Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

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Adrian, modified 5 Years ago at 1/8/17 9:29 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/8/17 9:28 AM

Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Hi,
my name is Adrian and I am from Germany.
I plan to do a 3 month long retreat this spring (from May to July) in a style similiar to the one taught in "The Mind Illuminated" by Culadasa.
I did a lot of research, but did not really find any center offering a samatha-vipassana style of retreat.
I was thinking about the Pa-Auk Forest Monastary in Myanmar as it seems to me to go in a comparable direction as Culadasa teachings. I am concerned though that mosquitos will bite me to death during that time of the year. There also seems to be malaria in this region.
Do you guys have any recommandations?
I would be extremely helpful for any suggestion as it a very strong desire to use these 3 months to work on my meditation.

Thank you very much and best regards

Adrian
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tom moylan, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 6:35 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 6:35 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
howdy adrian,
i too live in germany.  i am fond of retreats too and mostly do home self retreats.  i too don't like the idea of being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

that said the very rare opportunity and luxury to have three months in which to do unbroken practice is wonderful and should not be lost due to those minor concerns.  the mosquito concern is something you can take precautions about.  also, while an area can be a malaria area it does not mean that you will get it and the same precautions  you take to avoid being bitten will help reduce the malaria danger.

i am not a big fan of the drugs one takes to prevent malaria so my personal, non-medical advice is to take all of the preventative measures possible outside of those. if you can get a place at that monastary you should snap it up and get a good mosquito net, smoke coils, repellant and long loose clothes and whatever else you need to free you to step on the gas pedal for your entire retreat time.

do you have Culadasa's book already?

tschüß

tom
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Adrian, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 10:09 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 10:03 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Thank you very much for your reply, Tom.
And thanks a lot for your encouragement!
Personally, I took Malerone once for 6 weeks without any side effects (at least none I noticed) so that might work just fine for me.
The thing I am not sure of, is the location of the retreat. I still would call me a beginner and think that I would greatly benefit from a good teacher.
That being said, I read that the teachers at Pa Auk are not really that great. Does anybody here have experiences with them?
Further, I am not even sure if they teach the same direction there as Culadasa, because Pa Auk seems to almost only focus on Samatha, wheras Culadasa, on the other hand, writes that in the path he teaches Samatha and Vipassana are connected.
Again, I am no specialist so I could be wrong here.
I found Suan Mokkh where meditation is taught in tradition of Buddhadassa Bhikku, whose books Culadasa recommands as further reading, but they only offer 10 day retreats.

This is why I am not sure of where to go.


Yes, I have read the book and found it to be extremly valuable.
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synelg, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 11:14 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 11:14 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 63 Join Date: 9/26/16 Recent Posts
Adrian, you might like to consider staying at home and using a teacher to guide you.   Tucker Peck studied with Sharon Salzberg and then Culadasa who approved him to teach.  As well as individual online classes, he also has weekly esangha meetings with groups of us.  I am in one of his groups and am so far finding it very beneficial.   Here is his website:-

http://meditatewithtucker.com/

Good luck.  
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Adrian, modified 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 1:41 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/10/17 1:41 PM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Thanks for the advice, synelg.
I actually joined his esangha today and found it very helpful and interesting.
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synelg, modified 5 Years ago at 1/11/17 3:38 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/11/17 3:38 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 63 Join Date: 9/26/16 Recent Posts
Adrian:
Thanks for the advice, synelg.
I actually joined his esangha today and found it very helpful and interesting.

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Joe, modified 5 Years ago at 1/11/17 8:23 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/11/17 8:23 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat (Answer)

Posts: 14 Join Date: 5/24/16 Recent Posts
Hi, I stayed 4 months at Pa Auk Tawya in Mon state this year. 

If you go in the hot season there aren't really any mosquitos and many sit without a mosquito net in the hall, the downside is it is almost unbearably hot. 38°c everyday with little/no breeze.

