Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Wisdom of Mindfulness Meditation Retreat in Yangon



Mahasi Monastery in Yangon has announced a special event on January 15, 2017, open to a limited number of yogis and requiring registration beforehand. The event organizers have issues the following schedule:


As a special offering for English speaking participants living and working in Myanmar and travellers/tourists. You are warmly invited to participate in this rare offering

A Day Long Wisdom of Mindfulness Meditation Retreat At the Mahasi Meditation Centre, Yangon, Myanmar

The day long retreat will begin at 8 am and end at 6 pm. The retreat will open with a short guided tour of the Mahasi Centre by Alan Clements, an American and former Buddhist monk at the Centre.

This will be followed by taking the 8 Buddhist precepts for the day along with receiving the mindfulness meditation instructions that have been presented by the late Mahasi Sayadaw for seventy years.

The retreat itself will consist of both sitting and walking meditation. A senior meditation teacher at MSY will give a dhamma talk followed questions and answers sometime in the afternoon.

A traditional Burmese meal will be offered to everyone at the Centre at 10:30 am. The retreat itself is freely offered by the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization. At the end of the retreat if one would like to offer dana – a contribution – they can and it would be appreciated. This can be offered in the office as one is leaving.

The retreat will be limited to approximately 20 participants. 


For more information, see this page on World Dharma and this PDF file.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Ledi Mu Monastery

This monastery is one of twenty nationwide aligned with the Ledi Mu organization, established in accordance with Ledi Sayadaw’s pariyatti and paṭipatti teachings. There are both single rooms and kutis for accommodations, and foreign yogis with proper documentation may request to stay. The compound is quite large and there is a spacious Dhamma Hall. Life-sized wax figures depict Ledi writing at his desk, as well as outside his forest cave while instructing his pupil Ledi Pandita (Ledi Pandita was also known by his lay name U Maung Gyi, and sometimes by both names together, “Ledi Pandita U Maung Gyi”.) Interestingly, this display includes the actual kerosene lamp that Ledi Sayadaw used when writing, and depicts Ledi Pandita, ever the dedicated disciple, preparing to light its wick—a task he no doubt did countless times throughout his life for the prodigious scholar. Regular English classes are here as well for monastics and lay supporters, and meditators are welcome to volunteer as a teacher here. Occasional workshops are also held on Buddhist topics, and foreigners may register for them.

Bonus: A Much More Serious Wrong Turn
Ledi Sayadaw looked to impart his Dhamma wisdom even in ordinary situations. Once, when he and his student Ledi Pandita were on an alms walks together, he took the wrong turn, and Ledi Pandita pointed this out. Replied the Sayadaw, “If you take the wrong way on alms round it means you will miss a meal. But if you take a wrong turn in life, it means you will miss nibbāna and keep on in samsara.”



Friday, 21 October 2016

Meditation at Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Hotel

“Something of both the relative and absolute scale of it all can be grasped by noting that Myanmar is a country with 53 million people and a whopping monastic population of over 500,000. Those 500,000 live off donations alone. Myanmar is one of the poorest nations in the world, and yet the society somehow manages, through extraordinary generosity, to unfailingly support its bulging monastic population. Much of this generosity comes in the form of a single spoonful of rice given daily. Indeed this generosity, and the faith and understanding that inspires it, is legendary. This spirit of giving has created a softening effect on the country, such that despite the poverty, and despite the political oppression there is an air of friendliness and safety. The people possess an unusual uprightness both physically and psychologically, and they have a remarkable brightness and warmth.” Miles Bukiet, American meditator

Since the Buddha's day, the Dhamma has always been dispensed freely, and without expecting anything in return. This tradition has continued into the 21st century throughout Myanmar, where one may at any time wander into a monastery and be given food, shelter, and other basic offerings; and where no compensation is ever requested or expected. Similarly, a donor may give a daily spoonful of rice or build a multi-million dollar monastery, all while never expecting preferential treatment from the monks or teachers here. As Steve Armstrong (U Buddharakkhita) wrote in A Living Tradition, “The gratitude one feels to those who preserve, practice and preach the Dhamma is expressed in the joyful, heartfelt humility of a daily, simple offering of support so that it may continue. This reciprocal offering in this way has been preserved and practiced since the time of the Buddha more than 2500 years ago.” Or as Jake Davis put in Strong Roots, “[T]he joy in life and generosity of heart that the Burmese people display - despite extreme physical hardships and a political climate of widespread fear - is testimony to the power that the Buddha’s teachings can exert on societies that support and preserve them.”

The importance of the act of dāna to Burmese Buddhists is also expressed in the Burmese proverb, Thila hnin dana ma pa they ka hma thi, or “Without sila or dāna, at death’s approach one repents.” And the Burmese attitude towards dāna—and perhaps life in general— is illustrated by the simple proverb Wun ye wa hma, sun ye hla, meaning that one is/should be happy with what they have so long as there is enough for dāna.

Despite this long, important history of freely dispensing the Buddha's teachings for all to benefit from spiritually, Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Hotel has made the questionable decision to offer guided meditation to its guests-- for a very, very hefty fee. As the flyer shows below, a one hour session goes for $70 and two hours for $120. As Myanmar continues to open up, the potential to make money off of the Golden Land's noble Buddhist tradition is certainly tempting for a country that is one of the poorest in the world, and yet doing so will also jeopardize the very instructions and guidelines as laid down by the Buddha so long ago. Change and modernization may come, and the Buddha's teachings may be shared in increasingly innovative and accessible ways, but to do so "with a fee attached" goes against the very core of the Enlightened One's fundamental message and purpose, and brings crass commercialism to the faith and practice.

These concerns were brought to the hotel management, and their responses were unsatisfactory. They first noted that the meditation takes place onsite, however as these rooms are not residences and not in other use, there is no additional cost required for them. It was then noted that the monk teacher needs to travel from his monastery, but even a top car and driver would be no more than a few dollars, and most monasteries have their own vehicles. It was then pointed out that the meditator needed proper clothing, however these usually only cost a few dollars as well and few monks would require Westerners to wear these prior to teaching the Dhamma. It was finally suggested that the "fee" was actually "dana", which is entirely untrue as a forced payment is in fact diametrically opposite from a volitional donation, and it is only the latter that helps one in detaching from the ego and one's possessions. Finally, the management promised to bring these concerns to the hotel's owners.

