Webu Sayadaw and Sayagyi U Ba Khin
Venerable Webu Sayadaw and Sayagyi U Ba Khin were closely linked in their Dhamma work beginning with their ﬁrst meeting in 1941. Webu Sayadaw urged Sayagyi U Ba Khin with unmistakable words to teach meditation and effectively gave him his mission to spread the Dhamma, and he continued to encourage and support him throughout his life in various ways. In 1953, Sayagyi U Ba Khin invited the Sayadaw to visit his newly established meditation centre in Inya Myaing Road in Yangon (Rangoon). Daw Mya Thwin (later Mother Sayamagyi) had, in Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s view, attained to a deep penetration of the Buddha Dhamma, and U Ba Khin wanted the Ven Webu Sayadaw’s confirmation. People who knew the Sayadaw did not think that he would accept the invitation as he had never made visits outside his three meditation centres in Upper Burma, but to everyone’s surprise he immediately accepted the invitation conveyed to him by one of Sayagyi’s disciples.
Ven. Webu Sayadaw undertook his ﬁrst journey to lower Burma in response to Sayagyi’s invitation and spent seven days at the International Meditation Centre. Afterwards, he visited lower Burma every year, to give talks and teach. Seven years later, in 1960, he stayed at the IMC again from May 12th to May 17th.
Sayagyi U Ba Khin used to consult Webu Sayadaw on matters connected with his teaching, and when he wrote a treatise in Burmese entitled The Basic Study of the Buddha’s Teachings and Their Correct Application, he submitted it to Webu Sayadaw for approval in 1953. In his introduction to the book, Sayagyi wrote, “What we have found and what I am describing here are merely our ﬁndings and our analysis. I do not consider everything presented here to be completely, absolutely proven. If there are mistakes, I request that others correct me. I would like to invite pertinent criticism as well as comments from those who have a mature knowledge of the texts (paṭipatti) and from those Noble Ones who follow the Teachings — those who have practised extensively in the past and who continue to practise diligently today. It is my aim to do further work based on such comments — to either answer and clarify them or accept them.”
In mentioning “those Noble Ones who follow the Teachings — those who have practised extensively in the past and who continue to practise diligently today”, Sayagyi was especially thinking of Ven. Webu Sayadaw. He told the Sayadaw, “This booklet was written in accordance with the instruction I received from you. This is how I have been teaching Vipassanā, based on ﬁrst-hand experience. This is the way I discovered the common factors involved in extraordinary achievements.”
Before publishing the text, Sayagyi sent a copy to Ven. Webu Sayadaw for his comments. Webu Sayadaw approved the text of The Basic Study in a handwritten letter, saying, “I received Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s text through my lay disciple Maung Bo. From the day U Ba Khin received the Teachings of the Buddha, he has practised and fulﬁlled them without interruption. Now he has reached the position of Accountant General and at the same time he is striving to beneﬁt others through the Buddha’s Teachings. He has understood perfectly what only Noble Ones can understand — those Noble Ones who truly follow and fulﬁl the Buddha’s Teachings, who practise the three trainings of sīla, samādhi, and paññā in all their pristine purity in accordance with the Pāḷi scriptures. He has made lofty aspirations, and the treatise he has submitted is impressive. I believe that this booklet will spread the fragrance and the light of the Sāsana as it is in agreement with the aims of true Buddhists. You have given a great deal [in this book]. Now be mindful.”
In 1965, Sayagyi U Ba Khin ordained for ten days under Webu Sayadaw in his forest monastery and meditation centre at Ingyinbin, Webu Sayadaw’s birthplace.
The following sections include, apart from my own accounts, relevant extracts from the biography of Sayagyi U Ba Khin written by his disciple U Ko Lay, former vice-chancellor of the University of Mandalay, with additional material contributed by Sayagyi U Chit Tin. Some slight corrections have been made to the extracts.
