Sunday, 27 July 2014

Brahma Vihara in Pyin Oo Lwin


This center is overseen by Sayalay Dipankara, who began her own meditation practice while at a very young age, before receiving any instructions from a teacher. She studied Abhidhamma and learned samatha and vipassana from Pa Auk Sayadaw, ordaining as a nun in 1990. She became a meditation teacher shortly thereafter, and according to her website, can teach “any of the 40 Kamatthana as mentioned in the Visuddhi Magga e.g. Anapanasati, Four Elements Meditation, Metta, Buddhanussati, Asubha, Marananussati and 8 Samapatti (1st Jhana to 8th Jhana), Kasina, etc and the Vipassana Meditation.” Some of her dhamma talks have also been recorded and are available online for download. She speaks very good English, and foreign yogis who have learned under her are especially inspired by her example. One German nun noted that the teacher herself would wake up at 4 am to help cook for the entire center!
 
Saylay Dipankara’s meditation center may be more well-known among foreign yogis from Asian countries than in the West. While many nuns and laypeople practice here, monks are not allowed due to vinaya rules (i.e., they are not permitted to study meditation under the instruction of a woman), despite many who have wanted to attend. She regularly travels as well, conducting meditation retreats throughout Asia and the West.

Today, there is an annual course open for foreigners that usually lasts between 4-8 weeks, and one can register online (although they usually fill up within just a few days of being announced). More courses for foreign students may be held in the future, so those interested are encouraged to periodically visit her updated website. The center has a beautiful Dhamma Hall, and private bungalows for yogis.

The grounds themselves are quite lush, with wildflowers stretching across vast green lawns interspersed with pine trees. All the buildings are quite modern, and constructed in a Western style, some looking as though they were brought over from Europe.