Dec 24, 2018
Location: Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery, Mae Hong Son, Thailand
A new and powerful concept introduced to me here at Wat Tam Wua's Vipassana course is the presence of The Knower. The mind plays either of 2 roles. When the mind is caught-up in thought (eg - worries about the future or pains from the past), it is not aware that it is lost in its thinking. This is The Thinker. The Thinker is the monkey mind that gets carried away by its thoughts completely unaware of what's happening.
However, when the Thinking Mind catches itself and becomes aware that it is thinking about these thoughts, it now becomes the The Knower. By being aware of itself, the passing thought goes away. The Knower is constantly aware of the body (is it relaxed? tense?), aware of the breath (it is shallow? thin? steady?) and aware of feelings (am I sad? happy?). The Knower is always at the present moment with the full understanding that everything taking place will change. That everything is impermanent. To be The Knower at all times is the goal.
People who are unaware of the existence of The Knower spend the rest of their lives auto-reacting to their thoughts without realizing it. If their mind drifts into a painful episode that happened in the past (and this happens all the time), they act as though it's happening again - their heart rate goes up, their breathing becomes faster and shallow and they start getting fired-up. This leads to agitation and mis-directed aggression against everyone. All this is happening without the person being aware that he is senselessly reacting to an event in the past that he can no longer undo. And this keeps happening day-in and day-out! When he catches himself, The Knower emerges and all that senselessness dissipates into thin space.
I would think that to the extent we have free will, it only happens when The Knower is active. Only then is it able to look at all exercisable options intelligently instead of auto reacting to the thought. The balance of the mind is sustained. Practiced diligently until it becomes a habit, we exorcise the demons that have long taken up residency in our psyche.
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(Dec 28, 2018) Perfect. So succinct and practical. Thank you, as always!
(Dec 25, 2018) Did the same course in HK this summer. All is impermanent. Still need to stop and look at myself with bird eye views, but surely it was a great experience. Have a good time in Thailand 🙂
(Dec 24, 2018) To realize that you are Knowing is next 🙂
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Next stop: Goenka and the Theravada Forest Monastery Vipassana Traditions
Mae Hong Son (city), Thailand
Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery Blogs
- 20 Days of Monastic Life at Wat Pa Tam Wua 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 12, 2018 - Jan 1, 2019, 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)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- 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!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
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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