The mosquitos come when the rains start and it is a high risk region for malaria although I didn't know of anyone getting it whilst I was there. There is a sick bay and weekly visits from a doctor should you contract it, although I'm not sure how it would be different to staying in your room. Setting up your net in the meditation hall only for the lights to go out and realise there is a mosquito trapped inside with you is annoying lol. As far as I'm aware all the kutis have mosquito nets in them for the bed and this worked well for me. I was lucky though as most others were battling bed bugs too. 

I didn't find the teaching particuarly helpful, for samatha at least. Its very orthodox (literally the Visudhimagga), essentially focus at the nostrils and don't try too little or too much, keep trying until you get a nimitta e.t.c. I found Culadasa's and Alan Wallace's book infinitely more helpful. 

On the other hand the environment is perfect for practice. You can usually get your own kuti after staying a week or two of sharing a room and the food is good. They aren't as strict as they make out, in fact I was the only westerner who attended every session, most stayed in their rooms to meditate (probably because the farting in the meditation hall is ridiculous) and were never bothered about it, despite there being an attendance register for each session. 

I actually wrote a blog about my time there if you are interested and I'm happy to try answer any questions you have =)

https://whatitalkaboutwhenitalkaboutcrystals.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/pa-auk-retreat/
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Adrian, modified 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 5:37 AM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 5:37 AM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 12 Join Date: 11/23/16 Recent Posts
Thanks for your detailied response, Joe.
When did the rainy season start when you were there and how bad was the mosquito situation?
Do you think that Pa Auk has any special benefits (besides the ones you mentioned) in comparison to other places?
I was thinking of going to Na Auyana in Sri Lanka instead. It seems to be a part of the Pa Auk monastaries and there is less rain and no malaria.

I am looking forward to read your blog this evening!
Joe, modified 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 3:48 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 3:48 PM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 14 Join Date: 5/24/16 Recent Posts
The rains start in June and are pretty heavy. Nothing ever dries so a lot of my things got mouldy. The mosquitos are annoying of course but not horrific and once I was in my kuti weren't really a problem.

Special benefits as opposed to anywhere else? I've only been to Western centers and the Mahasi one in Yangon and it has the benefit over the Western centers of being able to stay there indefinitely and over the Mahasi one I went to of being less militant (plus the food was not just bowls of oil). The main focus is sitting where each session is an hour and a half so if you like sitting I guess its good?

Oh the main advantage, of Myanmar anyway, is that you can get a 3 month meditation visa which can be renewed for up to 2 years at Pa Auk if you're willing to part with your passport for a month.

If you want to know more about the method you can download the Sayadaw's book Knowing and seeing here:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/know-see.pdf
They gave me a copy when I arrived and it literally has everything anyone there will instruct you in. 

There is, I believe, now a Pa Auk center in Yangon which purportedly doesn't have malaria and doesn't require a 10 hour train journey (omg get the bus instead if you do go). There is also one in the mountains up north somewhere where it is cooler but I met someone who wanted to go there and they made him stay at the Tawya in Mawlamyine first. 
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Noah D, modified 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 8:15 PM
Created 5 Years ago at 1/13/17 8:15 PM

RE: Samatha-Vipassana Retreat

Posts: 1198 Join Date: 9/1/16 Recent Posts
Adrian :
 
I found Suan Mokkh where meditation is taught in tradition  of Buddhadassa Bhikku, whose books Culadasa recommands as further reading, but they only offer 10 day retreats. 
      
This is why I am not sure of where to  go.


Yes, I have read the book and found it to be extremly valuable.
 
 Yo- I might be able to hook you up with more resources for a longer stay at Wat Suan Mokh.  My teacher Dhammarato is homies with Ajahn Po, former abbot of the Wat and a leader in the lineage.  Dhammarato is always trying to get me to do a lengthy retreat in Thailand and has lots of connections.

Are you interested?

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