MEANING OF NAME: A temple built in ancient India by Emporer Asoka inspired the name of Wat Asokaram.
ADDRESS: 136 Moo2, Tambol Taiban, Muang, Samut Prakan 10280
DIRECTIONS: Located 32 km south of Bangkok off Hwy. 3. Many city buses in Bangkok (including air-conditioned #7 and 8, and non-air #25, 142, 145) go to Samut Prakan; from here you can take either of 2 local buses or a taxi 6 km farther to the temple. Some buses between Bangkok's Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal and Chonburi go via Samut Prakan; ask to be let off at Wat Asokaram (between KM 31 and 32 posts on Hwy. 3), then walk or take a samlor about 1 km south. You can see the spires and multi-tiered roof of the viharn from the highway. (People often use the name "Pak Nam" for Samut Prakan.) TELEPHONE: (02) 3892299
MEDITATION SYSTEM: Anapanasati is the main
technique taught, though meditators are free to choose their own techniques.
TEACHING METHOD: Discourses are given each evening. (Meditation practice receives much emphasis in the Dhamma talks.) Teachers are available for questions.
TEACHERS: Phra Khru Palhad Mongkolvivatana
Phra Khru Nuntapunyakhun
Phra Ajahn Preeda aukkavaro
LANGUAGE: A few monks and nuns can speak English; the abbot does not.
DESCRIPTION: Rural setting on the coast; 120 rai (50 acres). Many species of birds, some nesting, inhabit the trees on shore and on the tidal flats. Lots of crabs, mud skippers, snakes, monitors and mosquitos live here too. This is a Mangrove conservative area. Fairly quiet (except for the birds). Main buildings, such as the //viharn// (main hall), //chedi// (stupa), //bot// (uposatha hall), women's chanting hall, and kitchen are on the shore; most //kutis// (huts) sit atop pilings out over the tidal flats. The magnificent viharn contains a large Buddha image, paintings, and carved wooden doors; large group meetings and monks' chanting take place in the main (upper) hall, smaller meetings are held on the middle level, and the monks' eating area is on the lower level.
SIZE: monks: 185
nuns: about 114
laymen: about 2
laywomen: about 403
DAILY ROUTINE: About 7:15 a.m. pindabat; 8 a.m. the meal; 9:15 a.m. morning chanting; 4 p.m. afternoon chanting; 8-10 p.m. evening chanting, discourse, and meditation. On //wan phra// and day before and after, meditation is also held 3-5 p.m.
FOOD: Good quality and variety. Monks and novices have one meal in morning; nuns and laypeople eat once or twice in the morning. Monks and novices can go on pindabat inside or outside the temple; the kitchen and supporters supply most food.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Monks, novices, and laymen stay in kutis on the west side; nuns and laywomen have kutis on the east side. Most kutis have screens and a bathroom with running water (some western-, some Thai-style); all have electricity.
WRITE IN ADVANCE?: Not necessary. It's good to have a letter of recommendation, however.
ORDINATION: Men can request ordination, learn chanting and rules, then ordain as a monk. Women can similarly request ordination as a maechee.
OTHER INFORMATION: Ajahn Lee
Dhammadharo (1906-1961), a disciple of Ajahn Mun, founded the temple in 1955. At
the request of lay followers, the uncremated remains of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo
have been kept in a coffin in the glassed-in shrine area upstairs in the viharn.
A ceremony dedicated to the former abbot attracts many people to the wat on
24-26 April; teachers present discourses on mind training in the Ajahn Mun
tradition. Some of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo's talks have been published in English
and are available here by free distribution. A small library has some English
books. Two new books in English present wisdom from great teachers of the forest
tradition: //The Autobiography of Phra Ajahn Lee// contains incidents from his
life that provide both good reading and good lessons; 1992, 190 pages.
//Awareness Itself: The Teachings of Ajaan Fuang Jotiko// contains short,
to-the-point advice to guide students past the pitfalls of meditation practice;
(Ajaan Fuang helped establish Wat Asokaram and was expected to become abbot
after Ajaan Lee's death. Instead, he left and spend the last 15 years of his
life at Wat Dhammasathit, a small, out-of-the-way place in the hills near
Rayong); 1993, 77 pages. Phra Geoffrey Thanissaro translated and edited both
books; they're available for free distribution. Eight precepts and white
clothing are recommended for long-term meditators.
Reference: 1. Bill Weir, A guide to Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation centres in Thailand, 3rd ed., The World Fellowship of Buddhism, 1991
2. Some information from Wat Asokaram
3. Photos by MPIT group