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UPDATED : Guide to Dharma Retreats in Burma, Nepal, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

This is a couple subsections of my Guide to Dharma Books, Retreats, and Practice. The biggest section is on retreats in India, but if I include India, the text is too big to post on Reddit. I may include just the India section later.
I've posted this before, but as a Dharma Bum, I'm constantly updating it. My Guide has changed a lot just in the last year and I'm constantly adding places to it.
If you'd like my complete guide (which is free), PM me with an email address.
EDIT: I had to remove the Sri Lankan section because of space limits.
 *** Everything changes. 
- Suzuki Roshi
I think it's worthwhile to do at least one Vipassana Retreat in your life. Did you know that most Buddhists don't meditate? And even many monks don't either! In one American retreat I did, one afternoon there was no scheduled sitting meditation. There was no time! Instead, there was a nature walk, a reflective writing workshop, yoga, teacher interviews, a Dharma talk--great stuff but I couldn't help but think that my favorite Lumbini Panditarama teachers would have a cow of the idea of having an entire retreat afternoon with no sitting meditation! At Panditarama, it's walking meditation followed by sitting meditation followed by walking meditation followed by sitting meditation and so on, and so on...
I've written a lot here, but my experience may not be your experience. Anything I feel about a center doesn't have to be what you feel and experience. Everything does change, as Suzuki Roshi says, and with time, these centers will change: teachers come and go; policies change; cooks are replaced. A center that was friendly, with top-notch instruction, and good food can become blase, with a new teacher who dislikes Westerners, and a new chef whose speciality is faux pork ball soup.
At least you have names of centers and places you can now look up. If a place doesn't suit you, try someplace else.
In Asia, I highly recommend Christopher Titmuss's yearly retreats in Sarnath, India (web: meditation in India dot org) as a really good place to start. Christopher's is a Vipassana Retreat but it's a different feel than a Vipassana retreat at Panditarama. Less strict, more activities than just sitting-walking meditation, and more relaxed. Christopher's website also has some good India tips.
Doi Suthep International Meditation Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand is also a good vipassana retreat for beginners. Pa Pae also near Chiang Mai looks good with four day meditation courses.
Panditarama Vipassana Center in Lumbini, Nepal is excellent but it's even better if you've done a prior Vipassana retreat elsewhere and have a somewhat decent handle on meditation.
It's not that you have to be some great meditation expert to do a retreat at Panditarama or a self-retreat at several places mentioned later. Being self-motivated, self-disciplined, following rules and instructions, and having even just a couple meditation methods you're familiar with and comfortable with, will put you in good standing. If you can get up early, follow rules and instructions, and keep yourself busy and meditate on your own, you're golden. Bonus if you can do it with a smile on your face. It's a myth that retreats, even Vipassana ones, have to be such glum affairs.
I recommend reading books from the same branch of Buddhism that you're doing a retreat in. At Panditarama the closest books would be books by U Pandita or Mahasi Sayadaw. Excellent books, well worth reading, and great prep for a Panditarama retreat.
Both the books and Panditarama Retreat center are serious. In Panditarama there's Teacher interviews nearly every day. They don't suffer fools or foolish behaviour. If you want a chilled out retreat and to smoke hash in the garden -- try a self retreat at a HP Kasol mountain guesthouse -- not Panditarama.
Panditarama expects hard work, the entire day spent in Mindfulness, as well as a daily report with you taking your breath and really putting it under the microscope. Keep a notebook and try to write down at least one thing after each meditation session. I wrote down first “significant thing” and then erased the significant--because often what you think is significant or cool--the teachers do not. And what you may consider insignificant, the teachers may respond to. In my case, I brought up reluctantly, that I'd been having itches like mad just in the evenings of the last two nights. Venerable Vivekananda asked me about them, and I believe I could write a book on itching and scratching. He said that I should have mentioned this right off. Here I thought I was complaining and noticing itching was not so much something I'd think to put in a daily report.
My .02 worth of advice on retreat reports at Panditarama: omit saying you're a terrible meditator or had bad meditations or couldn't concentrate. Everyone has this. The teachers hear this all the time. Instead, focus on the instructions you were given. What happened? When problems arose, did you note them and turn the spotlight on them? What did you do to remedy the problem? Did you notice everything that came up and if it was powerful, put it under the microscope? So if you noticed distracting thoughts and then had the thought “I'm a bad meditator.” -- you can sit with that thought. Notice it's just a thought. You don't have to believe it. You can see it as an example of the judging mind. What's it like? Then go back to the breath.
Venerable Vivekananda is German so I think it pays to cut out the small talk and be direct. Don't mess about with Vivekananda and don't mess around at Panditarama.
Many people cook themselves pretty good at Panditarama. It's a great place to go deep into practice. Panditarama does about everything right for a meditation center. Excellent facilities, food, and instruction. Cost is by donation. Your sole job while there is to meditate and be mindful. No karma yoga jobs like cutting vegetables, sweeping, or even washing your own dishes! It's also nice you structure your time spent in meditation yourself. It's your schedule. Fantastic.
I'm pretty fond of Panditarama. Although it's not for everyone, those yogis that have spent time in the Mahasi system, for whatever reason, I find to be pretty cool. I'm not sure why. Is it the discipline instilled? The Insights gained? Or does the Mahasi system attract curious and intellectual seekers? I recommend checking out a Panditarama center and starting with a shortish 7-14 day retreat.
Possibly Panditarama teachers Venerables Vivekananda and Bhaddimanika are the best guides of the Mahasi method outside of Burma. Although they’d never mention it, it's nice to give Dana directly to them as your teacher in addition to Dana you give to the Panditarama Center for your stay. Several times I had to search around my last day at Panditarama to find someone so I could pay. I got the feeling money was not a high priority with them at all. Which is refreshing and nice: True Old School Dharma!
This happened to me the first time I arrived at Panditarama and I've seen it happen to others. You arrive at the main gate of Panditarama and find it locked. You shout out a hearty “HELLO!” and bang on the gate. Then you're told there's a small pedestrian entrance to Panditarama immediately on the right side of the gate. Oh.
There may be warm-ish showers in your room but if not you can ask for a bucket of hot water from the outside kitchen. Hot thermoses are also available.
One thing to be aware for Panditarama is around April it starts to get hot. Really hot. I did a retreat in April there and wanted to make it to May for Buddha's birthday celebrations in Lumbini (since the Buddha was born in Lumbini). I was taking like seven quick showers a day. I didn't bother toweling off. Some days I was the only Yogi in the meditation hall, as attendance falls as the heat rises. Currently it looks like the center regularly closes down from around April to Mid June.
Fall and Spring are the best times climate wise for a retreat in Lumbini. I was there in January too, and it was cold, but I'd rather the cold than the heat.
