GeneralW at Marp Jan is intended as a refuge for laypeople as well as monastics, therefore sincere practitioners are welcome. While visitors with a few hours to spare may drop in to offer the meal and view the grounds, anyone interested in practicing at the monastery in a more involved capacity may apply for a stay of up to seven days. In keeping with Buddhist tradition, the monastery does not charge for accommodation, food, or teachings, though one may contemplate how best to help Wat Marp Jan continue as a place of refuge for those who seek it. In general, staying at the monastery is about a way of life. There is no opportunity for long silent retreats, but instead a chance for lay guests to develop mindfulness, generosity, and humility through living and participating within a monastic culture.
Visitors to Wat Marp Jan should try to come before the 8 a.m. meal or between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the afternoon. Those arriving by 6:45 a.m. will have the opportunity to offer food to monks returning from alms round, while those arriving any time before 8 a.m. may receive a blessing, chant, and share in the meal. After helping clean up, guests are welcome to go view the Wat Marp Jan Chedi and Uposatha meditation hall. Those unable to visit before the monastery gates close at 12 noon may instead come between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the afternoon to tour the grounds.
Staying OvernightT hose interested in practicing in a more involved capacity at Wat Marp Jan may apply for an initial visit of up to seven days. As the monastery is a center for the training of monastics, it is unable to cater to long-term guests and also cannot host overnight visitors arriving unannounced. The chance to live with a community dedicated to meditation and mindfulness represents a precious opportunity, and guests are asked to show their appreciation by carefully observing monastery rules and guidelines.
While staying at the monastery, practitioners dress in white to symbolize their purity of intention, and male guests visiting for longer than a week are asked to shave their head. While men generally wear a white shirt and long white trousers, women dress in a white blouse and a long black skirt or pants. If lay guests are unable to acquire appropriate clothing, a set may be loaned from the monastery. Visitors should dress modestly and be well-covered at all times.
Lay guests generally stay in dormitories with others who are visiting, sleeping on straw mats, pillows and blankets provided by the monastery. As laity practicing at Wat Marp Jan follow the eight precepts, including the precept that discourages luxurious sleeping places, traditional padded mattresses are not given. Guests are expected to clean their places of stay each day as well as the dormitory restrooms.
Visitors share in the meal offered to the monastic community by the laity. In keeping with Buddhist tradition and ethic of simplicity, monks and lay guests generally eat only one meal a day, though drinks and tonics may be taken after the chore period. As the monastery receives food as a gift, it is unable to cater to special diets.
Guests are asked to develop an attitude of simplicity and mindfulness by not using phones or internet while visiting Wat Marp Jan, and should keep any personal electronic devices in the office during their stay. If one feels they cannot be separated from their laptop or phone, they may contemplate if the present is a good time to enter retreat.
As Wat Marp Jan is a Thai monastery, talks are frequently not translated into English. One can request a question and answer sessions with the abbot or other monks, but such meetings may be infrequent depending on availability of both teacher and translator. Those interested in learning more about the Buddhist path and meditation practice may inquire about the monastery’s complimentary dhamma books and CDs, also found on the Audio and Books pages.
Wat Marp Jan requests that visitors kindly refrain from smoking during their stay.
Lay guests are expected to have some basis in meditation practice, an intention to uphold the Eight Moral Precepts, and knowledge of how to conduct themselves in a Buddhist culture.
|4:00 a.m.||Morning Wake-Up Bell|
|4:30 a.m. – 5:30 a.m.||Morning Meeting: Meditation and Chanting|
|5:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.||Monks go out to surrounding villages on alms-round. Lay guests sweep the monastery and help in the kitchen until meal time.|
|9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.||Lay guests help clean the kitchen and eating area after the meal. Following this, they help with work such as maintenance, gardening and looking after the grounds. In the absence of work projects, guests may use their time to meditate and study.|
|3:00 p.m.||Chores such as sweeping the monastery paths and cleaning the monastery toilets.|
|5:00 p.m.||Afternoon Drink|
|7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.||Meditation and Evening Chanting|
The Eight PreceptsT he Buddha laid down the eight precepts as tools to assist sincere practitioners develop on the path. While staying at Wat Marp Jan, guests are asked to observe the following trainings in order to live harmoniously with the community and assist their practice:
- To refrain from the taking the life of living beings.
- To refrain from taking what is not given.
- To refrain from all sexual activity.
- To refrain from harmful and untruthful speech (including that which is harsh or unnecessary).
- To refrain from taking intoxicating drinks and drugs (including smoking).
- To refrain from taking food after midday.
- To refrain from entertainment, beautification and adornment.
- To refrain from lying on high and luxurious sleeping places.
ApplyingT o ensure that guests fit well into the resident community, those interested in staying multiple days are asked to undergo an application process. First-time visitors may apply to stay for a maximum of seven days.
The monastery is unable to host overnight visitors who arrive unannounced.
Those interested in staying at the monastery are asked to have patience in sending by mail, or emailing via firstname.lastname@example.org:
- A letter explaining why they wish to come to Wat Marp Jan.
