MV Dhamma Fellowship’s Dhamma Interaction and Exchange Programme

Dhamma interaction and exchange programme is one of the MV Dhamma Fellowship’s agendas. This time we embarked on a short trip to Penang and Southern Thailand.

At the invitation of Ehipassiko Buddhist Meditation Society, Bhante Raja together with Brother Raymond Yow, Brother Koh Yew Wah, Brother Hing Seng Huat and the undersigned, embarked on a short trip to Penang and Southern Thailand from June 22nd to June 26th 2013 for the Dhamma interaction and exchange programme.

“So long, Ananda, as the Vijjians meet together in concord, and raise in concord, and carry out their undertakings in concord – so long as they enact nothing not already established, abrogate nothing that has been already enacted, and act in accordance with the ancient institutions of the Vajjans, as established in the former days  ……… the Vijjians be expected not to decline, but to prosper.” (Digha Nikaya, Sutta 16, Maha Parinabbana Suttanta – The Book of the Great Decease. PTS edition).   

Ehipassiko Buddhist Meditation Society is a religious society located along Mount Eskine Road, Penang.  The society provides religious studies such as Dhamma, chanting, meditation classes and Dhamma talks. The main medium of instruction is in Hokkien dialect with a mixture of English and Pali terms

General Layout

The main shrine hall, with an attached kitchen, can accommodate about a hundred devotees . A meditation hall adjacent to the shrine hall can accommodate a similar number of meditators. The long hall can be converted into five class rooms partitioned with foldable doors.  At the rearward is a sangha kuti. In front of the long meditation hall stands a Bodhi tree with a shrine franked by ancestral tombs of the donor on both sides.

Main shrine hall can accommodate a hundred devotees

 

The long meditation hall adjacent to the shrine hall can be converted into five classrooms partitioned with foldable doors. At the rearward is a sangha kuti

 

An enshrined Bodhi tree flanked by ancestral tombs of the donor on both sides

 

The tomb is suitable for meditation on “The Nine Cemetery Contemplations,
Navasivathika Pabbam”, elucidated in the Maha Satipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya Sutta 22) and the Satipatthana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya Sutta 10)

 

Services Rendered

Bhante Raja was requested to perform puja services, gave blessings, Dhamma talk cum sharing session and offered devotees the opportunity to perform Sanghika dana.

Blessing from Bhante at Sanghika Dana

“Bhikkhus, when a donor gives food, he gives the recipients four things. What four? He gives life, beauty, happiness and strength. (1) Having given life, he partakes of life, whether celestial or human. (2) Having given beauty, he partakes of beauty, whether celestial or human. (3) Having given happiness, he partakes of happiness, whether celestial or human. (4) Having given strength, he partakes in strength, whether celestial or human. Bhikkhus, when a donor gives food, he gives the recipients these four things.” (The Book of Fours, Sutta 59(9) Food, Anguttara Nikaya, Bhikkhu Bodhi, [Wisdom Publications]). 

As with any Buddhist establishment, propagating the Dhamma is the way of life and sharing with others is the practice.

Lord Buddha after attainment of Enlightenment and having observed the first vassa-residence at Isipatana, Migadāya, sent forth the sixty disciples to go on missionary work:

Bhikkhus, go out in all the eight directions for the mundane and supramundane welfare, prosperity and happiness of the many beings, such devas, humans and Brahmas. Let not two of you travel together for each journey, ………………………..

“Bhikkhus, teach the Dhamma that is full of virtuous qualities in all its three phases, namely, the beginning, the middle and the end; and endowed with the spirit and the letter. ……………………..

After Bhante’s Dhamma talk followed by sharing session and questions from the floor

 “Bhikkhus, there are many beings, such as devas, humans and Brahmas, who have little dust of impurity in their eyes of wisdom. Through not hearing the Dhamma, they will suffer a great loss of the extraordinary Dhamma which is the Path and the Fruition.” (Maha Vegga, 19 – 20).

Offering of robe to Bhante, a token of appreciation for the services rendered

Group picture with the EBMS committee members

 

Visits to Other Meditation Centres

While we were there we made a detour to visit other meditation centres as well.

The Buddhist Hermitage of Lunas

The Buddhist Hermitage Lunas is a Theravade Buddhist meditation retreat. It was set up in 1990 by the venerable Suvanno, a monk that was fluent in English as well as Hokkien. The Buddhist Hermitage Lunas is said to have also received the patronage of one of the wives of Soon Ah Lee, the founder of Lunas town.

