Introduction to Burmese Monasteries

In this excerpt from the book, we pick up an entry from our "Monasteries" chapter. Following is the introduction for the "Monastic Life" chapter:

One of the great joys that your visit in the Golden Land can bring is to experience an extended stay in a monastic environment.

Integrating into monastic life can involve joining a devoted community of practicing monks, nuns, supporters, and lay people. While you may have to negotiate some gaps in language and culture, many monasteries warmly welcome foreign yogis who come to learn more about Burmese Buddhist practice and take it as a privilege to look after them. For many, it is a treasured meritorious deed as through their actions they are able to spread Buddha’s teachings beyond their own limited region. It is also a wonderful way to make lasting relationships with Burmese monastic and lay people, and by joining their community wholeheartedly, it can deeply transform one’s practice and understanding of Dhamma. As one American monk notes, “My teacher, Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw says that if you like this place, then you have certain qualities, or as we call it, ‘parami’… eventually it comes down to being one who ‘enjoys themselves.’ Those who cannot and who want an easy and relaxed life eventually leave.”

Burmese monks at a local monastery