Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snow In The Summer By Sayadaw U Jotika (Book Review)


ဆရာေတာ္ရဲ ့ Snow In The Summer စာအုပ္ေလးကို စစထြက္ခ်င္း လြန္ခဲ့တဲ့ ဆယ္ႏွစ္ေက်ာ္ ကတည္းက စဖတ္ျဖစ္ခဲ့ပါတယ္။ ဖတ္လိုက္၊ ေကာင္းေကာင္းသေဘာမေပါက္လို ့ျပန္ဖတ္လိုက္၊ တခ်ိဳ ့အခန္းေတြကို ၾကိဳက္လို ့ထပ္ဖတ္လိုက္၊ တိုက္ဆိုင္တာေတြရွိလို ့ျပန္ဖတ္လိုက္၊ အင္း...ဒီလိုနဲ ့ဘဲ အခုအခ်ိန္အထိ ခဏခဏ ဖတ္ျဖစ္ခဲ့ရပါတယ္။

တရားအားထုတ္မယ့္ သူတစ္ေယာက္အတြက္ စိတ္ပိုင္းဆိုင္ရာ ျပင္ဆင္မႈလုပ္ဖို ့ရယ္၊ တရားအားထုတ္နည္းကို တျခားသူေတြကို ျပန္သင္ျပေပးခ်င္တဲ့ သူေတြ (တရားျပဆရာေတြ) အတြက္ရယ္ ဆရာေတာ္က စစခ်င္း အခန္းမွာတင္ဘဲ ေဆာင္ရန္၊ ေရွာင္ရန္ေတြကို သတိေပး ရွင္းျပထားပါတယ္။

စိတၱနဳပႆနာႏွင့္ ဓမၼာနဳပႆနာကို အားထုတ္ခ်င္သူေတြ၊ အားထုတ္ေနသူေတြအတြက္လည္း လိုအပ္တဲ့ Tips & Tricks ေတြကို ဆရာေတာ္က သူ ့စိတ္ပိုင္းဆိုင္ရာ ျဖတ္သန္းခဲ့ရတဲ့ အေတြ ့အၾကံဳေတြထဲကေန အႏွစ္ထုတ္ျပီး ရွင္းျပထားတာလည္း ဖတ္ရပါမယ္။

ေနာက္ မိဘႏွင့္ သားသမီးေမတၱာ၊ ခ်စ္သူဇနီးေမာင္ႏွံတို ့အတြက္ ထားသင့္တဲ့ ေမတၱာႏွင့္ပတ္သက္ျပီးလည္း က်ယ္က်ယ္ျပန္ ့ျပန္ ့ေဆြးေႏြးေပးထားပါေသးတယ္။

တစ္ေယာက္တည္းေနျခင္းရဲ ့ အက်ိဳးမ်ားပံုေတြ၊ အသက္ရွင္သန္မႈႏွင့္ ေသျခင္းတရားဆိုင္ရာ ေတြးစရာေတြ၊ ဘ၀ရဲ ့တန္ဖိုးထားမႈေတြႏွင့္ ပတ္သက္တာေတြကိုလည္း အက်ယ္တ၀င့္ ေရးသားထားပါတယ္။

Marcus' Journal ဘေလာ့ဂ္မွာ ဒီစာအုပ္ကို Book Review လုပ္ထားတာေတြ ့လို ့ ထပ္ဆင့္ကူးယူျပီး ျပန္လည္ မွ်ေ၀ေပးလိုက္ပါတယ္ခင္ဗ်ား။

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Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and around us, everywhere, any time.

- Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace

Imagine you could sit down with a highly esteemed Theravada monk, someone well respected by ordinary Buddhists throughout South East Asia, and imagine that you could just chat for a while. Perhaps you'd get on so well that after a short time you might ask him not about Buddhism, but about himself. You might want to know what he thinks, not what the Suttas say. And perhaps this monk you're talking to is happy to reveal his experiences and ideas, and does so in a graceful manner.

'Snow in the Summer', compiled from Sayadaw U Jotika's letters to two friends and students over a ten-year period, is, I think, the most intimate Dharma book I've ever come across. It reads as if he's addressing the reader directly, sharing his experiences and development and offering up the wisdom that he has personally found for himself, talking about the beams of sunshine coming down through the clouds during a sunrise and asking if we feel mystery in our own life too.

Solitude and slowing down are his major themes and the book starts with a chapter on mindfulness and meditation. The practice of being aware is the most important thing, Sayadaw writes, and such awareness is both natural and easy to develop. He talks about non-doing, being less busy, relaxation, and letting go, and all in beautifully written short paragraphs that can be read more or less at random and in any order. It's a lovely book to pick up for just a single minute or two.

There's poetry too. His own, in short verses, infusing his prose, and in his life. And there's poetry by others. His choice of Ryokan comes naturally ("When it's evening, please come to my hut/To listen to the insects sing;/I'll also introduce you to the autumn fields") and in his comments Sayadaw writes "How simple life could be. Why are people creating such big burdens for themselves?" Not that life can be lived without problems of course, and the book has chapters for those.

Snow in the Summer deals with family life too, and again U Jotika is touchingly personal. He talks about how much he misses his daughters, "what it cost me to be a monk", and the importance of openness, understanding, communication and, again and again, of love. Sayadaw teaches his readers not to despise life, despite its difficulties, and that we are here to learn from our suffering and to grow. A process based, like all else, in mindfulness.

"Society demands" he writes, "that we must want something, do something, or else we are useless lazybones. It's hard to just sit quietly and watch the show; it's hard just to be mindful." Some of those pressures are explored in these pages, but Sayadaw inspires those who listen to him, in language that reminds me very much of the Zen tradition, to return to the most important thing: "to live their life truthfully, earnestly, intensely, and strive for a deeper understanding of their true nature."

Next, he says, comes helping others and compassion. Reading, for all his own near obsession with books and almost encyclopedic quotations, comes way down the list. Read less, he suggests, learn from your own life. Nor should you rely on other outside things, on teachers or philosophies or sacred texts; learn from yourself. It is exactly what a good friend would best advise, and I can see why this book has already sold a million copies, it is a very lovely companion.

Just recently I've learnt how to live anew. My life has just begun. I'm beginning to appreciate myself, my life, you, my daughters and their mother, and my friends here; also the blue sky, the white clouds, the trees, the birds. I'm really in love with life. (It seems like I'm becoming a heretic.) No, I don't hate life. Yes, there is suffering. It's OK. That's the price I pay for life. I'm really grateful to life. I thank life for all the pain and all the joy it has given me, and I know there's more to come.

- Sayadaw U Jotika, Snow in the Summer

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