ENSURING CONTINUITY
By Dr. Uttaranyana


W hen I was studying for my doctoral thesis in London during the 1990s, Sayadaw was unfailingly helpful and kind. It was he too who selected me from the names given to him by the State Sangha Mahanayika Council to be his Head of Vihara in Birmingham. It is not just from a sense of duty, therefore, but out of gratitude too that I have agreed with the Trustees to take over Dr Rewata Dhamma's outstanding tasks following his death and to bring his plans to fruition. It is most important for our centre that its work should continue in the same way as before.

Where the teaching is concerned, I shall first of all be leading the ten-day meditation retreat in August that Sayadaw gave over so many years. In September I shall lead Abhidhamma and Vipassana courses in Switzerland and in December I will join the World Buddhist Summit in Myanmar. There too I have academic duties at my own university in Yangon that I should see to. I shall return in the new year, however, since there are meditation courses to lead in New Zealand in February and in Brazil in March.

In a cosmopolitan city like Birmingham I understand and support the need for interfaith contact and dialogue. I look forward therefore to maintaining Sayadaw's civic presence. It is equally important that fellow Buddhists of all schools should co-operate and maintain friendly contact. I fully approve of the work of the West Midlands Buddhist Council and hope that our Vihara will continue to play its part in it.

Sayadaw's disciples testify that almost from the beginning he wanted to create a Buddhist academy in Birmingham. It would indeed be wonderful if our Vihara could take such a lead. Coming from an academic background myself, however, I realise how much work is involved and how carefully it must be planned. It is important first of all to have proper teaching facilities on the site and that is why we must push ahead with the project of creating a Dhamma Hall with all urgency. To underline Sayadaw's ownership of this project, we plan a side-room there displaying his books and robes and also a life-size seated copper statue of him which is being ordered from Myanmar now.

Another of Sayadaw's projects was to build a school extension in Thamangol, the village where he was born, so as to provide senior schooling there; he also wished to provide university scholarships for its brightest students. He was preparing an appeal in the weeks before his death as a 75th birthday offering of gratitude to those who supported him in the early days. Money collected as part of the Rewata Dhamma Appeal will be applied to this and I hope to make the necessary arrangements when visiting Myanmar at the end of the year.

Finally, there is Sayadaw's scholarly work to complete. He had just finished what may be his masterwork in English, The Process of Consciousness and Matter. My own teacher and his old friend, U Kumara Bhivamsa, has kindly offered to check it over before we submit it for publication. Yann and I will meanwhile be editing Sayadaw's essays and talks and also a small work of tribute. In the future there is his biography to write so as to underline the great example of diligence he has been to us.
May the merit and happiness of putting into practice all he has taught us be his!

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