Biography of the teacher: Sayagyi Daw Sobhana
Sayagi Daw Sobhana was born on December 20th 1946 in Cambodia. She was the 17th and last child of a pious Buddhist family from Phnom Penh.
Since her young age, she has been educated with Buddhist spiritual values: the tradition of generosity & sharing (dāna) was commonly practiced in her home, with her parents offering regularly food to Buddhist monks, relatives and friends. It was from her parents that the young girl learned the meaning of giving to others as well as the importance of respecting elders.
She was only 10 year old when her mother died from disease. It is at that time that she came to listen to her first sermons delivered by the monks on sickness, old age and death. When she was 19, it was her father’s turn to pass away. She remembered one of the Buddha’s teaching he taught her: ”attā hi attano nātho” (one indeed is one’s own refuge). This will prove to be the principal guideline of her whole life up to now. Thus, very soon and quickly, she encountered the reality of Dhamma through the hardships of life.
After her studies, wishing to contribute to relieve physical suffering through medicine, she worked in a French pharmaceutical laboratory. But she immediately realized that something important was missing to alleviate mental suffering.
In the 70’s as war was threatening the security of the country, she decided to leave for France so to acquire the knowledge necessary to uplift her quality of life. Afterwards, she undertook trainings in beauty care, massages, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, bio-energy, osteopathy and psychology, and worked as a therapist.
Family life was unfolding harmoniously and happily until the very day when her French husband suddenly died from a heart attack in 1988, leaving behind a young orphan boy aged 7 years. She was 42 years old, when separation through death inflicted her great suffering. The illusions of the saṁsāra faded away and she felt a strong urge to search for the Truth and the cessation suffering.
She then practiced meditation according to the Goenka method for 7 years. Thereafter, she met Venerable Sāsana and the late Sayadaw U Vijaya (Sakyamuni center) and practiced Vipassanā meditation in the tradition of the late Venerable Mahāsi Sayadaw in Burma. Starting from 1998, she made several spiritual travels to the land of the Dhamma, Burma (in Sayadaw U Paṇḍita & Sayadaw U Janaka’s centers) and to Malaysia to undertake meditation.
In 2001, she was ordained as a nun with Sayadaw U Paṇḍita as her preceptor, and had a one-year Vipassanā retreat at Panḍitārāma Meditation Center under the guidance of different meditation teachers. At that time, she encountered Sayadaw U Thuzana, a very skilful teacher, endowed with much patience, mettā-karuṇā, gentleness and understanding. These very qualities of mind/heart tremendously helped Sayagyi’s own spiritual path. Thus, she could develop the pure Dhamma through the years up to nowadays. Sayadaw U Thuzana, having confidence in her qualities (maturity, mettā-karuṇā, experiences in the practice, communication skills…) encouraged her to share the Dhamma in France.
According to the Buddha, six factors are important to progress on the spiritual path: kamma, mind (citta), weather/environment (utu), food (āhāra) and constant and ardent vigilance (appamāda). For example, thanks to his good kamma, a yogi meets a noble teacher (kalyāṇamitta). His mind is inclined towards meditation that leads to liberation; the weather, environment and food are suitable to his physical needs; and he exerts constant and ardent vigilance in his practice. He will be able to make progress and therefore reach his goal.
It is within that precious Buddha’s teaching that Sayagyi Daw Sobhanā, has herself practiced and developed the Dhamma, working on the fundamental equilibriums of to two bodies – mind & matter. This fulfills the deep aspiration she has had since tender age.
Thus, Sayagyi Daw Sobhanā offers, following the words of the Buddha, to accompany on the spiritual path the yogis who really need her help to free themselves from suffering.