Monday, 26 January 2015

Mohnyin Vipassana Monastery

Mohynin Sayadaw was one of the most prominent students of Ledi Sayadaw, and his more famous monastery can be visited near Monywa. This branch extension can be visited on the southern end of Golden Valley Road. Inside the compound are a large cluster of buildings, with newer and renovated multi-storied structures mixing with others made of wood that date back much further. This site was built for the monk in the 1940s, and Monhynin Sayadaw himself came here regularly to teach Vipassana practice over the course of the last 40 years of his life. (As a younger monk, following his venerable teacher Ledi Sayadaw's advice, he spent ten years without speaking while practicing intensive Vipassana meditation) 

Although the area is now considered an older part of town, when the monastery was first built there was only jungle here, with tigers roaming not far away. Foreigners are not allowed to stay here overnight, but the relics of the original Sayadaw may be viewed, and this makes a wonderful site for one to practice meditation amongst such purity and strong vibrations. Another shrine building has a large standing statue of the original Monyhin Sayadaw, next to one of a Buddha that is customarily placed in the center. The pagoda is also quite beautiful, and is a very suitable place for meditation. A new Mohnyin center is now being constructed in Nay Pyi Daw, and here foreign yogis will be welcome to stay and practice. For more information, contact Sayadaw U Indaka, the current abbot overseeing the center. As this is off the normal meditator-circuit, it is truly a special place to spend a day-- or many more-- silently pursuing one's meditative practice.

Standing statue of Mohnyin Sayadaw

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Plans for U Mandala in Australia

As noted earlier, U Mandala of Ingyinbin is confirming his plans to travel to Australia. On invitation from a Mexican yogi, he will first stay at Earth Home Thailand in Maejo village near Chiang Mai, where natural building techniques are practiced. The founder of Earth Home Thailand felt a strong desire to visit the ancestral home of the venerable Webu Sayadaw in December 2013, and spent three weeks there volunteering to build a natural home that is now used by monks as a meditation chamber. Pariyatti pilgrims donated further dana so that the program could continue, in the hopes that Burmese farmers and lay supporters in the area can learn and promote this practice in the remote village. The links between Earth Home Thailand and Buddhist Burma are indeed only growing stronger, as the Dutch monk Bhante Agga spent much of last year living in a forest near Maejo and being supported by the Earth Home Thailand family. 

U Mandala will then go to Australia on his own, and he hopes to meet with Australian meditators and Buddhists who have visited his home village of Ingyinbin, or who venerate the great Webu Sayadaw.

In his own words he has shared: "I will long stay in Australia because I want meditation. I am interested in attending Sayagyi U Goenka meditation centers because I want to practice meditation there. As for me, all life was spent on pariyatti. Now it is time for me to start to practice patipatta with more digiligence so I will go to away my birth place to do this. I want libration from samsara."

U Mandala first learned anapana meditation as a 17-year old novice in Ingyinbin from Webu Sayadaw, and has gone on to be the most senior monk at the monastery, only after the head Sayadaw. He is in charge of the monastic education for all novices as well as village children, instructing them not only in basic educational skills but also in Buddhist scripture, as well as continuing the anapana meditation promoted by Webu Sayadaw. He has also been the single Ingyinbin resident with the foresight for many years to greet and welcome foreign meditators who wished to come to pay respects to Webu Sayadaw, and has lovingly cared for them during their stay. Last year, he even helped to ordain one such visitor. Thus, after such heavy responsibilities for these many years, he views his visit to Australia as a chance to focus entirely upon the patipatti (meditation) practice.

Plans are still being made for his schedule in Australia. It may include a Dhamma talk and Question and Answer about Webu Sayadaw. Meditators who wish to make merit by offering lunch to U Mandala or who wish to invite him to their homes may do so, and dana to support his stay may be collected in Australia. Please contact burmadhamma@gmail and we will relay your request to U Mandala.

Friday, 23 January 2015

National Geographic Photograph of the Day

Today's "Photograph of the Day" from National Geographic shows a Burmese Buddhist woman in Myanmar lighting candles at a Buddha image.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Monastic Kitchen in Ingyinbin...

In January 2014, a Pariyatti pilgrimage descended upon Webu Monastery in Ingyinbin, where meditators from around the world paid respects to the great monk Webu Sayadaw. They stayed on the Patipatti side of the monastery, and their food was lovingly prepared by the lay staff of the monastery. This short clip gives an inside view of the kitchen, where the great food magic took place. Shot with an HD lens, it transports the viewer to rural Burma within seconds...

U Mandala of Webu Sayadaw Monastery to visit Australia

As was detailed in the wonderful Webu Sayadaw biopic Anthology of a Noble One, U Mandala is a senior monk charged with overseeing much of Webu's former Ingyinbin monastery. Single-handedly he has made sure that the sacred site remain open to foreign devotees in the years since his master's passing, and he has cared for them throughout their stay. Having learned the meditation method of Webu Sayadaw as a 17 year old novice, he now teaches it to the many novices currently at his Ingyinbin monastery.

U Mandala has been invited to visit Australia this year. Any Australian-based meditator (or perhaps those in New Zealand) who would like to welcome him during his visit, please contact us (burmadhamma@gmail) and we can forward your request to U Mandala. There may also be opportunities to offer lunch to the venerable monk during his stay down under.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Venerable Master Ledi’s Lectures

The Venerable Master Ledi’s Lectures

"There are five senses (see, hear, touch, smell, taste)
We develop pleasure or dismay-- like or dislike-- from these senses
Our thoughts are forever changing from these derivations

If you waste the whole day with these five senses,
One should live in the four stages of underworld 

Lesser than that of human nature

Your views, your path, you will always dwell
Buried under these stages yourself

Don’t follow your old ways
Throw away this greed
Control your mind with good intention.
Cleanse practice is like saving a life

In this now, this opportunity period
Not following these given teachings is a foolish act
Can there be anyone more foolish than you?

In this now, this easy period
Not listening these given teachings is a troublesome act
Can there be anyone more troublesome than you?

In this now, this ready period
Not practicing these given teachings is an undisciplined act
Can there by anyone more undisciplined than you?"

The translator has added the following note: Some of the references here are to the Burmese thinkings of the underworld where there are 34 stages of underworld and there was a reference to 4 of them in the poetic lecture. Essentially it is a stage of being comparable to living in a garbage facility with rabid diseases when you can instead live in a sanitary palace with good practice. Living in an underground world lesser than human.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Ordination of Zach Hessler

Zach Hessler has become Bhikkhu Obhasa at Shwe Oo Min Monastery, under the Preceptor Sayadaw U Tejaniya. He had ordained for three months last year and so liked the experienced that he is now making an open-ended commitment to living the life of a bhikkhu in robes. Ma Thiri attended the ordination and kindly shares these inspiring photos. May Bhikkhu Obhasa attain the highest stages of insight! We say Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!