From Yangon to Webu
In 1941, Sayagyi became the Accounts Ofﬁcer for Burma Railways. That year, the ﬁre of war was ablaze in the world; the skies of Burma were also overcast with the clouds of war. In July, Sayagyi took an express train, using his special carriage, to inspect the accounts in Myit Tha railway station. When he found that another railway accounts ofﬁcer had already done so, he had some free time. His carriage was pulled to Kyauksai station where it was shunted aside as he had a few days’ work to catch up on. Due east from the railway station, there was the dark silhouette of Shwe Tha Lyaung Hill, which seemed to beckon Sayagyi. He went there without delay accompanied by the assistant station master of Kyauksai to pay respects at the pagoda on the hill. After doing so, he looked around, enjoying the lush verdant landscape.
In the north there was a small hill, and at its foot they could see a small bamboo-hut monastery. When Sayagyi asked his companion about it, he replied that a monk worthy of veneration was living in the hut, and since he had chosen to live at the foot of Webu Hill, they called him Webu Sayadaw. The people who lived nearby venerated and respected this Sayadaw as they believed he was an Arahat. Sayagyi instantly felt a thrill inside him and wanted to go and pay respects to this Sayadaw. He started to descend directly towards the little hill, but his escort told him that it was not possible to descend from that side of the mountain. “The Sayadaw doesn’t receive visitors now,” the assistant station master added. “I’ll accompany you to his place in the afternoon.”
Back at the station, they had lunch. Then Sayagyi went to meditate in his carriage. He concentrated with mettā on Webu Sayadaw and informed him in his mind that he wanted to come and pay respects. At three o’clock in the afternoon, Sayagyi called his companion and they took a horse carriage to Webu Valley. When the road became too rough, they descended and continued on foot. As they entered Webu valley, their minds became very quiet and serene. They saw the Konawin Pagoda, which is nine cubits high, and the Sīmā Hall and paid their respects.
At that moment, two lay nuns appeared. As there was no one else around, they asked them whether they could pay respects to Webu Sayadaw. “This is not the time,” was the reply. “You can see him only at breakfast time and in the evening when he gives a discourse.” Sayagyi told the lay nuns it was not important that he see Webu Sayadaw in person. If they would show him his dwelling, he would pay respects outside it. The lay nuns showed him a little bamboo hut, and Sayagyi went closer. He took off his sandals, squatted down on the ground and paid respects. He addressed the Sayadaw in his mind, saying, “Disciples from Yangon are here to pay respects, Sir.”
The little door of the hut suddenly opened and Webu Sayadaw’s face appeared. “What wish do you have in mind as you pay respects, great lay disciple?” were the Sayadaw’s ﬁrst words.
“Sir, I wish to attain the Paths and Fruition States, Nibbāna,” Sayagyi answered.
“Oh, you want Nibbāna,” the Sayadaw said. “How will you go there?”
“Sir, the way to Nibbāna is the knowledge gained through Vipassanā, paññā,” Sayagyi replied. “I am also directing my mind to the awareness of anicca at this moment.”
“Oh,” the Sayadaw said, “sādhu, sādhu, sādhu (well done). How did you receive this Dhamma?”
Sayagyi replied that he had meditated for seven days under the guidance of his teacher and benefactor Saya Thet Gyi; then he had continued on his own. Even when travelling, as he was at that time, he meditated in his railway carriage.
“You have pāramī, great lay disciple,” the Sayadaw said. “I thought that you must have spent a long time by yourself in the forest and that you must have made great efforts there.”
They spent more than one hour conversing in this way, then after having obtained permission to offer a vegetarian meal early the next morning, Sayagyi and the assistant station master returned to Kyauksai station. The next day they cooked the meal and went to offer it to Webu Sayadaw. He accepted the food and gladdened them again with talk on the Dhamma. The other people who came to offer breakfast said that Webu Sayadaw had never talked that much before. At the end, he said, “Great disciple, you have to give the Dhamma, share the Dhamma you have with everyone. You cannot be sure that you will meet again the disciples who are here with you now. Now that you have met them, give them the Dhamma. Show them the Dhamma to some small extent. Give the Dhamma. Do not wait.” In this way, Webu Sayadaw admonished and stirred Sayagyi.
