In 2005 I made a video called, “Knowing and Seeing Pa-Auk Forest Monastery.” This is about the Pa-Auk Main Branch in Mawlamyine. Sayadawgyi was young back then and used to climb the stairs to his mountain kuti twice per day. I will miss that.
The title was meant to play with the name of Sayadawgyi’s famous book called, “Knowing and Seeing.” The book is referring to knowing and seeing the detailed Dhammas which were once thought impossible to know and literally “see”. He has since proved that all of this is possible. His original detailed 5 volume book set was rejected for printing locally by the national monk committee. To get around this, the book was printed in Taiwan and shipped to Myanmar as any other imported book. Like any banned book, or the Streisand Effect, it made the material and author more popular due to curiosity.
The video was made from silent footage shot by some Myanmar people who came to Pa-Auk from England. The camera was pretty good for the time, and back then we didn’t have phones that can now do much better. The original footage was mostly silent and and 55 minutes long because the Myanmar people have very good attention spans. If you think my 35 minute version is long, just imagine the silent original with ticker-tape descriptions.
Around that time, Venerable U Kundadhana had just come back from the USA and was given a new Sony laptop with video editing software installed on it. I skipped breakfast and used that specific time to cut, paste and add narration. I also recorded bird and nature sounds to help make it sound more natural. Even the clanking of pots were added during the serving scenes. I also added some previously recorded chants and also recorded some new ones, like the nuns chant for their food scene. One of the chief kitchen nuns, Daw Ma Canda helped gather a group of them so I could record their chanting. She was so very kind. She passed away in 2012 and she will be missed.
I used a fake narrator’s voice because it sounded funny if I was just using my normal voice saying “This is the um…the eating hall.. and…um…we eat there too!”. I guess that is why narrators use narrator voices and scripts. Either way it will sound funny, but I hope you enjoy it. Not much has changed in Pa-Auk since this video except a new Bamboo Buddha hall, the meditation hall Buddha, and a new 3 story dorm where the old grass hut is shown. The rest is pretty much the same and complete. I hope you enjoy it. I surely had fun making the video!
The video is below