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Guidance in Doi In Cee

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Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
2/22/18 12:59 AM
PLEASE READ BEFORE MAKING A DECISION:

I have full-time meditation experience since June 2017 only. I do not want to make claims to attainments and there are other much more important factors to look into, which I hope to clearly provide here. If you are an advanced yogi, I am happy to chat but you should assume that you are very much on your own in terms of help/guidance. Please read the FAQ compiled from previous queries and email me a detailed summary of your practice so that we can both be honest about whether we are a good fit.


This page is created to seek advice/criticism in how the guidance for foreign yogis is conducted. The following posts contain the general monastery guidelines, principles behind practice and how business is conducted. Any advice/criticism is welcome for the benefit of future yogis.

The main difference in how I run this is:

1. No fixed schedule. Everyone follows an individually-recommended schedule and are welcome to change them to suit.
2. No fixed interview. I am available 24/7 to answer doubts. Beginners are encouraged to seek me out as often as required.
3. Self governance - Teachings from the Buddha are used to encourage self exploration of hindrances and qualities. The bulk of them, including techniques like noting/scanning will be related back to Anapanasati and to your understanding/usage of them at the proper occasion.
4. Emphasis on developing yogi skillsets and being able to fall back from retreat and repeat the learned skills for further progress.
5. No mass meditation sessions. You are provided with an individual hut and there are multiple locations for meditating if one finds that unsuitable.
6. Heavy emphasis on guiding yogis to clear-seeing & penetration of characteristics on their own.

RE: Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
3/6/18 7:03 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
INFORMATION

We welcome you to join us in your spiritual pursuits. Our aim is to lessen your conceptualizing proclivities and lead you towards appreciating the "nature of things." You can help, simply by powering bare mindfulness, and letting impermanence and the other characteristics of the mental and bodily objects become clear, because true understanding of reality must be based on profound personal experience. I will bear the load of minding the many particulars found in the teachings and select only what is just necessary for your progress and instruct accordingly. May you be relieved from speculation so as to keep yourself firmly in an Experiencer mode, your awakening depends on it. Wishing you great wonders in your Path. Please find some information, guidelines and practice details within.

Please read this: http://www.kammatthana.com/a_guide_to_buddhist_monasteries_.htm

Environment
A place considered to be ideal for a contemplative yogi - Clean high-ion air, rich in phytoncides, seclusion up in the mountains. Weather is cooler than in the tropical lowlands but subject to summer heat (March-Jun), rainy season (July-October) and the most pleasant period 5-20C the rest of the year. All lodgings are shielded from mosquitoes/insects with nettings but this does not mean an insect-free experience, thus insect repellants are recommended; food to be kept out/safely to prevent nasty experiences. We will try to house you in individual huts (kuti in Thai) to promote optimal solitary practice and minimize distractions. Proper organic waste disposal is encouraged into the wild whilst keeping non bio-degradable materials disposed of properly in their respective locations.

Behavior
Common-sense gracious behavior is expected. Although Thais are very tolerant and are a jovial bunch, please be respectful and Wai (hands put together, bowing slightly at the waist once) at monks and laypersons whenever suitable – e.g. doing so once/twice a day to the same person will suffice. You are not required to do so if you are powering mindfulness, it is respectfully understood that you are in practice. If you are addressed by a monk (especially the abbot), keep your hands together to signify that you are respectfully listening. Prostrating thrice during chanting sessions or when formally addressing the abbot/other monks is signifying your gratitude and reverence to the 3 Jewels (Buddha/Dharma/Sangha) not to an individual. These practices help your inner practice and should be done with sincerity and with mindfulness (watch their positive effects).

The 4 Brahma Viharas are the crucial ‘wet’ portions of your practice as opposed to ‘dry’ Insight. This juice is needed to power your practice, thus it is important that you are always on the alert to practice them whenever you can, to Beings you encounter (see/hear off-cushion!), to yourself especially in difficulties and grow this muscle to great benefit of all and one. Read:  http://visuteoh.net/teachings/metta-meditation-instructions.html Start metta practice before you come here and watch with mindfulness how it lights up your world. There is no reason not to keep it as a lifelong habit, fill the many empty holes in our lives and others, simply with metta alone…

Upekkha (Equanimity or EQ) is the last of the 4. Equanimity is the single most important quality to be cultivated along the Path of Insight. Practice metta (loving-kindness) along with karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy) and you will naturally possess healthy EQ.
 
