Experience meditating in Myanmar

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Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby BeduBodhi » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:49 am

Greetings from the sandy plains of the Arabian peninsula.

I have several years meditation experience, mostly in Vipassana and Zen. I'm considering doing a month sit next summer in Myamar and would like to hear advice from anyone who has practiced in country, particularly on any teachers/temples you might recommend.

Thank you for your attention to this request. My apologies if I have posted in the wrong forum.

_/\_
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:51 am

BeduBodhi wrote:Greetings from the sandy plains of the Arabian peninsula.

I have several years meditation experience, mostly in Vipassana and Zen. I'm considering doing a month sit next summer in Myamar and would like to hear advice from anyone who has practiced in country, particularly on any teachers/temples you might recommend.

Thank you for your attention to this request. My apologies if I have posted in the wrong forum.

_/\_

This is the appropriate place for your questions. I hope you get the answers you are looking for, which I think will of interest any number of us.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby Ben » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:04 am

Welcome BeduBodhi!
Welcome to Dhamma Wheel!
I congratulate you for your aspiration for a one-month sit in Myanmar. I am intending to sit for a month sometime next year - but in Australia.
A person who maybe able to be of assistance to you is Bhikkhu Pesala. Although he now resides in London, he may be able to give you contacts and make suggestions.
metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:33 am

I should say first that I am out of touch with the current situation in Burma. I was last there in 1999, and as you all know there have been many troubles in Burma in recent years.

The first advice is to start making your plans to apply for your visa now. You will probably need a sponsorship letter, unless the tourist visa is valid for one month.

If you want to practise the U Ba Khin style of vipassanā, then IMC Rangoon is the place to apply to.

Otherwise, the best options are the various Mahāsi meditation centres.

Chanmyay Yeikthā is good for foreigners. They have a branch forest meditation centre at Hmawbhi, where I stayed on my last visit. Chanmyay Sayādaw U Janaka was my teacher. He speaks English fluently, though he may not be teaching much now due to his advanced age and failing health.

Panditārāma is also very popular and is well supported by the Sayādaw's American disciples. The Sayādaw is author of In This Very Life, which is recommended reading for anyone intent on practising Vipassanā meditation, especially in the Mahāsi tradition.

The main Mahāsi Yeikthā in Rangoon also has adequate facilities and support for foreign meditators.

As regards the weather in Burma, July-September is the Rainy Season, and is considerably more comfortable than April-June, which is extremely hot and humid with little or no rain.
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby BeduBodhi » Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:48 pm

What a wonderful response. Thank you for your assurance that I am in the right place, for the warm welcomes, and for information on centers. I've googled IMC but all I get are the international sites; nothing for Rangoon. Are they still operational? Welcoming to outsiders?

Anyone with details on the current visa situation? From what I have gleaned a meditation visa is available for one month, but what if I want to kick around for a couple of extra weeks and see some of the country? Is this doable?

I'd be grateful to hear from anyone with recent information on such things as the environment of the centers (urban/rural, noisy/quiet, insect infested, etc), the accommodation, food, etc. I'm not expecting anything grand. I've practiced at some sparse places in India, and having done so know that while most are minimally appointed, some are better staffed or better situated than others.

Thank you.

_/\_

BB
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby bazzaman » Tue Nov 24, 2009 12:47 am

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Last edited by bazzaman on Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby BeduBodhi » Tue Nov 24, 2009 2:49 am

Bazzaman, if I had that much time your plan would be a fine one. Unfortunately, I'll be on summer holidays for only 2 months, and so I need to plan in advance as much as possible. Information such as yours helps me do that. Thank you for taking the time to share.

From what little I googled I see some of these Myanmar centers don't have email addresses. Correspondence appears to be carried out by post or fax, which makes advance planning all the more necessary. It might also make alternate planning prudent. If things don't work out for Myanmar, are there any places in Asia forum members cant suggest where I can pop in for a month without having to sign up for a "course"?

_/\_
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby Ben » Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:46 am

Hi BeduBodhi

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:If you want to practise the U Ba Khin style of vipassanā, then IMC Rangoon is the place to apply to.


just a thought... if your intention is to do a month-long retreat, then you may want to check with IMC Rangoon whether they restrict one-month courses (if in fact they offer any) to their more experienced practitioners, and what pre-requisites apply. If IMC Rangoon does not have internet/email, then I recommend you make contact with one of their centres elsewhere. http://www.internationalmeditationcentre.org/

My teacher, SN Goenka, has about six meditation centres in Myanmar.
Here are the instructions for 'new students' intending to sit a ten-day course in Myanmar:
New Students
You should first write a letter to Dhamma Joti and ask them for an invitation letter to come to Myanmar and meditate at the Centers in Myanmar in the tradition of Goenkaji. When you receive this letter back from them you send it to the Myanmar Consulate along with your application for a meditation visa.

