Asokaram Temple in Samut Prakan, Thailand
Asokaram mean “Monastery of no sorrow” and located at Sukumvit Road, Samut Prakan 10280. Rural setting on the coast; 120 rai (50 acres). Many species of birds, some nesting, inhabit the trees on shore and on the tidal flats. Lots of crabs, mud skippers, snakes, and mosquitos live here too. Fairly quiet (except for the birds). Main buildings, such as the viharn (main hall), ched (stupa), bot (uposatha hall), women’s chanting hall, and kitchen are on the shore; most kutis (huts) sit atop pilings out over the tidal flats. The magnificent viharn contains a large Buddha image, paintings, and carved wooden doors; large group meetings and monks’ chanting take place in the main (upper) hall, smaller meetings are held on the middle level, and the monks’ eating area is on the lower level.
A temple built in ancient India by Emporer Asoka inspired the name of Wat Asokaram. Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo (1906-1961), a disciple of Ajahn Mun, founded the temple in 1955. At the request of lay followers, the uncremated remains of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo have been kept in a coffin in the glassed-in shrine area upstairs in the viharn. A ceremony dedicated to the former abbot attracts many people to the wat on 24-26 April; teachers present discourses on mind training in the Ajahn Mun tradition.
Some of Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo’s talks have been published in English and are available here by free distribution.
Two new books in English present wisdom from great teachers of the forest tradition The Autobiography of Phra Ajahn Lee contains incidents from his life that provide both good reading and good lessons; 1992, 190 pages. Awareness Itself The Teachings of Ajaan Fuang Jotiko contains short, to-the-point advice to guide students past the pitfalls of meditation practice; (Ajaan Fuang helped establish Wat Asokaram and was expected to become abbot after Ajaan Lee’s death. Instead, he left and spend the last 15 years of his life at Wat Dhammasathit, a small, out-of-the-way place in the hills near Rayong); 1993, 77 pages. Phra Geoffrey Thanissaro translated and edited both books; they’re available for free distribution. Eight precepts and white clothing are recom mended for long-term meditators
How to get there:
- Located 32 km south of Bangkok off Hwy. 3. Many city buses in Bangkok (including air-conditioned #7 and 8, and non-air #25, 142, 145) go to Samut Prakan; from here you can take either of 2 local buses or a taxi 6 km farther to the temple.
- Some buses between Bangkok’s Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal and Chonburi go via Samut Prakan; ask to be let off at Wat Asokaram (between KM 31 and 32 posts on Hwy. 3), then walk or take a samlor about 1 km south. You can see the spires and multi-tiered roof of the viharn from the highway. (People often use the name “Pak Nam” for Samut Prakan.)