Saturday, 26 October 2013

Shwe Lan Preview: HEALTH

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 is an excerpt from the "Health" chapter as it begins to get laid out:

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Mandalay and Orientalism

A vision of wind-swept Mandalay

The Meditator Guidebook to Myanmar is in its final stages. As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis and meditators may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. Here is an excerpt from the section on Mandalay, and discusses the popular lore surrounding the city:

In Western travel mythology, Mandalay has become associated with other such “exotic” locales as Timbuktu and Zanzibar, leaving many armchair backpackers to place a visit to this Upper Burma city on their Bucket List. In truth, the city’s mystique can be traced back to the 1890 poem by the colonial cheerleader, Rudyard Kipling. Of course, Kipling never actually made it to Mandalay himself, and so the expressed exoticism of Mandalay—as well as its very geography—is more a product of Kipling’s imagination than any reality. 

Kipling’s “Mandalay” painted such an exciting and exotic picture of the colonialist’s view of the Orient that it has stuck to this day. Triggered by the repeated refrain, “The Road to Mandalay,” his fevered imagination has gone on to inspire everything from a World War II memoir to a modern luxury cruise ship, and from two films (one a 1926 Lon Chaney silent picture and another a later aborted Bing Crosby/Bob Hope production) to two songs (the first by Frank Sinatra and the more recent from Robbie Williams). It certainly can’t get stranger than the multi-million dollar Las Vegas casino christening itself “Mandalay Bay” after the landlocked city, with a sprawing hotel theme encompassing various Southeast Asian locales through the Pacific islands and atolls!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Various views on the practice of "Pindabat", or the alms rounds of monks

The Meditator Guidebook to Myanmar is in its final stages. As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis and meditators may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. Here is an excerpt from the section on Monastic Life, and discusses the monks' alms rounds. We have included three quotations that were placed towards the end of this section:

“The gifts are never acknowledged. The cover of the bowl is removed, and when the offering has been put in, it is replaced, and the monk moves on. And when they have made their accustomed round, they return, as they went, slowly to the monastery, their bowls full of food… It is a good thing to give alms—good for yourself, I mean. So that this daily procession does good in two ways: it is good for the monk because he learns humility; it is good for the people because they have thereby offered them a chance of giving a little alms. Even the poorest may be able to give his spoonful of rice. All is accepted. Think not a great gift is more acceptable than a little one. You must judge by the giver's heart.” Harold Fielding, Soul of a People

“Offering alms to monk on their daily rounds is considered of even greater merit than sending an elaborate meal to the monastery or inviting monks to one’s home to partake of food: it is spontaneous and lacking in show or ostentation and there is also a spirit of impersonal and impartial good will.” Khin Myo Chit, Colorful Myanmar

“The first alms round was a magical experience with devout donors and plenty of gratitude both from them and from us. The life of an alms mendicant is interesting, the householders are respectful and grateful to have someone representing Buddha to them, when they give us food they feel joyful and thus earn merits. We monks are equally grateful, with their donation we can live this wonderful life another day without difficulty. It is a mutual symbiotic relationship of joy with neither side accumulating a sense of debt to the other.” Canadian monk

A foreign monk accepts rice from a young villager outside of Shwe Oo Min Monastery in Northern Yangon

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Myin Ma Hti Caves near Kalaw

A very interesting site are the Myin Ma Hti Caves just to the east of Kalaw, on the Kalaw-Loikaw Highway about four miles as the crow flies from Kalaw as you approach Loikaw. It is a beautiful trip, and once over the pass, there are hillocks stretching into the distance as far as the eye can see. The caves are just over one thousand feet in length, lined by stalactites and natural formations on the walls that are known for their uncanny resemblance to life-like objects. Each formation has been named, with titles such as “headless human body structure,” “rock Brahmany duck,” “elephant tying pole”, and “Angel’s grinding stone.” There is another part of the cave known as “rock drums,” and where multiple protrusions of rock make different musical pitches, and “Angel’s Pond,” an always-full inner pond that collects water seeping from the wall is supposed to bring outer beauty and inner cleansing. The cave connects to another subterranean passage that exits out of a nearby hill, unlike other Burmese limestone caves that extend indefinitely underground. It is a quiet place, and with so much reverence and history, makes a fine place to trek out for some meditation practice.

