Vipassana Pilgrimage

The following is the extract taken from the pilgrimage led by Goenkaji and Mataji, along with many hundreds of Vipassana students from all over the world, undertook in January 2000, as an acknowledgement of Sayagui U Ba Khin’s Centenary Year.

First off, the pilgrims meditated at Dhamma Joti, followed by gathering at Shwedagon pagoda, the largest and most revered pagoda in Myanmar, which enshrines hair relics of the Buddha, to meditate during the early morning. Meditators then proceeded to the International Meditation Centre in northern Yangon to meditate at Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s centre where Gogenkaji learnt Vipassana.

Leaving Yangon, the pilgrims next destination was a small village on the opposite bank of Yangon river, called Dalla. Here, they visited the meditation centre established by Saya Thetgyi (U Ba Khin’s teacher), the first lay teacher of Vipassana in Myanmar.

Further from Yangon is the famous Kyaiktiyo Hill, where a pagoda stands atop a balancing rock on the edge of a cliff. After the exertion of climbing the hill, all tiredness was removed by meditating in an atmosphere charged with the pure vibrations of Dhamma.

The pilgrims proceeded northward to Mandalay. There they meditated at the Dhamma Mandapa centre and the Mahamuni Pagoda, and visited the Sagaing Hills where for centuries Vipassana has been practiced.

The pilgrims visited sites associated with Ledi Sayadaw, who was responsible for the rebirth and spread of Vipassana in modern times. They went to Monywa and the nearby Ledi village, where he was born and taught Dhamma, and they also saw the hillside cave where he used to meditate. In addition, in Kyaukse they visited the monastery of Webu Sayadaw, a revered monk of recent years who gave so much encouragement and inspiration to Sayagyi.

A few of the pilgrims went to Mogok to meditate at the two Vipassana centres there, Dhamma Ratana and Dhamma Makuta. In this city famed for its gems of ruby, they experienced the gem of Dhamma in all its splendor. The return journey southward led through the historic city of Pagan, ancient capital and city of pagodas, which left an indelible impression.All arrived back in Yangon feeling joyful though tired by the journey.

The following is a personal account of two meditators who went along the pilgrimage.