Food & Alms Rounds
Food is plentiful on most days especially midweek Wednesdays, Thursdays and special holidays. Your practice is more important than rules on eating. You may try to eat only before noon or snack all day long (keep it private). My only request is that you consume food absolutely mindfully; the plain insights into craving/sense pleasure/etc. should be seen clearly. If you have special requirements or food is insufficient, please do let me know so that I can arrange for your comfort. The timing of breakfast (~8-10am) is erratic as it depends on the return of the alms truck.  The bell will sound (good habit to start walking meditation at the platform 7ish), where we will gather for a Metta session, thanking all whom we should thank. Do get a flask of water, and follow the rest in pouring the water – the meaning can be found here (FYI only): [url=http://www.buddhisminfo.se/pdf/tobias/Recitation_-_Blessings_(english).pdf]http://www.buddhisminfo.se/pdf/tobias/Recitation_-_Blessings_(english).pdf

The monks will collect their rations first, followed by packing of food for monks who are working offsite, followed by the nuns and you will be called to pick what you’d like to eat there and keep for the rest of the day. Please clean up after yourself and stay mindful (feelings/consciousness).

Men can follow the monks on alms round at 6am every morning. There are a few drop off locations, the first at the foot of the mountain (long walk, perfect for intermittent metta and walking meditation), one at an army camp, one at Mae Yao village and another at Chiang Rai City (great for taking a break from retreat and to buy required items). The truck ride is a good time to practice meditation in a difficult environment. It is excellent metta practice to watch with sincerity, the people’s faces when wishing them well, feeling their devotion and joy suffuse back to you.  I suggest going at least once for the experience and you can choose to make it a daily affair or otherwise.

Chanting Sessions
There are 2 sessions: 430am in the morning and 630pm in the evening. I can excuse you from it to allow for your full concentration on meditation. However I encourage yogis to attend at least 1 evening session as a retreat experience. Devotion is a genuine path, not to be completely dismissed. Yogis who can successfully access AC are encouraged to attend to attempt meditation in a ‘noisy’ environment. There are benefits to deepening your practice as you strive to seek calmness in a ‘storm’ and finding where true stillness lies.

Other Activities
Communicate mindfully with others. Books and entertainment should not be indulged.

6am and 4pm are designated for cleaning. Sweep around your kuti at least once a day and go to the Big Buddha to see if there is anything to help out with. You are of more help if you decide to continue your practice, help only if you need to take a break. But do keep your personal area clean. If you are really burnt out and want to take a break, sight-seeing, hiking, etc. can be arranged. Did I mention no sex, drugs & alcohol? emoticon
 
Additional Notes
Things observed by/from past yogis will be added here.
  1. Do not use your feet to point/move things and do not place your footwear anywhere near food. Thai’s find this to be rude.
  2. Place your footwear onto the shoe racks before entering a building/accommodation.
  3. No skimpy wear. Knees, upper arms and obvious sensual parts should be covered.
  4. No jewelry/make up to be worn on the face.
  5. Do not pass me money. All donations to be made to the temple, ideally 1-3 days before your departure during the breakfast metta session, directly to the abbot or most senior monk. There are envelopes on the front desk.

RE: Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
2/26/18 9:44 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
End Of Retreat Reviewing Notes

This is the gist of what we attempt to cover in the retreat. We look at practice from the Mindfulness and Anapanasati lens. Although many useful techniques can be used to break Anapanasati into bite-sized concepts, it contains all the skillsets you need for Enlightenment. Start appreciating the profundity of the Buddha’s teaching, by using it to build your practice along with 5 Hindrances , 5 Spiritual Faculties and 7 Factors of Enlightenment (at some point you need to memorize these attributes and apply them) to self-diagnose, self-penetrate, self-remedy and self-improve your way to the end of suffering. It is far better to build solid foundations slowly than rush into experiences that are not repeatable.

Mindfulness
:

1. Body (main on-cushion practice): seeing/hearing but not seeing/hearing (break up 3&4 aggregate), turn felt sensation sensitivity to the max.
2. Feeling (pleasant/neutral/unpleasant; pain vs suffering; worldly vs spiritual) [On Reflection]
3. Consciousness (lust/hate/ignorance/etc. ; distracted/focused/calm/disturbed ; superior/inferior; freed/bound) [To be alert of and made object of investigation; main mode of practice off-cushion]
4. Mental Objects (Hindrances/Factors/Aggregates + all others) [On Reflection & used as diagnostics]
This "objective" way of looking at a thing, freed from considerations of the personal reactions (to watch and discern such conditioning), is the pith of the method and constitutes what is called "knowing as it is". Also by observing just what is present, mindfulness cuts down discursive thought (note “thinking”) and prepares the mind to take in the actual characteristics of the cognized objects.