To meditators who are worried about this trend continuing as Myanmar opens up, consider writing the hotel directly to express this concern. It is quite laudable that this hotel, located in the very place where Theravada Buddhism became established in the Golden Land in the 11th century, is wishing to give tourists a taste of their spiritual treasures. And there are many, many ways they can achieve this noble intention without seeking their own financial profit in doing so. If they decide to offer meditation freely and not as a money-making scheme, we will be sure to update this post. 


The hotel's web page is http://www.thiripyitsaya-resort.com and its email is thiribgn@myanmar.com.mm and thiri@myanmar.com.mm

In closing, one may consider Sayadaw U Sunanda's thoughts. He offered a real life example, of a Burmese man who lived a heedless life, and at one point stole a monastery carpet worth 76 kyat (less than one dollar). He later became quite wealthy, and also became a serious devotee of the Buddha’s teachings, and so went back to this monastery to donate 76 lakh (about $75,000). U Sunanda said that for lay donors, “One mustn’t give while also evaluating what one will get back in return, or judge the worth of what one is getting against what one is giving.” But a duty is also there for the Saṅgha, for monks must inspire by living highly virtuous lives. “Buddhism can’t be attacked from an outside source, but only when the inner circle is not behaving as they should be.”




Sunday, 25 September 2016

Burma Pilgrimage in Winter




Ultimate Reality Tours and Grahame White are offering a pilgrimage to Myanmar in February 2017. This 17-day trip will visit a number of key sites connected to the great monks and meditation teachers of the Golden Land. More information about this pilgrimage can be found here

In their own words, "Our 2017 pilgrimage will take us back to the golden land of Myanmar (Burma). On this pilgrimage we will be exploring a number of the most important sites connected with the development of meditation in Burma. We will be going to monasteries, meeting teachers and immersing ourselves in the culture of the Burmese people."

The dates will be from February 8-24, and pilgrims will visit a large number of important Dhamma sites and meet with Sayadaws and other monastics in Lower Burma, Upper Burma, and Shan State.

For more information, see the flyer here or register by sending an email to gralyn@ozemail.com.au.




Thursday, 11 August 2016

Ledi Sayadaw at Shwezigon Pagoda in Monywa



According to pagoda trustees, Shwezigon’s origination story goes back to the fourth century B.C., when King Widadapua attacked the Sakyan tribes (Siddhartha Gautama’s clan). Some Sakyans were said to flee all the 
way to Hpo Win Daung, on the west bank of the Chindwin River. From there, a great beam of light was seen arising from the east, which was taken as a good omen. 

Even given this august past, it is the events of about 150 years ago that give Shwezigon its current renown. It was on these grounds where the future Ledi Sayadaw first stayed after his Mandalay library burned in 1883, when he withdrew back to the solitude of rural Monywa. Here at this pagoda he continued his scholarly work and writing, residing at the invitation of Sayadaw U Nyanawuntha. About a dozen monks followed him, joining the other dozen or so monks who were already studying here. U Nyanadhaja, as he was known before heading out into Ledi Forest, resumed his teaching duties. According to U Candida, it was also here that U Nyanadhaja came to believe he could fulfill his two “latent wishes”; “to respect and pray to the Buddha regularly [and]] to fulfill Sangha needs.”

Ledi’s days here quickly fell into a routine. Sitagu Sayadaw describes what a day in the life may have looked like. “Sayadaw swept the shrine halls, terraces, open spaces, and stairways of Su Taung Paya and Shwezigone Pagodas. He swept the whole campus of the monastery, cleaned all the toilets (usually at night), filled all the water pots with fresh water, [and] attended and nursed sick monks.” In those days, sticks were used to clean oneself after a bowel movement, and U Nyanadhaja would take care even to clean these sticks after use. In addition, as the monastery complex had hollows up to ten feet deep, U Nyanadhaja personally carried earth from other areas to make the ground more level. Finally, he helped the Sayadaw complete the construction of a new Dhamma Hall.

His pupils became discomfited by the many menial tasks that their great teacher undertook, most on their behalf, and some felt unworthy to even drink the water he poured for them (yet another task U Nyanadhaja undertook, sometimes at three a.m., so as not to wake anyone). But he eased their concerns, declaring that in his past incarnations, his wives and children had benefited from the use of his body and limbs, and now finally as a monk he had the opportunity to fully serve the Buddha’s teachings. He added that one’s body is like a hired cart, and that one can make use of it while we are in possession of its functions, but eventually it, too, will be taken away.

An important event occurred while staying here that would affect U Nyanadhaja’s future plan, and which would have major implications in the worldwide spread of the Dhamma. One day, while engaged in his cleaning duties, he met the renowned Sayadaw U Thila, a forest monk whom many at the time believed to be fully enlightened. U Thila’s commitment and spiritual attainments, both of which were borne from his solitary practice, inspired U Nyanadhaja’s eventual decision to venture forth into Ledi Forest in the coming years.

In terms of the pagoda’s physical layout, the entryway is approached off of one of Monywa’s busiest streets. The pilgrim leaves the hectic worldly activity in turn for a quiet, colonnaded concrete hall, whose most prominent feature is the central stupa. Fashioned in the “diamond bud” style in pure gold, the top reaches upwards of 135 feet, a pair of ogres perching near the top. No less than 35 smaller stupas are scattered across the expansive compound, including many Buddha images, some of which go back to the 18th century. Several statues depict Ledi Sayadaw, honoring the historic role that the pagoda played in his development. The earliest Buddha image is listed from 785, and the donor list includes many of the great Bamar kings.

Also on the grounds is a Bodhi tree, a large Dhamma Hall, and an artificial cave structure, inside which are various statues of well-known nats and hermits. Perhaps most suitable for meditation is the smaller room to the right of the shrine area, featuring two pristine Buddha images… and also where there are explicit signs requesting visitors not to make any noise that may disturb a yogi’s meditation. And unusual to the Burmese pagoda landscape are a diverse host of tropical trees and professionally manicured bushes and hedges. A dusty monastery is connected via a blue gate, although it is uncertain if these are the original monastic grounds dating back to Ledi’s time. Today its courtyard doubles as the Royal Shwe Myint Badminton Club.



Monday, 8 August 2016

Why did Saya Thet Gyi Give White Scarves to Meditators?



Marie Byles, Australian author of Journey Into Burmese Silence, visited Maha Bodhi Meditation Center in 1957, and was taught for several months by Saya U Thein, one of the main disciples of Saya Thet Gyi. 