In years past, there used to be a problem with power cuts at Panditarama (and Nepal) with power outages lasting often up to 12 hours. This problem seems to have abated.
Another thing, kinda surprisingly, is that the air in Lumbini, Nepal can be polluted. You'd think Nepalese Himalayan air would be pristine--but Lumbini isn't in the mountains, it's in the plains, and close to some cement plants. Some yogis with asthma have had to cut short their retreats.
There also can be a noise issue from a nearby village Hindu temple (during festival days they may blare prayers from 6am till late) --but honestly, about every retreat I've done in Asia had noise issues. Bodhgaya and Sarnath, India have Hindu wedding music problems. Frankly, I think any UNESCO World Heritage site and pilgrimage place should have a strict noise ordinance. Maybe someday...
Doi Suthep, Thailand, just outside of Chiang Mai, is in the jungle, but there's an insect that makes an extremely high pitched sound similar to a fire/smoke alarm when it needs its batteries replaced. I thought if I had to listen to that for days, I'd go crazy. But I did. There's also a Thai jungle bird that sounds like a car alarm going off. Once, in Doi Suthep, I left a bit early because after a huge tree fell on a section of the yogi rooms, they had chainsaws going for days.
I've thought of noise cancelling headphones or earplugs for my next trip. If they'd even work. But it's not a huge deal. Part of insight is realizing it’s not the noise, but your reaction to the noise that is the issue (same goes for pain too). Still, this is one of those things that is easy to say.
Read books by Mahasi Sayadaw and U Pandita before attending Panditarama. Start with In This Very Life which is a collection of talks U Pandita gave at IMS in Massachusetts to western yogis who may have been new to the Mahasi system. Reading U Pandita will help you get a background for the Mahasi method and philosophy. The practice section of Mahasi Sayadaw's Manual of Insight was recommended by Yogi Robin. Panditarama recommends U Silananda's Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
Strive to follow the center's rules and instructions given. Don't underestimate the power of meditation to bring everything up. But if you've read this guide, you know to be prepared for aversive mental states. That they do and probably will come up. Just knowing that unpleasantness will arise is a big help. Being equanimeous about it all and knowing pleasantness-unpleasantness shifts will happen will stand you well. Being prepared with some tools, such as walking and lying Meditation and Metta meditation, which help create new causes and conditions.
U Pandita taught Metta during his retreats in the West, though not so much back in Burma. It wasn't that U Pandita was getting soft, less strict, or making it easy for Westerners. U Pandita felt Westerners were just so stressed that when they did intense vipassana practice, sometimes it was like a bomb (Christopher Titmuss, personal communication). So don't forget you can do Metta meditation and walking meditation as a preventative too, including just a regular slow mindful walk around the compound. No reason why you can't meditate in all four postures, including lying. Be kind to yourself, be willing to mix it up, to add more walking meditation and lying meditation sessions if needed and to take your foot off the gas. You'll do okay. See also Yogi Robin's review of the Panditarama center in Burma later in this document.
*** 
Burma / Myanmar
Retreat centers outside of India I am not so familiar with. I've thought about doing a long retreat in Burma/Myanmar. There are Mahasi, Pa Auk, and Tejaniya meditation centers there. There's a lot of opportunities for retreat in Burma, for example, there's many Mahasi and Pa Auk Meditation centers. On the Pa Auk website they say there's 40 Pa Auk Centers with 29 of them in Burma.
Burma is a good place to visit right now as it's just opening up. In ten years Burma will probably change a lot.
A nice thing about Burma is that you can get a meditation visa easily enough in Bangkok and have a retreat of several months or longer. Longish retreats are a good counterweight to the spiritual shopping mall syndrome.
Although it's possible to do retreats in Burma too on a tourist visa and it's probably easier and more flexible. People as of 2018 overstay their tourist visa and pay a small fine on departure. This is one of those things you always have to check as who knows, 2019 or later, Burmese policy could change. With the tourist visa you have more flexibility than the meditation visa. The meditation visa makes the meditation center responsible for you. I believe you're only supposed to be at the center or in transit to or from the center. It might be smart to do your first visit on a tourist visa, check out a couple centers, and then you know which one you want to commit to for a longish stay on a meditation visa. Write prospective centers ahead of time and read their websites and see what they recommend.
I did a retreat in South India with the fine Australian dharma teacher Patrick Kearney. He travels and does retreats in India and Malaysia. He likes U Tejaniya (author of When Awareness Becomes Natural). U Tejaniya recommends a more relaxed focus on continuous awareness for vipassana meditation. It's a pretty different feel than Mahasi Vipassana.
U Tejaniya’s Burmese center is Shwe Oo Min. Since U Tejaniya runs it, he may be busy and not so available to Yogis and I wouldn't go there only for teachings from him. Or he could be gone, teaching elsewhere. You may be just hearing mp3’s of his talks. You could be better off catching him when he comes to the West and doesn't have to deal with his Monastery day-to-day affairs. Being flexible is a good skill for yogis. Recently I've heard that U Tejaniya has been having health issues.
Still, though, I have heard good things about Shwe Oo Min: great method, teachings, with a loose schedule.
Robin, a guide reader, spent time in Burma and Thailand. He writes of Shee Oo Min:
Found the teachings really good, a clever modern approach to meditation. Sayadaw U Tejaniya's (SUT) goal is to make you learn about the process of meditation, not getting you to high pleasant states if you don't know how you got there (then you cling to it by trying to be "extra-mindful" to not lose that sweet peace), so he does push you to explore. Also good stuff about handling pain, letting wisdom develop by itself instead of trying to force things, not making yourself miserable…
His meditation technique was a bit difficult for me (you don't have a fixed point of focus) but you do learn about the process of watching yourself !
About the center: people can talk (and they do quite a lot!), SUT encourages "talking meditation" to practice mindful talk - which sounds great but as it was unrestrained felt slightly too chatty for me. I hear there are specific periods for talking when he teaches retreats abroad, I'd love to attend that.
Also pretty noisy and smartphon-y all around, again as part of the approach - if you're disturbed with someone's behavior watch that feeling arise and realize the attachment is with you, not with them. It can be difficult but you do confront internal stuff!
You'll probably share a room with someone, the food not great but OK, I made very nice Dhamma friends over there and got fine retreat tips from other people.
SUT is undergoing chemotherapy, he was there but not officially teaching. If I had questions or difficulties about my practice I could try to get a short interview in between his activities, like every 3-5 days. It was just a few minutes but he's a good teacher with a good sense of humour, so those were good minutes.
When you arrive they give you 3 very good books by SUT which I read and reread, the answer to many of the questions that were arising were there.
I definitely learnt things that are applicable to any other practice and though it was difficult to get deep insight in that atmosphere it was a very interesting experience.
