Wat Pah Nanachat
|Wat Pah Nanachat Buddhist Monastery|
Pointing the way along the path to Wat Pa Nanachat
|Denomination||Thai Forest Tradition|
|Founder(s)||Luang Por Ajahn Chah|
Wat Pah Nanachat Bah Bung Wai, Ampher Warin Chamrab, Ubon Ratchathani 34310,THAILAND
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Wat Pah Nanachat (Thai: วัดป่านานาชาติ, International Forest Monastery) is situated in a small forest in north-east Thailand about fifteen kilometres from the city of Ubon Rachathani. It is an international forest monastery primarily for non-Thais. The late Ajahn Chah established the monastery in 1975 to serve as a training community for non-Thais along traditional monastic lines. Its monks, novices and postulants include a wide range of nationalities. The primary language of communication and instruction is English.
The monastery was founded in response to increasing international interest, particularly from the United Kingdom, in the theravadin forest tradition of Thailand. The first abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat was Ajahn Sumedho, an American bhikkhu trained by Ajahn Chah at Wat Nong Pah Pong, the mother house of Wat Pah Nanachat. Today, as a consequence, students of the Thai forest tradition are found in branch monasteries around the world under the collective label of The Forest Sangha. The largest monastery of this network is Amaravati Monastery about 30 miles north of London. Its abbot was Ajahn Sumedho, who recently relinquished the post to Ajahn Amaro (ex-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in California).
Buddhist meditation practice of all types is encouraged at Wat Nanachat, though breathing meditation predominates. In the spirit of Ajahn Chah's teachings, vipassanā or insight, and samatha or concentration, are regarded as two sides of a coin rather than two distinct categories. Lay visitors are expected to observe the eight precepts version of sila, or the practice of virtue. For monks, strict adherence to the Vinaya, the 2,500-year-old code of discipline, is not only required but is the distinguishing characteristic of the lineage. For lay visitors, no formal meditation teaching is available beyond Dhamma talks and what may be derived from freely available reading matter, the priority being the formal training of the full-time mendicants.
Prospective visitors to the Wat are advised to write well in advance, as facilities are somewhat limited. Men staying for more than a few days are required to shave their heads, as well as facial hair and eyebrows. Laypeople dress in modest white clothing, borrowed from the monastery if necessary. Some laywomen wear black skirts with a white blouse. Venerable Ajahn Kevali, abbot since 2007, encourages a more communal atmosphere than perhaps earlier had been the case. Guests are expected to take part in all daily activities. Following is a summary of a typical daily schedule:
- 3:00 a.m. Wakeup
- 3:30 a.m. Meet in the main sala (hall) for Buddhist chant
- 6:00 a.m. Sweeping the grounds – a vigorous meditative practice; laity helping in the kitchen and monks making rounds (Pindabat) for alms
- 8:00 a.m. Dāna, offering food so collected to the monks, followed by the daily meal for others
- 3:00 p.m. Work such as getting water, cleaning, and community projects
- 5:00 p.m. Meet in the Abbot's kuti (กุฏิ monk's hut) for evening tea
- 7:00 p.m. Meet in the main hall for evening chanting and a Dhamma Talk
- 9:30 p.m. Sleep
On Observance Days (uposatha), the schedule may vary somewhat as monks and laity alike attempt to sit in meditation all through the night till five in the morning.
- Ajahn Sumedho (1975–1977)
- Ajahn Pabhakaro (1977–1979)
- Ajahn Jagaro (1979–1982)
- Ajahn Pasanno (1982–1996)
- Ajahn Jayasaro (1996–2002)
- Ajahn Nyanadhammo (2002–2007)
- Ajahn Kevali (2007–present)
To Ubon Ratchathani: Thai Airways offers flights to Ubon from Don Mueang in Bangkok. Overnight sleeper  from Bangkok, as well as other trains and buses are available. To Wat Pah Nanachat: Once in Ubon, going to Wat Pah Nanachat is straightforward and there are a few options. Any buses in Ubon bound for Si Saket drive past the Wat, simply ask the driver to be let off there. Another option is to take a bus to Warin Chamrap, where you can take a Songthaew to the Wat. It's also possible to hire a tuk-tuk or taxi to the wat from the airport, bus or train stations.
Mailing address: Wat Pah Nanachat, Bahn Bung Wai, Amphoe Warin Chamrap, Ubon Ratchathani 34310, Thailand (Thai: วัดป่านานาชาติ บ้านบุ่งหวาย อำเภอวารินชำราบ จังหวัดอุบลราชธานี ๓๔๓๑๐)
- The Forest Path: talks, essays, photographs etc., Wat Pah Nanachat, 1999.
- Wat Pah Nanachat website
- Forest Sangha website
- Thai Buddhism
- Meditation places in Thailand
- Thai Theravada Buddhism
- Patrick Ong (January 21, 2013). "Experiences with the Initiation Procedure, Commencement of Meditation Practice and General Observations". catandnat.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-21. Retrieved January 21, 2013. "In the latest entry on his series on meditation, Pat notes that initiation is the necessary first step prior to learning the meditation system."