for foreigner

Wat Trivisudhidham – An Orientation for Foreign Visitors

 

The purpose of this booklet is to highlight key aspects of temple life for a foreign visitor.  It is hoped that this will provide you with a better understanding of the temple.  In addition, that knowledge might form the basis for additional interest and exploration about any of the many aspects that are summarised herein.

 

Furthermore, this guide is provided to encourage respectful conduct and to improve cross-cultural and inter-faith relations, as well as reduce the possibilities of accidental inconsideration, especially when you are visiting a place that is sacred to others.

The temple

Wat Trivisudhidham (pronounced ‘Waaht Tree Ve-soo-dee-daahm”) is situated about 150 kilometres north-east of Bangkok, in the rural area of Srakrajome, near Don Chedi, which is a small town in the province of Suphanburi.

PHra Kru Pitaksasanawong (Phra Ajarn Yai/The Main Monk)

He is the abbot of this temple. People come to pay respects to him and, usually, ask him a question regarding their Buddhist practice, health, or problems in their lives. He is known for his insight and wisdom.

Session times to pay respect to Phra Ajarn Yai

Many people come to the temple to see the main monk. Therefore, session times are set for people to see him.

Monday – Friday

09.00 am, 10.30 am, 12.30 pm, 14.15 pm, 15.30 pm, 16.45 pm

Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holiday

09.00 am, 10.30 am, 13.00 pm, 14.15 pm, 15.30 pm, 16.45 pm

Note that, occasionally, the temple may change session times on the day according to circumstances that are necessary to preserve the well being of Phra Ajarn Yai. 

You have to be at the pavilion no later than 15 minutes before the session time.  This way, you can organize a garland, or any other offering, as well as listen to the introduction provided by temple personnel. Also, this will give you time to meditate for 5-10 minutes in order to fully-prepare your mind to receive the sermon. 

An audience with Phra Ajarn Yai (The Main Monk)

Phra Ajarn Yai is revered for his compassion, and wisdom.  It is a matter of courtesy, therefore, to behave appropriately when in his presence and to note the following:

1.      When it is near the session time, temple personnel will lead you to Phra Ajarn Yai’s dwelling. Before entering, please take off your shoes.

2.      Sit in an orderly fashion, such as in rows. Please remain quiet at all time, especially when placing anything on the floor.  Please do not chat when in the room.

3.      Together with the nun, and the rest of the group, pay your respects to the Triple Gems (Buddha, his teachings and the monkhood):

                 

4.      Repeat after the assisting monk words related to offerings made to monks in general.

5.      Gently, place your offering on the cloth in front of Phra Ajarn Yai. Then, move back to your spot.

6.      After, Phra Ajarn Yai will give a blessing. Then, he will give a short sermon, as well as the opportunity for people to ask him questions. Please ask only one question so that there is time for others to ask their questions, too.  (If you do not speak Thai, please make prior arrangements for someone to ask a question on your behalf.)

7.      Phra Ajarn Yai will answer your question and may give you something, too. Temple personnel will be able to give an explanation to you after the session has ended.

8.      At the end of the session, together with the nun and the rest of the group, pay your respects to the Triple Gems (Buddha, his teachings and the monkhood). Please do not ask any more questions of Phra Ajarn Yai. Please wait until he has left the room before rising to leave the dwelling.

Remarks: If there is a monk/novice in that session, please let them pay their respect to Phra Ajarn Yai first.

Appropriate Attire for Seeing Phra Ajarn Yai : Do not wear sleeveless tops. Men should wear long trousers. Women should wear long skirts.

Please contact a staff member to arrange for a change of clothes.

 

Before seeing, and being in the presence of, Phra Ajarn Yai you should do as follows:

1. Please leave your mobile phone or any other communication appliances in your car or with a temple staff member.

2. Please do not take young children along as they could cry and, usually, cannot stay calm for a whole session.

3. Please stay calm, and be quiet, at all times. Do not talk or make loud noises, such as zipping up a bag, and dropping or dragging things.

