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Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Burma

Tuesday 14 September 2010

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All the versions of this article: [English] [中文]

Founded in 1926, Pa-Auk Tawya (“the Monastery”) is situated in a forest near the village of Pa-Auk, 15 kilometres southeast of Mawlamyine, capital city of the Mon State, southern Myanmar. Extending over 500 acres of land, Pa-Auk Tawya is a full monastery with resident monks, nuns, lay meditators and volunteers. The number of residents varies seasonally from 500 to 1000. Presently, there are over 100 foreign meditators, originating from over 20 countries, residing in the Monastery.

Since 1998, four branch monasteries have been established, coming under the name of International Buddhasàsana Meditation Centre, in Than Lyin to the south of Yangon, in Mandalay, in Hpa-An and in Dawei.

Pa Auk Tawya (Forest Monastery) is situated near the Pa Auk Village. The main road from which to enter the forest is at the 9th Mile Mawlamyine-Mudon Highway. The name ’Pa Auk Tawya’ is also used by other forest monasteries in the area where their alms-round resort is also the Pa Auk Village.

However in the following, ’Pa Auk Tawya’ refers only to the Forest Monastery consisting of three monasteries that come under the guidance of the Venerable Sayadaw Bhaddanta Acinna which are:

Thit-thee Kyaung or (also known as) Zin-gyan Kyaung or Lower Monastery;
Kywe-da-nyin Kyaung or Middle Monastery;
Cittala-pabbata Vihara or Wah Kyaung or Upper Monastery.
The Lineage of Abbots

Thit-thee Sayadaw

The founder abbot of Thit-thee Kyaung and Kywe-da-nyin Kyaung of Pa Auk Tawya Forest Monastery was Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Khemavanta who was well known as Thit-thee Sayadaw. (Abbotship: 1926 to 1973)

Phel-htaw Sayadaw

The second abbot was Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Aggapañña who was known as Phel-htaw Sayadaw. (Abbotship: 1973 to 1981)

Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw

The third abbot is the present Sayadaw Ashin Acinna who is well known as Venerable Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw (commonly addressed in short as Pa Auk Sayadaw). Looking after the Thit-thee Kyaung and Kywe-da-nyin Kyaung the Pa Auk Sayadaw founded the Cittala-pabbata Vihara in 1981.

Brief History of Pa Auk Tawya

The Lower Monastery (or Thit-thee Kyaung) was founded in 1926 by Venerable Ashin Khemavanta who was later known as the Venerable Thit-thee Sayadaw. As he took only vegetarian food (mostly fruits and tubers) beginning from his 4th Vassa, he was called Thit-thee Sayadaw since then (Thit-Thee means fruits). He used to practise Buddhanussati meditation and he also practised Vipassana meditation with Meditation on 32 Bodily Parts as the foundation meditation. He taught his disciples to practise Buddhanussati Meditation. Most of the time he used to stay solitarily. He passed away on March 12, 1973 when he was 72 years old with 52 Vassas.

After he had passed away, Phel-htaw Sayadaw Venerable Ashin Aggapañña stayed there as the second abbot for 8 years. He passed away on July 21, 1981 when he was 62 years old with 40 Vassas.

Before he passed away he sent a message to the Venerable Ashin Acinna (who would later be known as Pa Auk Tawya Sayadaw). At that time the Venerable Ashin Acinna was staying at Mon-sein Tawya ( or Ah-sin Tawya) and sometimes in Doo-yah Tawya, Ye Township, requesting him to come to Pa Auk Tawya urgently. As soon as he received the message, Venerable Ashin Acinna left immediately. He arrived in Pa Auk Tawya in the morning of July 16, 1981 which was five days before the second abbot, Phel-htaw Sayadaw passed away. As Phel-htaw Sayadaw requested him (Venerable Ashin Acinna) to look after the monastery, he agreed so that the Sayadaw would not have a worrisome mind before he passed away. Therefore he stayed on since then. (We would now digress to introduce the biography of Venerable Ashin Acinna)

Pa-Auk Forest Monastery is a Buddhist monastery in the Theravàda tradition, with emphasis on the teaching and practice of both Samatha (tranquility) and Vipassanà (insight) meditation. Situated in a forest along the Taung Nyo Mountain range in Mon State, Myanmar, the monastery provides a conducive setting for the practice of long-term, intensive meditation. Presently, there are over 100 foreign meditators, originating from over 20 countries, residing in the monastery.

Teaching:
Mindfulness-of-Breathing (ànàpànassati) - to develop absorption concentration (the four jhànas).
Most of the 40 Samatha subjects taught by The Buddha - including loving-kindness (mettà) meditation, the thirty-two parts of the body, the ten kasiõas and the four immaterial jhànas.
Four-Elements Meditation - to analyze ultimate materiality and ultimate mentality.
Dependent Origination - to discern past, present and future lives by analyzing their causes and conditions.
Vipassanà Meditation - to discern the five aggregates (materiality and mentality) as impermanent, subject to suffering and without a self.

Training:

Training and separate accommodations for monks, nuns and male/female lay practitioners.
Strong support and guidance for those who wish to ordain.
Regular interviews with qualified meditation teachers (who speak English).
Vegetarian diet, including both white and whole-grain brown rice.

Facilities:

A large meditation hall for men and a separate meditation hall for women
Over 280 kuñis (single meditator huts), many located in secluded areas of the forest. A clinic and a sick-bay with doctors trained in both conventional Western and traditional Burmese herbal medicine. A large new library with titles in English, Chinese, Burmese and Pàli.

— 
Source: Pa Auk Forest Monastery

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