A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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manas
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A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:40 am

Hello, I search on the Internet, but I think it would be wise to get a recommendation right here at DW.

As I don't think I would qualify to get ordained - too old (monasteries don't like to accept folks my age, so I've read), plus another disqualifying detail i read about - I've resigned that the best place for me to go, would be some kind of longer-term retreat centre, where I can get away from modern life with it's temptations, distractions, emptiness, shallowness, and degradation. I'm getting fed up with being in this situation. My kids don't need me anymore, in fact they rarely even call me - they are both doing much better now, too. I can leave for a few months now.

Are there any places where you can just pay a substantial fee in advance, anywhere - i don't care anymore where I have to go, but a warm or even hot climate would be best for my health, in fact great for my health. With a monk or monks for guidance or advice, in the Thai Forest Tradition, who insist of the proper standard - eight precepts followed by all participants, men and women kept separately, noble silence, etc. The lot. I need to get away for a while to a place where there is no Internet, where there is nothing else to do, except meditate - walking, sitting, walking, sitting, etc. Plus Dhamma study, hopefully the chance to learn Pali also. I want to dive into this lifestyle for a substantial period of time. If I can't leave lay life permanently, I can at least have a few months to cultivate calm and insight. I have been feeling this way more and more lately. Dhamma is the only thing that really interests me anymore. Oh I still have sex desire, but honestly at my age, and with what i know, I don't have the wish to get entangled, in fact I'd be happy to be rid of this nuisance, however I know that's a long-term project.

I did a residential retreat about thirty years ago. Sitting, walking, sitting, walking...etc. I recall being outside walking once, and thinking " I could live like this." It was lovely to have so much time for meditation, in an environment so conducive to it.

I'm willing to travel to Thailand. I will bring Aeroguard / mosquito net so as to avoid malaria or whatever. I'm not so worried about all that now. i just want to get away from the futility of wasting what precious few years i have left. I want to make good use of this time. I would even be willing to just live nearby a monastery where lay followers are accepted, to come and practice also, although are there such places? Out of hundreds of monasteries, where are the monks more serious about Vinaya, and meditation cultivation? After reading 'The Broken Buddha' by Ven. Dhammika, I'm worried about going to just any Thai monastery...apparently some are better than others.

Any advice would be appreciated. First up, long-term residential retreat centres in Thai Forest Tradition. Anyone know of a good one? Willing to travel overseas. Need warm climate where my kidneys will benefit. This cold is not good for them, they need warmth.

Thanks for reading, sorry it's a bit of a rant. I'm not enlightened, but the Buddha Dhamma as outlined in the Pali Nikayas, is the best and truest thing I've found in this suffering life. How long should I keep looking for the truth? I think I might have found it already (whether I truly know it, or not - and that's basically what I want to resolve). Enough vacillating, time now to dive deeper into meditation practice. I've been reading and pondering the suttas, and their brilliance has largely convinced me. But study needs to be balanced with practice. I need to calm this overactive mind, and i know that environment has an effect on me; I seek a more secluded environment, where everyone else is doing the same thing - striving to purify their hearts of defilement.
Last edited by manas on Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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DooDoot
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by DooDoot » Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:49 am

manas wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:40 am
I'm willing to travel to Thailand. I will bring Aeroguard / mosquito net so as to avoid malaria or whatever.
There is no malaria in Thailand, apart from near Western & Northern border regions, where it comes from Burma, etc. There is no malaria at Wat Pah Nanachat, which is a stricter environment, for you. You must do community work there but I imagine there is enough time for solitude. Suan Mokkh is more informal although Suan Mokkh has formal 10 day silent retreat each month. Whatever you need, you can buy it in Thailand. Your costs will be negligible at Wat Pah Nanachat (probably free) and Suan Mokkh (AUD$100 for 10 day retreat plus I imagine similar but lesser cost only for food between retreats). You can also ask Tan Dhammavidhu if you can stay at Dawn Kiem, which is very secluded (if it still operates).
If you'd like to join the Wat Pah Nanachat community and practice as a layguest, we ask you to strictly follow the daily routines of the monastery, and join in with all communal meetings and work activities. We do not offer private meditation teachings or retreats and courses in meditation, but a chance to experience the challenging lifestyle of a traditional forest monk and learn from that. As the teachers of the Thai forest tradition stress, in monastic life, qualities like co-operation, respect and selfless service are essential both for communal harmony and individual growth in the practice.
Last edited by DooDoot on Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by DNS » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:11 am

You might want to narrow it down to which countries you would consider and which cities and / or which teachers and monasteries resonate with you.

