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I am writing to you today for your advice. I have been considering ordination in the Pau Auk tradition. I am planning a trip to stay for a month in May to see what the life is like. I am undecided whether to go to the main monastery in Mawlamyine or pyin oo lwin branch. I was hoping you could provide any information to help this decision. I am a Westerner from the USA if that has any influential factor. Thank you very much! With metta,

  • With due respect, I'd recommend against Myanmar for the foreseeable future. Whatever the attraction of the Pau Auk tradition, Myanmar is in the midst of an intense Buddhist/Muslim conflict (you may have heard it called the Rohingya genocide). I'm not so much concerned by the risk involved (though that is considerable) as much as I am about how much that violent turn has corrupted the teaching there. It would be a shame to dedicate yourself to a sect only to find yourself led in the wrong direction. – Ted Wrigley Feb 11 at 21:11
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    Why burn so much fuel and Co2 for a month? The buddhist thing to do would be to look for a close monastery in your area – ian3111 Feb 11 at 21:22
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From my experience in the monastery located at Mawlamyine is that they are able to greet, accomodate with all that they might need and guide foreigners (that are quite numerous at times) with proper care. I have met a lot of very inspiring foreign/local lay followers and monks there.

The ordination process is fairly simple and straightforward (I would advice, if you were to go there, to ask for a "kuti" which is a hut, after ordination as you're more likely to have a suitable one that hasn't a leaky roof or that is being destroyed by termites), you usually have a short daily interview with a teacher for questions in regards to your practice (have you already been acquainted with the Pa-auk method of practicing ?). And if ever you wished I'm reasonably sure that you could also visit the one in Pyin oo lwin (and perhaps beyond ? There are a lot of different places foreigners can go to).

With regards to the comments to your initial post, I would nevertheless suggest reflecting on the decision as there might also be a lot of different opportunities to stay in monasteries in the United states and cannot foresee what may happen with the local conflicts there, I reckon uncertainty is an underlying reality wherever we are. But please do be careful ! (you can check restricted areas to avoid at all times). I still do know numerous foreign monks there who engage with great dedication to the path without meeting substantial obstacles related to these conflicts up until now.

Also, please do consider that May is a very hot season in Myanmar.

With mettā.

  • Thanks for your feedback. The Pau Auk teaching method and schedule is what interests me. I find this is why it is worth going to this monastery in Burma verse one in the United States. Would an American find trouble practicing and ordaining due to the language gap? – Brad Turner Feb 14 at 2:58
  • Not at all, I do also share the american nationality as well and felt no issue or obstacle whatsoever to ordain (most burmese people speak very good english, if not there is usually a translator at Pa-auk, and even having been in remote areas and monasteries you generally always are amidst english speaking and very friendly people). Amusingly enough the process was so accessible at Pa-auk that just by merely asking on a theoritical level to a senior monk if it was possible for a foreigner to ordain he answered "next Tuesday", and that was it. – Fedeverovitch Feb 14 at 8:41

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