Byles recalls that on at “1 p.m. on Christmas Eve… U Thein placed a white scarf over my shoulders, saying that I was now a Yogi and should always wear the scarf when meditating.” Byles’ description almost seems to imply that the white scarf encouraged a formal spiritual transformation, not dissimilar to a monk’s ordination. 

Interestingly, Saya U Than wrote about how Ledi Sayadaw had instructed Saya Thet Gyi to wear a white scarf once he became a meditation teacher. Then, later on, many yogis at the International Meditation Center took up the practice of wearing a white shawl when studying under Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Although it is not clear where the garment originates from or its underlying meaning, it may relate to the brown shawl, or yawbut tin thi, that Burmese pilgrims and meditators wear today and that indicates their spiritual intent. However, U Sarana is doubtful about this, for he notes that “the brown scarf for ladies was an attempt to ‘label’ them with a ‘recluse mark,’ thus to differentiate them from the monastery workers and non-yogis.”

Buddhist history may also shed some light on this wearing of white. Dating back at least to the 3rd century B.C.E., the Sri Lankan laity would dress entirely in white to indicate their adherence to following eight or ten precepts. Some monastic traditions request that samaneras dress entirely in white before their ordination, and still in Sri Lanka today, lay yogis routinely dress entirely in white when visiting monasteries for uposatha, during meditation retreats, or on pilgrimages. It is uncertain if Ledi’s preference of a white scarf was contextual to his time, historical, or a unique innovation that he encouraged himself.

Note that the photograph above depicts a statue of Saya Thet Gyi at his meditation center in Pyaw Bwe Gyi, and the painting below shows him wearing the white scarf in a painting at the same site.  In the latter painting he is shown holding beads, suggesting that he may have used this in his meditation practice, as his teacher Ledi Sayadaw was also photographed with beads. 

 



Sunday, 31 July 2016

What Caused the Post-World War II Patipatti Explosion in Burma?

Following is an excerpt from an unpublished draft of Shwe Lan Ga Lay, the meditator's guide to Burma/Myanmar:


It was the postwar period where lay meditation practice really began to take off, a phenomenon that jumpstarted in Burma before spreading and becoming established in neighboring Buddhist countries. 
And in Burma, nowhere was this happening more than at Rangoon’s Sasana Yeiktha Center, where U Nu and other prominent lay leaders brought in Mahasi Sayadaw to establish the new grounds.
Ingrid Jordt, a scholar who spent many years as a nun at Mahasi, captures the excitement and enthusiasm that characterized the early days of this site. She notes that “the laity flocked to the center to practice for enlightenment. The thrill of participating in the mass lay project of enlightenment had never before been so conceived in institutional terms. The center grew around Mahasi in the way that the texts describe laity coming around the Buddha. People vied with one another to have their offerings accepted by him, and new forms of participation emerged: schoolchildren on vacation, night yogis who returned to their offices during the day, retirees, and nuns all immersed themselves in a rigorous schedule of sitting and walking meditation, punctuated by monkly meal offerings at which the laity thronged around the eating tables to observe the project of sasana revitalization happening before their very eyes.”  
And Masoeyin Sayadaw U Theiktha expresses just how it felt at that moment in time to have a genuine practice that one could undertake to follow diligently, after so many years of war and colonization: “It had been a long time that we had become almost unbearable or choking, as it were, for not knowing the real concept or meaning of it. Our happiness knew no bounds when we came to discover the right method relating to the latent ambiguity in the higher aspects of Maha Satipatthana meditation practice.”

And although the non-monastic International Meditation Center led by Sayagyi U Ba Khin may have not seen the same high numbers (and was not state-supported to the same extent), its role and influence were profound. Many of the elites of society attended courses and became deeply affected by their experience, which sometimes manifested even in their work in matters of state. And it was not only the heads of Burma who were attending, but also top politicians other countries, scientists, Supreme Court judges, university professors, and actors. 
As the monastic teacher Maha Gandayon Sayadaw U Janaka put it, “If I were asked what you pray for, my answer is simple. One has to work for himself to get what he wants.” This ethos took over the Burmese people in these years, and can be seen manifested in Sayagyi U Goenka's mission in the following decade (he himself benefited from his patipatti boom as a student during this time). 
Why was it at this very time that the patipatti movement began to flow now as a raging river? There are many theories attempting to answer this, and it may have been the case of several important factors occurring at once, making the conditions ripe for such an undertaking. In the following section, we present no less than twenty possible arguments that have been put forth on this topic.

The Reclining Buddha at U Khanti Monastery.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Release of "The Golden Path Part 2"






Shwe Lan Ga Lay, or "The Golden Path," the meditator's guide to Burma/Myanmar, launched in April 2013. "Part 1: Planning & Logistics" was released in May 2015, and the five chapters comprising Part 2 are nearly complete. In addition to the Introduction, other chapters due to be released are the regional guides to the following places: Around Yangon, Mandalay, Around Mandalay, and Shan State. This will include detailed information about sites where Ledi Sayadaw, Webu Sayadaw, and Saya Thet Gyi lived and practiced (along with countless other monasteries and pagodas), allowing meditators to more easily access these important sites and to appreciate their significance and history while doing so.

After having worked on these pages for so many years now, we are very happy that they are so close to being shared with the meditator community! However, we have one final, critical need before their release... that is of someone with a copy-editing background who can make a final review of these drafts. If you have such experience and are willing to join our project, please let us know, and help us to hasten the release of Part 2!

While not as critical, there are other volunteer roles we're happy to have help with as well. First on the list would be someone with map-making ability, including artists able to copy from maps, so that meditators can more easily find the sites we describe. Also high on our list is anyone with design/layout experience, and has an aesthetic background, to help in preparing our text for the designer.

As usual, we also welcome any artists who would like to draw/sketch, and photographers or anyone who is willing to donate photos from their time in the Golden Land. If you've been to Burma/Myanmar and have a story to tell, please do share with us, or if you are planning to go and have some time, let us know as there is always on-the-ground assistance and needs. Next, someone with writing or editing experience, who can act as in a dual style editor/author capacity. The person in this role helps shape new raw material gathered from different sources into a coherent mix with existing Shwe Lan text, and oversees the overall flow of the book. Volunteer translators have been working at the text of Part 1, and contact us if you wish to help in the translation. And if you have any other skill, or just time on your hands, let us know as well!

Finally, keep in mind that the project is entirely funded by dana, with almost everyone involved a volunteer, and the completed PDFs are freely available to one and all. We are always in need of financial dana to cover our basic costs, as well as to help print and distribute completed copies of the book. You can keep the project afloat by donating here.

