was common for laypersons to ordain after their children were grown. I had heard that this is common in many countries including Thailand.


Yes.

I also don't understand why the Sangha would turn their back on older people who want to ordain. This doesn't seem to be in keeping with stories I had read about the Buddha and his disciples.


I think Wat Pa Nanachat may well be unique in this respect. I have a septuagenarian American friend who has sometimes stayed at WPN for lengthy periods and was hoping to ordain there. His application was rejected on account of the rule you mention. The explanation given to him was that the community had found it too difficult to train westerners who ordain in old age. Western quinquagenarians, sexagenarians, etc., find it irksome to be bossed about by vicenarians and tricenarians (which is what most of the WPN community are) who are their monastic seniors. It might not be so bad if there wasn't actually a lot of bossing about but at WPN there's a great deal of it.

With Thais ordaining in late life doesn't seem to be so much of a problem. The difficulties WPN encountered are avoided largely through senior Thai monks having the skill to train their charges in a non-coercive fashion, without needing to issue peremptory orders, pull rank on one's juniors, and that sort of thing. In fact there's many a Thai abbot who will never order anyone to do anything but will get things done by just quietly dropping hints.
    ...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

Postby Apawang » Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:05 pm

Thanks so much for the replies. This really makes me feel much better! I found the age restriction strange so it's good to hear it's limited to WPN. I'll keep practicing and am hoping to visit Thailand this year or next for a retreat and a chance to visit some of the different Wats.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby gavesako » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:19 pm

Westerners choose a monk's life in Thailand


SCRIPT: Thailand might be better known in the west for its beaches but some visitors come here with other plans. Several hundred have left behind Europe, the US or Australia to be ordained as Thai Buddhist monks. SOUNDBITE 1 Phra Asoko (man), Swiss Buddhist monk (French, 12 sec): "You free yourself from a whole pile of difficulties and suffering which are an integral part of a non-religious life. There are difficulties, there are sacrifices to make. But these are things which are a part of the decision." [French: "On se libère d'un tas de difficultés et de souffrances qui font partie intégrante de la vie d'un laïque. Il y a des difficultés, il y a des sacrifices à faire, mais ce sont des choses qui font partie du choix."] One of Phra Asoko’s mentors is the American monk Luang Poh Sumedho. He donned his saffron robe 46 years ago and is one of the most respected foreign monks in Thailand. Buddhism appeals to him for its pragmatism - and the fact it's not focused on a god. SOUNDBITE 2 Luong Por Sumedho (man), American Buddhist monk (English, 12 sec): "There is something very appealing to Western mind about Buddhism, because it isn't, it doesn't demand that you believe in things, it is not a theistic approach." But making the leap to a disciplined monastic life isn't easy. There are many rules to follow including sexual abstinence and isolation from the wider world Phra Ashal, an Australian who entered monkhood 35 years ago, says around half of the foreign monks he's known have given up. SOUNDBITE 3 Phra Achalo (man), Australian Buddhist monk (English, 21 sec): "I have never met one who regretted trying. And every single one of them has left with confidence in the Buddhist training and gratitude for the community and feeling happy that they tried and usually they leave because they think like, it's too hard for them." While most western visitors to Thailand may return home feeling they’ve experienced a slice of paradise, these foreign monks, who’ve stayed the course, hope to experience a whole new level of enlightenment. SHOTLIST: UBON RATCHATHANI, NORTH-EAST, THAILAND, JUNE 2012, SOURCE: AFPTV -Wide of temple -Various of Phra Asoko and fellow monks collecting alms -SOUNDBITE 1 -Various of Phra Asoko walking with Luong Por Sumedho -SOUNDBITE 2 -Various of interior of temple Wat Pah Nanachat -Various of mountain views of Khao Kor -CU of Buddhist statue -Set up of Phra Achalo -SOUNDBITE 3 -Monks collecting alms -Monks chanting -Monk walking on hillside END

http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/video/ ... 30601.html
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby AllenCN » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:30 pm

