Dr. Ashin Dhammapiya, Professor, ITBMU, Yangon, Myanmar

It is a privilege and an honor for me to present the academic mission and activities of The International Theravâda Buddhist Missionary University (ITBMU) to the International Conference of All Theravâda Buddhist Universities, in Asia, which holds for the very first time in Myanmar this year, 2007.

This conference is truly significant and meaningful to all delegates from different Buddhist Universities in Asia. The aim of the conference is to work together in the academic mission to propagate Buddha-sâsana (Buddha's dispensation). In such a wonderful occasion, I believe every participant in the conference will have a worthy experience of the academic missionary trip to Myanmar. All delegates meeting here together have the opportunity to make a bridge to convey the academic mission from one place to another; from one country to another. I truly appreciate the effort of the organizers, sponsors and all coordinators of the conference, and may I take the opportunity to present the Academic Mission and Activities of ITBMU on behalf of the members of the university.

ITBMU was inaugurated in December 1998. It has been sponsored by Myanmar government.[2] ITBMU is located on the beautiful site of the sacred Dhammapala Hill near the Sacred Tooth Relic Pagoda, known as "Swedawmyat Zaydi", Yangon, Myanmar. The goal and the mission of ITBMU is to preserve Theravâda Buddhism, and to share the knowledge of Theravâda Buddhism both in theory and in practice with the students of the world, and to promote happiness and moral well-being for all. Besides this, it helps the students study Theravâda Abhidhamma, Pâéi language and Pâéi literature till they comprehend the canonical texts of Theravâda Piíakas. The Myanmar Buddhist Pâéi scholars with high academic achievement teach ITBMU students the Tipiíaka Pâéi texts and commentaries. And students also have the opportunity to learn both theories and practice of meditation including Samatha (tranquility) and Vipassanâ (insight) meditation.

ITBMU is internationally noted for its academic mission, because of distinguished faculties including Pariyatti, Patipatti, Religions and Missionary works, Languages and Translation. Members of the faculties perform their academic roles to the utmost of their abilities. There are five objectives of the ITBMU:-

(1) To share the genuine Theravâda Buddhism (the teachings of Gotama Buddha) with the people of the world.

(2) To study and comprehend the canonical texts of Theravâda Piíakas as approved successively by the six Buddhist councils.

(3) To abstain from evil deeds and practice good deeds.

(4) To promote the four modes of sublime living (Brahmavihara) which would lead to the establishment of a peaceful and prosperous world and

(5) To train more missionaries, endowed with good morality, who are well-versed in the Piíaka literature and meditational practices.[3]

ITBMU occasionally provide the students' needs with academic programmes, which include special Abhidhamma courses which emphasize the distinguished Abhidhamma texts, such as Dhammasaàganî, Vibhaàga, Dhâtukathâ, Puggalapaññatti, Kathâvatthu, Yamaka and Patthâna Pâéi texts and commentaries together with vacanamagga (ayakauk) and Vinaya and Sutta Pâéi courses which emphasize the distinguished Vinaya Pâéi and Sutta Pâéi texts and the commentaries.

ITBMU is well-known for the study of Abhidhamma and meditation which emphasizes Samatha (tranquility) and Vippasanâ (insight) meditation both in theory and in practice. Indeed, the most outstanding academic programmes of ITBMU are Abhidhamma and meditation, which students learn as "Academic Subjects". Students are encouraged to learn equally the theories and practice of meditation, because in Buddhism, without the practice of meditation, it is impossible for the students to get the true message of the Buddha. Therefore, meditation as well as Abhidhamma is included in the academic curriculum recognizing the subjects as Academic Subjects. To students who complete the two distinguished subjects along with other subjects, are granted their academic diplomas and bachelors.

The application of Credit System is currently being introduced in ITBMU.[4] Students are notified to take courses that are relevant to their academic programme. The credit system is a policy of ITBMU. Nowadays the credit system is used in most modern academic universities in the West and the East. With the basic grading system as a compulsory policy, the university comfortably determines the students' academic quality and performance. In order to determine a student's eligibility to remain enrolled in the university, the students' quality and performance are measured and progress toward the student's objective is also weighed for their academic accomplishment.

In reality, using letter grading system, such as A, B, C, D, and F, accumulating grade point of the average (GPA), such as 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0, is also easy access for the academic degree program. Grading system at ITBMU is based on the semester system and most credit courses are with 3 unit basis. One unit (credit) is equal to one and one-half (1 ½) quarter units which is used in some universities as a quarter system.

The policy will be applied to all course works for an acceptable degree program. The grading system will also be applied to other areas, such as projects, field work, internships, individual studies, or directed reading and so on. The best advantage of the use of credit system is easy access in determining students' quality and their academic performance. It is also easy to transfer their course works to other universities in both East and West without difficulties, when students wish to transfer their course works to other universities. The official transcript (the student's academic work) is recognized by most universities. Therefore, the use of credit system is like linking to a network system which is an easy access to reach other universities in both East and West without delay. Thus students who study in those universities where credit system is used will have far more advantage than other students who study in universities where credit system is not used.

Last but not least, the academic mission of ITBMU will continue to work for the well-being of all beings. May I inform you that this conference is truly the right place and the right time to share each and everyone's academic experiences with the other academic mission delegates. In our modern age, with advanced technology, and availability of networking in most places, the E-networking programme is one of the best way of communications for academic missions to reach one another and to link one university's programme to another's at relatively low costs. Since members of Buddhist universities are keen to help one another, it is time to reform procedures of academic mission and policies of universities, including E-networking, E-library, E-education, student exchange programme and teacher exchange programme and so on. This is the dream of The International Theravâda Buddhist Missionary University of Myanmar.

[1] Presented at The International Conference of All Theravâda Buddhist Universities held at The International Theravâda Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, & at Woodlands Hotel, Poppa Mountain Resort, Bagan, Myanmar, 9-12th March 2007.

[2] The booklet of the Course of Study. The International Theravâda Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, Myanmar,1998, 1.

[3] Ibid, 1.

[4] The new version booklet of the Course of Study. The International Theravâda Buddhist Missionary University, Yangon, Myanmar, 2007, 1-3.



Master in philoscophy in Abhidhamma

I am a Malaysian.At present I am taking my Masters in Buddhist Studies with International Buddhist college of Thailand.I am in my final year and will be graduating in August 2010. Before I took this Masters in Philosophy I was a Theravadin Abhidhamma student in Malaysia since 2003, studing in Mahavihara temple,Kuala lumpur.It's my aspiration after my MA graduation I will like to continue to take another Masters in Philo specialising in the study of Theravada Abhidhamma.I have a very strongh passion for it. I am unable to find any university whether it's a taught or e-learning centre specialing in pure theravada abhidhamma studies. I am make to understand only I can find a unversity in Burma ofers such course. Please advise me.