To get in touch, please email us at burmadhamma (att) gmail. You can also follow our project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/burmagoldenpath.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Mogok Vipassana... in English!



Bhikkhu Obhasa shares his experience practicing Mogok Vipassana for the first time. The above photo shows the American monk's secluded dwelling for the Rains in 2016 in Kalaw, Shan State. For more information Mogok in English, see here.

"Last year I had the chance to attend an eight-day Mogok Vipassana course on the outskirts of Yangon. It has always been sort of an enigma as it's by far the largest and most widespread Vipassana technique in Myanmar with its famous Paticca Samuppada wheel seen everywhere, yet it has remained almost entirely off the radar to foreign meditators.

After understanding the general Myanmar teaching/learning style, it is clear why the technique has such appeal to the laity as it's laid out in a simple system that easily lends itelf to being delivered and learned in a way locals are familiar with.

That being said, although such a delivery would appeal far less to Westerners, both the practice and theory I think have incredible potential. My background in Vipassana has been mostly in the U Ba Khin tradition as taught by Goenka and the Shwe Oo Min tradition under Sayadaw U Tejaniya. I'd actually place these two traditions at opposite ends of a spectrum, the Goenka technique being prescriptive and focused, the other being more open and natural. In the Goenka method, the object, body sensations, is chosen for you whereas the U Tejaniya method, the object is whichever objects of the 6 senses naturally arises in the mind with more attention given to the mind. In the Goenka method, a clear cut technique is specifically laid out and its connection to theory is systematically explained whereas U Tejaniya lays out some basics and then explains more theory as it naturally arises in Q&A's from yogis individual practice. 

The reason I present these two as a spectrum is because some people may be familiar with one or both and it so happens that the Mogok method fits right in between the two. On the one hand, it shares the more choiceless open awareness via any and all of the 6 sense doors as U Tejaniya teaches. On the other hand, the technique is more systematically laid out like Goenka's and the practice is clearly and extensively connected to theory via the famous Mogok Wheel. All three I think have their appeal to different people at different times. I think the Mogok technique then, fills a gap in this spectrum nicely. It seems it would appeal to those that do well with more open awareness yet also enjoy a more explicit structure and clearly explained grounding in theory.

The issue currently is the Mogok method and facilities have yet to be properly adopted for a foreign an especially Western audience. Even though there are at least two teachers that speak English, the current Myanmar presentation style of the technique seems to me to be quite inadequate for foreigners. Also, the available texts in English are straight translations from Myanmar books which again are in a style unsuitable for foreigners and are full of culture specific examples from Myanmar. If these issues get worked out though, I think the Mogok method could fill in a gap and rise to some prominence in the Vipassana spectrum for Westerners."

An American Monk in Burma: "I Once Ate Organic, was a Vegetarian, followed Ayurvedic Principles...now, 'What Comes Into the Bowl!"


Bhikkhu Obhasa is an American monk living in Myanmar. The above photo shows the view from his secluded kuti from Kalaw, his meditation "cushion" being a straw hand-made Shan seat. He shares his thoughts with his new dietary restrictions:

"One of the biggest sacrifices of ordaining was putting my dietary health options into the hands of a culture with very little understanding of healthy nutrition. I ate organic, was a vegetarian, followed Ayurvedic principles for my body constitutional type, etc. I let go of that to live in a country that does copious pesticide and herbicide spraying, loves dishes swimming in low quality oils, loves sweets and pre-packaged food with artificial ingredients, etc. They don't seem to take care of their own nutritional health nor do they seem to have much nutritional education. There seemed no way they'd be able to take care of mine.

Still being a relatively new monk having just entered my second rains retreat, it has slowly dawned on me just how much stress I had put the mind/body under in this decision to move across the world to a new culture and life as a monk. In that stress, I noticed the mind seeking comfort by trying to control food, which inadvertently often caused more stress. In the mental health field of studies in America the powers-that-be have decreed obsession over such dietary concerns an actual mental disorder. My own observations of mind was seeing the same thing. Agitation and worry over diet and strict adherences to my dietary beliefs and choices only lead to more agitation. Who knows? I wouldn't doubt if that mental stess is actually as bad as or worse for my physical health than the food I'm fussing over. One thing I've done is re-examine some of my food beliefs and found some of them to actually not be true. Another is to loosen up on being a vegetarian, occasionally eating meat. In doing so, I have seen that there was attachment and defilement in both habits. Since then I have let go of some of the control I thought I needed to exert and life has become easier and I grow closer to exemplifying 'paccuppannena yapenti', being content with what is. In this case, what comes into the bowl.

Once the mind lightened up a bit, I actually noticed some of the positives of alms food in Myanmar. In most places devotees still offer fresh home cooked food with a fair variety of rice, veggies, meat dishes, salads, and other proteins. Within what's offered is usually a fairly balanced meal of fresh good. I dare say that what's offered overall is at least as, if not more, healthy than how most people eat back home. It's also pretty easy to be vegetarian here as protein via beans, peanuts, and tofu is commonly offered, and even more is regularly available if one eats eggs. Myanmar grows ample fresh fruit although they seldom offer it as they don't seem to eat too much themselves. It does though from time to time make it into the alms bowl. I occassionally praise the healthiness of certain offerings when appropriate, and often several families catch on to this appreciation and offer fruits, fresh cooked veggies, salads, and other healthier dishes.

Another positive aspect of Myanmar alms food is the sheer abundance given in many places and people seem to be extra generous towards foreign monks. This means I can be selective with my diet, choosing a good balance and allowing me to avoid the unhealthier options. In a pinch, I can always just eat more rice like the locals do which is always plentiful. And I can certainly forego the prepackaged snacks, deep fried treats, and the abundant artificial drinks and sweets. That's just lobha.

Overall, so far I feel pretty healthy. As my attitude has lightened up, the mind has loosened up and let go of some attachments. The wisdom that has arisen seems to find a way to maintain dietary health within what is given. So not only does the food situation seem healthier than it did upon first impression, the mind has become healthier too."

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Dhamma Ramsi Meditation Monastery in Monywa

            


Established in 2006, this Mogok Paṭipatti Monastery, known as Dhamma Ramsi, offers a ten-day course each month, sometimes filling to capacity and hosting up to one thousand yogis. It is overseen by Sayadaw U Sunanda who, due to high demand, often travels throughout the country giving Dhamma talks and teaching. Because of this, he is able to conduct only one course a year, and around 20 monks reside here full time.