Local legend suggests that the original pagoda at Myin Ma Hti was one of the 84,000 pagodas built by King Asoka 2,300 years ago. It was later repaired by the Burmese kings Anawrahta and Alaungsithu. The three htis of the pagoda may be a reference to these three great kings, although they may also have been placed by later donors. The earliest stupa is also believed to have been placed there by King Asoka, and many of the other Buddhas are from the Bagan Era. King Anawrahta himself donated the collection of twenty-eight statues you will find here, with fourteen on the lower level and fourteen on an upper terrace. The name of the large stupa is Ohn Na Lone Myway Shin Stupa.

A monk living in the rural Burmese countryside feeds his dog, named "Myogyi" after a famous local rock star

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Burmese Kadaw

“I cannot think of an English equivalent for the Myanmar word kadaw: it is more than paying respects, or doing obeisance. One raises clasped hands to the forehand and crouches humbly at the feet of the parents, elders and teachers, in the same way one does to worship the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. This is to kadaw—to be humble and reverent, remembering with gratitude all that one owes to parents and teachers, and what is more, desiring to be purged of all the trespasses that might have been committed by word, though or deed. The reverent posture of crouching with clasped hands raised to the forehead should not be mistaken for servility, for it is not something that is forced or compelled. It is a voluntary act of honour to whom honor is due… The custom of kudow is rooted in the Buddhist acceptance of samsara, the round of being born and reborn; all beings, human and all, go round meeting one another in amicable relationships or otherwise; there would be love and kindness, but there could be hate and enmity as well. There are surely wrongful actions committed consciously or unconsciously to one in this present life. When Buddhists do the ceremony of kadaw… they not only pay respect with the gesture of gratitude, but also ask for forgiveness for any wrongful action they might have done in this life and many many lives before.” Khin Myo Chit, Colorful Myanmar

Burmese villagers pay respects to approaching monks on alms rounds

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Scattering of Goenkaji Ashes takes place

This Myanmar Times article describes U Goenka's final homecoming back to the country of his origin. After arriving on October 7th with a formal procession, his ashes were floated at Yangon River after an offering at Park Royal Hotel in downtown Yangon. Students at Dhamma Mandala in Mandalay scattered more on the center ground on October 9th, and U Nyanissara scattered ashes in the Ayeyarwaddy near the Goenka ancestral home.

On October 13th at 8.15 am Myanmar time, a group sitting will take place at Dhamma Joti. This also happens to be the 20th anniversary of the center's founding.

Walking Paths Amid the Sagaing Hills

The Meditator Guidebook to Myanmar is in its final stages. As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis and meditators may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. Here is an excerpt from the section on the Sagaing Hills, known as the place where monks and lay people who are serious about meditation come to work in silence and seclusion:

As the British colonial government took over control of the country, life in the forest monasteries of Sagaing Hills was little affected. Writing in 1907, V.C. Scott O’Conner describes his own visit here in Mandalay and Other Cities of the Past In Burma: “By far the most interesting part of Sagaing lies in the hilly country above it, where austere monks live; and every peak bears testimony to the piety of bygone kings and people…. The effect of the spectacle is enhanced, and lifted up to something strangely majestic, by the atmosphere, dry, prismatic, mystical— glorious with all the effulgence of Sagaing… One does not come upon sights like this out of Burma. There is some unconscious undercurrent of great qualities in the Burman personality that alone makes them possible.” 

Even as recently as a generation ago, a lay person coming to pay homage to a particular revered monk would have to bushwhack a path up the mountains and be on the watch for snakes, and monks had to keep an eye for tigers and leopards while on their alms rounds, including one monastery that was even built as a kind of tiger safe-house. Despite the signs reading “Cut One Tree, Three Years In Jail,” modernity is slowly finding a way to seep in, with some paved tracks laid allowing easier transport to the start of the Sagaing Hills and pushing the remote ascetic’s life deeper into the forest. But make no mistake, still today the best way to explore the hills is on foot, as many small monasteries are totally inaccessible by cars or even motorbike or bicycle. Burmese author Khin Myo Chit notes that while some of these sites “can be reached by motor road, the pilgrim whose sweet and wholesome hours are reckoned with the tinkling of temple bells is not pressed for time; this pilgrim prefers to ascend one of the brick stairways zig-zagging up the hill.” Some of these walking paths were laid down several hundred years ago, and the tread of royal processions and monks that walked upon the can still be seen in the grooves of the stones. Others have become so narrow that they are just one meter wide, while others have become completely reclaimed by jungle.