Venerables, fellow candidate-venerables, and lay-friends,

Ajahn Dhammanando mentioned earlier in this thread what he coined a "monk-to-be visa." I know myself that such a thing exists... as a layman at WPN, I accompanied anagarikas on their final visa run before ordination (I myself was one, on just another TR visa run), but unfortunately I was not paying enough attention. Would anyone happen to know the technical, legal terminology for this visa, or have a citation for the Thai regulation? Is the regulation cited here? http://www.onab.go.th/index.php?option= ... Itemid=188

I'm soon to be going through the process of ordaining at a small forest temple that has very limited experience with foreigners... Unfortunately, that was prior to the regulations cited in Dhammanando's 2010 post. Would anyone happen to have specific information about what is required? I realize that details are far too much to ask for in Thailand, but am grateful for even hints and innuendos. Many thanks.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby appicchato » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:31 pm

Basically any type of 'non-immigrant' visa will suffice...once ordained you will get a 'bisuti', and with that you can get the paperwork to obtain the one year extensions to that visa...there is no 'monk visa'...

All the best...
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby Dhammanando » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:43 pm

appicchato wrote:Basically any type of 'non-immigrant' visa will suffice...once ordained you will get a 'bisuti', and with that you can get the paperwork to obtain the one year extensions to that visa...there is no 'monk visa'...


Bhante, are you sure your info is up to date? Though I've no idea what the current regulations are, I recall that whereas a non-immigrant visa sufficed when I came out to ordain in 1985, when I came back to re-ordain in 2003 I did have to apply for a special 'monk-to-be' visa and wouldn't have been permitted to ordain without one.
    ...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

Postby appicchato » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:03 am

Venerable,

I don't really keep close tabs on the regs although I've been getting year long extensions since '06 (7?), and that was with a single entry non-immigrant ('O') visa...a Caucasian ordained where I reside (Wat Thewasangkharam, Muang Kanchanaburi) last year with nought but the same...I've been getting uninterrupted Thai visas since the seventies (whew)...I don't think he will have a (major) problem with just a non-immigrant visa...but, as this is Thailand, that thought is not chiseled in stone...

Be well...
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby AllenCN » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:15 am

Vens. Appicchato and Dhammanando -- many thanks for your replies, as well as for the wealth of information you've posted previously to this forum.

I think there is some truth to this; the group of 3 anagarikas I traveled with were from mixed nationalities, and for whatever reason one of them came back with a non-imm "R" visa and two came back with "ED" visas... they were told not to worry, as it didn't matter anyway -- all would be converted to basically the same one-year visa later. (Still not sure why... different nationalities get different non-imm visas more easily? Timing of required paperwork/letters from ONAB? Mere convenience on the part of the Thai application preparer?) Regardless, it seemed that a non-immigrant visa of some kind was good for 90 days, and the rest could be handled by ONAB + immigration without leaving the country again.

Many thanks again for your ongoing help and support of those pursuing ordination.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby dagon » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:51 am

appicchato wrote:Venerable,

I don't really keep close tabs on the regs although I've been getting year long extensions since '06 (7?), and that was with a single entry non-immigrant ('O') visa...a Caucasian ordained where I reside (Wat Thewasangkharam, Muang Kanchanaburi) last year with nought but the same...I've been getting uninterrupted Thai visas since the seventies (whew)...I don't think he will have a (major) problem with just a non-immigrant visa...but, as this is Thailand, that thought is not chiseled in stone...

Be well...


(Buddhism study/Religious function/Missionary purpose)


Required documents:

1. A Passport or Travel Document (validity of not less than 6 months on the arrival date in Thailand and contain at least ONE completely empty visa page)
Important: An original passport must be submitted when applying for a visa. If you send application via post, please enclose your passport. Visa cannot be processed without the passport.

2. A copy of Passport (The page(s) that shows your photo,name,date and place of birth and the expiration date of passport)

3. A Completed visa application form. (completed and signed by the applicant.) Click here to download.

4. 2 recent passport-size color photographs, 3.5 x 4.5 cm, front-view, taken within 6 months

5. A copy of airline ticket or e-ticket. (air ticket paid in full)
Note: We do not accept airlines staff card , stand by/open flight ticket.

