Suan Mokkh is an incredible wat (Buddhist temple) that I really enjoy visiting. I guess I’ve been there about 10 times over the months I was staying in Surat Thani which is close to the town of Chaiya (about 60 kilometers away).
Suan Mokkh is the temple where Buddhadasa Bhikku spent many years in residence. He was not the abbot, he created Suan Mokkh temple and he was a very well-known monk that had important ideas about Buddhism and that differed remarkably from the ideas coming out of Bangkok. Buddhadasa created Wat Suan Mokkh originally as a forest meditation wat. Today it is a forest meditation wat as well as an important teaching location for children, scouts, and Buddhist adults all over Thailand.
There is an international meditation center across the street that is part of Suan Mokkh and where “Santikaro” from Liberation park in Illinois spent a lot of time as abbot. Santikaro has since returned to the USA and is building a meditation and learning center in the woods of Wisconsin.
Buddhadasa has passed away and yet his works and teaching remain of crucial importance to Buddhist s all over the world. I’ve read a couple of his books, my favorite being, “No Religion” which was available in paperback form and can sometimes be found at wats (temples) where there are many English speaking monks like Wat Suan Mokkh, Wat Nong Pa Pong, and Wat Pah Nanachat. I originally picked up my copy from my ex-wife’s father, Dr. Somchai Supawanich, a retired Thai surgeon from Gibson City, Illinois. Dr. Supawanich was instrumental in my learning about Buddhism, meditation, and finding good teachers like Jack Kornfield, Buddhadasa Bhikku, and Ajarn Chah. Dr. Supawanich is a meditation teacher and practitioner who is well-versed in Theravadan Buddhism and is a very kind person as well.
Suan Mokkh is a very large area. It is not spectacular because of its buildings or man-made things like the incredible mountain-top Buddha and stupa on top of a limestone crag in Krabi, Thailand. To me, it’s incredible because it’s a great location for meditation. There are numerous meditation halls to sit in or paths for walking meditation. There are ponds, a hill to climb where water monitors might be surprised and scamper away… There are tree frogs, an art center, a boy scout/ girl scout camp, and huge libraries and demonstrations of children’s artwork dedicated to Buddhadasa Bhikku.
There are chickens running about everywhere and you’ll hear one every few minutes or
seconds. There are dharma talks outside and in the dharma halls a couple of times per day. Thai monks and nuns are in the main Suan Mokkh complex and across the highway and about 1.5km down the road is the international dharma heritage where
foreigners come for a 10-day-long meditation retreat where talking is forbidden.
Also down this road are pools of hot water that is salty for some reason.
Photos of Suan Mokkh
Sleepy dharma talk listeners at one of the dharma halls.
Suan Mokkh dharma hall near the library.
Entrance to Suan Mokkh Buddhist Temple in Chaiya, Thailand.
Buddha statue at top of hill where Buddhadassa liked to talk to groups
Monk’s forest kuti (monk’s home)
Buddhist nun (magee) in white walks down path to an outdoor dharma talk
Meditation hall in the forest at Wat Suan Mokkh (Thai side)
A building where there are many art displays by children and adults about Buddhism and Buddhadasa Bhikku.
See meditation retreat info about Suan Mokkh and Wat Pah Nanachat >
Copyright © Vern Lovic.