Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Bhikkhu's Robes: a Short Introduction

There is a steep curve for the new bhikkhu who comes from a land that provides little opportunity to observe the attire, deportment and activities of Buddhist monks. Shucks, I never even saw monks on alms round until I came to Myanmar. In this short essay, I would like to highlight The Robes of the Bhikkhu, in particular The Upper Robe.

Ahem ... The upper robe is about the size and shape of a queen bed sheet. In Myanmar it is most commonly burgundy in color. I have three sets of two robes (upper and lower) in my possession, as well as one of the less-often used (for cold weather) outer robe. They are all burgundy, in color. Now, the Theravada robe is quite archaic. Apparently the principle is not to involve any clothing- or fastener-technology developed after the Buddha's parinirvana. This seems to allow belts and knots, for instance, but not the belt loop or the buckel. This seems adequate for keeping my lower robe in place.

The upper robe is quite versatile: It can easily become a blanket, a hood, a curtain, a sunscreen. Should the bhikkhu find himself stranded on a desert island, it could provide the sail for a driftwood craft. In its primary function, as clothing, it proves no less versatile, providing a variety of options to ensure fashionable attire for any occasion.

For instance, for informal occasions the bhikkhu positions the robe over the left shoulder and under the right, throws the right corner over the left shoulder and folds the left edge over the left shoulder. This turns the previously topless bhikkhu into the casual monk about town, ready, for instance, to receive an offering of a coke and fries.

Alternately, the exact same robe provides attire for formal occasions, such as meeting dignitaries, collecting alms, or (can I suggest?) the opera. It's all in the folding.

The basic principle of the formal robe is to construct a sleeve for the left arm. Miraculously the leftover material drapes smoothly and evenly over the rest of the body, covering both shoulders. I will describe the Burmese variant of this technique; the Thai is a bit different. The Burmese gives a stylish ruffled neckline. (Remember turtle-necks?)

Now, to construct the sleeve, the bhikkhu makes two seams, consuming thereby three of the four edges of the robe material. A couple of zippers would make this easy, but nooooo, that would be beyond the state of fastener technology at the time of the Buddha. Instead, the bhikkhu forms a seam by rolling two edges together. To understand the principle, you may experiment with your bed sheet. Go ahead, take one off your bed! Now try to make a "sleeping tube" by rolling two opposing edges together. It doesn't exactly work, does it? However, in a remarkable piece of ancient engineering, rivaling that of the modern, uh, zipper, some monk or nun discovered that if you cinch the rolled edges at certain points and create lateral tension, the edges do not come unrolled!  ... at least not as readily. In this case, the cinch points are the left elbow and under the left arm. This effectively immobilizes your left arm, except for a claw-like hand. Also, one wrong move causes the long seam to unravel, as I discovered on an early alms round at Pa Auk Tawya, much to the delight of a perfectly attired twelve-year-old novice, who rushed to my aid.

The rest of the garment drapes nicely. The bhikku's head pops out through one end of the first seam, providing the monk with the capability to see where he is going, as well as to be recognized by others. The second seam extends from the hand, up the left arm, cinches in the back under the arm, then continues over the left shoulder and down the front to below the knees, inconveniently unraveling about waist level enough that the right hand can communicate with the outer world, should it be needed, for instance, to open a door, or receive a filtered juice drink (permissible after noon).

Now, the formally attired bhikkhu is quite the dapper fellow indeed, ready for many formal occasions. However, lest the bhikkhu lest this go to the bikkhu's head, let me point out that the robe is best worn in situations where no fun is involved. The robe has a way of enforcing the practice of disenchantment with sensual pleasures. For instance,  consider ballroom dancing. In this situation, if the bhikkhu, in his excitement, lifts the left arm even slightly, the next dance steps -- ONE two three ONE two three -- will likely waltz the bhikkhu right out of the better part of his clothing, and also, create a situation of burgundy entanglement for others on the dance floor.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life in Sagaing Hills

I arrived here at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, my home base, once again on May 12, and have now settled into a routine I can report to you.

The Academy is still closed for the hot season, until the third week in June. It is very hard to acquire any information about the schedule here, or what classes will be offered when the Academy reopens. I had to ask a lot of people to get the information, "third week in June," after being told at one time that classes on June 1.

