Bangkok Vipassana Meditation Retreat
with Steven Smith and Pandit Bhikkhu
Sunday November 8th – Saturday November 14th
(Some details will be subject to revision)
A week long Insight (Vipassana) and Metta meditation week close to Bangkok for Yogis of all experience levels. Steven Smith will be leading the Meditation instruction in the style of Mahasi Sayadaw based on the classic Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Pandit Bhikkhu will be in support throughout.
This is a silent meditation retreat in a dedicated Thai retreat centre – their only retreat this year in English language. You do not need previous experience, as there will be time for personal interviews and guidance. Both the retreat leaders have lots of experience in leading retreats so be sure they will give clear and practical guidance.
We’ll look after your food, lodging and transport to/from Bangkok. Cost for 7 days of food and 6 nights accommodation is 5,000 baht per person. Mini-van fee is 800 baht.
Start: Sunday November 8th 2 pm
Travel: by group mini-van or your own transport
Schedule: early rise, instructions, sitting and walking meditation, free time, interview and dharma talk
Food: 2 meals a day (breakfast and midday)
Finish Saturday 14th 2pm (leave for Bangkok)
Advance booking and deposit is essential. We are limited to 35 participants (+waiting list).
All participants must commit to attend the entire retreat (we do not want people coming and going), and stick to the schedule offered – especially attending all group sessions.
Individual practises of yoga, chi gong, tai chi etc… are allowed during private time.
There are many spiritual teachings out there. It is easy to get inspired by a charismatic teacher or teaching. But it is much less easy to get established in a concrete, consistent meditation practise that will allow you to really develop and change over the long term. This retreat style will be aimed at exactly that – how to get beyond simple inspiration and form a meditation practise with consistency, patience, and long term sustainability.
About the Meditation:
Vipassana (insight) meditation is a method of cultivating self awareness and observation of thoughts and feelings as they arise. There is lots of modern, clinical research into the effects and benefits of meditation, both for you personally and for society. Feel free to use google to check it out.
The retreat will be conducted in ‘noble silence’, which means without mobile devices, internet, or talking. The outer silence helps to cultivate inner silence. Since there are few distractions, one is able to see motivations, happiness and suffering arise and cease in the mind. This gives rise to insight into what is wholesome and unwholesome within the mind.
We will be learning and practising meditation according to the system taught by the late Mahasi Sayadaw (biography here), whose teaching influence is huge in the modern world. He was a Myanmar meditation master who passed away in 1982, who developed a particular methodical style of vipassana meditation that is clear and practical, especially for those without time or circumstance to ordain as monks.
Mindfulness (awareness) is developed in all four postures – sitting, walking, standing and lying down.
One of his two chief disciples is Sayadaw U Pandita, who remains one of the great living masters today. He still teaches Panditarama Meditation Centre. Steven Smith spent many years with Sayadaw U Pandita, since the early seventies. He became one of the first qualified Westerner meditation teachers to come from this lineage.
We will also focus on the Brahma Viharas – the four ‘abodes of the Gods’: Metta (loving kindness) Mudita (sympathetic joy) Karuna (compassion) and Upekkha (equanimity)
The Retreat Centre can hold up to 80 people – but we will limit to about 30. So there will be plenty of space. Some of the rooms have air-conditioning, but November on the river will be pretty cool already, especially at night. The accommodation is shared rooms. The rooms are quite large and there are plenty of bathrooms, and so there is lots of space. But we can’t provide single rooms, or guarantee air-conditioning. It’s only 6 nights, so just be mindful and have fun with it!
The meditation hall is very spacious and bright, with air-con. Vegetarian food will be served on the ground floor.
The centre is situated on the Chao Praya River in Pathum Thanee about 1 hour from Bangkok. It is run by a Thai donor who supports dharma, so we are fortunate to pay only the marginal costs of the retreat (esp. food).
If you’d like an ‘executive’ retreat with plush and private accommodation, we can provide that too at some other date (and more pricey!). This retreat is kept simple and low cost so that anyone can join. Group living is helpful in developing mindfulness throughout all the waking hours.
◊ Steven Smith co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. This partnership helped usher in the beginnings of Vipassana Hawai’i’s Fusion Dhamma approach combining traditional and contemporary teaching styles in the same retreat.
Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, he was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Sayadaw’s book ‘In This Very Life’ is available for free download here.