Walking and sitting mediation at the main hall

“And again, bhikkus, the bhikkus when walking, is conscious of walking; or when standing he is conscious of standing; or when sitting, he is conscious of sitting; or when lying down, he is conscious of lying down; or in whatever movement or posture his body is, he is conscious of it.” (Digha Nikaya, Sutta IX. Maha Satipatthana Suitta (Great Discourse on Steadfast Mindfulness) Burma Pitaka Association edition. [Digha Nikaya, Sutta 22 found in PTS and Wisdom Publications editions]). 

Bhante Raja confers with the donor, aged 90 plus.

Long house Kutis for the males

Individual Kutis for the males

Group picture in front of Shima House

 

Nandaka Vihara Meditation Society

Nandaka Vihara, a Buddhist monastery situated in Bukit Mertajam (Penang), is set up primarily for the practice of meditation. It is near to Cherok Tokun Forest Recreational Park. Activities conducted include meditation classes & retreats, dhamma talks, temporary ordination, observance of 8 precepts, chanting class and Sunday dhamma class for children. The Samatha-Vipassana way of meditation is taught here.

Kutis on hill slop

Closed up view of a Kuti

Bodhi Heart Sanctuary

Bodhi Heart Sanctuary is located at Jalan Mount Erskine, Tanjung Tokong, Penang.

You may refer to the link http://bodhihearts.net/index.asp for details.

Entry to Bodhi Heart Sanctuary

Gateway to the meditation centre

One of the Meditation halls

 

Extended Trip to Southern Thailand

Since we were at the northern part of the Malayan peninsular and close to Thailand we decided to visit Southern Thailand to check-out on some of the meditation centres and temples.

Wat Tham Sumano (Sumano Cave Temple)

Sumano Cave Temple is located about 25km away from Phattalung downtown and along the way to Trang on Highway 4, the entrance to Sumano Cave Temple. It has been set up since year 1988 and comprises  2 mountains and is  surrounded by forest. There are 2 separate caves to visit.

Sumano Cave Temple is a meditation center. Anyone can stay for a few days to meditate. We saw some women dressed in white robes walking around the compound in the temple. They are not nuns. They were just there for a short period to attend meditation course.

Gateway to Sumano Cave Temple

One of the several shrines in the cave

The height of the cavern goes beyond 10 meters

Meditation chamber in the cavern

“Herein, O bhikkhus, let a brother, going into the forest, or to the roots of a tree, or an empty chamber, sit down cross-legged, holding the body erect and set his mindfulness alert.” (Digha Nikaya, Sutta 22: Maha Satipatthana Suttanta, Setting-Up of Mindfulness [PTS edition]).

Manoeuvring through crevices to reach the other caverns

 

Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol

Phra Maha Chedi Tripob Trimongkol is also known as The Stainless Steel Stupa is situated in the outskirt of Hatyai. This is a retreat centre and the abbot in charge is Luangpo Aik.

The stainless steel structure is eye catching and there is an air of calmness and serenity about the place

The base of the Stupa has round entrances and each entrance is a room. Buddha statues were placed here

Encapsulated Relics strung around the shrine hall

“Ananda, there are four persons worthy of a stupa. Who are they? A Tathagata, Arahant, fully-enlightened Buddha is one, a Pacceka Buddha is one, a disciple of the Tathagata is one, and a wheel-turning monarch is one. And why is each of these worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: “This is the stupa of a Tathagata, of a Pacceka Buddha, of a disciple of the Tathagata, of a wheel-turning monarch”, people’s hearts are made peaceful, and the, at the breaking-up of the body after death they go to good destiny and rearise in a heavenly world. This is the reason, and those are the four who are worthy of a stupa.” (Digha Nikaya, Sutta 16 Mahaparinibbana Sutta: The Great Passing. The Buddha’s Last Days. Maurice Walshe, [Wisdom Publications]).

Web of concentric steel structure spiral up the stupa is mesmerising

Captivated by the by the intrigue design

 

Homeward Bound

Thailand, a Buddhist country has numerous temples and centres throughout the land and it is impossible to visit them within a short period of time.

Due to time constraints we departed for home on June 26th 2013. Nevertheless we had an enjoyable and fruitful trip and achieved what we had set out.

Contributor: Chin Kee Thou

English Dhamma Class &

MVDF Associate member

July 1st 2013

 

 

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