Whole-time practice of mindfulness consists in the carrying out of the 2 following activities of contemplation at the proper time: attention to the object of concentration & reflection ( < 5 minutes per hour of practice and ideally limited to during consultation only – be wary of dropping into Thinker mode).

Retreat practice of mindfulness should aim to cut down and also slow down to observe as much as one can, rightly and reasonably, non-practice activities. The Way of Mindfulness is the objective way of viewing just what is present and lets the objects speak for themselves and unfold their character.

The business of the yogi is to keep mindfulness going during the whole of the waking state. You should be mindful of your postures, completely aware of your behaviour and to deal with feelings, thoughts and ideas as they arise (as instructed). If you are mired in the Thinker mode, you may approach me at any time 24/7.

Schedule:
To be recommended and adjusted to situation. We start off with resolving to meditate for an hour, check the time, enter meditation and forget about it. Quality of the sit is valued way above how long one can sit for. Amuse yourself if you fall off the mark and observe the qualities/hindrances that results in a quality sit and the relevance to time. Remember to exit meditation mindfully, allowing for a couple of minutes of rest before rushing to check the time – it really isn’t all that important.

Anapanasati
– We will cover the various teachings (16 of which are not to be understood as steps but individual skills to be mastered, sometimes mapped to easier to understand categories: scanning/noting/energetics/visualization/4 mindfulness’s & sensitivity building/attention vs awareness/Samatha vs Vipassana/mind vs body, conditioning each other) and guide you to be able to master all of them and use/combine the appropriate tool for the right occasion. Actual specifics will be tailored to individuals based on their proclivities and a basic understanding is detailed in the rest of the document.

Breakdown of Anapanasati –

  1. Pre-exercise or universal steps to prepare the mind/body
  2. Separation into Samatha or Vipassana
  3. Going in depth (detail)
 
Buddha's InstructionsQuick Explanation of Skills to be Applied When NecessaryApplication
  • Long
Pranayama as a pre-exercise to achieve sensitivity, stability, calming, releasing. Observing the effects and thus able to summon their usage into minute details later.
   ALL
  • Short
To drop controlling of the breath by observing only. Noticing the many details of the breath coming to a stable, subtle, short breathing, signaling stability to proceed.
   ALL
Sensitive to entire body
Scanning – Detailed vs Overview (awareness) / Breath + Body / Combining (Joy) - Samatha
   ALL
Calming bodily fabrication
Ability to call upon techniques to achieve stillness
   ALL
(ST) Rapture
How to build? Is there sufficient Energy?
  Samatha
(ST) Happiness
How to sustain & combine?
  Samatha
(ST) Mental Fabrication
Bringing the resolve to keep alert watch on coarse feelings, thoughts and emotions. Body vs mind  - conditioning
   ALL
Calming Mental Fabrication
Observing how bodily techniques calm the mind and how to master conditioning the mind
  ALL
(ST) Mind
Gaining a greater clarity and observing the quality of mind
  ALL
Satisfying Mind
Ability to use techniques to achieve rapture/happiness through calming the mind (Check/Drop mental resistance)
(when necessary)
Steadying Mind
Equanimity when faced with challenges; using markers to check on EQ and apply remedies
(when necessary)
Releasing Mind
Through gradual insights from various challenges: Relinquishing control; dropping ‘I’; surrendering
(Fruition & Jhana)
Focus on Impermanence
Observe A&P, alert to Arising’s and their pre-conditions
  • V
Focus on Fading
Investigation of phenomena, cause & effect, mind vs body
  • V
Focus on Cessation
Observe Passing Away & related characteristics
  • V
Focus on Relinquishment
To let go of grasping to objects and illusion of self, optimally after clear comprehension
Advanced
 
Important Concepts (Investigate - Troubleshoot - Develop - Balance)

These are the concepts that are crucial to your progress.