Steven divides his time teaching Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) meditation retreats around the world, and assisting Burmese refugee communities along the Thai-Burma border.
Steven has led a number of events for our Little Bangkok Sangha before, especially a magical retreat in the mountains of Chiang Mai. So we know him well. You will find him warm, clear, and inspiring. There will be opportunity for one-to-one interviews with Steven during the retreat for individual guidance.
◊ Pandit Bhikkhu While a young Steven was getting into meditation in Burma, and man was landing on the moon, Phra Pandit was busy landing in the world. Now a Bhikkhu for 18 years, he does his best to keep Dhamma in English language available in Bangkok, using his not inconsiderable Photoshop and WordPress skills. Psychology and Faerie Tales are two of his interests – his other interests are probably better not mentioned! Meditation style emphasises using the six senses to model experience, and distinguishing mindfulness from distraction.
Pandit is well known in Bangkok and runs the Little Bangkok Sangha, organising various kinds of meditation events.
(subject to revision)
Sunday November 8th
- 1:00 pm Meet at Baan Aree food court (map below)
- 2:00 leave in the mini-vans promptly. Please ensure you have eaten, as there will be no more food Sunday.
- 3:00 arrive, divide rooms and get settled in.
- 4:30 tea/coffee and orientation
- 5:30- 8:30 first session for opening instructions, and sitting/walking mediation exercises.
- 9:30 rest
Monday-Friday daily routine
- 5:30-7:00 rise for dawn meditation in the dharma hall (it is especially auspicious to be meditating at dawn and dusk)
- 7-8:30 breakfast and bathing
- 9:00 morning meeting and meditation
- 11:30 break for lunch, and individual practise
- 2-4:30 sitting and walking. Interviews.
- 5:00 tea/coffee break, bathing, rest
- 7-9:00 meditation and evening Dharma talk
Saturday 14th November
- 5:30-7:00 rise for dawn meditation in the dharma hall as usual
- 7-8:00 break noble silence. Breakfast and bathing
- 8-9:00 cleaning and packing
- 9-11 meditation and ‘Meditation in Daily Life Guidance’
- 11-12 early lunch
- 12:30 vacate rooms – final clean up (we always leave the centre cleaner than the way we found it)
- 12:30-1:30 retreat roundup – your most salient experiences (always a fun way to finish)
- 2:00 mini-vans leave for Bangkok
- 3:30 arrive Bangkok at a BTS Station (most likely Mor Chit)
Food served will be ample vegetarian choice. It will be plenty to keep you alive and healthy for a week. We determine to return you to your families in good condition!
In Burmese-style retreats there is no evening meal at all, and this provides a lightness of the body and mind, as well as gaining insight and discipline into how we look to food and drink as a psychological prop. If you have a serious condition and require some food in the evening, we can provide something very basic.
We cannot cater for individual diets – gluten free, wheat free, no carbs, fruitarian, macrobiotic, and all the rest of it. Nor keep food free from chilli, onion, garlic, cheese, sugar, or any other thing. There will however, be enough choice that you can get by for a week without problem. You won’t be enduring the full monastic experience of colourless gruel, and white rice/chicken every day (even though it would do you good!).
There will be fruit and vegetables to choose from, and some good grains of rice and other staples.
Things to take
Loose comfortable clothing. A clock. A light blanket. Medicines. Toiletries. Towel. Torch (or a flashlight if you are American). Mosquito repellent. A water bottle.
Chairs and sitting mats will be provided.
Please complete the easy form below to book in for this retreat. Do not book if you are not certain you are attending. It is enormously difficult to arrange these retreats if it is not taken seriously, and there always seems to be a large number of people suspiciously ‘falling ill’ a few days before the retreat. Don’t book in unless you are going to attend the full retreat.
After booking you will receive a confirmation within a few days. You are still free to cancel up to 7 days before the retreat starts. We will probably ask for a deposit closer to the time of the retreat, to show commitment to attending.
Balance of payment is due when we meet at the meeting point. Bringing the correct change is very helpful. Retreat costs cover food, accommodation, lodging. The Dharma is offered for free, but there will be chance to support he teachers by donation at the end of the retreat.
If we don’t get back to you it means you entered an incorrect email address – it’s amazing how many times this happens!
Some photos from our last retreat at this centre: