Friday, 17 January 2020

A late night interview podcast with Thabarwa Sayadaw

What a talk! Thabarwa Sayadaw made a surprise stop by our recording studio at midnight and we talked till almost 4 a.m. Still, there was so much to discuss that we only reached halfway through our topics, so we hope to continue our talk later this month.

The majority of our conversation focussed on the origin story of Sayadaw himself as well as the development of the Thabarwa center and mission. He discussed his difficulties in being from a family of Chinese immigrants in Yangon and his early interest in education and business. While wildly successful in a time in Myanmar when almost no entrepreneurial activity was taking place, it led to a severely imbalanced mind that became dominated by greed and anger, causing him to make several key poor business decisions. Concerned about his deteriorating mental state, this led to an interest in meditation, and he spent several years studying intensively at such centers as Mogok, Thae Inngu, Goenka, U Ba Khin, and Mahasi.

He became a proper teacher in his own right at the time that massive societal and political transformations were underway in Myanmar, and he discusses openly how the the upheaval of his country put his entire center and mission in an existential crisis, not knowing if they were going to be shut down from one month to the next. Ultimately, the advent of a free press by 2014 finally allowed independent journalists to share more widely what his unique meditation center was trying to accomplish, and the resulting stability led to steady growth and today, international renown.

Thank you to Thabarwa Sayadaw and so many close to him that helped make time in his busy schedule. Sayadaw had just flown from the UK on December 31st, and had spent the prior several days driving from one event to the other throughout Yangon, as well as side trips to Hpa An and Mandalay, and is leaving today to Vietnam. So we were really privileged to have access to so much of his time.

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