Friday, 16 August 2013

Shwe Lan Excerpt: "Being a Western Monk in Ingyinbin"

The Meditator Guidebook to Burma is in its final stages! As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. Here are two paragraphs taken from the Ingyinbin chapter, which is the birthplace of the venerable Webu Sayadaw, and concerns his habit for alms rounds:
When Webu first returned to Ingyinbin, his teacher did not ask him to join the daily alms round, which is a common practice for pupils who are considered highly advanced or have much potential. However in his later years, he went on alms round by himself, doing so out of great compassion in allowing local villagers to gain merit by giving food to such a highly-attained monk. He established a routine of going to eight nearby villages, one for each day of the (Burmese) week. One Dutch monk who stayed for some time at Ingyinbin recounts what it was like to literally follow in the Webu’s footsteps:

“When I stayed with two of my Dhamma-friends in Ingyinbin in the beginning of 2012, U Mandala kindly explained many aspects of Webu's life. When I asked him how Webu Sayadaw went on alms round, U Mandala explained... I asked if I could do the same, and with permission, I now could also go to all these villages on alms round. Since we were planning to stay for more than two weeks, I went two times to the first village, two times to the next village, etc. It was amazing how much the people from these villages were supporting, every house seemed to be making food offerings, and it was done in such a respectful way. The dhamma that Webu Sayadaw had brought to this place was very much alive, and that there was this possibility to 'walk in his footsteps', was greatly inspiring and motivating. In the end, two people from the village helped carrying all the food that was donated back to the monastery, where it was shared with the monks, novices, nuns and guests.”

U Mandala, a senior monk who ordained at age 17 under Webu Sayadaw, is shown seated at one of Ingyinbin's monastic buildings