Wat Pah Baan Taad

Information by Dieter Baltruschat using Bill Weir’s retreat guide; updated March 2004 by Gerd Neller

Address: Wat Pa Baan Taad, Baan Taad, Ampher Meuang, Udon Thani 41000
no pre-registration necessary, but recommended
Internet: www.luangta.com

Location: Wat Pah Baan Taad is a quiet forest monastery 16 km southeast of the city of Udon Thani in Northeastern Thailand, approximately 564 km from Bangkok. There are a large Dhamma hall and several kutis (bungalows) in the forest. About 50 monks and 100 women live here.

How to get there from Bangkok: From Bangkok to Udon Thani there are several morning trains (e.g. sprinter, departure 8:20 a.m., arrival 5:20 p.m.) and several night trains, (e.g. sleeper,departure 8:45 p.m., arrival 7:12), and a sprinter without sleeper (departure 8:00 p.m., arrival 4:46 a.m.).

From the northern bus terminal there are daily busses to Udon Thani, departing from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. The trip is about 12 hours.

Thai Air has three daily flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani (6:50 a.m., 12:35 p.m., 6:15 p.m). The trip is about one hour.

From Udon Thani take a songtaew (e.g. No 44), local bus or taxi to the town of Ban Gum Kling 8 km south, then 7 km head southwest via the village Ban That, from there it is another 1 km to the Wat. Some songtaew go from Udon Thani directly to the Wat or to Ban Thad.

Tradition and teacher: Phra Ajahn Maha Boowa, the abbot of the monastery, is one of the most famous meditation teachers in Thailand and one of the last disciples of the almost legendary Ajahn Mun still alive. (There is a small Ajahn Mun museum in Wat Pa Sutthawat at Sakon Nakhon, approx. 100 kilometres east of Udon Thani.)

Unfortunately Ajahn Pannavaddho, who was held in great esteem because of his profound knowledge and his friendly nature died on August 18, 2004. The German monk Than Martin has been living in Wat Pa Baan Taad for nine years now. Apart from extensive translation activities he is in charge of the monastery’s homepage and gives dhamma talks and (group) interviews – mainly inGerman language. Due to his deep experience, his engagement and his empathy he has already been able to help a lot of practitioners.

Language(s): Thai, English, and sometimes German.

Technique: Instructions for formal meditation practice are found in the book "Forest Dhamma" by Ajahn Maha Bua. Initially, the mind is calmed with traditional practices such as Anapanasati, the mental intoning of the mantra Buddho (or Dhammo or Sangho) or the contemplation of the 32 body parts. As usual, three levels of samadhi are distinguished. In khanika samadhi, or momentary concentration, the mind (citta) is only calmed for a short time. In upacara samadhi, approach concentration lasts longer. And in appana samadhi, jhana (absorption) is attained. When sufficient concentration has been established, the three characteristics (impermanence, suffering und non-self) are contemplated, the five khandha (five groups of clinging) are seen through and ignorance(avijja) is forever extinguished.

Costs: Guests are welcome to give a donation.

Accommodation: Since the monastery is well-known, you should not arrive during monastic raining season retreat or religious holidays. In the men’s quarters there are kutis (bungalows), in the women’s dorms or lan (small roofed platforms in the forest).

What to bring: Before your stay you should buy alarm clock, a good flashlight (spare bulb and batteries), flip-flops, water bottle, insect repellant, hygiene articles, candles, and matches. A warm jacket and a sleeping bag is useful, especially during the cooler season.

Food: The only meal of the day is a large and excellent breakfast. Late afternoons there are juices or tea and some sweets. For increased safety of potable water bring disinfectant.

Medical care: Good by Asian standards. In the province capital Udon Thani there are pharmacies and hospitals. This area is not considered contaminated with malaria.

Rules: All participants commit themselves to observing the eight silas (moral practice precepts). Clothes should be comfortable and decent (no shorts and tank tops).

Daily schedule: After the monks‘ alms round breakfast, then cleaning up in and around the sala. Afternoons the community meets for tea or for sweeping the paths. Plenty of time for individual practice.

Climate and best time to go: November to March.

Notes: W.A.V.E. has published the following English language books by Phra Ajahn Maha Bua (a.k.a. Luang Ta Maha Boowa):

– Forest Dhamma
– A Life of Inner Quality
– To the Last Breath – Dhamma Talks on Living and Dying
– Wisdom Develops Samadhi
– Kammathana (possibly out of print)
– Things as they are
– Straight from the Heart
– Mode of Practice of Acharn Mun
– Biography of Acharn Mun

These free books can be ordered here for a donation to cover postage:

Mrs Lim Tay Poh
c/o No 2, Jalan Chan ah Thong
Off Jln Tun Sambathan
50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

(Of course, donations for further publications are also welcome). They can also be downloaded at http://www.forestdhammabooks.com.