Sajja – A Practice for Transformation

Worldwide Insight Sajja Podcast with Vince Cullen 28-April-2019 Wat-Thamkrabok - Hungry Ghost Retreats - Nalagiri House
Worldwide Insight Sajja at Wat-Thamkrabok Podcast with Vince Cullen 28-April-2019 - Hungry Ghost Retreats - Nalagiri House

In 2003 I took my first one-month temporary ordination at Wat Thamkrabok, a unique monastery in central Thailand. My intention on that occasion was to explore Buddhism and meditation, but what I got was not what I expected. I was given a ‘Sajja’ or a ‘truth’ to practice for 4-hours per day for the next 2-years.

My Sajja – “No one can do it for me, I must do it for myself”. 

Sajja – A Practice of Transformation

An excerpt from the talk:

So, it was a great relief that two-years after beginning my abstinence from drugs and alcohol that I visited Wat Thamkrabok monastery near the small town of Phraputthabat in the central province of Saraburi, in Thailand. I was so fortunate and so grateful to meet the first Abbot of that unique place.

I was paying my first visit to Wat Thamkrabok as the chairman of a UK charity that had been created to help British addicts get to Thailand and access the detoxification and rehabilitation programme offered by this Buddhist monastery.

The Abbot at that time – Luangpor Chamroon – explained to me the detoxification process employed at the temple and how addicts were required to undertake five days of vomiting treatment. That is, they would drink a small amount of a herbal concoction – the recipe of which is a carefully guarded secret – This herbal concoction or ‘medicine’ is said to have emetic properties that induces vomiting. There is always a big show, most certainly a song, and sometimes a dance… when the detoxees line up to take the medicine and vomit. It’s a very public display that is often witnessed and photographed by a busload of tourists, or even 500 young school kids on a drugs awareness lesson! If you ever find yourself looking for a drug treatment programme with guaranteed anonymity, then Wat Thamkrabok is definitely not for you. Anyway, detoxees are also given Herbal Pills to flush toxins out of the body through the bowel system; and they must drink a Herbal tea before entering Herbal steam baths intended to draw out toxins through the skin and to heal needle marks.

Now I found this whole detoxification process fascinating and it seemed to me quite plausible that somehow this herbal solution was the answer to so many people’s problems. In fact, I was rather jealous that I hadn’t had the opportunity to undertake this detoxification programme 2-years earlier when I had stopped drinking.

But then, Luangpor Chamroon dropped a bombshell that I really wasn’t expecting; he said that these herbal treatments were undoubtedly a very real and a very rapid detox, but by his estimation, the herbal treatment at Wat Thamkrabok was only 5% of what they were offering to people suffering from addictions. He said that the other 95% was a vow or ‘Sajja’ intention, that addicts were obliged to take before being admitted for treatment.

And, some resources from my talk can be found at

Sajja as a Foundation of Life After Alcohol and Other Drugs

Many thanks to everyone who made this online event happen, and to Sangha.Live for permission to link to this video 🙂