Kyaswa Monastery Fusion Retreat
The Sagaing Hills of Burma (Myanmar), January 12 – February 2, 2020
Taught by Sayadaw U Pannananda, Michele McDonald, Steven Smith, assisted by Sayalay Ma Kamala
This unique 3-week retreat offers a rare opportunity to practice Metta (lovingkindness) 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 invited to offer an additional 15% or 25% to help pay for yogi scholarships, MettaDana Project support, and unforseen retreat expenses.
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The teaching team:
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 practiced 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 Sayadawgyi 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.
Michele McDonald co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 with Steven Smith. She has taught Insight meditation for thirty-two years. Beyond her commitment to the Vipassana Hawai’i Sangha, she teaches extensively throughout the United States, in Canada, Burma, and various locations around the world. Michele has been a quiet pioneer having been the first woman to teach a formal retreat in Burma, side-by-side with a senior monastic figure, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. Having worked with a wide range of Asian and Western teachers, Michele is most inspired by her practice with Dipa Ma and Sayadaw U Pandita and more recently in Burma with the Mya Taung Sayadaw. She appreciates teaching at many levels of practice and has enjoyed teaching three-month retreats for experienced students as well as developing meditation retreats for youth. Her style of teaching emphasizes helping individuals find entry points into stillness that are natural for them. She encourages an understanding of the path of insight and a gentle strengthening of mindfulness and concentration so that, ultimately, people can access the peaceful depths of their experience in every moment. Michele is thrilled when students begin to love their practice as their own.
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 Kamala 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.
Teacher dana - In accordance with tradition, all Vipassana Hawai’i internationally respected teachers offer their guidance and teachings free of charge and are supported through the freely-offered generosity of students and supporters. Costs associated with retreats cover the expenses associated with food, lodging, and administration but not teacher time, training, effort, or energy. We believe that this commitment helps keep the purity of the teachings alive and thriving, as it has for millennia. They do not collect salaries in keeping with the time-honored tradition of sharing openly the chance for peace. This allows us to pass on our direct facility costs and keep our registration fees as low as possible. As a result, we strive to give back in monetary gratitude so that they may continue their endeavors and share their wisdom.
Please note our Cancellation Policy:
If you cancel more than 45 days prior to the retreat: We will refund all fees less PayPal fees - usually $100.
If you cancel 14 - 44 days prior to the retreat: We will refund all fees less $200.00.
If you cancel less than 14 days prior to the event: Unfortunately we cannot afford to offer a refund. Last-minute cancellations are costly and sometimes mean that others cannot attend the retreat. If there are extreme circumstances and we have someone else to fill your spot, we may be able to support some kind of refund.