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My name is Dr Thynn Thynn, I am a retired Burmese American physician and Dhamma Teacher living and teaching in Northern California. I want to tell the world how Burma became the Killing Field insidiously for over 70 yrs. Currently the country has culminated in the present horrendous killing field by the might of firing power of the Burmese military. Please stay with me because it’s a long road from 1962.
It is time now the world should know how Burma became a “ Killing Field “
Ne Win the first Burmese military dictator took power by a bloodless coup in March of 1962 from U Nu, the elected Prime Minister of Burma.
Prior to the Coup
Burma was a democratic country by choice after it’s Independence from British colonial rule in 1948. I only remember growing up happily in Beik as a kid. Eventually I ended up attending medical college in Rangoon in the early sixties. In my growing up , up to 1962 it was a happy childhood in a time of peace and freedom. Politics was far away in my mind as my parents were prosperous after World War Two. So I lived an idyllic life of growing up in a prosperous sea port town and went to a Catholic Convent then to medical school. College life was for study but fun! The country was at peace though insurgences had begun at the distant border of Burma. Daily news paper announced the wealth of the nation in terms of savings billions in Sterling pounds in the British banks. Burma was one of the richest in South East Asia being the rice bowl of the region. The country incidentally contains the Homalayan ranges from the north which made it have the best teak forests in the world.
The mighty Irrawaddy River which runs through the whole length of Burma began in the northern most part of Burma in two tributaries which joined up near Mandalay to form the Mighty Irrawaddy River which runs all the way down to the Delta then branch off into many tributaries. The silt brought down by the Irrawaddy made the Delta area the best rice growing region. That was the reason Burma became the Rice Bowl of Asia prior to the military take of Southern Burma. This long coastline is the heaven of sea food for the country.
To the North, the Kachin State is endowed with the best rubies and jade the world ever known.
Then Shan States on the Eastern Plateau of Burma is habited by the Shan tribes and the Plateau produces the best tea and coffee in Burma. At one time Silver, Copper , Zinc & Lead was mined by the British colonists.
Rangoon used to be the capital since the Colonial times and is the sea port of the country. Rangoon grew to be the bustling trade and economic capital since colonial times.
Hence Burma was the wealthiest country in South East Asia till the sixties. That’s how we grew up in wealth, comfort and peace.
Politically since 1948, Burma became a democratic country under a democratically elected by the people. As a young independent nation it was still cutting its teeth politically speaking. We enjoyed relative peace and prosperity from 1984 till 1962 a span of 18 yrs. My generation was the last to enjoy relatively better education and health care. The British left the best education system, transportation, judicial system and health care and Civil Administration patterned after Britain.
I was too young to fully grasp the politics of the time as our generation were very focused on getting ahead in academics and training for our future. My brother studied chemical engineering and I went into medicine. We started with two years of what is called Intermediate College. They were our best years of college life! The country was peaceful although Communist Party went underground after Independance plus insurgency also began with Karens.
Our two years Intermediate college was similar to the Community College Diploma Course in US. After that we branch off to professional colleges or to Degree courses in Arts and Science. We enjoyed these two years to the hilt. There were grand dinners during by all male and female Hostels and Picnics during the dry and cool seasons. It was an almost year round group partying very different from Westetn colleges. Well of course no booze.
Anyway after those two years we go on our separate ways. I was off to medical college and during my second year senior in 1962 summer I went with my mother and her friends to Budgaya in India on a pilgrimage trip to the birth place of the Buddha. We reached Calcutta and the next day we heard the news on the radio that General Ne Win had taken over the country in a blood less coup. In the beginning no one was in shock because U Nu in 1958 had asked General Ne Win to take over the country as a Care Taker Govt because of the split in his AFPFL Party. His rivals were UBa Swe and U Kyaw Nyein. I read newspapers but was too absorbed in my studies during our Second MB course. So we did our pilgrimage to Bhud Gayá. I was in my early twenties not really interested in religion so it was just like being a tourist.
We stopped at New Delhi for a few days. There we met Our Ambassador HE Daw Khin Kyi.
When we returned to Burma the atmosphere was fine. Nothing had changed. The people seemed to be fine with the Army take over. Perhaps the two yrs as care taker govt people seemed to take things in their strike. But this seeming normalcy did not last long.
On July 20 the we heard that soldiers opened fire at University students at RASU that students who died were taken to the cemetery at night and the building of our iconic Student Union was destroyed and abolished.
We were stunned! What’s happening we asked each other but nobody knew what happened but it dawned on us suddenly that General Ne Win can kill students. It was half fear half disbelief. In all of our young life we have never experienced soldiers killing studdnts
As a young adult it was worrisome that Ne Win can kill that easily. But for what kind of crime? Students were demonstrating the shortening of our vacation. The excuse we heard layer that students were influenced by communists. That refrain I found became the reason the army opened fire during their killing spree. I was living off campus so missed the terrible atmosphere during the after math of the killing.
It was an unforgettable beginning and loss of the sweet innocence of college life.
But life had to go on. We had to the wards for clinical training and also prepare for exams. So life went on as usual as before and did not change that much for us as students.
But soon there were news of imprisonment of rich business owners as well as nationalisation of all business big and small. There was panic in the society at large. Luckily my parents live in Beik so their export business was not affected.
As medical students our lives were not affected at first but then we had friends whose parents businesses were affected.
Soon there were laws prohibiting Chinese and Indian students who are holding FRC certificates as non citizens were not allowed to attend professional colleges. It was a hard hit for students who were not Burmese citizens.
Also the restrictions for Chinese and Indians became a sad debacle. There was an exodus to India and the West. That left a huge vacuum for the business world.
Then the military regime adopted what is called Burmese Way to Socialism by centralising all aspects of life, civil administration is turned into socialist version.
