Thursday, 27 February 2014

Burma Pilgrimage #2, Day 17: "Here, change is in your face."

The model plan for the new ambitious Sitagu Vipassana Center. The group sat here in the morning

The upper most paogoda at the Sitagu Vipassana Center. Last month's yatra was the first group to ever meditate there, and this group was the second 

The following excerpt was written by an American yogi about the pilgrimage in Burma. The first pilgrimage has ended, and the second one has just begun! To read about the previous day sitting the self course in the Sagaing Hills, go here. To read about the first pilgrimage group's experience as they explored Mingun, see here.

You can also consider joining a later pilgrimage in Burma.

A view of the Mingun Jetty before boarding the boat back to Sagaing

"The highlight today was an Ayeyarwaddy river boat trip.

On boarding the boat consisted of walking down a sandy bank, onto a 'bridge/plank' brought into being by the alignment of a slab of wood to walk on, and a single bamboo 'railing' held by two men. Arising and passing away is never far away in this land...

The craft was remarkably low set in the water with open windows covered only with adjustable tarp. Rain started during our time on the vessel, with a drop in temperature that few of us were prepared for.

Going down the Ayeyarwaddy was the last leg of Goenkaji's ashes. As we traced his path, we passed tugboats hauling wood cargo, small wooden boats with old motors attached, some puffing out black smoke in their journeys.

All share passage in the muddy waters, in a place where change is a reality of life. The sandy banks actively evolve, with large chunks falling to join the river. Men testing water depths stand guard at the bow, guiding vessels away from swirling eddys and sand bars. The landscape is foggy, with rolling hills framing flat lands interspersed with an occasional thatched hut and flame tree.

One of the things in the West, is that we've created such comfortable (and artificial) environments that we forget that all things change. Here, change is in your face, whether it is in the dimming of the bathroom light because the electric shower head just turned on, or floating down the Ayeyarwaddy in an exposed wooden boat.

Anicca, anatta, dukkha...

A gold statue of Mingun Sayadaw


This Mingun Pagoda is built on seven layers to resemble the seven layers of waves when approaching Mt. Meru

The mood is somber, as we pass near where Goenkaji's ashes were scattered.

The rain picked up, and by the time we got on the bus, we were a wet bunch. And in the moment, huddled together on the exposed bus for warmth, Goenkaji's doha chantings arise, led by a couple of CCTs... a sweet ending to a memorable Ayeyarwaddy trip..."

To read about the pilgrims' final day in Yangon, see here.

The Sitagu Academy Rector gave generously of his time, as pilgrims took advantage of his English fluency to ask him a number of question pertaining to the Dhamma

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