Wat Pah Nanachat is a forest wat that is in the countryside outside of the center of Warin Chamrap which is across the river from the rather large Isaan city, Ubon Ratchathani. This area is the northeast and known locally as “Isaan” or “E-Sarn” depending how you spell it.
I first visited this temple in late December 2004 when I arrived in Thailand. I wanted to speak to some of the monks, and the abbot in particular, to find out what kind of experiences I was having during my Vipassana practice years before. I had some incredible experiences that were other-worldly for lack of a better way to explain them.
I arrived in Ubon by the train and took a tuk-tuk from there to Wat Pah Nanachat in the morning. I arrived about 8 am and was met by the “guest-monk” whose job it is to greet visitors and let them know the schedule for the wat and what would be next. I met with a foreigner from England that was hoping to stay for a few days, but we were the only two visitors that morning.
I soon met with the abbot, an Australian monk whose name escapes me at the present moment. I found him to be extremely kind and a great listener. I spoke for about 20 minutes before he asked me questions to clarify what the experience was for me. He then told me that it sounded like “jhana” and he gave me some pamphlets to read through, and a book, that told in-depth about what the Buddhist s believed Jhana was about. I read everything within a couple hours and yes, wow, it sounded like the levels of jhana. It was a big relief that I hadn’t been losing my mind so many years before!
Anyway, so – the abbot offered that I could stay for as long as I wished to continue the process… I stayed over one night and left the next morning.
This is a wat with monk administrators that seem very serious about what they’re doing. The monk in charge of the work details was relentless in trying to get myself and a friend to go do some chores as we were talking to the guest monk. I found him rude and out of touch.
I visited Wat Pah Nanachat maybe 5 times over the months, sometimes going for the full-moon chanting and meditation that lasts all night and sometimes just walking around the wat and enjoying the peace of mind. It’s always quiet there, though, like all jungle areas of Thailand that I’ve seen – there were cicadas that were very loud. It’s still quite peaceful!
Once I was lucky enough to get a tour of the entire grounds by an English speaking monk (from England) that was disrobing. He reminisced as he showed myself and my girlfriend around the grounds. It’s a lovely place – much bigger than I originally had thought.
There are many foreign monks here and it’s a place that’s really a starting point for western monks that are thinking about being ordained as monks. They say to call ahead before you visit, but I don’t think it’s all that necessary except during the rains retreat time period (July – September) when there may not be many monks at Wat Pah and they may not accept overnight visitors.
There is more information at the links following…
If you are interested in attending a meditation retreat at Suan Mokkh or other meditation centers in Thailand (or anywhere in Asia), please see our informative article here…
How to reach Wat Pah Nanachat (map from the wall at the chow hall):
Click map to enlarge.
Copyright ©2013 Written by Vern Lovic.