Dharma Seals
(Investigate): 1. Impermanence (bread & butter – watch it like a hawk) 2. Suffering (curiosity in learning about it) 3. Not-self (start to see and disassociate mind/body/objects from I)

5/7/5:
emoticon 5 Hindrances
(Troubleshoot): 1. Desire (Sensate pleasure) 2. Ill Will 3. Laziness 4. Restlessness & Worry 5. Doubt

emoticon 7 Factors (Develop): 1. Mindfulness 2. Investigation of Dharma 3. Energy (2 meanings) 4. Rapture (joy/happiness both physical/emotional stemming from seclusion/renouncement/contentment) 5. Stillness 6. Concentration 7. Equanimity

5 Faculties (Balance): (1. Faith <-> 2. Wisdom) <-(3. Mindfulness)-> (4. Energy <-> 5. Concentration)


(Clinging) Aggregates: 1. Form 2. Feeling (Contact) 3. Perception 4. Mental Formations 5. Consciousness

Access Concentration (Upacara Samadhi)

Teal Swan:
Being in the flow or ‘In the Zone’ when it comes to performing activities (like meditation) causes us to enter a physiological and physical state where we are completely present with it instead of (divided attention or) in any way. There are no contradictory energies interfering with the flow of our focus either internally or externally. We feel completely focused and completely energized and in full enjoyment of the process of the activity. It takes almost no effort to do that thing and our productivity goes through the roof. The energy that we extend to that thing feels good and fulfilling instead of depleting. It’s as if doing that thing in and of itself renews you. When we are in that state, it is almost like our being is saying, YES! – This is what I came here for. 


1. Prioritize how you feel above any other thing on Earth. Do not take a single action until you are in alignment on an emotional level. If you feel any resistance, you have to get to a state of relief (from 5 hindrances and any resistance) before you take any action, otherwise that action will yield undesirable results. Or you will work 400 times as hard for (little outcome).


This is the first checkpoint to wherever you are heading. To make your spiritual life easier on the long run (e.g. Dark Night), you need to be confident of entering this state. The best way to describe it (as it is experienced differently person-to-person and it changes) is that it is a state where out-of-the-ordinary things happen, e.g. trance-like, bubble-like, force-field around body, missing sensations, coarse sensations become more numbered/faster/different, attention seems to be auto/target-locked/absorbed, awareness of certain sense doors appear diminished/gone, etc. 

The way to get in is maintaining the power of concentration (imagine it as a torchlight) for long enough. Samatha will have you hold the torchlight unceasingly at the breath, concentrating it as a whole, sensitive to body and thus rapture, marrying breath/body/rapture/bliss and so on.

Vipassana has a different (said to be momentary concentration but that does not mean you can wilfully strobe/flash your light intensity) torchlight power entry-requirement. You hold the light at your object/s (best to stick with physical sensations and treat all others as distractions if noticed and return promptly), e.g. breath and investigate (peer through a microscope patiently/gently to perceive the smaller details) the many vibrations in many locations that it can be found until another physical sensation compels you to investigate instead - where you move/maintain the light without turning it off. Maintaining the power of the light at one/varying locations and with the intent to perceive deeper kick-starts the Vipassana process.

Hint: Are you interested enough?


Noting is used primarily for 2 purposes: 
i. A marker for beginners to hold/bring their attention to and back;
ii. To allow the mind to associate the noted phenomenon with Dharma or to increase sensitivity to distractions; in other words to assist in deepening insights.

Aim: To understand and be able to use and vary noting parameters when required.

We will follow gradual steps:
1. Noting to successfully gain a stable concentration, bring attention back to object;
2. Abandon noting to gain confidence, greater clarity and stability of concentration;
3. then once AC is confidently established, noting can be brought back for purpose ii above. 
4. Graduating from noting to noticing (pure noting mind).

When in doubt or stuck, clear-seeing must always take precedence over noting (an aid or accelerator). Noting can aid concentration and also hinder it, you must know when and how to use it optimally.
The vocabulary used for noting will be built by the individual and what makes most sense to them. It is not beneficial to make a long list: e.g. Yogi looking out for things that do not exist; yogi not sensitive to all distractions/thoughts/emotions that can occur.
What to look out for in Access Concentration (3Cs)
  1. Strictly observe felt sensations from the 6 sense doors only. What you do not sense is not there in practice.
  2. Differentiate mind & body.
  3. Understand, balance & master both: Intense investigations & relaxed observation of sensations.
  4. Pay attention to the nature of IMPERMANENCE:
  5. How fast are the vibrations? When do they start and end? How many/Where are they? (Speed + Precision)
  6. Investigate NO-SELF: (Intermediate)
  7. See & Disassociate mind (thoughts) & body as self. Notice sensations/thoughts that make up a self, come and go, that they are a process and is not permanent.
  8. Investigate SUFFERING: (Advanced)
  9. Look for dis-satisfactoriness in all sensations, starting with pain. How is it not satisfactory?
  10. Look into current experience and investigate (how/what/why): the discomfort in the urges to stop meditation; to think and stray away from the present; thoughts related to a self.
  11. Any sensation felt including thoughts, automatically eliminates it as self.
  12. Investigate THOUGHTS (incl. emotions): (Advanced or Off-Cushion)
  13. What is it and what does it feel like? Size? Location? Which sense door does it relate to? Impermanence: Start/Stop/Length
Postures

The middle way of not falling asleep and not painful is what works.