Sayagyi heeded the Sayadaw’s words. Back at the station in Kyauksai, he taught the assistant station master in his railway carriage. That man was the ﬁrst person to be taught the Dhamma by Sayagyi U Ba Khin.
The Webu Sayadaw undertakes his first journey to lower Burma – The Cause of the Journey
The ripening of Mother Sayamgyi’s paramis was the reason for Sayagyi U Ba Khin to invite the Venerable Webu Sayadaw to Rangoon. In April 1953, during the Water Festival period, Mother Sayamagyi Daw Mya Thwin, took her first meditation course at the International Meditation Centre (IMC). She was the wife of U Chit Tin (later, Sayagyi U Chit Tin), who was one of three people working in Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s department who had been selected to do the first course in the shrine room of the Accountant General’s Office. Before the IMC was founded, Sayagyi U Ba Khin taught in this shrine room. He asked his office workers to attend the office as normal, but instead of doing their work, they were to meditate. He himself would do their work for them for that period of ten days.
When U Chit Tin did his first course, he didn’t want to stop meditating when he got home in the evening, so he taught his wife Anapana meditation. He told Mother Sayamagyi, that she should think of Sayagyi U Ba Khin as her teacher and gave her the formalities. When Mother Sayamgyi started to concentrate on her breath, her mind became focused immediately and within the first ten minutes she saw a light like a glow worm. She was surprised and opened her eyes, to look for the source of this light, but the room was in complete darkness. When she reported this to U Chit Tin, he praised her, saying that this was very good. She continued to meditate at home after this, but not very regularly.
After the land for the IMC had been purchased, Mother Sayamagyi on one occasion accompanied U Chit Tin to the IMC to deliver fencing wire that U Chit Tin had picked up in the city. There she met U Ba Khin again. He asked her, “When are you going to come for a course?” She didn’t reply.
Before the Water Festival time in 1953, Mother Sayamagyi’s neighbour, an elderly lady who was from Moulmein like Sayamagyi and U Chit Tin, tried to convince Mother Sayamagyi to go with her to the IMC for the period of the festivities, to meditate. Burmese people traditionally go to their monastery during this time to observe the eight precepts and to listen to the discourses of the monks. As both of them had recently arrived in Rangoon and didn’t know any monastery there, the neighbour thought that the meditation centre would be a good alternative for them. However, Mother Sayamagyi was not very keen at first but was eventually persuaded and entered the ten-day course with forty other students. She experienced great difficulty at first in Anapana meditation, though she had practiced at home before. She even told Sayagyi U Ba Khin on one occasion that she didn’t think that she had any Paramis. Sayagyi U Ba Khin told her: “If you didn’t have any Paramis, you wouldn’t be here”.
When Sayagyi U Ba Khin taught the group Vipassana, Mother Sayamagyi couldn’t feel anything at first. After the teaching of Vipassana Sayagyi U Ba Khin, sitting in the central shrine, moved from cell entrance to cell entrance in the octagonal pagoda and asked the students about their experiences. Only when Sayagyi U Ba Khin asked her directly, did she suddenly feel a rush of sensations from the top of the head throughout the body. In the following days Mother Sayamagyi experienced intense suffering, dukkha; so much so that she at times she thought that she was on the point of death. However, she held on to the awareness of impermanence, anicca, and this kept her in good stead and brought her eventually to the point where the dukkha came to an end and she experienced peace and coolness.
