I have passed all of my exams and finished my Diploma Course at ITBMU and have elected not to continue further. I wish to do meditation and if I study, want to focus on Pali and the memorization of the 45 page Patimokkha rules in Pali. Both are going slow for me, but progress is chugging along.
I spent 6 weeks from April to May at the Maymyo Pa-Auk Center which was two weeks longer than my original plan. That place is really really good. The conditions were good, but my eyes were hurting again, so I had to give them a rest. Then I went to Varanasi Vihara in Mingaladon, Yangon. While there, I went to the free eye clinic and the doctor found 2 concretions in my left eye (the side that was hurting). These are small little crystals that have some how become embedded into my upper eyelid. You need to open up the skin and pluck them out sort of like a splinter. However, the eyelid is pretty thin isn’t it? If you poke it a little too far, you will go through the other side. I had them removed even though it was considered an “optional procedure.” I also did in a room with 30 or so patients and 15 or so working eye doctors! They did the job and quite well too (no holes in my eyelid). This procedure was also done for free at a public and free-for-all hospital. I doubt there are Malpractice Lawsuits in Burma, which allows for semi-suitable treatment for the masses. So cross your fingers for me. It should take about one month for it to heal properly, but I am pretty comfortable now.
Lastly, I have been planning to spend vassa at U Pandita Rama ever since last March. This place teaches the Mahasi Method, yet recently the main teacher has passed away. Mahasi is a very popular method, and it is maybe the most popular method in the whole of Myanmar. During our school break in October, I spent two weeks at the main Mahasi center in Yangon (Bahan). I plan on doing 1 month at PanditaRama and then I will likely decide to continue until October. According to the Time Table, we have to formally Meditate 14 hours per day and you have to live the role as a perpetual 4k Slow Motion movie. If you walk to fast (aka a normal pace), there are guards rumored to be posted at every corner to keep an eye on you and to tell you to slow down. it should be fun! Don’t you think so?
So I leave tomorrow and will be short of posts for some time. You might have noticed that posts have been seldom since April 1. Meditation is the name of the game. i am no longer a college student and I am back to my normal life.
Just one more thing. This Varanasi Vihara is such a wonderful place. The food, shared rooms (in a hall) and conditions are quite rough compared to plush Pa-Auk standard I am used to. However, I really like it here. I am considering coming back as well. There are many young monks here who follow the vinaya and do not touch money. They are not allowed to eat dinner or play soccer (football) like most young monks do. It is a rare place which is getting a great reputation. Young monks are coming from far away villages to learn at such a rare place. There were 100 monks this past rainy season and 100 are expected for this following one to come. It is really a great joy to be surrounded by such youthful vigor. The picture above was just a small group of monks from the study room which I call “The Shouting Room”. The one in white is called an anagarika who is only on 8 precepts (minus the money rule). They actually take turns per week in order to help sangha with some money handling stuff since regular monks are not allowed to touch money (or at least that is how it should be). I interrupted their studies for a picture and they were quite eager to be photographed.