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Understand the Burmese Mind

Mind precedes all mental states.

Speak evil, and suffering is certain;

speak with a pure heart,

and happiness will follow

like a never departing shadow.

-- Dhammapada --

စိတ်သာလျှင် လက်ရှိ ခံစားမှု ဆိုင်သမျှတို့၏ ရှေ့ပြေး ဖြစ်ပေသည်။

မကောင်းစိတ်ဖြင့် ပြော၊ ကြံ၊ ပြစ်မှားလျှင် ဒုက္ခဆင်းရဲသည် ဧကန်မုချတည်း။

စိတ်နှလုံးလှသော လူနောက်သို့ စိတ်ချမ်းသာမှုသည်

အရိပ်ကဲ့သို့ အစဉ်ထာဝရ လိုက်လေ၏။။

— ဓမ္မပဒ —

In order to better understand the Burmese mind, I must include some aspects of ဗုဒ္ဓဘာသာ | boat-da1 ba2-dtha2 MP3 Audio File (Buddhism), as approximately 85% of the population in this country are Buddhists, and Burmese culture is influenced by Buddhism.

Buddhist Devotees at Shwedagon Pagoda

Throughout our lives, we are swayed by the "Winds of the World" that shake our emotions like characters in the novels and block-buster movies. The term "Winds of the World" in Buddhism refers to the opposite pairs of "Eight Worldly Conditions":

Pleasure and Pain

Praise and Blame

Gain and Loss

Fame and Disgrace.

While most of us are naturally attracted to the positive extremes, we avoid the unpleasant situations at the polar opposite end. Unfortunately, those worldly conditions cannot be avoided in life all the time. In the process of seeking and avoiding those conditions, or when in contact with those conditions, we experience a colorful spectrum of emotions such as...

excitementစိတ်လှုပ်ရှားခြင်း | sate-hloat-sha3 jin3 MP3 Audio File (be excited [verb] + noun forming particle)

anguishဝေဒနာ | way2-da1-na2 MP3 Audio File

prideမာန | ma2-na1 MP3 Audio File

angerဒေါသ | dau3-dtha1 MP3 Audio File

jealousyမနာလိုစိတ် | ma1-na2-lo2 zate MP3 Audio File (feel jealous [verb] + mind [noun])

guiltလိပ်ပြာမသန့်ခြင်း | late-pya2 ma1-thun1 jin3 MP3 Audio File (spirit + not + clean + noun forming particle)

happinessပျော်ရွှင်ခြင်း | pyau2-shwin2 jin3 MP3 Audio File (be happy [verb] + noun forming particle)

sorrowဝမ်းနည်းခြင်း | wun3-neare3 jin3 MP3 Audio File (feel sorry [verb] + noun forming particle)

conceitဘဝင်မြင့်ခြင်း | ba1-win2 myin1 jin3 MP3 Audio File (be conceited [verb] + noun forming particle)

shameအရှက်ကွဲခြင်း | a-shet kweare3 jin3 MP3 Audio File (be put to shame [verb] + noun forming particle)

worryစိတ်ပူခြင်း | sate pu2 jin3 MP3 Audio File (be worried [verb] + noun forming particle)

Myanmar Grammar Notes: The particle ခြင်း | chin3 or မှု | hmu1 modifies verbs to nouns in several words. Such words are more often seen in literary form.

In spoken Burmese, the verb portion is usually used in combination with other words in phrases.

For example, စိတ်ပူခြင်း | sate pu2 jin3 is a worry (noun). The verb portion စိတ်ပူ | sate pu2 can be combined with the present participle forming particle နေ | nay2 and the ending affirmation word တယ် | deare2 to form the phrase စိတ်ပူနေတယ် | sate pu2 nay2 deare2 meaning He/She is (or I am) worried.

If we don't constantly guard our minds, we are simply swept away by the flood of those emotions, which often result in negative cycle of effects and consequences. While we cannot avoid those worldly conditions, our conditioned responses and emotions are optional that are within our capability to control and "re-program" with practice.

For someone who is skilled in the art of Buddhist meditation as well as moral philosophy, he or she is indifferent to those worldly conditions. What remains is the state of tranquility, where

calmnessတည်ငြိမ်စိတ် | ti2-nyain2 zate MP3 Audio File for oneself and

compassionကရုဏာ စိတ် | ga1-yu1-na2 zate MP3 Audio File or

empathyမုဒိတာ | mu1-de1-ta2 MP3 Audio File for the others is felt in place of

jealousyမနာလိုစိတ် | ma1-na2-lo2 zate MP3 Audio File and

sorrowဝမ်းနည်း စိတ် | wun3-neare3 zate. MP3 Audio File

Simple emotional phrases

စိတ် | sate — mind

လှုပ်ရှား | hloat sha3 — move around

နေ | nay2 — present participle []

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation.