After this first course Sayagyi U Ba Khin visited U Chit Tin and Mother Sayamagyi every morning and evening, meditated with them and kept a close watch over Mother Sayamagyi’s progress. When the next course in May came up, he suggested that Mother Sayamagyi come for the first two days of the course. In the end Mother Sayamagyi stayed for the whole ten days and consolidated and further developed her understanding of the Buddha’s teachings and Sayagyi taught her many profound Dhammas. Sayagyi U Ba Khin was very happy to have gained a disciple with such great penetration of the Dhamma, but he wanted his conclusions confirmed by a respected meditation teacher. For this purpose he decided to invite the Venerable Webu Sayadaw to come to the IMC. The Webu Sayadaw was gracious enough to accept the invitation. After the Sayadaw had established himself in his quarters Sayagyi U Ba Khin went there with Mother Sayamagyi to receive the Sayadaw’s advice. Mother Sayamagyi described all her progress along the path in the last two months to the Sayadaw in Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s presence. The Webu Sayadaw approved and said: “Don’t stop here. Don’t stop.”
The Webu Sayadaw also spent much time meditating in the pagoda at the IMC during this seven day visit. Before travelling back to his monastery in Kyauk Hse, he circumambulated the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti, The Light of the Dhamma Pagoda three times keeping it to his right. He did this in order to show his gratitude to the place where he had meditated. When he arrived at the airport in Mandalay a big throng of worshippers awaited him, venerating him as an arahat. On a later visit to the IMC he declared, “My Sasana has also started from this place. My Sasana has also started from this place”
Later also the Webu Sayadaw showed his great appreciation not only of Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s Paramis but also of Mother Sayamagyi’s Dhamma qualities. When Sayamagyi went to pay respects to the Webu Sayadaw in his monastery at Shwebo, he received her graciously and he instructed the Thila Shins (lay nuns) to prepare refreshments for her and her group. The nuns took a long time over it and eventually, as it was getting late, Mother Sayamagyi had to take her leave. Only then did the nuns finally arrive with the refreshments. The Webu Sayadaw scolded the nuns, saying: ”You are really very slow!” They had not been able to acquire the merits placed within their easy reach by the Venerable Webu Sayadaw.
When Mother Sayamagyi and a group of disciples went to report Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s demise to the Sayadaw on the occasion of his visit to Rangoon, the Webu Sayadaw told them: “Your Sayagyi is not dead. He continues with his work. Others are dead even though they are still alive”.
Sayagyi’s Invitation to Webu Sayadaw
In June 1953, Sayagyi U Ba Khin and Mother Sayamagyi mentally invited the Venerable Webu Sayadaw to come and dwell at the IMC for seven days. Then, Sayagyi sent U Boon Shein, a close disciple, to Kyauksai to make a formal invitation to Ven. Webu Sayadaw. Sayagyi did not give U Boon Shein a formal letter of invitation for the Sayadaw. “Just say that I sent you,” Sayagyi said and gave him instructions concerning the invitation.
U Boon Shein’s ﬁrst stop was at a friend’s house in Mandalay. “So, it’s the great U Boon Shein,” his friend said in greeting him. “What brings you to Upper Burma so unexpectedly?”
“My teacher has sent me here on a special mission,” U Boon Shein replied. “I came on the ﬁrst available plane. Can you get me a car, my friend?”
“Who is your teacher? And just what is your special mission?” his friend asked.
“My teacher is Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the Accountant General,” U Boon Shein replied. “A group of us in the Accountant General’s Ofﬁce have set up a Vipassanā Association and opened a meditation centre. We’ve built a pagoda there. The Accountant General is the teacher at the centre; that’s why we call him ‘Sayagyi’ (revered teacher). He has asked me to invite Ven. Webu Sayadaw to come to Yangon, so I have to go to Kyauksai.”
“You must be mad, U Boon Shein,” his friend said. “Ven. Webu Sayadaw doesn’t even come to Mandalay. What makes you think he’d go as far away as Yangon? He never leaves his monastery. He never accepts invitations.”