Also Myanmar people are really happy to see a foreigner travel all the way to their country to learn more about Buddhism, and will give you their contact if you want to visit or practice together.”
Panditarama Forest Meditation Center, forty miles north of Yangon, Burma, does an annual two month rains retreat from December 1st to January 31st. Yogis come from all over the world for this retreat. Note: Panditarama has several centers across the world. Before, when I said Panditarama, I was referring to the Lumbini, Nepal branch.
Robin writes of Panditarama in Burma:
“Following Mahasi/SU Pandita style of practice (noting everything), it was pretty intense. Full noble silence, 14 hours/day of meditation on the schedule (usually cut to 12 with breaks/shower), not too much sleep, you're expected to do everything very slowly and be extra-mindful all the time.
Every other day there are formal interviews, for me with a monk with a kind translator. They were useful and didn't shun me when I asked about specific difficulties (I read that it happened to someone else going there, maybe a different monk). You're not here for idle chat either of course :)
Other people (around 10 men, same with women in their Dhamma hall) seemed very dedicated and diligent, and you're expected to be the same.
At night there's a recorded Dhamma talk, I think translations from Pandita talks. I was probably unlucky as I really dreaded those at first, the translation was far from fluid and kept insisting on the need for "moral fear" and "moral shame" to motivate you to practice. Not my cup of tea, it ending up being a good exercise in letting go but I was very happy I had a few books on the technique to guide me a bit more (the "practice" section of "Manual of Insight" by Mahasi, "In This Very Life" by U Pandita were both very useful). Better to have some meditation experience beforehand, the first day you get a 1h instructional audio tape and then that's it (the books were all the more useful).
The center is very beautiful, secluded and you're really in a forest. There are lakes so mosquito repellent is a must. I was there just before their annual DecembeJanuary retreat so they had space and I got a beautiful kuti. If you're scared of big spiders you'll get to work on that too! (though they do their things, they won't jump at you and I had none in my kuti)
Food is great, the place is big so you get some physical exercise and though difficult the first week I was beginning to go pretty deep by the end.”
I don't know if I have to say this or not, so I'll just say it so I won't worry that some beginner yogi goes off to Burma for the two month Panditarama Rains Retreat for their first retreat without having done any longish retreats and without having done a Mahasi-style retreat. It’s like running a marathon without having even run a 10K before. I mean, it's possible, but I wouldn't recommend it for the Average Joe or Joanna.
It's better to make sure your first Vipassana retreat is beginner-friendly. Then do a short retreat at the center you plan to do a potential long retreat at. If you wish to do the 60 day Rains Retreat retreat at Panditarama Burma, it's wise to have done half of that length (30 days) in a similar-style retreat. You can go to Panditarama and stay at other times besides the Rains Retreat. There are Panditarama Meditation Centers worldwide. In Asia, they are in Burma, Nepal, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Robin writes of Pa Auk Meditation Center:
“The other center I heard mentioned all the time was of course Pa Auk in Myanmar, where I didn't get to spend time. A friend I meet at Shwee Oo Min spent a month there doing concentration on the breath and told me that she really enjoyed her time (and got very strong piti) but had a hard time maintaining her concentration in daily practice afterwards.
They're really big on concentration practices, reaching Jhanas and following the Visuddhimagga to the T. They have quite nice PDF documents that explain their approach on their website. I heard the center praised by both Myanmar locals and foreigners.
She told me you could pick any of 40 meditations to build your concentration, and pick your teacher for interviews as well - they have old famous teachers with impressive concentration powers there (some say siddhis as well, if that's your thing), though she said she preferred younger & more talkative teachers after a few interviews :)”
I've heard amazing stories of Pa Auk practice. There's a couple books that recount a ridiculously detailed Jhana curriculum and practice that includes blissful jhana states, formless realms, and knowledge of past lives.
Pa Auk seems to be a highly regarded place for Jhana practice. Jhana practice was highly recommended by the Buddha too. It takes a while to develop Jhana. Shaila Catherine who wrote Wisdom Wide and Deep: A Practical Handbook for Mastering Jhana and Vipassana, spent many months at the Pa Auk center.
 *** 
Malaysia
Patrick Kearney recommended Malaysia for retreats. If you know places, he says you could go from Retreat to Retreat in Malaysia indefinitely. Malaysia is an easy country to travel and be in. It's nice also Westerners get a 90 day stay on arrival.
MBMC in Penang, Malaysia is a Mahasi-style center. The Appamada Vihari Meditation Center I heard a good report from. Nandaka Vihara is another possibility. Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS) in Taiping, Malaysia is a newer place and has an open-minded philosophy. SBS has guided retreats with various teachers throughout the year and you can also stay in a self retreat with an application. The methods taught by the abbott and head nun are influenced by U Tejaniya. They do seem to be Tiger Moms when it comes to the Karma Yoga jobs at SBS! Your sweeping technique may not pass muster. In my case, I can't say she was wrong though...
I've also heard of a couple other places in Malaysia: Vivekavana in Bukit Mertajam, Penang and Bodhi Heart on Penang. Both independent Retreat type places.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I like Orange Pekoe Guesthouse.
Thailand
Thailand has several places you can do meditation. I like Doi Suthep's International Vipassana Center in Chiang Mai. Nice weather, facilities, hot showers, food, and I like the head monk. I also like you have your own room and you can practice on your own. I stay at Diva Guesthouse in Chiang Mai and both locations were good.
In Bangkok, which you're quite likely to fly into eventually if you stay in Asia long enough, I stay at Wendy House at National Stadium Skytrain stop. It's not the cheapest, but has a great location and is safe, comfortable, reliable, and has a free breakfast. Just for a night or three, I'm willing to spend more for a good hotel or guesthouse. I reckon most retreats are cheap enough I can splurge in bigger cities. HI Mid hostel right next to Victory Monument is a cute hostel with dormitory and some private rooms. The location is great as Victory Monument is also on the Skytrain route plus Victory Monument has tons of minibuses going off in many directions, as well as tons of food places nearby.
If you're looking for a good beach in Thailand I liked Koh Phayam about the best. Ko Phayam is close to Ranong.
Thailand is famous for medical tourism. I've had great checkups at Bumrungrad Hospital. Google them and check their website. Especially if you're American, and have shoddy healthcare at home, get a baseline checkup and make sure you're healthy and don't have parasites.
There's several other places in North Thailand that offer Vipassana retreats similar to Doi Suthep. Wat Chom Tong is one.
Wat Pa Tam Wua between Chiang Mai and Pai, word of mouth is a beautiful forest sanctuary with a friendly teacher. It's a nice place, relaxed, and popular with backpackers, with 30 kuttis for women and 10 kuttis for men. If you stay long enough to score a kutti -- you're cooking with gas. Otherwise you'll be in a big dormitory with backpackers. Bring earplugs.