Original artwork in Shwe Lan Ga Lay shows a typical stone staircase that one finds when wandering through the Sagaing Hills

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Scattering of Ashes of U Goenka in Mandalay

More than five hundred monks will converge in Mandalay as the Sitagu Sayadaw from Sagaing will disperse U Goenka's ashes. Large boats will carry the monks and tens of thousands of lay followers are expected. The progression will be headed by seven large floating barges that will spell out the words, with one letter each: S  N  G  O  E  N  K  A. The barges of fire will flow together with his ashes. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Original Artwork in Shwe Lan Ga Lay: "A Mindful Walk"

As Shwe Lan Ga Lay is entirely a volunteer project, all contributors are donating their time and skill areas. This includes not only professional writers, editors, photographers, designers, and researchers, but also artists. Below is a recent piece of artwork that one of our meditator-artists has recently completed, based off of an actual photo taken in a small village in Upper Myanmar.

Webu Sayadaw Monastery at Ingyinbin, Upper Myanmar

The Meditator Guidebook to Myanmar is in its final stages. As the guide gets closer to publication, we will begin to share excerpts of what yogis and meditators may expect... some sneak previews of what is to come. Here is an excerpt from the section on Ingyinbin Monastery in Upper Myanmar, the birthplace of the venerable Webu Sayadaw and where U Ko Lay and Sayagyi U Ba Khin ordained in 1965:

Los Angeles Times reports on U Goenka's passing from Yangon

This L.A. Times article discusses the life and teachings of S.N. Goenka, as well as the arrangements being made for his ashes this week in Yangon. The article also quotes Shwe Lan Ga Lay's contributor Ma Phyu Wint Yee, who has been involved in Dhamma Joti preparations this week. Ma Phyu Wint Yee has taken a major role in assisting with the meditator book project for the last six months.

Remembering Webu Sayadaw

Burmese monk U Rewata was a young man when the great monk Webu Sayadaw visited Rangoon in 1977, leaving his small village in Upper Burma. U Rewata remembers his experiences leaving University classes to see Webu Sayadaw's motorcade and listening to his dhamma discourse the following day.

Monday, 7 October 2013

"How S.N. Goenka Changed My Life—And the Lives of Millions More"

"S.N. Goenka, who died on Saturday, embodied the teachings of the Buddha, yet insisted on a completely inclusive approach. We could use a man like him right now, writes Sharon Salzberg."

See the full article here on The Daily Beast.

A message from Goenkaji

A message from Goenkaji:

Dear Travellers on the path of Dhamma;

Be happy
Keep the torch of Dhamma alight.
Let it shine brightly in your daily life.

Always remember, Dhamma is not an escape.
It is an art of living: living in peace and harmony with oneself
And also with all others.
Hence, try to live a Dhamma life.
Don’t miss your daily sitting each morning and evening.
Whenever possible, attend weekly joint sittings with other Vipassana meditators.
Do a ten day course as an annual retreat.
This is essential to keep you going strong.
With all confidence, face the spikes around you bravely and smilingly.
Renounce hatred and aversion, ill will and animosity.
Generate love and compassion, especially for those who do not
understand Dhamma and are living an unhappy life.
May your Dhamma behavior show them the path of peace and harmony.
May the glow of Dhamma on your faces attract more and more suffering
people to this path of real happiness.
May all beings be happy, peaceful , liberated.
With all my metta,
S.N. Goenka

Carrying the final remains of S.N. Goenka to his birth country of Burma

The Beginning of the "Last Journey"

In what they are calling "The Last Journey" in Yangon, this morning many pilgrims came to Dhamma Joti to pay respects. They will sit again together from 6 to 7 pm Myanmar time and invite all meditators around the world to join in this meritorious deed by sitting at the same time at your own location.