“My dear fellow,” U Boon Shein said, “I don’t know anything about all that. It doesn’t concern me. My duty is to simply go to the Sayadaw and convey the message my teacher gave me. The Sayadaw can tell me himself whether he will accept the invitation to come to Yangon or not. Please just arrange for me to have a car to go to Kyauksai as quickly as possible!”
The car was arranged and U Boon Shein approached Ven. Webu Sayadaw around lunch time. In those days, the Sayadaw was not surrounded by crowds of people making offerings when he had his meals — there were only two lay nuns, three or four lay women, and two attendants present. The lay disciples and the attendants, named U Kyaung and Bo Tun, served the Sayadaw every day.
“I have come with a message from Sayagyi U Ba Khin, venerable sir,” U Boon Shein told Ven. Webu Sayadaw. The Sayadaw looked up from his bowl, glanced at U Boon Shein, and said, “Yes, yes,” then continued his meal. When U Boon Shein looked at the Sayadaw’s face, he had the impression the Sayadaw was saying, “Yes, I knew you were coming. Wait for a moment.” U Boon Shein waited humbly.
After ﬁnishing his meal, Ven. Webu Sayadaw glanced at U Boon Shein. “Have you come all the way from Yangon, lay disciple?” he asked.
“That is correct, sir. I was sent by the great lay disciple U Ba Khin.”
“The great lay disciple U Ba Khin?”
“Yes, sir. He is the great disciple who came to Webu to pay respects to you before the war. That was in the month of Wagaung in 1302 (1941). Because of your instructions to him, he has been teaching meditation and spreading the Dhamma ever since. After the war, U Ba Khin became Accountant General of Burma and has settled down in Yangon. He teaches meditation to his subordinates in a meditation room in his ofﬁce. There are also some foreigners who practise meditation under his guidance and who have become Buddhists.”
“It is delightful to hear that he is sharing the Dhamma he obtained through his unwavering effort in the practice,” Ven. Webu Sayadaw said.
“Yes, sir. Accountant General U Ba Khin founded the Vipassanā Research Association in 1951 together with some of his ofﬁce workers. He has been studying their meditation experiences in a scientiﬁc manner. He has compiled a small booklet of his ﬁndings entitled The Basic Study of the Buddha’s Teachings and Their Correct Application, and he wishes to submit it to you for your approval. Thanks to your loving kindness and encouragement, he was able to found the Vipassanā Association on the new-moon day of Kason in 1951, and all the employees of the Accountant General’s Ofﬁce were given permission to join. These ofﬁce workers’ families also wanted to join, so the space in the shrine room at the ofﬁce was too small. As a result, we bought a plot of land on Inya Myaing Road. A meditation centre was opened there on the new-moon day of Kason in 1952, and Sayagyi is teaching at the new centre. He has built a Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti on a small hill at the centre, and his main concern now is teaching the Dhamma to foreigners.”
Ven. Webu Sayadaw looked at U Boon Shein with loving kindness as he gave this explanation without asking any questions. Then U Boon Shein conveyed Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s message. “There is a pagoda at the centre now,” he said, “with eight meditation cells. We have also built living quarters for you to live in. Sayagyi has sent me to you to humbly request that out of compassion for us you travel to Yangon to bless the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti, which was built about a year ago.”
The two attendants and the ladies looked at U Boon Shein and the Sayadaw doubtfully when he said this, but U Boon Shein continued, “I have a special message from Sayagyi U Ba Khin to convey to you, sir: The people of Kyauksai, Shwebo, and Khin U are able to pay respects to the qualities of sīla, samādhi, and paññā as embodied by the venerable Sayadaw, but there are many people in other parts of Burma who cannot easily obtain an opportunity to pay respects to the Sayadaw. Your pāramīs are very powerful and your ability to teach is very great. The places where people have received this Teaching from you are very few. Venerable sir, the great disciple U Ba Khin requests that you leave your monasteries and that, with your great loving kindness (mettā) and compassion (karuṇā), you tour the country in order to dispense the cooling Dhamma to all the people of Burma. He says that now is a good time for the Sayadaw to do so.”