Pa Pae center also outside of Chiang Mai and before Pai has a three day meditation program. Although you can extend your stay and stay longer. It seems to be a relaxed place with a minimum number of required group meditation sessions. A Taiwanese reader recommended this place. Check out the Pa Pae website. It does look nice. I like the huge swings.
Robin wrote of Wat Pha Nanachat, in Bung Wai, Northeast Thailand:
“The international Ajahn Chah tradition monastery, the monastery is very elegant and in a well kept forest. Not actually a retreat center, they're more of a training center for new international monks that ordained in the Thai Forest tradition.
The schedule is that of this kind of monastery: 1h30 of meditation + chanting morning and evening, around 2h30 of chores (sweeping, etc) and 1h of preparation of food offerings - so you have to make your own meditation schedule whenever you have free time.
There is only one meal a day at 8 and it's only by food that has actually been given by laypeople living near the monastery. The goal is to live as close to how the bhikkhus were living in Buddha's time and that's very nice to experience. The meal is usually a feast, which doesn't really help sense restraint but hey, you get to work on your attachments...
There is very little actual teaching - once a week on Wan Phra day a senior monk took did a Q&A until late at night, but when I was there the Ajahn was away, I understood that he sometimes makes Dhamma talks and Ovada (short Dhamma talk after the meal). The chanting are suttas, both in Pali and in English, it's nice to know what your chanting about.
For me it was a great place to meet other laymen practitioners, we were around 10-15, a good portion was looking for a place to ordain as a monk and were both quite erudite and very eager to discuss the Dhamma in passionate conversations. I have also rarely seen such gentle people, always trying to be mindful of their thoughts and words, which was very refreshing. A great place to talk about Ajahn Chah as well, of course.
I wanted to stay longer but you have to shave head and eyebrows (if you're a male) if you stay more than a week, and though I considered it I wasn't attracted to it at the end of my stay (+ might makes it hard to travel, as you're not looking like your passport photo at all afterwards) so I left. But they're quite nice and would probably allow a few more unshaven days if you wanted.”
Koh Phangan, in the south of Thailand, famous for its full moon parties, has Kow Tahm International Meditation Center which has a ten day meditation retreat from the 10th to the 20th each month. Koh Phangan has annoying transport cartels with high fixed price unless they can get away with charging you more.
Someone who liked my guide said this about Kow Tahm:
Wat Kow Tham is a lovely forest spot that is a lovely escape from the bustle of southern Koh Phangan. The retreat is pretty similar the ones at Suan Mokkh. The teacher monk, Dr Marut, teaches at both. So a fairly relentless schedule, with morning bell at 4 am and meditation finishing at 9pm. I experienced a lot of sitting pain, and that was after my 'priming' at Wat Tam Wua, so those guys up north must have been really gentle on us!
This particular retreat seemed to lack any volunteer help, so the whole thing was run by Dr Marut and an older lady whose family own the land the temple is built on. There were volunteers to assist on registration day, but they were gone the following day. The lack of guidance meant that discipline broke down pretty fast. I reckon 75% of the participants just gave up on the silence. I imagine there would normally be volunteers to ask questions and prod people into behaving themselves.
The facilities at Kow Tham are fairly basic, and the showers and plumbing need some repair, so physically sometimes it felt like camping. Many of the mens' sinks had no plumbing at all, just water splashing all over your feet! So not recommended for anyone who needs their creature comforts. Dorms for men were just two per room, with mattresses, so not as basic as Wat Suan Mokkh. I would go back again.
Koh Phangan is also excellent for yoga. I stayed at Bamboo Huts on the Haad Yuan beach just north of Haad Rin (the full moon party beach). Bamboo Huts has a great restaurant and includes Blooming Lotus Yoga Center which I liked and it gets five star reviews on TripAdvisor. Just down a hill, maybe about a fifteen minute walk, from Bamboo Huts is The Sanctuary ( www.thesanctuarythailand.com ) which also has a thrice-daily yoga program. The Sanctuary gets good reviews and they have all-inclusive packages, which aren’t bad -- but if you stay at Bamboo Huts and pay a drop-in yoga rate -- you can cut your costs down by quite a bit.
A neighboring island to Koh Phangan, Koh Samui has Dipabhavan Meditation Center which has bimonthly retreats from the 3rd to the 10th and 20th to the 27th each month.
There's a well known monthly 10-day retreat in south Thailand in Chaiye, close to Surat Thani, at Wat Suan Mokkh.
Wat Suan Mokkh is the only retreat I quit early (like Day 1!). It's a forced participation group retreat. I had just gotten into Asia and was still jet lagged. We did a long orientation walk the first day. It was hot, because Wat Suan Mokkh is in the jungle. Then it rained on us. We had some free time before a movie started and I fell asleep on my concrete slab of a bed (extremely poor cell-like facilities). They came and got me. I was told participation was mandatory and if I didn't attend I would be reported. Oh my. I attended but thought if I'm in quasi-trouble before the first official day, the Retreat might not be for me so I left the next day. Instead, I went to Koh Phangan and spent more time on the beach. My back and hips hurt though for days because honestly you sleep on effing concrete with a ultra thin straw mat. And then there's mandatory yoga first thing next morning! I like yoga, but making something mandatory is a great way for me not to like something! Not to mention I felt exhausted and like dog crap the next morning. Mandatory exercise seems very 1984 (classic book on totalitarianism available on cloud) or Japanese: "Sorry, I wasn't in a mentally happy place for mandatory morning group exercise, comrade!"
I don't really see the point of not making it easier or more comfortable. Veterans just bring an air mattress or yoga mat to lay on the concrete and a mosquito net for their meditations outside there. Beginners will have a bad time--sleeping on concrete and getting eaten up by mosquitoes. That's not how it should be: Newbies and Beginners get fracked. They told me up to 30% of Retreatants don't finish the ten day program. Seemed like nice people though, they tried to talk me into staying, even offered me a normal bed to catch up on rest if I needed. But I'd already made my decision. I don't want a special bed anyway and feel I'm getting special privileges. I really wanted to like Wat Suan Mokkh. I like the founder Venerable Buddhadasa and I've read several of his books and liked them a lot. Checkout his book Handbook for Mankind.
I don't think Wat Suan Mokkh is a bad place, just know what you're getting into and have your game face on. If you're young, well-rested, have done a retreat before, have a yoga mat to put on your concrete bed as well as a mosquito net, you might love it. I tell this Wat Suan Mokkh story to emphasize that retreats can be very different and even though I was a fairly veteran Yogi I bailed out of a retreat on Day One. Well, it happens. Group retreats can suck if you don't or can't follow the group. I wish organizers of group type retreats would realize one size does not fit all and be a bit more relaxed and lenient.
