Wednesday, 8 October 2014

"How I Got To Myanmar"

The following story is the beginning of a tale by a Mexican yogi who has been in Burma for many years. This tells how she first arrived in the country. The next post in the series can be found here.

"I came to Myanmar as a tourist with my parents. Before my arrival I was doing retreats in Nepal and Thailand and I was looking for a suitable meditation centre where I could keep practicing. However I knew almost nothing about Myanmar. I just went there because my family wanted to travel.

One of the first places we visit in Yangon was the pagoda next to the Theravada Buddhist University. In the pagoda they had some relics from the Buddha and Sariputta. I was very excited to have access to these relics because in Mexico, every time that some relics come, there are long lines of people that want to see them. In this pagoda, there were very few people.

The tourist guide asked me if I was Buddhist and I told him that I was interested in meditation. He took us to his Spanish teacher who happens to study in the Theravada Buddhist University (ITBMU) and told us about Shwe Oo Min Meditation Centre. He told us that it was a suitable meditation centre for foreigners. That evening we went to visit the meditation centre and we met Sayadaw U Tejaniya, who explained us how the monastery function and gave me a sponsor letter.

I left Myanmar and went to Cambodia. Before my visit to Myanmar I had planned to ask for an Indian visa to look for a meditation centre in Dharamsala. Suddenly, I heard about an Indian girl who was raped by six Indian men in a public transport. That news made me not to go to India and chose Myanmar instead. Even though I did not have any information about the teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya, my experience in Myanmar was very pleasant. The city was very safe and people were extremely gentle and kind, so the conditions for the practice seemed to be ok. So I decided to move to Myanmar.

In my arrival to Myanmar, local people helped me a lot. The tourist guide who had introduced me to U Tejaniya picked me up and brought me to a monastery outside of Yangon where I could rest a little bit before going to Shew Oo Min Monastery. I was the first foreigner who was visiting that monastery. People were very curious about me and they wanted to talk with me. I found it very charming. A local nun was looking after me and gave me a shelter, food and company. Now this monastery is my home in Yangon. Every time I need to go to a new monastery in other district, I stop with this Sayalay (the Burmese word for nun) to say hello, spend some time, gain some energy and love to start a new retreat."

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