Anyway, the academy is closed, but there are about ten or twelve monks here. I think most of the foreign monks have arrived. I had thought that Venerable Sopaka, an American who had lived here for two years would be here for the duration of my stay, but he has relocated to the Sitagu Center in Yangon. I saw him there as I was passing through. That will make me the only native English speaker for the coming term, as far as I know, and in fact the only Westerner. In fact as far as I know, I am the only Westerner in Sagaing.

The academy is officially closed, but I have access to the library and worked it out so that I can get into the computer room to send notes like this, be means of a hidden key. When I left Sagaing, after ordaining in the morning, this place was teaming with people. Now it is quiet, the convocation hall where I ordained is locked up.

U Sopaka was worried about his dogs when I talked to him. Burmese do not usually befriend dogs, but of course Americans do, and he had a small group of dogs, generally three, that followed him around everywhere. Well, they have found me. Two particularly, Wigglet and Nibblet (Wendy named them when she was here), are always close at hand. However, one Burmese monk has actually started feeding the dogs every day, so he gets a lot of attention now too.

I am occupying one of the rooms in the guest building, which I had stayed in previously. The guest building has 32 units, each with three rooms: a visiting room and bedroom with two beds and a bathroom. They also have A/C, but the electricity is usually working only about half of the time.

My schedule typically looks like this:

3:30 Wake up.
4:00 Meditate in my room.
5:30 Breakfast for monks.
7:00 (4 days per week), Vinaya, Pali tutoring.
9:00 Burmese tutoring.
10:30 Lunch for monks.
12:00 English class.
6:00 Evening walk.
9:00 Beddy-bye.

There is not much community practice here. In Burma there is often a clear distinction between practice Buddhism and scholarship Buddhism, and the academy represents the second of these. I think a lot of the monks meditate regularly, I see them doing walking meditation outside and hear them chanting inside. But practice is pretty much self-directed. I've set up an altar in my room.

Breakfast is generally offered to the monks by the lay staff here, and is fairly informal. We sit on the floor at a low table and eat, with little conversation. There is a foreigners' table where I sit. The food is generally about the same each day: rice with sauce, vegetable, soup and meat dishes to mix in. Sometimes a meal is donated, a couple times by lay families and a couple times by nuns. The food is generally more interesting on those days, sometimes noodles!

Sitagu Sayadaw asked a senior monk and scholar (Ph.D.) here to look after my scholarly needs. So we have been meeting four times a week to discuss, so far, Vinaya. Two foreign monks have decided to join our sessions, one Cambodian and one Lao.

The last couple of days a Burmese monk has started giving me daily help with Burmese. We have been going over the Burmese sound system. Before I came, I thought I would not put much energy into learing Burmese, because this is an English-speaking (International) academy and I want to focus on Pali language. However, not very many monks speak English well; I don't know how they actually conduct classes; I guess I will soon see. Also Burmese is more immediately useful, for speaking with the laypeople here, who are without exception very friendly and have little English, or getting about outside of the academy.

I have been offering an English language class in my room. So far the Lao has been coming, and the Burmese monk who is helping me with Burmese, and is also the one who has taken to feeding the dogs. I have also just invited a guy from the kitchen, Thanton (sp?), who has been very interested in learning English.

You will notice that there is a lot of free time in my day. This gives me the opportunity to study. I spend about two hours a day just memorizing Pali words, and additional time studying Pali grammar and learning to recite texts. I have already read about one quarter of the Vinaya in English translation, and have been studying some Dharma materials. Then I have time for exercise and keeping my room clean, contributing to this blog and taking an evening walk. I also sweep the porch of the guest house every morning, the whole extent of the 32 units.

It's a good simple life and I am enjoying it. I love the time to study. I plan spend the next several months basically like this.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pa Auk Tawya: Contacts

I know there are a lot of readers who do meditation retreats. I would highly recommend Pa Auk Tawya to readers who may be considering a retreat on the basis of my experience, though my experience is limited to the monks' wing. The center in Myanmar is certainly used to handling foreigners, and also can help with the sometimes difficult process of obtaining a meditation visa. Pa Auk apparently also has some centers outside of Myanmar, and is in the process of establishing one in Northern California. Let me give some contact information. Here are two Web addresses:

In Singapore:

Presumably you can discover your options at one of these sites. Also I have an email address in the USA: Brian Johnson,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pa Auk Tawya: Surroundings

