Vesak retreat 14 - 20 May 2017

Vesak Retreat: Find Independence within the Dependent Origination of Unhappiness

Feedback Vesak retreat 2017



Dear Junko, Faye, Erica, Maeve, Sonya, Mel, Hellen and Peter,


We hope you are all home safely and are experiencing the benefits of this year’s Vesak retreat.

And Babushka teaching: Peeling away the layers of misconception of permanent self.

Vipassana meditation on the different layers of attachment, and different levels of freedom and inner peace.

And Bojjangha, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment.

And Salayatana, the Six Sense Doors.

And the Six Different Temperaments

And the Forty Objects of Meditation

Many thanks for your beautiful garden meditation work, of weeding, planting, trimming, pruning, raking and sweeping enhance the peaceful vibration in the monastery.

Venerable Phra Mana, LuongPor Sawat and I would like to thank you all for your diligence and effort, and rejoice with you all.

With metta,




Dearest Kim and Phra Mana and Phra Louang Po

 Thank you very much for the beautiful photos.

 Thank you dearly for the Vesak retreat teaching - Phra Mana’s teaching, as ever, were outstanding - so well structured and comprehensive, with great care I felt he re-established clearly the foundations of teachings from previous retreats and built upon step by step, leading and spurring us on to deeper understanding and true experience of Vipassana, the 3 characteristics  and a good understanding of the 4 levels of enlightenment ( by far the best teachings on these levels I’ve ever read/heard - likewise his guidance/knowledge of Vipassana. When I look back at the journey from a short introductory level talk on the 12 links of dependent origination over 10 years ago I am just so impressed and grateful for the way Phra Mana has so lovingly and intelligently read and developed our understanding over the years … particularly over these last few years I have experienced an exciting development of comprehension of dependent origination and Vipasana - surely only by way of such an unusually skill shared by very few teachers around the globe. I can’t believe our good fortune for Phra Mana’s ability to make complex teachings so clear and accessible without pride or hyperbole, each time setting a higher bar with a stronger dose of medicine - truly a rare treasure of a teacher we are all so fortunate to have encountered.


Thanks also so much to Phra Louang Po for his beautiful loving presence, eager support, and inspiring chanting, especially with the delicious breakfasts he provided each day with kind enthusiasm and as ever for the lovely Kim a backbone of support and love for the monks monastery, its everyday functioning and retreats and for her care for the wellbeing of the grounds and participants.  Likewise for her help with feeding us and a special thanks to our wonderfully cook from Moss Vale who provided exemplary meals with grace and humility.

 With much gratitude to you all,





Many thanks for this Kim!

 It was a very special retreat and I am deeply grateful to you, Venerable Phra Mana, LuongPor Sawat for the opportunity to be there, learn and practice is such beautiful and conducive surrounds.

 I have been freshly inspired and my meditation practice has definitely benefited from the wonderful teaching. Phra Mana's description of establishing a solid platform and the constant need for re-adjustments has been most useful. His thorough explanation and guidance on peeling away the layers of misconception of permanent self has been groundbreaking.

 Thanks again and wishing you all the very best.





Dear Kim,

 Many thanks to all at Sunnataram for their loving kindness during the Vesak retreat.

Venerable Phra Mana works tirelessly and teaches so clearly, encouraging all to realise deeply. So grateful and fortunate to have him as a teacher. Thank you.

 Thanks to LuongPor Sawat for quietly looking after us and especially for the nourishing delicious breakfast each day! 

 Thank you Kim for your constant gracious support. Again so fortunate to observe your deep kindness and respect. Thank you also for the help with the garden bed which brought peaceful joy to the heart.

 With metta,





Dear Kim,

 Thank you for the beautiful images you sent us. 

 Kim I thank you for your care, love and compassion you have shown to us all during the Retreat and for the privilege you have given me to be part of the Vesak Retreat, an opportunity for my spiritual growth and encouragement to practice Dharma. I am aware I arrived with a very low platform of mindfulness, a difficulty I had to bear until Friday when during the meditation reflecting on the body parts I was able to break through by experiencing liberation. The difficulties I had would serve me as a valuable lesson in being more aware and to make sure that I give time to my meditation practice. 

