Mahasi Sasana Yeithka Foreign Meditators July 2009

Sayadaw U Jatila is a brother of Sayadaw U Lakkhana who is also a leading vipassana meditation teacher in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw. Both teachers have travelled and taught overseas, though both relied heavily on translators. Sayadaw U Jatila teaches at MSY for about six months every year from about June to November and spends the other six months at his base monastery near to Naypidaw.

About three days after I arrived at MSY four Chinese Mahayana monks came from Singapore where they are studying. They all spoke Mandarin well and English poorly. I speak English well and Mandarin poorly. Even so, Sayadaw U Jatila asked me to help with translating during meditation instructions, interviews twice a week and once a week for the Dhamma talks. I struggled because I hadn’t learned Dhamma technical terms for Mandarin and neither were the monks familiar with Paali terms used by most Theravada Buddhists, though they knew most of the similar concepts in Mahayana Buddhism using Mandarin. We managed and taught each other a lot. They wanted to ordain temporarily as Theravada monks so I seized the opportunity to make merit and sponsored their ordinations. It was very interesting and we all learned a lot.

The Korean Monk and Korean Yogi appeared unable to speak any other languages except Korean and a few words of English so they didn’t talk with anyone except each other.

I first met the Thai monk – Ajahn Sujin Decharo at Chanmyay Yeithka two and a half years ago and was able to have many fascinating conversations with him in Thai. He has been in Myanmar for nearly 5 years and recently spent 7 monks at Pa Auk Tawya. Ajahn Sujin speaks only very basic English so I also helped translate for two of his meditation interviews with Sayadaw U Jatila because the visiting Laos monk (a student at the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University) was not available to translate at those times.

Note: Talking is not really a good practice at meditation centres. Usually it is better to practice “noble silence” to get maximum value from the time there and make the quickest progress. Even so, I learned a lot during the three weeks I spent at MSY.

Standing row: Korean Yogi, Korean Monk, Myanmar Translator Monk, Ajahn Sujin Deracho (Thailand), Mihindu Pulukkody (Sri Lanka), Michael Kalyaano (Australia)
Seated row: two Chinese Mahayana Monks, Sayadaw U Jatila, two Chinese Mahayana Monks

Standing row: Korean Yogi, Korean Monk, two Myanmar Translator Monks, Ajahn Sujin Deracho (Thailand), Myanmar Translator Monk, Myanmar Translator Layman, Michael Kalyaano (Australia)
Seated row: two Chinese Mahayana Monks, Sayadaw U Jatila, two Chinese Mahayana Monks, Mihindu Pulukkody (Sri Lanka)

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