Why should someone 50 or 60 or 80 years of age with leg problems have to do the exact same full daily schedule as someone who's 25 and just completed yoga teacher training? Why should meditation retreats, which has as the biggest component just sitting, have to have a physical endurance aspect with mandatory group long sits? Does this make any sense? Aren't we supposed to be working on the mind?
If someone skips and misses the last session of the day because they're fagged out -- but they're still benefiting tons from the retreat -- what's the problem? The problem lies with the inflexible system, not the person. Please fix your bloody system.
Little Bang dot Org has a good list of meditation options in Thailand.
http://www.littlebang.org/retreats-2/
Nepal
Nepal is very good for Buddha Dharma. I have to give a big thumbs up overall to Nepal. Most tourists and backpackers only see Kathmandu, Pokhara and trekking environs around, and maybe Royal Chitwan Park. I can't help but think one would be well rewarded if one added more stops in Nepal. The Nepalese are incredibly hospitable. And Nepal needs the tourism.
Boudhanath and nearby areas have dharma courses going on, for example at Rangjung Yeshe Institute, Kopan Monastery and Pullahari. If you're looking for a picturesque self retreat way up in the Himalayas, Lawudo Gompa, run by the FPMT (same organization that runs Tushita and Root Institute) is on the Everest Base Camp trek. Daily costs there are $30 a day. Looks way cool. It’s funny: they make a point to explain the high (for Nepal) daily fee of $30 (everything has to be carried in by porters)--but to many Westerners thirty dollars a day for a retreat in the Himalayas sounds almost too good to be true. I haven’t stayed here, but it’s run by the FPMT and they are a legit group that usually organizes and does things right.
FPMT’s Kopan Monastery, just outside Kathmandu, does regular courses and events like Tushita (though not as many), but they're famous for their November one month Lam Rim course that they've been doing since the early 1970s. The Lam Rim uses Lama Tsongkhapa's Graduated Path to Enlightenment as its text which is a synopsis of Buddha's teachings. The November course isn't a Vipassana retreat. It’s more like a summer camp, which isn't a bad thing. Primarily there's teachings with questions and answer sessions, but there's also small group discussions, chanting, and some guided meditations. You'll meet people and make friends. There's usually tears at the end of the course on the last day. I liked my month there and several friends I made at Kopan returned after a couple years for a second run through of the November course. I'd be tempted to take it a second time too but the Lam Rim is only so-so for me. I like Compassion and Bodhicitta but the hell realms, importance of lineage, guru devotion, and the heavy version of karma leaves me cold, bleh. If you're interested, checkout who's teaching it, as that's obviously important. Try to sign up early on the first day of registration, even the night before (keep on hitting “Refresh” on your browser until registration opens up), to snag a premo room.
October is prime trekking season in Nepal. It's also good weather for a vipassana retreat at Panditarama Lumbini. Someone industrious and efficient could probably fit in all three. Really, if you go, I strongly encourage you to make the most of your trip and do a trek, take the November one month Lam Rim course at Kopan, and try a 10-14 day vipassana retreat at Panditarama in Lumbini.
In Bhaktapur, Nepal, Thrangu Sekhar Retreat Center provides rooms, meals, and a good view of the valley. A Rinpoche, Drupon Khen is in residence nine months of the year and provides guidance to Retreatants.
In Pharping, Nepal, the Benchen Monastery has small kuttis available for retreat for Westerners. I don't know much about this place. So better check their website and contact them to be sure.
Pokara, Nepal is a chill place. It's a backpacker Mecca as it's the jumping off place for several treks. Since Pokara is such a magnet for travelers, there's opportunities for Dharma, yoga, and myriad other spiritual practices and adventures.
I talked about one of my favorites, Panditarama earlier which is in Lumbini, Nepal. Panditarama is one of the best places to do a serious retreat. For lodging or a self retreat in Lumbini, the Korean temple might be a good choice. I stay at Sunflower Inn in Lumbini village, which seems to be a step up in quality from many cheapies in Lumbini village. Good rooms, good food, WiFi, hot showers, and they're helpful and nice.
Google any places that interest you and read their websites for more information. At your first stop in-country, ask people about retreats they've done and heard about and any recommendations. Use Google Maps, Trip Advisor, and Lonely Planet, which are good sources at least in 2019.
Be adaptable in that when you go, things may be different. Everything changes.
submitted by OrcishMonk to Buddhism

[Table] IAmA: We are members of StopWatching.Us anti-surveillance coalition. Reps of Mozilla, EFF, Free Press, OpenMedia, Access, the Media Alliance, Center for Democracy and Technology, PCCC, and Demand Progress; Alexis Ohanian, Julian Sanchez (Cato), Derek Khanna, Sina Khanifar. Ask Us Anything!

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Date: 2013-06-14
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
What can those outside of the US do? For example, I am from the UK and would like to help however I can. Everyone can sign at Link to StopWatching.Us Many of the people who built the site (me included) don't live in the US.
Others will surely have more to say -- Access and OpenMedia and other orgs involved here do a lot of international work. I really think that one useful angle is to put pressure on web corporations that are based in the U.S. but also operate (and frequently have way more users) abroad.
One thing PCCC has been doing is fundraising for Edward Snowden's legal defense fund. Recall that Snowden has unveiled the scope of spying not only on Americans but on foreign citizens as well. You can donate here: Link to pccc.me
Hey there! There are a few things that people can do to help. As taliesan said, you can sign the petition at StopWatching.Us. We'll be continuing to evolve the site so that international folks can better take part, and then we'll be delivering those petitions to Congress.
You can also sign onto a joint petition by Access and EFF to the CEOs of the nine internet companies listed in the Guardian and other reports. A huge part of their existing and growth markets are outside the US. Tell them that as a customer, you demand they use their influence and stature to call on Congress for reforms. They all have big offices in DC and contacts in Congress. Here's the link to Access' petition: Link to www.accessnow.org and here's the one from EFF: Link to action.eff.org (they're the same letter).
Finally, as a UK -- or European -- citizen, you can get in touch with your MEP from the UK and demand they support the European Commission's inquiry into PRISM] ([Link to europa.eu.)
While you're at it, you probably want to tell those MEPs to support a strong Data Protection Regulation -- legislation currently in front of committee that will be critical to preserving privacy in Europe: Link to nakedcitizens.eu
Edit: embedded links.
How big an effect do you think the petition can have? Are any of the elected "leaders" supporting the petition? The only way to stop secret surveillance is to organize a movement against it and to hold our elected officials accountable. They're the ones who passed the laws that are letting this happen; they're the only ones who can pass the reforms we're calling for.