Pa Auk Tawya Meditation Center covers a large range of forest (maybe it's classified as jungle).  After being there seven and a half weeks, I was surprised driving out at how much there is of it: the lay sector and the nuns' sector in addition to the monks' sector in which I was housed, plus a lot of infrastructure for maintenance and bringing in supplies. As I mentioned before, at the time I checked in there were altogether 700 people living there, most of them in the monks' sector. The landscape is very hilly with creeks and valleys, densely wooded and underbrushed. The monks' sector largely occupies a small valley and the surrounding ridges, that form a horseshoe shape. The Sima Hall, used for meditation, is located near the top of the upper end of the valley. From there you can see right down the valley to the flat lands to the West, and a body of water, that might be a river or the ocean. I can't identify the trees, a lot of big thick leaves, often as big as a pillow or even a couch. There is, however, a Bodhi Tree right up the hill from my kuti. The canopy is about 40 or 50 feet high. The landscape is dotted with little kutis, huts in each of which one monk lives. My kuti was on the South ridge, and because the hill drops off sharply at that point I actually had a view through the canopy to the North. The access road is at the bottom of the valley, and the Pindipata Hall (pop quiz: What is that?), a library and a couple of offices where you could ask things are along the road.

One climbs stairs a lot. The walk to the meditation hall from my kuti entails walking down 115 brick stairs, turning right to a level path that skirts along the side of the valley to where I would drop off my sandals at a big rack for that purpose. From that point I would walk up 110 marble steps up into the meditation hall. I made this trip back an forth a number of times each day. To reach the Alms Hall (pop quiz: answer), I would walk down the same 115 stairs, but then turn left to take 84 more stairs to the access road, which I would stay on for a quarter mile. For the first month I made a habit of walking barefoot to the Pindipata Hall; I was a tenderfoot before I came to Myanmar.

The sky sure is different at Pa Auk: the sun rises and goes straight up from the horizon until it is directly overhead then goes straight down to the opposite horizon. None of this slanted trajectory stuff. I could see the Big Dipper from my kuti each night, but when I followed the line to the North Star it took me into the trees near the horizon. I looked on a map and Pa Auk Tawya is about 16 degrees north latitude.

The valley is thick with wildlife. Frogs are great: They are about half a quart in size. There are a lot of lizards of different shapes and sizes. Luckily I ran across only one snake, and that one a very small one. A couple of people have told me that cobras are "common" in Myanmar, and in each case with a grim expression, more like informing me of a national problem than an interesting fact of natural history. Squirrels are huskier and meaner-looking that the ones back in Austin, and louder. Butterflies were abundant, seemingly after the rains started about the middle of my stay. One evening there suddenly were fireflies, and these ones glowed almost constantly, not like the ones back home that disappear and then reappear 20 feet away.

The forest is full of songbirds, layers and layers of bird calls: "Holy Moley," "Looking for a Good Time," "Wait a Minute, Mr. Smith," "Prickly Prickly," "Gee, Willikers," "[nyuk, nyuk,] Whoo whoo whoo whoo," "Wheeeeeeew, Bo Derek, Bo Derek," "Let's Go to Wheatsville," and of course, "Cheep Cheep." There was a bird that sounded the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. There also was what I thought to be a single bird that sounded like two cats fighting. Because of the denseness of the forest one could hear the birds much more than see them.

A group of ground foraging birds would often hang out around my kuti that I was particularly fond of (not attached to, just fond of). They looked something like kingfishers, but were not water birds. They had large crested heads. The bodies were brown, the faces white with black masks and the crest grey. They made little quail-like noises as they pecked around on the ground. One day I discovered that they are the ones that sound like cats fighting; they all join in to what I suspect is a distress call.

Another bird Is a virtuoso: He has zillions of calls, something like a mocking bird, though I couldn't determine if he learned them from other birds. He even has its own audience, what seems to be an approving female bird voice between his calls. One day I discovered that he is the source of the "Wheeeew, Bo Derek, Bo Derek" call. Now, as I remember, Bo Derek was an American actress who made a couple of "B" movies, like in the seventies, and her appeal was not in her acting ability. Why a Burmese bird would know about Bo Derek, or even care, especially given the species differential, is anybody's guess. One day I actually spotted this bird; it is all black, even the beak, except for white cheeks.