The Dhamma Hall is a large, beautiful structure, with wooden floors and statues of the Buddha and Mogok Sayadaw towards the front. There is even air conditioning, quite valuable for the scorching temperatures this region is known for. Modern kutis are provided for each yogi.

At present, there are five Dhamma Ramsi centers in Myanmar. Its headquarters is in Yangon, where an additional one is being built to international standards, to be staffed by English-speaking teachers and specifically designed to welcome foreign meditators.





Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Surviving the Burmese Monsoon



The American monk Bhikkhu Obhasa has submitted the following essay, giving some suggestions for fellow monastics and yogis as to how to best survive Burma's monsoon season in full health. 

MONSOON SEASON SELF CARE
After the extreme heat of hot season, the coming of the rains is often a welcomed relief. Rainy season, however, can come with its own set of challenges. At the onset of rainy season, the body is trying to adjust from hot dry conditions to suddenly cool damp conditions, and it is common to experience a loss of energy, especially during the initial transition period. While dukkha cannot be totally avoided, excessive unhealthiness of the body is considered a difficult condition for practice.

There are two common causes for difficulty during the rains, slower digestion and increased chance of infection.

DIGESTION:
According to the Buddha Dhamma, the continually arising body has four sources of nutriment: kamma, mind, food, and temperature. According to the ancient health practice of Ayurveda, the body uses the element of fire (pali tejo) in the form of heat to digest food and the sudden drastic shift in the external environment from hot and dry to cool and damp inhibits the body's ability to do so. The more one can do to prevent the body from further imbalance by avoiding getting cold and wet, the better ones digestion, energy, and overall health will be during monsoon season. Here are some simple tips to follow:

Eat hot food. For one who depends on alms for food, sometimes almsfood cools down considerably between receiving and eating it. If this is the case, reheating the food, which is allowed by Vinaya, can be helpful. One can use the kitchen at the monastery, acquire a small gas stove, or make a small fire to reheat the food. In case of the latter, it is advisable to gather a stockpile of wood before the onset of the rains.

Eat less. In order to assist the body's digestion, don't eat more than the body can easily digest. The digestive stress on the body and the amount one will have to adjust will vary from person to person. For most the amount will be less than it was during hot season. Examining bowel movements, besides being a helpful asubha practice, is one of the best ways to assess the quality of digestion. If the faeces are more loose and less well formed than normal, this is a sign of incomplete digestion. Help the body out and experiment with eating less.

Eat spicy. Food eaten with hotter spices such as chillies, garlic, onion, and ginger make any meal easier to digest. Some even soak these same ingredients with turmeric root in vinegar for a couple of weeks and add both the spicy vinegar and the pickled ingredients to the meal. Considered as medicine, these ingredients may directly requested.

Avoid raw food. Besides the higher risk of contamination during monsoon (see below), raw food takes more energy to digest and is more cooling, the opposite of what is helpful to a weakened digestive system. If the body is weak and digestion poor, it is advisable to eat only simple, well cooked food that is easy to digest.

Drink hot fluids. Drinking cold fluids around mealtime hinders the digestive strength of the body. Some health systems even go so far as to say not to drink at all around mealtime because the cooling effect of any fluid in the stomach inhibits digestion. During monsoon season it is advisable to keep the body warm and so drinking hot fluids throughout the day is advisable. Again, a gas stove or wood fire will come in handy as well as a thermos or insulated flask to keep it hot. One can add ginger root or ginger powder with a little palm sugar to hot water as well for a little extra heat.

Drink less. During cool damp conditions, the body loses less water through processes like sweating, therefore, less water is needed daily by the body compared to hot season. Stay hydrated as always and also understand that extra water during monsoon is not only unneeded, it only serves to exacerbate the already damp conditions.

Bathe before eating. Deluging the outside of the body with water after eating while trying to digest is also believed to hinder digestion. It doesn't matter whether the water is hot or cold but the effects are even more so when cold. Therefore bathing before meals and then allowing the body to warm up is advisable.

Keep feet warm and dry. When allowed by Vinaya, it is advisable to wear footwear to insulate the feet from the cold wet ground thereby retaining more heat in the body. When barefoot, try to avoid standing for long periods on cold, hard, and/or wet surfaces. Dry and warm the feet as soon as it is possible.

Stay warm and dry. Keep the body and robes dry if at all possible. If the robes get wet, it is advisable to change into dry robes and dry the body as soon as possible. Try to keep the body warmer rather than cooler by wearing extra layers as needed.

INFECTION:
The dampness of monsoon season is a condition for greater risk of infections. As the ground floods with water, the filth that lies on the ground can spread more easily into both our bodies and onto our food sources. There are two main areas of concern, feet and food.

Wear footwear. When Vinaya allows, it is advisable to wear footwear. The water on the ground has a higher likelihood of contamination from things like faeces and dead animals and these contaminants can enter the body via the skin of the feet.

Scrub feet daily. After alms round, scrub feet soon after with soap and a brush. Take extra care to clean any open wounds regularly and thoroughly. Consider regularly applying turmeric in water to any wounds to prevent or stop infection.

Remove callouses. When callouses, especially on the heels, become cracked, they can split to form an open wound, thus providing a higher risk of infection. Prevent this by regularly removing the dead skin with a pumous or other rough stone or by rubbing heels vigorously on wet rough concrete.

Avoid raw vegetables. Many areas flood during rainy season including vegetable crops and the possibility of food contamination is considerably higher. When food is well cooked there us no need for concern as high heat is the most effective way to remove bacteria and parasites, the main causes of intestinal infection. However, raw food presents a significantly greater risk and is best avoided during monsoon.

Turmeric. Turmeric, amongst its many other healthy properties, is known to prevent and fight infection. Turmeric root, powder, and/or pills can be found widely in south and southeast Asia and is highly recommended to take internally regularly. The anti-infection properties are especially helpful during rainy season. As mentioned above, turmeric mixed in water and applied to open wounds externally can prevent or stop infection. If the wound is not healing or becomes more red, itchy, or swollen, it is likely to be infected. Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water and apply turmeric water or paste immediately. Turmeric can be applied to itchy rashes as well, especially in the most moist areas of the body where bacteria are likely to grow, namely the armpits, belt-line, and crotch areas. For lay people wearing shoes, the feet as well.

