Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Native Son of Ingyinbin

 



Located about 60 kilometers northwest of Mandalay, the small village of Ingyinbin is deeply connected to Webu Sayadaw, one of the most revered Burmese monks of the 20th century. It is here where the venerable monk was born, ordained as a novice, began his studies, took full bhikkhu ordination, and established a groundbreaking new monastery dedicated wholly to the teaching and practice of meditation. Most importantly, it is widely believed that it was in this small village where Webu gained the ultimate liberation from suffering.

Ingyinbin takes some effort to get to, and the travel is not entirely easy to reach what is essentially little more than a small village and two large monastic complexes set in a hot, dry, featureless flat plain. In former times, however, this humble region drew a steady stream of yogis and monastics, including several heads of state and some of the top VIPs of Burmese society. Interestingly, Ingyinbin tends to be better off regarding electricity than other similar, small villages in Myanmar. Given its prominence due to Webu Sayadaw’s fame, a senior monk once went to the Prime Minister’s Office in Yangon and stated that it was not acceptable for the village monasteries of the great monk to not have adequate power.




The spirit of Webu Sayadaw continues to loom large in this special village. It manifests through a depth of veneration and gratitude towards the Saṅgha that stands out even amidst this vast Dhamma land. For the Ingyinbinite, Webu will always be the loyal native son who, even after reaching the greatest spiritual heights and having every worldly possibility thrust before him, continued to spend much of his life in this remote village. And did so, in fact, annually during the summer season, in a scorching region that stands out in an already hot country. Some believe that the impoverished state of the village was an indication of akusala kamma that had been committed in previous times, and so Webu Sayadaw’s decision to stay and help the villagers get established in Dhamma was understood as an especially considerate gesture to help those suffering.

The deep reverence was once shown to Webu Sayadaw seems to have scarcely diminished in the four decades since his passing, as any visiting yogi will soon observe. And today, nearly every corner of the two monasteries and village vibrate with some great event from its noble past.