Sunday, 2 February 2014

Burma Yatra #2, Day 1

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 see and compare Day #2 of the first yatra, see here, and to another account of the IMC and Saya Thet Gyi visits, see hereYou can also consider joining a later pilgrimage in Burma yourself.

Shwedagon Pagoda as seen from the pilgrims' Yuzana Hotel


"I wasn't planning on writing unless inspiration struck. Based on how things unfolded today, it may strike more often than not...

Pardon any inaccuracies...

There's a corner of Shwedagon where depending on which tile you step on, the diamond on top of the main pagoda shimmers a different color. At the right place, at the right time, the unexpected materializes... So it was with day one of the yatra.

The morning found us barefoot walking from the motorcoach into Shwedagon. For those of us unaccustomed to walking on gravel (stained with local flavors, nonetheless), it was a great opportunity to practice with changing unpleasant sensations. It was especially sweet to remember that this is how (as Harold Fielding put it) the 'Knower of Great Peace' walked, and all the line of monastics after him...

After a brief tour of Shwedagon, we headed to IMC. There was a course ongoing, but Snow and Joah had gotten permission for us to do a one hour group sit on the platform outside the pagoda cells. After a strong sit, Sayagi U Ba Khin's (normally locked) cell was unexpectedly opened for viewing. We each sat briefly in the outer portion of the cell, just long enough to feel the coolness emanating from within and to pay respects.


The view of the inner pagoda area where Sayagyi U Ba Khin would sit, and where Webu Sayadaw meditated when he visited IMC, was specially and unexpectedly opened for pilgrims

A sample of the books by and about U Ba Khin that are available in the IMC bookstore
There was tremendous gratitude welling up from this visit - how special to be able to sit where it all (more recently) began. The radiating out of dhamma from this place has rippled through many lives across the world. May it continue for generations to come.


The powerful impression of the Shwedagon at night
And then... another unexpected surprise was in store - Sayagi U Ba Khin's son and his wife would be joining us for lunch... We were able to hear some stories from him, including how he took his first course. He recently wrote a book on his father - currently only in Burmese, but English translation is underway.

The post lunch afternoon flowed toward more mundane matters - a quick trip to Bogyoke market to pick up necessary items and/or gifts. And the evening wraped up with a group sit at Shwedagon. As it was Saturday night, the ring of candles at the base were amply lit. Dancing flames flickering in the breeze accompanied a walk through Shwedagon's Saturday crowds.

And so ends a day of unexpected surprises - what a start to a grand adventure!"

See here for Day 2 at Saya Thet Gyi's!