Sunday, 3 January 2016

Ariya Wasa Dhamma Yeiktha (အရိယ၀ါသ ဓမၼရိပ္သာ)

Located nearby Hnee Pagoda, this beautiful nunnery is relatively new to the Kalaw scene. Many of the buildings are temporary structures, as the compound is still in the process of being developed. Pleasant forest paths line the area, skirting between the many pine trees. At the highest point is a golden stupa that makes an ideal spot for meditation, as does the open-air gazebo surrounded by a dozen wooden pillars, and a Bodhi tree from Bodhgaya is growing steadily on a slight rise.

Of particular note are the two monks’ residences: made of wood and donated by a Burmese expatriate family in Texas, they feature an appealing circular design with private rooms and a spacious deck area.

Daw Nein Mala, who speaks English well, oversees the nunnery. In her early years, she had no interest in wearing robes, but listening to Dhamma discourses by some of the country’s great monks awoke in her a spiritual striving that she has been following ever since. She went on to learn meditation under Pakkoku Sayadaw, Shwe Oo Min Sayadaw, and several teachers within the Mogok tradition. She now personally leads a ten-day meditation retreat each April, and her center can host over 100 yogis in Burmese style lodgings.

As of this writing, the site has no proper kitchen facilities, meaning that one would need to secure food needs elsewhere and come with a high degree of self-sufficiency. For monks, however, it is possible to eat from taking alms rounds in the area.

“I am in the eastern part of the country where it is more mountainous, cool, and less populated, scouting out possible places to relocate to in the future or retreat during hot season. I spent my birthday in this little hut in a pine forest overlooking the town of Kalaw in Shan state. It is rather peaceful here with a nice walking path for meditation just outside the door. Three of the neighbors kindly provide my one meal a day when I go for alms in the morning. I am well taken care of here.” Bhikkhu Obhasa, American monk

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