A Pali Student's Thoughts

Thoughts of a fish out of water, er, no, rather in new and alien waters --- the reflections of a Buddhist monk surviving in the modern academic atmosphere

Friday, January 14, 2005

What I am and why I am here

I am a national of Burma and a Buddhist monk.

Burma is a country economically retarded, politically unstable, and culturally conservative. Many in the west do not even know its existence, and many of those who somehow happen to know just ignore it. Nevertheless, there are still niches of people deeply interested in its
various aspects, and they include students of Theravada Buddhism because Burma is the heartland and stronghold of that ancient doctrine. Those few westerners who have got a chance to visit Burma and make a prolonged stay there have recorded their experiences in several books.

And the Buddhist Monastic Order of Burma is a conservative and exotic community, with its precepts founded on the Vinaya rules more than two thousand years old, and with its atmosphere belonging to the times when a printing press was a marvel. A person brought up in such a society usually finds it difficult to understand the modern world. He would hardly wish to get involved with it.

I am a such person, born in Burma and brought up in the monastic atmosphere. However, on account of many twists and turns of the invisible fate, I am now living in Sri Lanka, a foreign country familiar with us in books, at least. Yes, it is also a place where Theravada Buddhism is very influential, and its culture predominant. I still live in a monastery.

However, my life has radically changed. Now I am doing research at a modern university, and my supervisors are laymen. Here even the mode of thinking seems very different from ours, out of the question with everything else. Day by day, I find myself saying many things into empty air (I did not previously think it worthwhile to tell anyone)

Nevertheless, in the course of time, I have come to think that the view of modern academics seen through a conservative monk's eyes would convey to people something about Buddhist monks, at least, and also something about the attitude of Theravada Buddhist people. And web logs are easier than ever to get and run! Hence this web log.

If you are interested in Theravada Buddhism, and also get sometimes awed by Buddhist ascetics, this blog is for you. I would try a weekly, or more often post.

with metta


At 3:05 PM , Blogger neil said...

Go for it!

At 11:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello, great idea!carry on

At 3:22 PM , Anonymous ckh said...

i m interested to know more... a refreshing point of view

At 8:30 AM , Blogger Ray Tomes said...

Dear Bikkhu

Several years ago I visited Myanmar with my Vipassana lay teacher S N Goenka and another 500 of his students. We visited the sites of the chain of teachers from which he comes, U Ba Khin, Sayagi Thetgi, Ledi Sayadaw, and other important Buddhist and Vipassana sites.

The people of Myanmar are very friendly and kind in spite of the difficult circumstances in the country. It was wonderful to travel with so many people commited to Dhamma. We were received with great kindness and respect in many places and I wish for happiness and prosperity for the people of Myanmar.

One comment about your interests. If you put "pali, abhidhamma, python" instead of the phrases that you have, then they will act as links to other people with similar interests.

I also have an interest in all three of these things. I would be happy to discuss them all with you.

Ray Tomes

At 2:13 AM , Anonymous nick blue said...

hello there! can you coem and teach meditation to us in france?


At 5:51 PM , Anonymous Sawanta sisilasa said...

Venerable Sir,
we greatly appreciate your displeasure and understand it. But if it is any comfort let us remind you, that this is a world that revolves around one axis. Its money. In Sri Lanka like many other countries you can learn Pali Language by yourself or under some experienced Bhante. But it will not give you a Certificate or a degree. Why most asian monks come to Sri Lanka is to get a Degree. We see thousands of Bhikkus with P.hd MA etc in Sri Lanka who can write thousands of pages disecting Dhamma. But unfortunately there are very few who have realised, or few who are striving to follow the path, the blessed one showed.

Buddha had no Degree. Even the recently pased away Arhants like Most Ven Mun Booridhatta, Ahahn Cha, Bhikku Panyawaddo did not have degrees. But they did not waste this rare oppertunity of a human life in the time of a Buddha Dhamma persuiing mundane goals, like many do nowadays.
But it is the way of the world. Even in the time of the blessed one there were bhikkus like "Thucca Potilas".

May you attain your enlightenment even with no knowladge of Pali.

Sawanata Sisilasa Internet Radio


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