The ashes being ceremoniously brought to the center by the Goenka family

Members of U Goenka's family, led by his son U Shwe, carry the ashes to the center

U Goenka's ashes on display

Pilgrims gather to pay their respects

The remains of Padmabhushan Global Vipassanacharya Sri S.N. Goenka

A local TV news crew at the event

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Arrival of Ashes to Yangon and Dhamma Joti

The ashes of S.N. Goenka as they arrive in Yangon:

Change of Plans for Goenkaji's Ashes

The plans for the ceremonies have changed and are now as follows. The ashes will be scattered:
  • October 8 in Yangon
  • October 9 in Myitkyina
  • October 10 in Mandalay
As one local Burmese meditator comments, "one very remarkable thing is at other funerals many people are sad and some may cry, but we all are delighted to celebrate and give our last respect toward our respected Puja Guruji Goenka. According to reports, Mataji will come and participate in this trip."

There is thus still time for foreign yogis to take part in these events.

Photos of Dhamma Joti preparations

The below photos show the preparations Dhamma Joti is making prior to receiving the ashes of S.N. Goenka, in an event that is being called "The Final Journey."

Sitagu Sayadaw will take the ashes toward the Ayeyarwaddy River, with over 500 monks and ten of thousands of followers in town. Ten large ships will follow along on 10th October, going towards the site where the great meditation teacher was born.

Photos of Great Global Pagoda sitting in Goenkaji's honor

The ashes are shown on the table with the red cloth over it, prior to their flight to Burma when they will be dispersed in three places.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Update on arrival of ashes from S.N. Goenka to Myanmar

The ashes of S.N. Goenka are scheduled to arrive in Yangon on Monday Morning (7 October) at 10 AM by air from India. They will then be taken to Dhamma Joti Meditation Centre in a special vehicle decorated with flowers and people will allowed to pay tribute overnight.

The next morning some of the ashes will be taken to Myitkyina in Kachin State by air. The first scattering is Myitkyina of Irrawaddy river.

On Wednesday (9 Oct), the remaining ashes will be taken to Mandalay, where U Goenka was born, and scattered into the Ayeyarwaddy River near the Mandalay.

On the evening of the same day, the remaining ashes will be brought back the Yangon for overnight public tribute in Dhamma Joti Meditation Centre.

The final scattering would be on Thursday (10 Oct) morning at the entrance of Yangon river by Mya Nan Dar Boat.

Due to health problems, Mataji (the widow of S.N. Goenka) is not able to accompany the ashes to Myanmar.

Burmese Dogs: "A Bark Worse Than Its Bite"

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 is an excerpt from the "Health" chapter as it begins to get laid out:

A Bark Worse Than Its Bite

Friday, 4 October 2013

Group Meditation at Great Global Pagoda on October 6

The following message is currently being circulated among old students in the S.N. Goenka tradition:

"Dear Dhamma Brothers & Sisters,

Param Pujya Shri Satya Narayan Goenka, Global Acharya of Vipassana Meditation, has passed away peacefully at the ripe age of 90 at his residence on Sunday, 29th September, 2013 at 10:40 PM.

To express gratitude to Pujya Guruji Shri S N Goenkaji, a group sitting is being held for all the meditators at the Global Pagoda on Sunday 6th October 2013 from 10 AM to 2 PM.

It is a rare, once in many life times opportunity to mediate together in large numbers in the Global Pagoda, as Pujya Guruji relics will be kept in the pagoda for this course.

Hence, Global Vipassana Foundation invites you to strengthen your Vipassana Meditation and strengthening of the Ten Paramitas by attending this Meditation course.

Programme Highlights

10:00 - 11:00 Group Sitting ( for old students only)

11:00 - 12:00 Dhamma Pravachan & Metta on Video (non Sadhks Welcome)

12:00 - 01:00 Pujya Guruji last Journey Video

01:00 - 02:00 Course ends and Lunch

Registration for this programme is COMPULSORY. You could use any one of the following methods to Pre-Register.

SMS based Registration
Kindly send an SMS to mobile number 99303 99301 in the message TYPE



Priya Nair F 35

Ramesh Baldev M 65

Important Points to Note
If your First Name is more than one word – than TYPE that without Space

Example First Name is Shyam Kishore TYPE ShyamKishore

Gender can only be M for Male, F for Female or O for Other

Age must be Numeric

Online Registration

Go to the website:

Tele-Calling Registration
Call the following telephone numbers (11.00 am to 5.00 pm from Monday to Sunday):

3374-7501 Ext.-9



Kindly use a Prefix before dialling out if required in following situations

If you are dialling from any private operator but Mumbai itself Prefix 022

If you are calling from outside Mumbai but India Prefix 022

If you are calling from Outside India kindly use country code and city code

Prefix 91 22 to your ISD dialling

Following Guidelines to be met for attending the Course:

Only Old Students who have successfully completed at least one 10-Day course with S.N. Goenkaji and his teachers in tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin can register and attend this Course

It is compulsory to register each individual Sadhaks even if coming in large groups. Kindly call on the telephone numbers above for registering large groups.

