Free Dhamma tour outside of Yangon: Saya Thet Gyi's Pyaw Bwe Gyi village
On Wednesday, January 16th, Myanmar Pilgrimage will visit Pyaw Bwe Gyi village, where the lay meditation teacher Saya Thet Gyi once lived and taught. The visit will be led by the author of “Shwe Lan Ga Lay” (or “The Golden Path,” a meditator’s guidebook to Myanmar), and he will discuss the detailed history of the village, the meditation buildings, and the biography of Saya Thet Gyi. The talk will include historical references as well as various anecdotes, and is based on 5 years of project research. The “tazaung” where Saya Thet Gyi taught can be seen as one of the earliest prototypes for the contemporary “non-monastic, non-Buddhist meditation center,” and Saya Thet Gyi was certainly one of the very first non-monastic figures to be entrusted with carrying on the sacred mission of Dhamma teachings.
Please note that this excursion is not meant for tourists, but for those with an active interest or experience in meditation. Appropriate behavior and dress is required, and the day will also include at least one hour of quiet meditation practice, as well as formal paying respects to the Sangha. The talk will be given in English. Also, please note that while there is no fee required to join, participants are expected to cover their own transportation and food costs. To RSVP, please send a message to email@example.com or call 09254254518.
Want to learn a little more about the site? Here we copy the introductory passages from the draft of Part 2 of Shwe Lan Ga Lay:
“At first glance, Pyaw Bwe Gyi village is indistinguishable from any of the hundreds of other similar, rural villages dotting the flat delta plain. Few tourists bother coming here. And even if they did, what would this humble, rice-farming village have to offer them besides its gently swaying palms, endless rice paddies extending towards the horizon, oxen bathing in muddy ponds, and the typical clean pagoda offering fresh water and clean tile to the devout, all shimmering in the haze under a relentless sun?
And yet meditators eagerly trek half-way across the world, get packed in like sardines onto a ferry to cross the river, then travel out into delta country over a bumpy road, just to get to this tiny, nondescript hamlet. To the non-meditative foreigner, little about this would make any sense…
Great world events sometimes have humble beginnings, and Pyaw Bwe Gyi is just such a place. For this was the home of the inspiring and historically important lay meditation teacher, Saya Thet Gyi. One can wonder with good cause whether the Dhamma would have spread around the world to the degree that it has, if not for this very modest farmer from this very humble village.
Today the village consists of approximately 1,000 homes, far more than a century ago in Saya Thet Gyi’s time. The foundations from Saya Thet’s old family home are believed to still exist somewhere within the village today, although the actual location is unknown. The main occupation here now, as then, continues to be rice farming.”