Elsewhere we've written what we believe makes the Golden Land (Myanmar) special as a pilgrimage destination. For those meditators and travelers who already know this well and have plans to come to see the special sites here, the questions then arises, what is the difference between joining a pilgrimage (or organizing a private one for your own group) and going at it alone? To answer this question initially, we turn to page 70 of Shwe Lan Ga Lay, the meditator's guide:
If one is fortunate to have timing and other logistics work in one’s favor, traveling with a Dhamma group is a wonderful way to see the sites and pay respects. This is also quite common for Burmese, who enjoy nothing better than picking up and traveling to holy places with their friends, colleagues, extended family, and neighbors. There is a Burmese proverb that goes, amyu ṭe ṣi yā, amyu ṭe su (အျမဳေတရရိွ ာ အျမဳေတစ)ု , and can be translated as “where there are precious stones, more will become collected.” In other words, where wise or noble ones come to gather, more tend to tend their way. Or, why not make meritorious and joyous deeds together! As Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says, “We Burmese believe that those who perform good deeds together will meet again through the cycle of existence, bonded by shared merit.” Spiritually speaking, a group atmosphere can maintain the Dhamma vibrations and good intentions from morning until night, boosting up individuals when fatigue or other kilesas (defilements) creep in during weak moments.
As Myanmar has just opened up to the outside world, it can still be a very hard country for a newcomer to get around. Many of the more important Buddhist sites happen to be far off the main tourist track, making them difficult to know about and harder still to actually locate. And even if one does manage to turn up at one, it can take a lot of lost time to manage the correct route, and then the traveler has cultural and linguistic challenges to contend with... and on top of this, correctly and respectfully navigating Burmese Buddhist monastic culture!
With Myanmar Pilgrimage, we take care of all these details, allowing the traveler to focus solely on soaking up the Dhamma wisdom and having more time for meditation practice. Pilgrims are brought from one site to another, taught about appropriate behavior and cultural practices, personally introduced to the head abbots of each site, and even able to carry on detailed discussions with monks through our local guides and translators.
As it takes much effort to come half way across the world to the Golden Land in the first place, Myanmar Pilgrimage will ensure that every moment of your time here will be full and well-accounted for! Contact us here to learn more about our pilgrimages and other services.
"The benefits cannot be overlooked..."
In the following passage, a yogi describes his experiences and feelings after a Myanmar pilgrimage. (Shwe Lan Ga Lay, page #74)
“To those training in morality and with devotion making efforts towards development in the Dhamma, going to Burma for a pilgrimage is very auspicious. Burma, the golden land, is a unique place, strong in purity. The benefits of going there as a part of one’s practice should not be underestimated nor overlooked. The merits gained on such a journey will last throughout one’s life and future lives. It will give a strong push of urgency to keep developing in Dhamma and dismay towards worldly things. It will bring out whatever purity one has and multiply it. Whatever negativities there may be will subside, if they arise they will not be so strong and the good atmosphere all around will settle the mind quite effortlessly. It is important that the pilgrim receives support to overcome cultural, language and religious barriers. It is easy with a Western mind to discard the many ways in which Dhamma expresses itself. Being a country of about 60 million people, Burma has its good and bad qualities as any other country. But as one decides to go on a pilgrimage and one’s mind attunes towards Dhamma, it gets connected to all the good vibrations of the golden land. There is a wide spectrum of practitioners all the way from just practicing devotion to being fully liberated. If one really makes efforts to understand and go beyond preconceived views one can fully connect to the gift which Burma is to the people of the world. The actual barriers are nothing but the five enemies, namely; craving, aversion, physical sloth/mental torpor, agitation/worry and doubt.
Burma has enriched my life so deeply. To visit the centers of our Dhamma grandfather and great grandfather and so on, to learn about their struggles and attainments, is so satisfying. To know that there is a serious Saṅgha, that monks and nuns are practicing very diligently, gives so much faith to the heart. To just be near such noble ones, to benefit from their radiating purity is enough to dispel so much of the negativities. And to meet a people so dedicated to following the Buddha’s teaching of generosity and morality certainly inspires one to become a better person. I experienced a clarity of mind greater than ever before. Each day kept building on the previous one. We kept saying to each other, ‘how can it get any better than this?’ and those who knew better would say ‘just wait until tomorrow’ or ‘just wait until we get to such and such a place’ or ‘until we meet so and so’. Indeed, the good atmosphere kept building throughout the journey. It is difficult to put into words, it is something to be experienced. The negativities became so feeble, an exhilarating sense of freedom emerged. I read that the Buddha compared his feelings of relief and happiness to those of a man who has just discharged a debt, or recovered from a painful illness, or been freed from prison, or released from slavery, or who has safely crossed a dangerous wilderness. Such was the experience. I am so happy to let you know, this experience wasn’t mundane, not another high to come down from. It was transformative. It is something I have brought with me home, the fruits keep on coming every day. It seems this is a new chapter. Dhamma has taken root within. Not that there are no more negativities. But it certainly has helped me get past so many obstacles that would have taken so much longer otherwise. So much misery has been dispelled. My wish of deep sympathetic joy (muditā) and ‘come and see for yourself’ (ehipassiko) is that all serious practitioners of Dhamma will make a pilgrimage to the Golden Land, to bene t from its good vibrations and spread this happiness of Dhamma throughout the world.
As the great emperor Asoka inscribed on pillar edicts over two thousand years ago: ‘Happiness in this world and the next is di cult to obtain without much love for the Dhamma, much self-examination, much respect, much fear (of evil), and much enthusiasm.’”
Mårten Berg, Swedish yogi, 2014