Dec 30, 2018
(5 out of 5 stars)
the path to becoming an arahant
Author: Venerable Acariya Maha Boowa Nanasampanno
Pages: 113 pages
Publisher: Forest Dhamma Books
Publication date: 2005
Location: Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery, Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Download the book: Arahattamagga Arahattaphala
DIY Guide to becoming an Arahant
I stumbled upon this book while doing my 10-day meditation retreat at Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery. This is one powerful book about an arahant's account of his meditation journey - his challenges, what he has achieved and the wisdom learned along the way. It serves as a blueprint for a meditation path to those who wish to go deeper into their practice.
Here, the monk-author describes having a meditation word to anchor his meditation focus. His word was Buddho - Buddha's words for the in-breath and the out-breath. Buddho became the sole object of his attention. At some point, he atained clarity and stillness of mind where Buddho wasn't even needed. Having attained that though, he was lost. What would he use to anchor his meditation with, if Buddho wasn't even needed? He started defaulting back into awareness.
In the passing days, he would straddle between Buddho and awareness with increasing beneficial results until he reached Samadhi - an intense state of focused awareness, assuming a life of its own, independent of any meditation technique. With continued practice, Samadhi built into an unshakable solid inner foundation where everyday thoughts and emotions are no longer desired. The mind remains peaceful and contented with no external thought. The feeling of continuous Samadhi is so concentrated that meditators either get attached to it or mistake it for Nibbana.
Pain, Body and Knowing-Self
He would meditate continuously for long hours without feeling the body...until he experienced intense pain. His mindful investigation led him to this new wisdom - that the body, pain and the knowing-self (citta) are 3 independent entities. Pain cannot exist without the citta allowing it - therefore, it is in our capacity to stop pain. Upon realizing that, pain completely stopped.
A Repulsive Body?
I don't agree with the author 100%. He claims the human body is repulsive - that it is ugly and only masked on the outside by a deceptively attractive skin, but within, it is an amalgamation of fluids, flesh, bones and ligaments. He describes the body as, "ruinous defilement spreading its noxious poison everywhere". He is really talking about sexual aversion. I guess as a monk, he has to find ways to neutralize his sexual impulses (kamaraga). I, on the other hand, celebrate the human body. The body is a reverential altar to be held inviolate of impurities - no drugs, nicotine or alcohol (well, maybe a beer or two). Needless to say, I enjoy the company of the opposite sex - thus, I cannot belong to any monastic order.
What particularly helped me about this book is that the monk provides a personal narrative to complement the meditation text-books. I could then understand the teachings at the day-to-day-life level and not from 50,000 feet above sea level. His personal tale is compelling for a seeker like me as he puts flesh and blood and human struggle into the difficult path of deepening a meditative practice that transcends textbook descriptions and definitions.
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Next stop: Peoplescape at the Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery
Mae Hong Son (city), Thailand
Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery Blogs
- 20 Days of Monastic Life at Wat Pa Tam Wua...Goodbye and Thank You Dec 12, 2018 - Jan 1, 2019
- Peoplescape at the Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery Dec 12 - Jan , 2019
- Arahattamagga Arahattaphala - the path to Aranhantship Dec 30, 2018
- Goenka and the Theravada Forest Monastery Vipassana Traditions Dec 25, 2018
- The Knower Dec 24, 2018
- 10-Day Meditation at Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery Dec 9, 2018
Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery Information
Bangkok to Wat Tam Wua Forest Monastery by Bus
- go to Mo Chit Bus Terminal near Chatuchak. Bus #509, #9 and #157 go there
- at the ground level, go to Ticket Counter #13, #14 or #15 - Sombat Tour counter
- schedule and pay for your bus ticket
1 Destination/Origin: Mae Sariang. Take the bus that passes through Chiang Mai/Pai.
- upon boarding, explain to the driver to drop you off Wat Tam Wua Monastery, otherwise, you might end up in Mae Hong Son town which is 30 minutes further out. Best to show him a written instruction in Thai.
- from the main road, it's a one kilometer walk to the monastery
FYI / Tips
- even though the Wat Pa Tam Wua website states that you need the abbott's permission to stay, you can just go straight there without any prior booking or registration.
- accommodation, food (no dinner), blankets, pillow, white shirts/pants and floor mattress will be provided at no charge. Donations are accepted.
- BEWARE: by the entrance to the monastic compound is a convenience store. It is not run by the monastery. The vendor offers Mae Hong Son/Pai tours without any quotation and charges exorbitant fees in the end. He also tells people that part of the fee goes to the monastery - this is not true. He has been reprimanded already but still, he continues his shady business.
- floor mattress on hard bed provides no cushioning. If this is a problem to get good sleep, you can bring an inflatable camping mattress (usually 1-inch cushioning and not too bulky to bring)
About Mae Hong Son
FYI / Tips
- Mae Hong Son Airport has flights to Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Mae Sot, Hanoi (Vietnam), Laos (Luang Prabang, Mandalay, Naypaytiaw, Vientiane) and Yangon (Myanmar)
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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