There is no overnight staying facility before, during or after the course at Global Vipassana Pagoda, so kindly plan your travel accordingly. Here is a list of Hotels for those travelling from outside Mumbai. (Please note Global Vipassana Foundation has provided the names, contact information and prices of these hotels as a courtesy. Global Vipassana Foundation is not responsible for these hotels and their prices. Kindly contact the hotel directly for any further information)

Meditators are requested not to bring their children, as children are not permitted inside the Global Vipassana Pagoda.

For security check, it is mandatory for all meditators to present a photo identity card such as driving license, voter ID card or passport at the entrance."

Shwe Lan Ga Lay: Health Preview

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 is an excerpt from the "Health" chapter as it begins to get laid out:

Scattering of Ashes

Sayadaw U Nyanissara is scheduled to scatter U Goenka's ashes from three locations along the Irrawaddy River concurrently.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ashes of S.N. Goenka

"The ashes of the late Guruji Goenka's will be scattered in 3 places in the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. The ashes are scheduled to arrive in Yangon International Airport, on Monday (7 October) 2:00 pm by Air from India.

The ashes will be taken to Dhamma Joti Mediation Centre (in Yangon), in a special vehicle decorated with flowers and people will be allowed to pay tribute overnight.

The next morning the ashes will be taken to Myit Kyi Nar (Capital City of Kachin State, Northern Myanmar) by air. The first scattering is site will be at the Myit Sone (beginning point) of Irrawaddy River. On Wednesday (9 October), the remaining ashes will be taken to Mandalay, (birth place of Guruji) and scattered into the Irrawaddy River at Mandalay.

On the evening of the same day, the remaining ashes will be brought back to Yangon for overnight public tribute in Dhamma Joti Meditation Centre.

The final scattering would be on Thursday (10 October) morning at the entrance of Yangon River in Yangon by Myan Nandar boat."

Metta Program for S.N. Goenka

Recent Obituaries for S.N. Goenka in Mainstream News

Writing in Tricycle, Erik Braun contextualizes how S.N. Goenka brought Burmese Buddhist practice to a wider Western audience in this article. Braun is the author of the forthcoming book, The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw.

Jay Michealson wrote an article for The Huffington Post crediting S.N. Goenka with jumpstarting the entire mindfulness movement and interest in meditation that is so common in the West today.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Paying Last Respects to U Goenka

The following is an update that allows the meditator to feel more connected to the happenings taking place now in Mumbai. As this is an email message that has been forwarded to hundreds and perhaps thousands of meditators in U Goenka tradition (as opposed to a private correspondence), it is (anonymously) shared here:

"[We] went over to the house this morning as soon as we finished sitting. They had commandeered a large part of the parking lot for people to leave their shoes and then we were ushered into a large room where they had set out chairs and dhurries for people to sit on. We were fortunate to be one of the first groups ushered up the the 13th floor where they had Goenkaji laid out in a stainless steel coffin with a glass top so you could see him inside. It was not the same one as in the picture that is making its way around and it was in a different room. I think that they probably had to shift some things around because so many people were coming. Originally he was in the shrine room which was too small for many people to pay their last respects.

It felt very nice there and we stayed for a short while. [It was relayed that] Goenkaji had taken dinner and was in a very jovial mood afterwards. Sometime after dinner he took rest and didn't feel well and the doctor taking his blood pressure said it started dropping. It went down, down, down right to zero. Then it popped back up a couple of times and then nothing... It was about 10:40 or 10:45 pm Bombay time.

This morning the phone was ringing off the hook for a short while here, but after that it has all been very quiet. At the house all those that came were very peaceful and quiet. There were no emotional acts apart from a few who were crying. As one looked around the waiting hall many people were meditating. It was very nice.

For many of us he was so much a part of our lives, from when we were very young, and this is the end of an era. A new one is beginning and I think he left us with the tools to take over and move forward."

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Funeral of S.N. Goenka

More can be found here.

Following are photos taken from the funeral of S.N. Goenka near Mumbai: