Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: Arrival in the Village

John, a meditator from New Zealand, spends extended periods in Ingyinbin each year, the home of the revered Webu Sayadaw and with his friend Ashin Mandala. This winter, he has decided to keep a journal, which he has kindly offered to share with us. His journal alternates between observation and poetry, between meditation practice and commentary about Burmese Buddhist society, from his learnings and his questions. The full collection of his musings can be found here.

"The enthusiastic young student in the restaurant encourages us to return later to Kin-U and use her phone for wifi access if needed, given there is no internet available at the monastery. A few minutes later U Mandala arrives in a white car with the Sangha flag positioned mid-bonnet, his passenger a fellow meditator on a visit from Belgium, to drive us on the dirt and stone road, past multiple fields of mature rice plants interspersed by others containing only stubble on cracked earth, to the monastery.

Nearing Ingynbin 
egret buffalo buffalo egret: 
coming, staying, going.
Bhante is pleased to see us and clearly appreciates the National Geographic Atlas that, with other small gifts, we place before him following our prostrations. A new toilet is to be installed in the main building, itself freshly re-painted on the outside with a mixture of white green gold & silver; we also are shown the freshly painted white pagoda nearing completion that sits on a small mound between the guest house and the lake. Greetings ended, we pass by the dogs sleeping on the ground on the way to our accommodation and sit with the surroundings somehow seeming unshakeable:
Suddenly barking village dogs
enter an evening without disturbance
Already at home here.
The agreed time to sit is 5am; at 4:45 bhante’s torchlight appears at the glass panels of the metal door. The surroundings remain still until near 6 when the temple bell is struck in series of three calling the monks to breakfast - only to launch another crescendo, barks and yelps. Anapana together starts to reshape an internal sense of proportion:
A small boat 
smaller, smaller: 
sea everywhere!
When Karen and I in early afternoon head to the small white stupa in which Tamara said she had also meditated, it is the athletic young monks playing caneball who impress: some of them have draped parts of their red robes over nearby branches or tucked them round their bellies as they nimbly cavort. We see them kick the ball backwards over their heads or header it deftly to a teammate:
The cane ball repeatedly crosses the net 
dextrous monks!
- cane ball my mind.
The mythological duck placed atop the stone pillar adjacent our meditation place marks the historical extent of the monastery’s land. The elderly women with her few remaining blackened teeth who seems to be living out her life in one of the bamboo huts in the compound retains a wide smile as she fingers Karen’s lungyi ‘la la la’.

As we had done on the previous visit, now with Thierri we walk the local dusty lane, used by bullock carts leaving for the rice fields in the morning and re-entering the village near evening. Again the girls, at sunset, stream from the weaving factory, empty tiffins shining in their hands, smiling and laughing together, as they enjoy gazing at us and giggling:

A line of bullockcarts returning to the village: 
sunlight tangled in dust, 
girls smiling."

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