Temple Retreat, Thailand

Nestled amongst the beauty of Northern Thailand, Wat Sriboonruang's temple stay programme offers guests from around the world the opportunity to learn more about Buddhism, meditation, temple life and Thai culture.

With deepest gratitude – thank you all.

We just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of our guests from around the world who made the time to travel to Fang to join us over the recent months. You have all been amazing and we have learned so much from every one of you.

We very much hope that your practice continues to bear fruit and that we see you all back at Wat Sriboonruang (your second home!) in the future. Be happy.

Vesākha Pūjā day at the temple.

Monks, novices and laypeople gathered together to meditate, chant and take part in a candle lit circumambulation of the temple here at Wat Sriboonruang to mark Vesākha Pūjā day.
Vesak, the most important day in the Buddhist calendar around the world, celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the historical Buddha and celebrates His universal message of peace.

 

(Cartoon) For You The Newcomer

A wonderful Dhamma lesson – we hope you enjoy this.

At Enlightenment

The truth is that
Dhamma is extremely close to us.
It is so close that we can say
it is about ourselves.
The Dhamma’s aim is simple
how to be free from suffering.
When we study Dhamma,
we should look directly into
“where suffering is, how suffering arises
and how to end suffering.”
title-eng
To be successful in the study of Dhamma
means to practice until suffering is eradicated.
It is not about the amount of worldly knowledge acquired
or the ability to explain Dhamma elaborately and beautifully.
The truth is that
the suffering we experience
lies within our body and mind.
The field of study for Dhamma
is actually inside of us.
Instead of looking to the outside world for learning,
we may look inwardly at our own selves.
2-2-1
The method is simple,
just observe our body and mind closely.
We can start by simply
looking at our physical body.

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Congratulations to Uldis and Oliver

IMG_0323Uldis (Slovakia) and Oliver (Austria) today became our our latest Temple Stay, Retreat and Monk Ordination program’s latest Samanera monks. Well done to both of our guests who worked diligently in their preparation.

Goodbye Phil.

Goodbye Phil.

Temple Stay guests Song Poh (Malaysia), Seong (Malaysia), Paolo (Italy), Kristin (USA) and Anna (Norway) say goodbye to our lovely guest Phil (Australia). Thank you for your company and friendship Phil – we will miss you!
With Phra Graham (Scotland) taking the photo we really are well on the way towards our goal of becoming a truly International Temple Stay and Retreat destination.

“Wandering Dhamma” review.

1Our good friends over at Wandering Dhamma recently re-visited Wat Sri Boonruang to discuss our Temple Stay and Retreat program.

If you are a newcomer to Brooke’s fabulous blog we highly recommend that you take the time to familiarise yourself with her work.

Thank you for the continued support of our projects Brooke – we hope to see you all back here in the not so distant future.

Learning about Buddhism is a curiosity for most tourists to Thailand, as they notice the numerous temples and monks during their excursions. However, some travelers come to Thailand with the specific intention to learn about the Buddhist way of life. In some cases these travelers find that the religion is inaccessible to them once they arrive, and they search for a way to understand more. In Thailand there are a number of ways to learn about Buddhism, from meditation retreats to volunteer teaching in temple schools. However, there are other educational and lifestyle programs which illuminate the Buddhist way of life. The Temple Stay and Retreat Program is the name of a unique international outreach program located within Wat Sri Boonruang in Fang, Northern Thailand.

Read the full article here.

On friendship.

samanera-friendsI have been thinking about, and meditating on, the concept of friendship a great deal recently. In particular the characteristics that define those “kalyana-mitta” (spiritual friends) that we are fortunate enough to have in our lives.
Throughout my time at Wat Sri Boonruang I have had the good fortune to add many names to the list of companions who are accompanying me along this challenging Path that we have chosen to walk. I feel honoured to be a part of their journey in some way and to know that they are alongside me on mine.