- A completed Personal Details form.
- A current photo.
- A reference letter from a monastic or lay supporter known affiliated with Wat Marp Jan or Associated Monastery of the Ajahn Chah Lineage.
- If unable to obtain the above letter of guarantee, applicants should instead provide the monastery with an official certificate of good conduct, lack of criminal record, or similar document from a government department in one’s home country.
Upon receiving an initial inquiry, the monastery will either respond by sending a longer application form as well as a detailed description of the monastery rules, or by suggesting another place that would be more suitable for one’s practice.
Wat Marp Jan recommends that those interested in coming first visit a monastery of the Ajahn Chah lineage in the West, as one will receive better guidance in one’s own language. While there are many Associated Monasteries to choose from, Wat Marp Jan specifically recommends Citthurst Monastery in England, Abhayagiri Monastery in the U.S., and Bodhivana or Bodhisaddha monasteries in Australia. Once one is known to that community, one may obtain a guarantee letter from the abbot and ask to stay at Wat Marp Jan.
After receiving and submitting the application form, applicants should allow several weeks for a response. One may also follow up an application by calling the monastery directly.
After being accepted, an applicant should:
- Read the Rules and Regulations booklet and have a clear understanding as to what is required of one.
- Send a copy of one’s fully-paid, confirmed round-trip air ticket.
- Send a copy of one’s travel health insurance covering their allowed stay at Wat Marp Jan.
- Send a copy of the photo page of one’s passport.
- Print and bring to the monastery an extra copy of the completed registration form.
- Ensure one has the required visas for a stay in Thailand.
- Ensure that one is in good physical and mental health
If there are any changes to arrival and departure dates, the monastery must be notified and permission given. Guests are asked to leave their passports in the office until the morning of their departure.
Guests should organize: visa, white clothing, toiletries, mosquito repellent—though there is no malaria in the area —, towel, torch, copies of documents sent, and flip-flop sandals.
The day before coming, guests should contact the monastery with their estimated time of arrival. If possible, one should come before the 8 a.m. meal and notify a resident at the eating hall near the monastery entrance. If visitors arrive later in the day, they may proceed directly to the office located eight hundred meters down the road from the eating hall. 5 p.m. is the latest possible arrival time.
- How do I get to Wat Marp Jan?
If traveling by car or taxi, one may use the map on the General Contact page. If traveling by public transport from the capital, one may catch a bus from Bangkok’s Eastern Ekamai Bus Terminal to the city of Rayong or town of Ban Phe and rent a taxi from there.
- Do I need to pay to stay at the monastery?
The Buddha prohibited his monks and nuns from handling money or accepting payment for teaching so that the Dhamma might remain a gift available to all. Preserving this ethic of generosity, Wat Marp Jan and monasteries of the Thai Forest Tradition freely provide lodging, food, and Dhamma materials to those interested in pursuing the Buddha’s path. However, if one feels they have benefited from their stay at Wat Marp Jan, they may contemplate how best to help it continue as a place of refuge and practice for others in the future.
- Can I make monetary or material donations to the monastery?
As they are unable to handle money or beg, Buddhist monks and institutions depend entirely on the generosity of laity for their day-to-day existence. While one may offer food or requisites directly to the monks, monetary gifts are generally left in specified donation boxes looked after by the monastery steward. Checks written from overseas bank accounts generally cannot be accepted.
- Will I be able to ask the teacher questions?
While abbot Tan Ajahn Anan may sometimes be available to answer questions, such sessions may be infrequent depending on both his and a translator’s availability.
- Do I need to have practiced meditation before visiting?
As English translations of meditation instruction may not be available during one’s stay, Wat Marp Jan strongly recommends that guests be familiar with meditation practice before visiting. One may receive teachings in one’s own language by visiting an Associated Monastery of the Ajahn Chah tradition nearer to home, or may access free English Dhamma materials on the Audio and Books pages.
- Can I sit in a chair for Meditation?
Yes — chairs are available in the back of the meditation halls for those still not used to sitting for long periods on the ground.
- Can one ordain as a monk or nun at Wat Marp Jan?
While ordination at Wat Marp Jan is a possibility for Westerners, those interested are asked to first investigate the monastic life by visiting an Associated Monastery of the Ajahn Chah lineage nearer to home, as the reality of the monastery life may differ from their expectation. After becoming familiar with the form, one may request to come visit Wat Marp Jan and see if they harmonize with the community. While many factors affect prospects of ordination, the decision to accept a student or not ultimately rests with the abbot. If concerns of geography, culture, or language discourage one from seeking ordination at Wat Marp Jan, aspirants may look into ordaining at the international monastery, Wat Pah Nanachat, or an associated monastery in the West.
While Wat Marp Jan does not have a community of nuns, many monasteries in Thailand and abroad offer female ordination in varying capacities. Those interested may visit the websites of Amaravati and Chithurst, associated monasteries in England which both provide monastic training for women.