The government began to take control of all aspects of our lives. The administration was top down with strict hierarchy. The old British system was replaced by socialist rule. This meant actually military rule. Socialism was just a front. Burma was ruled by one single man Gen Ne Win.
An extraordinary year to say the least.
Feb 1, I became an octogenarian !! Just celebrated quietly with my family. Win asked me if I wanted to have a gathering I thought of previous birthdays I celebrated with my students. After 22 yrs having founded the Center, and organising so many festivals and events with STW community I felt I owe it to my family to be just with them. My family had sacrificed a whole lot when I started the Center. I could only pay partial attention to them. I felt I just wanted to celebrate with them. I had no plans. But Win took me to a local tea shop in Sebastopol. We talked for about four hours ! A time to reminiscent, a time to pick up threads where we left off. We were both at peace and we just talked and talked. It was most precious time to spend with my first born who is actually very busy with her two little boys. Shannon my Son-in-Law took care of the boys to let mother and daughter spend time together. That evening Shannon and the boys joined us at the Center for a simple dinner. Their present for me was a caricature of the two boys Khine and Zeya! It was a lovely family day !!
Then the Pandemic started in China. I had started to follow the news about Wuhan in China where it first began. I anticipated it will become a pandemic seeing that the virus was from animals . Humans have no immunity for such invaders. True to form pandemic ensued so since March I have been stay home all the time. I venture out only for visits to my osteopath and chiropractor to treat my spine and posterior pelvic joints.
I had a lot of time on my hands so began to write on daily life practice in Burmese and English on Facebook where I was able to reconnect with doctors my ex contemporaries. Then tried making videos with iPhone as Susan my secretary is quite good in taping my sessions.
I also began to teach 2 small zoom classes on DLMP daily life mindfulness practice with hands-on training. It was very enjoyable and became high lights of my stay-at-home time. It was great to interact with them on Zoom. I experimented with sandwiching parts of Abhidhamma after each mindfulness in daily life course with the objective to help to understand the Mindfulness practice against the background of Abhidhamma teachings. I was very happy to find my students highly appreciated it.
Shwedagon Pagoda building project at the Center had taken off very well but had to be stalled due to the pandemic. We are planning to restart again soon. Please check the website www.americanshwedagon.com
The top structures were made in Burma with guided stainless steel in 5 sections and will be air freighted very soon. I was instructed to complete the Pagoda by mid Jan by myGuru. The pagodas built in our lineage are like building vortices with extraordinary healing energy. Once they are crowned the astral energy will be broadcasted all over US and the world over.
With this I would like to conclude the letter with best wishes to everyone for Happy Holidays!!
Dr Thynn Thynn
One whole year is almost over. It has been a very busy year for me as the building of our great shrine American Shwedagon has passed the critical mark of completing the foundation, the platform or Yin Pyin. Then it was followed by the First Enshrinement Ceremony on Oct 12.
Photos will show the excitement of our Burmese donors and volunteers who made the event tick! Altogether about 400 Buddha statues were enshrined in the Enshrinement Well.
The top structure of the Stupa will be built in Burma beginning next month and shipped to US. The structure will be totally made of stainless steel and the outer Stupa Robe will be made of guided stainless steel encasement.
The purpose of building stupas is to create a high energy vortex to heal the land and individuals not just for gaining merit.
The August Three Day Intensive of On the Cushion-Off the Cushion Retreat for a small group of American and BURMESE meditators was very successful. It was the first time some Burmese friends attended the combined retreat.
We designed it so that it simulate how meditators usually meditate in daily life that is one hour sitting session in the morning. Plus one hour in the evening. The rest of the day they are taught how to bring mindfulness from the sitting into daily life. This is going to be our model we will use from now on for students as well as teachers in training.
Deep gratitude goes to our benefactors who donated to keep the Center running. Special mention and appreciation to Mark MaCauliffe for donating his time and expertise in rede-signing the front space and sides of the house to prevent further damage to the foundation of the Dhamma House.
Also to Jim Morris from Nevada City in the design of diverting rain water away from the house.
As we give our thanks to donors I hope old and new donors will be energised to continue supporting the Center in Dana. We badly need operational funds in the vicinity of $1,500 a month to run the Center. Hence I would like to set up an account to which our support-ers can donate any amount big or small via your bank’s automatic monthly transfer to the Center’s Umqua Bank in Sebastopol. One of my young students has been donating $15 a month for about 4 yrs now continuously. Another student has been donating $50 monthly for over two yrs now.
We are grateful to accept yearly or biannual lump sum donations too.
Interested donors please email or text me via 707 293 4535 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then send our bank account number to you to set up auto-matic transfer on monthly basis. This will be the lifeline for the Center to keep the teach-ings to go on and continue our teacher training which virtually stopped when I got very sick in 2012.
Those who would like to use PayPal to donate can go on our website Stw2.org to do so. The address to send checks is also on our website.
Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu
May you be well may you be happy.
November 17 for Sae Taw Win II Dhamma Foundation
Time 12-2:00 pm
Place : Gym, Oak Grove Elementary School, 8760 Bower St , Sebastopol CA 95472
(Across from Sae Taw Wi II Dhamma Center. )
12:00 Luncheon will be served with Mohinga BURMESE fish chowder the national dish of Burma And deserts
1:00 pm – video presentation of our Birth of Buddha play by American students of our Dhamma Center with English narration.
1:30 pm – A door price Raffle of Dr Thynn’s art
1:45 pm- BURMESE dances Puppet dance by Zayanda
Mohinga will be donated by BURMESE Women’s group from Bay Area.
Donations of finger foods and Burmese desert and fruits are most welcome.
Children are welcome
Tickets : $25
- Contact Dr Thynn at 707 293 4535
- email email@example.com