U Boon Shein had ﬁnished his short speech. He wiped the sweat from his brow with his handkerchief and waited for the Sayadaw’s reply. Everyone in the little bamboo hut was silent.
“When do you want us to come to Yangon?” the Sayadaw’s voice broke the silence.
“Whenever you wish, sir,” U Boon Shein answered with a trembling voice.
“Well, I don’t think we can leave tomorrow,” Ven. Webu Sayadaw said, “so it will have to be day after tomorrow. Does it suit you if we come day after tomorrow?”
U Boon Shein was so happy he could hardly speak. “It … it is suitable, sir,” he said. “I’ll inform Yangon immediately so that everything can be made ready.”
The Sayadaw sent Bo Tun to fetch two monks, U Ñāṇa and U Sumana. When they arrived, he said, “We are going to Yangon to instruct the disciples there. Arrange everything for the journey with this lay disciple. We will go with six monks and two attendants.”
The two monks were so surprised they could scarcely believe their ears. They went outside and asked U Boon Shein to explain. Then they conferred on the arrangements for the trip to Yangon. The date was Friday, July 3, 1953. They agreed that the trip would be made by train on Sunday, July 5th. U Boon Shein went back into the Sayadaw’s hut to pay respects and to inform him of the arrangements.
“The Sayadaw and his disciples will travel by train to Yangon on Sunday,” he said. “Please inform your disciple of any special requirements for your stay in Yangon.”
“Just ask the great disciple in Yangon to provide toilet facilities in accordance with the Vinaya rules for the monks,” Ven. Webu Sayadaw said. “There’s nothing else we need.”
U Boon Shein went back to Mandalay and headed straight for the telephone exchange in order to call Yangon. As the Accountant General’s Ofﬁce was one of the most important government departments, U Boon Shein was able to speak to Sayagyi and convey the good news to him in no time. He then went to his friend’s ofﬁce to tell him what had happened. His friend was very surprised. U Boon Shein waited in his friend’s ofﬁce to hear from Sayagyi. Within an hour, he was told that everything had been arranged. Tickets had been bought and places booked on the train for the monks, the lay disciples, and U Boon Shein.
At the International Meditation Centre in Yangon, preparations for the Sayadaw and his followers were quickly made: their living quarters, robes, the toilet facilities, etc.
The Shin Saw Lu Sayadaw, the Webu Sayadaw’s most devoted disciple and his successor as head of the monastery in Kyauksai, liked to tell the story of how Sayagyi U Ba Khin met them at the train station and enthusiastically began to talk to the Webu Sayadaw about very deep meditation experiences. The Webu Sayadaw smiled and told Sayagyi to wait with these profound subjects until they were at the centre. It was not appropriate to discuss such things in front of people who didn’t understand them.
Ven. Webu Sayadaw was brought to the Centre from the train station in a large car. The people who were there to welcome him took their places on either side of the ﬂight of steps leading to the pagoda and on the pagoda platform. When the car stopped at the bottom of the steps, Sayagyi opened the door himself. After he got out of the car, Ven. Webu Sayadaw looked up at the pagoda, which had recently been gilded and crowned with its hti (parasol). It was shining and sparkling in the sunlight. The Sayadaw stopped at the foot of the steps and raised his hands towards the pagoda in veneration. Only after doing this did he slowly proceed up the steps towards the pagoda platform.
When they arrived at the pagoda platform, Sayagyi raised his joined hands in reverence and indicated the way, then Sayagyi invited the Sayadaw to enter the pagoda through the north cell. The Sayadaw entered the central room.[v] Sayagyi U Ba Khin’s disciples were seated in the cells around the central room and all around the pagoda outside, and they raised their joined hands in respect to the Sayadaw.
