Thursday, 23 July 2015

Shan Buddhism

The Mahasi nunnery in Kalaw

While Burmese Buddhism seems to be lesser known throughout the world vis-à-vis other form of Buddhist practices, within the country, similarly, ethnic forms of Buddhist practice are lesser known than the Bamar kind. As Shan Buddhist scholar Khur-Yearn maintains, Shan Buddhist practice has “remained a mystery to scholars even of Theravada.” It is perhaps paradoxical that such a devout Buddhist people would stay off the radar even as many Western yogis of the past generation have turned an eye Eastward. The devoutness of the Shans are well known and acknowledged by the Bamar, where there is an old saying that goes: “If a Shan has got an anna, he will donate a penny.” As a penny is worth more than an anna, it reflects the deep wellspring of dāna famous amongst Shan Buddhists.
Shan Buddhism has unique cultural, linguistic and architectural components that distinguish it in some ways from Buddhism found in other parts of Myanmar. Shwe Lan Ga Lay's upcoming Shan State chapter describes these features in more detail, so that the foreign yogi can better appreciate the unique Buddhist practice to be found in the region.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Don't Come to Burma for Surfing

"So what makes a sane person take four months out of their life to go and live with [Buddhist] monks in a country that most South Africans have never heard of? Well if you’re into surfing, it would be natural to go on an extended trip to Indonesia with your board in a bag. If you’re into skiing, the Swiss Alps might be your destination of choice. If Ayahuasca is your thang, you’re going to be buying a plane ticket to Peru soon enough. And if you’re into exploring what the Buddha taught, in a place where the teachings and practice are relatively uncorrupted and have intact lineages going back to the time of the old boy himself, Myanmar might be your choice of destination for a meditation retreat.” 

-- Fletcher Beacon, South African yogi

Monday, 20 July 2015

Discussion with U Mandala at Dhamma Bhumi

In May 2015, Ashin Mandala of Webu Monastery in Ingyinbin, known formally as Kan Nan Oo Monastery, was invited to visit Australia for two months. While here, he took two ten-day Vipassana courses in the tradition of Sayagyi U Goenka, and also spoke to assembled students and teachers of the tradition. For over one hour at Dhamma Bhumi meditation centre in Sydney, meditators were able to ask the venerable monk any question about his teacher, Webu Sayadaw, as well as his life as a monk back in Burma.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Road to Ingyinbin

Webu Sayadaw once predicted that one day, many foreign meditators would come to Ingyinbin to pay their respects to the village that produced a fully enlightened being. 

Webu Sayadaw was surprisingly specific about his prophecy: he spoke about it frequently, sometimes to large audiences at Rangoon University, and predicted that the pilgrims would arrive in double decker buses and a hotel would need to be built one day in the village of Ingyinbin to accommodate them all! 

This video takes meditators on a virtual tour of this special site, acquainting them with the history and sites of the two monasteries and village.