Burmese Vipassana master Sayadaw U Pandita died last Saturday at a Bangkok hospital. He was 94 years old, and served as the abbot Panditarama Monastery and Meditation Center in Yangon (Rangoon).

U Pandita gained many Western followers after he traveled to the United States in 1984 to lead a three-month silent retreat at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. IMS co-founders Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein remain deeply influenced by his teachings, which were characterized by rigorous attention to the present moment and an uncommon perseverance. U Pandita is the author of several books, including In This Very Life: The Liberation Teachings of the Buddha.

Photo courtesy of Alan Clements
Sayadaw U Pandita as a young monk

“Within minutes of meeting him at the Mahasi Meditation Center in Burma in 1979 I knew that I had met the reason I was born,” Alan Clements, one of U Pandita’s first Western students, told Tricycle. “He engaged me in truth, beauty and freedom like no other; bringing out the best in me, inspiring the courage to polish the rest. He remained my most trusted source of wisdom-guidance for the next 37 years.”

In February, Clements spent eight nights interviewing U Pandita at the monastery, and Clements said his teacher spoke about lovingkindness in action and his student Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s de facto leader, whom he supported spiritually during her house arrest.

Devotees can pay their respects at Shwe Taun Gon Sasana Yeiktha until April 20. After that, his body will be taken to the Panditarama Hse Mine Gon Forest Meditation Center for his cremation and burial on April 22.

Read more from Sayadaw U Pandita:

A Perfect Balance: Cultivating equanimity with Gil Fronsdal and Sayadaw U Pandita

Cutting to the Case: Sayadaw U Pandita provides straightforward instructions for the personal interview process typical during a Vipassana retreat 

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