Tuesday, 14 April 2015

"Shwe Lan Ga Lay Part 1" is now here!

After over two years of work, Shwe Lan Ga Lay (The Golden Path) Part 1 Planning and Logistics is now here! To download and view this wonderful meditator's guidebook to Myanmar, please see here.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Shwe Lan Ga Lay, Part 1: Planning and Logistics

The Golden Path, or Shwe Lan Ga Lay, is a unique guide for Dhamma seekers who wish to develop in paṭipatti (practice) and pariyatti (theory) while in Myanmar, as well as to gain an appreciation of Burmese Buddhist and monastic life. Helpful logistical information is supplemented with yogi anecdotes, historical background, scholarly research, authentic local voices, Burmese proverbs, original artwork, inspiring photographs, and wisdom from some of the country's foremost monks, nuns, and meditation teachers. Part 1: Planning and Logistics consists of four chapters: 
"Planning Your Trip," "Health", "You've Landed," and "Food." Future editions will include detailed information covering hundreds of important monasteries, pagodas, and other sites throughout the Golden Land, as well as comprehensive discussion on proper behavior and customs while visiting these Burmese monastic sites, along with other cultural information.

The target release for Part 1: Planning and Logistics is Monday, April 13.

Vipassana-Ñāṇa course in Pyin Oo Lwin

From November 9-22 2015, the renowned Burmse Sayadaw Dr. Nandamalabhivamsa will lead a course on Vipassana-Ñāṇa (Insight knowledge) starting from Diṭṭhi-visuddhi (Purification of View). This will take place at the Institute of Dhamma Education (IDE), Aung Chan Thar Village, Pwin Oo Lwin. The Sayadaw will teach Visuddhimagga in relation to Vipassana, starting with the chapter on ditthi-visuddhi and proceeding through the Vipassana-Ñāṇa. The course will be held in English, and maximum capacity is 40. There is no course fee. Accommodation and food are offered by the institute. The participants are encouraged to do donation to this institute or to offer food as they wish. If you are interested in this course and like to register for it, please email Aggacara2013@gmail.com or view the website aggacara.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

"Shwe Lan Ga Lay: Part 1"

A cover preview of Shwe Lan Ga Lay's Part 1, due to be released just days from now...

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A Food-Book for Sangha Dana at Shwe Oo Min Monastery

So often in Burma, foreign yogis have a great volition to give Sangha Dana to a monastery, but because of a host of reasons-- language, culture, and protocol-- do not know how to specify exactly as they wish their dana to go. With this in mind, U Sarana (seen below giving a Dhamma talk to young Burmese during Thingyan) and a team of volunteers have done a wonderful task at Shwe Oo Min monastery of providing a photo-book of all available curries, fruits, desserts, and drinks that the kitchen can prepare for all of the monks, nuns, yogis, and workers at their monastery. With this tool, donors can simply point to the meal of their choice, and happily see that their dana has gone towards this meritorious deed. Hopefully other monasteries and meditation centers in Myanmar may follow this example in helping to allow foreign yogis to give more easily, and with more information.

For the full Shwe Oo Min Sangha Dana foodbook, see here.

Monday, 6 April 2015

"Throbbing with Vibration"

Meditation teacher Pushpa Savla from India remembers visiting the tazaung of Saya Thet Gyi in Pyaw Bwe Gyi Village with S.N. and Mataji Goenka, where they were introduced to members of Saya Thet Gyi’s family. She goes on to note: “We conducted a group sitting there. It was throbbing with vibration and we had a very good sitting.”

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The Power of Dāna

The power of the humble and selfless gesture of giving dana is seen in some of Myanmar’s great monks and meditation teachers. To give one example, Sayagyi U Ba Khin kept daily records of his own dana expenditures (he was an accountant, after all), one of three columns he used to record his behavior: “dana merit” (measured in money), “sila merit” (measured in adherence to the precept) and “bhavana merit” (referring to hours spent in meditation and recitation of verses). U Ba Khin records that he fulfilled his sīla-kusala by observing “the 227 rules of conduct with respect and diligence…[and] made a special effort not to infringe even the minor rules of conduct,” and fulfilled the bhāvanā-kusala by “[showing] my respect by meditating, by practicing patipatti.” However, his greatest detail is seen in the Dana-kusala column. Here he records that he has given the following items: “for Ingyinbin Pagoda, for Kaung-hmudaw Pagoda, 3 sets of the Tipitika in Burmese, 2 sets of three robes, 3 sets of two robes, 5 umbrellas, 6 pairs of sandals, 2 leather seats, 2 bowls and strainers, 1 razor, candles and incense sticks, 1 big box of cakes, two days of food offerings.” Next to each item is the exact cost, coming to a total expenditure of 2,442 kyat.

Another shining example is Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw (seen above, with Sayagyi U Goenka). Although he had a very large number of supporters, he only took that which he needed, and sent the rest of the donated items to seminaries throughout the country that did not have as many donors. When asked why he did not keep the donations himself, he replied that just as one can buy whatever one wishes at a supermarket, so also can one develop spiritually in any way that one desires in this time of the Buddha Sasana, but when you pass away, all opportunity is lost. For this reason, one must do all one can in the present moment to end akusala actions and tendencies. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, from assisting monks to helping people, like, for example, his sharing his donations with those monasteries that were less fortunate. Addressing donors, he advised that when doing kusala actions, one should be “facing out” rather than “facing in.” In other words, they shouldn’t be thinking of any merit they accrue, but rather focus on the receiver of the dana and what he or she needs to be happy; when seeing their happy face, one will also become happy, and this is kusala.

In order to understand the great value that dāna can bring to one’s life, Prekhemma Sayadaw relates a story from the Buddha’s time. Suvana Devi was the king’s daughter, and she had a younger brother. One day she heard him talking to a palace servant, a boy of around the same age. Her brother was advising the servant to practice more dana, and that it was the fault of his not properly practicing dana that he was born a servant, not a prince like himself. Suvana Devi went to the Buddha and relayed this story. He explained that in a previous life, the two boys were monks who practiced intensive meditation. But the future prince also practiced dana as well. For example, he would give part of his lunch to animals. The future servant objected to this practice, claiming that meditation was the only practice that would lead to nibbana. When they both passed away, Prekhemma Sayadaw comments how “during every future life, the monk who did the meditation and dana enjoyed greater wealth and comfort. Later they both became disciples of the Buddha, and both became enlightened. But the one who practiced dana had an easier path.”

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Translations now underway of "Shwe Lan"

After over two years of hard work by several hundred volunteers across the globe, the first four chapters of Shwe Lan Ga Lay may be released as soon as next week! In the spirit of the Dhamma, all main contributors are volunteers and will receive no personal renumeration of any kind, a kind of pure giving to meditators and monastics wishing to come to the Golden Land, with no strings attached. Chapters 2 through 5 will soon be available. These include: Planning Your Trip, Health, You've Landed, and Food

Now that the drafts for these chapters are finally complete, volunteers have also been requesting to translate these for meditators in their own countries who are non-English speakers, so that they too can benefit. With this in mind, translations will soon be underway in Thai, Japanese, Burmese, Spanish, and Chinese. If fellow meditators would like to join this meritorious project, either in these languages listed or other languages, you are welcome to do so. Please contact us burmadhamma@gmail.