Message Boards Message Boards

Retreat Centers

Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?

Toggle
Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Vuthy Ou 3/17/15 5:51 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Tony K 3/17/15 8:15 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Vuthy Ou 3/17/15 8:19 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Piers M 4/29/15 10:39 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Vuthy Ou 5/3/15 8:19 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Daniel M. Ingram 5/4/15 3:00 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Piers M 5/4/15 7:44 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Jigme Sengye 5/4/15 2:25 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Andy Zain 6/25/15 10:00 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Jigme Sengye 6/25/15 1:50 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Vuthy Ou 6/25/15 1:50 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Andy Zain 6/26/15 8:54 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Small Steps 6/26/15 9:38 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Jigme Sengye 6/26/15 11:09 AM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Andy Zain 6/26/15 1:39 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Andy Zain 7/6/15 12:04 PM
RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice? Jigme Sengye 7/6/15 9:31 PM
Hello!

To those who have experience with MBMC (Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre), I'm trying to arrange a 30-day sit this winter and I'm not sure how to contact them. Their website provides some basic information about the facilities and rules, but no instructions on how to actually arrange a stay.

Also, I'm fairly new to (regular) meditation practice, but I was inspired by this community and have been sitting for 1hr daily since mid January (when I started the book). I did a 10-day Goenka retreat when I was 13 or 14, I have a 8-day retreat at IMS on the calendar for summer. Any pointers on other ways to prepare for this 30-day sit? I'm hoping to hit "[stream entry] as soon as reasonably possible" - to quote some book I read somewhere.

Thanks in advance!

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
3/17/15 8:15 PM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
I don't know about getting to MBMC but if you are planning for 1 month retreat, a good alternative would be at Tathagata Meditation Center in San Jose, CA.


www.tathagata.org

The center is a U.S. branch of Panditarama - Mahasi tradition of vipassana, so the practice method would be the same as that of MBMC. But since this meditation center is in U.S., it would be a lot more convenient to travel. They have one month retreat in June, September and December in 2015. Also, the current head monk at the center, U Thuzana Sayadaw was  once the chief instructor at MBMC. Plus the facility is reasonably nice. 

So check that place out first. I think you will like it there.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
3/17/15 8:19 PM as a reply to Tony K.
Thanks, Tony.

One of the many reasons I'm interested in MBMC is that I'll be on that side of the world in December. Also, cost is an issue and MBMC seems to be a few dollars/day. But, I will check it out!

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
4/29/15 10:39 AM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
Hi Vuthy,

I would second what Tony said. Sayadaw U Thuzana is also a really lovely monk. Very warm hearted. He is actually quite liberal in many ways which is kinda unusual for Panditarama trained monks. The current abbot of MBMC is very stern and strict and IMO less forgiving to the ways of westerners... chalk and cheese to his predecessor.

If you're not bothered much about conditions (I've not been to Tathagata centre but given it is in the West, I would guess it is probably fairly quiet). MBMC does have quite alot of external noise from a school next door, some kinda work yard on another side (with lorries coming and going) plus it's next to a busy road.
However, if you apply yourself, those sorts of things won't really matter.

To arrange a stay there (MBMC) email: Lindah Toh,
lindatoh2001@yahoo.com

Best of Luck,
Piers

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
5/3/15 8:19 AM as a reply to Piers M.
Hi Piers,

Thanks for that advice. Yes, I've been in contact with Linda and they are looking for a new meditation master at the moment, and I have no firm plans. The reasons I wanted to hit MBMC is that I'll be in Asia at the time and funds are very limited. The dollar goes a lot further there and I can be generous. Also because it was highly recommended by Daniel.

I will check out the Tathagata in more depth.

Also, I've been only doing this as an adult for about 4 months now - 1-1.5 hrs daily, no teacher outside of books, Goenka retreat 15+ years ago, IMS retreat scheduled in July - is the attempt at a 30-day too aggressive in your opinion? I want to hit stream entry as soon as possible while keeping the rest of my life thriving. 

Thanks and love!
Vuthy

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
5/4/15 3:00 AM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
MBMC's quality varies by the teacher in residence at the time, so I would ask.

Check out Pandatarama Lumbini if it is still standing after the quake. Tathagata also sounds good if you can afford it.

D

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
5/4/15 7:44 AM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
Vuthy Ou:
Hi Piers,

Thanks for that advice. Yes, I've been in contact with Linda and they are looking for a new meditation master at the moment, and I have no firm plans. The reasons I wanted to hit MBMC is that I'll be in Asia at the time and funds are very limited. The dollar goes a lot further there and I can be generous. Also because it was highly recommended by Daniel.

I will check out the Tathagata in more depth.

Also, I've been only doing this as an adult for about 4 months now - 1-1.5 hrs daily, no teacher outside of books, Goenka retreat 15+ years ago, IMS retreat scheduled in July - is the attempt at a 30-day too aggressive in your opinion? I want to hit stream entry as soon as possible while keeping the rest of my life thriving. 

Thanks and love!
Vuthy
"is the attempt at a 30-day too aggressive in your opinion?"