Sayagyi then said, “This Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti is a place where the three Noble Gems of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha can be worshipped and our debt of gratitude to them can be repaid. It is a place that we have established in order that it can be the centre of our teaching of the Paths and the Fruition States to the world, making the qualities of sīla, samādhi, and paññā the basis of our teaching. Venerable Webu Sayadaw has made the journey here to give us the necessary strength and protection and to instruct us. After we take the precepts (sīla) from him, we will ﬁx our minds on the aspects of the Dhamma we have realized, we will pay respects to the Buddha, to Venerable Webu Sayadaw, and to the monks accompanying him. May Sakka, the king of the Devas, the Four Guardians of the World, and all the great Devas descend on this place! May they join us in the highest meritorious deed of paying respects to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, and may they protect us!”
Everyone then took the triple refuge and the moral precepts from Ven. Webu Sayadaw, and this was followed by everyone paying their respects by meditating for ﬁve minutes.
Sayagyi gave a talk, relating how he had ﬁrst met and paid respects to Ven. Webu Sayadaw in 1941. He said he had started to teach after Webu Sayadaw urged him to do so. Sayagyi spoke of how he had founded the Accountant General’s Vipassanā Research Association and of how he taught meditation to the ofﬁce staff and to foreigners, who had become Buddhists through this. The site on Inya Myaing Road had been acquired after the Association was well established and the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti was built there. The International Meditation Centre was founded at this location in order to spread the Buddha-Dhamma throughout the world.
Ven. Webu Sayadaw in the Dhamma Hall, IMC-Yangon
As Sayagyi spoke, Ven. Webu Sayadaw’s face was lit by a smile. It was obvious from his expression that he was happy with what he heard.
After Sayagyi ﬁnished, Ven. Webu Sayadaw said, “The practice of the Great Teacher’s Teachings leads to the appeasing of suffering. You all know this for yourselves. It is very noble to pass one’s own Dhamma on to others. This is the noblest gift of all. You know the gratitude you owe to the Buddha. You practise the Dhamma. This practice is the highest practice. You are all doing noble work in an auspicious place. As a result, you will obtain great beneﬁts. The results of your efforts will be in accordance with the strength of your pāramī. Establish yourselves through the power of effort and continue to practise according to the Buddha’s instructions. In this way you will attain everything that should be attained. We came here in answer to your invitation so that we would not be lacking in repaying our debt to the Buddha, so that we could pay back the debt of gratitude we have to the Buddha. In olden days, those who were wise also worked in this way, being constantly mindful, and they attained their goal. In the same way, Noble Ones today succeed through establishing effort and working hard.”
All those present were delighted and said, “Sādhu, sādhu, sādhu,” with great devotion and joyful voices.
Afterwards, Webu Sayadaw was taken to his quarters in a building that had been set up as a temporary monastery, and all the monks with him were given their own accommodation. At six o’clock in the evening, cold drinks were offered to the Sayadaw and the monks, and after that, the Sayadaw gave a talk to the people who had come from Yangon to pay respects. It was only the following day that a multitude of visitors from all over the city came to the centre. The visitors included former President Sao Shwe Thaik, judges, and government ministers. They all brought offerings of food, robes, and other requisites. Ven. Webu Sayadaw gave three discourses each day to the people who came to pay respects.
In this way, the people of Yangon were able to pay respects to and receive the Teachings from Webu Sayadaw for seven days. They had this opportunity thanks to Sayagyi’s concern, loving kindness, and foresight, and thanks to the efforts of the members of the Vipassanā Association. So the people of Yangon are greatly indebted to them for this.
After the seven days were over, Ven. Webu Sayadaw and the monks accompanying him returned to Kyauksai by plane, taking with them the many gifts offered in Yangon.
