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|Died||28 January 2017|
IMC UK, Heddington, UK
|Based in||International Meditation Centre|
Mya Thwin, known as Mother Sayamagyi (Burmese: မြသွင်, pronounced [mja̰ θwɪ̀ɴ]; 12 March 1925 – 28 January 2017) was a Theravada Buddhist teacher who has established centers for vipassana meditation around the world. She was a senior disciple of Ba Khin, a vipassana master, and fulfilled his aspiration to teach Buddhist meditation in the west.
Life and works
Mya Thwin was born on 12 March 1925 in Moulmein, British Burma. She grew up with her grand parents as her mother died in child birth. Through her marriage to Chit Tin she came into contact with Ba Khin when her husband was transferred to the Accountant General’s Office in Rangoon. Sayamagyi Daw Mya Thwin took her first course in 1953 at the International Meditation Centre (IMC) founded by Ba Khin to teach meditation to his office staff. As her progress was very rapid, Ba Khin visited her and her husband every day after the course and continued to teach her. In May of the same year, in a second 10-day course, she completed her training. Ba Khin then invited the Venerable Webu Sayadaw to the IMC to confirm or correct his teaching. The Webu Sayadaw expressed his approval of Mya Thwin’s penetration of the Buddha Dhamma by saying Sadhu three times after meeting her.
After this Mya Thwin was always with Ba Khin when he taught students, both foreigners and Burmese. She and Mr. S N Goenka became Ba Khin’s foremost disciples. When the first president of independent Burma came to the IMC, she helped him greatly in his progress. He told Ba Khin: “Ma Mya Thwin is not an ordinary disciple”, and he started to address her with the title Sayama (Lady teacher) and would pay respects to her before and after he meditated, a very unusual thing to do for such a senior person. Later the deputy prime minister Lun Baw, also a devoted meditation student of the IMC, addressed her as “Mother” though she was much younger than him.
After Ba Khin’s death in 1971, Mya Thwin was requested by the president of the Vipassana Association of the Accountant General’s Office, Tint Yee, to take over the responsibility for the center. She agreed and continued to teach there with the help of her husband Chit Tin. On request of foreign students who came in increasing numbers, she agreed to travel abroad to teach Vipassana meditation. She and her husband left Burma in October 1978 to fulfill their teacher Ba Khin’s aspiration to make the teachings of the Buddha available in the west. Travelling and teaching for over 30 years Mya Thwin established centers throughout the world including five centers with pagodas for meditation: United Kingdom in 1979, Western Australia in 1981, United States (Maryland) in 1988, New South Wales (near Sydney) in 1989, and Austria (in Karinthia) in 1990. All the centers outside Myanmar have regional teachers who conduct courses or assist the senior teachers when they are present. All the five centers have Dhamma Yaungchi Pagodas, which are replicas of the pagoda at the IMC Yangon. She taught over 450 ten-day meditation courses for thousands of people during her travels in Asia, Australia, the Americas and Europe. She also held over 20 Bhikkhu ordinations for those of her students who wanted to experience the advantages of meditating in robes, the garb of the Buddhas.
In March 1994, the Burmese government awarded Mya Thwin the title of Maha-Sadhamma-Jotika Dhaja for her outstanding achievements in teaching the Buddha’s teachings outside Myanmar.
She died on Saturday 28 January 2017.
- The Way to Ultimate Calm, Selected Discourses of Venerable Webu Sayadaw, Kandy 2001.
- Truth Must Triumph, Heddington UK, 1999.
- Art of crossing cultures, Craig Storti.
- The Buddhist directory, United States of America & Canada.