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Wat Pah Nanachat Forest Temple, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Wat Pah Nanachat Forest Temple in Warin Chamrap subdistrict of Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand’s northeast region is well known as a foreigner-occupied Theravada Buddhist temple started by Ajahn Chah of Wat Nong Pah Pong Forest Temple close by.
There aren’t any formal meditation retreats at Wat Pah Nanachat, but you may be able to go in the morning and talk to the guest monk to see whether you can stay there as a layperson for a couple of days or longer. Some people stay for months and years wearing white as a layperson. Some then ordain as monks. Others remain laypersons.
Self-guided meditation can be done if you come on your own some days and meditate somewhere on the grounds. I used to do walking meditation here, but Wat Nong Pah Pong is probably even better for it. It’s more spacious and there are fewer people.
Wat Pah Nanachat
The Guest Monk
Ban Bung Wai, Ampur Warin Chamrap
Ubon Ratchathani 34310, Thailand
Tel: 045-4000-15 and Fax: 045-400-16
Wat Pah Nanachat is located on the road between the towns of Warin Chamrap and Sisaket near the village of Ban Bung Wai in a small forest. The Wat is about 15 km from the city of Ubon Ratchathani in northeastern Thailand. Bangkok is around 600 km away and the Lao border is around 80 km away.
In the morning there are two trains to Ubon (departing 5.45 am and 6.40 am, scheduled arrival at 2.05 pm and 5.45 pm). The night train with sleeper coaches is recommended (departure 9 pm., arrival 7:20 am.. The cost is abot 500 baht).
The Ubon train station is in the neighboring town of Warin (the inexpensive Rivermoon Guest House is within walking distance). From Warin then with the Songtaew (pickup truck with benches in the back) to Bung Wai (approx. 20 baht).
From the northern bus station in Bangkok, around 15 buses depart for Ubon every day (from 4.30 am. to 9 pm.). From the bus station continue with the pink city bus for 5 baht to Warin, then with the Songtaew to Bung Wai (approx. 20 baht).
In the morning and evening, there is a flight for around 1400 baht from Bangkok to Ubon. A taxi to the Wat costs around 200 baht. There is very good tourist information in the city center of Ubon (free city map, informative brochures), Telephone – 045-243770.
English and Thai, some of the participants – monks or laypersons speak other languages as well.
The Wat was founded in 1975 by Ajahn Chah, a Theravada meditation teacher highly regarded in Thailand. Ajahn Sumedho, a foreigner, was the first abbot.
Live and practice according to the strict guidelines of the Thai forest monastery tradition. No special technique is propagated. Practitioners are invited to take advantage of the extensive range of recommended reflections and meditation practices (eg Anapanasati, 32 body parts …) from the Theravada tradition.
Guests have the opportunity to make a donation.
Since the monastery is not designed as a retreat center for laypeople, there are no special meditation courses. Therefore there are no appointments to consider. For six male and six female guests, however, there is the possibility of being admitted to the monastery for some time and participating in everyday monastery life.
As there is a keen interest, early registration is highly recommended. Usually, guests have the opportunity to practice individually for several hours a day.
With Wat Pah Nanachat, a place has been created that offers interested people the opportunity to live an authentic monk life in the Thai forest tradition. Lay people who want to be included in the sangha go through novitiate for about 18 months before being ordained fully as a monk.
Guests are accommodated in the dormitory for the first three days, if they want to stay more than three days, they must consult the abbot. Men are then asked to shave their hair, wear white clothes, and move into a kuti (hut) in the forest. A light sleeping bag is especially useful in cooler times. The monastery provides mosquito nets and bedding.
Before the retreat, alarm clocks, a good flashlight or headlamp (if necessary a replacement bulb and batteries), slippers, water bottle, insect protection, toiletries, candles and matches should be obtained. These things are all available in Warin or Ubon at Tesco or Central Mall. A warm jacket can be useful for morning meditation.
The only daily meal is at 8:00 am. The laity (laypersons) receives part of the food that was offered to the monks. Greater safety of drinking water thanks to the disinfectant brought along.
Good for Asian standards. In the provincial capital Ubon there are hospitals and pharmacies. The area is not considered a malaria area, but malaria is common in other parts of Thailand.
All guests undertake to observe the eight silas (virtue rules). Clothing should be white in color, comfortable and appropriate (no shorts or sleeveless T-shirts). Female guests traditionally wear a white blouse and black skirt.
Twilight: Monks and novices go alms, the guests sweep paths or help in the kitchen.
8:00 am: meal
9:00 am: tidying up
9:30 am: individual practice
3:30 pm: common working period
4:30 pm: afternoon drink (sometimes sangha meetings)
6:30 pm: individual practice
BEST TIME OF YEAR?
November to February. The weather is cooler and the mosquitos are not too bad.
Particularly interesting for men who live for a long time according to the rules of the Thai forest monastery tradition and want to ordain if necessary, or for people who want to find out more.
Day visitors should ideally arrive before 8 am., and are cordially invited to take part in the meal offered and can then speak to the guest monk and possibly the abbot.