Back to Jail in Burma: vipassana in prison in Myanmar

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Back to Jail in Burma: vipassana in prison in Myanmar

Post by Ben » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:09 pm

Dear all,

Some will find the following article of interest.

Back to Jail in Burma

YANGON, Myanmar — Today I go back to Insein Prison, where I was detained in the late 1990s and where throughout the decades of military rule in Myanmar, most political opponents were interrogated, tried and held.

I was taken there directly from my home in 1998, as a 20-year-old university student, and was given a 21-year sentence on charges of distributing subversive pamphlets. I served seven years, in Insein and two other prisons, before being released in a general amnesty in 2005.

Now I am heading back, as a volunteer in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course for prisoners.

As the day approached, I felt at times overwhelmed at the prospect of seeing so much misery again. But mostly I felt excited. Since my release eight years ago I have thought recurrently that while prison is a human hell, it offers exceptional opportunities for inner peace by creating, if forcibly, a haven from the distractions of ordinary life.

-- ... il0=y&_r=3
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR


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Re: Back to Jail in Burma: vipassana in prison in Myanmar

Post by Modus.Ponens » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:40 pm

Very touching. Thank you. :)
He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'
(Jhana Sutta - Thanissaro Bhikkhu translation)

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Re: Back to Jail in Burma: vipassana in prison in Myanmar

Post by dagon » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:58 pm

Ben , thank you for that.

Burma is a country emerging from what can only be describes as a hellish period and will need a period of conciliation and reconciliation. Many of the new leader and those that will return from overseas between now and 2015 have served time in prisons and in the refugee camps. What the country needs is the likes of Nelson Mandela who grew and found truth in the most adverse circumstances.

The courage of Swe Win gives me hope for the future. It is not only that he has to face the goals again but also the other things that have happened and the continuing situation. While I am entitled to a PR now following reinstatement of the old law I don’t think that I will go back before 2015 (no i don't have any interest in being involved in politics). Buddha taught us that we cannot step back into the same stream –for me this will be hard as I remember the country both before and after the Military take over.

Metta to Swe Win

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Re: Back to Jail in Burma: vipassana in prison in Myanmar

Post by manas » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:21 am

Hi Ben,

this (from the article) is so inspiring:
My mental pain kept growing — until it dawned on me that I would go mad if I continued to want things I could not get. Although this was a moment of utter hopelessness, it ended my delusional urges. I lost my love of books then — and I have yet to win it back fully — but I gained something else.

I started experimenting with modes of meditation I’d vaguely heard about while growing up. I tried visualizing myself as a collection of bones, scanning every part of my skeleton. I tried metta, wishing myself well and radiating that peace toward others. I tried to observe my own breathing.

It worked. Over time, I stopped thinking about how many more years I had left to serve and started looking upon my loneliness in confinement as precious solitude.

kind regards
"With regard to internal factors, I don't envision any other single factor like appropriate attention as doing so much for a monk in training, who has not attained the goal but remains intent on the unsurpassed safety from bondage. A monk who attends appropriately abandons what is unskillful and develops what is skillful."
- from the Itivuttaka

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