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Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore

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Hi,

I'm practicing with TMI, looking to retreat for 5 to 8 days (the most I can afford at the time) from Singapore. I know there are hundreds of meditation center, but it's hard to know if they are "compatible" with my current approach (samata - vipassana). MBMC, in Malaysia, is quite close and recommended in MCTB but there currently is a big warning on the wiki page about it currently.

I don't mind travelling, but the closer the better.

In general, living in Asia, I find it hard to find "Buddhism" that is not about religion (it is, after all, the dominant religion in Singapore). I'm not super interested in worshipping a tooth encased in gold, or, on the other end of the spectrum, attending stress relieving mindfulness groups to improve my office productivity. I'm searching for the kind of people typically into the kind of stuff found in TMI/MCTB, typically stream-entry. I'm happy to hear advice from people with similar experience, my practice has been very solitary so far.

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
6/30/18 4:11 PM as a reply to Duncan Idaho.
this is an old warning.  teachers come and go there regularly

MBMC is great, cheap and easy to get to.

there 's a 3month retreat starting in July at MBMC with U Pannananda, did you apply for that?


https://www.facebook.com/mbmc.malaysia/

J
ust don't mention Jhana to them.  They'll only teach insight

Bsides MBMC there are a number of Mahasi centres like Panditarama (Nepal) that I've heard good things about.

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
6/30/18 7:26 PM as a reply to Rednaxela.
A friend who had been there recommended Buddhist Hermitage Lunas in Kedah. 

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/1/18 4:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
A friend who had been there recommended Buddhist Hermitage Lunas in Kedah. 

Recently? When I was there 3 or so years ago, the newest teacher Sayadaw Panna___ from Burma offered very little guidance beyond repeating the noting instructions that you could find in a Mahasi pamphlet. Perhaps a more experienced guide would be of more benefit if one was to be dedicating a certain amount of time to serious practice. Perhaps things have changed, but if I was ever to return, i think i would like to try MBMC.


Just an additional tip if Op does get more time, Australia or NZ is not far from Singapore with cheap flights, there are a few teachers that offer one month retreats like U Pandita Jnr or Patrick Kearney, who both also do annual retreats in Malaysian centres as well. Having said that, wouldn't a pa auk sayadaw lineage centre or thai forest be closer to Shamata/TMI ?

Also I think there is a TMI retreat apparently going to be held in NZ soon with one of the teachers in training, if you check out themindilluminated sub-reddit

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/1/18 12:02 PM as a reply to What is happening in this moment.
The basic and progressive stage theory and instruction in Practical Insight Meditation is one of the most profound and helpful things I found in my early meditation quest and I am profoundly grateful for it. Once I found that, I literally followed it paragraph by paragraph to stream entry, finding it uncannily helpful, efficacious, and accurate. Luckily, being as it contains not that many paragraphs, it was quick trip. ;)

Thus, when someone says they gave that instruction, I find this a plus rather than a minus.

However, it is true that many Westerners (and some Western-influenced Easterners) want to have this very conversational, relaxed, philosophical, psychologically-supportive, familiar, personal, intricate relationship to their teachers, covering a wide and free-roving range of topics to satisfy a myriad of Western needs, but, for those lucky few who can just ignore all that and instead just practice and focus on actually doing the technique as prescribed, meaning that they have already dealt with their doubts, fascination with their intellect, traumas, psychological issues, cultural baggage, and all of that, rapid progress often awaits. That is obviously a small minority of practitioners, so, if you are not one of those and require more in-depth engagement, processing, and psychological support, many of the Asian settings are not going to be able to provide for all your needs.

Once you determine which type of practitioner you are, you can choose settings with instructors and cultures that will get you what you want. It is worth being honest abou this, as too often practitioners who are of one sort end up with teachers and in centers of the other sort, and, while they might intellectually wish to believe they are a type they are not, soon enough on retreat they become the people they truly are regardless of their ideals.

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/1/18 8:05 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thanks for the many replies!

Rednaxela:
there 's a 3month retreat starting in July at MBMC with U Pannananda, did you apply for that?
https://www.facebook.com/mbmc.malaysia/

J
ust don't mention Jhana to them.  They'll only teach insight


That may be a problem actually. The main goal of that (first) retreat is to work on Jhanas. Following advices here and there,
I want to reach some level of concentration before adding insight practice. Moreoever, from that thread I understand MBMC focuses on Mahasa noting only?

What is happening in this moment:
Just an additional tip if Op does get more time, Australia or NZ is not far from Singapore with cheap flights, there are a few teachers that offer one month retreats like U Pandita Jnr or Patrick Kearney, who both also do annual retreats in Malaysian centres as well. Having said that, wouldn't a pa auk sayadaw lineage centre or thai forest be closer to Shamata/TMI ?


NZ is only a 10 hours flight away :p I see on the TMI subreddit that T. Peck will likely host some retreat in Melbourne in February next year, that may be a good plan. I couldn't find anything about a retreat in New Zealand on the TMI or Streamentry subreddit though.
I'll take a look at the Pa Auk Sayadaw lineage you mentioned, they may even have that in Singapore (wow, there is a center a block from my house! I'll go check it out).