Pretty much any monastery would allow lay guests to stay extended times, if they have the available guest rooms or guest houses. For example, Wat Metta, near San Diego has these simple accommodations:
https://www.watmetta.org/overnightVisitors.html

And it is the home of Bhikkhu Thanissaro, so he might be available for providing some instruction on some days/times. The San Diego, California area has some of the best weather, sunny all the time and not too cold, nor usually not too hot.

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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:21 am

DNS wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:11 am
You might want to narrow it down to which countries you would consider and which cities and / or which teachers and monasteries resonate with you.

Pretty much any monastery would allow lay guests to stay extended times, if they have the available guest rooms or guest houses. For example, Wat Metta, near San Diego has these simple accommodations:
https://www.watmetta.org/overnightVisitors.html

And it is the home of Bhikkhu Thanissaro, so he might be available for providing some instruction on some days/times. The San Diego, California area has some of the best weather, sunny all the time and not too cold, nor usually not too hot.
I did not know that, thank you. I thought surely it must get cold in San Diego in winter? If the climate is warmer there than in Melbourne, Australia, I would be happy to go there. Although all those cool and attractive Californians would get a shock seeing an odd-looking fellow such as myself, but then form (rupa) is not-self, and any strange looks I might get, would be good for whittling away my attachment & pride, I guess.
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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DNS
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by DNS » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:25 am

By the coast, it doesn't get cold hardly at all. But Wat Metta is about 20 miles inland or so and it is up in the hills -- beautiful scenery and forest setting, but due to that it gets colder sometimes. From their website:
Winter

Mostly winter days are clear and mildly crisp. Normal lows are in the low 40s F, but some winters have a week or two of lows around freezing. Normal highs are in the mid-50s to mid-60s F. Winter is also our rainy season, but the historic rainfall average is 13” per year.

Spring

There’s a possibility of rain, but after April it’s rare. Lows in the 50s. Highs in the 70s and 80s. Chance of early morning fog and dewy spiders’ webs across the roads: 100%.

Summer

It never ever rains in summer (except for last year and the year before). Lows are usually in the mid-60s; highs in the low-90s to low-100s. It’s worth mentioning that “it’s a dry heat,” and temperatures in the 90s are quite comfortable in the shade, and especially the deep shade of the avocado grove. However, every summer there are a few heat waves, and sometimes they’re extreme. They last about a week on average. Lows can be from the high-60s to high-70s. Highs can be from the mid-100s to mid-110s. While it’s still a “dry heat,” this is our most challenging weather since there’s no air-conditioning at the Monastery. Coping strategies include, but are not limited to, wearing wet towels on your head and taking cold showers in the afternoon.

Fall

Fall is nice. Mostly the weather is similar to spring, and we get a lot of 50 F nights and 70 F days with fog in the morning. Heat waves are still possible, but not as extreme as in summer. We are, however, subject to Santa Anas. Santa Anas are hot, dry winds blowing in from the deserts to the east, and they last an average of two and a half days. They can happen any time of year, but mostly in the fall. This, by the way, is the weather phenomenon behind So. California’s wildfires. It’s generally not a problem, though. We’ve only had to evacuate once in twenty-odd years

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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:29 am

DooDoot wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:49 am
manas wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 1:40 am
I'm willing to travel to Thailand. I will bring Aeroguard / mosquito net so as to avoid malaria or whatever.
There is no malaria in Thailand, apart from near Western & Northern border regions, where it comes from Burma, etc. There is no malaria at Wat Pah Nanachat, which is a stricter environment, for you. You must do community work there but I imagine there is enough time for solitude. Suan Mokkh is more informal although Suan Mokkh has formal 10 day silent retreat each month. Whatever you need, you can buy it in Thailand. Your costs will be negligible at Wat Pah Nanachat (probably free) and Suan Mokkh (AUD$100 for 10 day retreat plus I imagine similar but lesser cost only for food between retreats). You can also ask Tan Dhammavidhu if you can stay at Dawn Kiem, which is very secluded (if it still operates).
If you'd like to join the Wat Pah Nanachat community and practice as a layguest, we ask you to strictly follow the daily routines of the monastery, and join in with all communal meetings and work activities. We do not offer private meditation teachings or retreats and courses in meditation, but a chance to experience the challenging lifestyle of a traditional forest monk and learn from that. As the teachers of the Thai forest tradition stress, in monastic life, qualities like co-operation, respect and selfless service are essential both for communal harmony and individual growth in the practice.
Thank you also, Wat Pah Nanachat sounds challenging but as an Ajahn Chah monastery, I sense it would be an environment conducive to purification...if I'm brave enough I will give that a go. I think I should enquire with both Wat Metta, and Wat Pah Nanachat, and see how that goes.

