TBSA Twenty Years in Commentary
by Hla Min


The Theravada Buddhist Society of America (TBSA) was founded in 1980 to support the sasana activities in general, and the Dhammananda Vihara activities in particular. We wish to acknowledge the Board of Directors, past and present, for their vision, work, and help. The previous newsletters have honored some people who have helped shape TBSA. Some were founder members of TBSA, some set up endowment funds (e.g. for holding Buddhist examinations for the young), and
some contributed their culinary expertise for the TBSA events such as Htamane pwe, Burmese New Year Festival, Kason, Waso, Thadinkyut, and Kahtein (Kathina). With the event of the electronic age, we feel it would be fitting to preserve the history of TBSA in its web site: http://www.tbsa.org. We invite readers to contribute news, articles, and photos about TBSA activities to the webmaster.

From a rented house in San Francisco, then the two-storey monastery in Daly City, the Dhammananda Vihara moved in 1996 to the present premises in a 6.7-acre lot in Half Moon Bay with two old farm buildings. It took nearly three years to plan and obtain permission from the city and county to renovate and extend the existing buildings. For historical and aesthetic reasons, complete renovations or constructions with modern design are not permitted along the Cabrillo Highway scenic route. However, TBSA received the Environmental Health Permit on 12/31/1999 and the Building Permit on 1/7/2000. The permits essentially allow TBSA to extend the two existing buildings with the associated utilities, parking lots, etc. We are extremely delighted to receive the permits as timely gifts for the Twentieth Anniversary celebrations.

Over the years, the TBSA members and associates have devoted their precious time and money for the propagation of the sasana. Starting with Sayadaw U Silananda, the resident monks of the Dhammanada Vihara are all active with the learning, teaching, and dissemination of the Buddhist texts in general and vissapana meditation in particular.

Sayadaw U Silananda was the Chief Compiler of the Tipitaka Pali-Burmese Dictionary and was one of the distinguished editors of the Pali Canon and the associated Commentaries at the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Rangoon (Yangon) from 1954 to 1956. With the initial support from TBSA, Sayadaw initiated several projects. One of them was the compilation of a CD-ROM to hold text of the Pali Canon and the associated Commentaries approved at the Sixth Buddhist Council. Another one was compilation of digital pictures of the kyauk-sa (stone inscriptions) holding the text of the Pali Canon approved at the Fifth Buddhist Council held in Mandalay, Burma. The first project has been successfully completed and the second project is in progress. Sayadaw has authored seven Myanmar Buddhist books and three books in English, namely "The Four Foundations of Mindfulness", "Volition - An Introduction to the Law of Kamma" and "No Inner Core - An Introduction to the Doctrine of Anatta". Sayadaw has also revised several books including "Abhidhamma in Daily Life" by Ashin Janakabhivamsa. Despite his busy schedule, Sayadaw has served as Spiritual Director for several Theravada Buddhist organizations, and the Rector of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University of Yangon in Myanmar. Sayadaw has taught numerous courses in Abhidhamma and Dhammapada.

Sayadaw has conducted retreats in various parts of the world including US, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. However, due to lack of space and facilities, there are only one-day retreats at Half Moon Bay monastery. These retreats are held on the first Saturday of each month. Free lunch is always provided sponsored by generous donors. With the completion of the building extensions, TBSA would be able to organize mid-term and long-term retreats for yogis and interested people. Although we had received donations and pledges in the past, we would still like to request more now that we need the contributions to further the cause of the sasana.

Sayadaw U Sobhana was recently awarded the title Aggamahasaddhamma Jotika Dhaja. Some of you may not be aware that U Sobhana's handwritten lecture notes on Buddhism number over a thousand pages. A fitting tribute paid to U Sobhana by a young Indonesian student can be found in the recent newsletter. Sayadaw U Jota Lankara has compiled several notes and books in Pali, Burmese, English, and Japanese. The Dhammananda Wut Yut Sin is a treasure. After studying for many years under Sayadaw U Silananda, U Nandisena has lightened some flame from Saydaw's torch. He spent the previous vassa in the
Vihara in Mexico City teaching meditation. U Nandisena has translated Sayadaw's Abidhamma lectures into Spanish. Among his present undertakings are the compilation of a Pali-Spanish, Spanish-Pali dictionary, and the translation of Kaccayana (treatise on Pali Grammar) into Spanish based on the lectures by Sayadaw U Silananda. U Osadha, the newest member of the sanghas at Dhammananda Vihara monastery, is currently studying ESL three days a week at San Mateo College. With the permission of the elder Sayadaws, U Osadha has given dhamma talks in both English and Burmese at the retreats, and at some TBSA ceremonies.

TBSA has a mailing list with over 1600 entries. We try to maintain the mailing list as much as possible but due to patrons changing addresses it is hard for us to keep up with the accurate information. We kindly urge our patrons to update their addresses when they move. We also having problems with duplicate entries in the mailing list. Some patrons unintentionally registered more than once giving different names, one time in Burmese and next time in either English or Chinese and they show the same address. To cut down the cost in distributing we also like the patrons to inform us whenever this occurs. It's hard us to determine if the persons listed under the same address are related or not. We kindly urge patrons who receive multiple copies of the newsletter to inform us so that we can update our mailing list. We also learned from the US Postal Service that using 9-digit zip codes speed up the process and letters arrive at their destinations in a shorter time than using the
5-digit zip code. We'd be delighted if you can give us 9 digit ZIP codes instead of the standard 5 digit.

At the Htamane pwe in 1999, the volunteers prepared a lot of htamane, but due to inclement weather, fewer than expected showed up. This year, there were fewer male volunteers than last year to prepare htamane. Despite thunderstorms and heavy rain, a lot of yogis showed up. Crammed in the shed, they shared merits, and shared htamane. Some latecomers (around 2 or 3 p.m.) would not see a bit of htamane. Sayadaw U Jotalankara's talk comprised of two parts: "Ovada Patimokkha" verses and know-how about htamane. You will read about them in the Burmese section of this newsletter. The incident also shows how difficult it is to organize events especially if they have to rely on good weather. With the extension buildings, there will be room not only for dhamma talks, but also for gatherings and meetings. We request donations, large and small, to enable TBSA to organize traditional events more efficiently and to hold ad-hoc functions as needed.

Ideally, the articles in TBSA newsletters should be bilingual or even mutli-lingual, but space and time limitations prevent us from doing so. Only about thirty percent of this newsletter is in English. The rest is in Burmese. Often nuances in meanings are lost in translations; most Burmese will prefer reading the Burmese articles. As time permits, selected articles in Burmese will be translated into English for the general audience. I hope that U Nandisena will have time to translate selected articles
in English into Spanish.