Aim: To be able to enter AC in Standing/Sitting/Laying postures. To be able to build energy from Walking meditation.
Practice: Transitioning from walking to standing (to perceive vibrations); standing to sitting (mindfully); laying meditation (morning after walk/cleaning); sitting (chair/floor)

Most beginners do not have sufficient energy/sensitivity. Pranayama, visualization & walking will aid to speed up the process. These 2 exercises are the mainstay and walking:sitting be practiced at least in a 1:1 ratio to sitting in the beginning. When faced with doubt or difficulties, one cannot go wrong by talking a mindful walk. Slowing or reductions in walking meditation will be prescribed on a case basis.

Other meditation techniques like touching points, moving hands, etc. will only be prescribed in extreme circumstances.

Walking Meditation:
 
Walk barefooted, preferably outdoors with texture on the ground like sand/stones/grass.
 
Method 1: Walk as painfully slow as possible. Noting each and every tiny little motion, pausing to watch intention, confirming it is noticed before commencing to execution e.g. lifting/swing it forward/lowering to touch ground/applying pressure and transferring weight/shifting attention to the other feet/etc./etc. Summon full concentration into watching every intention/movement and their components. [This is a remedy when you are stuck in Thinker mode]
 
Method 2: Similar to the above but attention is paid only to the soles of the feet. This means you can walk quite a bit faster as all you are concerned with are the sensations and the loss of sensations on the sole of each feet as you walk. Pay attention when residual vibrations occur at the soles. You can focus on these vibrations and transition to standing/sitting posture.
 
Method 3: Building on Method 2 but adding visualizations from feet to solar plexus and succeeding on that, continuing up to the forehead. Transition to standing when energy felt is strong and focus on the vibrations. AC can be accessed via this method.

Sleep (Meditation)
 
Do not refrain from falling asleep. Just resolve at the moment of sleepiness to be mindful. It is beneficial to watch the hypnagogia and understand the thresholds of consciousness. It is better to allow for a nap and continue with renewed energy than fight it. It is also common when you allow hypnagogia to happen that mindfulness will kick you out of it with heightened concentration.
 
Pitfalls to watch out for
  1. Getting stuck: Thinking that this is all there is to whatever you are working on. There is more to be seen. Lack of interest is the major cause of sloth. The beauty is that there is a lot more to look forward to.
  2. Always balance a wide (awareness) and focused (attention) approach. Understand how everything conditions another. If the door does not open, it could be due to other notches on the key not in the right place. Review to seek answers from 5/7/5.
  3. Desire – a noble pursuit can turn ugly and bite back. Turn all forms of suffering into investigative energy, the resulting insights are most liberating.
  4. Pushing too hard - When in doubt, ask what is the Middle Way? Always bring yourself back to calmness and operate from there. If you are burning up in effort or concentration, take a step back to recollect and reflect on balancing the Faculties.

RE: Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
2/26/18 9:48 PM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
EMAIL: ongyeeloon (gmail):

1. Write to me with your short/long-term expectations and goals. 
2. Short summary (age/sex/occupation/relevant retreat/medical/mental history/other information)
3. Your practice summary and inclinations towards techniques or practices.
4. Date/Duration of desired visit.
5. Ask questions to qualify me if they aren't available here:


Request for Suggestions:

The practice notes are not usually sent to yogis, as it seems to be detrimental to be flooded with too much information at the beginning. This has been used as a near end-of-retreat review document. On retreat, they are encouraged to mind their mindfulness and leave the thinking out and restrict reviewing. Wide-open to suggestions!

RE: Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
9/2/19 12:21 AM as a reply to Yilun Ong.
Dear Yilung Ong, 

Are your posts about the Wat still up to date-changes? A website about the Wat? Where is it located? Are you still the only one English speaking monk there? As you wrote, your knowledge of the Thai language is little, how is the communication done?

RE: Guidance in Doi In Cee
Answer
9/2/19 1:25 AM as a reply to Arc.
Hey Arc

A friend ran into this guy in Sri Lanka last year and he’d left the monastery promoted in this thread and was exploring options in SL instead. The friend hasn’t heard from him since, and he hasn’t been back on DhO since then. So I’d recommend using that email address he mentions in the above post to get in touch with him. Briefly though, a minimum of communication is all that’s needed in these sorts of places, unless you want detailed meditation discussions with a teacher.

All the best!