I was in Burma for six weeks from late Nov to early Jan this year. I attended a 30-day course up in Mandalay and before and after the course I was on a short yatra. I visited IMC three times with two different groups of assistant teachers who I met serendipidously while in Burma. On the first visit I was invited to stay for lunch who I shared with the assistant teachers I was with and some old students of U Ba Khin. On the second visit, someone from management took us (the american ATs and myself) to U Ba Khin's teacher's (Saya Thet Gyi) centre in a small village across the Yangon River.
During my third visit to IMC Yangon in January I was with a diffrent group of teachers. I was invited to meditate in Goenkaji's old meditation cell. Then as a rare honour to me and the assistant teachers I was with, the management of IMC opened up the shrine room in the top central cell of the pagoda which was accessible via U Ba Khin's cell. While we were at the Centre a call came through and it was U Ba Khin's son who invited us to his home for tea.
Tea turned into a lavish five-course Burmese lunch. During and after lunch, the family photo albums came out - and the stories. Amazing photos of Sayagi with Goenkaji, John Coleman and his wife, Webu Sayadaw at IMC, photos of the seminar U Ba Khin gave to Ben Gurion and the Israeli delegation (1961) and also photos in upper Burma when Sayagi took robes with U Ko Lay under Webu Sayadaw. There were also photos of IMC Rangoon being built and some of the other IMC centres.
A biography of U Ba Khin is in post-production. In January it was being translatd from Burmese to English. As soon as I find out when its published and available, I will inform our members with details on where they will be able to purchase it.
Then the night before my last day in Yangon I was invited to BL Goenka's (U Shwe's) house for dinner with an AT couple from Alaska as well as another old student from Japan. The Alaskan couple were in Burma to serve on a ten-day course at Dhamma Joti and I ws just there at the right time to have the invitation to dinner extended to me. U Shwe is the director of the Vipassana in Prisons program in Myanmar and as I sat next to him at dinner, I was able to ask him about the program. As his English isn't good, a young Indian woman was translating.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •
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