Isn't there the danger of losing the whole debate and goodwill of people by relying so heavily on Snowden? he could be the main source for everything good that comes out of it, but it could end the questioning of secrets entirely when he ends up being an overly engaged but mistaken idealist. We're defending Snowden because he did the right thing -- and if he's demonized in the public sphere, it may harm the entire cause. But PCCC in the coming weeks is going to be heavily engaged on the larger issue of indiscriminate government spying, and continue to demand that Congress investigate, share its results with the public, and then take action to change the law.
My support of Snowden has been met with disdain. Not from everyone, but from most. It is very difficult to talk about his patriotism and whistleblower status. Do you have a cleaboiled down/easy for people to hear explanation of the significance of his actions in relation to civic duty etc? Curious, what's the political affiliation of the people giving you this response?
demand that Congress investigate, share its results with the public, and then take action to change the law. Do you think it will work? Why or why not? We do think it will work, that's why we're pursuing it :)
They range from politically underactive democrats to bleeding heart liberals. Some of whom are 'on the fence'. (edit -I was not expecting this response - some view me as naive) The republicans are not talking to me right now :) Link to www.huffingtonpost.com
I have a question for anyone who is willing to provide a good response for people to read. There are a lot of people that are under the assumption that just because they are doing nothing illegal, means they have nothing to hide. What would you tell them to get them to open up there eyes a little? Mass surveillance is used by institutions to entrench their power. The U.S. has a recent and ongoing history of spying on activism of all sorts, disrupting attempts -- via peaceful, legal means -- to turn the country/world into a better place. Including, of course, the OWS movement. (And anti-war and labor and racial justice movements, and so on, before that.) So if you love everything about the state of the world and you trust a crony-capitalist government to do what's right then perhaps you can rationalize not having much to worry about. But if you can imagine ways in which you'd like to see governance and/or the corporations who have outsized influence over it improve... a broad surveillance state is a great way of ensuring that the status quo will be entrenched.
Has there been any evidence or suggestion that information gathered by the NSA that detects crime but not terrorism, has been shared with domestic law enforcement? Is there any history of such sharing? Are there any laws that prevent this type of information sharing? FISA information has been used at least once in an ordinary criminal case when a subject under FISA surveillance was recorded murdering his daughter. The metadata program operates under §215, and the law states that the "minimization procedures" governing that data shall: "allow for the retention and dissemination of information that is evidence of a crime which has been, is being, or is about to be committed and that is to be retained or disseminated for law enforcement purposes. "
off - thank you all. For all the tremendous work that you do to fight and educate. Also, I want to share a personal story. I once attended a meeting of for-profit college lobbyists. They had brought in Doug Sosnik, who was an advisor to President Clinton and also worked on Kerry's presidential campaign. Sosnik explained that he had worked for the MPAA and they thought they totally owned the issue of SOPA/PIPA and would win because they had Washington's lobbyists all on their side. Then he bluntly said they were "roadkill" because they didn't think about people outside of Washington. They didn't realize they would protest and wake up and work really hard to stop the legislation.
What can an average Jane desk-jockey (who needs to keep her day job to pay the bills) do to compete against a government who can not only set this up, but get my representatives to pass laws to make (most of) this legal? You can call your member of Congress once a day, every day, and help others do the same. Right now, there is a culture on Capitol Hill where many Members think their only vulnerability on this issue is that they aren't supportive enough of overly broad government spying programs. By mobilizing, we can change that culture and let politicians know that there is actually a vulnerability to violating our basic freedom to privacy and other freedoms related to civil liberties. We saw Congress fall back during the SOPA/PIPA fight. Washington's special interests -- in this case the military-industrial-intelligence-contractor complex -- are very powerful, but when ordinary people get into the game in huge numbers, they can lose. They WANT you to think you don't have any power. That's the way they win.
To risk being rude, I'm not looking for the answer "Donate to the EFF and other orgs". While I understand that does help... I'm still sitting here at my desk clicking "submit" on another form of petition. And I do. And I will continue. But there has to be something more... To answer this and a related question above — there's always something more you can do. And you can become an organizer yourself, build out a network of other activists, and use the collective wisdom of the group to develop other, more creative tactics.
Do Google, Microsoft, Skype, AOL, Facebook and the others have any legal recourse now that the public is aware of the problem? Is there any form of civil disobedience they could reasonably engage in to fight for our privacy? This morning we sent the following letter to the offices of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Read the full text below. -Ed.
Dear Attorney General Holder and Director Mueller.
Google has worked tremendously hard over the past fifteen years to earn our users’ trust. For example, we offer encryption across our services; we have hired some of the best security engineers in the world; and we have consistently pushed back on overly broad government requests for our users’ data.
We have always made clear that we comply with valid legal requests. And last week, the Director of National Intelligence acknowledged that service providers have received Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.
Assertions in the press that our compliance with these requests gives the U.S. government unfettered access to our users’ data are simply untrue. However, government nondisclosure obligations regarding the number of FISA national security requests that Google receives, as well as the number of accounts covered by those requests, fuel that speculation.
We therefore ask you to help make it possible for Google to publish in our Transparency Report aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures—in terms of both the number we receive and their scope. Google’s numbers would clearly show that our compliance with these requests falls far short of the claims being made. Google has nothing to hide.
Google appreciates that you authorized the recent disclosure of general numbers for national security letters. There have been no adverse consequences arising from their publication, and in fact more companies are receiving your approval to do so as a result of Google’s initiative. Transparency here will likewise serve the public interest without harming national security.
We will be making this letter public and await your response.
David Drummond Chief Legal Officer.
Will this act affect those outside of the US as much? This affects those outside the US as much, if not more, than those inside the US, as foreign nationals are explicitly the targets of this surveillance, and are not subject to the same protections afforded American citizens under law.
Much of the response to these revelations from the US administration and Congress has been to emphasize that "Americans" are not targeted (although that's a really low barrier of assessment, of just 49% likelihood that you are not a 'US person'). That reinforces the fact that these programs are explicitly intended to capture the communications of individuals outside of the United States.
This is a fairly clear violation of your rights to privacy and free expression as outlined in Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) -- to which the United States is signatory -- as well as Articles 12 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As Katherine points out, it arguably affects those outside the U.S. even more. Information about Americans is at least subject to somewhat stringent "minimization procedures" that limit how it can be retained and circulated. There are no such protections for people outside the United States, and we do know our intelligence agencies selectively share the information they gather with allied foreign governments.
What exactly can they see with this program? One of the biggest problems right now is the complete lack of transparency. We have no idea how much they have access too, but if Edward Snowden's claims are true, they can access almost anything you might be storing online: including emails, chats, video calls, etc. We're asking Congress to set up a committee to investigate because it's crucial that we find out.
