Mahasi Sasana Yeikthar’s Propagation of Tharavada Buddhism in Myanmar by Venerable Bandanta Vi Suu Dha

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Mahasi Sasana Yeikthar’s Propagation of Tharavada Buddhism in Myanmar by Venerable Bandanta Vi Suu Dha

Presented by:
Venerable Bandanta Vi Suu Dha
Dhamma Thiyi Yeik Thar
35 Southgate Road, Landford, Perth.

(a) What are the Objectives of Mahasi Meditation Centre in Myanmar in Bahan Township, Yangon?

Everybody in the world to enjoy inner peace and happiness in mind and soul. To obtain the person peace and happiness, there are three main facts admonished by Gawdama Buddha which are known as “ Ovada Katha” since 2600 years ago.

1. Must refrain from any evil doings (akuthala deeds)
2. Must perform every good deeds to others ( Kusala ).
3. Must have a clear mind and be purified. (Vinaya, commentary-154)

In Myanmar Country, the Tharavada Buddhism had arrived 1000 years ago and has follow the three kinds of Buddha’s teaching such as:

1. Patiyati (teaching of Buddha’s sermons, edits)
2. Patipatti (Conduct the Buddha’s teaching)
3. Pativeda (penetrate the mind and body through insight knowledge and understanding of the truth of Dhamma).

These three teachings of Buddha have been passed on throughout the generation of Tharavada Monks. Under the guidance of Buddha and his teaching on Inner Peace and Happiness which is part of Theravada Buddhism, the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization (BSNO) who is the founder of Mahasi Meditation Centre, setup their aim and objectives based on these facts since it was established and has practice actively and unchanging up to this date.

( b ) How Mahasi Meditation Centre has known to the World?

After World War II , Myanmar encountered crisis in social and economy areas, education, polities, religious and etc. In order to solve these issues, the Prime Minister U Nu and Sir U Thwin approached Venerable Sobana Mahathera in Shwebo from Middle of Myanmar and consult with him to develop the country and the nation brought him to Yangon. At that time, the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha ( BNSO ) was established in November, 1947 led by Sir U Thwin and U Nu . The Ven: Sobana Mahathera gave guidance to the Government bodies to lead the country in accordance to the Ovada Katha. Under the leadership of Ven: Sobana Mahathera and the BSNO association the Mahasi Sasana Yeikthar (Meditation Centre ) had evolved and the Venerable was known as Mahasi Sayardaw.

Venerable taught insight meditation and gave sermons country wide base on foundation of four mindfulness of Buddha’s Teachings which are as follows.

(1) Kayanupassana (Contemplation of the body)
(2) Vadananupasana ( contemplation of feeling, body & mind )
(3)Cittanupathana. (contemplation of consciousness. )
(4)Dhammanupasana (contemplation of the mind objects )

In 1949, he conducted the first insight meditation session with 25 meditators. Within a few years later, more than hundreds of Meditation Centers were established in Myanmar and in oversea countries under his guidance. In 1952 he was awarded the Title of Aggamaha pandita (Monk of great Wisdom) by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Myanmar. At current situation, Mahasi Meditation Centre is running together with seven organizations which are

(1) Ovadacariya Sayadaws Organization.(The group of admoshing teaching Monks).
(2) Nayaka Sayadaws Organization ( The group of teaching Monks)
(3) Dhammakathika Sayadaw Organization. (The group of monks to preach Dhamma.)
(4) The Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Orgazition. (President Dr Tin Soe Lin )
(5) Hitesi Organization.
(6) Lay Women Committee for the care of female yogis.
(7) Academic Committee for Foreign Mission Monks.

The aim of all organizations is to propagate Buddha Sasana to the utmost by Mahasi Sayadaw’s guideline. In 1990 the former President U Pwint Kaung and Daw Khin New Yee ( Shwe Pazun family ) donated Mahasi Foreign Missionary School building intended to propagate the Buddhism, in Yangon. This school runs the training to layman, monks and foreigners to be able to propagate the Buddhism all over the world. Local monks must do mediation for at least 3 months in Buddhist religious lent. At the end of the Buddhist lent which is in October, the nominated monks are sent to study the foreign languages. They have five grades from Level 1 to 5 at the Missionary School and after completion of the studies, the successful monks are sent abroad to promote Buddhist Mission.

(C) Integrity of Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw

Mahasi Sayadaw was a sagacious person and he was endowed with six qualities of a leadership (Nyayaka) which are tolerance (Khanti), effort ( utthana ), wakefulness ( Jagariya ), sharing or charity (Samvibhaga ), Compassion ( Daya ) and Foresight (Ikkhanna). He practiced and shared these qualities with the Members of BSNO and his devotees.

The historical Sixth Buddhist Conference ( The Chattha Sanghayana ) was held at Yangon (Myanmar in 1954 -1956 and the first Buddhist Conference was held in 2500 Buddhist era by five Tharavada Countries which includes Myanmar, Thailand, Sirilanka, Lao and Cambodia. Mahasi Sayardaw was an important person in editing the texts in the canons and acted as a questioner in the conference. Because of his successful performance he became like a brilliant star in the sky from his effective meditation guidance to the disciples.

Mahsi Sayardaw had been to foreign countries for 65 missions trips (Dhamma Duta) from 1952 to 1981 and has written over 80 books in Pali and Myanmar language and later these were translated to English, Korean, Thailand ,Japanese. Inspite of his demise, his name and his method of insight Meditation has last to this day.

( d ) Activities of Mahasi Meditation Centre

There are many activities and performances at Mahasi Meditation Centre and it held annual assembly to maintain the admonition of Mahasi Sayadaw every year since Dec 1950. Agendas of this assembly were;

( 1 ) Observance of Vinaya rules.
( 2 ) To keep up Noble Dhamma.
(3) Rectification in Method of Meditation.
( 4 ) Perpetuation of Mahasi Vipassana.
( 5 ) Unity among Devotees and Disciples.

All the monks of Mahasi and devotees from the whole of Myanmar and abroad attended the annual assembly . All the Mahasi Meditation sub -Centre must follow the method and procedure of the Mindfulness Meditation accurately. The assembly commenced with the recitation of “ Buddha Sasana Ciram Tittatu in three times by all the attendees meaning may Buddha’s teaching be long lasting in this world.

According to the instruction of Mahasi Sayadaw, classes for Buddhist Culture were held in March every year for young children since1962 and the outstanding students were awarded with certificates and medals by the BSNO . These classes has an objective to promote children to gain good foundation in Buddhism in future and improve their communication with elders and to have good moral and character.

(e) Insight Meditation Method

Mahasi Meditation Method is the way of noticing rising and falling of the abdomen. Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw has adopted the abdominal movements which was easy for novice meditators to gain concentration within short period. Because of easy and effective mediation practice prompted by Mahasi Meditation Centre, it grew the reputation and this practice spread out very fast. Lord Buddha had taught “ Ehi Passikaw “ (come, see and do it yourself )“ “ Paccattam Veditabbo “ ( have self-experience ).” From Buddha’s teaching, one can obtain true peace and happiness and the final bliss of Nibbana. Everyone regardless of religiions are welcome to learn Buddhism and the way of Meditation practice at Mahasi Sasana YeikThar in Yangon free of charge. It was recognized by many visitors that they gained peace and happiness after learning, listening and practicing mindfulness meditation.

May everyone near and far be well and happy in their mind body and soul. May you all have the wisdom of truth in this life.