If you have any questions related to this issue please send them to: info@joti.dhamma.org


What a lot of people do is 'sit and serve' alternating a meditation retreat with service at the centre for months at a time. if this interests you, you may like to investigate this further. Month-long retreats are not offered to 'new students' within this tradition.
Having said that and as a guide to what may be expected at centres from other traditions, here are the instructions for 'old students' intending to enter Myanmar for meditation retreats:

Notice for all foreign students who intend to meditate at a Myanmar Centre
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please note that if you intend to come to Myanmar to meditate in a course you require a "meditation" visa rather than a "tourist" visa. In order to obtain a "meditation visa" for Myanmar you should do one of the following:

Old Students
You should obtain a letter from your local center on the letterhead of that center saying:

Consulate of Myanmar
Visa Section


To Whom it May Concern:

Mr. (Your name) is a meditator from our Center. We recommend him/her for a meditation visa to Myanmar to meditate at our Centers in the tradition of Goenkaji in Myanmar. Send that letter to the Consulate of Myanmar along with your application form for a meditation visa.

INFORMATION ON APPLICATION OF LONG COURSE IN MYANMAR

1.Send application forms for long meditation courses at Guruji Goenka's centers in Myanmar to respective centers after filling all the requirments in the form with recommandation from your Area Teacher. We wll then send confirmation/acceptance letter to you.

2.You will need Meditation Visa from the respective Myanmar Embassy from the Country where you are staying if your visit will be exceeding 28 days.


MEDITATION VISA
Meditation Visa Form (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY; FORMS MAY BE PHOTOCOPIED IF NECESSARY)


•THREE Meditation Visa Application forms per person, to be completed in full.

•THREE Forms of Application for study of Theravda Buddhism in Myanmar.

•SIX passport-size photographs per person.

•Sponsership Letter from the Meditation Centre in Myanmar -.that is your acceptance/invitation letter from the respective Centre. (see no.1)

•Personal declaration stating that you will abide by the rules and regulations, acts and directives adopted by the Department for the Promotion and Propagation of Sasana.

•Upon receipt of your initial application by the Embassy, it will be referred to the relevant authorities in Myanmar for approval.

•Please ensure that your complete address and contact phone numbers are included with your application.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When the Embassy has approval to issue your Meditation Visa, the Embassy will contact you, and you will need to send the following:


•Two Meditation Visa Application forms per person to be completed in full.

•THREE passport-size photographs per person.

•Valid passport (blank page necessary for visa stamp)

•Visa Fee of $65.00 per person to be paid by cash, moneyorder, bank cheque or company cheque: Payable to 'EMBASSY OF MYANMAR'. (Please verify with your local Myanmar Embassy.) (PERSONAL CHEQUES ARE NOT ACCEPTED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES)

•Letter giving departure date from your station

•Return self-addressed pre-paid envelope or courier bag. (SAFE SUBMISSION & RETURN OF PASSPORT IS APPLICANTS' RESPONSIBILITY)


As the granting of approval can take sometime, the Embassy suggests that you make application well in advance of proposed travel.


New Students
You should first write a letter to Dhamma Joti and ask them for an invitation letter to come to Myanmar and meditate at the Centers in Myanmar in the tradition of Goenkaji. When you receive this letter back from them you send it to the Myanmar Consulate along with your application for a meditation visa.

If you have any questions related to this issue please send them to: info@joti.dhamma.org


Vipassana Meditation Courses in Myanmar: http://www.dhamma.org/en/bycountry/ap/mm.shtml

All the best,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby James the Giant » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:31 am

I'm a member of a political party, the Green Party of New Zealand, and I'm wondering if that would cause me problems getting a visa for Myanmar. The Green Party are quite outspoken on the political issues over there.
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby BeduBodhi » Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:13 am

Hi, Ben, and my apologies for the delay in replying. I was away - meditating.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post the details for the IMC in Myanmar. After checking out the prerequisites for a 20-day sit at a Goenka center, I found I don't qualify, and not by a small margin - five 10-day courses, one Sattipathana Course, service at one 10-day, and two years regular practice.

I'll keep digging and see what I uncover.

As for James question, how would they know unless you told them?
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Re: Experience meditating in Myanmar

Postby dhamma follower » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:10 pm

BeduBodhi wrote:Greetings from the sandy plains of the Arabian peninsula.

I have several years meditation experience, mostly in Vipassana and Zen. I'm considering doing a month sit next summer in Myamar and would like to hear advice from anyone who has practiced in country, particularly on any teachers/temples you might recommend.

Thank you for your attention to this request. My apologies if I have posted in the wrong forum.

_/\_


Dear BB,

The information bellow concerns partly the general situation about Burma, and partly about going specifically to S.O.M center, where the emphasis is on cittaupassana (contemplation of the mind).
However, as s.o has pointed out, S.O.M is "overbooked" for this winter season, and new letter of sponsorship will be issued only from May 2010.
Hope it helps,

People on tourist
> visas are no longer allowed to stay at meditation centres.
> The Mingaladon township office has categorically told
> SOM centre not to accept yogis if they are coming on tourist
> visas.
>
>
> What to do? Go there, stay at a hotel or guest house
> and spend the day at SOM is allowed, apparently.
>
> It also seems possible
> to 'officially' stay at a hotel while unofficially
> stay at a meditation centre by paying a 'hotel fee'
> - US$7 per day was mentioned. There might be other ways -
> the adventurous and the desperate will surely find out; let
> us know.
>
>
> Meditation visas are still available but getting one
> is now supposedly taking up to 6 months! The only good news
> is that Myanmar embassies have started accepting scanned
> copies of sponsor letters.

All the best,
D.F.
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