Thanks David, and Doodoot, for such swift and helpful replies...I didn't know these two famed monasteries would accommodate a layperson for a month or two, that's good news.
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by JamesTheGiant » Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:49 am

There's a good meditation centre in Malaysia which you can stay at for as long as you like really. I'll find the name and report back, but my friend who goes to it is on rains retreat for now, so he won't be back until mid October.

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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:16 am

JamesTheGiant wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:49 am
There's a good meditation centre in Malaysia which you can stay at for as long as you like really. I'll find the name and report back, but my friend who goes to it is on rains retreat for now, so he won't be back until mid October.
Thanks James, Malaysia is much closer to Australia, the only issue being that I now know, there would be no risk of malaria if I went to Wat Nanachat, but i read quite recently, there can be the risk of malaria and also dengue fever, in rural parts of Malaysia. If I got either of those, I would be in trouble...when I said that didn't matter, it was careless of me to say that, because with my kidneys I can't really risk getting something that would require drugs / meds to get over, as pharma meds are not good for my organs...no point taking an unnecessary risk...

I assume California doesn't have any additional disease risks, than Melbourne where i currently reside...I would only need to make sure I wasn't bitten by a rabid dog, as far as I know that's the only 'extra' disease in the States, yes? (rabies...and i don't plan on getting bitten :D )
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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Volo
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by Volo » Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:46 am

If you like Mahasi or Pa-Auk system, Myanmar would be an option. I think most monasteries there would ordain irrelevant of age. But practicing as a lay yogi is also possible.

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manas
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Thu Aug 22, 2019 11:02 am

Volo wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:46 am
If you like Mahasi or Pa-Auk system, Myanmar would be an option. I think most monasteries there would ordain irrelevant of age. But practicing as a lay yogi is also possible.
I have been learning primarily from monks of the Thai Forest Tradition for the past 20 years, so will stick with that, however thank you for the suggestion :)

I feel I have a plan now. Get in touch with Wat Metta and Wat Pah Nanachat at some stage, and inquire. Pay off my few debts, just in case I did decide to really dive in and request ordination - if after living according to the monastic routine for a month or two felt right for me, I might take that extra step. However, what I really want is a month or two intensive meditation retreat, although I know in a monastery i would of course have to contribute with some physical duties also (which is just how it should be! part of the training and just part of life).

If I had to pick two monasteries, it would have been these two anyway; I just didn't know if they would allow a layman to stay over for a month or two. By seeming coincidence, those two were suggested!

Thank you to everyone who commented. I actually have to tell something more here. As has happened before when i've sincerely set my heart on increased renunciation, I suddenly found women seeming to be more interested in me, including one absolute goddess type who actually obviously flirted with me - this sort of thing only happens, when I decide to renounce. I know, really sucks, huh? anyway I resisted the temptation to let my mind go there - also, flirtation can often be just a trivial thing, soon forgotten. I get the feeling that 'someone' was just trying to distract my focus....not the lovely ladies, I'm referring to you-know-who.

Anyway, after writing this topic out, and being determined to make plans, my younger daughter rang me for the first time in a while. This time the conversation went differently, She and her mother had a fight a few days ago, as it turns out. She also has been struggling with her situation over there, is finding school easier in that provincial country town her mother lives in, but isn't making any real personal connections there, as yet. After the chat, I realized that she would greatly benefit from me sticking around a bit longer, even if only for another year. I can't leave her just yet; she didn't specifically ask, but I got the feeling she needs me once more, in fact I am considering moving over to that provincial country town she's in; if she wants me to , I will do it. I'm not a detached sort of parent, i love and care for my children a lot and if they still need me, I'm there for them, until they are more independent ( my youngest is just turning 17 next month).