Personally, I am in complete support of what you are doing and already signed, but I have heard a lot of opposition particularly from older generations and those who are not tech savvy. If you had to convince someone (who maybe isn't as up to date on current technological affairs*) in 30 seconds or less why they should sign this petition, what would you say? Imagine if the government opened all of your physical mail before delivering it to you.
Imagine if the government went into everyone's homes and ripped off the window curtains.
An engaged democracy depends on the freedom to communicate and associate in private. (1st and 4th amendments.)
Remind people old enough to remember the Church Committee what happened last time there was unchecked intelligence surveillance for "national security." Then ask them what it might have looked like if, say, J. Edgar Hoover had enjoyed access to the sheer quantity of data flowing through NSA today.
Do we know any more about how much and what kinds of data have been collected? The Wall Street Journal has reported that the metadata program encompasses records not only from phone carriers, but also Internet Service Providers and credit card companies. The one order we've seen encompasses all "routing information" which for cell phones would almost certainly include location information. The records obtained are "anonymized," though that means relatively little given the ease with which you can tie a number to a name even if you're not the NSA.
Link to www.nytimes.com
If surveillance is really global, can the US afford to not play the game? If you are successful will US citizens find themselves under surveillance by every great power except the United States? Not really. A huge percentage of global Internet traffic flows through the United States, but the reverse is not true; other countries are not really in the same position to spy on US-to-US traffic.
What steps are your companies taking to ensure that our information is kept secure from PRISM and other programs like it? At Mozilla, data associated with our user's browsing and search history is stored locally in the browser. We don't have any centralized database of our users browsing and searching data that is readable by Mozilla.
How Can We Take Better Measures To Protect Our Own Privacy? Alex Fowler, head of privacy for Mozilla, will be here in about 30 mins. He'll have good answers.
If you use an Android phone, I'd highly recommend Redphone and TextSecure by Open Whisper Systems: Link to whispersystems.org
What is your answer for those concerned that joining this list won't do much good and instead just solicit unwanted attention from big brother? Big Brother is watching anyway :)
But seriously, as I mentioned in the comment above, taking this action WILL do something if we form a critical mass. Our elected officials actually do listen to constituents when they speak loudly enough, and as others have already noted, there members of Congress who are already speaking out against this.
The Tea Party runs people against incumbents for voting for resolutions to keep the government operating -- will it also run people against Repub incumbents who support surveillance, oppose civil liberties, etc? (Looking at you, New Hampshire's Sen. Kelly Ayotte...) These left-right coalitions can be incredibly powerful.
I'm not american. Should I care? Why? Yes. The NSA is being much more aggressive about spying on YOUR traffic, and doesn't recognize any legal restrictions on what they can do with your data. They're at least SUPPOSED to try not to look at or circulate our Gmail messages; yours are fair game, and can be shared with your government.
Why should someone like myself be concerned about all of this? I am just a regular guy, 9-5, with a family, living in the suburbs. Obviously I find it scary, but I hear the argument everyday from less informed people around me that they don't really care because they are not doing anything wrong. Is it just the principal of it all, or is there a legitimate reason to be concerned? Ask the people you talk to if they really want an individual -- not just an amorphous concept of "the government" -- somewhere far away knowing who they call, how long that call is, where they are calling from (which is really to say, where they are) every time they pick up the phone. Or when they send an email. A random stranger knowing all of this about them.
The ability to live in a democracy, and to stay informed, depends on everyone's freedom to communicate with each other and to share important information without interference. It's the foundation of a free press.
Even if you feel like you have nothing to hide, other people — people who are helping you be an informed citizen/resident — are being threatened by overzealous surveillance. And because of that, we all lose.
Do you guys think that there are other countries out there watching its users too? What can one do if they found out their government is spying on them? (especially if the country is democratic) Yes. Some EU countries have raised an outcry over this program, but most are no less aggressive about surveillance, though few have quite the resources the NSA commands.
What is your response to people who say, "I have nothing to hide"? I responded to the "Nothing to Hide" argument in a piece for Mashable: Link to mashable.com
About how many people do you estimate it would take to sign petitions/protest for the government to actually do something? I'd also recommend reading this: We Should All Have Something To Hide - Link to thoughtcrime.org
What was your initial reaction when Obama said that "You can't have 100% security and 100% privacy"? That was a strawman. There is no one arguing that you can have 100% security and 100% privacy. What we are saying, however, is that it is wrong for the government to keep the extent of its spying so secret that Americans can't even fairly debate whether these are necessary intrusions on our privacy.
Also, thanks for doing this AMA! I appreciate the effort that you guys are doing to help educate people on this. You can't have 100% of either. What's really dangerous is the wishful illusion that 100% security can be achieved, and that if bad things still happen now and then, it must mean we need a few percentage points less privacy until we achieve perfect security.
Edit: Wording. My first reaction was to note its unfortunate inverted echoes of the Ben Franklin quote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Obama's response avoids addressing the need for public discourse: what are the threats we face, and what choices does an informed electorate make in response?
What's the plan once this falls off the Media radar? I already couldn't find it on CNN's front page last night. This is part of why getting investigations moving is so important -- so there'll be ongoing attention on this issue, with a trickle of actionable revelations that keep it on the media's radar.
Q2: How do you reconcile the lack of outrage from the massive invasion of privacy by ordinary people enabled social media and consumer technology, like those on /findbostonbombers? Q2: There should be more concern about all sorts of privacy intrusions. But to have it all centralized in the hands of a single entity -- and the military, particularly -- is especially problematic.
Does the ACLU have a chance in the courts? A thin but not nonexistent one. The easiest win would be on statutory grounds: The argument that the Patriot Act's §215 does not actually authorize data collection on this scale.
More of a longshot: A First Amendment argument based on the right to anonymous speech or chilling of expressive association. Also a longshot: A Fourth Amendment win extending the logic of the concurrence in United States v. Jones (a unanimous ruling) that extended, comprehensive surveillance, even of something not normally protected (like public travel) can rise to the level of a Fourth Amendment search requiring a probable cause warrant.
What are some easy ways to send a message to those who support this stuff, besides the obvious like writing Congressman? Congress does a series of town halls during the summer. See if your Member is holding a town hall (you can call their office and ask). Go to the town hall. Tell them you don't want the government to engage in indiscriminate spying on you and your neighbors, friends, and loved ones. Bring as many people with you as possible to say this message. Take video of yourself saying it, and upload it to YouTube. Share it.
of all, thank you for doing this AMA. Now, to my question. Without trying to sound defeatist, isn't it true that your efforts, all the talk about lawsuits against the U.S. Government, all the criticism from various parties etc. won't make the slightest difference for most Internet users since we are neither located in the U.S. nor are we U.S. citizens? Isn't it the truth that no matter what you may achieve domestically, the rest of us will all still be subject to this surveillance, without possibility of challenging it in any real way (because frankly, signing a protest list won't actually do diddly squat when the U.S. intelligence community is on the other side)? Our domestic aims will help everyone. The NSA's spying programs technically target foreign communications (though nearly everyone in the U.S. gets caught up in them), so if Congress passes the reforms we're pushing for, people outside of the U.S. will benefit.