Papaya seeds. Papaya seeds are believed to act as an antibiotic effective against parasites, and especially against parasitic worms. Worms start out as microscopic parasites that can enter into the body in a number of ways, one of them being through the feet. They attach themselves to the lining of the digestive tract and papaya seeds are believed to shed such parasites from the lining so they may pass through the body. Whether or not one has worms, a large spoonful of fresh papaya seeds may be taken daily anytime they are available or seek them out if one has any suspicion. Taking a spoonful regularly during monsoon season is recommended.

These are tips I've come across so far. If anyone has more, please do share.

I wish everyone health, happiness, and freedom from all suffering.

Bhikkhu Obhasa

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Webu Sayadaw's Meditation Cave




Before U Kumara (the future Webu Sayadaw) popped up in Kyaukse out of the blue on March 12, 1924, no one was quite sure where he had been spending time. All that was known was that he was in the midst of years of intensive, solitary practice; even his modern biographers and closest disciples have been unable to reconstruct those early years in any detail. And while U Kumara continued his secluded practice here, Kyaukse was also where the next phase of his life began, and from where word about the achievements of the noble monk would spread to the rest of the country. 


The first site of note at Webu Sayadaw Monastery in Kyaukse is Dhat Ma Shaw Well, situated on the right side of the road, between the inner and outer monastery gates. After leaving his formal studies behind at the Masoyein Monastery in Mandalay in his mid-twenties, U Kumara spent some time living in remote caves and forests; perhaps given these hardships, he was frequently afflicted with stomach illnesses. 

One story goes that he was once travelling by train from Shwebo when someone advised him about a well near the Webula Hills that was known for its medicinal qualities. (In one version this was a holy man or pilgrim clad entirely in white. In another, it was a woman who met him before the train, and when U Kumara suggested that he may go home to Ingyinbin seeking a cure, she diverted him instead to Kyaukse) Soon after, he had a dream in which a being directed him to come here and search for a well of clear, bluish water. When he found the well, it is said that the same supernatural being appeared to personally offer him the water, and after drinking it, the monk’s stomach pains ceased. U Mya Thaung wrote that following this event, Webu Sayadaw never again laid down, had a cold, or spit. Those who wish may drink from this well, but note: pilgrims do so at their own risk.

Dhat ma shaw carries a couple of different meanings. Translated literally, it means “the knife falls down,” a reference from the 12th century when King Alaung Sithu is believed to have passed through here, back when the village was known as Paung. At that time, one of the royal attendants accidentally dropped his knife in this well. But when “knife falls down” is said quickly in Burmese, it can be heard as “the diarrhea has stopped,” a reference to the curative effect the well water had on Webu Sayadaw.

The words “ye phyu ye pya,” (or “white water, blue water”) came to be associated with the famous Kyaukse well that healed Webu Sayadaw. The white color refers to the water found naturally throughout these hills, while the curative water in Webu’s story was blue. Located around Webu and Weba Hills, this gave rise to the clever ditty, “Ye phyu ye pya, webu weba,” which references the geography, water quality, and famous monk all at once.

Beside the well is a stone tablet with a Burmese inscription, telling the Phaung Daw Oo story of the magical royal barge that carried King Alaung Sithu by air around the country. The king constructed a pagoda wherever he stopped, and so today many pagodas carry the name Phaung Daw Oo, meaning “the prow of the royal barge.”

Today, only serious meditators are allowed to enter and meditate in this cave, which is still standing today. Below is a photo of an inscription on this cave, with the translation below:


"Follow the tip of the nose - align with mindfulness,
To other object - (mind) should not be let go.
Contact and mindfulness - should be known continuously,
(thus) the difference between body and mind - will be known without fail."
The benefactor Venerable Webu Sayadaw
Champion 1998"


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A Dutch Monk in Myanmar: "My whole life is about devotion to the Buddha’s teachings"




Bhikkhu Agga is a Dutch monk living in Myanmar. While back home for a short time, he was interviewed about his life decision to take on robes, found here. Following is an excerpt of his interview:

"My whole life is about devotion to the Buddha’s teachings and to apply this, and this gives my practice much more strength. It’s like an engine in one of this small toy-cars (flywheel) which keeps rotating and supporting you the more you turn it… 
I feel before, and maybe this is because of Gonkaji’s way of teaching, my meditation practice felt more like: ‘you sit your hour and then you do other things and then you sit your hour and the only thing that counts are your hours on the cushion’, it felt a bit like on/off Dhamma. But now it feels like there is not so much division in meditation or in Dhamma, that division is not there anymore, it’s much more like a whole thing and that I think, it’s very important to create momentum and give strenght and power to meditation. You see Dhamma manifesting in much more places and that’s very beautiful, you can see Dhamma almost everywhere. 
Another reason is that as a monk you have a higher sila (morality). 5 precepts is very essential, 8 precepts is very strong, but I feel like when your whole life is based on the sila, this base becomes really strong, and then you can see clearer how karma works… When you make small mistakes in sila you realize: “this is really hurting me, this sila is for my own protection”, so for me, more rules are more protection in that sense, and I think it’s nice to have more protection. 
Another reason is that when you are practicing for example vipassana from Goenka, you depend on an organization , and now as a monk I don’t depend on organization any more, I only depend on the goodness of others. In Myanmar there is a whole culture that supports monks, meditators, so I can go anywhere in Myanmar with a begging bowl and I get food and I get support and that gives me independence from organizations. That makes me very happy. Before I felt like I had to go to the meditation centers because that was the only place where I got the support and I had to addapt and sometimes even not be authentic to myself in order to follow the organization wishes in the form of rules or regulations, and I was adapting to that because I wanted to be able to stay inside the organization, because I wanted to keep sitting my long courses so I would behave as I was expected to behave just to stay inside the organization and that was not healthy for me. 
I also did long time service (long volunteer period) and I realized after a while that sometimes I was not following my heart. I was more following the rules, but not following my heart. Sometimes I felt I could have looked more to the particular situation and not so much to the rules and then for myself decide what was the wisest thing to do. Then out of fear I dind’t follow my own intuition and after some time I realized it was not good. It’s much harder to surrender, to be open, to listen, to be in the present moment and trust in your wisdom at that point and be honest to yourself and decide what’s the best thing to do every moment."

Monday, 6 June 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: Pottery Making and Vipassana Practice



John, a meditator from New Zealand, spends extended periods in Ingyinbin each year, the home of the revered Webu Sayadaw and with his friend Ashin Mandala. This winter, he has decided to keep a journal, which he has kindly offered to share with us. His journal alternates between observation and poetry, between meditation practice and commentary about Burmese Buddhist society, from his learnings and his questions. The full collection of his musings can be found here.