စိတ် လှုပ်ရှား နေတယ်

sate hloat sha3 nay2 deare2(He is/ She is / I am) excited.

မာန | ma2-na1 — pride; ego; conceit

ကြီး | kji3 — big

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation


ma2-na1 kji3 deare2He/she has a big ego.

ဒီ | de2 — this

လူ | lu2 — man

ဒေါသ | dau3-dtha1 — anger

ကြီး | kji3 — big

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation.

ဒီလူ ဒေါသကြီးတယ်

de2 lu2 dau3-dtha1 kji3 deare2

He is a wrathful person. He is someone who cannot control his anger.

Myanmar Grammar Notes: ဒေါသ | dau3-dtha1 | anger (noun) + ကြီး | kji3 | big (adjective) = ဒေါသကြီး | dau3-dtha1 kji3 (verb) = be exceedingly wrathful.

မနာလို | ma1-na2-lo2 — be jealous (verb)

ဖြစ် | pfyit — become (verb)

နေ | nay2 — present participle [~ing] (particle)

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation (postpositional marker)

မနာလို ဖြစ်နေတယ်

ma1-na2-lo2 pfyit nay2 deare2

He/she is jealous. (is displaying jealousy)

လိပ်ပြာ | late-pya2 — spirit

| ma1 — not

သန့် | thun1 — clean

ဘူး | bu3 — negative ending

လိပ်ပြာ မသန့်ဘူး

late-pya2 ma1-thun1 bu3

I (or someone is) feeling guilty. My conscience is not clear.

ဝမ်းနည်း | wun3 neare3 — be sorry

ပါတယ် | ba2 deare2 — polite affirmation


wun3 neare3 ba2 deare2I'm sorry. (I feel sorry for you)

ဒီ | de2 — this

လူ | lu2 — man

ဘဝင် | ba1-win2 — perception of self

မြင့် | myin1 — tall

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation.

ဒီလူ ဘဝင်မြင့် တယ်

de2 lu2 ba1-win2 myin1 deare2

He is a haughty person.

ရှက် | shet — feel ashamed (verb)

sa1-ya2 — matter (this particle modifies the verb to noun)

ကြီး | ji3 — suffix particle to mean "big" and "considerable".


shet sa1-ya2 ji3

It's so shameful; I am so ashamed. (Lit: it is something shameful.)

စိတ် | sate — mind

ပူ | pu2 — hot

နေ | nay2 — present participle [~ing]

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation.

စိတ်ပူ နေတယ်

sate pu2 nay2 deare2I am worried.

သူ့ | thu1 — him

အတွက် | a-twet — for

စိတ် | sate — mind

ပူ | pu2 — hot

နေ | nay2 — present participle [~ing]

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation.

သူ့အတွက် စိတ်ပူ နေတယ်

thu1 a-twet sate pu2 nay2 deare2

I feel worried about him/her.

စိတ် | sate — mind

| ma1 — not

ပူ | pu2 — be worried

ပါ | ba2 — polite suggestion

နဲ့ | neare1 — negative imperative.

စိတ် မပူ ပါနဲ့

sate ma1-pu2 ba2 neare1

Don't worry!

More Burmese Phrases on the mental states

If there is just one word you that should remember from this page, it would be "sate".

စိတ် | sate — mind (noun)

မော | mau3 — feel tired (verb)

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation (postpositional marker)


sate mau3 deare2

(I am) feeling anxious; having anxiety. (verb + postpositional marker)

စိတ် | sate — mind (noun)

နာ | na2 — to be painful (verb)

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation (postpositional marker)


sate na2 deare2

I feel hurt inside. (verb + postpositional marker)

စိတ် | sate — mind (noun)

ကုန် | kone2 — to have run out (verb)

တယ် | deare2 — affirmation (postpositional marker)


sate kone2 deare2

I am fed up. I have run out of patience. (verb + postpositional marker)

စိတ် | sate — mind

| ma1 — not

ဆိုး | hso3 — bad

ပါနဲ့ | ba2 neare1 — please don't (polite suggestion + negative imperative ending)

စိတ်မဆိုး ပါနဲ့

sate ma1-hso3 ba2 neare1

Please don't be angry with me.

Myanmar Grammar Notes: စိတ်ဆိုး | sate-hso3 (verb) means to be angry is a compound word made of စိတ် | sate (noun) and ဆိုး | hso3 (adjective). In negative imperative, negative particle | ma1 is inserted between the noun and adjective.

စိတ် | sate — mind

| ma1 — not

ရှိ | shi1 — have; to have

ပါ | ba2 — polite

နဲ့ | neare1 — negative imperative

စိတ် မရှိ ပါနဲ့

sate ma1-shi1 ba2 neare1

Please don't be angry.

In another words, it's like saying: Please don't have the mind with anger.

