Friday, 25 March 2016

Ingyinbin Journal: The Unguarded Mind




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.

31 December
It takes time finding a routine that suits. Sitting, it is astonishing how the mind teems with numerous unrelated thoughts. Occasionally, beneath a kind or morass, clarity gathers and briefly surfaces. It takes at least an hour on the mat before the concentration gains a steadier attention on the breath:

Following each breath
pull deeper
no bottom or top.

Evening walk. We approach the village to the west of the monastery, greeted by couples who stand smiling at their gates. A group works the threshing machine in one dust-filled yard, tossing in bundled rice stalks that get separated on exit into a growing pile of stalks (to be chopped and fed to the cattle) into one place while in another the husked rice (paddy) falls into a neatly placed large woven basket that, near full, a young woman swings easily onto her head and carries with surprising elegance to the place of storage. The track leads us past a dozen or so simple thatched houses with yards populated with families and their charges, cattle, dogs, chickens, pigs, including an occasional cat. One young woman stops in her tracks when she realises she has been observed striking out at a large feeding sow in the pen. The unguarded mind excites in a scene supported by a hundred contrary things. And getting back to the monastery grounds, overhead we see groups of ibises, their wings stretched wide, almost stalling as they seek a place to roost high in the tamarinds beside the weed-covered lake:
Nadia points out the darkened
shapes arriving in small groups into the upper branches
of the tamarind & neighbour trees

that skirt the matted lake: birds
spilling onto the monastery,
masters of the evening sun.