2019 Thailand Meditation Retreat for BCS students

Posted on 03.09.2019

BCS held its annual meditation retreat for students from 20 July 2019 to 9 August 2019 in Thailand. Led by Vice-Rector (Academic Affairs and Supervisor) Venerable Dr. Chuan Sheng, more than 50 participants of 7 nationalities were sponsored by the College to attend the retreat. It was conducted at Sangharama and Dhammagiri Foundation in Mae Hong Son Province, the most secluded and mountainous region in northwest Thailand.

Sangharama is a branch temple of Ajahn Chah’s Thai forest tradition. Dhammagiri Foundation not only supports Sangharama’s activities but also acts as an orphanage for the children of nearby hill tribes. Their founder, Ajahn Cagino, a Malaysian Chinese who completed his monastic training at Wat Pah Nanachat (the International Forest Monastery of Ajahn Chah’s lineage), wishes to make the Thai forest tradition more accessible to Chinese speaking Buddhists.

An orientation programme was arranged on the second day of our arrival. Ajahn Cagino first led us to tour the forest areas within the temple’s premises, equipped with interesting stories. Subsequently, according to the local custom, we went to pay respect to the Mahatheras who oversee the Sangha community of this province. They were glad to receive such a large number of monastics from different countries and conveyed their well-wishes, saying it was a sign of the flourishing of Buddhism.

On the third day, the meditation retreat officially started. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness were elaborated and practised one by one. Ajahn Cagino shared his experiences as a Tudong/Dhutanga monk and the Dhamma came alive with the realistic and engrossing accounts of his spiritual journey. Ajahn Greg and Phra Nisabho, two American disciples of Ajahn Anan, were specially invited from Wat Marp Jan to provide additional Dhamma talks on the suttas and meditation techniques. Venerable Dr. Chuan Sheng led the daily group sitting meditation and revisited the key points taught. The combined efforts contributed to the success of the retreat: students found new aspirations in their pursuit of Buddhism.

The last few days were filled with joy making donations to a Burmese temple in the refugee camp on the Myanmar-Thailand border, exploring Thai forest monasteries situated deeply in the mountains, and chanting the Heart Sutra at the Bodhisattva Guanyin temple built by local Chinese descendants. Participants have learnt much, gained many new experiences and saw another facet of Buddhism in this part of the world. All these would be stepping stones for their continuing spiritual journeys.