When people heard that Ven. Webu Sayadaw had visited the International Meditation Centre, they wanted to have him come to their own villages, towns, and regions. In Yangon, former President Sao Shwe Thaik formed an association that was to organize the Sayadaw’s visits to the capital. They invited him to come in May 1954. While staying at the association’s temporary monastery, Ven. Webu Sayadaw went to I.M.C. on May 1st and meditated with Sayagyi and his disciples in the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti. That afternoon, he gave them a talk in the centre’s Dhamma Hall at ﬁve o’clock, and they made suitable offerings to him at that time.
After that, Ven. Webu Sayadaw came to Yangon each year at the association’s invitation. He visited I.M.C. again on May 10, 1955; Feb. 21, 1957; and April 5, 1958. On each of these visits he meditated with Sayagyi and his disciples in the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti and then gave a talk in the Dhamma Hall. The members of the Vipassanā Association always made an offering of robes and the other requisites for monks.
In 1960, seven years after the Sayadaw’s ﬁrst visit to I.M.C., Sayagyi sent him the following letter:
The Vipassanā Association
Ofﬁce of the Accountant General, Yangon, Burma (The 15th day of the new moon of Natdaw, 1321/Dec. 14, 1959)
Maung Ba Khin respectfully addresses Venerable Webu Sayadaw!
Since the month of Wagaung 1302 (August 1940), when your disciple ﬁrst met the venerable Sayadaw while on a tour in the service of the Railways Accounts Department, your disciple has undertaken many tasks and duties in the service of the Sāsana, following the venerable Sayadaw’s admonition. The venerable Sayadaw has seen for himself the Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti and the success of our work at our meditation centre. He has seen the many foreigners from all over the world who have been given the Dhamma by his disciple.
In 1315 (June 1953), the venerable Sayadaw came to the meditation centre in Inya Myaing Road and resided there for exactly seven days. During that time, the Sayadaw gave the cooling medicine of the deathless. The Sayadaw will also remember that, having sown very special seeds for the Sāsana, he began to actively spread the Teachings.
Since that time, over six years ago, the venerable Sayadaw has travelled to many places all over Burma and has beneﬁted beings beyond measure. Your disciples can also say that their work has progressed satisfactorily.
As we are entering the seventh year since the venerable Sayadaw ﬁrst visited us, your disciple requests that you honour the International Meditation Centre with your presence together with your Saṅgha for a period of ten days for the beneﬁt and development of the Sāsana, for the beneﬁt and development of beings, and in order to bring inspiration. If the Sayadaw wishes to come, everything will be according to the Sayadaw’s wishes.
The Sayadaw’s disciples, who are full of hope, respectfully request the Sayadaw to come to I.M.C. for ten days, for this meditation centre is very dear to the Sayadaw, who, out of great compassion and great loving kindness, strives to make the Sāsana continue to grow. If he should come, the disciples under his protection and guidance, both monks and lay people, will have an opportunity to savour the extraordinary taste of the Dhamma (Dhamma-rasa). Therefore, your disciples earnestly and humbly request the Sayadaw to favour us with his visit.
Maung Ba Khin
The International Meditation Centre
Inya Myaing Road, Yangon
Ven. Webu Sayadaw was not able to reside at the centre for ten days, however, as he had accepted other invitations. But he did come for ﬁve days (May 13–18, 1960). Once again, those at the centre were able to pay respects to the Sayadaw as they had done before. There was also an American, Dr Hislop, at the centre at that time. He had been meditating there for nearly a month and was able to continue while Ven. Webu Sayadaw was there. Dr Hislop took the Triple Refuge from the Sayadaw. Ven. Webu Sayadaw was very happy about this and urged Sayagyi to teach more foreigners. On the last day of his visit, he made this the main topic of his talk. “I also started teaching at this place,” he said over and over again.
After 1960, no special invitations were extended to the Sayadaw to come and reside at I.M.C., but the meditators there always went to pay their respects to him whenever he came to Yangon. In this way, Ven. Webu Sayadaw continued to encourage Sayagyi’s international mission of spreading the Dhamma.