စိတ် | sate — mind

| ma1 — not

ချမ်းသာ | chan3-dtha2 — be rich; be affluent

ဘူး | bu3 — negative ending.

စိတ် မချမ်းသာဘူး

sate ma1-chan3-dtha2 bu3

I am unhappy.

When you say the opposite:


sate chan3-dtha2 deare2,

it means you are free from all the negative states of the mind such as worry, guilt, craving, rage, jealousy, and anxiety. In ancient Buddhist philosophy, freeing the mind from the shackles of those negative and unwholesome states is called the true happiness.

Happy Thingyan

This is different from the modern Western idea of happiness as in


pyau2 lite da2

I am so happy! (happy + so much)

In Search of Happiness

In search of Happiness. [19 Seconds] The modern idea of happiness has thrill and excitement in it. Such agitated state of the mind is fleeting and unstable because of the impermanent nature of all existence. The Buddhist philosophy of true happiness is the state where you are free from the shackles of negative states of the mind such as worry, guilt, craving, range, jealously, and anxiety. Perhaps, we living in the modern time, can somehow find the middle ground where we find happiness in the modern world minus the extra burdens of the negative states of the mind.

Posted by Naing Tinnyuntpu on Thursday, May 5, 2016
မိုက်ရင်က | mite yin2 ka1 by Supermodels (Water Party 3)

There is thrill and excitement in the later type of happiness. At the same time, such agitated state of the mind is fleeting and unstable because of the impermanent nature of all existence, says the wise. Sooner or later, we will have to part with conditions that make us

ပျော်လိုက်တာ | pyau2 lite-da2,

and we are left with yearning

တောင့်တ စိတ် | toun1-ta1 sate

and struggle for the constant supply of the thrill. And, if we can't get it, we end up saying:

စိတ် မချမ်းသာဘူး

sate ma1-chan3-dtha2 bu3.

When someone tells you he or she is sate ma1-chan3-dtha2 bu3,

you can say:

စိတ် | sate — mind

| ma1 — not

ကောင်း | koun3 — good

ပါဘူး | ba2 bu3 — polite negative ending word.

စိတ် မကောင်း ပါဘူး

sate ma1-koun3 ba2 bu3

I'm sorry to hear that. This is a useful phrase to sympathize with someone.

Do you find this sate-win2-za3 za1-ya2 ?

Do you find this lesson

စိတ်ဝင်စား စရာ

sate-win2-za3 za1-ya2 | interesting?

If you remember, back in lesson 20,

စရာ | sa1-ya2 roughly means "matter".

စိတ်ဝင်စား | sate-win2-za3 means "having interest". So,

စိတ်ဝင်စား စရာ

sate-win2-za3 za1-ya2 (noun) is something interesting.

In deep analysis of the word

စိတ်ဝင်စား | sate-win2-za3,

it could mean that whatever the state of the mind of the author is within you, and information or the knowledge has been transferred. In another words, my spirit comes alive as you read this sentence, no matter where or who you are, and no matter how far apart the time is when you observe this.

စိတ် | sate — mind

ဝင်စား | win2-za3 — be enticed

စရာ | sa1-ya2 — matter

ပဲ | beare3 — affirmation

စိတ်ဝင်စား စရာပဲ

sate win2-za3 za1-ya2 beare3That's interesting!

Bored and nyi3-ngway1

Perhaps, you find this mumbo jumbo extremely boring. "Feeling bored" in Burmese is

ငြီးငွေ့ | nyi3-ngway1.

You can say:


nyi3-ngway1 la2 byi2,

which means "I've started to get bored."

Myanmar Grammar Note: လာ | la2 (verb) meaning "come" is used here as a particle meaning "started to".

Another example:

မိုးရွာလာပြီ | mo3-ywa2 la2 byi2 — It starts raining.

In that case ....

Pure & Angelic late-pya2

I'd like to end this lesson with

လိပ်ပြာသန့်သန့်late-pya2 thun1-dhun1,

meaning having a good heart, pure in spirit, and free from greed, hate and delusion as much as possible.

လိပ်ပြာသန့် | late-pya2 thun1

means having a clear conscience. May you all

စိတ် | sate — mind (noun)

နှလုံး | hna1-lone3 — heart (noun)

ရွှင်လန်း | shwin2-lun3 — feel fresh and energetic (verb)

ချမ်းမြေ့ | chan3-myay1 — be serene, peaceful and tranquil (verb)

ကြ | ja1 — plural word (particle)

ပါ စေ | ba2 zay2 — I wish ("may this happen" [postpositional marker])

စိတ်နှလုံး ရွှင်လန်း ချမ်းမြေ့ ကြပါစေ

sate hna1-lone3 shwin2-lun3 chan3-myay1 ja1 ba2 zay2

May all beings free from distress and find happiness!

Color Codes: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, particles, postpositional markers, interjections.