 Please give my thanks to Phra Mana for his patience and compassion. 

 Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu 

 Warmest regards,




Dear Kim,

Thank you so very much for firstly permitting me to join the Vesak retreat and secondly for all your work to make it work so smoothly ( and teaching me about gardening!).

 I actually spent an hour yesterday mindfully weeding my big jade pots yesterday! And found it very peaceful.

 IN terms of the retreat, Things 'clicked' for me on Thursday afternoon after I asked, what in hindsight seems quite naive, my 'Yoda' question of Phra Mana. His answer that Annata was a state and not a place made the pieces of the jigsaw I'd been struggling with come together. I didn't ask another question after that at the retreat as as the state of 'selflessness/emptiness' was very clear. I have mostly been operating with an amazing sense of non-self with just mind, awareness and hopefully a touch of wisdom since then. It's a much lighter way to live if that makes sense. Typing this email it's just typing and it seems so right. Driving home was just driving home, weeding was just weeding. 

 I have already found situations where I would have worried and ruminated and instead have just realised the situation, broadened this to awareness and considered what would be the wise action to take. This approach is working and there is more calmness within and around me compared to before the retreat (and indeed in the earlier days of the retreat).

 It's with gratitude that I receive the message of a lack of mindfulness  strongly conveyed to me by Phra Mana. I guess inadvertently locking myself out of my cabin and forgetting to pick up my cardigan after Tai Chi were very clear indicators of where my mind was at! I did find it amusing that Phra Mana hummed the carol Silent Night as he calmly searched for the cabin key at 10pm at night in amongst the hundred keys in the tin. It is interesting that at Sunnataram I've always been so much more mindful than in 'normal' life so you can only imagine the madness and mayhem I've brought to my life and to those lives around me for decades. It's very liberating to slow down, be quieter and have more time and space for realisations. I hope that through my modelling this behaviour it will motivate my grown up kids living at home to consider their own approach to life - it's twenty years too late but at least I can start to bring more wisdom to my later life parenting.

 I must admit to being concerned in the summation talk that I was one of the retreat attendees that Phra Mana thought was not ready for the teachings of the retreat or who had been too slack. I couldn't figure out if it was me to whom he was referring or not. I don't know whether that's indicative of a lack of insight or whether it comes from a whole lifetime of constructing mental formations related to not being 'good enough' in anything that I do. This latter area is one that I worked very hard on in Vipassana meditation during retreat and made profound realisations that I didn't need to 'kill off' the 'old Mel' because any thought of there being an 'old Mel' and a new Mel were just mental fashioning and volitions. The realisation that what had gone before was totally due to conditions and factors operating at the time, and a lack of wisdom on how to be or act in those situations brought great peace.

 It was interesting to have undertaken the reflection of the 32 parts of the body meditation with Phra Mana at the stage of the retreat that we did. I purchased that CD along with the other meditation CDs in 2015 when I first started visiting Vipassana. I had listened to it in the past on several occasions and had not really 'got it'. 

 I suppose due to my intensive care nursing background and that I've seen autopsies etc that this does not make me as squeamish as it may others.I have been using reflection on my skeleton and related structures as a way to commence meditation since visiting Wat Tam Wau. The building on this during the recent retreat was very helpful to finding the platform on which to progress to Vipassana very quickly. However, being in the library with complete awareness, visualising exactly the nature of what was in the piles laying on the ground around me, and realising nobody was sitting on that chair was revolutionary. 

 All in all I have realised so much from the Vesak retreat and feel a sense of being right side up again, albeit with clearer sight than ever before. Please convey my very deepest appreciation to Phra Mana for his sublime teaching and guidance. It is with the deepest sense of gratitude that I send this email. To all involved in making Vesak retreat so special I say thank you.

 With Metta,