 (Please follow these guidelines so everyone can receive fully the sermon from Phra Ajarn Yai.)

Meditation Retreat

Besides a short visit, people can stay at the temple for any number of days they want in order to pursue Buddhist practice. However, it is a firm recommendation that you attend the meditation retreat for a minimum of nine days. 

Therefore, please consider the following:

·         It is an opportunity to be guided in meditative practice, as is considered a fundamental element of Buddhism, and of good living otherwise;

·         It is a chance to advance your understanding of Thais, and Thailand;

·         It is a unique cultural experience for any foreigner. 

·         You will be ordained and should strive to follow eight precepts, as appear below.

 

Practicing Buddhists in daily life follow five precepts

·         To refrain from taking the life of living beings (i.e. no killing);

·         To refrain from taking that which is not freely offered (i.e. no stealing);

·         To refrain from sexual misconduct (such as adultery, rape, or other exploitation);

·         To refrain from false speech (such as lying, or gossip);

·         To refrain from intoxicants (such as alcohol and recreational drugs).

 

The eight precepts include the preceding five, as well as the following:

·         To refrain from eating at the wrong time (i.e. only eat from sunrise to noon);

·         To refrain from dancing, using jewellery, going to shows, watching improper television programs, etc. ;

·         To refrain from using a high, luxurious bed.

 

Of possible interest to you, please note that there is a set routine that all participants in the meditation retreat are expected to follow.  This entails:

·         4.30 a.m.              - Start the day with chanting and meditation

·         6.15 a.m.              - Give alms to monks

·         8 a.m.                    - Serve breakfast to monks and, then, have your first meal of the  

day

·         9:30 a.m.              - Yoga class for one hour

·         11 a.m.                 - Last meal of the day

·         1 p.m.-4p.m.        - Meditation practice and instruction for three hours

·         7:30 p.m.             - Chanting until 11 p.m.

 

Furthermore, note that people in the meditation retreat sleep communally in a hall.

Temple grounds

The temple grounds are extensive.  The actual temple is built as a pavilion. So, too, is the covered area alongside where ceremonies are held.  Nearby, is the red-roofed home of the main monk, or Abbott, Phra Ajarn Yai. 

 

Other buildings include the Great Hall, being another pavilion, where meals are taken, yoga classes are conducted and massages take place.  The Meditation Hall, as the name suggests, hosts people who participate in meditation retreats. Also, as a rule, these people sleep there in a communal setting.

 

A long, low building between the Meditation Hall and the Great Hall contains a convenience store, a shop that offers religious objects for sale, a health store, a library-cum-museum and the office of the temple manager.

 

Between the Great Hall and the home of the abbot is a blue-roofed storage building and, near that is the monks’ pavilion.  Behind these buildings, and to the right of the Great Hall, is the Monks Only area. 

 

Other structures on the grounds include amenities blocks that contain toilets and showering facilities.  (As when entering temples, or homes in Thailand, shoes must be removed before entering amenities areas.  Often, there is spare footwear at the door for use and return.)

 

Elsewhere there are rustic huts made of bamboo and wood.  These very basic structures are a home for permanent residents, or for other people whenever they want to stay at the temple. 

 

Plus, there are solitary huts, often fitted with a toilet, that are used by people who want to take their personal and spiritual development to another level.  Such huts offer a place of confinement and contemplation for however long a person plans to stay there.

 

Temporary structures, such as tents or canopies in front of the Meditation Hall, are used to provide hot herbal compresses, or other healing services. 

 

In addition, there is a large vegetable garden. 

 

As a suggestion, it is best not to pick flowers or greenery, nor take anything away from the temple without permission. 

Monks

Men become monks for short periods of time, or for the rest of their lives.  In either case, they are identifiable by their shaved heads, or close-cropped hair, and a lack of eyebrows.  In addition, they wear robes over loose-fitting outfits. Muddy, mustard-coloured robes are common.  The colouration of monks' clothing can identify the temple where they live, and the finer details can also indicate other information.  For instance, a folded length of cloth is draped over one shoulder whenever attending ceremonies.  On a day-to-day basis, a monk might only wear what appears to be a skirt, as well as a loose-fitting top that hangs off one shoulder.