Ultimately however we have to walk this path alone and Pema Chödrön summed this up nicely when she wrote, “The support that we give each other as practitioners is not the usual kind of samsaric support in which we all join the same team and complain about someone else. It’s more that you’re on your own, completely alone, but it’s helpful to know that there are forty other people who are also going through this all by themselves. That’s very supportive and encouraging. Fundamentally, even though other people can give you support, you do it yourself, and that’s how you grow up in this process, rather than becoming more dependent.”.

So, how do we know a “good” friend? How do we identify those we can draw inspiration and support from? Well, the Buddha had some great advice on what to look out for on this very topic which can be found in one of my favourite Suttas –

“The friend who is a helpmate, the friend in happiness and woe, the friend who gives good counsel, the friend who sympathises too — these four as friends the wise behold and cherish them devotedly as does a mother her own child.”

These roles are defined nicely on the site The Buddha’s Advice to Laypeople as follows –

The helpmate –

A helper will look after you when you need looking after (if you let them!) and will support you in acting responsibly with your resources. A false friend will scoff at the idea of thinking about tomorrow and help you spend whatever money you have. The helper will also take your phone call, even late at night, when you are worried or fearful, or have had bad news. They will listen sympathetically and give you emotional shelter. This friend is willing to tell you something you may be reluctant to hear, if it is for your benefit. They take joy in being able to help. Are you a helper – a rock for your friends?

The friend in happiness and woe

The enduring friend is very similar to a helper. They confide in and trust you, and hold your confidences with the greatest care. They don’t shy away from you when you are in pain or difficulty, even if you feel ashamed or reluctant to have company. The enduring friend is one of whom you could ask a great favour, and get a positive reply if it’s in your best interests.

The friend who gives good counsel

A mentor is a special type of good friend, who gives you good counsel. A mentor will be interested in talking with you about things that matter, will listen attentively and give you advice that is sound and appropriate. You will recognize the advice of a good friend by its result. When you follow the advice, does it result in the happiness and welfare of yourself and others? Or does it result in unhappiness and grief for yourself and others? Who have acted as mentors in your life? Who do you look to for guidance? Do others see you as a mentor?

The compassionate friend

A compassionate friend rejoices in your good fortune. If you are a good friend, you will rejoice in others’ success and happiness. Envy, jealousy, and smugness can be left behind. The concept of “comparing mind” encompasses all the reactions that turn someone else’s news into a measuring stick for your own life. Whether you think you are better, worse, or the same as anyone else, every time “comparing mind” comes up, it’s an unwholesome track to follow. Your joys are your own to share. Your sorrows are your own to share. Likewise with everyone; people share what they will. The real poison of “comparing mind” is that it turns your attention away from others and towards yourself, either to what you want and don’t have, or to arrogant pride in what you do have. It moves you away from contentment and generosity and towards grasping and closing down. Thinking that you’re worse than others is just as debilitating as thinking you’re better than others. It still makes you the centre of everything; it cuts you off from others. And it affirms the ego’s insatiability.

Taken from the same Sutta DN 31 the Buddha also had some advice on how to recognise false friends –

“The friend who appropriates, the friend who renders lip-service, the friend that flatters, the friend who brings ruin, these four as enemies the wise behold, avoid them from afar as paths of peril.” 

The taker can be identified by four things: by only taking, asking for a lot while giving little, performing duty out of fear, and offering service in order to gain something.

The talker can be identified by four things: by reminding of past generosity, promising future generosity, mouthing empty words of kindness, and protesting personal misfortune when called on to help.

The flatterer can be identified by four things: by supporting both bad and good behaviour indiscriminately, praising you to your face, and putting you down behind your back.

The reckless companion can be identified by four things: by accompanying you in drinking, roaming around at night, partying, and gambling.

Don’t despair! Advice on how to recognise true friends can be found in the short and concise Mitta Sutta AN 7.35 as the Buddha offered his thoughts on the qualities that we should look for –Bhutan monks2

“Monks, a friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? He gives what is hard to give. He does what is hard to do. He endures what is hard to endure. He reveals his secrets to you. He keeps your secrets. When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. When you’re down & out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.”

