Wednesday, 13 November 2019

A Meditative Family



Wunna Nyunt kindly shares the following story:

"My two grand fathers. My dad's father U Chit Shein (left) Commissioner of Taxation - Burma and my mum's father U Chit Tin (right) CEO of UBSC (Union of Burma Buddha Sasana Council) who was also a meditation teacher.

Never met U Chit Shein who passed away before my parents were married. But I've been told both men were upright men who valued honesty, integrity and hard work.

They both worked under Sayagyi U Ba Khin and were both meditation students of Sayagyi.

Such big shoes to fill - both in terms of work achievements or the religious achievements.

Grandpa Chit Shein
The memorable story that dad told me about grandpa was - even as the Commissioner of Taxation, grandpa had to borrow money from some of his relatives when times were tough. They called him "akhun mingyi" - double meaning of his title - loosely translated as "hollow or empty commisioner" and grandpa just simled at their teasing.
That sorry reminded me of a story I've read in Burmese history where a high ranking government official passed away and didn't have any family to inherit his estate. So his assets were catalogued and repossessed by the King. After looking at the asset list, the King asked his wiseman how it was possible that a man of such station owns very little. The wiseman answered - those who work for the crown that do not take bribes and work with integrity live modest lives even if they held the high position through multiple generations.
In those days, Commissioner of Taxation reports to Accountant General's office where Sayagyi U Ba Khin was the first Accountant General of Burma after its independence in 1948.
As Sayagyi was holding meditation courses for members of his office staff, Grandpa Chit Shein sat a meditation course taught by Sayagyi at IMC Yangon.
I am sure there are stories about his interaction with Sayagyi U Ba Khin, but I don't know very many people alive these days who could recount them.
Grandpa Chit Tin
When we were growing up, my best memory of Grandpa Chit Tin was how he tries to be the peacemaker between the rebellious grandchild and a grandmother who expects all her grandchildren to behave properly at all times. Eventhough a strict person himself, many a times where Grandpa would give me a light reprimand and shooed me away before Grandma truns her attention to me. Of course something like that sticks in a kid's memory. 😉
Grandpa worked as an accountant at the Accountant General's office and that was how he met Sayagyi.
He worked under Sayagyi as the Chief Accountant at the Sixth Council known as Chatta Sangayana (Sixth Recitation) which was held from 1954 to 1956 in Rangoon. Union of Burma Buddha Sasana Council (U.B.S.C.) was the main planning body for the Great Council.
He was one of the three office staff who underwent the first meditation course taught by Sayagyi at his office in 1951 - before the founding of IMC Yangon.
He was also a founding member of the Vipassana Research Association formed in 1951and a member of the Executive Committee of the Vipassana Association of the Accountant General's Office, which established and operated the International Meditation Centre (Yangon).
Once IMC Yangon had established, he and Grandma lived mostly at IMC assisting Sayagyi in various capacities. After Sayagyi passed away, they continued Sayagyi's work of spreading Buddha Dhamma at IMC Yangon. They left Burma in 1978, at the request of Western students, to teach Buddhist meditation to westerners."

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