 

Interestingly, the robe is made of one rectangular piece of cloth about the size of a bed sheet.  This is fashioned and folded to form a tight-fitting outfit.  Closer inspection will show that each robe, in fact, is made up of numerous sections that are stitched together to form the long and wide sheet.  This is traditional, and is in keeping with the prevailing view that robes could not be made of one piece of cloth.  That follows on from early monks who lived very simply and wore fabric found in burial areas, as had covered dead bodies beforehand.  Usually, the small pieces forming the robes are thin strips and larger bits that represent rice fields, and the pathways in between.

 

Nuns are identifiable by their shaved heads, or closely-cropped hair, as well as white outfits.  For practical purposes, however, it is possible that brown outfits are worn, such as when a nun is working in the garden or is on a retreat that involves living in a forest.

Giving alms

Monks cannot ask for three things, food, clothing and accommodation.  .  

 

They are, therefore, dependent upon the kindness, caring and generosity of people in the surrounding community and in return receive blessings from the monk.  If a temple is remote, as can happen often in rural locations, monks are dependent entirely upon people who work at the temple, or who come to the temple to pray, attend a meditation retreat, or arrive specifically to make an offering.

 

At this temple, note that monks are given alms around 6 a.m. by the temple pavilion.  It is important that people who give alms must take off their shoes and socks.  In addition, only food or drinks can be placed in the alms bowls.

Food intake of monks

As a fairly firm rule, monks do not eat any food after midday.  They have their first meal of the day at 8 a.m. and another at 11 a.m., which is finished by noon.   For the rest of the day, they may drink water, fruit juice, or some sorts of soup.

 

Note that some leniency exists when a monk is unwell.

The precepts

The common people, who are Buddhist, follow five precepts in accordance with their faith. People who enter meditation retreats, as well as many people who stay at temples otherwise, follow eight precepts.  This set of rules, and the related ordainment session, is the same as for nuns.  Therefore, people who are ordained into the eight precepts, also follow the eating and food regimen of monks. Ten Precepts are adhered to by novice monks and novice nuns.  This involves the previous eight, plus the following one : Do not accept or handle money. For monks, 227 precepts are followed that relate to all aspects of their life, such as how to eat, dress, greet people, work and behave otherwise.

The need for courtesy and respect

Be respectful of why others are at the temple, such as exercising their religiousness and reinforcing their faith.  Consider that courtesy is a prerequisite in any situation, especially when you are at a place of worship.

Wai – a gesture of respect

The customary manner of showing respect when greeting someone in Thailand is to wai.  Thai society is respectful and the gesture placing one’s palms together and placing the hands in front of, or just under, the face when looking at the other person.  A bowing of the head can also be incorporated in that movement.

 

This is especially evident when anyone meets, acknowledges, or pays their respects to someone who is older, a teacher, a monk or a nun.  Usually, it is done once, although can be repeated as a token of thanks, as well as when departing.

Being respectful – meeting monks, nuns and others

When meeting, and speaking, with monks and nuns, it is respectful to use an appropriate title ahead of their names.  In each case, the use of such a title identifies the high standing in community of these religious people.

 

For monks, their name is preceded by Tun (which is pronounced as it appears) or Phra (pronounced ‘Praah”).  For nuns, their name is preceded by Maechee (pronounced "Mayr-chee").  It is sufficient to wai in all instances.

 

 

 

Temple staff members

Temples are staffed by permanent and part-time volunteers who give their time and effort willingly.  Generally, women appear in white clothing, being much the same as that worn by nuns.  Usually, this outfit entrails a long skirt, and long sleeved or three-quarter length sleeved blouses.  A matching white sash is draped over the right shoulder and pinned in place.  It is also acceptable for women to wear white pants instance of a skirt, although not for special occasions.  Men wear white shirts and matching, long-legged pants.  People who attend temple ceremonies dress the same way.