However: I now have a plan! Pay off my debts (this will take a few months in any case), TOTALLY detox from smoking - better if i get that done first, save as much money as i can (for travelling overseas when the time comes)...so thank you David, Doodoot, James and volo, you have helped crystallize 'the plan' with your suggestions and advice.
I'm actually not that far off from practicing the eight precepts already, aside from watching a few Youtubes for entertainment each day (no TV, I don't have one anymore and don't miss it at all, darn stupid ads are out of my life). I listen to informative things such as Sam Harris' podcasts, which I guess would have to be given up were i in a monastic setting. But apart from 'not eating after noon', I'm not really that far away from having most of the eight already; they just need a bit of tidying up.

Oh, and don't worry, I'm not going to let anyone, human or divine, deflect me from what i ultimately want, although i must admit that something serious always seems to pop up out of the blue, every time i consider renouncing in this way...I am beginning to wonder if you-know-who might really be a thing, you know?

with metta, and thanks :)
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


eto
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by eto » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:07 pm

manas wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:21 am
DNS wrote:
Wed Aug 21, 2019 2:11 am
You might want to narrow it down to which countries you would consider and which cities and / or which teachers and monasteries resonate with you.

Pretty much any monastery would allow lay guests to stay extended times, if they have the available guest rooms or guest houses. For example, Wat Metta, near San Diego has these simple accommodations:
https://www.watmetta.org/overnightVisitors.html

And it is the home of Bhikkhu Thanissaro, so he might be available for providing some instruction on some days/times. The San Diego, California area has some of the best weather, sunny all the time and not too cold, nor usually not too hot.
I did not know that, thank you. I thought surely it must get cold in San Diego in winter? If the climate is warmer there than in Melbourne, Australia, I would be happy to go there. Although all those cool and attractive Californians would get a shock seeing an odd-looking fellow such as myself, but then form (rupa) is not-self, and any strange looks I might get, would be good for whittling away my attachment & pride, I guess.
Wat metta only allows new stays of no more than two weeks and are not ordaining anyone else now as it is already too full.

eto
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by eto » Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:10 pm

If you just want the intensive retreat experience, Pa Auk in Myanmar does 8 hours formal meditation a day but you could sit there all day and night if you wanted. It's hot and humid all year round, and you don't have to do any tasks other than meditate. It's an excellent environment, and if you are sincere, you will progress fast for sure. There are no major distractions.

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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by DNS » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:06 am

eto wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:07 pm
Wat metta only allows new stays of no more than two weeks and are not ordaining anyone else now as it is already too full.
Correct, but manas was referring to a long-term stay as a lay person. It's best to write them and check, but I think they would allow a long-term lay visit, especially if one worked as a lay attendant or was willing to pay for their stay.

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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by pilgrim » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:19 am

You don't have to worry about malaria in Malaysia. I've lived there for 60 years and never met anyone who had it. As for dengue, it happens but in urban areas, as the larvae tends to breed in construction sites and the like. It is extremely rare in rural areas. But general mosquito bites is an unavoidable irritation.

You can stay long term in a number of forest style monasteries. For english speakers, look up Sasanarakkha and Vihara Buddha Gotama. There is a network of viharas on Penang island comprising a few lesser known and smaller ones such as Sitavana Vihara.

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manas
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Re: A long-term residential retreat in any warm climate?

Post by manas » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:01 pm

eto wrote:
Fri Aug 23, 2019 10:10 pm
If you just want the intensive retreat experience, Pa Auk in Myanmar does 8 hours formal meditation a day but you could sit there all day and night if you wanted. It's hot and humid all year round, and you don't have to do any tasks other than meditate. It's an excellent environment, and if you are sincere, you will progress fast for sure. There are no major distractions.
Now that wat metta would appear to be full, so someone wrote, I will aim for somewhere else (however I must call Ajahn T. to thank him, I do not think I would still be practicing the Dhamma without his skilled explanations of it).

Myanmar might be a good place. Sounds like the equivalent to one of those solitary cave retreats where one can really dive deeply into the seclusion needed, to calm the mind. Thanks for the suggestion (volo first suggested it, thanks to volo also) . A question: will they mind someone not doing the same practice as they are? It's sutta-jhana I'm interested in, calming the mind deeply for the sake of being able to see things as they really are (I do sense that, in order to uproot delusion, we need to go deep, and in that state see even those more sublime states as unsatisfactory, ultimately....)? Would they mind what type of meditation one was doing?
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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