Saturday, 8 February 2014

Burma Yatra #2, Day 2: Saya Thet Gyi Day

The scenes of the rural Dalla harbor just after the group has arrived, crossing the same river as Sayagyi U Ba Khin did many years ago. The buildings of Yangon are visible from across the water.

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

You can also consider joining a later pilgrimage in Burma yourself.

"Today was great grandfather day. After a morning group sit at Dhamma Joti, we headed across the river to see several sights related to Saya Thet Gyi.

Getting a group of us tickets, boarded, and disembarked is no easy feat. It says volumes about the organizers that this was all taken care of, mostly behind the scenes. Once we arrived at the other side, a small bus was arranged to continue the journey. 

The group arrives in Dalla

Once we left the ferry terminal, the landscape and feel changed dramatically. Against a mostly flat, stark landscape there were small clusters of trees, with an occasional thatched home nearby.

A typical scene that the group sees from its ride from Dalla to Pyaw Bwe Gyi. Saya Thet Gyi's family was once responsible for 1,000 acres of rice fields, and one still finds such agricultural activity in the area today.
Time seems to have forgotten this small village. Dusty roads and rice mills line the path to the salas, perhaps not dissimilar to what Sayagi U Ba Khin, and perhaps Saya Thet Gyi, might have seen in their days.

The first stop was to the Saya Thet Gyi's first meditation sala. After hearing about Saya Thet Gyi's story (especially moving when one sees the joy and pride radiating from Snow's face in the recounting of this familiar tale...), we sat for an hour in the spot where it is believed that Saya Thet Gyi reached some of his attainments. Very strong...

A dog pauses in the walkway leading to Saya Thet Gyi's center

The group then moved to the second sala. There were beautiful paintings on the walls that, as with the rest of the building, had seen some better days. The last place we went to was Anauk Monastery, a monastery where Saya Thet Gyi taught from for a brief period of time. 

The greeting party at Anauk Monastery, a site where Saya Thet Gyi taught for two years
This side of the river appears materially poorer that their city cousins. It's in such a setting that one can appreciate the physical manifestations of the people's monastic devotion. Compared to the first two places, the last (a monastic setting) appeared much better kept. Even the dogs looked healthier!

The bus parks in a field outside Anauk Monastery, the field looking similar to what one may have found even in Saya Thet Gyi's time. The lay meditation master himself preferred this site for its quiet and distance from the main town area.
As an aside - it looks remarkably challenging to lead these groups. These yatras have been compared to long courses. If so, the group leader is akin to course manager, except they have to oversee a bunch of independent minded, talking students, who wander at their own pace... The balance between letting each individual's 'course' unfold and making sure the group stays on schedule is difficult, and the effort in just getting everyone to show up and/or leave by a certain time is tremendous...

Aside #2: There's a sense of a protective bubble around us, woven by all those involved in our care. The support from them is palpable. The motocoach assistant, for example, has walked into Yangon traffic (no small feat in any Asian country!) to herd us through. How fortunate we are!"

See here for Day 3!

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