And so I ask you to acknowledge that friendship should be seen as central part of our practice and follow Justin Whitaker’s advice.

“Meditate on the relationships in your life to see how they bring you toward or away from awareness, toward or away from skilful and unskilful mental states and activities. As you become more aware of the friendships in your life that are indeed admirable, these relationships will naturally grow and deepen, while ordinary friendships will either fall away — the Buddha is also quite clear that solitude is far preferable to being in the company of those disinterested in cultivating positive qualities — or these friendships will begin to change for the better. The process is what western philosophers would call a dialectic, from the meditation cushion to the world, and from the world to the meditation cushion, a process of interrelationship and building toward awakening.”

One of my favourite images from the life story of the Buddha is the enduring friendship between himself and his attendant (and friend!) Ananda. In the Upaddha Sutta SN 45.2 Ananda approaches the Buddha and, after paying respect, sits by his side and says –

“This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie.”  to which the Buddha gives the memorable reply “Don’t say that, Ananda. Don’t say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life.”

Your choice in friends is an important one. Cultivating wholesome companions can have a powerful influence on your development and being a good friend can have a powerful influence on those around us. On this Path however the practice, as ever, begins with ourselves. Begin by learning to forgive yourself, learn to be kind and gentle with your own heart. Learn to love again. Begin to let that unwholesome emotional baggage that you carry around with you go – it is only weighing you down and serves no skilful purpose. Only then can you become a better friend and companion, a kalyāṇa-mitta, to inspire and support others. Most importantly however, choose who you spend time with carefully.

With much metta my friends.

Two Kinds of Language, by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu

‘Who sees the truth sees me. Who sees me sees the truth,’

Buddhism now

Temple tops. Photo © Lisa DaixI have noticed that, regardless of how the subject is explained, there are many aspects of the teaching that the majority of people do not understand. Why is this? Most of us are familiar only with one kind of language, ordinary worldly language, and we fail to recognise the existence of another quite different and special language—the language of dhamma [of spiritual or religious truth].

Dhamma language has to do with the mental, intangible, nonphysical world. In order to be able to speak and understand this language, it is necessary to have insight into that world. If we know only everyday language, we are in no position to understand true dhamma when we hear it, the supramundane truth that could liberate us from this unsatisfactory worldly condition (dukkha).

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A suitcase full of love….and chocolate!

After making many life changing connections during his one month stay earlier this year, Temple Stay guest Ari knew he had found a “second home” in Wat Sri Boonruang and was obviously excited to share these experiences with wife Pat.

As such we were delighted to hear that Pat would be traveling from Australia to Thailand in order to visit family and that she planned to include a visit to Fang as part of her itinerary.

Pat arrived at the temple with lots of lovely gifts including 1kg of chocolate (yes you read that correctly) for Mew, Art and Geena, health supplements for Phra Ajarn Dr. Apisit and Phra Graham and treats for our novice monks (and Joy!).
After spending several hours in deep conversation with Phra Ajarn in regards to his community development plans Ari and Pat made the decision to donate a new kuti for Phase two of our meditation retreat project and we would like to take this opportunity on behalf of everyone here at the temple to express our deep gratitude for this extremely generous act of Dāna. Anumodana!

Ari and Pat truly are members of our ever expanding WSBR family and we wish to thank them for their kindness, their thoughtfulness and their friendship.benpat 073

From Alaska…with love.

We would like to extend a very warm welcome to our latest Temple Stay guest Ben.

A pilot working out of Alaska, Ben traveled to WSBR to take part in our Samanera novice monk ordination program in order to gain a deeper understanding of Buddhism and Thai culture before his marriage to Thai partner Jang.

We deeply respect the commitment they are making to each other and would like to take this opportunity to wish him well on his Temple Stay journey. Ben recently requested the eight precepts from Phra Ajarn Dr. Apisit and is now working on his Pali in preparation for his forthcoming ordination ceremony.benpat 054

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