Another bird seemed to be constant practicing. It had a call that sometimes extended to nine notes, but that it would interrupt constantly at the third, fourth, etc., note, and then try another note. I thought at first that it was a beginner bird, which I could sympathize with as I was myself in a steep learning process. But then it occurred to me: Maybe this is a composer bird. Birds must get their material from somewhere. I could hear Cole Porter picking out a tune at the piano then trying another note, much like this bird. It did concern me that this bird over almost two months never made any progress with that one tune, much less moved on to another tune. But I trust that other members of its species are more prolific. Maybe one of them wrote the Bo Derek song!

My favorite bird is what I call the Ruffled Feathers. It proved to be incredibly elusive; I never saw one, even though there seemed to be at least one almost constantly outside of my kuti, as well as outside of the sima hall. Its call is something like, "Wrrrrrrrrrr Wrrrrrrrrrrrrrr WRRRRRRRRRR! Unh Uh Unh Uh Unh Uh ... Uh Uh Uh." The first part expressed anger, increasing anger. The second refusal; each "Unh Uh" had the intonation patter of the English interjection. The third resignation. This bird would perform this little radio drama any time of day or night, and generally seemed to be right outside the window, although you could also hear them in the distance. It was as loud as a goose, so I pictured it as being at least as big as a duck. But I will be darned if I could spot one, though I tried.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pa Auk Tawya: Practice

Life at PAT is very familiar for someone who has been to Tassjara Zen Mountain Center and has done Zen sesshins. Life is centered around meditation practice with emphasis on silence and minimal social interaction. Some differences exist as well: First Tassajara is more self-sustaining, with monks keeping things running and doing the cooking. At PAT there is more dependence on lay people to do these things, which they happily do here as dana. Some monks, those who have a long affiliation with PAT do some work, mostly office functions, but occasionally even construction work. Next, there is little enforcement of rules around silence at PAT, or for showing up on time. In the Zen context one is always closely watched. There is also no expectation that you will not move during meditation. Someone does take attendance in the meditation hall. The monks are pretty much self-regulating though, even if fuzzy around the edges by Zen standards. Another difference is there is not the least visible hint of interpersonal strife or competitiveness at PAT. People just do what they are supposed to be doing.


The sima hall is used for meditation, and it is huge, two stories, each story about half of the size of a football field. People sit in a grid pattern facing forward toward the altar, on each floor. There would be plenty of room for 1000 meditators.


The meditation periods are long: one and a half hours. I found that this was manageable by shifting from left foot forward to right foot forward then back again during the period. The Burmese monks sit often in positions that are inconceivable in Zen, but the standard cross-legged position is ... (you guessed it) the Burmese position; no one sits half or full lotus, except for foreign monks.  The monks are very diligent in their practice. Many of them sit in the afternoon right through the walking meditation period, so from 1 – 5pm, four hours, often without moving. PAT is the sittingest place I've every been. Of course they're professionals: they're monks! Very inspiring. The Burmese claim to have produced a few arahants in the last century, and it is easy to imagine that this could well be true. Most of the monks at PAT are working with teachers of the Pa Auk Tawya method, which is basically that of Buddhaghosa in the Path of Purification (6th century AD), with particular emphasis on concentration prior to vipassana.


Once when I was meditation the thought came into my head of Western teachers that facilitate no-effort enlightenment experiences in a pleasant seminar context, and what the Burmese monks would think of that. I imagined the hundreds of them having enlightenment experiences like popcorn, but thinking that this is a pretty frivolous way to spend the time.


Meditation hardware is sparse at PAT: Everyone has a 2' x 2' x 1/2" piece of foam plastic to sit on, on top of a hardwood floor. About half of the monks just lay their bowing cloths over that. Sitting cushions are available; they are rectangular, about 2" high and stuffed with straw. Most are pretty dilapidated. There are a few thinner cushions and people like me use towels are whatever they need for knees. There are no chairs or special arrangements at all; everybody is on the floor.


One of the things that we probably need to reconsider in the West is the advisability of forcing people into Eastern sitting postures. We really are a chair culture. Burmese, as Japanese, grow up on the floor, and sit completely comfortably there. They have a wider range of postures they can assume. In Burma squatting is considered almost the most comfortable posture; they do it with both fleet flat on the ground, which is beyond my capability. In the West people are often advised to sit through the pain, a practice whose benefits are less available to Easterners, then we end up injuring ourselves. On the other hand there is something very grounded about sitting on the floor.