6. Supporting documents

6.1 Buddism study/Religious function
- an original confirmation letter from the National Buddhism Office or the Prime Minister's Office or the
Mahachulalongkorn University
- an original confirmation letter from the abbot of the temple where the applicant will be studying or performing the
religious function.

http://www.thaiembassy.org/helsinki/en/ ... -Visa-Type

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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby konchokzopa » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:03 pm

mr.c wrote:Hi everyone.

This thread starts with a reference to the homonymous one from E-Sangha, that isn't available anymore. I "discovered" the old thread back in 2009. I was then. and still am. interested in ordaining. I was very eager to read it but it was rather lengthy, so... I made a print out of it! Until some time ago I forgot where it was or if still existed, but some months ago I found it by chance.

It has taken me some time to transcribe it into electronic form again (a few minutes every day), but here it is once more. It covers from its first post on 6/aug/2006 until 25/jan/2009.

I hope someone still finds it useful, or has some value as a "historical" document... :)

Best wishes!
MrC



your file is broken. i see bunch of symbols and empty pages and gray spots????
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby konchokzopa » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:14 pm

hi, I am writing here since i just applied to Myanmar to Pa Auk Monastery but in the case they dont have space or do not accept me i will travel to Thailand in look for full ordination.

Can you give me an advice. i read in a thread that you need to be able to speak pali for ordination to be possible? can you tell me a bit more about this and fill me in with the necessary info.

Can you recommend me a Wat where a westerner has a chance to commit to a full ordination. wat pat nanachat is not in my interest's. from the website it just doesnt seem the right place for me.

i have been practicing two years tibetan buddhism and i dont seem to make progress and i feel that to make real progress a 3 year retreat is necessary and i dont have the money for that and im interested in theravada very much and the monks life appeals to me deeply.

I hope that the Pa Auk Monastery will accept me but in the case it doesn't i request your help. if the monastery does not accept me as a monk i would be travelling to Thailand just before next summer to look for a place to commit to full ordination.

can someone fill me in with the pali requirements for ordination to be possible? some good wat where you get proper meditation instructions and vinaya and english speaking teacher who accepts 21 year old european male's who have not been the most virtuous persons in life so far, except trying very hard for the past 2-3 years.

also how much money should one have if one is hoping to be in Thailand for 5-10 approx. as a wanderer monk maybe at some point how much money in euros or usd is one year visa and how much should one prepare money to go out of country to go back in because of visa issues.
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Re: Ordination in Thailand

Postby appicchato » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:47 pm

This from Venerable Dhammanando:
Hello all,
I have lately been getting quite a few PM's enquiring about practical details of ordaining as a bhikkhu in Thailand. Rather than replying to each separately I will just post to this thread and henceforth direct enquirers to it.
It used to be the case that foreigners could get ordained in Thailand very easily, indeed almost at the drop of a hat, but owing to abuse of the system (e.g., hippies getting ordained just so that they could get a long-term visa) new regulations where introduced that made bhikkhu ordination somewhat more difficult.
A non-thai that wishes to ordain in Thailand and stay here for long-term now needs to enter the country with a special “monk-to-be” visa. Strictly speaking, are prohibited to ordain a foreigner who does not have one of these visas. In practice a lot of abbots outside Bangkok and the larger cities are ignorant of this rule (or else they know about it, but don't give a damn!) and will ordain foreigners who don't have it. However, if you ordain in this way it's likely that you'll run into problems when you apply for a visa extension. Therefore it's best to do things by the book.
To be elegible for a monk-to-be visa you will need to obtain a letter from an abbot in Thailand certifying that he is willing to ordain you. You will also need a letter of sponsorship from a Thai layman. (At some embassies it is sufficient to give the layman's name and address). This person will be making quite a big commitment, for he will be responsible for your behaviour and for repatriating you if you go insane, commit a crime or whatever.
So, given this new regulations, there are two ways that one can proceed. The better course, imo, is to come out to Thailand on a normal visa and spend a few months traveling about, visiting temples, going to retreats, questioning ajahns, making aquaintances, etc., until you find some place or teacher that clicks with you. The notify the abbot of your wish to ordain and follow whatever procedures are in place there. These will vary a lot, some abbots may write you a letter and find a lay sponsor for you straight away; if that happens then you just need to go to Laos or Malaysia, get the special visa, re-enter Thailand and you might be a bhikkhu by the end of the week. Other abbots will expect you to go throught some king of program, e.g., spending so many months as an 8-precept layman, then so many months as a samanera, before being elegible for bhikkhu ordination. If that's the case then you might need to enter and leave the country several times during your training, as the normal visas only last for

