Friday, 18 April 2014

"S.N. Goenka: His Life His Dhamma, Part 4"




This documentary, chronicling the life of S.N. Goenka from a Burmese perspective, has been many years in the making by U Min Chit Thu and U Lu Min Khaung. While it is now available throughout Myanmar, this is the first chance for anyone outside the country to be able to get a view of it. The makers of the documentary have kindly given us exclusive permission to post this on the Internet, so that their work may reach more people throughout the world, and offer inspiration and appreciation. They would like to bring English subtitles but are currently running into technical difficulties; additional volunteers for this meritorious deed may contact us.

This is the fourth and final part. The first part can be found here.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Ledi Sayadaw Biography





Ledi Sayadaw was one of the great monks of Burma and believed by many to be the father of the modern mass meditation movement. Two years ago Burmese documentarians created a 28-part series exploring the life of this great member of the Buddhist Sangha, all of which are available now on YouTube.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

"Bold Journeys": Rangoon's IMC in the 1950s



A popular show in the 1950s was called Bold Journeys, and appeared on the American TV station CBS. In this, television personalities visited lesser-known spots of the world and described their experiences there to the viewers back home. In 1957, Marion Picks spent one month in Burma. After she returned, she reported on the culture, the people, the food, and other curiosities. She also had the extremely good fortune of meditating 10 days under the instruction of Sayagyi U Ba Khin at International Meditation Centre (IMC). While here she was also able to meet Burma's first president, Sao Shwe Thaike, a supporter of the center. She discusses her experiences in learning this Buddhist meditation with the host of the program after having returned to the US. This is a short clip from the 30 minute show. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

S.N. Goenka: "His Life, His Dhamma," Part 3



This documentary, chronicling the life of S.N. Goenka from a Burmese perspective, has been many years in the making by U Min Chit Thu and U Lu Min Khaung. While it is now available throughout Myanmar, this is the first chance for anyone outside the country to be able to get a view of it. The makers of the documentary have kindly given us exclusive permission to post this on the Internet, so that their work may reach more people throughout the world, and offer inspiration and appreciation. They would like to bring English subtitles but are currently running into technical difficulties; additional volunteers for this meritorious deed may contact us.

The first part can be found here, and the second one here. The fourth, and final part, is here.

Excerpt from "Fearless Mountain"




A documentary named "Fearless Mountain" shows Western monks living in Northern California according to the Thai Forest Tradition, at Abhayagiri Monastery, in the Ajahn Chah lineage. It is a beautiful film that shows the sprouting of Buddhist life in the West, and particularly in the US. 

It was made by Ukiah residents, a father-and-son team, and a trailer can be found here. The film was so inspiring that a company was formed in its main feature's name, and a new film is now being made based on similar themes.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

"Deliverance"




Made by Isi Dhamma, this beautiful film follows a Swiss man as he comes to Burma and eventually takes up robes and lives as a bhikkhu.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

"Through the Looking Glass"


Bhikkhu Cintita, on alms rounds in Burma


Californian John Dinsmore led a full lay life for fifty years: he worked as a noted linguist, computer programmer, carpenter, and business entrepreneur in Eastern Europe just after the Soviet Union collapsed; he fathered three children and had several marriages and long-term relationships; and had several degrees in higher education and himself taught as a professor in various universities. However, despite all this, he still felt unfulfilled and in search of greater meaning. He ended up leaving most of his possessions and the trappings of lay life to devote himself entirely to Zen Buddhist practice in California and Texas, eventually becoming an integral member of the burgeoning Austin Zen Center. In time, he himself was appointed a Zen teacher and priest here. Still, the depth of renunciation for which he was searching could not be found in Zen, and so he accepted an invitation to travel to Burma on a pilgrimage. Arriving in full Zen clothing, he later ordained as a Theravadin Bhikkhu on a full moon day in Sagaing. In fact, his ordination took place at Sitagu Academy, on the very birthday of Sitagu Sayadaw. He spent the following 13 months between the Sitagu campuses in Yangon and Sagaing. Having recently turned 60 and now known as Bhikkhu Cintita, he has now written a memoir on the events leading to his life in robes. The entire book can be found here, while the monk's main blog is here.

Following is an excerpt, describing the time immediately after his ordination:

“My initial reply to the Burmese monks who had asked what felt different to me after ordination, ‘I know what I am!’ did not quite get to the heart of it. What was different after ordination was that now, for the first time, more than a few others, in fact an entire culture, an entire nation, recognized the shape of my life. It’s not so much that I know what I am — I had chosen to be it years before at the beginning of the good thinking that had earned me my name — but that others now also know who I am, and not only that, but through their respect for the robes show that they fully endorse and share my faith in this way of life. My gratitude for being held by this kind of support was and is to this very day boundless.”

A view of the Sitagu Academy campus in the Sagaing Hills