Once when I was meditation the thought came into my head of Western high-tech multi-layered, adjustable meditation cushions, and how the simple monks at Pa Auk Tawya would react to such consumer products.

There were a number f Mahayana monks at Pa Auk Taya, mostly Korean and Chinese. This was interesting for me because they look more like I looked a couple of months earlier. Most of the Mahayana monks observe almost the same precepts as the Theravada monks, and an additional set to boot. But their attire and style is quite a bit different, reflecting the development of the school over many centuries in the Chinese cultural area. They have robes for formal occasions, but generally wear monastic work cloths (in Japan this would be samu-e), for instance, for meditation. I noticed also that the Mahayana monks always have a much more deliberate, and for me much more familiar from Zen, posture in meditation, very erect, generally in lotus, and sitting on a raise cushion. There is a stronger emphasis on physical deportment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pa Auk Tawya Meditation Center: Alms Rounds Part II

(Electricity came back on again, this is a daily occurrence anywhere in Myanmar.)

Bhikkhus line up for alms in order of seniority, that is, how long since ordination, with bhikkhus before samaneras (novices). This would generally put me way down the line. However at Pa Auk Tawya they conventionally put foreigners ahead of Burmese. They also put Mahayana monks after foreign samaneras.

The monks have a choice of where to sit for lunch. Many eat in their kutis. There is a room downstairs in Pindapata Hall reserved for foreigners where I generally ate. A spoon is the only instrument used for eating. I think most Burmese monks just eat with their fingers, as in the Buddha's time.

There are a lot of rules for monks around eating. Foods must be offered by had. Most foods must be consumed by noon the day they are offered, so cannot be saved for a snack or for the next day's meal, except to return them to a layperson. Filtered fruit juices may be offered and consumed after noon, until dawn the next day.  "Tonics" (sugar/molasses, honey, butter and a couple of other things) may be consumed any time and save seven days after being offered Medicines can be kept forever.

Sitagu handles meals quite a bit differently. Here there is no formal alms round. The staff here simply places food in dishes on the table, family style), then offers the whole table to the monks, by means of members of both lay and monk groups holding the edges of the table and lifting it.

The food at Pa Auk Tawya is nutritious. It is also vegetarian; Sitagu is definitely not vegetarian. I had some difficulty with the food at Pa Auk Tawya: After I arrived I did not seem to have much appetite, which is rare for me, without feeling at all sick or feeling the food was inadequate. Then after about a week and a half I got sick (both  ends) for about a day, after which my  appetite returned completely. Then about a week and a half before leaving Pa Auk Tawya, I got even sicker for about two days, after which my appetite never recovered until I left Pa Auk Tawya. Go figure.

Coming Soon: Practice at Pa Auk Tawya, Wildlife of Pa Auk Tawya, Wearing the Robes.


Pa Auk Tawya Meditation Center: Alms Rounds

The monks were offered two meals a day, at about 5:45 AM, and shortly after 10:00 AM. Monks, of course, cannot eat after noon, except for certain things that have medicine or tonic status. In the traditional alms round (pindapata, which colorfully means "dropping a lump [of something into the alms bowl]" monks leave the monastery to walk into a village and them from house to house. This can be seen every day in any village in Myanmar. However, this does not work so well for a large monastery with 400 – 600 monks and no substantial village in the immediate vicinity. Instead, lay people come to the monastery to make offerings, and also the local staff prepares food supported by lay offerings, and the pindapata is staged at the monatery. This is a common arrangement, and in fact before I ordained I was able, with our itinerant pilgrimage group, to participate from the other perspective. There is a special building, Pindapata Hall, constructed with this in mind.

Otherwise the form of the alms round is very traditional. Monks wear their robes covering both shoulders (an art I will describe in a later post), each with alms bowl in hand. What the bhikkhu actually carries is a rather large bowl, a lid for the bowl, a covered cop and a cloth napkin. The lid was added sometime after the Buddha; I can imagine to scenarios that might have motivated this, both involving birds.