What are some things people can do to secure themselves, if anything, from this intrusion of privacy? Activism of course, but what measures at home? Use TorBrowser; use Spider Oak instead of Dropbox; use OTR when you chat on IM; install Silent Circle on your phone and get friends to do the same; actually turn off your cell when you're not using it (which your friends will probably appreciate anyway).
What do I need to do to get the people around me to pay attention to this scandal and educate themselves? Tell them to read Glenn Greenwald's articles on this issue. Not only is Glenn incredibly detailed, but once they're at The Guardian they'll probably enjoy reading so much actual substantive news that they won't want to stop reading on the scandal...
How realistic is it to expect a congressional committee to discuss anything more than what has already been publicly released about these surveillance programs? This stuff that Binney speaks about goes deeper than what's come out in the last couple weeks. I think hearings of some sort are a real possibility, but they're not the end game in their own right.
It has been hinted in some stories about the leak that this is the "tip of the iceberg", what other capabilities could the NSA or other intelligence organizations possibly possess that go beyond what we know of? Link to www.nytimes.com
How great is the danger that the public will lose interest in this topic and nothing will get done? how can we prevent that from happening? Every action that you take, online or offline, share it with your friends. 5 people. Just tell them, inform them about what you're doing.
Beyond supporting organisations like the EFF financially, signing petitions and generally trying to raise awareness, what can people do if they want to get more involved, or really make a difference? Hi - see my reply to a similar question here.
What are you doing on the 4th? I think it's most useful for us to turn our members (many millions of people between all the orgs involved here) out to events that are being planned across the country by those who've come together under the restorethefourth banner.
What can I do to make a difference? I wrote my congressman and senator last week and haven't gotten any response. I wrote a letter to Obama also. I don't know if writing letters makes any difference at all. Writing letters and making phone calls makes a huge difference when large numbers of people do it. Congressional staff log that input and if tons of it starts coming the Members tend to change their behavior, at least are forced to acknowledge it if not change their position on the issue.
My question is, if we halt all domestic spying programs, won't we leave the door open to more home grown terrorist attacks in our country? While the intelligence services did not catch the Tsarnaev brothers as an example, what happens if we halt these kinds of activities and we then miss even one other attack that could have been prevented? How many attacks have been prevented to this point, that we aren't aware of, because of this kind of monitoring? The focus of this program is still on people with links to foreign groups. And there's a pretty strong consensus that "predictive" data mining to look for patterns suggesting terrorist activity (as opposed to mining to re-identify a particular known subject using a new mobile device) just doesn't work for terrorism. Our standard should not be to surrender privacy on the theory that it might somehow keep us safer. Actual terror attacks aren't rare because the NSA is so brilliant; they're rare because there aren't that many people in the U.S. with both the desire and the capability to pull them off. There are, of course, the mass shooters, but you're not going to find those people by mining cell records.
What are the many different ways someone can contribute to this issue and help Edward Snowden? I have already written to all three of my Congressman and I have signed a couple of White House petition relating to the issue, along with your petition, but I feel like there is still more out there. One thing PCCC has been doing is fundraising for Edward Snowden's legal defense fund. Recall that Snowden has unveiled the scope of spying not only on Americans but on foreign citizens as well. You can donate here: Link to pccc.me
Shouldn't we be making a big deal out of the fact that the NSA is part of the Department of Defense and there's some line being crossed using the DOD for domestic investigation? It feels like using heavily armed Marines to do traffic stops (because you know, they might catch a terrorist.) One thing we should definitely make a big deal of, as Derek pointed out upthread. From DNI Clapper's 2013 testimony.
Wyden: And this is for you, Director Clapper, again on the surveillance front. And I hope we can do this in just a yes or no answer because I know Senator Feinstein wants to move on. Last summer the NSA director was at a conference and he was asked a question about the NSA surveillance of Americans. He replied, and I quote here, '...the story that we have millions or hundreds of millions of dossiers on people is completely false.' The reason I'm asking the question is, having served on the committee now for a dozen years, I don't really know what a dossier is in this context. So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?" Clapper: "No, sir." Wyden: "It does not." Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly." Wyden: "All right. Thank you. I'll have additional questions to give you in writing on that point, but I thank you for the answer." (video here: Link to www.youtube.com)
As a non-US citizen of the Internet, I feel the issue touches me directly, however I am powerless to do anything. For this reason, I didn't take part yet. Should I? Why (not)? You're absolutely affected by this -- likely more than those inside the US, as foreign nationals are explicitly the targets of this surveillance, and are not subject to the same protections afforded American citizens under US law. You should definitely take part -- this is a fairly clear violation of your rights to privacy and free expression as outlined in Articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) -- to which the United States is signatory -- as well as Articles 12 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And you're not powerless. As a UK -- or European -- citizen, you can get in touch with your MEP from the UK and demand they support the European Commission's inquiry into PRISM] ([Link to europa.eu) While you're at it, you probably want to tell those MEPs to support a strong Data Protection Regulation] ([Link to nakedcitizens.eu) -- legislation currently in front of committee that will be critical to preserving privacy in Europe! Finally, you can sign the petition at Link to StopWatching.Us where we'll be delivering your signature to the US Congress.
Edit: embedded links.
How likely is it that the class-action lawsuit against the NSA will gain traction? What can we do to help? The ACLU has actually already filed a suit. But unless you're a techie or attorney who can round up colleagues to sign an amicus brief, public action usually doesn't influence courts too much.
Hi there! Great work so far with answering. How effective do you think the current government is at being a democracy in any sense. What do you think about Direct Democracy? Do you think the American populace as a whole is educated enough that such a transparent system would stand for progression rather than regression? The American system of democracy is deeply flawed, one major reason being that Big Money often controls the process rather than public opinion. PCCC just launched a campaign for citizen-funded elections -- you should join on. Link to pccc.me
Hi, Can you explain why this violation of privacy can lead to more violations in the future? Also, do you know why (besides terrorism) the government is spying us in the first place? Targeted warrantless wiretapping of 10 years ago was first an illegal outrage, then a (supposedly) legal outrage, then accepted as standard operating procedure.
1) As we saw during the SOPA/PIPA protests, many US lawmakers seemed to lack the technological literacy needed to discuss these issues intelligently and make informed decisions. What efforts are there aimed at educating lawmakers about how technology actually works? There's lobbying by myriad organizations all of the time. Some of it sticks, some of it doesn't, and we're always outgunned by the interests on the other side.
Last updated: 2013-06-18 12:17 UTC
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