In December 2013 Sitagu Sayadaw paid Charlie Hilm, the founder of Flying Teachers, a surprise visit. Hilm invited Sitagu on a cruise with an antique saloon boat along the Amsterdam canals, during which Sitagu was served a typical Burmese dish, Mohinga soup with rice. As a Buddhist monk, the last meal during the day is to be taken before noon. The boat halted for half an hour near the house where Flying Teachers is located. Sayadaw (Abbot) Sitagu gave Hilm a tremendous honour to pay this uniquely personal visit. Sitagu Sayadaw is wise and enlightened Buddhist. As Sitagu explains, most Burmese are more interested in religious merit than social merit. This reflects the beliefs of Theravada Buddhism, which traditionally underlines the importance of meditation to acquire ‘merit’. Mahayana Buddhism on the other hand, focuses on serving others as an important part of spiritual practice. “Meditating in a room with the doors shut won’t help the victims suffering from a natural disaster like cyclone Nargis. Hilm can empathize with Sitagu’s philosophy, that of pragmatic action. Sitagu is an honorable and compassionate person and Hilm feels very blessed, to have met him in 2008 and to be able to see a respectful friendship grow over the years. Without the personal efforts of Sitagu, the dozens of hospitals, schools, universities and literary hundreds of water purification plants in the country would never have been built. Without the help of Sitagu, Flying Teachers would not have been able to construct the three schools in the delta.
Sitagu is seen as the father of the country and often called the ‘Dalai Lama of Burma’.
See the video elsewhere on this page and read the recent article about Sitagu from ‘The Irrawaddy”