One walks through a gauntlet of people offering food. The first generally offers rice. Poper deportment is to focus on the food and avoid eye contact or any kind of interaction, including no acknowledgement of thanks. Most of the offerings go in the big bowl; the bhikkhu just lifts the lid to the side: noodles, sauces, beans, cooked vegetables, ... However, by leaving the lid, turned upside down to form a tray, on the big bowl, one can receive something in the lid which you might have trouble envisioning as part of the stew accumulating in the big bowl: mango slices, cookies, soap, razor blades (some non-food items are also occasionally offered), candles. The napkin is necessary to hold under the big bowl in case someone offers a soup or sauce that is really hot. The cup stays in the lid and is filled with a drink, generally coffee or tea. Once we received milk shakes. One must be very mindful in carrying the bowl.

The electricity just went out (for the fourth time today). I'm running on UPS, so I am going to go ahead and send this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pa Auk Tawya Meditation Center

My 52-day stay at Pa Auk Meditation Center represents phase II of my adventures in Myanmar. In the six weeks of Phase I our pilgrimage group (varying in size and composition with time) of Burmese monks and American lay people traveled through much of Myanmar and met many people from all walks of life, focusing mostly on Buddhist culture and monastic life. In the final days of the pilgrimage I joined the monastic contingent of group. Many photos were taken, but I understand that none have been posted yet to this blog. The group disbanded, as Aung Ko and Wendy returned to the States, and now Ashin Ariyadhamma a month later.  Phase I was very busy and very informative. For me it was overwhelming to be in such constant contact with so many new people and to be on the road so much. Phase II was just the opposite.

The pilgrimage group dropped me off at Pa Auk Tawya on March 18. The hot season had begun in Myanmar, which will end with the coming of the rainy season in June. It is particularly hot and dry in Mandalay and Sagaing, so the Academy virtually shuts down. Quite a few people, including Sitagu Sayadaw, had recommended that I just take this time to attend a meditation retreat in a cooler part of the country. So, at the last minute, I heeded their advice.

Pa Auk Tawya Forest Monastery, in Southeast Myanmar near Moulmein, is very famous for its founding teacher, now known as Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw for the monastery he leads, as is the custom in Myanmar. At the time I showed up there were 700 people living and practicing there, including 400 monks, a large group of nuns and a large group of lay people. These three contingents are located in separate sections of the 500-acre (as I recall) property, so I joined the monks' practice. Of the 400 monks, 76 were non-Burmese, including a number of Mahayana monks from China, Taiwan, Korea, etc., and a number of Theravada monks from the above named Mahayana countries. Most of the rest of the internationals were from Theravada countries. There were about ten of us Westerners: one other American, a Dane who looks like Reb Anderson, a Dutch guy, a French guy, three Germans. Oh, and a Ugandan, who has been ordained for about 20 years.

The daily schedule looks like this:

3:30 am - Wake up.
4:00 – 5:30 am - Morning chanting a group sitting.
5:45 – Pindapata (alms round).
7:00 am – 7:30 am – Cleaning and personal time.
7:30 – 9:00 – Group sitting.
9:00 – 10:00 – Interview, walking meditation, personal time.
10:10 – Lunch pindapata.
1:00 pm – 2:30 – Group sitting.
2:30 – 3:30 – Interview and walking meditation.
3:30 – 5:00 – Group sitting.
5:00 – 6:00 – Interview, work period and personal time.
6:00 – 7:30 – Chanting and group sitting.

7:30 – 9:00 – Dhamma talk (in Burmese).

The schedule is almost the same everyday, no special days off, or skit nights. The only exception is that every full and new moon afternoon we recite the Patimokkha, bhikkhu precepts.

The bhikkhus live in individual kutis (huts) scattered through the forest. In general silence and relative isolation is encouraged. The feel is very familiar to me from Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and from sesshins I've attended. If you relax into it, and can stand spending so much time with yourself, it is a very easy lifestyle. All you have to do is show up for meditation and for meals and keep your kuti clean

More to follow …

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cintita Back On Line

Readers of this blog my despair of not receiving postings from me since early March. I decided to enter Pa Auk Tawya meditation center on March 18, from which I emerged 52 days later, on May 9. I write from Sitagu Center in Yangon and will be back in Sagaing in about two days, where I should be in more regular contact for the duration of the year. I will offer a full report of my experience at Pa Auk Tawya presently.