 

Note that other temple personnel engaged in gardening, construction, maintenance and general labour tend to wear functional work clothes or day-to-day attire.

 

These people can be greeted with a wai, as indicated earlier, although a casual “Hello” or “Hi” will be fine.  The same applies when greeting people who are participating in the meditation retreat.

Appropriate dress and footwear

Whenever entering any sacred site, such as this temple, it is necessary to dress in a modest manner.  If visitors to the temple are not dressed appropriately, such as exposing too much skin, wraps and clothing are offered to cover up what is not acceptable in such settings.  (for instance, woman with bare legs, arms or midriff section, as well as men who have bare legs or wear tops without any sleeves).

Making merit.  Sharing goodness

Buddhism, simply, is about the generation and the distribution of goodness.  Making merit is a key component of this beneficial process.  Individuals and families, for instance, gain merit when a man becomes a monk, a contribution is made to the building or reparations of a temple, temples are visited, alms are given to monks, and aforementioned precepts are observed.

 

Often, people can be seen cleaning up around the temple.  This is another way of gaining merit.

 

In addition to the provision of food, such as when monks collect alms each morning, people can offer goods and money to monks and temples at other times.  As a general rule, monks do not handle money themselves.

 

When any good deed is acknowledged, a common way of doing so is to say anumothana (pronounced "aah-noo-moh-taah-naah").

 

Accumulated goodness, such as in gaining merit, can then be shared with family members, friends, and so forth.

 

Free food

Food is available in the Great Hall in the morning, at around 8 a.m. when monks are served.  However, others cannot eat beforehand.  Then, at about 8:30 a.m., temple staff and people who follow the ten and eight precepts are allowed to serve themselves and eat.  Others, such as people who only follow five precepts, can serve themselves after the rest have done so.  At about 11 a.m., food is available  for all until the early afternoon  

 

Note that all of this food is available free of charge.  Often, food stalls are set up by people who come to the temple specifically to donate food, as well as their time.  Again, there is no charge for food from these stalls.

 

Collection boxes

While temple facilities are free for people to use, contributions toward costs are accepted.  It is polite to make donations to whatever extent you feel is appropriate.

 

Such donations can be placed in offering boxes for the specific purposes of paying for electricity or water bills.  Money can also be put into envelopes before being given to monks on an offering tray.


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How to get here

Wat Trivisudhidham 171 Moo 1 Tambon Srakrajome

Umper Donchedi Suphanburi Province 72250

(Geographic Coordinates N14.65244 E99.91313) 

From Bangkok, you can catch a number 30 van (route Suphanburi-Danchang) from Bangkok Bus Terminal Pinklao (you can get to Bangkok Bus Terminal Pinklao by a taxi). The ticket should cost no more than 200 baht. You have to tell the driver to drop you off at “Talay Bok”. At that place, there are a few small shops. You can ask for a motorbike taxi to take you to our temple which is less than 3 KMs from there and it should cost you no more than 60 baht. If you can speak Thai or find someone who can, you could also call Khun Na to arrange the motorbike taxi with the same fee (Tel 082 2902788). You can also send us an email ( อีเมลนี้จะถูกป้องกันจากสแปมบอท แต่คุณต้องเปิดการใช้งานจาวาสคริปก่อน ) or a FB message in advance (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wat-Trivisudhidham/559741417419690) or (https://www.facebook.com/PRwattrivisudhidham) to let us know when you’re coming and we can arrange for the motorbike taxi to pick you up. Or, you can print the map shown below and take a taxi. To hire a taxi to the temple and back should not cost more than 2000 baht per day. Note that we know of taxi drivers who will accept 1500 baht.


How to travel to wattrivisudhidham in pdf file.


For more information, please send us an email at อีเมลนี้จะถูกป้องกันจากสแปมบอท แต่คุณต้องเปิดการใช้งานจาวาสคริปก่อน
or a FB message at www.facebook.com/PRwattrivisudhidham and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wat-Trivisudhidham/559741417419690