Friday, February 7, 2020

How Pa Auk Sayadaw became enlightened

Setti Wessels; Pa-Auk Center via Tusita Int'l; Dhr. Seven (ed.), Kalyani, Wisdom Quarterly

I verified the Path in the Pali canon works.
The most significant Theravada Buddhist teacher in the world today, certainly in Burma, is the most Venerable Bhaddanta Aciṇṇa.

He is commonly referred to as “Venerable Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw” or less formally as simply “Pa-Auk Sayadaw.” He is the abbot and principal teacher at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery. Sayadaw is a Burmese title that means “respected teacher.”

In 1934, Sayadaw was born in Leigh-Chaung Village, Hinthada Township, in the delta region about 100 miles north-west of the capital of Burma, Rangoon (now Yangon, Myanmar).

In 1944, at age 10, he ordained as a novice monk (samanera) to train at his village monastery. During the next decade, he pursued the life of a typical scholar-novice, studying the texts of the Pali canon (including the Monastic Disciplinary Code, the Buddha's discourses, and the ultimate teachings or vinaya, suttas, and Abhidhamma) under various teachers. He passed the three Pali language exams while still a novice.

Sayadaw-gyi is the greatest monk of our time! (wiki)
In 1954, at age 20, Sayadaw received higher ordination as a monk (bhikkhu). He continued his study of the Pali canon under the guidance of learned elder monks.

In 1956, he passed the prestigious Dhamma-acariya exam, the equivalent of earning a B.A. in Buddhist studies, which confers the title of “Dharma Teacher.”

For the next eight years, Sayadaw continued his personal investigation and verification of the Dharma, travelling throughout Burma to learn from various well known teachers.

In 1964, during his tenth “rains retreat” (vassa) as a fully ordained Buddhist monk, he turned his attention to intensifying his meditation practice and began the practice of “forest dwelling.” He continued his study of the Pali texts but in addition sought out practical instructions from the most revered meditation masters of those times.

When one knows-and-sees dependent origination with a cleansed mind, one awakens.

Burma is the large landmass on the right, renamed Myanmar by the military dictatorship.
High in the Himalayas on retreat with Sayadaw, India
For the next 16 years, he made forest dwelling his primary practice. He spent these years in Mon state in the southern part of Burma -- three years in Mudon Township (south of Mawlamyine) and 13 years in Ye Township (about 100 miles down the coast). During this time, he lived a very simple life, devoting his time to intensive meditation and the study of the Pali canon.

In 1981 Sayadaw received a message from the abbot of Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, Ven. Aggapañña. The abbot was dying and asked Ven. Acinna to look after the monastery. Five days later, Ven. Aggapañña passed away. As the new abbot of the monastery, Ven. Acinna became known as “Pa-Auk Tawya Sayadaw.”

Although he oversaw the running of the monastery, Sayadaw would spend most of his time in seclusion, meditating in a bamboo hut in the upper forested area, which covered a deserted range of hills running along the base of the Taung Nyo mountain range. This area later came to be known as the Upper Monastery.

Panoramic view of the Kullu Valley, India
Since 1983, both monastics and laypeople have been coming to study meditation with Sayadaw.

In the 1990s, foreign meditators began to arrive at the monastery. As Sayadaw’s reputation steadily grew, the Upper Monastery gradually expanded from a simple bamboo hut encampment and a handful of disciples to more than 250 meditation huts (kutis) in the thinning forest.

The area included a large two-story meditation hall for men, a library (with office, computer room, and men’s dormitory on the lower levels), a clinic, a hospital, an almsgiving hall, a two-story refectory, a reception hall, and Sayadaw's dwelling.

The Lower Monastery includes facilities of more than 180 meditator's huts, a large kitchen, a three-story meditation hall for women (with sleeping quarters on the ground floor), and a five-story dormitory.

In March of 2007, there were more than 130 foreign monks, nuns, and lay practitioners residing at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery. During the annual three-month rains retreat, the total monastic population averages between 600-700.

Together with laypeople, the monastery population sometimes tops 1,500 during festival times.

In 1997 Sayadaw published his magnum opus, an enormous five-volume tome entitled The Practice that Leads to Nibbana (Nirvana), explaining the entire course of teaching in detail and supported by copious quotations from the Pali texts. It is available only in Burmese and Sinhalese.

On January 4th, 1999, in public recognition of Sayadaw’s achievements, the government bestowed upon him the title Agga Maha Kammatthanacariya, which means “Greatly Respected Teacher of Meditation.”

Sayadaw attained in a time of great tumult.
Sayadaw now speaks fluent English and has lectured and led retreats outside of Burma since 1997. In December of 2006, he travelled to Sri Lanka to undertake a long-term personal retreat, staying in seclusion and suspending his teaching schedule throughout 2007.

His teaching schedule for 2008 included a four-month retreat in the U.S., which ran from July to October, at the Forest Refuge in Barre, Massachusetts (Insight Meditation Society).

Sayadaw personally conducted a six-month intensive retreat at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery, Burma from January to June of 2010. After the retreat, Sayadaw joined the monks from Tusita Hermitage in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India for the Rains Retreat. At that time Sayadaw entered his own personal retreat for that three-month period. Source

Sayadaw’s teachings have been published in English, and several are highly regarded internationally. For he is both a highly esteemed Dhammā-acariya ("Dharma Teacher") and a personally accomplished Kammaṭṭhānā-acariya ("Meditation Teacher"). He has lectured and led retreats in the USA, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Germany, and the UK.

In 2009, Sayadaw was bestowed the title of Shwekyin Nikāya Rattaññūmahānāyaka [a great elder in the second largest monastic order in Burma] at the 17th Shwekyin Nikaya Saṅgha Conferencce in Burma. Original source
He did. So can you. (PATM)
At that time when one arrived at the forest nunnery and monastery, the Pa Auk Tawya Meditation Center, one started down a long muddy road. It had become a town, attracting Burmese devotees, ardent spiritual seekers from the West and Far East. It was vegetarian, egalitarian, with many nuns from different countries. It was open to everyone with an open hand. The gem was the great teacher, who could instruct someone from being unable to meditate to the final attainment of nirvana, spiritual awakening, complete enlightenment. We would not believe it had we not visited and seen it with our own eyes. Not only do people attain here, it happens in the West because Sayadaw and his accomplished teachers teach retreats beyond Burma.

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