1 February 

"
Day trip to the pot-making factory Kyaukmyaung, near the Irrawaddy, west of Shwebo
Kyaukmyaung pottery: orange mounds of stone
crushed to fine dust, doused
& struck on the wheel: Vipassana.
Soon on to the Hanlin Museum commemorating the Pyu people’s civilisation, but before that the group is shown various artefacts and scrolls assembled in the upper monastery room occupied by the visiting Russian academic, researching nineteenth century Buddhist Sangha texts - co-incidentally the same person we met a couple of visits back in an ancient cave in the Sagayan hills where he was painstakingly taking photographs of images in the cave and appeared equally distracted. But Kyaukmyaung: a tiny aperture low at the rear of one of the five or six large brick kilns (each some 20 meters in length) allows us to view the fire capering over the pots, a wafting and deadly light. A worker feeds different grades of pre-cut firewood into another of the several kilns: one day to build the fire, having it burn for three, letting it cool a further three. The young woman who carries a few bricks at a time from a large pile of bricks wears cloth mittens, her clothes thick with dust. Children in the adjacent field containing piles of uncut logs carry and drop bits and pieces. In a bamboo chair, a worker, enjoying Uposata, watches a Burmese soap on the old tube television housed in a dusty box of wood. Women in yet another shed produce more than 50 small elegant clay pots each day: one shapes, taking only a few minutes per individual pot, while her companion spins the wheel in a regular motion by swinging her own leg to and fro with a push with each swing, reminding me of the boatmen on Inle Lake. The larger pots made elsewhere are transported using a 6 inch diameter length of bamboo pole, the pot suspended between two Burmen doing the carrying. Jamie can’t resist, and as carrier he does a fair job, just as he did swinging his leg and spinning the pottery wheel."

Friday, 3 June 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: "Vipassana Begins"



John, a meditator from New Zealand, spends extended periods in Ingyinbin each year, the home of the revered Webu Sayadaw and with his friend Ashin Mandala. This winter, he has decided to keep a journal, which he has kindly offered to share with us. His journal alternates between observation and poetry, between meditation practice and commentary about Burmese Buddhist society, from his learnings and his questions. The full collection of his musings can be found here.


27 January 

"Leaving the breakfast hall, in the overcast sky I see a spread V shape of birds, up to 80 ibises in dark shadow, moving to the east, above the pond and tamarind. Sharp at the leading edge, and splaying outward from there, a few individuals cross from one side of the V to the other, edging in there. As the group moves, the lines of the shape undulate, as if it better belonged to the sea. Extraordinary.

One evening, returning from our daily walk to the canal and back, we see in succession three or four such formations, each one containing up to sixty birds, dark in outline, outliers to the main group forming of between two to five birds, soon re-assimilated as the direction pointed is headed in. Children near us, stopping at their top-spinning game gaze upward, reciting something that expresses their own amazement. Similar sights pull our eyes and thoughts upward in the coming days and weeks.

I walk by myself to the hut. Vipassana begins. The mind moves to observe sensations in the body. Attention narrows. Language itself oversized:

                                    Thoughts too large to   
                                    pass through this mental sieve -
                                    inexact fragments!

Sitting is very quiet and soon I cannot remember a happier time being so still a couple of hours. Contented, centred, tranquil, not wanting anything to be otherwise.

                                    Initially confused - does it contain
                                    or is it contained? - or perhaps body’s simply the element
                                    of wind, blowing about.

Very quiet:

                                    An orange peeled
                                    sealing nothing -               
                                    this body!"

Friday, 13 May 2016

"They were building a bathroom!"


Parami Sasana Yeiktha

Overseen by Sayadaw U Waseta, this monastery was founded in 2010. The Sayadaw was trained in the Sayadaw U Pandita tradition, and taught meditation overseas for years before deciding to settle into this mountain refuge, located just outside of the city. U Waseta follows the rigorous practice as characterizes that of his late teacher U Pandita, and as he speaks English, is willing to teach foreign practitioners who come to the Golden Land for Dhamma practice. Yogis can expect an 11-hour practice day, replete with walking and sitting meditation. Visitors to the monastery can also expect a very quite and secluded site, with sometimes the Sayadaw residing here entirely alone, although it enjoys a quite supportive local lay community. 



One American, Zack, ordained here as a Buddhist monk in May 2016, and he tells his following story below:
"When I arrived in Myanmar, I had no specific plans to cultivate Dhamma. I didn’t even know what the word meant! Though Buddhism had long piqued my curiosity, I wasn’t yet even a beginner when I arrived. 
Nonetheless, soon after I learned about the unique possibility, I decided to dive into the deep end and get ordained as a monk, if only for one week. For some reason, the opportunity just called to me. 
Rural Burmese monastic life is a far cry different from California layperson city-life. Though I was completely willing to understand and learn this different way of life, it doesn’t just come to you overnight.
One of the puzzles for me was bathing. Though I had read about outdoor bathing practices, I still wasn’t sure, e.g. what I should wear or take off, where and how discreetly I should scrub, whether it was okay to do this all with other (especially lay-) people around, or whether I should wait for privacy. It didn’t help that I was the only monk at the monastery aside from the Sayadaw! So I didn’t get to look to anyone for an example. 
I did the best I could for the first few days, deciding to clean more private areas in the confines of the toilet room and less sensitive areas outdoors. If unideal, this worked for me, and I felt clean. 
But on day four, curious if I was missing something, I asked the Sayadaw if this was an OK way to do things. “Oh, I forgot!” he exclaimed, “that you’re a Westerner and you shower indoors!” I assured him that I was okay bathing outdoors, and that I simply wanted to make sure I didn’t offend, but he still seemed distressed.
The next morning, a truck full of concrete, bricks, and other building supplies pulled in the driveway. A team of volunteer construction worked filed in from the neighboring town and began excavating for a foundation. The Sayadaw himself directed the team with a tape measure and a level. 
They were building a bathroom.
Of all the hospitality I’ve experienced in my life, this gesture stands unrivaled. And as my friend, who’s spent several years in the country, put it laughingly: “Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that happens in Burma.” 
How magical and impactful to be invited—and as an outsider and a beginner!—so warmly into this culture of support and generosity."

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Cremation and Relics of Sayadaw U Pandita



As a previous post noted, on the 22nd of April 2016, Sayadaw U Pandita was cremated. While no relics were found (which some believe would indicate full enlightenment and which were greatly anticipated by his supporters), there were golden-colored debris found in the cremation coffin, as shown below.