Vuthy, I couldn't possibly know the answer to this question. There are so many factors at play here.

For some, 30 days wouldn't be enough. For others it would be way too much to handle. For others still it might be just about right. Further, depending on where you go and what technique you're using, this could also alter how much time you would be willing to spend intensively practicing.
For the very lucky few, they can gain very deep insight without even going on retreat at all. However, those people are rare.
There seems to be a majority view (on this site at least I've read it a few times) that most people need retreat time in order to make any serious progress.

How long in your case is really down to you. Only you know the answer to your own question based on your own temperament and particular proclivities.

Whatever, time frame you decide to commit to, I would suggest you stick to it through thick and thin.

A chap called Tarin Greco wrote a pretty good article a few years ago giving advice about the "right approach" for hitting a retreat.
It's been placed on this site and you can read it here. It is titled "A Reformed Slackers Guide To Stream Entry".

If MBMC does not have a teacher in place at the time you're in Asia, there are plenty of other places you could go to in Thailand or Burma.

Check out: Meditation in Southeast Asia  One or two places the info is a bit out of date, but still I think it gives some could suggestions.

I've heard (though not been) that Wat Chom Tong has a good reputation. A sister place with a similar teaching is Wat Ram Poeng. I reviewed it in this thread stream entry in thailand

~Piers

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
5/4/15 2:25 PM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
If you're going to be in SE Asia, have you considered going to Panditarama in Burma? See http://www.saddhamma.org/html/retreat.shtml

MBMC and TMC are branches of it. Also, it's very useful to get used to doing Mahasi style for an hour or more every day before you go on retreat so you can ask about it online. There's a lot more to noting the four foundations of mindfulness than noting rising and falling of the abdomen, but that isn't always clear from dhamma talks and interviews. You may also want to do a short retreat at TMC to get your feet wet before going on a month-long retreat. They're fine with retreatants arranging to only stay for a few days.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/25/15 10:00 AM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
emoticon

I am planning to say at MBMC for 30 days. Pardon me if this seem to be a stupid question. Can I do samatha-jhana meditatiion there?. I am not a Vipassana type guy and samatha-jhana meditation center is quite rare compared to vipassana meditatiion center.

What's your suggestions... ?. I really want to develop jhanas or at least access concentration.

Thx

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/25/15 1:50 PM as a reply to Andy Zain.
Andy Zain:
emoticon

I am planning to say at MBMC for 30 days. Pardon me if this seem to be a stupid question. Can I do samatha-jhana meditatiion there?. I am not a Vipassana type guy and samatha-jhana meditation center is quite rare compared to vipassana meditatiion center.

What's your suggestions... ?. I really want to develop jhanas or at least access concentration.

Thx


No worries, it's a valid question. I think if you're going to go out of your way to fly to a retreat center specifically to do samatha, it would be far better to go to a retreat that's specifically for that than to take your chances that you might get a sympathetic teacher. Where are you located? There are quite a few samatha retreats in the States. If you prefer to go to a retreat in Asia, you may want to consider the Pa Auk Forest monastery in Burma.

You can definitely develop samatha jhana through doing Mahasi-style vipassana, and honestly, it's one of the better ways of doing it, but that still primarily involves doing lots of vipassana and getting good at it.

As for MBMC, I've never been there and other people in this thread have, but their sayadaws are part of the same organization as the ones I've studied with at TMC (I think all or most of the sayadaws I studied with at TMC had taught at MBMC, too). Some of them like U Thuzana are very comfortable with samatha and when faced with a student who has a talent for absorption, can give vipassana instructions that basically amount to samatha instructions with a vipassana flavor. Others might give more bookish, less practical advice about how to do samatha properly, get absorbed and get jhanas. Heavy accents and the odd terminology of teachers who speak English as a second language can also be a major problem. The problem is that if you go to a vipassana retreat with the hope of just using it as a practice space for a different meditative technique, you're depending on your luck with the teachers and how tolerant of and skilled they are in that technique. You may want to call or email in advance and ask them. In the past, on one hand I've heard the teachers say that you can do vipassana or samatha (they teach metta and buddhanusatti, which are styles of samatha, but they're not emphasized) during Mahasi retreats, but I've also heard of retreatants being asked to leave because they weren't following the instructions.

There are a lot of meditative tricks for any particular style of meditation to get particular attainments and they're best gotten from people who specialize at those techniques. You're really much better off getting good samatha instructions from someone who specializes at teaching it rather than a vipassana teacher.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/25/15 1:50 PM as a reply to Andy Zain.
Hi Andy,

Regarding MBMC, I have never been there, so I can't say. However, I know they currently have no Sayadaw in residence there, so all retreats are on hold until they do. 

Regarding concentration access - I am no expert by any means, but I've been able to get to Leigh Brasington's defnition of it (whispy thoughts - occasional 1 liners almost always related to the object or the practice) quickly and reliably by practicing samatha daily for 6 months or so.

Calm/concentration was difficult for me until I stopped trying so hard and "listen" instead. At first, I tried to force myself on to the breath "like a mad dog" and tried to silence me thoughts by force. Then, after reading Shinzen Young's 5 Ways to Know Yourself, I adapted some of his tranquility exercises to chill out. Now concentration access is reached quickly - less than 10 minutes.