2-3 months.
Another way to proceed is to start attending a Thai temple in your home country and befriending the monks there. If they like you and trust that you're sincere they may be willing to arrange for an abbot in Thailand to issue a letter and find you a sponsor. I wouldn't myself recommend this procedure, however, for it has the drawback that you'll be committing yourself in advance to ordaining at a temple and with an abbot that you'll now nothing about. (Bear in mind that once ordained, your preceptor can insist that you stay with him for five years, so you really ought to select the man with some care). On the other hand, if you are only planning for a temporary ordination this might be the better way to go.
Once you have been ordained as a bhikkhu, you will be elegible to apply for a one-year visa. This can be extended every year without needing to leave the country.
Regarding the best place to ordain for foreigners, this is a matter on which opinions will differ (and sometimes heatedly!). Obviously if you already have some faith in one or another of the Theravada sub-traditions (e.g., Mahasi-style vipassana, the forest tradtion of Ajahn Mun or its off-shoot, the Ajahn Chah tradition, or Ajahn Buddhadasa, or Ajahn Naeb or whatever) then the choice will be dictated by that. For example, to train with Ajahn Maha Boowa you'll need to be ordained in the Dhammayuttika Nikaya, to be a monk of the Ajahn Chah tradition you'll probably need to start at Wat Pah Nanachat, etc. On the other hand, if you don't have any such prior commitment, the my own suggestion is that you start off at some place where you'll be trained properly in Vinaya. As fas as I know this really cuts down the choices to three:
1) A Dhammayuttika Nikaya temple. In general de Vinaya observance is stricter in this Nikaya than in the Mahanikaya. The drawbacks, however, are that as a Dhammayuttika monk you'll miss out much of the richness of Thai Buddhism, you'll only be able to stay at about 5% of the temples in Thailand, Dhammayutt Abhidhamma scholarship is poor, and the one and only practice tradition is that of Ajahn Mun, with its eternalist doctrine of the “citta that lives for ever.” Also the Vinaya observance tends in some respects to be pharisaical rather than virtuous; e.g., the Dhammayutts take pride of not using money, but in fact most of them do have bank accounts, even including some of the Ajahn Mun forest monks. They differ from money-using Mahanikaya monks only in that they don't physically handle the money.
2) Wat Pah Nanchat (sic). This is Ajahn Chah's branch wat for training western monks. Their Vinaya training in this wat is quite thorough and not prone to Dhammayutt-style hypocrisy. The drawback is that you are not likely to learn very much Dhamma or to get competent guidance in meditation. Also, I don't think it's very healthy to be living with other western monks during one's formative years of training; too much time gets wasted on gossiping and squabbling.
3) Wat Tha Ma O; this is the Burmese monastery in Lampang of my own Pali teacher Sayadaw Dhammananda. Though the wat is primarily a Pali and Abhidhamma study centre, the sayadaw is also a meditation master and he gives his monks at least as good Vinaya training as they'd get at Wat Pah Nanacha, but with much else besides. This is nowadays the only place in Thailand that I can wholeheartedly recommend for a western would-be bhikkhu.
Well, that's all I can think off for now. If you have any questions on this matter I'd prefer that they were posted hehe rather than sent by PM, unless they concern a matter that really needs to be kept private.
Best wishes, Dhammanando Bhikkhu


Regarding knowing Pali, it is not necessary to have a command of it, one can learn as one goes, but it is required to know the Pali in the ordination ceremony (see link below)...as far as money goes, it's relative, suffice to say that Thailand is not expensive...1900 Baht (60+US$) for a yearly visa extension...

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/ordination.pdf
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