The Sagaing Hills of Burma (Myanmar), January 12 – February 2, 2017
Taught by Sayadaw U Pannananda, Steven Smith, and Ma Kamala
Assisted by Jake Davis
This unique 3-week retreat offers a rare opportunity to practice Metta (lovingkindnes) and Vipassana (insight) methods with skilled Burmese monastic and Western lay teachers in the Sagaing Hills of Upper Burma. The first 5 days will focus on Metta practice to lay the foundation for a deeper emphasis on Vipassana during the rest of the retreat.
Filled with centuries-old pagodas, monasteries, and nunneries, the Sagaing hills are regarded as the spiritual heart of Burma and one of the most important practice centers of Theravada Buddhism. Kyaswa Monastery is itself a 600 year old practice and study center that plays a vital role in the health and vibrancy of nearby Wachet village.
Yogis are supported in every way by the heritage of living Dhamma and benefit from a rigorous schedule, individual interviews, carefully prepared food, nightly chanting from local nuns and accommodation in individual kutis nestled along the scenic hillside.
In addition, yogis have the opportunity to connect with the local community via our MettaDana aid projects including the Wachet primary school, nearby nunneries, the Jivitadana Sangha Hospital, and our international acupuncture project.
Base fee of $950 covers all the basic costs of the retreat. Participants are also invted to offer an additional 15% or 25% to help pay for yogi scholarships, MettaDana Project support, and unforseen retreat expenses.
Sayadaw U Paññananda is Kammatthanacariya (meditation teacher) at the Malaysian Buddhist Meditation Centre, Penang. From 1982 to 1994 Sayadaw was a Dhamma Lecturer and taught Pariyatti at Mahabodhi Pariyatti Temple in Yankin Township, Yangon. In 1994, Sayadaw practised Vipassana Meditation at Panditarama Shwe Taung Gon Sasana Yeiktha, Yangon under the overall guidance of Ovadacariya Sayadawgyi U Panditabhivamsa. After his practice and further study under Sayadaw-gyi U Panditabhivamsa’s guidance, Sayadaw U Pannananda taught Vipassana Meditation and gave Dhamma talks as an assistant meditation teacher while living at Panditarama Yangon and was the religious advisor and resident monk of Vipassana Meditation Centre in Singapore from 1999-2012.
Steven V. Smith co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. This partnership helped usher in the beginnings of Vipassana Hawai’i’s Fusion Dhamma approach combining traditional and contemporary teaching styles in the same retreat. Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, he was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Steven divides his time teaching Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) meditation retreats around the world, and assisting Burmese refugee communities along the Thai-Burma border. His long term vision for preserving the Dhamma is culminating in the beginnings of the Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center (HIMC) on the Big Island of Hawai’i’s remote North Kohala coast.
Ma Vimala was born on April 24, 1967 in Thaton, Mon State, Myanmar. She got M.B.,B.S at University of Medicine, Yangon in 1993 and ordained under Sayadaw U Panditabhivamsa at Panditarama, Yangon in 1994. She achieved Sasanadhajadhammacariya in 2001 and worked as a teacher in Pariyatti Program for nuns and Buddhist Cultural Training Courses for children at Panditarama, Yangon, for 9 years. She has taught Abhidhamma, Burmese, Visuddhimagga and Meditation in Taiwan in 2011, 2015 and has been teaching Buddhist Theory and Meditation at Buddhist Culture Courses in Malaysia and in Panditarama Htauk Kyant Branch Center since 2012. Ma Kamala currently resides at Nirodharama Meditation Center, Htauk Kyant, Mingalardon Township.
Jake Davis began practicing at age 14, with Steven and Michele, and went on to spend nearly a decade practicing, studying, working as an interpreter, and training as a monk under the eminent meditation masters Sayadaw U Pandita and Sayadaw U Lakkhana of Burma. He brings together a deep experiential understanding of Buddhist practice with an intellectual training including study of the Pāli texts, a PhD in Philosophy and Cognitive Science, and ongoing research on meditation.
We have just received the sad news of the death of Sayadawgyi U Pandita-bhivamsa, our beloved teacher and perhaps the last of this great generation of Dhamma masters. We want to express our immeasurable gratitude to him for the depth of his wisdom and metta, the power and beauty of his teachings, and the force of his being as a true disciple of the Buddha.
His unbounded generosity and dedication to the Dhamma was something that benefited all of Vipassana Hawai’i’s teachers and therefore impacted all of their students to a degree that is beyond measure. We are saddened by his death but are boundlessly inspired by his life and we aspire to help continue the dispensation of the Buddha’s Dhamma in accordance with his transmission to us.
We offer our deepest compassion to his many centers and communities around the world that will feel the painful loss of their great teacher. We hope that anyone who knew him or was touched by his teaching make sure to spend time in the coming days practicing diligently to honor the gift of this incredible practice of vipassana and its power to create the conditions of liberation from greed, hatred, and delusion in all of our hearts.
We bow three bows of the deepest gratitude to our beloved teacher,
Recently, we have started two groups on the Insight Timer. One for our Honolulu Sunday Sits and one for our North Kohala Sunday Sits. If you can’t make the Sunday Sittings but want to join us, do so on the Insight Timer. The Sunday sits in North Kohala are 4:00 – 4:45 pm and in Honolulu are 5:00 – 5:45 pm Hawai’i time.
If you are not familiar with the Insight Timer, check it out (or download) here:
It’s an app on your phone that allows you to time your sits, see others meditating at the same time, allows you to communicate with others of like mind, and allows to to join different groups like Vipassana Hawai’i, Satipatthana: the Direct Path, or even Rumi poems.
Find us! See you on the Insight Timer.
p.s. If you need help send Dorothy an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This year marked the 21st anniversary of our annual retreat at Kyaswa Monastery and of the community development programs funded by the MettaDana Project. Our relationships with local community members continue to strengthen and we are so pleased that our relationship with Sayadaw U Pannananda, who is now the leading monastic teaching the retreat, has continued to blossom and flourish. Read more