Daniel M. Ingram:

However, it is true that many Westerners (and some Western-influenced Easterners) want to have this very conversational, relaxed, philosophical, psychologically-supportive,... psychological support, many of the Asian settings are not going to be able to provide for all your needs.


I don't think I expect psychological support from my teacher, at least this is not what I'm asking here. I'm cautious about picking a retreat typically because I don't want to be completely side-tracked while I don't have the spiritual maturity to know what I'm doing. My current take is to stick to something until I exhaust it. My current practice follows TMI, in particular training in concentration following the breath, the next milestone, notably according notably to MCTB, seems to be attaining some level of jhana: I want to isolate myself in meditation to do so.

I guess my confusion, which is probably reflected in the questions I'm asking here, comes from the fact that my guidance overwhelmingly comes from books. I don't have a physical "sangha", people I can throw ideas / thought / ask advice to / get feedback on my own practice and I don't know where to find those people.

- How does one even get to hear about a retreat center (beside word of mouth, e.g. here) and what they do there? Most don't have a webpage. My Google-fu is strong but looks mostly useless.
- Why do the overwhelming majority of books I pickup on meditation teach anapanasati, but everywhere I look in the physical world, it's something else (Mahasi noting, I also encountered Lama Ole Nydahl's Diamond Way in Singapore, who practice a totally different meditation, revering the Karmapas black crown).

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/2/18 6:19 AM as a reply to Duncan Idaho.
Hi Duncan

Coming from Singapore I can’t think of anywhere more suitable for a quick retreat than Malaysia. There’s also SBS (https://www.sasanarakkha.org/) which I hear is good. Only thing is, these places, including Buddhist Hermitage in Lunas near Penang, will give Mahasi instructions and check in with you 2-3 times a week, so you’ll kind of need to have something in that vein to report. If you’re interested in Samatha / anapanasati only, then best to go where you won’t get bothered by reporting, etc. I’m currently in Sri Lanka and find the myriad centres here awesome if you have a practice and just want to be left alone to get on with it. Food, accom, facilities, all provided, donation recommended at the end. Check out my blog (https://placestomeditate.wordpress.com/) where I post photos and details of some of them. Just a sampling. Tons more here. Distances are short since the country is small, so you could get a tuktuk or taxi from the airport (I use Uber here) straight to a retreat centre. Sumathipala in Kanduboda would suit. Lots new kutis, 2 meals a day, plenty of space for meditation, not a crowded place, and an hour’s drive from the capital airport.  

Anyway, let me know if there’s anything else I can tell you. Thailand has places like this too. You could fly direct to Chiang Mai, for instance. Or if you do a Goenka 10-day retreat, you’ll do anapana for the first 3.5 days, which might suit you to get the concentration grounding in. Plenty of those centres around the region. 

All the best!

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/2/18 6:18 AM as a reply to What is happening in this moment.
What is happening in this moment:


Having said that, wouldn't a pa auk sayadaw lineage centre or thai forest be closer to Shamata/TMI ?


That was a GREAT advice. There is a meditation center not far from where I live (http://www.pamc.org.sg/), I went to meet them today. The place is nice: nothing fancy and gold platted, quite humble yet not crappy. They were super welcoming, I discussed what I was looking for, they're very open talking about streamentry and jhanas, gave me a bunch of book. They even offered me to meet with one of the teacher (they have a few that come and go, currently 5 teachers in residence, from Myanmar, Sri Lanka...) which I did. The conversation was mildly awkward because I really didn't expect it but no one took offence about me not saluting the right way or wearing shorts.

Best: they organise day retreats, which is an excellent compromise for me as it will allow me to spend some time working on my concentration without being killed by my wife for going away for a week in radio silence. 

Let's see how it goes, but this may be exactly what I was looking for. A place with fairly like-minded people in terms of practice, physical humans that I can meet regularly and discuss with, and retreats once in a while. And it's a 5 minutes bike ride.

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/2/18 11:15 AM as a reply to Duncan Idaho.
You need to decide what you are trying to do.

The line in MCTB1 about jhanas has been misinterpreted a lot, and there are samatha jhanas and vipassana jhanas, and Mahasi noting cultivates vipassana jhanas, which lead to stream entry.

If you want vipassana jhanas and stream entry, I would go to a Mahasi center and follow instructions all day long.

If you want to learn samatha jhanas, I would go check out the likes of Pa Auk.

Both are valid plans, and you have to understand what you want.

Anapanisatti is interpreted various ways, and it is used by both vipassana and samatha traditions to mean meditation on the breath, and it is a question of what you do with the breath and how you attend to it, whether you notice the three characteristics or cultivate more smooth, steady samatha jhana aspects, meaning a question of whether or not you cultivate 6 or 7 of the Seven Factors of Awakening (6 for concentration, 7 for vipassana).

RE: Recommendation for a retreat center from Singapore
Answer
7/2/18 6:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What I want at this stage is to strengthen my concentration before seriously starting the insight practice, so, samatha Jhanas it it, both because it looks fun, and because it appears to be a solid stepping stone for the rest.

Pa Auk it is!

Thanks everyone for your help.