The following story is shared by U Sarana:

"U Maung Aye, a close helper of Sayadaw U Pandita, shared what he heard from Sayadaw U Pandita. Sayadaw U Pandita told to U Maung Aye, that he spoke with Mahasi Sayadaw about a month or so before Mahasi Sayadaw passed away. At that time Mahasi Sayadaw told to U Pandita that to his (Mahasi Sayadaw's) surprise, Mahasi Sayadaw had a dream. It is impossible for an Arahant to have a dream - and thus Sayadaw U Pandita knew, that Mahasi Sayadaw was not an Arahant at the time when this was said. However, Sayadaw U Pandita told U Maung Aye that it is not possible to tell for sure whether Mahasi Sayadaw became an Arahant shortly before he (Mahasi Sayadaw) passed away or not."

Following is a preview on the "Relics" section from the upcoming Shwe Lan Ga Lay:

Similar to the English expression “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” so also can one say that the value and purpose of a relic rests upon the perspective of who happens to be before it. For rulers of any kind, from kings to elected officials, the acquisition of sacred relics is seen as an implicit acknowledgement that the leader has developed sufficient paramis to justify his rule (Specifically, if a king was said to be a righteous ruler, it would follow that his reign would see good weather and plentiful harvests, and that white elephants and Buddha relics would find him.) For pagoda-donors, enshrinement of relics amplify the merit they are already due to receive with the meritorious construction. For tourists, they are yet another curiosity to marvel over, photograph, and later revel to friends back home. For treasure-hunters and occult worshipers, relics represent another object to seek out, collect, and make use of. For supporters of a particular monk, they are seen as real evidence of his attainment and may forever be honored throughout the lineage. For many lay Buddhists as well as monastics, they are a profound symbol representing the Triple Gem in all its depth, and which guard against the decline of the Sasana. For historians and scholars, they are an object of study when analyzing politics, religion, and war. For religious scholars or defenders of the faith, relics can pose a challenge to the heterodoxy in that there is not explicit reference to them in the scriptures. And for some meditators and yogis, they offer a profound inspiration and vibrational support to the Path. 
Relics are not only confined to Burmese Buddhism or even Buddhism in general, but worship and reverence of sacred objects can be found across eras and cultures. As Schopen writes, “these bodies and bits of bone and otherwise seemingly dead matter have played a lively role in religious practices, economies, and institutions.”

The English relic is derived from the Latin relinquere, meaning “to leave behind,” and this certainly fits the Burmese Buddhist understanding of material “left behind” from the bodies of the country’s great monastics and meditators. Relics thus transcend the worldly and the divine, the material and spiritual, becoming a living embodiment “left over” from the great meditative masters in whose paths we are endeavoring to follow. As Mircea Eliade writes, they are the “manifestation of the sacred in profane contexts.”

Following is a photograph of the relics left by Sayadaw U Pandita: 




Saturday, 7 May 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: "The Moon Cares Little for my Despondency."



John, a meditator from New Zealand, spends extended periods in Ingyinbin each year, the home of the revered Webu Sayadaw and with his friend Ashin Mandala. This winter, he has decided to keep a journal, which he has kindly offered to share with us. His journal alternates between observation and poetry, between meditation practice and commentary about Burmese Buddhist society, from his learnings and his questions. The full collection of his musings can be found here.



24 January Uposata 


"Under the ramshackle wooden tiers of the old hall,the young Bhante paces delivering Uposata
to the children, themselves loosely tiered before him."

25 January 

The weather is warmer but I am on day 3 of a head cold. Surprising, with that and the poor night’s sleep, how cluttered and disconsolate the mind quickly becomes: dreaming of failure at work and with others, constantly tripping over and failing myself. A Lemsip before and a coffee after the morning group sit seems to help. I think of Bhante-ji, enduring a similar cold over a number of days.

Bante-ji, 83 and 40% total hearing,
burnt himself testing barium
for Indira Ghandi and the atomic programme.

*

Starting again, the breath gradually
distils to something finer, then the body,
until neither’s perplexed.

The moon and birds care little for my despondency. During breakfast the glowing spoon-hollow moon slips from above the trees to nestle among the uppermost branches, joining the ibises, which occasionally honk and shift position, before taking flight to other places and the day’s purposes. Looking like the concord, the bird lifts or dips slightly towards its long, curved beak, and is elegant in flight despite the initial dragging of the body and the straggling legs and the repeated short pump of its wings. The egrets are the engineers of flight, economical and precise. There are other birds, one a dark and narrow bird, maybe some kind of shag. At the lakeside a small frog, half the size of my thumb, hops away on hearing Karen’s footsteps and heads to the water’s edge, where it pauses.

The night traversing the sky, in the morning
the radiant full moon slips alongside
the ibises among the tamarind’s upper branches.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Cremation for Sayadaw U Pandita




As shared recently here, one of the world's greatest Vipassana teachers has died. This was also reported on Buddhist Channel, and cremation services are planned for Friday April 22 in Bago. An open question concerns what type of funeral it will be. In the past, monk cremations were large and glorious affairs, but some revered Sayadaws began speaking out against this as a waste of funds and not serving the ultimate purpose of Dhamma, and requiring that their own eventual funerals be humble affairs. Of course, U Pandita was no ordinary monk or even meditation teacher by any marker, and so many may justifiably wish to honor his life. Devotees are also waiting to see what relics may appear, as many believe he attained the state of being fully liberated.

Sayadaw Gyi's body is now available for paying respects in Yangon's Panditarama (Shwe Daung Gone Yeikthar) until tomorrow's midday. The body then will be transported to Bago with a retinue of buses, leaving the Yangon Panditarama at 1 PM. According to the Burmese program, Sitagu Sayadaw will give a discourse at 8:30 pm on April 21. The cremation ceremony will start the following day at around noon. 

Yangon Panditarama: No.80(က)။ သံလြင္လမ္း၊ ဗဟန္းၿမိဳ႔နယ္၊ ရန္ကုန္ၿမိဳ႔။ Phone no.: 01-705525.

Bago Panditarama: ပဲခူးတိုင္း၊ သံျဖဴေက်ာင္းေက်းရြာ၊ အင္းတေဂၚ၊ ၁၀ မိုင္ကုန္း မွတ္တိုင္။ Phone no.: 09-49450787.

Below, a recent photograph depicting the carrying of U Pandita's corpse to the eventual cremation pyre: