Panditarama Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha
The Panditarama Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha is a center for the practice and study of the Theravada Buddhist teachings. Established in October 1990 by the Venerable Guiding Teacher U Panditabhivamsa, it follows the great lineage of the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. He no longer gives personal interviews during retreats, but still offers Dhamma talks, and closely supervises other Sayadaws who interview.
Both local and foreign yogis come to the Shwe Taung Gon center in Yangon to practice intensive Vipassana (Satipatthana) meditation. The Mahasi method involves mindfulness of body, sensations, mind, and general objects such as seeing, hearing, tasting and smelling. The primary objects of meditation are the rise and fall of the abdomen in sitting meditation and the movement of the feet in walking meditation.
Food, accommodations, and basic needs are met through the generous donations of well-wishers. The teachers and staff work to maintain conditions conducive to meditation. All these efforts are made with the intention that the yogis be free to practice and gain the benefits. For the yogis, there is but one responsibility, that is, to maintain continuity of mindfulness throughout the waking hours.
Information For Yogis
Panditarama Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha is a meditation and study monastery. Established in October 1990 by Venerable Ovadacariya Sayadaw U Pandita-bhivamsa, this centre follows the great lineage of the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. The main center is located in Yangon, with branch centers in Hse Main Gon (south of Bago), Pyin Oo Lwin, Mawlamyaing and Than Lyin (formerly Syriam). Foreign yogis may meditate at either the main center or the Hse Main Gon Forest Center. Please contact the main center to apply.
The method of meditation taught here is that taught by the late, most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. Instruction is given in English, or in Burmese with English translation.
Foreign meditators should contact the main center to arrange a retreat, regardless of where they intend to practice. The application procedure is as follows:
- Download the Panditarama application form.
- Print it out, complete it, attach your photo and mail or e-mail it to Panditarama. Please indicate when you want to come to the center.
- On acceptance, the yogi will be sent a sponsorship letter. This letter is in Burmese and states that the center has accepted you as a yogi.
- Obtain a meditation visa application from your local Embassy of Myanmar. Complete the form and submit it to the embassy together with the sponsorship letter.
- When you have decided when you would like to come to the centre, please contact the centre by letter, phone or e-mail to confirm your arrival plans.
- The centre will provide you with transport from the airport. Or you may take a taxi from the airport, which will cost you about $5. The centre's address in Myanmar script is provided below.
- If you want to meditate for less than 28 days, you may enter Myanmar on a tourist visa. However, we require that all yogis apply and receive our confirmation prior to entering the country.
Some Basic Guide Lines
For Intensive Vipassana Meditation:
- There is only one task to be done by the meditators, i.e. to practice with:
- respect and sincerity
- heroic effort
- sustained, continuous, moment-to- moment mindfulness from the time of waking up in the morning to the time of falling asleep at night.
- Meditators should do 14 hours of formal sitting and walking meditation per day.
- Meditators should keep alone and observe silence. Socializing is not encouraged at all.
- Meditators must refrain from talking.
- Meditators must keep reading and writing to an absolute minimum.
- Lay meditators must carefully observe the eight precepts. Smoking is not allowed. Monks and nuns must strictly observe their respective monastic discipline.
- Sleep should be limited to 4-6 hrs per 24 hours.
- Meditators must strictly adhere to the meditation teacher's instructions and should not practice according to other meditation methods.
- Meditators must not get involved in any activities mot related to intensive meditation, (e.g. listening to the radio or tapes, taking massage, taking photographs, collecting books, performing acupuncture, receiving visitors, cooking food, learning Burmese, English, Pali.)
- Meditators must restrain their senses. They should act like a blind, deaf and dumb person.
- Meditators must perform all activities in slow motion like a sick person.
- There is no space for thinking, reflection, speculation, analyzing, or interpretations during intensive practice.
- Generally, meditation is for people with a normal and stable mind. If a person is mentally not in shape to do intensive meditation practice, especially to conform to the strict discipline, then that person may not be admitted as a yogi.
Items to bring
- Clothing: White shirts or blouses with sleeves, longyis (sarongs). Women should plan to wear dark brown longyis. [Longyis can be bought here in Myanmar].
- Slippers, thongs or sandals.
- Other personal items including medicines, vitamins and toiletries, if there are particular brands or specific items you require.
- Optional: 10 or more passport-size photos for yogis who need to have their visa extended in Myanmar.
- Cash in US dollars. Please note that it is difficult to exchange other currencies, as well as notes that are old, torn or stained.
Items provided by the Centre
The centre will provide meditators with food and lodging including a mosquito net, sheet, pillow and pillow case, blanket and a thermos bottle (flask). Costs are met through the generous donations of well-wishers.
Most yogis manage to remain in good health during their stay. For minor ailments such as upset stomachs, colds, coughs, etc., a trained and experienced nurse is normally in residence at Panditarama (Yangon), and a doctor is in attendance for two hours every day at the centre's clinic. It is extremely rare that more severe illnesses occur. If necessary, there are a number of clinics not far from the main Centre where specialist diagnosis and treatment are available at reasonable rates.
For yogis meditating at Hse Main Gon Forest Center, the center's clinic is staffed during peak periods (December-January and March-April). At other times, medical services are available in the nearby town of Bago.