Here's what I start doing:
  1. Start with a very short, simple metta - 5 minutes is enough. Wishing freedom for myself and others was a great way to put me into a very soft-hearted, listening-friendly place.
  2. Tune into the visual grayish blobby blankness. Note as "See Rest".
  3. Once that is noted, generally the body has some pleasant sensation or some feeling of releasing tension. Note as "Feel Rest"
  4. As you do steps 2 and 3 again and again and again, actively listen for mental talk (also known as thoughts) - by listening for it, it tends not to happen. Note the mental silence as "What will it think of next?"
  5. I'm not particularly visual, but sometimes mental images come up and interfere with "See Rest". Similar to listening for mental sound bites, looking for mental imaginings tends to make them much less frequent. I mentally say "What will it imagine next?" 
  6. Run through steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 again and again and again. Before you know it, you aren't thinking (imagery/sound bites) and "headspace" feels wide open and quiet. Effort will remain and sometimes it seems like someone is turning the lights up and down. That's what I call access concentration.
Key thing for me was to stop forcing and doing and actively listen to the calm and silence that is already there. Good luck. 

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/26/15 8:54 AM as a reply to Vuthy Ou.
Thx Jigme and Vuthy .. I am in Indonesia ... and its near to Malaysia.. That is why I consider MBMC ... the only problem is vipassana does not suit me well ...  If i go to MBMC just for meditation space and practice samatha ., monks there won't know , wont they?

Or will they ask?. 

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/26/15 9:38 AM as a reply to Andy Zain.
It's not uncommon to have practice discussions with the meditation teacher (monk). Probably not a time to lie about one's practice.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/26/15 11:09 AM as a reply to Andy Zain.
Andy Zain:
Thx Jigme and Vuthy .. I am in Indonesia ... and its near to Malaysia.. That is why I consider MBMC ... the only problem is vipassana does not suit me well ...  If i go to MBMC just for meditation space and practice samatha ., monks there won't know , wont they?

Or will they ask?. 
You're welcome.

They'll definitely know if you're going there as part of a retreat once they start offering retreats again. Meditators are required to show up for interviews with the sayadaws either every day or every other day, depending on how busy the sayadaws are.

If MBMC is anything like TMC, you can probably arrange with them to just use the place as a practice space outside of their retreats. Once they have a sayadaw again, you may want to ask if you can contact the sayadaw to see if they'll be willing to give you some guidance during a personal retreat while they're not holding a vipassana retreat. Some of the sayadaws in that tradition are also samatha masters, even if it's not the lineage's specialty.

In terms of samatha retreats, you can take a look at http://sayalaysusila.net . Sayalay Susila is a Malaysian samatha and vipassana master who completed her training with Pa Auk Sayadaw, one of the foremost authorities on samatha (and a form of vipassana that requires mastery of samatha) in Burmese Theravada. Her site lists a retreat center in Penang, Malaysia. The retreat listed right now looks like a vipassana retreat, but I think I've seen that site list samatha retreats in the past. You may want to ask them about it. They also say that they host personal retreats and have assistant teachers who can give instructions. See http://sayalaysusila.net/pages/personal_retreat

I hope that helps. Out of curiosity, what kind of samatha do you do? Is it mindfulness of breathing or something else like kasina meditation?

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
6/26/15 1:39 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
Again... Thx emoticon.

1 hour of Anapanasati + walking meditation 40-60 minutes on daily basis... I am a total beginner in meditation and it is still very hard to guide my mind .. but am progressing slowly.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
7/6/15 12:04 PM as a reply to Jigme Sengye.
[quote=In terms of samatha retreats, you can take a look at http://sayalaysusila.net . Sayalay Susila is a Malaysian samatha and vipassana master who completed her training with Pa Auk Sayadaw, one of the foremost authorities on samatha (and a form of vipassana that requires mastery of samatha) in Burmese Theravada. Her site lists a retreat center in Penang, Malaysia. The retreat listed right now looks like a vipassana retreat, but I think I've seen that site list samatha retreats in the past. You may want to ask them about it. They also say that they host personal retreats and have assistant teachers who can give instructions. See http://sayalaysusila.net/pages/personal_retreat
]

Thx Jigme,

Is Sayalay Susila a kind, gentle teacher?. I asked you this because there are  teachers or even monks who have attained Jhanas that are arrogant, quick tempered and judgemental.

RE: Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre - Preparation Advice?
Answer
7/6/15 9:31 PM as a reply to Andy Zain.
Andy Zain:

Thx Jigme,

Is Sayalay Susila a kind, gentle teacher?. I asked you this because there are  teachers or even monks who have attained Jhanas that are arrogant, quick tempered and judgemental.
Sadly, I don't know. I haven't done any retreats with her, though I'd like to. You may be able to judge from the audio of her dhamma talks. You'll find some of them here: http://sayalaysusila.net/pages/audio-gallery . If you do end up doing a retreat with her or someone else in the Pa Auk tradition, I'd be curious to hear about it.