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Wat Mahathat Temple Meditation Retreat

Wat Mahathat Temple Meditation Retreat program, Bangkok, Thailand

MEANING OF NAME

Wat Mahathat means the ‘Temple of the great element.’ This refers to the famous copper pagoda. Also known as, Wat Mahadhatu.

ADDRESS

Tha-Phrachan, Bangkok 10200. Telephone numbers: (02) 222-6011 (Section 5); (02) 222-4981 (Section 5 secretary); (02) 222-2835 (Dhamma Vicaya Hall).

DIRECTIONS

Located west of Sanam Luang (parade grounds) and south of the National Museum and Thammasat University. Main entrances are on the west side from Maharaj Road. Many city buses pass by.

MEDITATION SYSTEM

Vipassana using techniques similar to those taught by Mahasi Sayadaw.  Based on Four Foundations of Mindfulness described in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta. Concentration is developed on the rise and fall of the abdomen, then awareness is directed to physical and mental sensations.

TEACHING METHOD

Individual daily interviews. Weekly lectures in Thai (usually on Sundays).  Most meditation instruction and practice takes place in Section 5.

MEDITATION TEACHERS 

  • Ajahn Maha Sawai Nanaviro (Thai; age 35)
  • Ajahn Phramaha Boonchit (Nanasangvaro) (Thai; age 34). 
  • Other experienced monks and laypeople assist.
  • Ajahn Phramaha Suphap Khemarangsi (Thai; age 45) is head of Section 5.

LANGUAGE

Teachers and some assistants in Section 5 can speak a little English, though instruction is normally given in Thai. If no one speaks English when you visit, ask at the Dhamma Vicaya Hall.

DESCRIPTION

Large, busy temple of 50 rai (20 acres). Founded in the 18th century, Wat Maha That serves as an important center for Thai Buddhism. Many of the monks attend Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University here. Crowds of worshippers visit the various viharns, shrines, chedis, and Buddha images on the grounds. Monks in the Dhamma Vicaya Hall sometimes speak English and can answer questions; scheduled talks are given here.  Meditation takes place in Section 5; you’re welcome to join in on the group sitting and walking sessions.

SIZE

  • Monks: 300-400 (one of the largest populations in Thailand during the Rains Retreat. There are 30-50 monks typically in Section 5.) 
  • Novices: 50-70 (about 10 in Section 5) 
  • Nuns: 10-12 (about 8 in Section 5) 
  • Laypeople: about 500 (30-40 in Section 5)

DAILY ROUTINE

In Section 5: 6:30 am. breakfast; 7-11 am. morning chanting (about 30 min.) and sitting and walking group meditation; 11:30 am. lunch; 1-4 pm. sitting and walking group meditation; 4 pm. drinks; 6-8 or 9 pm. evening chanting (about one hour) and sitting and walking group meditation.

FOOD

Good quality and variety. A simple breakfast in the early morning, then the main meal in the late morning; drinks are served in the afternoon. Meditators can also arrange for food, including vegetarian, to be delivered from shops.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Laypeople usually stay in dormitories, separate for men and women; conditions tend to be crowded. Monks, novices, and some laymen have individual rooms. Electricity and running water. Bathing is from jars or showers; Asian-style toilets.

WRITE IN ADVANCE?

Not necessary.

ORDINATION

Possible as monk, novice, or magee (nun).  First ask the chief of Section 5, who will inform the abbot. One then has an interview with the abbot. Longer ordinations of 1-2 years or more are preferred.

OTHER INFORMATION

Laypeople follow 8 precepts and normally wear white clothing.  Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University Bookstore, facing the street on the north side of the wat, has some English books on Buddhism; other Buddhist bookstores are on the same street.

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