Message Boards Message Boards


Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path

Has anyone here gotten path at a Panditarama center or Mahasi center? Did the teachers tell you that it was for sure path?  If the teacher didn't tell you, how do you know you got path?

I was at a center recently and I was reporting all kinds of gaps in experience and mind-roboots and blips, but the teacher didn't say anything about it.  I clearly passed through all the insight knowledges (including 22 days in reobservation, which was both fascinating and awful) to a mature equanimity stage, when the gaps started happening frequently. The teacher didn't speak the best English, so its possible he wasn't following my practice that closely (this is kinda far fetched)   I intend to post a fuller recounting of my experience, but for now I'm just curious about the Panditarama/Mahasi protocol for a retreatant that attains path.

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/8/17 8:38 PM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
Don't have an answer, but looking forward to reading more about your experience emoticon

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/10/17 12:05 AM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
I recently did 5 months of very intense retreat at Chanmyay Center in Yangon (A Mahasi Style center). I went into this retreat post SE. But practiced like I knew nothing and applied hardcore effort every second of every day for the whole 5 months. Many attainments during this retreat. And many good interviews with the monks. They verbally expressed their satisfaction with my experiences, but not once did they attempt to map my experiences. Once the senior monk said "This experience is LIKE Nibbana." But stopped short of declaring any attainment. 

In private interviews I have had with the Most Venerable Sayadaw U JanakaBhivamsa, he has said that no one but the Buddha himself can give you a 100% gurantee of a path attainment. No one can truly know anothers' attainment.

Gone are the days of monks directly declaring the attainments or even insight knowledges of their students.

The Onus is on you to be honest with your experience and very thoroughly investigate just how clearly and pervasively you have realized Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta at a cellular level.  

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/10/17 3:55 AM as a reply to Thomas Jackson-Brown.
Thomas Jackson-Brown:
Gone are the days of monks directly declaring the attainments or even insight knowledges of their students.

Those days never really came to pass in the Mahasi tradition. Most of the stories you hear about are the result of things getting lost in translation by over-eager Western students looking for affirmation. Mountains of molehills. Same thing happens with people self-declaring they are lineage holders.

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/11/17 8:14 PM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
The monks teaching at Panditarama are staunch traditionalists. [Fyi, I've done two 60-day retreats at two different Panditarama centers].

At a recent Panditarama retreat in Burma one of the dhama talks discussed stream entry and the absolute impossibility of a stream enterer ever drinking alcohol and thus breaking the precept to abstain from intoxicants. It was confidently stated that this can be used as a diagnostic tool ... if it's possible for someone to drink  - even a tiny sip of alcohol passing their lips - they are not a stream enterer. Period. 

This was asserted but also presented as a simple, sure, and definitive test for sotapannahood. It was mentioned as part of a discourse which commented on the abundance of deluded puthujjana who want to pass themselves off as sotapanna ... abundant as monsoon frogs. 

According to this logic you can do a simple test: crack a beer and take a sip: if you can complete that task successfully, you're a lowly puthujjana. End of story. Hasta la vista, baby.

This is traditional Southeast Asian monastic Buddhism and with a heavy emphasis on getting stream entry and 'in this very life'. Nonetheless, don't expect any Panditarama monks authorized to teach at their meditation centers to defer to western, modern, and/or pragmatic interpretations of attainments.

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/10/17 7:15 AM as a reply to SHDravi.
I've been reflecting again on this question and I think there are a few factors at work here.

Perhaps when  monks teach retreats to masses of people they don't know, they are more reluctant to declare nanas or path in the students. But when they know a student more closely over a period of time they may be more upfront in declaring path or insight knowledge.

One of the monks I've practiced with in the past, Bhante Khippapanno, practiced with Dipa Ma. He had a transformative experience once and she said straight to him this was first path. Another teacher (a nun) I've practiced with and whom I've know a long time, and who was trained and ordained by Sayadaw U Kundala, often would take me by the side and ask me if I've had path yet, and if not what was I doing wrong that I didn't get path yet! She was very pushy about that! Sayadaw U Kundala was also a teacher of Kenneth Folk and he was up-front in declaring path to his students, it seems.

Another factor could also be linguistic factors. Once I was in interview with above-mentioned B. Khippapanno (his English is not perfect), and explaining to him there were fast and continuous vibrations under my nose when I focused there in meditation. I aksed him a question about this. I don't remember what the question was but it had nothing to do with nanas. He seemed to think I was asking for confirmation if this was nana and he answered: "Yes, this is nana" though he didn't say which one. I would sometimes describe to the nun mentioned above that I had sudden eruptions of soda bottle-like bubbling sensations in the face as I meditated. She said didn't understand what I meant with my metaphores I used for my experiences. I had to find a way to explain that she could understand.

If you read Kenneth Folk's book, he recounts how it took a while for U Kundala to understand what he meant when he was talking about cessation experiences (he was using terms like "visual freeze frames" or someting like that). After a while U Kundala lighted up and said "oh this is magga phala!" So he couln't at first understand the language he was using to explain his experience.

So I think there could be various factors like these to explain why a monk in this lineage will declare nana and path or not.

My two cents emoticon

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/11/17 8:12 PM as a reply to Thomas Jackson-Brown.
Thomas, monsoon frog, SHDravi, and Ben V,

Thanks for sharing your experiences.  I guess I'll stop checking the mail each day for my enlightenment diploma  hahaha.

Before my retreat, I was under the impression from other second hand accounts that Panditarama centers were pretty open about discussing insight knowledgdes and path attainments.  Hopefully this thread clears up what might be a not-uncommon misconception on this forum, so no one else makes the faux pas of trying to discuss nanas with a traditional teacher that has no interest in being open about them.  

RE: Panditarama/Mahasi centers - protocol upon attainment of path
4/1/19 2:22 PM as a reply to jhana sais quoi.
I've practiced with the Panditarama center in Lumbini, Nepal - a great place. The Venerables I was learning with always had perfect English. Now I might be coming a little late to the party, but for any future readers like me, allow me to add my two cents, if I may:

One might assume that many of those who have indeed attained, would probably not be seeking to, or interested in, sharing those experiences online, and as such, you might rarely hear about those discussions between the teachers and the attainers where they were confirmed as having completed the path. So finding others with similar experiences with the teachers may be rather difficult.

As for protocol, I would say to trust in your teacher. If the teacher senses that you've reached a certain portion of the path, they will continue to point you in the right direction for what comes next, no matter what part of the path you're at. Language barriers are tough though. Just share what you can as clearly as you can, and find a teacher who speaks your language when possible. emoticon

It is a delicate subject for all involved - student and teacher both. I imagine that if an attainment is clear, you'll both Know, regardless. It may be that, for the protection of one's future progress in the practice, the teacher may decide to not clearly confirm tenuous or fragile attainments, for this could lead some to suddenly have their egos inflated, or to place a rather large Expectation on the path ahead. Returning may become more difficult. Pride of and/or expectation of experiences can be huge hinderances, even to someone with their egos and defilments partially quenched I imagine, and requires a delicate balance. But then, the path doesn't end upon any one experience. It's a cycle that requires continual practice every step of the way. Even if one summits meditation mountain for a brief moment, you've still got a whole life's worth of trails to walk. No need to get caught up on any one part of the path - it's all good! Just like the Noble 8-fold path, Right Samadhi leads right back to Right View, and thus Reviewing Knowledge of Fruition leads to further practice and study.

Happy trails.