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Sayagyi U.Ba Khin: Teacher, A testimony of teaching


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John Coleman, an American who recently passed away, came to Sayagyi U Ba Khin in the last years of his life & learned Vipassana from him. Here is how he describes Sayagyi in his 1971 book "The Quiet Mind" - U Ba Khin was a short stocky man with a round face, crew cut, a twinkle in his eyes and an extremely sharp mind. His output of work in his government positions, I learned, could hardly be matched by twenty good men. Arriving at his office in the morning he would attack his duties with enormous vigor. When he found himself getting fatigued he would adopt the lotus attitude in a specially designed chair at his desk, meditate for a few minutes to purge his mind and body of accumulated toxins, developed from the strain of the pace he kept up, then immediately return to work. It was his practice to continue this procedure throughout the day, thus demonstrating at least to an uninitiated onlooker like me some of the practical applications of meditation in everyday life. For an elderly man—and he was in his seventies when I met him—he was a powerhouse of dynamic energy, sleeping only a few hours each day and dividing his time between government duties and his work at the meditation center. Here indeed, I thought, was a man who set a clear example that the teachings of Buddhism had something extraordinary to offer…. Here was a good man in the real sense of the word. A gentle, quietly spoken and humorous teacher of a faith which possessed the means of solving some of humanity’s problems, but which above all was a personal faith which, followed devoutly and practiced assiduously, could arm its adherents against the difficulties which life presents to the individual. In the short time I spent with him I came to know U Ba Khin as a simple teacher, a profound thinker, a lover of beauty. He was passionately fond of orchids and there were thousands of these graceful flowers in the gardens of the meditation center. I had found that, to him, beauty, compassion, spiritual peace, truth, morality and so on were not just words, nor were they an end in themselves. They were a way of life, part of his very existence.

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