Except for a strand of white string encircling the house, the Watanar's home near the Dayton Valley Golf Course is what you'd expect in the upper-class neighborhood. Inside is what really makes it different.
Bob and Nan Watanar's home is a stop in a seven-week teaching sojourn for a well known Buddhist monk from Thailand. The couple, who owns The Basil restaurant in Carson City and other businesses, have converted an upstairs room into a Buddhist shrine and meditation center.
Last Saturday, about 30 people gathered around the monk to learn from him. A few had come with him from Thailand but most were Thais living in the Carson-Dayton area.
The white string seen outside, first circles a gold statue of Buddha inside the meditation room. It encircles the home to protect the occupants from evil.
The monk, Luang Phor Boonpheng Kappako, who normally stays in Buddhist temples on his journeys, is the Watanars' teacher and accepted their invitation in order to aid and bless their work to pass along his meditation teachings.
"Luang Phor" is a title that is sometimes translated "reverend father." It includes the aspects of master, teacher, leader, elder, father and more. The monk's name is Boonpheng Kappako, but his followers address him reverently as Luang Phor.
Luang Phor, 77, is the master of the Wat Pa (Forest Temple) Wivekdham in Khon Kaen in northeast Thailand. Since 1949, he has practiced as a monk and instructed other monks and lay people on the practice of Buddhist meditation.
"It's the custom of Thailand that every man should be a monk when he is 20 years old," he said through an interpreter when asked how he chose his path.
"Believing in the Buddhist way, you practice it. The more practice, the more belief. There's a universe of knowledge one can achieve."
Dressed in saffron-colored robes, he sat on a sofa in the Watanar's living room to receive guests as well as followers.
Kneeling on the floor dressed in a crisp white dress, Thasanu Chantadisai interprets and explains the teaching of Luang Phor as well as tending to his needs.
Chantadisai, who is Nan Watanar's cousin, is retired director of the Division of Natural Resources and Environment in Thailand. She now works for Luang Phor making travel arrangements, interpreting, planning his speaking, teaching and meditation engagements and ensuring housing meets the monk's special needs.
Before coming to Dayton, Luang Phor's entourage stopped in Ontario, Calif., to instruct others in meditation. On Thursday he will travel from Dayton to a Buddhist community in Texas. On June 18-19, he will attend the World Buddhist meetings in Los Angeles before returning to Thailand.
Luang Phor has come to the United States to teach meditation to Thai people in this country as well as other interested people, explained Bob Watanar. Because of his instruction in meditation, he has lifetime humanitarian Visas from many countries including the U.S., he said.
"He teaches meditation for peace. He's a representative of the Buddhist religion," Watanar said. "That's the purpose of his travel. Meditation is the key to bring peace to the world. It's a better way of living."
Chantadisai helped introduce the Watanars to the monk's teachings during a time of turmoil in their lives. About five years ago they teetered on bankruptcy. Around the same time Nan Watanar's mother died.
"My mother was my heart," she said of the deep sorrow she experienced.
Nan Watanar, who did not actively practice Buddhist meditation at that time, said she wondered how her cousin could have left everything for such an austere lifestyle that included only wearing white and eating only one meal a day, besides hours in meditation.
As Nan Watanar studied meditation under Luang Phor, she learned to have peace in her heart and also that she could send the benefit of that peace to her mother in meditation, she explained.
She also saw how Luang Phor used his position to help others including donations to schools and hospitals.
"When I'd go to the temple, I saw what he had done to help people," she said. "That is why I follow him, is to help."
The couple, who came to the United States in 1986 and Carson City in 1998, has also found success economically. Both their businesses, Pegasus Food Machinery Corp. and The Basil restaurant, are now thriving.
"We must help ourselves first to be strong, then we can help people," Bob Watanar said. "Meditation is the key. If your mind is clear, you think better (and everything you do benefits). If you earn more, you can share more."
Opening their home shrine to others for meditation each night is one way they've chosen to share. They are also helping to distribute an English translation of Luang Phor's teachings.
Despite his influence, "our Luang Phor doesn't like himself to be famous." Chantadisai said. "He says, if so many people come to me, I don't have time for teaching.
"He doesn't want quantity, he wants quality."
Contact Sally Taylor at email@example.com or 881-1210.