So Far This Decade: YBAT and Sayadaw U Jotika

So far this January we have had the annual YBAT retreat and the mesmerizing talk by Sayadaw U Jotika.

The YBAT organisation has several large facilities in Bangkok and Pathum Thani, with another being built in Ayutthaya. They have 10’s of thousands of people pass through their retreats each year, but not much for the English speakers since it is hard to find good Thai teachers whose English is up to the job.

There were some 40+ participants, 11 Thai and the rest from various countries. The atmosphere was good, the place cool, bright and clean, and hopefully experienced yogis had chance to develop their practise, while the beginners could follow everything.

Last night was the Dhamma talk with Sayadaw U Jotika. The continuous translation makes it hard to follow if you are not patient. We invite him to speak in just English of course, but when he comes to Thailand it is usually for a rest. He is not in the best of health too, so understandably he avoids too many public appearances.

The MP3 of the talk will be posted up here on Littlebang when time permits, and a summary of the talk topic.

Click here for previous posts on Sayadaw U Jotika

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5 replies on “So Far This Decade: YBAT and Sayadaw U Jotika”

  1. The retreat at YBAT by Ven. Pandit was excellent by all accounts. There was plenty of time for formal meditation, and silence was maintained at a maximum for those who prefer it that way. The highlights were as usual the very inspiring Dhamma talks which were always based on the suttas.

    The YBAT staff and two coordinators K. Parnus and K. Ratana were always very helpful with whatever needs to be done to keep the retreat running smoothly, and even so kindly arranged for a van to send us back into Bangkok at very reasonable cost.

    The talk by Sayadaw U Jotika was no less engaging. One cannot help notice the ‘buzz’ as one steps out into the 22nd flr. K. Danai’s staff was all busy making sure that people were ushered in the right direction and that everyone was able to buy the Sayadaw’s books (of which the proceeds were to be donated to Sayadaw’s causes), that shoes were properly stored in a separate room – for sanitation and safekeeping, and that people get to a seat. It pays to come early if one wishes to sit in the same room as the venerable; otherwise one gets to sit in the cafe or along the corridor. I was surprised to find front seats reserved for VIPs. This seems to be the norm in Thailand. I’m quite sure the Buddha would have been amused at the segregation.

    A few forgetful people (read: mindless, stubborn, obstinate; pardon my dosa) had kept their mobile phones in a non-silent mode despite being reminded, and the intermittent electronic beeps and digital ring tones interrupted the listening for most. One elderly lady managed to make her dissatisfaction known by turning toward the sound and making a face AND a very noticeable sigh at EVERY interruption. Most people seemed to have controlled their dosa and blocked out this auditory distraction. Either that or they are very good at not showing their irritation.

    As mentioned by Phra Pandit, the talk would have been easier to follow had it been in a single language. One needed to keep a mental note of how Sayadaw ended his previous segment to make the connection. I shall patiently wait for the All-English mp3 tract as the talk is worth a second listening, at the very least.

    I have to mention the very efficient translator at the talk. Her rendition was excellent, as she was also able to convey the nuances/mood of the Sayadaw’s statements. Having said this, there was an unfortunate minor mistranslation, but this did not affect the overall message of the Dhamma talk.

    Her grasp of Pali (and the Pali scriptures) was excellent and she was able to translate them into Thai instantly. I was impressed, as I am always interested in the Thai equivalent of the Pali.

    I was also delighted that the talk was preceded by evening chanting. Having chanted two evenings at the YBAT retreat, the Pali was still fresh in my mind, and I was able to participate in it. The singing, and recitation/spreading of Metta to close the talk came as a welcome surprise, and was a perfect way to end the affair. Is this generally how Dhamma talks are closed by Thais? I have no idea as this is the first non-pure English Dhamma talk that I’ve attended.

  2. Nice description. Thanks.
    Do you know where can i get Sayadaw’s books in Thailand?

  3. I don’t live in Bangkok and I’ll be going to Burma next month, somewhere i can get them there?

  4. Sorry, I have no idea about Myanmar. Best to pick up some copies in Bangkok when you are passing through. Things are still very difficult in Myanmar, and the books are printed and distributed from Bangkok.

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