lewis454 wrote:Lately I've been thinking a lot of going to SE Asia and meditating a bunch, maybe even becoming a monk. This afternoon I was in a high end shoe store in a busy shopping mall, and as I was trying on my first good pair of dress/business shoes, a Buddhist monk came and sat next to me. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but it was a really weird place for a Buddhist monk to be, especially since monks aren't particularly common where I live. It was almost like a choice between two worlds.
Really weirds me out !
That weirds me out too - they're normally found in mobile phone stores shopping for the latest high-end model to upgrade to. Although these days a fair few are busier spouting hatred, stoking fear, advocating ridiculous restrictions on interfaith marriage and getting involved in politics.
Seriously, though, choose your monasteries carefully, ESPECIALLY if you're considering Burma. Despite some seriously unappealing political rubbish going on at the moment involve more than a few 'monks', there are some extremely good meditation-focused monasteries and both locally and internationally-renowned teachers. Retreats can be booked with sufficient notice and expression of sincerity, depending on the time of year but you'll need to ensure arrangements are made to get a meditation visa.
Do your research in advance - as has been hinted at, each monastery and method has its own idiosyncrasies. As one lay meditation teacher here advised, stick with a method that is in a similar vein to whatever you're currently doing. You're spoilt for choice here, and to switch over is like going halfway up one entrance to Shwedagon Pagoda, then going down the steps to another entrance and starting up those ones from the bottom (this was before the escalators were installed).
Come here first on a tourist visa after doing your research and arrange some visits in person. I'm biased as it's the tradition I follow, but every year from 1 December - 31 January Panditarama runs a 60 day intensive retreat aimed specifically at foreigners. Not for first-timers, but I'm going there for a 1 month retreat on Monday and another user on here posted a while back and there's a fair bit of info. Worth considering. Novice ordination also possible.
Have you been to SE Asia before?